Posts Tagged ‘Stuff’

A day out and about

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Today was open house day in Northern Ireland (, where lots of places not usually open to the public open their doors to visitors.

So I got on my bike, and cycled down the Harland and Wolff drawing office. It’s a building I’ve been past before, and it looks impressive from outside. As you can see from the picture at, it was a beautiful building, full of natural light for draftsmen to work in. It’s also absolutely falling apart, which is a real shame, as even without the history, it was a lovely building.

I then pootled round to St Malachy’s church, which is the really cool looking one with all the battlements just off the Ormeau Road. Unfortunately, there was a wedding just about to happen, so I reckoned I couldn’t go in looking all scruffy. Perhaps another time.

Then, on my way past City Hall, I came across a Hari Krishna parade, as they towed a massive carriage past the front. Fortunately, only one of them was wearing orange robes, so it didn’t really look like an orange parade, but they still had a police escort.

And then on to the Freemasons Hall at Corn Market. This is a place I walk past often at lunchtime. The inside is not all that dissimilar to a church in many ways – lots of parts are obviously very old, but it has been nicely modernised. But it is an odd place. The bible and Koran side-by-side on an altar in one room, and in another a very old bible flanked by two Egyptian sarcophagi. And quite a few old harmoniums for playing hymns on. As a building, it’s not beautiful, but it is certainly interesting.

But I got soaked cycling home.

Ah well, you can’t have everything.

Dallas Days Twenty Two to Twenty Four

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Some random facts about being here in Dallas.

  • I’m actually in the city of Irving. It’s a part of Dallas County, as opposed to being a part of the city of Dallas itself.
  • The taxation system here is inordinately complex to an outsider. When you go to a shop, the price on the price tag doesn’t include the 8% sales tax which is added on at the till. So you never know how much you will pay for anything.
  • But taxes are all payed separately, so you have a federal tax, a state tax and a city tax. There may also be county tax, and there’ll be a tax for your local school district. So taxes are set at a very local level.
  • And that’s because lots of things are organised at a local level. The local police are the Irving police, paid by the city of Irving, from city taxes, and not from state or federal tax.
  • And the taxes on internet purchases are fascinating. If I buy a DVD from Amazon, I pay no sales tax because Amazon have no shops in the state of Texas (or anywhere else, of course). But if I buy a DVD from Best Buy or Frys Electronics, I will have to pay sales tax because they both have shops locally. I didn’t buy it from the local shop, but because I could have done, sales tax must be applied. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I am a simple man…
  • And the road labelling system is opaque too. Roads have so any different designations. An Interstate will have a interstate number, and a number for each state it passes through. But some of these roads get names as well. So the John W Carpenter Expressway is also state highway 114. I like names, as does Mrs Satnav. But the big road sign says 114, and the name only appears on a small green sign about 1 meter from the junction, so it’s almost impossible to know when you’re due to turn. Likewise, he sometimes tells me to stay on Interstate 35, but at that point in time, all the road labels refer only to state road numbers. As I say, I find it confusing.
  • And I went back to the IHOP last night, because I think it’s great.

Hello Again!

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Hello Internet!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’m sure you haven’t missed me at all, but I’ve been rather busy. Here are the things that I didn’t blog about over the past while.

  • Being a puppeteer.
    Our church was looking for a bit of gimmick for our children’s club and we hit on the idea of using puppets. So Christine and I duly spent over a week putting together scripts for nightly sketches, plus a big sketch for use in the local schools, and a final sketch for church on Sunday. It was hard work! But in the week before the club, we did our puppet show in front of over a thousand children, as we were able to get into all of the Primary schools in Craigavon, where we got a great reception. We then had a very successful kids club, and one of the most unusual church services we’ve ever had.
  • Having a sore finger.
    I know it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I hurt my finger playing basketball over a week and a half ago at our teenager’s club, and it’s still a bit stiff and sore. I always said no good would come of playing sports.
  • The changing mobile phone market.
    It’s offical – I can’t have an iphone. Because my contract has several months to run, O2 have no intention of letting me upgrade my phone. And they told my brother in law the same thing when he tried to blag an upgrade. Changed times in the mobile phone market, when they used to be very keen to give you new toys as long as you spent more money with them. Oh well. I’ll just have to be patient.
  • Andrew’s wedding.
    My old school-friend Andrew got married a few weeks ago. It was a great day, and the most unusual wedding I’ve ever been to – very customised. But what was most strange was that no-one mentioned his tendency to break things (for which he was truly legendary during his school and university days). I guess he got better as he got older.