Saturday, 29 January 2011

Art - and science

Rather random connections tonight. Firstly Neta in her sabbatical while looking after Chris has being doing a painting a day. Here are some examples:

Last Sunday at Junior Church the youngsters had the first of many science experiments: they made hearts (representing Jesus’ love) with candles in them. They then covered the candles with a mug and the candle went out - if they forget Jesus.  But the candles could be relit - so Jesus never forgets. We also did the candle under a glass with water in a bowl. The water is sucked up into the glass as the oxygen is burned ad the candles go out when there’s none left. I couldn’t remember what the oxygen converts into but the youngsters enjoyed the experiments and seemed to remember the story.

Back to art: looking at a birch we have in the garden I was reminded of a poem I read as part of O-level (remember that?) Birches by Robert Frost. I googled, of course, and found a site with lots of poetry - On some of Frost’s poems - not Birches - as well as the text of the  poem, the words are displayed in sequence as though they are read - have a look at Mending Wall and Out, out-. Birches is here.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Enterprising mouse

 I’ve just filled our bird feeder and had a surprise. We keep peanuts in a plastic box in the garden. When I got it out, a mouse had nibbled a hole in the lid. He’d started making a nest - in fact he was still in the box when I took the lid off. He’d been stripping cardboard off a basket and taking it into the box for his nest. I hope he’s not allergic!

Friday, 14 January 2011

More communications - what do we call mission?

We’ve been trying to find a concise snappy term to use as the menu item on the Church web site to link to descriptions of each of the organisations that we support. The parish  gives a significant proportion of income to various charities and we also support them in other ways. It would be good to provide some more information on each of these organisations. However, we’re rather stuck on a generic name for this. Formally, some of the financial support is called ‘Mission Giving’ - the PCC votes on this every year. But ‘Mission’ has rather limited meaning - and has been hijacked by the business community. More of this below. But there’s more than this: all our Christmas collections are given to good causes and we often do special collections. Additionally, we support causes in other ways - an example is the regular donations of food and toiletries to the hostel for the homeless in Wycombe, the Old Tea Warehouse.

We have fairly limited space on the menu unless we redesign the whole site. Ideas to date include phrases such as “Who we support” “Giving to others” and “Caring beyond our Church family” as well as some simple ones like “Giving” - the latter has been rejected because it may be interpreted as giving to the parish.

Any suggestions? I was tempted to offer a prize for one we use but instead I’ll make a £20 donation to a charity of the suggester’s choice!

While I was googling Mission I found some fun web sites. The first was the Hawaiian Mission - the Aloha Baptist Church. This had a very amusing cartoon recognising that mission at home is as important as any.

Perhaps we need a Chiltern equivalent!

We’ve got four baptisms on Sunday so it’s worth looking at the Baptisms page on their website

The other funnies were two attempts at a corporate mission statement:

 - note the funny font - see yesterday’s blog!

Thursday, 13 January 2011


A fascinating item on Today today (I’ve apologised about being a Radio 4 listener before) about communications. The claim was that, contrary to an intuitive view, anything written in a font that is difficult to decipher is easier to remember. Have a listen here. I was particularly amused about the handwriting comment: anyone who knows my handwriting understands now that I’m trying to make things really memorable. OK, so you have to be able to decode it before you can remember it! I don’t think there are many font options for this blog so I’ll have to work hard on the content.

Talking about content: I found two wonderful examples of content-free communications, again on Today. We used to joke about the reports produced by the Young Enterprise companies which often contained sections like this: “When we were deciding on a product, we split up into groups and brainstormed ideas. Each group came back with the best 2 or 3 from the brainstorming and the whole company discussed them. We then chose three to work on further.” Great: but this is all process and contains no real information: What were the ideas from each brainstorming? Why were some others rejected? What were the three chosen to work on?

Listen to these two extracts and see if you can deduce what they are actually going to do. The first is the new Family Champion who is leading work to get failing families working - but what is she actually going to do with the families? What has she been doing for the last 20 years? The link is here.

The second is about police action on unsociable behaviour. You need to listen to the second part when Simon Edens is talking. What are the police going to do differently? Listen here.

Now for some good communications - if you didn’t hear Rosie on Countryfile last weekend or this afternoon, here’s the link. If it’s expired, I can send you a copy. Interestingly one of the locations chosen to discuss the wonders of the Chilterns was the John Hampden Memorial - which is just opposite us in Prestwood so the beautiful view they describe is over towards us at Little Hampden. And the reverse view - towards the Memorial - is often featured on this blog - here are some examples.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Still catching up

I’ve nearly surfaced after Christmas and New Year. It was a challenging time and although there have been some comments about changing locations, I think we made the right decisions. We also had a great time with the family over Christmas and New Year – including a rather 70s style fondue party on New Year's Eve!

Looking back through the blog to our last canal trip in November, I still can't believe that Michael, who had a great day with us when we went up the Watford Staircase locks, is no longer with us. He had a great day and really enjoyed winding the locks. I have a wonderful picture of him sitting next to me at the party on board to celebrate his birthday. I don't think I'm ready to share this yet.

I've started catching up on helping my computer ladies. Yesterday was a bad e-mail day! One friend had twice lost her whole inbox from a Yahoo webmail (there must be an Oscar Wilde quote about losing one inbox being unfortunate but losing two... can you finish?) I decided to revert to keeping e-mails on her PC – so much for Cloud Computing. However, this was proving impossible. I spent an hour or so on a chat to an assistant and supervisor at Yahoo but failed to get anywhere. It appears that the e-mail had been set up with US Ts  & Cs – I can't really understand how – and these preclude accessing the e-mail except through the web unless a premium is paid! They persistently ignored my questions about the validity of the contract in the UK and about assurance about future loss of e-mails. I have a copy of the chat if anyone wants to see it.

The other e-mail problem was the failure of a complete set of business e-mails. I managed to reset the passwords and reactivate them from home but they were still temperamental today. I think we've finally got them fixed. I also installed a printer – this went well: I did have one a while ago that took so long, including calls to the HP help desk, that the owner decided simply to take it back and get a refund! Printing has always been a problem ever since I started in IT and although the printers have got cheaper and better, they are still not perfect!

I'm really keen to help get people online: one of today's friends said she really enjoyed using her computer and the internet “it keeps my mind active” And it helps the charities – we're up to £200 for the Wycombe Winter Night Shelter already this year.

Thinking of quotes, I found another good one today “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.” Good quote, shame about the author - Niccolo Machiavelli.