Monday, 6 July 2015

The revolving door of the blogosphere.

There's been a minor tweak to the blogrolls, with Futureshapeofchurch being let go due to inactivity and Jazz's blog added to blogs I occasionally read.

Facebook has now superceded blogging as the means of personal communication for most ordinary people.

A little more (or a little less) grace.

So I'm still wading gradually through Philip Yancey's Vanishing Grace. For books that are not gripping, without a professional pressure to read and that I yet feel the need to be educated by, my approach is to read a couple of sections at a time occasionally during dinner.

You're still reading it? Really?

Yup. I'm hesitant to describe this as a book that's life-changing, because that carries entirely the wrong connotations - and as you can tell, it's easy to put down - yet this is also partially true. I'm aware that my approach to those I disagree with is not always gracious, and the book has certainly been causing me to consider ways in which I might be different, just as John Bevere's book on offence made me reconsider how I prayed for those who appeared to want to hurt me.

So there's a learning going on.

I'm also acutely aware that as Christians we need to be reaching out, being Jesus in the places we are, and in those circumstances relying on the Thumper principle isn't enough to look like Christ. How would Jesus encourage people, affirm them, build them up? How would he speak life to someone who was revelling in their sin?

I'm not there yet.

It's been a while.

And I don't feel tremendously inclined to blog much, though I will a little.

We're hunting for a replacement for the Peugeot 307, which now *feels* old and tired, even though it's done less that 120K miles. Bits have been trying to fall off for years, and although it's still amazingly economical, it requires about 2X the residual value spending to make it good. Requirements: personal, that it's more enjoyable todrive than the Pug - practical, that my mother's mobility scooter will easily fit in the boot and it has 5 seats in the back.

Faves, between 2 and 5 years old, are:
Ford Focus estate
BMW 3 series estate
Kia Cee'd estate
Skoda Octavia
Mini Countryman
Fiat 500L (like we had in Canada)

I drove an Octavia Scout with 4WD last week. Handling was brilliant, ride much firmer than the pug, but the cockpit felt claustrophobic, and my head was almost on the ceiling. That's not the end for the Octavia, but I also need to try something else. Will try to arrange a test drive of a Focus shortly: they have a really good reputation for refinement, but there's something about Fords that makes me want to run away (had a Fiesta for a week a couple of years back - not great).

The Beemer makes me nervous, because of the investment and cost of repairs, and they don't have a pristine reputation for reliability either. And there's the snob value, which is both attractive and repellent. The Kia balances that, in that it's almost an anti-snob car, but I keep hearing hints that the performance doesn't measure up to the marketing, and that the 7 year warranty is needed.

Which brings me to the Countryman and 500L.

Both very similar cars in some ways, looking like MPVs that someone shrunk in the wash. The 500L we had a good time with, driving for many hours across Canada, so we know it's comfy and handles OK (not exactly WOW inspiring though) but I'm concerned about a lack of power for a car that's not small. The Countryman OTOH could be everything that the Fiat isn't, with a great rep for handling, decent, enthusiastic engines and even available in 4WD (great for snow round here). The questionmark I have is over size, because the width appears *just* enough to fit the scooter in, and the rear seats come as either 2 or 3 seats.

Cars that have fallen by the wayside are the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon (heart says YES, but the boot is small with a VERY high lip) and BMW 1 series (ditto). I've also seen a few affordable 2 seater convertibles, but we need something sensible to balance the beetle.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Ship happens

No, that's not a typo. I'm waiting for dry ice to arrive so that I can ship frozen materials out, plus a bunch of other things too.

It's slightly odd managing things here, trying to find ways of guiding tenants while niether terrorising them, nor coming over as wet and ineffective.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Clearing my desk.

So it's Sunday afternoon and I'm moving all my stuff out of the office in readiness for the new tenants taking over my space in the Innovation centre. It's a slightly emotional time - I've been completely fine about it until then last hour - to be leaving 'my' space here, even though as lab manager I'm just across the corridor. It isn't the same though, and this desk isn't 'mine' in the same way.

