Sunday, 21 May 2017

Thank you, Emma.

For the kind words you left.

Monday, 8 May 2017

A little Monday moment

Ever wish words weren't so loaded?

When I grew up, being gay just meant being happy - no other connotations attached.

More recently, the word 'inclusive' used to mean exactly what it said, without all the gender-ambiguous, sexuality confused, racist connotations that have now replaced the original meaning.

So we come to gender neutral.

This morning I read on the BBC website that Emma Watson had won the first gender neutral award in showbusiness for her part in Beauty and the Beast. What they meant was that she had won the MTV Movie and TV award for her performance. It's just an award - it's not gender-neutral, but simply an award - that will be given to people in the entertainment industry.

It seems that in order to become not against something, one must first divide the world up into little bits, all opposed to each other, and then declare that you are overlooking all those divisions you just defined in a very public way.

People are strange.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Disconcerting co-incidences

Wishing someone nicknamed 'peachy' happy birthday via LinkedIn, then receiving an email from someone with the surname Peachey just 5 min later.

Bizarre, if quite unconnected.

It seems I've started praying again

Not the odd few words in a public place, though I've managed that when put on the spot, but finding that I'm starting to pray for people and situations without having to.

After our friend Jo dying last year I effectively stopped talking to God - why do it if what we say or ask doesn't change outcomes? That question is still very present, but I found myself praying when I'd just woken up a few weeks ago, for a couple experiencing hard times and difficulties. It hasn't opened the floodgates, but there are people I care for that are struggling in a wide variety of ways.

I can understand somewhat why Muslims developed a theology of inshAllah - if God wills - not expecting Him to be involved with their lives. At least that's better than a Greek understanding, where their gods were just badly behaved people.

To Scifi or not Scifi

A couple of weeks back I had an idea for a scifi story, about an ordinary guy working in a garage fixing cars. He's based in a technological society not so very different from ours, but where the self-driving car has become normal, everything is connected and mankind is still wondering what's next.

What's the story then?

Well, he's just an ordinary guy, knows about cars, happy to fix them, but he's shy, not otherwised inclined to tech and finds the lives of those arpound him bizarre as he keeps his head down and just does his job. There would be little cameos of customers and situations that arise from the vehicles he fixes. There could be snatches of home life, a wife & small, puzzling people that seem to share the house with them, but he really lives in his own world most of the time, observing life through a half-open garage door.

Artemis Hearthroug.

It would not be a 'Christian' book.

Will it happen? Probably not, though it's a nice idea. I've heard that everyone has a book inside them, but these days too many of them are getting out and being published when they should have been left out of sight. There's more than enough rubbish in virtual print already.

But you never know.

So my legs don't hurt so much now.

Yes, that title is all wrong. Ain't life grand. :-D

I managed a total of 3 runs up to the beginning of last week, at which point life just became too busy and my legs were too achey for me to want to run any more for a bit. Today, for the first time in over a week they don't seem to be hurting much, and I actually feel inclined to try running again.

I forgot my kit this morning. :-(

Never mind, maybe tomorrow night.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Since we're talking IT - CRTs!

In the lab below where I presently sit there's a CRT monitor for a 10 year old computer (running Windows XP) and driving a microplate reader.

Yesterday I was working away analysing some data when one of our tenants wandered across and commented along the lines of "didn't it belong in a museum?" and about how large it was. The we actually started looking at the screen - rather than just reading the information - and realised that despite being only 17" across and 1024X768 resolution, it was displaying the information in a way that was clear, detailed and pleasing to the eyes. We could see individual pixels, but instead of being harsh and jaggy like a LCD, it was smooth and easy on the eye.

I'm typing this on my (old) 20" Sansung at 1680X1050, the main screen at home is a Dell 2412M running 1920X1200 and my laptop does 3840X2160, and is astonishingly crisp and clear. I don't miss the bulk of the old CRTs, nor their power consumption & the subsequent heat they produced, but I do somewhat miss the kind of image that they produced.

Ubuntu does something radical.

It's been a while since I posted anything about Linux, and more of my visitors use Macs than Linux boxes, but this seemed interesting.

Some years ago Ubuntu was the leading Linux distro. It was used as the basis for many other Linux flavours including Pear linux (that I used to love) Mint and a bunch of less memorable names.

