Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Well, I can confidently report that.....

..... the bugs reported on the apple macbook forum are consistent on this machine too.

I could previously connect an external monitor, now I cannot. Mail *might* have worked before, but now definitely doesn't.

While windows updates have previously altered setting and installed stuff without asking, I've never had an update that broke the machine, despite using distinctly non-standard hardware. Here I am with a 4 day old computer, exactly as the manufacturer made it, and various functions do not work.

I've never been a fanboy for Microsoft, but I have developed a certain admiration for them, even if they make software that is not as intuitive as Apple.

So at some stage soon I'm going to have to call Apple tech support to find out what the fixes are (I shall not be impressed if they consist of scratch re-installation). I went ahead and installed Office this morning, as I'd fiddled about, quite unsuccessfully to get Mail to work yesterday (and account creation is SO tedious for the first time). Entourage recognised my regular mail account settings in seconds.

Ho hum.

Conversely, I have just configured my 3 newly established email accounts in entourage, and it was just completely painless. I really would have been happy to use the apple software as Entourage is somewhat overkill, but it appears that is not to be.

I AM impressed by the >4 hour battery life of this thing! Hope that will last for a while.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Christmas dinner at our place.

I've wanted to get a reasonable shot of my mother for the last few years, but somehow she never comes out favourably on camera. This combined both happy memories and a pleasing image. Note: Ben's plate!

Boxing day walk.

So this is a little delayed, mostly because we've been busy in a relaxed kind of way all Christmas. Chris and I did a couple of hours on Boxing day to stretch the legs and ease the colon. There are more pix in the gallery.

Sunday school?

Sunday, 28 December 2008

OK, so I DID buy a Macbook.

But times are a little tougher here than for the good reverend Friesen, so I didn't get the posher 2.4GHz ali model.

Conclusions so far:

The body is light years ahead of anything else that is being sold in quantity, no matter how much stainless steel is used to skin Tosh's, HPs etc.

The screen quality is lower than the one used for the Macbook Pro. That *might* be a software issue, as the pro has a different graphics chip, and having connected my Macbook to the flat panel I've used with a Lenovo for the last 5 months, I have to say that Mac video output sucks bigtime. I'm trying tweaks to make it better than bearable, but I'm not overly confident as many of the other Macs (including 24" iMacs) at the appleshop displayed fonts poorly too - and the assistant agreed when I pointed this out, and fiddled to try to make them better. He did not succeed.

Following the above, the screen does not have enough intensity or contrast, and normal adjustment is insufficient. The disabled options allows more contrast to be applied, and a small increase improves things significantly.

I bought the USB keyboard, since I plan using a panel with the lid shut, just like I did the Lenovo. The keyboard is GREAT.

I have tweaked the trackpad to my tastes too, and I have to say that this is the first laptop ever where I've not constantly wished for a mouse. Apple's new trackpad is full of win.

Is the OS good to use? Yes, or at least, it will be when familiarity is established.

Did it work out of the box? Kinda, but in a way that leaves Microsoft with nothing to be ashamed of. The security and functionality update (10.5.5 to 10.5.6) was 670Mb, which is bigger than service pack 2 and 3 for XP combined. And on top of that, it asked for another 350Mb of updates to pre-loaded programs (trimmed back to about 130Mb - who needs iTunes?).

Did it work out of the box? Yes, in terms of functionality it did. I would put it on a par with the Lenovos I've used, in that everything was there and working first time.

Finding my way round has been less un-intuitive that the Linux distros I've used. And while it does has a 'Linux' feel to it, everything is designed to help instead of hinder.

I tried various office suits while in the Applestore - wish they'd had OO loaded on a machine. The docs and spreadsheets (from Office 2003) I'd brought on a USB stick were displayed fine in the Office:Mac applications, but were mangled in the iWork apps. Pages lost borders around documents and did odd formatting. Numbers couldn't scale graphs or handle trendlines. This was disappointing, as I'd rather have gone all Apple for the added integration, but TBH they were dismal in actual use. If OO had been available to try then I think I'd have not bought Office there and waited to see if a cheap version came up on the bay. See dilemma below (and comment please). I don't think OO is good *enough* for my needs long term.

I have been reading about the integration between the Apple address book, email and iCal apps. I'm still juggling whether it would be better to use these or entourage. My gut feeling is that the apple apps will be 'nicer' to use and will integrate well together, but entourage will be superior with other office products. And I still have to move my older email across.

Talking of apps. Anyone else out there use Himmelbar? So much better than rooting in a folder for applications, and a confirmation that Microsoft got the start menu very right.

So what have I got? A really well made laptop weighing about 2kg with decent keyboard, small screen that doesn't feel *too small* and decent wireless connectivity. It will sit on my lap comfortably for typing, although I still prefer to sit upright and type on a proper keyboard at a 20" panel. It IS growing on me (and it had better, as I'm sure there's no refunds at this point). Just hope the learning curve won't be too steep.

Now, where's that Mail login.

I have a mild dilemma

Yesterday I bought a copy of Microsoft office home, since in my line of work EVERYONE uses office documents as the standard format.

I doesn't have all the functionality of the full version, but it was about £90 instead of £350.

On the back of the box it says 'licensed for noncommercial use on up to 3 personal computers'.

I KNOW I shall use the computer to work (and hopefully to make money).

I've not previously bought office for home use.

My dilemma is: can I use the software in good conscience, knowing that I've paid M$ money for something with reduced functionality compared to the full version, or is that compromised by using it for any kind of work?

I've looked at Open Office, and found it to be usable, but not as good as the M$ product. I have looked at another suit for which there is a charge, and while it *looks* nicer and would integrate with the computer well, it appears to be functionally blown out of the water by Open Office in terms of handling Microsoft generated documents.

What to do?

There are times

There are times when I wish I had my old cocky strength back. When, if faced with a heavy object in my path I would charge at it to push it out of the way.

I have been changed, for the better, but in becoming gentle I find it difficult to be strong and challenging when I come up against those who are strong. I feel somewhat battered now, and rather than exult in the challenges I have had, instead feel drained and a little disheartened.

This is not, as far as I know, anyone's fault, other than my weakness.

I hope gentleness and love can win people over, because I don't have fight in me to do it the more traditional ways.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Just heard upstairs

Music in Ben's room.

Me "Is that Google Bordello?"

Ben "Gogol Bordello."

Me "I think I prefer my version".

Well, the music does have a searching quality to it.


Has a sense of humour.


Let's hope I haven't just been extremely foolish.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Never ask questions about something you might buy.

And ignore this advice too.

Thanks to the link Dan provided I've found the Apple forums, and have been digging through those pertaining to the unibody Macbook. It doesn't make pretty reading.

While I appreciate that a relatively small number of people are reporting issues with the new MB through the forums, I suspect it represents less than one tenth of 1% of those that have issues. What sort of issues? Overheating after the 10.5.6 update, audio issues, poor display (also reported for the Macbook pro) use of a bad graphics chip (see here for details) that is not apples fault, but IS a big flaw in the machines. The graphics chip IS a show stopper, in that I specifically wanted to use the machine with a 20" Samsung panel, and this is exactly the kind of use that causes problems.

I am quite aware that these kinds of things are normal for the likes of Dell, HP etc, but Dell and HP make cheap boxes. I can get a well spec'd 13" Dell XPS for less than £800 with 3 years professional warranty, and although the casing isn't made as well as the unibody, I have to ask if the opportunity to run OSX is worth a £400 premium on top for known flawed hardware.

Lack of firewire is also a big deal for some purchasers, with them returning new machines for older ones that did have the port. Why do I care about firewire? Well it is THE system of choice for video work, and a lot of audio stuff works through it too. Plus data transfer is MUCH faster than USB2.0. And a part of the reason for getting a Mac is Garageband. So suddenly a tool that might have been useful for audio work may now not be.

I haven't started digging into the Macbook pro yet, but that's another £200 on top, and I'd much rather have a small unit I can plug into a screen for normal use, yet is light for travel. I just really don't want to spend £1200 on a heap of trouble when I could have exactly the same problems for £500 less.

What is it.....

...... About roast dinners in general and roast potatoes in particular?

They have this.... effect.


Not cool.

Is this why people like to sleep with the bedroom window open?

We are postponing Christmas dinner until this evening to prevent anti-social effects from making the afternoons less... convivial.

This advice may be a little late.

Ladies - ever hoped your husband would get you something really special? Do you wish he'd surprise you on Christmas day (in a good way)?

Then set your husband free.

That is to say, give him time 'off' so that he can actually get to some shops. Without you around.

All I can say is 'thank you' to the Somerton village social club for arranging a 'Mama Mia' film night on Tuesday evening. Ben and I managed to escape to Oxford to actually do some secret Christmas shopping between 7.30pm and 9.30pm while Chris and Hayley were watching the film. Life has been that busy, I've not had a single opportunity to get near shops alone, and weekends have been filled for me - either with things that needed to be done or by church. Week nights likewise.

Let me tell you though, shopping for nice undies for your wife (we're talking upper end Marks and Sparks here - not stuff from 'speciality catalogues') in front of your twenty year old son is challenging, to say the least. Not to mention trying to wrap the stuff nicely after you get home. Hopefully that will have established some kind of role model for him so that when he gets married he can do the same thing for his other half.

I can type this now because it's Christmas day and the gift is given and there's no longer a secret.

Oh, it's funny how, when Steve asked people what presents they had brought to church that morning, at least one person wasn't eager to show their gift.


