Thursday, 4 February 2016
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Interestingly, although my longer distance PBs have been improving, my PBs for 1K, 3K and 1 mile remain unchallenged from 2014: basically I'm running longer, but a little slower. It will be interesting to see if new shoes make a difference to that.
HEAD OF EXPLOSIONS
The business card sat there, staring enigmatically back at me as though the arrangement of words were entirely conventional, and any curiousness were down to my parochialism and inexperience. Nobody knew why it had been the only item with any text that had survived the 350 storey fall when Sagbaart was pushed - or jumped - and became a very shallow person indeed.
I have this very card sat here next to me, and it struck me how at one time it might have inspired a major science fiction series, but now in business marketing it's just another device used to attract attention among a million others all trying to attract attention. Reality and scifi have collided, and the result is...... ordinary. I'm almost tempted to attempt writing a story around this, but fear it would get abandoned without completion as my energy and interest were drawn away to other things.
At lunch we were discussing the incredible way in which the internet has made so much information available to those who can find it, though this time in the context of looking up past court records. The information age is quite astonishing, but instead of heralding in an age of peace, wisdom, understanding and prosperity, mankind is the same as it's always been.
FWIW I do consider the card clever, and the business behind this does seem to be doing some interesting things.
Saturday, 30 January 2016
Went to a running shop in Banbury (no website) and they did a video gait check (have you had your gait checked? No-one's even been to look at my fence yet mrs.) that shows I keep my foot flat and ankle straight, rather than pronate. The previous shoes were bought on the basis of correcting (assumed) overpronation because I have very flat feet, the effect being that when running, I usually land on the outside edge of the shoe instead of the middle of my foot. The replacements have a lot more 'spring' to them, as well as better cushioning, and remind me of the first pair of 'real' running shoes I ever bought that made me feel like I had springs under each foot; a wonderful sensation when I was young enough to fly along.
Running on a treadmill was a bizarre experience, where I wanted to run on the balls of my feet, rather than with my whole foot, and 10kph felt almost too fast despite this being slower than my usual pace on the road. It's also slightly intimidating when the ground beneath your feet moves with a power and speed that you can't control directly.
Thursday, 28 January 2016
Tuesday, 26 January 2016
In one sense it's semantics, but in another it seems to me to be seriously misrepresenting scripture. I'm also not comfy with the idea that if someone isn't open to hear about Jesus then you should "shake the dust off your feet" over them (the original meaning seems to have been effectively a curse) and move on, that accompanies the PoP theology.
I'm coming to dislike contrived theology.
Citrix server makes life 'interesting' when the data connection for a computer is poor.
There's someone driving round and round the carpark that they should 't park in anyway.
I need to gather up, log and clean about 65 pipettes.
Concerned that my knees are still a bit tender.
Looking forward to dinner with Chris at Knife And Fork next weekend.
Thinking that theology is a funny thing.
Ditto one-way systems.
Sunday, 17 January 2016
This evening 28 years ago I was at home while Chris was in hospital recovering from an event unique to women. The result of that event is still with us, I'm pleased to say.
Loved playing in the celebration in Oxford this morning, though I must be getting old because it left me tired and absolutely ravenous. It did feel like I could have carried on twice as long though, which is a novelty these days and also a good sign. I'm not much of a lead player any more, but can occasionally coax some interesting sounds from a guitar: was asked at least 3 times how I made it sound like a flute/trumpet (the answer is a big overdrive, longish delay and a volume pedal between the 2 for swells after plucking the note). My technique must be regressing, since someone mentioned sounding like Bruce Springsteen, when it's usually Fleetwood Mac instead.
It's so different playing with a band on a big stage and not being responsible for starting songs or holding the rhythm, just being able to add parts here or there. I almost never use dirty guitar tones in small church meetings, but in big meetings I'm running some kind of overdrive more than half the time. There's no need for clean guitar unless it's going to do something the acoustic cannot (like sound funky or groovy) and a mild crunchy drive tone adds muscle and fullness to an otherwise polite band sound. Really grateful to still get a chance to do this.
If there's a next time I'll have to take along the old washburn that I used to use in the cinema when the churches met together there 20+ years ago. That guitar encouraged a few who were kids at the time to start playing guitar themselves.
