Archive for January, 2006

Today’s Thailand story URL

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

This story is pretty wild. Those ladyboys are really something else.

Back from Bangkok

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Well, we got back from Bangkok yesterday night. I was last there 9 years ago, so I was prepared for some change, but what change! There is now a functioning underground system as well as two skytrain lines. Public transport is now an option; 9 years ago tuk-tuks and cabs that might or might not be metred were the sole options other than by foot.

We stayed at the Pinnacle Hotel in Lumphini (they spell it Lumpinee in the hotel’s publicity; That transliteration is not exact). I travelled with my host. BK, and his friends Andrew and Edwin. We spread ourselves across three rooms (1003, 1005, and 1007).

Thursday night was dinner at Anna’s, a Western/Thai fusion place near the hotel. Then we went to a downtown shopping mall and wandered; I didn’t buy anything but Edwin, the shopping queen, bought lots. We ended up in the food court eating fruit and critiquing the men walking by, discovering in the process that we had violently different tastes.

First full day (Friday) was for sightseeing; we went to the Grand Palace and took lots of photos. I shall be posting some when I get back to London. The most offputting thing about the Grand Palace is the tourist glut. The holiest temple in Thailand is located in the Palace grounds, but people were milling about, climbing on the decorations so that they could get better pictures, and generally being disrespectful of the place. We then went to the “Backpacker’s area” (can’t remember the name), where we walked up and down the street while BK bought CDs, Andrew bought books, and I bought a pair of sandals after failing to find the proper size at another stall.

I had some difficulties in measuring the proper (ie, pound sterling) price of goods there. The baht is fairly low-worth in comparison to the pound. Today’s exchange rate is about 39 baht to the pound and about 26 baht to SGD. So my travelling companions only had one conversion to make in their heads (baht to SGD) whereas I had to make two (baht to SGD to GBP). Confusion reigned. So 400 baht is about 10 pounds. The largest note is 1000 baht, the smallest is 20 baht (about fifty pence), and there are lots of 10, 5, and 1 baht coins. Prices are very competitive, however.

Along the way Andrew, BK, and I went to the river ferry for a quick voyage down the river to our next stop: reflexology. On the way I saw a street vendor with an original product: he makes figures out of twisted rope. He had a really cute squirrel that I fell in love with and knew that HWMBO would like. I bought it and didn’t even haggle over the price. This made the afternoon trip worthwhile. We stopped in a restaurant with cute but sullen waiters and I had a beer while the others ate.

Update, much later: HWMBO hated the squirrel. So much for knowing your spouse.

We went to Healthland for reflexology. That wasn’t the original plan, but their other masseurs were engaged already. I’d never had foot reflexology before; it was an eye-opener. I was a bit fearful for my feet, as being a diabetic lots of the sensation in my feet has been lost. They found it, all right. Andrew thought that my masseur was hot looking; I was too busy wincing from the pain to notice much. He poked, prodded, and punched my feet until I was certain they were a bleeding mass of pulp. However, they certainly did feel much better afterwards.

Friday night I had dinner with Bom, our former flatmate. He is a real sweetheart, and is now a lecturer at Thammasat University, and an associate dean. However, he hasn’t changed one bit, and is still the fun-loving handsome young man I remember. He has a car so the transport part was easy, although a bit confusing for me. We went to a restaurant where Bom did the ordering and forgot that I don’t eat a lot of seafood. He ordered mussels, seafood soup, fishcakes (which were excellent), and rice. I asked for green chicken curry, very sheepishly. We made plans to meet on Sunday, and then I went home, while the other three went off to DJ Station, the most crowded gay disco in Bangkok. I gave it a miss because of cigarette smoke and crowding, but at least one of our travelling party met a friend there that night…

Saturday started off with taking the underground to go to a vegetarian restaurant discovered by BK. We got lost, and found no one who spoke English or Mandarin. It’s a wonder we ever found it, as it was really tucked away. But find it we did, and it was really good. I had (surprised, surprise) green curry which was very good. We then went shopping in the Weekend Market. It’s a huge warren of corridors flanked by stalls selling all sorts of things. We were sure to be split up, so we made plans to meet by the clocktower at 4:30. I wandered around, but only bought one pair of shorts. There was a lot of trash, lots of shoes and sandals. We indeed met at the clock tower, although how I found it is a mystery, and how we then found our way out is an even bigger mystery.

