Saturday, 18 February 2017

Give me what I want!

I am the way I am - why should you have a right to tell me how I should live or feel.

Over the years I have learned to be proud of who I am and that I'm different.

Surely Jesus accepts me like this, so why shouldn't I be fulfilled?

How can you possibly object to love, and in the name of religion too.


This image is so profound (linked from the BBC website and article)


I read the report that was rejected recently - it is both radical for the CoE and orthodox in it's understanding - and it looks remarkably sympathetic and healthy, returning to scripture as it's source for understanding coupled with a desire to welcome and embrace people with same-sex attraction.

How do people find the time and energy

To keep up with social media?

I see Ello is now quite busy, and I was wondering about posting photos there, but I can't even be bothered to keep up with groups on Flickr, let alone ANOTHER social platform.

In the light of the film mentioned below

It's interesting to read this article on the BBC website that asks "Is Sweden's feminist agenda working"?

I wonder what the feminist agenda is doing to the men there?

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

I've been to Stockholm a couple of times.

If you wanted to see a film that encapsulated everything idiosyncratic about Sweden then I can't think of anything better than this. Just watched on Amazon Prime.

Pretty sure I even worked wth one of the characters in Sjukhuset Karolinska.

Maybe it's time to visit Sigtuna.

Monday, 13 February 2017

It's been another week.

Weekend before last we went away for Chris's birthday, but apart from that life has continued in it's stumbly nominal fashion. The lurgy has taken its toll, and I've not felt like writing anything, discussing, arguing, or anything really.

It was a nice weekend though, and we've both decided we'd like to retire and live there immediately. :p  It was also really good to see our friends Sue & Ian again, and to see where they live now.

Here's a couple of pics to 'prove' we were there.


There's more in the Devon Flickr album.

Saturday just gone we went for a stumble round Blenheim in the sleety-snow & mud. It was a down day after a previously good Friday, and I could barely keep up with my wife, while coughing and walking simultaneously. The cascades looked 'enthusiastic' from rain water.

The other thing I find myself doing at the moment is wanting to check the news, almost hourly, to find out whether America has imploded yet. I have the same set of feelings as when 9/11 happened, the same sense of irrevocable change for the world unfolding, except that this time it's in secret, mostly, and self-inflicted.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

It's been a week

And I've had a nasty head cold that's left me tired and stupid.

A friend posted some of the wisest words I've read in a while about a certain trainwreck that that the world seems to be watching, almost open-mouthed in amazement as it unfolds.

On the wireless a day or so ago the presenter was playing a recording made at a church prayer meeting in the US, where they were thanking God for their new president, and how he was such a changed character, now rolling back the wickedness and evil of the last 8 years. It made me wonder if they were seeing the same man as the rest of us. I can see why they might view the past in that way, and it's likely, now that the conservative right is in complete control, that some of the more liberal and less morally oriented policies from the previous government will be unpicked.

High price to pay for unpicking though.

Makes me wonder if there's a process every culture has to go through as it matures: internal wars, a religio-political structure that is deceitful and cruel, enslavement of weaker nations and empire building, accompanied by a roller-coaster ride that swings between licentious debasement and up-tight morality.

I guess that at some stage I should blog about why I support the idea of Brexit (but not for the reasons given in that campaign of factoids). Politics though - yuk. Alternative facts - double yuk.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Place names that shouldn't be funny - but are.

Talking with an American colleague this afternoon, he mentioned driving past a place where they couldn't believe the sign.

Westward Ho!

It's a town in north Devon, on the coast, and the name is all about direction and interjection. Apparently the place was entirely more mundane than the obvious translation of the sign would suggest.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Afternoon sunshine.

We had a nice walk at Stowe (again) and Chris found herself a tree to stand inside.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

It never ceases to amaze me

That I can get flights and a hotel in Europe for the 2 of us for less than the price of staying somewhere nice in the UK. Nuts.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Traditions are odd things

especially when interpreted/created by the English. Loosely connected with faith and expectation: on Sunday evening we went to the local Wassail.

