Before you read this might I suggest you read my post ‘Just as all was going well’ Dec 10, a few weeks ago. Whilst I was using Mozilla Firefox for the reasons I wrote about then, I had an encryption extension tool called Trusteer Rapport to which I could add sites that I wanted to give that extra protection. However, as I wrote previously, I updated the Firefox browser only to discover that my Norton 360 toolbar then ceased to be compatible and was automatically disabled. After trying to solve the problem I decided it couldn’t be done so I switched back to the Chrome browser I had been using beforehand. I haven’t used Internet Explorer for quite a number of years and though I can still use it I prefer Chrome or Firefox.
As I was connected to one of my bank accounts when using Chrome I discovered that the site had been automatically protected by Chrome’s encryption program (a 128-bit encryption tool) but Trusteer Rapport (also a 128-bit tool) wasn’t on the Chrome address/toolbar and couldn’t be seen to be operating if indeed it was operating. When I clicked on the Rapport shortcut it showed that it was operating but in fact it seemed it wasn’t in use when Chrome was being used. I switched back to Firefox to see if it was on that address/toolbar and it wasn’t, though it had been when I stopped using Firefox. I decided to open the bank account which promotes Trusteer Rapport and hey presto, there was the invitation to download it. Although it was already installed I re-installed it. I found out that this installation was in fact an updated version of the one already installed and as soon as I opened and ran it there was the icon in the address bar where it should be. I also noticed that the Norton 360 toolbar had been re-instated for it seemed the incompatibility issues with it had also been resolved. What a mess but I am happy it all got sorted and now I am able to once again use the browser of choice. All I had to do then was transfer a couple of new links I had acquired whilst using Chrome. Finished, that is until Firefox/Trusteer/Norton decide to upgrade without sorting any possible incompatibilities beforehand.
It will soon be New Years’ Eve and another excuse for a binge, not that many need an excuse. One thing I haven’t celebrated for more than forty years is New Year. I had plenty of opportunity but no inclination. Yes, I once drank and to my shame over-indulged on many an occasion but ceased drinking just over two years ago. In fact I once gave up the drink for more than thirteen years until I slipped back into the habit around 2002. The problem with alcohol and indeed many other forms of drug, yes it is a drug, is that it is addictive and when that addiction gains strength it can be destructive too. The body has no need for drugs except where they are medicinal but the mind is our weak spot. It is what we think that decides what we do, often to our detriment. So here we are just before New Year and many will be preparing for their celebrations, where to go or who to invite to their own parties. Of course the main activity will involve drinking alcohol and for many, excessively. The aftermath will be headaches, hangovers, injuries and even sadly, death. Some will still insist on taking to the road in their vehicles causing mayhem in the process and if they don’t kill themselves they may kill innocent bystanders or motorists. I think drinking any amount of alcohol before driving should incur the severest penalty, a complete ban on driving for two years. Some will disagree with that saying that small amounts of alcohol do no harm. I disagree, any amount of alcohol has an affect on the system. Most who celebrate of course will do it sensibly, though perhaps noisily. I will probably be asleep well before the midnight hour and will wake up feeling refreshed and free from the dreaded hangover. Out of interest the only real remedy for a hangover aside from not bringing it on in the first place is to drink plenty of water and continue to do so until the headache disappears. The headache, the hangover is simply caused by dehydration therefore the only solution is to rehydrate…..drink water! There are many supposed remedies but only drinking water works. There is no need to drink alcohol in order to have a good time, alcohol often affects memory anyway and whatever ‘good time’ that had been enjoyed is not remembered. What is the point in that? Whatever you do on New Years’ Eve. be wise, be safe and enjoy it. I will enjoy my day differently.
I didn’t get to see my eldest son on Christmas Day, or anyone else for that matter but he had been overdoing things and had stayed at home to rest. He had been working extra hours in his role as a policeman but I think he’d been busy at home too where he lives with his in-laws. By the time my youngest son had arrived home on Thursday night I was already in bed so I didn’t get to see him until Friday morning and then it was only for a relatively short time. He was off to see his girlfriend’s or should I say partner’s parents for an afternoon of festivities. When he did show his face he remarked that the shower in the upstairs bathroom wasn’t working properly. He said that the water pressure had dropped somewhat since his last visit. I checked it out and found nothing wrong. I knew I wouldn’t find a fault as I’d used the same shower an hour or so earlier. It was simply a general pressure drop in the water supply to the house but even so it was minimal. Pressure does vary a little when there is a great demand, that is normal. Actually the pressure was quite high when I turned the control to full flow but then of course its temperature dropped accordingly. He wanted high temperature as well as full-on pressure. What a shame. I told him there were other hotels in town and his reply was that ours was cheap! In fact it is free isn’t it? You just can’t please everyone. Who’d have children eh? After lunch E left the house too. She was visiting her mum again in order to see her nephews who apparently couldn’t be there on Christmas Day so there I was again, home alone. I didn’t go out into the garden to work this time though I could have done. No, I chose to enjoy the home comforts of my hotel instead!
