Saturday, 28 July 2007

This place will be quiet next week

We're heading off to camp with the Church and get away a little.

Ben's looking after the house, feeding cats etc while we're gone so that he can go to Soul Survivor at the end of August.

Sooooo....... see you in a week or so.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Can you carry someone's life in a few plastic bags?

Chris's mum died this morning. We've been to the hospital, seen the body, brought back all her 'belongings' in 3 plastic bags.

It's difficult, as you might expect, even though we'd prayed she wouldn't go through all the pain and humiliation that cancer often brings. We'd rather expected that she'd get weaker and go down hill, but instead last night she seemed less ill and this morning apparently ate a little and responded to people.

Then it seemed she rested.... and slipped away.

Chris spoke with her a few days ago about faith. Seemed she'd grown up knowing Jesus as a child, continuing in that in her own uncomplicated way as an adult. When she got married church and God got moved to the edge, although they never got crowded to the point they fell off. After moving to Bicester she re-established her faith (without pushing from us). We're at peace over her.

To those that prayed for her and us, thank you.

Monday, 23 July 2007

There are odd emotions

.......that surround you when you're trying to sort stuff for someone and their time is nearly there. The problem is, there's no way to tell how long someone has.

This afternoon I cancelled the special bath (side door, lowering equipment) Chris's mum was due to have fitted. The bit I struggle with is that in cancelling, it's like saying openly "you aren't going to come home again", almost like condemning someone to death. That ISN'T the case, but even now I'm thinking 'suppose we've got it wrong: what if she comes out in a week or 2?".

And when someone is clearly not having a good time, it's really hard not to think "wouldn't they be better off just getting a quick bout of pneumonia"? But that's really not helpful either - it's still conceivable (to me, at least) that she might pull through and have another year or so - people sometimes do that.

This is a messy time.

This is quite relatively pleasing.....

but I seem to have managed to migrate most of my emails going back to '97 to a new computer (at work). Outlook is now busily downloading a couple of thousand emails that I've not been able to file through the exchange interface I was using. The plan for this afternoon *had been* more SOPs.

Oh well.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Not so good

Chris's mum didn't look to well this evening in hospital. Breathing difficulties and what looked like oedema on her left arm. She's on oxygen, and finding it very difficult to speak, although she *seems* relatively cheerful. Shortness of breath is making her panic at times though, which brings fear - not good.

We're sleeping with a phone nearby tonight.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

BTW for those who prayed....


My mother is in, and we now start the work of sorting out what will fit and what must go.

Thanks Randall, for asking if we were still dry.

The answer is YES, but these pics of the valley bottom might be interesting.

Remember where we walked?

Wet feet?

In the floods of '02 the water was coming through the railings above the middle bar, and was level with the top of the wall.

Pooh sticks, anyone?

Friday, 20 July 2007

Today is a moving day

And we have rain of 'Hollywood' proportions.

Think I'll be getting a lift or driving to work this morning.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Apparently I am 'unified with the badger overlord'.

At least according to Thanks to Martin for the link.

Would you have a woman lead a church?

"Would you have a woman lead a church?"

"Which woman?"

"Well, any woman."

"Oh, any woman. No."

"Why not?"

"Well, would you have any man lead?

"Of course."

"What if you thought he was manipulative or domineering, more interested in pushing their own issues than building Gods people? How about if he was insistent that he should lead because of his gifting and ability, yet continually struggled against existing church leadership, even causing divisions?"

'Okay, then, no. There's more to church leadership than just ability or training, and you have to take into account character and calling. And then the church needs to be willing to follow them too....."


"Exactly what? And why don't you just answer my question?!"

"You wouldn't have every man that just came out of bible college lead a church."


"And even though you might be inclined to think that with all that training, gifting, expectation, zeal for God, they might not be the right ones to lead your church?"

"Yeah, but I'm losing how this relates to whether or not you would have women leading churches."

"You recognise that leading a church is more than just being at the front. There is a specific calling, a humble character, a servant heart, a gifting beyond their gender. You need to know that God has called THEM and given them grace for caring oversight of His people, rather than managers or directors that will casually use them."

"Yeah, I guess."

"But when it comes to a woman, you want me to make a sweeping statement about them - and every woman that says she should lead - based solely on their gender. Suddenly, who they are, what they do, their divine spark and calling, the grace of God available to them, that's all irrelevant..."

