Archive for September, 2004

Which OS are you?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

You are Debian Linux. People have difficulty getting to know you.  Once you finally open your shell they're apt to love you.

Which OS are You?

Today’s Hometown URL

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

I look at the Marblehead Reporter every week. The highlight of the online version is the Police Log. I have just discovered this link to highlights of the year in Marblehead (I believe it was 2001, judging from the flurry of suspicious Middle-Eastern-looking men reported after September 11). It’s well worth a peruse, and a laugh.

Marblehead is proud to be the Birthplace of the American Navy and the Yachting Capital of the World. I left for the Big Apple and never came back, but there are lots of nice people there still, including some of my relatives.


Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

There was a program about narcolepsy after the 10:00 news. It’s a desperately sad condition, of course, but the program showed a meeting of the board of the Narcolepsy Society, all of whom suffer from the disease. As speaker after speaker waxed eloquent, the rest of the board members were falling asleep in turns. They have to have three people take the minutes to ensure that nothing gets missed out because the secretary falls asleep. I had to giggle, but I do realise that this is a serious condition. The young teenager who is an extreme sufferer (she has catalepsy, where extreme emotion such as laughter will cause her to lose control of her muscles and fall, even though she is still conscious) was an excellent dance student, and when she concentrates, she is free of the cataleptic episodes. She passed her dance exams with honours and distinction! Good for her!

Now to, of all places, bed. Where I hope that I will suffer from a bout of about 6 hours sleep. Tomorrow I have a doctor’s appointment, always a trial. Diabetes means that you get very familiar with the doctor’s office. I do hope that everything’s OK.

z z z z z

The rat is disposed of

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Tony Blair spoke at the Labour party conference today. I hear that his speech was well-received, except for a few hecklers who were impolitely shown the door by security. Heckling in British politics is a fine art, and is often followed by eggs or overripe fruit and veg. It’s a shame that Tony can’t take the heckling.

An article in the Grauniad this morning has disclosed that our Tone is a secret mackerel-snapper. (Roman Catholic). I can imagine the Revd Ian Paisley’s reaction to this news–the spluttering and shouting about the Scarlet Whore of Babylon would be heard from Belfast to Westminster. Of course, since I’m certain that Paisley doesn’t read the Grauniad, he probably isn’t aware of the news. We can take off the earplugs, then. I am annoyed that a Roman Catholic is now in a position to dictate to the Church of England who it should have as its bishops. Disestablishment is long overdue. Unfortunately, the only high-ranking proponent of it was Bishop Colin Buchanan, now mercifully retired from the See of Woolwich, the suffragan see to Southwark in which I have the honour to live. He is an outspoken figure of fun, always good for a larf at General Synod. It’s said that Rowan Williams is also in favour of disestablishment. However, given his timidity on any given subject other than the Simpsons, on which he can wax prolix, I don’t expect that he will say much about it anytime soon. Most of the clergy of the C of E are convinced antidisestablishmentarians, as they are certain that only the might of the State will ensure that those in a C of E parish will drop by for hatches, matches, and dispatches (baptisms, weddings, and funerals) rather than going to the register office or having a secular service at the crematorium. I think that disestablishing the church and ensuring that its canons state explicitly that all are welcome regardless of membership or attendance would do just fine.

Oh, and for those who thought that I was talking about disposing of Tony Blair, HWMBO disposed of the dead rat this afternoon. My hat is off to him: he’s so determined. I would probably have fainted.

The rat–six feet under

Monday, September 27th, 2004

Unfortunately, we’ve had a mouse problem for yonks. The exterminator came last year and left boxes of bait, and the mouse presence seemed to decline. However, a few days ago I found the boxes spread all over the floor. I thought, “We have a rat–no mouse could move those boxes that far.” However, I didn’t see any other clues to his whereabouts. Previously, if we left a loaf of bread out on top of the fridge, when we got up in the morning a tunnel would be eaten through the wrapper and into the loaf. We now keep bread in the microwave or in the fridge, and that seems to work. But evidence of mice seems to turn up regularly. I didn’t want to say anything to HWMBO as he’s very squeamish about rats and mice.

