Tuesday, 27 September 2016

So the new kitchen is finally ordered.

Fitting starts next week.

It's been harder work than it should be, but we seem to have finally got there. I wonder how long it will take to get used to everything being different after 26 years more-or-less like this?

Friday, 23 September 2016

It's 12.50am and I have a cold & can't sleep


Went to bed, laid for an hour, got back up & finalised identifying kitchen appliances (yup, that's a fridge) for the refitted kitchen. Doing the redesign has been frustrating, with drawers only available in the width of units that we don't want or at different heights across different width units and too many faffy, fiddly factors.

We have a design that we can both agree on. Done. Probably.

Media is a funny thing.

2 angles.

One is that culture and interaction are being shaped by media consumption, to the point where as a non-TV watcher I am finding myself decreasingly able to connect with media presentations. Part of that is the generation Y concern for fluffy bunnies, inclusivity and the environment, but a much larger part is the manner of presentation. It feels all tense, urgent and yet the words and emotions used convey little of the meaning to me. It's a lot like sitting in a technical business meeting discussing quality standards for an area of business for which I have no knowledge or interest.

This was prompted by watching a bit of the latest version of Alpha videos last night. It just doesn't connect. But more than that, I'm finding the people that DO connect with that kind of thing being less and less able to communicate effectively to me.

Maybe the answer is to get a TV.

Angle 2.

It feels like media is everywhere to be consumed.

That's not news at all, but what is different and increasingly so is the availability of copyright content EVERYWHERE to the point of blurring ownership to consumers.

I can watch videos on Amazon prime, streaming in DVD quality, and very nice it is too.

I watched 3 videos during our 10 hours of flying to Turkey and back.

I recently downloaded some TV programs from veoh that were unavailable from Youtube, and have found various sites that work as a streaming portal for almost every recent film one could wish for, and with no suggestion that one is breaking the law in the way that torrent users used to.

Apart from causing distress in the movie industry, it's going to be increasingly difficult for people to have a sense of copyright over digital content, if everywhere you go content is freely available whether a fee has been paid or not. I'm in several minds about the rightness or otherwise of all this because the rules governing this kind of content are relative and set by society, rather than clear and absolute, and the ground in this area is shifting. Curiously the BBC has changed the rules this month regarding streaming TV programs, and a license is now required to watch programs retrospectively. I wonder if this will help them or if the horse has not only bolted, but been caught, bought, sold & turned into glue. Never mind any stable doors.

Monday, 19 September 2016

It sometimes surprises me how stressful travel, particularly air travel, can be.

It also amazes me that I voluntarily put both myself and my wife through the stress of doing it in the name of relaxation and fun – that I don’t learn from my previous behaviour – calling it a mistake is incorrect, both because it’s deliberate and has also sometimes resulted in highly beneficial moments.

Of course, it’s not always so bad.

Travel in countries where the language is somewhat familiar, at least sufficient to take a stab at, hasn’t always been difficult. Flying back from Frankfurt at Christmas last year was fine. Likewise Seville the previous summer and various other holidays & trips. Geneva was slightly hard going, simply because the budget-tourist part of the airport is thoroughly unpleasant, so even though all travel arrangements were looked after by the Crystal Ski people, it was still a crappy experience beyond their control.

This year has been one of our steepest challenges yet.

We did pick up a few works of Turkish, a very few, so when the online check-in website was in Turkish only I could recognise the words for hello, Exit and please. After that we fell into the loving embrace of Google translate (did an amazingly good job) and I literally sweated my way through putting in the various details for us to check in and download boarding passes (however Turkish Airlines always print boarding passes anyway when we bag-dropped) to put on phone and tablet.

A week or so before we flew I got a notification from Tripcase (travel management app) that our flight times had changed, but the change seemed minor and I didn’t worry any further. This did, however, cause enormous anxiety when my head still remembered the original times for both journey legs, despite reading the new times repeatedly, and I had waking nightmares about missing our connection in Istanbul.

It’s going to be fine.

I’m writing this sat in the domestic departure hall of Bodrum airport with almost an hour before we board the first flight to Istanbul. Of course it will all be fine, but I won’t be able to post this until we’re back home, so will also be able to confirm the flight was, in fact, fine.

