Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Beautiful Northants countryside

Location : Fishing lake nearby Castle Ashby.


We are planning to view bluebell wood in Ashridge Estate this bank holiday Monday. And I am excited to see what laid ahead. This is one of the view exclusive to Britain. I always thought that Switzerland own beautiful flower meadow. But now I think Brits own a MUCH better meadow!

The Common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta, syn. Endymion non-scriptus, Scilla non-scripta) is a spring-flowering bulbous perennial plant. It is native to the British Isles, the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern and western France, being replaced in Iberia by the similar Spanish Bluebell H. hispanica and in the central Mediterranean region by the Italian Bluebell H. italica. (The spanish bluebell is larger and paler than british bluebell!)

Bluebell at Ashridge Estate, click to enlarge.

A bluebell wood
The Common Bluebell flowers in April and May. The stems are 10-30 cm long and bend over at the top. The lavender-blue flowers are pendulous, bell-shaped and slightly fragrant. The anthers are yellowish-white.
In spring, many British woods are covered by dense carpets of this flower; these are commonly referred to as "bluebell woods". Bluebell woods may be found in all parts of Great Britain and Ireland. Bluebells are a common indicator species for ancient woodland, so bluebell woods are likely to date back to at least 1600.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the romantic poets, was very keen on the plant as revealed by these lines of his poem "May Magnificat":

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes

Bluebells under young beeches in Micheldever Woods, Hampshire
In his journal entry for May 9, 1871 Hopkins says:

In the little wood opposite the light they stood in blackish spreads or sheddings like spots on a snake. The heads are then like thongs and solemn in grain and grape-colour. But in the clough through the light they come in falls of sky-colour washing the brows and slacks of the ground with vein-blue, thickening at the double, vertical themselves and the young grass and brake-fern combed vertical, but the brake struck the upright of all this with winged transomes. It was a lovely sight. - The bluebells in your hand baffle you with their inscape, made to every sense. If you draw your fingers through them they are lodged and struggle with a shock of wet heads; the long stalks rub and click and flatten to a fan on one another like your fingers themselves would when you passed the palms hard across one another, making a brittle rub and jostle like the noise of a hurdle strained by leaning against; then there is the faint honey smell and in the mouth the sweet gum when you bite them.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Please pray for the Institute for Creation Research


From the desk of Dr. Henry M. Morris III
Chief Executive Officer
April 25, 2008

Dear Friends of ICR:

As you may have heard by now, the ICR Graduate School's application to grant degrees in Texas was rejected yesterday by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Many of our friends and constituents have been praying for us during this time, and we thank you for your intercession and your help.

Below is the statement that ICR has released to the media regarding the state's decision.

Dallas, April 25, 2008 - Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Commissioner Raymund Paredes on Wednesday recommended that the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICRGS) be denied a Certificate of Authority to grant degrees in the state. On Thursday, the Board voted unanimously to accept Paredes' recommendation.

Paredes issued his recommendation, formulated in advance, despite the approval of both the THECB Site Team, which evaluated the ICRGS in November 2007, and the THECB Advisory Committee that affirmed the Site Team's approval in December 2007. He rejected both reports as "flawed" and instead convened a separate panel of scientists and science educators that advised him not to approve the ICRGS application. ICRGS scientists and faculty were not included in or allowed to respond to this panel.

On Thursday, Joe Stafford, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Research, read into record a Texas Education Code statute about preventing public deception in the face of "fraudulent" or "substandard" college and university degrees. ICRGS representatives present at the meeting were not allowed to respond to this mischaracterization of the graduate program.

The manner in which the hearing was conducted was characterized by viewpoint discrimination. Prior to Wednesday's consideration of the ICRGS application, THECB committee chairperson Lyn Bracewell Phillips allowed public testimony for 30 minutes on the ICRGS application. Several political activists, including Steven Schafersman--who had evidently not reviewed the ICRGS application materials--launched ad hominem attacks against the credibility and reputation of the ICRGS and its faculty.

Critics have attempted to draw false associations between the ICRGS program and attempts to introduce religion into taxpayer-funded public schools, even though the ICRGS is a private postgraduate institution seeking to train science educators for private schools.

Questions have surfaced concerning the treatment of the ICRGS application by THECB officials and whether Commissioner Paredes and his agency altered the normal process of application review because of external pressures based on ideological biases against the ICRGS.

Under Texas law, the ICRGS may appeal the decision of the Commission or seek other remedies as appropriate.

Please continue to pray for ICR as we consult with our Board and experts in the field regarding the next step to take in this process. Be assured that ICR is committed to cutting-edge scientific research, advanced education in the sciences for teachers, and the passionate communication of the wonders of God’s creation.