Saturday, 16 January 2016
So today it was still frosty, though the sun was out and brought some warmth where it fell, even though the shadows remained icy. Managed to run 9.5 miles = 15.3K. I'd really wanted the full 10, but my legs just didn't have it in them, and were getting tighter and tighter with every step over the last mile or so, however recovery seemed good this afternoon compared to how I have been in the past. Just need to keep bumping the distance up, since I've a feeling that my distance limit has a distinct hard stop to it compared to some who can keep going on adrenaline after their normal range has been exceeded.
And talking of pushing hard.
My fellow Christians, do you ever read books that have you exclaiming "you WHAT?!" out loud? We are working our way through Mike Breen/3DM ministries How To Build A Discipling Culture since it seems that Oxfordshire Community Churches are embracing the huddle program for discipling, and every now & again I find something that doesn't sit well. Latest was a reference to people in the west not breathing well, with a reference to what I though was a journal, but was in fact a quack website (http://www.breathing.com/articles/clinical-studies.htm) with a product to sell and an 'interesting' set of conclusions. And it didn't even support the conclusion quoted in the book anyway.
The book opens using the example of the 'horse whisperer' and making various assertions about how to break a horse and how that can apply in discipleship. But the story doesn't really seem to have much basis in fact after a bit of research (the family suggest he made up the abuse by his father, from whom he probably learned most of what he knew, and reading his father's book suggests an approach far from cruel) and it comes over as un-credible. This sows the first doubts, so that every so often there's another "you WHAT?!" moment, when something is spun a particular way. Quite possibly if I were convinced the material were good and I filtered it with eyes that expected to read good things then it would seem good to me. As it is, I like it less and less.
A quick web search throws up hundreds (possibly an underestimate) of websites protesting against the book, huddle program and 3DM in general, however closer investigation also shows the more prominent of them to be "protest against the apostate church/ranting/looney" variety, so not to be trusted either (and some were pretty nutty).
I just wish Christians wouldn't try to contrive stuff to support what they do. God is big enough not to need your lies and misdirection to support what he's about, and if the only way you can make what you're doing look good is by lies and misdirection (not suggesting this is deliberately the case here BTW) then you already know the answer.
This is an interesting time to be reading Eusebius again, and all the odd made up stuff that the church then was continuously trying to unpick. Some of the churches were continuing to use spiritual gifts up to the mid/late 2nd century, and I came across the first distinction between clergy and Laity (i.e. when the church has abandoned the priesthood of all believers) mentioned around the end of the second or early in 3rd century. They also have a bustup between the churches over when and how long the passover should be celebrated to remember Jesus death, with the eastern churches wanting a longer time and those centred closer to Europe a shorter one at a slightly different date. Much acrimony ensued, and there seems to have been a lot of plotting between various groups of bishops to do their opponents harm.
The book can be downloaded here. I advise reading it with understanding and interpretation, rather than as though it were truth.
In the present situation again I begin to understand why churches are so reluctant to consider new theologies and understandings - it can be so hard to tell who is a wolf and who a sheep.
Friday, 15 January 2016
And, on the point of booking flights to Bosnia Herzegovina, my debit card has been declined by the bank. Nuts.
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Reverting the spinning rust drive to W8.1 without removing the M-SATA drive borked that drive, probably damaging the boot manager and making it unable to boot the machine. Fine, I was planning to wipe & reinstall W8.1 from my Dell recovery USB stick, except that the drive had software on it that I wanted to deactivate in order to activate it on the fresh install I'd planned to create.
So out with the spinning rust drive in my morning coffee break.
The USB drive (another) I'd used to install W10 on it originally couldn't repair the drive.
As a last resort I popped in the Dell recovery drive and, within a few seconds the repair was done & drive bootable again. Excellent.
Photos 10 > deactivate > done.
Suddenly notice the trackpad works.
Really well (i.e. better than under W8.1).
After every reboot (which only takes a few seconds, thanks to using SSD, instead of about a minute using spinning rust).
After >30min of firefox usage at lunchtime I've not seen the graphics driver crash once.
So now I have a dilemma. Simply pop the spinning rust back in, close up the case and enjoy my better functioning W10, or continue with plan A and install W8.1, with all the delays, updates, software reinstallation and copying across of files (I'll have to move the lightroom catalogue back again regardless) required.
