Archive for November, 2004


Monday, November 29th, 2004

Last week, being a normal work week here in the UK, was pretty abnormal in the Hansen-Tan household. We’ve had repairmen in to fix both the door intercom (which turned out to have burned out because our doorbell button stuck in the “on” position and burned out not only our buzzer but the transformer for the entire block) and the doorlock. On Friday I returned from Tesco’s to find that my key went in only 1/2 way on the outside door. I thought that someone had broken off a key in the lock, but no such luck: it was some problem with the tumbler pins that necessitated taking the entire latch mechanism out (so that we wouldn’t be locked out of our own homes) and a Monday return with a new lock. The landlord proposed getting non-duplicatable keys, but this would mean that HWMBO, our friend Mark across the street who looks after our flat when we’re not around, and our two guest key sets wouldn’t have a front door key, as they’ve had to change the lock to a different key. I raised holy hell, and they backed down.

Enough of domestic matters. I was mildly amused that our Home Secretary, David Blunkett, the protector of the nation’s security and a perennial opponent of lesbian and gay rights (he’s a Methodist lay preacher who has voted against equal ages of consent for straight and gay people, for example) has been nobbled by his former lover for, reportedly, putting the fix in so that her nanny (who is a Filipina) could get expedited indefinite leave to remain. He claims that he merely checked the form for completeness (immigration and naturalisation is in his department). However, I would be quite surprised if he had the technical knowledge to be able to ensure that the form was complete. Blunkett is also involved in a paternity dispute with this woman. Her husband (yes, Blunkett was committing, gasp! adultery!) wishes to keep the children and has acknowledged them as his, even though Blunkett’s paternity of one has been proven by a test. I am hopeful that he will be forced to resign from the government, as he has been a intemperate opponent of individual rights and a champion of the government’s right to protect us through removing our civil rights one, by one, by one, until we have nothing left but security from attack.

In France, of course, this kind of thing wouldn’t raise the political temperature one tenth of one degree. Mitterand managed to have a wife, a mistress, and a daughter by the mistress all at his funeral. He kept the mistress and daughter out of the public eye during his lifetime. No one batted an eye. Here, on the other hand, we’ve had scandal after scandal, some involving sex (the Labour MP who put his ad on gaydar, complete with a picture of him in y-fronts; the Tory MP who was found naked and dead hanging by a garter belt with an orange in his mouth, probably a victim of an autoerotic asphyxiation; the Prime Minister (John Major) who had a long-running affair with another Tory MP (Edwina Currie of salmonella fame); several Tory MPs who had affairs and second families; Boris Johnson, the current Tory scandal, who had an affair with another staff member at his day job, the Spectator magazine, and I could go on and on and on) and some involving money or contributions (the Tory MP who took money in brown envelopes from Saudis; the Labour MP also a cabinet minister twice, who was sacked twice for money scandals and is now a European commissioner; the scandal involving contributions to Labour from Bernie Ecclestone coupled with an exemption from cigarette advertising bans for Formula 1 racing, and I could still go on and on). Some of these scandals involved people from the last Tory parliament, by the way, but some of the subjects of interest are still active in politics.

In general, Tories were involved in sex scandals and Labour with money scandals. I often felt that this is because Tories were much better at economics than sex, and Labour was much better with sex than economics. However, now that Labour has been in power for 7 years, the tide seems to be turning.

The moral of the story is: if you’re going to preach morality to the public, you’ll be caught with your pants down. If you’re going to preach economic rigour to the public, you’re going to be caught with your hand in the cash register. So it’s probably good not to preach, but to lead by example. Not that it will ever happen.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, issued an Advent message over the weekend that, among other items, condemned homophobic and inflammatory remarks from Anglicans worldwide in the wake of the recent dust-ups over ordaining practicing gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions. He cited the case of the gay man who was brutally kicked to death on the Embankment only about 1/2 mile from Lambeth Palace as an example of what homophobia in society promotes. Too little, too late. He’s giving us a drop of comfort while society permits homophobia to reign almost unchecked. The conservative Anglicans, of course, denounced Williams for saying that opposition to lesbian and gay clergy and same-sex union blessing was homophobic–they’re only following the Scriptures, they say. Williams wasn’t saying that principled objections to these matters was homophobic–he was denouncing statements such as the one from the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, who recently said that homosexuality was something that was not found anywhere else in the animal kingdom. This is a manifestly false statement, of course. Williams has lost the plot, and is trying to regain it but cannot keep up. In my opinion, he’s the worst Archbishop of Canterbury in 100 years (even worse than Cosmo Gordon Lang, who kicked the Duke of Windsor while he was down after the Abdication). He should resign immediately and return to academe, where his theological insights were worth their weight in gold. He is not up to the task of administering the Church of England or the Anglican Communion.