May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you as you seek to serve Him.

Dr. Henry Morris III
CEO, Institute for Creation Research

Friday, 25 April 2008

Sarah in Action!

Best buddies!

Simply love seeing these two little boy so soaked into watching thomas the tank engine on our laptop

Ups... someone noticed the paparazzi!

The visit

It's been a busy week! Well, "insane" is the right term to summarise my week. But to a relief, a friend of ours, the Nicholsons were due to pay us a visit on last wednesday. So here is the result of the visit.

The gift

thanks Mia, for sharing this story :-)

A married lady was expecting a birthday gift from her husband. For many months she had admire a beautiful diamond ring in a showroom, and knowing her husband could afford it, she told him that was all she wanted.

As her birthday approached, this lady awaited signs that her husband had purchased the diamond ring.

Finally, on the morning of her birthday, her husband called her intohis studyroom. Her husband told her how proud he was to have such a good wife, and told her how much he loved her. He handed her a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, the wife opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the wife's name embossed in gold.

Angrily, she raised her voice to her husband and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible? and stormed out of the house, leaving her husband.

Many years passed and the married lady was very successful in business. She managed to settle for a more beautiful house and a wonderful family, but realized her ex-husband was very old, and thought perhaps she should go to visit him. She had not seen him for many years.

But before she could make arrangements, she received a telegram telling her that her ex-husband had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to her. She needed to come back immediately and take care of things.

When she arrived at her ex-husband's house, sudden sadness and regret filled her heart. She began to search through her ex-husband's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as she had left it years ago.

With tears, she opened the Bible and began to turn the pages.

May this story inspires you..

Her ex-husband had carefully underlined a verse, Matt 7:11,

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

As she read those words, a tiny package dropped from the back of the Bible.

It had diamond ring with her name engraved on it, the same diamond ring which she saw at the showroom. On the tag was the date of her birth, and the words..


How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected? I trust you enjoyed this.



Thursday, 24 April 2008

Living under Brown's rule

Today, I finally sealed my visa envelope and send it sailing to Work Permit office. I must admit, it's been a stressful and tiring weeks trying to complete all of the required documents, contacting previous employer, not to mention just to understood what the Border Agency actually wants!Yet BIA just change the HSMP requirement for the 2nd time in this past 1 year. The form is longer, more confusing, and... of course the fee is more too. Hearing about non-domicile law that shocked a lot of missionaries, and higher tax for low income family, fuel price hike, what is the next thing to hope for come from Britain new Prime Minister and his folks? But I reflect upon the situation this this morning.It's easy to put someone on blame, is that Mr. Brown (for being scottish?!) or Mr. Darling.But I reflect on the situation as I read this :

[1] Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
[2] Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
[3] For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
[4] For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
[5] Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
[6] For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
[7] Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
[8] Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
[9] For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
[10] Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
[11] And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
[12] The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
[13] Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
[14] But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

It is clear that God wanted us to abide by rule of the government, because He is the one who establish them.So in my vogue mind, I can imagine that it is indeed God's will to make Mr. Brown the leader of this country.
That sound... unbelievable!
But, I suppose complaining about how crap his policy is won't be of any use. First he won't be able to hear it, and second, perhaps God dislike the attitude either. In many ways the new regulation seems unfair for us, but let's face it, life is unfair, therefore we sinner have a second chance to be forgiven by the blood of Jesus.

Another thing is : after a thought, I believe it's not "easy" to be the man who lead a country. I mean, just saw my manager, try to please us, and his bos at the same time... sometime is just not possible. And I am talking about 20-30 person in a group. While Mr. Brown case, we are talking about pleasing a multitude! If his financial budget is falling short, what else can he do than taxed someone more? If the high paying people already taxed 40% yet almost never claim any, shouldn't be the logic the lower paying people who claim most of this country benefit get to be taxed a bit too? Again, it's not possible to make everyone happy. But whatever is our need, I believe everything is in the Lord's control, whether or not government policy is not favourable to us. We just have to do our portion, to pray that God gives them wisdom in running their office.

Now I am convinced, the reason why I need to fill in that 80 pages long application and paying 750 GBP is because I forgot to pray for Mr. Brown.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Anti copy-paste feature

Jessica loves to frequent Kemudian.com, an online community for Indonesian writers. Today she showed me a nifty feature of the website: an anti copy-paste protection. Different from other websites that just simply lock your right click button using Javascript, this website places hidden random characters interspersed with the text (basically a span with "display:none"). When you decide to copy a block of text using your browser, those hidden characters are copied as well.

