Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sermon PowerPoints

I've just finished my sermon PowerPoint for tomorrow morning. We are doing a sermon series based on the Mission Shaped Introduction course by Fresh Expressions. This is intended to be run over two hours, I have to modify the content to work in 15 to 20 minutes! The course comes with PowerPoint presentations for each session which I need to modify.

Key thing - you don't have a slide because the concept is easy to illustrate. You don't have a slide because you can find lots of pictures. You don't have a slide because you had a really cool idea. You need slides to reinforce points and sometimes to help resolve complexity. You should have slides for the things that you want people to remember.

This helps with which slides to take out when you realise that there are too many!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

One of those days

Today was one of those days that just needed to pass! Not enough sleep last night after a budget meeting. Review budget and think about circuit future. Go birthday shopping (ok, that was mostly fun). Try to get credit card from bank. Buy churchmouse (the other one went missing). Contemplate sleeping. Do some dog training. Visit a church leader. And then the long, slow one, sit on a pastoral commission.
Actually, it wasn't all bad - but a day filled with uncertainty. Not fertile ground for writing!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Web Page

I've been working instead of writing, so just a link to what I have been doing. The church web page has been going through various changes for various reasons over the last little while. I have been putting together a Joomla version as the latest iteration. It is nearly done, but not quite. You can see it here.
I have recommended Joomla before and I would still do so.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Does Competence Matter?

I tend to wonder, more and more often, how seriously the upper echelons of the church take competence. This led me to read a bit about competence and discovered this thing called the Stereotype Content Model. It shows people or people groups on a Warmth axis and a Competence axis. The ideal being warm competence which is generally achieved by being part of the 'in group'.

(Picture from Wikipedia)Stereotype content model - Wikipedia

While I can see that this makes sense for understanding individuals, the theory is intended to apply to groups and in particular helps us to see how we build stereotypes - for instance we would expect a welfare recipient to be in the lower left quadrant and we expect a less warm, less competent person.
The question occurred to me as to what would happen if we examined the stereotypes pertaining to women and fortunately the study (or studies perhaps) have been done. This is the picture I found
It comes from here and it attributed to  T Eckes (2002) Paternalistic and envious gender stereotypes: Testing predictions from the stereotype content model. Sex Roles 47(3-4):99-114.
It is interesting how most stereotypes are found in high warmth OR high competence. I'm not sure what it says that the high warmth- high competence stereotypes are named 'society lady' and 'confident type'!
But this does help us see what stereotypes women are having to overcome in order to be admired! I don't think we can stop stereotypes being formed (because we can't cognitively deal with the number of individuals that would need to be processed) but we can encourage people to be open to the fact that stereotypes do not hold true for all members of a group.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Karoo National Park

We have just spent three nights in the Karoo National Park. I wanted to visit the park in order to see what it was like, but I really expected to be disappointed. We used to enjoy the Kruger National Park when we lived in Johannesburg and it was less than a day's drive away, but there had been nothing comparable in the Cape area. Table Mountain National Park and Cape Point are very enjoyable, but a very different experience to Kruger. The West Coast National Park has always seemed a bit bleak, unless you go at peak flower. So we expected much the same at the Karoo Park, but were happily surprised.This park has the feel of a nascent Kruger. I don't know what the plans are for the future of the game reserve, but I hope they include increasing the biodiversity and slowly expanding the road infrastructure. I wish I could be around in 50 years to see what it is like.
Game drives were pleasant with lots of game and birdlife - we are typical 'we stop for birds' people, so we don't rely on the big five for entertainment. The roads were quiet, the picnic spots were quiet and clean and tidy, the camping area offered relatively secluded spots and peace. The sky at night was beyond awesome.
It was fun to see desert animals like gemsbok which you don't get at Kruger. We saw Karoo Korhaan on a drive and a Karoo Robin and the cutest 'Familiar Chat' hung around the campsite - as well as other birds.
This has been a great discovery for me - whenever I need a game reserve fix, we can now head to the Karoo and not long for Kruger.

Thursday, October 05, 2017


I bought myself a new laptop. I really like this laptop.
But I promised myself (or possibly I promised God) that I would start writing again if I bought this expensive laptop with the awesome keyboard. So the blog is the most convenient place to write!

My laptop is a Lenovo Thinkpad 13 with i7 processor, 8Gb ram and amazing full HD ISP display. It has to replace my old Lenovo Thinkpad x220 which was almost perfect. So far, it is doing a good job.

For a few months in between I was using a Lenovo Yoga 300 with a touchscreen. It had all the features of cool and very few features of being a useful workhorse. The worst thing being the keyboard. So I trawled reviews looking for the ideal keyboard and then looked for my other performance preferences. The Thinkpad 13 seems to hit the sweet spot.

The other thing that was non-negotiable was a non-gloss screen as my aging eyes were struggling with the glossy yoga. The HD IPS was . . . a self-indulgence justified by the hope of a brighter screen - the less fancy models apparently having a brightness of only 200 nits. I think. Apparently this is a case where nits are to be desired, but it is rather mysterious to me.

The fast SSD drive is nice too, but wasn't a determining factor in my choice. I wanted Windows 10 Pro, which this has, but to be honest I can't see that it offers me anything over the basic edition. I hoped that I wouldn't be constrained to get software updates, but I suspect I still am, unless I have missed a setting somewhere.

I bought the machine through Laptop Direct from where I also bought my x220 and they were great.

I am happy! And I will write . . .

Totally irrelevant, but I like this xkcd cartoon.