It's almost 5pm. Think I'll wack spinning rust* back in and see how we get on for the evening. W10 IS nicer to look at than W8.1, although the latter is warmer & friendlier in some ways (and I have more control over updates etc).
I could never have this kind of dilemma if I'd stayed with Apple. ;-)
*Amazon had a Sandisk 1TB SSD for £142.95 over Christmas, but I just couldn't justify the outlay, even for such a bargain.
Monday, 11 January 2016
Managed 8.3K at lunchtime and then did some useful work this afternoon. Have also just switched Endomondo tracker across to miles from kilometers in the hope of getting a better sense of distance. With notifications coming up every K there seem to be an awful lot of kilometers, and it's hard to keep track of where I am in the run. If I'm doing miles instead then the spacing will be larger (though less encouraging) and I'll get a better idea of distance.
Now I need to run 10 miles this next weekend. Nuts.
Sunday, 10 January 2016
Today's challenge is leading worship at church, with just a couple of days notice (not a problem) and uncertainty about other singers being available (bigger problem). The fingertips are just too soft to cope with acoustic guitar, so it's going to be the JJ goldtop and hope that it creates a wide enough sound platform to support the singing. Some chorus and delay may help.
Saturday, 9 January 2016
But regardless, the weather seems determined to not be clement, with iron-coloured skies, rain rattling on our windows and temperatures around 5-7'C. For my foolishness I've signed up to an endomondo challenge to run 1000km in 2016, not that it really matters whether I do or not, but that's an average of 20k per week, and I need to get at least a 10k in today in order to keep up.
Monday, 4 January 2016
We had agreed to spend this Christmas seeing people, and so it was with travel 4 days out of the first 5. Great to reconnect/maintain friendships and make/keep in contact with rellies, but those I should have expected to have the deepest contact turned out the most shallow, while those that had been surface previously were far deeper than I'd known before. I also had to work a couple of days (and came into the lab on Christmas and New year's day to look after the cryostorage system) plus we took my mother out to Waddesdon to see the house and Christmas decorations (Dixie, if you ever decide to come over in December then you need to visit this place).
I think I just did my first non-Christian Christmas.
In the middle of it all, it just seemed like a holiday break with nice food and lots of travel - almost a complete break from the God-stuff, except for remembering to pray for a few people in critical places*. It wasn't a case of either denying or intentionally shutting God out, but with a gap between church meetings and becoming self-absorbed over the period, my focus shifted right away. Religious stuff has never been my thing, seasons mean little too, but I've never before had a Christmas without God involved as much as this one; it was as though time was susended, and I walked through the 'holiday' outside of my normal life.
In case you're wondering, I've not gone off to some post-Christian place in my thinking now, but there was a distinct need to stir myself post new-year, make effort instead of just being to be with God.
What should I learn from this? That I'm not 'wonderful' (like that's news). That when left to my own devices I naturally wander off? In a way it confirms what I always thought about Christian religion: that it's done that way so that those who don't live it have it lived for them, and they can just step into a different set of shoes for the festival. I hope theres more to learn that just that, however, and more than just which Nikon lenses are best and most affordable too.
Wonder if I'll remember to do next Christmas differently too?
*I also did my normal daily bible reading: working through Revelation, which will never feel the same after reading about the early church in Eusebius' history.
Friday, 1 January 2016
Talking of 3s, there are 3 of us again.
If you are connected to me on Facbook, you'll know Ben fell heavily on his shoulder while snowboarding in France a couple of weeks back, making him unable to work and so forced to return to the UK. He's had his first round of physiotherapy, and although he's in discomfort quite a bit, he's apparently moving much better than when he first came back.
It's really good to see him again, but it's odd. We'd got used to being just a couple in this little house - he'd got used to being able to come & go as he liked provided he did his job, and we're all missing our own space and solitudes. My way of escape has been to stay up late, while his is to shut himself in his room. Not so different really.
Now to see if I can rustle up some images from that Nikon camera.
Now I have the slightly stressful task of trying to build up a range of lenses at lowest cost possible and with minimal redundancy and highest quality. Ebay has been occupying FAR too much time, and I've also been trying to learn the ins and outs of Nikon and compatible lens ranges (never assume that a lens is good - there's some terrible junk out there at a high price, bargains few & far between). Since image quality is *one* of the key reasons for using full frame, chucking a lousy lens on the camera seems somewhat pointless, and I've been getting used to the camera with nothing more than a 'nifty fifty' in place.
