Wednesday 27 September 2023

But life goes on

 Though for how long, we wonder.

Near the end of August we had been looking forward to a solid 2 weeks at the house in France. The weekend before we went I'd had a niggly back pain that became problematic & moved around, peaking bank holiday Monday before easing off but not leaving completely for the next week. Thursday it peaked again, worse than before, and in the end I got an ambulance ride to hospital, multiple scans & stuff.

We see you have a gall stome, but we think it's a digestive problem. Have some codeine and gaviscon, and come back if it persists. 


Things got a fair bit worse that day before they got a bit better on evening Saturday next day, and so we delayed going away. By Sunday things were much more normal and so Monday we travelled. It was good to be there again, but that first week I was quite wobbly and suddenly much more aware of my own fragility* and the possibility I might not get to retire at all! But by the following week things were pretty much normal, work was done**, progress made and we now feel like the house is a really nice place to be. It's amazing to think we've spent less than 8 weeks in total there so far.

What was also nice was seeing new friendships deepen. Our nearest French neighbours moved from vous (formal) to tu (friends) and we met and spent time with several other people within the village. There's a flip side too, in that we've discovered not everything is quite so idyllic, but that was only to be expected really.

And so now we're back, ready to the 3 month run up to Christmas, damp days, dark nights and the rest. 

Chris had an eye op last week - seems to have gone OK AFAWK, but we've a lot of stress over lack of provision of needed medication that should have been available, but wasn't. Not cool.

* I need to make a 'when I die' list so someone can post to various forums and this blog the fact that I'm no longer around.

**My favourite gardening tool is now the brush cutter - basically a circular saw on a stick.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Happy birthday darling.

You would have been 34 today.

The years seem to have gone by so quickly, yet taken forever. 

Wednesday 9 August 2023

It's been a (loonnngggg) while.

 Is it goodbye to Ello?

So many years ago now I was given an insider invite to the Ello network thanks to my good friend Randall. It had a bad time when the refugees from Tumblr's porn policy invaded, and was never quite the same after, but it was still a site for art and creativity. 

Sadly it's now gone. Back in June it had some technical problems for a while, then returned, but fell over again - permanently it seems  - at the end of July. Trying to access the site now gets an 'invalid SSL certificate' message instead of just an error message. Guess they just couldn't find a working business model.

I've been trying to figure out why there's no enthusiasm to post here any more. Some of it's the time/energy thing, but some of it is that I just don't like the blogger interface now, and it just drains away my desire to write something. The blog isn't going to be permanently parked yet, but it may remain quiet for some time.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Black or white hat?

I have come to the conclusion that there are only 2 kinds of computing professionals these days: those whose job it is to protect systems and those who wish to break into them. Nothing else matters. Work, health, business, progress. Nothing. It doesn't matter if you can't work effectively provided the system is secure and IT is being done properly. 

Friday 5 May 2023

And so we're back (not from ) outer space.

 The week before last we were back in France again, working hard, getting tired, making progress. It was successful: the kitchen papered, new light fitting, fireplace tiled (thanks Ben) doors and windows made to open and close without a battle after removing 130 years of paint and some wood, woodwork newly painted, ancient storage heaters and non-working oven consigned to the dechetterie, walls and a doorway removed in a bathroom, brambles cut down in the orchard. 

Those around my age who read this, have you noticed how the young seem to have unlimited endurance?

Ben came with us and, despite the broken arm, managed one-handed painting and tiling. He had so much energy, endurance, we felt that we couldn't just slope off and relax for a bit. So we managed loads, but this week back at work we're both quite thoroughly bushed. An almost 12 hour drive on Saturday didn't help, though it wasn't a bad journey as they go. By the end of this week we've partially recovered from that, but are now tired from this weeks efforts.

We had an emotional rollercoaster too, with a friend thinking they had lung cancer, only for it to turn out to likely be a complication of COVID. We're glad to have been told, but it did lead to a lot of emotions running around.

Tomorrow a bloke in London lets someone else put an old hat on his head.....

Chris may try to watch if they televise it at the village hall, otherwise I'm just going shopping in Tesco as normal and she'll do the washing up. Life must go on.

Sunday 16 April 2023

It's been a long time coming

 But I put some images into a zine - see here for an online version.

