Monday, October 22, 2007

No Zoë, you can't!!

I have two adorable kids. Xander, now 5 years old, is very much the big brother to Zoë who is smidgeon under 2 and a half. Xander believes he's got the pecking order sorted out:

  • Mumma and Pappa bigger than me, so they're the boss of me
  • I'm bigger than Zoë, so I'm the boss of her

Trying to tell him otherwise can be a bit of an uphill battle at times! However this weekend, we were pretty grateful for his bossiness.

With our third coming on in December, we decided to move Xander and Zoë into a bunk bed. Xander and I put it together on Saturday afternoon and the kids were literally running around, jumping up and down, beside themselves with the idea of sharing a room. When bed time came, they were so worn out that both of them went down very easily, and Alice and I had nice quite night. We prompted Xander not to wake Zoë up in the morning but just to play quietly on his own. He's good at that, and, now that he reads the clock well, he also knows not to disturb us until 7 o'clock.

Alice tells me she heard this conversation the following morning, at about 6.20.

Zoë: I go see Mumma and Pappa
Xander (with a sense of urgency): No Zoë, you can't! It's not 7 o'clock yet!!

… and they didn't either. But when seven did roll round, we were both jumped on by our two wonderful, if energetic, kids!

Monday, September 10, 2007

My 23rd Psalm

Ok, bravery time. Last week at church music rehearsal we looked at Psalm 23. "The Lord is my shepherd", David wrote, as he himself was a shepherd. It may be proposed that that is how David understood God - through his own experience. We were challenged to rewrite Psalm 23 as we understand Him. What is God to you? Here's my humble, if wordy, attempt.

1 The Lord is my comfort. I shall not stress, put myself down, or believe I am unworthy.

2 He provides my worth; He sees me as gold and jewels. He quietens me, and restores my soul.

3 He grows me and builds me up for his own sake, for his purposes.

4 Even through the pressures of life, and though there are those that would tear me down, I will not lose hope, for God believes in me. His righteousness and His promises uphold my faith.

5 You hold my head high among those that see me as useless, even me. You give me meaning and purpose. My life is worth living.

6 Surely I will live a full and fulfilling life. I will live on your word forever.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What's your theological worldview?

No surprises here... Taken from my brother's community site... A bit of fun, but I don't need a quiz to tell me what I believe!

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan, You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Reformed Evangelical


Roman Catholic






Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Flickr Privacy changes

Annoying and disappointing, but what Dad wouldn't protect his kids?
Due to some niggling concerns I had, and confirmations from a friend, I've chosen to make most of the photo's on our Flickr site only accessible to contacts we consider "family", or "friends". (You can become one these. Read below).

Click the post title to find out why...It pains me to realise that some people do use sites such as these for selfish, perverse means. Sometimes public photos of children can fall into the wrong hands, and no parent wants them to be the photos of thier kids.

I would be more concerned if some photos had more hits than others, or random comments from people I don't know. But so far the number of hits have been small, and the comments from people we know. So, so far, I'm not too concerned. But you never know, and you can't track everything, and I just want to protect my kids.

If you want to view the photos you can contact me here, or at flickr. You'll need to sign up for a flickr account, which only requires an email address. We will "friend" people we know, and those kind enough to introduce themselves. I don't actually forsee this being a problem, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Yes, they're beautiful kids. I know that. And yes, I'm biased. I'm their Papa, and love them more than they know.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On Depression

It hits without warning, its stay is undetermined, and living without it can be as much a battle as living with it. (Sorry, this a bit messy in its writing. I hoped to do more, but have really just run out of time.)

First it was a prominent polititions, former WA Premier Geoff Gallop and NSW State Opposition Premier John Brogden. Then high profile sportsmen Wayne Schwass, and Olympic medallist John Konrads, and well renowed actor Garry McDonald. Now the latest celebrity to talk about his battle with depression is the Blue Wiggle, Anthony Field.

Click the post title to continue reading...Like many others, I too am susceptible to depression. I'm certainly not prominent, high profile, or well renowened, but depression can, and does strike anyone. Its not just for those in the limelight, or with too much pressure, or a modicum of "success".

Firstly, thanks Geoff, John, Garry, Wayne and John, and now Anthony. Hopefully others will also be encouraged to talk about and find strategies for managing their depression. However, I also think with such a lot of celebreties virtually revelling in coming out about their battle, the little guys can be lost.

Sometime ago, Australia set up BeyondBlue, to deal exclusively with depression, and particularly male depression. Interestingly, this week marks the start of their Men's Health Week, and the link between alcolhol and depression.

