Thursday, 22 November 2012

Don't like the rules? Then don't join the club

The CofE is in the news at the moment because of its controversial and divisive vote on the position of women within its organisation.  The problem as I see it is that, whilst society has embraced women in increasingly senior roles in business and government, the Church has a different, much older template for the value and roles it gives men and women.

The Bible on which the CofE is founded was written two thousand years ago in a middle-east country with a social structure very different from that which has developed here in western Europe 2 thousand miles away.  The scriptures, or at least those which survived the Ecumenical Councils of the first century AD to become the approved, "official" texts of the religion, give equal value to the sexes but differing roles within the church "family".

Men get leadership roles as part of their ministry, which should come as no surprise as that's how that part of the world's society was ordered.  To then say that women are left with cleaning and babysitting is to distort the function of each individual and overlook much of the service of Jesus as described in the New Testament, which was full of un-characteristically menial and humbled activity for both a man and a potential saviour-figure, whether political (as the disciples and others often assumed) or spiritual.

Jesus is quoted as saying that he'd return and take his Church to heaven with him, but he wouldn't say when, so the structure of the church having been established in this particular place, time and society, it has been left to try and continue in this way across the centuries and spread throughout a world that has changed and developed in so many ways over such a long time. His instructions to the church, though, were to be "in the world but not of it", the implication clearly being that it should remain apart from the world where it finds itself, which presumably includes its structure and how it regards the roles for men and women within it.

The challenge for today's CofE, and also therefore for the emancipated, independent, authoritative working women that wish to be a part of it, is to either compromise its origins to become more "relevant" to modern society and the way people live now, or stay true to the letter of the scriptures and remain an organisation with significantly different rules to 21st century western life.

Much has been written and said this week about "interpretation" of those scriptures.  The problem as I see it is that God can't be in both camps, so when both sides say "I believe God is saying this" then that's the real dilemma that everyone else will pick up on.

[n.b. other denominations are available.]

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Nike+ Sportwatch dissassembly

Right, since my damaged Sportwatch is resisting being charged lately I thought tonight that I'd take it apart, since I'm unlikely to impair its functionality any more than exists now.  So, I picked up my trusty spectacles repair kit (for the tiny phillips-head screwdriver) and got stuck in!

 First up, the removal of the six tiny screws holding the case together.

 And it comes apart like this

 The buckle half has the battery, the other half houses the circuitry, the USB ribbon cable and the battery terminals

 Another view of the separated halves

 A close-up of the battery

...and of the main circuit board

I did wonder whether the yellow insert over the USB cable could be removed, but I couldn't get it to shift and didn't want to risk ruining it so I didn't try too hard.

By the way, in that last picture you can see that there is a waterproofing rubber grommet; reports of the SW's water-resistance vary wildly from "sweat killed mine" to those who swim with them on...

Anyhow, I put mine back together and it works ok - just need to see if I can get it charging again...

Hope this helps :)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Taking Tea With The Queen

Yesterday I had the huge pleasure of accompanying my Mum to a garden party hosted by HM The Queen at Buckingham Palace. 

I know, me!

Fortunately the current hot spell was just on the wane and, although dry and mostly sunny, it wasn't the intense humid heat of the previous ten days or so, which is just as well when wearing a suit and tie and stiff leather shoes!

From Charing Cross station, we shared a taxi with a mother and daughter originally from Edinburgh; the journey was somewhat tortuous as many roads around the Palace were closed ahead of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations there this coming weekend.

We entered the Palace grounds via the Hyde Park Corner Gate opposite the Wellington Arch, making our way along dusty stone paths past trees and shrubs from around the world with small plaques giving their name, genus and place of origin. Many people were already stolling leisurely about, most smiling either to themselves or to others as they passed.

When it became clear that it was okay to walk on the grass (!) we left the path and, soon to our right, we passed a tennis court, complete with wire fencing, and wondered how much use that gets and from whom.

Our first view of the Palace from our luxury seating!

