Sunday 30 May 2004

One bit of news

I've been looking for somewhere for us to stay this summer in France. So far found a couple of interesting places through chez nous that are still available and not too expensive. The one is in the French alps, about 100 kms south of Geneve, and 100 kms west of Torino, the other is in Burgundy, near Charolles.

I like the idea of the alps more for the mountain biking - the ski lifts are adapted to take bikes up, so you don't have to spend 3 hours climbing for 20 mins descent. Nice :-)

The place in Burgundy is more rural (which I also like) and at least 2 hours drive closer to home, but it's also more expensive.

I'm waiting for a few more replies to my enquiries, but so far I think the alps has it.

I just visited most of the blogs in my blogroll

and didn't post anything. The nearest I came was Jordon's blog, where I thought about posting how I was glad he had a conventional job. Decided against that because I don't think he'd understand, and feel I was trying to dig at him for being a 'pastor'.

It's an unusual day when I've nothing to say to anyone. Oh well, Harmony central calls.

Friday 28 May 2004

Mandrake 10.0 CE

Well, I was so impressed with the ease of setting up madrake on the work PC that I decided to do it at home too.

What especially impressed me was DVD playback. The PC I used was an old celeron 300 (:-) and using software decoding with Totem, I saw the sharpest, clearest DVD pictures I've ever seen on a PC. Granted it was a little jerky, but still, full screen using software on a PC of that spec is a moajor processor burden.

Anyway, I've replaced the old DVD drive this week with a new Liteon unit, and suddenly all those discs that were 'difficult' to play work really well. However, the new drive came bundled with 'powerDVD' and using this produced the fuzziest images imaginable! I was using MGI softmax before, but the audio delay wasn't really acceptable (Actually I've NEVER seen good audio:video synch, even with dedicated players).

So I thought I'd try Mandrake, since I wanted to learn how it worked anyway. 1 Hour later my drive's partitioned, software installed, boot manager configured printer recognised (not the modem :-( and Linux runs great. Pop a DVD in and nothing. Eventually find how to make totem look at the DVD drive, and it says it can't run it. Neither can any of the other multimedia players :-((

And so the learning curve has just steepened a little more. I'm sure this is good for me, in the same way doing crosswords is supposed to keep the brain from deteriorating.

Wednesday 26 May 2004

Just built a Linux box here at work

Only took 2 goes to get it working ;-)

Now to try to sort out that old scsi scanner.

A new addition to the blogroll

Sarah has an interesting blog, especially if you're into Home Education of children. When I first visited her site there was much talk of HE. As a child of the 60s HE stood for one thing - Health and Efficiency - a nudist magazine.

Nothing to do with Sarah's kind of home education, I'm sure!

Just read Randall's blog

About his Grandfather's life. Interesting how often much more than just build and hair colour gets inherited.

His family seems to have had someone in church leadership for generations. My family likewise, although to a lesser degree. I'm sure there is a big element of passing the blessing down the generations, and often healthy living can be passed by training of children.

But what about those that don't have that background? How can we see God break in for them and build a new family inheritence in their lives? Reading some blogs where people have come from a very un-christian background, I'm say it's a painful process often. There is much cutting away at the inheritence they have from their unrighteous families, and this is frequently painful.

Sometimes it's easy to take our inheritence for granted and risk sqandering it.

Nice to see blogger's working again

It was up and down like a fiddler's elbow yesterday.

Actually I've just moderated my own post. A common phrase round here is "up and down like a whore's drawers", and that's the expression I first used. Spoken quickly this sounds fine, but written it looks really coarse. I wonder if I'd moderate my speech significantly if everything I was going to say could be written out and presented to me?


This wasn't what I was going to blog about at all :-)

I was reading Ephesians this morning. Y'know, the bit MCPs use to beat their wives into 'submission'.

It was talking about how the church obeys Christ like wives obey their husbands, and naturally my thoughts flicked to the divorce rate. But the following section talks about how husbands should look after and do good things for their wives as if they were themselves, and the thoughts lingered longer on the divorce stats that time.

As a couple, we have watched a lot of other couples, both in and out of the church. Now everyone has to build their own relationship in a way that mutually suits them. But there are a lot I've looked at where I've had severe mis-givings. I am honestly surprised (although quite glad) that I know relatively few christian marriages that have come apart. The way to make a happy marriage seems so obvious to me, yet it evades some people no matter how they try to find it. Usually because of worship to the god of ME.

Friday 21 May 2004


I've been thinking about the differences between christians and non-christians recently. And what it actually is in practical tangible terms (forgiveness and faith may have tangible outworking, but can also be invisible).