Tuesday all the frozen stuff for one of my customers will be shipped off to Ireland and a lab there that will carry on the work for them. I have another customer for whom I may rent a little space and just do a couple of days over a weekend purfiying antibodies and doing conjugation work, if they don't want to get someone else to do it.

There's lots of kit to be sold or donated still, and I've only just started throwing away the mountains of paper that are no longer of practical use.

Movin' on etc. Time to get back to binning!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

So by Monday my labspace will belong to someone else.

A while back I took a day to pray & fast about work, resulting in 2 job offers the following day and a decision to close things. Next week a new company starts in the shared lab, in the space I formerly occupied, and I need to clear my junk & make room!

It's a little hard moving on, though the real pain will come, I suspect, when moving the paperwork, accumulate over more than 6 years. What to bin, what to keep? I've been here before, except then more had to be kept, where as I plan to discard as much as possible this time. May be looking for temporary space for a filing cabinet though. :p

Monday, 15 June 2015

For my sins, I'm reading Vanishing Grace

Philip Yancey has been a somewhat liberal, evangelical and influential voice in Christendom, writing about 'difficult' things. He likes to quote bits and use examples from Brennan Manning and various similar others who have been through destructive personal experiences and suffer addictions, even while retaining a high profile as authors and thought leaders.

It makes me want to ask whether our sin and failure is part of God's plan for us.

There's a line of theology that suggests Adam's fall was intended by God all along, in order that He might send Jesus to redeem humanity. Could this cycle of sin & failure, grace and restoration be something God actually wants for us - as this book strongly hints at - or are we actually called to live righteously and walk without sinning before God, as the letters from Peter among other parts of the bible suggest fairly unambiguously?

And that then leads to the obvious question of whether, If God intends for us to fail and need forgiveness, that is actually sin at all, since it's following the will of God?

#Thinkingoutloud

p.s. It's not a book I'd say that I'm enjoying - full of beating up the reader over the failings of the North American Evangelical church to be generous and show grace or compassion. It's being a useful read, but not something for pleasure.

It has made me re-see Bicester Community Church, and how we were planted out as a community of grace through a gentle and gracious leader, and how that graciousness has been encouraged and protected over the years. There's a root of the same grace in Oxfordshire Community Churches too, that has fed the grace and helped it grow. A generous nature I appreciate all the more now.


Friday, 5 June 2015

I didn't really want to talk about May 21st a couple of weeks ago.

Liza -  we'd love to stay in contact, and thank you for your kind words.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Some of you will have a new task-bar icon.

And some won't, especially if you're running OSX or Linux.


Microsoft included an 'upgrade to Windows 10' button with their weekly updates today, to 'encourage' a more enthusiastic uptake than they had with W8. I've been curious about W10 for some time anyway, and today I joined the windows insider program, downloaded the W10 Insider preview evaluation copy & installed it on the same partition as my current W8.1 Pro installation. Installation wasn't completely without hiccups, since after the initial install I was required to make some choices about the setup, resulting in a download that froze the screen, requiring an eventual hard off & reboot.


Initial reactions are very positive compared to the evaluation copy of W8 that I tried a couple of years back. Most things seem to work OK, the interface is clean and simple, with many icons as line drawings. Colours can be a bit mungy, but nothing like as ghastly as Windows 7 icons. The task-switching facility in the taskbar is nice and Project Spartan (otherwise known as Explorer for W10) seems quick, clean and crisp. It also has a wonderful facility designed to help with reading the text on a web site, where side menus and other distractions are moved out of the main window, text is enlarged into a single clean font and any images are left embedded in the text. The result is a very clean web page experience - sure you lose the original formatting, but most of the time that's no loss at all.


I have the feeling there's LOADS of new features here that I'll never see or use, simply because I'm not that nerdy any more.


Desktop is running on Windows basic drivers because I've not yet installed Nvidia's driver (325Mb!) but unlike yesteryear, it will deliver the monitor's native 1650X1080 resolution and looks tidy into the bargain.


