Archive for October, 2005

Baptism can be hazardous to your health

Monday, October 31st, 2005

especially baptism by immersion, and if you’re the baptiser.

I did think this was a hoax, but from what I can gather, it seems to be OK.

Today’s Health and Beauty URL

Friday, October 28th, 2005

Can you balance a full pint glass on them? No? Then go here!

What’s new

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Today I attended Richard’s funeral. I had only known him for a few months; however, he volunteered in June to become Treasurer of our Deanery here in Southwark. We don’t have a lot of expenditures, but we haven’t had a functioning Treasurer for a couple of years. So we were delighted when Richard volunteered. He was only 31, but was a registered financial adviser as well as being a busy volunteer at the Cathedral, which was his parish.

He warned us that he was undergoing treatment for cancer of the testicles, which was dealt with through surgery, but which also needed chemotherapy. However, he expected to come out of the chemo OK and regai his strength and life.As I mentioned in a previous post, he had a massive stroke in reaction to his last bout of chemotherapy. He died a week and a half ago on Sunday without regaining consciousness. We were all shocked and sad. The funeral was good (as such events go)–the Cathedral was about 3/4 full, which is pretty good for a regular person’s funeral. He was much loved, had many friends and a large family. He had married only in January of this year, too. Such a waste of a wonderful life.

So George Bush is in trouble yet again. Not only is his brain about to be indicted (oops, I meant Karl Rove), but his nominee for the Supreme Court has withdrawn her name in the face of a barrage of criticism from both sides. I think this will be quite a bizarre time. If he nominates a diehard conservative, he may have some trouble in the Senate. If he nominates a middle-of-the-road person, he’ll have some trouble with his conservative power base. How sad for him. I’m crying. Can’t you tell?

Charles Clarke seems to be having some trouble with the Terrorism Bill 2005. Good for him. Half-baked ideas make bad law. As many people have observed, no law against terrorism or terrorists is going to stop 100% of the terrorists. Thus, every time there is a problem, the government will cut down on our civil liberties in order to try to stop the next attack. We will end up in a police state. While my friend Samantha was killed on 7/7, and I take buses and the Tube regularly, I would rather have civil liberties than absolute safety; there are civil liberties but there is no such thing as absolute safety and the Government is wrongheaded to try to say that there is or might be. We are led by a bunch of dunderheads. I hope that I can still say that publicly without being charged with some offense under the Terrorism Act.

Almost November. That’s a bad month for me. My birthday’s in November. Both my parents died in November. The best teacher I ever had died in November, as well as a very kind priest from my childhood. I often get bronchitis in November. Thank God it’s only 30 days long. I don’t know whether I can take any more of it.

I’ve finally gotten possession of the domain “”. You may or may not know that the founder of Integrity, Dr. Louie Crew (another one of my heroes), also founded an email discussion list called Luti, after one of his many writing personae, Quean Lutibelle. The domain was registered by a former owner, but at the time the former owner became “former”, I was not savvy enough to figure out how to deal with domain name registrars, so I didn’t bother. However, I finally figured out how to do it, and am now the proud owner of and, as well as I am hoping that the transfer of registrars from the US to the UK will happen soon; I want them all under one roof. Then, I’ll transfer my website to (making it better in the meantime, I hope) and make a webpage to encourage people to join Luti. I may even put some list management software on the server and take the hosting back from Yahoo!, which is not terribly good at hosting nowadays, in many respects.

Had lunch with my chum Steve yesterday. Looks like there is a good chance that I’ll have a permanent job in March 2006. Not that I’m looking, mind you–even the recruiters have stopped calling!!! But, he’s working with an exciting product (a tool to assist software testing) and an exciting company. It’s German, however; I may have to learn some…oh well, I hope one can teach an old dog new tricks.

Another chum, Mike, is arriving here for a weekend jaunt from Chicago. Nice to see him again; we haven’t seen him for almost three years. He’s bringing gifts (although not Greek): Irish Spring soap, lots of chunky peanut butter for HWMBO, three copies of a picture I retouched of my parents’ wedding. Two will go to Marblehead as gifts for my sister and brother. I’ll keep the third. He’s also bringing some 8-1/2 x 11 picture paper so that I can print that size myself in the future. Remember, we’re benighted here and only have A4 size paper. HWMBO is taking tomorrow off, bless him, as he’s been working his socks off at the shop. We’ll be picking Mike up then going to the Tate and God only knows where else.