Experience so far is mixed. Image quality at high ISO is excellent compared to the Sony (3200 is fine, even 6400 is usable) but image quality in other respects, like colour balance, is all over the place. The large pentaprism viewfinder is clear and bright compared to what you'd find on even a decent APS-C camera, but in low light it's not a patch on the Sony EVF - that will of course be the opposite in sunlight, where EVF really fails. Low light focussing is also relatively hot & miss compared to the Sony, and when it comes to taking a picture, there's a huge amount of 'stuff' moving around inside compared the the mirrorless SLT cameras.
It's a heavy, bulky, complex and slightly poorly laid out device by comparison, but with noticeably higher image quality and more control over depth of field. I don't have any images on here (linux desktop) but may get some up later.
*edit - the promised images*
Nikon D610 plus Nikkor 50 1.8 AFS on auto-iso.
To quote Ben "the mini is a car for iPhone owners".
The honeymoon is over now, and the thing that irritated me to this point? The naggy computer that tries to second-guess when it needs servicing, brake pads changing etc etc. It's still great to drive (the ordinary mini cooper I had on loan while it was being serviced was even better) but suddenly it feels like it's been spoiled, from being a real car to being a computer with wheels and an engine. I feel like it's nannying me. :p
Don't get me wrong - it IS still great to drive - but if I want to change the brake pads myself then that's what I want to do, rather than have to go back to the dealer (Oxford Mini BTW - first experience wasn't so good, but this latest time they did really well). It's the first car I've owned in a very long time, probably about 20 years, that I've felt safe to press on with instead of having to drive cautiously round each corner, though that only applied when solo.
2 days before the 28 day evaluation period was up I reverted back to windows 8.1 on the work machine, not because windows 10 is bad, but because Dell's W8.1 drivers don't work properly. W10 was generally very good, though not really a great deal different in day-to-day use from 8.1, but some things didn't work or fell over, and in the end it was better to revert. Maybe I'll try again in the spring.
It's tempting to rant a bit, but that's not useful either. What my time with basefook has shown me is that people will, if given a free hand, eventually make stuff up to flatter their own fantasies, and that is useful to realise. Those who know my inclinations for historical reading may have picked up that I've been reading Eusebius' history of the early church up to AD 320ish, and it's just amazing how some new heresy or another seems to be popping up every 5 minutes, or one group of disciples are leading their churches astray or a collection of bishops are trying to slander another group of bishops to the emperor. This kind of behaviour has not been created by Mark Zuckerberg, no matter how much we'd like to blame him for online social networking's faults.
There's a quote I can't quite remember that goes along the lines that everyone should be free provided they don't actually try to make use of it. I'm somewhat inclined to agree.
Wednesday, 30 December 2015
Sunday, 27 December 2015
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
This is interesting for the different images it produces, and one has a sense that 'Michael' is actually directing the photographers through the information he feeds them.
A point at a tangent to this is how accepting we are of people's stories, without questioning their veracity or asking if a viewpoint is valid. In this situation the photographer's job is just to take a great picture showing the character presented to them, but I wonder if things would have been different if they had questioned more deeply? It also makes me wonder if we are also just too accepting of the reality presented to us, and whether we should challenge that a bit more often, rather than just accepting that as valid 'because it works for you'?
Saturday, 19 December 2015
And reading that last sentence back makes me wonder if I have become what I rejected so hard as a fundamentalist.
Various translations of Eusebius history of the early church are available free of charge through the Kobo book store, and it seemed daft not to take advantage, especially since the latest updates to the software has made the reader far more useful and responsive than it ever was before.
Some of it is, frankly, as dull as ditchwater. Some demonstrates that the behaviour we see on facebook is common human nature, indulged in by people at every level including appointed bishops in the church, spreading lies and stories (calumnies) about each other. Some demonstrates that discipleship does not, in fact, reproduce after the discipler but in fact seems to easily give rise to all kinds of intentional heresies and false teachings.
That's not really what I want to mention.