In some ways this is still very traditional Windows. The visual makeover is only skin-deep, and although the new menus look fresh, drilling down quickly brings up a W8.1 style control panel, which isn't a bad thing really if one is already familiar with such things.


And in some ways this looks just like a Linux distro running an older KDE 4.n version of the desktop, with the dark, semi-translucent taskbar and line-drawing icons, the flatish desktop icons, the different backgrounds, the odd behaviours of screen edges etc etc. This is none the worse for it, except that where windows was once slick & crisp compared to the competition, now it seems to have copied the competition from a few years back. For comparison's sake, I'd say that OSX icons are much more polished, but the OSX screen font is very poor beside windows' own.


Compared to that Debian/Gnome install I did last week this looks a bit clunky and unsophisticated. It was telling for me too, how the Debian install 'just worked' for me as a user, with minimal need to learn where things were or what to do, while this install feels like a leap into the unknown, and needs much exploring. Having said that as though it were a negative, it feels like, for the first time in many years, Microsoft are developing exciting software again. However conversing we Chris, we also both feel that we'd like an OS to 'just work' for us, rather than provide lots of exciting tools and diversions that get in the way. But no OS designer was ever going to strip out the bells & whistles, now were they?


In a while I'll install Libreoffice, lightroom and some other applications, but I shall probably download that Nvidia driver at work over a connection that's around 10X faster than this one.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Debian8 with Gnome 3

This version looks REALLY good.

The screen fonts, wallpaper and tool bars have a very pleasing, apple-ish level of polish that's often missing from Linux installs, and it seemed stable and functioned well (Debian has a reputation for stability). It wasn't as quick as I might have expected and Iceweasel (the firefox-based alternative browser) is a bit clunky, plus it's loaded with games by default (why, for heaven sakes?).

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Technology succeeds and fails

to impress me.

That's probably not a surprise, and familiarity is a big source of unreasonable contempt for me.

The prompt for this post was use of a cheap Lite-On external DVD drive. I've become less impressed with Linux Mint/cinnamon of late, and even though the machine I'm using is relatively powerful for most of my needs, stuff like browsing seems really sluggish and scrolling jerky and hesitant, so it's back to Distro-hunt again.

I just plugged the drive into this laptop, popped a blank disc in it, right clicked on the Debian-gnome .iso file and selected burn. The drive spun up with an amazing amount of energy for such a tiny, slender device, I was quite astonished - normally when used for playing DVDs it whispers away quietly to itself.

In half a minute the DVD was ready, and I'm presently installing Debian-Gnome on my testing drive, replacing elementary thats really had almost no use. I really liked the idea of Elementary: it looked a lot like Pear Linux (and that's a good thing) though somewhat cruder and less refined. But it seemed a bit glitchy, sometimes unstable, and coupled with the attitude of the developer I've not really been interested enough to pursue it.

So enter Debian.

The guys at Mint do a version of Debian that I'd tried a couple of times and found reasonably quick, but it was always MINT Debian, and seemed like more of the same. This time I wanted to try Debian 8 from the developers themselves, hence giving it a go. I've also been interested in seeing were Gnome 3 has got to with their desktop environment, so this was a chance to do both. I also have a Debian image with XFCE as the desktop environment, so if Gnome proves too clunky, as I suspect, there will be a lightweight alternative to evaluate.

I'm also feeling somewhat impatient. Several versions of Debian were available for download, and I'd *thought* that selecting the first would give me the default desktop on the disk, rather than core OS only as it turns out, and so I have another 30min to wait while Gnome is downloaded to compete the install.

Ho hum.

Might just carry on blogging then.

My good friend Marc Vandersluys, blogging at The Eagle And Child (link to the left) was puzzling recently about the point of SciFi, and not 'getting' what was interesting to make one want to read an entire book. He was struggling with being thrown into a sea of information without a rope of understanding to cling to and allow him to make sense of apparently arcane details:

Despatch 11437~990 to the vice Glorg, sector Syllaphis 2: Greetings Humpherl, the moon is now total and we await your teardrop.