Half the results of the ISEB courses taken at Searchspace have come in: all four reporting so far have passed, most with very good marks. I’m quite chuffed: it’s a tribute to the good staff Searchspace have recruited for their testing department. Steve’s wife Anne, the head honcho of Electromind, the consultancy that I work with and for, also passed with flying colours. She isn’t even a software tester or programmer. Well done, Anne! I wonder how many of the people in Wiltshire I taught the previous week passed. I may or may not find out. It’s too soon for last week’s crop.

Enough for this entry!

Yesterday’s Washington Post Toles cartoon

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

…is about Rosa Parks. What a classy woman she was.

Link may require registration, I fear.

Today’s Mobile Telephony URL

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

is here. Please don’t call me; HWMBO is on the phone.

A Jean Shepherd moment

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

is in this ad…also something for bear-lovers.

Beijing Backstreet Boys

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

present their version of “I Want it That Way”.

Very cute.

8th Grade Math!

Friday, October 21st, 2005
You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

The last time I took any math was in 11th grade, when it was something between geometry and calculus, whose name I forget. I took one day of calculus but couldn’t understand the review. I reasoned that if I couldn’t understand the review, then I wouldn’t understand the course and dropped out.

But I seem to have remembered my 8th grade math pretty well.


Friday, October 21st, 2005

1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.

2 . You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers for your family of 3.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don’t have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn’t have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12. You’re reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message, you are going to hit the little icon below this and email it to someone.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn’t a #9 on this list.

Shamelessly stolen from NakedBoyChronicles.

Yeah, I did forget something…

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

As I got off the Underground train at Paddington station, I realised that I’d forgotten to pack dress shirts. GBP 77 later, I had 4 Van Heusen shirts. What an expensive omission.

I’m currently sitting in my hotel filing this on the hotel’s broadband. The hotel in Trowbridge had no internet access at all. I got on a train yesterday and had four seats all to myself. However, I wasn’t prepared for Cardiff, where I had most of the downtown main train station to myself at 7 pm. Ate a quick dinner in the only cafe that was open, then got on the train to Ystrad Mynach. It was a two-car puddle-tracker. When I got off at the station in YM (It’s too tiring to write the entire name), I called all three taxi companies in YM listed on the notice boards at the station. One was now a fax number, another was non-working, and the third was only able to send a taxi in two hours’ time. I called the hotel and pleaded for a taxi, and they sent one in about 25 minutes. Meanwhile the local teenagers were congregating nearby and, the night being dark, I was a bit worried, but I got here in one piece.

The hotel is a combination hotel and country club, with a leisure center and a golf course. Too bad that I think golf is human fetch. They do have broadband access (GBP 7.50 for 20 hours) and the TV is quite posh (flat screen, lots of options). There is also a TV over the bathtub, oddly enough. No mints on the bed. I miss mints on the bed.

So I got up and, after being told it would take 1/2 hour to get to the customer site, asked for the cab at 8:00. It took 5 minutes to get there. The site is a high-security one, so they took my cameraphone off me and I had to be escorted whenever I went to the loo. What a pain. The class is mostly motivated, with a couple of old hands who know everything. Old hands are difficult to teach this stuff to, because they believe they know everything. If they don’t pay attention, they’ll miss some stuff and get hauled up on the exam. There was also building work going on in the next room. It sounded like a combination blast furnace and a horde of mice scurrying up and down the walls. At one point one of the ceiling tiles disappeared and a face appeared in it. We did our best but there were no quiet times to be had.

So, now we’ll see what the dinner is like here. There is no place else to go so I shall just have to take whatever I can get. Breakfast was a rather hurried affair (it’ll be much more leisurely tomorrow because the taxi won’t be here until 8:30) and the food was kind of sad–one might expect that kind of English breakfast in a seaside b&b.

Anyway, cheers to all and hopefully I’ll be home on Thursday but reading all your blogs in the meantime.

Addendum: I tried to file this from the hotel using its broadband. Unfortunately, while I could see my blog I couldn’t post to it. So I’m posting this on Thursday night, with addenda.

The dinner was quite good, but of course while they needed reservations, it didn’t say so anywhere. So I had to sit in the smoky bar waiting for a table. The steak was very nice, but they put me right under the tv. Everyone was watching me eat.

