Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Pews out, more birthday coincidences and more maths

You may remember I blogged about the coincident birthday chance a while ago (6th July.) Today four coincided: grandson Jack, neighbour Geoff, friend Alan and Brenda’s friend Gay. Not only that, two of them are significant birthdays. Have you checked your facebook friends yet?

I’ve been going through my maths book (Chris has borrowed the Physics one) and just read about the Fibonacci sequence. This is very simple: it starts with 0 and 1 and each subsequent number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two:

0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34....

This simple sequence has all sorts of properties – amongst them explaining the distribution of sunflower seeds:

I’ve never really paid much attention to the relationships of numbers in sequences but having seen this – and the other things that Fibonacci can explain – I’m hooked!

Little Hampden Organ

John and Brian finished the pew removal today: they’ve done a fantastic job and the Chancel is ready for the arrival of the organ.

I said yesterday that work had just started – not really the case. We started on this project in November 2008. The Diocesan Organ Adviser visited us just over a year ago. More of the steps we’ve had to go through later.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Little Hampden Organ – work starts

Work started today – at last – on the Church at Little Hampden in preparation for the new organ which we hope will be installed next month. I say new organ – it’s actually an old organ which is being restored. But it’s a real pipe organ, not a modern electronic one. Digital technology is advancing rapidly and I’m sure we’ll be able to log on to itunes in the service to get the hymns in a few years but at the moment I don’t think there’s anything to match real air blown through real pipes.

The organ is much larger than the old electronic one it replaces so we have had to locate it in a different position in the Church. So phase one of the works is to remove the old choir pews which are in the space that the new organ will occupy. We had no idea what would be the state of the walls and floor revealed when the pews were removed.

John and Brian started work this morning.

Once the South wall was revealed, it became apparent that there was little damage and we wouldn’t have any significant work to make it good before the organ arrives. The wooden flooring, too, is in good condition – rather a surprise because it is laid on the old paving stones which themselves are resting on the earth – damp-proof courses had not been thought of when the Church was built.

So we now have a large open space ready for the organ.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Use both lanes

Great new signs at the RC Church – the Immaculate Heart of Mary – in Great Missenden.

It reminded me of the ‘Use both lanes’ sign you see all over the place: a great example of communication for the sender not the recipient. ‘Use either lane’ would be much better – and would be what the highway department actually meant. There used to be a sign outside Gloucester ‘Use all three lanes’ – while one can straddle two lanes, using all three is quite a challenge.

I used to put a copy of this on my office wall as a reminder to people to think of the recipient when communicating – particularly when e-mailing. I remember working on a project at the Bank of Scotland [should I own up to that? It was a few years ago] I would get e-mails with the title ‘Bank of Scotland’ – probably meaningful to the sender but when I was getting 50-odd e-mails a day, it wasn’t very helpful. It’s even more important for CVs – sending a file called ‘CV’ might be meaningful to the sender but would get lost on the receiving PC.

These thoughts sent me looking for funny signs on the internet. There are lots: a few copied below.

We have fun with parking at St Peter & St Paul – any suggestions for signage that would compete with the one at the Immaculate Heart of Mary? A bottle for a really good one!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Three days afloat

After Wednesday on the canals, we had two more days afloat. This morning as we were motoring towards the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, the navy came out to welcome us. The RFA Argus came in to port with crew standing to attention.

Royal Fleet Auxiliaries (RFAs) provide support to the Royal Navy – tankers and stores ships. RFA Argus is an Aviation Training and Casualty Receiving ship: she is used to train helicopter pilots – there is space for 5 aircraft on her after deck. She is also a medical base. Because she can be armed, she doesn’t count as a hospital ship under the Geneva Convention. It appears that in this role she was operating this week: a five-day exercise to familiarise MOD medical staff with the facilities onboard – more info on the BBC web site here. More about RFA Argus here.

When we got back to the moorings, one of the swans that live in the harbour, together with two cygnets, approached us for food. 

More pictures here.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Canal trip

Another good day on the cut

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Birthday conundrum and holding crosses

You may remember a while ago I talked about probability. Perhaps I should warn you that I bought two books at Neta’s mini fete on Sunday: 50 Physics Ideas you Really Need to Know and 50 Maths ditto. I believe I pipped Neta’s husband to them so I’ll have to let him borrow them. But be warned: there may be some scientific blogs over the next few weeks. One of the statistical mysteries I mentioned a month ago (5th June) was the birthday conundrum: the chances of two people in a group of 25 having a birthday on the same day (not the year) is greater than 50%. I was prompted today to look at the birthdays of my facebook friends. I’m not going to own up to how many I have but it’s more than the 3 I had a while ago – I thought that was rather sad so I linked up with some more. However, going through the list there are 3 dates on which two people in this random group have the same birthday (in one case it’s three people but as two are twins I don’t think that counts.) So, statistics wins again.

Today Tricia, Wendy and I visited the Young Enterprise company at Stony Dean school.

This group in the special needs school is incredibly enterprising, helped by some very supportive staff. They make the holding crosses we give to newly-baptised children at Church and Wendy is going to write an article about them for the Parish Magazine. Juliet the lead teacher is leaving at the end of term but we met her replacement who is keen to continue the company – and producing our crosses. They have a number of activities, horticulture being probably the most profitable. They have a polytunnel in which they grow a range of plants to sell to staff and the public. They also made and sold a range of products around the World Cup – including flag keyrings of participating countries. They have a small residual stock of England items but are confident that they will sell them eventually.

Visiting Stony Dean and seeing how these youngsters are developing is inspirational.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Changes for the good

A good day for change: first the new copier has arrived in the office. At last we’ll be able to read what’s been copied now!

And this evening I had a call from John Budgen who is restoring the organ for Little Hampden Church. Work is well advanced and we have a date in early August when John will install the organ.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The story of Daniel and Neta's mini fete

This morning the theme of the family service was the story of Daniel. Elizabeth, Martin and Brenda had a gang of children either as fire or lions – the latter had their faces painted and were very frightening.

Then we went to Neta’s fete. This was the first major rundraising event for our Emergency Repair and Improvements Appeal. The weather held, thetakings were good and one of the stars was 9-year-old Mark who has only been learning the trumpet for less than a year.

Poppies and Union Jack

The wheatfield in front of our house had a band of poppies earlier in the week – but I missed them. However, there were a few this evening. And the wheat is starting to ripen. Don the farmer has been servicing his combine harvester – won’t be long now.

Earlier in the week I had a sail. The navy were playing again – they have a pair of cranes in the middle of Portsmouth harbour to which they tow their warships to fuel and arm them – presumably to be away from the centre of population in the event of accident. The ships carry the Union Jack (yes, it really is a Union Jack when on the jackstaff of one of HM ships) when moored at the cranes, but as soon as the tug takes control the flag is lowered – the navy is not in command at that time!