24 December 2008

What day is it?

There's something about this time of the year which leads to confusion in my mind about what day it is. I know it's Christmas Eve today, and that it is therefore Christmas Day tomorrow, but I struggle to work out which day of the week it is!

17 December 2008

Great Mac software

Partly as a result of my preparations for training for priesthood, I have acquired a massive number of books on a range of subjects. I have got so many now that I have no hope of remembering what I do and don't have. This makes it tricky when (as recently happened) I am offered more books. As I have no idea what I already have, I don't know which books to accept.
Thanks to a quick google search, I stumbled across a $40 piece of software (Delicious Library) which allows mac users easily to catalogue all their books (and other items too), and when I say easily, I mean easily! To add a book to my library, I simply hold up the book's barcode to the macbook's built in webcam. The software uses Amazon's database to find the details for the book - including the covershot. Of course, for books without barcodes it's a manual entry job, and for some more obscure titles, the information may be partial or unavailable, but it's recognised everything I've shown it so far.
This is going to be a great thing for me to keep track of which books I do and don't have!

16 December 2008

I throw my shoes at you!

I saw this on the BBC website yesterday, and Bishop Alan has reminded me about it.
I have to say that I was amazed that the Secret Service weren't quicker to respond. I know it was only a split second before they were on the case, but he managed to launch both shoes before the men with earpieces appeared. There was certainly no-one who was able to take the impact of the shoes if 'W' hadn't ducked!

Don't blame it on Monty!

Monty Panesar
I agree with the
assessment given by Northants coach, David Capel, that Monty Panesar doesn't have the match practice to be expected to knock over the whole Indian batting lineup in half an hour.
Don't get me wrong! He's a great bowler, and he's amazing to watch live. I just think there's something slightly wrong with the English system of central contracts which deprives people like Monty of the valuable match practice they need and deserve.

13 December 2008


You know you must be ill when your wife tells you she thinks you have flu (not man-flu)! I thought I was feeling better on Thursday, but then yesterday I remembered what it's like to have real flu (as opposed to man-flu). Everything ached, I couldn't breath through my nose, I had no appetite, I couldn't control my temperature, and the drugs didn't seem to work!
A full box of Kleenex balsam tissues, several toilet rolls and two days worth of (ibuprofen-aided) rest seem to have helped, and I now feel human again.
The most frustrating thing I find about being ill is taking time off work. I know I need the time to rest and recover, but I have a lot to do and I don't want to come across as a slacker. As always, it seems to be a matter of getting the balance right. Anyway, I'm not looking forward to Monday morning when I'll have to try to catch up.

9 December 2008

Oliver Postgate - RIP

The creator of some of the most wonderful children's TV characters has died. My favourite Postgate creations were Bagpuss and Ivor the Engine; some of the others were a bit before my time. Enjoy this blast from the past!

Merry Xmas

Thanks to Dave Keen for this:

8 December 2008

I've been recommended for training

Now that's a bit spooky! Having just posted about the BAP experience, I have just discovered a small heap of post (mainly junkmail), and in the pile was a letter from Bishop's House. The letter says that the BAP have recommended me for training for ordained ministry in the Church of England.
I was fairly confident coming out of the BAP that all had gone as well as it could have gone, and I've been fairly chilled whilst waiting for the news, but it is nice to have it in writing. 
Now I've got to think carefully about training, and fill in some college application forms!

Reflections on BAP - part two

On Wednesday this week, it will be 2 weeks since the end of my BAP, and we were told that this was the latest we would hear the outcome from our Bishops.
I said I'd post again with some further reflections on the process, so here we go!
There were 12 candidates on the panel (there are usually 16). Some had been to a BAP before, but most were there for the first time. For all of us, it was quite strange.
I've applied for many 'regular' jobs, and been through many interview processes (on both sides of the table), so the whole notion of a 3 day selection event seems very thorough! My current job was offered to me on the basis of a 12 minute presentation and a 40 minute interview, and my current salary is a lot more than a stipend!
It does give me confidence in the process though. The church is clearly concerned about getting the right people into training, and although there are criteria for selection, the biggest priority for a BAP seems to be for the panel to get to know the candidates. Once they've done this, they have the difficult job of working out whether the candidate is truly called to the priesthood, and whether they have the skills and abilities to do the job well.
I'm used to the context of a retreat, and the whole thing felt a bit like one. The main difference was that we all felt we were being watched, and we were being watched! Not in a 'Big Brother' way, but the panel members used the time at the meal table to observe how we interacted, and to ask questions about each of us. They used the interviews and the presentations to help them to understand who we were.
As I've said before, I found the whole process to be supportive and overwhelmingly positive. Let's hope I don't have the opportunity to experience another one though, at least not as a candidate!