I love this voyage of discovery, of piecing together and being forced to draw conclusions as to what's really going on, having to continually link evidence and information to create a picture and understanding out of words that are mostly familiar, but meanings that are not. It's somewhat of what I do for work, and it's somewhat like using Linux - a bit of trial and error, a bit of exploring new worlds and new ways of doing the same things. And in the end, scifi is pretty much ALWAYS about people doing the same things in slightly new ways, even when it incorporates aliens with apparently different requirements.

Now, I recogise I'm starting to ramble a little here, but the install is nearly over.

I read much less scifi these days and far more classical literature - which isn't so very different really - but I have recently stumbled across an old BBC TV series that I found refreshing and WAY more adventurous than I'd ever though possible for TV, though this was from the 80s, when people had more than 15 sec attention span for stuff they didn't understand.

I downloaded the first episode of Sapphire and Steel, starring David McCallum (ex-Man From UNCLE) and Johanna Lumley (ex New Avengers). There's a chemistry between them that helps overcome the wooden 80's style TV acting, but better than that, the story is presented in a way that makes you look for a rope in a tossing sea. Brilliant, and everything that Hollywood scifi isn't, including an absolutely miniscule budget and zero CGI. I strongly recommend finding, downloading & watching (it's >2 hours long).

Anyway, back to my title.

Last Saturday we went looking at tablet computers, not least in order that Chris might become familiar with Android so she could use my phone, and we had some tesco vouchers to use up. Tesco's Hudl 2 has a great reputation as a budget tablet with good performance and great screen, but in the store it seemed childishly gaudy, with a slightly laggy performance and uninspiring feel. The cheap windows 8.1 tablet next to it had a much lower res screen, yet felt so much better to use. I also tried a Lenovo Yoga 10" tablet in staples (very heavily reduced) and the performance and design again seemed much better.

The Chris asked me why I wanted a tablet.

That rather killed it, TBH. Tablets are primarily media consumption devices, rather than working tools, though they will double up for sat-nav, lightweight portable email platforms, e-book readers etc etc. And I've lost patience with my Kobo.

But I realised I wanted a toy, not a tool.

I'm typing this on an i7 quad-core laptop with 16GB Ram and QHD screen - it's a real workstation. Chris uses the Macbook for watching DVDs when sat on the settee, and it's my travel computer too. There's the livingroom desktop that I'm just fiddling with right now. Chris has another desktop computer upstairs for accounts and there's the little Philips 12" laptop that I bought for Africa (in case someone stole it - effectively disposable) that Ben used during the winter. We're computered out, but I'm fascinated to find out if a tablet can be more that just an overgrown phone, as well as replacing the Kobo.

So we didn't buy anything. That's not to say we won't in the future, but probably for the best right now.

And that Debian is STILL installing - makes Windows look positively rapid.

Friday, 22 May 2015

So I'm, trying to juggle 3 jobs.

The first is, of course, shutting down the lab side of my business. There's kit to sell (some sold already) materiel to dispose of and a need to do some manufacturing for one customer, some custom work for another before it all goes. And a butt-load of paperwork to sort, file, recycle etc.

Then there's my development job. It's very different in a way, from so many things I've done, yet at the same time draws on physical chemistry, engineering and instrumentation experience as well as development process experience. Love it, get a little frustrated by it, wish I were doing it full time (2 days/week isn't anything like enough to acheive what's needed in the time frame) and really glad to be onboard.

Finally job number 3, managing  the main shared lab facility. Again there's not enough time, though in a few weeks that will be less of a problem. The biggest frustrations are a mix of IT (because everything is done in the cloud, it's all remotely managed and I can't 'just' fix it now & work) and trying to sort out someone else's quality system. Even though I respect and appreciate the originator of that system very much, it had them working hours into the night and is hugely labyrinthine and deeply customised, and at the same time basic good practices weren't always followed (like marking obsolete documents as such when issuing updates). And there's no 'logic' to the system that allows one to locate all temperature monitoring documents in a single subsection etc.

