Saturday, 30 January 2016

Finally wore out

the running shoes that I bought back in Nov 2014, with a 9 mile run this morning. The sole wore through to the foam on the left outside toe area, and I was starting to have my doubts about them after the grumbles from my knees.

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

SSDs are a wonderful development for computer users.

After pressing the ON button, putting the laptop down and taking off my fleece the machine was at the login screen. Silly really: what's a few extra seconds. And yet it's really nice not to wait.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I'd appreciate input from others about the 'person of peace' theology.

Over the last few years there's been increasing adoption of the idea of the 'person of peace' mentioned by Jesus when sending out the 12 (Matt 10 and Luke 10) as being a person with whom one should share the gospel. While I can see the adaptation, this is not at all how the passage reads to me, and is much more about staying with someone with integrity and honesty while performing an itinerant ministry.

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.

Still getting used to the Nikon

But here's a couple of images taken locally.

Kind of cheesy and cliched, but y'know.

It's raining again

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.

Ditto confidentiality.

Apparently I've run 52 miles so far this year.

Is that why my knees don't love me tonight.

Church news sheet done. Time for bed. :-)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

It's sometimes the little pleasures.....

Like sitting down with a mug of gluhmost after an evening 'chilling out' with church people.

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 I pushed a little harder

Earlier in the week I reset the distance units Endomondo uses to track my progress from kilometers to miles, although it now informs me of my progress every half mile instead of every kilometer - more encouragement is a good thing, right? ;-)

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 ( 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

Real life happens to us.

There is an amusing irony that on the first day with a little snow here (and I mean, a little) the fridge we've had for probably 20 years has just stopped working. I feels pretty darn cold round here right now though, even if most Canadians would consider it a mild spring day. :-p

And, on the point of booking flights to Bosnia Herzegovina, my debit card has been declined by the bank. Nuts.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Windows 10 - the revival.

So my Dell laptop most recently had 2 bootable drives: the original WD Blue spinning rust and a sandisk M-SATA card. Both were running W10 a month ago.

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.

Log in.

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.

Decisions, decisions.

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

Presently wondering if I need my head tested

Seriously thinking about entering the Heyford Park half marathon in about 6 weeks time.


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

Running through January rain

Isn't really my idea of fun, though I did manage 1hr 13min for 12.9K yesterday in windy conditions.

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

Sing if you're glad to be grey

I believe Tom Robinson, whose line I have tweaked appropriately for the title, is now happily married in the normal sense, and with children.

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.

Foolishness. :-p

Monday, 4 January 2016

Christmas has come and gone, and I wonder if it were here at all?

Yesterday (Sunday) evening we took the baubles and lights from the tree, decs from around the house and reverted to a slightly duller but more spacious house. I played classical music as I always do when handling Christmas decorations (in this case Handel's The Lark) because that feels right for the season (last year I played Rend Collective, which became almost unbearable with the emotional tension crafted into the album).

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

Posts are like London busses

There's nothing for ages, then 3 show up at the same time.

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.

Technology and stuff.

For those who care, I'm gradually migrating photographically to full frame with the acquisition before Christmas of a Nikon D610 body, swapped for a guitar I didn't really use. In one sense it's a bad deal, because the guitar will retain all it's value plus a bit in 10 years time, while the camera will be worth nothing, but OTOH at least it will get used.

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.

What else?


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.

Windows 10

I reverted.

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.

I have decided to take an extended break.

Facebook has got to the point where I have to hold back far too much - where I am starting to wonder if a significant number of people I know are mentally ill - and where some have no interest in truthfulness as long as they can get their point across. A few seem to have an amazing level of grace to walk through the flying poo and still bless people instead of adding to it, but I'm not one of them right now.

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.

A happy new year

...... to anyone who reads this still. ;-)