Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Pics from Chicksands

Are here now.

Not in order yet.

I HATE Dell computers.

And the fact that getting any machine with a serial port on these days is almost impossible.

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Just for the record

I asked Janet whether she had ever had blonde hair.......

She said 'No!'

So ner!



That was SNEAKY!

So you have a really bad headache and I stay in the kitchen putting stuff in the dishwasher after our guests have gone so that you can go to bed. You came in here and posted, then dashed out when you heard me coming.

What is more devious than the heart of woman?

I said *fair* - not blonde.

So ner!


New element discovered.

The New Element

The recent hurricanes and gasoline issues are proof of the existence of a new chemical element. A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element has been named "Governmentium." Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take over four days to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's Mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium - an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons, but twice as many morons.

Friday, 26 May 2006

PArtay partAY.

Tonight we're off to a friends 50th birthday party in the quaintly named village of Stapleford Abbotts. Sounds really chocolate box until I tell you it's just a little way north east of Chigwell.

Andy and Janet Price were instrumental in my surviving my teenage years and becoming a Christian - they spent more hours than I care to think about counselling and talking with me when I was depressed and difficult. Quite amazing when I consider that they were only 20/21 when they first married and moved into South Norwood, yet got stuck in straight away with the teenagers there. I've got lots of memories of that time and how they were the first real people I'd met that actually knew God for themselves instead of just going through the motions in a pew (this was my take on things then).

Andy was notable for wearing bell-bottoms that were red with blue stars all over them and a purple tee shirt that had shrunk to expose his midriff - well in advance of current fashions. Janet was always a little more conservative and careful, but was quite strikingly tall and slim with long fair hair.

This is Janet's 50th birthday party. We haven't seen them for more than 10 years, but I suspect Andy won't be dressing like that any more.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

How we approach living.

I've been reading one of Fernando's latest posts and it's made me realise what a relatively un-intellectual life I live. While I take in many different stimuli, little seems to actually spark sufficient interest to make me really want to *think* about stuff. Other than amplifier designs and guitars right now.

How tedious?

I just feel tired most of the time. I've more work than I can do, although it's been that way for so long now that I can't remember the last time I actually felt it was worth the effort of really cracking on in order to finish everything. A lot of the time the temptation to run away and hide is nearly overwhelming, but there's a family to feed and mortgage to pay, so hey ho.

There are good times too.

Part of the struggle is that I'm an all or nothing person. There's no such thing as 'working through steadily'. I want to run continuously or else it's so boring that finding the energy is almost impossible. Anger used to be a great way to really drive things forward - the angrier I got with work, the harder I'd press on, the more I'd focus and the faster tasks could be completed.

The first 4 or 5 days of a holiday were 'interesting' as you can imagine, with the stimulus suddenly withdrawn. Wonder what living like that did to my body?

So I don't live like that anymore, but generating drive is difficult. New things can help, and provided they catch the imagination can generate some energy. But if they fail to stick then they're just another thing in the way to get through. I also get bored extremely fast, which doesn't help, although it has helped me learn to tolerate boredom a lot better.

Anyway, tonight is a beautiful evening here, after all the rain. Wish I could go out on the bike with Ben, but Tesco calls instead. TTFN.

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Marketing worship?

Some interesting thoughts from Jordon Cooper.

Well so much for a funny start

Someone here has wound me up so much this morning that I was literally shaking with anger.

I'm starting to wonder why I bother to blog. Too many people that read this know me, and I can't post my true feelings here anymore in case stuff gets back.

Just heard in the corridor

"My wife works with viagra, and she's never seen anything like it".

Sure there's a context, but that would be boring.

Monday, 22 May 2006

A special thanks

To Peter, my brother, and Alison, his wife, for lookign after us yesterday. It was good not to be in considering all things, and they looked after us really well. We really appreciate the way you two have put yourselves out for us through all this.

Sunday, 21 May 2006

This morning we wandered up to the churchyard.

The Banbury stonemasons worked hard to getthings done in time. This isn't quite what we'd planned but it's fine for now.

Karl had already been there before us.

We weren't really up for taking lots of photos, but this gives an idea of what the surroundings are like.

