Friday, 21 September 2012

Back from wherever

It's usually good to take time out from something you enjoy, just every once in a while.

To get a fresh perspective, I sometimes need to get out of the instant connection to a thing. 

Often a wee lateral thinking game can help change your perspective or look at a thing differently. But, to break out of a rut of giving way too much focus to the minutiae of the digital connection I had across multiple platforms, I needed to switch off a few things and focus my finite attention in other places.

It wasn't about shunning people or technology. Or about trying to be better than anyone. Nope. It was about focus and attention. You guys are great, but you aren't the source of love, hope, grace or peace that I need to more than just survive.

And now I'm back. And so what, I hear you say. Who cares?

So what happened? What did I learn? What mysteries have been brought to light? What creative genius has been sparked?

To be honest; not a lot.

Actually, that's not true. Mrs theWeir and I have had a pile of good times. And I finally sorted out calendar sharing so we know what's going in without having to have a daily meeting. Not that we ever did. Which may have been part of a wider thing.

But no matter.

I also cleared up my to-do list and work email box. Both down to zero before we went on holiday. Some hard decisions had to be made about priorities, but a fixed end date and a strong desire to not change it meant things got done that needed done.

Even better was being away in another part of our beautiful country, being a wee family unit, seeing friends, doing relaxed-pace things and getting to take some pictures.

Having a suspected shin-splint put a swift halt to my running for a few weeks too. Which was quickly replaced by finding longer (and quicker) cycling routes to work.

And I found other things to take the place of reading a Facebook timeline or Twitter feed every few hours. 

Then I started playing Angry Birds.

I'd love to write this and say that I made a more concerted effort to pray and listen for God speaking as I read the bible. And while I certainly did more of both things, there was no earnest early mornings.

But I did pray more. And I certainly read more. But I think I have been listening more. Actually I'd say I'm listening the same, but I'm listening for something different. For a still small voice.

As I re-engage with social media, I'm praying I keep listening. Keep putting God first. You guys are great. But He is greater.

Grace and peace.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

soft on Yeltsin

I remember reading this article nearly a year ago.

Mr Gorbachev talked about some of his regrets. How he should have known better. Mr G has regrets, but he didn't do anything at the time. So are they just rose-tinted and fuelled by hindsight and a desire to have remained in power for longer? I don't know as I can't ask the man what the real motivations were.

I'm sure most of us don't want to get to the point where we find ourselves at 80 years old (Lord willing) with a pile of things we wish we'd said or done.

Of lessons we wish we'd learned the first few times, not the twentieth time. Or we've still not learned.

Lots of sporting analogies and blasé statements fill our Twitter streams and Facebook feeds. The reality is, however, that life is all about making decisions.

Too often, I think we make the decision to drop out. To not even make a choice and *let fate decide*. Really?

Is that life in all it's fullness?

I don't think so. I'm not for making 100 strategic decisions about your day before you've got out of bed.

But there's an opporuntity for those of us who want to listen for the Spirit of God as we follow the way of Jesus to find out there's much grace to be discovered as we make decisions in light of His truth and His mercy. If He is with us, are we paying attention? Are we bothered? There's no magic formula, but by faith all things are possible.

In fact, maybe we can avoid regret by spending less time looking through the rose-tints and more time in the present that shapes the future.

How do you do it?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

entirely possible

A few years ago, I had the privilege of being asked to speak at the KC.

The content was to be from the beatitudes - Matthew 5. In preparation, I noticed a few things that stood out, but the thing I really wanted to emphasise were inspired by something I'd heard from someone else.

The Lord's/Disciples prayer is smack in the centre of the passage known historically as the "sermon on the mount".

And it's made up for five things:

  1. Acknowledging God is bigger than we are (Our Father in heaven, holy is Your Name)
  2. We need His ways of thinking and doing (Your kingdom come, your will be done)
  3. Help us deal with the past (Help us forgive our debtors)
  4. Thank you for being with us in the present (Give us food to eat)
  5. Let's go into the future together (Help us forgive those who will wrong us)

This has been in the front of my mind for a few weeks now.

It's a simple faith.

To stop trying to do it in my own strength. Stop treading water.

I think I had got in a rut of existing without living in an awareness of the presence of God. Yeah, I might talk about walking with Him, but am I stumbling in the gloom of self-indulgent, pseudo-darkness?