I wrote that Saturday morning – we made it back fine, with the greatest stress occurring at Heathrow airport . Now I’m ‘looking forward’ to my first day back at work, travelling to Bristol & trying to sort the kitchen refit out.

Friday, 16 September 2016

So the final day has arrived

And it's with a mix of regret: not having done many of the things I'd wanted to, and relief that we'll be heading back to our own home, own bed, own food etc.

I was going to say that this holiday has been conspicuous by the lack of forming friendships, but last year in Spain we didn't do so either except when re-connecting with our dear friends in Badajoz. Each time this trip we had just a couple of occasions to get to know people, like Juliette and Sanjiv at Ortakent or a couple of couples on the 2 day trip we've just completed to Ephesus & Pamukkale, and then we've gone separate ways. Interesting for me how one gets drawn to people, so with Juliette and Sanjiv, it turned out that they were Christians and there was an almost instant and natural connection, yet we didn't discover this until we said goodbye at the last minute.

Unlike many previous trips, I've not tried to blog this one through the time here, mostly because our room wasn't conducive to sitting down & writing and the wifi is a bit of a faff. We're actually sat out on our (tiny) balcony this morning because Chris had a tummy ache and we're just waiting in the cool for everything to be fine again. We'll probably head off to Golturkbuku in a while for a swim and lunch, before dinner tonight with Ben and some goodbyes.

Packing shouldn't be difficult - throw everything into the suitcases, carefully segregating clean & dirty (I have 2 un-worn tee shirts, a couple of pairs of pants (both European and American meaning) and lots of pairs of socks. Generally it's been too hot for socks, and I've been wearing an ancient pair of M&S leather deck shoes most of the time: loose enough to let air circulate, strong enough to walk around. Chris intentionally brought more than she could possibly wear in order to have options, so my few clean items will travel with her wardrobe.

Anyone interested in Ephesus?

Apparently there have been quite a few by roughly that name, but the Greco-Roman city is the one we all think of. It covers a very large area, and there's lots of ruins, but not too much in the way of really interesting buildings, and in all honesty, I'd call it disappointing after some of the places we've seen. The library of Celsus has spectacular frontage, the amphitheatre is colossal (seated 25,000) and the 'terraced houses' that are now under cover (extra fee to view) are probably the high point. There's some other interesting bits that haven't stuck in the mind especially, but those were the highlights. I keep comparing it with other places we've seen on this and other trips, and apart from sheer size, it isn't really that special *compared with* Pompeii, Herculaneum and Philippi. We've visited a couple of sites on our own this trip: Euromos and Iassos, that were smaller, but not much less interesting. On the second day of our 2 day trip, visiting Pamukkale and Heirapolis, the amphitheatre in Heirapolis was in much better condition (after re-assembly). 

Generally archaeological sites in Turkey have been scruffier and with poor signage compared to other parts we've seen. TBH there's ruins everywhere, but they seem to consist of piles of shaped stones, tumbled and fallen, with little sense of what they once were. The region has suffered a lot of serious earthquakes, so perhaps that's entirely reasonable, but for a tourist it's less exciting. If you want exciting ruins then go to Italy or Greece (and most of the good stuff here has Greek origins, built on by the Romans anyway).

Chris is feeling better, so I think we're going to leave shortly. Later I'll do online-checkin & hopefully book some decent seats on the flights home.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The best laid mice of plans and men

Wonder if blogger for Android will work this time?

So we were ready for a nice early start, everything packed, only to find the carpark completely rammed and no way to get our car our. :-p

As with everything, the Turks have a very practical approach to motoring, but just like the car we saw on the main Bodrum highway, on its roof, it doesn't always work for everyone concerned.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Just occasionally things come together to make sense.

It might be theology, relationships or all sorts of stuff. Tonight it was Turkish starters (meze) where instead of everything being a bit too sharp or oily or over-cooked & mushy, instead it tasted just right.

We ate in a tiny place called Sheaniah's in Golturkbuku just round the coast from Torba, having already been there for lunch earlier in the week with Ben. According to the blurb on Google Turkbuku is normally crowded with film stars and athletes, and someone was trying to impress Chris (Christina) with having worked with Anthony Hopkins, failing sadly because she'd not heard of him. :-)

They were very friendly, even giving us turkish delight and cologne as part of their Bayram celebration for Eid, inviting us to see the house etc, though sadly we're unlikely to ever go back.