We then went to a gay sauna, Chakran, to begin the evening (although it ended mine). It’s quite elaborate, as saunas there tend to be, but as I was only there for the scenery, that was enough. It has a gym (and quite an elaborate one at that), jacuzzi (which helped my back), steam rooms and saunas, a restaurant and bar, and a cold pool in which no one was indulging. There was a small area for sexual encounters called “Heart to Heart” (although no one was doing anything up there as far as I could tell and, had they been, I don’t think that it would have been their hearts touching). After a crackdown by the police, some of the saunas have removed the doors of the private cabins. Certainly would have cooled my ardour.

After a misunderstanding, BK ate dinner there while Edwin, Andrew, and I set out for a restaurant. It had a strange decor (clear plastic placemats with feathers embedded in them, for example), but the (guess what!) green chicken curry was very chilli-hot and good. Edwin and I went for a massage afterwards…very therapeutic, but not really Thai massage; that would come later. Back to the hotel and bed for me; DJ Station for everyone else.

Sunday was my day with Bom. We went to a Chinese restaurant for dim sum. The dish I remember best was Chinese buns filled not with barbecued pork, but with egg custard. I’ve never had such a good bun before in my life. I wish I could remember what they were called so I could have some again back in London.

Bom asked if I wanted a traditional Thai massage. Well, he knew of a place downtown that was very good. We went there and, boy, was it good! They punch, poke, prod, and stand on you to get results. You wear a kind of smock and baggy trousers during the massage, but Bom had warned me that some of the masseurs did extra services. I think that mine might have done, except that when he massaged around my crotch and discovered my PA, he was so bemused that he stopped.

Therapeutically, this was the best massage I’ve ever had. Afterwards, my scoliosis had been completely reversed! I stood up straight for the first time in years. I will look for traditional Thai masseurs in London, but fear they’ll cost more than the pounds or so equivalent this one cost.

Then we went shopping in the Central Department Store. Because of purchases, I needed a new bag to go back to Singapore with; we found one and, to our surprise, discovered that we were eligible for a premium from the service desk downstairs because of the amount of our purchase. We ended up with three money-off coupons and some commemorative coins. So back for more shopping to use up the coupons. I bought a pair of Fila trainers, a luggage tag for my new bag, and a key case for WL. Bom bought a stepladder for his new house and some tops (of which I bought two as well). Back to the hotel, and then Bom dropped me off to meet the others at Babylon for Foam Night.

I wasn’t too impressed with foam night (basically they have a foam “generator” pouring out foam on the dancers on the dance floors), but the new Babylon is quite impressive. It was mobbed for Foam Night; however, again, I just observed. I find it confusing to find my way around these places and am a little insecure about getting around. They are all rabbit warrens. Lots of cute men, though. The restaurant was quite good, if the menu was anything to go by, and there was no smoking except in the open area near the bar (easily avoided). I left BK, Andrew, and Edwin there and went home to bed.

Monday was about packing and getting ready to come back to Singapore. I was ready early, after the breakfast buffet (which was quite good, with American bacon as a specialty!), but the rest weren’t ready to go until a bit later. Edwin was staying on my my room for two days for some laser whitening of his teeth, so we left our bags in 1003 and went off to Healthland again. I discovered that it’s not a good idea to have two Thai massages in a row (twice a week is the usual standard), so I went off and investigated the transport system. I took the Sky Train to the end of the line, and then changed to the Underground system, and rose that to the end of its line. Very Singaporean in design (large island platforms, mostly, with doors on the platform edges). The ticket was a relatively large round black token that was encoded with the fare I paid, and dispensed from a machine. When I get back, I’ll edit this entry and put all the relevant pictures in, including the one I took of this token. Emerged at the end of the line, looked around (nothing of interest), and popped back in to go to Si Lom, which was one stop away from the hotel. Walked (at 2 pm) from Si Lom to Lamphini and took a few pics. Had lunch at an A&W Rootbeer restaurant (HWMBO doesn’t like them but I guess that I wanted to slum a bit) of a burger, curly fries, and a rootbeer. Back to the hotel and then taxi to the airport and home.