That's enough on that topic. And Ladies, next year, just remember my advice.

Monday, 22 December 2008

It looks like Sweden is on!

And that's great.

I shall look forward to seeing my friend Gunvor again. Now I need to book a suitable hotel nearby the Karolinska and find a phone that I can use abroad without it costing body parts.

Thanks Dan, for the link.

And good new #2 is that we're finally confirmed and booked for our ski trip. This will be the first EVER for Chris and me, although Ben is a (relatively) old hand. Lets see if I can manage not to damage anything, as I have just 24 hours in the UK before flying out to Sweden straight afterward.

Heard tonight while carol-singing.

"Come on children, I need my knockers on doors".

Well, who'd have thought?

For those who have been following the saga.

I am probably going to buy the lowest spec Ali Macbook.

Chris came up with some kind of justification based on tax I have paid or won't have to pay. Or something. She made it sound like the money didn't matter (which in my new expenditure-conscious role I know it does) and basically gave me the green light.

Now I also need a phone to go with it. Probably NOT a Jesus phone (as the Register calls the iPhone). Which phones will work to share data with a Mac - anyone know?

Well here I am on the final leg.

It's the last 2 days.

I have nearly finished sorting ALL the paperwork, recycled stuff that's no longer important, boxed up the stuff that is.

I have pay slips going back to my time at British Biotech, several sets of documentation from the various pension plans, current and previous contracts of employment.

I have scientific papers that are of no interest to anyone but me (A guide to the storage and handling of peptides, anyone).

I am alone in the office.

Last Friday, having overheard the MD letting the IT guys know that he would not be around and to divert the phones to High Wycombe, I emailed them asking that I keep email access. So when I came in this morning, and found the phones working but email not it was mildly amusing.

By lunchtime everything will have been sorted into appropriate groups (home, archive, US) boxed and be ready. My final task is to complete the technical file for our clinical product and send it to the US.

Then, FINI!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The weather here is ridiculous

According to our outside thermometer it was 10.8'C outside at 7.30 am.

If it warms up much more I'll have to turn the central heating off.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

I've just finished decorating the tree.

It looks lovely, but I've come to realise I just hate doing all this.

Maybe it's because every year it takes a bigger push from Chris to do it, and this year it hit all the wrong nerves. Maybe it's circumstances around the job, and that's finally got to me. Maybe it's just a bunch of stuff.

I don't have small children around to please, and this kind of thing doesn't make me feel happy, let alone festive (whatever that means). I've been reminded not to think of myself over this, and that's right. But it doesn't do anything for me right now and I need to keep going and not give in, when what I really want to do is stop and please myself being miserable.

Damn silly idea really.

There is just the

tiniest possibility of a Macbook at a hefty discount.

It will mean having a plastic mac (ha ha) but at least it's a black one.

Or not.

They wouldn't honour the web price.

Friday, 19 December 2008

I'm sat here surrounded by debris

Most paperwork is in the recycling system - papers recording things done 10 years ago that is now irrelevent to the future of products that I've been making. All the batch records and lab books are boxed, ready for shipping to the US or to put into storage, and I'll shortly load the relevant contents of my hard drive onto a disc for the guys in the US to use (the email system within this company is so poor that it couldn't cope with a couple of dozen Mb of data)

I'm reminded of an animated .gif someone used on Harmony central. It looks like one of those windows 'progress' boxes that pop up when something is being done. It starts off with an empty progress bar and the words 'Attempting to give damn'. The progress bar moves across and then the words 'Operation failed' and then 'Damn not given' appear.

So I'm sat here surrounded by rubbish, in many senses. Thanks to a late night I'm feeling a bit groggy, but that's entirely reasonable. I just hope I can keep these balls in the air just a few more days.

End of witter.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Now this I love.

A great link from RoyD.

Mapple, The Simpsons.

And yes, it does parallel my thinking. Still funny in its own right though.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

When nature does not imitate art.

Now who would have thought that romantic comedies would cause unrealistic expectations?

Sunday, 14 December 2008


This afternoon marks my first 'official' guitar playing at HPC. I have already played once before when requested to do so by a visiting speaker who knows me from outside this church, but that was different.

So I'm playing a bunch of carols on acoustic guitar.

The music was kindly copied for me, but despite being billed as 'for guitar' were clearly written by some left-field keyboard player. I've no doubt the chords will fit, but they just aren't nice without a strong melody to tie them together. It's also traditional stuff, with slow sections of chordwork, then a manic phase with 2 chords per word at the end.

So I'll just have to do my best, keep the volume down (there's a keyboard player) and pretend I know what I'm doing.

I feel really bad because Jane who often plays keyboards at BCC is really unwell (she's struggling a lot - 73 days sick leave this year - feeling down with it all too) also can't play. It's not great just leaving people to make do when it feels like I *could* help out in some way.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The debate continues.

I snuck out of work a little early this afternoon to visit PCworld in Oxford.

To my surprise they actually had Macs in the store - I didn't know they carried them - as well as a bunch of other laptops. It was far more useful than I expected, and I'm very glad I went.

First, the PC based systems.

Standout machines for me were the Sony Viao range. Some looked better than others, but all were well presented. The couple I tried seem quick and responsive, not too heavy and with acceptable feeling keyboards. I hadn't realised how spoilt I've been using IBM/Lenovo machines for the last 7 years, but they really are a cut above the rest in terms of build quality, even if they tend to be a little heavy in the non-extra light versions. Best aspect of all was the displays: these were crisp, bright, sharp and a real pleasure to view. Definitely best in store.

I had a look at Dells too - somewhat smartish, with decent screens, though feeling a little less refined than the Viaos, except with better keyboards (a non-issue, as I plan to use an external monitor and keyboard in the office). The HPs and Toshibas were also similar, but still more consumer-oriented again.

Finally, there was a tiny 12" Packard Bell that I'd seen reviewed in Computer shopper. It was looking battered, and it was SSLLLOOOOWWWWW (not surprising, 1Gb RAM with Vista) but the screen was great (better than the Toshs, HPs, Advents etc) and it WAS very cheap. Tempting to grab and upgrade the RAM, maybe even install XP as I'm sure it would run much better with lower overheads, while being VERY portable at 1.5Kg. Wonder if it could run a 22" monitor at 1680*1024? The worst thing was the control pad, which was circular! Marketing fail.

So after browsing the PCs I wandered over to the 'business' section, only to be disappointed that they didn't mean business computers, but instead selling networking services etc. Next to this area they had a whole isle dedicated to Macs, and at last I was able to fiddle, so I spent about 30min with the various Macbooks.

First up I tried the new aluminium-chassis Macbook. It looks really smart, although compared to some of the 13 and 14 inch PCs it felt like a brick - nice stiff chassis though. The keyboard was a little lifeless but usable, the screen OK but not great and the control pad easy to use, but missing an external button (I know you can just press it down, but there are times a separate button is just nice to have). Having read about guestures, I quickly adapted to using 2 fingers to scroll. I liked the behaviour of the dock, and it felt for all the world like a really well sorted version of Linux in the way applications opened and closed etc. However it did feel very disconcerting and unfamiliar, like a new Linux install, but without the reassurance that if I didn't like it salvation was just a format away. It didn't strike that it was particularly fast either, and seemed on a par with any well sorted PC.

Next I went to the polycarbonate-shelled Macbook (with 2GHz processor). I've been reading reviews, and many found that features they felt missing in the ali Macbook commented that they were still present in the 'older' version. First and most obvious issue was that the display was just poor. More of that later. The dock also behaved differently, and I couldn't find ways to change the behaviour to match the ali macbook from within software settings. Worse, the control pad didn't perform 'click' operations when tapped. Now it might be a setting that's changeable within software, but tapping the control pad to click is essential. In addition, this one felt sluggish, with some apps distinctly lagging before opening (to the point I had to go back and check that I really HAD clicked).


A little way down the isle was another white poly Macbook, but £50 cheaper (I confirmed with the staff it was the last of the previous model - same spec, but fluorescent lit screen, slightly older version 20GHz processor). The screen on this was decent - about the same as the Dells, though not in the same class as the Sony screens - but otherwise very similar. Performance seemed a little better too - I questioned the sales guy about why the price difference and he mentioned the older/newer model thing, also the LED fluorescent display and that the processor, despite being of the same clock rate, was actually a higher spec model in the older machine.

So it was interesting, and I reckon, very useful. Most likely contender is a Viao - reviews have been strong, although if that Macbook were available I'd be tempted. If only Office wasn't stupid-expensive for the Mac.

Monday, 8 December 2008

"Microsoft never pretended to be anything else, Apple sells a lie."

Another bit of the ongoing saga, trying to decide between a conventional laptop and a Macbook.

From TheRegister.

I've long thought along these lines - as a consumer, Apples ruthless approach to legacy systems and monopoly on equipment supply have kept me away. Largely it was for financial reasons, but now I can afford to make these choices I'm questioning whether this is the best move I can make for a professional tool. The closedness of the apple system is mildly unethical, and it also makes me nervous.

This is not knocking Apple, but it is a valid alternative view.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

I have a dilemma.

There are guys I knew from the Christian music forum that have asked to be recognised as friends on Facebook. I have no particular angst with any of them, but I just want nothing to do with that, and this makes me reluctant. Yet to refuse them also seems wrong.

Choices... choices.

It's not like it matters, really, but somehow I can't easily treat people online differently from in real life. But when you walk around it's often possible to avoid people you struggle with, yet online everyone is connected, in some way, with everyone else. And I know I should be at least a little unhappy to be 'rejected' by someone.

