Wednesday 27 April 2011

Upgraded the Macbook

4Gb RAM over the stand 2 makes a noticeable difference, and not where you'd expect it. Start up is shorter and programs open more quickly, but the most noticeable difference is that animations are smoother. This is especially obvious with the dock, which would always judder it's way up from the bottom of the screen on first opening, but now only jerks a little.

A number of people have said (online) that OSX only uses the memory it needs, and adding more is quite un-necessary unless you know you're using it all up. This is clearly bosh - the Macbook is just another PC in a pretty skin, and responds as such. Last time I looked (back in October) the 4Gb upgrade was still quite expensive. This time round it was just £35 for 4Gb (2 'matched' 2Gb sticks) of apple-specific DDR3 RAM, and well worth it.

If you have a 2 1/2 YO Macbook with only 2Gb then it's absolutely worth the upgrade. Just be careful with those (microscopic) screws that hold the back panel on - I don't think they'll take much to noodle (and there's 2 different sizes too).

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Wondered what we did yesterday?

This is Chris standing in the eye of the white horse of Uffington.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Happy 3rd day after passover everyone

Somehow it seems more wholesome than easter, even though I'm quite happy with chocolate.

Saturday 23 April 2011

We have been shopping, and now I'm conflicted *

There is a problem with clothes.

I did not grow up in a well-off family (plenty of love, but few of the readies - better that way round though) and as a result most of my clothes tend to demonstrate their qualities of endurance, rather than fashion and verve. I've a draw full of Tee shirts, many of which are 5 or 6 years old, trousers etc of a similar or greater age, Jeans anything up to 10 years and shirts even more than that.

It's not in my nature to just throw stuff away because it's no longer bright and crisp, but I also like to look reasonable, with the result that my clothing storage facilities gradually fill up with clothes too good to throw away, too tired to wear. They're all good clothes, in that the seams are intact, there aren't (many) holes and there are no disfiguring stains on them. At the same time fashions have often moved on (sometimes even by the time I bought them - who can resist a blow-out bargain?) to create further disinclination to wear them.

Shoes are also a bit of a problem.

I like *good shoes* but recently the market for normal footwear has been a wilderness, populated largely by heaps of detritus, dumped on a gullible world by designers who know neither wit nor style. Buying shoes has been so bad that I have literally given up trying to find something that will a) look presentable and b) actually fit my feet. It got to the point where I was even willing to spend real money on something to wear, but in the end gave up and have just slobbed about in trainers for the last 6 months.

But there comes a time.

There comes a time when one must start replacing, and there seem to be plenty of charities that would appreciate some good but less than sparkly clothes. So we went shopping.

I'd hoped to find some jeans this morning, traipsing round Banbury. Jeans I found, but they left me conflicted.

The thing with jeans is - I'm a snob.

There - the less than great confession.

Jeans were the first piece of clothing I ever owned that were a real fashion statement, and somehow this sense of the importance of wearing the right shape and style jeans has never left me. Back then it was Levis if you were cool, Wrangler if you were a little alternative, Brutus if you were cheap and Lee for expensive fashion that wasn't really 'jeans' at all.

Of course, jeans were never really anything meaningful at all, but it's hard to shed the delusions of one's teenage years.

So we went shopping in Banbury.

If I describe clothing/fashion shops as being designed for the 'East Enders' generation, I fear that any non-English readers won't understand. It's somewhere between trailer trash and the Beckhams with a bit of Anne Summers stirred in. Neither clever, nor tasteful - trying to be sophisticated but just looking a bit silly and over-done. They don't get the idea that denim should be comfortable, fit well and look simple but elegant. Having baggy trousers because the wasteband is under your bum while showing your underpants above because you're pretending the police took your belt away looks as dumb as it sounds. Having half a dozen studs in random places and artificially worn holes in distinctly non-random places looks either cheap or daft, or, frequently, both.

OK, that's the 'fashion' end of things, but there's plenty of other shops, aren't there?

Well yes, kind of.

I wandered into Debenhams - not somewhere that used to be a purveyor of cool denim elegance, but desperate times & all that. I can have Levis at £60 a pair, Lee Cooper at £55 or the store brand at a heavily discounted £48 a pair. The store brand looked OK and the fabric was nice, but the name on the label (Rocha.John Rocha) rhymed with *osser and they weren't £48 nice.

And here's where the conflict began.

See, just up the corridor in the castle shopping centre is Marks and Spencer.

