Saturday, 30 January 2010

With great pleasure today

I fixed the heating again.

20 quids worth of insulating materials and an hour of hands on time. It's very pleasing to have the rayburn running again.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Welcome the iPad

Which the observant among us will already know is the Point Of Sale device that all those helpful people in Apple stores have been using for years to swipe your credit card.

Or those people in New Zealand have been living in.

Personally I think the Kiwi version looks cooler, even if it is larger.


Just said to Chris "Apple have launched a new device, called the iPad". Her immediate reaction was to ask if it was some kind of sanitary towel. This doesn't work well, Apple. Are you listening, Steven Jobs?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Mama we're all achey now.

We've just got back from a great time at the Milton Keynes snow dome, courtesy of my mum paying for us to go skiing. 3 hours for £30 a person including ski hire is pretty darn good. Chris had a couple of falls, I managed a faceplant courtesy of someone standing around at the bottom of the run. Ben didn't fall, but did catch some air over the jumps.

Pizza is in the oven (at 10.55pm) and we'll fuel up before hitting the sack. Good times.

Staying topical - movies

Google chrome for Mac

On a completely different topic, I've been trying google Chrome for a few weeks on here. The browser is quick (great) looks like Safari with it's minimalism (sucks then) and makes other applications crash/refuse to work.

It it in beta still? Certainly should be. I can excuse apps designed for windows the odd fault because windows machines are made up of any number of different bits of hardware. Not so apple kit: even legacy stuff just a few years old gets axed brutally, and there's only a very limited range of hardware by comparison. I don't think people appreciate what a good job M$ have done with their OS, likewise Linux (considering it's all FOC).

Processing processing.

I’m processing stuff from the men’s group this morning. There was a discussion about various sins and the need for purity. The obvious male areas – sexual immorality – was touched on of course, and also less obviously, idolatry.

I’m having to go back and ask myself about this area. A big deal for me still is the whole issue of guitars, music, worship and my almost complete barring from this area. When I can take hold of it in faith I’ll trust that it’s God who has blocked me from this, though there are certainly times when I’m pretty sure he’s being given a human helping hand. But I’ve had to go back repeatedly and ask myself why: was my worship and playing in worship all about me?

I know it was both for God and for myself: there was no way I could have played week after week, year after year if it wasn’t something I found personally rewarding. I’ve been talking recently with someone who has found themselves in a somewhat similar position to the one I had, but instead of finding it a joy, for them it is a drain. Yes, I DID love doing it, but I loved that I was I was moving in the Spirit too, and not just playing a show. I’ve played a show since and it’s a hollow experience.

Over the last 10 years, maybe more I’ve probably spent more time talking, thinking playing and enjoying guitars and worship than anything else outside work, and church. It’s been my hobby and place of expertise. Maybe it has become too significant and has got to go: I dunno. Despite my natural acquisitiveness there’s a side that is now saying “let’s flog the lot and walk away”. It would be easier in some ways, as it’s certainly not a source of joy for anyone right now and would free up space in the house. Actually thinking things through, it’s a lot like having been married 30 years for your wife to turn round and say “I’m sorry darling, but we can’t have proper sex any more: all we can do now is cuddle a bit”. Good worship is a lot like sex (God always seems to recycle patterns, and His descriptions of the church as the Bride of Christ are likely a lot less allegorical than we think: but that’s another blog post).

Maybe my time is done. Or maybe I just haven’t got things in proportion. Or maybe I just need to go through another year of testing to not learn what I didn’t learn the last time I went through a year of testing. Chris and I talked about this a bit this morning. She wondered whether I’ve been forced to drop it so that it doesn’t become an idol. Makes me wonder, is one allowed to have a life outside of church meetings and works?

Me? Nah, I’m not in a great place either, but hey ho.

Life IS naturally unsettled. Some time back I remember hearing about the various areas of one’s life: work, family, faith, friends, hobbies that we relied on for stability. Take one away and normally you’d cope. Take 2 away and things become MUCH more difficult. We’ve had 2 of those shaken, and in my case probably 3. No doubt this is good training – IF I survive it. We were too comfy to be challenged at BCC, so we’ve been put somewhere we are stressed. And I’ve certainly made mistakes (playing back some conversations in my head hasn’t been great).