Or maybe I'm just being spineless.

Friday, 5 December 2008

And the time has come to set up email properly too.

Welcome back outlook 2003.

How I have missed you. Even though you're far from perfect, you work quickly, smoothly and actually try to help instead of hindering. If the current company stopped spending huge sums of money on 'Lean Six Sigma' and instead invested it in a decent email and PIM then the whole organisation would operate much more efficiently. No more of those 2 minute waits while the software opens or deletes an email with a 1Mb attachment.

And some fell on stony ground

I've been looking for a short, snappy name or set of initials for the new 'company' (me!) that I can register and take forward. Everything is taken unless I want a .ltd.uk domain.

Then I hit a great idea..... www.kitmagic.com


Suggested this to the MD. I had apparently grown a third foot. Right in the middle of my forehead.

Well, it *seemed* a good idea at the time.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Facebook, a week in.

It's curious how this site/system works.

It *looks* for all the world like it just grew by addition, with various mini-apps being tacked on. This makes it really messy to use, but quite liveable once you learn where things are, rather like keyboard commands in DOS applications.

But there's something I struggle a little with.

At least in the circle of friends I have it's VERY female dominated.

I don't have a problem with this per se, but as someone who is trying to be 'careful' in the way they live and walk it bothers me to be seen to try to develop all these friendships with highly attractive younger women/girls. I have far fewer qualms about married women my age, although I do hesitate a *little* if their husbands aren't around too. I'm not trying to be odd, but I've thought once, twice and three times about hitting 'invite' for various people I know passingly in meatspace. Sure I know there are LOADS of males that use it, but in my circle of friends and acquaintances it's mostly female - without counting I'd say 3:1 at least.

Maybe this is THE female online app? Or maybe this is just further proof that women like to chat so much more than men?


Counted - 28 out of 66 are male.
Maybe my perspective is based on activity, rather than numbers.

Thanks Mark G, for helping redress the balance.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Be it according to your faith.

Linea likes labyrinths.

It is really important that we all find ways to press into God. The things we use, provided we don't become religious about them, don't really matter, although some things - like joss sticks - have strong pagan connections, and may bring other unwanted things with them. But generally, if a place, practice, surrounding, collection of words, physical stance, or indeed nothing external at all enable you to draw closer to Jesus then that's all good.

Just remember they're only tools to help you draw closer. They are not special in themselves, but it is Jesus who is important.

And remember you can meet Him outside that context too.

I have to remind myself of this as much as anyone. For me, worship that is not open and participatory worship is a poor shadow. But for some, it is the highest thing they can experience.

Learning takes time.

The times had an interesting article

in the education section this morning. Unfortunately I can't find it on the site to link.

Basically it was discussing how those who rote-learned were equipped to handle all kinds of changes. After leaving school the clever could creatively blossom while the dull still had a tool kit with which they could at least partially navigate the streams of life. This was contrasted to the current net-info-centric age, where those without a net connection and information streams were generally left gasping on the bank beside the river.

I've noticed this within myself. The more I come to rely on various search engines, websites and blogs to provide stimulation and information, the less able I have become to generate valuable and coherent thought *without them to help me* (and even with them, a bit). Now we all need stimuli and information from which to learn. But there's something, at least in my brain, that gives up the struggle to learn for myself when I can have the data from a few key strokes and then just draw a conclusion.

This probably all sounds a bit extreme, and it *may* be part of the aging process too. But I think that it's real at least for me. I need to read more, reason more, not necessarily use the search tools less, but definitely expand the brain with hard work.

This is one of the things I admire about Fern - that he apparently, for all his connectivity, has kept his mind going. I need to push a little more when I get tired of thinking.

I feel very sad this morning.

It might be Seasonally Affected Disorder a little.

I know it's a little because I am seeing a successful business being closed and peoples hopes and aspirations disappointed.

Some of it is to do with the church change: feelings of weakness and loneliness, having to move outside (way, way outside) the comfort zones. I wonder if others in this church feel similar separations to those I feel? I notice Randall is very quiet about many things.

Sad for someone here that didn't, finally, get the job they felt they'd almost been offered.

In truth, I'm probably just feeling a little sorry for myself, and I know where that comes from. I need to press on.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Almost 10 years ago.

This afternoon we helped baptise a young couple. Luke and Hayley have become almost like our (grown up) children as we've got to know them during the last couple of years. I've seen Hayley go from panicky girl to calmly beautiful. Luke from uncomfy and evasive to relaxed and - if not *quite* comfy with man-hugs - confident.

It was almost 10 years ago that we baptised Sarah in this particular church. After she died we felt God tell us we'd have many other children, and this afternoon it really felt like that had been proved true again. We were enormously proud and happy to baptise Dan and Kita, and while L&H are different from them, this has again produced those kind of feelings. I can't tell you too much about them, but these guys have really set out to honour God, and in return I honour them and love them very much.

And well done Jon, my fearless assistant.

*edit* Chris looked up Sarah's baptism date - April '97. She was 7 1/2.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Oh the fun

of trying to find a memorable domain name.

Oxford and Assays, when shortened and combined sounds like something BS comes out of!

How true this could be.

Looks like I may be going to Sweden in January.

Only for a week or so.

There's a lab there I visited a few years back. They have a bunch of samples they would like run to close off a particular study, and it's better economics for them to get me to do it there than to have one of their staff learn to use the assay before running the tests.

Now I need to sort out registration with the tax office as a 'sole trader', find a way to invoice people etc etc. It's good. I hope.

True british food

The English appetite has toyed with foods from all kinds of places: the curry has won many friends over the last couple of centuries, French cuisine likewise but for much longer, Chinese style cooking has become widespread in the last 50 years.

But there's one thing that the British do best in their own way.

The Sausage.

When I returned from circuit training last night there was a baked potato, baked beans and, glory of glories, some excellent 'finest' Tescos sausages with Bramley apple. What more can one ask after a punishing workout (and it as punishing, as my body testifies this morning) than rich, savoury food to replenish the energy spent. It had just the right balance of fat, carbohydrate, protein, fibre and that great balance of warm rounded flavours that weren't too strong in anyone direction.

I had my sense of the British sausage as 'quality food' rekindled the last week too.

One of our guys was leaving, so we took him out to The Horse and Groom at Caulcott: also known as THE Sausage pub round here. They've changed management again recently, and the sausages (ordered in advance) were some of the best I've ever had. One of my regrets when Randall and Laura came over was not to have taken them here - sausage, mash and gravy (in this case real onion gravy, made where the dark brown colour comes from hours of caramelising onions) is something not to be missed. The real ales aren't bad either.


It's a wonderfully rounded, wholesome word.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Finally got around to......

.....reluctantly joining facebook.

I've not been 'approved' yet, so I have to put code in each time I 'invite' someone to be a friend.

The code can be amusing: "$110,993 broad" for the last female I invited and "social insight" for Marc Vandersluys who was the person after them.

Annointed & Equipped

Chris writes:
Toni said I should blog this so here goes.
Last night, in a BCC church meeting, we said a bit about why we we moving on & people prayed for us (very heart warming & encouraging, thanks folks). One guy, Mark, had a word for us which included some very familiar phrases. He said we had been anointed & equipped for the task ahead & that in our weakness we would find God's strength.

The thing is, that in the summer of 2005 (that year), when we were at 28:18 (Church Camp) I clearly felt that God had anointed us & equipped us for the task of discipling our group of young people (Dan, Kita, Olivia, Ben). It had to be in God's strength because we had nothing of ourselves to give at that time - & looked at how well that worked out! So for Mark to use those exact same words feels significant.

Julie also had a picture of us walking along pushing a wheelbarrow full of compost & tools, i.e. everything we needed to plant our new garden. Thanks to both of you for your encouragement.

There was also some warnings in what Mark said about not having pre-conceived ideas of what we should be doing at HPC but letting God work out how we would fit in.

Musing over all this on the way home in the car I was remembering how a couple of years ago we had felt that God was preparing us for something new, I remember us discussing it & talking to Steve & Tammi about it, so I guess we should hardly be surprised at these developments. It feels as if he has been training us up & preparing us for this, so although stepping out of the safety & security of BCC is somewhat daunting I know we can trust God to provide all we need.

And talking of daunting, the situation with Toni's work is somewhat scary too. I don't want to say too much as this is really Toni's to blog, but there is a strong possibility of Toni & some of his colleagues carrying on the business themselves. Now many years ago I worked for the Collector of Taxes & that experience convinced me that running your own business was a risky proposition & best avoided, so this is a prospect I find somewhat scary.

However from first hearing about the redundancy I have felt strangely confident that it would all be OK. I haven't even prayed that much, not from a lack of faith, but more from not feeling the need. We both had a sense of peace & that all would fall in to place. Well, this is what seems to be falling in to place, so logically I should have peace about this too. The problem is, this is such a big thing. If we make the wrong decision here there could be serious consequences both financially & also in terms of Toni being caught up in time commitments which cut across the things we believe God wants us to be doing. Please pray for Toni to have wisdom here.

It looks like next year is going to be exciting!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

It's a very odd feeling.

For some time now various people from other companies have been wandering round, looking at bits of kit, asking questions, making offers. In one case we had some guys turn up just gone 5.30pm on a Friday asking to take away some filing cabinets. At least they realised we were literally going, and only took one (they wanted 30 min to take 3).

The sensation is slightly like being sold in a market, although most people are more polite than that would suggest.