No, not coming down with something. That’s probably not possible just now as I have been pretty much isolated from my fellow human beings lately. No, I’ve got the work bug. After spending a little time out in the garden on Christmas Day (well I had to do something!) I am now itching to do some more if only to remove the boredom and of course to get some exercise. I am glad I moved the gooseberry plants. Their roots were beginning to spread after the couple of years they have been there but even so I had to cut some of them back before I could get them out of the ground. I simply replanted them a short distance away and now they will be far easier to maintain and to gather the fruit. It will be a couple on months yet before they will spring back into life. You can see the cut-down gooseberry shrubs beneath the laurels which have been moved along the same line but close to the (now removed) small slabs on the left in the picture. The laurel shrubs will now have no nearby competition to stem their growth, not that they were being held back. They have grown quite a few centimetres since they were planted early in the year. Hopefully in the next few months we shall see them beginning to have the effect for which they were planted, to provide a colourful wind-break whilst enhancing the view from the patio. If the weather holds fine I hope to finish laying and positioning the few remaining stones around and near the ‘mound’ (see summer posts). It will be a couple of weeks before I am available for electrical work so I need to make the most of the free time I have now. There is work to be done inside the house too but I fancy I shall be leaving that to one side for a while as much of it requires funding. I will however do as much as I can and am able to do without spending out on the major things which can wait.
Nothing planned but I was sitting with my laptop after my late breakfast and my mobile phone rang. I had an inkling that would happen but though I had resigned myself to doing no more electrical this week I was in a way pleased. I’d rather have something to do than not. I could have set myself the task of working in the garden as I had mentioned previously but the weather was rather windy. I had to journey some 10 miles to replace a faulty three-gang light switch but it was worth the effort for £40, my minimum charge. I was back home a little more than an hour later. E was going shopping with her mum after lunch and I decided to do some baking whilst she was away. I mixed two separate recipes, one was for a rich fruit cake (though mine wasn’t topped like the one below) and the other a coconut cake.
I did the coconut cake first as it would take at least an hour and three-quarters to bake. The fruit cake takes an hour and a half. Normally I would bake just the one but E doesn’t like coconut in any shape or form. I have to do something with my time don’t I? Had the weather been better I might have gone for a walk but I will probably get another opportunity for that sometime in the week. I got that opportunity on Tuesday. E and I often dine out on a Tuesday but this week things went differently. I wanted to visit the bank to deposit money in my current account and at the same time arrange to see the manager about adding E to my account. We once shared a joint account many years ago but this time I want to arrange for E to be included on all my bank accounts. She will be a ‘silent’ account holder on my accounts which means she will not be making many deposits or withdrawals. The purpose of doing this is to ensure she will have no problems regarding our household financial matters and she will have access to savings should I die before she does. By my doing this she will also avoid any inheritance taxes or any other problems to do with finance as any monies will automatically be hers by default. She need not reciprocate by giving me the same privileges with her accounts for I would remain self-sufficient should she die first. Neither of us plan to depart just yet but who can say what the future holds? Whilst she was having her shower I received a request to do a small electrical job a couple of miles away but was back within the hour then off we went to the first bank. We had some trouble finding a parking space but eventually we did. I made the deposit then asked about including E on my account. Unfortunately the manager had left for lunch so we made an appointment for Wednesday morning. E had to go into town to do a little shopping and again we found it difficult to find anywhere to park. We allowed ourselves two hours on the meter and off we went on foot. Now I hate the crowded shopping experience, always have, and I make it my business to avoid shopping when I know the streets and shops will be packed with people. I like to move in quickly, buy what I want then get out as soon as I can. I know what I want and the places I need to visit to get them and I plan my route beforehand. However when I am with someone else I have to go at their pace and wherever they go I have to go. E cannot get about quickly because of her ailment and though she might have a plan in mind we always seem to dart from one place to the next in no particular order. That’s why we hardly ever shop together. I did buy one item for the house, a new cake tin! E had bought a flexible cake ‘tin’ not made of metal but a heat-proof rubber substance. I wanted a round metal one that produced straight-sided circular cakes instead of the rectangular ones I have been forced to bake lately. The sides are seldom vertical and straight with the flexible container. We were too late to go for a meal and although we could have found somewhere in town we knew everywhere would most likely be crowded. In any case we had no time left on the meter. One thing I never do when by myself is to pay for parking unless it is unavoidable. This time I was with E and she has to park reasonably close to her destination. It was after three o’clock before we finally got back home, too late for lunch, too early for dinner, so we each had a coffee and a slice of home-baked cake. The following morning, Wednesday I was up and about early despite the opportunity to stay in bed longer. I find it hard to simply lie there once I am awake. E and I were going to visit one of the banks I have an account with in order to arrange for her to be included on my account. It would then be a joint account. The appointment was for eleven and we didn’t leave the bank until twelve-fifteen. We drove off home so E could collect some things before going to collect her mum and do some more shopping. I remained at home and had some lunch. I had wished we might have gone out for a meal until she told me she was going shopping. Ah well there’s always another time. I was greeted by a telephone message indicator but the caller hadn’t actually left a message. I didn’t call back. I assumed they were asking for my electrical services.
