Tuesday 29 May 2012

Sleep, the final frontier

Like Kirk, Picard et al, I do seem to arrive there eventually, but it's always shorter than one would like with uncomfy bits sometimes.

This morning the bruising is coming out, and things feel stiffer instead of freshly damaged, so I guess the healing process has started. My voice seems affected, which may be a consequence of sleeping upright, since I've not been able to lay down at all except in the bath (that's scary, feeling like there's no way back up from inside the slippery tub). But tonight I'll see if bed is a possibility, and maybe that will help.

At 10ish I've got physiotherapy at the Horton fracture clinic. Wonder how that will progress?

Monday 28 May 2012

Good morning, and here is the news.

My head isn't quite right now (that's no news to some people!) thanks to codeine they gave me at the hospital.

Last night I went for casual ride along a section of towpath that I've been down several times before. The tricky bit where the bank had been undercut leaving holes in the path had been filled, and I'd almost reached the lock when I dropped the front wheel down a pot hole and converted all my forward momentum into downward momentum, straight into the trail. Hard.

It was a bit of a surprise, and also mildly ironic.

Just the day before, Chris and I had just finished breakfast when I heard the sounds of screaming from outside. This is not as unfamiliar as you might think, because cyclists often misjudge the corner by our house, riding up onto the grass, losing control and finishing in a heap. Once a local guy rode into the back of Ben's car, putting his head right through the rear window (cue blood and glass everywhere). Last autumn one of the guys in a large group lost it badly and broke his collarbone clean through (ouch!) all very clear from having one dropped shoulder. When I got to the scene instead of the ripped flesh and broken bones I'd expected, there was a teenager in lycra laying face down in the dirt and writhing about. He calmed down quickly when he realised more people than just his mate were with him, and it turned out he had a few scuffs and grazes.

Sympathy faded fairly quickly.

So after gasping and groaning a bit, laying there in the trail I reminded myself of yesterdays teen, told myself to man-up and pushed myself onto the slope beside the path, waiting to recover, trying to slow breathing and take stock of the damage (some minor grazes). Eventually things settled down, I pulled my legs under me and managed to rise to my feet, berating myself for being a wuss and careless too. We all know that if you've broken anything crucial then you can't lift your arms, so next step was to get my arms above my head - yes, it was possible even though it hurt, and as my left arm came back down I could feel things catching in my shoulder, rather than everything sliding smoothly as it should - so everything was 'OK' there then.

My left arm, back and side were quite sore though. Last time this happened in 2001 I hopped on the bike and carried on, later discovering that the increasing pain was due to 2 broken ribs. This time it hurt rather more, so assuming I'd torn some muscles etc I just turned round and went GINGERLY home, trying to support my left arm, and avoiding all the bumps in the trail.

After some debate last night I did try to get into bed -  NO WAY. Laying flat was impossible, and I managed to sleep a bit sitting up on the settee. Now I'd expected to be stiff and sore in the morning, but things were a bit sharper-edged than that, so Chris took me to the Horton hospital A&E. It seems I have a fractured collarbone and probably broken a couple of ribs after all.

It's good to know that I'm not *just* a wuss, and there is just cause for walking like a 90 year old.

So that's the end of us camping next weekend at the Big Church Day Out, end of the ride I'd planned for Wednesday, and will probably write off much of my work this week. Looks like I'll be off bikes and guitars for a bit. I'd love to sleep right now, but not sure that's going to happen.

C'est la vie. That was the news.

Friday 25 May 2012

This weekend is shaping up to be full of sunshine and IT


Well, the weather is set to remain beautiful, and that's great since as a church we're putting on a barbeque for the people of Heyford Park. The excuse is that it's part of the jubbly celebrations (yes, I know how to spell Jubilee, but this is more fun) but as much as anything it's about giving something to the community without asking for stuff in return.

Better get the sun cream out, methinks.

The IT part then? Well IT is normally performed by pasty, slightly overweight males that sit in darkened rooms, for whom the pinnacle of athletic prowess is their speed hitting the keyboard when playing Track And Field. In this case however I'm lightly tanned and slightly overweight. And I do cycle energetically sometimes.

But seriously, a couple of weeks back I bought a pair of powerline adaptors - little devices that plug into a mains socket and carry network data through domestic house wiring instead of CAT5 cable. The wireless aspect of our modem router was flaky at best, and Chris was continually having difficulty connecting wirelessly so I replaced the wireless aspect with these, and it worked perfectly first go. Ben has had less trouble (Win7, different wireless dongle etc) but still had times when it simply wasn't going to play even with re-starts etc. So I'll swap out his wireless for a powerline connector and put a powerline 4 port hub in the room we use as Chris's office.