The company is dying a little bit at a time, gradually nibbled away like a piece of floating bread surrounded by small fish. By dint of careful planning and hard work we're ahead of our manufacturing schedule, building what we hope will keep peoples labs supplied for the next year. At the same time, key bits of kit have been sold and personnel gone, so that we'd struggle to make the basic components even if our closure was rescinded. In 3 weeks time all the labs are required to be clear and ready for return to the landlord, and in 5 weeks time we shall be completely closed.

Both Chris and I feel at peace over the future. Not sure what's going to pan out still, but I'm sure it will be interesting. I DO hope it will pay the bills in less than 12 months from now.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

We've just got home

From an early Christmas shopping.... party, I suppose.

Lots of stuff from Chamomile Barn that looks really nice, but just wouldn't fit in our house because it's already full of our junk. Italian olive oils of various kinds, Cards, jewelery, a manicurist and tablecloths from 'Brightest Africa' in Zimbabwe.

Chamomile barn is run by a lovely couple that we're just starting to know, and they were serving mulled wine to their guests. Now we both had empty tummies, and it's several hours post lunch. I could feel it (and the lack of sleep too) but Chris.... Chris felt quite dizzy, poor thing. She thought her cold had suddenly got the better of her until I pointed out she'd had 2 cups.

So we're home now, with a table cloth, scented soap and unusual olive oils. I'd better go cook some dinner.

Milton Keynes

Is apparently satan's layby.

Link courtesy of PPwatt.com

On a totally different topic.

Opera 9.62 is really attractive - I've just downloaded and it's been tweaked very nicely indeed.

So here I am not sleeping.

A mixture of circumstances and carelessness to blame.

Circumstances 1: Chris and I spent a little time talking about *the future* and plans that I had this evening. I'm really in a place where I want to get on and start a business (with other people). I have products in mind, I have ideas about how they might be generated and contacts that we could work with to make it happen. I know of people who might help fund it, I know people who can help me get grants to kick it off and where I can rent space to do it.

But I also need to work through all the stuff required by the present employer and complete all they need in order to secure the redundancy package, and that means I can't really get started yet. But all this stuff is whirling round in my head, looking for ways to get out and become real.

Circumstances 2: There's a number of people that I care about that I feel the need to pray for right now over a range of issues. That's just hanging there in the back of my head all the time, and in a good way, doesn't go away. If you're one of them and reading this, don't let it worry you. I'm happy for it to be like this.

Carelessness 1: About 9.15ish I decided I wanted to get on with one of my amp projects. A couple of years ago I put together a 5W amp based on 1 12AX7 and 1 EL84, called it the Metisse amps 'Purity' because it was so simple and sweet sounding. However further listening had me deciding it wasn't so sweet sounding after all, as it produced some slightly odd harmonics and had a nasty whistle at high volumes without a guitar plugged in. So it's sat on the shelf mostly, being brought down, played and put back occasionally.

So I would like a lightish amp with 12" speaker and plenty of sparkle and a bit of drive that I can carry easily.

I've got a couple of lightweight pine 1X12" cabs I built laying around, so the idea became to fit the little amp into a cab with a spare G12H (also laying around). The G12H is a great speaker, sparkly, HUGE but controlled bass response and classic tone. It is also dead heavy, which is one reason it's not in my (already heavy) 18watt clone.

Now wisdom suggested that before I actually fit the amp I should just check it sounded OK. Um, not completely. So out came the schematics, all 20 min before bedtime, and suddenly I had a head full of resistors, caps, layouts and plans. Which did not subside after I laid down my head and turned out the light.

Carelessness 2: I'm still thinking Mac vs PC. Mac vs PC. And that doesn't quite shut up and go away either.

So here I am. Sat up at 1.00am.

Not sleepy yet. I could usefully replace the wireless router with a more recent version (this one will only allow 1 machine wireless access at a time) that doesn't drop the connection/has better software & noise rejection. I could also usefully put back the 2nd DVD drive that Ben had to borrow to load a game months ago. I could also usefully dismantle the seagate external hard drive I've borrowed to see if it will work as a USB drive caddy to back up a work laptop. I'm also highly tempted to attempt downloading the hacked version of Leopard to install on a PC (while the net is quiet and speeds are higher).

To quote Fungus the Bogeyman "what does the night have to do with sleep?"

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Another Mac question - for UK mac users especially

Is there a good reason to buy a Mac from the Apple shop instead of the 'bay? There are plenty of guys selling new Macs for around 80% of the Apple shop price (no VAT in some cases) which makes them a more sensible choice as a *personal* working tool.

NB I realise VAT can be reclaimed by a business, but not paying for it up-front is not a bad thing.

Chris had

a bad night last night.


Coughing, snoring, bunged up and feeling grotty.

I'm taking vitamin C, as it's something my mother insisted worked for her (with *some* evidence to support this) and I'm just a bit sniffy. Joints are grumpy though.

Peaceful sleep would be nice too - maybe tonight.

Crossroads time again

I'm slightly reluctant to talk about this right now, but it feels very much as if we're transitioning in more ways than we've even talked about. As many know, for a variety of reasons the company I presently work for is being closed, and I shall be unemployed from Dec 31st.

By the grace of God I don't HAVE to find a new job immediately, and we've enough financial cushion to carry us through for some time. This opens up certain possibilities that I would never normally countenance. We shall need a lot of wisdom through the next period - I was going to say 5 years, but I don't know. I'm also concerned that a wrong choice could be made that would load me down and tie me up with stuff that is not part of what I should be doing. The choices..... may be obvious, but the RIGHT ones need to be made.

Monday, 17 November 2008

I've been thinking about that Hackintosh

Actually been digging and reading a bit. Seems it's quite do-able with suitably adapted software downloaded free from a torrent.

And therein lies the rub.

That is, basically, theft. Unless I buy a full copy, in which case it's breaking a (what should be unlawful) copyright, although that doesn't especially bother me as no-one's been done out of cash. But new the OS is £88, and I refuse to pay that for the privilege of trying out some slightly shonky software that may work with an uncertain degree of success (not all hackintoshs work properly y'see).

Now I may splurge on a copy off the bay, if I can find one for about £25, because I'd risk it for that much. I'd still have to download the illegal version, but hey, I've got original media, and in my economy that gives me an ethical carte blanche. I have 2 XP machines here, both with authentic licenses for conscience sake.

The other thing that left me unhappy - or reminded me that this is coming from a contaminated source - was that hunting on a torrent through google took me through to a porn-loaded page. Sure the correct software was on there too, but it was a reminder that it's apparently hard to keep clean if you're going to walk along the edge of the 'law'. I found other sources without the 'window-dressing', but that was enough to make me stop and walk away for a bit, reconsider the whole deal.

So for the immediate future there will be no hackintosh happening here. Not until I get a pukka copy of the OS at the very least. Annoying really, as if I liked it better than M$s offering it then an apple would almost certainly be my next work laptop. As it is, that's highly unlikely right now, and I'd certainly not trust it without some experience. My recent Linux experiments have taught me to be wary of smiling people offering 'better ways to work'.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

A question for all you mac-users.

When you switched from windows to Mac, how did you migrate your data?

I'm still juggling the idea of a Macbook as the laptop I'd use in my next 3 years of business, but to do that I'd need to be able to import directly all my office documents and email from outlook. If that's not possible then I think it will finally close the door on any desire I have for a Mac.

Also there's the question of that 13" screen. Is it as tiny as it looks? I couldn't bear to work on that regularly (I'd need to plug into a decent monitor for normal work) but is it tolerable for occasional use? Sorry if that's all you've got, have to struggle with it every day and you wonder what I'm complaining about? In my experience a 17" screen should not operate at a resolution >1024*768 and a 15" at >800*600 for comfortable reading of normal sized fonts.

I'm also mildly tempted by the idea of creating a hackintosh to see if I could actually live with a Mac. Since I doubt Apple would lend me a Mac to find out, I feel justified in attempting this, with the likelihood that I'd actually buy a machine if it was good (or reformat if it was no better than the linux OSs I've tried). Anyone with any hackintosh experience out there?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Friday, 7 November 2008

I've just been looking at Macs

For the first time in a VERY long time.

I feel kind of dirty now. The designs are reasonably attractive but the prices.... the prices are why I feel soiled. Maybe I've enjoyed low cost PCs for too long, but I'd forgotten quite what the world of Mac finance was like.

I may need a new work laptop fairly soon, and like Randall, the though of owning the Mac I could never afford before ran through my mind. To rub salt into the wound it appears that Garageband isn't even included any more - this is the one app that would differentiate owning a Mac above a PC for me. At least M$ office is the same price as for a PC.

The one saving grace is the Mac mini. The spec is not impressive, but it's probably adequate for most purposes. Sure you'd have to use non-Apple hardware too, but it would probably work for general office and net use.

I can't tell you how disappointing this is. Dan - HOW hard did you say it was to upgrade these things yourself? What about an iMac - is it really a laptop than never closes or does it use 'normal' components?

Blogging without a PC

Yesterday I went to visit one of our long-term customers in London, to see how we could best help them handle things when we're gone. As I was on public transport and wanted to travel light I left the laptop behind, but once stimulated by the journey I just wanted to blog. There is a lot to be said for writing by hand, and that's exactly what I did: roughly 3 sides of A4.

So here it is, pretty much 'as is'.

Train travel is curious after being a car user for so long. Heading to central London on a commuter train this AM, the train is smoother and quieter than I remember. Most passengers are guys in suits using laptops - wished I'd brought mine, especially as there's probably an open wireless connection here too. But the work laptop is really a portable desktop and I'm happy to be just carrying a small zipped organiser and pad.