"No, it's not irrelevant..."

"But I can ignore all of that in order to appear feminist or misogynistic on the basis of their gender. Whereas your male leader has to have a very detailed and specific calling: walking the walk and eloquently talking the talk before they are acceptable, my female leader should be evaluated on the basis of her womanhood.

"So, you would you have a woman lead a church?"

"Which woman?"

"Any woman!"

"What's her name?"

"She hasn't got a name! She's just a woman leader..."


With credit to Graham at Leaving Munster whom I stole the form of this 'conversation' from and thanks to Marc for making me notice it.


To the girl with beautiful, educational moles.


Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Last night was interesting, but not how you'd expect.

Last night 2 of the church housegroups got together to hear from a guy called Bryn, who's worked as part of the leadership in Oxfordshire Community Churches and abroad with salt and light over the years we've known him.

Bryn is not a highly educated, polished individual, and although certainly not stupid, is also not given to amazing theological insights. Instead he exercises the gifting God has given him - he's a prophet in the true biblical sense - and his purpose was to both bring prophetic encouragement and to encourage people to seek God for prophetic insight for themselves. I've seen and heard him at work, and can testify that he's the real thing.

That's all I want to say specifically about last night.

With someone like that around there's a certain sense of wondering "what's God going to say to me/reveal about me" and sometimes a feeling of relief when you are not the one to get a 'word'. Almost a sense of 'missed me that time'. So in the afternoon at work I was wandering round the lab, praying quietly, kind of saying to God "it's OK, you can say what you want any way you choose tonight" (NB I don't always feel quite as secure as this). I felt God say to me "It's OK, I don't need to do that: I already talk to you about all those kind of things". This is almost disappointing - there are times I've wished God would simply say through someone else "do this and your life will be turned round" but that's not living in the reality of having to work things through.

The other thing came out of something Bryn said and a comment on Johanna's blog about her time in bible college. OCC has a bible college in Oxford (for those who don't know) and runs a variety of training courses, some full time, others part time. There was a lass at the housegroup (for the first time - part of another church) who clearly had prophetic gifting, and it was suggested she should come along to a workshop aimed at training her further in that area. The thing that struck me was that here was a bible college that ran a course to train people to hear God's voice more clearly and to bring it to others. Not just to teach people more about the bible or philosophy or history or Greek or Hebrew or use of powerpoint in a 3 point sermon or how to manage their churches (I won't use the word pastor - that isn't especially what it's about) and make a living off it. Sure most of those things are useful, but this is about training people how to draw nearer to God, to know Him more, to hear Him more clearly.

It's a little strange, but I actually feel slightly proud to be associated with these people. Not in a 'we're better than all you lot' kind of way, but honour through association.

I'm sure almost every bible college would quote hearing God more clearly as one of their aims for students, but I rather think a dig under the covers might prove interesting. Not sniping at anyone in particular, but I've long wondered at the point of classical bible college. Judge them by their fruit - let's see what the results of KBC are in 10, 20, 50 years time and whether there IS a difference.

Chris's mum is being taken into hospital this afternoon.

Can't really say very much - her body is becoming uncooperative, but as far as I know it's not an utter emergency so much as trying to make sure things don't deteriorate more. If you have some spare prayer going, I'm sure Eileen and Chris would appreciate it.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Well, it's all come together pretty painlessly.

Took around 2 hours from opening the first box to completing the Office install. Suddenly this monitor looks a little smaller than I remembered it: and a little less sharp.

Next task - install firewalls, AV software, browsers and then connect to the net for the interminable automatic updates. I've a feeling I won't have an activation/license issue after all. The disc I installed came from a virgin OEM packet, and I'm kinda hoping that I wasn't simply extremely good at re-sealing it. Well find out shortly I guess.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Ben has impressed me.

He borrowed an inert gas welder last night and was shown how to use in briefly. He's out there now, patching the holes in his 'show' beetle, ready for the MOT.

Welding isn't totally easy (I've done some myself) but he seems to have picked up the technique at least useably, if not with much neatness *yet*. Some people can't weld at all.

It's pleasing to see skills developing.

There's something of a childish pleasure

In receiving a large pile of parts though the post.