5 December 2008

Blogger help please

Can any other blogger users help me with the task of adding tags to posts sent in from emails???


testing, testing, 1, 2, 3...

I’m just trying out the mail-to-blog function. I would have been handy when I was in deepest darkest Ely the other week, with no wifi and not enough time to explore the blogger site on my smartphone.


By the way, I still haven’t heard the outcome of the panel. I’ve been told to expect a call by next Wednesday.

4 December 2008


I see that interest rates have taken another dive. We have no savings to speak of, and no mortgage. The only interest I have in interest concerns the rates for personal loans and credit cards. Disappointingly, these have not budged one bit. Typical! Maybe instead of cutting a whopping 2.5% off the VAT rate (which I'm not sure will have the desired effect), Mr Darling could have a chat with the banks about their rates for unsecured borrowing.

3 December 2008

Dullness prevails

It seems Dave Walker is enjoying some delayed notoriety for his 'dullest blog'. Congratulations to Dave - a triumph for dullness!

Astronomical phenomenon

There are some great photos on the BBC website of the heavens smiling down on us.

2 December 2008

Reflections on BAP - part one

I said I'd post something about my recent experience of a Bishops' Advisory Panel (BAP), and this is the first opportunity I've had since we returned home. I did try to post whilst I was away, but the lack of wireless network and the frailty of Windows mobile, I failed in my aim. Anyway, better late than never.
I must make it clear that I do not yet know the recommendation of the panel (we were told that we would hear from our own bishop (or DDO) within 2 weeks of the end of the panel), so my opinions are free from the bitterness/relief that I may soon feel.
Having spoken to friends who have been through the process themselves, I was anticipating a supportive and friendly environment, and this is exactly what I found. I have to say, though, that even in a friendly and supportive environment, the process is very daunting. 
Part two to follow soon...

Good news for photographers

Finally, the police have got around to publishing clarification about the 'stop and search' powers relating to photography in public places. Amateur Photographer have details here, but the essence is as follows (my emphasis added in bold):
'The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place. Officers should not prevent people taking photographs unless they are in an area where photography is prevented by other legislation.'

'If officers reasonably suspect that photographs are being taken as part of hostile terrorist reconnaissance, a search under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 or an arrest should be considered.

'Film and memory cards may be seized as part of the search, but officers do not have a legal power to delete images or destroy film.
As a person who has been asked to delete images in the past, I'm glad to see the clarification, and I hope it gets down to the PCSOs and Security Guards across the nation! I think I'll print a copy off for my camera bag.

1 December 2008

Christmas Cards

Advent has started and we're just beginning to think about Christmas cards. Dave Walker's thoughtful study made me smile...

23 November 2008

Dave's back!

It looks like Dave Walker sensed my pain! Follow the link for his latest post.

22 November 2008

Scary morris dancers

I heard about this on the today programme this morning. i think I saw some of this type of Morris dancer in Lancaster once - a scary experience!

Dave and the Brewers

The title of this post sounds like it could refer to a cheeky band from the 50s or 60s. in actual fact, it's a reference to Dave Walker and the SCK saga. It's apparently 4 months since the whole kerfuffle (I do like that word) concerning Dave and the Brewers kicked off. See below for further details.

The single most destructive thing that seems to have happened (though I accept there may be no causal link) is that Dave's Cartoon Church blog has been sadly quiet recently. Dave's blog has always been one of my favourites, and though he's doing great work with the Church Times, I can't help thinking that the 'kerfuffle' may have something to do with it all. Mostly, this is a selfish moan. I just miss Dave's cartoons and comments.

Here's some text from the Facebook group "We support Dave Walker" from David Keen:

It's 4 months ago - 22 July - that Dave Walker received his legal threat from Mark Brewer and was forced to take down his SPCK posts. If you have a blog, you might want to mention that today.
As you may know, Mark Brewer has been fined by the US courts for bringing a time-wasting court action for bankruptcy, and we now hear that his company is being investigated by the Charity Commissioners. These are all matters Dave would have reported if he had not been bullied and threatened.