So I went and made a coffee, having had a less-than-efficient morning trying to print a copy of a record document and top up liquid nitrogen containers. The window to the kitchen was open the out-door scent coming in was fresh and cool. It's not all bad then. :-)

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Francis Bacon and the masters

Is the title of an exhibition at the Sainsbury centre for visual arts in Norwich. I know this because my mother, in her great generosity, passes over her copy of The Week magazine, which summarises the news by drawing from a  wide variety of both British and international sources without significant political or obvious cultural bias.

To illustrate the article on this exhibition they had, side by side, The Crucifixion as depicted by Bacon, and the picture that inspired him by Alonso Cano. Granted both pictures were small in print, but one of them appeared to be a finely crafted image with expressive use of light and shade, carefully detailed and and with emotions poured into form, while the other looks like the bored doodling of a teenager who is depressed after listening to heavy metal. I'll leave you to guess which is by whom.

To quote a quote from the article "But there is in some cases 'not obvious relationship' between the exhibits" (the inspiration and Bacon's work). And "Many of these connections are 'tenuous' and among all the masterpieces it is 'easy to forget about Bacon altogether'". I feel quite guilty for finding this so pleasing.

The magazine is often drily humorous with the comments it extracts for an article. The obituary for Keith Harris (he had a ventriloquist act with a green 'bird' called Orville) was completed with a quote from Harris made to Louis Theroux, who had asked him how he felt about Orville and their 25 year relationship. "I created a monster, in a funny way" Harris replied. "He made me into a household name, but he put me into a pigeonhole".

And finally.

In an article regarding the performance of Twitter as a listed company, Lucy Kellaway of the FT was quoted as saying that CEO Dick Costolo spouted nonsense: "As we iterate on the logged-out experience and curate topics, events, moments that unfold on the platform, you should absolutely expect us to deliver those experiences to the total audience." The observation was made "What better way to undermine a brand dedicated to 'saying things snappily' - it's like discovering the Burberry chief Christopher Bailey secretly buys his clothes from Primark."

That was the week that was. ;-)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Ever hear a noise that distressed you?

Maybe distress is the wrong word, but when you're sat in front of your laptop and can hear a hard drive going flat out when the machine is apparently idle, if you're IT-inclined it should make you very worried.

Putting my ear close to said laptop made me no wiser, and the noise, if anything, diminished. It seemed to be coming from off to my right, but small rooms with hard walls like this office can reflect sound, making it bounce and seem to come from elsewhere.

I stood up & the noise diminished. It MUST be the laptop.

Sat down, seemed to be coming from the printer off on the right (printers don't normally contain hard drives, especially when they're nasty budget units from HP) but listening closer suggested the source wasn't the printer.

Much perturbation.

Finally tracked it down.

It's the electric clock, and it makes the noise when the second hand is descending, so there's about 30sec of hard-drive style noise, then a slightly gritty quiet. Had me fooled for about 3 weeks of 2 working days/week.

At least I've managed to get the office wirelessly networked now, so we're not tripping over cables and passing stuff around. Next step will be a NAS for file storage and backup and (hopefully) a mono laser printer so we stop burning cash on ink refills in the HP.


This is the job where I have IT input. In the other, for various reasons, the organisation has decided to use 'cloud computing', which kinda works and kinda doesn't. It's like 1995 all over agan with sluggish behaviour, sometimes unreliable apps and never being able to find your stuff when you want it. But they will probably pay me, eventually.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Silence isn't golden (it's just silence).

2 of my favourite bloggers have both posted pieces about silence, neither of which I've really read yet. Blogging has just dropped off the radar for me recently, and I've been silent because I've not been saying anything here. i.e. there's nothing clever about it from my end.