This evening we were finishing our evening chores and HWMBO, who had bought some mooncake for the September festival, suggested we have 1/4 mooncake each and a cup of tea while we watched Six Feet Under. As I went to fill the kettle, I looked down at the floor, and saw, next to the door into the garden, a middling-large rat. It didn’t move, it wasn’t waving its tail or anything. HWMBO said, “He’s dead!” but when I made a noise, it slowly turned its head to look at me. It was as if it were asking to be let out of the house.

We got a shoebox, dropped it over the rat, and opened the door, pushed the box out into the garden, and shut the door quickly. The rat obviously had eaten some of the bait, as he was bleeding and couldn’t stand up or walk around very well. We watched him totter around a while, but he was too big to drop a stone on and I wasn’t happy to try to pick him up and drown him, as I do with mice caught in the sticky traps we have around. I suppose we could get a cat, but I’m not very comfortable with taking responsibility for yet another cat. I’ve had three or four, and two dogs, and I think that my pet-experiencing days are about over.

I just looked out the back window again, and the poor rat is still moving a bit. I do hope it expires overnight. While I don’t want to inflict unnecessary pain on any animal, a foot long (tip of nose to tip of tail) rat is not something I wish to have in my house. And the mental picture of the rat slowly turning its head to look at me as if asking to be let out of the house will probably figure very prominently in my dreams tonight.

How I spent my day off

Monday, September 27th, 2004

As I noted yesterday, I went to visit two old chums, one of whom is an entrepreneur and the other of whom, like me, is an ISO9001 auditor. We want to see if we can get a “quality system” offering together to sell to companies. The first depressing thought, however, is that the only conditions under which companies are willing to buy this type of service are “fire sales”–your business is going to hell in a handbasket and you need help, fast. Doesn’t endear one to the business owner. But we had a profitable time brainstorming and coming up with things to do and people to see. We had lunch in a traditional pub with a traditional very low 6′ 4″ ceiling and traditional loos (eg, slimy floors and pastel sinks cribbed from some cowboy plumber’s rejects). The traditional food, however, was quite traditionally good.

Transport, as it always is, was the main problem. I sauntered to London Bridge, bought my tickets, and got on the platform. I had about 15 minutes to spare. However, a stalled train at New Cross did us in. After about 1/2 hour and a platform change, we were off. I had to sit next to an obnoxious tourist and her husband, who had strategically blocked entry to the empty seat with their “carry-on” luggage, er, steamer trunk. Unfazed by that, I moved the trunk and sat down. They were not best pleased and spent the rest of their trip to Gatwick Airport muttering in Danish about the boorish Brit who had stolen their empty seat. I hope they missed their plane. Of course, after that, I deserved the almost empty train on which I returned to London Bridge. Was amused by the group of people who got on at East Croydon: the “Lunar House” crowd who deal with immigrants and asylum seekers. One was crowing about how he was about to leave and what a relief it would be. I was waiting for startling admissions about their work, but they spent the rest of their time criticising the guy who was leaving on his rather love-em-and-leave-em attitude toward romance.

Tomorrow, back to the usual salt mine.

These four-day weekends are turning into shorter variations of the two-day weekend I’ve grown to dislike over the years. I look forward to the day when I can have a seven-day weekend. Preferably someplace warm. And with HWMBO as well.

Clerical beefcake and odd supermarket labels and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

If you’re interested in clerical beefcake, especially of the Anglo-Catholic type, click here.

I found it the perfect gift for Anglo-Catholic clergy–safe for every sacristy.

On another note: can anyone tell me why the packet of avocados I bought from Tesco’s yesterday had this warning on the label: “Wash before eating” ? I’m not aware of any culinary use of an avocado peel that finishes up with the peel in my alimentary canal.

We had a good patronal festival this morning, ending up with a good feed and some unexpected arrivals, such as Michael from Sierra Leone, who left Britain 6 or 7 years ago before the Immigration and Nationality Directorate expelled him–he’s returned on business and is a sight for sore eyes. We also saw Sam, who is a World War II veteran, with two hips replaced and a bum knee, but as English as a bulldog or fish and chips. I love him to bits. HWMBO came in around the Gloria and I always enjoy it when he comes to church because I know that it’s a real sacrifice for him, an unbeliever. Everyone in church loves him too, and many of them wrote letters of support for us when he was seeking temporary leave to remain.

