Friday, 29 December 2006
What this has yet again shown me is that in each camp there are pieces of God's wisdom and His design for the church in each of these areas, to be sought out like treasures. This may seem slightly heretical, but I'm genuinely wondering if the denominations (on a world scale) don't happen to be God's idea after all. I always pictured them as starting off when some people would follow God's next move while others refused to budge. However I'm now wondering if they aren't storehouses of God's wisdom and pattern for the church, with each containing a little bit of the picture. It may even be that a single 'church' couldn't contain everything in a historical perspective that God had wanted to bring to shape His church when it is finally ready.
I certainly wouldn't be so bold as to suggest that we 'have it all' now, but I do see there is an opportunity for the church to work together like never before, certainly in the UK. America - I'm really not sure. My perception is that the church in the US has fragmented, each to what 'tickles his own ears'. In many cases it's sound doctrine of a particular flavour, but I wonder if the rifts aren't still too fresh and deep for significant unity?
There's one further aspect that I struggle with in all this: the practical reality. I can happily debate online about church practice, theology, women in ministry etc etc. Stick me in the situation of having to sit through an Anglican service (or a Baptist one) and I'll start looking for the door pretty quickly. I can acknowledge that in some circumstances women in church government is OK, but sit me in front of a woman leading a meeting and I really feel very uncomfortable. Guess I suffer the same thing everyone else does: the "I know what's right" syndrome. How will we (the church) deal with that one?
Thursday, 28 December 2006
What's your theological worldview?
| You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.|
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
Some quizmasters have badly missed it, I'm afraid. While I'm sure I share some theology with Wesley, the fact that I believe the Gospel has social implications does not make me a methodist. Likewise the fact that speaking in tongues is not central to my theology does not stop me being a charismatic.
Ho hum. At least I'm not an emergent/POMO/liberal. ;-)
And this is my take 28th Dec 2006:
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
Curious - apparently I'm more catholic and more fundamentalist than I was. Rolls eyes at the value of quizzes.
Tuesday, 26 December 2006
Monday, 25 December 2006
Sunday, 24 December 2006
Breast starter + sautéed shrooms
Carrots a la Tamoisel
Tarte au Citron
Friday, 22 December 2006
Sex - bags used for delivering coal in Knightsbridge
Psycological - makes sense on a bike
Physiological - Makes more sense with Ginger Ale added.
Jocular - scottish vampire
Spatula - vampire phlegm
Sanctity - French woman with five breasts
dumping - sound windows makes to tell you something has happened to stop you doing what you want to
Soaring - the result of too much fibre in one's diet
Bedecked - An insect that's just lost a boxing match
Farting - (Irish Colloquial) it's a long way away
Sickness - a poorly aquatic monster from Scotland
Agitater - shaking a spud
Commentator - any potato other than a King Edward
Crimea - location of an illegal activity
Crimea river - title of jason timberlake song
catastrophe - a prize for the best looking feline backside
Dogma - female canine parent
Glottal Stop - well used tube station near Bow
Full stop - overcrowded station
Oyster - Someone prone to using phrases in Yiddish
Radar - Raymond's Irish father
Extending - paying alimony
Extension - Relaxed
Thinking - skinny monarch
Conference - A meeting for those who wear fake fur
Confluence - A meeting of ill criminals
Pushkin - relatives of a cat belonging to Sean Connery
Scarf - eating in Knightsbridge
Crepe suzette - instruction for daughters potty training
Creche - A car accident in Kensington
Quiche - a snog with Sean Connery
Innuendo - an Italian prophylactic
Radiation - Familiar noun for Raymond, the Chinese gentleman
Polemic - An east-european living in Ireland
Peerage: being immensly angry with ones colleagues/contemporaries
Galling - being French
Bladder - an inflatable snake
Titilate - delayed female puberty
Stagnation - A country full of people chained to lamposts with 'L' plates round their necks and their trousers round their ankles
Shambles - Sean Connery's favourite summer footwear
Fluctuations - swearing at Japanese folk
Blackberrying - the act of negro interment
Contraband - A US funded, counter revolutionary orchestra
Sushi - Take up court proceedings against your wife
Beatitude - an ill tempered insect
Disappear - insult a member of the house of lords
Pianoforte - Shipping and Hotel company
Bogus - fake snot
Capsize - usually about 7 5/8, but a bit smaller just after a haircut
Feckless: An Irishman with a swearing deficiency
Arsenic - Get it slightly wrong when climbing over a barbed wire fence
Distinguish - put out a fire with swearing
Exhale - one who used to be hearty
Rubbish - similar to a small massage
Cap Gemini - to shoot your twin
Judgemental - a normal state of affairs at the high court
Underwhelming - middle class village in Buckinghamshire
If you don't get any of them, please don't ask for an explanation.
Thursday, 21 December 2006
When fitting and tidying was completed, off to wunnerful Tesco to see what they've run out of this time. Got most of what I need except meat for the main courses over Christmas and also bread, which will be left to the last minute. Still can't decide what to cook, but we're planning to take Johanna to Oxford on Saturday, and we'll visit the covered market, where meat ideas are always available, if a little unaffordable (£45 for a goose I saw there Tuesday!).
Bed soon, just finish my drink.
1) I enjoy read books from the back sometimes. I can completely enjoy a book while already knowing the plot and ending. This allows me to read and enjoy a book again and again.
2) My feet shrank in my 20s. When I was 15/16 they were flat and large - anything up to a size 11 shoe was required for comfort. By the time I was 25 I would generally wear 7 1/2 to 8s, and had notably small feet. Things have settled down to around 8 to 9 in UK shoe sizes, or 42 in European.
3) There was a time when I'd seriously considered giving up science as a career and becoming a photographer full time.
4) On a family holiday to Austria when Ben was about 15 months old I took pictures. Lots of pictures. 23 rolls of 36 exposure film + another 5 rolls of 15-on medium format roll film. Some of the images are quite good.
5) As a child I wanted to be a gardener when I grew up.
I'll not tag anyone, but feel free to try to find another 5 things no-one else remembers about you.
Martin Stead has Posted not once but twice on the subject. Try as I might, there's precious little Jesus in christmas for me, and I have really wanted to find him there. Just doesn't work. I'll enjoy the food, prezzies, time off work, seeing friends, family AND Johanna. Jesus? - if I'm 'lucky' He'll just be the same as He always is, as long as those things don't push Him out.
For all you people that DO see Jesus in Christmas, that's great. Pray for me.
Wednesday, 20 December 2006
Despite Chris's urgings I cycled in this morning. Freezing fog is 'interesting' to ride through, with ice forming on my gloves, jacket and leggings. Riding fast downhill caused significant pain in my nose and forehead, due to the windchill factor. The gloves I bought from Aldi, for £1.99 were some of the best I've ever used, with my fingers just chilling a little by the time I got here.
I've eaten so much rubbish in the last few days, with so many gatherings for 'nibbles' that I'm getting fed up with crisps and cookies: the roof on my mouth is sore from being scratched by crisps (which I enjoy eating). I've loved being with people, but really want a good jacket potato and a piece of meat. To coin a double entendre, I'm all nibbled out.
This lunchtime we have a buffet lunch. If I know Lisa (the organiser) it'll be fresh bread, pates, cheeses, fresh fruit and all kinds of good things. She's a little oasis of comestible excellence in the middle of a tortilla desert.
3 days to go.
*edit* Chris just sent me an email full of pictures of polar bears.
Tuesday, 19 December 2006
Apparently we're due a lot of fog and sub-zero temperatures tonight. Gritting lorries keep driving past our house, and although it wasn't SO cold this evening, if it clears then the temperature will plummet.