Not long after we emerged onto the main lawn itself and got out first view of the rear of the Palace in the near distance.  Right along the far edge of the lawn was an enormous gazebo acting as the main tea tent; two more, one for the Royal Family and guests and another for diplomats (or, as the sign read, the "Corps Diplomatique") were placed along the edge of the lake facing the Palace.

The Royal Tea Tent

To start with, for about 20 minutes or so, we sat on perfectly conventional green plastic garden chairs (just like the ones at home in the shed, except ours have cushions!) and watched the people going by.  Many men in morning or tail coats, lots of military uniforms, clerical robes of various hues and denominations, examples of exotic dress from Africa, Asia, Arabia, but also plenty of "ordinary people like us" in regular suits and "best wear".

Then we went over to the tea tent and, after a short while queueing at one of many serving stations, we emerged with a small, white, rectangular plate complete with in-built cup-holder, having chosen from a range of sandwiches (de-crusted, naturally), cakes and other fancies, plus either tea, fruit juice or - genius - iced coffee.

After this we made our way over to the Royal Tea tent and stood near the rope as the cordon for the Royal party formed/was formed - we never saw how (but more on that later...). It became clear we wouldn't be anywhere near that route but, since we had a virtually unobstructed view of the Royal and Diplomatic tea tents, we contented ourseolves with our position as the crush of people around us intensified.

At four minutes past four - yes, late - the National Anthem was played and I could just make out the figure of HM The Queen on the steps at the rear entrance to the Palace.  It was a fair while later that she finally emerged and headed for her refreshments.  In this time, a number of people had gone in ahead of her; we spotted Archbishop John Sentamu, the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres and MP Eric Pickles.

A while later we decided that we'd seen as much as we would here and moved back to the tea tent for more refreshments. 

Then I thought it would be an idea to go back across the main lawn and we somehow managed to get caught-up in the formation of the cordon for the departure of the Royal party from their tea tent.  We were right at the front this time and, in due course, almost the entire Royal family walked slowly past us almost within touching-distance; HM The Queen and Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cambridge (but not Prince William, who was away on military duty), Prince Edward and The Duchess of Wessex, The Duke and Duchess of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and a small retinue of Ladies-in-Waiting and other staff.  Shortly afterwards, at six o'clock, the National Anthem was played again to signal the departure of the Royal party and the end of the occasion.

Lining the route of the Royal party's departure

This unexpected treat topped-off an already enthralling, if at times slightly surreal day.  I know Mum enjoyed herself and I certainly did.  I even managed to take a few crafty photos to prove we weren't either dreaming or deluded!  I'm so glad to have been able to see the Monarch at such close quarters, especially in this of all years!

An ordinary man in an extraordinary place!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

And The Award For Worst...

Awards ceremonies can be pretty unedifying spectacles, full of smug winners
and red-faced, simmering losers teetering between graciousness and homicide. 

Rewarding success is lazy, though - much preferable are those awards which
reward failure and make the rest of us feel a little better about ourselves.

Fortunately, there seem to be an increasing number of these covering various
in-disciplines, some more famous than others.  Worthy of note (here, anyway)

  • IgNobel Prize for spurious science
  • Razzies ("Golden Raspberries") for Hollywood's worst movies & movie performances

  • Darwin Awards for spectacularly stupid ways of killing yourself

  • Diagram Awards for odd book titles

  • Stella Awards  for the more creative law suits
  • Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for published fiction's worst published line, especially opening sentences
  • Golden Bull  for plain English offences

  • Carbuncle Awards  for architecture
  • Titanic Awards for the travel industry
  • Tracy Awards for advertising

Honourable mentions go to:
  • Rosemary Awards  named after Nixon's secretary who memorably erased 18 crucial minutes of the watergate tapes, and recognising  U.S.-only open government failures

  • Golden Kela Awards Bollywood's Razzies
  • Lazzies the Latino Razzies

Sunday, 24 April 2011


Most of us who live in an urban environment live very close to each other.  This brings not only benefits but also responsibilities; these responsibilities are most keenly tested in good weather during the summer months and, like now, a warm spring.