I’ll be at St. Matthew’s for 11 years in January. The little boys and girls who served Mass then are now in college and university, and have grown into young men and women. Although I’ve not had any of my own, I take vicarious pride in some such as Mandy, whose Zimbabwean mother and father work their fingers to the bone to send her and her brother and sister to school and university. Mandy is going to SOAS majoring in Geography and Economics, and will be taking a Zulu course this semester. She is beautiful and very bright. My thoughts and prayers go with her as she starts her second year tomorrow.

We’ve also had a few go bad, unfortunately. I think of them too and hope that they’ll get on the right track, finish their education, and get jobs rather than the usual spiral of economic deprivation and crime that has been an Elephant and Castle tradition for several centuries (and not just since {insert your least favourite immigrant group here} moved in). We have a very diverse neighbourhood that includes people from Africa, people from the Caribbean, probably the largest South American group in the UK, Turkish Cypriots (most of whom have moved to Stoke Newington but some still here), and the newest group, Poles and other Central European peoples. The local pub even has a Polish night every Sunday night now, and there is a Polish restaurant and deli on the New Kent Road. Oh, and did I mention the large Bangladeshi community on the housing estate behind us?

The preacher this morning was Bishop Michael Doe, the General Secretary of USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel). He’s the former Bishop of Swindon in Bath and Wells Diocese, and has just been translated. He was OK, nothing special. Most bishops are average preachers because they only need one sermon. They vary it a bit but don’t need more than one since they flit from event to event, parish to parish, and by the time they get to a parish they’ve already visited no one remembers what they said the first time around. I was hoping for rochet and chimere (as he was only preaching) but he wore an alb and stole. No one noticed that I used lavabo towels for purificators.

I have a business meeting in Haywards Heath tomorrow noon; it’s at my old chum Steve’s new office, where he busily dispenses good advice, good courses, and training on all sorts of testing and quality issues.  Here’s the website if you’re interested in such items. I’m a little nervous about going out on my own doing ISO9001 consulting and auditing, but after the soft landing that my current job is giving me I need to be bloody, bold, and resolute. I won’t be fully unemployed until the end of January, and will get a full month’s notice (rather than 3/5ths of my fulltime salary) and the full statutory redundancy money (about

Meetings and Massage

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

I had a deep-tissue massage yesterday from Daz, a guy I met at my gym. He is a Sikh, very cute in a beary-sort-of-way, and a very good masseur. We bartered for it: I gave him an old hard drive and installed it in his computer as his own is crapping out. He gave me a very good deep-tissue massage. I really feel much better after these, and my back improves for days. Only problem is that he’s located far south of here and it’s a 1/2 hour trek to get there. This was my third, and I hope to have another after we get back from Singapore, if finances allow.

One of the things about being involved with the Church of England on a leadership level is that meetings are the bane of your existence. Someone once defined a Deanery Synod as “A group of Anglicans waiting to go home”. Unfortunately, as Lay Chair of the Southwark and Newington Deanery, there are lots of meetings that I “ought” to go to. This morning’s “ought” meeting was of the Anglican/Methodist group here in Southwark. A cooperation agreement has been signed nationally, and each diocese has to work out how it’ll be implemented there. There is only one Methodist church in our deanery, and I know nothing about them, but I went anyway. A group of very well intentioned Anglicans and even more well intentioned Methodists spoke of how wonderful it was to be church together (one trendy statement). Several people misused the word “mission” as a verb: “We should mission together in the inner city” (for example). Argh. I wasn’t very comfortable, as I’d neglected to go to the loo before entering the meeting room and I was on the inner end of a row. So I eschewed the coffee. The only redeeming factoid about the meeting is that I had a chance to buy a loaf of sourdough bread at Borough Market, next to the Cathedral. Sourdough bread always helps me remember and appreciate the year I lived in San Francisco.

This afternoon we went to the Serpentine Gallery to see an exhibition by an artist named Glenn Brown. His stuff is either very science fiction like (rocks floating around the canvas with cities built on them, always incorporating a sphere on a stalk in each city), or very surrealistic (he does faces with an odd swirling colour field on the face–the docent who was lecturing around us mentioned that it reminded him of decay–I’m glad we’d eaten before we went). HWMBO liked it a lot; I wouldn’t mind the sci-fi pictures but you can keep the rest of them.

Patronal Festival at St. Matthew’s at the Elephant tomorrow. Bishop Michael Doe, who is with the USPG will be celebrating and preaching. I didn’t get to wash the altar linens, unfortunately. I hope we have a few lavabo towels to substitute for purificators. I hope he doesn’t notice the wax stain on the altar cloth.