The delegates at the site were a bit too laddish, I’m afraid. They were all nice guys, but I think that probably only 6 or 7 of the 8 will pass the exam.

This evening when I got home I saw my emails (750 or so of them) and one was from someone who wanted me to fill in for an ISEB course tutor who had to take one day off during a course. I said, “Why not?” and called him. It turns out that he got my name from a Google what took him to a reference on my online CV. What a surprise! More money!

Off to Wales

Monday, October 17th, 2005

I’m off to Wales in a few minutes. I hope I haven’t forgotten anything important.

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and if I don’t have access I’ll see you all Thursday evening.

Ah, memories!

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

I just took a look at my first post in lj. I said: “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.”

Now, more than a year later, I’m still not revamping my website, still not doing more geneological work, somewhat getting the house clean (although my attempt to wash the kitchen floor two weeks ago was interrupted by that emergency work call…).

I need to get this stuff together.

But now, for melon and raspberries with HWMBO.

Just a catch-up

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

I acutely realise that I’ve been silent for some days.

The ISEB course at my former place of employment (and current place of consulting) went well. The delegates were attentive, intelligent, and motivated. Thus I believe that they all passed the course. Now for Wales next week.

Something that the sadist in me wants to point out is that this last week was the first time in more than a year that I’ve worked a 5-day week. Three days of ISEB, Thursday at the Qbit software testing conference, and Friday back at the ISO9001 consulting. I felt gutted, although it is mostly psychological. Once I get a permanent job (sometime in the new year I’m likely to be recruited by a chum’s software testing tool company as a full-time consultant) and start doing 5 days a week again, it’ll be OK.

Worse than the 5-day week was the fact that I was on my feet for most of the workday Monday through Thursday. My legs felt like jelly after a while and I had to haul myself in and out of chairs as much as possible. The main presenter (who was doing technical walkthroughs at our stand on Thursday) hardly got enough time to sit down, eat, or have a Tic-Tac. I expect that he remained silent the rest of the week. I don’t know how teachers stay on their feet talking for 40 weeks of the year.

Yesterday I had lots of things to do. I’m getting my other laptop (a Dell) ready to take to Wales with me. So I have been getting it ready to roll with various pieces of software, the coursework for ISEB, the wireless mouse, and the like. I had to send a cheque to the person who presented at Deanery Synod on Monday for his expenses. I had to order my ticket to Wales andpick it up at Paddington Station. I needed to pick a parcel up at the post office. I need to get a cable for my network switch (didn’t get around to that one). So I’ll unpick some of this.

The parcel was “The Complete New Yorker”. From 1970 until 1994, I was an avid reader of The New Yorker. However, the foreign subscription was a bit too pricey for me. However, getting all the copies of The New Yorker from 1925 to last February on DVD for $197 (a bit less than £100) was just too tempting. I bought it and it arrived this week. I can’t wait to get my teeth into it. I miss it.

Deanery Synod on Monday elected Richard as Treasurer. We haven’t had a functioning treasurer for years, so it was a relief when he volunteered after the last meeting. He told us that he was recovering from cancer, and that his chemotherapy would be going on through October. After that he would be OK. On Monday, while we were electing him Treasurer, Richard suffered a reaction to the chemotherapy: a massive stroke that has placed him in a persistent vegetative state. He’s not expected to live. I am gutted: he was a very good man, a doer, and someone who would have been a good asset to the Deanery.

Update: Richard died Sunday morning at 11:10.

We decided to take a bus to Paddington yesterday to pick up the ticket I had ordered that morning. There are “FastTicket” machines available there to pick the ticket up. However, I had to try four before I got one that would work. One thought it was another kind of machine and wanted me to put my card into the (non-existent) slot it was pointing to below the screen (while the real slot was to the right). Another one thought it was selling a ticket, not picking one up. The third one wouldn’t read my card, and then the fourth one finally, kind-of, worked. I went to pick up my tickets and found that only the outgoing one was in the tray. A bit more investigation showed that the return ticket was still sticking out of the printer above the slot, and hadn’t actually dropped into the tray. I think that others may have had the same problem as there was a receipt in the tray from a previous user of the machine.