Now the day has gone what was all the fuss about? Was it all worth the time and effort, the cost, the worry, the extra food that never got eaten, the hangover on Friday morning? If you had said yes I have to assume you went with the flow, did it all because it was expected of you. Well everyone else seemed to be doing the same and you didn’t wish to be different, besides you really enjoyed it all and why shouldn’t you? You worked hard for it. Now is the day for reflection. Now is the time to consider what it really was all about maybe? If I went to a birthday party I would presumably take a gift for my host. Did you bring a gift to the host of your birthday party?
Isn’t Christmas Day for remembering someone’s birthday? If it isn’t then what is it for? In reality there isn’t a gift you could have taken but there was one that you could have received! God offers you right now where you are a free gift, the gift of His Son and all you have to do is take it. Who would refuse such a gift? This gift however is an everlasting one, one that never wears out, it is for eternity. You see we are all separated from our Maker because of our disobedience, our sinful ways, our selfishness, our greed, our unbelief. The list is long. By taking Gods gift we can put all that right, not us ourselves but Jesus does it for us. He paid the ultimate price for each and every one of us. All we have to do is accept that fact, repent and turn to him. That is the best Christmas present anyone could receive.
Post Script~ I did go out into the garden in the afternoon and I moved all six of the gooseberry bushes from behind the laurel shrubs next to the patio (for those who have been following for some time). I ended up with seven bushes though. After repositioning them I dug out the soil to lay some pieces of flagstone between the laurels and the gooseberries which are now something over a metre and a half apart. See earlier recent post regarding what I might do on Christmas Day (Dec 22). I held back from finishing the stonework around the ‘mound’ though. I didn’t want to be working all afternoon!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
And He did! Praise God for Jesus Christ! Enjoy his birthday……….
‘Ihate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.
Strong words indeed. Each year millions of people celebrate Christmas. Many of them are believers and have turned to Jesus in repentance. Many have a head knowledge but have made no commitment and the rest are unbelievers or just do not understand why Christ Jesus came amongst us and for what purpose. Christmas to the unbeliever is far different to one who has become a Christian yet even for Christians the celebration of the birth of their Saviour is sometimes overshadowed by the traditions they grew up with. Christmas for many is simply a time for family, friends, presents and gatherings filled with too much food and drink in surroundings far removed from the central message. I talk about the tree, the decorations and all the commercial paraphernalia that has become the tradition. It is good to celebrate the birth of a Saviour but not in this way. God says it Himself. God would rather we repented and accept His gift of life offered so freely in Christ Jesus. He would rather we loved one another as ourselves, take care of the poor, the widow and fatherless among us and lead lives more in keeping with His wishes. To the Christian reader….remember these things. To others……….consider why we have Christmas in the first place.