I KNOW there's a difference, but it's a lot harder to spot in the analysis that I'd thought it would be. Both groups do stupid and cruel things. Both can be kind and loving. Some from both groups go to church and some don't. It appears the full panoply of human behaviour is displayed, almost regardless.

So, what is the external difference?

Tuesday 18 May 2004

A few thoughts about the weekend - touching Heaven, changing Earth.

I was looking for a place to record some of the events from my observation point, and this is probably the best place. This is a bit of an essay, so either skip to the end or be patient.

The Friday night meeting - the first in the series with the Arnotts - was interesting in many ways. Martin Lacelle (I think that's how it's spelt) from Vineyard lead the worship with his band. Slightly unfamiliar spin on familiar songs, but I managed to tune the band out some of the time and worship. After that John Arnott's time was interesting. He is by no means a 'preacher' and is partially chat show host, partially concerned elder brother. It would be fair to describe this time as ordered chaos, where rather than deliver a steady message, he's instead giving opportunity for words of knowledge and people to be prayed for. Good by me!

People around us were being prayed for over things like asthma, damaged limbs (a spine in one case) concussion and a whole pile of things. We saw a girl with a fractured vertebra turn a cartwheel between the rows of chairs and a guy that had a long history of debilitation through asthma jogged a couple of laps of the hall, to his amazement. Chris and I were on the prayer ministry team, and when a couple in front of us were prayed for we became involved, praying for them while they were 'out' on the floor. They seemed touched, both by God and us praying.

Saturday night we were back again (there had been daytime stuff too, but couldn't get away). There were a lot of testimonies, but like the previous night, these were frequently interrupted by words and people being prayed for. There was a testimony from another guy that had asthma for 40 years previously - he was astonished not to have used an inhaler since the previous evening when he'd been prayed for. There were a lot of other testimonies that I didn't get to hear because we had another 'word of knowledge' moment, and I got involved praying for someone for some time.

Toward the end of the meeting effectively everyone wanted to be prayed for by the Arnotts. There were fewer people on the paryer ministry team that night, and we ended up running around madly, organising several hundred people into rows so that a) they were accessible for prayer, and b) so that when they fell over they had enough space behind without hitting anything. It was interesting to watch, with the majority, though certainly not all, falling. People displayed more outward signs when Carol prayed for them - or even just went near them. There were a couple of times where people were obviously under the influence of the Holy spirit, swaying, eyes shut tight, when all she'd do is blow in their direction and it was like they moved up a gear.

As well as catch falling bodies, due to sheer numbers I ended up praying for someone. Not being quite a s powerful in the Spirit, I ended up spending about 15 minutes. At first he felt a tightness in his chest, then a tingling over his whole body before finally his knees buckled. This was particularly interesting as he was familiar with this type of thing but said that it had never happened to him before, and didn't think he was the type to fall over :-)

On the Saturday evening during a 'bio' break I bumped into Mark Soppitt, who lead worship that night. In conversation I mentioned I was envious of him being up there (in a good way ;-) playing in the celebration. He asked why, and I explained how there's something special about playing for a larger meeting, and how I enjoyed working with new musicians. So I got an invite to sit in Sunday morning.

The band from the Wantage church that Mark leads has a strong (and V good) keyboard player, and they tend to be very tight, with a spartan, open sound - kind of showtime rock n roll. Mark was quite strict about what I could do: no chord work, just do fills, keep (musically) out of the way of the other players and don't play in the slow worship songs. Gulp, OK. They also didn't react at all well when I unpacked 3 guitars (each sounds different) so one went back in it's bag off stage and they relaxed a little. Guess they were nervous I was going to try to 'make my mark' and dominate or get in the way.

Well, Sunday morning I didn't play especially well (hardly surprising, I'd got really nervous) and some of the songs I hadn't seen before, but I think I made a positive contribution despite not being able to relax. Did badly on the one hymn of the session, and also a kind of rock n roll style song (never could do RnR). It was good to be up there though, and it did seem to encourage some of the other Bicester worship team too. So Mark, if you read this, thanks for the opportunity.

All that aside, the Sunday morning was a little quieter. John spoke the most clearly of any occasion I'd heard him that weekend, however in the middle of the message he still gave an 'altar call' (we don't have an altar :-). Actually that was a characteristic of every meeting I was in - he'd always get some that put up their hands for salvation, and I'd guess that in total about 20 people went forward on the 3 occasions I was there. Excellent.

Sunday evening I didn't go. I had a pile of things that needed to be done and Sarah had homework too, so Chris and Ben went while I stayed home. I gather it was basically good stuff again. Ben appears to have been touched, although he tends not to talk about such things especially. However since I couldn't be there I can't really comment further.

Overall then, I'd say a quite special weekend.