I realised this morning too that I still haven’t developed relationships with any real depth to them. I still don’t trust people and don’t really know what they’ll do.

Guess tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Well that was 'exciting'

While my appreciation of French car design (although I suspect the 307 is really a Ford underneath) is diminished, it seems the Germans know how to get it right.

Despite having a good, hard and dry standing start, the 307 couldn't make it up the first hill (not even half way). However rather than just giving in and walking, I tried the beetle instead and that has just made it all the way in and back again (to collect the laptop). The second hill section of the Ardley road was difficult, but some kind soul has gritted the junction with the Fritwell and Souldern roads, and so I went that way.


Someone told Chris that the Fritwell road had been cleared, but judging by the depth of snow, I'd say it was significantly deeper than the Ardley road, and I was really scared that if I ever stopped the car would sink into the snow and not move. I had just one hairy moment coming into Fritwell with a van coming the other way and both of us going a bit sideways as we tried to move out of the centre of the road. Just as I thought he would sideswipe me he got it straight and we missed each other.

So I've come home again, and should be able to work from here. Tomorrow and Friday I should be leaving early, with a 75 mile drive each way to work for another company. We shall see if it's happening later, I guess.

Back to front?

Sometimes people read things, particularly bible things, and understand them back to front.

Matt 24 v36-41 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

The various revelation societies have assumed it's the Christians that are taken, and I understand why. But the context of this passage suggests it is the Christians who are left behind. I'm not building an alternative theology on this, but it's worth noting that the current 'classic' interpretation may not always be correct.

Yesterday I drove to work for the first time

Someone kindly towed the car out of the place it was parked.

Today's theme tune is 'All white now'. We've had another inch or 2 of snow, and it's still snowing. However ordinary cars are still travelling, and it seems foolish not to try too. Especially as I left the laptop at work yesterday.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Note to self re: Conti Eco tyres


At least, don't use in winter.

I can just imagine the development process for these. "How can we reduce drag to make an 'eco' tyre while still having decent grip in the wet and dry?" Smart Aleck technician "let's make a slick tyre with deep water clearance bands running round the circumference. Smooth rubber=low drag and the deep channel will clear water. Of course, they'll have no grip at all on snow or mud, but we'll sell them in England, where it doesn't snow and all the rain washes the mud away".

And yup, they are a slick tyre, loads of wet and dry grip, good economy and absolutely no grip on snow. This morning I saw a small car drive up and stop beside the Pug, unload and reload children, then drive off with barely any wheelspin at all. The chap behind me in an Alpha with big sports Pirelli's had a lot of spin, mostly because he was injudicious with the throttle, but still made it. Ben made it (got stuck on Camp road, but at least he got out of the village. I couldn't even get out of the parking space.


In the summer I'm buying a set of snow chains for each car.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

No wonder Canadian families are large.

Even the cats are looking for things to do apart from eat and sleep.

I cut a narrow path through the snow from our front door yesterday, and although both moggies went out and seemed to appreciate it, they didn't stay there that long.

Today I think we're going to attempt to get some more food. Ideally we'd go to tesco at Bicester or Banbury, but I'm not sure we can get the car out of the village yet.

Friday, 8 January 2010

More snow photos added

Still available here with the others. There's also a couple by Chris.

I am intensely frustrated.

I've seen a few 2WD cars go past, apparently successfully (and a Honda Civic stuck) but neither Ben nor I could get our cars to go anywhere. We spent over an hour digging and trying. Most frustrating is that the Pug is at the top of the village, with only a gentle slope to drive up. However the snow on the road is still soft (but not quite powder) and deep enough to completely prevent the tyres cutting through. Modern tyres may grip tarmac well, but they are much worse on snow than I can ever remember in the past.


Thursday, 7 January 2010

Shank's pony is alive & well in Somerton

That is to say, I'm not so old and unfit that I can't walk a few miles to work.

