Thursday, 29 November 2007

I have been wondering.....

Why it is that I only have useful, bloggable thoughts when I'm sworn off using the net from work?

Why I blog at all, as much of the stuff I want to say will offend various people, both virtual friends and various people I know in meatspace?

Whether to start a new blog somewhere else, where I can say what I really think?

Whether it would be better not to bother, and just keep it all inside like I do now, but without wasting hours on the web and all the attendant grief that produces from spending lots of time in front of the computer?

Why I tend to always carry things to extremes? On a forum someone wrote that "art is not a competitive sport", but if that IS true then why does it feel like one?

Why is my head so fuzzy so much of the time right now?

FWIW with all the sickness etc around, I think I've had a sub-clinical infection, and that's made me fuzzy and ill-feeling. Monday I couldn't look down a microscope properly and my co-ordination was all to pot. Dropped a large glass jar of coffee in the afternoon, kept missing wells in the microplate I was trying to pipette into etc. It was most bizarre, as I had about 4 hours decent lucidity on Tuesday morning, then after lunch all was just confusion which carried on throughout yesterday. I don't feel especially unwell, but I really hate the continued blurriness - like thinking through treacle.

Ho hum. On with life.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

It's quite peculiar

My emotions seem to be flapping in the breeze, for a number of reasons, and it's not a comfy sensation.

I've been drifting through a mix of mild depression, anger, self-doubt, selfishness and frustration. None of these are good in themselves, but they are reminding me of how I have to focus on what's real and of value and what is shaky and transitory.

Every cloud etc.

So I'm still here. Thanks to those that noticed and prayed for me: by the grace of God I'm going to come through all this.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Brussels is booked.

We'll be there late Thursday night to Sunday midday. 2 hrs by train from St. Pancreas to Brussels is pretty decent.

Now I wonder if we can manage to get there without an argument?

Well that's another week over

My mother has been very unwell for the last 3 weeks, and it all came to a head this week really - her colitis just hit really hard. Last night we went round with Steve B (for those who know him) anointed and prayed for her. She has begun eating a little, and we'll have to wait and see how things go.

I'm really struggling with my attitude toward conservative Americans: trying not to hate the haters. As much of the English-speaking internet is apparently full of them it makes life difficult. It's interesting how sometimes feelings work their way so deeply into our lives without us really being aware that they have. I mentioned having left a particular forum, and I’m still trying to deal with the fallout from that and the results it’s produced in my thoughts and feelings. 1Tim 1 and Ephesians 4 were really good to read this morning, and I want to push past this.

Work goes on. We have a good bunch of new people now and something of a plan to go forwards. Potentially there’s a good future possible – I just have to become more of a manager and extract myself from *wanting* to do everything.

And I still need to book our weekend in Belgium.

There's more stuff - maybe I'll actually post again later.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Cincy Cosmo's Christas shopping advice for women.

Insights into selecting a gift for a man:

Rule #1: When in doubt - buy him a guitar. It does not matter if he Already has one. I have a friend who owns 17 and he has yet to complain. As a man, you can never have too many guitars. No one knows why.

Rule #2: If you cannot afford a guitar, buy him anything with the word ratchet or socket in it. Men love saying those two words. "Hey George, can I borrow your ratchet?" "OK. "By-the-way, are you through with my 3/8-inch socket yet?" Again, no one knows why.

Rule #3: If you are really, really broke, buy him anything for his car. A 99-cent ice scraper, a small bottle of deicer or something to hang from his rear view mirror. Men love gifts for their cars. No one knows why.

Rule #4: Do not buy men socks. Do not buy men ties. And never buy men bathrobes. I was told that if God had wanted men to wear bathrobes, he wouldn't have invented Jockey shorts.

Rule #5: You can buy men new remote controls to replace the ones they have worn out. If you have a lot of money buy your man a big-screen TV with the little picture in the corner. Watch him go wild as he flips, and flips, and flips.

Rule #6: Do not buy a man any of those fancy liqueurs. If you do, it will sit in a cupboard for 23 years. Real men drink whiskey or beer.

Rule #7: Do not buy any man industrial-sized canisters of after shave or deodorant. I'm told they do not stink - they are earthy.

Rule #8: Buy men label makers. Almost as good as guitars. Within a couple of weeks there will be labels absolutely everywhere. Socks. Shorts. Cups. Saucers. Door. Lock. Sink. You get the idea. No one knows why.

