Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Honours

Knight

Certain Paralympians have been whinging because they believe they merit honours which they did not get; furthermore they argue that able-bodied Olympians have been favoured by the Honours Committee. According to the Mail Online, Lee Pearson the disabled equestrian who already has an OBE is disappointed he was not made a knight.
Dame

At one time, knighthood and lesser honours were bestowed at the favour of UK monarchs.  Today our Queen does not decide who shall receive these accolades. A list is drawn up by an Honours Committee who considers nominations. Their recommendations are presented to the Queen. She is the one who officiates at investitures held at Buckingham Palace, London, Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh or Waterloo Chamber at Windsor.
OBE
 
The Queen in her Christmas Day Speech said, "As London hosted a splendid summer of sport, all those who saw the achievement and courage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were further inspired by the skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes. In pursuing their own sporting goals, they gave the rest of us the opportunity to share something of the excitement and drama.”

Her words, ‘own sporting goals’ showed how she viewed their achievements. Every athlete, paralympian or able-bodied, had their own personal motivations. In light of that, if after gaining gold, silver or bronze medals they received further awards it was not their right, since they were given, not earned. I feel sure that favouritism, prejudice or discrimination would have played no part in the decision making of the Honours Committee. Egalitarianism would have been to the forefront.

Links

Honours list is biased against us, Paralympic stars argue after they got lesser awards than Olympians

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2254897/New-Years-Honours-List-Anger-Paralympians-lesser-awards.html#ixzz2GdloDtLW

New Year Honours list: Stars of London 2012 given recognition


New Year Honours 2013


The Honours System


The Honours System – Members of Honours Committees


Guide to the Honours


Lee Pearson


Paralympian Josef Craig given new  year honour


Investitures


Holyroodhouse


Waterloo Chamber


The Queen’s Christmas Day Speech in Full


Human Rights


Rights


Universal Declaration of Human Rights


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Age of Communication



First it was the Age of Information, now it is the Age of Communication. Never before in the history of man has there been a time when communication has been so easy and instant. Micro technology has made it possible for the mass-production of miniature gadgets designed expressly for the purpose of exchanging information. Modern mobile phones have transformed the process beyond imagination. You can’t walk down a street without seeing someone engaged in texting or speaking on their phone. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, on average children are spending over 7 hours a day online, and some as much as 10 hours using multiple devices!

Where does this actually get them? How does it enrich their lives? Much of their conversation, whether by text, email or the spoken word goes in one ear and out the other. A great deal of it is pointless.

My older grandchildren spend hours and hours chatting to one another online by means of Facebook, Skype or other social networks. The younger generation see this indulgence as essential. Without a mobile phone connected to the Internet they are totally lost. Their lives are worthless – not worth living. No longer can they chat to their friends. They are totally lost. Should the unthinkable happen, and they cannot have access to their addiction; for survival and sanity they might even ‘think’ of doing something positive and helpful, such as washing dishes, doing homework, tidying their bedroom or ironing their clothes. There is a forlorn hope that they might find time for sleeping, eating properly and taking exercise.

What does the future hold for these slaves to communication? They will be conned into thinking they exist in a virtual world, a world of pleasure, abandon and eternal delights. Muscular atrophy, mental disorder and early death will be the reality. Will they take note? Will they take action? Nope!

Links

Is This the Age of Communication?


Effects of the Communication Age


In the communication age, connection is everything


Effective Communication in the Information Age


The New Communications Age


Kaiser Family Foundation


 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Galaxy Note 10.1 WIFI



One of my daughters received a Galaxy Note 10.1 WIFI Tablet computer for a Christmas present. She is delighted with it. Today I tried the tablet and found operating the device intuitively easy. The computer has an S pen for drawing, sketching and other creative activities. There are front and rear cameras; the main 5 megapixels one at the back has a LED flash. A great feature is the multi-tasking facility, which is capable of running two activities on a divided screen, and the quad core processor allows four tasks to run at the same time. Touch operation is instant, which is excellent for when making documents using the virtual keyboard. There is no physical ‘home’ button, as with an iPad, but touching the home symbol at the base of the screen speedily opens the home page.

