Monday 24 October 2011

Terminal 4

That sounds far too much like another film about robots. 2 and a bit hours before our plane goes.

Tonight we fly.

But not like Peter Pan.

Ben is cat sitting, we're escaping for a bit. Wonder what we'll see - wonder what God will say to us? I hope, quite a bit of both.

Saturday 22 October 2011

It's curious when.

Wonder how many posts I've started like that?

However it IS curious when your son is off to 'meet the parents', not least for the memories it brings back. And that makes me smile, because I also remember our first kiss, in the hallway after saying goodbye to them. Now those are memories to enjoy - and anticipate the next one.

Monday 17 October 2011

Forward and reverse

I've just got back from a bit of a walk/think/pray time round the site.

Many of the buildings I regularly walk past are closed and locked, but there's one I frequently see that bears the sign 20 CES Conference room. It's more or less a wooden shack with a couple of doors on the side, now rather falling apart. Some buildings like that are literally falling to bits, but this one seems more or less OK, and looking through the windows, there are no damp marks or sagging ceilings. There was also something odd in one of the rooms: Green & Red lights marked "Forward" and "Reverse".


It took a moment to twig: the lights were in the projection room, and would have been used to indicate to the technician working a slide projector which way to move the presentation.

It made me wonder, in the greater scheme of things, if that's how we so often do church. We've kept the red & green lights, but few people really know what they're for any more. They have a symbolic value, and if people were to make a presentation from that room again then they would definitely need to go forward or backward as required, but things have moved on, and we do the same things in different ways. The lights were right then, but aren't any more. Of course, some people would remember how much better the lights were with their stately glow compared to a cheap plastic infra-red transmitter.... And no 'tradition' is immune: I do wonder if, in 25 years, the songs we sang that were fresh on the wave of what the Spirit was doing will sound as terrible in the ears of our grandchildren as Ira Sankey's songs did in ours.

You can see where this is going.

I've been considering some of the comments about my earlier post" - actually considering them quite a bit, particularly about passing on a form. It brings to mind when Paul & Barnabas went back to Jerusalem (Acts 15) over the very issue of passing on tradition. The Jewish believers had so many traditions and saw so much of their faith & expectation fulfilled in Jesus, one might expect that they would want to see the same pattern of rite and practice established everywhere now it had a meaning that could be universally applied.

What did they say? Basically: don't be troubled by what the guys demanding you follow our traditions said, and keep yourselves pure instead.

I don't want to go back to Egypt, but I'm not sure I want to go back to (the historic) Jerusalem either, particularly as it got razed just a few years later.

Monday 10 October 2011

The wife was counting

The wife was counting all the 1p's and 2p's out on the kitchen table when she suddenly got very angry and started shouting and crying for no reason. I thought to myself "She's going through the change."

I dedicate this one to Randall.

Producer Tony Platt on digital tuning benefits.

What piece of technology do you think has been the most detrimental in the evolution of the recording realm?

'It would be the digital guitar tuner. When I first started, there were no guitar tuners, guitarists would tune to the piano, as the piano was always in tune in the studio. And so the guitar players always had the capacity to hold a guitar in tune. If they heard a string going out, they’d pull it a little bit to bring it back in. So things weren’t absolutely perfectly in tune but there wasn’t this focus of attention on the tuning so much. People were focusing on getting the feel right and getting it to where it was exciting. Now what happens is one string goes out of tune, everything stops, guitarist plugs into his tuner, tunes his guitar and then starts off again, but it has broken the momentum of the session so much. And again what happens is we have this overabundance of guitar players who have this overriding reliance on this piece of technology. They’re not thinking of tuning in their head, they’re not hearing the tuning in there, they’re looking at it, on the scale on the tuner.'

I saw this quoted on a forum as part of the discussion about tuning, and whether having everything perfectly was removing some of the soulfulness and feeling of music. We have become used to the idea of pitch-perfection, and ears accustomed to modern recordings often find older recordings unpleasant to listen to - at first. There's one particular track a friend of ours (Marc B Chapman) has on his Album 'Hiding Place' where a slide guitar doesn't quite make it to pitch, and at first it grated terribly. However after a few listens it now seems perfectly acceptable.

