Sunday, September 28, 2008

What's the use?

A Radio 3 announcer, commenting on this news item, asked - what's the use of this huge prime number? By the end of the programme, somebody had emailed in to point out that such numbers are used in cryptography - and hence useful in securing websites, but I was reminded of something said by GH Hardy, a mathematician. He said something along the lines of - that he was glad that he'd never done anything useful in his life - which sounds reprehensible - until you are told that he lived in wartime (I'm not sure which war), when scientific discoveries were increasingly being used as the basis for new ways to kill people.

But for me, personally, I didn't know what to think. My encounter with GH Hardy happened when I was contemplating studying mathematics at university, and a maths teacher suggested that I read his book. To a young person, wanting to find something useful to do with his life, GH Hardy's comment wasn't exactly encouraging ...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Self portrait with the new cameraphone

Not as capable as the old one, but OK ...

Of birthdays and families

To-day is my wife's birthday. And, conveniently, my mother is coming to stay with us for a couple of days because my daughter has arranged with her class teacher for my mother to come and speak to the class on Monday morning about World War II, about which my daughter's class are doing a project, and through which my mother lived. So we (wife, (my) mother, daughter, son, and me) are going out for a meal this evening.

My mother can be somewhat critical when observing the tidiness of house and garden - well, we've done our best ...

Friday, September 26, 2008


Complete with UFO ...



Sent using a Sony Ericsson mobile phone

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If I were to post

And I were to be truthful, I would report that I am not coping.

But I didn't post, and we've had our team meeting, and I've had my lunch, and I've enjoyed listening to some Brahms (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th movements of his 1st symphony). I don't suppose that I'm coping any better, but I'm feeling happier ...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Climbing the hill

These days, I do far less hillwalking than I used to. But when I did, I recall that it was best not to stop too often, but that some rest points were needed. I always seemed to be at the back of the party, and was often frustrated when the main group paused, just long enough for the stragglers to catch up, and then set off again.

The great moment, of course, is the achievement of the summit, often coinciding with time to consume our packed lunches. But I'm thinking also of the mid morning break, on the shoulder of the hill, perhaps the cars still in sight, tiny, far below. Between two worlds - the demanding, complicated world of normal life - and the bracing otherness of the high plateau ...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Still dealing with the (mostly positive) repercussions of reading "The Shack". I've been challenged to become more aware of God's presence. I think that I'd settled into a view of God as being 'out there', not 'here'. And consequently I'm having to consider that God (or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit - my grasp of the concept of the trinity isn't great) is interested in every aspect of my life - not just prayer times and church attendance. Which I've always accepted in theory, but found difficult in practice.

Many years ago, I attended some kind of gospel rally in the Music Hall, Aberdeen. Where the speaker made some comment about how much more valuable was the event taking place than what usually happened in the Music Hall. And I was thinking - the event which I had previously attended (most recently) at that venue was a symphony concert. Did he really have the right to claim that what he was presenting was significantly better than the moving, uplifting, edifying concert I'd been to a few weeks before?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back to work

We seem to be enjoying an indian summer. First day of the teaching term - the campus suddenly switches from being relatively quiet to being populated by (young-looking) students. And I need to turn my attention from home stuff to work stuff ...

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The sun is shining. I've opened the (house) windows, and really should be in the garden, tackling some weeds. My wife and daughter are in church; my son is downstairs playing his new DS game (Pokemon). But my heart is heavy. No big reason; just my constant inability to surf the wave of life. I always seem to be just beneath the surface, gasping for breath, struggling to reach the surface.

I'm being more candid than I usually am, inspired by my friend Ian's reference to the story of Hannah Modra. I know someone who (perhaps not unexpectedly) took her own life. And I am constantly aware of my own inner darkness - to-day so out of tune with the day's brightness.

And this isn't a 'poor me' post. I know how fortunate I am, and am truly thankful. It's just - perhaps mostly tiredness - I don't know ...

And I would add my prayers to Ian's. I'm back remembering the Shack, and that papa (God) loves us with such a gentle love, past understanding ...

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Yesterday, I crashed through my electronic in-tray (our call management system, at work). I'm quite pleased that I managed to do something with most of the items therein, possibly not the right thing, or the best thing. So I can start next week, which is already overloaded, with somewhat less baggage than I had at the start of this one.

And I'm quite pleased to have my Saturday mornings back. Last year, our daughter attended a ballet class which involved me in driving her there, driving back home, trying to do something useful in the intervening period, and driving out again to bring her home. Her ballet class this year is midweek, which brings its own challenges, but has allowed me to sit at the computer this morning to make some inroads on the pile of family and home admin. Trying to be realistic - I don't want to spend the day at the computer, but hopefully over time the height of the physical pile of papers sitting in my in-tray here will diminish ...

