Sunday, 28 February 2010

Poor Chris

Billy Connolly colonoscopy.

Actually, if you're sensitive, don't go there.

It's not that she needs one, but instead has that nasty tummy bug that's been going round. We visited a house yesterday where they were still recovering and ate there, and that's probably been enough to pass it on. Do feel sorry for the poor lass though, as she's been shivering violently as well as spouting both ends. I can also feel a certain gentle pressure in my nether regions, but while it's still comfortably containable it shall remain contained comfortably.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A bombshell has hit our livingroom today.

Well, actually it's the contents of the cupboard under the stairs.

For some time I've been wanting to tackle it and reduce the clutter (in so many ways) but who would have thought one could get so much into such a tiny space? The living room is full, there's stuff in the kitchen and the cupboard still has all the model planes, balsa wood, radio control gear, tools, my Vox AC30, a large box with LPs and a bunch of other odds and ends in it.

Sat 4 feet away is a large stack comprising empty speaker and head cabs, plus 6 loudspeakers (2 of which don't work). There's piles of magazines, a collection of power tools (mostly still boxed) framed pictures, computer stuff, wood and metal raw materials, 3 separate camera holdalls, a RC model plane belonging to a friend, a wooden chest containing radio gear and aero engines, a boxed German language course on cassette, crash helmets, spare bags, a couple of guitars and a draw full of hand tools.

I've already been through and cleared a lot of stuff: there's a huge pile of PC bits: MOBOs & processors from jobs I've done + old PS2 mice etc. I've filled a couple of rubbish bags with foam and things that really need chucking now.

The high point?

Finding a tiny DC Merlin diesel engine mounted on a piece of 2 bee 2 (as we'd call it). The engine was a gift from my father when he ran a model shop, and the wood was an offcut from the legs of the bunk beds he made for my brother and I. It still had the original tank and pipe (still supple!) held with a piece of heavy electrical wire twisted together to keep it all in place. The engine was gummed up and wouldn't turn by hand, but I squirted in some lube before popping it away in the hope it will soften and one day be recoverable.

The engine is important to me, not least because it's fully 40 years old, but also for the memories it brings. On Friday my mother asked if there were any possessions I wouldn't ever want to get rid of, and at the time, I could only think of my first decent electric guitar. However this is another one, and I'd be really sad to ever have to let this one go for good.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Bath pics

To wet an appetite or 2.

It's interesting how every out-door pic I selected was vertical. That may tell you quite a bit about the city.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Anyone want to lend me

a small-medium bass amp? Like a Trace Elliot Commando or similar. Somewhere between 50W and 100W and enough to fill a largish hall at lowish volume (rather than a large room at high volume). The Pignose ain't man enough for it, even with a Hartke bass speaker installed.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

A great 4th and final post

.....on congregation participation in worship from Matt Blick's blog. If you've not been over there yet then I very strongly recommend reading this plus the other 3 articles below. They echo my heart for worship to involve the whole church together, and not just each one in their own private place of worship.

Monday, 15 February 2010

First post from Linux Mint

It's kind of like Ubuntu, but subtly different. Quite a lot slower starting up, for one thing.

It looks better crafted than Ubuntu (on which it's based) with better screen fonts, but not slick like Sabayon.

Can I have the real Facebook now please?

An article on El-Reg made me chuckle a bit. Especially funny are some of the comments (though not all by any means).

Mikey - gimme back my web 1.0.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

There's something which is odd about hearing God.

But not in the way you might think.

This evening we had a bit of an open prayer time at the chapel, and prayed for certain things. I just felt God say 'do such and such' and when I did them it seemed natural and right to say certain things, much of which seemed appropriate to aspects of the situation I had no knowledge of until later.

That's not the odd thing.

The odd thing is that people sometimes look at me as if to say "wow, how did you know that" and of course the answer is, I didn't and in many ways still don't, really.

There is someone we know who is gifted prophetically who would quite often stand up in church meetings and give people accurate prophetic words. In one case a couple who he had never met nor knew anything about had come with us and he gave them first an accurate description of their jobs and relationship before giving them a word of direction. Chris and I would sometimes joke together at those times: "missed me" etc. One day I asked God 'why aren't there ever any words for me' and He said 'because I can speak to you and don't need to do that with you'. It all seems perfectly natural, but it really isn't about me being special, but about Him talking to me.

And this is why it's not like some gift or ability that I have to 'know' things about people, to peel back their masks and see their thoughts and feelings. Instead it's simply God showing me stuff for a purpose. For my part, increasingly over recent years I've tried to be faithful to speak up, rather than doing the obvious 'that couldn't be God - must be my imagination'. The result of that, I'm sure, is that He's talking to me more in a way I can hear, instead of just through feelings and wishes. I hope that increasingly I'll learn to recognise that voice and speak out.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

I've not been this bushed in ages.

Yesterday we had a load of firewood delivered - the thinking being that we'll turn the rayburn down and use the radiators less (saving oil) and light the stove when we need to keep warmer.

