Tuesday 29 September 2009

The invention of lying

is a new film by Ricky Gervaise, set in a world where everyone tells the whole truth, exactly as they saw it, and no-one (except Gervaise) has ever considered lying. If you thought the French were blunt but honest then you should catch the trailer, as I did on the radio last night. I'm not a gervaise fan (the little I saw of 'The Office' would make me want to change channels) though I might try to catch this one.

But anyway.

I was wondering how long our relationships would last if we all spoke the truth *as we saw it* to each other.

I'm tempted to post a scenario, but even that might get me in trouble.

I am in the situation at the moment where I frequently do not present my true thoughts and feelings on the outside, and frankly, I hate it. Being open and honest (with a little care: just blundering away with whatever's in your head can destroy people) has been a way of life for a long time, and is a good 'habit' that's bad to lose. Yet at the same time the wheels of relationship need lubrication, and expressing all my thoughts would be like adding sand to a gearbox. There are times I've sat with my hand literally over my mouth to prevent the wrong words coming out: say what is necessary, no more.

This is probably also why the blog is so quiet.

And the mind is a battlefield. I seem to be 'enjoying' a substantial amount of warfare, winning some skirmishes, losing others. I trust there's a purpose to this, and eventually I shall emerge stronger, more robust and less vulnerable.

Monday 28 September 2009


I managed to get the latest amp build up and raucously running. It's a pre-amp design that's completely new to me, and it needs a bit of sorting. So far there's no tone controls, the 'jangle' is quite stinging and it's a bit farty, so there's room for improvement. Lots of potential though, and it sounds like no amp I've owned before (this is a plus, as novelty is often good but hard to generate).

Thursday 24 September 2009

Is ethnic cleansing ever acceptable?

Chris and I have often talked about the old testament era when Israel occupied Canaan, mostly by a process of ethnic cleansing, although in some cases making the indigenous people slaves instead. It was a nasty episode in a nasty era, and we really have little idea of just how foul and unpleasant people could be. It was God's judgement on a group of peoples whose way of life needed to be stopped.

One of the debates we've had is whether there is a similarity between what was done then and what happened to Monteczuma and the Aztecs. Hugh Thomson has an interesting piece in the times about how the actions of Cortez were beneficial to Mexico, and just how deeply unpleasant this particular kingdom was.

Now whether one evil regime was replaced with another even worse or not is open to considerable debate, but it does make me wonder about the appropriateness sometimes of old-testament style judgement in a new testament era. I don't know why, but God seems more offended by massed shedding of blood for religious purposes than for war or even greed. I wonder if the sheer calculated religious evil of this people is what brought relatively swift judgement upon them?

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Better than Viagra!

It would seem that Dick is back!

Worth bearing in mind that the change came about after they received abusive letters. The message is clear that writing politely is ineffective. ;-)

Do you ever feel like you're surrounded?

It's a feeling that I get from time to time about certain issues. I have the feeling God's spoken, but people or situations come up and tell me that what I've heard isn't true or God can't bring the situation round to what is right.

I was reading in II Chronicles this morning about a Jewish King, Hezekiah, being faced with an army that had invaded his land and were threatening to besiege and capture Jerusalem. Messengers were sent to tell both him and the people in Jerusalem that none of the other gods of the nations the invaders had already beaten were able to save their peoples, and that hezekiah's god would be the same. The outcome is, of course, that God deals with the invaders in His own way, and the city is saved without Hezekiah having to deal with the invaders.

There's a subtle touch too. Hezekiah diverted water from a certain spring and built a long tunnel (>1000 feet through solid rock - V hard work) in order to ensure there was a supply of water in the city, so that whatever went on outside the walls, they would never run out of fresh water.

I felt like God spoke to me out of this. That whatever people seem to be doing around me, He'll deal with it His way and I should look to Him for saving/vindication and not try to engineer it myself. There was also a need to go deep, to dig down and have long roots to find fresh water through difficult places. I just wish I didn't struggle with wanting to see it happen and be in some semblance of control - it's so difficult to trust God when He seems to have given everyone free will and they appear to be enthusiastic to exercise it!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

My head feels like it's swelling up.

