Saturday, 27 August 2016

A nice thing about

Is the way clothes etc are reduced to make way for autumn and winter collections. :)

Well, mostly. Except for swimming costumes. They're still reduced, but the start point makes reduced feel like full price.   :-p

Monday, 22 August 2016

Happy birthday

27 years old now - I wonder how you're doing?

Time goes so fast and yet so slowly, life is so full and so completely trivial.

Looks like today is a day of contrasts

On LinkedIn there was an Image of Marissa Mayer's resume (also described as a one-page CV) where it's suggested she is productive 18/24 (and apparently sleeps 3-4 hours a day).

 Then, via the BBC I came across a blogpost suggesting that mediocrity was actually quite reasonable.

I have a suspicion that one appeals considerably more than the other. :-)

Picking up the fallen

It's been a good-busy weekend, and last night we were 'relaxing' with me running through my browser history for the previous weekend trying to find a picture of a particular kitchen and worktop that I wanted as an example. Chris suddenly called to me, to come outside because someone had fallen off their bike and ended up on our verge again.

Felt sorry for the young chap, quite scuffed and bloody, and he came in, washed his wounds and I then took him to Banbury Horton hospital. His parents live in Yorkshire, so not exactly round the corner to look after him, and his GF was away, so again not able to provide help. He'd originally intended to ride back to Banbury, but was obviously concussed from the accident and not really in a condition to do so.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Had the Dell XPS keyboard replaced under warranty today

And it's nice to be able to type on it again - seems better than the previous one too, and pretty close to Apple standards in terms of responsiveness.

Getting dell out for the work (next business day onsite) was a pain in the parts, having to go through online stuff first, then not being offered a number to call or a form that could be completed. Google sorted that, but I was quite cross by that point, but the chap in India with the temporary fake US accent was patient and polite. It was still better that Apple's return to base warranty, where you take stuff to the store an hour away, they demo that it doesn't work while telling you there's probably not a problem and then send stuff away on the proviso that you'll pay if they can't find a fault. If I ever bought another Mac at full price it would NOT be through Apple again.

Apparently this battery is starting to swell too. :-p

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

What's in a name

I came across the name Eyelid the other day.

No.

Sorry that's wrong.

The name was Eilidh. Apparently it's AyLee, like Hayley, but without the H.

Humans are a funny bunch, never sure whether they want to conform or stand out, and very often both at the same time. As an odd foreigner in the UK, I wish I felt less antipathy toward celtic pronunciations, or perhaps it's the German in me wanting to fight the illogicality of using letters to 'sound wrong' in a European language.

And now I've just remembered a couple of words in Swedish.

So what's logic got to do with language? :-)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Have just downloaded our visas for Turkey.

And it's tempting to quip about it feeling like christmas, but that's a bird-brained joke. ;-)

It will be good to see Ben again.

Monday, 8 August 2016

So I gave in last Friday

Ran a 5K up to North Aston, round the green and back home.

I need to find a balance between doing the serious running that lets me do half-marathons while leaving me with pain and the sedentary lifestyle that's so pleasant but leaves me fat & gasping. There's the time factor too, and I feel less & less inclined to make effort except at those things where I can go mindlessly flat out, then stop & gasp a sort of recovery - working steadily is uncomfortable.

Aging bodies are curious, slightly disappointing things.

On a different note, we have a kitchen fitter coming over tonight to discuss changing things. I fitted the kitchen 26 years ago, and although it might last another 10 years, it's becoming scruffy and some things, including appliances, need replacing. So we've dived into the murky, complex world of the modern fitted kitchen, and as could be predicted, it's murky and complex. ;-)

Most staggering is the cost of worktops: >£1200 for 3 meters of Corian. >£2000 for 3 meters of walnut. On a forum discussing the cost of kitchens, one of the guys paid £5500 for 15 meters of granite worktop 10 years ago. I think we may be a little more economical than that, although I DO know various people that have had granite worktops fitted, but it's highly unlikely we'll be doing that!

The cost of the actual 'kitchen' - the units themselves - now seems trivial by comparison, and kitchens from the big suppliers all seem to be made to the same standard with similar construction methods almost regardless of pricepoint - certainly they all look incredibly similar. Gone are the nasty MFI doors (and many of them were quite nasty) but in their place are MDF mouldings, and the 'solid wood' doors also look more like they are made from MDF. Everything closes softly, drawers have sheet steel folded sides and every little nook, cranny and slot can have some kind of storage facility, that you could never imagine using, built in.