If you'd like to do something supportive, you can sign a petition to Durham Cathedral to ask them to intervene over the SSG bookshop they host: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://spckssg.wordpress.com%2Fpetition%2F

Latest developments are online at http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://spckssg.wordpress.com%2F%2C very interesting leaked email gone up in the last few days.

And finally, still no reply from Mark Brewer to the letter I sent (twice) on our behalf. Very disappointing. He expects Dave to respond within a few hours, and yet doesn't even bother to answer us within a month. Disgraceful.

thankyou for your ongoing support of Dave. Truth and justice will win, it's just taking longer than we'd hoped!

David Keen

21 November 2008

Nice surprise

It's been a busy week at work, and today has been particularly manic, as I've been preparing for another week of leave. This time, it's not so much a holiday. We're off down-south on Sunday, Mrs Lanky to her family, and me to Ely for a Bishops' Advisory Panel.
I arrived home yesterday evening to find a nice surprise in the mail. The Diocesan Bishop has written to wish me all the best for the BAP, which was nice.
I thought about blogging a bit about how I think the BAP works, but I then had the idea of leaving that until later. I don't know if I'll have time to blog during the three days of the panel, and I'm not sure whether it would help or hinder me. We'll see. Anyhow, at some stage, I'll say a bit on the blog about what it was like. you never know, it may be useful to other in the same kind of situation.

20 November 2008


I thought i should announce that tonight we had the first sprouts of the season. I love sprouts!

Happy World Philosophy Day

Even if you didn't know it was world philosophy day, I hope it's been good for you. As a philosophy graduate, I believe that everyone should do a bit of philosophy as part of their basic education. Sometimes it makes your head hurt, but mostly it's fun! It definitely helps you to write better essays! Take a look at the link above for a few classic philosophical problems to get your brain working.

Here's my mate Descartes looking a bit shifty!

19 November 2008

Classic photographs on the web

The internet uber-brand Google seem to have done it again! If you appreciate classic photography, you need to take a look here. I've only had a quick look, but a load of great pictures are on there.

17 November 2008

Back to work Monday

Following a refreshing holiday in the Mediterranean, it's back to work Monday! Always a joy.
My attention will need to turn very quickly to writing a 5 minute presentation and planning a discussion for my BAP which is next week!!! How did that happen? Time seems to be running quickly in Lankyland!
Sounds like a Tuesday night job to me.

15 November 2008

How not to evangelise

Thanks to Dave Keen (and seemingly various others) for this post about how not to evangelise. I've been reading lots of things about mission lately as I approach my BAP in just over a week, and a lot of the observations in the original post echo the sentiments of what I've been reading. How can we expect anyone to take us seriously if we don't do the same for them?

7 November 2008

Christmas is coming...

Here's a link to a review update on the Sony Reader that I have posted about in the past. My wife has one of these gadgets, and the news from Lankyland is that she would agree with Bishop Alan. She absolutely loves it!
When we bought it, Waterstones were bundling 100 free classics with the unit. Mrs Lanky has decided that she will not but any more ebooks until she has read all the free books. I think the logic is that by this point, she will have extracted great value for money from the £200 investment.
I have to say, I couldn't do it. I struggle to get past the first few pages of many books, so the idea of reading books that I really don't like does not appeal to me. I'm sure she'll manage it though.

5 November 2008

One for the West Wing fans

I meant to post on this the other day. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd persuades Aaron Sorkin to conjure up a script for a meeting between Obama and Bartlett.

Gods-on favourite

I enjoyed this story from Ruth Gledhill. The assertion that there probably isn't a God left an obvious area for a little fun. Well done Paddy Power.

29 October 2008

the no-plastic challenge ends

Congratulations to Rose and Ele on completing their challenge to try to live without buying any new plastic for 3 months. Their efforts have certainly made me think a bit more about the choices I make on a day-to-day basis, and whilst I don't think I'll fully follow their example,  I like to think that my habits are a bit better than they were before.
Thanks to Rose and Ele for making us all think.