Friday, 9 September 2016

I've just seen a man wearing rocket boots

was the title of the last blogpost I wrote.

That post is presently 'publishing' from my phone, as it has been for the last 5 days, and written because we had actually seen someone wearing rocket powered boots, hovering over the Agean sea. It made other witty comments about activities going on that I've mostly forgotten now.

So we've been here for almost a week in the most westernised bit of Asia - Turkey is like India without the incredible grinding poverty, polytheism, respect for British things and iffy food. Considering how the nations of Greece and Turkey have their history and genetics woven so closely together, it's amazing that they should be so different. But even though the countryside is so very similar, Turkey *feels* quite different in a way that's hard to pin down. A few times, driving around, it's felt as though the scene unfolding in front of us had come from India and might have been something we'd see if we were travelling there.

Or it could be an over-active imagination.

We've travelled a bit now, with more journeys due soon to archaeological sites. Turkey certainly has a lot of ruins, though little of what we've seen so far has been handled sympathetically with the exception of the materials recovered from shipwrecks and displayed in Bodrum castle. Many of the sites have been plundered, sometimes for building materials in the case of the Halikarnassos Mausoleum, often for objects of antiquity to ship back to museums in Britain and other nations. So the Mausoleum is basically a hole in the ground with a small number of decorative artifacts strewn about, the remains of the great frieze presently being in the British Museum. The temple of Apollo at Didyma was much better, but there was much still missing. We will shortly try some of the less well known sites around Milus, Praen and Euromos.

It's been good to spend time with Ben, especially since he's taken the week off to be with us. His local knowledge has led us to a restaurant where one barbecues the food at the table, and another tonight at a place tucked away for locals, serving delicious grilled meats. Food at our hotel (we're half-board) has been patchy, with mediocre stuff some nights, nice stuff others, and eating out has given us a much more favourable view of Turkish cooking than otherwise. I am, however, slightly dodgy in the tummy, and wondering why.

Now - bedtime.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Does this indicate you've been a victim of terrorism?

If, when in a large crowd in a public place, you hear a loud sound that you can't identify, you assume that someone is shooting? Which has apparently happened a couple of times now.

I'll throw no stones, but it should be making people stop in their tracks and ask "why is this happening in this nation?". To the best of my knowledge, few Americans have been killed as a result of foreign terrorists on American soil.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

A nice thing about

Is the way clothes etc are reduced to make way for autumn and winter collections. :)

Well, mostly. Except for swimming costumes. They're still reduced, but the start point makes reduced feel like full price.   :-p

Monday, 22 August 2016

Happy birthday

27 years old now - I wonder how you're doing?

Time goes so fast and yet so slowly, life is so full and so completely trivial.

Looks like today is a day of contrasts

On LinkedIn there was an Image of Marissa Mayer's resume (also described as a one-page CV) where it's suggested she is productive 18/24 (and apparently sleeps 3-4 hours a day).

 Then, via the BBC I came across a blogpost suggesting that mediocrity was actually quite reasonable.

I have a suspicion that one appeals considerably more than the other. :-)

Picking up the fallen

It's been a good-busy weekend, and last night we were 'relaxing' with me running through my browser history for the previous weekend trying to find a picture of a particular kitchen and worktop that I wanted as an example. Chris suddenly called to me, to come outside because someone had fallen off their bike and ended up on our verge again.

Felt sorry for the young chap, quite scuffed and bloody, and he came in, washed his wounds and I then took him to Banbury Horton hospital. His parents live in Yorkshire, so not exactly round the corner to look after him, and his GF was away, so again not able to provide help. He'd originally intended to ride back to Banbury, but was obviously concussed from the accident and not really in a condition to do so.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Had the Dell XPS keyboard replaced under warranty today

And it's nice to be able to type on it again - seems better than the previous one too, and pretty close to Apple standards in terms of responsiveness.

