Saturday, January 23, 2010

This blew me away

I've seen plenty of videos on how big the universe is, but I think this is the best so far.

A truly beautiful piece of work.


(shame it's not in widescreen, though...)

As Douglas Adams says:

'Space is big.

You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is.

I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.'

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some thoughts on Avatar

Last week I finally got to see Avatar in 3D (just 'regular' 3D, you understand, not this new-fangled 'Imax' 3D everyone's talking about).

First off, I have a few of gripes I'd like to get off my chest:
- The 3D didn't seem to work for me. It wasn't as impressive as I'd hoped because at times it was blurry and nothing really 'jumped out' at me throughout the film. Was it the fact I was wearing my own specs (filthy ones, at that) under the 3D glasses? Am I one of those in the minority who have eyes that simply can't process a 3D image (now that is daft - I see in 3D most of the time)? Or was Cineworld Newport just a bit rubbish at configuring the latest in visual technology? It's hard to say. My non-speccy-wearing mate Jon who was with me didn't seem to have any problems.
- I found it a bit racist in a weird sort of way. The Na'vi appeared to be a bit too similar to other cinematic portrayals of African tribespeople. Maybe my own ingrained prejudices were being provoked ... dunno.
- The new New Age references were a bit daft, but I don't feel as strongly about it as some right-wing fundies have in the States. Geez, guys, it's just a story. Stop being so threatened by anything that doesn't fit with your worldview - you should be more confident in the Truth.
- The story is hardly original. But, then, most epics follow a relatively predictable narrative.

Right - that's the negative out of the way.

Aside from all the niggles mentioned above, I was deeply moved by Avatar. Not because of the borderline-soppy conclusion where the protagonist 'gets his girl' after enduring great danger (staple ingredient of any epic movie), but simply because of what was on screen. It was a showcase of remarkable creative talent - talent that has created an entire world from scratch (admittedly taking elements of our own planet and tinkering with them) and made it hyper-realistic.

For me, that creative talent points to an even greater creative talent. God is the creator of all things - us, our world, our solar system, our universe. He made man in His own image. And so, we are creative because He is creative. Avatar helped me to glimpse God at work in a new way, but I don't have to travel several light years to appreciate His handiwork.

The wonders of God's creation are all around us, and so too are the fruits of our own creative efforts - which would not be possible without Him.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stories in One Sentence (backed by the Manics)

Last year, I started work on a little short video I made which was inspired by two random things: A Manic Street Preachers song and a website called onesentence.org.

It took me ages to finish purely because it was a little pet project that got sidelined by more important stuff. However, caught up in my own little whirlwind of New Year motivational energy I managed to get on and put it up on the 'Tube.

So here it is ... enjoy!

Shameless plug for Lewis Motors

I have been meaning to mention this for ages, but never got round to it. So here goes.

If you are fed up with paying too much for motor repairs, never quite trust the garage you normally part money with and just want to go somewhere trustworthy, I would highly recommend Lewis Motors on City Road in Cardiff.

They do MOTs, repairs, servicing and diagnostics.

They also sell - get this - TAMIYA remote control cars. How cool is that? A garage that sells RC cars!

Check 'em out.

Lewis Motors
1 City Road, Cardiff, CF24 3BJ
029 2048 0829

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Crumbs from your table...

Communion is the one Christian ceremony I struggle with - not because I don't agree with it, more that I find the ritual a bit distracting from the actual meaning. It can be a bit of a palava organising a whole load of people to get their bread and wine. A throng of churchgoers en masse can be a strange and unpredictable animal indeed.

Last night, we had a prayer meeting at church where there was a time of communion. It was all very informal, so instead of wafers we had a crusty baguette broken into pieces and rather than the special little insy individual cups we normally use for the wine (or grape juice, in our case) it was just a couple of tumblers for us to share.

We each went up of our own accord to share in the bread. So far, so good.

The tumblers were then passed around the circle and each person took their turn to take a sip of the 'wine' (grape juice).

***Remember, this is supposed to be a 'holy' and 'spiritual' moment, where we reflect on Jesus' sacrifice - dying at the hands of His enemies in order to save mankind from eternal destruction.***

Being last in line to receive the 'blood of Christ', I wait patiently for my turn to partake in this final act of communion.

When the tumbler arrives, I look down and what do I see? Several bread crumb 'floaters' sitting on the surface of the grape juice kindly passed onto me from my fellow believers.

Nice.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Doctor in big freeze shocker!

Driving past the Millennium Centre this morning, me and my colleague did a double take when we saw a certain blue police box-shaped time travel device plonked down in the snow.

Ditching the car, we scurried over to see Matt Smith and Co filming the current series of Dr Who in the freezing temperatures.