26 October 2008

Lake District weather

We spent most of yesterday within miles of the Original Mountain Marathon and I've been interested to review the news coverage. As we travelled back through fairly nasty weather last night, we listened out for news reports on the radio in case our chosen route was affected by road closures. At that point, I recall thinking that the news footage was lacking in the usual hyperbole and judgementalism. I expect we'd be told how irresponsible the organisers and competitors had been, but instead there was a balanced tone of concern about the affected people.
In the end though, the media rose to the challenge with a mild example from the BBC here. I'm sure there will be more extreme examples in the kinds of papers I prefer not to read.
My opinion is that the competitors were experienced and well equipped outdoor enthusiasts. As we heard on a live interview on the BBC News channel when we arrived home last night, each competitor was required to carry kit which would allow them to survive in extreme weather conditions. 
My only reservation concerns the safety of the emergency workers who would probably have preferred a quiet day. I particularly feel for the mountain rescue volunteers who, along with the RNLI (and probably others), should be funded by the taxpayer.

24 October 2008

Yet more on Dawkins

Have a look here for some alternative suggestions for Dawkins and his fellow campaigners.

21 October 2008

St Pancras surprise

We were in London this weekend and chose to have our breakfast in the wonderful St Pancras Station (at the Betjeman Arms). I was impressed with the Betjeman statue. 
I was more impressed - perhaps somewhat oppressed - by the sheer scale of the statue of the kissing couple. It really is colossal!

More on Dawkins

Whilst reading about Dawkins' bendy-bus campaign, I was reminded of Ruth Gledhill's interview with the man himself.

Richard Dawkins

We had a great discussion about 'Dawkinsism' at our regular meeting for postgraduate students, staff and general misfits at the University Chaplaincy last night. We were led by an emeritus professor of Biology, who provided an interesting critical angle on some the notable omissions from Dawkins' books. He highlighted the fact that whilst Dawkins paints himself as an advocate of modern science, he only advocates a narrow part of the scientific landscape. Further to this, it seems to be the case that most biologists wouldn't name Dawkins as one of the notable academics in the field of evolutionary biology. So if he's not a leading figure in the world of biological research, and he doesn't even see theology as a legitimate academic discipline, where does his authority come from? For which academic community is he speaking? Anyway, there was much more in last night's discussion - I can't represent it all here.

I was amused to see that Dawkins was featured on the Church Times blog today, and I love the ironies that run through the story.

18 October 2008

New boiler

Further to my previous post on the woes of a dysfunctional combi boiler, I am pleased to announce that we now have a fully working new boiler. It's great, it really is! We can actually have hot water and heat whenever we want it.

I realise that there are many people in the world for whom the notion of clean running water of any temperature would be a wonderful thing, but I'm trying to feel grateful rather than guilty.
The great thing about our new boiler is that it's much more effective and much more efficient. Good for our finances and good for the planet.

Laying down the Law

It looks like times are a little turbulent at (the proper) Old Trafford. First, stalwart Dominic Cork was given his P45, and now the club have decided not to renew to contract of captain Stuart Law.

This is reported to be in response to his commitments to the IPL, but I expect the fuss over Cork's exit probably had a bit to do with it too. When you add in the fact the the Lancashire batting lineup failed to perform this year, you can see why the club felt it was time for a change.
So good luck to Glen Chapple. I hope he succeeds where previous skippers have failed. 

14 October 2008

No time to blog

I have a lot to say at the moment, but I'm afraid  don't have enough time to say it. Maybe I'll catch up tomorrow sometime, but to jog my own memory here's a bullet-listed brain dump:

Dave Walker - letter to the Brewers
New Macs
Forms submitted
Working combi boiler DONE 18/10/08
Stuart Law DONE 18/10/08

...and that's just for starters. Check back in 24 hours to see if I found time.

10 October 2008

I promise this is my final post for the day!

It's a strage feeling when you wake up to hear a familiar voice on the radio. I don't mean Gordon Brown, or John Humphreys. They are familiar, but not in the same way as a friend or a colleague's voice is familiar.

Nigel Paul from the Lancaster Environment Centre was on The Today Programme the other day. It was a bit weird to say the least! Good to hear Lanacster research making the news.

I promise I've not been reading the Daily Mail

My wife sent me this link to a story from my home town. A neglected and boarded-up shop has just been investigated in preparation for redevelopment. It looks like they've discovered a treasure-trove of nostalgia. The one thing that I find a bit surprising is that the shop was left untouched for so long.

Just seen this on Mike Peatman's Facebook page.

Poor old Graham

I never thought I'd be posting in defence of Graham Kendrick, but he seems to have got a bit of a raw deal in being named as one of the top 50 people who have ruined Britain. He's not mentioned in the online article, but Jonathan Wynne-Jones of the Telegraph gives a few more details (thanks to Dave Walker for the link).