The countryside out there is lovely. Green, brown, yellow, red: rolling and sweeping. The chilterns always were lovely, although I'd normally be viewing them from the saddle instead of a carriage. No-one is looking - most people probably see it everyday. I suspect, based on the way I am, that when you notice these things then you want to be out among them. And being out doesn't pay the bills or bring prestige. It is safer not to notice and be happy with whatever career one is trying to build.

I can hear one voice carrying over all the others. A chunky lass is briefing an older (60ish) guy about finances, councils, charges, growth, potentials and arguments.

From here I can see a number of shiny shaved heads. Some belong to 'smart' people, others to ordinary guys. Apart from the big lass there's only men in the carriage. Everyone is in their own world - earphones, PCs, mobiles and the woman/old feller being briefed.

London arrives. First the ground flattens and colours dull. Then buildings, car parks and concrete appears. We pass a couple of places with 'tube' trains parked. Pre-fab buildings, all corrugated sheet steel, bridges, a Tesco store, graffiti covered walls and houses and then the rows of cheap family homes from the 1900s, now with dirty yellow brickwork and concrete rendering painted white and yellow.

There was a time, up until about 5 years ago, when I'd have been happy to move back. Now it seems so grubby, so densely packed I'm not at all sure. Maybe an apartment somewhere higher up and central. I'd have to have another motorcycle for getting around, use public transport when it was wet.

Or not.

Last Friday when we went to that funeral, the house in which Chris's uncle Laurie lived was right by the Thames. Back windows faced westand the sun setting over the river looked spectacular. London has a lot of green space and you could forget that you lived in one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities on the planet. But walk out of the front door and that idea goes to hell-in-a-hangbasket, with parking at £1.80 per hour and no spaces to speak of. Fulham palace road is almost always jammed up too, and although driving isn't really worse than other cities, because of the sheer size (>1 hour to drive across) that makes it feel closed in.

Interesting meeting.

Met the guy who supervises the lab. He said he was really looking forward to hearing about all the new markers we were going to suggest they used. They were a bit taken aback by us explaining that the lab was closing and they would need to manage/run their own assays now.

Interesting the things you see travelling in the opposite direction. Like the large blue IKEA building.

London was fascinating to walk around. This area seemed much nicer and cleaner than the area I grew up in - no litter, tidy houses, neat shops. And once again I was reminded of how much open green space and parkland there is. By comparison Oxfordshire has little space for leisure, even though you can walk across fields.

Thinking about the idea of Linea and Leo, Marc and Dixie coming over, this journey into London on the train is one I think they'd love, but it's so darn expensive. £45 for me (because I left before 9.00am) but even at the £25 cheap rateit's stupid expensive compared to driving 4 people in with a car and parking somewhere closer.

This is not an Obama comment.

And you'll notice I've not mentioned him here previously.

But this IS a comment about how my fears were that all was not quite as it had been presented in the republican camp.

Now I accept there may be bias in the UK media - there is certainly both bias and blame in the republican camp. However this article in the times is interesting because it hints at what we have been spared. When certain people in the republican camp were presenting Sarah Palin as the Spirit-filled, bible believing alternative to Obama I felt very uncomfortable. Maybe she might have been, but I rather suspect otherwise.

Although I expect few American conservative evangelicals to agree, I think that the defeat of Jon McCain was very likely the grace of God to both their nation and the world.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

And tonight

We return to circuit training.

I'd like to believe health is returning, and on that basis, it would be good to push the fitness levels up. Let's hope it doesn't half-kill me.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Knocked up

There is an interesting article on the beeb site that talks about research showing that watching sexual content on TV can be linked to an increase in teenage pregnancies. This should not come as a surprise: if you see something that looks exciting then you'll want to try it, and teens don't tend to make themselves prepared for the future. They do discuss the need for parents to talk about sex with their children, but even if they (we) did, I'm not sure it would defuse the link.

No-one said research didn't have to record the obvious.

What would you like for breakfast?

Chris normally has a mixture of fruit - banana or orange segments - and yoghurt with some kind of bran or muesli for breakfast, but this morning we'd run out of yoghurt.

In the top of the fridge I found a pot of 'fresh' custard that I'd bought a couple of days ago and offered her that, but somehow it wasn't *quite* what she wanted. It did however make me reminisce about how, when I was small, my mother would make me custard for breakfast sometimes. Chris also mentioned her mum making her sausage sandwiches, because there was a lot of stuff she didn't like, and these were an exception.

I wonder if we drove our mothers slightly to despair with our fussiness?

But we are both grateful for what they provided. It's nice to have happy memories of the old yellow-painted kitchen at the doctors surgery (my mother was receptionist, and a modest flat went with the job). I also remember it being completely dark outside when the custard was made for me, so heaven only knows what time my mum would get up every morning to make the place ready for patients.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Living life on the edge.

Now doesn't that sound brave?

Doesn't that sound corny?

Yes to both.

Reality is altogether more mundane, as is normal with human things. We're living life on the edge of our health and energy, and that's enormously un-exciting. Saturday was great for me, with lots of energy and finding stimulation on the Pastoral Training Course. Saturday night was OK, but Sunday.....


I was just desperately tired by the meeting in the afternoon, and all I really wanted to do was hide. Slightly funny actually, because I was leading worship, not that I 'lead' very much, but it didn't seem to matter much. Just read over on Mikey's blog about how they had a spontaneous song. Well, we seemed to have a spontaneous meeting, where, as we were starting I was asked "can you do one song before the word, then we'll worship afterward?".

Fine. I was barely in control anyway, so that really caused few problems, and meant I couldn't abdicate responsibility to the set list.

Now I'm wittering - a sure sign of no energy.

Basically we're coping, but only just. Now if we weren't ill we'd cope better etc etc, but maybe we're unwell because we're just running in 10% overload. We have both realised that we NEED to start withdrawing officially, and although circumstances have rearranged themselves to reduce our actual commitments, it's still all a bit much. I wonder if just having *responsibility* for things creates its own burden that draws out energy.

Tomorrow night we've got a church meeting at which we should be officially telling the church we're moving on - it's already been talked about, blogged about and is no secret - and that we expect to be putting stuff down. The thing is too, when you're THERE the situation is often unchanged. The young guitarists coming up through the church won't really get to PLAY until I move away and stop playing. So I need to get out of their way too, and give them space.

We have also been part of HPC for >5 months now, and are starting to wonder if our 1 year transition was too long. It felt right at the time, and I still feel it's right on some levels, but from this stage in the process seems too slow.

What to do? What to do? It's tricky getting it right, and there IS a tearing in separating from family, even if by only a small distance.

Also, we don't want to *leave* the family, so much as go out as part of it, almost like missionaries. This is interesting times we walk through.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

What do you do when......

..... you want to get to be part of a new church?

Go to everything they do.

Tonight we're at a 'beautiful brides and glamorous groomes' church social.

That means we've had to dig out our stuff from 27 years ago. Chris can still get her dress on, approximately, and ditto me with the jacket. I don't have my original trousers or shirt and neither have original shoes.

Let's just say I'm both more muscular and fatter than I was before (and I DO carry a lot more muscle bulk, even though I have less strength).

I do confess that this kind of social makes me sigh and wish for a quiet dinner with another couple or 3 where we can talk about meaningful stuff and know each other in a bit more depth. But this is where things are right now, so this is the flow we've got to go with and enjoy. And I guess it's a non-threatening way of drawing closer to some of the more peripheral people with well established social groups.

I hope so anyway.

Heard at the pastoral training course

"Listening is the queen of complements"


*Said by a man with a hearing aid in each ear.

Eunoia is the shortest word in English containing all five vowels

It's supposed to mean 'beautiful thinking'.

There was a radio 4 program on a couple of days ago about a book of this title written by a Canadian poet, Christian Bok. He was inspired by a French group from the 1920s and 30s who had produced poetry based on restricted use of vowels and with a complex set of rules to see if it was possible to break the normal 'requirements' of language and still retain meaning and artistic value.

In each chapter he'd very carefully used words that only contained one of the vowels and brought out the innate character each of those vowels carried. It took him 7 years to write, and rather than do it haphazardly, he'd carefully worked through some-or-other dictionary, carefully selecting words, categorising them as verbs, nouns and adjectives, then using at least 98% from each vowel.

The BBC carries a report and examples if you care to look.

So after a long description of the processes involved, his feelings on the characters of each vowel etc, the guy actually read some of his 'poetry.

Let's just say that it makes a better story than it does poetry. The 4th comment down under the article sums it up well.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

This must be a good sign.

I've finished lunch and would now like a chocolate biscuit.

Plus my belt is only loosened by one notch.

The digestive system is beginning to work again and no longer feels like Battersy Rise on a Friday night.

What is it?

Why the sudden interest in Twitter?

It's like sending text messages by phone, but without any technical need to restrict the amount of data other than the software design. And with all due respect to those that do twitter, it mostly seems to consist of inanity.

Am I getting old so that these little fashions just seem stoopid instead in exciting?

Monday, 27 October 2008

Is there no end to the lurgy?

I seem to have tummy troubles now, but it's affecting far more than just that.

Noticed it a bit yesterday, feeling increasingly rough yesterday afternoon, a bit dizzy at times (I actually forgot to play a chord during a song yesterday and my fingers just wandered aimlessly on the fingerboard). Dan and Kita came over yesterday evening, and it was lovely to see them: really didn't want them to go, yet I was struggling to keep going all the time.

