What do we think we are doing?

The short version: Our present way of dealing with COVID-19 is insane1That’s not “insane” as a slur but “insane” as in an action no sane person would take after informed, considered reflection. Let’s not turn this into a personal dig against policy makers, though, who are under immense pressures from all directions. It’s more of a corporate insanity.. Of the only two sane approaches, both require intolerable levels of restrictions over a sustained period. In one approach these gradually scale back and COVID-19 kills a significant fraction of a year’s worth of normal deaths over about 6 months. In the other, the intolerable restrictions remain for an unknown period of more than 6 months and possibly years but COVID-19 kills almost no one. I would love to be wrong about this, but I don’t think I am. The choice before us sucks. Take your pick.

The longer explanation…

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1. That’s not “insane” as a slur but “insane” as in an action no sane person would take after informed, considered reflection. Let’s not turn this into a personal dig against policy makers, though, who are under immense pressures from all directions. It’s more of a corporate insanity.

What to do about scale

Some time back I lived near Durham1For the sake of clarity, that’s just plain “Durham”, the ancient pilgrimage destination, rather than the Durham which always seems to have “North Carolina” appended to the name. where the water is blissfully soft. Five years of sparkly clean kettle and coffee machine that just don’t scale up! Since moving to a harder water area, I have often wanted to recapture those halcyon days. And now I think I may have…

I’ll spare you the long sob story about fruitless googling for simple effective answers to scale and jump to the solution I am now trialing: citric acid.

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1. For the sake of clarity, that’s just plain “Durham”, the ancient pilgrimage destination, rather than the Durham which always seems to have “North Carolina” appended to the name.

COVID-19 Endgame

As expected, the UK government announced yesterday that the present “lockdown” restrictions would remain for the present. Nonetheless, it is becoming clear that now is a time when critical decisions must be made. No one can be certain when we will reach the “peak” (and we won’t know it was the peak for certain until afterwards anyway) but it is clearly some time around now1We know this because the rate of growth in infections has now descended to around or below 1. I could write a whole article on this, but this tweet captures it..

At this point it is vital that we know what kind of endgame we wish to target with COVID-19. We will make dramatically different choices depending on this choice. And I suspect the best endgame may not be the one we are drifting towards.

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1. We know this because the rate of growth in infections has now descended to around or below 1. I could write a whole article on this, but this tweet captures it.

Gaggia Baby Water Level Meter

One of the saddest sounds in the world is the change in tone of the water pump as the water runs dry half way through a shot. There’s no real rescuing this situation. It’s go ahead with a sub-par cup of coffee or start again. Not only is that a wasted 40p of coffee beans1For a double shot. but, worse, it dishonours the farmers, roasters and everyone else who has put so much effort into bringing such a wonderful flavour to you from the far reaches of the planet. So, what is needed is a water level meter that can warn when the reservoir is getting low. Continue reading

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1. For a double shot.

Wiring tricks for the coffee machine

When modding a coffee machine, it is easy to overlook questions around just how to connect up the wiring. The space the wiring occupies can be very hot. Just the air can easily be over 70°C and if the wire touches the boiler itself, that can be well over 100°C. Some wires also have to carry fairly large currents and mains voltage. The large currents cause extra heating and the large currents and voltages both cause electromagnetic interference.

Here are some wiring tricks I have learnt over the years. Continue reading

Mounting the flow meter

I have struggled for years to find a good way to mount the flow meter on my pimped Gaggia Baby Class. Eventually, when I bought an old Gaggia Baby Twin, I had a look a the metal bracket Gaggia uses and that immediately gave me an idea. An old PC expansion card blanking plate, bent over, a notch filed on the end and a cable tie. A little bit of silicone glue for stability and viola! Continue reading

Gaggia Baby Twin front panel protocol

I recently got (and fixed) a broken Baby Twin off ebay. I want to experiment with the extra boiler. Anyway, it turns out the Twin talks to its front panel using a TWI based protocol. Here are my notes (which I made in an ASCII editor – enjoy the ASCII graphics and sorry about the scroll bar at the bottom): Continue reading

Holy Spirit Church: Arranging the Furniture

The way we arrange the furniture in our lives (both the literal and the non-literal) communicates so much about who we are and who we aspire to be. And it sets the background scenery to our story. If the arrangement of the furniture is at odds with our goals, this can frustrate or even prevent us attaining our goals. One cannot physically relax in a living room without comfortable chairs. Equally, an untidy desk can be an impediment to work. Less literally, a cluttered calendar has no space for a new departure in life (e.g. deciding to pray regularly) – something has to move out to make space.

So it interests me immensely how we arrange the furniture in our church buildings. We should sometimes stop and ask what our furniture says about our understanding of who we are and who God is calling us to be.

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Parish Rule of Life Proposal

As vicar of Greenside Parish, I have been exploring with my church the idea of adopting a church rule of life. Recently, we began to look at some potential wording for such a rule as a way of exploring the idea. Whether we will ever adopt this wording or even something similar to it remains to be seen. For now, it is just an exploration.

The words we have been considering are below. Continue reading