Getting dell out for the work (next business day onsite) was a pain in the parts, having to go through online stuff first, then not being offered a number to call or a form that could be completed. Google sorted that, but I was quite cross by that point, but the chap in India with the temporary fake US accent was patient and polite. It was still better that Apple's return to base warranty, where you take stuff to the store an hour away, they demo that it doesn't work while telling you there's probably not a problem and then send stuff away on the proviso that you'll pay if they can't find a fault. If I ever bought another Mac at full price it would NOT be through Apple again.

Apparently this battery is starting to swell too. :-p

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

What's in a name

I came across the name Eyelid the other day.


Sorry that's wrong.

The name was Eilidh. Apparently it's AyLee, like Hayley, but without the H.

Humans are a funny bunch, never sure whether they want to conform or stand out, and very often both at the same time. As an odd foreigner in the UK, I wish I felt less antipathy toward celtic pronunciations, or perhaps it's the German in me wanting to fight the illogicality of using letters to 'sound wrong' in a European language.

And now I've just remembered a couple of words in Swedish.

So what's logic got to do with language? :-)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Have just downloaded our visas for Turkey.

And it's tempting to quip about it feeling like christmas, but that's a bird-brained joke. ;-)

It will be good to see Ben again.

Monday, 8 August 2016

So I gave in last Friday

Ran a 5K up to North Aston, round the green and back home.

I need to find a balance between doing the serious running that lets me do half-marathons while leaving me with pain and the sedentary lifestyle that's so pleasant but leaves me fat & gasping. There's the time factor too, and I feel less & less inclined to make effort except at those things where I can go mindlessly flat out, then stop & gasp a sort of recovery - working steadily is uncomfortable.

Aging bodies are curious, slightly disappointing things.

On a different note, we have a kitchen fitter coming over tonight to discuss changing things. I fitted the kitchen 26 years ago, and although it might last another 10 years, it's becoming scruffy and some things, including appliances, need replacing. So we've dived into the murky, complex world of the modern fitted kitchen, and as could be predicted, it's murky and complex. ;-)

Most staggering is the cost of worktops: >£1200 for 3 meters of Corian. >£2000 for 3 meters of walnut. On a forum discussing the cost of kitchens, one of the guys paid £5500 for 15 meters of granite worktop 10 years ago. I think we may be a little more economical than that, although I DO know various people that have had granite worktops fitted, but it's highly unlikely we'll be doing that!

The cost of the actual 'kitchen' - the units themselves - now seems trivial by comparison, and kitchens from the big suppliers all seem to be made to the same standard with similar construction methods almost regardless of pricepoint - certainly they all look incredibly similar. Gone are the nasty MFI doors (and many of them were quite nasty) but in their place are MDF mouldings, and the 'solid wood' doors also look more like they are made from MDF. Everything closes softly, drawers have sheet steel folded sides and every little nook, cranny and slot can have some kind of storage facility, that you could never imagine using, built in.

The connection with the first half of this post, is that I'm too achey now to want to kneel on the floor and fit a kitchen myself.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My name is Toni, and it's been more than 3 weeks since I had a run.

Not quite alcoholics anonymous. ;-)

I'm not sure where we're going to go with the running yet. In terms of recovery, I managed to gently back away from all my training until a few weeks back, keeping the depression and mood swings difficult but manageable while that was going on. The body has been settling, to the point that 2 weeks after my last run, while walking down to the car carrying a guitar and amplifier, I realised that my legs and joints were quite comfy in contrast the the way they've been hurting pretty much all the time for a year or more. Also for the last couple of weeks I can squat down without intense pain for the first time in ages.

Currently my right knee still has a little swelling on the side. Last weekend I finally removed the 2nd largest toe nail on my left foot, because it had detached all round except on one side, and was just flapping annoyingly. Overall the body is doing well I guess.

The running will have to restart however. It made a huge difference to my lungs, and having had a cold recently that didn't hit the chest, plus keeping my wieght down, it needs to be done. And there is a certain pleasure to running through the countryside on a gently warm evening with birds flying and crops in the field. Just not sure about what level to set as a target yet, and not sure whether the body will make it easy to get right.

Friday, 29 July 2016

You know people need to come off drugs

When they post comments about how reading a book is surreal, because the reader is staring at markings on slices of tree while hallucinating vividly.



Thursday, 28 July 2016

One door shuts, another opens.