So, let me repeat it. Anybody can struggle with depression. My father struggles. A friend of mine suffered from postnatal depression, after his wife learnt how to live with it too. In fact, I would habour a bet that most people, at somepoint, have learn to how to manage it.

I've had bouts of depression since a teenager. Previously it's been downplayed, dismissed and avoided. By me, as much as anybody I've talked to, which is disappointing and frustrating. One of the most anonying was from a medical professional who indicated that it wasn't depression at all, but simply exam anxiety. Following reading that report was one of the lowest times I can remember.

In the article above Anthony says, "You can feel very lonely even when you're surrounded by wonderful people." How very true. I wonder, however, if this (and other symptoms of depression), are simply not just the logical outcome of our society. In my experience, we are certianly becoming more isolationist. That is, we choose to isolate ourselves, and call it normal. Yes, we even have communities on line, but there is nothing like actually sitting down and talking to somebody, or just being with them. I don't believe you really get to know somebody without spending time with them. Its an old line, I know. But I just don't buy the "I can get along without real contact with people" alternative.

So, and you might have seen this coming, but the same is also true of my relationship with God. Without really spending time with him, or his Son, our relationship whithers. Without talking to God, listening for his voice, reading his letters to me, or remembering his instruction and work in my history; without just sitting in his presence, our relationship distorts to a mock imagery, a mere pale of a real partnership, which, ironically, I accept as normal!

And this is the point about depression: its all about finding things that matter. If nothing matters, nothing is important, I am not important, there is nothing to live for. But even the writer of Eccellisastes came to the conclusion that the only thing that matters is loving and following God. He is the ultimate reason, and really, there is no other.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Its not main course...

A teaching moment on the ettiquette of food goes horribly wrong...
Last weekend I made a pumpkin soup - it was great, and of course we had lots left over! A couple of days later Alice made a beautiful Tuna Morney, and so consequently in the middle of the week we had more than enough left-overs for dinner. The following coversation occured between Master 4 (The X man), and me (Pappa)

Pappa: What would you like for dinner? We have pumpkin soup and tuna morney. Which one would you like?

X-man: Both. I want both.

Pappa: Ok (said I, seeing a teaching moment in action.) We'll have the soup first, and then the tuna moreny.

X-man: No, I want both together. Both at the same time.

Pappa: Well, when we have soup and something else we always have the soup first and then the main course. That's the way its done.

X-Man: But its not main course... its...

Click the post title to see what Master 4 said...
Tuna Morney!

Didn't I feel put in my place!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who am I?

Thinking back on the last few posts, has made me reflect on the many faces I wear. These aren't so much facades, as they are the different components that make up who I am.
We are all lots of different people, in lots of different situations and places. I believe that whilst they can all be different, there can still be a growing integrity to the whole. Sometimes there are competing or conflicting interests or values, and difficult choices need to be made. Consistently making choices in the same direction leads to a less conflicting life, one of increased integrity.

But that is not to say that integrity alone is worthwhile. We're seeing more and more people with mental disorders, particularly with terrifingly violent results. What I find interesting is that their world is integral. It is not right, and certianly not "normal" (that is, similar to the world in most people's heads), but it is consistent. The depressive sees everything consistently black. The paniced, oppresed world of the terrorist is consistent in its outrage against the dominator.

Our Men's ministry at church is called Integrity. Part of its charter is to "seek to identify what it means to be called men of God through teaching, relationship, and fellowship." We're trying to encourage not just integrity within men's lives, but a Godly integrity; one that reflects the wholeness of God. In a world that seems to rely a personally generated integrity rather than one of values and truth, this is increasingly difficult to do. Men in particular, it seems, are put on by society. They are too brutish, too violent, and yet not manly enough. (Personally, I think that the liberation of women has gone so far as to expect those attributes of men as well, and that is ureasonable. We are not women, and what we bring to the world is equally valuable and important. Its just different.)

So, who am I?

Click the post title to find out who I am..

I am...

  • a rogue, impatient, impetues child of God
  • a musician
  • a writer
  • a husband
  • a father
  • a software engineer
  • a dreamer
  • a fatalist
  • lazy
  • sometimes depressed
  • a friend
  • tired
  • a home group leader and member
  • an enourager
  • excitable
  • forthright
  • scared
  • sometimes brave
  • sometimes innocent

... and many more things that God challanges me to integrate.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

3rd Bass

No, not that third base... see the previous post for more on that... hehehe... I've finally decided to do something about my playing.
I play bass guitar. A fretless 5 string of which I'm rather proud actually. (I had it built and had to go through the whole process of chosing designs, and woods and so on, but that's another post.) I've been playing now for probably close to 20 years, and whilst I've taken some lessons, I'm largely self taught.