OK, no big deal so far.

Well, for some time I've been unhappy about our backup situation. Chris backs financial data onto a memory stick, but those can fail unexpectedly. Ben has lost data at various times and so have I with some of the disc crashes etc. I've been backing up to a spare drive in a caddy from time to time, but that's not *that* great a way to do things. So I've bought a D-Link 2 bay NAS that we can pop a couple of spare drives in to provide a decent data storage solution (yuck - IT speak).

In theory it should be as simple as putting 2 drives in place, then closing the lid and finding the NAS on the network. But is life ever like that? Hopefully I can configure individual storage spaces, although I'm also wondering about trying to create a RAID mirror set up, 'just in case'. There may be some incremental backup software with it too, in which case that's the obvious solution for the winboxes. I'll have to look into something similar for the Linux box: primarily for email, images and audio as I'm doing some recording right now - albeit badly.

There is also a rather large Lexmark network printer sitting next to me on the end of this desk, and that might get relocated too.

And the other thing that arrived was a replacement for the Western Digital Caviar Black drive that failed on me just after we got home from India last year. I'm very much debating popping an SSD into the Macbook in the hope of making it less frustrating for the next year or so. I would also like to try Snow Leper again, to see if the bugs have finally been ironed out, and would reinstall everything from scratch instead of recovering from a Time machine backup in case something was carried over that made it so appalling when I did try it before.  If that were to happen then I'd keep this drive as a handy spare, or possible pop it in a caddy. It was quicker than the original, but was also noisier and not *that* much faster. Having said that, it is a brand new drive (manufactured May 2012!) so maybe it would be worth flogging.

Anyway, that'll do for now. Lets see how we get along.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

I don't understand.....

It seems to be sunny out there, and walking around in a tee shirt and jeans is quite comfortable. What's going on?

Monday 21 May 2012

Monday - that's OK.

21st, not necessarily bad.

May, hmmmm, coupled to the above, not such a great combo.

I wonder if this is why, subconsciously, I've been feeling a bit drained & maudlin the couple of weeks.

Year 7 completed, year 8 commencing.

It is monday, so a little humour is required.

While everyone is pondering the future and how we might have to change things, perhaps we should be reviewing the various alternative political and economic systems available to us:

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour.

You have 2 cows.
The state takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The state takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The state takes both and shoots you.

You have 2 cows.
The state takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows.
No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.

You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called a Cowkimona and market it worldwide.

You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have 2 cows but owe Santander for 6.
Nobody drinks milk.
You have a siesta and read about the collapse of the Euro

You lease 2 cows and pay somebody 3 times the going rate to milk them using borrowed money.
You refinance the 4 cows to secure the services of Goldman Sachs. They sell the future milk production of the 60 cows and fund your lifestyle.
You retire to anywhere that doesn’t use the Euro.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No-one believes you, so they bomb the cr_ap out of you and invade your country.
You still have no cows, but at least you are now a democracy.

You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive.

You don't have any cows.
But you claim sovereignty over the ones belonging to your neighbour

Sunday 20 May 2012

Typing this from Ubuntu Studio

Well, despite the typo in my previous post, the install went fine, and I'm running Ubuntu Studio on my AMD box.

It is a curious experience.

On the one hand the OS is often very quick, very responsive, then suddenly it will run slow - usually because it's waiting for something elsewhere to happen. Maybe a download in in progress in the software manager, but whatever the reason the CPU gets bogged at around 50% and scroll bars stop working properly. Occasionally things haven't worked (typical Linux, though mostly it's much better these days) and sometimes one just isn't sure if nothing's happening or it's taking a long time.

But there IS a deal breaker.

Fonts - the mess that is Ubuntu font handling is alive and well and living securely in this version. I have installed the correct ATI driver, downloaded microsoft fonts, adjusted the hinting (not that it made any difference outside system panels) and tried different sizes, but it's all fringing red and blue, and is hard to read. Hard to understand really - almost every other recent Linux I have used has been fine with this (ATI 4850) and the Nvidia (7900GS) but Ubuntu has been consistently poor. Weirder still is that Comice basically IS Ubuntu running Gnome 3 DE with tweaks. System fonts are OK but Firefox is a tramsmash.