I'm doing some work for another local 'science' company, putting together information for their website database. This afternoon I worked on the data from a company that makes specialised kinds of particles in a multitude of sizes, colours and affinities. The issue is really that there are an awful lots of extremely similar products in slightly different pack sizes, and they all need to be assigned their own unique catalogue number and description.

In the cosmic scheme of things it's small fry, but for me, it's a real faceache.

Monday 21 September 2009

A question to my visitors from the US

Do you think this article from the BCC is reasonably accurate? Thanks.

I'd really like another day this weekend, please.

It's a long time since I've been this tired and dozy on a Monday morning. Legs of lead on the bike, and the chilly air this morning (8'C when I left home) creating a temperature gradient from extremities to trunk that makes me feel like I've been shaken by a giant once I stop riding. Might give up cycling for the winter.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Chris just picked up one of the cats.

She held it belly-up in her arms and we saw fully "the face of evil does not wear a bonnet*" expression.

*If you've never seen Cats and Dogs and have children over 8 then I wouldn't bother, but this is probably the best part of the whole film.

Friday 18 September 2009

Look before you speak.

Last night at church I asked someone if they'd be willing to help on the PA team. He's a musician and song writer, and I never gave it a thought that there might be issues.

As we started talking, just after making the request and wondering why he looked at me a bit funny, I noticed something fleshy-coloured in his ear. Then he turned his head and I saw that there was a similar thing in the other one.

How wise would it be to ask a man who needs hearing aids and has significant hearing issues to run sound?

I really liked Alan Knox's post

.... about attendees or ministers. This reflects the way I've been considering church activity over the last couple of decades or so, and was also reflected in the 'Traditional Church' post a made last week.

The thing is, many church structures are set up to prevent participation by the people:

Worship - by a leader, sometimes with musicians taking the people through a series of songs (ancient or modern) and the odd prayer.

Housegroups - run by a leader who provides the entertainment: the ice breaker, the subjects for prayer, the bible study and the closing prayer. Wife (and occasionally husband) makes tea and provides biscuits.

I could go on, but why don't YOU think of examples. ;-)

A key part of a healthy church is body ministry, and it's about more than just the odd experienced 'lay-couple' praying for people after the meeting. In a healthy body all the members have their function. When you smile, how many groups of muscles get involved? Think about how many when you're walking - almost the entire body participates, and certainly not the legs alone. I don't want to stretch the analogy too far, but You can see the application clearly enough. It's relatively easy and certainly safe to lock people down in the way we 'do' church, rather than pushing them forward to find Jesus for themselves in what they're doing. No-one will get out of control, mistakes won't happen (who are we fooling?) and trained people will remain in charge. It also requires the people to have an expectation that they need to find Him too - otherwise they'll just sit there dumbly waiting to be lead or driven.

But seeing effective body ministry taking place is so rewarding, the effort is absolutely worth it.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

openSUSE 11.1

Well I burned it to a CD yesterday (took 2 blank CDs - Mac 'superdrives' simply aren't and required the credit-card trick to remove the CD) at work.

I have to say that I'm impressed once again.

Although the fonts aren't quite up to windows standards, they are very crisp and quite easy to look at. In fact, the display is really quite excellently sharp all round, with clean edges to graphics and smooth colours. Firefox did not need IPV settings configuring, and it's all working rather smoothly, especially considering it's running off a live CD.

I'd say Linux may actually be coming of age at last: or maybe it's just my Mac experience that has made me less demanding. Whatever, it seems pretty good at first look.

Wonder how long it would take before it broke?

Now what I'd like to do is play a 'shoot-em-up type game into the small hours. What I NEED to do is go to bed.

Better make it bed then.

There's a sweet irony

That those responsible for surgical breast enhancement in this country belong to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, otherwise known as BAAPS.

A little piece for the more advanced musician?