But there's the problem. For the last few years I've had no one to challange me, or my playing. Not a bass level, anyway. (Muscially in general, yes - most certainly). And, with no-one really pushing, there's been a slow degredation in my playing. Its been frustrating having playing ideas, and not pulling them off, or continually making tiny little errors, that admitadly no-one else notices (or too few to make a real difference), but errors all the same.

So, I've decided to do something about it.

Click the post title to continue reading... The something is the AMEB CPM Bass Level 3.[1]

There are only 4 levels, and they're supposed to get you to a sufficient quality of playing that you could apply for university studies. Not that I want to go that far, but its something to aim for. I had a look at the different curricula[2], and thought I could probably do Level 1 now, Level 2 with a bit of work, Level 3 with much more, and Level 4 was probably too much of a stretch. Level 3 thus seemed just enough out of reach to be worth going for.

As with most AMEB exams, it involves an insance number of scales and arpeggios[3], some in 2 different fingerings, in all keys, over 2 octaves (which is pretty much all you get on a standard bass). Then there's 5 pieces to prepare - 2 from their list, plus 3 free choice - at least 3 of which need to be peformed with live musicians at the exam. Add on soloing and walking bass lines, aural skills, reading, and general knowledge, and I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew!

I've been at it now for about 3 weeks, and have the majors and harmonic minors down, and starting the melodic minors. I've also been looking at the walking, and some of the tunes. There's a lot to learn, but its fun!

And the best bit is that in these last few weeks, I've really seen a change in my playing; or at least my attitude to playing. Just doing those scales I now seem to have more options under my fingers than I did previously. The fret board is starting to open up its secrets, and the excitement is coming back.

[1] That's the Australian Board of Music Contemporary and Popular Music Bass Level 3 exam.

[2]Overview cirrcula available at CPMBass.01.pdf

[3] Major, harmonic minor, melodic minor, major and minor pentatonic, blues, chromatic scales. Major, minor, major 7th, dominant and minor 7th arpeggios. All at 208.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Here we go again!

Kan baby #3 is on the way...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thousands of words...

Or lots of piccies...

A reminder to some, and news for others, we have a Flickr site with randomly updated pics of us and kids. Alice has been great at keeping this updated fairly often. Thanks bub!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Soaking in music - Donald Fagan's Trans-Island Skyway

One of my greatest pleasures in life is simply listening to music – particularly complex layered, music. It’s still got to be funky and have a great groove mind, but listening to how the different instruments and parts interact is truly a wonderful thing. Understanding the anatomy of a particular piece of music helps me understand it more, and, hopefully, recreate the simple complexity in my own playing or music.

One of my favorites is Donald Fagan’s 'solo' release, “Kamakiriad”. The opening track, Trans-Island Skyway, is not only bizarrely futuristic in its lyrics, but so thick in instrumental parts that picking them apart is audio dissection. The rest of this article gives you an example of what I mean. The track reaches a fiull 6 mintues, 29 seconds, so this is a long post!

Click the post title to continue reading...It might help you to have a listen to the track, which you can get to, at least in part, from Amazon. Follow the links.

Some brief background. Our narrator picks up his new car - a Kamakiri - with all the mod cons - hydroponic garden included! The song relates his trip to his home city along the Trans-Island Skyway.

The track starts with the first guitar part (of at least 3 or 4, I think), drums, and way in the distance some keyboards. The guitar plays a line that comes back throughout the whole track. It’s kind of like the heart beat of the tune, or perhaps, more appropriately, the Kamakiri’s idling engine. Add finger snaps, and move the keys more upfront. Then kick into the groove by adding bass and a second guitar part, a second synth part (with sparse, block chords), and then a third guitar, kind of soloing. Cue first verse, with lead vocals only:

I was born yesterday when they brought my Kamakiri
When they handed me the keys
It's a steam-power 10, the frame is out of Glasgow
The tech is Balinese
It's not a freeway bullet or a bug with monster wheels
It's a total biosphere
(well) The farm in the back is hydroponic
Good, fresh things every day of the year
Good, fresh things every day of the year
For the pre-chorus, add a harmony vocal part, a third synth, and half way through (“all set to samba”), some horns (brass – trumpets etc). The very end adds more harmonies (higher male). This section actually builds up the intensity, before a slight release for the actual chorus.