On Saturday morning I arose with nothing at all in mind to do but soon after breakfast I got a call from an elderly man living some twelve miles away who asked if I could do a small job for him. It turns out that he was a retired electrician. He was now 85 years old and was forbidden by his family to climb ladders at his age. He was somewhat confused about the fault he’d asked me to fix. A chandelier ‘blew up’ he said when he switched it on but that he was able to reset the circuit breaker. He told me all the other lights remained working when the circuit breaker had tripped but in fact when I checked it out that wasn’t the case. The circuit breaker controlled all of the lights on that floor. What had happened in fact was the neutral wire up at the ceiling had blown itself clear of the connector and had therefore simply prevented the light from working. I suspect it hadn’t been secured properly when the light was installed. I reconnected it but discovered the dimmer switch controlling the light was also faulty so I replaced it with an ordinary switch as I don’t usually carry dimmer switches in my van stock. He had asked me to fit an ordinary switch anyway. He was grateful that I had arrived so promptly and he paid me something extra for my services. As I was driving back towards home I received another call from a guy asking if I could check out his cooker circuit. He lives fairly close to my house so it wasn’t even out-of-the-way for me to call. The problem was the wall switch which had become faulty. I didn’t have a new replacement switch of the same type he had fitted but I did have a second-hand switch of the same type which I carried in case of an emergency. By now it was too late to visit the supplier and it would be Monday before I could buy a new switch so I told him that I could fit the one I had and that he wouldn’t be charged for the switch but just for my visit. I explained that the switch was all right but simply needed a bit of a clean and that he should have no problems with it. A new switch could easily be fitted later if required. He seemed happy with that and I was paid for my time. So much for a rest from work! I am not expecting any more work before Christmas Day as I write this on Saturday afternoon but I know I shouldn’t speak too soon.
I remember when young people telling me to get wise. They meant gain an understanding. Well what is wisdom anyway? It is gaining an understanding but not just the understanding, it is more than that. We may gain an understanding about something yet take no notice or action on what we learn. In my line of work I need not only an understanding but more importantly how to implement the knowledge gained. It is the same for anything. What is the use in knowing what is right then doing the opposite? If we use our knowledge wisely we gain from it. If we don’t we lose out. For those who don’t know, there is a book in the Bible entitled ‘Proverbs‘ and it speaks about wisdom. The things spoken about may seem a little basic and obvious to some but when all is considered there are many who have ignored the wisdom of its messages and have suffered accordingly. There is a right and a wrong path to take in life and sadly many choose the wrong path because they ignored sound advice. We can learn to be wise through our experiences but doesn’t it make sense to learn the wisdom first?
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Those of my readers here in the UK will already know how mild the weather has been over the last week or so, mild for the month of December that is. However it hasn’t always been dry with it. We have had some cold spells too though nothing like it must get in other places in the world. I have been so busy these last few weeks I have not had the opportunity to do some work out in the garden for despite there having been many days of fair weather I have been elsewhere. There are a couple of things I have been itching to get done, moving the gooseberry bushes and finishing off the area around the ‘mound’ we have been working on throughout the summer months are just two of them. As I have a couple of weeks of free time over the Christmas holiday I hope I will have the opportunity to get those things done. It all depends upon the weather of course. Whilst everyone is stuffing their faces with turkey I could be out in the garden working, you never know! Well turkey isn’t on my menu anyway, neither are mince pies, and Christmas pudding (though I do love Christmas Pudding I seldom eat it these days). I gave up eating that stuff years ago. My diet over the holiday will be just as it is every other day of the year, normal. Many will already know I will probably have beans on toast topped with a lightly fried egg or two for my Christmas day dinner. Why? Because I love beans on toast topped with eggs and I prefer it to the rich foods that I once imbibed at this time of year. I won’t be feeling bloated because I had over-indulged either. I had a tendency to do that once I have to admit but to be fair it was due to the many different things we bought just because it was Christmas. For many people Christmas is a time for over-indulgence in one form or another which is their prerogative but it isn’t for me, I prefer simpler fayre and in moderation. I will be alone at home for most of Christmas Day as I have been for many years now so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to my readers that the day might see me out doing some work in my garden at some point. That of course depends on the weather being dry.
For some time now I have not celebrated Christmas as I once used to. As a child I was brought up in the traditional ways of Christmas celebrations, decorations, trees, lights, tinsel, presents, Christmas fayre, festivities, and the like and when I became an adult, alcohol and parties too were all part of what Christmas was about. It was simply a time of year to do these things and ‘live it up’. It was only after I became a Christian that I began to question many of these traditions. Why do we do these things? What is it really all about especially if Christ is left out of it all? The real answer to these questions is that Christ wasn’t in them in first place! All of what we do, if we do these things hasn’t anything to do with Christ or the celebration of his birth, they are all simply man-made traditions and are the ways of the world. If people wish to celebrate in this way then I say let them but don’t pretend it is a celebration of Christ’s birth, it isn’t that. So I choose not to be a part of it but am encouraged to comply wherever I look.