We're going Christmas shopping tomorrow, and I'm going to try to buy a replacement livingroom stove.
The choice is between one of these:
And one of these:
I like the Morso on top much better from a design and construction point of view, however the Stovax below actually fits the gap a little better, takes wider logs (although it's less deep) and is slightly cheaper. I've come across somewhere that's really cheap online this evening, but there's no way we'd get it in time now and in any case I want to support the The Fire Place in Bicester as they've been so helpful.
Monday, 18 December 2006
The first and most significant thread.
The second thread.
If you've not heard of Godmen (and that's not too surprising) then it may be worth following up some of the links on Fern's page.
Personally I see it as a reaction to the increasingly aggressive message from some parts of the church that women not only might aspire to leadership, but that they should expect it. In addition to that, for a long time the church has seen far more women through its doors than men, to the point where many of us are asking *why?*. I'm sure it's all linked to the fundamentally different and complementary characters of men and women, and the way in which structures have been built that required a male character that is unfashionable in current society to operate them.
I'll stop now.
Saturday, 16 December 2006
Clear, cold and bright this morning. Chris took the left hand photo of the berries and Gate.
We bought a tree today, which I then erected and decorated. We always row whenever the tree goes up - it's probably just that time when there's too much to do and we're just fed up with it.
We only really do Christmas these days for other people. It's good to get together, but it's one darn bucketfull of hassle. I think if my mother was well enough, we'd suggest hiring a house somewhere warm and disappearing for 2 weeks while England bathed itself in mince pies, lousy TV and tasteless baubles.
Friday, 15 December 2006
Monday, 11 December 2006
It isn't quality that concerns me, but instead that there is a right price for everything, and good shouldn't be that cheap, even out of China. It may be that the price is subsidised, but somehow I still think there should be an absolute minimum value on stuff.
I'm all for good prices, particularly on essentials, but we're just finding new ways of making property for people to acquire, and everyone is acquiring stuff like crazy.
If you care, it's rechargeable batteries, but it could just as easily have been a Tee shirt or Jeans, maybe crockery from IKEA, computer parts from Malaysia or even beef from Tesco. The source isn't especially important, but the principle of paying the right price is.
Saturday, 9 December 2006
I've just been through the CDs to tidy stuff up so we can clear a room. The Music CDs are fine - there's a couple that I could 'lose' but mostly it's great music.
Then there are PC CDs.
I used to LOVE the free software that came on PC mags, when home computing was still something of a novelty and the WWW ran at 33Kbps. Then everything you wanted to download took 20 mins, 30 mins, sometimes a couple of hours! So the magazine CDs were THE way to try new software, get the latest patches, drivers, updates etc etc. Fantastic.
Looking at the piles of CDs now, I hate to thing how much money that represents, between '98 and '02. In some ways it was good value: I got paid a small stipend for providing IT support in that period to the company, as I'd often do it outside hours (and it let me use the name Turtle I T Services). When we were acquired in 2002, TITS was let go and that coincided with a decreased interest in computing and refocus on hardware and the internet as a means of communication.
I still had my stash of CDs with all kinds of utils, graphic and web design packages, game demos, time management software, LINUX distros etc etc. Some of it got used, but V little really.
So today I started looking through. I wonder how much stuff that was compatible with Windows 3.1 would even run on Win 2000 (that I'm running now). When the next iteration of windows software arrives and that is no longer universally acceptable for soft and hardware (what drove me to upgrade from Win 98) then I'll almost certainly go LINUX and Open Orifice. But for now all those CDs are just taking up space. If Ben wants the cases they're his, otherwise I hope they can be recycled.
Thursday, 7 December 2006
It is too tall by approx 1" to fit into any of the rooms off the main corridor.
The door frames are welded steel, and cannot simply have a bead removed.
The equipment weighs 320+ Kg, and cannot be laid down for technical reasons.
The equipment *looks* like a washing machine and tumble drier (it's a freeze-drier). Everyone naturally assumes that because it appears in 2 halves, all we need to do is unbolt the top and separate them.
The equipment was scheduled to be delivered at 4ish this afternoon. In 2 halves disassembled by an engineer.
Suggestions have ranged from dynamiting the doorways (in response to my idea of using an angle grinder to cut out a section of steel frame) to moving it back outside and making a water feature of it.
We await developments with bated breath.
But I also think in the last 2 weeks God's been showing me things: kind of saying "look at this - observe and learn from what is happening". And I know the thing I'm seeing are related, yet a PRECISE understanding is slightly elusive.
Some of it is to via John Smulo, the posts and the comments on his blog. The outreach to satanists, wiccans and pagans is a part, plus the recent interviews with Phil Wyman (part 1 and part 2) and especially some of the comments left there.
It also has to do with the way I'm observing christians inter-relate and interact, and the hatred and anger some of these guys are experiencing. Some of them pastor churches, so they're hardly unstable fringe christians. I don't want to blog deeply on this, as 1) it's late and 2) I doubt it'll make good sense if I try.
I've had a phrase running round my head today. It's in the style of a well-known Microsoft ad: "Evangelical conservative - who do you want to hate today?". I believe part of the key to effectiveness in our Christian walk is to do with how we love and how we hate. If we can be made to hate, as many in some parts of the world are, then the church is left emasculated and ineffective.
I'll leave you guys to start drawing conclusions.
Beading and making amplifiers are much closer than you ever thought possible. And the great thing is we can share half the table each and spend time together while doing what we enjoy separately.
Tuesday, 5 December 2006
I can't spell names.
I choose the wrong people to write to.
I sign us off wrong.
I especially wind up my wife.
If you get a card I wrote this year, sorry. Now where's my kennel?
Monday, 4 December 2006
Sunday, 3 December 2006
We started off OK. Last night (well, strictly Friday night, but I've not been to bed yet, even though it's now Sunday) Chris had her work Christmas meal at Hollywells in Oxford.I collected her around 10.45pm and on the way back home, managed to hit a deer. Our car did not do well from the encounter.
Tonight we went to someone's 40th birthday party. I must be getting old, as the volume seriously affected my hearing. Well that's not strictly true - nothing to do with age and everything to do with a poorly set up sound system that had too punchy a bass (you could feel your chest move) and inadequate mid-range reproduction.
What was odd? All the attractive women, with the exception of Nikita, were over 35, while almost all those under 35 showed signs of having over-enjoyed the produce of messers Burger king, Macdonald et al.
That's not so unusual: what else? The band played a bunch of Ska/Madness stuff, like 'Baggy Trousers', 'Night boat to Cairo', Poison Ivy', 'Ghost town' etc. The people trying to dance looked like they must have been seriously stoned and trying to impersonate Morrisey from his 'Smiths' days, standing on one leg, arms waving randomly with an expression of moderate confusion on their faces. Certainly some of them were old enough to remember how things should have been done.
So we came home, eventually, because Chris is having tummy pains and has now gone to bed. Nikita came back too, as she wasn't sleepy, and she + Ben were going to watch a DVD together. I'm not quite ready for bed either, so I'm here blogging, and when I've finished I'll watch the second half of 'Flash Gordon'. The film is a classic for it's send up of the original and because the acting is appalling, it's more funny than it would have been otherwise. And people still quote lines like "Send out war-rocket Ajax to bring back his body" to each other, so it MUST be a classic.
Wednesday, 29 November 2006
Dr. Gill Lockwood talking to Jeremy Vines on BBC radio 2 about egg freezing and fertility. Unfortunately I came in at the end and didn't hear the whole conversation.