I don't know what script re-write they had to implement in order to take into account the sudden arrival of snow*, but I'm sure they thought of something. One thing's for sure - I bet the crew were swearing extensively when they got up this morning.

video

Please accept my apologies for the poor quality of these images. They were taken with my little camera phone which is a bit ancient...

* OK OK, I know there was snow forecast, but Cardiff very rarely gets decent snow for more than a few minutes!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Party Ring Fail


I found this biscuit-based anomaly in a leftover packet of party rings.

At first, I felt sorry for it ... then I ate it!

Omonmonom!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Climate Change Fail

Having followed very little of what was going on in Copenhagen last month I'm not in much of a position to judge the proceedings. From what I've seen and read, however, I get the impression that China and a few other states did their very best to scupper the hoped-for outcome - a binding agreement between all signatories to reduce carbon emissions.

In the end, it was a watered-down statement of intent with no balls to speak of.

The leaders of the world had the historic opportunity to work together for the eternal good of humanity ... and blew it.

This is surely why we are a doomed species. When we work well, together, we work really really well. When we can't agree on anything, the sh*t hits the fan big time.

I can see why, at some point in the near future, someone will come along and try to unite humankind under a single world government in order to tackle the politio-social challenges of an overpopulated planet.

Hmmm .... I think I read about that somewhere.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

JC's blog is one year old!!

I am quite pleased with myself that I've managed to keep this blogging malarky going for 12 months.

A small part of me didn't think I'd make it this far, so I'm glad it was proved wrong.

I don't know how many people have read my posts, or how many tune in regularly but if you are part of that infinitesimal group - I thank you. If you haven't read it, maybe you should give it a try ;-) .

This blog is still what I thought it might be: part diary, part random musings, part links of stuff I've found on the web. It may change at some point, but probably not for a while yet. I also know I need to give it a new title, so if you have any suggestions, drop me a line.

Bye for now!

....and a look forward to 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 (or "twenty-ten" as I've heard it's supposed to be pronounced, so better do that properly) is upon us and I have high hopes for the next 12 months. Not least because the last year was so awful....

Okay, that's not quite true. 2009 was OK, I guess. It was mainly overshadowed by Wifey's mum's death, but also unsettled by constant worry about the business and whether we could afford to get through each month.

Thankfully, I have managed to survive being self-employed for over a year now and as we seem to be slowly climbing out of the recession (the emphasis being on 'slowly') the next twelve months should be a bit less fraught.

New Year is something of an arbitrary way of marking a specific point in time, but it serves as a useful opportunity to look forward and offer that little ray of hope that maybe - just maybe - things will improve.

So what am I hoping for and looking forward to in 2010? Without wanting to prophesy or make any grand predictions, I have a few thoughts about what I expect to see happen in the coming year:

- Firstly, I'm hoping that the business will pick up. December was a quiet month, but we have lots of potential stuff happening in January. We also have a couple of exciting products due for release that, if successful, could help keep things on an even keel. 2010 should be the year that sees us getting one step closer to producing TV programmes. It will also be the year of solidifying exactly what we do and who's on board with it.

- My parents will be moving home at the beginning of the year. This will be a major upheaval for them (as well as me and my brothers) seeing as 'The Homestead' has been home for over two decades. Despite the transition pains, it should, however, be an exciting new chapter for the family. It will pose some challenges in terms of JKY's babysitting, but I'm looking forward to visiting the folks in a new place.

- We will - hopefully - be moving home this year as well. Having sold our house and had an offer accepted already, we're just waiting on the sellers to find their next home. I think January usually sees a load of new homes come on the market, so things should get moving again after the December slump. Our prayer is that we don't have to wait much longer. Whatever happens, we aim to move to Roath in 2010 and that fills me with great excitement.

- I need to get fit. I really do. My waistline is slowly expanding and my flexibility is almost zero. My diet could be better too. How I fit in regular exercise into my already hectic and exhausting life is anyone's guess but I know I need to do it.

- JKY was our little miracle back in '07, but we are ready for another one, God willing. Our struggles with fertility are well known to friends and family and we've now been trying to conceive for almost a year now without success. Having just the one child is incredibly tiring and life-sapping so I'm dreading the thought of having another for those reasons ... BUT I really do want a bigger family and give a brother or sister to JKY. Wifey getting pregnant again would make 2010 a year to remember.

- My relationship with God has been the usual one of highs and lows this year. I feel like I've learnt a few nuggets along the way, but it's still work in progress. I hope to get closer still this year and in particular make more of an effort to memorise scripture.

- Lastly, I intend to keep blogging! Yes, after my initial enthusiasm, I have settled down to writing a blog post roughly evey week. That's about all I can manage at the moment. If life slows down at all (hah!), I might be able to manage a bit more but we'll see...

So that's my 2010 preview.

As Benjamin Franklin once said:
"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man."

(er, thanks Google).