The bits to build that PC have arrived, and are sitting on a trolley about 6 feet away. Tonight I'm supposed to be helping Ben fix the wiring on his beetle. :/

Thursday, 12 July 2007

In the midst of all this.

This evening I've been discussing stuff with much more learned people.

Stuff like why the pendulum effect apparently disappears when you bank a high-wing aircraft through a balanced turn and the relationship between centripetal force and gravity, together with leverage ratios.

All useless, silly and interesting stuff.

I also realised on the way to Tesco that I'd got one crucial part of an argument I put forward wrong. It'll be interesting to see if anyone notices or whether I have to confess.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Well, life isn't quite what we'd choose it to be.

And in the case of Chris's mum, probably won't be an issue too much longer.

It appears she has bone cancer after all, probably secondaries from the original breast cancer, but it could be a whole new thing. Regardless, it seems to be advancing fairly rapidly. 3 weeks ago she apparently had no more difficulty negotiating our house than might be expected from a stiffish old person: now it's an impossible obstacle with steps that can't be climbed and doorways that don't fit.

I don't know how long a person can keep going with their body deteriorating. She's still talking about "when I get better", probably from that faith that everyone of that generation had in the wonders of medicine. It's quite safe to say, there's no going back from this point short of a miracle, and that's not something we're looking for right now.

So things might be quiet here again for a bit. She's not my natural mum and I've never really known her well, but Chris loves her very much and is very deeply affected. That in turn does have its carry over for me.

So if I'm quiet, check back occasionally. If I'm spiky then please forgive me.

Monday, 9 July 2007

I am proud of my wife.

There's a lass in the village, hugely pregnant and very overdue. In front of a large crowd of people Chris laid hands on her tummy and prayed for her to have the baby naturally and without intervention.

Now we just need to pray like mad that God will honour that.

'Specially for Fernando

The top 5 geek cars of tomorrow from Toms Hardware guide.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Some of you may remember I bought a cheap radio controlled plane.

Anybody want a buy a cheap RC plane?

Let's just say the 'guidance' system is more miss than hit. Guess I should be pleased, as it encouraged me to meet someone in the village I never met before - in order to recover it from his tree.

So (to my surprise) I still have it, and in one piece. Ebay is calling while it remains that way.

This will sound odd.

I've not been on here because I've been on at computers.

For a long time we've wanted to put a DVD-playing system into Sarah's room so that Ben could go there with friends to watch DVDs and talk, rather than them have to sit on his bed or trip over beetle parts. Some will also remember that I used to have a bit of a computer thing going, humorously called Turtle Information Technology Services.

Technology moves pretty darn quick when it stops being your hobby.

It's taken about 4 days of on-and-off study to become pretty much up to speed with what's required to create a decent mid-level system from bits. Thanks to AMD and Intel competing in their own fashions it's got a lot more complex choosing the right processor and Mobo, however I seemed to find EXACTLY the right mobo at a great price. Graphics card choices have pretty much unchanged - the more cash you throw at it the faster it gets, but they all plug into one kind of slot and guzzle stupid amounts of power (more than the entire rest of the PC! More later on that). Hard drives were slightly tricky too, because SATA seems to push them harder (or they're being made too cheaply) and every drive seems to have nearly as many reports of failure as of reliability, so I just bought Seagate. RAM has also multiplied in its types and speeds but dropping one level down from the very fastest dropped the price by around 35%, and it seems very cheap right now. Sound and speaker system was easy too - cheapish 8.1 channel sound card and a cheap but VERY well reported 5.1 speaker system. For the first time in ages too it seems I can build a system for significantly less than it can be bought at similar spec.

Friday evening I ordered the bits, with 'just' a monitor to source. That's when the search started in earnest.

LCD monitors are a complete nightmare. Quality is just all over the place, with little indication by price or even maker and model. Worst of all, there's a particular Samsung model that I really liked with panels made in 3 different locations - the Samsung-made panel has a refresh time of 2ms grey-grey and a 3000: contrast ratio. The Chinese made panel doesn't - gamers report bad smearing and light bleeding round the edges. It seems many of the screens shipping to the UK are fitted with the duff panel, and that's a £170 lottery I won't play. I'd really wanted something a little better than this screen for general use: black fonts are often greenish and a little smudgy, and the lighting isn't totally even. Colours aren't absolutely smooth eithers, with a little banding sometimes visible and a loss of detail in dark areas when watching DVDs. I bought a computer shopper mag this morning after the prayer meeting, which had a review of a whole bunch of monitors (none of which I'd been considering). Bucket of worms No.1.