Oh, and budget airlines suck, big time. We were scheduled to leave from Gate 71, but it was changed at the very last minute to Gate 26, at the other end of the airport. What a pain! It was also “festival” seating, which meant that by the time we got there we were almost strapped to seats on the wing.

At Changi, the wait for the taxi homw was marred by two boorish American queuejumpers, who separated me from BK and Andrew. I was livid. I made a very loud remark as we went for the taxicab (long queue because of Chinese New Year) mentioning “rude American queuejumpers” but, as usual with American ang mohs, they weren’t in the mood to listen to anyone.

So, I enjoyed Bangkok very much. I hope that HWMBO and I can make the trip later this year or next year and stay with Bom at his new home. I can have another traditional Thai massage for GBP 5 again!

Off to Bangkok soon

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

I know I have been a bad correspondent, and should probably have my lj epaulets stripped off my t-shirt and be turned out of the fort, but it’s been really hectic the past few days, and we leave for Bangkok in two hours. I’m packed, but still not bathed. I will try to update when I get back, but it’s difficult when you’re on holiday to get your mind back to work. And keeping up your livejournal is work.

Met <lj user=”kingbitch”> yesterday for lunch

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

…and I’m really glad I did. He’s a real sweetheart with all the qualities that would make a guy melt all over him. I will post pictures when I’m back from Bangkok next week, or when we’re back in London, but pictures were taken, I assure you. It’s good to meet your lj friends in the flesh when travelling.

PS: his lj tag is quite daunting, but it’s all a front.

Back from Kuala Lumpur and Malacca

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

We got back yesterday from four days in Malaysia. I had never been to KL before, so was interested in what it was like.

The Petronas towers are huge. Very huge. So huge you can hardly believe it. They are as modern as anything in Singapore, the UK, or the US. The rest of KL is a curious mixture of very modern smart buildings and shopping malls and run down areas.

Present were: Me, HWMBO, our friend BK with whom we’re staying in Singapore, our friend Choo Beng, and his bf Caff.

We took the “luxury bus” from Singapore to KL. It took about 5 hours, including customs and immigration stops in Singapore and Malaysia. Everyone here knows this bus: when you mention it, they say “Oh, the massage chair bus!” The seats have built-in massagers. Not very effective (in my experience) but very comfy nonetheless. There is a video screen at each seat and you get food and a drink.

KL is chaotic. Very busy, lots of running around. The transport system is seriously dysfunctional: there are about 4 or 5 different train lines and they are run by different companies. So you have to get out of one train and walk a distance to get to another one. Very annoying and must be confusing if you don’t have someone who knows their way around with you.

We shopped in several stores and bought shirts; mine were XL but still too small, not because I’ve gained weight on this trip (I think I’ve lost a bit) but because XL in Asia is really L everywhere else.

If was Caff’s birthday so we had dinner at his friend’s restaurant near Time Square shopping centre. Very nice, but somewhat blur (as they say here in Sg) since two friends of Caff’s and Choo Beng’s had had a spat, and one threw the other out of the house. They were both supposed to come to the birthday meal. So there was much to-ing and fro-ing while Caff and Choo Beng went out and called them on their handphones or talked to them outside the restaurant. Lots of fish but enough for me to eat so I wasn’t hungry. A big birthday cake at the end. Happy birthday, Caff!

More later, as I have to go out for my morning constitutional to keep from being totally unfit.

What kind of heretic I am…

Thursday, January 19th, 2006
You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you’re not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with

Singapore: Day 2

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Well, BK and I went window-shopping yesterday…didn’t buy anything but got ideas. I need to be very careful so I’m not going to go hog-wild this time around. We then parted and I met HWMBO and Tiow Hua for a Teochew dinner. The Teochews (a coastal area north of Hong Kong, I think) have spread throughout Southeast Asia. Their cuisine is hard to find elsewhere, though; I’ve never seen it in London or New York (although there might be Teochew dishes scattered on menus). Their meat specialty is goose, so we had braised goose with tofu; a braised cabbage and mushroom dish, with the cabbage in a round bowl with mushroom caps arranged in a circle on top of the cabbage and a slice of red pepper in the middle of the circle; meatball “cubes” with pork and prawn mixed in; and a prawn omelet. All with dipping sauces of various kinds. Then for dessert we had a yam paste, served hot in a bowl. Very moreish, but probably very fattening. Followed by a very small cup (really a dish) of very strong tea to de-glaze your tongue and throat.

