Archive for May, 2007

Today’s Transport URL

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

According to Overheard in New York, the road to hell is not paved with good intentions, and the transport is choice.

Today’s Vexillology URL

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Try to guess which country each piechart represents before clicking on it.

Today seems to be Cat day

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

An Israeli wildlife guide was asleep with his cat in his bed when they were joined by a much bigger uninvited guest..

Today’s Cold War URL

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

You may think that cat purring over in the corner or rubbing up against you is a cute little thing. However, according to this article, Puss may be a secret weapon.

This weekend, and welcome to it

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

In contradistinction to most holiday weekends, the US and UK are both enjoying long weekends at the monent: the UK is just having a Late May Bank Holiday, and the US is enjoying Memorial Day weekend.

I do hope that most of you in the US are having better weather than we are. As is usual for Bank Holiday weekends, it began to piss down rain yesterday evening, continued throughout Sunday, and is scheduled to continue through Monday. This meant that we have sat at home and watched the rain, for the most part.

Saturday was good: we went to the table sale at church and spent, spent, spent. We got a genuine Bush transistor radio from the late 1950’s (not one of the retro replicas that is sold on every streetcorner website). It only has medium wave (AM, for you USans) and long wave (which doesn’t have any broadcast stations in the Western Hemisphere, but which has lots of stations in Europe, Russia, and Northern Africa). The sound of this radio is fantastic. Listening to it, and comparing it with the DAB radio in the kitchen, is like listening to the London Philharmonic Orchestra vs. the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople Pick-Up Orchestra. Yes, there’s a bit of static. I deal with it. I am listening to Radio France at Allouis; a streaming version of this can be gotten here (scroll down and you’ll see a list of stations; click “France Inter”) and you too can listen to what I’m now listening to. They really knew how to make radios in Ye Olde Days. We also bought a white begonia for the back yard and some other plant whose name I forget, some pottery, bought a pound’s worth of tombola tickets, all the prizes of which were stuffed animals. We won a stuffed bug, which HWMBO felt was awful. So, with permission, we switched the ticket to a blue bear who is now getting acquainted with the other bears and various beasties. Oh, and a lampshade for the light in the stairway.

As we returned home with the loot, it began to rain, and that was it for the day. We stayed in, and watched The 50 Films You Should See Before You Die on Channel 4. I’ve bolded the ones I’ve seen.

1. Apocalypse Now (1979)
2. The Apartment (1960)
3. City Of God (2002)
4. Chinatown (1974)
5. Sexy Beast (2000)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
7. North By Northwest (1959)
8. A Bout De Souffle (1959)
9. Donnie Darko (2001)
10. Back To The Future (1985)
11. Alien (1979)
12. Lost In Translation (2003)
13. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
14. Lagaan (2001)
15. Pulp Fiction (1994)
16. Touch Of Evil (1958)
17. Walkabout (1971)
18. Black Narcissus (1947)
19. Boyz N The Hood (1991)
20. The Player (1992)
21. Come And See (1985)
22. Heavenly Creatures (1994)
23. A Night At The Opera (1935)
24. Erin Brockovich (2000)
25. Trainspotting (1996)
26. Hero (2002)
27. The Breakfast Club (1985)
28. Fanny And Alexander (1982)
29. Pink Flamingos (1972)
30. All About Eve (1950)
31. Scarface (1983)
32. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
33. Three Colours: Blue (1993)
34. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
35. The Ladykillers (1955)
36. Fight Club (1999)
37. The Searchers (1956)
38. Mulholland Drive (2001)
39. The Ipcress File (1962)
40. The King Of Comedy (1983)
41. Manhunter (1986)
42. Dawn Of The Dead (Director’s Cut) (1978)
43. Princess Mononoke (1997)
44. Raising Arizona (1987)
45. Cabaret (1972)
46. This Sporting Life (1963)
47. Brazil (1985)
48. Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972)
49. Secrets & Lies (1996)
50. Badlands (1973)

Around 1:30am, I woke up with the sensation that I was going to be ill. I think that it was acid reflux, something with which I have not previously been burdened. I nearly inhaled it, and spent a bit of time coughing and spluttering. When it happened again, I went downstairs and sat in my favourite chair and slept for the rest of the night. Not totally satisfactory, but I managed to get through the day.

