Sam's notebook

A Return to the Web December 15th, 2004, 6PM


Returning to this blog after so long? What do I think I’m doing?! As if this is what it’s all about! I don’t want to return to this God-awful dive of diurnal dialog with myself; I don’t want to say, yet again, “Ooh, yes, woodwork is grand, but surely my life is “better?!” if I combine the old and the new, the high tech and the low?”. I’ve been here before!! Aaaggghh……

So, am I heading for a quiet workshop in which to practice my craft, slowly and carefully, and with chickens about? Will this little laptop sit near my workbench, perhaps with a canvas to keep out the dust, and at the end of a day be the place in which I record my thoughts, progress, dreams…? I should like, today, to think of this little wooden shed of my imaginings, to place a solar panel on the roof, a gas bottle inside and books along the walls. My workbench (oh!, where art thou, now, dear bench?) holds the meagre gleamings—nay: the beautiful, perfect, strong, clear gleamings—from the timberyard floor, or the building site skip, or the specialist timber-merchants’; and with them I shall work to embody the love that I feel for this craft, to embody what my hands know off by heart, for herein lies the crux: to know something so well.

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In The Sharehouse User Space May 5th, 2004, 6PM


Doing lots of coding; not much woodworking. Doing what I want, getting stuff done, having a good time. Seems useful. Am I to continue with wood? Not thinking about it; just doing that which has my thoughts mostly. Feeling a bit guilty, but not ’cause I don’t like what I am doing. Doesn’t really matter.

It’s databases, libraries, code, order, hierarchical structure today. The beauty without thought of working wood seems a long way away and somewhat irrelevant. I guess it’ll come back?

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Internet Collaboration May 3rd, 2004, 9AM


The crisp morning, cold but nothing to worry about; sitting reading at 6AM quite possible, wrapped only in everything I own. I am captivated at the moment by the ‘international community’ (and I use this phrase sarcastically) of the web, and especially the open source development ‘community’. There is something fascinating about collaborating with people who are so into collaboration, whose experience of the thing that unites us (the net) is so similar to my own, yet whose experience of pretty much everything else is so different. It makes one optimistic about the possibilities that this technology (you knew I was going to say it) gives us for democratic collaboration on matters governmental. I can see I’m going to get more cliched, so I’ll stop writing.

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Stylin' April 30th, 2004, 11AM


This morning I have been playing around with CSS. I know it doesn’t look too great just now, but I’ll fix it soon… maybe. I want to get back to working on my main PHP project, but it’s such a drag working on it without the lovely syntax high-lighting of a useful editor…

Something interesting is happening at the moment; I feel like I’m figuring something out, a resolution of the warring factions prehaps – perhaps involving the elimination of one… hmm……

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Talk about Oscar Wilde! April 29th, 2004, 1PM


An unexamined life may indeed not be worth living, but what of constant, total re-evaluation of everything?! Is that a state to be envied? It seems utterly unavoidable, quite outside of my control, this daily, hourly, questioning of is it worth it, is there any point? At one moment I’m rolling along happily, smiling at the world, getting on with my work and wanting to as well — and at the next I stop what I’m doing (just to see what’s going on), turn around and — bang! — there it is, the abyss. All it takes is a split second of introspection and I wonder if it’s all worth it, a couple more minutes and I’m sure I don’t want to/can’t be bothered and I might as well go to the computer lab…

So here I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t really give up this volatility and uncertaintity. There may well be nothing worth doing, but I want to know why – and there it is! Anything’s worth doing so long as it gets me further down that track of understanding what it is that feels right. I wonder if I’m making any sense… Perhaps it all comes down to lack of confidence… oh dear….

In response to the title of this post:

“The Young Ones: Nasty”: 1984:

RICK: [sarcastically] Oh, touchè, Vyvyan. What devastating repartee. Talk about Oscar Wilde.

NEIL: Oh, alright. Oscar Wilde, was one of the greatest British writers who was perscuted for his homosexuality….

[Rick approaches, and feeling that Neil is mocking him, starts slapping him]

RICK: Shut up!

NEIL: … well in the early part of his career…

RICK: [still slapping] Shut up!

NEIL: Oh yeah, OK, be like that Rick!

RICK: Be like what exactly, Neil? BE like what??!!

NEIL: Be like a complete and utter drag and bring everything down in the whole world.

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I'M BACK!! April 28th, 2004, 6PM


I’M BACK!! Today was wonderful! I actually wanted to be in the workshop, working; amazing! I gave up on trying to work towards any particular project, and went back to the basics. I felt like I could’ve been in year eight! I cut a mortice and tennon joint, with no view whatsoever to doing anything with it. It’s so good to let go, and just make…… I hope this continues.

