Saturday, 30 March 2013

Yesterday I kissed


In the dark hallway at Heyford Park Chapel.

It was like being transported back to the very first time we ever kissed, in the hallway of her parents house in Westfield road, Croydon. We'd met just a few days previously, pretty much started off together immediately being close together, arms round each other. I'd then popped over to see her after work, and she was in her school uniform still (we were 17 and 16) and as I was leaving to come home we stopped and kissed in the hallway.

After 31 years of marriage, it is amazing that kissing my wife can take me right back to that first time. There has never been anyone else like her for me.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Thursday, 28 March 2013

PCC criticised over council role

I just read that headline on the BBC news website. Whilst criticism is inevitable, it turns out we aren't famous after all.

Smiley courtesy of the BBC.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sinister goings on in Blighty?

I've not (yet) read Orwell's 1984, but the idea of a Ministry of truth does not seem great to me.

Bear in mind there is significant spin in the article too, never the less, curbing the freedom of the press is seldom a good idea in a democracy. Curbing their excesses, certainly, but not the freedom to expose unpleasantness and deceit. Hopefully this won't stick.

There is a bitter-sweet irony that it should be The Guardian that probably put a big enough weapon in the hand of the rich and powerful to take away press freedoms, but then the left often did want to regulate the press.

Sunday afternoon I managed a walk.

Caractacus Potts is alive and well in Upper Heyford.

Monday, 25 March 2013

So today we had a hospital visit.

After just over 7 weeks, it seems Ben is doing really well. His femur, that was in several bits, is knitting together nicely and the grafts and other holes that were stapled back together are all doing well. There's a lot of movement in his left leg now, and although the muscles have atrophied, he's able to hobble around without crutches a little.

There's a long way to go, including getting the scar tissue from all those wounds to detach from the bone below, but he's making good progress and we're very pleased.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Did I say it was snowy?

I've been trying a few new distros recently.

Ben reckons I change operating systems as frequently as many people change underwear. I HOPE that's wrong, because if so, there are a lot of seriously disgusting people out there, but I DO like to experiment.

I installed Pear Linux 6.0 32 bit 5 months ago (feels like longer) having run pear 3 as a trial distro alongside Sabayon and then moved across to Pear 4 about this time last year when Sabayon kept falling over (they sometimes ship mis-matched graphics drivers and kernels - I don't know why, but it's a long term problem). I've been happy with Pear mostly - it's reasonably quick, visually pleasing, does most of what I want. But it's also designed to look a bit like OSX, though with fewer annoying design flaws, and some versions of key software like DigiKam and GIMP were very out of date.

I happen to have a spare 320Gb western 2.5" drive (warranty replacement from my Macbook) so bunged that in the case and had a look around at what took my fancy.

Mint 14 KDE
This is a nice looking distro if you don't mind some of the same issues with Pear regarding old packages and slightly staid looks. It works really well from the 'box' with DVDs playing back, audio working correctly, recognising network connections and printers. DigiKam was at 2.8 (which was better than 2.5 in PL6) Libreoffice at 3.6 and KDE at 4.9. It's very nicely sorted to install, and went in painlessly. This is linux for the refugee from windows Vista, 7 and 8 who has a real hankering for XP again, but with modern functionality.

Also good - I hooked up a Fuji HS30EXR camera and it was immediately recognised, images imported into DigiKam and both .jpeg and RAW formats (RAF in this case) fully functional. The 3 images below including the woodpecker were all edited while I was trying Mint 14. However because this is an older version of DigiKam the correct data for correcting lens aberrations in RAW images wasn't available, and they showed distinct distortion.

Some of the standard KDE irritations were still present, like mounted DVDs not always ejecting predictably, but generally working very well indeed.

Open SUSE 12.3
I downloaded this on the first day it was released, just a couple of weeks back, and it was a big download at 4.3Gb plus another 340Mb for the non-free codecs etc (more of that later). Installation was reasonably easy, with a clean installer (new in this version IIRC) however it also failed to install the non-free software off the separate DVD despite that checkbox being ticked. It's really nice to have the option of different types of file system and security setup, so it offered Btrfs alongside ext for fs management and also LVM (which essential makes your HDD unreadable outside the OS).

This version has really upped the ante for SUSE IMO, with a much cleaner, darker desktop theme. All the usual KDE facilities to change EVERYTHING about the desktop and interface are resent and correct. Also correct were recent versions of software including KDE 4.10, DigiKam 3.0, GIMP 2.8.2 and Libreoffice 4.0. Kernel was at 3.7, and this seems significantly quicker than distros running 3.5.

The non-free codecs etc didn't install off the DVD, so a general hunt had to be made for libdvdread, LAME etc etc. In theory there's a one-click facility that should run the first time you try to play a DVD and fail, but the script that downloaded failed to work, so I had to manually add the repository for the non-free stuff & then choose to install. Not a problem for me, but a BIG issue for a total noob. Disappointing, because the guys at SUSE have put a huge amount of work in, and tried to make things like this work as easily as they can.