Today was Pentecost, so I put on my jauntiest red bow tie and sauntered over to church. Again, the Rector demonstrated that he hasn’t the faintest idea of how to put together a good liturgy and, yet again, we were there for an hour and a half. Home again, for a light lunch and surfing in the afternoon.

It looks like we’ll be going to Shanghai from the 16-21 of June to visit our friend Choo Beng. I’ve not been there before; I gather there’s a bit to see and do, but I would prefer to go to Hong Kong. Oh, well, next year, if I’m spared. We’ll also be taking another short trip to a resort to just lay on chaises longues next to the pool and drink concoctions brought to us by good-looking young men.

Tomorrow will be rest and relaxation.

I hope that most of you will have a much more relaxed and productive Bank Holiday weekend, what’s left of it.

Today’s squick URL

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

If someone asks you to do a blind test of lip balms, make sure you can see under the blindfold, or you might end up like these ladies. This is a .WMV file, and it might be SFW, depending on whether you work in a zoo or not…again, from The Big Mattress.

Today’s Haute Couture URL

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Thanks to the Big Mattress, we have a picture that might turn some heads (probably NSFW). Bending down is not an option.

Attention, <lj user=”trawnapanda”>!

Friday, May 25th, 2007

This website so needs to be in the OLPFRSC*.

*Our Lady of the Pink Flamingos Religious Schlock Collection

Today’s Haute Cuisine URL

Friday, May 25th, 2007

If you’re in New York, or lived there, you’ll love this site. You’ll never be marooned far from a known restaurant if you consult it.

Right-click on drive icon in My Computer hangs the program

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Got a problem that I’ve been researching today. I’ve discovered that when right-clicking on a drive icon in My Computer (or looking for “Properties” of a drive in Disk Management in “Computer Management”), the activity hangs, and I have to use the Task Manager to stop My Computer, with the ultimate effect of having to reboot.

One set of advice I got from googling indicated that some of the additional right-click context menu items may be screwing this up, so I removed them all with a tool whose name I forget, rebooted, and of course that didn’t fix the problem.

I’m running XP SP2 with 3GB RAM and all the latest updates. I’ve got a sh*tload of external drives, all of which show up in My Computer. This started a couple of months ago but I haven’t been able to pin down exactly when, or what I added that might have screwed things up.

So, if anyone’s got bright ideas about this, or could point me to someplace where I could get some further assistance, I’d be most grateful.

Bizarre happenings today

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

I thought this would be a working-at-home day like every other one I’ve had in the last few months. It was not to be.

First, I decided to pay off our Citibank credit card balance. We always pay in full. (Not bragging, just incredibly humble and lucky to be able so to do). Last month, there was an interest charge on the bill; normally, there is no interest charge so I was puzzled, but figured that my last payment didn’t make it. This month there was another interest charge, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I took a closer look at the statement, and decided to call them.

The statement used to say: “Your minimum payment of

Today’s Roadside Sighting

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I had finished lunch, and was waiting to cross Buckingham Palace Road on the way back to work. When the light changed, a very curious motor vehicle drew up and stopped. It was a sofa.

It was advertising an online sofa store. There wasn’t anything about the motorised sofa on the site, I fear. I was charging my mobile phone at the office so I couldn’t take a picture, more’s the pity.

Today’s Chess URL

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

When one thinks of chess players, and especially grandmasters and international masters, one normally thinks of nerdy people who are a bit, well, odd. Eccentric. Unstable, even. Bobby Fischer comes to mind.

But this article begins with the story of the South American chess champion who is just 15, but has run away from his family in Peru to move in with a 29 year old exotic dancer in Brasil. Is this eccentric? Lucky? You decide.