If I was looking for a tablet computer I would consider buying a Galaxy 10.1 which is a little more expensive than an iPad 2. Each tablet has access to thousands of apps; the former has an Android OS and the latter has Apples’ own iOS 6 featuring a dual core A5 chip.

Links

Galaxy Note 10.1 WIFI


PC World - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – 16 GB £355.00


Carphone Wharehouse - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – 16 GB £335.00


Argos – Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – 16 GB £335.00


Tesco Direct - Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB 10.1 inch White £318.00

iPad 2 Deals

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dreaming


 
Here are photos of ‘Sandpiper’, my 14’ ‘C’ Type West Wight Potter. They remind me of the few times I sailed her this year. My short cruise at Poole Harbour proved what she and I could do. There she was tested in a variety of conditions both under sail and motor.

She met my expectations, but I found her one drawback -her cramped cabin, mainly on account of her centreplate box. If that were eliminated she would have plenty of room for single-handing. Apart from that inconvenience I’m full of praise for her.

Now, when daylight hours are short, winds are strong and there’s rain, frost and snow, it is time for dreaming. I’m dreaming of sunshine, blue skies, beautiful beaches and adventures of coastal cruising. I dream of headlands to round, tides to stem and the avoidance of shallows, rocks and shipping. Harbours and anchorages present their challenges; likewise keeping self fed and alert. There’s navigating, exploring and finding times for rest. Peace, solitude and tranquillity contrast with the run of adrenaline when danger unexpectedly calls.

These are the stuff of this sailor’s dreams. I’m looking to spring, early spring if the weather allows, and away we go, ‘Sandpiper’ and me. The South Coast beckons, and if my frame can take it and my health holds out, maybe further towards the Isles of Scilly.

If and if, we shall see, my boat and me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

CCTV and Possible Ramifications



Having thought a little more about yesterday’s unpleasant experience at Marks and Spencer I realize I had been monitored on CCTV. This intrusive snooping on people is increasing. The excuse for it is the prevention and detection of crime. Yesterday I had not committed a crime, nor was I planning one, and yet I feel sure my innocent activity had been captured on CCTV. As the security guard and his companion made their presence felt, we were directly below a CCTV camera, no doubt recording every action. I am not paranoid, but I wonder if our conversation was also being recorded. It is not difficult to conceal a microphone on ones person.
You need to search for this one!

More and more I am aware that UK citizens can be tracked wherever they go. They carry mobile phones that can be located by cross-referenced signals and phone conversations can be recorded. You cannot drive into a TESCO car park without your car’s number being scanned and recorded. A sojourn of more than 3 hours results in a fine. When you purchase anything, every detail is stored at TESCO’S data base. Drivers are photographed when entering Stansted Airport’s new pickup/putdown area and their vehicle’s number is indexed with their photo. Car number plate recognition cameras are strategically placed on major roads. London’s Congestion Zone requires your details.

George Orwell’s ‘1984’ could become a reality. In the USA, the design and production of prying and spying gizmos is a major industry. Even emails are saved on databases. Internet’s ‘Cloud’ stores what we have on our computers and mobile phones. Do we want to go along this route? It seems to me we are in freefall towards the US decline.

Here, in our politically correct State, we have to watch what we say. We cannot freely call a person a ‘pleb’ for fear of the consequences. People are said to be discriminatory when they don’t subscribe to same sex marriages or female bishops. Where is freedom of thought? Even that is under threat. What has happened at Hyde Park Corner (Speakers’ Corner) where one could call a spade a spade? Are speakers really free to say what they think without being monitored?