The connection with the first half of this post, is that I'm too achey now to want to kneel on the floor and fit a kitchen myself.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My name is Toni, and it's been more than 3 weeks since I had a run.

Not quite alcoholics anonymous. ;-)

I'm not sure where we're going to go with the running yet. In terms of recovery, I managed to gently back away from all my training until a few weeks back, keeping the depression and mood swings difficult but manageable while that was going on. The body has been settling, to the point that 2 weeks after my last run, while walking down to the car carrying a guitar and amplifier, I realised that my legs and joints were quite comfy in contrast the the way they've been hurting pretty much all the time for a year or more. Also for the last couple of weeks I can squat down without intense pain for the first time in ages.

Currently my right knee still has a little swelling on the side. Last weekend I finally removed the 2nd largest toe nail on my left foot, because it had detached all round except on one side, and was just flapping annoyingly. Overall the body is doing well I guess.

The running will have to restart however. It made a huge difference to my lungs, and having had a cold recently that didn't hit the chest, plus keeping my wieght down, it needs to be done. And there is a certain pleasure to running through the countryside on a gently warm evening with birds flying and crops in the field. Just not sure about what level to set as a target yet, and not sure whether the body will make it easy to get right.

Friday, 29 July 2016

You know people need to come off drugs

When they post comments about how reading a book is surreal, because the reader is staring at markings on slices of tree while hallucinating vividly.

#generationtwit

;-)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

One door shuts, another opens.

So today I finished one of my part-time jobs. The company was developing a screening system based on data generated by a university group that *looked* absolutely solid - strikingly so, which should have been it's own warning - yet which could not be reproduced by either us or them when it came to trials of typical patients.

It happens.

I'm really sad things didn't work out: we refined the technique a lot over the course of the project while learning loads, invented some really useful hardware and should - if everything had worked out - have had a system that would make a lot of lives a bit better and save the health service millions each year. The nature of development from academic data is hit and miss, and this one was a miss.

Tomorrow is my last paid day, but "there's no need to come in" and both the lab and office are clear & sorted.

Next Thursday I start a new job doing the kind of work I've been doing most of my life. I *hope* that I haven't bitten off more than I can chew, especially on such a short time of employment. It will be a challenge that I'm quite looking forward to, but with a slight sense of wondering whether it will become a large wave that towers over me instead of one I end up riding.

Monday, 25 July 2016

How is it they're jumping for joy?

Worship and praise are a curious experience.

So often the worship leader seems so full of joy, praise, exhuberance, happy gratitude. I wonder sometimes if I'm deficient as a Christian in some ways, that I don't overflow with 'joy inexpressible' to all around me. Am I a miserable git, sinful (OK, got me there) faithless and ungrateful?

Not really, but I can't seem to do the happy-overflow thing.

Sometimes it can drive guilt or feeling down, sometimes I can even accept it's who I am and that to be otherwise wouldn't be real. Occasionally I can feel a bit like it too, but that's somewhat unusual. Generally I try not to base life on feelings, but some things are intended to be outward expressions of feelings within, and those I'm not happy to fake so much.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Why did you just stop?

A post from Fernando about Bill Cunningham made me think about the desire to retire.

Bill C loved what he did, continuing to work into his 80s, when most would have retired 20 years or more before. I too love many of the things that I do, but there are times when the stress - the friction points - make me really wish I could just go fill shelves in Tesco.

I wonder if it's possible to find a way to live where the friction is dealt with, freeing us to just get on with what we're good at? This is really rhetorical, but it's also an 'I wish'.

p.s if anyone hears of any jobs going where I can cycle round a major city taking photos, then writing about them, please let me know. :-)

I should agopolise

The spelling on this blog, primarily due to typos, has been terrible recently.

Reading through posts from the last few weeks, I was somewhat horrified at the mistakes, especially as a spelling and grammar nazi. It is entirely my own fault, of course, however Firefox/blogger spill chucker does some odd things, failing to spot the switched spelling in the title, yet picking up on nazi.

So.... sorry.

We change.

There's a slightly uncomfy irony that, as one who wanted to reform the church for so many years, I now want a church where life and practice are familiar. And most of all, where I feel I can trust what's going on.

This is probably just a passing phase.

It's also true to say that I'm not the man I was - much more experienced, much more knowledge - though I still make the same dumb mistakes. More knowledge and experience aren't necessarily either good, useful or helpful things however, compared to faith and trust. And even fresh starts often prove not to be that either, of course, because we always bring ourselves.

More crypticism than a 'mummy' movie. ;-)

Monday, 18 July 2016

Recovering, which is good.