Today’s l33t URL

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I refrained from saying much about the late unlamented Rev’d Jerry Falwell’s death, as I felt that the blogosphere that I normally read had covered it quite well enough.

However, I came across this little gem this morning, and I think that it expresses my sentiments exactly.

Today’s Mobile Phone URL

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

My first mobile phone in the United States was a huge console-like set that I used in Chicago to ensure that were I to break down on the expressway, I would not have to run screaming into traffic to flag someone down to sedate me. Nowadays I am looking at my two phones (one personal, one for work), and marvel at the changes in the industry and in the telephones in 16 years.

This Register article has a very interesting take on where the mobile phone industry has been, and where it’s going.

Today’s humour post

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

This has been seen in lots of livejournals, so if you posted this in yours already, I may have seen it there:

A guy goes to the supermarket and notices an attractive woman waving at him. She says hello. He’s rather taken aback because he can’t place where he knows her from. So he says, “Do you know me?” To which she replies, “I think you’re the father of one of my kids.” Now his mind travels back to the only time he has ever been unfaithful to his wife and says, “My God, are you the stripper from my bachelor party that I made love to on the pool table with all my buddies watching, while your partner whipped my butt with wet celery???”

She looks into his eyes and says calmly, “No, I’m your son’s teacher.”

Live and learn

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

We took our priest friend S to dinner tonight, as we won’t see him again until after we return from Singapore. He related a tale that I found quite intriguing. He was invited to a friend’s place to meet a visitor from Singapore whom he friend assured him was interesting. When S got to his friend’s house, he was greeted in the hall by a man attired in a Roman Catholic bishop’s garb, all correctly worn (day cassock, buckled shoes, purple socks, pectoral cross, zucchetto, and episcopal ring). But this gentleman was not a bishop, or even a priest. He has a priest fetish.

Now I, in my experience, have never encountered this particular interest. Digging deeper, S (who identified himself as a priest) was taken to see the man’s wardrobe. He has the lace albs, several other pectoral crosses, two mitres, and various other tat beloved of RC bishops.

Now I have never (to my knowledge) had sex with a priest or a bishop. But, I am investigating and if anything interesting turns up, you’ll hear it here first. There are Yahoo groups, oh yes there are!

So why is Windows so popular?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Linux has been around for ages. However, it’s never been (and may never be) as popular among the average punter as Windows or Mac OS are. The following entry has some sensible reasons why.

Five crucial things the Linux community doesn

Monday Musings

Monday, May 21st, 2007

The Cutty Sark being torched is a great loss. I was quite sad to wake up to the news. I was even sadder that BBC News 24 was showing sport when I turned it on rather than perhaps the biggest UK story today. Of course, since I have no interest in sport perhaps that coloured my reaction. The latest stories say that it’s probably not a total loss, but of course it will take more cash to repair and restore it.

I went to Victoria Place for lunch today, thinking that I’d just go to the bagel shop and get a filled bagel. However, when I got there, I decided to try this place instead. Eating a baked potato (US)/jacket potato (UK) with stuff like coleslaw in it might sound a bit bizarre, but it was curiously filling and, more important, there was no queue at the stand. It was quite tasty, probably good roughage too (I ate the skin along with everything else), and not messy. Unfortunately, their website is a tip: they really need some help. They don’t seem to have much of a clue about how to navigate, and I got to a place where I couldn’t click on anything and had to use the backspace key to go backward. All the links had disappeared. I shall eat there again. I shall avoid being anti-social in the office by not having it with a baked-bean filling. I am avoiding cheese as well. So we shall see what wonders await tomorrow. I would remark that they offered me lots of side dishes and cheese on top. It is kind of like going to a candy store and being offered all sorts of forbidden goodies with the malted milk balls you bought. It is sad that I have to forego almost everything that’s tasty, sweet, or in the middle of two pieces of white bread. As my mother said the week before she died, “You wouldn’t want to eat here anymore.” in reference to the diet the doctor warned her to go on before he would refer her to a cardiologist.

According to the message that just boomed over the tannoy, there is a security alert on two sides of the building. I do hope we won’t be blown up and that it will turn out to be someone’s discarded lunch in a bag.