The print run is very limited - just 10 copies - partly because it's expensive, partly because I'm not sure about the quality yet. If this works well then there may be more zines plus a reprint. A coupe of months back I took part in a 'show' of local produce, showing my pictures on a computer screen, but with no product to put in someones hand and sell. This would change that in a positive, affordable way.

Friday 7 April 2023

So 1 week later.....

 Ben finally had surgery on his arm yesterday after several visits & rounds of X-rays. I collected him from the JR in Oxford yesterday evening, then stayed overnight with him in Oxford as a precaution (required) because he'd had a general anaesthetic. Managed to forget the toiletries bag & a change of clothes, so eventually got home, baked a cake & brushed teeth/showered. :p

 At least he seems to have come through it well.

I mentioned the keyboard on this new Lenovo laptop - it has a number pad that requires an offset & smaller keys, and that sucks for typing. Now feeling slightly tired after a night in a different bed & a busy morning. Hello Easter time.....

Saturday 1 April 2023

It's been a disconnected couple of weeks. Reconnecting in 3, 2, 1......

The primary disconnection has come from needing to replace my current laptop - a Dell XPS15 bought in 2014 as a work machine and replacement for a 5YO Macbook. It was better than the Mac in almost every way except the trackpad, and apart from having a slightly slow processor by the needs of current demands (4th gen mobile i7) it's still a really nicely made machine. Unfortunately the keyboard is now failing, battery life <1 hour & there's a windows driver issue that causes the processor to max for a few seconds every 10min.

The replacement is a Lenovo Flex 5 16" & despite the larger screen it's slightly smaller than the dell, around the same weight and thickness. Performance with a midrange Ryzen 5 series processor and NVME drive is overall much faster, but the build quality is a lot lower than the XPS and some things like the SD card socket are disappointingly poor. The screen is OK at 100% sRGB and it's nice to have a pen included that works with the touch screen. Wish I could have justified another XPS, but I've a main system upstairs for picture editing and other work-related stuff.

Why disconnection?

 To an extent the lappie is my connection to others across the world.

Despite so many negative comments about windows updates, when I first got the machine there were just 2 rounds of updates to do taking a couple of hours. After swapping the stock SSD for a 2TB drive I used a 'restore' memory stick created from the first drive to re-install on the new SSD and it only required a single round to update. However after theat there's the stripping of bundled junk from Lenovo & microsoft, then turning off the stupid defaults that are always included in any new build (like snapping windows). Next software installation and moving files across, which isn't complete even now, having to hunt down activation codes, installers etc. I also need to do screen calibration and then finish off copying data over - nearly 2 TB on the old machine, I'm going to be leaving a lot of the older images off. Also need to get files moved to outlook so I can restart sending emails (sorry V - you're not forgotten).


Any thing else?

My regular email address that I've used for well over a decade has started getting bounced by various platforms including gmail. If you have a gmail address and haven't heard from me recently, this is likely why, along with the above issues. It may be possible to get whitelisted, but that's another battle for another day.

Last weekend we were away with friends who moved a year ago. It is taking a long time to recover from the cold back in Feb, and I was really struggling with energy the whole weekend, plus that made it difficult this week. Darn not being young, getting sick etc. And it could be so much worse as some of my friends know so well.

Struggling still with the need to learn French. When ever it feels like I'm making progress something comes along to remind me how little I really know. 

Played my first gig since getting sick last night just, over an hour away in Birmingham. Didn't manage to get any food before & although I felt wobbly for the first few songs, it steadied up & wasn't too bad. 

 Around 9.45 I noticed that our son had tried to call me. Turns out he'd fallen while training on a climbing wall & broken his arm, and was at the JR in Oxford. Chris went to be with him while I came home, ate & then we changed places - she was teaching a card workshop today. Eventually Ben I got got back at 4am, getting up at 6.30 to clear up in the house he was looking after & then get him back to the hospital again - he may have surgery, but it's undecided. 

Honestly, staying up 'till 4am is so much more fun watching videos on Amazon than sitting in A&E in Oxford. :-p

Hoping life will get back to normal. Soon.

*edit* got Outlook up & running, emails coming in now, also calibrated the screen and it looks cleaner, which is pleasing.

Monday 27 February 2023

What has the night to do with sleep?

 Chris has a cold, and now so do I.