Last week I ended up with a nasty throat, which gave me a voice that would do justice to Wandring Star, plus a general head cold. However for the last couple of weeks my body has just been very very grumpy, aching in various places and not being at all happy. Likewise emotions have been generally dark, miserable and downward.

Hopefully that was all part of the same thing, and will now lift completely.

I'm giving running a break too. The swelling on one knee seems reduced and yesterday I managed to crouch a coupole of times, though it was very uncomfy standing up again afterwards. Not being able to get down without pain may be the price required for continuing to run.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Since you been gone.

So.

I'm told one should never start a sentence with the word 'so', but frankly, breaking conventions harmlessly is fun sometimes. ;-)

Playing bass does odd things to the way you look at music. So why does nearly every recent-ish worship song make me want to play the main riff for Since You Been Gone, at least from the basic chord structure? I picked up the chords for Matt Redman's Sing And Shout this morning, and although it's not written *quite* like that, it *feels* like it's written just like that. There was a bunch of about 10 songs that I worked through last night, and underlying most of the songs was this feeling that riff was coiled and waiting, ready to spring out at any time.

My fingers are also callousing up nicely from their soft girliness at the beginning of the week. 2 hours thrashinga round on acoustic guitar on Tuesday followed by more than an hour of bass last night (and 20min this morning) and I've already developed callouses on my fingertips. I've 3 basses to choose from, with the fretless 5 string having lovely smooth tapewound strings that are kind to the fingers,but requiring more accuracy in fretting than I'm capable of right now. I've got a Jazz copy that's got a skinny neck and smoother strings, but it's a bitt too smooth and rounded, and can sound a bit thuddy. Harshest to play of all is the precision copy, with a big fat maple neck and really abrasive strings (like running your fingertip over a rats tail file) but it's got a wonderfull growly tone from the musicman style bridge pickup, and sounds just so much better than the others.

So P type it is then.

*edit*
Delusions of adequacy - I just watched a Janek Gwizdala teaching video on youtube. Hah ha. Hah hah hah. Nope, not even close yet. :-)

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Seems it's a time of change.

So this week I seem to have joined an acoustic gospel blues band, which is interesting considering my antipathy to acoustic instruments. Sat in with the guys (and gal) in The Bell at Adderbury on Tuesday night, bought a slide on Wednesday and will be shortly trying to learn the set in time for next weeks gig at Shipston. Should be  'interesting' (I may also try to sneak in a home made 'micro' valve amp for solos once I know the guys a little more). They talked about Sister Rosetta Tharpe as one of their sources, but I'm not sure they're ready for anyone turning up with a white SG yet.

Sunday I'm playing at the celebration in Oxford, but this time probably bass rather than electric. I think I know around half the songs in the set, so that's going to be interesting too - there's going to be lots of concentrating on getting the notes right from the chords, since I can't hear where bass is pitched as easily as I can guitar.

Change is here to stay.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

I Am Legend

And there's been more than one of me.

It's a little grotesque (OK, actually rather a lot grotesque) but I also find this funny.

I'm amazed at the grace of God sometimes

And maybe sometimes I'm not aware of it, so I'm not amazed.

However. A couple of weeks back by lab-based job was coming to an end, simply because the claims made by a university for a particular technique didn't stand up to scrutiny - there was no diagnostic value in the process.

Another company here had a job going, and after no effort on my part at this point in time, I've been offered the position. There's some history with them in the past, and I've offered plenty of free advice & guidance, but nevertheless, this is still quite unexpected.

And I'm grateful.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Decisions, decisions.

Our holiday plans are still flapping freely.

Earlier in the year we'd decided to go back to India, and that really appeals still, but I just don't feel up to the hassle of sorting out out own tour, and we don't really fancy any of the pre-arranged ones that we can afford/aren't willing to spend that much on a personalised tour. However, as I write this, Chris is watching 'Marigold Hotel', so the debate may be over regardless.

So where else?

TBH I'm tired right now. Tired of facing work challenges that make me want to curl in a ball at times - not because they're unreasonable, but because I'm trying to cope with the odd emotional things that fairly severe exercise does to me.

In many ways Greece, especially going to Lesvos again, appeals. It's a known quantity, we've not seen Daphne and Iannis since 2009, the location is great and it's guaranteed relaxing. At the same time I know we'll start to get a little bored after a week, and we've mined out many of the island's attractions already. We could fly to athens for a few days first, see the acropolis etc, then get a boat across, but that's hassle again.