Said magazine also had a review of PSUs. I'd intended to use the 350W power supply in the case I was buying, but an evening discussion with Ben (who arguable IS an IT professional) suggested it would last as far as the first boot. So having picked out a nice cheap 500W supply I made the mistake of reading another article reviewing power supplies too. Bucket of worms No.2.

I've discovered I could spend more on a power supply than on a decent 19" widescreen monitor!

The order has been suitably amended (and become a little more expensive). Overall it's coming in a bit more expensive than I first intended (now there's a novelty) but it should remain a decently viable system for the next 3 years and withstand a downgrade to Vista if M$ decide that XP can't support a whole raft of essential features. The sound card and speakers will be grafted into this PC (the old creative card will get grafted into the new machine and this one go upstairs).

Just one last interesting exercise related to the build. I have a spare XP license for the new machine, but unfortunately it's a pre-service pack 2 copy of XP and I need SP2 for SATA support in the new system. So I'm going to have to do the install (and wipe/rebuild of this machine) and probably call M$ helpline to get the software activated. I understand that they tend to be unsympathetic to to owners of 'home' licenses, although this version is professional so they might play ball.

If anyone cares, the spec. is as follows:

Innovision GeForce 7900GS 256MB DDR3 PCI-E Graphics Card 119692
Corsair 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 675MHz/PC2-5400 XMS Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL4(4-4-4-12) Heat Spreader Lifetime Warranty 98708
Foxconn 6100M2MA-RS2H SKT AM2 nForce 6100 onboard VGA PCI-E SATAII mATX 114772
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (2GHz) Socket AM2 L2 1MB 2x512KB Retail Boxed Processor 122942
NEC Optiarc AD-5170A-0S 18xDVD±RW DL Silver - Bare Drive 117544
Asonic 8 Channel Soundcard C-media 8738 Chipset 3D - PCI 98073
Yatai 5.1 Black/Silver 33W RMS Surround Sound Speaker System - With LCD Front Panel/Wireless Remote 105960
Sweex Black/Silver Concorde Case - With 300W PSU 127086
Seagate ST3250820AS 250GB 7200RPM SATA300 8MB Cache - OEM 111515
Extra Value Gold 600W 12cm Fan Silent PSU - PFC 20+4pin 119227
Extra Value 120mm Internal Case Fan In Black - 4 pin connector 63281

I've left the ebuyer codes in if anyone is interested/bored enough to go look the items up.

The one thing I haven't listed is the monitor. This was a major source of grief as it's the single most expensive component of the whole system, and no supplier will accept one back just because 'it isn't very good'. There was a Hanns.G unit that got rave reviews in the magazine, and Ben's comment was that Hanns.G are usually very good. In typical style it was another £15 more than my already re-revised upper limit. Also in typical style, that particular model was out of stock with the sole UK vendor. 2nd best was an Iiyama, and it was both cheaper and in stock with half a dozen vendors. It doesn't have a DVI input but the image was apparently fully the other unit, so that's on the way too.

I'm rather looking forward to trying this one. It's been a long time since I drove a PC with a little muscle under the hood.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Randall should be

back anytime soon.

Reality is inside and outside

This is a kind of continuation of yesterdays post, maybe with a little less philosophy and a little more practical application – we’ll see.

An issue that has become apparent from Marc’s comment is the perception ‘outside=good, inside=bad’ in that we often put a ‘nice’ face on who we really are in the hope of being accepted. For those of us that have married, there was probably a point when our relationship was developing when we thought “they like me now because they can’t see what I’m really like inside”. All our faults are laid bare to our own probing scrutiny, and we automatically assume that other people will instantly become aware of them, if they get too close. Unfortunately there are some that never thought like that, and those people are usually unbearable!

But back to the records.