Egg freezing does bring hope of having babies to women that have to undergo chemotherapy for cancer. There's a whole discussion to be had here, but I don't have (lunch)time right now.
Anybody want to carry it on in the comments is welcome, and I'll come along later.
Tuesday, 28 November 2006
I also wonder if I've rather overdone the blog feed thing. There seem to now be 20 to 30 new posts a day, as I took the opportunity to try to follow some additional blogs. This is simply not really working for me right now, and I'm finding a sense of detachment using a feed reader instead of taking time over each persons blog. Lots of you are using very similar (effectively white/pale/colourless) blog designs, which look really cool in the flesh, but in the viewing window of the reader just turn to pale characterless washes of information.
Maybe it's time to give bloglines another go?
Whatever. I have however fallen behind, and that's something I hate too. Lives have gaps in, relationships that were warming have cooled. I might have to be brutal and chop some names for the reader (or leave them in, but just ignore). It is disappointing, as I also feel I should have more time and capacity to take in the extra relationships. But that's the key - relationships. Randall, Laura, Dixie, Marc, Johanna, Hilary, and Linea (not in any specific order) are all key blogosphere relationships for me. Fern too, but I know you through other places. Martin and Jenny are a pre-existing friendship, ditto Sue and to an extent ditto Sarah. Then there are some that I'd like to build, but haven't got there yet - like Robyn, John Smulo, and most recently Ben C, Inky, Ruth, Jonathan, Paul Mayer, Brodie, Gadgetvicar (who must have a real name) and maybe even Ursula.
But I'm starting to wonder at the kind of relationships that are buildable/reasonable in the blogosphere. In one sense, being superficial comes very easily to me, yet as I share thoughts and exchange ideas with people I find surface-relations to be inadequate. Reading and commenting on Paul's blog made me *feel* like I was getting closer in friendship, yet there isn't enough time to build a friendship properly and simply leaving comments behind seems ineffectual and a bit pathetic. I REALLY don't want to turn blogging into a time-critical discipline, making sure each relationship gets it's quota of attention, yet it doesn't sit well to just drop people either.
What to do? Guess we'll see.
If anyone would like to have a good and serious go at offending me then that would make it much easier to drop you off the blogroll and free up time for someone else. So if you're secretly harbouring Tourettes syndrome and want to let it out, looks like I'm your man.
Saturday, 25 November 2006
Just sold a couple of items on ebay for the first time ever. Nice to be getting rid of stuff instead of filling the house more.
Chris's mum came over tonight for dinner. We then watched a 'Bond' film on DVD. I've recently begun to notice how Bond characters often bully victims - something I'd never seen before. In 'The man with the golden gun' Roger Moore knocks around one of the girls, and in this one - 'Diamonds are forever' - Sean Connery duffs up a bunch of guys for information before threatening to strangle a girl with here bra. Am I becoming a wuss, or more sensitive?
Friday, 24 November 2006
I did some work in the lab yesterday, but it was a constant up-hill struggle. My brain had turned to molasses, which made trying to calculate some molar ratios a little embarassing in front of someone (I knew there was a mistake - could I see where??!). When it came to capping a couple of hundred tubes, it was like walking when you're exhausted - just put one foot in front of the other, try to keep moving and don't worry about speed.
But this morning, for the first time in nearly 2 weeks I had a little energy. Got in there, started buffers dissolving, centrifuge some samples, find reagents for someone else.
It's nice to be back a bit, even if I'm only running at half normal speed.
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Tuesday, 21 November 2006
I'm usually pretty careful about leaving myself a trail to follow, but yesterday left a comment on someone's blog that I can't now find. It related to the *Rose Swetman* letter to Mark Driscoll - if that means nothing then you're certainly better off without further enlightenment. I wasn't particularly charitable (although I wasn't rude either) and wanted to follow up.
Have to go searching through my browser history files tonight when I get home.
Monday, 20 November 2006
Friday, 17 November 2006
Thursday, 16 November 2006
Have a nice day
The discussion is useful and the points good. However the gem is the Youtube video. It is neither helpful or encouraging in one sense, yet it does contain a lot of food for thought. I KNOW that deep inside me, there is a little part that believes it *really happened* like that.
If you're a republican then I strongly suggest you DON'T WATCH THE MOVIE!
Tuesday, 14 November 2006
Now 'happily' coughing and failing to sleep. The last thing I did before bed was wire an LED light up after attaching one to a heatsink before tea with thermal epoxy. These LEDs have a 'Lambertian' beam pattern i.e. mostly forward in a 140 degree arc. From the side you can see the beam is intense, but doesn't appear all that exciting. However pop a collimator lens in front and it's something else.
I had to rush a little to put it together so that it would work, and we'd already been out this evening. So we got to bed around 11.30ish with my head slightly buzzing. Sleep wasn't easy to find, and around 3.00ish had come and gone. 3.15 brought a full bladder and a scratchy throat that could no longer be denied, and then came the coughing.
So here I sit having 'enjoyed' something under 3 hours sleep. I've upgraded Firefox to version 2.0, re-done the plugins and downloaded some new extensions. Thunderbird has also been upgraded to 1.58 (was on 1.0 still). Sent some work emails as the corporate system is in ribbons right now (I still get spam, but I also get phone calls asking why I've not replied to such-and-such emails).
So back to the lights. I'm cycling the battery pack again as I now have 9 cells recovered (1 didn't make it) and have taken my 20 watt halogen lights outside to compare to the LED. These have special (and fairly expensive) bulbs estimated by the manufacturer to offer 30% to 50% more light than standard 12V halogens. Well the LEDs don't make as much light as one of these, but then they're only drawing 1/7th the power. I reckon that a pair of these K2 LEDs will provide plenty of light for off-road at night. The only downside is that they produce that really intense blue-white light, and I think the trail is easier to read with a warmer-white light.
Might well investigate the Cree XRE series LEDs next. They make 80 lumens on 1 watt as opposed to 100 lumens on 3 watts like these K2s. 2 of those as helmet spots with an AA sized 2700mAh pack would be excellent.
Nuts, dizzy from coughing now. Wish I could have some whiskey, but I need to go to work in a couple of hours. TTFN.
Monday, 13 November 2006
Friday, 10 November 2006
This is painful for me to write, being a major supporter of the U.S. military. And I'm not at liberty to devulge my source of this information. But rest assured that it comes from a credible source military inside Iraq, which I personally received. This was not some email floating through the Net.
Apparently U.S. commanders have been refusing to help Iraqi Christian for fear of inciting the Shia and Sunnis. As a result, about 35,000 Iraqi Christians have fled the country, most to Syria.
Most of these were residents of the Baghdad area, and their flight represents a serious loss of intellectual capital. The Christians were shielded under Sadam, who used their services as maids and servants in his palaces, because they were the only people he could trust not to kill him.
Once Sadam fell the Christians became exposed to Islamic persecution. The horrible irony of all this is that our military is there in the name of freedom and they are turning their backs on Christians being persecuted. The thought that we are patronizing the intolerant and even murderous spirit of Islam at the expense of Christians is warped.
The request I received from concerned Christian U.S. military commanders in Iraq was, "Please pray" for a reversal of this policy. So I am passing along this request to you. This is very serious on a few levels. First is that by refusing to protect the Christians, we are cursing our own military efforts, regardless of how right or noble the mission may be. We need God's blessing and can't afford to operate without it. Secondly, if this information really gets out to the public, it will really sour the support that Christians have been giving to this War On Terror. And we could find Believers joining the anti-war Leftist in protest against our own government. The last thing we need to be doing is crawling in bed with those people. I think it would be a good idea to write some letters to any Legislators we know, who might be in a position to confront the President with this matter.