I got home in good order (though I got a bit lost getting here) and forgot to take my melatonin before bed, so I ended up waking up, irrevocably, at 4 am.

Lunch with an lj friend today then dinner with BK, I think.

The latest US execution

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Having suffered a heart attack back in September, Allen had asked prison authorities to let him die if he went into cardiac arrest before his execution, a request prison officials said they would not honor.

“At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life,” said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon. “We would resuscitate him,” then execute him.

The world has gone mad. People often ask me why I don’t go back to live in the United States. Just read the above quotation will be my answer.

We’re in Singapore

Monday, January 16th, 2006

We had a pleasant surprise upon arriving at the Elephant and Castle underground station: the Piccadilly Line was not going to Heathrow on Sunday so we could use the Heathrow Express for the price of a one day Travelcard zones 1-6. This was to be the last pleasant surprise.

We got to Heathrow, everything went well, we got to the boarding lounge and on the plane. Then I did a double take as the plane seemed to be scheduled to stop at Frankfurt. And so we did.

It turns out that there is no longer enough jet fuel at Heathrow to get a plane all the way to Singapore. This is because of a fuel depot explosion and fire over the Christmas holidays. So all the long-haul flights have to stop elsewhere to top up before going on their way. So we were ultra late (got out of Customs at 6, were supposed to be out of Customs at about 3).

HWMBO’s mom asked BK whether the person HWMBO was traveling with was the same person he travelled with last year. He said that it was. No more questions.

She doesn’t look good; she has gotten quite stooped in the past year, but she has a wide smile (HWMBO has her face and smile, while he has his dad’s height). We separated and BK and I went to his place, while HWMBO went to have dinner with his parents and Choo Beng.

When BK and I went for dinner, HWMBO and Choo Beng came along. It turns out that it didn’t take his parents more than an hour to try to set him up with a woman. He declined, even though she is an assistant CEO of a company. She’s 35, and I guess her parents have despaired of ever getting her married off. So HWMBO’s parents decided to offer…

It’s almost 1 am Tuesday here so I must be off to bed to try to un-jet-lag myself as quickly as possible.

Cheers to all!

Today’s Straight Marriage URL

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Apparently a surplus of women in Chechnya and Russia has attracted the attention of legislators, here.

You know what the penalty for bigamy is, of course.

Two mothers-in-law.

I have finished “the Gospel Hoax”

Friday, January 13th, 2006

I got the book “The Gospel Hoax”, written by Stephen Carlson, and subtitled “Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark yesterday. I saw down and finished it tonight. It is riveting! I immediately wrote the following email to the author, and thought I should share it with all of you, not to blow my own horn but to bring into greater clarity one of the great disputes in Scriptural scholarship of the last 35 years.

Dear Dr. Carlson:

I have just finished The Gospel Hoax and wish to first congratulate you on a masterful and convincing argument. I was a student of Morton Smith’s (undergraduate, Columbia College 1970-1974, BA Latin and Greek, 1974) and even at that early date (Clement of Alexandria was published during the time I and others I knew were his students) we felt certain that the Secret Gospel and Clement’s letter were hoaxes and, moreover, that Morton was responsible for them. He always refused to discuss it with us even in a colloquium on the Synoptic Gospels in which discussion of Secret Mark would have been appropriate.

I would like to add some impressions of Morton that you may be (I actually would find it difficult to believe that this information was not available to you) familiar with but that were not included in the book.

Much of the writing and comment against Secret Mark took Smith to task because of his difficult personality. In class he was manifestly a woman-hater; those women who were bold enough to take his class were at once ignored and, if noticed, insulted. One was so incensed at his treatment of her that she paid to have a pie thrown in his face outside Philosophy Hall.