Breathtaking stupidity.

Here's an article from the beeb about the Mafia sinking ships loaded with radioactive waste in order to make money by disposing of it. How is it possible that anyone would need to explain why this is a bad idea for them personally?

Monday 14 September 2009

Just having a quick look at a couple of new OSs.

Fedora 11 nice backgrounds and much better fonts than before (seems at last Linux is mostly puting it's house in order in that area) but it still feels clunky after Sabayon 3.5. And wonder of wonders, for the first time in a long time I didn't have to change the ipv settings in Firefox.

The BGs are so nice I've saved one for use at work in place of the Backlund guitar image I had.

Now for openSUSE 11.2

Feedback, anyone - prophetic content ahead.

Before I get into that, I just want to mention that I love J.K.Rowling's sense of humour. The newspaper in Harry Potter's universe is called 'The Daily Prophet' and I think I read somewhere the strapline 'bringing you tomorrows news today'. This is funny because, of course, in the Potterian world 'prophesy' is a gift almost unheard of and the one who actually DOES predict the future is unable to predict the future of their own volition, and continually pretends while being quite transparent in her failure.

Back to reality.

In Bible times, those who were prophetic very often experienced the effects of their prophetic messages in their own bodies and minds. Ezekiel had to act out life in a seige and cope with his wife's death without mourning. Hosea had to marry a prostitute to demonstrate Israel's unfaithfulness. Another nameless 'son of the prophets' had to be wounded with a sword in order to deliver a message to Ahab appropriately. Being an OT prophet was not all swanning round in a fancy robe casting thunderbolts and anointing people.

I seriously wonder if I've been through something like this recently. I've had a sense of things being distinctly not quite right that I just couldn't shake. Depression is not too strong a word, and I've alluded to it before. After a particular meeting where many were encouraged it felt like clouds of blackness descended. Yet one day later I received an email that had obviously been sent after someone had reached and moved on from a fork in the road and I felt a lightness and a sense of peace that I've not had for months. I seriously wonder if this has been a bit of a barometer for where the church is going, and the mood swing a reflection of the course it's followed. This is not 'me' at all, and as many can tell you, I've usually very stable and cheerful even under pressure.

It's important not to get all whacky and either superstitious or super-spiritual about this. At the same time God sometimes speaks to people and sometimes it takes a while for them to recognise that it's a) God's voice and b) understand what He's saying. I need to know more and try to understand what's going on. If I AM becoming a fruitcake then it's important to deal with that as well, or we'll all end up in a sticky mess.

There you go - a little window into my head.

Who would be willing to kiss the coal?

Quite early on in the book of Isaiah thew prophet realises his shortcomings and you can almost hear a wail of despair "What can I do - I say wrong things and I've grown up with everyone else around me doing it too" (paraphrase mine).

Last night we had an interesting time at Heyford Park, where it really seemed God turned up, both to speak and to act. There were just a few of us, but He was very much there to bring change, healing, direction and release.

What's that got to do with saying things and kissing Coals?

For more detail you'll need to read (or know) about Isaiah, but I had been about to post something about a particular group of people that was neither pleasant nor really necessary, and only emphasised my feelings to ward them. Recently God has been dealing with the things that transfer themselves from the disappointments in my heart to the front of my thoughts before they slip through my lips. There as also been an issue with those things that get whispered into the sub-conscious that make us say things that are hurtful (though frequently true, therefore all the more so) that need to be caught and killed. Anyone who's had much involvement with church over a prolonged period will recognise what I mean.

So I'm hoping, me with all my imperfections, desires and weaknesses, will have lips that pass fresh water only and not brackish that leaves a bitter taste and greater thirst than before.

Sunday 13 September 2009

The rest of the images from Kita and Dan's wedding

are now uploaded here. Mix of Chris's and mine. Annoyingly they seem to be in reverse order, but I'm trying to fix that.