This is slightly difficult to know where to start: I’m not perfect. Now I know many will be surprised to read that, but I have many areas of weakness and things that I constantly struggle with. As someone who feels on the cusp of Christian leadership, it’s interesting to be with the great and good, see what people write about in their blogs etc. So Jamie Arpin-Ricci can confess having ‘issues’ with homosexuality: but that’s OK, he’s married and world famous in a movement that practically throws it’s arms open to the extremes of Christian belief. Fernando – world traveller and ex Baptist minister (see blog-roll) - can watch all manner of films without an issue as he’s able to treat it like art, ready for analysis and dissection.

What about ‘ordinary’ Christian leaders? I spent Saturday in London with Randall and lauralea. Randall’s a perfectly normal guy who can apparently walk past all manner of things that pull at me (sex and related materials are VERY prominent in London) without apparently batting an eyelid. In fact virtually ALL the Christian leaders I know present a squeaky-clean Teflon coated exterior, as if they have absolutely zero interest in anything unwholesome, prurient or even a little bit sordid. All the while I have to contend with an instinct for off-colour humour and a set of loins with a mind of their own.

The struggle for me isn’t that I appear to be the only guy with desires that need constant reigning in. The problem is that I have a perception of the Christian leader as someone who has overcome all these things, when I know I haven’t. What I’ve shaken down to is a dichotomy position, where I know many Christian leaders DO have weaknesses, issues etc, yet press through regardless, occasionally failing – in a small way if they’re lucky and with major shipwreck if they aren’t. At the same time, I expect someone capable of discipling others to HAVE overcome their personal weaknesses, whether by technique or habit, and be beyond succumbing to the draws of their flesh and weak character.

It’s important for me – this is no exercise in my head – because I know I have a calling. I have to know that I CAN walk through, regardless of the things that catch and pull, since I know I’m never going to be Teflon-covered personally, and I have to know that this is sufficient. I think it IS, but it’s scary because the consequences of shipwreck are much greater when others look to you for guidance and input. Actually maybe I HAVE overcome many of these issues, but they don't STAY overcome, and that's a whole story in itself.

Hmmm. Responsibility. What I always (never) wanted.

This is GOOD news.

Alan Johnston is free.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Reality is analogue.

The older I get, the more I seem to recognise the connectedness of all things.


No really. It makes discussion/arguments difficult, and even mere conversation can be hard sometimes when I’m trying to find a way in, while washes of information sweep across me, yet remain indescribable – without handles to grasp.

Now that just sounds like I’m tripping!

But seriously, it’s affecting my blogging and many other thought processes.

There’s a couple of people I know and love that blog a different reality to the one they live in public. Lovely people that I’ve enjoyed spending time with, and not deliberately 2 faced. Actually the face they present to meatspace (as reality is sometimes called) is very pleasant, but they blog the inside things – the stuff the rules of face-to-face interaction encourage you to hide.

So I have a problem with what to blog.

This last week I’ve been struggling with things inside. Thoughts, feelings, hormones, frustrations, anger, tiredness, joy, fun, pleasure, love, encouragement, beauty. It’s all connected, and I can’t easily blog some of it without blogging all of it – my life is an analogue stream, rather than a digital separated series of events. Everything is somewhat connected and there’s no easy filtering of me to ‘lose’ the unpresentable stuff so that the only thing to talk about is the nice stuff *without misrepresenting* the real Toni. I guess that’s a long winded way of saying “stuff happens, but I can’t easily talk about it”.

People don’t like analogue reality – we’re always trying to break it down into manageable sized chunks – digitising it. The idly curious part of my mind wonders whether humans thought in analogue before the fall of man, and afterward, because he could no longer grasp or control creation, instead chose to get a hold of it by dividing it into smaller and smaller parts. Thus later in genesis we find produce divided between arable and livestock, unacceptable and acceptable etc. Of course it could be God’s plan (he divides night and day, earth and sky etc) and this might be simply useless philosophical drivel. At least it’s more uplifting than some of the stupid thoughts I have.

But with a blog, everyone that knows me is a little or a lot is connected: an analogue reality again. So for the sake of everyone that reads this I’ll constrain my blog entries.

Now that’s not bad – almost a full A4 page of mythering in word. I hope this is interesting/useful to someone.

Monday, 2 July 2007

My one regret

I didn't realise until I got out of the car this morning for work that we didn't pray together. We were all sleepy last night, and the thoughts along those lines just drifted away. At least we have have something to look forward to next time we get together.