Slept from 11.30 to 1.30, then on-and-off until 3ish, after which it was not at all. Gave up at 4am and I'm now downstairs on the settee with brain-ache, bored & tired. 

Haven't done this for a while now, possibly because post-covid I've simply not been energetic & alert enough to get fed up with laying in bed. Maybe bed is just too uncomfy for laying in without sleeping.

Sunday 26 February 2023



Today I received a curious email, purporting to be from blogger, telling me that a post from 2004 broke their conditions of use. 

The obvious assumption that this was a scammer turned out to be incorrect, and I rather suspect it was the name of someone's bicycle frame that caused the problem. Having now looked at the guidelines I can't see which of them has actually been broken - there's no adult content in that post, and the wording is plainly not of a sexual nature, even if the things it refers to are. The offending post can be seen in all its glory below.

I can't see a way to appeal against the censoring - pretty sure the post was flagged by a non-human - and although I can edit & resubmit the post, after nearly 20 years I don't feel inclined to do so.

I miss the days of the internet being a playground for a small number of grownups, too difficult for a majority of both people and businesses to bother to access.

Monday 23 January 2023

You're nicked, son!

 Considering how many films are available through Amazon Prime, it can feel like a bit of a wilderness sometimes when you want something to watch that will entertain without giving flashbacks and dreams that you don't want.

So when I saw they had the Sweeny (70's TV cops and robbers series set in sarf Lundun) I had to watch it.

It's slightly shocking actually. Everyone smokes, all the time. Everyone drinks in the way I remember people drinking (not my parents FWIW) with nasty blended whiskies, dodgy fizzy wine to look posh. The clothes, the motors, it's all there guv. 

In 1977 when this was shot (IIRC) I had just left school at 16 - this is how I remember it was. People seemed tough, violence had been a part of being at school and certainly some of the kids I knew planned a life of crime - were quite open about it. In some ways it was a time of optimism, a time of discovery, a time of peak-excess when very few thought that we needed to be careful about the future. We imagined there would be colonies on the moon and maybe further by now, rather than the West becoming self-absorbed and the East crumbling into kleptocracy.

Thursday 5 January 2023

Talking of seasons

I was sorry to read that a fellow blogger - Fernando Gros - lost his mum last year. Seems to have been a bad time for parents.

In his own inimitable way he asks about how we process things and uses an analogy of a time machine. Sadly comments now seem to have been disabled, else I'd have left some words of condolence. 

This time of life is very strange in the way things change, but at least I've had role models. Being 'grandad' I find more difficult in some ways, my father having never lived to model the role for my children, and my own grandfather no longer 'being himself' due to the ravages of dementia and his own losses in my adult years.

Monday 26 December 2022

The season some call Crimbo is nearly over.

It's curious, post covid, because so much has changed in the last couple of years.

My mother is dead.

Our son is (temporarily) home.

The house in France is real and there's a modest pull to be there.

I now work for a large company, and it's not really what I want.

The church changed around us, and we moved on finally. In some ways there was a loss of family, though for me the sense of losing the family had been there for years, and it's one reason why I'd no longer stay.

Life doesn't feel the same. This body is now creaking, troublesome, uncomfy, and neither of us are young any more. 

Wonder what 2023 will bring?

Sunday 20 November 2022

Well the boy is back tomorrow.

 First time we'll have seen him up-close in 3 years. I wonder if he'll stay longer than the few short weeks we had between Whistler and New Zealand?

Anyway, we have space for him to sleep, so I guess we're sorted. Now to get used to having another adult in the house.

Monday 26 September 2022

It's almost the end of September

 And we still haven't identified an alternative church to move to.

But, in the words of the song "I don't wanna go back to Egypt".

It's taking time, and we needed a break. Visiting a few different places isn't doing us any harm, and we are getting to see what others do (and don't do) when they meet. This last Sunday we went somewhere that's really active, doing LOADS of things, really friendly, probably good theologically, tick a lot of the boxes. 

What's that 'wacka-wacka' sound? Oh, it's a holy helicopter - be careful not to get caught up in the rotas. :-)

As an observation, apart from the local Anglican church which is very firmly embedded in the book of common prayer, none of the places we've seen have been noticeably less charismatic in their meetings than where we've come from. I find that interesting, but not surprising.

So the search continues for now.

