Archive for March, 2007

A URL for <lj user=”trawnapanda”>

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

I think this is appropriate for the season.

Today’s There’ll Always Be An England URL

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

It’s a video, but it shows you that a Londoner’s heart remains in London, even if he loses his way for a while.

Today’s Software Testing Statement

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Those of you who are afflicted with Yahoo! Groups may have found your inboxes stuffed this morning with dozens of duplicate posts. Going to the groups website, I noted that there was a statement referenced on the “Groups Team Blog”. Going there, I found the following:

Duplicate Messages and Email Delivery

We’re aware of the duplicate message bug that has been affecting groups today and are working to resolve the issue (a side effect of this bug is that some messages are also being delayed). We have actually pushed two fixes already, but we are aware that some groups are still experiencing the problem and that more needs to be done to fully resolve the issue.

There is, however, one silver lining to this bug. It was the result of our latest system updates intended to improve email delivery speeds. So once the bugs are resolved, we should see a significant reduction in the time it takes to deliver messages to Yahoo! Groups members.

We will update this blog entry as soon as we have more definitive information on the status of this issue.

Thank you and our apologies for any inconvenience caused by the duplicate messages.

The Yahoo! Groups Team

P.S. It would be helpful to get reports of duplicate issues if your groups are still experiencing the problem with messages posted (not received) after 8:00 pm PST. If so, please add a comment to the bug letting us know the name of your group and the message numbers of the duplicate messages. Thanks!

Now I understand. Inadequate testing and bugs that actually escape to bother the users are good, as they are harbingers of better things to come.


Today’s Cinema URL

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

…is especially for and …watch out for the herds

Today’s My Momma Didn’t Raise Me To Be A Soldier URL

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Judging from the quality of the exchange, the Army has just pissed off a very qualified potential recruit. Thanks to Ron’s Log for the steer.

If you thought the previous URL was bad…

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

…try this one. Having heard of deep-fried Mars bars, I’m not surprised. However, this just makes my heart hurt all over.

Today’s Ipecac URL

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

I have never heard of the In-and-Out restaurants before, I don’t think. However, I will never forget them after seeing this article on one of their specialties. I feel very faint at the moment.

Sodium and Chinese food

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

As one would imagine, being married to HWMBO entails a lot of Chinese food. Our local restaurant, The Well, owned and cheffed by Vincent, has very good Chinese food. But as I’m more and more aware of my high blood pressure and efforts to get it down, I’m more and more resigned to not eating Chinese food out except on very rare occasions. We all are probably aware that Chinese food has an awful lot of sodium in it. There’s salt, of course. There’s monosodium glutamate, that’s supposed to make food taste better. There’s soy sauce, which has a lot of salt in it (I never use it on my food, but of course it’s used in cooking).

So tonight we did an experiment. We went to The Well and asked for a low-sodium (no-salt no-MSG) meal for me. It was vegetarian spring rolls (Vincent said that there was a bit of MSG in them [he must get them ready-made and frozen] and I said that was OK) and chicken with cashew nuts with steamed rice.

Well, surprisingly, everything was hunky-dory. There was indeed a bit of salt in it (from the soy sauce used in the cooking) but no MSG and no added salt. The spring rolls were fine, and the chicken was very tasty on its own, with the vegetables. Instead of a briny salty taste you could taste the carrot, the onion, the chicken, the baby corn, the mangetout, and the slightly salty but not overpoweringly so sauce. Vincent says that his British customers always complain if he doesn’t put enough salt and MSG in the food, so he’s gotten used to doing it for everyone.

Hurrah! I can now eat Chinese food (at least at The Well) without worrying too much about the sodium level in it. Thanks, Vincent!

Note of caution: I think the reason we got our order customised in that way is that we have gotten very friendly with Vincent and his staff (a lovely waitress and a lovely waiter too!) They know what we want to drink and get it almost without us asking for it when we walk in. They are impressed that I can greet them, thank them, and say goodbye and “lovely food” to them in Chinese. HWMBO always has a long chat with the waitress and I’m sure the waiter (who is relatively new) is tongzhi. I do not know whether we would get the same level of customisation if we went into a Chinese restaurant anywhere else; I know that Tai Tip Mein at the shopping centre would not bother (although they would probably say that they would). It’s kind of like going to someone’s house to have dinner.

Today’s Sightseeing URL

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

…except it’s not for you, it’s for someone who’s been avoiding the US for a while now.

Today’s Local Politics URL

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Local councillors don’t make a lot of money, in most cases. Few of them go to the lengths this gentleman did to supplement his income.