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Untitled April 27th, 2004, 10AM


I have not blogged for ages. I am sick of forcing myself to work with wood. If I were to be doing just what I want at the moment, I would not even be thinking of wood. I would be sitting in a nice place reading, or at my desk at home coding. Instead I’m at school trying to understand why I used to really want to do this wood thing; I’ve a seminar to give tomorrow, and I have nothing to say. If I’m to be honest, I’ll say that I don’t want to be here. I’m not depressed, I still see that I like wood, but I get up in the morning (or have done for the last two weeks) and don’t want to come in. So I haven’t.


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The Quakers and Quietism April 19th, 2004, 2PM


By Pamela M. Oliver

INTRODUCTION: That there was a change in the nature of the Society between the years 1647 and 1742 seems indisputable. It was withdrawing from outwardly-observable religious acts or witnesses to the Truth. Was it an increase in spiritual zeal: the belief that inaction or quietness would lead one to hear the Spirit more clearly? Or was it through persecution, increased wealth or an unthinking following of what the first Publishers of the Truth taught that lead to this decline? In the latter case the Society would have lost some or all of that “life of Christianity, taking place in the heart, that makes a Christian” that Robert Barclay thought essential to a church. Were the Meetings of the late 17th- and early 18th- centuries ‘open’ or ‘dry’?

CHAPTER I: A historical background to why and how the early Publishers of the Truth went about their work. The new Covenant lies within the hearts of believers. Inequality, tithes, titles, worship, holy days etc. were renounced. “Coming into obediance of the Inner Light.” Scripture only words about God; convincement can only happen through personal, immediate relevation. It was important that Quaker ‘stands’ be not taken up by the individual until she or he was moved by the Spirit. Fox and other early Friends believed that the Truth would be the same to all and not disagree with the scriptures. Fox thought James Nayler a ‘wicked spirit’ for purporting to be an appearance of Christ by not admonishing those who said he was. Could the Truth be different for each individual? If it could then one could not teach others of it, nor doubt their word if they were to say they knew it. Nayler was “resistinge ye power of God in mee” said Fox, but eventually repented and rejoined the Society. Wayward Friends deeds were to be progressively discussed up the church order until either the Friend ceased or the Society determined what was to be done. The first Elders felt that the Spirit led them to know the Truth, that the Truth was the same for all, and thus that they were led to discipline Friends whom they considered disobedient to that Truth. John Perrot went to Rome in 1657 to convert the Pope. His partner Luffe was hanged and Perrot was sent to the madhouse. Fox wished Perrot to “wither like ye grasse on ye house toppe.” Perrot believed in forgiveness because the Truth changed from person to person and day to day. Those who believed in one Truth would try to convince whose who were unsure, whereas those who believed as Perrot did would not. In 1666 the Society decided that it had the power to judge Friends’ misdemeaners and to expel them if it thought they had strayed from the Truth. The first Publishers of the Truth were not willing to debate positions such as Perrot’s. “All Friends had to do was to accept it and follow it and admonish those who did not.” -p.29. Quakers must have removed their hats when praying because Perrot did not agree with doing so. “The personal teaching of the Spirit to each [person] continually” vs. “the acceptance of established basic principals thougth internal conviction.” -p.30. The Elders “placed the authority of the church over that of the Spirit” p.31. Fox seemed to believe that only the church as a body could discern the Truth. An annonymous booklet entitled “SPIRIT of the HAT etc.” (1673) questioned this premise. Barclay believed in the need for discipline and outlined how it should be done. In the 1670s the Society began to split between the personal revelationist ‘hat-men’ and the doctrinal elstablished-order exponents.

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Untitled April 19th, 2004, 2PM


I awoke this morning with a very sore back, but got up, breakfasted, read for an hour and was out of the house by eight. I had no wish to go back to the workshop, nor to make anything; all I wanted to do was read. There is so much that I want to read and very little that I want to make. I feel a little guilty about that, but I’m quite sure that it is what I feel, so I’m going with it. It came to be during Meeting yesterday that a key to this struggle lies in simplicity: I build such elaborate ideas of what I want to make to have around me, and forget the foundation that all these things rest upon, namely that they are but incidentals designed only to make life more pleasant or comfortable. The part of making that engages me most – the process, the doing of it – has nothing whatsoever to do with the made. The image of a hand-formed mudbrick wall replaces that of the finely-crafted, acurate polished wooden panelling, and my penchant for well-bound books and wooden furniture recedes when I have a book to read and a table to sit at. I feel sure that I will return to making, perhaps in a few days.

The book and a table are precisely what I have now: “The Quakers and Quietism” by Pamela M. Oliver (1972, thesis for an MA in History), and the deserted Menzies basement. Lovely.

* * * *

I am begining to feel a little guilty for not being in the workshop. I know that I don’t want to be, which is nice. I am also a bit hungary due to not having had a very large breakfast. I am very much enjoying this book and learning a lot about 17th Century Friends.

* * * *

“Henceforth I shall not try to change people’s minds but inform them of my stand only. I shall forgive all, for everything. I shall not err from the Truth as I see it.”

* * * *

Do I really think I’m going to sit here all week reading this?! As if!

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