Monday 22 August 2022

Happy birthday darling

You would have been 33 today, probably a mum by now with kids at school and all the tears & joy that goes with this stage. 

Friday 19 August 2022

A wandering nomad I

 We negotiated a 3 month break from church back at the end of May with a view to a little time out, possibly to look around, only for my mother to get sick & die. Since the start of August we've made ourselves make the effort to visit other churches, not least because the likelihood of completely detaching was increasing (it's been great NOT having to do stuff) and because we felt under pressure to come to a conclusion.

It's curious how so many (esp Gen Zers) treat church like a hobby that doesn't matter, yet it can also become a weight and a drain if you're the kind of people who - like us - see the seriousness of it and commit. For me, it's long been a drain - a thing that takes more than it gives, leaves me feeling frustrated, cross, tired, wanted for what I do more than who I am and not a place I can discuss the struggles I have. Worst of all, for a long time it's felt like we've just been going through the motions with no reality behind what we're doing - If I'm going to do formula church then let me go somewhere I can just sit in a pew without needing to engage and be challenged to a mission I don't want to participate in.

Interesting - that took on a life of it's own while writing.

So we've been looking at other churhces in the area, unfortunately during silly season when everyone is on holiday and stop-gaps get arranged until normality resumes in September.

We've seen 3 so far, not including the village church here (that's tempting, simply because pew-sitting is the main requirement). One, we had a sense that there might be quite a bit I could do to contribute with my particular skill sets (we can see where that's going!) one felt immediately comfy but seemed theologically chaotic and one was both extremely intense and also deeply formulaic at the same time. We may well re-visit some or all, because I'm going to extend our time off. 

 So we still wander. 

Saturday 9 July 2022

It feels like a longer time

 For those who drop by occasionally wondering what's going on, my mother's funeral takes place next week - details here.

 In my last post I suggested that life goes on, but that is demonstrably not always the case.

Thursday 2 June 2022

And so does another (pass by)

Covid - not the long variety, but certainly an extended variety has been hanging on. Energy levels are back more now than a moth ago, but not 100% and my head is still fuzzy at times.

Mortality - my mother is almost 90, and no longer able to be independant. Those who think a loving God doesn't allow his children to come to harm need to spend time around old people near end of life when it's not going so easily. This isn't going how she expected it to, and it's certainly not what we would choose for her.

May - isn't a good month for us. This was less problematic than sometimes, with a shift of attention elsewhere.

French - is slow to learn, hard to understand. I had a phone call this week from a firm about doing some work, and was painully embarrassed not to undersand much at all despite so much study.

Life goes on.

Monday 2 May 2022

Another month flashes by.

 Well it's good to be post-covid. 

Chris recovered within a couple of weeks, but I'm still not there yet even now. There's a lethargy that's hard to shake, and a fuzziness of thought which is difficult to overcome. Or I may be making excuses. ;-)  The sciatica which developed in the first week of illness is still present, sometimes less & sometimes more, making every day life a bit more difficult, leaving me feeling old and stiff, hobbling to keep up. I. Don't. Do. Squats. 

We're just back from a week at the house in France, and are pretty pooped TBH, allowing ourselves just 1 day off for leisure. It's also an 11 hour drive, give or take, including tunnel.

I'd say we're getting down to the point where our project is defined now, more or less, which is a good thing. If you want to fix one thing then it may be necessary to identify all the other stuff that's in the way of sorting that. So we want to fit a kitchen, but need to be able to drain waste water from the sink. That may mean having to re-work a bathroom first. We also want to attempt revovery of the old tiles found under the flooring in the kitchen, but that may require many days of labour because it's a big room. 

I need to get quotes and agree plans with plumbers, electricians, decorators and heating engineers. In French. Google translate is a real boon. 

We did some good work too. There are now only beds in bedrooms, the oil stove has gone from the middle of the kitchen and the house can be lived in a little better than just camping. But it IS a project, and more so than we hoped - many bad previous design choices are having to be un-picked, which is a drag. It'll be nice when it's done.

 Flies are an issue in that part of the world. In the attic was the worst, with the large floor area generously carpeted with small and the occasional large crunchy black corpse. We found a small carrier bag full of dead flies up there too. The agent who sold us the house was probably responsible for sweeping the floors before we visited, otherwise we might have baulked at the carnage. She has continued generously helping us with stuff, and I wonder if there isn't a small twinge of guilt.