Back in the day (well, the first 5 years up here anyway) we were mostly heated by wood, and we'd spend around 1 weekend in 4 cutting and stacking wood for the next month. It kept us fit, cutting and carrying, but we were young enough to cope OK. Now a sedentary 48 year old, a morning moving a ton or so of beech logs is hard work, and I'd really like to just curl up in a hot bath instead of taking rubbish from our shed and garden to the tip.

We're out tonight, doing Valentine stuff courtesy of the couple that head up HPC. Wasn't Valentine a ballet dancer? I hope they don't expect me to perform when I'm all stiff and achey.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Let's hope Avatar

is as good as everyone's suggested.

I've just booked tickets for the 11pm showing at the Kassam on the wrong side of Oxford, finishing at 2.10am.

Today I was up at 5.30am, working away from home, getting back at 7.30pm this evening. Hope I can stay awake.

Monday, 8 February 2010

After being smug about fixing my heating system

I had to do another 'fix' this evening.

When I did last weeks repair I used some stainless steel Ben had laying around to create extra supports for the heatproof block in the top of the firebox. By about Wednesday last week I could hear something wasn't quite right, because after the burner shut down there was still a rumbling noise from the firebox. Popping the inspection hole while it shut down confirmed that flames were still present.

So tonight I pulled it apart again.

Not all Stainless Steel is created equal.

This stuff had burned through in a week, and the cause of the problem was that the bits had fallen into the burner. So this time it was a complete strip of the firebox, pulled the burner unit out, cleaned it up & checked it over before popping it all back together.

This time.

This time I hope all will be well. Until summer, when I have some preventive maintenance scheduled.

Ever come come across someone

who says pretty much all the things you wanted to tell people on a topic, but with humour to make make it all the more palatable?

Read Matt Blick's blog post: 12 ways to increase congregation participation (in worship).

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

Of course you may feel that it should all be for the Glory Of God and wish the congregation would just shut up and enjoy the show, in which case you are very welcome to your 'worship as a concert' meetings, as long as I don't have to be there.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

This morning I was mostly

driving round upper Heyford for 20 min, fruitlessly search for someone's house for a 7am men's house group. When people give you an address, giving you a number and then telling you the road their back entrance is on without making that plain is not useful.

Oh well, at least I managed to get an email or 2 answered.

Friday, 5 February 2010


I took Chris to see 'ABBA Mania' (tribute band) tonight in Oxford, as a complete surprise. Because of the way things worked out, we actually got inside the New Theatre and sat down without her knowing what she was going to see. If it hadn't been for someone with a program sat in front the secret would have been kept right up until the first song.

Jethro Tull are on in March, but at £30 a ticket (plus another tenner booking fees) I think it's a bit spendy. Judging by tonight's sound it's also not a good music venue: either that or my ears don't hear things like everyone else's (tonight's sound lacked warmth and mids, though it was very crisp to my ears).

Still she had a good time, and that was what it was all about.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Tomorrow I shall be married

to a 47 year old woman.

And to celebrate I'm taking her to something Dixie would appreciate (even though there is no Merryl Streep present).

Macbook clamshell mode - advice?

Thought I'd finally cracked (no pun intended) the issue of running the Macbook in clamshell mode. Plug everything into the various ports, making sure the monitor is switched on, hit the power button and close the lid: voila! When it starts then the external monitor gets the full feed from the booting computer, and it will run with the lid closed giving >5 hours battery life even with the wireless network activated.


Except when you leave it unattended for a couple of minutes and it turns the external display off to save power, as though it were the laptop display and hibernates. Then the external display will work briefly when the machine wakes up before going blank again (because the lid's shut) and it returns to the hibernation state. Then you have the choice of shutting down a restarting or leaving the lid open as you did before.

This is really sucky.

Every other laptop I ever touched in the last 8 years would automatically divert the video to an external display if one was attached when the lid was shut, saving battery power etc. After hibernation it would awaken just as it was before, using that display. Like the failure to handle some CDs and DVDs properly, I'm sure this is just a software issue.

Any other users out there have advice/settings suggestions (not that there's much that control panel will let me change anyway).

And one more question - anyone ever use a non-Apple power supply? It would be useful to have a spare, but at the £20 ebay price, rather than the £60 Apple UK price. However I'd prefer not to fry any batteries.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Heard this morning on the radio - depression & the internet

Apparently there's a significant correlation between net use and depression.

Subjectively I'd say that I've noticed this to be true, although that hasn't always been the case. I've certainly been through times of very high net-usage and was apparently unaffected. However in my present more susceptible state I'd say it's certainly been true for me. A couple of weeks back I got a temporary ban on a forum for using an abbreviation (Jap, to describe the origin of my Japanese made Fender guitar. White Americans find it offensive on behalf of the Japanese they used to insult with it) and I've taken the opportunity to detach myself a little more. Hopefully this will result in less sleep lost (both to net usage and unhappiness) and a better outlook on life.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I'd love to know

Who our Australian visitors are.

You there, living somewhere around Sydney or Newcastle. Maybe inland a little toward Tamworth.

Hey fellers/lasses. Nice to see you.

Thank Clustrmaps for giving the game away.