So I'm re-shaping my life a bit more: beginning to shut the business, trying to mentally juggle 2 jobs outside of that, doing more guitar playing, more amp building, more running, more work on the house, more life elsewhere. Photography happens sometimes too, though I'm slacking on the darkroom side of the committment to that particular craft, so images are stacking up on my hard drive waiting for creative input.

Here's a couple of recent pics: Chesterton Windmill in Warwickshire.



Tuesday, 28 April 2015

There's an imbalance somewhere.

Among the many friends I have through facebook (numbers of which I keep trying to reduce) there are 2 guys who have both, quite independently, posted up about being depressed in the last 24 hours. I know both of them from the same mountainbiking circle, and we share many of the same friends.

One of them had a large number of affirming and positive (if sometimes shallow and thoughtless) comment. The other had none.

I don't understand how one of the guys could be so overlooked to the point of seemingly being ignored - and his situation is much more 'desperate' if that's the right phrase, though with depression that can have little to do with it - than the other's.

People are odd. I suspect there'll be a raft of posts now the duck is broken.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Just thinking about how hard it is to build people up.

When, if you were offering directions to get somewhere, the advice you'd give is "you'd be best not starting from here".

Friday, 24 April 2015

So today Ben goes again

Down for 6 months hard labour in Turkey - I think we're going to miss him more this time round.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Next years adverts

Not surprisingly, I'm starting to receive ads encouraging me to book a ski holiday for next year. It's not going to happen, but that doesn't stop me wishing.

In other news, I'm having the bizarre experience of Ben borrowing my car for a couple of days while he completes his training before heading off to Turkey as a mountain bike guide at the end of the week. It shouldn't feel strange, but it does.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Am I about to get a new phone?

My Motorola RAZRi has been running Android 4.1.2 Jellybean for 2 years. It did an update just a couple of months after I'd bought it, and that was that, which would bother some. Most of the time it's been fine, since it did everything I expected when I bought it and that was just what I'd wanted.

Recently I'd heard that 4.4.2 Kitkat was being rolled out, with mixed reviews, but with an improvement in performance for many users. Hopefully it won't brick my phone like it has some.

Anyway, it's about 450MB, downloading now. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

*edit*
Update took about 20min download, then 20min install. Fonts and some icons are different. Swiping seems slightly smoother, but some functions seem laggy. Text message appearance has changed, and all ringtones seem to have been reset to something hideous.

Time later to dig around.

Identikit management?

There is a certain sense of amusement that the lab here is now being managed by 2 guys in their early 50s, both balding with short grey hair and grey goatee beards. He's taller than me though.

Last week I started the first of my new jobs, and this week I start the second. It's not clear what I'll be doing yet, but voyages of discovery have often been interesting.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Change is in the wind

So I'm tidying and filing at work right now.

Came across a couple of booklets from my friend Gunvor, from my last working visit to Stockholm in 2009, for a place called Sigtuna. It's another place I'd love to visit when there was opportunity, along with a few days in Stockholm itself, but there's so much to see and so little time.

We were also talking about returning to Austria again, and our last time there was literally the week before I went to Stockholm. There's a side of Austria that I've not yet seen, away from the tourists and mountains of the west.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Another 9 days left.

Ben is back next Wednesday, and suddenly we're going to have to remember that we aren't young, free & married any more. And we'll need to clear his room out. At least he's getting lots of board time in before the return, judging by facebook. I'm just a little jealous, since I know my skiing career is finished, but it's OK really.

So summer has kind-of started here already too. Just wish I could enjoy the idea of a 20mile MTB ride in the evening after work.

*edit*

Or not. He's back home with us now, having finished 1 week early. 3 1/2 hours and 200 miles of driving later, we got back late this afternoon from Stanstead.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Now here's an interesting thing - answers to prayer pt.1

Business has been lean recently, and between us we'd recognised things couldn't go on like they have before we ran out of money. So yesterday, not feeling terribly spiritual (recovering from a nasty cold, which Chris now has badly) I spent the day praying & fasting to ask what we should do for the future.