I have a couple of issues with the original Daily Mail article. For starters, has Britain actually been ruined? If it has, I didn't notice. Secondly, if Britain has been ruined, I can't imagine that any church music (or service book) could be responsible for this sad state of affairs.

9 October 2008

In hot water!

It's a well worn concept, but you don't realise how much you take things for granted until they disappear! Our combi boiler has been on the blink for some time now. It seems to decide in a completely arbitrary way whether or not it will work.

I started with an annoying but consistent fault. We could only get hot water when the heating wasn't on. Then it changed, whilst remaining predictable; we could get hot water, but only when the heating was on. This was the way it stayed for a while.

Our landlord pointed us in the direction of the plumber, who made numerous visits and changed numerous parts. Alas, the fault remained, though still predictable.

Last week, the predictability of our ailing boiler disappeared. Whether the heating is on or off, there is no way of telling in advance whether the water from the hot tap will be hot or cold. Added to this is a new problem with the central heating. this now suffers from the same fault as the hot water - completely unpredictable!

Morning showers are not guaranteed, relaxing baths are not often possible and the gas fire is seeing extraordinary levels of service. On the plus side, we have learnt the finer points of the 1 minute shower and the cold shower - we've probably reduced our water consumption drastically!

On a positive note, the plumber came this morning to make some preliminary checks before the installation of our new boiler. This is great news, but it made me realise the extent to which we become accustomed to our creature comforts.

7 October 2008

Apple freebie

Life has been incredibly busy over the last couple of weeks; hence the lack of blogging. A new job, family visits and the start of the academic year are my excuses.

Today we went to Manchester for a free session on the Apple software application 'Aperture 2'. Having bought the software with my new Macbook pro, Apple sent me an invitation to the event, held at the Printworks.

The session was presented by an Apple 'high-up', sporting the obligatory all-black uniform and funky radio mic. I was anticipating a full-on sales pitch for all things Apple, but I was pleasantly surprised when he launched into a demo of the main features of the package. I hoped it would be useful and it was. Now I just need to put all of the advice into practice.

One interesting observation about the clientele though. Perhaps predictably, here's my estimate of the profile of the audience: 98% men, 85% wearing black, 50% holding cameras and 65% aged over 50.

25 September 2008

Lancashire wind farm

The Scout Moor wind farm has finally opened. In my opinion, this is great news. I firmly believe that electricity generation by wind, when the farms are appropriately planned and located, has a significant part to play in the future of our energy provision.

Yeay for the stroppy Archbishops!

This post from David Keen is a neat summary of the latest proclamations from the ABs of C and Y. If you don't have the time or inclination to read all about it, read the highlighted text in red at the bottom of the post.

How can we be content to bail out banks to the tune of $700 billion and, at the same time, stand by as people suffer and die through poverty?

Some days I'm glad to be an Anglican!

22 September 2008

Quiet weekend

The quiet weekend I predicted did not materialise. Partly because we were busy, but also because my wife was talking to everyone she met about the wonder of the Sony Reader. It is very impressive! Get yourself to a branch of Waterstones and be prepared to genuflect in the presence of the wondrous offspring-of-Sony.

New beginnings part 2

After an unspecified amount of weekend working, I started my new job today. So far, so good! I have a card to get me into the building outside normal working hours, which is very exciting. Also exciting was the fact that the first face I saw this morning was that of the Vice Chancellor. He said hello to me - perhaps it was because I was wearing a smart suit.

My new working environment is open-plan, so the prospects for daytime blogging will be somewhat curtailed. In fact, the prospects of daytime web browsing will be curtailed! I've gone up a grade, and the expectations in my new job seem to be significantly higher than in my previous one. Looks like I need to get used to early-evening blogging.

19 September 2008

Roll on weekend!

I've been working quite frantically today! It's my last day in my current job, and I've been trying hard to get everything done before I finish. My new job starts on Monday (in another part of the same institution) and I think I'm ready for it now.

2 bits of weekend news:

Further to my earlier post, Lancashire have given me a spark of hope by coming from behind to beat Kent - Go Glen Chapple! Now they just have to beat 2nd in the table Somerset to stay up!

The Sony Reader has arrived. I may have a quiet weekend.

Lanky cricketers

I know that the majority of people who'll be reading this have no interest in cricket, but this won't stop me from posting on the subject.