I realise that this livejournal sounds and reads a bit like Diary of a Nobody. I apologise for that. I suppose that settling into a routine and folowing it means that little or no exciting stuff happens to you. While I’m not eager for lots of exciting stuff to happen (plagues, pestilence, bad weather, and the like), it leaves me with mostly little events that no one else finds interesting or my own bloviation on the world at large. I suppose it’s not as bad as that mega-multi-volume diary left by a gentleman in the US who did almost nothing during his life. Many entries had to do with the quality of his bowel movements and the amount of urine he produced.

If I get to that point, I shall stop wasting electrons.

Another picture and my 4-day weekend

Friday, September 24th, 2004

In order to keep our Bess happy, here’s another picture of me, smiling (I don’t know whether it’s a Fozzie smile or not, whatever that is…).

It’s Friday, the first day of my four-day weekend. I find that even with two extra days the weekend is still too short. Today I need to finish the laundry (fold the previous one, hang the new one), get a hard drive ready for a friend, go to the gym, go to the friend’s place for a massage and some PC fixing, then get home ready to greet HWMBO as he comes home from a long day of toil. Then the regular two days, during which I’ll have to wash, starch, and iron a bag of altar linens, go to a meeting at Southwark Cathedral of Lay Chairs (of whom I am one, for Southwark and Newington Deanery), Rural Deans, and Methodist area chairs in order to work out how we’ll coexist together when the union agreement happens. The Methodists are almost wiped out in England so they needed to find a partner fast–however, since the C of E doesn’t allow woman bishops, the Methodists, who are not “episcopal” but do have women in positions of high authority, are going to have to come to an agreement with us on how that would work. Then Sunday St. Matthew’s at the Elephant, of course, followed by a lazy afternoon of vegging without which I’d be shattered. Monday I have a business meeting down in Hayward’s Heath with some old chums; all of us are investigating the feasibility of offering consulting and auditing services for ISO9001:2000 (and other ISO standards) to small businesses. Tuesday it’s back to the same old saltmine.

So why am I smiling?

I’ve voted already

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

One of the advantages to being overseas permanently is that you get the thrill of voting long before November. I got my California absentee ballot last Saturday and have voted for: Kerry/Edwards, Barbara Boxer, and Nancy Pelosi (Overseas US voters get to vote from the last place they lived in the United States). I sent it in, but hope that the Royal Mail gets it right this time. California ballot envelopes have the voter’s address on the back along with a lot of other bumpf, and the last two elections Royal Mail delivered the ballot right back to me, even though the stamps were on the other side.

This time I wrote a big “FROM:” on the back, and a big “TO:” on the front.

However, I expect that, yet again, Royal Mail will drop it back in my mailbox this week, giving me a lot of time to put it the envelope in another envelope without all the bumpf on it and remail it, losing all the postage I put on it in the beginning (for even though they can’t deliver the post to the address on the same side as the stamps, they helpfully cancel the stamps before they turn the envelope over to drop it in my mailbox).

Another goofy quiz

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004
If you were a cat!
Name / Username


Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

One of the things that makes a relationship work is difference. This is why I am sitting at my computer in the study writing this entry, and HWMBO is at his computer in the kitchen, busily playing ABBA MP3s.

I will have horrible earworms for days from this.

Love those four-day weekends

Monday, September 20th, 2004

I doubt anyone will be bothering to read this, but I’ve just been put on a three-day week at work. This is ostensibly because I was to be made redundant (=US “laid off”) but probably because as a QA Manager I wasn’t backed up by my boss and the excrement then hit the air circulator. It’s a pain when you’ve talked to your boss and given him fair warning that something is going on that he needs to look at, but then he tells you that “you’re picking on so-and-so” or “we’ll tell him to pull up his socks” and no socks get pulled up.

Three-day weeks are wonderful. The problem is that there is little or no time on the four-day weekend to do everything you want to do. Today I did a load of laundry, ate lunch, went to the gym, then returned home and had tea with a friend, and am now writing this journal while I wait for HWMBO (He Who Must Be Obeyed, my boyfriend) to return home from work.I should be revamping my website, doing some more geneological work, getting the house clean, getting ready for our trip to Singapore in two weeks, but instead I’m writing a live journal entry. Oh, well.