And then there's Turkey, where Ben's having a great time. I'm very very tempted to pick one of the really good deals on a flight/hotel/car through expedia and just go for a couple of weeks near Selcuk/Efes (Ephesus). There's LOADS to see - we could even drive over to Cappadocia for a couple of days - and see Ben too. But I dunno. Hassle again, and trying to cope with an alien culture where I don't speak ANY of the language.

Don't tell Chris, but I've even wondered about going to Scotland, while they'll still let people from the south across the border. Scrub that - last time I had a holiday where it rained all the time I hated it. :p

Guess we'l just have to wait & see.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Joggers nipple

Is not a joke.

7.5 miles in the rain, wearing a belt that held my singlet still against a moving nipple, is not kind. My right nipple was actually weeping slightly this morning. Should I have more sympathy for breast feeding mothers now?

Update Saturday - nipple no longer painful and scabbed over OK. :-)

Am I an innie or outie?

And we're not talking belly buttons now.

As it turned out, I didn't get a vote in this election, being a European. It's curious however, that although my inclination was that leaving was probably going to be a good thing, the reasons for leaving the EU as presented - and indeed everything I've seen of the leave campaign - seem utterly horrid, full of lies and misdirection, preying on emotion and gullibility. Doing the right thing for very wrong reasons is never good where people are likely to follow those reasons, and I suspect this has a strong potential to go bad. It might have also been better to wait another year & let a less foundational country fire the first shot across the EU bows, in the hope that reform could have happened.

I have already heard of the phrase "phased deportation" being used by a politician - breath taking. There is also a Youtube clip of Nigel Farage - one of the key leavers - declaring that a claim at the cornerstone of the leave campaign was a mistake and obviously not true.

It will be important to understand why the vote swung this way for future generations, especially as British society is so very mix these days. Immigration and a lack of integration is certainly a key part. It's also almost certainly a part of the rejection of 'the system' that America is also experiencing with Trump being a presidential candidate and over here with Jeremy Corbyn heading up the Labour party.

For now we wait for the dust to settle and see whether it is battle plans or negotiation terms that are being drawn up.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

You know it will make you uptight and grumpy.

I read the Backyard Missionary blog (see occasional blogroll) for the first time in a while yesterday. Hamo wrote one post describing a film he went to see with his wife, about refugees trying to enter Australia being effectively held prisoner on an island by the Australian government. He knew the film would leave him feeling out of sorts & helpless, and no surprise, that's exactly what it did.

So when I started reading that book on leading missional communities by Mike Breen and the guys at 3DM, the outcome was predictable.

After ordering a paper copy via Amazon I was also able to preview the first 1.5 chapters on the kindle app. The first chapter looked good in many ways, and talked about building extended family that more-or-less worked in a way that I'd seen previously. Great. The 'new church' buzzwords are springing up - like Oikos instead of family - to differentiate this from the old church, but that's how 3DM works.

So I started chapter 2 on the 4 foundational principles of missional community, the first of which is discipleship. OK, I can buy that, makes sense. So we then cut to an example of this, where a MC that had been serving food to homeless people, switched to meeting their needs of friendship because the city social services were already meeting those practical needs very well. The section then concludes reinforcing to us how vital discipleship is.

This was an example of discipleship?

What did I miss - is there a special revelation for the anointed? Is there some subtlety that I'm too stupid to get. This sounds like a missional community discovered that it wasn't being effective doing the obvious thing, so changed approach. Am I supposed to overlook the inappropriate example because I'm overawed that an MC (to use the book's abbreviation) is out befriending homeless people? Isn't there a practical example of discipleship that couldn't have been found & used instead?

Grump.

Chris and I talked about this - we saw this pattern clearly in Building A Discipling Culture, where examples are given that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic. I feel like the little kid shouting about the kings new clothes when I see this stuff, knowing all the adults watching are going to ignore me anyway. Are these guys charlatans, and if so, why do so many follow their movement? If they're not then why doesn't their teaching hang together? Do they just simply need an editor for their books?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Missional communities?

The buzz-phrase that hasn't gone away yet.

Shrug.

For my sins I've started reading another Mike Breen book, this time about leading missional communities, working on the principle of the devil you know is better than the one you don't, because they seem to be the future for our church movement. I want to know if they really are the next wave of God moving through the church (as the book authors suggest) or if they're just the latest fad in consumer church, making it possible to look like something vital is going on, when all we've done is drop a need to teach people and let people socialise every week without guilt.

So I bought Leading Missional Communities.