One more oddity - I can't open the DVD drive. Can't figure that one at all.

The system may well go to the church, not because I want to dump my junk but because this has ardour, Jack, Audacity and Lyricue on it and the church laptop is becoming increasingly temperamental (it seemed old when we arrive 4 years ago, and hasn't been rebuilt in all that time).

Some things seem really convenient, while others are just pants. Compared to comice it's all a bit crude and lumpy - there's no grace or smoothness, even though some things look quite familiar. I now want to try both the vanilla Ubuntu and Mint Debian properly installed, just to see how they differ and if they're better.

Despite that, if the fonts were finally good then I'd seriously give this a go as my main OS. As it is, the deal is broken - you are the weakest link, goodbye.


Back in Comice. It's a *little* slower, but in Firefox the font issue made a huge difference. Might look further into XFCE as a desktop environment though.

Worth mentioning re the DVD drive that it seems to have just stopped working anyway - it's a SATA unit, and they seem to be a little temperamental anyway due to the cheaply designed connectors.

Saturday 19 May 2012

Currently installing

Ubuntu studio on my AND box in the hope it will be reasonably quick. If I can get Lyrics on there too it may get donated to become a church PC.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Should I stay or should I go?

All things are temporary.

Right now I'm wondering if this blog has run its course and reached its expiry date. I was considering updating the appearance and replacing the crappy haloscan comments with something better, but these days I hardly write and almost never say anything about what's really happening. There was a time when it was possible to talk about church and home, thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, faith and aspiration, all without causing significant negativity. Now it seems that time is over.

And I DO spent too much time on the internet.

The closure of Lightbox.com that's been announced made me hunt for an alternative out, but increasingly I'm asking *why*. My photography isn't really that good, and there's certainly no commercial benefit from - sure I enjoy it, but it's a sink for time when I don't have enough time or energy, and it makes me want stuff we can't afford. I've also not really re-established much of a presence in the communities I used to be part of after my year-long break from Harmony central and then subsequent shorter periods of fasting off the net.

Plus I'm just concerned that some of the things I say genuinely do cause people problems. An American friend told me he'd had to de-friend me on facebook because the things I said offended his supporters, and that I was going over their limits. I don't have a problem with offending people usefully, but don't want to do it just as a by-product of putting my normal life in the public eye.

So I'm very much wondering if I should simply shut down 'Ancient Mariner' in all it's various on-line glories and walk away. Life is more than the internet and reality more than blogging.

Or maybe I need to stop being wet, feeling others pain and just kick a few backsides. It IS very tempting to make oneself a plumbline against which others are judged, but that thinking doesn't have a future that includes all the others that need to be part of the way ahead for Heyford Park community and a healthy body of Jesus here.

BTW this is my 2500th post.

Monday 14 May 2012

Just wanted to get a couple of Lille pics up

That's something to be getting on with.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Le Napoleon

is an interesting place to be staying.

France is a place of contrasts, not like India with great extremes, but contrasts none the less in what is acceptable and what is not.

So food has, generally, been excellent. The lunch served at the conference was 3 courses, beautifully presented and with excellent flavours. I thought it would probably be the best meal I'd have during our stay, but that evening my simple dinner of onglet de boef and chips with a dipping sauce based on bacon and mushrooms was better. Last night we found a restaurant that I'd eating in once before on a trip here (thanks Myriam, if you read this) called T'Rijkel in the old city - an estaminet or traditional restaurant - and despite it obviously being popular, we hit just the right window to get in and had an excellent meal at a very reasonable price.

Food here, as I posted on facebook, is basically meat, cream, sugar and chips.

What contrast then?

Our hotel, Le Napoleon, is about 50 yards from the entrance of Le Gare du Lille, but was a relative bargain, so something had to give. Although the windows are double glazed, not surprisingly there is a lot of noise from the road below, even though we're 4 storeys up. The room is OK - simple, but comfy and not to scruffy, the bathroom tucked away inside a thin wooden box in one corner. When we opened it up, it was a bit smelly - cigarettes and something else. The 'something else' turned out to be the macerator toilet waste system, which also caused several minutes of amusement when we couldn't find the switch to operate it! I'd stay here again if I only needed a couple of nights, but might have preferred something a little further out and more comfy for the 4 nights we are here.

So today we're out and about, looking at local marches and generally getting a bit more atmosphere. It's been a nice break, although not a little challenging to the cranium at times. Ben seems to have been feeding himself well too, judging by facebook comments.

