Saturday, 28 August 2010

Friday, 27 August 2010

Photoblogs are becoming popular.

But some are much more interesting than others. Melonade (Glenn) apart from being a cat, has a couple of such blogs, including the curiously named "I rub your brog" recording his time in Japan and the Abu Dhabi Photostory blog from where he is now in the UAE.

I found his Japanese blog a couple of years back when looking for a funny pic of a bicycle, but he stopped posting there in 2009 when he moved.

Why bother to look at someone's snaps? Because I feel as though I'm understanding a little of what it's like to visit these places and maybe get a feel for the culture, at least as interpreted through a westerner's eyes. But he doesn't just take pretty tourist pics, instead showing what the rest of the neighbourhood looks like too. And that, for me, validates his photography much more than if he showed nothing but the picture-postcard shots.

If you've never seen Pompei, Herculaneum, Positano or Rome

Then you may want to have a look here.

I'd intended to load these up when we visited in 2008, but then got caught up with other stuff. There's a LOT of images, particularly of Pompei. Many are for reference as well as creative interest, but Pompei is simply huge and incredibly detailed. The paintings (especially when the images are tweaked) are fascinating, and it's surprising to see just how highly decorated their rooms were considering they had only minimal window light or torches/candles/oil lamps. Also interesting are the hand-written shop signs on the walls (it may not be obvious that's what the writing is in the image).

The images should appear in alphabetical order of the places they were taken, thus Naples first, Pompei, Positano, Rome, Seiano, Vesuvio and Vico. I have just realised that there is nothing from Herculaneum included - we'll see about that later.

Most are mine, but some are Chris's, however on this occasion I've not differentiated.

Because of the sheer number (about 200 without Herculaneum images) I'd suggest revisiting, rather than plowing your way through in one sitting - you'll get bored!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

24th August 410 - did you feel the reverberations?

You probably did without realising - apparently that is the date Rome was sacked, for the first time.

It's curious how people fail to see things in perspective though. The reporter asked an expert whether it was like 9/11 for the Roman empire, clearly not understanding it's significance or scale. I'd guess a closer model would be if the Canadians and South Americans joined forces, along with neo-confederates and pillaged Washington DC for a week. Though in fairness, Rome was in far greater disarray by this time than American has been since it's peak of power mid-last century.

Predestination or free will?

I've always struggled to see why, if they have a basic understanding of God's nature, people should see a contradiction between them.

Romans 8, 28-30
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

So first God already knew what we were going to do - He foreknew those who would respond of their own free will. Therefore He determined that they would be changed to be like His son (in the context of the passage we're talking about salvation both as lifestyle and after our earthly bodies are dead). And in order that they might become like that, He called them, knowing that they would respond to that call, justifying them through the blood of Jesus and, ultimately, changing them from being unspeakable into those who are.... I didn't want to use the word glorious because it is of little meaning and value these days ....prepared and suitable to stand full time in front of the God who created the universe and holds all things together by His will.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

I just saw someone use the word "inform"

in the context of information being acquired by themselves from studying something else. There are only a very small number of people who use the word in this way that I know of.

It's a characteristic that, I'm sure, has meaning and significance.

You know it's lunchtime

when your hands start shaking.

I can no longer use my stomach to guide me, as it's always hungry, always wanting more. I wonder if there's a metaphor for appetites generally - maybe. But whatever. Salami in bread coated in sea salt and cracked pepper, along with a stick of Polish kabanosi is a very tasty solution.

While writing this we've just had a downpour of Hollywood proportions.

We're still alive here. A little too tired all the time, and fairly busy, but still around.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Arostotle, Aristotle was a ****** for the bottle

Monty Python has a rhyme about the classical authors and alcohol including the above line.

I've just been reading a small section of Aristotle's Book Of Problems (translation for and by The London Press) published as part of his Masterpiece some time in the Victorian era. It causes a mix of interest, entertainment and incredulity (that men should have thought like that) and is a fascinating insight into the way men really had not the least idea of how biology worked. In some ways it's not so different today, except that we know where we can find people who will understand our bodies and what medication is appropriate.

The Book Of Problems deals with such questions as:

Why are men's heads hairy? The brain is purged in 3 different ways; of superfulous watery humours of the eyes, of cholers by the nose and of phlegm by the hair; which is the opinion of the best physicians. i.e. Your hair is dried snot!

Why are not women bald? Because they are cold and moist, which are the cause that hair remaineth; for moistness doth give nutriment to the hair and nutriment doth bind the pores Women are cold and wet?

Why have women headache oftener than men? By reason of their monthly terms, which men are not troubled with, and by which a moist, unclean and venomous fumeis produced, that seeks passage upwards, and so causes the headache. Nothing to do with a lack of contraception then?

And the gem.

Why has a man two eyes, two ears and but one mouth? Because a man should speak but little, and hear and see much. And by hearing and the light we see the difference of things I can imagine everyone from parents through church leaders to government officials thanking Aristotle now for those words of wisdom.