Thank you everyone who's praying for us. I woke up with that feeling of being bouyed up, and even though the sadness breaks through I'm aware of the love and care surrounding us.

We're off to spend the day with family later. The church meeting is happening in central Oxford, so I don't need to play, and to be honest the Oxford meetings don't usually work for me anyway, although todays speaker is good.

Dan and Kita came by late last night after they'd finished working. It was good to see them - I really hope Dan is OK through this day too. Two people who've had some really traumatic things happen, yet are walking with God and looking upward instead of down.

Finally our love and birthday wishes to Olivia - 18 today - what a reminder for a birthday. We love you, Liv, and don't forget it.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

Thank you everyone.

For the flowers, cards, prayers and well-wishing.

Friday, 19 May 2006

Music - unexpected enjoyment and unexpected dislike.

I've been trying to listen to more stuff (not new stuff particularly) recently. Discovered I like Def Leppard.

Was disappointed by Aerosmith, James Brown and Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells. James Brown was particularly annoying because I was expecting something funky and exciting, and instead got something rather staid (mostly) and ordinary.


I'm starting to understand why I like what I like. Thanks Marc, for pushing me into self-analysis.

I'm coming to realise that what I want from (non-worship) music is pleasure, enthusiasm, energy and a good tune. Words are definitely secondary to the musical content, although decent lyrics that bring a grin/other emotion factor are a definite plus. What I don't want is to be told what to think by some angst ridden, politically motivated gay vegetarian with marginal singing ability and a dress sense to make Oxfam's treasurer rub his hands in glee. Especially when they are backed by a band that are only there to provide some notes so the song can be delivered. (Nothing personal against you if you're any or all of those things - but don't expect me to buy your CDs)

Thus you'll never find any Smiths, Pulp or REM in my music collection.

I had a tape in the car years ago, with a bunch of different songs on it that someone else made: Men at work, Eddie Grant, Dire straits and a whole bunch of stuff. But whenever a ZZ top track came on I'd just find myself grinning, pushing the throttle pedal harder and having a good time.

It's not just about having rock guitars. I've enjoyed plenty of other stuff with great keyboard work (about half the solos Deep Purple did were keyboard, for instance). It IS about attitude and musical direction. It doesn't have to be fun and lightweight, but it does need some power and emotion behind it. And it must be pleasing to the ears.

I was about to say 'goodbye punk' too, but there are some punk tracks that produce that same grin (The Stranglers Peaches springs to mind).

What do I like? I dunno - anything good. By definition, anything I don't, isn't.

The nissan micra truly IS the ugliest car ever.

Chris just told me I wasn't funny.

Then she laughed.

Have you ever seen......

..........a film that you enjoyed, but knew everyone else would think was pants?

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is that film for me.

In many places it's just SSSOOOOO bad it's almost painful. Yet at its heart it captures the 'boys own' and 'Dan Dare' comic atmosphere so perfectly that its brilliant. Much of the acting is plain wooden (even Angelina Jolie can't redeem it) but the humans are totally overshadowed by the CGI, which is fantastic in both senses. The realisation of the robots simply works, and the atmosphere is authentically 1950s science fiction.

It's about as plausible as a chocolate fireguard, but it you're asking those kind of questions about reality then you've missed the point already, and should go see the da Vinci code instead.


5.30pm and I still have half a days worth of cell culture work to do. Been working at Oxford Brookes university all day. At least 1 of my new cell lines appears to be making the antibody I want.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Sorry guys

Tonight's off.

It's nothing about you, and not even particularly about Sarah.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Why so little Jesus on the blog?

I seem to be blogging about all sorts of minor stuff these days, while avoiding talking about the important things. I also wonder if my focus has drifted somewhat (if there's a question then there's likely an answer too). There's no point in trying to increase the 'Jesus' content of this page - I need to increase the Jesus content of me instead.

Dunno where that's going to take me yet.

Paul Simon = complete Bastard

They keep playing the song "Father and Daughter" on the radio here. It's a really good song, quite beautiful even.

It sums it up so well, watching her grow, watching her shine.

Future, gone.




Complete bastard.

Monday, 15 May 2006

A bit of bonding.