Lancashire have had a shocking season in most respects. Their batting order has consistently failed to fire. Their bowling attack, whilst steady, has lacked venom. Their overseas signings have been patchy. The one glimmer of hope has been the performances of South African Francois Du Plessis, whose fielding in particular has been great.

We've been relegated in the Pro40, we under-achieved
in the Twenty20, and we now face a nervous relegation battle if we want to stay in the top-flight of English (and Welsh) County Cricket.

Last year we blamed the Lancashire weather for under-par performance, but this year every county has suffered from a lack of summer. So what's the excuse this time?

Let's hope that, inspired by Law's decent knock at Aigburth, they can give Kent a run for their money in what's left of their current match, and fight for their spot in Division One.

The picture is of Lanky, the Lancashire mascot.

Rapping physicists

Thanks To Rose for this link to the LHC Rap.

18 September 2008

I'm very tempted

My parents live quite close to the Hollands factory and I love pies, but I really should stop thinking about this.

Hoist by their own petard

I've been thinking about posting a comment on the 'creation in science lessons' issue, and my anger has just about settled down enough for me to do so. (David Keen has some good background on the topic here)

Shame on the Royal Society for 'allowing' Michael Reiss to resign over this issue! Surely what he said was absolute common sense! This is what I understand he said (my paraphrase):

If, in a science lesson (or anywhere else, for that matter), a child asks questions about the scientific credibility of the creationist view, rather than being rudely dismissive (the Dawkins approach), the teacher should seek to engage the child in a full discussion about the subject.

In his speech he estimated that 1 in 10 children come from a background where a literal view of creation is accepted. I'm not sure if the estimate is accurate, but even if his estimate is inflated, it's likely that there's a large number of children in this situation. Of course these children should be engaged over their views/beliefs. But note the use of the word 'engaged'. You can't expect a child to learn anything if you simply dismiss the view they've held for their entire knowing life as rubbish.

The Royal Society said that Reiss's comments had 'led to damage to the Society's reputation'. This seems somewhat ironic; I think that they have done it themselves.

17 September 2008


This story on the BBC Magazine site is of particular interest to me as my wife and I await the delivery of her latest toy, the Sony Reader. As diligent 21st century consumers, before we decided to order it we looked at a million* reviews on the web. We decided that the electronic book will never replace the paper book, but that we could see real benefits to having one.

Unlike me, my wife is one of those people who will regularly devour a novel in a couple of days. For her, an electronic book is just great. It means that we will no longer need to carry half a ton of reading matter on every holiday.

More than many other emerging technologies, this one seems to have rattled a lot of people. I feel I need to point out that no-one is going to force people to swap their library card for a memory stick! Books will not be sucked into a black hole created by Sony in collaboration with CERN! In fact, even if you buy an electronic book, it is rumoured that you will still be entitled to own traditional books too.

I suppose that I'm saying that there's room for lots of different technologies here. Perhaps the fervent critics should chill out a bit and just avoid buying a Sony Reader; after all, abstinence is the most powerful tool at the consumer's disposal.

If you're interested in the product and want a good honest review, have a look here.

*slight exaggeration

A rare specimen

Tom Allen's funeral is today in Edinburgh - I wish I could be there. On her blog, Maggi Dawn has a rare picture of a rare specimen. Rest in Peace Tom.

16 September 2008

Please provide a fresh sample

I remember when the science behind instrument sampling was still in its relative infancy, though not as far back as people like Rick Wakeman and their mellotrons. The birth of digital sampling was a massive leap from the tape based systems like the Chamberlin and the Mellotron, but it seemed to take a while for the technology to develop. It seems that one of the barriers to the creation of ultra-realistic samples has been storage space. The sounds produced by analogue instruments are extremely rich and variable. This richness and variability is what makes them sound authentic, but it also makes the resulting sound files 'large' in terms of data storage. Large used to mean slow, but now that mass storage is cheap and quick, it looks like instrument sampling might finally have been sorted out.

Maybe this will mean that digital 'pipe organs' will start to sound a bit more convincing. Let's hope so.

Dibley goes to Kazakhstan

This story about the rights for the Vicar of Dibley series being sold to Kazakhstan amused me. Partly because of the significant cultural differences between Dibley and Shymkent. But primarily because of this comment from the show's executive producer Jon Plowman, "This is brilliant. I have always felt that the people of Kazakhstan were the ideal audience for the vicar."