I was ‘born free’. I once lived in a land that fought for freedom, but sadly that precious jewel, so much prized, is being crushed. In my own village where I have lived 40 years there are numerous CCTV cameras. Residents’ movements are scanned daily. There’s one nifty little camera that records images of pedestrians who cross the road in the centre of the village. Several cameras are trained on a roundabout and neighbouring footpaths. At an industrial estate there’s a tall tower with 6 CCTV cameras and floodlights. One of our public houses has several cameras sited in the car park. I counted 3 houses with their own CCTV cameras. The bank had one overlooking the cash machine.

Where will this end?  Will our children be ‘chipped’ at birth? Will they be electronically tagged, just as some offenders are when on probation? Will they have freedom to roam where they wish?  Shall we only buy goods if we have been chipped? That could be our future!

Revelation 13:16-18 ‘He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of man: His number is 666.’

Links

Orwell's Total Surveillance State is almost here


1984 Is Here: Big Brother in the Electronic Age


Is the U.S. Government Really A Spy Machine?


Pleb row probed by 30 police


Speakers’ Corner


Congestion Charging

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day Sales and an Intimidating Experience at M & S

Not M & S


I was visiting Chelmsford today, and my wife thought she would like to call into her favourite clothing outlet to see if there were any bargains at the sales. As I was not keen on following her while she examined things of interest; we agreed to meet at Marks and Spencer. Meanwhile I had a look around the High Street to get the general feel of the sales. There didn’t seem to be frenzy, but I saw several people carrying bags stuffed with items. Not all shops were open, but those that were all had sales, some offering up to 80% off.
Not M & S

I happily photographed the sales until I came to Marks and Spencer in the High Street. There I took three photos and I noticed a security guard and another large man approaching me. They placed themselves either side of me and one asked if I had been taking photos, to which I agreed. He said I was not allowed to take photos and demanded I deleted the ones I had taken. I asked why and he said something about competitors which I did not understand. Not wishing to cause a fuss, and somewhat intimidated by these large individuals, I apologised for breaking the rules, but said I was unaware of a photo ban. I explained I had taken photos of sales taking place in other shops and that I would use them for my blog. They insisted I MUST delete the ones taken in M & S. I could have refused, but to be obliging I deleted all three photos. As I did so they wanted to make sure I actually deleted them and watched what I was doing to satisfy themselves. All of this took place in the open store as passers-by were curious as to what was happening.
Not M & S

I said I would mention what had happened on my blog and the spokesman told me that I should not do so. I replied that I would do what I liked on my blog. At that point they left me alone.  I looked for signs prohibiting photography within the store and found none. Since then I’ve searched the M & S website and I’ve not been able to find anything about the prohibition. I believe there should be a polite notice at the entrance of M & S explaining the ban for their customers.

The experience had not been pleasant, and my view of M & S has markedly changed. I shall try to forget what happened, but I fear it will be difficult. Enjoying shopping at M & S in the near future will no longer be the case. In fact, I doubt I shall want to go there.

Links

The Photo Marks & Spencer tried to Ban


High Chelmer Shopping Centre

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day


Born free
 
Has the day brought joy and gladness? Did you find peace in your heart? Who was at the centre of your thoughts? And dare I ask if you had time for prayer? If your day was like mine you would have rejoiced and been thankful for all your blessings.
Ready for the feast

The children were totally spoiled with many presents, but what fun there was! Pirate costumes, sword fights, shouts and laughter, LeapPad earphones, quiet moments, DVDs and plenty to eat. There were tears, tantrums and disappointments too. The devil lurked in dark corners and tried his best to spoil; he stabbed here and there, but to no avail.
Can you find the Star of David?

The spirit of Christmas prevailed; love overcame, and family bonds were strengthened. There was a growing together and an acceptance of our weaknesses, along with a better understanding of who were are and how we relate.

Thank you God for Christmas Day because it is a time when we celebrate the birth of a very special infant, the Holy Jesus, born of a Virgin.

