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.