RIP Ed Riley

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

One of the difficulties of living so far away from the places you’ve lived in the past is that you miss the life events of people you’ve known before. I just discovered from the Brotherhood of St. Gregory site that the Rev’d Ed Riley, Rector of All Saints Ravenswood, in Chicago, up to 1992, died in 2005.

I came to All Saints after moving to Chicago in 1991. It was recommended by others on the board of Integrity/Chicago, and was relatively close to me (just within walking distance). The church was in poor condition: if you look at the History section of All Saints’ website, you’ll see what I mean. It’s a historic building (more than 120 years old now, and one of the last wooden structures of any size in Chicago) and thus difficult to keep up.

The members of the parish were struggling to make ends meet, and didn’t have much of an outreach to the community. Ed was a lovable bear of a guy, given to using champagne for Eucharist on the Great Feasts of the church and popping the cork toward the rafters at the Offertory. However, the parish had been in receipt of aid from the diocese for several years, and was therefore reduced to mission status (dependent totally on the diocese) and Ed at first became Vicar, and then left and was replaced by Bonnie Perry. Under her leadership the parish has grown manyfold, and is one of the most vibrant and certainly the fastest growing Episcopal church in the diocese of Chicago. It became a parish again in 2000 and Bonnie was one of the candidates for Bishop of California in the election held last year.

Ed became a pastoral counselor, and was attached to the Church of the Atonement. He died in September 2005 as a result of a fall in his home, after enduring a period of ill health. RIP, Ed.

Today’s air travel URL

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Here’s one way to get a free upgrade on British Airways. If you’re already a first-class passenger, however, you may not like your new neighbour, even though s/he doesn’t say much.

Today’s Great Communications URL

Monday, March 19th, 2007

It has been a fact of modern life that the 50+ generation has almost intentionally been passed over in the provision of computer and communications services. Just as many people feel a bit icky when imagining their parents activities between the sheets, younger people do not generally believe that their parents and grandparents need or want modern computing and communications devices. Well, this mobile phone will become, I believe, a very popular item among the silver-haired set. And, as we baby-boomers (hi there!) get older, such devices will be more and more relevant to our lives and help us to continue our engagement with the world.

Today’s Loony Local Government URL

Monday, March 19th, 2007

What with and finishing up their trip to Kiwiland, I feel that no finer finale to their trip could be found than this link, showing the hijinks that local government gets up to in New Zealand when the taxpayers and voters do not exercise their right to throw the bums out before they waste taxpayers’ money.

Hogarth and meatloaf

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

This has been a weird day. This afternoon we walked to Tate Britain to see the Hogarth exhibition. While I love those prints and paintings of 18th century London, with recognisable landmarks like St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and Covent Garden, the crowds were gathered around trying to read the text on the bottom of each print. Traffic jams galore. The same thing happened at the Blake exhibition a few years ago. What lovely paintings of the gentry he did! I enjoyed it immensely; I think that HWMBO wasn’t as enamoured–he got through it a lot quicker than I did.

Up to the Members Room for coffee and a piece of cake. It’s very intimate–kind of like a transit caff with art on the walls. Then walk back home, past the Imperial War Museum.

So I had bought ground beef for a meatloaf. Instead of breadcrumbs, I thought I’d use the leftover rice in the fridge to bulk it up. Well, my advice is: don’t. The meatload was tasty enough, but more like porridge than meatloaf: it never really firmed up. What a pain! Oh, well, HWMBO ate it without complaining, which is only one of the many reasons I’m in love with him every day.

One thing that confuses me is the fact that the English are unfamiliar with meatloaf. When I grew up, meatloaf was the standard way of using a large amount of ground beef with a relatively large amount of breadcrumbs bulking it up. It’s an American comfort food that is great with mashed potatoes and vegetables, and even better after being refrigerated overnight and sliced thin for sandwiches. I really love it! HWMBO isn’t wild about it as beef is not one of his favourite foods. But I often eat his comfort food (Chinese soups, stir-fried vegetables with chicken or pork, and the like) and find it wonderful. I will break down and make a proper meatloaf next week. Don’t tell HWMBO, though; he might be a bit cross.

Mother Hansen’s Meatloaf

1-1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 egg
salt, pepper, oregano, basil to taste
Worcestershire sauce and tabasco sauce, to taste but liberally when you like it.
One can condensed cream of mushroom soup (optional)

Put the ground beef and diced onion, pepper, and celery in a large bowl, pour the breadcrumbs over it, and break the egg into the breadcrumbs. Add salt, pepper, oregano, and basil and start to knead the mixture with your hands. Don’t be afraid to get them stuck right in. Once well mixed, add the Worcestershire sauce and tabasco and mix again.