When it's nice, we open our windows to let fresh air in to our houses and also enjoy being outside on our patios or in our gardens.  These are times to remember those others nearby and be good neighbours.

It can be thoroughly demoralising to be assaulted with the noise of a radio or CD player that's either played loudly from indoors or put outside.  There's often nowhere to escape, no room in your own house where you can be free from the noise if you want to, and shutting the windows is a last resort when it will make your own environment more hot and uncomfortable.

Other factors, like barbecue fumes and smoke, or late-night loud chat and music from a party, can also make for a miserable time if you're nearby.  The not-wanting-to-make-a-fuss gene kicks in or, worse, the fear of creating bad feeling for the future.

So, if you can hear an ordinary conversation next door then the same applies in reverse.  Please bear this in mind and we'll all enjoy the sunnier times.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Nike Mettle DIY battery change

Nike's range of Mettle watches are getting rare now, so if you find a good one then it's worth taking care of.  If you'd rather not send it away for its battery change then you can tackle it yourself with a little care.  It's not a complicated process but you can damage some important springs and sprung contacts which will impair the future functioning of the watch (e.g. the alarm).

Anyhow, here's the procedure.  I'm using an Anvil, but the process applies to other models in the range.

    Remove the four small cross-headed screws from the corners of the back plate

     Lift the back plate up and away - don't slide it sideways because this may damage the springs and contacts underneath.  If, like mine, there's a white plastic sticker over the battery then carefully peel it off

    Now that the battery is exposed, remove the even smaller cross-headed screw from the retaining plate

    Now you can remove the old cell

    Install a fresh 3v CR2032, positive (+) side up, preferably not touching it with your fingers
    Re-fit the retaining plate

    Check that the rubber seal around the module bay is still intact and, if necessary, apply a tiny amount of silicone oil to retain water-resistance

    Check the display, the light and, for completeness, the alarm tone, then re-fit the back plate.  Ensure the screws are in tightly but not over-tightly.  That's it, you're done!

      Thursday, 12 August 2010

      My 2006 "Uxbridge English Dictionary" definitions

      In March 2006 I submitted a bunch of UED definitions, as heard on the wonderful "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue", to the BBC Radio 4 online message boards.

      For no other reason than sheer vanity and self-promotion, I reproduce them here to show you just how bloody clever I am.

      Solace: a really good gospel singer
      Diversion: Welsh-language edition
      Inspector: a member of a villainous, world-threatening organisation
      Incorrigible: egg-on a male cow
      Anagram: a stripper dressed as the Princess Royal
      Sublime: a member of the citrus underclass
      Intestate: survived test seven
      Pomegranate: stone used to build the Australian Embassy in London
      Syllabus: Scouse public transport
      Indignation: everyone living like students
      Catastrophe: prize-winning moggie
      Indispensible: winner of One Man and his Cow
      Yom Kippur: Jewish festival of the smoked herring
      Valuable: bovine pricing
      Pheromone: King of Egypt complaining
      Prawn: a Geordie lying down
      Vulcanised: gone pointy-eared
      Flamboyant: floating candle
      Uncanny: removed from its tin
      Eulogy: a Christmas horse
      Phlegmatic: having a head-cold
      Ecstatic: moving
      Implode: a bunch of goblins
      Vagabond: shares in vagrants
      Toulouse Lautrec: a long walk to the toilet
      Atlas: bare-headed
      Vagrant: a moan about nothing in particular
      Diatribe: second-rate clan
      Sofa: you're dumped!
      Morning: Geordie complaints
      Lift: on a Parade gound, the opposite of "rate"
      Content: a fake marquee

      That was then. I'm still at it thanks to a recent thread on Twitter (which didn't exist back then...).

      incline: what a pen leaves
      wok: Jonathan Ross's favourite kind of music
      antipasti: down with Ginster's!
      extractor fan: a former admirer of farm machinery
      late: not heavy
      effigy: how to spell "feg"