Monthly Archives: March 2012

Its sobering to think that no so long ago, the idea of buying a pre-made, pre-packed sandwich from a supermarket just wouldn’t have even occurred to anyone.  Lunch was something you did sat-down in a canteen, pub or home.   Otherwise, you would be having a picnic or packed lunch, with lovingly prepared home-made sandwiches, pies, pasties and more.

These days, Lunch is “on the hoof” a hurriedly purchased hermetically sealed pack from M&S, Tesco’s, Boots or Sainsbury’s.  In these places you now have to cope with the latest horror of the 21st Century, yes, you’ve guessed it, the MEAL DEAL!

Never really took much notice of Meal Deals until one day at M&S the helpful till assistant (remember this is M&S), kindly pointed out that if I added a bottle of water to my purchases, the total cost would actually go down.  Now think about that, what she was saying is that they would actually PAY me for taking this bottle of water off their hands.  Bottom line it had a negative price.  This got me thinking about how this particular business model stacked-up.

One feature of Meal Deals that I have always disliked is that in order to get this discount you are obliged to purchase a packet of crisps (maybe Walkers are secretly subsidising these deals).  Imagine my delight when (again in M&S), I discovered that you could substitute the crisps with a “piece of fruit”.  So there I was with my sandwich, drink and apple (carefully selected from the fruit counter), ready to reap the benefits of my careful analysis of the lunch purchasing options.  But NO, sorry, this didn’t qualify because (as the helpful assistant pointed out), you have to select a piece of fruit from the Meal Deal Counter, NOT the Fruit Counter.  She kindly escorted me to the appropriate display (Remember, M&S), and proudly pointed out an empty shelf where, apparently, apples were once displayed, each one of them sporting a bar code that wold entitle the buyer to a Meal Deal discount.  Alas, no more were available condemning me to paying full price for the meal.

My second encounter was in Tesco’s where I was more careful.  Wanting a wrap rather than a conventional sandwich, I carefully scrutinised the small print to check that yes, wraps are included in the package.  At the checkout, everything went swimmingly until, the bill was presented and yes, you guessed it, full price.  This time the problem was that I had selected the wrong kind of wrap, what I should have done is check that the shelf on which the item was, had a “Meal Deal” sticker on it.  Otherwise: doesn’t count!  Apparently this was my fault, claims that it was misleading fell on deaf ears and the assistant looked very much like she was ready for me so I backed down (I emphasise, NOT M&S).

Finally, back to Mark’s.  A carefully selected my package from all the right shelves, checking everything and yet again, no deal!  Then it struck me that maybe, it’s simply not possible to configure a Meal Deal on your own, maybe unless its pointed out to you by a well-trained operative, there is no physical way a mere mortal can do it.

Maybe its all a marketing ploy to make you think it’s a good deal, when in fact, you always end up paying full price.

Maybe I’m going mad.

Maybe I should take a packed lunch!

(Thanks for reading, got that off my chest now).


Is it possible to be addicted to running?  If you look at the FaceBook posts of someone like me, you might well think so.  Though over the last two days, I haven’t been running. Why? Because I am preparing for the Thirsk 10 mile race tomorrow and I really want to be fresh for this race.  It’s really strange not being out there pounding the streets.  This morning I marshalled at the Leeds Park Run (nearly messing everything up bydropping a bundle of finishing tags) and how odd it was not running!

So, this afternoon I took a stroll, not even power-walking around the neighborhood.  When you walk, you take things in, things that you don’t notice when you are speeding along.  Spring is in the air, people are out gardenning,  parents are out with the kids along the path by the little stream, and it occurred to me what a nice place to live this is.   Praise God for the blessings he places upon us lets try not to complain too much.

A curious thing happened this week that got me thinking.  I know, a dangerous thing, but there you go.  The happening was, that I started using FaceBook in my iPad’s web browser and abandoned the FaceBook App.  Not a very radical step I hear you say, but its strange because the App interface is supposed to be better and makes best use of the multi-touch interface on the tablet.