Put the mixture into a loaf pan and pack it tightly. Run a butter knife around the edges, and turn the meatloaf out onto a rack in a deep pan. Place the rack in an oven set to gas mark 6, and leave for about 3/4 hour.

If desired, after 3/4 hour take the can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, spoon it over the mostly-cooked meatloaf, and ice the meatloaf as if you were icing a cake. Return the meatloaf to the oven for about 15 minutes, then remove and let the meatloaf set for a bit before slicing. Serve with beef gravy, mashed potatoes, and vegetables.

I do wish that I’d followed the recipe.

I’m currently listening to The Archive Hour on Radio 4, which has been playing the tapes of the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service during the Argentine invasion. Very interesting stuff.

Definition of “globalisation”

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Question: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

Answer: Princess Diana’s death.

Question: How come?


An English princess
with an Egyptian boyfriend
crashes in a French tunnel,
driving a German car
with a Dutch engine,
driven by a Belgian who was drunk
on Scotch whisky,
followed closely by Italian paparazzi,
on Japanese motorcycles;
treated by an American doctor,
using Brazilian medicines.
This is sent to you by an American,
living in England,
using Bill Gates’s technology,
and you’re probably reading this on your computer,
that uses Taiwanese chips,
and a Korean monitor,
assembled by Bangladeshi workers
in a Singapore plant,
transported by Indian lorry-drivers,
hijacked by Indonesians,
unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen,
and trucked to you by Mexican illegals…..
That, my friends, is “globalisation”.

Today’s roofer URL

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Continuing the roofer theme, we have this roofer, who seems to have gotten himself into a sticky situation.

Last Year’s Awkward Roofer URL

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

I missed this one last year; I am now making up for it. Men: prepare to cringe when you read this.

Today’s Heartwarming Animal URL

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I’m just glad that this animal, saved by a household appliance, wasn’t a gerbil.

Today’s nun joke

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Thanks to MadPriest for this one:

The 98-year-old Mother Superior from Ireland was dying. The nuns gathered around her bed trying to make her last journey comfortable. They gave her some warm milk to drink but she refused. Then one of the nuns took the glass back to the kitchen.

Remembering a bottle of Irish whiskey received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened and poured a generous amount into the warm milk. Back at Mother Superior’s bed, she held the glass to her lips. Mother drank a little, then a little more and before they knew it, she had drunk the whole glass down to the last drop.

“Mother,” the nuns asked with humility, “please give us some wisdom before you die.”

She raised herself up in bed and with a pious look on her face said, “Don’t sell that cow.”

Today’s Parochial Work

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

I was back at St. Anne and St Augustine’s Bermondsey today, eschewing St. Matthew’s yet again (it’ll be a tip when I get back next week). I brought my sneakers as my dress shoes aren’t fit for walking very far: after the service we would be going for a walk around the parish to familiarise ourselves with it.

The service was very nice, for an evangelical church, or a mostly evangelical church, it was very like St. Matthew’s. Louise is a good celebrant, and the attendance was very good indeed.

The next time I’m there, I’ll take some pictures of the inside of the church for y’all. It’s a bit cold inside (the radiators, while trying valiantly, just can’t quite bring the church up to room temperature; if you live in the area and want to go during the cold weather, bring jumpers. But the welcome will be warm, and the people are extremely friendly to newcomers.

As instructed, I thought a bit about how they actually “do” church there, and I had a few thoughts:

  • They have welcomers, and a visitors book, but following up on newcomers within two days would be very useful in getting them to come back. The reason I started attending Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco was that Robert Cromey, then Rector, called me Monday evening to invite me to dinner, and kept in touch until I joined the parish. St. Anne’s could benefit from doing that kind of work as well.
  • Everyone says that “No one knows where the church is.” The church is in a post-war housing square with no vehicular traffic. The houses obscure the church pretty well except for the tip of the spire. There are signposts pointing toward “St. Anne’s Church” but they are not prominent. I think that a combination of leafletting the entire parish (perhaps with a parish magazine) and having a summer event combined with a church service would go far in showing their neighbours where St. Anne’s actually is.
  • Their Sunday School is quite popular. They only have it on Sundays where they have Holy Communion. They should either have Holy Communion every Sunday or Sunday School every Sunday. There were 15 kids there and they were good as gold.

Here is the parish map. It’s quite an interesting little patch, with remnants of the old Bricklayers Arms railway running through the parish like a dividing line. The old St. Augustine’s church is now flats, and the vicarage soon to become same. The Blue street market is in the parish, which is a famous old Bermondsey market (now somewhat faded, I’m told). The old Peek Freans factory, still standing but converted into an industrial estate, is quite interesting.

