Thursday, August 31, 2006

When is a baptism not a baptism?

Honestly, you turn around and suddenly half a month's gone by!

To be fair to myself, things have been a bit busy, what with my son's baptism and all.

Does anyone draw a distinction between Baptism (of infants) and Christening? We've preferred to say 'Baptism' (though doubtless some Baptists might object on theological grounds) but the term most familiar to those of our family without church connections is Christening - and probably to those with church connections too! It seems to me to be odd to say 'we are Christ-en-ing this baby' i.e. we are making him like Christ, although that's probably what the doctrine of baptism says, among other things. (That's the trouble with me - I'm a theology student whose worst subject is doctrine. Well, second worst, after History of Christianity. Come to think of it, I'm not much cop on Mission Studies either. I'm a Biblical Studies/Practical Theology guy really.) It seems clearer to say, this is his baptism, and ok there is something to be done later on (confirmation, or as our minister described it, 'plumbing yourself back in' to church/Christ) but this is the event to point at in later life.

Personally I struggled as a teenage Christian to connect with my initial Christian experience and baptism, hence why I went through an adult baptism (in the North Sea!) but I've come back to accept and agree with infant baptism. In order that our son doesn't experience this disconnect, we had the service videoed, and we have many things (like baptism certificate, letter from minister, letter from godmother...) to show him later in life to say "look, this is what happened on a sunny August Sunday". We can only pray that he will grow up in the faith, but if I'm a major influence on that, I feel very inadequate to help him.

Next family event is this weekend, granny's birthday (it seems that later in life you only have big celebrations every 10 years - why should that be, when every year's birthday was an exciting event as a child?) so expect another gap before I post again. Hopefully will be able to do some research/family interviews to fill in genealogical info on our family tree...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 we are again

Goodness, a couple of days without posting. My enthusiasm obviously has waned, as predicted. I started with 2 or 3 posts per day, I think - and that was only last week. Although to be fair, one can blog or one can do other things - I've had some time doing other things (including reading other blogs...)

I'm taking a couple of days off work - not because I couldn't use the money, but more that after one's sixth shower having been de- and re-sealed with silicon (and various other bits of maintenance) things can get a little, well, boring is too strong a word but there are certainly few surprises left! Besides, there are lots of useful DIY and maintenance jobs at home that I can deliberately not do, rather than just not do because I'm not here!

To be fair on myself, I did have an argument with a rather prickly hedge out behind our house on Sunday, and while the hedge is now looking a smaller version of its former self, I didn't come off unscathed. Savlon is a wonderful thing!

Monday saw the first meeting of the new session for me - of a church-related nature. When Peter was born, I tried to give up a lot of things but have either been drawn back in or just not said no to some things. Already my diary's looking like it will fill up very quickly between now and Christmas (doubtless afterwards too, but shops don't seem to stock 2007 refills yet), and that's without my new placement, which will start about October, D.V.

This is to be a schizophrenic placement - on the one hand it will stand as my 3rd year ICC placement (two reports on me by my supervisor plus one placement report by me) but on the other it will also serve as my (second) Assessment placement for acceptance as a Candidate for the ministry by the CofS. I'm approaching it with mixed feelings and questions - why should it be necessary; what do I need to do differently this time; I'll enjoy it; I'll not enjoy it; how will I relate to yet another group of new people in a Christian community; what if I don't get through? However, if I am being called to the ministry (something I currently feel the need to be re-convinced about), then this seems to be the right thing to do at present. Watch this space - I have an initial meeting with my supervisor (the minister of the church where I will be placed) towards the end of this month.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I suspect I'm being a little paranoid about anonymity - although there are current concerns about identity theft and identity fraud (once again I've been listening to Radio 2), my overcautiousness is probably excessive. And letting people guess who I am seems really childish!

So if you're interested, my profile has now been updated a little more.

Flea time?

Ah, the weekend... a time to relax, kick back, enjoy unparalleled family time...