"Please pray" is the best request I think he can make of us in this scenario.
In a nutshell, Marc quoted from a particular source, a section of text that included the word "fuck" as part of an expression of admiration toward God. There was also a bunch of stuff taking pot-shots at a certain line of fundamentalist thinking, however as you might have expected, the comments rather deteriorated into a discussion of *that word*.
My contention in all this is that this kind of language is inappropriate for a Christian to use. Sure it's sufficiently commonly used that it has almost entered regular language..... but not quite. It remains therefore a profanity, and as such just doesn't sit right in that context. It was interesting to read that the original author considered that omitting it would make him feel 'untrue' to himself, but maybe inside this is how he speaks? I dunno, but there are many things that I think inside that are highly unsuitable for making public - if it were otherwise I'd not need forgiveness of sins.
I HATE the idea of censorship by other people, or even by the weight of public opinion. But at the same time we need to exercise discernment for ourselves, and acknowledge if we do overstep the mark. I will defend someone's right to post what they wish on their own blog, and I will defend my right to disagree with them in their comments. The hardest part is that with issues like this it's not possible to have clear resolution, and so thing go round and round. There is no clear specification about acceptability and that is a GOOD THING. It means we can think freely and express ourselves to expand into new areas. The bad side is that with this 'free thinking' can come arrogance, a belief that because "I thought it freely and could post it then it has to be OK, and that my own thoughts/feelings have an absolute validity".
I'd say this ties in with some thoughts from Smulospace about how we communicate online. The mother-in-law test might be a good way to determine whether our posting is acceptable or not.
We took all the furniture out, piling amps up in the kitchen, guitars upstairs, stuff spread everywhere. The floor in there was concrete, probably laid on either flag stones or beaten earth. On top of that was a layer of Marley tiles (linoleum tiles) that had loosened and broken up. In some places they'd been removed and a cement skim used to fill the gap.
So we stripped off the old tiles.
In some places they just lifted. In others they needed literally chiseling off the floor as the bituminous glue was still effective. Chris also grouted thre tiles on the hearth and I replaced the ignition system in the rayburn (just as little 'asides' to help keep our concentration up). I still chiselling the last tile off just 20 minutes before we were due to leave for alpha.
Today most joints and muscles are complaining about yesterdays abuse. My left hand especially feels stiff and slow - glad I don't play guitar for a living! I've taken pics, but won't be able to put them up until next week as the computer is in bits in the kitchen and the router is disconnected.
Anyway, I need to work now.
Wednesday, 8 November 2006
John - if you're reading this, I have to tell you that it takes time to work through the stuff you put up and formulate useful thoughts. I'm still thinking about a useful way to blog on sex (one that doesn't uncover one's partner as well) plus a bunch of other stuff. (BTW it's easier to communicate with you like this as I don't have an email addy). I could probably handle about 1 of your deeper posts per week.
So when I saw this article from the beeb it seemed good to link it. The approach seems a little crude to me (take bone marrow, mash it up, inject it into area of the heart that was damaged) but sometimes subtlety isn't what's required. I hope the results of this trial are positive and well reported.
Tuesday, 7 November 2006
A while back a kind of sweepstake was run on the Bikemagic forum, in which the price of entry was a bicycle component that was out of date but still worked. Those that entered had to nominate an ailing celebrity rather like a race horse, and the person whose celebrity died first 'won'.
What they 'won' was the culmination of a weekends labours using all the ancient and crappy parts - the 'Deadbike'.
This was of dubious value as often the bits were badly designed (the number of bits that were designed for mountainbikes that went against all good engineering principles was astonishing - more so considering they were often hideously expensive). Thus the first year saw a lucky 'victim' being made to ride a magnesium 'Kirk' framed monstrosity that had little directional stability and no inclination to follow the riders commands, courtesy of a Bontrager flex stem that lived up to its name. The second year I donated a Raleigh Activator frame (a kind of soft-tail) that I'd collected from the local tip and Ben mostly built the bike.
We'd also have a good ride (or walk, if you're Diane). Mind you, Jacobs ladder is viciously steep and rocky, which is where we held deadbike II.
This year we've not done the deadbike thing as that's kind-of been and gone, but we're all still good friends and it's nice to get together. After much arranging and rearranging we're off to the Malvern hills to the west of Gloucester, staying in a hostel. I was worried about the riding aspect, even though I'm tolerably fit from daily cycling. Tonight I managed 10.5 miles in about 45 mins (with gently fading lights :-( ) - not great, considering I'd do a '10' in 25 mins on a roadbike at the age of 15, but considering the knobblies, the dark and everything else that wasn't too bad.
So look out Ledbury - this is Deadbike weekend!
Monday, 6 November 2006
Sunday, 5 November 2006
I wandered in, avoiding the Rosetti stand - always a HUGE affair with all the Gibsons out of reach and covered in Epis for the kids the thrash. Off to the left was Ovation, sharing a stand with Vintage. Tried the Ovation 'old board' guitar and was actually surprised how good it was. I last played an Ovation 20 years ago, and had decided they were not for me. This was relatively warm, responsive and sounded like an acoustic guitar. Not bad.
I could hear someone playing a really good version of ZZ Top 'Heard it on the X' so I wandered off to find it coming from the Peavey stand. This guy:
Introduced himself as 'Martinez' I think - US accent anyway. He was using a custom 3 P90 guitar + a little delay and going into a Delta Blues. Not only a cracking player, but the 2nd best tone of the whole show. Tone may be in the fingers, but it's in everything else you use too, and none of the guys using the delta blues sounded bad. I walked off after 15 mins because I was missing the show and had to leave at 2pm, but really wished I could have heard more.
While he was playing I saw someone off to the side and thought I recognised him. Went over and asked if they were demonstrating too, and he said "I'm on at 11 O'clock". So on the dot, back I came for Jerry Donahue.
Another custom made guitar, with strat and tele tones. Jerry was talking a lot about the special PU in it that was wound half way, a cap added and then wound back the other way. Semi hum-cancelling, nasal semi-out of phase tones, but with full bass response and fat tones. He was playing through a special amp-simulator pedal (made by Award-session) and although it added some grit, I'd say it actually detracted from his tone. I understand that on all Hellecasters studio recordings, that's what you hear.
But Jerry was talking just like any normal guy, demoing using the Hellecasters 'rock the dog' and using those famous bends behind the nut. Cool bloke that I wish I'd talked to a bit more.
Wandering around a bit more, came across Guthrie Goven.
He was demoing for Cornford, and they had his new CD 'Erotic Cakes' pls Tees etc all out. He's an astonishingly brilliant player that apparently thinks good tone sounds like a swarm of bees. If I'd been Cornford I'd have gently eased him off the stand unless that's how they want their amps to sound. He was playing through a head + 2X12, and once you got past the sheer technical wizardry of his music, you realised he just had completely shameful tone. He was using a Suhr, so there's no excuse - Just sucked really badly. I'm not sure if it was the tone getting in the way, but after a couple of minutes it just stopped being musical and descended into scratchy, annoying noises. A shame, as I had always viewed GG as something of a hero, and was really anticipating something good.
But you can't worry about these things, and I next heard THE best tone of the whole show. This is Thomas Blug.
He was demonstrating on the Hughes and Kettner stand with his white '62 strat. He was everything that GG wasn't: toneful, musical and he made me want to try the kit. Brilliant. I think he was using the new Triaxis head with just a wah pedal in front, and the tones were just fabulous. Smooth, fat lead lines, a quick channel change for sparkle and a touch of chorus from the amp, full clean tones and all the way back to rocking drive. His performance wasn't stilted either: it was hard to get a pic of him as he was moving with his playing, rather than standing and widdling away. Very, very good.