Amazing what a little classical education can teach you!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Travelling to Lyme Regis

is what Marc and Dixie should be doing this morning.

If they can pry themselves from a post-10th anniversary celebratory bed.


Marc - if you're reading this - take your time driving down there, and relax into it. The roads will be bendy and slowish, possibly with great views from time to time. Stop occasionally, look around, enjoy the scenery and get there stress-free.

As a Mac user there's something I find curious

Those familiar with the Mac will know about Time Machine - one of the things that Apple [i]does[/i] do better than Microsoft - the incremental automatic backup system that works more-or-less in the back ground with minimal overhead.

Well, it works on files and folders but not applications that store data in a particular way. I don't know why, but Entourage (the older Mac version of Outlook) has to be backed up manually. Put Microsoft and Apple in a room together and I'm sure each would blame the other for this lack of compatibility: no idea who's fault it really is, but it's a bit daft. So just like windows, I have to remember to export the data from time to time.

Which is annoying.

The latest version of Office:Mac 2010 (or 2011, can't remember) has Outlook (not Entourage) in the professional spendy version but not the small business/home version. I might well have considered the upgrade otherwise, but right now I can't see the point. We run Office 2003 at home (the pre-ribbon version with sensible menus etc) and it still works well. If I want the ability to handle anything with an unfamiliar interface then I'll use Open Office, as it's without charge.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The battle of the mind

is what I'm speaking about tonight.

Does anyone else go over their notes, wondering what they've missed out/got wrong?

'Course they do.

This is a good opportunity to practice what I'm preaching.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

It's curious how things follow on.

After my bidet post below, commenting about how God doesn't seem to do things the way He seemed to say He did, friends come back from new wine camp with tales of miracles, healings being video'd so that people could see legs actually getting longer, the Holy Spirit touching people not particularly 'up for it' etc.

Makes me wonder sometimes what we're doing in church, and in our personal lives? Why do we do the miserable stuff? I don't need constant mountain-top experiences, but without seeing the reality you've got to ask, what's the point? Or is it just that God has to move in the ways that we don't want: in the small ways, so that no-one can say "here He is" or "that was God"?

After much stress

Someone here has renamed their mobile communication device a 'poke in the iPhone'.

Google wave. Wut*?

A year ago Google launched 'Wave' as an attempt to take 'market' share from Facebook, integrating IM, email and comments etc in a single package. I remember Randall commenting about how good it could be.

Now bearing in mind that I'm relatively tech-savvy, the whole thing seemed ill-defined and confusing to me. Although it *might* have actually been easy to use, all the promo materials and descriptions from the Google people seemed specious and lacking reality. It is therefore of little surprise that it's been canned after just a year, simply because as they put it 'it couldn't get traction' or as I'd say 'they made us an offer we couldn't understand'.

The way to beat facebook must be obvious, surely? Create a similar site that is fast, solid, easy to use and understand. And especially, one where you don't keep moving the goalposts and annoying the users. Making it look clean and cool won't do any harm and filling it with mindless farming, catering and jewel-gathering games may also help. I guess it's good that Google funds projects like this, creating employment for otherwise out of work programmers and marketing staff.

* I apologise for this. It's become one of those words, like 'teh' and 'powned' that are strictly net-centric, but also seem to fit descriptions of internet goings-on. If you've never seen the pear with the mouth apparently saying 'LOL Wut?' you've not missed much, really. It may even have a real name.

For those enquiring minds....

They're here, they're good and now they've slept.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Randall on birthdays.

From here.

I was 49 the day before he was 47. The world was just kind of caving in a bit, really, that day. Mostly it was health and family issues, but for me, I've got to the stage where I don't really feel like celebrating my birthday any more, particularly when they're of relatively minor significance.

However I'm grateful to My brother, Peter and Alison his wife & Andy their son for remembering and sending cards, and for those who remembered me on Facebook (I have birthday notification switched off). I'm especially grateful to Chris, who despite feeling utterly rotten, really wanted to try to help me have a good day.

This isn't me having the miseries, so much as just trying to live in reality.

My mother is trying to understand Psalm 91v12 in the context of what's happened to her. Does God not work that way anymore - she could certainly be forgiven for thinking so. It's intensely frustrating, because God so clearly comes through in some areas, yet when it comes to real, miraculous put-your-hands-out-and-touch-what-God-has-done stuff, it's just not happening. I could almost chuck in and walk away, except that I know He's real and at work despite all the disappointment and apparently wasted prayer and fasting.

If anyone quotes the "my ways are higher than your ways" scripture in comments then consider yourself to have had a digital poke in the eye.


Just after typing this and hitting post Ben came to me with a Joe Bonamassa CD (Live from nowhere in particular) as a birthday present.

Friday, 6 August 2010

They're here.

