Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A free lunch??

I was intrigued to see that Coldplay are offering their new single as a free download - for the next few days. I guess it highlights the role of the single in the modern music scene, i.e. a tool to promote the album.

The single is called Violet Hill, and it's OK. It's from their soon to be released album called "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends".

I've got no idea what that's about, but since my iTunes library is currently organised by album name there's a weird juxtaposition as Coldplay fade out and Vivaldi's Trumpet Concerto strides in gustily.

I think the 'Viv' will be more enduring, but Violet Hill is growing on me the more I listen to it.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Tagging #2

OK, so I'm playing now...according to my rules! (Well, you didn't really expect me to conform that much, did you?)

AnneDroid's challenge:

Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

1 - I was born in Australia
2 - I've always had a Scottish accent
3 - I have brown eyes
4 - I once had to stand and watch as a mechanic almost drove my car into Crail harbour (while my so-called friends - including the Fish Wife - were laughing their heads off!)
5 - I can juggle - with 3 balls and only 1 trick - but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks
6 - I have a degree in theology
7 - I'm happy with my life (but still endlessly restless)

And just for the sake of completeness - HGF's final question "What was I doing 10 years ago?"

Actually very similar to what I'm doing now.

Married to the Fish Wife (for almost 10 years at that time)
Playing with Dolly D - when that was still considered acceptable (by her!)
Doing the same job
Preparing nurture group studies
Living in the same house
Trying to conquer our garden

One significant difference - I was getting ill more often then, until I changed a few things in my life to sort that out. But more of that another time... or maybe in another place?

Sunday, 27 April 2008


What is it with blog-tagging? I've managed to get tagged twice this weekend.
My first instinct is not to play - but that seems to be a joyless response (although it is an approach that I've adopted before!).
I don't mind playing - up to a point. But I'm not going to tag anyone else. If people want to play after seeing soemthing here then that's fine...
So first to HGF's tag (Anne Droid's might follow tomorrow)
Five things on my to-do-list for today
  • Write a nurture group study on Ehud (Judges 4);
  • Have breakfast together as a family
  • Go to church
  • Do some calligraphy
  • Get out into the garden (and do some work)
If I were a billionaire...
... I've never thought about it. I'd probably worry more though!
Three bad habits (only 3??)
  • Grumpiness
  • Accumulating books at a greater rate than I read them
  • Impatience
Five places I've lived
  • Melbourne
  • Irvine
  • St Andrews
  • Thurso
  • Perth
Five jobs I've had
I've really only ever been a bean-counter (in various guises!)
Five books I've read recently
  • John Smith by Andy McSmith
  • Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth
  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  • The Incarnate God by John V Taylor
  • Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn

Saturday, 26 April 2008

(not quite) Friday photo

To pinch a line from Lucy - tell me what you see...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Engaging with St George's Day

At this time each year, the spirea arguta blossoms in our garden. It seems so full of life and vitality as it froths over the surrounding plants. Until today I hadn't made a connection between this plant and St George's Day - and I still haven't really.

But there is a connection for us with 23 April each year. That was the day that the Fish Wife and I got engaged - 20 years ago today. The spirea is called "Bridal Wreath", so there is a tenuous connection.

We tend not to celebrate anniversaries - and I certainly don't celebrate St George's Day. But it is worth reflecting that we've now spent more than half of our lives together and for me our relationship is as frothy and lively as it was when we first met as students in St Andrews many years ago.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

on bald patches and new growth

No - I'm not getting treatment for the top of my head. I like it the way it is - as long as I've got a warm bunnet close at hand at all times (especially when the wind is coming in from the North Sea!)

Anyway, I was in the garden for a while today and after cutting the grass, I spent five minutes raking out the moss and thatch from a wee square in the middle of the garden. The lack of any actual grass growing is quite scary. It's also very frustrating, since it seems to grow very well where it's not wanted - in the flower beds, veg beds and in the gaps between paving slabs!

Tonight as I was reading Lins' entry about his voice diagnosis and Fiona's entry on Head Space, I realised that there are times when we need to take some radical action to sort things out. Whether it's decapitating Mr Potato Head, getting steamin' every night, or decimating your front lawn, maybe we all need to take time to identify the things that prevent us from doing the best that we can.

Think about my old back from time to time as I set about sorting out the grass (or lack of it) in the garden - and also the metaphorical thatch in my 'tattie heid'.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

It's a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht

Friday, 18 April 2008

Friday photo: Natural beauty

Thursday, 17 April 2008

That's two armfuls!!

Aye - I know I've been here before - done the Hancock thing...

But I was back at
Blood Suckers tonight -and gave a double helping. Honestly! They've got a new machine thingy that takes the blood out, separates the red cells, then puts the other bits back again. So you end up giving two lots instead of one. Apparently this is better for the ultimate recipient - to get two units from one person, rather than getting them from different people.

So they asked a bunch of guys who arrived at the same time as me if we fancied it - the rest opted for the dull, traditional way. But I wanted to give it a whirl. (My reckless side surfacing again!)

And I got to jump the queue!

And I got a lot of attention from two young women in uniform!

It also means that you have to wait 6 months between donations - but over a year you give a bit more than through the traditional method.

How cool is that?

There are limits as to who can do it - well, they don't want any common old blood! Actually, that is what they want - blood groups O and A; and there are height and weight issues, and blood iron levels. But if you get a chance - go on it's easy.