His wit was noticeably absent in his courses: he required us to buy his book “The Greeks” for his Ancient History introductory course; we felt that it may not have been the best available work on the subject but that Morton required it for the royalties. I saw an article in Newsweek that noted a chemistry professor’s decision to require his own book for his course as it was the best available; however, the professor refunded the royalties to each student who purchased the book. I cut the article out of Newsweek and put it on his desk before he entered the class. He looked at it, and scowled, and that was that. I didn’t expect any refund, but I thought I might get him to crack a smile.

He was also homosexual. As I am an Anglican (and was an Episcopalian when I lived in the United States), I was told by someone on Bishop Moore’s staff (Bp. Moore was then the Bishop of New York) that Smith was discovered in a compromising position with a young man and was forced to resign his orders. That was the way things were done in those early days. My informant may be wrong, but it has the ring of truth. At a colloquium on Secret Mark held at St. John the Divine in (I think) 1975 Pierson Parker drove Smith to fury by referring to him as “Father Smith”. Morton tried to get his own back by referring to Parker as “Father Parker” but of course Parker was a priest so it was a damp squib.

Morton, during the time that I knew him, chose a new research assistant yearly. It was always a male graduate student, and the one whom I knew best told me that Smith was forever “hitting on him” sexually. Smith was also very vain of his appearance, swam daily, and kept extremely trim. In 1974 he was nearly 60 years old but still had a figure that would have been the envy of many young men, not to mention his contemporaries.

The reason I mention this is not to blacken his reputation in any way (at the time, I suppose it was not uncommon for professors, other academics, and businessmen to “hit on” their students or employees; nowadays you’d be slapped with a harassment charge immediately). However, I think it sheds more light on your argument in chapter 6 about Morton’s motives. More than Smith’s atheism, I think that the fact that Smith always vehemently denied (and many times in my hearing) that he himself had said anything about Jesus’s “homosexuality” in Secret Mark says volumes about his real motive for writing Clement and Secret Mark. I believe that his leaving the church due to homosexuality impelled him to turn the tables and purport to discover a text that cast aspersions of a homosexual nature on Jesus. However, he tried to “cover” his apparent motive by loudly denying that he himself had ever said such a thing, and thus brought even more attention to that very motive.

When I began reading Chapter 6, I was expecting that each new paragraph would mention the situation I’ve described in my last three paragraphs. I never saw it. As it is impossible to libel a dead person, I conclude that either you were unaware of his sexual orientation (improbable) or you deliberately excluded one of the (in my mind) most telling motives he could have had. I suppose that since a lot of the argument against Secret Mark has been insulting polemic, perhaps you excluded it on the grounds that it would simply seem to be “more of the same”. However, I think it would have fitted right into Chapter 6 (after the bulk of the objective evidence had been set down) and delivered the coup de grace, as it were.

If on the other hand you were unaware of it, then consider this letter a bit more evidence of the correctness of your arguments.

A sidelight to all this is that in the lesbian and gay religious community (of which I am a member) Secret Mark has been quoted and praised liberally ever since the books were published as an example of how the “institutional Church” suppressed any whiff of a mention that Jesus might have been homosexual. In 1992 I had a long argument with a priest of the diocese of Chicago who lives in Nicaragua. He was convinced that Secret Mark and Clement were genuine, and moaned about how the Church was yet again taking an opportunity to do us down. I told him the facts and impressions I have shared with you above, but could not move him. When a fact is as attractive as that one is to lesbian and gay theologians, it will take a crowbar and considerable force to dislodge it. I think that my priest friend is enamoured of it _still_. Perhaps I’ll send him a copy of “The Gospel Hoax” with my compliments! I’m sure that Morton followed this trend of gay theological thought with much joy and satisfaction that, not only had he made the mainstream theologians uncomfortable, but he’d also hoodwinked the lesbian and gay theologians who’d stayed behind in the Church from which he had been excluded. I have been trying for many years to right the assumption in the community that Secret Mark is genuine. Every time in email groups and in fora in which I participate that the subject comes up, I add my two cents to the argument. But as the conclusion that Secret Mark is a hoax is unattractive to those who advance the opposite, I find it very difficult slogging indeed.