Internally, he must be terribly conflicted, since his often-expressed opinions on the morality of same-sex relationships conflict with the public opinions he is bound to express as Archbishop. This kind of conflict puts a tremendous strain on even the most healthy mind, soul, and spirit.

The good news, however, is that the intercom has been fixed as I write. The door next, I hope.

(just a bit later)

The door is fixed and 4 out of the 6 flats have their keys. Now for another installment of that long-running series “The Southwark and Newington Church of England Deanery Synod”, starring yours truly and the Rural Dean.

Change in habits

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

Since I began posting to livejournal, I’ve noticed that I’m no longer posting as much to soc.motss. Some may believe this is a pretty good thing, as I try not to get involved in pissing and shouting matches and just contribute lighthearted links (when I find them) or posts on some of the subjects on which I consider myself knowledgeable (religion, the Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, dual citizenship, and the like). I have a lorra lorra people in my kill file, which is not something you’re supposed to say in soc.motss but which I will claim the privilege of saying outside it.

I’m not sure whether I like this or not; I enjoy some of the people in soc.motss and will be hosting at least one in a week’s time (alas, he’s not on lj). The atmosphere here in lj is much mellower, much less annoying, for some reason. And the friends I’ve collected (not all have collected me as a friend, but no matter) are always interesting and fun to read and interact with. That’s not always true in other venues.

So what’s been happening in the last week or so? Well, I went to a Masonic evening as part of a Mensa contingent last Wednesday. I have been considering joining up for a long time, even from before my brother joined a few years ago. I realise that people might find this an odd thing to do, but I feel it’s going to be interesting and challenging at the same time. I’ve been in organised religion for 45+ years (ever since I said my first “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum.” at the altar at the age of 6 or 7) and it’s become part of my life. However, I feel that something else out there might also be interesting in that way. I see Freemasonry as perhaps that something.

If I were to out myself as a prospective Mason in some of the other venues I inhabit, I’d get a lot of stick and probably some derision. I am presuming that derision won’t be forthcoming from my small circle of friends. I will be initiated at the end of February and will then have some idea of what it’s all about. Oh, and if you’re someone who thinks that Freemasons, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, and aliens from the Planet Zog are all conspiring together to take over the world, forget it. It ain’t true. Once I’ve done some more research I’ll put some Masonic links in here if people are interested. Now to get out and buy a black suit, white shirt, and Craft tie.

Our bosom buddy Paul was over from Detroit for a week beginning a week ago last Sunday. He is jolly, well-travelled (600,000 air miles in his account, last time he looked), and a great raconteur. We were thrilled to host him again for a week, and hope to see him again at the beginning of June. Paul is responsible for much of the growth of the National Association of Black and White Men Together/Men of All Colours Together in the United States. He supported new chapters while they were in formation, and was a valued person on its board. He is one of the most sensible, forthright (he calls a spade a bloody shovel), and practical people I know. He’s currently struggling with a health difficulty and wondering about which therapy to choose. I hope and pray that he chooses the right one so we can have him around for a few more decades.

During the dinner at the end of the Masonic evening I came down with one of the worst sinus headaches I’ve ever had. It was located in my left jaw, and radiated down into my shoulder. I was miserable. I had to call in sick on Thursday and didn’t feel 100% until Friday evening.

Back to lj: I have been wondering what the next big thang will be. Usenet came first, then email bounce lists, then instant messenger programs. Will blogging replace them all?

A reason to avoid churches

Saturday, November 20th, 2004

is not the fact that most of them are homophobic (although that’s a good one to start off with). It’s the air quality.

Mackerel-snappers and Anglicans too high up the candle (so to speak) take note!


Friday, November 19th, 2004

A Bulgarian farmer bought a pig for stud purposes, but ended up making him into sausages because the pig was gay.

How apt. I wonder if they were short links or monster kielbasies?