Luke 1:34, 35 ‘Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”’

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Excitement of Christmas Eve

 
What can I say about Christmas Eve that hasn’t already been said? Kids throughout the world get excited because they expect they will receive presents the following day. Likewise on Christmas Eve parents and other adults become excited at the prospect of giving and receiving presents. Father Christmas or Santa Claus is the one who will bring them with the aid of his legendary reindeer and sleigh.
Here’s a poem that captures the excitement:

‘Twas the Night before Christmas’ by Clement Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"



My Excitement

 
I get excited on Christmas Eve because of the thought of celebrating the birth of the Saviour Jesus on Christmas Day. Nothing could be more significant than His birth, because without it there could be no Christendom and no salvation.

Luke 2:7, 7 ‘So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.’

Links

Twas the Night before Christmas Poem


Christmas Eve


Carols from Kings


Christmas Eve


Christmas Eve in United Kingdom


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Central Heating etc

Not a pretty sight

When I was a kid our house was heated by coal fires, and hot water was heated by an anthracite stove. We had gas, but there were no gas fires. The cooker was fuelled by gas, i.e., coal gas that was piped from the local gasworks. There was no double-glazing or efficient seals for windows or doors. Air passed though grills that were set into brick walls for ventilating spaces under the wooden floors. There was no insulation in the loft, and lagging around pipes and cisterns was used to prevent them from freezing, but it was not always effective.

Since those times in the early 1940s great advances have been made with energy conservation and there are more efficient systems for heating our homes. Natural gas has replaced coal gas and LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) can be an alternative fuel. Oil and LPG have to be delivered in bulk to storage tanks that are usually set apart from the house. Some people like wood burning stoves suitable for pellets, chips or logs. Coal has gone out of fashion, but anthracite-type fuels are still available.

Many householders are installing solar panels, and a few are turning to wind turbines – that’s if planning permission can be obtained. A large propeller at the top of a tower that is sited in your garden is not likely to be welcomed by neighbours. On the other hand, solar or wind generated electricity that is surplus to requirements can be sold to certain suppliers. Therefore if it is feasible to install a wind generator, in the long term it could pay for itself.

The photo at the top is of a number of pipes linked to two Potterton gas boilers at my church. The boilers do a good job by rapidly heating the building which has been insulated to minimise loss of heat.

Links

Potterton Boilers


Home Heating Guide


Heating Oil Quote


Heating Systems


Stoves


Anthracite


 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gingerbread Decoration



There is something very satisfying in the making and baking of gingerbread, at least, that’s the experience of my wife who has made a Christmas table centrepiece for when we shall have dinner at my daughter’s place on Christmas Day. The basic pieces were shaped from rolled gingerbread by the use of sharp metal cutters. After the pieces were baked they were assembled and ‘cemented’ together by icing sugar. They were then decorated with trailed icing sugar and colourful chocolate buttons.

My wife enjoyed having our grandsons help her by sticking chocolate buttons to the roof of the house.

Every part of the centrepiece is edible, but I doubt any of us will want to eat it after demolishing a traditional Christmas day roast. 

Gingerbread Recipe

Ingredients:

125 grams of butter

115 grams of caster sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon of milk

375 grams of plain flour

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

3 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 tablespoons of syrup or treacle

Preparation and cooking:

Beat butter and sugar together

Add egg and milk with further beating

Sift flour, bicarbonate and ginger over the mixture and add the syrup.

Knead it all together

Roll the gingerbread mix between baking parchment sheets until 3 millimetres thick if making the gingerbread house and cut out shapes

Bake in an oven at Mark 4 for 15 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch

Extra Items required if making the gingerbread house:
Baking parchment sheets

Roller

Metal cutting set from Lakeland

Edible decorations

Icing sugar nozzles and bags for same

Palette knife

Cake board

Link

Lakeland

Friday, December 21, 2012

Final Curtain



21st December 2012 marks the end of the Mayan calendar and it is the date that millions believe the world will come to an end. Well, if you are reading this, clearly the prediction was wrong, but one thing for sure is that where there is a beginning there is an end. We begin our physical life in a fallopian tube and end our physical life when our body ceases to function. Although there was a beginning to the universe there will be an end to it.