The extreme low-angle sunlight and high colour temperature required a lot of careful correction before they were tolerable. I should really have used fill-flash for all the outdoor shots, but I doubt the camera flash would have been powerful enough, so bright was the sun!

Saturday 12 September 2009

Pix from Dan and Kita's wedding.

For various reasons I didn't get any good 'standard' shots, but here are a few atypical images. I still need to download and sort Chris's images.

Wedding of the year.

Today, Dan and Kita, our God children get married.

We're leaving in 5 min for the wedding, which is at Islip (for those who know Oxfordshire or care for google).

I've carefully not thought too much about this - I want all the emotions unclouded, and I hope it can be the same for Chris.

Pics tonight I hope!

Friday 11 September 2009

Tonight I went to a gig.

It was slightly curious, as these things often are, since it was a 'christian' gig with a band covering a bunch of 'worship' songs from Hillsongs, Israel Houghton, Matt Redman etc.

What was curious about it?

Apart from the technical issues with sound that I'll not go into here, this was a bunch of musicians organised by one very good one (ex-cure or Cult - I can't remember - bass player) who were frequently playing stuff that didn't come naturally to them. There was also a presentation of 'the gospel' in the middle and worship done in concert, rather than participation format.

It was also curious because although the arrangements were quite clever and interesting, at times some of the songs just plain got in the way of the feel, cutting awkwardly across the natural feel that had been developed. It was almost like 2 songs in different keys had been overlapped in one particular arrangement, and where they separated it jarred. This is quite common on CDs though, where the limitation of the song style gets disregarded in order to make it sound 'good'. But hey, that's the nature of forcing the wrong musical feel onto a song that was never written to work like that. (As an aside, it got me thinking about how the original could be re-arranged to make it fit, which WAS good exercise for my head).

But there were a few songs that they did get into their groove together on, and sound issues aside, on these they did sound really good. Shackles (Mary Mary) got repeated as an encore, and the sax player really went for it second time round and pretty much made the evening with his work. The bass player/leader's son was off to one side playing electric, and was let loose on some rhythm work for the last 4 songs. This was great, because he was playing naturally and it delivered an energy and cohesion to the songs that was mostly lacking. He was introduced as being the loud aspect of worship but frankly was barely audible - at least he had a bit of crunchy overdrive on, and when he could be heard, sounded good.

The one person I felt really sorry for was the older guitar player at the back. The sound guy had just crapped all over his tone (and he knew it) and on top of that he was mostly having to play some lousy lines as intros that sounded like they were keyboard specific (the keyboard didn't fare much better a couple of times either, though he got a much longer straw). But he manfully stuck it out, so big props to him. It brought all sorts of memories back to doing church concerts, having to play stuff that just didn't work for me and hearing my timing going to hell in a hangbasket as a result. He got his moment of glory (twice) doing the intro to Shackles, and I hope it made up for the rest of the time.

They were obviously a good bunch of musicians, mostly doing stuff that really didn't work for them. I cannot say how grateful I am that for the 10 years of freedom leading the worship team at BCC. Not being forced into musical straitjackets by un-fitting arrangements or having to sing bad songs was just so wonderful, and even if it didn't make me develop as a player it did bring a peace and happiness in playing I'd not known was possible.

Regarding 'Holiday post 1' below

I believe something has changed, and suddenly where there seemed no hope, I now have hope. I can't really go into details here, but to those of you that prayed for us, thank you. We're by no means out of the woods, but there is a good likelihood that we can start on the path soon.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Radio 4 has some of the most interesting guests.

There was a chap on this morning who was born in Iran but grew up in America, talking about the Iranian determination to continue their nuclear program. The interesting side of the conversation was about how the west fails to understand Iranian thinking and how sanctions along with the attitude of the Bush administration had made them so much more determined to develop a nuclear capability. He was underlining how it wasn't a case of Ahmedinajad 'bad' and the reformers 'good' in this area, rather they were universally united in their desire to continue their program BECAUSE of the west's (and particularly America's) attitude to them.