My joints are fairly angry (a good sign of infection) and I just ache as well as having the dizziness, bloated feeling, temperature and no strength. Managed a couple of hours sleep, but it wasn't good. When I got up at 3am my stomach gurgled so loudly that in my confused state I though Chris was calling out to me from the bedroom. It wasn't until it happened for the 3rd time I realised where the noise was coming from.

I can't even sit at the computer comfortably, as it compresses my stomach and I feel sick. Just finished emailing the guys in the lab with stuff to do today - took 20 min for a few lines of text and a lot of confused head scratch.

Hope this is gone soon. :p

Friday, 24 October 2008

And now for something completely different.

After my concerns about music on Tuesday last night was the best time of worship yet at the chapel. Thanks to a happy accident there was a bit more of a break between songs and it made opportunities to pray out. And ego aside, the alternative chords I provided for Majesty and Be Thou My Vision did get used and did work really well instead of sitting there all uncomfortably. I don't feel 'vindicated' because there's nothing to prove, but I am so glad that it did flow instead of being gratingly uncomfortable.

Also kind of funny.

The chap speaking was Dennis Niziol who heads up a church in Bicester. I've known Dennis for years and he's the front man of the 'Panic Street Preachers' that I've gigged with a couple of times. He's very much into ministry through music too, and at the end he got me to join him on guitar while he went through a bunch of songs. It's funny, because with the 6 month rule I've not played here publicly at all, and I've even been wondering if I should consider not joining the worship team after all. We'll see on that front, but at least I know it's something I'm willing to give up, even if it means struggles further down the line.

But it was good. God really turned up while we played, and there were a number of people on the floor, being prayed for, receiving and letting stuff go. Overall a good evening.

How's life for you at the moment?

Challenging was my answer.

But not necessarily in ways you might expect.

Last night I met someone who had been a friend, albeit not a close one, from a few years back. His wife had sung with the worship team at the church, he'd looked after sound and they'd been involved, at least to some degree. I'd also been aware that his business was having difficulties (manufacturing in the UK for anyone in engineering has been desperate these last 20 years) and that family life wasn't easy with a couple of small but very energetic boys.

Then they drifted away, bit by bit. I got the gist that married life was difficult, money ditto. To my shame I didn't pursue and they were outside my pastoral care & I was pretty busy anyway.

Fast forward to last week, I mentioned seeing someone I'd thought I recognised? Well yup, that was them. Still same rugby-forward frame, but with the addition of breasts, long hair, dress, 'curious' voice and handbag, minus 5 o'clock shadow.

Chris and I had discussed 'what if' during the week, which was a good thing because it all came true. What do you do in this situation? Denounce them in front of everyone? Start expelling demons? Ask sharply pointed questions about their wife while calling them by their previous name? Ask them if they can still stand up to pee? We discussed none of those things specifically, but both considered the question.

And so it was that she saw them (I'm not saying him or her right now) sat down and talked, with some degree of care in a way a woman could and a man couldn't without confrontation. I came over later after I'd dealt with the things I needed to do and then dodged the issue for a couple of minutes more before doing a psychological 'scruff of the neck'. We small-talked, uncomfortably, feeling things out a bit. It must have been difficult for them because my face is often effectively a screen for whatever's going on inside my head, and it certainly wasn't easy for me. They're currently going to a liberal and 'inclusive' church in Oxford, but that's not very local.

The question it came down to is the corny old saw WWJD?

Would He have condemned them, sent them away in shame. Would he have accepted them with more grace than I had as someone who fouls up - like we all do. The level Chris and I are at right now is that we'll take them as we find them: I don't really see there's another option, and see where it goes from there. Who said life had to be simple?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Interesting MS treatment

From the BBC here.

This is especially interesting to me because I'm pretty sure that's something I worked on when I was still working for Wellcome Research Labs at Beckenham. Then it was called CAMPATH 1 and was a crude antibody (the latest version will have the same binding activity, but have been 'humanised' by grafting the binding regions into the constant regions of a human antibody structure.

That sounds so easy, doesn't it?

My part in this? I put together an assay to measure the activity of the original antibody. It probably made no difference to the final product, but it's interesting to see that some things I've touched have gone on to become significant for some people.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

How do you tell right from wrong?

I'm not talking about good and evil (well, not strictly anyway) but instead good arrangements from bad arrangements for worship music.

One of the advantages of the position I've 'enjoyed' in BCC is that I get to review how we put our music together. While I'm by no means perfect (my dear friend Jane often has to correct the keys I try to use, and occasionally vice versa ;-) I can hear when a chord arrangement doesn't suit a song for ordinary people to sing together. So it's been interesting being involved in another church that uses other peoples arrangements (not their own) and CDs.

There are a lot of really lousy arrangements out there, being recorded by professionals.

In fact that's the key, really. Because they are professionals they can sing through the innappropriate chord choice, poor rhythms, ridiculous pitches and naff styles while making it, if not good, then at least not screamingly awful.

Examples? In church a couple of weeks back we had 'There's a place' used from a CD (I have no idea whose recording it was) that at first listen sounded like the bland mix used for congregational worship. And then we tried to sing. It must have been pitched a good 2 tones above what was comfy for most people: you could see peoples bugging eyes a strained expressions as they tried to push for the higher notes. But worst of all, the arrangement completely emasculated the song, using a turgid progression in the chorus that sounded more like 'Puppy Love' than 'Rockin All Over The World', which is where it should be.

Another example came last night.

The song 'Majesty' has been around seemingly forever. I remember learning this one around the same time 'Make Way' was happening (Graham Kendrick moment anyone?) and the chord progression that should support the song is clear, obvious and unambiguous. In the chorus there's a strong movement of contrast that requires a B chord, before resolving back down to D - "Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the king". This was written into the music when I learned it, and if it hadn't been I'd have wondered what should go there and sought it out.

So why is it that every other version I find as online tab (including some apparently official ones) hold a G there before resolving to the D? It is singable, sure, but it crunches like a bull in a room full of Wedgewoods finest. There's a whole bunch of other obvious chords that lead the musical progression through the song that have been lost/left out/never noticed too.

After worship practice last night I played through the version I knew of the song to one of the other guitar players and someone heard what I was doing and sang to it. His immediate reaction was "can you score that for me?".

Maybe it's the internet age, that lets every man do what's right in his own eyes and then tell the world about it. For the same reason I have trouble with 'ordinary' people writing 'Christian' books (too many of them seem un-necessary and indulgent) people publishing tabs that are wrong for songs don't help others, so much as confuse the issue. And when something has been recognised as RIGHT by making it into print (albeit tab from a website "I know it's true, I found it on the internets") it's darn difficult to unpick and correct.

Maybe I'm now just old skool and old fashioned (tune - who needs one of those?). This was not meant to be a rant. Hmmm.

So, other musicians out there, how do YOU tell good from bad, right from wrong, wet from rocking, or do you just accept whatever is presented to you and like it?

p.s. if anyone would like 'my' arrangement let me know.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Just cooked

Toad in the hole.

Must be at least a couple of years since I did this, but it's winter (feeling) out there, and the calories can be semi-justified.

Yorkshire pudding does something slightly glorious to the taste of a sausage.

I'm wondering if we should invite some of the guys we know from Zim round for an evening of English winter food. Toad, Steak and kidney (better not call it snake and pygmy like I usually do) pie, Liver and Bacon and mash. Yum, my tummy is swelling at the thought.

Finish with some kind of steamed pudding and bucket fulls of custard thick enough to stand up.

Then..... sleep, if I'm not too bloated.

For Marc, who's apparently lost his google ;-) have a look here for an explanation of toad in the hole. However I'd use no water and adjust the amount of unsieved flour until I got the right thickness.

Man tries to sue God

Suit dismissed with prejudice.

Some people have too much free time and not enough imagination. Why would God recognise a courts decision as binding?

Just tired now

The lurgy seems to have lifted, mostly.

Still coughing 'productively' as the expression has it, but I don't feel ill so much as weakened. Got a full days work ahead, but I might bail out this afternoon and take a 1/2 days leave: we'll see.

So getting better at least - this is the first cold in a long time where I've not had antibiotics to get over it.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

I NEED this enhancer pedal set.

Youtube and dragonforce content.

Robyn - calling Robyn Freisen.

This pic made me think of you.

Wonder why?

Wonder why the world seems to be in financial difficulties?

There's a great post on Leighton Tebay's blog that explains it all in quite simple terms. Sure it IS more complex than that in detail, but the post covers off the essentials very well.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The lights are flickering.

Ben is outside welding up a new exhaust, the old one having fallen off and been crushed under a truck. The current draw is actually dimming the fluorescent bulbs in our livingroom and making them flicker on the edge of stability.


Well, respiratory infection more than skin, actually.

Lurgy - how yah doin'? Ain't seen you for a coupla weeks.

Well that was the night that was.


We'd been to the chapel yesterday evening.

Rewind that - I'd been on the run since leaving work. Got home, cooked dinner (Chris was busy, hadn't noticed the time and I cook faster than she does) thoroughly heated the food for Alpha, drove it over, took a portion round to the lovely Jane with a bad back, then drove home so Chris could pick up stuff, then drove to the chapel.

We'd been there a short while when someone I think we used to know walked in. *Richard* had long hair, a skirt, handbag, breasts and a smoothish chin. If I'd not know them before I might have overlooked the fact that *he* is about 6'3" and built like a rugby forward. But I wasn't QUITE sure enough to go up and greet them with the name they used to use, and in the end, to my shame I bottled it.

