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Archive for January, 2012

Ashley’s Interim Adventure In England, London (to be precise)

by on Jan.31, 2012, under Ashley Bingle

The last few days at the office were slow, and then on to the whirlwind of traveling to London. Waking up bright and early on Saturday morning was obviously not something many of us were excited about, including some of our host families, but I think it was almost worse for us because we were about to go back to our normal time zone after a few short days in London. The train trip was quite long, and after leaving at 8:00, and taking two trains to get to London, two Undergrounds (subways) to get through London, and another two trains to get to Bromley, where the Manna House (OM owned Victorian hostel) was, then walking two miles (or at least if felt like it pulling the +50lb suitcases), then up two staircases to my room on the top floor, it was 2:00 and we had not eaten much beyond breakfast snacks. All the travel really meant we did not visit London on our first day there, so Sunday and Monday were full of sight seeing.

There were tons of things to see in London, I’m sure we hardly made it to less than half of the big, important ones. The science museum was pretty fun, as was wondering through Kensington Gardens, looking at the outside of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. We got to visit the Sherlock Holmes museum on Baker Street, too, and watched Phantom of the Opera in Her Majesty’s Theater, Haymarket. Wandering around London was pretty fun, and we figured out the Underground, also known as the London Tubes, pretty fast, so we could almost always get where we wanted to be. It was neat to be pretty much set free in a city, to do whatever we wanted to, but everybody was responsible about it and no one got lost, hurt, or stolen from.

After our brief stay in London (the London area, really) we headed home to Grand Rapids, Michigan, bright and early Tuesday morning (extra bright and early, up by 5:00, out of the house by 6…). The transatlantic plane ride was nice, much more up-to-date of a plane than on the way out, and very empty as opposed to completely full. Some of the guys stretched out on the three seats in the middle of the plane and slept, even though we were not flying overnight this time. We had met up with another group of Calvin students coming back from interim in Italy and England, when we were in the Heathrow airport, so by the time we arrived in Detroit, we were the majority of the people on the tiny puddle jumper going from there to here. All of us were tired from being up so early and just wanted to get home (no thanks to a half-hour flight delayed more than an hour and a half because of missing paperwork), but we all made it safe and sound.

The only real trouble I had was readjusting my sleep schedule so it made sense for school, getting tired at 5-6:00 is not so great, and neither is being wide awake at 2 in the morning. Thankfully, I was able to force my body to sleep in an hour later each day, so by the time class started again I was feeling well rested. It’s just pretty funny to see a bunch of college students who can hardly stay awake after it gets to be 7:30, but we had to try to stay up later than that too, or we would never get quite back into routine in time for school. It’s good to be back, although I could do without the homework, but I will always remember this amazing trip as a once in a lifetime experience.

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Star Wars Uncut

by on Jan.24, 2012, under Richard Bingle

I don’t often post links to other random stuff I find on the internet, but I have made a couple of exceptions. This was just so odd, bizarre, funny, bad, unique, and geeky that I felt I had no choice.

Basically, the movie linked below is the entire Star Wars: A New Hope movie (all 2 hours) cut together using fan created 15 second or so snippets of their interpretations, reenactments, renderings, animations, adaptations, and reproductions of the original scenes from the movie. Some are quite good. Others are indeed quite bad.

I only regret that I didn’t find out about this project when it began a couple of years ago. I’m sure I could have convinced the girls to have participated with me.

May the Force be with you!

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Ashley’s Interim Adventure In England, Second Week

by on Jan.18, 2012, under Ashley Bingle

This weekend did measure up to my expectations. We spent Saturday wandering around Edinburgh, which was very fun! I enjoyed listening to the street pipers, but the one old man we liked best disappeared before we could go back again. We looked in at a lot of museums and took pictures of the lovely architecture, including Edinburgh Castle, which we walked past many times. I ended up purchasing a kilt as my souvenir of the trip and have planned to wear it to the “Robbie” Burns dinner tomorrow (Thursday) night, where we all get to taste haggis.

The hike in the Lake District was lots of fun too! We climbed up to a peak, but once we got to the “top” realized there were still higher mountains behind that we hadn’t seen. It was very steep, and the “path” was just a beaten down area on the tree-cleared ground. It was quite cold this weekend, so there was still frost on the ground, combined with mud, it made things pretty slippery. I only fell twice, and my pants and jacket aren’t too muddy either, probably because of the frost.

We walked along a gravel and stone path by the river, too, and some of the boys got a bit too close for my comfort. Thankfully Mrs. Schwarz wasn’t comfortable with it either and made them stop and move away from the edge. We got some pretty nice pictures of the waterfall by Aira Force and tried to capture some of the beauty of the view from the top of the mountain before we headed off on a drive up between some more mountains. The trip was really fun, but exhausting, so it was nice to have dinner at the Mallons’ and watch the movie “Robin Hood” for the rest of the night.

The rest of the week has been filled with coding, research, and meetings, including another prayer meeting at which our group is requested to participate in leading part of. I am just looking forward to finishing my work on this help software, and getting on to the next weekend, where we will be in London! It is hard to believe that we are so close to being done with the trip, when we have not even been here very long.