It's a little bit of syncretism with roots in Norse culture, plus a little bit of Christianity (well, God gets a mention in a song) stirred in either because of appropriation or to give a veneer of acceptability. It is performed on 12th night - 12th night according to the Julian calendar, that is - and the 15th was the nearest convenient date possible. Folded into that is the Morris dancing (Morris may have been adapted from Moorish, possibly Syrian, dancing, but hankies and bells are almost certainly pure English since few other races ritually self-mock) that's now an essential part of such things too.


The idea is that the apple tree for making cider needs to be awoken after winter, encouraged to make it's roots grow and to produce a good harvest. On this occasion the weather should have been snowing hard, but global warming has changed things and it was just drizzling, so the dancing was held indoors. There was also consumption of choice baked comestibles and rough cider (spiced wassail was available in the form of hot apple juice punch).

The actual ceremony is supposed to take place at sunset, but with leaden skies it was more like night time. The tree was ringed with flaming torches with the Morris inside, a song sung by the crowd on the outside, then the words read:

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink unto thee

The sound of a shot being fired was then made and a simple dance performed inside the torch circle. After that everyone drifted back inside with imprecations from the hostess to eat up the cake left over. Eventually we all pushed off back home.



Brackly Morris, practicing the mystic art of levitation while dancing.

The 'fool'. He's a tall chap, and I actually find him terrifying, even though there's probably nothing to be afraid of.

Dave The Morris leading proceedings.

Thank you to Victoria and Sebastian for inviting us.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

New year, new flavour

Of Linux, that is.

Just trying Solus Linux, and so far it looks pretty nice in a slightly retro-gnome-ish kind of way. Mostly it's been very, very easy to use, pre-installed audio & video codecs, immediate networking, simple to update and add new software.

Hiccups? I've not managed to add the Samsung printer yet - that usually installs right along with the rest of the system software, but setup won't let me do anything. I also had to do the same as with Mint regarding audio, since both distros use Alsamixer, and switch the audio output in the command line mixer console to change from front to rear audio output.

Otherwise it seems reasonably quick, and is certainly nice to use in a way that most gnome-based distros aren't. If it had a dock then I'd think it an Apple imitator.

To think it is to add it: Cairo Dock is now added, though a little dark & flat for Apple. I could have a lot of fun with this one, but I need to go to bed.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The tree is outside

and the decorations are in the loft. Not exactly our usual routine for either a Sunday morning, nor so soon after Christmas, but that's how it needs to be this year.

In a few days we'll have Phil & his daughter Katie from Oz arriving, so need to move stuff around.

Christmas is a funny time. Emotions flap from possibilities and things that might have been but now can't be. Getting older does provide understanding, but that's not always either helpful, nor a source of pleasure moving forwards. For those I've hurt or offended during 2016, I'm sorry - sadly I can't wind the year back and I can't recapture words once spoken or typed.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

I wonder, if all the anger

That was put into smashing this or protesting that were used for something positive, what benefit there might be to the angry one - not to mention everyone else.

Wishing anyone who reads this a peaceful, successful and benevolent 2017, and that any scars 2016 gave you will heal quickly enough.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

PHS waste collection services are cultured

Swan Lake is their call holding music at HQ.

However being transferred to an internal phone got some kind of Brit pop. :p

Ah well, nice while it lasted.

2016 seems to be a year of loss

I was discovered yesterday via a friend that Andrew Jones (better known as Tall Skinny Kiwi) lost his wife about 6 months ago, then via the same friend today of someone's wife being mauled by dogs and dying in Bolivia. People die all the time, but for reasons I don't really understand it seems much more significant to me in THIS year than ever before.

There's a feeling of helplessness that goes with it all.

I've been trying to re-connect my faith and understanding with who God can really be in the light of the suffering and death of those we know and love, and keep coming back to the idea that our suffering and death isn't really that important to God in itself. Starting with Jesus, He came to suffer and die so that we could have life. His disciples expected to suffer and die because that was His example and a likely outcome of following the other things He did. The early church expected to suffer and die because that was the natural outcome of trying to live as a Christian in a pagan society that knowingly embraced the demonic. There are occasional instances of people missing out on suffering - Peter gets released from prison in Acts - but only for a time before meeting an even less pleasant end.