Rule #9: Never buy a man anything that says "some assembly required" on the box. It will ruin his Special Day and he will always have parts left over.

Rule #10: Good places to shop for men include Northwest Iron Works, Parr Lumber, Home Depot, John Deere, Valley RV Center, and Les Schwab Tire. (NAPA Auto Parts and Sears' Clearance Centers are also excellent men's stores. It doesn't matter if he doesn't know what it is. "From NAPA Auto, eh? Must be something I need. Hey! Isn't this a starter for a '68 Ford Fairlane? Wow! Thanks.")

Rule #11: Men enjoy danger. That's why they never cook - but they will barbecue. Get him a monster barbecue with a 100-pound propane tank. Tell him the gas line leaks. "Oh the thrill! The challenge! Who wants a hamburger?"

Rule #12: Tickets to a Red Wing/Lions/Pistons/Tigers game are a smart gift. However, he will not appreciate tickets to "A Retrospective of 19th Century Quilts." Everyone knows why.

Rule #13: Men love chainsaws. Never, ever, buy a man you love a chainsaw. If you don't know why - please refer to Rule #8 and what happens when he gets a label maker.

Rule #14: It's hard to beat a really good wheelbarrow or an aluminum extension ladder. Never buy a real man a step ladder. It must be an extension ladder. No one knows why.

Rule #15: Rope. Men love rope. It takes us back to our cowboy origins, or at least The Boy Scouts. Nothing says love like a hundred feet of 3/8" manila rope. No one knows why.

p.s. for those unsure, this IS a joke, OK?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Tonight I will be mostly

Sitting in my car.

I met a chap called Phil Coates tonight. Phil sometimes reads Tee bottom - he also has a great name on Harmony Central - Farmer Geddon.

Phil lives about 95 miles North of here - the connection was that he was selling a couple of amps I was interested in and so we met to complete the deal. He also needed to shift some other kit, and kindly donated a Fernandes strat plus some pedals for one of the Bicester youth groups to use. That's generous as the strat is Japanese and looks to be pretty nice for a donated guitar - someone is going to be lucky. There was also a CD, with what looks like that very guitar in action on the back.

I made good time - took about 90 minutes going up. The return looked even easier until I joined the M40: traffic at a complete standstill as far as the eye could see.

So we all sat there.

Temperature gradually dropped.... 3'... 2'... 1'...

Next to me was an NHS mobile diagnostics unit. The guys driving that opened it up, turned on the genny and brewed up - but only had 4 cups. :-/

After almost 2 hours we started to move again, and I finally got back around 11.35ish.

Guess trying the amps out will wait 'till tomorrow.

Thanks Phil.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

As I was cycling to work this morning through Upper Heyford I heard an aero engine in the distance. Prop' engined aircraft are not unusual around here, but this was slightly different from the usual Piper etc. As it drew overhead I looked up and saw a very familiar planform - I had to 'double take' to make sure I saw what I thought I had.

It didn't sound like a Spit - defo not a Merlin engine - but was much smoother and quieter. The aircraft appeared light grey, with black and white chequerboard markings under the wings. It was too far away to see any further markings, and although it was moving quite quickly, it seemed smaller than I would have expected. As it drew level with the end of Upper Heyford runway it began a long, graceful series of barrel rolls, before eventually disappearing OOS.

I wonder if it could be one of these, although I do remember someone producing a 5/6th (or similar) scale flying airframe a while back - that might account for the apparently small size. Fascinating.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Happy Birthday Helen

T'were a good, fun time last night.

Pics may be found here for those who wondered what we wore.

Friday, 9 November 2007

We have a dilemma

We were given a last-minute invite to a 40th birthday party with the instructions "come as your favourite pop star".

We're both struggling a little.

Options for me so far:
Dark suit, narrow tie, glasses and red strat = Hank Marvin
Curly wig, blacked-up face white strat = Jimi Hendrix
Curly wig, wild clothes, shave beard, strat = Eric Clapton
Blond wig, white shirt & Jeans, Flying V = Michael Schenker (who?)

Options for Chris
Black leather trousers, black leather jacket open to navel = Suzie Quatro (too risque)
Lacy undies and long straight wig = Cher (Chris doesn't have enough lacy undies)
Curly wig, white shirt, bound breasts, 'Red Special' guitar = Brian May (don't have a Red Special)

So suggestions are invited. Come up with a better suggestion for us than any of the above. If yours gets chosen then the 'prize' is to see us dressed that way on the blog. No purchase necessary to enter this competition.