In a similar way, the guitar I used for the first 10 years or so was much stronger on the G string, and I'd play around that, either picking more gently to even it up or using it for extra sustain and girth when playing leads. Hendrix used strats upside down, and that similarly altered string outputs because of the staggered pickup pole pieces making string output unbalanced. Now all my guitars have an even output, and while that's nice for strumming, you only really get 2 tones (bare and wound strings) across the neck.

I wonder if all this 'wonderful' technology is actually taking over the very organic process we used to call making music?

Friday 7 October 2011

Ever heard of a nontrepreneur?

Nor had I, but this article on The Register seems to cover it.

For quite a long time there seems to have been a 'reality distortion field' surrounding the internet every bit as strongly as there has been within certain fruity IT companies. Google, for example, just simply ignored everyone's copyright on books, and has now placed huge numbers online for people to read FOC. The BBC (that bastion of all that's good in British broadcasting) has considered pictures found on the internet as being 'in the public domain' and has been known to use them while carefully stripping out the exif data (information about how the image was taken that might identify it) while carefully not paying royalties.

I'm not immune to this in some ways: I'll happily use software that is available FOC online (and I'm not talking about warez) and enjoy the fruits of other's labours. And that's fine when they are offered free, but the internet isn't really a place of computer hobbyists anymore, like is was in the late 90s.

Now knowing people as I do, humanity isn't about to miraculously transform into some kind of utopian culture, where everything you need and want is available free.

But the thing is, what many of the internet giants have really done is create a service industry ecosystem where the money just gets moved round in circles, without creating anything. And in the case of google, for example, what they've done is rob from the real world to pay for their exploits in the virtual one. As the report says, it's more and more looking like we have billions of dollars invested in a couple of hamsters and some guys in a horse costume.

So..... who wants to be the first to pay for facebook - to become a customer instead of the product?

Thursday 6 October 2011

Last night was the second evening

in the series I'm attending "learning how to lead worship".

A more realistic title would be "learning about the history and mechanics of leading a Church of England service", but that's obviously not how things appear to those on the inside. In truth, it makes me feel hideously uncomfortable at times, some of which is due to the mismatch between my understanding of worship and theirs.

One of the things Chris and I are discussing is the whole issue of communion, and the rules surrounding it. There is a lot of tradition that may be present for a good reason, but which seems distinctly extra-biblical to us. There's a degree in which 'if you want to be in the club then you need to follow club rules', but we wonder if the club is fundamentally wrong in it's application of those rules. I suspect it's due to lots of left-over bits from a doctrine of transubstantiation which were never really tidied away or sorted out. But, to quote our friend Eddie, that's a conversation to have over a pint.

Another interesting thing was the statement that a primary Sunday CofE service was, in it's entirety, to be about worshipping God. Not necessarily bad, but it may go some way to explaining why the church of England seems to produce a lot of church-goers that have little understanding of either their faith or the bible. I did ask how people are taught, and there was a bit of a sucking in of breath through teeth, together with a comment wishing people were 'twicers' (going Sunday morning and evening) or went to housegroups and biblestudies midweek.

It may be a little presumptuous, but this has made me step back and try to think through how, if I were God, I might wish to interact with those who were the church. Having walked with God more than 30 years, my feeling is He's very tolerant of the ridiculous mummery and words we use toward Him, whether it involves dressing in strange clothes or trying to find an infinite number of ways to mix the words glory, worship, Spirit, bless, honour, Holy, Baby*, praise and Jesus into our songs. Or, sometimes, both.

This is not to throw stones, really, but we're both still having to think about what we're doing where we are.

Did we do the right thing moving? Yes, we're sure of that. Should we still be here after ore than 3 years? At the moment I think we're in this for the long haul, and not just missionaries who flit in for a couple of years, create mayhem and then leave as it reaches it's peak. But I can't tell what the future is, and anything can happen.

* I made that one up, but sometime it feels like a song should have baby in it.

