Monday, March 31, 2008

A Matter of Chance?

No matter how much we may think we freely choose the time and place for our actions, there are times when a specific action (in terms of time and place) quite simply had to be. Yesterday was a case in point.

Regular readers of my blog will realize that so often my decision to go out, perform a certain activity etc, is determined as much by the vagaries of my resource of physical and emotional stamina as it is by my will to do so. Yesterday afternoon I had determined on a certain goal but, a choice had to be made as to whether ma belle and I would walk there (a venue slightly further than my usual brief brisk walking range) or go in the car.

The day being beautifully sunny, and noticing the pond had survived the winter with an absolute surplus of oxygenating weed, I was almost distracted sufficiently to abandon the aforementioned goal, tidying up the pond instead. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, I decided it would be better to walk to the pre-planned venue rather than do any work on the pond. It was definitely decided that we should walk, rather than use automotive power for this little errand.

A couple of hundred yards down the road, a voice called out “Malcolm, Malcolm”. We turned around and, at first I didn’t recognize the lady who was calling out. As we chatted, she told us of her worries and anxieties and that she’d lost two stone in weight through the stress of recent events. She seemed close to tears as we chatted and asked if we would like to call around to her place for a coffee and a chat.

Having performed our little errand, we called in on our way back home and sat and chatted for a couple of hours. Although it was quite an exhausting experience, well past my usual socializing limit, it was also most rewarding. By the time we left it was really great to see her smiling. The problems she’s been facing seem some way from resolution but, at least the problems have been shared.

The timing and direction of our little venture seems almost to have been pre-ordained. Yes, I had to make the choice to venture out but, I had no idea that the exercise would prove so fruitful.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gently Does It

The penny has finally dropped. For the past week to ten days, a physical shattered-ness has forced me to retire au lit at a marginally earlier hour, although my nocturnal bed rest requirement has remained somewhere around 11 hours. Last night, I performed the task of resetting the clocks for the advent of BST (British Summer Time); I now have a strong suspicion that my biological clock was gently adapting me to this man-made leap!

Whatever the clock may say, I can guarantee that my body will continue to forcefully state when it requires rest. For far too long I’d ignored these promptings, and look where that got me!

On the general health front, things have been on a pretty even keel and, apart from taking my regular medications, I’ve been resorting far less to pain-killers. To tell the truth, the analgesics don’t seem to cope too well with the nauseatingly intermittent nature of the pains and discomforts my flesh is heir too. On the other hand, I’ve overcome the quirky guilt feelings that used to overwhelm me on those occasions when I’ve found it absolutely necessary to take them; I’ve also discovered that they can sometimes be used to make an essential pre-emptive strike against intense discomfort.

The not infrequent involuntary leg crumbling spasms, nine times out of ten, I’m able to find amusing … “look what the little bugger’s doing now!” The nagging bruising aches emanating from the armpit seem to have re-emerged with a vengeance, a couple of weeks after my last acupuncture treatment, ending in a sharp numbness of the inner upper arm and around the elbow joint.

Most importantly, I’m enjoying life as long as I accept my limitations. A couple of years back, I never even dreamt that I could feel this good again. Now I’ve just got to work on the ….. what’s the word I’m looking for …… concentration!

I rejoice and am glad in this day the Lord has made.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thinking Aloud : Substitutionary Embryonics

"Using one as a means to an end is never justifiable, it is morally wrong!" In this instance the person speaking on the radio was referring to the human embryo,  apparently ruling out the possibility of any stem-cell research.

If using an embryo as a 'means to an end' is so abhorrent, how much more horrific is the story of a Father who allows his Son to be born, and grow to maturity, in the knowledge that the Father will send Him to a grisly death, or (at the least) the Son  lives life in the knowledge that he must die this same awful death. Such is the substitutionary theory of the atonement, a good man has to be punished (in the case of penal substitution) or else willingly dies (substitutionary atonement)  for the redemption of all. What sort of immoral ogre is the Father in the penal substitution theory?

Of course one could refer to the Resurrection as cancelling out this evil act but, by the same token one should acknowledge that a person healed from a cruel degenerative disease, as a result of embryo research, would provide a resurrection moment in response to the 'sacrifice' of the embryo!

Friday, March 21, 2008

And Was My Friday Good

AND WAS MY FRIDAY GOOD (Friday 21 March)

A dispassionately mundane retelling of the gospel account of Jesus crucifixion, monotonously narrated by Mary Magdalene, with music of a banality that makes one think that perhaps Lloyd-Webber is Verdi’s natural heir. This was ‘Good Friday Liturgy’ (BBC Radio 4), words by Carol Anne Duffy, in what the Radio Times described as having feminist perspective. If having a woman say that she saw the events, rather than a male recorder of the events voice stating what was happening makes it feminist, then ………..!

Having spent a few of the preceding hours listening to Palestrina ‘Stabat Mater’, Liszt ‘Via Crucis’, a plainsong ‘Stabat Mater’ and sections of the Verdi ‘Requiem’, the banality of this special radio production was all the more striking.


The following is a random jotting which I failed to get around to completing or posting yesterday, presented in glorious Technicolor incompleteness.