So today I finished one of my part-time jobs. The company was developing a screening system based on data generated by a university group that *looked* absolutely solid - strikingly so, which should have been it's own warning - yet which could not be reproduced by either us or them when it came to trials of typical patients.

It happens.

I'm really sad things didn't work out: we refined the technique a lot over the course of the project while learning loads, invented some really useful hardware and should - if everything had worked out - have had a system that would make a lot of lives a bit better and save the health service millions each year. The nature of development from academic data is hit and miss, and this one was a miss.

Tomorrow is my last paid day, but "there's no need to come in" and both the lab and office are clear & sorted.

Next Thursday I start a new job doing the kind of work I've been doing most of my life. I *hope* that I haven't bitten off more than I can chew, especially on such a short time of employment. It will be a challenge that I'm quite looking forward to, but with a slight sense of wondering whether it will become a large wave that towers over me instead of one I end up riding.

Monday, 25 July 2016

How is it they're jumping for joy?

Worship and praise are a curious experience.

So often the worship leader seems so full of joy, praise, exhuberance, happy gratitude. I wonder sometimes if I'm deficient as a Christian in some ways, that I don't overflow with 'joy inexpressible' to all around me. Am I a miserable git, sinful (OK, got me there) faithless and ungrateful?

Not really, but I can't seem to do the happy-overflow thing.

Sometimes it can drive guilt or feeling down, sometimes I can even accept it's who I am and that to be otherwise wouldn't be real. Occasionally I can feel a bit like it too, but that's somewhat unusual. Generally I try not to base life on feelings, but some things are intended to be outward expressions of feelings within, and those I'm not happy to fake so much.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Why did you just stop?

A post from Fernando about Bill Cunningham made me think about the desire to retire.

Bill C loved what he did, continuing to work into his 80s, when most would have retired 20 years or more before. I too love many of the things that I do, but there are times when the stress - the friction points - make me really wish I could just go fill shelves in Tesco.

I wonder if it's possible to find a way to live where the friction is dealt with, freeing us to just get on with what we're good at? This is really rhetorical, but it's also an 'I wish'.

p.s if anyone hears of any jobs going where I can cycle round a major city taking photos, then writing about them, please let me know. :-)

I should agopolise

The spelling on this blog, primarily due to typos, has been terrible recently.

Reading through posts from the last few weeks, I was somewhat horrified at the mistakes, especially as a spelling and grammar nazi. It is entirely my own fault, of course, however Firefox/blogger spill chucker does some odd things, failing to spot the switched spelling in the title, yet picking up on nazi.

So.... sorry.

We change.

There's a slightly uncomfy irony that, as one who wanted to reform the church for so many years, I now want a church where life and practice are familiar. And most of all, where I feel I can trust what's going on.

This is probably just a passing phase.

It's also true to say that I'm not the man I was - much more experienced, much more knowledge - though I still make the same dumb mistakes. More knowledge and experience aren't necessarily either good, useful or helpful things however, compared to faith and trust. And even fresh starts often prove not to be that either, of course, because we always bring ourselves.

More crypticism than a 'mummy' movie. ;-)

Monday, 18 July 2016

Recovering, which is good.

Last week I ended up with a nasty throat, which gave me a voice that would do justice to Wandring Star, plus a general head cold. However for the last couple of weeks my body has just been very very grumpy, aching in various places and not being at all happy. Likewise emotions have been generally dark, miserable and downward.

Hopefully that was all part of the same thing, and will now lift completely.

I'm giving running a break too. The swelling on one knee seems reduced and yesterday I managed to crouch a coupole of times, though it was very uncomfy standing up again afterwards. Not being able to get down without pain may be the price required for continuing to run.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Since you been gone.


I'm told one should never start a sentence with the word 'so', but frankly, breaking conventions harmlessly is fun sometimes. ;-)

Playing bass does odd things to the way you look at music. So why does nearly every recent-ish worship song make me want to play the main riff for Since You Been Gone, at least from the basic chord structure? I picked up the chords for Matt Redman's Sing And Shout this morning, and although it's not written *quite* like that, it *feels* like it's written just like that. There was a bunch of about 10 songs that I worked through last night, and underlying most of the songs was this feeling that riff was coiled and waiting, ready to spring out at any time.