I wish we would have had more chance to visit places, but we already talked them into the trip to Edinburgh and to the Lake District last weekend, and it is not as if we can really skip work or anything. Oh well, it has been a wonderful trip already anyway! Cheers!

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Winter Jam

by on Jan.14, 2012, under Richard Bingle Family

Karen, Amber, Alyssa, and I attended Winter Jam on Thursday night a the UCF Arena.

Winter Jam is an annual Christian Rock concert tour that began in 1995 and features Newsong and a different group of artists each year. As one of the goals of the tour is evangelism the hook with Winter Jam is the price – $10 per person at the door.

This year’s tour features a total of 10 bands and solo artists – We As Human, For King and Country, Dara MacLean, Group 1 Crew, Building 429, Newsong, Kari Jobe, Peter Furler, Sanctus Real, and Skillet. The doors opened (and apparently the show started) at 6:00 with We As Human followed by For King and Country. Traffic was a bit worse than we anticipated and we didn’t get there until 6:30 (still supposedly 30 minutes before the advertised start time) and so missed both of those acts. We got some pretty decent seats across the arena floor from stage and settled in for the evening.

Either the acoustics of our seats (or the arena as a whole) weren’t great or most of the bands were mixed way too heavy on the low end. The bass guitar for Group 1 Crew was so overpowering it was kinda hard to make out he vocals and other bands had similar issues with the kick.

Out of the four of us, I probably was the most familiar with the various groups and their songs as I listen to Z88.3 during my commute, mix the praise band and youth bands at church, and have my iPod at work. I recognized at least one song by each group/artist and all of the ones performed by Kari Jobe and Peter Furler. Furler had been a founding member of Newsboys back in the 90’s and has only recently been touring as a solo act, so most of his songs were Newsboys hits.

The headliners of the show was a hard rock band called Skillet. The kids in the audience apparently knew what to expect as when they were announced the number of cell phones held aloft for recording the performance probably quadrupled. They had quite an impressive light/fire/fireworks/smoke show as part of their set, including putting both guitarists up in the air on hydraulic lifts and a wheeled, scissor lifted, spinning drumset one one song.

It turns out that I do own a couple of songs by them (including Stand on the album Veggie Rocks) and have heard a song or two by them elsewhere, but not being familiar with the lyrics it was almost impossible to make out any of the words as they performed.

While definitely loud, Karen and I decided that we’d been to louder concerts back in college as our hearing quickly returned to normal after the concert. Well, possibly they weren’t louder – we used to sit a whole lot closer to the stage back then!

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Ashley’s Interim Adventure In England, First Week

by on Jan.13, 2012, under Ashley Bingle

So as of yesterday, we have been here an entire week. It has been a very full week, too. As soon as we arrived at the actual OM offices in Carlisle we were toured around and introduced to whoever was in the office on a Thursday right after winter holiday. They were trying hard to keep us awake, and I think it worked, but we certainly don’t remember all the names and faces they pointed out that day.

I am staying with a lady named Becky Barnhart, who has two spare bedrooms in her house, so I get one all to myself. Her house is right near the City Center, and all the shops, just outside the old wall that protected Carlisle Castle. Since it is so close, we have been able to walk back and forth to several places, including the 12-15 minute walk down to 3 Richardson Street, the house where three of the boys are staying alone. They are just around the corner from Keith and Dawn Mallon (and their three girls), who have hosted the boys and I on several nights, as opposed to always eating with Becky.

We spent the end of last week getting oriented and then touring around (town and Hadrian’s Wall). Then on Monday we began in full with the IT work, which we have been doing since then. Each dinner we have been having either with our host families or some team member’s house in particular. Today, Friday, we are on break from all that, and going to another “session” of discussions that is going to last all day until the IT department games evening.

I am more excited about this weekend, because Saturday we visit Edinburgh (yes, in Scotland!) and then Sunday we are going to hike through the Lake District and maybe even go to Keswick (pronounced KEZ-ick). So, this first of two weeks with OM has been pretty good, and we still have more fun stuff left. For now, I’m off to the meeting and then fun, so this is all I have time to say.

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Ashley’s Interim Adventure In England, Arrival

by on Jan.07, 2012, under Ashley Bingle

Just getting settled in Carlisle, England. This is where we’ll be staying for two weeks working with Operation Mobilization (which is based here in Carlisle) on their open source software, Open Petra, before we head to tour London for a few days before we fly back home in 20 days. We’ve been posting our journals online to get “credit” for this as a cross cultural course, which it certainly is.

Took a plane from Grand Rapids to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to Manchester, overnight. Left around 9pm Atlanta time and got here past 9am Manchester time. Slept a little, but now we have to stay up to reset our internal clocks. It is easy to fall asleep, but getting up is going to be the hard part.

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Happy New Year – 2012!

by on Jan.01, 2012, under Richard Bingle Family

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Ashley has returned to Grand Rapids and will be traveling on Wednesday to England for a few weeks. We really enjoyed having her home for a couple of weeks! Unfortunately, I’ve got to go back to work on Tuesday…

I made some progress on writing up our summer trip report, but I’m only about a third of the way through. Look for (at least some of) them to be posted “soon”. Maybe I should make a resolution to post in a more timely manner?

Happy New Year!

— Rich

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