Thursday, November 18th, 2004

stolen from boyshapedbox

(A) First, recommend to me:
1. a movie:
2. a book:
3. a musical artist, song, or album:

(B) I want everyone who reads this to ask me three questions, no more, no less. Ask me anything you want.

(C) Then I want you to go to your journal, copy and paste this allowing your friends to ask you anything & say that you stole it from me.

Houseguest and stuff

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Our friend Paul from Detroit is over for a visit. I love Paul to death: I first met him in 1991 at the BWMT (Black and White Men Together) convention in Detroit. He is outrageous, funny, in your face, and out there when no one else wants to be out there. This is the second time he’s stayed with us, and I’m very glad he’s here. It’s good having extra bedrooms, especially in London. Your friends can come to visit and you don’t have to send them to a hotel.

Work is just that, work. I’m a bit annoyed because one department at the company is not cooperating with the drive to get their processes docmented for our ISO9001 rollout in January 2005. So we’re having to put some pressure on them.

But, of course you aren’t interested in that, really. I’m just trying to get everything done before the end of January 2005, when I’m to be laid off. I’m sure I’ll do well afterwards, probably contract working. But it’s always upsetting when you have to move like that. I’ll probably be doing ISO9001 consulting as well as testing consultancy and contracting. We are OK moneywise and don’t have any debts. If I’d realised that debt would overshadow my middle years, I wouldn’t have wasted it all on rent boys and things that just got stolen by burglars when I lived in the Bronx.

I like my new laptop. I can write my livejournal while HWMBO is doing a proramming test online for a recruiter who contacted him today. I hope it comes to something. He is so talented and needs more challenges than he’s getting where he is now.

Turning 52 a week ago doesn’t seem to have made much difference. I’m turning into a senior citizen, year on year, and I’m not noticing it.

BTW, look at my friends page and try to figure out what a kransky is without looking at the comments.

I idly looked at the Social Security Death Index because I was curious as to how long my friend Ken Allen from Chicago had been dead. I knew it was 1994 or 1995, but it turned out that it was Nov 11, 1995–the very day I idly looked for his entry. There are no coincidences. Keep resting in peace, Ken.

Today’s rant

Friday, November 12th, 2004

I’ve been helping a friend with his 5-year-old computer, in return for deep tissue massage. I’ve put a larger disk drive in to assist him in storing data (but it wasn’t large enough), I then put an even larger (40 GB) in, but I had difficulty with Ghost because he only had 128 MB memory. So today I went for the third time and brought 512 MG memory, a USB hub, and Partition Magic to assist me in transferring his data from his slow small hard drive to the big new one.

Ghost wasn’t working right (second time around I still couldn’t transfer an image to the new drive that would boot). So, we decided to reinstall Windows and go from there. (Oh, the memory and the USB hub worked fine). Well, when we got to the point that we’d have to reinstall his ADSL modem, he told me that a friend has given it to him but hasn’t given him the CD ROM with the drivers on it.

Oh, well, said I, what’s to be done. I packed up and went home, to return in a week or so with the Alcatel drivers. However, if I’m going to be doing this kind of work for other people in the future, this is what I’m going to politely ask.

In return for helping you upgrade your system, I ask that:

1) You ensure that you keep every scrap of paper, every CD ROM, every manual, in a safe accessible place.
2) If your friend Buggins gives you a piece of hardware without the driver CD or the program CD, refuse it politely until he gives you that CD. Ditto if he installs the latest whoop-de-do software program (illicitly) and then tries to carry the CD away with him.
3) When you ask me to help you upgrade your computer, make sure you know what you want, or at least what you want to do with the computer. This will help me immensely in figuring out what kind and size of computer you can use.

My friend did perform (1) and (3), but fell a bit short on (2).

A friend of his now is asking for my help. He has a digital camera, and a printer, both of which have USB connectors. He has 128 MB RAM in a 5- or 6-year-old computer running Windows 98 (not second edition). He has a 10 GB hard disk drive. Whenever he plugs the camera or the printer into the computer, it crashes. His question: should I reinstall Windows 98 (not second edition)?

My answer: You should get a bit more memory while it’s relatively cheap, you should get a larger hard drive and a decent operating system. I hope that he engages me. However, I’ve ascertained that he hasn’t fulfilled items 1 and 3 above.


He is cute, however, so that’s something anyway…I shall work at whipping his system into shape.

