What is Good Ministry?

This sentence spoke to me this evening, while reading an article in the Alban Institute‘s Congregation magazine:

A minister is not called “to be an expert, just a person who can notice grace in earthly places.”

The quotation is taken from a report published by Duke Divinity School called What is Good Ministry? Resources to Launch a Discussion (PDF, 894 KB), which I’m delighted to discover can be downloaded in PDF format.

Oulook date

I’ve often puzzled over why MS Outlook doesn’t show the day of the week in the date line in Calendar:

Outlook 2003 -- old view

Today I did a search in Google Groups to find out if I could change this (you would think!) and discovered that this is linked the Long Date Format in Control Panel | Regional and Language Options.

On my PC (Windows XP Pro) under “Regional Options” I press the Customize… button, and then select the “Date” tab. At the bottom of this window is the “Long date” box, the default (for the UK) being “dd MMMM yyyy”. When I entered: “dddd dd MMMM yyyy” and clicked Apply I was presented with “Tuesday 18 January 2005”, and on opening MS Outlook 2003 saw the following:

Outlook 2003 -- new view

The full list of options can be found on the Global Development section of Microsoft.com. The ‘dddd’ is the code for full day of the week name, while ‘dd’ is the date in two-numeral format. Good stuff!

Cellardyke … it’s a gas waiting so long

Back to the house this afternoon to await the return of a Scottish Gas engineer to replace the jet for the pilot light. It needed replaced and rather than risk the house freezing should the weather turn nasty in the near future (would it do that? I’m not so sure!) I decided to book the return visit for this afternoon, after 14:30.

I arrived at the house with plenty of time to spare, at 14:18. At 15:58 I wandered down to the harbour to find a phone signal (no O2 signal in our house or garden) and phone Jane: “Hello! I’m cold and bored!” Typically, the gas engineer arrived about ten minutes later.

He was a cheery, friendly man who fitted the new jet to the fire, and then tested it using a special machine that sang a nice ditty when it found a gas leak. He tested for CO2 emissions — none, and then asked me to nip upstairs to check the radiators were working okay, which they were. Job’s a good ‘un.

The drive home felt longer than usual, although I am now getting the hang of the road, and the order of towns along the Fife coast: Cellardyke, Anstruther, Pittenweem, St Monan’s, Elie, Drumeldrie, Lundin Links, Leven…

This evening I need to finish my Powerpoint presentation for this weekend; I revised it while practically hugging an oil-filled electric radiator waiting for the gas engineer.

Into the deep

Only a few days now until Deep Impact 2005 in Aviemore and the scene in the Saunders’ household is much the same as prior to the previous two Deep Impact weekends, in 2000 and 2002: one of controlled panic and frantic session writing.

Believe it or not, I’ve never used Microsoft PowerPoint before. My old PC, a Time AMD K6/2 500MHz running Windows 98se, had a dodgy graphics card driver that would always crash whenever I ran PowerPoint. I tried to update the graphics card drivers and whenever I did the PC would refuse to boot. It did the same with the presentation software on the Lotus Smartsuite too, Freelance. And the OpenOffice.org Impress. So in the end I just gave up. My new PC, a NetHighStreet Athlon XP 2800+, doesn’t have the same problem — I would expect not with a Radeon 9800 installed.

So, this evening I’ve been creating a presentation, in Powerpoint 2000, for a session I’m co-leading with Struan Gardner called “Gems among the rubbish: a guide to the web”. The focus? Web standards, Accessibility, Open Source, and Mozilla Firefox. Of course!!

Cellardyke … the Gas Man cometh

An early start this morning as I drove over to Cellardyke for 08:00. Not early enough, and I’d forgotten that the car needed more petrol as I cranked the engine and the Feed Me Fuel light glowed a smug hue of yellow in the darkness of this Edinburgh morning; I arrived around 08:30.

I know I’m getting old when I arrive at the house and the first thing I do is switch on the kettle. I’m surprised I didn’t rub my hands together and mutter, “Ooh! I think I’ll have a nice cuppa, first!” I don’t even drink tea or coffee. And even if I did there was neither a teaspoon in the house, nor a drop of milk!

I know I’m not getting that old when the kettle boils, I open the cupboard and instead of reaching for the tub of Options Belgian hot chocolate I decide to eat an entire 200g bar of Co-op Fair Trade chocolate for my breakfast. I certainly felt much better for that. Yum yum — thanks Mum for the house-warming gifts (I later had some cup-a-soup for my lunch too, that Mum had left us).

I had work to do before the gas man arrived — there was no “WHERE WERE YOU?!” note through the door when I arrived, so I knew that I’d beaten him there. When he pulled up around 10:30 I’d painted one wall with anti-damp paint, removed the fixtures in the bathroom (with a hammer!), filled in the resulting holes in the wall (*whistles and looks innocent*), and was in the process of a) trying to close a window with a hammer and a file, and b) removing, measuring, cleaning and trying to refit various bits of ‘door furniture’ — a ridiculous collective term for handles, door knobs, letter boxes and numbers.

Our gas boiler — a ‘back boiler’ behind the gas fire in the kitchen — was last made in 1981. Of its 140+ servicable parts Scottish Gas can now successfully get their hands on twelve of them. Thankfully the one part that does need replacing they can get. Still, we will need to replace this antique some time soon. Preferably when we have the money to do so! In the words of the gas engineer, the standard boilers are “a hundred times safer” than these back boilers. That’s always good to know.

While he was upstairs fixing a couple of radiators (one that leaked, another that didn’t come on at all) I sat in the kitchen on a beanbag (one of only 3 pieces of furniture in the house), supping a mug of cup-a-soup, writing my Deep Impact presentation.