His timing is perfect. His ways are just.

There is a growing sense in me of the possible. Of what can happen. Of what can be.

Let it come.

Monday, 6 August 2012

You act too much

“ I have to jump in with both feet. When I am preaching the application of theatrical thinking and technique to the business world (or to presentations), I often hear the criticism that I ‘want people to be fake, to pretend to be something they are not.’ This criticism is based on a fundamental and massive misconception of theater — the idea that theater is a form of pretense.

“This is manifestly not the case. Great actors do not ADD anything to themselves in acting. Instead, they selectively REVEAL. On stage — whether acting or presenting — I am never someone else. I reveal some aspect of myself to the audience. I reveal my genuine enthusiasm for the theme, or my real worries about the situation. Only thus can I be genuine, be authentic.”

(comment taken from Slide decoration: how much is too much?)

And so do I.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Monitoring who?

I've been working through a pile of thoughts captured on Evernote and as draft blog posts.

I came across these words I'd written ten months ago. I sounded much more intelligent than I feel right now:

Something about listening and being listened to.
It's part of the development from radical to accepted to normal to hackneyed to outdated. At the point of moving to accepted to normal, we start to categorise risk and exercise control. In many, many cases, this kills innovation and restricts growth.
And so something else will come along that challenges the measures, risk-controlled norm and we call that *radical*.
And so it goes on.
Art is often the radical. The fringe. The outcast. I've said before that I like the outside view. I'd like to be more creative with that view. Intentionally and spontaneously.

I wish i knew what I was talking about and what I'd been thinking about.

So I thought I'd just post it and see if anyone could help... I'm not daft enough to think I have all the answers.

Help me out, if you can. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Walking vapour


If you keep an eye on such things, you'll have noticed that the social news service Digg was recently broken up and sold for parts. The name, domain, code and some other bits for $500k. $12m was paid for the Digg team members and $4m for some patents.

And as Alexia Tsosis pointed out, a few short years ago people were begging their friends to vote up their posts.
But it's the way of all things. Not just technology. Sure, there's people still fascinated by cars of all styles and models. People collecting stamps from 100 years ago. And people value a while pile of things.

Something is hot. Then it's not. Sometimes that is through planned obsolescence, other times that's because there's a newer, faster, hotter, cooler, smarter, thinner, efficient-er version or the product or service.

But then if we're honest new is *always* perceived to be better. Often new actually is better.

And it's not really a product of more consumerist society. Not really. We've done this since we started making things. And that's also known as advancement or evolution.

And that's why it's all meaningless.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”    says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.

With meaning

Actually, the original work is not "meaningless". It's more like "vapour". It doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of a lifetime. Or an eternity.

I wrote about this a few weeks months back when reflecting on Jimmy's passing.

But vapour isn't hopeless. It isn't without impact.

At the weekend, I ended up in St Andrews at the RVLTN event. A far better musician than me was playing. In fact a whole pile of them were. It was nice to get a free ticket from my friend. Ten years ago, I think the band I used to play with would've been kicking around this kind of event. It was nice to be there without an agenda. Without time pressure. Just to see what would happen.

I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with a pile of people - some old friends I'd not seen for years, some new friends who I hadn't had that long to chat with. There were people I wanted to speak with by didn't want to be *that guy* either.
So lots of conversation. Lots of questions. Lots of experiences to listen to and learn from. And despite the beauty and treasure of those moments, it's still vapour?


It's vapour because it doesn't last forever. It's vapour, however, that's preparing us for something. For somewhere. Here and now. And forever. And I don't get it. I don't have it all figured out. But I'm graced with these moments. I want to make the most of them. 
"Just because your present doesn't mean that you're here"

Even if I was to part of the best band in the world. Or be the best person I could be. It's still a twinkling of an eye. But it's not pointless. Because each moment shapes the next one.

The world needs present people. People aware to the moments going on around them and listening for the still small voice (or the really loud one) saying: "this is the way you can show grace and mercy to people. Just walk in it."


As a side note, I'm so aware there are people I haven't seen for years and if we've been trying to connect in person and it's not happened, I'm sorry. It's really nothing personal, but like many of is, my bandwidth is limited.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Atmospheric pressure

I live in Scotland. I was born here.

Something in the water means that as a nation we talk about the weather a lot. And given the ridiculous amount of rain we've had in 2012, there's more water.