There came a time when it seemed like the Linux desktop environment was trying to go all bleeding edge and make radical changes. Gnome (previously a conservative appearing design) launched version 3, dramatically different from before and somewhat difficult to use, losing a lot of users. Then Ubuntu went all Windows 8 and released the Unity desktop: designed to work the same across phones, tablets and even ordinary computers. Some lauded it, most either just got on & tried to use it or rapidly migrated to Mint with either Cinnamon or Mate desktops and safe familiarity. I tried it early on - it was fairly horrible, not very stable, and made Windows 8 seem intuitive and polished - but quickly binned it, sticking with openSUSE and then various flavours of Mint.

The world turns.

And so I've just heard that Ubuntu have ditched Unity as a desktop and gone to Gnome 3 as their default, now many iterations on and much better. And it also now looks like Fedora, apparently. I'm tempted to try it on my 'testing' drive, over-writing whatever is there at the moment (might even be Fedora - can't remember right now) just to see.

It would be nice if the creator of  the first Linux distro originally suggested to replace Windows on the desktop has found a formula that will give it as more mainstream appeal.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Like a well-used camping pump

Is how my lungs sounded this evening.

It's time to try to stop the bloat - I've reached 13 stone = 182lb = 81Kg - and so went for a run for the first time since August.

Managed the first mile without stopping, then paused at the turn-around point, gasping & trying to get my breath back without much success, before eventually conceding defeat on that point and running/walking the second mile home again.

Now dinner is done it's time for a shower and then a well-earned slouch on the couch with a DVD.

And a good cough.

Fake news and social media

More than a year ago I ditched my old Facebook account - it simply isn't helpful knowing what people and their children think, and I realised that I had become deeply ungracious towards what seemed like stupidity and worse.


A few people we care about communicate almost exclusively through facebook, and eventually I gave in just to keep in touch, restarting under a pseudonym. :p

Now here's the odd thing. I normally browse using ad blockers, and in the time away FB managed to find a way around them. That's fine - no amount of ads on FB will make a difference and I pretty much screen them out anyway. But this time the ads were different. Instead of fashion items it started out with ads offering to help me meet 'singles' who were, from the pictures, all US based and pneumatic to a degree that defies population distribution and normal physiology. Then I started seeing adverts telling me that famous people had died despite them still being very much alive.

For example:

It seems that fake news isn't just about politicians. I can understand about businessmen like Richard Branson (his 'death' was reported many times) for potential profit, but why actors, musicians or scientists?

It seems to me that there is a determined effort going on to undermine the concept of truth and how reality is perceived through the media, and it's not restricted to elections. I wonder what this is building up to (other than the next step on from post-modernist relativism). And yes, I do blame post-modern thinking for softening society to the point where it now accepts blatant untruths as real.

*edit* 24.04.2017
And another one.

Monday, 10 April 2017

The (other) great getaway.

So we're looking for a holiday later in the year. Our original plan was for a week in Crete, and we'd found what looked like a good deal with Thomas cook for an all-inclusive just outside Rethymno, but when I tried to book it a couple of weeks ago the transaction failed at the final hurdle, and their helpline had a 25min wait at 10pm. The website also advised not immediately re-booking, just in case the transaction had completed, so we left it & of course it hadn't gone through.

2 weeks on all the decent flights have gone and the price has gone up. :-((

Idle lunchtime doodling encourages freer thinking, and I just found flights and accommodation in Whistler for 1 week at <£700 each. A quick google for directions shows one has to drive past Furry Creek, which is a wonderful euphemism akin to beaver valley or something similar. And it's only 2 hours drive/140km from the airport.

But being practical, it's much more likely that we'll end up at the invitingly named Filoxenia hotel at a lower cost and about 40% of the travelling time. It will also be warm instead of cold.

But it IS tempting.

Now booked for Rethymno. Sorted. worked OK, though there was a hiccup that nearly scuppered things (selected flights, only for the site to decide the holiday wan't available when we tried to book) and it then selected Chania airport instead of Heraklion. Perseverance is the name of the game.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Backups are a good idea

But it's better to do them regularly.