Of course I happened to have the camera with me: Chris's Sony on the way in and my Samsung (because I'd left it at work) on the way home. Interesting how the pictures are SO different between them (you'd need to see them raw and unprocessed to see what I mean).

So I've got a few pix up. Some are just for reference/information like the car park photos, while some are an attempt at capturing a little of the beauty. Sorry if that aspect is lost to you, my very good Canadian friends, who have to put up with all the worst ravages of winter.

One thing which every 'photographer' knows is that colour temperature changes with clear skies, and there is a need to compensate for natural colours to appear in the images. However the light today was really blue, to the point where every shadow was a different shade from turquoise to almost purple, and even bright highlights had a strong blue tinge. I therefore make no apology for 'colour correcting' the images: what you see is pretty much how my eyes saw it.

Anyway, the fire's alight, Chris has a Tia Maria and here are a couple of tasters.

This is looking down our drive, away from the road.

At the top of Somerton

Way home with Lower Heyford in the distance.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Good (early) morning world.

Or not quite.

Awoke 2.00am with uncontrollable shivering and 'frozen' feet as my body pulled all the blood back in to warm up. Finally warmed up enough to risk getting up for paracetamol (to control the temperature) at 3.30am - Chris said I was like an electric blanket that had been left on too long.

By 4.30am I'd been through the sweaty phase and was now uncomfy laying there, so here I am with one of Tammi Beegoo's lovely chocolate brownies, a strong coffee with a big shot of Jamesons and the Macbook. Bed isn't my friend these days.

We did have amazing snow in the night though. There's around 12" to 15" outside the front door, fortunately not piled against it. Unfortunately I might have left my camera at work, but we'll see if we can get some good pix with Chris's. If the Beeb weather site is to be believed, we're due more today and then continuously sub-zero temperatures for the rest of the week. I could make a joke about not cool, but it wouldn't be true.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Hello Canada, welcome to the UK

It's not cold but is sure is snowing.

My mum was due to come out of hospital tonight, about 9ish. The lanes round here are almost virgin snow, and so drivable, if barely. Chris wasn't impressed, and I promised her that if we reached the main road and it wasn't better then I'd turn round.

Well, I did reach the main road, and it was actually worse! Snow several inches deep had become rutted and packed, all with that nice layer of polish on top. It was *barely* drivable enough to go 'round the block' to let us go home again.

The voice of prudence took over, and I've left the car at the top of the village, so that if we need emergency transport it won't be impossible to make it up the hill. I was also not sure it would stop at the bottom, and there's a very hard-looking stone wall directly in front of the Ardley road junction. I also suspect the owners of that house would not appreciate someone hitting the side of their house.

BTW when we got back to the village our original tyre tracks had effectively disappeared. It's -1'C, with BIG flakes falling, and it's not going to be gone in the morning.

Well, so much for fighting it off.

Not too bad really, but my head's now gone fuzzy again (sorry Marc - I'll write even more rubbish than usual if I comment like this) and I felt dizzy a little earlier.


I still have an hour of assay work, having mucked up this morning's first assay (and that was expensive!) and set up a re-run.

And the snow has settled outside.

My meeting elsewhere in the country is cancelled tomorrow.

Maybe I'd better just bring more logs in, light the fire and curl up with a good wife on the settee.

'Cept my mum is back in hospital again. I suspect nothing will change there, as she went in with what's been normal for a while (long story) so we'll be visiting at some stage, especially if I can shake the (momentary) lurgy off.




Monday, 4 January 2010

It should be the first day back today.

I had a bad night: alternate sweating and chills, muscle and joint pain, headache and that distorted thinking that the bodies natural defences produce when they work overtime. By breakfast time I was feeling nauseous and the tummy was a little in rebellion too. So this morning I've dosed up with paracetamol extra, cetrizine hydrochloride (damps allergies) and vitamin C. I still feel wobbly and the head is quite fuzzy, but much better overall.

Wonder if I'll make it in? Assays are planned for a stability study today.

Have to wait and see - I can do email from the settee.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

In the middle of our kitchen floor this morning

Was a large, plump and very dead mouse.

Wonder if the cats sneaked it in yesterday or whether it came in for refuge from the cold?