Friday, September 19, 2008


I have just finished reading The Shack. For most of the book, I felt that the writing was too sugary to be nutritious, but I guess that by the end I had been pretty well won over. Perhaps it was the contrast between the darkness of the event depicted in the first part of the book, and the primary colours brightness of the central section that made me uncomfortable. Anyway, it's provided continuing food for thought, and some encouragement, for which I am grateful.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Meta blogging

Thanks for the comments - they mean so much ...

And I did manage to put on the blinkers, and tackle just one job, not completing it, but, hopefully, moving it along. The fear is, of course, that those jobs which I had to lay aside now bite me. In my home life, given the opportunity, I can usually work my way forward, one task at a time, through a myriad of tasks. It's more difficult at work, where I have less control, and people have a habit of criticising me for not doing something, when I was doing something else. I should be able to defend myself, but I don't always know who's right. Asperger's again, to some extent, I guess ...

Anyway, better get on. Thanks, again!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


This is one of those waving a banner type posts. Not a proper journal entry.

It's mid morning. Work is impossible. But if I go to my boss and say that work is impossible, that will intensify the crisis. And the only relief that it will bring will be that the tasks will be redistributed. And I shall have failed again.

I can try, as is my usual practice, having surveyed the mess, to tackle one job. Move that job, hopefully, one step nearer to completion. While being acutely aware that other jobs will be waiting. And with the prospect of desk duty this afternoon. Where I can sometimes actually help with, on a good day, 10% of the calls.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Rocks in a swamp

There is a thread over on the ship along the lines of, "Why blog?" I was intrigued by one of the contributions, by the writer of glimpsesofcolour. Her blog is therapy, drawing attention to glimpses of colour in a life otherwise overshadowed by the greyness of depression.

Why do I blog? I, too, battle depression. I sometimes think of my blog posts as waypoints. If I blog early in the day, it is to put down a marker; if late, it is generally to try to identify a positive aspect to the day. Perhaps it is best to think of John Bunyan's Slough of Despond (is it pronounced 'ow' or 'uff'? I always wonder), and of the traveller making the best route that he can.

Friday, September 12, 2008

And thanks to Tired and Emotional

For this inspired rewrite of history ...

And as I drove home this evening (after dropping my daughter at Focus in Prestonpans), whoever orchestrates the sky was surpassing him (or her) self - in one direction a glorious sunset, in the other what looked like part of a rainbow ...


I have just listened to, and been refreshed by, a tearFund prayercast. But I am acutely conscious that I have been able to do so only because to-day I am not well enough to be at work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Asperger's, again

These days, I am reading a book called Asperger Syndrome Employment Workbook, by Roger N Meyer. It isn't an easy read, but over and over again I find myself saying, "Yes, that's true of me." This morning, the author asserted that Asperger's Syndrome is 'always' accompanied by dysthymia (a sort of low level, ongoing depression). He relates how he looked at childhood photographs and noticed his flat expression - in my case, my parents were forever telling me to smile, and I would contort my face into what felt like a grimace, and they would, apparently, be happy.

Another book I am reading is Alan Jamieson's A Churchless Faith. I am impressed by how sympathetically he describes the questioning which some people go through when they find that their received faith is inadequate.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


As readers of this blog will probably realise, I have a fragile personality. I have decided that I cannot cope with anonymous comments. But I would not wish to disenfranchise serious commentators who happen not to have a Blogger account. So I am happy that Blogger now supports OpenID as a way for someone who wishes to comment to identify him or herself.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Step by step

I don't entirely know where I am going with this. I still can't update Classical Jaz. We enjoyed the Clone Wars, but I found Ocean Terminal a scary place.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land

Leaving soon for the cinema, to see Clone Wars with my son. My presbyterian soul feels that I should be in church, but since my son regularly elects not to attend church, and therefore one of us (his parents) stays at home to be with him, I don't think that my guilt feelings are appropriate.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


To-day's challenge was to prioritise - recognising that, at the day's end, plenty that one would have liked to have done will not have been done. But we have done, I think, what we had to do - haircuts for father and son, shoes (ballet and school) for daughter, a visit for grandma ...

Friday, September 05, 2008


Not literally, I hasten to add. It's just that, owing to a technical fault, I am currently unable to post in the usual place.

I've been listening to Beethoven's 9th symphony. Inspiring stuff. I have a set of CDs of the Beethoven symphonies performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. Clean, satisfying performances. What struck me about the last movement of Beethoven's 9th (the famous choral finale) was how different the climaxes were from, for example, those in Mahler's symphonies. The late romantics build up to their climaxes, whereas Beethoven's seem to come from nowhere, like water bursting through a breached dam.

Moving on

Just too cumulatively tired ...

Monday, September 01, 2008