Monday 17 May 2004

Somerton May day celebrations

The images are here. Amazingly quick - fotopic checked them and moved them through in barely a minute.

A little glimpse of a side of rural England that is fast disappearing. There are only 5 or 6 people left that know the May songs, and most of them can't agree on the tune any more. I'm not sure if I'll be glad to see it go or not. It's all pagan based stuff, but I guess it's no worse than a culture based on TV soaps, reality shows and lots of curry.

Saturday 15 May 2004

Mixed things

The Arnotts were interesting last night. John and Carol Arnott from Toronto's Airport Christian Felloowship are visiting Oxford, and the main Oxford churches have come together for the meetings: St. Aldates, Vineyard and OCC.

God moved in the meeting last night, with various healings and people generally being touched. A good time.

The other side of the coin - it's the village may celebration - a slightly eccentric English version of a pagan festival, now dressed up to look 'nice' and quaint. We'll have may pole dancing - celebrating fertility by dancing round a symbolic penis. And morris dancing, which is about the most dam' stupid thing you can do and retain any credibility.

It's probably just my Austrian genes extressing themselves. May take pictures so you can mock over the internet.

Friday 14 May 2004

Harmony Central was interesting again last night.

There was a thread discussing speaking in tongues and prophesy. I hope I was able to bring a little balance to the matter. However after my 'essay' the thread seemed to disappear without further trace. Maybe when there's not much speculation left, it kills discussion.

Cool desktop wallpaper

Try here. This is going to be slow if you're a dialup user.

Tuesday 11 May 2004

An interesting time on Harmony Central last night

This thread had a good discussion going on "is an ex Christian still saved"?

Monday 10 May 2004

SUVs - wisdom recently seen on the web.

The low-down shizzy on SUVs:

It's true that SUVs roll over. But so does your dog, and you're not gonna ban dogs just 'cause they roll over are ya? Besides, 9 out of 10 SUV rollovers can be prevented by the driver. Here's how: when you start to feel the vehicle rolling over, just switch your cell phone to your other hand. The sudden shift of weight will right your vehicle instantly. See, with science, we can solve problems. Unfortunately, 1 out of 10 SUVs still rolls over spontaneously even while parked.

Again it is true that SUVs pollute the air. But so does your car. And what you don't know is that most, and by most I mean 41 out of 42 SUV owners drive their vehicles exclusively off-road. This is what they were designed for. Just watch the commercials. So while you and your sedan-driving buddies are out polluting the cities more and more, the courteous SUV driver is so far removed from the city life that their pollution never contributes to the city air that you breathe. Also, because the air through which they they drive is so pristine and clean to begin with, the small spritzes of emission from the SUV are instantly transformed into harmless particles that fertilize the natural surroundings with new life and color.

As stated above, SUV emissions really do not contribute to urban pollution. Consequently, they do not contribute to smog. In fact what happens is quite nice and peaceful. The gentile emissions from SUVs rise high into the atmosphere, where they interact with and defeat mean, nasty particles that otherwise would harm humans. This is why, over the past twenty years, science has proven that in areas of high SUV travel (such as mountain tops and lunar surfaces), people are less likely to get sunburnt, allergic reactions, and other mean and nasty such things. Also, the so-called 'smog' (otherwise known as Small eMissions Of Greatness) clouds contribute to beautiful, natural, sunset colored skies, all throughout the day.

One common misconception about SUV drivers is that they are generally mothers who have many children and talk on their cell phone continuously while driving their Safety Utility Vehicle (or SUV). This is a negative aspect of stereotyping and, although I'm not quite sure how, racist behavior. The truth of the matter is this- the only people who drive SUVs are as follows:

* Cowboys
* Rockstars
* NBA players
* Men who are very self-confident
* EPA board members
* Fugitives on the run

These proud Americans clearly understand the power and respect that comes with being the owner of a large sport utility vehicle.

There have been some bogus reports circulating that seem to suggest that SUVs tend to cause more damage to other vehicles, as well as more serious personal injury to occupants of cars when the SUV collides with a smaller sedan-type vehicle. Some have even gone so far as to call SUVs 'unsafe' or 'dangerous.'

What these reports fail to mention is that since 1994, there have been no SUV/sedan collisions. Because of the alertness that comes with talking on your cell phone while driving, as well as being 10 feet above the road which gives you a hawk's eye perspective on the people driving below, SUV drivers have always been able to avoid any potential accident. This is just another added bonus that comes with owning and driving the only piece of Americana that won't fit inside your garage.