Spoke with Marc by telephone this evening, and they've had a good day, wandering round Hampton Court. Running one day late, having missed their connection in Denver due to local storms.

From the Basschat forum.

I can't not copy this:

my job is 2nd line support in IT i got told to phone a woman with an urgent problem with a server. convo as follows

Woman: we had a leak and someone moved the server in to the middle of the office. its making a funny noise.

Me: its in the middle of the room?

Woman: yes

Me: what sort of server is it?

woman: a compaq one

Me: compaq? we don't have compaq servers, are the cables coming out the back to the wall?

Woman: yes, one power lead an a tube.

Me: Tube? what does it say on the server, like what model?

Woman: K-O-M-P-A-C-T, D-E-H-U-M-I-D-I-F-I-E-R


Woman:actually it could be a dehumidifier, do you think its a dehumidifier?

Me: probably

No wonder they call it the helldesk.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

When your cat

...repeatedly makes PrrrrppPPP! noises, you know something's going on that it's proud of.

I have just rescued a wren from one* of ours. This was unusual, because by the time I'm close enough to do anything the captive is usually beyond saving. However on this occasion the 'guest' was able to get away through sheer speed when it was put down for playing, and found a corner too small for the cat to access. Fortunately I don't have to stand on my hands, and so could get one either side to extract it. It flew away, emitting 3 cross sounding chirrups, much to the cat's disgust and my pleasure.

*This particular cat is a highly effective hunter, as the daily piles of mouse-guts in the garden demonstrate. The other is mostly too lazy, apart from the rabbit it brought messily in through a window a couple of years back, and dismantled more messily in the bathroom. :P

Just for fun

Life is just a weensie bit more complicated.

Both Chris and I have now enjoyed exploding tummy syndrome, and now to add to the fun I have a streaming head cold, complete with pressurised sinuses and no sleep. I did an hour in bed with Chris snoring gently beside me before arising. Yesterday (Wednesday) day was my 49th birthday. Do you think I could retire on medical grounds yet?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

I feel like I've been conned.

Last week I came across the movie 2012 on DVD cheap in Tesco. It was surprising such a recent film was cheap, but as I recalled it bombed in the box office, and having not seen it I bought the film. One or 2 things made me suspicious though. On the back was a description, suggesting it was a 'modern Christian epic in the tradition of the Omega Code (never heard of it) and left behind (wish I'd never etc...).

The people marketing this film should be prosecuted for passing off, because it's presented in a way that makes you think of this film, instead of a film like Biggles Adventures In Time.

The theology is 'interesting' and 'creative'. We have Mayans predicting the end of the world and having Roman Catholic-style crucifixes hidden in their temples dating from 300AD. We have a rapture where all the Christians are taken, except the ones that aren't. Then there's the need to place the recovered crucifix in a Mayan temple so that the Earth, which has been stopped by a black hole, can be restarted again. There's hints of another virgin birth and people doing odd drawings a la close encounters.

The special effects would qualify this for any of those 'world's worst movie' shows, with snow that doesn't settle, wind that only blows on actors (and not the film set) people dying when they're not needed any more, props left over from the third tomb raider movie that was never made and embarrassing fake hail. We had shots of menacing leaf-cutter ants and a dialogue scene where the continuously rotating camera left me feeling slightly sick after a little while.

Why is it that Christians cannot make films - at least, films one would actually wish to watch. There is no way I shall ever inflict Fireproof on myself. If I were a non-christian, seeing this would convince me that anyone who believed in Jesus was a total fruit-loop. Hope I got the only copy Tesco had, and saved a non-christian from buying it. The one redeeming feature was the soundtrack, which was at least somewhat appropriate to what was supposed to be happening.

Saw my mum yesterday, post op.

She was in much less pain, though quite sleepy. Everything seems to have gone well for her, and she should be starting physio today to get her walking. Thanks for praying, everyone.

Chris and I are also now having 'interesting' times, with us both having 'exploding tummy syndrome' (really hope we didn't pass it to Leo and Linea yesterday - I was scrupulous with the cooking) and I've also got a nasty head cold. It never rains etc. I should have used up 2010's quota of illness for the year by now, surely? Snot-monster, please vacate my head!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


I think Leo and Linea may have some better pictures from last night.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Not so good

My mother managed to throw herself at the ground today, and typically she didn't miss! Her femur is broken, requiring surgery urgently to get her out of the worst of the pain and mobile again.

Any prayers very welcome.

Back to work today

Curious that I wrote 'toady' instead of today first time round.

Hopefully it'll be OK - energy levels have been coming up, enough that I could cut the grass yesterday evening and I'm taking less painkillers. The back just feels a bit bruised this morning and the skin is a little itchy and sore, but it's so much better than it has been, and I'm grateful for that. Woke up sweating at 5am, but again, that's much better than it was, so hopefully things will just carry on clearing up now.