And as ever, I had the traditional
Tunnock's tea cake afterwards - you cannae beat it! (When did they start doing plain choclate tea cakes?)

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Scots version of YouTube?

Over dinner tonight I had to chastise Dolly D for verbally abusing her mother.

The radio was playing in the background (the excellent Bryan Burnett's 'Bring it on'). I heard a song that I loved - Ann Peebles version of I Can't Stand the Rain - see below. The Fish Wife (knowing how my mind works... well, up to a point!) said words to the effect:

"Your dad will be straight on to Amazon to download that after dinner."

The response was a dismissive - "Amazon! You mean, iTunes - ya choob!" At least, that's what I heard. Dolly D claims to have said and meant something different - a likely tale!

[For the benefit of non-Scots or anyone else struggling to make sense of this, the dictionary of the Scots Language contains the following definition:

TUBE, n. Add variant choob. Term of abuse for a person.
*Gsw. 1992 Ian Pattison More Rab C. Nesbitt Scripts 147: NESBITT. It's me! It's yir Da! BURNEY. I know it's you, ya tube!]

Unfortunately I was too slow to wheel out my 'you'll be grounded 'til you're 38 speech', as I was desperately trying to remember the name of the singer that started all of this. Luckily I know how the Fish Wife's brain works (... well, up to a point) so I knew that she would remember.

All of this nonsense has now got my brain working - what would other well-known websites be called if they were named in Scots? Any suggestions?

Monday, 14 April 2008

iPod religion

I listen to sermons and other stuff on my iPod as I drive to work every day (I also listen at other times). So I was intrigued to come across this news story today:

I found this paragraph particularly interesting.

"A survey last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more people used the Internet to look for religious and spiritual information than to download music, participate in online auctions or visit adult websites."

I'm always a bit suspicious of surveys of this kind - and the name of the organisation doing it might infer some bias - but nevertheless, it's interesting even if it isn't entirely accurate.

However, I have some nagging doubts about the danger of privatising religion - and hear I'm really talking about Christianity - with people choosing to listen to podcasts rather than be part of a Christian community/church.

But then, there are downsides to lots of things, and for my money the increased availability of podcasts is a good thing. It allows you a degree of selectivity - to find styles of teaching that meet your needs and preferences - and allows you to follow trends and thinking in the wider church - anything that can be used to promote thinking and education gets my seal of approval.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Even on our best days

Even on our best days we need to remember how loved we are.
Because even on our best days we forget this.
And even on our best days we don't deserve it.
But even on our best days we desperately need it.

"Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed."
Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Nec tamen consumebatur

Final entry (for now) about Dunkeld cathedral. Inside the church (the bit with a roof), there's a really nice, worship-ful atmosphere. In each pew there's a wee card with some thoughts to help you spend 5 minutes praying - I liked this.

However, I was really taken by the carpet in front of the communion table. Aye, I know how weird that sounds but look carefully at the photo and see all of the elements that make it up.

I think that the burning bush is a very appropriate feature in a church that survived the excesses of the Protestant mob. It's also the symbol of the Church of Scotland, which has the motto nec tamen consumebatur (hence the title of this entry). For those of you who didn't 'enjoy' a classical education (although I don't remember a lot of joy declining Latin verbs), it means 'However it was not consumed'. Pretty apt, don't you think?

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Religious extremism ... in Dunkeld!!

More ponderings/ramblings on our visit to Dunkeld yesterday.

The wee cathdedral is "a game of two halves". The original cathedral was destroyed during a fit of un-controlled iconoclasm during the Scottish Reformation in 1560. The leaders of the Reformation ordered that the statues and icons and such-like should be removed, but that the building should not be damaged. The zeal (or greed?) of the mob got the better of them and the cathedral was destroyed.

I'm pleased to say that there is still an active, lovely wee kirk at one end of the building (unlike St Andrews where something similar happened).

Powerful thing, religious emotion - easy to incite, difficult to control. Sounds familiar?

It strikes me that it's all too easy to judge the motives and behaviours of others - but if we look at our own history, there are parallels that are due to human behaviour - not creeds or beliefs.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Will we, won't we?

We spent a day out and about - as a family, all three of us - with no shopping! And we all enjoyed it.

We dithered and swithered about going out today. The forecast wasn't great; we didn't feel well prepared for walking about the Scottish countryside in unpredictable weather; and getting out of the house seemed to take forever... but we went anyway.

The day was to serve two purposes. Firstly, it was to be a photo day. This was Dolly D's idea, but I didn't need any persuasion, and may become a regular feature of our family time. Secondly, she needed to get some walking done to try out new boots before she goes on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition towards the end of May. Both objectives were fulfilled.

We spent the morning in Dunkeld , had lunch, then went for a walk past the Hermitage to Rumbling Bridge. It was thoroughly enjoyable for all of us, so hopefully we'll keep going and spend a bit more quality time together.

The photo is of Dunkeld with the Cathedral near the centre of the frame. (More photos later in the week.)

Friday, 4 April 2008

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

up close and personal

A thought occurred to me today, as I was lying on my back taking a photo of a flower. I'm fascinated by the intricate detail of things - not just flowers (though that might not be obvious to readers of this blog). Yet in my work life - and possibly in other areas - my natural approach is more of a helicopter view, i.e. looking at the big picture, seeking the strategic approach without getting bogged down in detail.

My conclusions? I don't have any - it just strikes me as a paradox.

Of course, maybe if I lay on the floor at work meetings I would see things from a different perspective!!