A little more wandering and I found the PRS stand with Johnny Hyland in full flow:
Very sweet tones from his PRS with maple fingerboard, and a nice fluid, funky sounding number that gave the ears relief from the usual meedley meedley meedley SCREE! that seems to be the standard riff for testing any guitar or amp. The bass player was using Line 6, and I think Hyland may have been too, although I couldn't get close enough to see. It was also nice to see and hear a PRS being used for something other than metal, and that it could produce such sweet tones was a surprise.
Just a couple more pics to share:
This is NOT a PRS, but a Bailey, and was my 'guitar of the show'. Simply beautiful in a way that was just one step up from the very similar looking PRS that was also at the show. I didn't ask the price as I didn't want to know what I'd have to sell.
I've seen the Tufnell guitar before:
It is what it is - a piece of rock legend.
I did a fair bit of amp listening on my way round the show. After my experience hearing the Cornfords I started to notice what the demonstrators that sounded good were using. Let me say, Line 6 have a lot of great tones these days. The demonstrator on the Ernie Ball stand was using a Vetta, and sounding pretty darn good on it. The Line 6 stand itself was a source of great tones pretty much all the time. From the way things are going I'd say some valve amp manufacturers are going to have to watch themselves in the next few years.
Other honourable mentions:
I Tried a Gretsch Electromatic (£299) on the sound control stand - best fret job I've seen on any guitar for a long time.
Tried a Variax 300 there, and was surprised at how much better the neck shape and fingerboard was than the original 500s that I tried and hated originally. It wasn't a 'good' guitar, but I'd have been happy to play out with it.
Didn't try one, but the Vintage demonstrator was getting some good tones from their new Trev Wilkinson designed models, AND they are a fresh take on the original designs at great prices. On the opposite side, Indie guitars were there, looking a little bloated and overpriced these days at £500+ show prices.
Saw a guy with some Trussart guitars - Nickel plated and rusted finishes. Sounded good, however the nickel looked like too much bling and the rusted looked like a piece of garbage. On the same sand they had 'Spear' guitars, with a 5-piece laminated through-neck Tele and a double cut. The tele again looked gorgeous with flamed maple top, but clearly didn't have the tones of the trussart to back it up.
Talked to Dennis Cornell of DC Developments. He said the show was for publicity purposes only for him, and that no-one really came expecting to spend his kind of money on amps.
Orange had a stand, with some great offers on ex-demo heads and cabs. Maybe it was the lack of good demonstrators, but I didn't hear any *great* tones coming from them.
Torres had a stand, and seemed to have cleared out their workshop of old amp models, bit of junk etc to scrape up enought to bring to the show.
Bareknuckel were busy, but that kind of environment is just the wrong place to start testing different PUs for one you're going to find satisfying.
Picked up a Bad Monkey for £29. Haven't had time to try it yet, but I got the last one on the stand - they'd been amazed at selling them all.
Not a bad show, although I doubt I'll go back next year.
Thursday, 2 November 2006
"Thank goodness it was only on the radio, they've been kissing [sounds of groaning]."
"And shagging too.... well, or whatever."
Sounds like gay marriage wasn't a big hit for that particular radio audience then.
But all wasn't quite so sweet in the garden. The charger wasn't quite as manly as the maker claimed, and would only half-charge the batteries. Then the cells themselves started to separate and rendered the battery pack useless with an open circuit. The last thing I'd done before it failed was to charge it up as far as I could, but then other things got in the way and it was consigned to the cupboard.
With my return to riding 3 years later and the arrival of british winter time I re-discovered the need for reasonable lighting for the journey home, so I dug it out last night. 4 of the 10 NiMH cells have died, apparently beyond recovery. The remaining 6 I charged last night, then plugged in a bunch of lights this morning. Bearing in mind there was a 40 Watt load, they kept going for 30 mins with no sign of dimming, which was a good sign.
But technology moves on, and I can't now easily get more cells to match the ones that died, so an alternative had to be found. LED lamps have come on in leaps and bounds however, with a 5W watt LED producing as much light as a good 20 watt halogen lamp. The controllers are not cheap, but they will use a range of different sized packs, all while driving lamp to max brightness. I've not bought anything *yet* but it's certainly looking more and more likely that LED is the way to go.
Winter: remember your old friend England?
Shake hands guys, because I guess you'll be rubbing along together for some time.
Tuesday I cycled to and from work in shorts. Last night I had longs and a winter top + fleece over and was in semi-shock by the time I got home, it was so cold. This morning was actually better as the air had dried out considerably and full winter longs plus windproof outer shell had me sweating profusely by the time I arrived. The wind chill on my face was pretty fierce though. Wearing a buff over my lower face helps, but the glasses steam up!
The frost certainly looks pretty. I also admire the grace of God - the rayburn that I wrote about supplies our central heating. 4 days after it's mostly been fixed the winter arrived.
Monday, 30 October 2006
It's all my immediate feelings, full of Me! I! Me! I! Guess it has the saving grace of being a 'spur-of-the-moment' thing and honest, but it isn't particularly sound
It makes me wonder how much 'right thinking' is something that we have to place on ourselves as a discipline and how much comes from the heart. Obviously the answer is *both* but that's not really satisfactory. It seems to me that the heart needs to 'want to' take on the right thinking for the discipline to be effective. Otherwise we get into the whole following rules approach to belief, and that's really not building anyone up.
As for me, I'm convinced my heart has a lot to learn
It's unlikely that this subject will get persued a lot here, but it's one that has been swimming quietly under the surface for a long time. With certain blogs and fora that I post on there have been times I've paused and thought "can I really post this? Am I actually living in what I'm posting or am I just simply pasting my ideals up for everyone as if I were really doing it". The thing is, the net is a place where we can pretend to be all kinds of things we aren't, and it suits the 'bedroom theologian' (like a bedroom guitarist) very well. It's great to discuss and stimulate one another, but it needs to become real.
Where is real?
Real probably happens somewhere on that discipline and heart interface. Where things cross over from the make-believe of the discipline into the reality of the heart.
Or maybe I'm just talking pretentiously through my bottom.
Sunday, 29 October 2006
I first 'discovered' my lack of singing ability at the age of 17. I'd always asumed that although my voice was a little *unreliable* it would work more-or-less OK given a chance. On stage in front of an audience with nothing but an acoustic guitar wasn't the ideal place to find out, but the message did arrive quite clearly.
And so, in my adult life I've been the one playing guitar, hanging in the background, just stepping forward occasionaly to solo, then drifting to the back again. Then came the need to lead worship in church.
The first time I was nervous. Nervous is a good work: I wasn't terrified in bowel loosening fashion as happens to some people, but I certainly wasn't comfy either. In order to make it work I 'borrowed' the services of some good friends to stand next to me and sing for/with/instead of me. Maureen and Helen did really well, generally coping with my lack of signals and following the guitar nicely. I had the mic on and attempted to follow the tune, but I was really a guitarist, and would frequently find that I'd just skipped a couple of lines to concentrate on getting the guitar part right.
After 3 or 4 sessions like this I realised that I was starting to hear myself through the PA, and the majority of the time it was reasonably in tune. This was a big surprise, as I'd always been the proverbially awful singer. However the voice wasn't realiable, and certainly wasn't up to starting proceedings of in the right key every time, and this is how it remains to this day.