See the following story as an example (nevermind the story if you don't understand Indonesian). Try copying a block of text from the story and pasting it into a word processor. The first line which should read:
Niwa pikir, setelah pindah sekolah, keadaannya akan berbeda.

turns into:
NiwaJ pik|ir,D sHe1tSe%lXa6h3 piVnd%ahZ seko0lah,U keXadKaaZnn&ya7 akanM be*rbIedEa.

This got me thinking. Of course I could write a off line script which parse and remove the span elements from copied text. But then I decided that doing it from Firefox would be more fun. I then opened my Firebug panel and started tinkering with the Javascript console. I came up with the following short scripts:

lis = document.getElementsByTagName('span');
for( i=0;i<lis.length;i++ ) {
cl = lis[i].getAttribute('class');
if( cl && cl[0]=='c' ) {

It basically loops through all span elements and finds the elements starting with 'c'. The copy protection happens to start all of the hidden classes with 'c'. Once all of the offending elements are found, it is very easy to remove the random characters inside.

How to use this hack:
1. Download Firefox
2. Install Firebug
3. Open Firebug on the offending page
4. Tick 'Large Command Line' from 'Options' drop down menu
5. Paste this script on the large console window on the left
6. And finally click 'Run'.

PS: I am not encouraging any piracy or plagiarism. I personally think that the copy protection system is very interesting, the first one I have seen on the net. I just take this as a technical challenge, kind of a hobby thing :)


A very touching story from a heart of neonatologist (neonataldoc.blogspot.com)

Our rounds the other day were accompanied by the sound of weeping. It was nothing complicated. A baby had been born too soon, struggled for a few days, and now was breathing his last, and the family was devastated.On a somewhat related note, the wife of my nephew recently miscarried at the end of her first trimester.

When I heard it, I just threw up my hands. Why, I wondered, does it always seem that the couples who have trouble conceiving are the ones who lose the pregnancy?

I can think of hardly anything appropriate to say to them.After years of seeing various types of pregnancy and newborn loss, I have decided that there are really no good words of comfort at such a time.

The loss is so final, so absolute, so irrevocable, that only time can lessen the wound and even then often not completely heal it. We can express our condolences to the family and offer to do anything we can for them, but beyond that we seem relatively powerless.

Although it's true that a miscarriage may have occurred because the baby was defective, that's hardly of much comfort and might only bring up a worse feeling. The religious may take comfort in the thought and words that it's God's will, but in the acute stage of death and separation that, too, is of only limited help. Such scenes of loss are also a reminder to me of how huge a thing it is when a child dies.

I frequently write in this blog about decisions regarding resuscitation of very premature babies. We realize what an enormous sadness it can be to save a child who then suffers through life, but we can never forget either the enormity of a death. It, too, affects parents forever. If I never see again the universal sign of grief of a mother or father stretched out over an incubator, their head laying sideways on it with despair on their face as they grieve their lost newborn, it will be okay with me.

But I'm sure I will, and I'm sure I will again feel at such a loss for something right to say. We will offer words and gestures of support, but they will seem simply too small.

Moral of the story : I am glad I am not a doctor!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Gundul (Bald)

Finally, spring came and that means it's time for hair cut. Considering that it was quite difficult to cut Josiah's hair (he can run now whenever he can), we decide to do it once for all, that is, to cut him BALD!

He appear to be quite satisfied with his new hair cut.

Mummy is very proud that Josiah still looks cute on his new hair style.

Back look, see... it's pretty neat!

P.S : Congratulation for Zonny and Alice for their new addition to family, baby Zach!
God bless you all.
Abbie and Joe will be coming in 2 weeks time, and we are going to experience enchanting bluebells wood for the first time in our life! They only last for 3 weeks, so this will be a chance of a lifetime :-)

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Car and bubble

I apologise for not blogging this past few days. Me and Yusdi has been really busy with visa application and remortgaging our house. But anyway, here is a little bit of update. Last week we were visiting Victoria Park, and later on the day we actually "planned" to go to Brackley.... using public transport.
But, the plan was soon had to be scrapped, because we misunderstood the bus route and had been waiting on the wrong bus stop! Since the bus came only every 3-4 hour, we decide to forget about the plan and do something else. Hence, we passed by a gift shop, and bought Josiah a 99p worth of big bottle of bubble maker.

Later on the day, we did a bit of shopping in TESCO, where Josiah back to his obession of cars.

Sometimes, it's hard to believed how quick he grow up THAT big!