M&S do some nice stuff. Their Per Una women's clothing line is well made, elegant, attractive and while not cheap, still represents good value for clothes that look good for longer than the first 5 wears.

But the men's stuff..... how can I put it? Old men buy their jeans in M&S.

So I looked.

Hummed and haahed.

Picked up a couple of pairs of jeans to try on, all the while old people walked past me. Old women with old men poking, feeling the fabric, complaining about the fit of their jeans.

All the while a little voice was whispering inside "These are OLD MEN'S jeans. Only OLD MEN buy denim here".

I do actually own some denim from M&S, but they're brown, rather than blue, and TBH the quality really isn't there - a year on they've shrunken and don't look good, really.

So I got into the changing rooms. One pair looked OK, and were a bargain at £12, but the zip fly was really rough to undo and they weren't cut well. The second pair looked and felt much better made but - shock - were stretch denim.

"These are OLD MEN'S jeans. Only OLD MEN buy denim here".

M&S do a lot of trousers with elasticated waste bands (comfortable for old men who over-eat) and now they were doing stretchy jeans for old men with bulgy, awkward shapes. I had deliberately not chosen stretch jeans by the labelling, yet it turned out these were stretchy! They felt comfy and fitted well (feeling horrified - I must be becoming a fat, bulgy old man) but somehow I couldn't bring myself to wear STRETCH DENIM. Both pairs went back on the shelf.

I met up with Chris and we discussed jeans. She warned me that stretch denim tends to go saggy after a few days - I'd been weakening about buying the M&S "old man's jeans" - and then asked where I wanted to go next. Now my present favourite jeans are actually 'easy' brand from Matalan - a cheap and cheerful clothing supplier a bit like Old Navy, but with a fair dose of 'East Enders' stirred in. It's also mildly embarrassing to say that one day these appeared in my wardrobe, and I have absolutely no recollection of ever buying them. None. But they look good, feel great, and apart from having a zip fly so short that the normal male way of going for a wee is somewhat risky they're perfect.

So to Matalan we went.

2 pairs of jeans found, 1 slightly faded navy, 1 dark grey. Good fit (a longer fly - thumbs up for that!) and at a cool-conflicting £10 each (can cheap denim be cool? NO WAY. That's why Levis, the epitome of cool, are £60 a pair).

On the way out I walked past the shoe rack.

Now I want to know: why is it that shoes priced between £30 and £80 a pair look so bad that I'd be embarrassed to wear them, yet the nasty, cheaply, badly made shoes actually look good? Why? Now I really WAS deeply conflicted. It goes against much of the peripheral stuff I believe to buy shoes made out of cheap materials and badly constructed, shipped halfway round the globe using every bit as much (if not more) fuel than well made shoes, knowing that they're going to be uncomfy and fall apart the first time the laces are undone. Yet here they were, the first decent-looking pair of shoes I'd seen in my size for a couple of years.

With some encouragement from Chris I tried them on. They fitted. Properly. They didn't even slip on my heel.


So I bought them too.

It's the grace of God - I have 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of shoes for £42. It's not right and it's not fair (cue Louis Armstrong joke) but they fit well and look fine.

And I'm conflicted.

* this is intended to be humorous. Yes, I think like this but not *exactly* like this, OK? Well, apart from the bit about old men, denim and M&S - that's EXACTLY what I think.

Monday 18 April 2011

Interesting how we see things differently.

A friend's blog had a comment about protecting those who might venture into a place of risk or danger. For me the story told was one of holding back those who might otherwise have adventures and do exploits instead of staying in a comfort zone.

In the context, both viewpoints were reasonable, yet we tend to so easily see our natural inclination as being The Right Way. I still need to get my head around those who restrict exploits with good motives, rather than just see them as ones who would hold back God's people. Balance, as always, is difficult. And they may, in truth, really be holding back God's people, yet with the best of motivation and reasoning.

Sunday 10 April 2011

I had the oddest experinece this morning.

Leading worship using CDs instead of playing.

In some ways it was liberating: no need to play carefully or sing in tune, and certainly no hassle setting up or tearing down gear. In some ways it felt false - like I was pretending and it wasn't real. Since I felt headachey and a bit sickish beforehand, maybe the CDs were a good idea!

Bearing my apparent lack of singing ability in mind, it did make using a song the congregation didn't know easier too. What was funny was that out of 5 songs, only one was new, however I suspect because the backing tracks were different it was as though they almost all were. And that is an interesting observation in itself.