Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, October 29

Microsoft word 2010 - slow drawings

My office has been upgraded to Office 2010.

So now, when I copy a dawing made in word - for example a schematic diagram of a wastewater treatment works - into a document created in the new version, it is ridiculously slow to edit.

Granted, my diagrams are quite complex. 

However, when I save the document as an old .doc document as opposed to .docx, it works fine.

doc = fast
docx = slow

Apart from that, and the fact that my frequently used commands are now hidden in obscure menus, 2010 is OK.

Friday, October 26

Celebrating my time

I submitted a notable time sheet today.
  1. It had the correct date on it (for once)
  2. I signed it in the correct location (for once)
  3. I actually managed a full week.
  4. It's only the third time this financial year that I've done a full week for three weeks in a row
Cakes all round!

Wednesday, October 24

Losses mitigated

Well we lost money on the gold.  But my consolation is that we sold close to the recent peak, and that I correctly identified it as a peak at the time and the spot price has gone down since.

Bionic arthritis?

Today my wife took a step towards having replacement knee joints installed in May next year.  They have been severely damaged by rheumatoid arthritis.  She is depressed at ahving an operation that would normally only be done for people at least 15 years older.  But I just hope it gets her back into a more normal life.

Tuesday, October 23

I am reliable with large sums of money. NOT.

I would advise that when you are cashing in your investments, you provide the correct bank details.  Nearly put £4k in a strangers bank acocunt.  Fortunately no such account number existed, becasue it would have been very hard to get it back!

Friday, October 19

Morning Star

Tesco sells the 'Morning Star' newspaper.

Socialists endorse quintessential capitalists buy buying it there?

Capitalists sell opponents' propaganda?

My head hurts.

Thursday, October 18

Looking for a blackberry in Wales

My son managed to leave his mobile phone in the Travelodge when we went for my Dad's funeral.  I've phoned the hotel several times and they flatly deny any knowledge of it.

We tried phoning his number, and of course it was dead - battery flat etc.

But more recently, one of his friends phoned it, trying to contact my son, and got a man speaking with a Welsh accent.

So, we know that the phone exists, and is being used by someone, who no doubt has no intention of keeping within our contractual free minutes.

So I tried phoning again.  Rang for a long time.  No answer.  Rang again.  It was picked up, and I could hear rustling at the other end, but clearly no intention of talking to me.  Phoned again, no answer.

Sent a text, telling him that we know he knows it is stolen, and that if he just drops it off at the nearest phone shop we'll say nothing more.

Orchestrated all our family and friends to send him similar texts.

Tried phoning him again at lunch.  No answer.  Clearly fed up of all those texts!

Mrs can't get to the phone shop to cancel the contarct today. So he has until the weekend.

So I call on all the Welsh - denounce him and hand him over, or be condemned with him!  Yes, that is guilt by association!  If you don't hand him over you are endorsing him.  What? You don't know the guy?  What kind of excuse is that?

Wednesday, October 17

Smug smirk

... you know that feeling - when your computer hydraulic model predicts that the channel overflows at peak times and needs to be enlarged, but the site operator flatly denies this, and then someone gives you a photograph showing the channel overflowing at 88% of the design flow.....!

Tuesday, October 16

That sermon again

Just litstened back to myself now hat my sermon has been uploaded to the church website (as they do with the seromn every Sunday)

Generally it was better than I thought - not too many silly mannersims.  And where I thought I had been much too long at 35minutes, it was actually only 26, which is within the realms of being acceptable at our church.

- too monotone (they called me Marvin the paranoid android at School)
- I look like John Major, in the sense that my top lip seems to be downcast and rigid.  I look like his 'Spitting Image' puppet.

Losses. Ouch!

My company, through which I work as a freelance engineer and of which my wife adn I are directors, made a painful loss today.

Last year, when gold prices were rocketing, we agreed to invest nearly 50% of the company's money saved up for future corporation tax bills etc in gold bullion.  We bought some gold Sovereigns.  Very nice.  It seemed like a safe bet at the time.  Of course the very next day the gold bubble burst, and we have been holding on trying to recoup losses ever since.

But since we have also dipped into the company savings to cover (in the short term) my wife's university fees, there isn't enough there for the corporation tax bill coming up in January.  Plus the gold price which has been steadliy rising for the last 6 months gave a hint of a peak in the last few days.

So we decided to cut our losses, and sold the gold.

It means that during the last 15 months I worked for two and half days just so that some gold merchants could make a profit.  Ouch!

Monday, October 15

Mum's Nuts

... apparently not Alzheimer's, but just a temporary consequence of an infection.

Which is a great relief.

But then she is in the same hospital where they said my Dad's loss of appetite was a temporary condition brought on by an infection.  He died.

The Sermon

...went well, despite all my anxieties.

I have a real sense of relief, as if this marks the real end of my exile from the church.

It also marks the end of what has been arather dark period for the last few weeks.

And this was reinforced to me duirng the worship at the town's joint churches service in the evening.


Friday, October 12

The Cross

I'm having a season of being very passionate about the essential nature of penal substitution.  I wish I had time to write about it.

Other ways of describing the death of Jesus exist, and most of them do add some helpful illumination on the topic.  But none of them really make sense on their own, whereas penal substitution does work on its own.

I feel that the alternative explanations are given more weight than they deserve because people can't handle the truth that God is angry about sin.  We want a nice cuddly God.  But the God of the New Testament is also the God of the Old Testament, and unless you are going to get all Gnostic the loving God is also the angry God.  As CS Lewis would put it: Aslan is not a tame lion.  Hebrews 10:31 "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God".