My Seven Deadly Sins…

Monday, May 21st, 2007
Greed: Very Low
Gluttony: Medium
Wrath: Very Low
Sloth: Low
Envy: Very Low
Lust: High
Pride: Medium

Discover Your Sins – Click Here

Oh, well, could be worse.

Today’s Sunday Service

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Have to make this friends only in case someone from St. Anne’s reads my blog.

It was my monthly turn to be the Companion in Ministry at St. Anne’s Bermondsey. Unfortunately, while I would like to attend on a Sunday when they have Holy Communion, I am often constrained by my companion Companions’ schedules to turn up on a Family Service Sunday.

And so it was today. When I arrived, I saw that my regular pew was occupied by a group of young girls. It was Brownie and Rainbow Girl Sunday, and the Family Service was dedicated to them.

When they marched in with their flag, they also had a stuffed animal of some sort and a lifesize baby doll. To the strains of “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands,” we welcomed the stuffed animal, their mascot (which was placed to the right of the altar), the flag (placed in a stand at the left), and the baby doll, which was called “Brownie Precious”. Precious was there to teach the Brownies how to take care of babies (seeing as most of them weren’t yet 10 years old, a bit precocious I thought).

We then had a worship song, the words of which were “Hallelu (x2), Hallelujah, Praise Ye The Lord!” You sat for the “Hallelu(jah)s”, and then stood up and raised your arms high in the air on the “Praise Ye The Lord”. I could barely contain myself. I managed, with a great effort.

And then came the sermon. As it was a Family Service, the sermon would be aimed at children. And so it turned out to be. Louise (who is quite sound, usually), produced two balls of yarn, one lurid orange, the other fluorescent green. She asked “Who was born in London; raise your hands.” The Brownies took the orange wool and unravelled it, with the people born in London each taking hold of it. Then something else, and those who held up their hands at that were handed the unravelled green ball of wool. Those of us who were still without wool were asked more questions, and the wool was alternatively unraveled all over the church. By the time we all had a piece of wool, the place was a Health and Safety nightmare. Had there been a fire, everyone would have ended up tripping and falling over the criscrossing woolen threads. Louise was trying to show how interconnected we all are. She just managed it without killing or strangling us all.

And so, back home. I mowed the lawn, which seems to have inspired our neighbour to mow down the field of stinging nettles that passes for his lawn this evening. Thanks to , I think I know how to ensure that the daffodils we bought at the Christmas Fair last year can be planted and thrive. To lunch with a friend from Singapore, Vernon. Then we walked to the Tower of London, dropped him off there to take the overpriced tour of the Tower, and continued on to Brick Lane, where we bought bread at the 24-hour Beigel Shop. It seems that upper Brick Lane is a haven on Sunday afternoons for vendors of all possible items. All you need is a blanket or sheet spread out on the pavement with the swag tastefully arranged over it. Some of it was quite interesting stuff…I think that students were selling off their treasure troves of items to keep themselves from starvation. We looked in a couple of art galleries: Shoreditch seems to have become the happening place in avant-garde art in East London, replacing Hoxton, which has become terribly overpriced and crowded. So the same fate will befall Shoreditch in about 5 years or so. Buy your bargain lofts now! Then the Number 35 bus and home.


Friday, May 18th, 2007

It’s behind the cut, folks. Copy it and bold/colour those lines containing things you’ve actually done. Stolen shamelessly from

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said “I love you” and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg or glacier
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shitfaced
42. Had an amazing friend
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Eaten fugu (pufferfish)
89. Had a one-night stand
90. Gone to Thailand
91. Bought a house
92. Been in a combat zone
93. Buried one/both of your parents
94. Been on a cruise ship
95. Spoken more than one language fluently
96. Performed in Rocky Horror Picture Show
97. Raised children
98. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Ridden a bike
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
135. Selected one important author whom you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

A ragbag post

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Ragbag in the sense that there are lots of little things I’ve been meaning to post and yet haven’t gotten around to it.