Thank God for Jesus Christ but we have to thank the ways of the world for all the rubbish that is supposed to be for His birthday celebration.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
I will be the first to admit that I am a sinner and that my life is a constant struggle against sin. I fall short of succeeding in that sometimes and I hate myself for it. My God sacrificed His only begotten Son for me that I might live, that my sins might be paid for, my debt done away with and forgotten. When therefore, that I do let slip, my shame overcomes me and I am sorrowful for having succumbed to temptation. It is because I have let my Saviour down that I am remorseful for He paid such a price for me. Praise be to my God and my Saviour, He who came in the flesh, He for whom the Christmas celebrations are intended. It is such a shame that some who celebrate Christmas do so for all the wrong reasons. Let us remember why we needed a saviour in the first place. I praise my God for He is a forgiving and merciful God. You can know His love, forgiveness and salvation too. Turn to Him this Christmas, turn to Jesus and know real love and real forgiveness.
A couple of days ago we saw the horrible events unfold by the siege of an ordinary cafe in Sydney, Australia, where members of staff together with customers were being held hostage by a man wielding a gun in the name of his religion. Two unfortunate captives lost their lives during the melee which ensued to bring about an end to the situation by the authorities. There was very little more that could be done than what was done to avert some casualties. Nonetheless many more lives might have been lost had action not been taken when it did. It is indeed a very sad world in which we live. Of course many will put the blame on religion in this and many other incidences like it but in fact religion per se has nothing to do with it, it is the deranged minds of those who carry out such atrocities. Some people are simply inherently evil in their dealings with others. Perhaps they cannot help themselves, perhaps they can but their behaviour is seldom an aberration from an otherwise normal one. A gun-wielding terrorist or madman is one thing but what about the behaviour of some of those who watched the events unfold? Some were seen to be taking ‘selfies’, pictures of themselves, with the action in the background! What is it with some people who feel the need to portray themselves as if part of an unfortunate situation? Have they no respect for anyone other than themselves? Personally I don’t understand why it is that some people like taking pictures of themselves all the time anyway. I am thinking they are either so self-centred or attempting to make themselves a somebody of importance. In whose eyes I wonder? The world is full of self-centred and selfish people. Maybe they should take note of the actions of one of the hostages in that siege who lost her own life by shielding her pregnant friend during the gunfire. There is no greater love than a man (or woman) lay down his (her) life for another. John 15:13 (paraphrased). If only there was real love in this world.
These past weeks have seen me so busy I’ve had little time for myself except at the weekend. It’s insane. I do reject calls of course but some of the requests are ridiculous. For instance here are some that I have received lately, the hinge on my fridge is a little loose. My satellite dish has been loosened by the wind. The self-rewind device for the cable on my vacuum cleaner is stuck. I need a lamp changing in my light fitting. Can you repair my oven? ( I once did that sort of work when working for someone else). Can you replace my bath? The taps (faucets) on my sink need replacing. Will you hang some pictures and a mirror for me? The list goes on. They think I am a Jack (Jill) of all trades! Well in fact I can do all of those things but I advertise as an electrician and that is the only work I want to do for others. I went to a house late on Monday afternoon to disconnect an old cooker and connect a new one when it arrived. To save me going there too early and having to stand about waiting for the new one to arrive I suggested to the guy who’d asked me to do the job if he could switch off the cooker wall switch and simply cut the flexible cable on the rear of the old cooker which evidently had been pulled out from the space. He had already disconnected the gas pipe to the cooker but told me he couldn’t locate the wall switch. The switch would either be on the wall nearby or else be inside an adjacent cupboard. If he could do that then the guys coming with the new cooker would be able to take the other one away and I would arrive later to connect the new one. In the end I went along earlier and disconnected the cable myself. The switch was on the wall adjacent to the cooker yet he couldn’t find it! When I showed him the switch he confessed he didn’t know what it was for! I couldn’t believe it. Neither did he know what the only other switch nearby was for. It was for the cooker extract hood! When it came to anything to do with the house services he hadn’t a clue so his wife and teen-aged daughter told me later. Now I wouldn’t expect a customer to do more than cut an isolated cable unless I knew it could be done safely and easily but I already knew this guy was capable of such a simple task. It seems he was stumped because he didn’t know how to switch off the supply using the switch in front of him! Earlier in the day I had been to install a replacement ceiling light fitting and I isolated the main supply at the relevant circuit breaker. The lady came to tell me that there were still some lights working. They were plugged into the power points around the room. She thought everything was supplied by the one circuit breaker which obviously they are not. Whenever I have the opportunity to explain the basic layout of an electrical system in someone’s house I am amazed just how little most people understand about their own installation. Some do not even know where to locate their main power distribution board. These are basic things everyone should know regarding their household water, gas and electrical services but many just don’t have a clue.