Or, pile down to the vet's before it shuts to buy anti flea treatment for your cat and house, and continually catch things vibrating off the kitchen worksurface because the washing machine is on doing multiple loads. Anyone know if it's easy to attach a washing machine to a floor? Bearing in mind some of the kitchen floorboards are a bit wobbly anyway.

I must stop spending so much time blogging and reading others' blogs!

Nodrog's NaNo

You can now follow my progress here. Judging by the fact that I blogged over 500 words just in preparation, and have blogged over 3,500 words on Gruntlings since I started the other night, I can at least churn out the words - the difficulty, as before, being willing to press on and write when I just want to go back and polish; or rather to write it right first time.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Novel writing

I once had a couple of goes (if that even makes sense) at writing a novel.

Actually I've tried more than that. The first attempt I can remember was about 20ish years ago (I can count my life in decades now, how scary is that?) I was quite into 'choose your own adventure books' which those of a similar age may remember were very popular in the ?late 80s or so. You know, do you choose to fight the dragon (turn to page 84) or run away (turn to page 6). Brave brave Sir Robin indeed. Anyway, I don't know if that survives - might be in my mum's loft or even my own loft...

I also had an attempt at a novel, based on a short story written at school that won a prize, I think, around my last year at school. This one was highly derivative sci-fi, and when I realised I was writing something that was a cross between Anne McCaffrey and Star Trek: TNG, I stopped. (Not that either of those are bad - that was the point, I liked them so much, I unconsciously drew heavily on them). Bits of that one survive but I think the most complete version of what I had done - only a chapter or so - suffered some sort of disc problem.

But what I thought was the most promising attempt was my involvement in NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month], a few years ago. I was somewhat unemployed, to start with, and thought that this was a far better use of time than jobseeking (still do to be honest - why can't governments come up with a better solution than the soul-destroying JobCentres?) As I recall, it was an article on a Radio Scotland programme that clued me in on it, the idea being that people plan to write a novel 'one day' but don't, or start but worry about the quality (see above) but that if you join in a group who say they will write 50000 words in a month without thinking about quality (i.e. just do 1700 words a day on average) then you have a deadline (it takes place in November) and once you have something down, I believe there are some who organise a NaNoEdMo in about March. "Winners" are those who achieve 50K words (they verify the word count but don't read it). My first year of participation was fun, but I got a job after about a week and I had already fallen behind on word count so that was a shame. My idea was a good one, I think, but the rules state you must start with a clean slate (although you can plan characters, plot etc beforehand but not come with a half-written manuscript). The second year I did it, I got even less far, just a couple of thousand words if that - again with what I thought was a good idea. These two openings to novels may still survive on a 3.5" floppy or a disused PC hard disk somewhere...

The point is, I obviously want to write a novel. Can I do it? 'If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything' - George McFly, Back to the Future. I'd love to do Nano again this year, having both been away from it for a couple of years, and now knowing that I can write a couple of thousand words in a day if I have to. But it's one thing to do that once, and another to do it for 30 days on the trot. Still, not worrying about quality is a bonus. The biggest downside is that it will be getting close to the end of a busy term, including 'Paul's Gospel and Mission' and 'Christ and the Christian Faith' (Christology) and a placement to do as well. A possible downside would also be not going back to a previous good idea (though I don't think I'll revisit the choose your own adventure...).

Idea - maybe I could do it as a blog - I'm probably writing loads of words per day already, so why not make them a novel. Then people can interact too... Not sure if that would be in the rules but hey, it's pretty flexible anyway.

Right, I'm off to create a new, connected blog, and to try and come up with some character and plot thoughts.