With all screens and functions
In sync lock with Tripstar
This cool rolling bubble
Is all set to samba
This route could be trouble
(This route could be trouble)
When the first chorus comes along, you’d think it was as dense as a hard wood, but everything is so neatly knit together, perfectly in order, it’s truly beautiful. For the chorus, the initial horn part drops out, and then we get a different part, that eventually overlays the original. The heartbeat is still there, only up an octave. We’re on our way.

Steamin' up
That Trans-Island Skyway
Tryin' to make that final deadline
And if the lanes are clear
We're gonna drive a little harder
We'll be deep in the Zone by cryin' time
Then a full band STOP, which eases gracefully back into the groove. It’s magical – like a moment’s brief consideration, before just rolling along with the same. Drums, bass, second synth part, all three guitars, weaving in, out and around each other in a beautiful audio tapestry. Vox is back down to the lead. The verse just rolls along in the groove, not unlike the hours wiled away on road trips.

Say, there's a wreck on the side of the road
Lots of blood and broken glass
The kid who was driving I know from somewhere
Some kids just drive too fast
Wait just a minute there's a beautiful survivor
With dancer's legs and laughing eyes
C'mon snake-hips, it's all over now
Strap in tight cause it's a long sweet ride
Things start to heart up again for the second pre-chorus. From the outset the second male harmony part is added. At “Breath in…” we get the horns back, and new female backing vox. The narrator’s pickup is joining in – echoing his instructions to her.

Relax - put some sounds on
I'll brew up some decaf
C'mon kick off those heels ma'am
Now breathe in and sigh out
Let's get with the program
(Let's talk about the good times)
Out of the second chorus we get an eight bar break in which nothing much seems to happen. But if you listen closely there’s lots of percussion in the background, in odd places: rhythm sticks, bells, wood blocks, temple blocks, and cymbals just before the lead vox comes in again.

The third verse is so full of texture, it can be hard to wade through. Firstly, listen out for the splash cymbal just after “sprangle”. (Incidentally, isn’t that a wonderfully descriptive word for a city’s suburbs!) Also listen for the solo sax line just before “Is that my father”. As far I can hear, its possibly the only solo horn in the whole 6 minutes!

We reach the sprangle just at dawn
These little streets I used to know
Is that my father mowin' the lawn
(C'mon daddy get in let's go)
At first thought, the second half of this verse is a bit of a cop out – just the same line repeated 7 times. (Note that – seven times. What the?) The drums kick it off with an oddly placed snare hit, which drives the groove forward, pumping it up. Immediately the horns come in with close harmonies, playing in and around a dense chordal mass of voices. There’s still a semi-soloing guitar or two, and funky odd keys. But the really hidden shine here is the added percussion. Listen out for bells, wood blocks, chimes, and other cymbals (which could just be the drummer joining in the fun).

From the story standpoint, maybe they’re having a hard time convincing daddy to join them.

C'mon daddy get in let's go
C'mon daddy get in let's go
C'mon daddy get in let's go
C'mon daddy get in let's go
For second “half” the convincing of daddy becomes more intense, with our female passenger adding her voice, and second guitar part. Listen for the odd bell here and there, cutting through the dense chords and voices, and soloing guitars.

C'mon daddy get in let's go
C'mon daddy get in let's go
C'mon daddy get in let's go
The last verse brings us back down to basics, for a while. Initially we’re down to lead vox (doubled with himself, which is interesting – perhaps daddy did get in and go), and rhythm section (bass, drums, one guitar and keys). There is more intensity here, though, mostly through increased volume, but also from the noodling keys. Again, half way through (Tidepools) the female vox, an extra guitar, and some horns just can’t help adding their voices.

We float into Five Zoos
Past the motels and drive-thrus
That noon sun is blinding
Cause the tidepools are boiling
And below the plates are grinding
(Let's talk about the good times, honey)
And then the most unexpected figure of the whole tune – a bar break of drums and keys (or possibly a processed guitar). It’s one of those moments where people look at each other with a confused face, saying “what the heck just happened?”

(Chorus, repeat)
Back into the chorus, and back down to the lead vox (single this time) and rhythm section. Log slow chords on the horns get added in. The chorus is then repeated, starting out by adding a more prominent soloing guitar, then more voices and brining the horns more prominent. The complexity layers start building up.

The final 16 bars just ride the groove. Like the end of a long journey, where you know you’re close, and just need to keep going that little bit longer to get there. Listen for the nice drum off beats at the end of the first four bars. Curiously, there are not female vox here – it’s only our driver guy singing, ‘quiet time’.

The last figure to listen for is final stop – it’s kind of hard to miss, as it ends the song. It just, well, stops, like the engines been turned off. There’s no real ending, as such. Like the 1 bar break before the final two choruses, it’s another unexpected, ‘what just happened?’ moment.