Wandered through the first chapter over dinner. As with all these things, there's a mixture. So I recognised descriptions of extended family that I've seen working in churches that I've been part of - typically when they were new, young churches, everyone giving themselves to each other. However that was always set against a backdrop of teaching and discipleship in a housegroup format, rather than a larger group of people whose stated aim was primarily mission.

There's another, more personal, thing that bothers me. My grandfather was a wonderful Godly man who got very grumpy with the church in later years, was extremely unhappy about moves of the Holy Spirit and resisted so many things. I have some of his character, and DO NOT wish to follow him in those ways. It makes me very cautious about what I follow and particularly, what I stand against.

I also remembered that I need to review What's wrong with outreach? that I mentioned in this thread.

In a nutshell, it's good, sensible and unspectacular. If, like me, you aren't a natural evangelist driven by a desire to be continuously sharing the gospel, then it may be freeing. There's nothing in there that should be controversial, but some will probably feel it undermines the drive for evangelism.

I grew up in a time when society was becoming increasingly inoculated against Jesus and faith generally, through nominally Christian stuff in school, through media presenting salvation through science and faith as being mentally defective. The churches response - up the ante - push a gospel harder and harder, through Evangelism Explosion, door knocking, various missions, initiatives to guilt-trip Christians into pushing the gospel at people.

This book explains why that wasn't really going to work (as indeed it didn't really). There's an irony mentioning it at the same time as LMC, because the kind of outreach it talks about is where the church stops withdrawing from the world, and instead lives with the world in order to show the world what Jesus was really like. I have a feeling that this is the real missional community that the church needs, but instead we are going to get to copy someone else's program.

Buy Keith Schooley's book - it's good, and a lot cheaper than LMC, though less hip.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Is youth wasted on the young*?

Do you ever have the feeling, assuming you are 50+ like me, that life has flown by, and what remains is a gradual slide into decrepitude as one's body and brain gradually fail?

We were talking about this a couple of weeks back, and I said that if possible I'd live the same life over again, experience the same things for the first time, even without the experience and wisdom I've collected on the way.

After Sarah's death it needed a deliberate decision for us to stay together, not because we'd fallen out about anything, but because the natural desire is to escape, move on, start again. The aging process causes something similar I suspect, a greiving for lost youth and strength. It's no surprise that middle-aged men leave their wives and families of many years to attempt to recover what they've lost, and all the sharp-tongued comments about the manopause and old men in sports cars only makes me feel more sympathy - though not agreement - toward them.

My grandfather had grown up in a world where older men of his background were respected for their experience and survival (to acheive 70+ in a working class environment was good going) yet was disappointed that, when it was his turn, no-one cared. The present world cares even less for 'old people', though rubs along with them them if they can still afford to live normally. While I'm maudlin like this, the future isn't orange.

*Terry Pratchett, who knew something about getting old & falling to bits, though who had no hope of anything better afterward..

Monday, 13 June 2016

Trying to sort out a trip to India

I'm reminded just how big a country it is, and how different the culture too. Not sure I'm brave enough to DIY instead of using a travel company - we'll see.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Good morning sunrise

Or it would be if it were not cloudy. Don't you love 5am airport runs, :p

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Looking at re-activating the photoxon blog

Trying out dynamic templates.

The one I'd selected a while back (Timeslide - that was 2 years ago!) shows titles of posts, requiring a click to view the content. This makes me run a mile when I view other blogs, and I have to REALLY want to read the conent to bother. Guess that's a miss then.

There's a bunch of other variations from the dynamic set, but most of them are dull/ineffective/not set up properly (my fault - ignorance can break nearly anything). However the classic version looks fairly good right now, so I'll give that a try.

Fonts are another question. Calibri is a clean modern font, not the easiest to read, but it's crisp and neat so I've gone with that. Colours are default, not because I can't change them, but they are neutral and ideal for viewing images. It was tempting to use an orange theme to tie into this blog, and also to put a big picture up as background. Neither are really desireable (do you view images in a gallery against a technicolour background?) even though both are tempting.

The plan will be to upload at least one set of images/article/review per week. Images to be primarily local and recent, though may occasionally pop up travel stuff too.

You're welcome to wander over to view the building site while I'm tweaking it, but there's a strong chance a lot of test posts will get removed before 'launch' (what a grand term for use).

*edit*

Well, that didn't last long. The dynamic pages simply couldn't be configured the way I wanted some I'm trying Blogger's 'awesome' template. Not completely keen on the pale blue border that I can't seem to change. :-(

*edit 2*
And it's done. www.photoxon.blogspot.com is now (just) live, though with minimal content so far (working on that too).