I must confess that in response to a scathing review in the Boston Herald of “Secret Gospel” in the mid-70’s I wrote a letter (which was published) taking the reviewer to task for saying that Smith was an “ersatz scholar” or some such phrase. Whatever else he was, Smith was a real scholar and extremely talented, intelligent, and learned. I told the reviewer to counter Smith’s arguments, not call his credentials into question. This is what you have done, and I am very happy you have done it.

So, in closing, thanks so much for writing this book; I found it riveting and hardly put it down until I had finished it. As I am no longer professionally a classicist (I ended up in computer science as a software tester and test manager, and now as a consultant in testing training and test management) I enjoy dipping back into the field and your arguments were not only good, but intelligible to those of us who are not intimately involved in the field still.

I hope that sales are brisk and that your future writings prosper as well. I do feel sorry for that gentleman who wrote his dissertation on Secret Mark defending its authenticity. He must be feeling most unhappy at the moment.

I shall spare a thought for him this evening.


Chris Hansen

UPDATE: I received a reply from Dr. Carlson in which he states that he was aware of Smith’s sexual orientation but felt that including references to it would detract from the logical arguments he gave in the book. However, he also said that another book is coming out later this year from Yale University Press that also debunks Secret Mark, and includes more references to Smith’s personality and his homosexuality. I can’t wait for that one! As Carlson said, “It never rains but it pours.”

Carlson’s blog is in my Friends list under .

What a great end to an obituary

Friday, January 13th, 2006

In alt.obituaries I saw this quotation at the bottom of the obit of John Webster, an advertising guru of the 1970’s and 1980’s, whose most famous ad campaign was the Smash Martians (you have to be British of a certain age to remember this one). I thought that the quote was really good:

A couple of decades ago he bought a house in France which came with a tiny vineyard; he was proud of the wine he produced and sold – at ridiculously low prices – to his friends. He liked to point out that there were two ways you could go in life: you could go into advertising and work excessively long hours in a highly competitive environment, eventually having enough money to buy a small house in France. Or you could just be a French peasant and not bother with the other bit.

My eBay adventure

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Last month I saw on eBay a shortwave radio that I had possessed many years ago (probably late 1970’s/early 1980’s. It’s a Grundig Satellit 2000, and the eBay seller (a German, natch) described it as in full working order, having been checked by a technician before shipping.

The radio has a full, lush sound, tunes the entire LW, MW, SW, and FM bands, with the SW broadcast bands in service then being tuned in finer detail. Each band is selected by turning a turret, which places a different set of coils into the circuit. There is a huge speaker, with treble and bass controls along with the volume control.

So, I received the receiver before Christmas. The FM band worked fine. However, none of the LW, SW, or AM bands worked particular well: the audio was barely detectable. The turret didn’t turn; it was “stuck” or “blocked”. I was in despair. The packing had been, well, loose to say the least. There were bits of styrofoam interspersed with newspapers.

So I looked around on the web, and discovered London Sound. It’s way the heck out in Rayners Lane, almost in Uxbridge at the end of the northern branch of the Piccadilly Line. It takes about an hour to get there on the tube. But when I contacted Mike Solomons, the proprietor, he said that he could fix the radio. I went out there after Christmas, and he was delightful! We spent about an hour gabbing about radio, business, and various other subjects. I paid a lot of money as a deposit, and he reminded me that with my money I would get a 1-year guarantee on his work.

Today I got the radio back. There was at least one surprise: there was a rechargeable lead-acid battery in it, and Mike had taken the casing of that battery and replaced the innards with AA cells and a resistor so that it would recharge just as the original one did. When he took the innards out of the radio, one switch on the front, rather than being slipped onto its post, had been glued on as it had been broken. Mike drilled two tiny holes in the post, put a bent piece of paper clip into the holes, and slipped the switch knob onto that. What workmanship! The radio now works perfectly; the mechanics of keeping the “piano key” switches on the top from getting gummed up, and the intricacies of getting the coil that fell out of the turret back into the radio were explained by Mike.

I won’t mention the cost, but it was perhaps the most expensive radio I’ve ever purchased (and had repaired). However, I would recommend that anyone in the London area who has old-time audio equipment to be repaired (hi-fi sets that were transistorised rather than computerised like today’s are, or old-style SW radio receivers) go see Mike right away (and I suppose you should mention me and my Grundig too). Mike is someone who is absolutely dedicated to his work, someone who stands by it and guarantees it for more than a perfunctory period of time, and who is immensely knowledgeable and ingenious and inventive.