Today I was leading worship again, with the church the fullest I've seen it in quite a while. I had some extra musical help this time, with Clive keyboarding, Ben (Clive's son) on Electric guitar and Jackie + Helen (the same one) covering vocals. For the first time I can remember I was quite relaxed out front and was quite happy to focus on mostly singing. God had given me some things clearly to say and a pattern to follow, so I said them and then went for it. Also for the first time I was disappointed when we stopped (usually I'm glancing at the meeting leader to see when we can break after 30 mins). I'm still a little high, like I've just finished a gig more than 3 hours after we stopped. I was soaked in sweat after we finished playing and absolutely loving it.
What's the point of this post title?
There's often a bunch of teenagers hanging around the hall we meet in, and for some reason, when we had opened up and set up they all wandered in before the meeting. Some of them seemed really touched by the whole meeting. Mark W stood up and was 'interviewed' by Steve B about how he got saved off the local drugs scene. Julie C talked about what God had done in her life when she was so ill recently. Although the younger ones were in and a fair bit, the older lads stayed all the way through including the preach, even hanging around afterward to talk to Steve and Mark and his wife Hermione. They all said they wanted to come back next week too.
I've a feeling a lot of this was for their benefit, and I've been allowed to enjoy the overspill.
Finally managed to get the parts to fix the Rayburn : looks like a cooking range that supplies heat to the house + hot water. It's a pressure jet burner, and when the flame is on there is a distinct rumbling noise in the background.
It's a comforting sound to me as I lay in bed on a winters morning. It tells me that the house will be OK when I get up and that there's enough hot water for a shower.
It's not been the most reliable of heating appliances though. Many is the morning I've laid in bed, listening to the sound of the burner, hearing it splutter and then catch again, or even worse, wondering if I heard it splutter and then playing the sound back again and again in my semi-awake state to identify what I really did hear.
Maybe I'll bite the bullet in another year or 2 and replace the burner unit. I've spent about £100 on parts in the last 12 months: a new burner was about £600 last autumn. I guess it's done 10 years for us, so I shouldn't complain. Just somehow it's never seemed reliable, and usually breaks down in the Christmas holidays in a way beyond all natural odds. God graciously letting it keep going until I'm around to sirt it or just gently throwing me a little challenge when I've time to cope? Or maybe it just simply doesn't like Christmas?
Friday, 27 October 2006
The ones that go on and on.
The ones that when you've written 80% of what you want to say, you realise it sounds like nonsense outside of the logic of your own head.
I've done a couple of those now. What a waste of time.
Me included probably.
I’ve been trying to push fitness and endurance levels up a little (and my vanity is hoping for weight down) this last week.
Sunday the boy and I had a leisurely 12 mile-ish ride. Monday and Tuesday I extended my journey home to around 7 ½ undulating and absolutely flat out miles. Last night I did circuit training without an energy bar ‘top up’ first.
My hip joints damn well hurt this morning, knees a little less as well as tummy muscles, thighs and shoulders being uncomfy. Pretty sure the joint pain is trapped nerves – certainly HOPE so, as I’m due a replacement soon otherwise. It’s suitable retribution for feeling pleased with my performance last night.
And I’m still stuck on 12st 1lb this morning.
I’ve considered cutting food down further, but have reached the point where I can eat reasonably and still not feel like a complete bloater, so this is probably as low as it’s going. 11st 10lb would be nice but I don’t think it’ll happen this side of 60 without some serious deprivation. Ascetic I’m not.
What’s this got to do with weird?
Some people like pain and discomfort. Oh, there’s all those classic schoolboy smutty jokes about sadists and masochists, but some people really do enjoy the pain from exercise. Neither Chris nor I are one of them and although there’s a certain feel good factor from working out, the actual work outs just hurt, but I seem to keep meeting people like this. I just find it weird that people should enjoy the sensation of their bodies telling them to stop before you really do some damage.
Wednesday, 25 October 2006
This kind of thing, while well intentioned, is just another example of what's wrong with the UK.
There's too many people all occupying the same island.
Tuesday, 24 October 2006
Monday, 23 October 2006
Just started work on an amp for a guy I know through Harmony Central. There's no money in it for me, but it will satisfy my enjoyment without costing me anything more than time too.
The guy that originally assembled this amp must have been a plumber - there's so much solder in the amp. Last night I stripped all wires from the chassis. The next step will be to check which components are OK and which were fried/broken during assembly. Then finally I can start re-wiring, which is rather like a jigsaw puzzle where you have to actually cut the pieces to shape. Oh, and the only instructions I have are in German, although the schematic and layout are both international.
Quite looking forward to trying this one. It's like a 2 channel, 'clean' plus super-high-gain version of that little 'purity' I built in the spring. Only 5W, but it'll be a loud 5W.
Once this is done I'd really like to start a version of a Marshall JTM45 with 2 EL34s and around 30 watts. We'll see.....
Sunday, 22 October 2006
Saturday, 21 October 2006
Not far, around a fairly gentle hour's worth on the road (and he had slick tyres too - makes it desperately easy.... with the wind behind you.
Managed to build up the new frame far enough to ride that too, with bits borrowed from the Diamondback. It isn't what I'd expected, and there'll need to be quite a bit of adjustment to make it fit.
The good bit is that when you put effort in it responds well. There's a steep hill in the middle of Steeple Aston, and standing up going upit felt like the bike was almost pushing me forward. This is just what I needed for the winter, when trails get axle-deep in cag. It also corners very well, with an 'on rails' feeling that I've never had before, yet is sensitive to steering input without being twitchy. Ben wasn't going off-road with his tyres, but I did ride down the path beside the road coming out of Steeple Aston (fast and covered in loose gravel) and it felt completely at home, even letting it drift a little on the bend.
The less good - it's a VERY firm ride. The frame is a touch large at 19", and I can't get quite enough seatpost sticking out to absorb shocks. Also despite the 23" top tube, it feels quite short, low and upright: disappointing as I'd wanted to stretch out a bit, but there's adjustment to be made still. The forks currently on there are an old set of Marzocchi Z4s that I replaced the seals and stuff in last weekend. These tend toward 'tough' rather than 'plush' suspension, and respond well to bigger hits, but not to road ripple like my Fox forx.
So overall good, with a definite racey feel. It's come out quite light - I'd guess around 24 to 25lb, and a couple of pounds lighter than Ben's Saracen hardtail. Need to get a replacement front mech (wrong one sent) front disc brake (ditto) handlebar stem and some mudguards for it to be 'finished'.
Friday, 20 October 2006
Back when it was Toni's birthday & he wanted a load of CD's I discovered on the same site I could get a remastered CD of Argus by Wishbone Ash. This was an album Toni had (has?) which he used to play a lot when we were first married & which I rather liked. I ordered it but hadn't got around to listening to it until Toni put it on for me earlier.
Sarah really liked 'The Prophet's Song' by Brian May & I therefore thought that she would enjoy 'Warrior' & 'Throw Down the Sword' from Argus, but I didn't know you could get it on CD until recently.
Thursday, 19 October 2006
Without realising it, this blog slipped past the 1000 post mark a couple of weeks ago.
So life goes on. I want to reduce my net useage. I want to be more hard working. I want to become pro-active. I want to be more caring. I want to be someone else apparently, because all those things aren't really like me.
Not depressed, so much as contracted really. And I still haven't completed that bike (so near, yet so far).
Life isn't without successes. But I just keep trundling on, rather than living life to the full.
Wonder if my motorcycle has been fixed yet?
Random thoughts do not make for good blogposting.