Super husband

Last week, Yusdi had made this yummy super chocholaty (if such word exist) cake. The icing is chocholate sprinkled with some colorful hard sugar granules. It's tasted pretty good (as said by the "guinea pigs" that is people from church.)
Sometimes I am quite amazed with the amount of work my husband can do. He is in full time study, still doing some part time work to pay for Josiah minding, still have to commute 1.5 hour one way to Oxford, and still have time to make me a choc-cake! What a super husband!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

I'm a non-dom. Should I get out of here?

Bad news for many people who had overseas wealth, income, etc.... who wished to bring them to UK. Pray for many missioanries here in UK who are mainly supported from overseas income.
Original article from Daily Telegraph can be found here

Last October the taxman proposed far-reaching changes to the tax treatment of non-domiciled individuals, but the Revenue has only just published the small print. David Kilshaw explains what it all means

Tax changes could alarm non-domiciles

Who is affected?
The changes are directed at individuals who are resident but not domiciled in the United Kingdom. Domicile can be equated with an individual's home for tax purposes, as opposed to the concept of where an individual resides at any given moment. As such, it is fundamental to how tax is paid. People affected include overseas nationals working here but also those born in the UK to a father with an overseas domicile.

Anyone else?
Yes. You can be caught by the new rules if you are resident but not "ordinarily resident" in the UK. You are not ordinarily resident in the UK if you do not habitually reside here. This will apply to many people working short term - that is, less than three years - in the UK.

So if I'm domiciled in the UK, I needn't worry?
The new rules won't change your tax position. But it could affect you indirectly. There are many who are concerned that the rules will drive wealthy non-domiciled investors to leave the UK, with a negative impact on jobs and the UK economy. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) themselves estimate that 3,000 people will leave the UK as a result of these changes.

How will it work?
If you are UK resident and non-domiciled you will not pay tax on your overseas income and gains unless you bring them to the UK. This is the so-called remittance basis of taxation and you must claim it via your selfassessment tax return. You need do nothing if your overseas income and gains are less than £1,000 per annum.

I thought there was a £30,000 fee?
If you have been resident in the UK for seven out of 10 years, you must pay £30,000 as an additional charge if you wish to use this remittance basis. This is, in effect, extra tax and will be paid at the same time as your normal tax bill. If you choose not to use the remittance basis, HMRC will deem you subject to tax on your overseas income.

Should I claim the remittance basis?
You can make this choice for each tax year. It is likely to depend on the size of your overseas profits and whether the tax bill they would generate in the UK would be more or less than the £30,000 you would pay to claim the remittance basis. If you do claim, note that you will lose your personal tax allowances for the year and the £9,200 exemption from capital gains tax (CGT). Essentially, to justify paying the £30,000 fee, your offshore income would have to exceed £80,000.

Is it £30,000 per household?
Unhappily, no. It's £30,000 per taxpayer who wants to benefit from the remittance basis, including children if they are in receipt of overseas profits. This is the membership fee for a very exclusive club!

What else has changed?
Plenty. The new rules severely restrict the ability to bring money tax-free to the UK. The old "trick" of closing bank accounts or making gifts to your spouse or children outside the UK for them to bring monies here are gone. The rules even mean that if you buy an asset on your holiday - for example, an expensive souvenir such as an artwork - from your overseas money you may have a tax bill when you bring it home.

I have an offshore trust, is that OK?
No. The rules are changing here too. Such trusts were previously like a tax haven, offering shelter from CGT. In the future, sales of UK assets in the trust will be subject to CGT and you will need to claim the remittance basis for gains on offshore assets held by the trust. You may even have a new tax bill if you have had a benefit from an offshore trust in recent years.

What about my house?
Many non-domiciled individuals own their main home via an overseas company. From April 6, they will be liable to pay CGT when they sell their home. If you are in this position, you need to speak to your tax adviser urgently.

Is there any good news?
Yes – but only in terms of what has been left alone. There are no changes to the inheritance tax (IHT) rules, so if you have been in the UK for less than 17 years you will not pay British IHT on your overseas assets. This will not be affected by whether or not you claim the remittance basis. Also, HMRC have asked for comments on the draft legislation by February 28 so some changes might still be made.

When will this start?
The new legislation will take effect from April 6 but some of the changes have immediate effect.

What should I be doing now?
Speak to your tax adviser urgently. There may still be a chance to bring monies to the UK tax free before April 6 and you may need to restructure your offshore bank accounts, trusts and other interests before that date. David Kilshaw is a partner at chartered accountants KPMG

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Flower Power (part II)

More picture from Victoria park, Field of Hope, Northampton.

Little wild flowers were everywhere on the park.

I simply love this picture so much! It's really picture the serenity of the park that day.

We were pretending that all these twigs were sword.

Josiah was happily running around the park. That's right, he can run now!