The angry God is angry not just at the consequences of sin - the devastated creation and the suffering of millions -  he is angry that we rebel against HIM personally.

But the Angry God is also the Loving God.

And in all of his infinity, the point at which his Anger and his Love meet is the cross.  X marks the spot!

In my view any description of the cross that does not acknowledge its role in satisfying the anger of God is inadequate.  It has missed the point.  It is a toothless lion.

You can't have reconciliation unless there has been an enmity.  If we have not been God's enemies (and I don't mean us thinking of him as enemy I mean him thinking of us as enemies, which is the real truth) then we cannot be reconciled to him, and don't need to be reconciled to him, and there is no point in the cross.

So, no Angry God = no need for a crucifixion.

As I said, people don't like the uncomfortable idea of God's wrath. And so they concoct every theory they can as an explanation a crucifixion that is not there primarily to answer God's wrath.

But I say that if they have not understood God's anger, they have not understood their own sin.  And if they have not understood their own sin, they have not understood repentance - in fact they have not repented, because they don't know what sin is or what repentance is. 

In fact a religion that does not have the penal substitution of Jesus as its core is not really Christian at all.

But God is merciful.  Salvation is by faith, not by theological expertise, and I still hope that anyone who puts his mustard seed of faith in Christ in some form no matter how inadequately will still be saved.

Going crazy

My Mum, that is.

She is being cushioned from the loss of her husband of 53 years by a haze of sudden senility.

A few nights ago she phoned me asking what had happened to my brother - how did he die?  When my brother is very much alive and she saw him just a dew weeks ago. 

Yesterday she dialed 999 (British equivalent of 911), and when they came round and assked why she had called them she gave various reposnses including "You told me to" and "you phoned me".

She also fell asleep and fell off the dining chair.

She is also very giggly, almost as though drunk, though she has never been so in her life.

She knows she is getting confused, and says 'I'm not safe on my own, am I?'

So she has been put in hospital 'to assess her medication'

This is the same hospital that my Dad went into, never to return.  Ominous!

Coming together

My main project at work, taht is.  After nearly 15 months of trying to work out what the problem is (which has been like trying to nail the proverbial jelly to the proverbial tree) , we are now dealing with design decisions.

The end is in sight!

Preaching this Sunday

Feeling daunted, fist time back after two years, and all that.  I don't feel it is going to be my best.  I'm traying to cram in too much material, I don't have a single core message (well I do but its cunningly disguised as two core messages), It's adifficult message rtaher than an uplifting one.  It involves talking about the manner in which I previously left the church, which is a bit personal and sensitive and hard to say as much as is needed without saying too much and provoking anxieties among the people.

Please pray!

New viewer

After three months on the housing market, we finally have our second viewer coming this weekend.

Truth is, I don't want to sell.  But we do what we can to keep Mrs happy.

She now regards it as a fleece, that if it hasn't sold within the next three months then its clearly not the Lord's will.  Of course taht deadline is just when things start picking up agian in Springtime, so we'll see if she sticks with it.

Tuesday, October 9

Generally better

Stage 8 regret again.

But God continues to speak.  This Sunday, being a joint service with our more traditional early service congregation, included the confession for the first time in ages, enabling me to deal with those issues.

Also, probably also as a result of Sunday, Mrs and I seem to be more friendly again. 

So when I stand up to preach next Sunday, I will feel more like a living example of salvation than a living example of hypocrisy.  And the sermon itself, which is quite a difficult one, is finally coming together.

At work, I'm finally getting on top of my main project.  The problems I have now - rather than simply trying to understand how the existing system works - are interesting design problems: trying to get water from the recirculation pump off take to the final effluent pumping station, while keeping it above the invert step and below the humus weirs, and in such a way that the flow measurement chamber doesn't end up blocking access to the FEPS substation and also providing sufficient cover to the pipes and minimising excavation in the contaminated ground.   We also need sufficient straight length upstream and downstream of the flow measurement, and ideally a free discharge into the FEPS.   Tricky!

The last five weeks have been very dark for me, and only now do things look brighter.

I sometimes wonder if I am having bouts of "Depression", or if its just a natural and healthy way to feel about the stuff that has been happening.

Monday, October 1

God speaks. To me. Personally.

Episode 1:  Praying for guidance on a particular issue - whats best to do?  what should I say about it?  Answer: in the evening, reading my daughter's bedtime story about some random Disney princess, the hero is given a shield of VIRTUE and a sword of TRUTH.    Somehow all the words seemed feint and grey and blurred, excpet those two which seemed to be in heavy black bold.

Episode 2: Feeling very depressed.  I'm a failed christian, a failed father, a failed husband, a failed engineer, a failed preacher, a failed driver, a failed citizen etc ....... Arrive home, teenage daughetres wathing MTV, which is playing a song (Bruno Mars or NeYo???? I don't know I'm too old) which says "Let me love you till you love yourself".  Like episode 1 - it hit me, bang between the eyes.

Episode 3: Too long to explain in detail.  The strong and challenging Sunday sermon was about discipleship.  Afterwards there was an opportunity to hold on to the large cross at the front of the church and receive prayer for re-dedication.  Came out feeling brighter than I have done for a while, no longer blaming everyone else for the previous dark weeks.

Mrs MA

Mrs starts her MA formally tonight, after her induction on Thursday.  I am married to a student!

The lectures are mostly in the evenings, which makes child-care issues very much simpler.  Although it does mean I have to leave work early on Mondays and Thursdays, making it even harder to achieve my 37 hours a week.

Her main trouble has been getting there by public transport, with information about bus routes and stops being very sparse and confusing.  She has had to walk far more than her arthritis can really tolerate.

The nature of Temptation

Curently at stage 8: Regret!