Something I’ve discovered

Friday, November 12th, 2004

I find that, as time goes on, and I look at my friends’ entries and the comments their friends make on their entries, I look at my friends’ friends’ entries and add them to my friends list so that I won’t miss anything they write.

This means that if I don’t look at my friends page at least twice a day, it is in danger of scrolling off the bottom of the page.

Is this just me, or does everyone do it?

Apologies for 404

Friday, November 12th, 2004

The link I posted yesterday contained a 404 to the video. I apologise. This one works (at least it does now–who knows what will happen today!):

The Japanese or Chinese video is the one to try (I know that there’s a seductive reference to an English version, but, like the previous link, it doesn’t seem to do anything for me.) Trust me, you don’t need to understand Chinese or Japanese, as the video itself is graphic enough.

No sex or violence, though.

I apologise for the non-existence of the previous transmission. Normal service should resume shortly.

Today’s great discovery!

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

OK, we all know how to fold a t-shirt. Don’t we? Mine never looked like my mother’s–mine were always an untidy mess.

Well, here is a link that describes the Japanese way of folding a t-shirt, including a video of the process.

HWMBO and I were watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy UK, and the straight guy taught this technique to the gay guys. They learned something! I googled immediately after the show ended and this particular link was the best out of all the ones I found.

Of course, we went straight (pardon the expression) upstairs and started folding. I got it fairly soon, but HWMBO still needs a bit of practice.

I think I’ll get him to fold the laundry tomorrow evening.

This week

Sunday, November 7th, 2004

Sorry that I haven’t posted much this week. In about a year of reading various LiveJournals, I’ve discovered that such hiatuses can last months for some. Others can hardly pry the keys away from their fingers for a moment in order to pee or whatever else they do. This is, of course, fine. However, I’ve had a nagging feeling that livejournal is upset that I haven’t posted. Anthropomorphising the blog server is a bad thing. I shall stop immediately.

One of the reasons I haven’t been posting is, of course, the US election. I voted (absentee) for Kerry in California. When I told my sister-in-law that I was depressed about the election she said, pragmatically, “Relax: it shouldn’t affect you very much.” Well, I thought about that for a while, and came up with some ways in which it might actually affect me:

1) Blair may coast on John Howard’s and Bush’s victories and gain a third term with a large majority. This will affect my life in various ways, some good, most bad. The man has been proven economical with the truth from his own mouth (WMDs? Of course they didn’t have WMDs! You mean I said they did? Well, if they’d had them, they would have used them on us, so we were morally justified in invading.) and the Opposition is incapable of opposing. The only way that Parliamentary government (as opposed to the US variety) can survive is to have a credible opposition. If no one believe the Opposition can form a government, they won’t vote for them and the government will continue on and on. Viz: Margaret Thatcher. When we took this picture, the Thatcher orchids looked a bit unattractive, drab, old, and sickly. How appropriate.

2) I’ve found that the immigration people in the US are more and more unfriendly to me when I return for my (infrequent) visits. “What is your immigration status in the UK?” “What do you do?” “How long have you lived in the UK?” “Did you know that people who renounce their US citizenship for tax reasons are barred from returning to the US?” (This last one when I was returning to New York from a visit to Toronto, asked in Toronto Airport.) Things are not going to get any easier in the next four years.

3) Good friends and acquaintances are now in despair, hopes shattered, looking forward to 4 years of radical right-wing Republicanism ruining their relationships. (Thanks, Spiro.)

Anyway, my condolences to all those who voted otherwise last week, and my hope is that in four years the country won’t be utterly ruined. I remember Richard Milhaus Nixon and his stunning victory in 1972. We were all certain that the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train. But, in 1974, Watergate and some courageous elected representatives put paid to his ambitions to crown his Presidency with glory. Instead he slunk off to New Jersey because no condominium or coop in New York would have him.

Another reason is that on Wednesday, running for and catching a 188 bus, I managed to pinch the skin on the end of my left index finger between my thumbnail and middle fingernail (don’t ask me how this happened: I haven’t been able to duplicate it.) It bled like hell as the bus sped around the Elephant and Castle roundabout and, as everyone who’s had a sore at the end of their finger will be well aware, made typing painful, especially the shotgun type of typing I’m apt to do. I only typed what was necessary. It still is a bit sore but I can type without feeling like someone is sticking a pin into the end of my index finger.