*edit* Ben saw his wife at the Tim Hughes concert in Oxford earlier in the week. Ben hadn't been aware about the change, although we had heard it mentioned. He asked what would make someone so obviously masculine try to change like that?

Meetings at the chapel tend to be short, in that the organised bit is usually max 1hr 15, often less than an hour. But people want to fellowship, so they just do it before and after the meetings. So people start getting together at 7.30, meeting starts at 8ish, finishes about 9.15 after which there is a discussion group. There were more back in the main hall fellowshipping than there were in the discussion group, and they were there still after the small group finished, up 'till about 10.40pm when the place really needed locking up.

There's a learning in there.

So we got home, unwound for a while, then went to bed.

But not to sleep.

Not at all, really.

So you try all the things that help to bring sleep, both individually and together. There's lots of stuff bouncing round in my head, and FWIW having a bad night after chapel meetings has become normal for me. I don't know whether it's the extra concentration required to work across cultures (and many Zim guys are holding hard to their culture) just the effort of trying to get to know people or if there's a spiritual aspect to this as well. No matter.

Eventually Chris went downstairs to the settee because she was coughing and I wasn't, probably about 2.30am

I must have got some sleep as there were definite gaps, but around 4.30am woke up again.

By 6 I'd had enough - it's when I'm rising now anyway, so just sat up, managed about 20 min very sleepy incoherent prayer in bed before shaving, bathing etc.

Today one of my staff is leaving, and I really want to be there, to say goodbye and thank you, otherwise this would definitely be a sickie. There's that feeling of pressure inside my head from blocked sinuses and insufficient sleep, and no amount of flu-strength paracetamol will clear it. :-(

Thursday, 16 October 2008

I worry occasionally

about how much I've spent on hobbies. Stuff like guitars, mountain bikes, R/C planes. Y'know the stuff.

Some of the guys I know over on the BM formerlies forum were taking about how much their riding has cost them over recent years. Estimates were rolling in around the 10 grand mark (I reckon my riding since '98 has cost less than £2000 and my riding as a teen racer can't be more than £1000 on top of that). One of the slightly 'less cautious' guys just estimated at £20,000 in the last 8 years.

Makes me seem pretty moderate.

Errr, Darling.... About that Les Paul custom.....



The CV is finally done.

There's little I find harder than to say nice things about than myself.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

There's a lot of catching up to do

but most of it's boring.

Both Chris and I have colds. Mine has gone mostly to my head, which aches whenever thought looks like it will be required. Chris's has been mostly her throat, head and anything else that shouldn't feel uncomfy but did. She's mostly better today, but I took the day of as leave because I wanted more freedom to do stuff (more later) than I can allow myself when on a sickie.

Saturday was supposed to be a day off for us to be together. Having done chores we were talking about where to go when Ben got up and asked if I'd be able to 'help him' a bit this morning. 'This morning' turned out to be a visit to the breakers, spending a number of hours removing various parts from various cars, then returning around 3pm. We did manage a nice picnic by the canal though, sitting on a blanket in the warm sunshine.

Saturday evening I reversed into a car that had just whipped into the space I was trying to park in. She first told me that I was parking in the space next to the one she was in, then told Chris this afternoon that I had been stationary when she parked. The broker thinks it will go knock-for-knock but she's having none of it. Ho hum.

On Monday Chris put 945kg of 20mm shingle on our parking space, single handed. Looks great, smells of fish. Presumably it was freshly collected from the sea bed somewhere just before delivery. "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside" an' all that.

Tuesday we skipped housegroup - not cool as we're supposed to be leading, but frankly, the only place my head was taking me was the next box of tissues. We sat next to each other and watched 'Return Of The Jedi'.

And so to today.

The cold has taken most of my sense of taste and smell - therefore it is the perfect time to cook for the Alpha tomorrow night. 40 mains including 2 vegetarian please.

When in doubt, resort to chili con carne (sans any actual chili, of course). 5kg lean mince (plus a 2 person portion of quorn mince) and several hours later it's all done. Tastes OK as far as I can tell. ;-)

During the latter stages of cooking one of our cats decided to throw up in the kitchen. I managed to catch it on a plastic mat, for which I am truly grateful. The cat then started washing repeatedly round it's bottom, never being happy and continually stopping and licking. When approached it showed feline embarrassment, walking just out of sight before washing again. I chased it upstairs, then back down before finally cornering it in the livingroom. A section of the plastic tube that Pepperoni sausages are made in was sticking out of it's bum.

No wonder it was embarrassed.

There was a little resistance, shall we say, to it being removed (gently - I don't like cats, but I'm not cruel) but it came out easily enough. The cat now seems a little less distressed and hopefully will not be sick again for a little while.






Ben is out tonight at the Tim Hughes concert in Oxford. He wasn't going, having hear enough TH at soul survivor, but then Kita called and asked if he'd be there as she was coming up for it.

There you go. All (mostly) caught up.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

I have a real sense of closure today.

It's 'funny' because I'm watching my good friend Randall packing up ready to leave, yet here I am, sat at the same desk, capping the same bottles, reading the same rubbish on the net.

Today I told the personnel people that I didn't want to look at other job opportunities within the company, and that I'd prefer to be made redundant when the company closes 31st December 2008. I had a few 'bells' going off in my head to do with security etc, but Chris and I talked and I think it's the right thing to do.

This is the second US controlled company I have worked for. The severance package is generous, but I hope it will be the last.

I was also turning over the way things are on the Christian Musicians forum in my head before God (does anyone understand what I mean - it's like discussing stuff in front of Jesus) especially the stuff from some of the more dogmatic. The conversation finished:

"Why do you do this?"

"Well, errr, it's interesting, I show them some stuff, I learn things, they learn things."

"You're done there"

So Mike, Steve, Roy, if you read this, I'm not upset or anything, but I feel that just as I had to take it up, now I've got to put it down.

Life on the net and in the blogosphere HAS been good for me in terms of my development as a Christian. Not just learning to deal with temptation (please keep it away from me!!!) but learning how to relate to others with 'wrong' views.

Before I got into the whole blog discussion thing I was like a teenager who 'knew' the right answer. A bit like Donkey from Shrek "pick me, this is THE answer". I couldn't see why others could not see the *obvious* answer that was so clear. I still feel that way sometimes, but feel neither the pressure to prove I'm 'right' nor the need to show them where they're wrong. I can also spot Marc's 'sleeping dogs' and leave them laying where I found them. ;-)

Perfect? Not yet, but better.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

It's always good to try something new.

In this case I was inspired by Joe Bonamassa and crossed it with SRV's Texas Flood. I've not played a slow, steady blues like this for a long time, and it was really fun (though hard work on fingertips - all those string bends).

Now if only I could have recorded it.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Now here's an interesting thing (PC content)

In 2002 I build a PC to use with a piece of lab equipment. I just knocked it up from some older parts we had laying around including a Pentium 233, 3dfx card and some odd RAM. Installed windows 98 because that's what we had a spare license for and the equipment specific software required it.

Fast forward to Friday last week.

When I finished in the lab for the weekend I shut the PC down and it just closed, snap, within a couple of seconds. That was 'new PC build' fast. My curiosity was piqued, so I restarted it. After the half minute of so, waiting for the MOBO to finish posting and the HDD to spin up it booted quickly and smoothly. Not quite so fast, but still very quick.

Now this box just runs office and the plate reader software (plus solitaire and minesweeper for those 5 min incubations where there's nothing else to do). It's never been patched, upgraded, connected to the net or networked in any way. No exciting software has been installed or removed. It has just been left to run, all day, every day (inc many weekends) with the occasional reboot for the last 6 1/2 years.

Now, what does that say about win 98 being unstable and needing annual rebuilds?

Monday, 6 October 2008

First frosty day

So it's the first frosty day this winter.

1.2'C outside our front door, but the cars were covered in thick ice. By the time i got outside the ice on the plants was already melting, but we'll have to scrape the cars.

Wonder if we beat Canada?

Sunday, 5 October 2008


Neither of our tummies was great during the night, nor particularly wonderful this morning - when I first got up I expected to see myself all distended, sticking out in front, and it was just normal. What is it about 'nice' food that so often has this effect? I didn't eat excessively (I've certainly eaten as much at home) and the food wasn't that rich. We've noticed this for the last 15 years or so, but it's becoming more pronounced.

We are seriously considering a major review of our diet, after discussions in the bath just now. Looks like curry sauces in jars are out and fresh veg/pasta/rice and more 'natural' sauces are coming in, at least for a while. We've both had digestive system issues that have become progressively more noticeable, and I'm not happy about that.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The credit crunch strikes locally

We went out for a *nice* dinner tonight. Our favourite great value restaurant still does great food, but as I expected to happen a couple of years ago, has stopped being great value now. Interestingly, it was also half empty this evening - I have never seen so few diners in there. Makes me ask, was it the price rise that put them off or did the rise come to compensate for the lack of custom?

Really knackered feeling.

4 hours + driving (OK, puny by Canuke standards, but your roads are less busy) and a day in a meeting I didn't find helpful. Plus God putting me back in a place I didn't find AT ALL comfortable and gave me a real obedience tussle over, probably all so Simon Shaw could borrow my acoustic guitar for a workshop.

Chris said "well, what happened to free will", to which I replied "It's sat waiting for me at the cross, along with all the other stuff I left there".