Ben and I actually managed to get out on our bikes together this evening.

I managed to get a puncture. Found that the poxy dog-owners had let their mutts crap on the trail.

But the rest of the scenery was pretty good.

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Musical preference - WHY?

On the way home last night I had BBC radio 2 on, and they were broadcasting a concert with Bruce Springsteen with a different band (violin/fiddle, accordion, horn section, slide guitar, keyboard and drums). The music was kind of 'traditional' American music with a strong folk/hoedown feel, and the violin and accordion featured highly as the lead instruments.

I ended up with a dilemma.

The musicianship was quite superb, the fiddle player especially was stunning, and the accordion player great.

I wanted to switch it off - the instruments and the music itself turned me off.

In the end I took a decision to listen on, and actually thought at one point that if those same notes had been played on a guitar in a slightly bluesier context it would have sounded fabulous. Why is it that one instrument really has it and another really doesn't? There are guitar players that love Paganini stuff, and will reproduce it stylishly, yet played on a violin it just grates. This is frustrating, because I was trying to set aside my prejudices, yet came away feeling like the traditional format instruments would have sounded so much better. There was one song they did where the format did become bluesier (How can a poor man live through times like these) and suddenly it all hit the spot. I really wanted to like all of it, I honestly did, but it just wasn't happening.


Why does good musicianship with the wrong tunes get up my nose so? Is musical appreciation learned and FIXED behaviour?

One other interesting thing. After they played the first number in this style there was a lot of booing from the audience, to the point where the boos nearly drowned the cheers. Wonder if they were expecting classic Springsteen and the E street band? By the end of the 3rd number the boos had stopped, so they'd either left or were into it by that time. Interesting though.

What leader are you?

Link through Fernando's desk.

Draw your own conclusions, those of you that know me.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

I'm back

almost like I never went.

I've had my first ever experience of drink 4 different wines with a 5 course meal, but was disappointed to run out of time before the liqueuers arrived.

The French idea of timing is more elastic than anything that ever kept knickers up.

Bon nuit. Time to hit the lit.

Thursday, 11 May 2006

It must be love!

Chris writes:
Poor Toni had to get up about 4 am to catch his flight to Lyon, and yet when I came downstairs this morning I found he'd made the sandwiches for Ben & I for lunch.



Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Kind of funny.

My demo recording of the Purity prototype "I believe in a thing called crunch" has done rather well at soundclick:

Charts: Only your strongest songs appear in the charts.

Currently in the daily charts:

main genres:
I believe in a thing called crunch:
· #149 in the Rock charts
· #12 in the Christian Rock sub charts

only in sub genres:
Drive rythm:
· #73 in the Rock : Guitar Rock sub charts

So now you know.

Monday, 8 May 2006

There's some more recordings

on my soundclick site. I never thought this little amp - 5 watts - could be a total metal monster, but it is.

Have a listen to "I believe in a thing called crunch"

It's not a tune, but rather a demo of the amp with different pick and volume settings (as are pretty much all the other clips there). At the end I'm getting high-gain feedback. From a 5 watt amp in my livingroom!


It does get rather mushy maxed out, but this was never intended to be a super-high gain design, and in order to keep the richness at lower volumes I may have to live with that. What IS amazing is how it cleans up with the volume rolled off on the guitar - it still twangs even with super-hot humbuckers.



Chris and I were talking about flights and so on this evening (Greg - it's YOUR fault!). I happened to mention someone I'd known who occasionally would get flown across the pond on concorde for a meeting, then whizzed back again so they could work the following day. I happened to mention that it was a really cramped aeroplane, but that was hardly surprising as it was a 40+ year old design.

Just been and looked up a little info. Seems like it was designed some time in the early/mid 60s, with the first flights actually happening in 1969. I can certainly remember as a pre-teen hearing my first sonic boom (it rattled our windows!) that sounded just like a large explosion.

Seeing those pictures makes me all nostalgic. That plane was a (gas-guzzling) thing of beauty and it also reminds me that the 30 years after the war was a time when horizons seemed distant and men could do all kinds of amazing things given time, resources and science. Amazing to think that supersonic flight had been around so long. Amazing to see how much culture has changed, but that is a different blogpost.