It's interesting because over here, although we're ostensibly on the same side, special relationship and all that, I certainly see America as a threat to the independence and sovereignty of the UK, so how much more must they! If positions were reversed, and the UK was being threatened by a coalition of Russia and middle eastern nations how much would we want to do everything we could to be independent? It is very easy to imagine how they must view America in the way we viewed Russia when they annexed much of eastern Europe, with the military presence in Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq.

By KNOWING that we are 'right' we are in serious danger of misunderstanding or even ignoring what drives these people and why they are opposed to the west. Just simply viewing them as Islamic extremists and sponsors of terror out to kill the infidels may be the fatal mistake of our time.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Tonight I actually

......enjoyed playing guitar. It's becoming a rarity.

Traditional church.

A very good friend of mine and a spiritual father told me a few weeks back that he never wanted to be part of a traditional church. He then explained that by 'traditional' he didn't mean the meeting format, but the tradition of church being a disconnected collection of believers, rather than a family connected through loving relationships.

Food for thought.

And in this context I like yesterday's post by Alan Knox.

Our holiday II

We drove approx 1540 miles at an average speed of 53mph and a consumption level of 47.8mpg. The fuel consumption was just over 50mpg on the way down, but French diesel seems to be a lower quality fuel, delivering higher consumption and rough-running from the engine.

After our first fill-up and subsequent long journey to Strasbourg I was actually worried that something might have gone wrong with the car, as the engine was clearly vibrating more than it should. After the second refueling it ran much better for the journey home, although still a little rough. I've since almost completely drained and refilled with fresh Tesco diesel, and added injector cleaner. It seems smoother and hopefully will be fine.

Our holiday seems so long ago.

After being back just 5 days, I've already slept badly 4 1/2 of them. Going back to church has left me feeling quite depressed, and it's only God having spoken so clearly that made me come back - Sunday morning in the car I just really wanted to drive right on by.

For a variety of reasons I'm certain this is spiritual in origin, even though it's playing on some aspects of reality. We've (me especially) been through a time of pruning that's left me feeling raw and bleeding, and we've gone from being part of a family back to (mostly) meeting-based relationships. But this just comes on at the right times to make me either ineffective or full of mistrust and doubts, and it's far too predictable to be anything but co-incidence.

So what to do?

Sometimes God just breaks in for me, and sometimes I just have to push through. There are times when I'd much rather hide, so I'll do stuff like clean up or put things away - stuff I can do without actually having to face anyone but Chris. I don't trust myself to speak to other people at times like this, and also have to be careful not to blog.

We're really looking for ways we can be effective. I have no doubt about our calling here, and our general purpose, but it's how to work out the daily stuff I struggle with. It's difficult to step back and strategically plan how to serve and build people up, rather than simply going along and doing meetings.

This is funny - it's not at all what I'd planned to post. Ho hum.

I've just begun using Opera 10

And it really is quite slick. This is the best iteration yet, and with a suitably minimal skin selected it's really nice the way it only helps handle web pages without intruding. Nice and quick on both Mac and PC too.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Uploading photos now.

I've trimmed, cropped, tweaked and generally hacked my way through 280 images to drop it down to just over 100. they're uploading now to the 'Lorraine 2009' album in my photobucket account, although it may take some time, since most are around 300K. I'll try to link later when the upload has finished.


The link to the album is here.

Do not forget.

When saving images after editing them, especially when using .jpg format, to check the quality settings. It'd probably the first time since the install I've been through editing and saving pictures in quantity since the recent rebuild.

Image quality was set on 60 out of 100.

Well that's an hour wasted then. A few are tolerable, but most are not due to artifacts. Here's a quick taster in case it takes forever to redo them:

This is Elizabeth, Ben's girlfriend.

Well they may have dropped TNIV.....

According to Marc. But it seems there is a new translation of the bible to take it's place.

Someone known as Padowan Hobbit on the BM formerlies forum has suggested this should be called the Catolick version.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Back from a week in France

Which is why the blog has been especially quiet. Pix later when I have a chance to sort them.