Saturday, 3 May 2014

Church Websites: Why? Where? When?

My friend Diana and I plan to have lunch on Monday 5th May at "Chutneys etc"  an Indian/Mediterranean themed restaurant here in SRQ.

I checked the restaurant's  website to make sure that it is open on Mondays for lunch.

It's a lovely website, which includes an address and 'phone number together with lunch and dinner menus.

But there is not a word about  hours of business.  Not a word.

So I called the restaurant to ask about Monday hours of business  (I discovered that it is open for lunch on Mondays).

I should not have needed to make that 'phone call.

 It should have been a bit of primary information on the restaurant's website.

 The man who answered my call seemed to be a bit annoyed, and he hung up before I could suggest an "hours of business" addition to the website.


This led me to think about Church websites.
I asked three questions:  Why? Where? When?

1.  Why has the website been created?    '

Is it mostly for the benefit of  existing congregants?

Or is it primarily to give information to people who are seeking a Church home, or who are looking for information about the Church services?

I'll warrant that 90% + of  visitors to the website are not existing congregants but they are visitors/strangers who are looking for information about time and place.

2.  Where is  the Church is located is  important. Church members know this.  Visitors do not.  A Google maps reference is essential

3. When does  the congregation hold Sunday services? Church members know this. It  will be a primary question for potential worshippers.


If your parish website is primarily for the benefit of members I have no further comment.

But if it is to give welcoming information  for strangers and visitors then please make sure that your opening page majors in the address and 'phone number, AND the times of services.

If visitors and potential members have to click more than twice to find this basic and essential  information then you have already lost them.


I  checked the websites of four congregations which I know well. Three of them were visually attractive but their front pages did not give the essential  "where and when" information. 

 The fourth (and smallest) of these congregations has a plain and simple website which has the where and when information on its opening page. (Good for St. Christopher's  in  western Massachusetts)

Friday, 2 May 2014

The irrational exhuberance of T.V. weather forecasters, and jelly donuts.

The National Weather Service broke into radio and television programmes this afternoon to issue a tornado warning for these parts.
Given the recent tornado created deaths and destruction I paid attention -  especially as the NWS bulletin said that the storm was moving to the north west of Sarasota County-  more or less my neck of the woods.
Then the local T.V. stations broke into regular programming so that staff meteorologists could do their stuff.
It transpired that notwithstanding the NWS bulletin the storm was moving north east.
Then the fun and games began. Both our local T.V. stations (I channel hopped) deployed multi-coloured  and utterly baffling radar based graphics  (just because they could). And the chattering weather reporters waxed long and loud with all manner of speculation, and very little hard new or information.
They told us that the (suspected?) tornado was moving towards Myakka City. They advised residents in the storm path of precautions they should take. That's all anyone needed to know  - especially the people who live in  that area.
Then they couldn't stop talking.   We had to hear about every tiny weather "pod" out in the Gulf of Mexico which might develop into a tornado (or a jelly donut).
In these situations I have a feeling that the irrational forecasters have a sneaking hope that something worse might happen.  Dammit -  if there is an emergency  please stick to the facts as best you know them and stop chattering.
(No Jelly donuts fell in my locality).

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Well I never

In the late 1970's when I was the Rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fitchburg, I would often serve as Chaplain for one week each summer at the Bement Camp and Conference Center (owned and operated by the Diocese of Western Massachusetts).
I was usually there for "Music/Work Week"  - a camp for youth in Senior High School.  At Music/Work Week we would work around the Camp site each morning, then in the afternoons and evenings we would work on a musical play to be offered to camper's parents and family members at the end of the week.  The play and music would always be written/composed during the week.
In 1978 or 1979 the musical was "Pilgrims' Progress" conceived and created by a young Anglo/Welshman , one Martin Smith.  Martin was a dedicated left winger and an agnostic/atheist. I could never figure out why and how he had been recruited from the U.K. to spend the summer at the Camp.
His musical was certainly left of centre, and although I recall very little of the plot, I do know that one of the villains of the show was called "Mayor Shabby".
It was all good,  fun with a great cast of singers, actors and instrumentalists.
My good friend Noel Hanger has been cleaning out his late mother's home in in Pittsfield MA (with other family members).  He came upon the photo' below.
I do remember that it was the camp of the "four Marthas". each was a daughter of four different Episcopal Ministers and their wives.
The four Marthas were Martha Fickling and Martha Wissemann (of Pittsfield) together witbh Martha Chamberlain and Martha Sullivan (of the Worcester area).
Noel is on the left, then a slim and trim jmp, with Martha Fickling (also of Pittsfield on the right). I cannot identify the young woman who is seated at the table.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Wild Life and Nature: Pics of a Cougar, of Cats and Dogs, and of Saint Penne of Sarasota

An American Cougar in the wild (pic via Ken K)

Saint Penne of Sarasota has never been keen about bones, until I bought her an Antler.

Many of our local pet food stores sell portions of Deer antlers as Dog treats.  I bought one for Penne.
She likes it so much and gnaws upon it then  carries it from room to room.
Here she is on my bed with her antler portion.
You can see my CPAP machine to the left, and Penne's toy (named baby) to the right.
Some websites are in favour of antler treats for dogs, others abominate them.
It is hard to know which website to trust.
Nevertheless my Penne likes her antler portion, and it appears not to harm her.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

1. Witty groaner/pun. 2. Sad but true

(1)   One of my Church friends bears with my dreadful puns.  She in fact enjoys them, and reciprocates.
She sent this to me earlier today
As I was driving to Siesta Key , my daughter stated, "Quick, get your pencil and paper, the sign says, "Draw Bridge Ahead" !
(2)  Oh how sad at many levels  (Thank to L.C. who posted this first)

Monday, 28 April 2014

Car troubles/Escargot?

It was on Saturday 26th April 2014, a hot day,  that after driving here and there, and finally  getting back to my car-port that  I noticed something  which smelled like burning, emanating  from the bonnet/hood of my car.  I put it down to the heat of the day.

I noticed the same smell on Sunday 27th after driving to Church, and then taking a 25 minute drive to a rehab hospital where I shared Communion with a fellow parishioner from St. Boniface, Siesta Key FL.  

But like many or most car owners who observe possible malfunctions  in their vehicles I thought "perhaps if I ignore it, this problem will go away".

An early morning trip to a nearby Supermarket this morning (Monday 28th) dis-abused me of that notion - the smell was still there.

So I  decided to take my 2006 Hyundai to my local and very reliable repair shop - Sam's Auto. -  so that they could diagnose the cause of this smell.

En route to Sam's I drove into the parking lot of a local shopping plaza where I  decided to "pop the bonnet/hood" and get a good sniff afore I arrived at Sam's.

I saw the source and cause of the burning instantly.  Three or four snails had decided that my car's engine compartment was just the place to rest/sleep/hibernate.

I had been smelling roasted snails and snail shells.

I feel sorry for these escargots, but I am happy that I do not have to "shell out" a small fortune at Sam's, (a wee pun!.)

From this time forward I will tell my friends and acquaintances  that I drive a Hyundai Escargot.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Another one of my terrible home-made jokes

It was so glaringly obvious to Dr. Punny that Gilbert was suffering from tuberculosis that a physical examination was not necessary.

"Ah" said the Doctor " a case of conspicuous consumption".