Chris and I were talking about one of the songs done by Gospel Bell at the gig last night "Give me that old-time religion". The lyrics are almost funny in their niavity about church history: one line suggests that 'old-time religion' was good enough for the pilgrim fathers, who actually fled to America to escape the influence of 'old-time religion'. If there weren't enough suffering in the world then the historic church would bring some more to make sure the necessary quota were met. Not that I'm suggesting God instigated that.

And then I read a gospel or 2.

Jesus quite clearly appears to go around alleviating suffering, bringing comfort and a sense of worth to people. It's at odds with every other period of history.




Monday, 19 December 2016

Does anyone ever look at my



Photoblog? 

Not all pictures are *quite* like this, of course.

I have 2 posts running round my head

One is about coping with depression while trying to be normal, the other about liking the idea of an Amazon Echo Dot in the house.

Neither seem like a great idea really, but both could help you keep going when things might be more difficult otherwise. I'm doing one, but not the other, but would prefer them to be reversed in some ways.

Some stuff.

One post isn't helpful, the other self-idulgent - I'm not sure which is which. Time to stop then.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

We're all christmassed up

Tree up - check.

Lights - check

Garland over the fireplace - check

Meat bought for next weekend - check

Yup, looks like it.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas humbug

Writing Christmas cards.

The not-remembering spouses names.

The not-managing-to-align-words in a pleasing manner.

The nagging feeling of having forgotten someone.

The mis-spellings that you spot immediately after writing.

Hah-bumhug!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

I have a dilemma

A friend here at work has a bundle of trouble going on in their life right now. He's talked to me a little, opened up a bit about things, and is in a horrible situation.

The dilemma I have is that I want to pray for him - to offer to pray for him and bring some comfort - but after recent events I just don't feel that I can do so in good conscience. From the time I heard about our friend Jo's cancer I prayed every day for her, as did many others. The answer was NO then, and I could cite other non-trivial NO instances too, so why should I raise someone's hopes and offer to pray for them when in all likelihood the exact same answer will be given?

What do you do when there's no faith left, nor any expectation that God will do anything? It's curious how, having fought traditional church for so long, suddenly I find myself there, with a faith that's barely worth the name.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Words I can't sing.

Yesterday I was asked to lead worship for a business meeting.

Now bearing all things in mind, this was an interesting situation. It feels a little like walking a narrow ledge right now, between wanting to simply reject church & walk away from everything - this is a real desire, albeit under control - and re-embracing the stuff I no longer trust or believe to be real. At the moment the ledge is narrow, because there's not too much understanding to hold on to, things to have faith in, but there are some things still, so I'll keep balancing & walking along.

Anyway.

I have a large body of songs to select from, all handily printed out from previous times. So I created 3 piles: Songs that have words I can sing & keep a clear cosncience, songs that might be usable in the future, songs that don't appear to tell the truth.

Curious how the songs that I could use were mostly old hymns or recycled words and structures from old hymns, "Be thou my vision" being one (aspirational) example, "Praise God from whom all blessing flow" being another.

Minus 6 degrees centigrade

That's how cold it was in Somerton this morning. After about 20min wandering round trying to take pictures, it was difficult to grip the steering wheel to drive into work. My fingers are still feeling the effects half an hour later, and typing is difficult.

T'was pretty though.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Lumia just goes on and on.

Just had almost 6 days use from the phone out of a single charge, and only had to charge it as a 'just in case' measure because of a potential medical emergency.

Charged it last Sunday evening, disconnecting it around 10pm, using it as normal to make calls, take a few work-related photos, send texts & emails, do a brief bit of navigation, a couple of min surfing. Plugged it in around 2.30pm this afternoon with 10% charge showing, which was probably good until Sunday morning without serious use.

Performance wise it's not a ball of fire, and Microsoft's interface is somewhat clunky compared to vanilla android, but I'll accept that trade for this kind of longevity and the fantastic call quality.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

How do I know God is real?

That's a good question, and one that's been kicked around in my head quite a bit recently.

There's a Douglas Adams quote from the HHGTTG that goes along the lines (from memory) of 'it being no good spending hours debating whether God exists if someone then gives you his bleedin' phone number'.