First, planting bulbs. We bought a potted plant at the last table sale at church in the early spring: daffodils. I have a brown thumb (everything I plant or nurse dies) but HWMBO is quite good: he’s kept a cactus going (after I told him not to buy it a year ago because it would just die) and thriving.

The question is: the daffodils have of course flowered and the flowers are gone. What do we do now? How do we plant the bulbs with a reasonable expectation that next year there will be flowers? Any suggestions? I would trawl the websites but I think that more succinct advice could be gotten from some people here. If not, I’ll go trawl the websites, but guarantee that if I have any more to do with it the daffodils will die. If you want to save the daffodils please help!

Second, the job hunt. I had a second interview yesterday at a financial organisation in the City. They seem to be pretty much screwed as far as testing and quality are concerned, but more in terms of spending a lot more on testing than they really ought to, rather than having extremely buggy software. I think I did OK, but I won’t find out until either later today or next week. I really need to move from my current position, which is very boring, due to the fact that the company’s business plan for testing is flawed. They are seen as a low-cost off-shorer. Thus, trying to place a high-cost native test manager is very difficult–in fact, it’s proven impossible. I’ve done nothing in 8 months. Ho-hum. So, I need to switch out of here pronto.

The only fly in the ointment is our holiday. We’re off to Singapore on June 7th, and back on June 26th. Thus I won’t be able to start a new job until the beginning of July. That seemed to bother them, and I suspect that if they have a candidate who could start, perhaps, two weeks ahead of me (for the USans and Singaporeans here, the usual notice period is 4 weeks in the United Kingdom) they will take him or her over me. I do think I could make a difference over there, and am hoping that the other two candidates rank high, but not as high as me.

The alternative is to quit and go back to consulting with Electromind. I feel that sometimes my expectations of the amount of work to be found through Electromind have been higher than they should be. It sounds like Steve has gotten his act together and does have enough work to support himself, his wife, and me. But one wonders. I will think about also offering my services as a trainer to TSG and various other training companies, as well as getting the Practitioner certificate, entitling me to take that course as well. This will up my availability and income.

What to do…?

Third: I am seriously cheesed off with the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee. My friend Rosemary is very involved with it, but none of the committee was particularly computer-literate. The aim is to save a playing field and various other green bits in the borough of Waltham Forest from being consumed by offshoots of the Olympics fiasco and lost to the people of the area. However, when I put up the notice for their “Beating the Bounds” (an old Rogation Day custom here where people would check each year that the boundaries of the parish were still well marked) I immediately got criticised for spelling “defence” with an “s”. And it wasn’t a gentle criticism, either; it was blistering (not from Rosemary, I hasten to add, who is one of life’s princesses and a great person to know), with overtones of anti-Americanism (as in America it’s spelt “defense”).

The next committee meeting was supposed to be last night. It takes me an hour to get to the venue (as I live in South London and the venue is in Leyton, in East London). I duly got there to find the venue locked and dark. I walked around a bit, and when I got back to the venue, it was still dark, so I got a bus home. Total time wasted: about 2 hours 15 minutes. Rosemary is not at fault as she is away.

Now I don’t mind helping out a good cause, and I am happy to donate my expertise and time when necessary, but if you cancel a meeting and know how to reach me it’s a good idea to get hold of me and tell me it’s cancelled.

The website is here, by the way.

Must be Bubba’s big brother

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

You recall the young sprog who had a gun permit in a previous post? Well, this may be his big brother… When I was in high school, the dress code was to prevent scruffy filthy teenagers from looking like scruffy filthy teenagers.

Today’s Purple Prose, Spam Department

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

An imaginative sandwich is knowingly surly. When a defendant living with the mastadon starts reminiscing about lost glory, some crank case toward a freight train daydreams. If a stovepipe brainwashes a steam engine of a prime minister, then the vaporized spider rejoices.

I like the stovepipe brainwashing a prime minister’s steam engine.

Mr. Brown, watch out for stovepipes!