Those are sobering thoughts, even more so if you believe there is a state of eternal existence, another dimension where there is no death and where life has always been and for ever will be. The Christian God identified* Himself to Moses as, “I AM WHO I AM”, which means He is the One who self-exists, who is and who will be for ever.

Millions have been flapping around making inadequate provision for the final curtain. The question is, ‘Are we ready for our final curtain?’

*Exodus 3:14

Links

The Mayan Calendar – End Date


I  AM THAT I AM


Mayan End Age 12-21-2012 heralds a New Age of spiritual enlightenment


2012 phenomenon


Mayan apocalypse: panic spreads as December 21 nears


Fallopian Tube


 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Patisserie Valerie




My wife and I visited Southend-on-Sea for final shopping before Christmas. Heavy rain eased as we walked up the High Street. My wife remarked that Patisserie Valerie had arrived in town; therefore we made a point of seeing what was on offer.  Displayed in the windows and behind counters there was a fantastic array of fabulously sumptuous cakes and patisseries. People were stopping to admire the stunning, mouth-watering selection of creamy, chocolate and fruit gateaux.  

Belgium born Madam Valerie opened her first cafĂ© in Frith Street, London, in 1926 with the mission of introducing the finest continental patisserie to the English. Patisserie Valeria went on to become a successful business, today having 23 cafes in London, 42 elsewhere in England and 2 in Edinburgh.  All of their cakes and patisseries are handmade with fresh ingredients, many containing real cream and exotic fruit. A huge range is on offer, but individual cakes can be made to order, including those for weddings and other celebratory occasions. Here’s a list of a few that make the mouth water: Double Chocolate Gateau, Chocolate Mirror, Fresh Exotic fruit Gateau, Black Forest Gateau, Profiteroles Valerie Style and Chocolate, Strawberry and Banana Gateau.

There was no time for sampling a delight today, but we have earmarked Patisserie Valerie for a relaxing treat, perhaps in the New Year.

Links

Patisserie Valerie

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unwanted and Needed Gifts



I was having my hair cut when my hairdresser asked what ‘prezzies’ I wanted for Christmas. This took me aback and I had to think. In fact, there was nothing I desired. I had everything I could ever need. I was even more surprised when I realised that I had not thought about presents for myself. There truly was nothing I wanted! If I needed anything, then I might want it.

At this time of year when people habitually give gifts, many are given that are not wanted, indeed loads of them are never used. They end up in cupboards or lofts where they gather dust and are forgotten. Even children reject gifts they do not want and they set them to one side.

The latest advertisements for children’s Christmas presents are designed to encourage adults into buying trendy items such as Leap Pad 2 or Barbie Puppy Play Park.  Apparently, Peppa Pig and Zhu Zhu Hamsters are not so hip this year.

An advertisement in similar vein that caught my eye was in the form of a poster outside my local Methodist Church. At first I saw an image of a realistic looking boy doll; then I read the words:

Godbaby

The gift that loves you back.

At the bottom in small print were the words:

Christmas starts with Christ

Further scrutiny revealed a website address: christmasstarts.com .

I was hooked and wanted to know more. When back at home, I could not resist looking at the website which tells of God’s perfect gift, the gift of His Son.

Like so many gifts, this most precious gift will be rejected. People do not want Him. They are unaware that they need Him.

Links

Christmas Starts.com


Christmas Toys.org.uk


Leap Pad 2


Barbie Puppy Play Park


Zhu Zhu Hamsters


Why the toy industry may not have much to look forward to this Christmas


.