It wasn't all hard work. 

The wild flowers are lovely in the spring around the Morvan, and the light too. There seem to be rivers and springs everywhere, and often one can hear running water without being able to see it. Neighbours were also very friendly and kind - hopefully that will continue when the novelty wears off! While I suspect this will never be a permanent home for us, I could imagine living there for several months at a time when retirement final arrives.

Saturday 2 April 2022

It's positive to be negative

 This morning I had my first negative covid test result in 2 weeks, which is good.

It's been a bumpy ride, feeling very up & down with it, coughing deeply and frequently, feeling really fuzzy-headed and having no energy at all. And that despite being fully vaccinated and having neutralising antibodies. This has not been fun.

To cap it off, I also have sciatica in my left leg & buttock, making it impossible to stand straight and providing an extra challenge to find a comfy position in bed. Nice.

Back to work next week. 

I'm mildly jealous of the ability our cat has to sleep >20 hours of the day. OTOH she's deaf, blind, senile and no longer able to move well, so she probably deserves all the opportunity to escape that she can get. Guess I do have the better deal right now. ;-)

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Not dead yet

That could be referring to the blog and me.

But it's been a while.

But before anything else, we're in what I hope is the middle of our covid infection. 

For me it started last week, when I did a short 3K run and coughed as usual, but didn't stop the next day. A test came up negative even though symptoms were strong and clear, and at least one of our other guys who was a couple of days ahead with similar symptoms was also testing negative, so I assumed it was the first cold in a while. A re-test Sunday morning gave a really intense positive result, and here I am. Chris is also suffering with the same infection, though has been testing negative desoite feeling really poorly. LFD tech still has a way to go for sensitivity.

In other news, we completed on the house, spending a long weekend there (but staying in a B&B nearby). It's in worse condition than we remembered, and there was no water or electricity - just 3 degrees Celsium inside. The previous owner hadn't finished clearing the place for various reasons, and there's simply lots to do: electrics, heating, kitchen fitting, some replumbing, redecoration. It's not a rebuilding job, but not trivial either. The house also has three cellars, but we could only access one. I have at least managed to get a date for the power to be restored.

 The area IS lovely, and we're looking forward to seeing more. 

As for today, the weather is beautiful outside right now, temp around 18C with warm sunshine and clearish skies. Makes me feel sympathy for our friends trapped in a world of ice and now still. 

What else?

Life goes on. It feels like we're in the waiting room preparing to die. That's not being said morbidly, but having seen my mother aging and changing over the last 15 years, it's hard not to have that sense of just trying to stay entertained while every gradually falls apart. There's lots of good things to enjoy despite what is going on in Ukraine, but it feels trivial in a way.

Saturday 29 January 2022

Exactly 1 month later

I still feel fat.

But that's not really the point of my posting. 

 In the next week or so we should finally complete on the French house. In some ways it felt like this point would never actually arrive, and that's made for a very relaxed build-up to this stage. However suddenly it's here, we have a date and suddenly all those really important things like transferring euros, French bak accounts, electricity, water, insurance, covid tests et al have to be sorted. I've frankly no idea what to do about internet yet - the village has broadband running through, so it may just be a case of speaking to Orange or Bougeytel or someone to get them in when we're actually present. As for heating, there were some electric convectors upstairs, plus a couple of stoves (one may be oil fired) in the kitched and a solid fuel stove 1M out from the wall in the livingroom, but what works? Who knows?

We last saw the house in mid October, just long enough to have a good idea what it was like and decide that it was for us. When we next see the place we'll need to measure, photograph, dig a little, decide what should go where and how the place can work best for us as temporary visitors. There are no plans to move in (or indeed move country) as yet, though if we fell in love with it, maybe. It's not the home I imagined we would buy, but I think it should be a good place.

So here we go. Another adventure.

We're both spending about 5 hours per week trying to learn French, and that's curious too. Can't remember if I mentioned this already, but it seems to be 2 languages, with the spoken langauge and written language diverging. In speech it's all about flow, and I'm sure the concepts of masculine and feminine were introduced to rationalise the le and la prefixes (and a bunch of other stuff) that helps it roll off the tongue. but then things developed and there seem to be a bunch of word endings that are completely silent in speech, but ESSENTIAL in writing. Cue much eye rolling, though I *think* it's making sense somewhat. 