I don't *plan* to go to any more DI days - they all left me with various degrees of frustration and disappointment. At the end there's a questionnaire handed out asking for comments. In a sudden burst of novelty I couldn't find a nice way to put my feelings into words, so decided not to say anything at all. Apparently Walt Disney has managed to instill the Thumper principle into my life now.

Friday, 3 October 2008


Woken around 3.30am by Chris coughing this morning. Sleep would not return, and the copiously streaming nose (allergy?) would not go away.

Felt lousy, especially after the cycle in to work (first since June) but just put it down to lack of sleep. Now I seem to have a temperature & headache.

Welcome to the first cold of the autumn (almost certainly what kept me awake). This weekend should be really full: tonight (our 27th anniversary) there's prayer from 8.00 to 12.00, a worship musicians day in Derby on Saturday, then out for dinner in the evening to make up for tonight, Sunday 2 church meetings plus post-christening social. We've also had no nights free this week, and next is looking busy too.

Mutter mutter, oh well, at least we're all effectively OK still.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

G for ??????

I just had to deal with a technical enquiry from Belgium. The line wasn't great and so I spelled out an email address for the caller: pee yew gee haitch. That's Peter, Umberella, err.... err... err.. Gonad, Helicopter.

Well, it's the industry we're in, for heavens sakes. It's what we deal with (it's NOT what we handle). Why would I think of Ginger?

That's all!

Cue very amused lab staff sat around me in the office.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Riding the crest of a wave.

As a church, we try to have at least a couple of half-night prayer meetings a year (7.45pm to midnight). These are usually good times of worship, prayer and often have a strong prophetic content. Our next one is this Friday, the last was in January.

At the January session I was praying with a smaller number of guys when I saw a 'minds eye' image of Bicester with a huge wave above it - if it was real, we'd be talking a thousand feet high type wave. The wave was in the act of breaking, but was moving imperceptibly slowly above the town.

Now we (both Chris and I, and the other guys we were with) have heard all kinds of words of 'revival is coming' and 'God's going to do it now' over the years, and certainly for us, we've passed the point of predicted revival fatigue. But at the same time, it seemed there was an element of authenticity about what I saw, so I did mention it, together with the emphasis that the wave we've been waiting for was about to break over us - or somesuch.

Now in the church, we have been working hard preparing for this autumns Alpha course. Alpha is a great way for people with or without any kind of faith to explore the Christian faith without anyone getting religious, pressurising or even trying to convince them as such. Most of the guys in our housegroup have been really committed to it, full of faith that God is going to touch a lot of people this year, and have absolutely worked their socks off.

Well, it seems that God is honouring that. We had a bit of a strategic meeting last night, with all the various leaders in the church. There are 30 signed up for the BCC alpha (as well as lots with the other churches) which means that there is a need for lots of stuff, like housegroups, being laid down to serve the alpha course. It's really good to see the church re-shaping itself to take up the challenge, and it IS a challenge. 30 people is about half the committed church, so it will be interesting to see what shape the church finds itself in come January 2009, who will find themselves going from being mentored to mentoring, taught to teaching.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Don't tell

Don't tell people what you really think.

Whether you're right or wrong, it will get you into trouble.

Friday, 26 September 2008

A reluctant book review.

Why reluctant?

Well, I haven't finished it yet. And a lot of book reviews either badly misrepresent the book (causing friction) or are inadequate (also causing friction). I wish to do neither, and because this book is SO important, SO significant, I really don't want to put anyone off, yet feel I must talk about it.

This is the antidote to church book porn as blogged by Paul Mayers.

This is a stream of clean, wholesome nourishment that has risen above the detritus of deconstruction.

To me, this book should be required ready for all who wish any kind of role in church leadership, regardless of church background.

Liberals and conservatives will HATE this book, if they ever read it, and will use the same reasoning to discard its interpretation of scripture.

OK, what book?

From here in the UK or here in North America.

This is not a highbrow, intellectual book. No-one is going to praise its astounding intricacy of theological perception. It isn't *that* big and the words are in fairly large type. Even the way it's written is relatively simple plain English, obviously for ordinary people.

What makes it so special then?

It describes the biblical functioning of the church, under the guidance of Jesus as the head, directed by the Holy Spirit. It explains what the church is, what it does and how it should live and grow. It describes the ministries required and how they function, authority in the church and the relationship between local eldership and apostolic teams. It gives understanding as to why fellowship is such a fundamental requirement in the church, and why churches that do not have true fellowship cannot function as church. It even tackles the issue of church membership!

I am sure that to some, this will be 'no big deal'.

For me, this has been, so far, a concise description of how I've long known church should be.

Is there stuff I don't like?

Sure. I don't like the North American confrontational manner that comes through in places. Derek Prince lived in the US and even became a US citizen, I *suspect* in order to be more effective in an intensely anti-European environment. He talks about churches from a US church standpoint, and for those of us in other countries, there is often a mis-match with what we see in the church in our own countries. But theologically, for me, this book just seems to line up with the truth, especially in the broader principles. I don't find all of it comfy, but I do find it good.


I plan to put the photos together quite soon, from our Italy trip + the Thailand pics we took last year.

I've been using photobucket for a couple of years to add images to web pages, and it has been GREAT. Fast delivery, little hassle. The one feature it didn't seem to offer was online galleries. I do have a gallery, but fotopic is clunky and the images always get a bit degraded by their compression algorhythm. Flickr is just too slow.

Picasa has been advertised when I log into Blogger for some time, so I signed up.

They want to install software on my PC.

I DO NOT WANT software installed on my PC. Keep your dirty hands off my computer. I only want web space to upload images for general viewing.

Maybe I need a second Photobucket account, for public display.

Perception might not be everything

But it does affect the reality we try to manipulate.

I always wondered why the Italians could not make a good 'family sized' car. Having now visited 5 Italian cities, I can see that *most* of populated Italy has tiny roads that are overcrowded. Anything family sized in a UK sense would be too large, difficult to park (too large to double-park, as they just do whenever convenient) and would wear out fast from continual thrashing about.

On a completely different subject, although the same topic, I was talking last night with an Afrikaans guy about his family in different parts of the world. We had such different views that I wondered if he thought me strange. His perception and mine were so out of step that conversation was too difficult and I ended up leaving him talking with someone else from Zimbabwe.

Perception and reality is something God has been talking to me about during our stay in Rome. Thoughts have not yet firmed up enough to blog, but were centred around the manner of church operating there, the manner of buildings and politics involved in creating them and a bunch of stuff relating to values and faith. I *hope* it's a sign of maturity that I am being taken through this, rather than just weakness of mind and lack of rigour in filtering the acceptable from the unacceptable.

At least it seems to be filtering through to practice, at least a bit.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


Not random (I shot loads I'd never show anyone) but just a few that are representative.

Seiano, looking toward Vico Equense

Seiano Marina

Seiano beach. Sorry - beach?

Vico Equense. Note that the air is not clear. This area is like Central London at rush hour, only with more Italians and better scenery.

Il Vesuvio, from the hotel terrace.

Cake in Positano.

A bath in Pompei

Chris near a church building in Rome.

Wonder what's for dinner?



Oh, errr, hi. We've been back an hour now.

It's great to be back.

The whole house STINKS, mostly as a result of the cats litter tray, plus empty catfood tins that were filled with water and left on the side.

Everything is dirty, partly from the cats, partly because we're having some work done, and you can't make an omelet etc. And it just plain needs cleaning lots anyway, being that kind of house.

But it's great to be back.

Ben seems OK. Good.

He had dinner with my mum last night, which also means that she's mostly OK, so good there too.

I have sort-of rellies in Austria (the link is too vague to go into now) and it turns out that one who had been a friend of my fathers has just died of a heart attack. We'd planned to go out to maybe spend a little time sometime in the next couple of years, but looks like that won't happen now. Not good. I'm sad for Monica, who buried her mum only a relatively short while ago, now a widow a few years younger than she would expect.

So that rounds off this holiday. It hasn't been a rest as such, so much as a time of challenge and self discovery. There have been good bits and quite frustrating bits, but I hope I will have regained enough energy for continuation into the next phase for us.

Holiday taster pix up soon.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Life got very exciting as of yesterday evening.

I had an email from expedia.

The hotel in Rome could not accept our booking.


The choices were: ignore the email, turn up and let the hotel sort things out (they are obliged to do this according to hotel staff here, also booked through expedia) or call the number in the US at some expense and ask what was going on and to sort things.

After a day of debate (and praying somewhat, but lets not spiritualise this too much - I was not all that spiritual about it) I DID call. Seems the hotel has *closed its doors* whatever that means. So turning up might not have been especially useful. Expedia did book us into a new hotel, just round the corner from the original, and for that I am truly grateful.

So tomorrow we are back on the road.

Do all of them lead to Rome? Maybe, but I bet they do not all go nicely past Ciampino airport, where we have to return the car first. Driving here has been interesting, and I hope the final part of getting the car back does not prove the most stressful.

Off to dinner soon. Mustaphas in Seiano. Hope it is nice.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Well, life gets interesting.

Chris and I prayed this morning before leaving, and forn the first time this holiday everything *felt* just right. We found Herculaneum in the car, found our way to the top of Vesuvius. We have had a good day.

Now I have just checked my email back at the hotel to discover that our hotel in Rome cannot accept our reservation (email sent to me Friday night - what if I could not read email here?) and we need to contact a reservation service to find an alternative.

This trip is turning into a learning experience alright.

I also got a parking ticket last night while we had dinner.


Never mind. Challenges need to be risen to.