Today’s NRA URL

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Most people of Bubba’s age have trouble holding a glass. But his proud dad didn’t have any trouble getting him this.

Update: It seems that CNN links get stale very quickly indeed. I was able to find a BBC link to replace the original CNN one, though.

Happy birthday <lj user=”rsc”>

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

and many happy returns of the day.

Darwin award runner-up

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

This gentleman, who wanted to collect a few pounds of brass shell casings, got a bit more than he bargained for. He’s a runner-up because he’s still alive.

RIP Jerry Fallwell

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

I have the same reaction to this news as was recently seen in Overheard in New York:

Gay man: My great aunt just died.
Friend: I’m sorry.
Gay man: Don’t be, she was a horrible old witch.
Friend: Oh, ok. Ding dong.

Today’s time-wasting 1950’s URL

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

USans who lived through the 50’s will remember seeing lots of these on TV…great way to waste some time.

Happy birthday, <lj user=”roosterbear”>

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

It doesn’t seem to be in my calendar, but according to , you’re having a birthday, so I wish you many happy returns of the day!

Today’s Spam-fried Poetry

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Rico Michaud love countersunk Helga tofu
kiss, you cruz enmity to kiss impromptu
Helga by today gist of you wylie
cheesecloth was culver.

Today’s Aviation URL

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Do be careful when you are motoring in Mumbai. It seems that someone carelessly abandoned this.

Our holiday is booked…

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

…but not without angst. I have a passel of meetings every single month, and they just get more and more dense. I had two meetings in the middle of June, and one preaching date at St. John’s Larcom Street. After much searching and comparing notes and the like, HWMBO and I concluded that June 7-26 were the only days we could go to Singapore this summer. So, with reluctance, and profuse apologies, I’ve cancelled the two meetings and the preaching date and booked the tickets on Singapore Airlines.

For my Singaporean friends, we’ll be arriving the afternoon of June 8th (although we will leave noonish on June 7th London time…) and probably be ready to roll on June 9th. I want to take one or two side trips this time–perhaps one to Hong Kong and one to Bangkok, but there is a slight possibility of a Shanghai trip to see our friends Jane and John there. More will emerge as time goes on.

Mainly, however, my problem is websites and Firefox. I had an add-on in Firefox that prevented scripts and the like from untrusted or new sites from being run. However, it’s been a gigantic pain in the arse. Most of the sites I visit are OK sites, with no problem of dodgy Java scripts or the like. So when the little pop-up bar says that a script has been stopped from running, I have to allow it to run to see the website.

So far so good. But on the Singapore Airlines site, there is an extra special script (not Java, but something else) that runs when you press to confirm your credit card details and take the booking. The add-on prevented this from running, and the site came back to me with “there is a problem, call us”. I finally tracked it down, and decided in rage to uninstall the add-on. Then I submitted the page again, and it took, and luckily only sent me one confirmation, not three.

This add-on is one of those things that sounds like a really good idea when you read it on a website, but when you actually install it turns your online life into a series of living hells, each one more frustrating than the last. If you come across No-Script, pass it by. It will kill all the small amount of joy left to you in websurfing if you install it.

You have been warned!

Happy birthday, <lj user=”fj”>

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

I realise that this isn’t the happiest of times for you, but I send my warmest birthday wishes to you in the hope that things will perk up shortly and, if they don’t perk up immediately, I offer my support and love.


Thursday, May 10th, 2007

As those of you in this group will be aware, I am a Freemason. I am a member of two lodges: Goliath Lodge #5995 UGLE, in London, and Philanthropic Lodge F&AM, Marblehead, Massachusetts. Last night, at one of our 4 meetings in a year, our new Worshipful Master and slate of officers was installed. It’s a yearly opportunity to take stock of our lives and our involvement with Masonry.

The ceremony was quite well-done (if I do say so myself). Our Director of Ceremonies and Preceptor was installed as Worshipful Master (heneceforth WM) and I jumped up two places, from Inner Guard to Senior Deacon. For those who are not familiar with Masonry in the UK and how it works, here’s a short introduction. No secrets will be divulged in this blog entry.