End of week

Well, I made it - the end of the week. I have been doing a maintenance job, basically doing the same thing in 5 different rooms over the past 2 weeks - 3 rooms this week. One point of view might say "well, you should actually be making a decent job of it by now" (although the last one was a bit of a rush job this afternoon!) while another says "this is beginning to be monotonous". I have one more to do on Monday and then I will have to look for some other work. If anyone is reading this and would like to pay me for some work for a couple or three weeks in the Glasgow area, let me know! I'm a bit of a handyman, can do admin and accounts but would also like doing something interesting (ghost writing speeches sounds fun!).

The mysterious inaccessible blog need no longer be fretted over, as my blog-friend (who was one of the inspirations for Gruntlings) has started a new blog. Check out broth pot as I have every expectation of it being fascinating, thought-provoking and even challenging as it develops (no pressure there then!).

I really must try and post entries in the morning - I've always been more of an evening person but I can't help thinking that underneath there's a lark waiting to sing. (How cheesy does that sound?) Even for me, I probably have more creative thoughts in the morning. However they usually disappear into timewasting for a couple of hours - I don't think I got to work before 11 this week (and I'm paid by the hour so not doing college out of any cash).

Other blogs I have encountered

I finally tracked down one of the blogs I followed - a time-limited one to do with Edinburgh International Film Festival 2005. Sadly this has not been repeated this year, due, I expect to life circumstances (but then, isn't everything?). I still like his idea of going round every film festival in the world, continuously.

I've also got the address for the other one but it seems to be inaccessible in some way. Again, watch this space.

Bizarrely, I came across a bookmark that I had made some time ago - a fellow student did a wee talky bit about blogs and I obviously looked his up, bookmarked it and then committed it to oblivion. Seems there's a handful of bloggers at my place of study already. I'm thinking that I can't hide behind a blanket of anonymity forever so yes, I am a student at ICC, Glasgow and all my fellow ICCers have to do now is identify me. This could be a fun game - or just a stupid 1am idea that will be revealed for what it is in the cold light of day. This is my second post since claiming I was going to bed.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Slow, slow, quick-quick ?

Maggi Dawn has an interesting section called 'SLOW'. I haven't dug deeply into it yet, but one comment from the entry 'left unsaid' grabbed my attention. 'You can dash off a bit of writing, of course ... but you can't just dash off something really good' was the general gist. Oddly, my last-minute nature says 'is that really true'? My academic essays are almost invariably started within a few days of the deadline. In first year, shorter ones were started within 24 hours or even on the day they were due (although I had done some reading beforehand) and even longer ones (2.5k) have been done in a day and a half. Now I'm not saying for a moment that this is ideal, far from it, and perhaps I have been writing at a fairly basic level where I don't have to do much critical engagement yet (won't 3rd year be fun) but without blowing my own trumpet, some of these 'written at high speed' essays have come out with good grades - B+, or even A.

I know an essay is not the only form of writing by any means, and I doubt that many people would want to read mine, but I can't help wondering - am I a person where a lot of 'percolation' goes on in my head before the final - and only - draft comes out at top speed? I certainly hate substantially revising essays, even when I have the time to do it, although minor edits are good, and help me to thin out my more oblique and long-winded sentences. (No, I'm not revising these posts - what you see is what comes out at the time of writing. This may change, but I don't want to be like the person or character I read about who put post-it notes in her (I think) diary, to reflect how things should have been. (Apologies that I can't remember the source - if you know it, let me know and I will attribute it)).

However, I can sometimes be reflective rather than rushed, and here's a poem (one of about 6 that I've ever written, as an adult) from a recent holiday:

Carberry 2006

Baking hot stickiness
Moving giant's specs
Chilling time among tents and vans
Rowdy, conversation-filled dining
Wit and wisdom, Spirit and Word
Talking heads enable voices, heard
Creativity and creations
Exploding, colliding
Emerging, seeping
Into fabric of faith, fellowship, fun.

I don't know if it's finished, and is perhaps not liable to mean as much to those who did not share this holiday, but I offer it for any responses going.