Next downer, importing images from the Fuji into DigiKam completely failed, and I had to copy/paste from the camera memory as if it were a USB drive to my hard drive. However the RAW file tools do include data for the HS30 to correct lens faults etc.

The same characteristics of KDE were present in openSUSE as Mint KDE, however KDE 4.10 felt a little slicker, possibly quicker, and looks classier in the SUSE livery. The toolbar icons and plasma control centre have been tweaked, and it *feels* more intuitive.

Sabayon 11
I have this love-hate relationship with Sabayon. It's the best of all the KDE-based distros, with the most bleeding edge software versions, sharpest screen images, greatest number of packages available and it just looks better than anything else.


This distro just isn't stable, and I know that at some stage an update will break it. Last time it happened when it was my main OS I had to go in and rescue all my data using the command line to transfer files to external drive. And because it forces the user to have their drive partitioned under LVM then it's not possible to simply access the HDD externally & recover data that way.

So I ran it as a live DVD.

Sabayon is home for me, as Linux Desktop environments go. It's like XP but better, screen fonts are the crispest you'll see in any Linux system, everything looks really good and, generally, everything works really really well. All the negatives that go with KDE still apply, but this is where my heart is. Even as a live DVD it was quick and responsive, and that's not common.

Pear Linux 7 beta 2 Corella
Which is what I'm typing this from tonight.

This is the latest and greatest pear Linux. It's what OSX might have been if they'd not made some bad design choices in window management, and it's nearly as quick, running off a standard HDD, as Mountain Lion is running off an SSD on my dual core Macbook. If you're a Mac lover and you've got a winbox laying around then do yourself a favour and install this as a dual-boot option when the final release is made.

New in this version is a better dock, a take on Time Machine (not tried yet) improvements to system tools and a good polish to the interface. Software versions have been updated, so it's running the 3.7 kernel (hence the speed lift) DigiKam 2.8, GIMP 2.8.2, Libreoffice 4.10.

It's being released in 2 versions: desktop and server, both 64 bit only right now. Once the release candidate is out then I shall migrate from Pear 6, adding in Thunderbird for email (Gearymail - who?) Audacity, something to rip CDs and a few other tools I've come to use along the way.


It looks & feels quite a bit like OSX. I also had to install libdvdcss manually, though that may be different in the final release. There are some inconsistencies (just as you find with OSX) with non-native applications not all conforming to the Pear interface. Overall though it's a good OS, and I'll probably stick with this for some time.

Nerdgasm over, normal service will be resumed shortly.

Borrowing from others again

From a Facebook contact in Africa, posted today.

One thing is quite evident with men; they are subject to similar condition as you, they change without notice if condition does not favor their continuous friendship. Their strength, knowledge and level of tolerance are very limited can snap at any time, but God is never limited in anything and His mercies endures forever. There is not situation that is above God’s knowledge and ability, none is too difficult for Him to address adequately according to His thoughts and plans for your life.

Quite. A good reminder we all tend to see things from our own position, and are susceptible to moods and feelings, while God knows the beginning from the end and is not subject to whims and offence.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Beware the undertow.

I seem to be borrowing stuff from other people right now.

Years back when the internet was a little younger there was a forum that consisted mainly of US Christian musicians and worship leaders with just a few non-American participants. Fernando with his desk off on the left there (pun half intended) was one such. Eventually the forum ceased to function, but I've remained in contact with some of the other guys from the US too, including Mikey Mahoney, and when I read his latest blog post on personal Christian development one particular section seemed very relevant to where Heyford Park Chapel is right now.

Talking about moving in God's river, being waste deep:

Undertow is the ugly one.  You never see it coming.  It pulls your feet out from under you, pulls you down.  I’ll call this one “church politics.”  Part and parcel of having a church built of living stones is that those stones are all human.  Churches are populated with people – flawed sinners just like you and me.  And sometimes, things don’t go as planned, and the ugly comes out.  Jealousies, pride, power trips, offenses, cliques…  I’d love to say the church was immune to them, but it’s not.  Nor should it be.  The strength in the church is in it’s humanity.  But with all that comes the rough spots.  Navigating the undertow is part of what makes us better swimmers.

 Some of us were talking about being living stones last night, and how it feels like lumps are being bashed off so we can fit closer together. This carries the metaphor a bit further however. I'm not sure I agree that the strength of the church is in it's sinful and fleshly humanity, because that's often what ends up causing people to become broken and abused, depressed and discarded. But certainly a key aspect is that we are required to work things out among ourselves, and as we do that right, so we we grow in character (this makes me want to add a Calvin comment) and commitment together. And I guess too that it provides a place where those who need to flail around, to strike out because that's the only way they know to deal with things, can do that while those who have a bit more depth can keep trying to walk alongside.

But church politics is an ugly one, straight from the pit.

I've just started reading Frank Viola's Reimagining Church and it has reminded me why I left the institutional church more than 30 years ago, and why I was so horrified at having to rejoin it (and that horror was justified). But it's also reminded me of what my roots are in Christian faith, and a part of that is a church without politics, where people give themselves to serve God without owning their ministry and walk in deference to each other. I may not completely agree with Viola's view of organic church, but it's a good reminder of the places I need to go back to living as a Christian.