So no phone numbers then.

Entirely subjective, but the pre-Christian Toni was a complete Bastard, really - I know because I was there.

Why bring this up?

Because as I'd got closer to deciding God wasn't there, the inner bastard had been coming more to the fore. I've found myself being more like I used to be: less kind, less gentle, more sweary, more greedy, more depressed, more negative about others, more liberal in my thinking and less self-controlled. It's not much, but it was a solid reminder of who I am without Jesus. If salvation makes me more like Jesus then the opposite does the opposite.

Yes, I've been a Christian almost 40 years, but the flesh - the 'natural' attitudes - have never gone away in all that time, so much as being dealt with on a daily basis, sometimes coming to the fore, sometimes being held in control. Last weekend at the alpha day we had someone talking about how they had never sworn and their partner would never swear, even in court when asked to repeat something said by another person. I was reminded of who the natural Toni is, and how different I would be if left to my own devices.

Never mind pie in the sky when you die - salvation is for now.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Lumia 640 - better than anyone would admit

So I've had the phone just over 5 weeks, and as promised, here's a mini-review of an obsolete phone that nobody wanted:

Strengths
Battery life - 4 days is easy, 5 days not unusual, with a few calls, texting, a bit of internet or routefinding. I don't live on my phone, and just use it as a tool.

Call quality - is generally landline quality, often in places where I'd struggle to even get a phone signal with the other 2 phones (iPhones seem at least as bad for reception here).

Screen - clear, clean, bright enough and crisp.

Windows applications - generally perform well once I got used to where to find things.

Windows maps - GPS locks in a couple of seconds, then generally chooses a good route with accurate ETA.

Ambivalent
Keyboard layout - makes it easy to hit the bar at the bottom & return to the home screen.

Screen/phone size - I'd prefer it to be smaller and slimmer, but it's not unmanageable - glad I didn't get a 5.5" phone.

Lack of apps in general - I mostly don't care that I can't play candy crush. :-)


Dislike
Firefox isn't available for this version of Windows 10.

The need to perform 2 actions when answering a call from a locked screen - swipe to open, then touch to answer. It should be a single swipe or tap.

The way my google address book has been scrambled when importing, so that names & pictures don't always match the telephone number/email address.

Wish the mapping app could do real-time traffic conditions.


It's a better mobile phone than any of my previous devices including candybar phones, but I just wish it was smaller and slimmer.

It's raining. Again.

Nuts.

Guess we're lucky - some parts of the country are flooded right now.

*edit*

Especially for Robyn Friesen (if you ever read this) the word of the evening is 'moist'.  ;-)

Mismatch? Postmoderism again? Squitchy Christianity?

In the NIV study bible that I use there's a highlighted theme at the start of the book of Malachi that goes something like "The Jews stopped believing that God loved them and no longer trusted in His justice". I've kept coming back to this phrase again and again, because it matched my own thoughts well and I was hoping to find something that would enable some kind of reconnection (I've read a lot of the 'people in difficult circumstances' passages over the last few weeks).

But here's the mismatch - reading the actual passages of Malachi gives a very different understanding of the relationship between God & the Jews. It's not at all a case of God wooing back a 'lost' nation, but much more a people who have lost sight of God being threatened with harm and the example of Edom being crushed again and again demonstrating the fruitlessness of resistance.

I don't have any particular answers right now, other than I'm sure it's the same God in old & new testaments, God did demonstrate His love for us by sacrificing His only son on the cross, and that He has no problem with us suffering, struggling and dying in this life. So much of the Christianity I've heard preached suggests that God is a great big, soft, loving father who would wrap us in His arms and protect us from the world, struggles and pain - yet this isn't at all the God of the bible that I can see, nor, the God we seem to experience in this life. Squitchy Christianity isn't reality.

In a way I recoil a bit from trying to really understand who God is: apart from the sheer incapability of my mind, with that comes a responsibility that I don't want.




Friday, 18 November 2016

Hope I never grow up

My sense of humour is still suitably off-colour that I can find various entirely innocent words amusing when placed in the same sentence.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The will-man cometh

To talk to us tonight.

About making a will.

Happy days.