It’ll be a very interesting 12 months. I’m looking forward to it. I just have to stifle myself and never tell them “You ought to do this or that thing…”. Telling them of my experiences elsewhere and contributing ideas for them to flesh out will be good.

Today’s Obituary URL

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

The headline says it all: Pioneer Malone put her heart into her headcheese.

Today’s Automotive URLs

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

If you owned and drove a car worth GBP 800,000, wouldn’t you look where you were going? This car’s driver didn’t. Pictures here.

Makes me glad I’m not a driver.

Today’s consumer electronics ~~URL

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

For my USan friends, “valve” in electronic terms equals “tube” in the United States. And you thought they were obsolete? They’re truly up-to-date!

Gilbert and George

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

We went to a Members Private View of the Gilbert and George exhibition at Tate Modern this evening. What a wonderful exhibition! I enjoyed it thoroughly. Somehow, their art says something to me that I like. I don’t know what it is, but I really enjoy it. The colours are so vibrant, their ideas so incisive, especially about subjects such as life, death, religion, and AIDS. I wish I had the money to buy one of their works. I’m going back to buy a poster, though…

If you’re in London before the 7th of May, just go! It’s the first exhibition I remember that had taken up all of the 4th floor.

Oh, and the slides were almost empty, but I didn’t actually have the nerve to go. I probably won’t have the opportunity now (I think they’re being taken down sometime in April). Yes, I’m a wimp. But I went to the gym and exercised legs yesterday, and they are slightly achy. And I’m not a fan of heights. Oh, well.

Today’s spam subject line

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

In my gmail spambox I saw: “you wattle my quartz“.

Not all the weird news is bad…

Monday, March 5th, 2007

I read the News of the Weird each week. This week, we have the following:

Ms. Pan Alying, a school teacher in China’s Shandong province, had her purse snatched in January (containing her mobile phone, bank cards, and cash) and decided to try pleading with the thief by sending text messages to her stolen phone. According to Xinhua news agency, she patiently sent 21 sympathetic notes to the man, with no answer, but the day after the last one, she found a package at her door containing her purse and all its contents intact, with a note, “I’m sorry. . . . I’ll correct my ways and be an upright person.” [Reuters, 1-22-07]

Happy endings are good. I don’t imagine this would happen very often in London.

My day at St. Anne with St. Augustine, Bermondsey

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

I may have mentioned a few months ago that I was asked by the Canon Missioner of the diocese to participate in a program called “Companions in Mission”, a group of clergy and lay people who would assist in parishes that need some help in mission and evangelisation. Our team of four was commissioned today at the parish referred to in the title. The Archdeacon came to commission us, and after the usual bun-fight after the service we went over to the vicarage for lunch and a discussion.

The church itself is in Thorburn Square in Bermondsey, which is one of the oldest settled parts of South London. It begins on the east side of London Bridge, and goes over to the border with Lewisham borough. South it goes to just above our parish boundaries, along the New Kent Road. To Brits Bermondsey is where the original British “mafia” gangs hang out: the Kray twins, various others; it’s the area of dodgy deals in car boot sales, things falling out of the backs of trucks and sold at a fraction of their original prices, and the like. For those who know of British TV’s “Only Fools and Horses” (although they’d pronounce it “H’only Fools and ‘Orses”) Bermondsey is where it’s set.

St. Anne with St. Augustine sits in its little square like the central tower within a castle keep. There is no road around it, only a walkway with planters where there was once a road. It is entirely walled in by blocks of flats on all four sides, with only an arched doorway in the middle of each block. HWMBO and I made a reconnaissance yesterday afternoon and it was difficult to find.

I knew the parish was evangelical, and that this would be a “family service”, whatever that was. I was not disappointed. When I entered the church (early as it turned out), they were getting the overhead projector ready to show the hymn words (so people would not have to juggle papers). The associate vicar is a relatively young woman priest, the wife of one of the rectors in my deanery. The Vicar is also the Vicar of St. James Bermondsey, a Waterloo church just off Jamaica Road near the shore of the Thames. When one of the gangsters meets his untimely end, St. James is where their funerals are held. Carloads of floral tributes reading “We wish it hadn’t come to this” led by the glass-sided horse-drawn hearse are at each funeral, along with men in long black coats talking into their lapels.

The service itself was very simple, lots of singing, a reading (not the reading for the week in the Lectionary, but the parable of the Lost Sheep), a “talk” by the Vicar, and then the blessing. I wasn’t aware that an Archdeacon wears a cassock with red piping along with a cincture also bordered with red piping. Very snazzy.