I guess I could go dressed in completely ordinary clothes. When asked who I was I could say 'Tom Jones'. If asked for an explanation why I looked so ordinary I could say 'I'm not unusual'.

Boom ching!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Society brought down by James Bond!

After my previous post about how protesting against a particular film was going to have the opposite effect to that desired, I've been considering how the most subversive films have passed by with barely a murmur.

Almost all films now seem to show people meeting and having sex within a few days or even hours, with passing expressions of affection or sometimes lust. Guns seem to feature frequently, usually with serious consequences for various people, but with the main characters coming through largely unscathed. Drug use is also apparently normal.

I'm sure the directors would justify this as all essential to make the film exciting, feel realistic or provide a moral to the story. You can draw your own conclusions (if you care to think about these things) but this is where the REAL undermining of society through cinema has happened, if at all. I doubt the Pullman film will significantly affect even 0.001% of the viewers, but it gives those who have been poked into action something to say. Horse, stable door and much, much, much too late.

Cinema can be art, but mostly it is very much less.

I've just had an email

Warning me about the evils of the 'his dark materials' film.

Fern had an interesting comment to make on it.

My recommendation is: ignore it.

The Da Vinci code was a bit of a mess, and only going to convince those that had already decided or were so weak minded that they would be blown with every wind of doctrine. Yet all the 'dumb Christians' blew what would have been a flop on it's own into something huge and renowned. If we aren't careful 'we' shall provide these guys with more free publicity that they could shake a stick at, and they will be wealthy and successful instead of disappointed and wondering.

The choice is ours - protest and pass them glory and success on a plate.


Possibly proving how unspiritual I am, the one thing Christians could do is pray about this. Not a quick 'Dear Lord please help mommy and daddy' prayer but real fasting, dedication and crying out to God in prayer night and day prayer. I wonder how many did that over The Da Vinci Code?

I wonder if God enjoyed watching Harry Potter?

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Well Toni, what did you think of the retreat?

Well, there *should* be a picture of me sticking my tongue out (proving that there were tongues going on at this retreat!) but photobucket doesn't seem to be delivering for some reason.

After I'd sorted all those photos

Chris and I talked about how everyone on the holiday said "we must stay in contact" and none of them have.

Us included.

I think it's all for the best.

I need to update a number of things.

So I'm going to tweak the blogroll and links.

I also need to change some of the places I surf. Not because they are overtly 'wrong' but because every time I visit any conversation I have beyond discussing guitars and amps leaves me feeling sick these days.

I won't change the site. yet, anyway.

In a world where people re-hash their blogs every few weeks or months, I'm STILL happy with this looks, and it's the content more than the appearance that is more important. And I really hate going to a blog and thinking "Nuts! What link did I click - where am I"?

So TBOTAM (I've started to think of this as being Tee Bottom) isn't likely to get a major workover for some time.

I've tweaked the blogroll - now alphabetical, a couple out, a couple hanging by tooth-skin and a couple of new ones, including some that should have been added a long time ago. The links list has also been updated to reflect what I'm reading more these days.

Monday, 5 November 2007

I know you've been wondering

And I can tell you that I've finished the *preliminary* editing of my images from Thailand. Just Chris's hundred odd to go now.

So to keep interest going a little, here's a few more.

Bangkok bus

Monkey tricks

Pancake rolls on trek

Tomyum soup, made by my own hand

Friday, 2 November 2007

Done, but not finished.



Not finished?

To protect the existing tiled surface that Chris was so proud of I'd placed newspaper as well as a large plastic sheet over the carpet. When we pulled the sheet away we found one of the stones used to form the hearth had been moved (despite being cemented in) forwards and sideways, and possibly a neighbouring slab. This has left a large gap between the tiles, and all the grouting had fallen out.

So what should have made Chris very pleased has actually upset her considerably and totally undone all the good this might have otherwise produced.


But not, we hope, reverse.

I seem to find myself going on a retreat this weekend.


More autumnal images

Clear skys, cool air, strong sunshine.

Blighty in the autumn looks pretty good to us.

BTW the previous images were first adjusted on my laptop. The screen is a little dim and lacks contrast, hence they were a little over-contrasty viewed on reasonable qulaity monitors. Hopefully I've not made the same mistakes here.