There weren't angel choirs, flashes of lightning or signs in the heavens so much as a sense of "it's up to you - what would you like to do". Chris's feeling is that for all the work we have done we've had very little back and it's just not worth it, so I've pretty much committed to finding a job for, at least, some time. And that's fine - I don't really have an interest in marketing myself as the business any more, and self-confidence levels are pretty much ground-floor now.

This morning I've had 2 offers of work, for 1 and 2 days a week. 1 was semi-expected, although so often the semi-expected offers never come off that I'd pretty much stopped expecting them to be more than wishful thinking. The other was completely unexpected, and very useful.

The grace of God at work.

Now the question is what to do with what remains of the business? I am very thankful to be in this position.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Tonight the cold has fully landed.

Sinus pressure my old friend,
You've come to hurt with me again.
Because of mucous softly seeping
Filled my tubes while I was sleeping
And the pressure, that was planted in my brain,
Still remains
From the cold of springtime.


Funny how feeling crappy should make me poetic, lyrical even.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

For the first time in almost a year.

I've walked and prayed round the Heyford Park estate. Can't escape the connection that's there, even though we've moved on and have begun to heal.

But I must say that the last few months have not been kind at all. Roads closed, dust & dirt everywhere, seemingly more empty houses, huge mountains of rubble from all the buildings that have been chewed up and spat out to make way for the new builds. This must be such a difficult time if that's where home is.

Did someone post a comment, then change their mind & delete it?

???

Firefox is doing odd things

Just had some strange behaviour: a refusal to download linked content from a website and a complete failure to use the purchasing system on the Sigma-Aldrich website. Worked fine in Opera, which makes me wonder whether it's not a fault in Firefox so much as people developing for Chrome browser and marginalising FF.

How could you worship more through music and song?

Is a question asked on the lent course we're doing as a church.

The obvious answer is to sing along to worship CDs more often, though I'm not at all convinced that's actually any kind of worship at all. But theology of worship aside, it had me wondering about the sort of music and songs we use in church, and particularly, my part in playing and helping lead worship through what and how I play.

I'd like to let you into a secret - most Christian 'worship' CDs make me feel icky and out of kilter after a while.

Some, usually those recorded at events that are about more than just singing like Stoneleigh bible week etc have the longest legs, possibly because the actual intent is about worshipping together. Others, including albums from some very well known, awarded and feted international 'stars' of CCM much less so. The latest album from a certain Irish group that I really badly wanted to like was so loaded with emotional stress and tension that it felt like a needle being pushed into my mind, and I couldn't even listen all the way through first time round.

Maybe it's my fallen, un-redeemed character that needs a bit of the nasty to feel OK?

Over-production, a common problem when people are seeking 'perfection' or 'excellence', doesn't help either, producing a form with nothing to criticise and nothing to inspire either.

So after listening to 'worship' for a while I might bung on some Thin Lizzy or Joe Bonamassa in the car, just to wash away the cloyingness and emotional pressure that seems to come through. It's not that I don't want the presence of God - far from it - because God's presence doesn't come or go for me with the music I'm surrounded by (provded I don't go filling my head with evil). But there's something, rather like cello music, about music from certain 'worship' artists that presses buttons and makes life harder instead of better. And I appreciate that not everyone feels like this, and will love the stuff I can't bear.

So yes, it makes me wonder what I might do differently, or whether it would be more of the same as I presently do? Would I always be under tension and stress, straining, trying, reaching, stretching to touch God as it so often feels from the way the examples I've given, or would I be at peace, relaxed and happy to be in God's presence? For that matter, is it possible not just to be relaxed, at peace and happy, but to be soaring with and enjoying God, of sometimes feeling joy so strong you want to laugh - and that happens too, sometimes.

Probably a good job I'm not playing this Sunday. ;-)

*edited*

Monday, 16 March 2015

Just trimmed out a few more frozen blogs from the blogroll

Kinda sad to see them go, really, but after almost a year of no activity I reckon the 'owner' isn't coming back. C'est la mort I guess.