MAUNDY THURSDAY ( Thursday 20 March)

On Maundy Thursday, a few random thoughts spring to mind concerning the Last Supper.

I’ve often felt it ironic that the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples, prior to his death by crucifixion, should have been the Passover Seder, a celebration of the Hebrews release from their Egyptian captivity; redemption and death seemed to have been rolled into one. (Pesach derives from the tenth plague when those households whose doorposts were daubed with the blood of the Passover lamb were ‘passed over’ by the avenging angel, a prelude to their release from the Egyptian captivity).

Some scholars however suggest that the meal may have been on the day, a few days before the Passover Seder, when the Passover lambs were slaughtered; this would of course have provided a more instant symbolism.

The symbolic potency of the last supper ( as Passover Seder) becomes truly significant when we realize that through the death of Jesus and the subsequent event known as ‘resurrection’, death itself was overcome, the ultimate liberation from oppression.


A later posting for today (Friday), A Little Miracle, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PC Pro: News: Phorm "highly intrusive and illegal"

BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk have all signed deals to sell their customer's data to the company, and both the Guardian and MySpace have agreements in place to provide targeted advertising on their websites.

PC Pro: News: Phorm "highly intrusive and illegal"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ride on, ride on ...

The demonstrations in Tibet, and neighbouring provinces, being met with brutal suppression strike a particular chord this Palm Sunday. Amongst the people dwelling in Palestine there was much unrest, which in its turn was met with brutal suppression by the Roman occupying power and its Herodian quislings.

Into this political ferment Jesus and his followers, a number of whom were Galileans (not the most respected region to hail from), arrived in Jerusalem. Amongst the crowds that welcomed him there were, most probably, those with an urgent desire for social change. Although many of the ideas he had preached were quite simply an extension of those already being disseminated by sections of the religious community, his teaching was expressed with an urgency that commanded attention. A new kingdom, one which turned the values of the ruling elite on their head, was imminent, choices had to be made! Not for Jesus the full regal panoply of the present rulers; in a way the entry into Jerusalem on a humble ass could be seen as cocking a snook at the prevailing powers.

The reasons for the welcome he received can be linked with a variety of expectations, both political and religious. But could this enthusiasm last, was this movement for change an unstoppable force? In a society riddled with informers and agent provocateurs, fear was soon to overtake these ‘supporters’, indeed before long many of his closest followers were in fear for their lives, even to the point of denying that they ever knew him. Jesus was soon to ask his heavenly father to take the cup of suffering away but, this moment of doubt notwithstanding, his conscience wouldn’t permit him to recant, the die was cast. This was his chosen path. To the authorities he was a nuisance, an agitator, a traitor and, as such, he must suffer the most humiliating and degrading death by crucifixion.

To be continued ….

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Delicate Balance

Although I’m frequently aware of the close proximity of contentment to complacency, it’s only on rare occasions that the narrow margin between contentment and frustration comes to my attention. Alongside the health improvements of the past twelve months, I have developed an acceptance of those limitations, compared to my state of being five years ago, which drastically curtail so many of those activities which were once part of my daily round.

For at least 75% of my time I dwell in contented acceptance but, a sudden (albeit short-lived) reinstatement of some of the more debilitating aches, pains, and mental numbness, dissolves this sense of modest well-being, replacing it with a general sense of alienation from all that is ‘normal’.

Last night, as I struggled to make it up the staircase, I was reminded of how things were in my darker days but, alongside a feeling gratitude for recent improvements, a sense of frustration creeps in. Rather than being grateful for the relative state of comfort that I live in, a strong current of anger overwhelms me as I consider all the violence and injustice that surrounds us on planet earth. Perhaps this is a righteous anger but, if all I can do about it is sign a few petitions, make a small donation to some of the charities I support, rather than manning the barricades, its effect can be rather negative like resentment.

In one sense though, it is a relief to recognize that the anger is not that of self-pity; the discomforts I face are so paltry, compared to the daily struggle for existence that confronts such a large proportion of humankind.

I am content but not complacent, frustrated but not in despair.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

FROM CLARITY TO CANDY STRIPES and thence to vacancy

Prior to going out, for our thwarted Mothering Sunday Meal, I decided to play about on ‘Old Faithful’ (my original tailor-made PC). As I waited for the anti-virus to update, the occasional vertical pinstripe appeared on the screen. A few minutes later, the whole screen was dressed in almost psychedelic candy stripe array. I attempted to switch off the TFT monitor, (date of manufacture: September 2003), to no avail. An attempted re-start of the computer, via the PCs reset switch (the monitor remaining inaccessible) proved futile; the candy stripes resolved themselves into a state of stasis, regardless of the CPUs activity/inactivity.

At this point there was no other option than a forced shut-down of the system.

Having unplugged the monitor, various tests (using alternative transformers etc) determined that the monitor was totally defunct; no more candy stripes, no power led light, just an inert blank black screen!

Evidently, LCDs lack the stamina of good old CRTs; I’ve had far better service from second-hand (office cast-off) CRT monitors than this ProView TFT. Thankfully I have ready access to other machines, otherwise my frustration would have turned to righteous indignation.