By the way, did you know that Kazakhstan is the largest land-locked country in the world?

15 September 2008

Life imitates art

As a fan of the West Wing, I was pleased to see that someone in the media has finally picked up on something that's been strikingly obvious to me for some time. Namely: Obama = Santos and McCain = Vinick.

I can't help wondering if Aaron Sorkin and his team weren't responsible for the whole 'pig in lipstick' fiasco. It sounded just like something that could have been intentionally crafted by Sam Seaborn or Toby Ziegler. I also wonder if life will continue to imitate art with the outcome of the election. Don't worry though, for those of you who are still plodding through the DVDs, I won't give you a spoiler!

Honestly though, the characters in the show are so similar to the real ones that it's just a little bit eerie! I bet the writers from the West Wing had to pinch themselves when the candidacies became clear.

14 September 2008

Sorry Charles, you were right.

I agree with the general position expressed within this story from Thinking Anglicans. But I also wonder about those within the wider communion who may take this as a formal rejection of creationism by the institution of the Church. As a happy-but-eclectic bunch, with a range of different ideas, is this apology intended to send out a message to creationists that they are no longer in-sync with the church; that they are wrong? A bold step!

After hearing an interview on the Today Programme this morning, I don't think this was the intention of the people who drafted the release, but I do wish the C of E would get a bit wiser to the world of spin and the media. Or perhaps that's a vain hope! Maybe the tabloids just have it in for the church, and therefore don't read beyond the first paragraph of a press release. Maybe the content of the press release has absolutely no bearing on the type of story they will write.

12 September 2008

Hen Harrier 4.0%

I'm pleased to see that the hen harrier is doing well in the Forest of Bowland. Perhaps a subliminal reason for my fondness for the bird is that it gives its name to rather nice beer.

11 September 2008

The green-eyed monster

I confess to a small amount of envy as I follow Matthew McMurray's posts about his move to Cambridge and the final preparations for the start of his training for ministry. Maybe it will spur me on to filling in the many many forms that need to be submitted before my BAP in November.

10 September 2008

...and I feel fine

I'm pleased to note that the world has not been sucked into a black hole following the recent activity at CERN. I hope they find something exciting, though I got the impression that the gaggle of waiting journalists were hoping for something more immediate and impressive.


I've been following the saga of the SPCK bookshops from the many blogs that have documented the issue. Today, reports have emerged about some legal issues faced by the Brewers connected with their bankruptcy claims.

As I read the news, I confess to sporting an entirely coincident smile.

New Beginnings

I don't know if there are good or bad reasons for starting a blog, but I've decided to begin blogging following the sudden death of a respected Anglican blogger with whom I worked for a while in the 1990s. To mark his passing, I felt like I had to throw something into the blogosphere about the BigBulkyAnglican and perhaps to try and follow in his footsteps by having a go at blogging.

Tom Allen was well known in church-related blogging circles for his bold and confident views on a range of subjects. My memories, however, are from Tom's time as Diocesan Youth Officer in Blackburn, Lancashire.

At a time when I was one of few young people still attending my church, Tom ran annual Diocesan youth weekends at Scargill House, and through these I was quickly drawn into a network of similarly aged people who were asking the same kinds of questions as me. Tom knew his audience! On a youth weekend, why end the programme at 11pm and expect everyone to go off to their bedrooms? Instead, Tom treated us to "Uncle Tom's Midnight Madness" - a selection of games and mad activities to wear out even the most energetic yoof! These weekends gave a lot of curious youngsters a credible place where they could be themselves, without any demands or expectations.

I got to know Tom better in 1996 when he asked me if I would be interested in a voluntary gap year in the youth office. After careful consideration, I decided to give it a go. I had a great year which built up to the start of 'unbelievable @ blackburn cathedral', a monthly alternative worship event. Tom's enthusiasm for music and sound equipment was infectious, and most of what I know about sound engineering came straight from him. In recent times, my eyes would light up when Tom's blog featured a recommended a piece of kit or news about the latest bargain he'd discovered.

More than anything else though, Tom made me feel confident in my own beliefs. His catholic background and experimental urge mirrored my own. I felt very uncomfortable with the rock-bank evangelical worship that many of my friends were into, and Tom's example enabled me to engage confidently with Wild Goose music, Taize and the emerging world of alternative worship.

I could say so much more, but brief is probably best. Rest in Peace Tom. You were an inspiration to me.