Monday, 16 October 2006
Friday, 13 October 2006
Tuesday, 10 October 2006
I seem to have developed my cold nicely. If anyone remembers the 'Carlsberg' adverts, my voice sounds just like the guy doing the 'Carlsberg, probably the best lager' voiceover. And in contrast to the previous occasion I came to France, my French has dinminished from lack of use while their English is equivalent. I even keep thinking 'Si' and 'Grazi', or 'Jah' and 'danke'.
Had drunks shouting in th hallway of the hotel last night - even hammering on the door at one point. They went away about 12.30am. :-((
Tonight I head into Paris. Right now I'm in the corporate headquarters at Cergy Pontoise, about 30km outside Paris. Tomorrow we're off to Lille to meet and demonstrate in another lab.
Au revoir - laterz folks.
Saturday, 7 October 2006
Some of the guys I know through Harmony Central (seriously good guitar players) run a studio in Liverpool. We're always talking about amps and stuff, so when they suggested having a get together I grabbed my stuff and went for it.
The M6 made like a carpark, and after nearly 4 hours drive I arrived, 3.30ish.
Unload: Woodcross P1eX, Madamp A15, Vox baby, Metisse purity, 2 1X12 cabs with some 70s Greenbacks and 6 guitars. All down into a basement.
Most of my kit is low wattage - 15 watts tops - and only the Madamp could really keep up with the 50W and 100W heads through 4X12 cabs. The Madamp was grabbed by one of the studio guys (Big Hair - he shaves his head) as soon as he heard it, went straight off to record their version of 'Tie Your Mother Down'. This was funny as they have many top end of amps there, but it just nailed that raw, gritty and aggressive May tone.
So we jammed a bit: blues, Led Zep's Rock n Roll, Alright now.
Set up the Metisse Purity for Al (the studio engineer) in a seperate room, as it couldn't be heard with only 5W output againsty the other stuff. Then suddenly it was 6.20 and I had to load the car back up again. Finally got home at a couple of minutes before 10 - didn't even get to eat as the queues in the motorway service station were long and IU didn't want to be late to collect Chris. If she calls in time I'll get chips after picking her up.
Good time - just wish we'd had a full day and I could keep up with some of the other guys.
Friday, 6 October 2006
That's OK, however I have to meet the head of our French company in Paris. I will arrive at the Gare du Nord, she at the Gare du Lyon. I'm going to have to buy a ticket to a place I can't pronounce so we meet in the middle.
Lets hope the Parisian train drivers don't decide to strike like they did last time I was there. Chris did a fantastic job getting the family across to parc Asterix and back while I was working - would have beaten me. BTW the kids reckoned PA as substantially better than Eurodisney, if you want do the theme-parc thing in France.
1. One worship song that has changed your life.
I'm not sure a worship song has ever changed my life. A church I was part of when I was young put quite a bit of pressure on me not to sound like a rock musician, only for a lot of the songs less than 10 years later to sound a like I'd been playing. So there came a time when the way I'd played was no longer un-acceptable, and in some ways that brought freedom, while in others it brought disappointment. So no one song, but a change in attitudes maybe, both that of others and of me.
2. One worship song that you rarely get tired of playing.
"Jesus, we enthrone you". It's a simple, powerful song with a chord progression that remains musically interesting and lyrical content that orients the worshipper and God. It's a song that I can imagine people still singing in 100 years alongside "Oh for a thousand tongues".
3. One worship song you wish had never been written.
All those childish, rather than childlike songs with demeaning words and actions: the ones the adults sing at the kids and the children are embarassed for them.
4. Best worship experience you’ve ever had.
Tricky. One event does stand out especially - at a Dales Bibleweek in Harrogate (when I was a teenager) with about 10,000 people singing in the spirit. We were all just flowing together for maybe 20 or 30 minutes. I was young enough to just let go and be caught up in the novelty to be fully absorbed in the way the Spirit was moving through us.
More recently - say 3 years ago - in the same place, there was a worship team from a church in Poland that lead the worship time at a Salt and Light event there. Normally I get a little (or a lot) frustrated by the musical arrangements of worship teams, but these people knew how to flow in the spirit without words, yet expressing meaning through their music. It was one of the few times I've felt where the worship wasn't being restricted by the musicians, and instead there was a freedom and lightness - it felt like they were playing as I would want to. The lack of words clearly did not work for some, and things were cut a little short.
5. Worship songs you wish there were more of.
This is quite difficult - it's easy to say which songs you'd prefer less of. I'd like more songs with feeling that's not cliched in the music, and a greater depth of lyrical content, but which are not patterned after hymns - we don't want to write any more 2 century old pop music. Songs that cover the stirrings of the heart, but written by adults, rather than adults trying to sound like love-torn, peri-orgasmic teenagers would be nice too. Instrumental? Maybe, but that usually ends up in washes of tinkly piano sounds with running water in the background.
6. Pass it on.
Dixie at Vandermeander
Nikita at Smiliekita.blogspot
Johanna at Gummie-worm pizza
Thursday, 5 October 2006
Kita - if you're reading this, we're expecting to pick you up at the bus stop. Just let Chris know if you've caught the bus OK. I'll be offline all day.
If anyone from the Bicester/Oxford area wants to do an alpha course then see you at 13 Nuffield close, Bicester, 7ish this evening.
Wednesday, 4 October 2006
8'C in central Oxford. I reckon it was 5'C max in Somerton, usually colder here in the valley.
Wearing summer shorts, even with a fleece top (which the chill cut right through) was a bad plan. Even my fingers were numb in spring/autumn weight gloves by the time I got here, and haven't completely warmed up even now. Still, at least I wasn't too sweaty.
Monday night (the day before our anniversary, but what the heck) we went to the Thermae Bath Spa. It's a little spendy, but really enjoyable - swimming under the stars in a warm pool, baking in scented steamrooms - all good stuff. Got us ready for dinner in probably the best Indian restaurant we've been to. Sleeping was difficult with such a full tum.
Tuesday we wandered round the old Roman baths. Been there before, but not for quite a long time, so it wasn't so bad. The pools are quite remarkable, if you don't mind archeology.
And so home last night.
It was the actual anniversary, and we took Ben out for a meal. He met friends there, and was more animated with their company than ours, but I guess that's how it goes. He did get us a winerack for the occasion (I had suggested Chris would appreciate a card - details, details) so we shouldn't be churlish.
But a good time away. Thankyou for your prayers for us.
Monday, 2 October 2006
In my mid teens I had quite serious depression for a variety of reasons, but by the grace of God didn't do anything irreversible and came through the other side.
At a time when we should be celebrating I've been finding those feelings coming back when I should be over them. The last week was a time of fluctuating between normality and blackness, and even in the periods of normality, all I really wanted was to hide. I know reality, and although it stops me doing stupid things it doesn't always enable me to carry on as normal.
Dunno where this is going really - I hate being a black hole for prayer and sympathy, and I also hate it when I can't respond to people's love and care - but I just need to keep pressing on.
So that's it, really. Sorry if I've seemed distant or vacant recently, but this is why.
Saturday, 30 September 2006
One of the few quizzes online that's actually offering some insight and usefulness.
I came out as contemplative:
Loving God Through Adoration
“Contemplatives refer to God as their lover, and images of a loving Father and Bridegroom predominate their view of God. …The focus is not necessarily on serving God, doing His will, accomplishing great things in His name, or even obeying God. Rather, these Christians seek to love God with the purest, deepest, and brightest love imaginable.” (28)
“…holding hands with God. …we gaze lovingly at our heavenly Father and have our heart’s delight satisfied.