Now I’d better get upstairs and start SWLing, to amortise the enormous cost.

Oh, and BTW, I’m suggesting to the seller that his packing was seriously deficient and telling him that I’m “minded” to give him a negative rating. Hopefully that will give him food for thought and maybe I’ll even get some of my money back.

To all my Singapore lj friends…

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

…and any other Singaporeans who might be reading this.

I’m arriving in Singapore on Monday afternoon, for a three-week vacation. I shall be in Malaysia (KL and Malacca) from Jan 21-24 and in Bangkok from Jan 26-31. Otherwise, I’m in Sg. Perhaps we could all get together for a drink or a meal?? I’d love to meet you guys: , , , and anyone else who’s around then.

SMS me at 90142898 next week!

Trashy way to end up

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

A man’s body was accidentally removed from the funeral home by the dustmen, and ended up in a landfill. The man’s family says it’s OK to leave him there. You can read this bizarre story here but get to it fast, folks, as it may time out.

You get what you wish for

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

On January 2, in this post, I mentioned that soon the Easter eggs would be on the shelves.

Well, yesterday, coming home from the gym, I stopped off in Tesco’s on Kennington Lane for some stuff for dinner. What did I see?

You guessed it. Chocolate bunnies, ready for Easter.


Letter to Bush

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

More humour about the Chimp-in-Chief

After numerous repetitions of “We don’t know if Osama is still alive,” Osama himself decided to send George Bush a letter in his own handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.

Bush opened the letter and it appeared to contain a single line of coded message:


Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Condi Rice. Condi and her aides had no clue either, so they sent it to the FBI. No one could solve it at the FBI so it went to the CIA, then to the NSA. With no clue as to its meaning they eventually asked Britain’s MI6 for help. Within a minute MI6 cabled the White House with this reply:

“Tell the President he’s holding the message upside down.”

Today’s felicitous phrase

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

…comes from a Bryn Mawr Classics review of:

Colin Austin, S. Douglas Olson, Aristophanes. Thesmophoriazusae.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Pp. cviii, 363. ISBN 0-19-926527-5. $150.00.

Reviewed by Ian C. Storey, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario,
Canada (

“…they affirm (267) that “abuse of individual citizens in Aristophanic parabases is normally confined to the epirrhematic syzygy…”

I always thought it was the prorhematic syzygy myself, but who knew?

Today’s wounded willy URL

Monday, January 9th, 2006

There is a man in Britain who is so dense that he caught his dick in a mousetrap.

Not once, but twice!.

You can read his sad tale here.

I can see a future Darwin award winner here if he keeps this up.

Saw the quack today…

Monday, January 9th, 2006

…and wonder of wonders, my bloodwork was fine. Blood sugar normal at 6.2, cholesterol 4, liver and kidney function good. It’s about time.

Now I have to lose 24 kg and then I’ll be perfectly fine.

Today’s blogcast link

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

You may know of James Lileks, of the Gallery of Regrettable Food. He’s got a blogcast here. You should listen, especially to the ad for these:

US discovers “new” type of ATM fraud

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Fraudsters have been rigging up ATMs with fake slots and cameras to get the information they need to clone your debit or credit card and get your PIN number here for a long time (maybe 2-3 years). It’s old hat.

Of course, unless it happens in the US, it doesn’t happen, so this story from CNN/Money, recounts that thieves in the US are doing it too.

I guess this is another of the way in which the UK is miles ahead of the US.

Today’s Chimp-in-Chief joke

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

George Bush has a heart attack and dies.

Obviously, he goes to Hell, where the Devil is waiting for him.

“I’m not sure what to do,” says the Devil. “You’re on my list, but I have no room for you. But since you definitely have to stay here I’m going to have to let someone else go.

“I’ve got three folks here who weren’t quite as bad as you. I’ll let one of them go, but you’ll have to take their place. I’ll even let you decide who leaves.” George thought that sounded pretty good, so he agreed.

The Devil opened the first room. In it was Richard Nixon and a large pool of water. He kept diving in and climbing out, over and over. Such was his fate in Hell.