Well, there you have it. I'm glad you got this far, if you did. I hope you got something out if, though. The rest of the tracks on Kamaririad look at different adventures our narrator takes, and the diffenent places and people he finds there. A lot the tracks are similarly dense in their construction, but all are beautifully put together. It's an album I doubt I'll ever tire of, and possibly will never stop finding new and interesting details in.


Friday, April 27, 2007

The Leaving of a Worship Pastor

Worship is a large part of my life, and my meaning. However, as you may have discerened, I'm concerned not only about the "quality" of worship, but about how worship teams function. this was originally written in March, 2006.

After a wonderful year, the Worship Pastor at our church decided it was time to leave. Her decision was a difficult one to be sure: the team has been spriritually challanged and deepened; worship has been permeating our services like I've not seen before. Who would not want to stay and see this continue?

Click the post title to continue reading...But, the personal cost was too great. As far as I understand, she needed to take time to reconnect with her family. She and her husband worked different scheudules, and as I know from personal experience, trying to maintain a relationship in that environment is more hard work than it really needs to be.

When she came, I was cautious - sceptical might be too harsh a word, but not far from it. What she was proposing, pushing, us into was far from my concept of worship, or, at least, ordered worship. She was all for emotional outpouring, fully throwing yourself into worship of God with every fibre of your being, simply to be with Him, and experience Him again and again like you never have before.

My worship background has always been in mainstream churches, mostly of the Anglican variety, but also more recently in a contempory style. The change in me has become evident I think in how I've approached it. Worship becomes more involved, more approachable to a contemporary congregation in a contempory setting. Being not so much my old myself, there's no doubt I've become freer in worship, and to worship in ways that express my heart for God.

Obviously we clashed on a number of things - it always going to happen when people have a different view than your own. But, in the wisdom of hindsight, I think that her perspective enhanced my own a little. And for that I thank her.

What was the Garden like?

Some thoughts generated by a sermon I heard a while ago, "Where did I come from?"
I often get letters, quite frequently, from people who say how they like the programs a lot, but I never give credit to the almighty power that created nature, to which I reply and say, well, it's funny that the people, when they say that this is evidence of the almighty, always quote beautiful things, they always quote orchids and hummingbirds and butterflies and roses.y But I always have to think too of a little boy sitting on the banks of a river in west Africa who has a worm boring through his eyeball, turning him blind before he's five years old, and I reply and say, well presumably the god you speak about created the worm as well, and now, I find that baffling to credit a merciful god with that action, and therefore it seems to me safer to show things that I know to be truth, truthful and factual, and allow people to make up their own minds about the moralities of this thing, or indeed the theology of this thing.

Sir David Attenborough, from the BBC documentary Life on Air

Interesting, eh? How much of nature is as God originally intended, and how much of it is a result of our corruption of nature, due to our part, walking away from God?

Click the post title to continue reading...It's hard one to get a hold on. Sometimes I feel that being human, and being Christian is more of a partnership with God, than in Him ruling and dictating my life.

Back to creation. In the quote above, Attenborough alludes that nature is inhernently violent. I wonder what he has seen, what ends up on the cutting room floor, that is just too much for our already violently soaked TV. I think we get glimpses of what it means to be wild from these programs, but only glimpses. Lions tear down wilderbeast, kill them, and rip them apart for food when barely dead. Fish hunt and eat other fish using all sorts of deception to ensure their own survival at the expense of another. Lizards eat birds eggs. Even mating dances may be seen as the careful coercion of the opposite sex, rather than the love based, beautiful ritual we make it into. This is not just niceness and all things soft and lovely. This is a world in which animals fight for survival. In which there is conflict, where rarely do creatures die becuase of old age.

And God created it like this. Sure, He added the butterflies and the roses (with lovely thorns too, don't forget), and they have a part to play in that wild realm, but essentially, nature is wild, and harsh, and violent. And God looked on it, and said it was good. What does that mean?

Well, that was where the original post ended. I still think the question is a good one, although I think was planning on answering it! I'll leave it open to comment.

Told you I wasn't dead...

Well, I'm back. Or at least, I intend to be.

A lot is going on right now, in all areanas of life. Family. Church. Work. Life. You name it, I feel like I'm swimming through dorm school custard in a darkened room.

And God is doing is something challanging and positive in my life. Changes are afoot. I'll tell you about them sometime.

But first, let me round off a few posts that have been hanging around. They won't be as polished or complete as I'd like them to be, but at least they'll be out there.

Sorry for the long wait.