Why did I stop using it then?  Its simple really, I just find the web interface easier to use and more attractive.  Quite a lot of the stuff you can just glance at on the main Facebook page, such as latest comments are hidden in the App.   The main picture on this blog is a snapshot of my FaceBook page.  So you know what I mean, here is a snapshot of the rather sparse App interface.  You can see that comments aren’t previewed anymore and the main screen to me, takes minimalism a bot far.

Why is this significant?  Well, the App is the great innovation of the age, isn’t it?  Everyone expects there to be an App for everything and well, you can get everything from a bubble-wrap simulator, a spirit-level to something that makes a farting noise.  Now I’m a great fan of Apps and it has to be said that I use quite a few.  I love StarWalk (fun) and DropBox (practical document management) for example.  However, ask me if I could only have the software built in to my iPad, making me do most things on the Web would I leave it home.  Certainly not, the only thing I would have Apple add (and this would be another rant) is the support of Flash.

The thing is that there is a difference between the type of App which is genuinely needed, and does something you can’t do with a web site or is especially well engineered, and those that are simply cut-down front-ends to web sites.  The point is that web sites ARE front-ends and in the days before Apps, web site developers simply had to make their web sites work with mobile browsers.  Now they are under great pressure to produce an App interface to their web sites and the results are often poor.    These “skin” Apps, of which FaceBook is a prime example, don’t add sufficient value to the website, they don’t even pre-download content to make the response times faster and they make you have to learn a whole new, uninspiring, user interface.

Next time I may have a rant about e-magazines but thats a different story.  Apps are here to stay but hopefully as the mobile web gets faster and web developers get the hang of mobile, the “everything must be an App” hype will wither away.

I was really excited about spending the day taking photographs at Wakefield Cathedral as part of their “366 Days” project. Anyone can volunteer and they are looking for one photographer for every day of this year.

There was a warm welcome and things were made more interesting in that they are currently dismantling the old pews as part of an extensive refurbishment. It was great to be allowed in amongst the mess to explore all the photographic possibilities offered by the lighting conditions due to bright sunlight pouring through the stained glass windows.

I took time to participate in the lunchtime Eucharist service and when talking to the pastor afterward, she mentioned how strange it was, having services in such a small space during the refurbishment. This reminded me of the recent re-building at Rothwell Baptist Church, where we had to hold our services in our smaller room for several years, so I could appreciate the challenge.

Although church buildings are just bricks and mortar, the transformation of the buildings has been a blessing here at Rothwell and we have opened up so many possibilities to serve our community and attract many more people to use our facilities. Looking at what Wakefield Cathedral’s plans are, I am sure that they will reinvigorate their relationship with the City at large.

Just as Jesus was restored from death, his followers are similarly re-born and so the real transformation is not in the buildings but in the people who come through our doors. But I think that our transformed places of worship can open up amazing new opportunities.

My best photos of the day can be found in my Gooble Album here

The 366 Days website is here

This week in The MESSAGE, the regular Sunday evening service at Rothwell Baptist Church, I will be speaking on Acts 6:8 – 7:60, the stoning of Stephen.

Although this is an ancient story, it occurred to me that the suffering of Christians at the hands of violent men may not ever have been greater than it is today. It’s not widely reported in the secular news, but if you look at websites such as those run by Open Doors and the Barnabas Fund you can see many examples. An uninteded consequence of the Arab Spring has been the persecution of minority Christian communities.

Even in the UK, it’s not easy being a Christian. You are considered strange, mad or irrelevant by many. If you are really unlucky you suffer from persecution at work, not being allowed to wear a cross or being forced to work on a Sunday.

Is it worth it? In a world of ruin and moral decline someone has to stand up for what is right, to say, Enough!  In a world with no absolute moral values, then who is to stop us reaching the point that anything goes? If nothing is sacred then who is to say that life itself is sacred?

This Week, Nick Graves pointed out the article linked below. I am sure it will horrify you. Ask yourself this question though: If this were to be allowed by UK Law and you don’t believe in God’s law, then who’s to say it is wrong?