Just done some rearanging over on the left.

It was tempting to start a category "Blogs that I used to read when people posted" but that's too long-winded and a bit sarky. I'd also have needed to create a third category "Blogs by people whose writing I prefer not to read too often" and that comes with it's own hassle/questions.

At least this reflects reality.

So Steve Jobs is dead.

The original Apple computer did so much to open up computing, making it accessible to ordinary people through an intuitive interface.

I used Apple ][ computers from the mid 80s, and even had one at home for a few years. Moving to British Biotech in 1990, I found Macintoshes everywhere, and with no training, was designing new laboratories to scale using Macdraw. By comparison PCs were truly terrible, and even the early windows operating system was a bit of a tram-smash.

I was an apple fan and proud of it.

16 years later I came back to Apple expecting wonderful things, only to find that they had become the 'evil empire'. I'd like to believe that it was Job's illness that made him guide Apple the way he did, but I suspect it was his status as a demi-god of computing together with an inability of people to be honest to him that made Apple turn out the way it has.

Thanks for the Apple computer, Steve. It brought out the best in you and the worst in you.

Interesting biog here on the Register that brings a bit more insight into the man's character and background.

Monday 3 October 2011

And finally.....

some time about now we managed to disappear, back to the flat we were very kindly rented in Auckland road. Going away would come tomorrow, but this evening was all about staying in.

And so, after pictures

we went to eat, and party a bit.

Cash was tight, and to be completely honest, we didn't actually mind at all where we were, so we ended up in some kind of hall in Canterbury road, Croydon. Our parents shared the cost between them (very kindly - we were not exactly rolling in spondoolies) and everyone appeared to more or less get on and have a good time. My side of the family pretended to be a little respectable and Chris's side were sometimes inclined to sing "knees up muvver browunn" at parties.

There is a certain irony

that in the last 35min I've started a coupling process, conjugating 2 things that many people would consider difficult or unlikely to work.

So it was, 30 years ago, that another coupling process had begun that many people said wouldn't work. I'm very pleased to say that we were NOT put in a gently agitated ice bucket and left in the middle of the room, although *some* ceremonies can feel like that!

I think some writing would have been finished about now, and then that was it - we started living the rest of our lives.

*You want pictures?*

Nah, this is 30 years ago mate - none of yer digital rubbish then y'know. You'll have to do just what we did - wait until they've been processed. Unfortunately you may be a little disappointed: the chap taking the snaps wasn't terribly good, and not everything was all that great.

Chris just turned up.

The woman had - and still has - style, getting there just a couple of minutes early*, and wearing the dress we chose together.

There was no mistaking the happiness.

*I said that if she was late, I'd say 'no'. The driver wasn't aware of that, and actually drove round the block several times, just to waste a little more time.

Pete and I probably wandered off

to head up to Holmesdale road, South Norwood a few minutes ago. Being late was never a good plan.

View Larger Map

Of course it didn't look anything like that in those days, but hey ho, you can't stop people rebuilding things that fall down.

If you want to know where we walked then you need to turn left down Oliver Avenue, follow it down past the clock tower and down station road. There's a subway with black railings near the end, and you'll need to 'walk' through there (not possible for a google car) to Clifford road, turning right into Crowther road. We left home from number 76 - which now has a blue front door - which was directly opposite Balfour road.

For those who care, looking back up Crowther (it's on a hill) you can see South Norwood Primary School, which Both Pete and I, and our mother had been through.

Around this time IIRC

My mother was just back from doing some preparations, trying to prepare a snack to keep us going (as she was very inclined to do) and paint a handbag blue to match her shoes.

30 years ago.

30 years ago, about this time.....

I'd hopped on my bike and belted off to Westfield road in Croyon. A certain Christine Porter had just stepped out of the bath, and was talking to me through the bathroom door. She warned me that her father would not be pleased to see me around that morning, and sent me away after various reassurances. I'm not sure what her mum thought, but all that really mattered was getting through the next few hours.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Broadway is pretty

Check out the pictures - if you care about that sort of thing.

Just realised I forgot to provide a link to the album.