Chaos, memory, interactivity, work and Radio 2

Wow, what a day. Not mine particularly - it's just been a continuation of my summer job (of which more later).
But the news! To think that there could have been 9 or 10 aircraft bombed in flight scarcely bears thinking about. I can remember how I felt on 9/11 when some of the wilder rumours suggested not only aircraft in the US had been hijacked but also several in Europe (although I can't remember the detail of these rumours now). Glad my route home isn't very close to an airport, although traffic was fairly busy.

I've started refreshing my memory on a number of fronts, including basic HTML tags - hence the new 'links' section - and that I had read (and meant to read more of) another blog - Maggi Dawn's, which I have now linked to. Whether I get a chance to get back to it and start interacting with it... but yes, I know that's the point of blogs, despite today's comment from Chris Evans likening at least his blog if not blogs generally to Plato's Symposium, that each post should take things onward rather than dialoguing or turning into a 'tennis match'. All of which sounds intellectual but primarily of course he doesn't have the time to interact with over 100 comments per day (so far - after only 4 blog entries! Still, I don't have a primetime national radio show on which to promote these gruntlings - in fact I've only told my wife about it!)

Thinking about it, Nick Robinson's Newslog operates in a similar fashion (or at least, it did when I used to read it regularly) albeit with the odd nod to interactivity. Perhaps it's more about a 'BBC style' of blogging as opposed to what I assume is the 'proper' or 'true' or 'only' way to really blog - you put on stuff you've read, written, thought, others post responses, you interact with some, all or none and build a community of sorts... Experienced bloggers are welcome to enlighten me on this point (or indeed any point - it will annoy me to be corrected, but not as much as being wrong and not being corrected! As our transatlantic cousins might say, 'Go figure'!)

I find that I have interesting thoughts on which to muse on the blog when I am far from able to post them - e.g. in the car on the way to work this morning, some 10 or 11 hours ago. Haven't a scooby what they were now. Still I was reflecting on the fact that I am 2 years into probably a long period of study and training before I enter my chosen(?) career, yet find myself thinking, if the summer job that I am doing (at the institution where I study) came up as a permanent role, would I apply for it? It would probably be interesting for a bit but I suppose it's really a distraction from using my copious skills (irony alert). And I wouldn't want to see the present incumbent (on sick leave) actually leave the job because he's so good at it and an asset to our little community. But I probably do need to make more of an outlet in my life for doing some sort of work with my hands as well as all the word-shifting that I do. In fact, I wanted (still do) to take up woodcarving, something my dad did a lot of, but haven't yet translated it into action - although I do have a number of woodcarving tools, and the 'trunk' of an old Christmas tree drying in our loft, and even a vague plan as to what I would start with - a chess set. Oh yes, aim high (though it's a kind of Art-Deco-y era one that's based on cubes - I think the designer was Schmidt).

While working, I have been listening to Radio 2 for virtually the whole day. As I'm working by the hour, and have had lack of motivation to get up (yes I know that doesn't square with my comments above but part of the work is getting boring) - anyway, I haven't been leaving till midmorning. That means that I rarely catch Wogan, so it's a diet of Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine (or Clive Anderson while JV is on hols), Steve Wright and Chris Evans. Ken takes me back to days of a twice weekly trip across the Central Belt to perform a 2 hour task because the powers that be had closed the equivalent department on our Lothians site (when I worked for an electronics company). The lunchtime show is often interesting although I do tend to mentally switch off when it's apparent that the producers just want to engineer some conflict among people with opposing points of view (e.g. today, should Maggie Thatcher get a state funeral when she goes?). Steve Wright is also nostalgic for me, going back almost half my life to a hospital cleaning job! And Chris Evans does remind me of his days on TFI Friday but seems to have calmed down a bit. Anyway, all that to say this: you know when you get a song stuck in your head because it's the first or last thing you hear in the morning. Well I have had one or other of R2's top playlist songs going round for days, because I hear them 2 or 3 times a day - sometimes in consecutive shows. Presently the Scissor Sisters are revolving round my head, despite their protestations that they don't feel like dancing. If it's not them it'll be the Rolling Stones biggest mistake, or some other song that I haven't managed to match band and title to but still feel that if I never hear it again, it'll be too soon. So why do I keep listening to the network? Mostly for the bits inbetween. e.g. On Ken Bruce today, I actually counted my score on Popmaster, for about the first time - it never seemed worth it as I have reasonably little knowledge of obscure (or not so..) bands and songs, but I achieved 18 points on one of the rounds today which was miraculous. OK so it wouldn't often win, especially against the guy who got 33 of the max 39, but it made me smile and even raise a celebratory fist!