Let's clear something up: I'm not a meteorologist.

I suspect most of you aren't either. In fact, there's only 25,000* professional meteorologists on the planet. That's 0.000004% of the people alive right now. Give or take.

I can't talk about the ups and downs of isobars or the movement of fronts. But I think that despite all that we are aware of weather more than we realise. More than simply talking/moaning/pontificating about it; weather impacts us. The atmosphere we live in changes our breathing. Our body changes based on the atmosphere it's alive in.

The other morning, the atmosphere was heavy. And the temptation is to get wrapped up in that. To focus on that. To make the atmosphere the thing that matters.

(*made up statistic based on there being 9,400 in the US in 2009)

For whatever reason.

Actually, it's mainly for one reason. To keep our eyes on ourself. On what we are feeling. On how we think it's all going to end. But that's the problem. Billy Connoly once said:
"My old fishing pal Jimmy Kemp said there is no such thing as bad weather, it's only the wrong clothes." (from here)
And isn't there truth to that? That we can think we're the centre of it all. And to the weather/atmosphere/job/audience/relationship should be what we want it to be.

Yet for the follower of Jesus, I believe we have the opportunity to more than survive the atmosphere. Not only is God in the high pressure and the low pressure. He is also bigger than it.
"He is here. In the valley low. He's here. I feel Him in my soul. Our God. Here and now."
And how do we get the atmosphere to break? We can try and push through, do it on our own ("I can do it all by myself", as the weeWeir would have me believe). We might not use that language as more mature humans. but the same spirit still rises up in us. At least it does in me.

We need one who calms storms and makes planets outside and inside the atmosphere. And he is the One who knew us before we were born. As a few friends and I have been challenged by recently, we need to become less self-dependant and more God-dependant. 

How else do you overcome the rain?

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Scars are a funny thingI was looking at my hands the other day and noticed that not only are they showing their use with plenty of lines and crease

Maybe I need to moisturise. Which always makes me think of this scene from Ocean's Eleven:

Or maybe not.

There are marks on my hands from incidents I can remember as far back as 1988. Which isn't that far, but given I was 9 years old, that's not too bad.

Nope, scars are okay. They remind us of the life we've lived. Of what we've been carried through, or just survived.

And if they're really impressive, they might earn a little kudos. But that's less likely.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

There's nothing new under the sun

This all came to mind as a few different things converged. 

Last week, Jimmy Adam passed away. He was an Edinburgh taxi driver, a collector of *things* and the first person I can (currently) recall being a bit of a technology geek. Certainly the first person I can remember having knowledge of how PA systems worked. He was unashamedly himself, full of life and most of all, I always remember him making time for me if I was around their house or at their church. I wasn't able to attend the funeral, but my Dad said it was quite something - full of life, and amusingly, the traffic jam outside was a sight Jimmy would have been proud of.

It's exam time in Scotland. And in England too. And probably in other parts of the world, but I can't confirm or deny that. Anyway, I was reflecting on other influences on my youth.

For my Higher English dissertation, I wrote about Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut Junior. The premise of my essay was that the story was really about there being nothing new under the sun. As the main character in the book shifts back and forward through time, the cyclical nature of his experiences was stark to me and while his cynicism increased, the core of the issue was the same. 

There's nothing new under the sun.

The phrase is taken from a book in the bible. I love the book of Ecclesiastes. Many people don't. But it's wonderfully grounding. And there's some great teaching on it from Rob Bell and others.

The word translated as "meaningless" in this book is more like our word vapour. It's passing. It's not going to last. The writer of the book is calling us to remember that the troubles of life aren't forever. There's ebbs and flows, but the fabric of our physical existence isn't all there is. Jesus would later come along and say “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I love how Jesus' overcoming wasn't the aggressive forcing of a worldview or the killing of anyone who stood against him in person. But he overcame by having identity and therefore security based on an understanding of who he was and what that meant for how he lived.

It's liberating to have a wider view than current moments of trial. And this week for me has had a few. I'm sure it has had many for you.

So when I saw this tweet and followed through to the article, it was a great reminder of the repetition we experience in life. The first Santram ad was witty:

The spoof by Nando's was a bit cheap, but had a humour to it:

The reply from Santram was classy: 

But actually, the first ad was a bit of a re-working of someone else's idea anyway:

Because there's nothing new under the sun. Or on the internet.