Au revoir.

Friday 11 May 2012

Have we become Lillois yet?

Maybe, just a little.


La musee de beau arts

Les velos Lillois.

What happened to my sunshine?

At 8.30 it was 17 degrees, and now it's 13!

Thursday 10 May 2012

Lille is 24'C and steamy.

A hot day with muggy weather. I've been in a conference all day, and as I left the heavens opened and huge drops of rain fell. My room is like a sauna now, except for the smell of cigarettes.

Talking of which, I'd forgotten how the French smoked, and it seems to be mostly teens and twenties. Ciggies in use everywhere.

The conference is good although my brain stopped for the last 40min. AMH & PCOS are interesting but not easy to follow when you catch about 1 word in 3.

Sunday 6 May 2012

I'm not a flower photographer and

to be honest, flower pictures are usually utterly boring.

But there's a hidden, secret word if you're prepared to get close. A bit like people really.

More visitors to the garden

This year the feeding station at the back is becoming very popular. As well as the greenfinches and goldfinches we've had chaffinches and, I think, the odd bullfinch too. Over the last few weeks the male reed buntings have developed their plumage, and they now have jet black heads (quite different to a sparrow's black cap). And the woodpecker is back and enjoying the opportunity for a free meal - this one is a male (from the red patch at the back of the neck).

Friday 4 May 2012

So what's going on?

Life is not the same as it was, but I never expected doing what I did to change it.

I'm not a naturally obedient person, witness the fact that I'm blogging in the middle of my working day. But I've been trying to just do whatever it seems God is calling me to, and along with the gentle crumbling that goes with aging, I just don't seem to be like I was before.

There's a sense of responsibility, but also a sense of not being my own. That's a curious thing for someone who's always tried to be a radical in the Christian faith, but to an extent, even though people have relied on me, I've not had the same sense of not belonging to me. I'll need to watch this, because if it spreads across to the way I expect others to behave then there's some serious disappointment ahead. What will happen when people let everyone down, when they're tired, feeling indifferent or guilty and just simply can't get off their butts to serve others where they've committed. Expectation is not, despite what all the 'best sales people will tell you, reality.

It's been a little quiet because, yet again, I've been rebuilding computers.

My natural inclination to keep them running and work-around problems has been letting me down over the last few months. Gradually, each re-install of Sabayon has been broken by the supposedly 'safe' weekly updates. Sometimes in small ways, like icons disappearing or the package manager only starting from the command line instead of the GUI. Sometimes packages that I require being broken, like Audacity, where I need to trim and balance song files for use in meetings.

Before Christmas I did a fresh re-install of Sabayon, but that started failing & in any case the PC was struggling so I moved to a new box with faster processor etc only to find within a couple of weeks that was broken also. The reason, if anyone cares, is down to updates changes in Gnome 3 desktop (GTK) packages causing KDE to break.

While cogitating what to do last time round I installed and used Pear 3 Linux for a couple of weeks - it worked nicely, but was too Mac-like for me, and moving back to Sabayon was like coming home to an old friend. There's a new version - Comice 4 (comice is French for pear) that is still quite mac-like, though possibly a little less likely to infringe Apple's appearance. I ran it live from a USB memory stick, and it was really snappy, clean & responsive - turns out some of that was almost certainly due to the ATI 5850 graphics monster I've been using (very noisy, and makes the power supply run warm, even on idle). So after a little ado, it got installed, finishing off sorting LIBDVDCSS installation and data transfer last night.

I mentioned the graphics monster: not only is that card huge and power hungry, but it's also VERY noisy, and louder than a spinning DVD, even idling. I swapped it for my Nvidia 7900GS before doing the install, and even with the Nvidia driver installed, the desktop seems less responsive, icons taking time to open in Gnome's tablet 'application' mode. It's mildly tempting to try a modern card with passive cooling, low power draw and 1Gb DDR3, but the specs on these seem so poor that I wonder if doing so would take me backward despite the 7900 being 6 years old.

Anyway, I'm also in the process of downloading AVLinux 5.03 Tube (again). This is built on Debian, but runs a very lightweight desktop (LXDE) with many excellent audio and video editing apps. The real fly in the ointment is that it doesn't seem to have the one killer app for me - DigiKam - and it may also not be possible to install & run Firefox or Thunderbird. This will possibly go on the 'old' AMD-based box and get transferred to the chapel for use recording etc.

That'll do for now.