Finally, the foreign oil argument. This is an easy one. What the uninformed population does NOT know is that most SUVs have 6 or 8 cylinder engines. The few people who DO know how engines work will instantly understand why SUVs do not need much gas. Here's how it works. Most sedans have 4 cylinders. Those 4 cylinders have to work all by themselves to power the 2 wheel drive vehicle. In a 4-wheel drive SUV with 8 cylinders, not only are there twice as many cylinders (which means they each work less), the two rear wheels help drive the vehicle also. With all these extra 'helpers', the average SUV hardly uses any gas at all. It practically moves by self-propulsion.

This is why if everyone drove an SUV, we would not need to go to war with foreign countries for their oil. Our economy would be up, George Dub-Ya would be having a better time in the White House, and the world would be a happy place with patient, courteous drivers.

Go on, get yourself that Escalade you've always dreamed of. Don't let 'em tell ya a Hummer costs as much as a small fighter jet. And don't stop being an American.

I eat at McDonalds 3 times a day, I have fifteen credit cards, I like to watch football with my large Caucasian (and 1 minority) buddies, I smoke in the shower, I like to watch teenage girls fight, my 8 sons are in the Army, and my big-ass Expedition is double parked in front of my suburb palace, proudly wearing an 8.5" x 11" American flag decal on the inside of the tinted back windshield. Bitchin.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The time has come for us to talk....

Of sausages and sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings.

I keep having random thoughts when I'm not near a computer, often things that appear of pith and wit (to me). But come the time I have a keyboard before me, they just evaporate.

I have been depressed.

Not in a "I'm feeling a bit down today" way. Rather I have been displaying the classical symptoms of clinical depression: Tiredness, lethargy, sleeplessness, confusion, mood swings, feelings of intense sadness, focusing on self-gratification, feelings of being overwhelmed. Even feelings of "it's not worth carrying on with life". Part of it is a product of using the internet - I hesitate to call it an addiction, but it has developed far too great a draw for me, absorbing far too much time.

It took a while to realise what was going on. The penny finally dropped Friday night while I was at work, wondering why I couldn't get my head around the tasks to be done, and yet feeling really up tight because there was so much to do. Saturday I spent creeping around the house and 'resting', but on Sunday I determined I was just going to press ahead regardless, and that was so much better.

This is interesting, because on Wednesday night we had a meeting with a couple of (native) pastors from Bombay who are friends of Barrie (our leader). One of them had a word for me that I needed to worship, particularly the prophetic side, to push through the barriers ahead of me. While I had plenty of issues, it was hard to see what the barriers were clearly. Now I know. I've been here before, and I know how bad things can be, but that life does actually carry on and that determination not to believe how you feel is a key part of it.

This is also interesting because I seem to know a lot of people round here that have had clinical depression. Some of those have left the church, some stepped down from leadership. I wonder if this is a particular 'spiritual stronghold' in Bicester?

Anyway, today is a better day, so I'm moving forward in that.

Friday 7 May 2004

Reality striking back?

Today at our networking session (they get all the tenant businesses together for coffee and cake on a Friday) we met people from a new company. They have a novel idea that should really catch hold of the public imagination. It's an internet company that does things people would never think to do for themselves.

The company name is On the little card I received it has the following strap line:

Use your INTERNET connection to send a REAL letter by mail

Could this be the start of the meatspace backlash? Are people discovering the value of reality again? Or is this just marketing a novelty through the power of the web?

Watch this space!!!

Thursday 6 May 2004

Bling bling

This site charts the course of true love that the Brits have for gold jewellery, trackie bottoms and fake tan. Click the link to see how coarse 'true love' can be.

You should especially try the 'name your baby' section.

Tuesday 4 May 2004

Eye opener.

I kind of assume that people are like me when it comes to morality etc. i.e. sometimes struggling, but doing their darndest to keep it under control. ESPECIALLY if there's any chemistry with people they know.

Then I came across this thread on Harmony central.

Why do people pretend? Why fill pews, and not understand what it's about. Why don't they think further than the end of their willy?

Dozy today

Sarah had a piece of coursework that just HAD to be in today. And procrastination is, as they say, the thief of time. Needless to say, the work wasn't really started until bank holiday Monday morning.

Cue a whole bankholiday used up on homework.

Until somewhat after 3.00am this morning.

Eventually someone said to her "dictate it to me!" since they can type with 2 fingers more than twice as quickly as she can with 1. Lo and behold it was finished about 1 hour sooner than it would have been.

Sarah is sometimes most definitely her father's daughter.

Rushbed woods

Images should be available shortly here, once they've finished checking that I'm not uploading a pile of porn.

Monday 3 May 2004

A walk today

Though Rushbed woods, near Ludgershall.

They lived up to the level of moistness suggested by the name. We'd heard that they were full of bluebells too, and although there were some, they were not the most special we've seen. None the less, I did take some pics which I'll try to upload tomorrow.