I have just under 800GB to back up from this computer to an external HDD (USB3) with Duplicati doing the backup, indexing files etc. It's been going since around 1.30am this morning, and is about 40% finished. Most of that is images & related sidecar files. :-P

As of Monday morning it's about 85% done. I left the Dell behind to complete and took the Macbook to work instead: it's really odd using OSX again, and a bit clunky after using W10, plus everything runs ssllloooowwwwwwwlllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyy despite the SSD. Guess there's no substitute for raw computing power.

*edit 2*
Backup completed around 1.11pm this afternoon - that's 2.5 days almost exactly for >700GB data.

Good morning

Also known as another night where sleep is scarce. Had a glorious 6 hours last night, from 11 until 5am, and tonight the sleep thing isn't happening, at least from 11.20 to 1am.

I'm told it's over-rated anyway.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Just when you thought it was safe.

I got a cold back in January, with a vicious cough and a body that really didn't love me. Re-infection came along at the end of Feb, at the same time a Chris went down with a nasty cold, although that time I managed without time off. It grinds you down. The end of last week and beginning of this one was the first time I could reply, when asked how I was "I'm great, thanks".

Just when I thought it was safe.

We had a great weekend, out all day Saturday with some guys we'd never met before from all using their *film* cameras around Oxford. Pleased with my output from that, even though it was digital.

Monday night - nearly no sleep - and crept into work on Tuesday. Today I'm coughing again, though not as badly and don't feel as miserable as I have. It makes me want to ask sometimes, will I ever be well again?

Probably. Eventually.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Mythology (again)

In a few months time we're off to Israel for an organised tour, and part of the prep involves reading a guidebook supplied with information on Jerusalem and various other parts. There's something that makes me want to corner the author of such guidebooks while I have something sharp in my hand, asking them to tell me what the supporting evidence is for the 'fact' they just listed, and poking them hard with it each time they cannot provide it.

I don't mind you telling me "this is the third place Jesus stumbled" on the via dolorosa if there is some good solid evidence, but if it's just invented stories passed down through church traditions then I'm liable to be grumpy with you.

Monday, 13 March 2017

I have ear-worm.

Not an unpleasant helminth parasite, but yesterday I played guitar in Oxford at a celebration with several churches together, and snippets of a couple of songs won't go away. That's fine, but they are intrusive when one is trying to concentrate.

Chris and I have been down with colds again last week, and we're just up & down, feeling OK and a little energised one minute, then really tired and quite ropey the next. It's just a case of keeping going when you need to & then recuperating when things can be neglected.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


An interesting sign from WW2, shown at Upton House as part of their WW2 display there.

I saw this and thought of you.

"Someone has been on the beetroot again."  ;-)

Saturday, 25 February 2017

It's all very well having a global economy

Photobucket have an offer of 85% off canvas prints this weekend, and I know they sell some printed products in the UK, so I checked out the offer, prep'd a set of images, got ready to upload, only to discover the offer was US customers only (and Canada?).


I was really looking forward to seeing how some of my mono images would print up at 20" X 10" ready for the common room at work.

The evolution of photography




Via Petapixel.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Give me what I want!

I am the way I am - why should you have a right to tell me how I should live or feel.

Over the years I have learned to be proud of who I am and that I'm different.

Surely Jesus accepts me like this, so why shouldn't I be fulfilled?

How can you possibly object to love, and in the name of religion too.

This image is so profound (linked from the BBC website and article)

I read the report that was rejected recently - it is both radical for the CoE and orthodox in it's understanding - and it looks remarkably sympathetic and healthy, returning to scripture as it's source for understanding coupled with a desire to welcome and embrace people with same-sex attraction.

How do people find the time and energy

To keep up with social media?

I see Ello is now quite busy, and I was wondering about posting photos there, but I can't even be bothered to keep up with groups on Flickr, let alone ANOTHER social platform.

In the light of the film mentioned below

It's interesting to read this article on the BBC website that asks "Is Sweden's feminist agenda working"?

I wonder what the feminist agenda is doing to the men there?

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

I've been to Stockholm a couple of times.

If you wanted to see a film that encapsulated everything idiosyncratic about Sweden then I can't think of anything better than this. Just watched on Amazon Prime.

Pretty sure I even worked wth one of the characters in Sjukhuset Karolinska.

Maybe it's time to visit Sigtuna.