There's quite a bit on martyrs, which is not surprising given how severely the early church was persecuted, but the descriptions of persecutions in Lyons and Vienna around AD180 have, at least partially, kept me awake tonight. It's hard to imagine how people could live through, let alone continue to testify to their faith after being tortured and made to suffer as many of them were - the Romans really make ISIS look like a bunch of schoolboys. And the church, faced with such utter awfulness, had a theology that declared being able to suffer for the name of Jesus was a wonderful thing.
I'm trying to see where this can fit into 21st century western Europe, where any kind of suffering or pain is immediately bad, and every kind of hardship must be relieved (except if you're from a poor people who must supply the wants and needs of us rich ones). The comparison is enough to make me ask if comfort in the way we have it right now is actually wrong at a basic level, and is calculated to produce people addicted inescapably to wealth and more comfort. I feel the draw myself, the desire for more and more things to enjoy just owning and with which to fill my home, never mind whether they are needed or are ethically produced and sourced.
A nagging question I've had when reading about ISIS and their evils is "what would Paul do?". I could imagine his first reaction would be to get out there among them, seeing a new and fertile ground in which to plant a church and disregarding the risks for the sake of growing the kingdom of God. To the best of my knowledge there are some Christians out there working among them, but they don't come from the Christian west. Could the western churches embrace a theology of suffering that would enable their best to go out to such places, knowing some at least would die in horrible ways, and seeing that as wonderful instead of earth-shatteringly dreadful?
It also wants to make me ask if such a reaction is right, and if it is, how have we been seduced?
I was gladly radical as a new Christian, happily fundamentalist, certain that as Christians we should expect persecution and hardship. I read a book about a Russian soldier (Vanya) tortured and eventually killed for his faith. Somehow my theology that recognised Satan at work in people, inspiring and even driving them to do terrible things, has been blurred by the comfortable lifestyle I now have. I wonder if the church is going to have to rediscover a theology of suffering before it can start looking like the body of Jesus again?
Best stop there - it's now 1.53am.
Sunday, 6 December 2015
In contrast to our Spanish trip we've been really cosseted this time. Heathrow T2 was great, Lufthansa was nice to fly out with and now Frankfurt T1 is actually luxurious on the pre-security side. Even in the B departure area it's colourful. And there's free WiFi without the need to even sign in!
Packing was a little tight for the return, with a pack of marshmallow kisses/nipples tucked away. My camera is going to have to board the plane in a coat pocket. :-)
Electronic boarding cards were absolutely fine, expected even, although both phone and tablet were carefully charged last night.
I'm naughty. Chris read a passage from a book to me, where the author is trying to sell an idea by telling the reader a factoid that he can't prove and can't easily be denied for lack of evidence. I called a brother in Christ a tosser, out loud. :p
Back to travel. Lastminute.com 'persuaded' me to download Tripcase to manage the booking. Initial annoyance moved to acceptance when it was useful in identifying the location of certain sites. It just popped up a message telling me which gate our flight was leaving from, without me having to find a board: guess I'm at the grudging admiration stage now.
Saturday, 5 December 2015
Probably my comfort zone whipping past.
I am no Luddite, but even I get nervous with electronic documents being stored on mobile computing devices, especially when they are boarding passes for our flights home.
Now I've seen guys waving their phones etc over document readers and all has been fine, but there's nothing as reassuring as a piece of paper with solid print and bar codes on it. Unfortunately luggage allowance did not include a printer for online check in.
Don't always run when they should, but we've managed to get around a little.
On the bank of the river Main opposite the Romerberg where the Christmas market is based there was a vast flea market. I was reminded of a similar market in Vienna, where it is said that all goods stolen during the week appear. Seeing someone trying to sell a teenage boy a racing bike that was far larger than he could ever happily ride made me wonder. Probably a good place for curio shopping.
In some ways Frankfurt reminded us of London with it's large river and mix of old and new, plus very strong multi-ethnicity.
Friday, 4 December 2015
May not be the German's forte anymore, but they are darn good at designing a fat delivery system to push calories into a body. Best for this purpose are probably kartoffel puffer - shredded potato with onion mixed in batter and deep fried. Served with an apple sauce, they are solid and substantial, though the onion keeps reminding your taste buds something isn't quite right
Paprikawurst was spicy and gently warming, and very nice, while schnitzel was OK. Lebkuchen we picked up were Aldo moreish, and had a strong liquorice or aniseed undertone to the flavour.
We walked our legs off tonight and haven't seen everything. Tomorrow we'll brave the tram system.