Chris is much better than me with French. Given the choice I'd have bought in Italy despite the earthquakes, and just started from scratch learning, but c'est la vie. This has to suit both of us, and I'm not sorry we've gone this way. If we ever did want to move out, at least we could do so thanks to my Austrian nationality.

That's enough rambling for now.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Darn it, I feel fat.

 The pleasure of Christmas food (including the run-up and a US trip) without any significant exercise for a month, and I both look and feel like a bloater. My stomach is now covered in a firm layer of adipose tissue, and I have grown moobs somewhat too. Yuk. 

Running might have helped, so too might walking. The weather has done what it so often does at this time of year, and has been almost continuously wet, making walking through the countryside an exercise in keeping balance on the mud, and the only brief walk we did manage was accompanied by lots of slipping and sliding - at least neither of us fell, though there were some times it was a near thing.

Darn it, I feel ignorant.

And we're both learning French. Naturally Chris is much better at it than I am, the language being fussy & full of abbreviations with words changing in some seemigly arbitrary manner (yes I know it isn't, but that's how it seems). It doesn't help that the learning system we're using (Duolingo) only present colloquial English translations of French sentences, and that doesn't make getting the real meaning of the words, nor the means of sentence construction easy. 

This also doesn't help with conversation, which is really what we need. It's likely that the only soloution there is repeated practice in situe, and that won't be happeneing for a few years yet if at all.

Darn it, I feel dull and boring.

My usually creative outlets - music and photography - aren't going anywhere really now. Music-wise I've been surplus to requirements at the church for a couple of years, and that side of things has almost completely wthered away. Gospel Bell had a few gigs this summer/autumn, but covid has put that to sleep again. There's no fun in just woodshedding, and I think the time really has come to begin flogging gear. Photowise the weather here doesn't make for inspiration, and I'm not an indoor photo type really.

Darn it, sometimes it's just good to moan a bit. 

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Well, I'm back

 From the windy city.

It was a good trip, busy, useful, hopefully productive as the coming weeks will show.

Jet lag is a little better than expected, which is good, though I do feel quite dozy still. Presently I have to isolate at home until I get my day 2 test results back confirming I don't have covid.

In other news, we hope to shortly buy a house in France. Many a slip twixt cup and lip as they say, so lets wait and see if it comes off.

Monday 15 November 2021

Deja vu

 Curious that my first blogpost after 2 months is about having broken another tooth, and I'm shortly to visit the same dentist.

The tooth that they repaired before has been, I think, rebuilt a little lower than before and my bit has changed, putting additional pressure on a different tooth that then gave up. I can feel that the teeth on the other side meet first, and then the jaw has to tilt slightly for the teeth on the other side to meet.

I'm waiting this morning before driving into Bicester for my 9.15am appointment - it's just not worth going to work first.

Friday 17 September 2021

Hurry up and wait.

I broke a tooth yesterday. No biggie, it doesn't hurt, but it does need fixing. Having tried to book online, including making a payment in case of no-show without success, I managed to get an appointment this morning. 

And left with just enough time to get there.

You've probably already rolled your eyes at that, quite reasonably.

Everyone was in 'delay Toni' mode, including the near-stationary traffic on the dual carriageway heading to Bicester. 

So I called ahead to apologise, expecting them to be busy, only to be told they were running late, and that's fine. You may also guess that I'm writing this because I'm waiting. 

Ok, 20 min after due time I went in. Now just waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect before we drill and fill. 65 quid later (thanks NHS) we should be done.

Now the fun will be a call with a potential customer in the US when I get back. 

Monday 6 September 2021

This year, travel has gone to hell in a handcart.

We'd like a proper holiday, nothing too exotic, but a genuine break, especially as it's our 40th anniversary. And we're constrained to October. It's a source of modest amusement that, just as we'd did 40 years before, we'd be travelling on a Sunday.

TBH I have no idea where or even if we might go somewhere, let alone anywhere interesting. We're just in travel limbo, with guilt on one side of the equation and risk on the other. 

Just looked up flights to various places, comparing them with the channel tunnel - the tunnel doesn't look good value, even if you factor in car hire for a couple of weeks. 