BTW I'd recommend reading the full series of 'Bumper Sticker Christianity' posts on Mikes blog.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Free - as in beer?

A friend on a non-mountain biking forum (the second fastest declining forum) had me thinking about my aversion to paying for software.

It's curious, but I don't mind doing so for business use, but hate to do so for home use. When it comes to work, generally I'll live with the same setup for a long time 'getting my moneys worth' I guess. At home things have been much less stable in terms of applications, and early on I had a lot of different programs (they weren't called apps then) to try that never seemed any good - PC Mag CD culture I guess. So although the applications I was able to evaluate that way worked, they mostly seemed like junk, and if I'd actually had to pay for them I'd have been pretty miffed (an example would be Serif for DTP - unstable and buggy, M$ word was a lot better simply because it didn't keep falling over). At the time I never had a problem paying for the PC games I played, but there never seemed a reason to pay for applications for 'doing stuff' when tools that were just as good and sometimes better were available free on the internet.

There's also the freetard counter-culture that I find myself drawn to, even if there's a side of me that is repelled by it. It isn't particularly simply being able to get stuff for no money (and I won't pirate software, music and films) but the whole ethos of the 'computer hobbyist' who does what they do for kudos instead of cash really appeals. This is how I am at work too, and will happily offer other people knowledge and advice for nothing where I'm able.

So it's a bit more complex that just wanting stuff for free as in beer, although that doesn't do any harm either. And we all use and enjoy 'free' stuff too, don't we?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Pictures from the weekend....

Spring is close and the goldfinches are getting uppity.

This was taken during the snow falling Saturday morning (it even settled on the woodpecker while it was feeding).

Beautiful sky.

Vicarious spirituality

I've written a much more extensive blog post, having read Hamo's A Vicarious Spirituality on the Backyard Missionary blog, but it's a bit too current to share, and is safely saved without publishing. However the original article is too good not to share still, so please click the link above and have a look.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The tiredness from yesterday

May have been a bit more than tiredness. Today has not been a good day, healthwise, and I'm not sure tomorrow will be either, though we live in hope.

Friday, 15 March 2013

I've not been this tired in years.

It's been a hard, busy week.

I've been running a production process since Tuesday close to capacity while trying to cope with the cold I developed last week, pretty much living on cold relief capsules. At the same time there's lots of church stuff on, so have been out every night except Wednesday, where I got home at 8.50pm after the longest day of the process, ate dinner and then prepared for the Thursday night meeting.

And so today.

This was the final stage of the process, after product has been dried overnight in a racking system at around 30'C and 7% humidity, with the room in which this is performed eventually becoming a similar environment. Interesting, if your eyes are already scratchy and burning, throat tickling and sore from coughing. Not so good if you've forgotten to bring the cold medication to work with you, and the effects of the last dose have started wearing off.

Sympathy? Nah mate, in a way this was self-inflicted.

Normally this stage of the process is a 2 man job, one pouching product, the other sealing and boxing it. Usually takes a couple of brisk hours instead of all day, like today. By the end I could barely walk, and I still had to empty the suite I'd used, wash up containers etc. It's been years since I've been this tired, barely able to even talk.

Bliss was coming home to an encouraging, loving wife who let me collapse, eyes shut, on the settee while she got on with dinner, having just arrived back herself. I'm dosed up again and the body isn't shouting at me anymore, hence able to type now.

Tomorrow we stack logs away from the delivery that came on Tuesday. Wonder if Sunday could be a day of rest?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

One of my fave scriptures

Proverbs 27 v6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Sorry the blog is so quiet.

I'm just really busy with work & church and that leaves little space for anything else.

Except a cold :p

The only way to have much time right now is to stay up late, and that's not great on several levels, so things are just ticking along for a bit. I'd been trying to play guitar a bit more recently - strengthen the hands a little, but haven't picked one up with any seriousness in 3 weeks, so that's somewhat gone by the board.

Inside I'm OK, still the same, but just keeping going where I need to and not doing too much where I don't.

Monday, 11 March 2013

A couple more recent piccies.

Not perfect, but I'm learning.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

And now for something rather similar.

The fruits of a little experimentation.

Lapland Bunting.

Pair of Reed Buntings.

You may be wondering what's been happening round here?

Well, to be quite honest I'm pretty sure I'm being lied to in a fairly free and manipulative manner, and am really hoping that God will graciously reveal what's going on and expose the manipulators for who and what they are. As for me, I'd rather sit back and watch what He does, rather than start passing judgement myself, since that's a fairly sure-fire way of being dragged down to someone's level and then beaten on experience.

Clear as mud? Yup.

But OTOH I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that walking on eggshells while talking to people who seem comfy driving the steamroller of their wants over the feet of those that might supply them isn't getting anyone anywhere.

There's something almost as good as punning over mixing metaphors.