I've shied around giving too much personal detail, as mentioned yesterday. Anyone who has a view on this angle (especially given that I am actually writing and publishing a blog!) please post - or even if you don't have a view. It certainly makes it trickier if I want to refer to family or work people or situations, though there will no doubt be issues over putting names on the web without consent.

Tonight I'm trying to get to bed earlier - not too tricky as it was 3am or after yesterday! As long as I don't keep surfing...

First post

Well, I've joined the blogging community. Feels odd - (though probably everyone writes something like this as their first post) because I've not really been reading many other blogs. The ones I have are Nick Robinson's Newslog on the BBC, and Chris Evans' new SHLOG (also BBC). [I realise blogiquette probably requires linking to these but I can't remember how to do that at the moment - watch this space.] I also followed a couple of others on this very blog hosting site that I can't find at the moment! Note to self - remember to bookmark things you want to read again.

Thoughts - why am I blogging? To see if anyone else reads this? To try again to do some writing? To try again to keep a sort of journal? To take up even more of my sadly limited time (study, work, parenting, church... all take their toll)? Not sure but I want to keep track of some thinking that I intend to do over the next wee while and this seems a good way to do it - especially if anyone does look at it and interacts with it/me.

I'm not sure how much to say about myself - Chris Evans' blog mentioned the idea that he doesn't know what his friends do (or rather did) for a living and many blog responses agreed that they don't tell people what they do (or invent other occupations). But if I want to do thinking on the blog, a lot of it may well relate to my field of study and potential occupation. However, attempts at remaining anonymous entirely are probably fraught with danger - what if I talk about a situation or discussion thinking that as my blog is anonymous, the person/people concerned won't read it or won't recognise themselves? Bad thing to do so best not to.

I'd like to be a writer. I've had a couple of (failed) goes at - writing a novel(ette) in a month. It may yet happen... But what I've read of other writers is that it's something they do almost compulsively rather than something they set out to do. Still, I've been putting words in front of each other for some time in one way or another - writing essays for one!

What else? I struggle a bit with identity - what makes me 'me' and not someone else, and what things do I want to make 'me' up with - if you catch my drift? I want to have more energy but fail to either exercise (to increase metabolic rate and get rid of sluggishness - as mentioned on Chris Evans' show this week) or go to bed early (it's nearly 2AM - fool!) I have too big an 'appetite' for doing stuff - bad at saying 'NO'; my eyes are bigger than my stomach as it were.

And why does the Express have such a Diana fixation? It was tragic what happened but it can't be helping William and Harry for them to continue to have weekly headlines (usually a Monday - thanks to 's Paper Monitor for drawing many people's attention to this tendency) about 'Diana conspiracy' or similar. Today they've even twisted a different story - the McCartney breakup - to include 'Diana' in the headline (something about one of them retaining the same lawyer, I think). Incidentally - leave them alone, breakups must be hard enough without daily updates in the national press. To be fair, the Mirror also noted this connection with an almost identical headline, although I should point out that I don't read either of these papers, or any paper regularly - if any, it's occasionally the Indy, Grauniad or Times (where does that put me politically?)

So much more to say, and so little time - if you drop by and visit, please leave a message and I'll try and update regularly (but no promises - my enthusiasm is notorious for waning...)