…(Contemplatives) want nothing more than some privacy and quiet to gaze upon the face of their heavenly Lover and give all of themselves to God.” (181)
“Healthy contemplatives will understand that rich human relationships are a way to enjoy God’s love, just as is solitary and intimate prayer. …God can reveal Himself to us just as much in a conversation with a fellow believer as He can when we are on our knees in prayer.” (189)
“Some forms of contemplation wander form the folds of orthodox Christianity…we should beware of any meditation that calls our ego to somehow be absorbed into God rather than talking about relating to God.”(189)
“Contemplatives must move beyond mere meditation…to an alignment of our will and obedience into conformity with Christ.” (190)
WELL KNOWN CONTEMPLATIVES
Mary of Bethany, Dr. James Houston (professor at Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.); St, Teresa of Avila; Thomas Merton; Thomas Aquinas; Augustine, Julian of Norwich, King David
SCRIPTURES TO PONDER
Psa. 63; 116; 73; Song of Songs; Isa. 41; 49; 59; 61; Jer. 2:2; Mt. 26: 6-13; Luke 10:38-42; John 14-17
SONGS TO ENHANCE WORSHIP
Abba Father Open the Eyes of My Heart
Faithful One Power of Your Love
Here I Am to Worship Purify My Heart
How Beautiful Reveal Your Father Heart To Us
I Love You, Lord Seekers of Your Heart
Joy of My Desire Trust His Heart
Knowing You What Wondrous Love is This?
Lord, I Thirst For You When I Look into Your Holiness
More Love To Thee, Oh Christ With My Whole Heart
1. Make use of the Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner) or some other prayer (Make haste to help me.) Purpose: to practice the presence of God, reminding yourself that Jesus is Lord, you are a sinner, you need His mercy.
2. Practice secret acts of devotion – something you do for someone else without letting anyone else know about it.
3. Carry a pocket piece – something tactile to remind you Who you serve, e.g. a small cross.
4. Dancing Prayer – allowing God to lead and follow Him wherever He takes you. Allow Him to speak and place requests before you.
4. Centering Prayer – Choose a word and focus on it (Jesus, God, peace, etc.) repeating it until it becomes a part of you. This is not “new age”’; it is a way to close oneself in with God, away from distractions. You are resting in God’s presence.
5. Prayer of the Heart – “focuses on emotional attachment to, or adoration or, God. …Its aim is to love God, to have our hearts enlarged so that God owns more and more of us.” (187)
6. Meditative Prayer – this is prayerful reflection of a biblical text or theme, use of something you can see, taste, touch, hear or smell. (Lecto Divina; placing yourself in the passage )
Some of it's right, although it misses the mark in places too. Interesting
Friday, 29 September 2006
My muscles are killing me from Wednesday night circuit training. Cycling in was not a good plan this morning, but worse still was plate pouching. Stand still, making arm movements with intermittent squeezing. All those back muscles annoyed at being woken up say Aye.
400mg of ibuprofen later I hope things will settle down soon.
By the time we’d checked out of the hotel it was 10.30 and the flight was at 6.30 so we were felling the squeeze a little. Chris had really wanted to see a town/city call San Gimignano (nicknamed San Germolino as we could remember the name well) that was famous for have most of its towers still standing. So abandoning the idea of getting to Pisa we turned off at the delightfully named Poggibonsi (it’s all industrial, having been flattened in WWII) to get there.
Perception is a curious thing.
After leaving Siena we could both feel a lightness, but once we’d parked in the park-and-ride area there was a sense of happiness and lack of the heaviness we’d both felt there. Chris even said “this is like being on holiday” despite the need to get to the airport later. So we wandered round yet another medieval city, just enjoying the views and looking at handbags ;-)
By 2pm we’d had lunch and found Chris’s Christmas present before heading back to the car.
There were 2 roads we could have taken to return to Pisa airport, and naturally we took the more ‘scenic’ route. This gave us delightful views of the Tuscan countryside (which looks a lot like the area between Stokenchurch and Henley on Thames only sunnier). Rolling hills, valleys with roads at the bottom and intermittent road signs. Curious how a little place like Pisa will be signed at one junction, then not mentioned at the following 2. Keeps tourists on their toes I guess…..
We made it to the airport in adequate time. No real drama, just the usual hurry up and wait. It was good to be home when we finally got there.
So Arrivederci Italia. I’m sure we’ll be back sometime.
Thursday, 28 September 2006
Tuesday, 26 September 2006
Yet again, many good talks. After a good lunch I wandered out to the local church. Chris had already been in there and seen among the paintings and statues something that looked like a body.
Yup, it’s a body.
Met a number of people in there too, including one of the ‘faculty’ from the meeting. Ilpo Huhtaniemi has an amazing name as well as an amazing understanding of LHR receptors.
So that’s it. Done. We have to spend the day tomorrow finding interesting things and making our way to Pisa for the return flight, which we are both ready for. Chris is ‘cultured out’ and doesn’t want to see another painting of horrid things being done to people, either in the name of religious belief or because it’s a good ancient classical story. She’s also been a bit perturbed by the fascination with displaying parts of dead people. Without wishing to go into detail here, there seems so much mythology and simply bizarre (pagan?) practice mixed up in Roman Catholicism that it’s hard not to see it as a sect, and certainly not the ‘one true church’. All this kind of stuff is kept at a low level in the UK and maybe north America too. And you thought Olsteen, McClaren and Wimber were odd?
So home soon, and not too soon really. It’s a beautiful city on the outside, but you get the feeling there’s less pleasant things underneath. You need to be here to feel it. Having typed this I almost feel threatened here – probably a sign of an over-active imagination coupled to a need to go find dinner in a city that speaks a different language.
Back from dinner.
Tip for Johanna if she ever comes through Italy: don’t eat the ‘menu touristas’. Our final meal here was back at the first restaurant we ate in, and had the best food we’d enjoyed here and they had what *looked* to be a great offer. Emphasis on the word looked.
Tomorrow we want to be up early so we can visit the Wednesday market. Then we’ll head off to Pisa.
It’s funny how after a while you start to notice things about a place. Like the streets here are covered in faeces and rubbish (this is Chris’s observation – she’s spent much more time outside than me). But the city is too crowded for dogs, and in the centre there are no green public places at all, so they just go in the middle of the pavement. And birds have no care about where they go anyway. Plus every day seems to be rubbish collection day, so there is refuse in all sorts of places. Adds to the authentic medieval air, but it sure isn’t attractive. They scrub the pavements with a mobile scrubber every day too, so it’s not lack of effort on the part of the city.
We’re about to go to bed, but while I’ve been typing this I’ve had the TV on. They have the selection of Miss Italia happening right now, with voting by telephone. Now Italian girls are rather spectacular in what passes for fully clothed here: plunging necklines go down a long way, and the legs are generally long and shapely. But somehow 100 girls in minimal bikinis walking and gyrating in front of an audience seems neither quite right, nor either exotic or erotic. Just a bit boring actually – now how sad is that!.
Monday, 25 September 2006
This morning was a time of slightly greater than usual distraction in the dash to leave as we had to be at the Marlborough school so they could show us the garden they have prepared to commemorate Sarah and Howard Hillsdon (a former pupil killed just 1 week after Sarah). In the emotional stirrings of it all I simply left my lunch in the kitchen. Chris was due to see her mum today, so the plan was that she'd drop it here on the way.
At 12.15 it seems lunch was somewhere between Banbury and Bicester, and had no plans for imminent arrival at Upper heyford.
Lunch was therefore half a Mattesons garlic boiling ring and a few slices of a moist white plastic bread. Yum.
What I'd really like to do is just hide in a hole, but that's not possible right now.