Monday, 13 February 2017

It's been another week.

Weekend before last we went away for Chris's birthday, but apart from that life has continued in it's stumbly nominal fashion. The lurgy has taken its toll, and I've not felt like writing anything, discussing, arguing, or anything really.

It was a nice weekend though, and we've both decided we'd like to retire and live there immediately. :p  It was also really good to see our friends Sue & Ian again, and to see where they live now.

Here's a couple of pics to 'prove' we were there.

There's more in the Devon Flickr album.

Saturday just gone we went for a stumble round Blenheim in the sleety-snow & mud. It was a down day after a previously good Friday, and I could barely keep up with my wife, while coughing and walking simultaneously. The cascades looked 'enthusiastic' from rain water.

The other thing I find myself doing at the moment is wanting to check the news, almost hourly, to find out whether America has imploded yet. I have the same set of feelings as when 9/11 happened, the same sense of irrevocable change for the world unfolding, except that this time it's in secret, mostly, and self-inflicted.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

It's been a week

And I've had a nasty head cold that's left me tired and stupid.

A friend posted some of the wisest words I've read in a while about a certain trainwreck that that the world seems to be watching, almost open-mouthed in amazement as it unfolds.

On the wireless a day or so ago the presenter was playing a recording made at a church prayer meeting in the US, where they were thanking God for their new president, and how he was such a changed character, now rolling back the wickedness and evil of the last 8 years. It made me wonder if they were seeing the same man as the rest of us. I can see why they might view the past in that way, and it's likely, now that the conservative right is in complete control, that some of the more liberal and less morally oriented policies from the previous government will be unpicked.

High price to pay for unpicking though.

Makes me wonder if there's a process every culture has to go through as it matures: internal wars, a religio-political structure that is deceitful and cruel, enslavement of weaker nations and empire building, accompanied by a roller-coaster ride that swings between licentious debasement and up-tight morality.

I guess that at some stage I should blog about why I support the idea of Brexit (but not for the reasons given in that campaign of factoids). Politics though - yuk. Alternative facts - double yuk.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Place names that shouldn't be funny - but are.

Talking with an American colleague this afternoon, he mentioned driving past a place where they couldn't believe the sign.

Westward Ho!

It's a town in north Devon, on the coast, and the name is all about direction and interjection. Apparently the place was entirely more mundane than the obvious translation of the sign would suggest.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Afternoon sunshine.

We had a nice walk at Stowe (again) and Chris found herself a tree to stand inside.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

It never ceases to amaze me

That I can get flights and a hotel in Europe for the 2 of us for less than the price of staying somewhere nice in the UK. Nuts.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Traditions are odd things

especially when interpreted/created by the English. Loosely connected with faith and expectation: on Sunday evening we went to the local Wassail.

It's a little bit of syncretism with roots in Norse culture, plus a little bit of Christianity (well, God gets a mention in a song) stirred in either because of appropriation or to give a veneer of acceptability. It is performed on 12th night - 12th night according to the Julian calendar, that is - and the 15th was the nearest convenient date possible. Folded into that is the Morris dancing (Morris may have been adapted from Moorish, possibly Syrian, dancing, but hankies and bells are almost certainly pure English since few other races ritually self-mock) that's now an essential part of such things too.

The idea is that the apple tree for making cider needs to be awoken after winter, encouraged to make it's roots grow and to produce a good harvest. On this occasion the weather should have been snowing hard, but global warming has changed things and it was just drizzling, so the dancing was held indoors. There was also consumption of choice baked comestibles and rough cider (spiced wassail was available in the form of hot apple juice punch).

The actual ceremony is supposed to take place at sunset, but with leaden skies it was more like night time. The tree was ringed with flaming torches with the Morris inside, a song sung by the crowd on the outside, then the words read:

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink unto thee

The sound of a shot being fired was then made and a simple dance performed inside the torch circle. After that everyone drifted back inside with imprecations from the hostess to eat up the cake left over. Eventually we all pushed off back home.

Brackly Morris, practicing the mystic art of levitation while dancing.

The 'fool'. He's a tall chap, and I actually find him terrifying, even though there's probably nothing to be afraid of.

Dave The Morris leading proceedings.

Thank you to Victoria and Sebastian for inviting us.