“No!” George said. “I don’t think so. I’m not a good swimmer and I don’t think I could do that all day long.”

The Devil led him to the next room. In it was Tony Blair with a sledge hammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing the hammer, time after time.

“No! I’ve got this problem with my shoulder. I would be in constant agony if all I could do was break rocks all day.” commented George.

The Devil opened a third door. In it, George saw Bill Clinton lying on the floor with his arms staked over his head, and his legs staked in a spread-eagle pose.

Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky, doing what she does best.

George Bush looked at this in disbelief for a while and finally said, “Yeah, I can handle this.”

The Devil smiled and said, “OK, Monica, you’re free to go!”

Thank God the holiday season is just about over

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

I really dislike the Christmas and New Year holiday season here in Ould Blighty. Everything shuts down or has morbidly shortened hours, so you never know when anything is open. Everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING!) shuts down for Christmas Day, with the exception of the corner stores owned and operated by Muslims. No public transport, no large stores, no nothing. Again, on New Year’s Day, everything is shut. Today everything shut at 5 pm.

Tomorrow the world regains its equilibrium. Stores are open normal business hours. The shelves are almost free of Christmas junk. The first trayful of chocolate Easter eggs will be put out in Tesco’s.

God’s in her heaven, all’s right with the world.

My laugh of the morning

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Those of you who are currently on, or who have been on, bounce mailing lists such as Yahoo! Groups will be familiar with the person who forgets they’re on a list and how to unsubscribe from it. They then send a one line message to the list saying “unsubscribe”, but instead of being unsubscribed, the entire list gets the one-line post.

I got a “twist” on this situation from one of my lists today:

On Jan 1, 2006, at 4:01 PM, {name deleted to protect the guilty} wrote:


{to which someone replied:} Sorry. You are subscribed as a “life member” and your request cannot be completed.

I am a computer pack rat

Sunday, January 1st, 2006

One of the chores I have to do each January the first is to gather up all the previous year’s emails and place them, month by month, in a folder marked with the previous year’s name. So this morning I added a folder “2005” to each email category and moved the folders for each month of 2005 into it (I use Eudora). Then I created a new folder “January 2006” in each category.

I confess: I’m an email packrat.

For certain mailing lists, I have all emails dating back to 1996, sorted by month and year. Others I just place in a year folder, not bothering with the month.

Why do I do this? In one case, it helps with my US tax return (Currency Converter). In other cases, it’s helped me with work situations. Most of the time, however, it does nothing. The emails sit there, clogging up my computer: I have 1.64 GB of email on the disk.

Will I stop? Not until they pry the mouse out of my cold dead hands.

Happy New Year, and a couple of dreams…

Sunday, January 1st, 2006

Happy New Year to everyone!

I’ve had a couple of odd dreams lately. The first one was one of a type that many Brits (and other people whose Head of State is HM the Q) seem to report having. HWMBO and I were giving part of my old stamp collection to the Queen. The stamps were very ornate; certainly not part of my former collection, most of which was stolen when I was a child. The Queen was very gracious, and then, in return, asked us to take out the trash. We of course first had to find the skip. The dream ended as we searched Windsor for it.

I’m told that lots of people dream about having the Queen to tea. The one time it happened to someone for real, the Queen, in her blue dress and hat, perched on a dining room chair nervously holding her teacup, looked like she was about to be poisoned. The experiment hasn’t been repeated. It was one of that long line of publicity stunts aimed at making the Queen seem more human to the public. I almost said “to her subjects” but as I am always correcting people, we are no longer subjects of HM the Q. We are British citizens.

The second one had to do with my job. For some reason a lot of the sales department was relocated to an upper floor (since the company I used to work for and am now consulting at is actually on the top floor, it was an obvious dream!) and I had to do up there to meet with one of the honchos. The floor was huge when I got up there on the elevator, and as I walked around there was food on almost every desk and table in the place. I finally saw the guy I was to meet, but before I could go into the meeting, I saw HWMBO, with his yellow rubber gloves on, washing up the dishes in the sink. We decided to leave. And that’s where I woke up.

I don’t often remember dreams, but these two were wacky enough I guess so that I could remember them. But as to what they mean, I haven’t a clue.