My birthday’s on Monday. I’m a bit annoyed about this, but I realise that being 52 is a lot better than not being at all, so I’ll just grin and bear it. I’m treating myself to a deep-tissue massage in return for some computer hardware stuff. Then HWMBO and I will go to the local Thai restaurant for dinner, although he has complained about the cost. I just smile and say, “Don’t worry about it!” and that seems to work.

The other happening during the last week was the vigil in Soho for Sinders, birth name David Morley, who was beaten to death by teenagers on the South Bank as he was sitting talking to a friend early in the morning. We didn’t know him (although from the reminiscences by two people who did know him he must have been someone worth knowing as he was merry and impish), but the fact that we live close to the South Bank (for the London-impaired, the South Bank is the stretch of the south bank of the Thames river stretching roughly from the Oxo Tower to Westminster Bridge, taking in Waterloo Bridge, Queen Elizabeth and Royal Festival Halls, the Heyward Gallery, the National Theatre, the National Film Theatre, Hungerford Bridges, and the London Eye) and often take strolls there when the weather is nice made it important to us that we be at the vigil.

During the afternoon I constructed sturdy candles in plastic pint glasses for us (recipe: one large church candle, cut into three pieces. Put two of the pieces in the pint glasses and then melt the third and pour the melted wax into the glasses to support the candles). We then set out for St. Anne’s Church in Soho.

The church itself is late 1700’s or early 1800’s, I think. The back garden (not a churchyard–no burials) was open until recently. A fence was constructed as street people and drug addicts were making the garden their home. It is fearsome: it looks like something to keep the inmates of Cell Block H in. It’s concavely curved (to keep people from climbing up it, I presume) and lit by garish-coloured lights. Anyway, it wasn’t open until 6 so we wandered to Old Compton Street and looked at the crowds outside the Admiral Duncan pub who were also waiting for the garden to open. Various people of all types were carrying flowers (our candles were an exception, it seems) and reminiscing about Sinders. he had been the bar manager of the Admiral Duncan when the nailbomb blew up the pub several years ago. He suffered burns, but three people died from the effects of the blast. The perpetrator was caught and sentenced to life, but Sinders never recovered his composure. A group of Asian teenagers brought a condolence card to the pub after it had reopened (a bomb also went off on Brick Lane, the centre of the Bangladeshi and Pakistani community in London) and Sinders burst into tears, he was so touched. He had flashbacks about the blast, and found it so difficult to carry on at the Admiral Duncan that he was moved to be manager of another pub owned by the same brewery.

Anyway, at the advertised time (6 pm, for a 6:30 start) we went back to the garden and, surprise, surprise! Nothing was ready. At about 6:20 or so the gates were opened and we trooped in. We were almost in the front row. However, 6:30 came and went, various people were making announcements to the effect of “It’ll only be a few moments now”, but it didn’t start until about 6:50. As it ended up we were standing for about an hour. The functionaries who were announcing also told people to turn their mobile phones off. Of course, many did not and there was merry hell breaking loose for a while as phones rang and announcements to turn them off followed. The place was packed. The streets outside were packed and loudspeakers had to be used so that everyone could hear what was going on. The Vicar (a woman) gave a good non-denominational talk about the meaning of the service, the Mayor’s representative spoke, and the London Gay Men’s Chorus sang. A piper piped Sinders out to “A Gaelic Air”. A busker who was a friend of Sinders’ sang something he himself had whipped up. We dutifully sang along. Finally, we dispersed. HWMBO and I laid our candles in the garden, still burning. Most everyone else had taken candles from the management: they were small votive lights that had not survived the delay in starting the service.

We thousands gathered together to celebrate the life of someone only a fraction of us knew. However, almost any of us could have been sitting on that bench that night, talking with a friend. Until the chain of homophobia is utterly broken and children learn acceptance and respect for those different from them, we will gather again and again for these services. But, having been a child and the butt of bullying from other children, I know firsthand how evil, rotten, and nasty some children can be in dealing with other children who are different. I hold out little hope that children can learn to accept rather than to exclude. Their elders are giving a pretty good example of the latter nowadays.

Book fun…

Friday, November 5th, 2004

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 23.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal…
…along with these instructions.

Surprise, surprise.

HWMBO and I are about to leave for the vigil for the gentleman gaybashed on South Bank. Those who can’t be there, think good thoughts, please.