Today I'm mostly.......

..... watching the mist and rain.

I seem to have some kind of coldy thing, which explains at least partly why I was so odd last week. Sunday I felt rather sickish and headachey - not good as we had a dedication (Mair's new Grandson for those that know people) and I was down as the only musician. Clive was kind enough to step in on keyboards for a couple of hymns, which was much appreciated as my sense of timing was off with the fairies and ditto my appreciation of the finer points of chord useage.

I did manage to complete a mini amplifier - a super low cost build - that sounds great. I had to buy a few parts, but managed to use some salvaged bits from a junk amp plus some left overs. The amp looks like this and some clean soundclips can be heard here. It sounds and behaves a lot like my old Vox AC30 - overdrive doesn't really start until it's getting near half volume, although it's much more responsive to play with sweeter tonality. I'll try to record some dirty clips tonight - when the family are out! You wouldn't believe how loud a 5 watt amp is able to be. I've been wondering about the amp building side of things, and have decided to name 'my' amps Metisse Amps, and because of the tonal quality this one has been named the 'purity'.

And one more development I've just found out about - I'm now off to Beaune in France alone. I was going with the MD on Thursday, but now he's been summoned to a meeting in the US tomorrow. I shall have to screw all my courage up to meet and make small talk with all sorts of much brighter people. Hope I don't say anything too stoopid.

Right, off to the lab.

Saturday, 6 May 2006

Just heard on the radio

Jonathan Ross, BBC radio 2.

"The weekend lies before you like a strangers wallet on the pavement. Are you going to freely enjoy the contents or be stupid and hand it in to the police".

Our Peugeot 406 isn't working right now, thanks to an electronic failure (it won't run the pump to prime the engine). Now I need to go see if I can fix the bike as that won't start either.

He should have said "the weekend lies before you like someones council tax bill. How do you plan to pay it"?

Friday, 5 May 2006

It's new, shiny and here!

Chris's new camera has arrived, but don't tell her.

It's really nice and I want to play with it!

Thursday, 4 May 2006

May the fourth be with you.

Anyone else notice the star wars touch in todays date?

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Putting right a wrong

I should have put a link to 'A church in Provence' on my blogroll sooner. Despite my best intentions I managed to forget to check up regularly.

If you have any spare prayertime I think poor old Ming really warrants it. He's a little 'tender' in a non-Elvis stylee.

Just heard in the office

"I've just been invited to address the Chinese society of Andrology by their chairman"

"Was that by Dr. Wun Hung Lo?"

Thursday night

This week will be social only IF you want to come over. Chris is running the polling booth in the village for the election, and won't be around at all.

I had a dream

but not Martin Luther King style.

Dreamt I was in America, trying to get into a building with a colleague. We eventually got keys and entered, then went through it checking for people. Heard a child screaming and quickly located them in a locked room, which I broke the door down to get in. I can still remember what the child looked like, even now picturing them clearly in my mind.

They were next to the body of my wife.

I don't remember her being cold or anything. All I remember is wondering whether to pray for her to come back to life or not, then giving assisted breathing and cardiac massage while asking the colleague to get an ambulance.

I woke up around this time, about 5.30am. Right through until I got out of bed, kept thinking that I must keep breathing for her, must keep massaging the heart. 4 breathes, 10 compressions, 4 breaths, 10 compressions, 4 breathes, 10 compressions etc. I didn't see myself doing them very much, only thinking that I must keep them going. This feeling kept with me all the remaining time I was in bed sensing her next to me, and even while I got up and went for my shower. The reverberations of those feelings are with me even as I type this in the office at work.

I've never know a dream to cling like this, with the emotions being carried into 'waking' time for so long. I cycled in, hoping the exercise would dislodge the feelings, but they're still floating there in the background. In a minute I'll go get dressed ino work clothes.

Monday, 1 May 2006

There is very little as uncomfortable

as not being able to contact someone you love when they've promised to call you.

Especially when you're worried for their safety.

And you don't know exactly where they are.

They ARE OK, but our morning has been written off.

If you're going out, charge the damn phone beforehand.