People will rip off your ideas, your wallet and even your emotions. Trials will come. For those grieving the passing of a loved one, may you be comforted. 

But there's a hope beyond our present experiences that means we don't have to fear those moments of loss. We can embrace them as part of the journey. As how we grow. As how we can become more like Jesus.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

get started (again)

Like many children, I was able to tell things apart from a young age. In particular, I could tell you a car's make and model from fairly small details (like light clusters, panel shapes, window shapes).
Yes please.
While my focus is now much less on the world of production car design, somethings never change. The other day I saw a car with a 2005 registration plate, but the car shape/detailing was from the 2000-2003 version. Or thereabouts. So that made me thing that the car was likely to have been re-plated, re-built or at worst a cut and shunt.
What does that have to do with starting again?
Well, looking back at over twenty years of car-knowing, I started to see the big picture; the cycle some manufacturers have for a model is to release, refresh and then replace. Usually this happens over an six-to-eight-year period. The mid-period refresh being the one you probably want to buy second-hand as many of the initial bugs of the first version will have been dealt with.
It was really interesting to see this post in Inc from Jason Fried at 37signals (a company I have a lot of respect for given the way they work and the products they produce).
Too often, we don't know when to stop re-touching and *finessing* the existing product and just start again.
There's nothing to say that what we create second time 'round won't be similar in spirit, core value or purpose as the first version, but that we give something a fresh perspective can only be a good thing.
I remember a few years ago a few colleagues and I helped our managers re-examine our approach to telling our story to potential clients, the work was challenging and a lot of fun. The end result was something fresh that still remained true to where we had come from.
Have you ever done that? How did it go?
I wonder if there are things we should start again? Things that are worth the attention. Things that have served us well but need to be given a new perspective.
It's going to be fascinating to see how this plays out for 37signals.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Three words for 2012

Last year, I wrote three words to set the course for the year. And promptly forgot about them.

Alive | Growth | Proactive

This year, I wasn't really thinking about three words as I was struggling to have the mental space or energy to think about it. Then a funny thing happened.

I was thinking about a focus for writing about this year - after last year's eight-thirty project, and the themes of faith, hope and love were really sticking with me. I mentioned this yesterday

So those three words are going to be my three words for 2012.

To grow in each area. To live in the light of them. To get closer to God in the midst of it all. I even drew a picture.

As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthans 13:13:

"so these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love."

or as Eugene Peterson translated it:

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." Read the whole passage for the context ;->.

Friday, 6 January 2012

300 not out - and four to go

It's 2012. But you knew that already. Or maybe it's not and you are reading this from the future. Welcome back.

Welcome, in fact, wherever you are on the space-time continuum.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm soon about to reach the end of my 365 project over on The idea behind the project was to take a photo every day at either 8:30am or 8:30pm. I started on my birthday in 2011 and it's soon to be my birthday in 2012.

A few weeks ago, I decided that while the discipline of taking a photo and writing about it was something I was really enjoying, the original intention had morphed into something else.

I want to write more about faith, hope and love. And the journey of discovering more about these three things. And the tension that exists to live in the light of what I hold to be the eternal nature of these truths.

So my intention is to keep writing. And to keep taking pictures. I'll aim to keep going with eight-thirty. But I will be doing more writing here. On the old blog, 300 posts and counting. I'll be tagging entries with 13-13 (a reference to 1 Corinthians 13 v 13, in case you missed that!).

It's coming towards my new year, and this is one of my goals.

What are yours? Can I help you work towards them?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Why I don't update the world like I used to

Despite posting over 10,000 times on twitter and having a fairly active Facebook stream, I know that I am sharing less online. Or at least less frequently.

Is it fear of giving away too much? Nope

Is it fear of spam? Nope.

Is it boredom or falling out with the people I have connected with? Nope.

Some stats would speak for themselves:

30 new blog posts - compared with 179 in 2010. 47 visits to the blog in 2011, 1,380 in 2010.

However, my focus shifted from sharing as many little pieces on twitter and facebook, to my eight-thirty project on blipfoto. Which has been viewed over 32,000 times. Which is astounding. And I've been using Instagram.

So maybe I've moved away from the smaller updates, to longer form. A re
al shift to photographs as well as words, albeit my flickr stream hasn't been quite as busy. It's nearing my birthday again and I'm considering what to do with eight-thirty, and with this blog.

More news as it breaks...