My fingers are also callousing up nicely from their soft girliness at the beginning of the week. 2 hours thrashinga round on acoustic guitar on Tuesday followed by more than an hour of bass last night (and 20min this morning) and I've already developed callouses on my fingertips. I've 3 basses to choose from, with the fretless 5 string having lovely smooth tapewound strings that are kind to the fingers,but requiring more accuracy in fretting than I'm capable of right now. I've got a Jazz copy that's got a skinny neck and smoother strings, but it's a bitt too smooth and rounded, and can sound a bit thuddy. Harshest to play of all is the precision copy, with a big fat maple neck and really abrasive strings (like running your fingertip over a rats tail file) but it's got a wonderfull growly tone from the musicman style bridge pickup, and sounds just so much better than the others.

So P type it is then.

Delusions of adequacy - I just watched a Janek Gwizdala teaching video on youtube. Hah ha. Hah hah hah. Nope, not even close yet. :-)

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Seems it's a time of change.

So this week I seem to have joined an acoustic gospel blues band, which is interesting considering my antipathy to acoustic instruments. Sat in with the guys (and gal) in The Bell at Adderbury on Tuesday night, bought a slide on Wednesday and will be shortly trying to learn the set in time for next weeks gig at Shipston. Should be  'interesting' (I may also try to sneak in a home made 'micro' valve amp for solos once I know the guys a little more). They talked about Sister Rosetta Tharpe as one of their sources, but I'm not sure they're ready for anyone turning up with a white SG yet.

Sunday I'm playing at the celebration in Oxford, but this time probably bass rather than electric. I think I know around half the songs in the set, so that's going to be interesting too - there's going to be lots of concentrating on getting the notes right from the chords, since I can't hear where bass is pitched as easily as I can guitar.

Change is here to stay.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

I Am Legend

And there's been more than one of me.

It's a little grotesque (OK, actually rather a lot grotesque) but I also find this funny.

I'm amazed at the grace of God sometimes

And maybe sometimes I'm not aware of it, so I'm not amazed.

However. A couple of weeks back by lab-based job was coming to an end, simply because the claims made by a university for a particular technique didn't stand up to scrutiny - there was no diagnostic value in the process.

Another company here had a job going, and after no effort on my part at this point in time, I've been offered the position. There's some history with them in the past, and I've offered plenty of free advice & guidance, but nevertheless, this is still quite unexpected.

And I'm grateful.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Decisions, decisions.

Our holiday plans are still flapping freely.

Earlier in the year we'd decided to go back to India, and that really appeals still, but I just don't feel up to the hassle of sorting out out own tour, and we don't really fancy any of the pre-arranged ones that we can afford/aren't willing to spend that much on a personalised tour. However, as I write this, Chris is watching 'Marigold Hotel', so the debate may be over regardless.

So where else?

TBH I'm tired right now. Tired of facing work challenges that make me want to curl in a ball at times - not because they're unreasonable, but because I'm trying to cope with the odd emotional things that fairly severe exercise does to me.

In many ways Greece, especially going to Lesvos again, appeals. It's a known quantity, we've not seen Daphne and Iannis since 2009, the location is great and it's guaranteed relaxing. At the same time I know we'll start to get a little bored after a week, and we've mined out many of the island's attractions already. We could fly to athens for a few days first, see the acropolis etc, then get a boat across, but that's hassle again.

And then there's Turkey, where Ben's having a great time. I'm very very tempted to pick one of the really good deals on a flight/hotel/car through expedia and just go for a couple of weeks near Selcuk/Efes (Ephesus). There's LOADS to see - we could even drive over to Cappadocia for a couple of days - and see Ben too. But I dunno. Hassle again, and trying to cope with an alien culture where I don't speak ANY of the language.

Don't tell Chris, but I've even wondered about going to Scotland, while they'll still let people from the south across the border. Scrub that - last time I had a holiday where it rained all the time I hated it. :p

Guess we'l just have to wait & see.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Joggers nipple

Is not a joke.

7.5 miles in the rain, wearing a belt that held my singlet still against a moving nipple, is not kind. My right nipple was actually weeping slightly this morning. Should I have more sympathy for breast feeding mothers now?

Update Saturday - nipple no longer painful and scabbed over OK. :-)