The people are nice: a varied bunch, racially very diverse and very welcoming. After church we went to the Vicarage for lunch and a chat. We’ll each be doing one Sunday there for the next month and then figure out what we can help them with. I drew next Sunday, so I’ll be away from St. Matthew’s for two weeks in a row. It will be a tip.

The thing that struck me is that both the Vicar, his wife (who seems to be quite as active as he is), and the Associate Vicar said that St. Anne’s problem is that, being buried in the square, no one knows it’s there. So that’s the difficulty we can help them with. They need to get the word out all over the parish. I think we’ll brainstorm that in a few weeks.

Hopefully this assignment (which goes for a year) will be fruitful for the parish and for me.

On the way home I waited for a number 1 bus along with a large group of people including some pre-teenage tearaways. A 381 bus came by, and apparently the bus driver knew these teenagers, as he didn’t let them in. They then ran alongside the bus and pulled the emergency releases and jumped on the bus as it was travelling along Southwark Park Road. I expect that if this keeps us there’ll be another set of funerals at St. James or St. Anne’s, not of fully-fledged gangsters, but teenage wannabe gangsters who slipped under the 381 bus.

Another clerical miscreant bites the dust

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

George Rosenkranz, who was a curate at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Marblehead when I was a teenager, and who spread a trail of molested boys throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, has finally been laicised by the Vatican. Sean Cardinal O’Malley’s statement is here.

I always felt he was kind of slimy, and now it’s been confirmed. He’s 70 years old now, and the Archdiocese has withdrawn his salary (although it doesn’t say anything about his pension).

A very sad end.

Renouncing US Citizenship just got more expensive for some

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

I’ve been considering renouncing US citizenship for a while, mainly because I never intend to live there again and I’m tired of filling out tax returns each year even though I make too little money to owe any tax. Well thanks to my representative, Nancy Pelosi, this just got a bit more complicated. According to a small entry in the 300th or so listing on Google after a search, I discovered that now you are required to treat all your property as though you had sold it the day before you renounce your citizenship and then pay capital gains tax on it. There is an exemption of $600,000, which will be linked to the wage-price index, and of course I have no property, real or otherwise.

This burns my behind. The United States has been treating expatriates as second-class citizens for years, making us fill out useless tax returns and considering people who want to live outside the US and become citizens there as somehow less than human. No other country bar the Philippines and Eritrea taxes its expats.

Those silly Democrats tacked this onto the bill raising the minimum wage. Slyly. Over the years this stealth tax on expats has been made more and more complex. However, it looks as though at least those of us who decide to renounce US citizenship won’t have to continue to file tax returns for 10 years after renouncing, as many do now, and the $600,000 floor means that few if any expats will be liable for this. But the silly bureaucracy around expatriation will now become worse.

So, the choice is becoming clearer. I’m starting to think this is the year to do it. That way it will be a clean break, and I won’t have to file any more tax returns.

It’s Friday!

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Thank goodness!

I went to the gym last night, 4 days after I started taking diuretics at my doctor’s direction for my high blood pressure Last Friday I weighed 107.3 kg (multiply by 2.2 to get pounds, all you USans!). Yesterday I weighed myself, and I weighed 103.6 kg! I have lost 3.7 kg, or a bit more than 8 lbs. In six days. I think that’s a bit excessive, but I suspect that I was beginning to retain fluid because of my heart attack. I have also been watching what I eat.

I would like to get down to 90 kg (198 lbs) or below. 13.6 kg (around 30 lbs or 2 stone 2 lbs) should be doable, I hope. That might turn my blood pressure back to normal and get my blood sugar much lower.

In other news, my laptop battery has been recalled. A different battery, but the same old fire hazard. I have ordered the new one and have been advised to take the battery out and use AC. If I were as mobile as most people around here, I’d be sunk, as they are always toting their laptops around to meetings. Luckily, I hardly ever do that and have so far been successful in not dropping it on its edge.

Kudos to Lenovo though. I thought their website would be clogged up and useless, but they had a quickly-responding direct webpage from which you could download a program that not only checked your battery to see whether it was one of the ones that were recalled, it then went on to link to a form on which you could enter your details and be assured of a new battery. Only problem: the web page is faster than their service, because the battery will arrive in 4-6 weeks. Oh well; I shall endeavour to ensure that if I drop the laptop on its edge, I won’t put the laptop on my lap to use it, in case it sets my lap on fire.

Our former roommate, Brett, is in town for an oenology course so he’s staying with us this week through very early Monday morning. It’s really nice to see him again and partake of his quirky humour.