Hmmm. What to do, what to do.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

A little youtube browsing

 I don't listen to much music these days, but in the video listings up popped Texas with 'I don't need a lover' from a concert in Holland. I remember the tune - quite fun - so decided to watch. 


The crowd are quite responsive, hands in the air as the rhythm part starts. The slide sounds 'off' to me from what I remember, but it doesn't spoil anything too much as live parts often sound different. Then the guitar player swaps his acoustic for electric and starts pushing out a chicka-chicka-chicka style rhythm part that sounds like it's in the wrong key and completely fails to fit or pick the song up. Hands go down, crowd looks bored.

I actually felt embarrassed for them. 

The guitar player was Birelli Lagren, who was supposed to be a prodigy and incredibly able, yet he just kills the whole show with his playing. Weird. I wouldn't have mentioned it, but ever since then the video keeps popping up in my feed. Eventually he seems to get it together, but by then the song is nearly finished

See for yourself:

I looked up what they did on a couple of other live concerts, and if I didn't know better I'd swear they used backing tracks, or at least had some parts including the acoustic slide part pre-recorded (one give away was the lack of anyone onstage with an acoustic guitar after the opening bars in the Live in Paris video). Maybe they were just never much of a live band.

What's fun?

Musically speaking, these guys know how to play live:

And COMPLETELY different, though musically very well done, this may amuse some:

Sunday 18 July 2021

I don't blog much these days. That's not a miracle, and this isn't a book review.

Partly it's because the conversation is pretty much finished, and those who still want to talk will send emails instead where one can say things more openly. Blogging seems to have become about business, whether promoting products themselves or helping support a brand, either personal or corporate. I've come to realise too that I'm what some call neurodiverse, and the one blogger from the old days who still writes is simply impenetrable to me - I'd hoped we might have been friends, but I plainly misunderstand what he says.

But I know there are a few who drop by & they might find this interesting.

This isn't a book review, but I've been trying to work through God On Mute by Pete Greig. 

For those unaware, a few years back we had a friend die of cancer. Young mum, strong Christian faith, we'd known her since she was a chubby-faced girl of 10. She wasn't the first person we'd know die prematurely of cancer, but her death made many of those who knew her ask why, and was the tipping point that started me asking the questions that had always been suppressed by the cloud of faith that we use to hide the stuff we can't answer. A result of her death was that church leadership decided our local church was glum (their words) and so we were shown the "Prayer course II - unanswered prayer" videos to make us get over it and be cheerfully missional again because being glum is not a good advert for the gospel (also their words). 

At the start of the course pretty much everyone said they wanted to understand why God didn't heal and wanted answers. At the end of the course no-one had answers but it seemed to have made the questions for most people go away. In the video, Greig's book God On Mute was referred to as giving fuller answers and more in depth theology, therefore I bought the book.

So I came to the book hoping to find some solid theology, but early on there's a bit of a disclaimer that's not what the book is about, and a suggestion that there are much better authors who write detailed books - which granted Greig says he's studied to get to where he is - but which was the gentle 'let down' to not expect too much.

I would say that it's a book written by someone hoping to reach out beyond the church, for people of the generation where everyone has degrees but doesn't think or know anything. Lots of anecdotes, stories, accounts of miracles and of miracles not happening. Each time a crucial scripture comes up - like the ending of the book of Job where God says "look at me" but gives no answer - it gets treated as though God being God is enough and one cannot ask any more. When you're a hammer, every question about scripture looks like a nail, or like the Sunday school answer, even if it looks like a rabbit you know the answer will be Jesus. Missional, sure, but honest and open?

If you don't really have an answer, please don't pretend.

In the videos there's a section where they briefly suggest God doesn't do miracles much because He doesn't like to break the laws of nature too often. This concept doesn't get explored there, but I suspect this is the TL:DR bit that all the fluff and stories are building up to. I'm persisting with the book in the hope that there IS more to it, and this isn't just another coat hook being treated like a nail under the hammer of mission.

A brief aside, he mentions being from the 'emergent church' movement, and sadness that many of his fellow emergents have dropped away because their faith has been challenged. This is no surprise at all - a liberal reading of scripture must inevitably lead one to doubt the truth of the bible, since if parts of it were wrong, why should any of it be right (except the bits which affirm the stuff we like/approve of).

So I shall continue, but TBH already expect disappointment. The truth may be out there, but is likely not in here.