After this we walked to Whiteley’s at Queensway, an indoor mall, where we bought nothing except a coffee but enjoyed walking around. I tried to find an interesting book for the cold nights in Wales, but saw nothing that piqued my interest. Oh, we did, however, spend some money in Marks and Sparks to buy dinner. We had chicken breasts with sweet potatoes in a lime and chili sauce. Very nice it was too. Surprisingly, HWMBO agreed when I expressed in a Beef Wellington, which we duly bought. When we were walking out he said, “£9.99! How expensive! We shouldn’t have bought it!” I said, “I saw the price, and that’s why I was surprised when you agreed to buy it.” He’s convinced I tricked him into buying it (in a teasing way). I hope it’s good, or I’ll never hear the end of it.

Oh, well, off to the shower now to prepare for the Divine Mysteries.

Some things money can’t buy….

Friday, October 7th, 2005

But for everything else, there’s Mastercard.

Back from the wilds of Wiltshire

Friday, October 7th, 2005

Well, I’m back from the first ISEB course (of three that I’ll give this month). It was, frankly, somewhat of a disappointment except for the money.

I went to a town in Wiltshire (think Salisbury, Stonehenge, and stuff like that there). It’s dead, really. Nothing to do. And this company that I trained at, which shall remain anonymous, has dragged about 20 or 30 twenty-somethings there to do software testing. I had 13 of them in the class, all except three being those twenty-something guys. Some cute ones, too. But, they were bored out of their skulls, nothing to do in the evenings, working in a sweatshop, for low wages, at something that can be simple rote work. No wonder they paid little attention.

Problem 1: In a classroom meant for 8-9 people at best, we had 13 people and one trainer (me). It was cramped, and went from boiling hot to ice cold all day.

Problem 2: In a sweatshop, there is no leeway. After the course, the delegates all had to return to their desks until 5:30, which is quitting time. I am presuming that the same thing happened when they finished the exam on the third day. Very much a downer.

Problem 3: Being young, disaffected, and bored, they had the attention span of gnats and the short-term memory of flies. So many of them took in little or nothing of what I taught. Neither did they react when something I taught went counter to the practices that were current at their company.

This meant that they all got one question wrong on the exam because their term for what most software companies call “test scripts” or “test cases” is “test plan”. I don’t know what they call their test plans. However, I had emphasized this point in my lecture and no one bothered to tell me that their company did it differently. Oy veh!

I believe that maybe 8 or 9 out of the 13 will pass. This will drop my lifetime pass rate for ISEB course delegates from 91% to 85.7%. Still pretty good, but I’m not sure.

Amusingly, I discovered during the day that their company had a policy on retesting. If you took the ISEB exam and failed, the company will pay for one re-sit of the test. However, if you fail it twice you need to pay for the second re-sit yourself. Now, I’m certain that the reason they have this policy is that some people there have, indeed, had to re-sit the exam twice. It’s only 25 right out of 40 questions! Perhaps the company trawls the parks and picks cans of Strongbow Cider out of the hands of vagrants. Then they ask the new “recruits” whether they want to be software testers. If they say “Yeah, sure mate!” they lend them the money for a suit and they start work.

Oh, it was also an all-white group. I find this oddly disconcerting as I’m more comfortable in mixed situations.

Next week, here at my former company. The week after, in Wales. All I need now is to get paid for August, September, this week, next week, the week after, and October’s ISO9001 work. It would be nice if large companies would pay their bills on time.

Unexpected pleasure

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

I got a call this morning from the manager at Electromind. Another training company’s trainer is ill and they needed someone at short notice to present an ISEB course in Wiltshire; was I interested? Well, for

The Naked Rambler has gotten to Inverness

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Here is his official website, with pictures. He is in good shape, but the pictures are, of course, not prurient, but probably not safe for work, as they include his fellow walker, Melanie. The pictures are behind another link on the website.

All the kerfuffle about Steve’s walk, and the jail time he’s spent because he refuses to cover up while walking, is terribly overblown. If you don’t like a young, good-looking, naked man walking through your village, just look away and, poof! he’ll be gone shortly.

Oh, and if you’re so minded and in Scotland, you can join him on his walk, clothed or not.

Today’s Useless Gifit Idea

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

…is here; Miss Muffet would have loved it.

Seventeen years ago today…

Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

…I was received into the Episcopal Church at Holy Apostles on 28th and 9th in Manhattan.

I’ve not regretted it for a millisecond.