The Lodge room is a rectangle, with three chairs, one in the East, one in the South, and one in the West. As the Sun rises in the East, so the WM sits in the (ritual) East, to direct and rule the lodge. The Senior Warden closes the lodge on behalf of the WM, and thus sits in the West, where the Sun sets. The Junior Warden sits in the South, where he can survey the entrance to the lodge and determine whether all those present are Masons. These are the three principal officers.

The three junior officers are the Senior Deacon, who sits near to the right of the WM and carries messages and commands from him to the Senior Warden. This is my office for the next year. The Senior Deacon is also responsible for guiding some candidates through ceremonies. The Junior Deacon sits next to the Senior Warden, and is responsible for guiding those who are being initiated for the first time into Masonry through the ceremony. The Inner Guard sits on the left of the Senior Warden, and is responsible for opening and shutting the door, ensuring that all who enter are Masons, and receiving candidates and ensuring they are properly prepared for the ceremonies. This is the office I have filled for the past year.

There are other officers as well; I won’t go into all the rest except to note that there are Grand Lodge Officers, who hold office in the United Grand Lodge of England (the “mother lodge” as it were) and who drop by occasionally to ensure we are still doing things correctly and in order.

The ceremony was well-done. One of the strange facts that amazes non-Masons and those new to the Craft is that all Masonic ceremonies are conducted from memory. Some of them are most intricate, and some are not written in “modern” English. Each officer who has a role in the ceremony must memorise the words and actions he is to perform. This is a mixture of book work and just being present in Lodge often enough to get the cadence and the order of things in your mind. Next year, all being equal, I may be raised to the position of Junior Warden, which has most intricate words and actions; I must pay attention not only to what I am doing in the next few years, but also to what our brother Junior Warden is doing, in preparation for next year.

Afterwards, we have dinner together in what is called a “Festive Board”. It was most festive, including song and symbol. “The Master’s Song” is sung each year to the new WM. This year a friend of WM Ivor’s sung it, and afterwards the WM revealed that when he was WM in his mother lodge his friend was slated to sing the song for him, but had to be absent; thus being able to sing it when the WM was installed in a second lodge meant a great deal to him.

There are also many toasts, one of which is to visiting Masons. A response is then called for from one of the visitors. This visitor told a joke (you knew this was coming)…

A brother who was about to be elected WM of his lodge was a bit shaky in some of his ritual. A friend told him about a pet shop owned by a Brother Mason; this pet shop sold parrots that had a Masonic background: they were useful in learning ritual.

So the brother went to the pet shop and asked the owner about his Masonic parrots. The owner said, ‘They’re right over here.’ and brought him to a corner of the shop where there were three parrots on perches. One was wearing a Worshipful Master’s apron, one a simple Master Mason’s apron, and one a Grand Lodge Officer’s apron.

The one wearing the WM’s apron had a price tag on it:

Today’s poetic spam

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Wout Clark do do folk Anne bowditch
be, by genteel imponderable will that oratory
Anne kiss kiss gallant of by midst
deliquescent that oatmeal.

And later we had:

Odessa Cobb together with lux Caleb Daqing
new, and asparagus girth me too do bilateral
Caleb a and dusky together a mood
leery why armageddon.

Today’s Sentencing URL

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

The gentleman who developed the lethal injection cocktail of three drugs which is used in many places for executing criminals has had second thoughts about it. But if you read to the end, you may be surprised at what he thinks might be best placed to replace the lethal injection.

Allons enfants de la Patrie/Le jour de gloire est arriv

Today’s long-lost item URL

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Well, many years ago a gentleman named Glenn Putnam was kissing his girlfriend in the back of a 1946 Hudson car. He doesn’t seem to have missed his wallet, which fell into the upholstery.

Fifty-five years later, Glenn Putnam, now Glenn Goodlove, got a surprise. They’re posting it to him.

He should just hope that his wallet doesn’t now feature in one of those stories about mail that falls behind a radiator in the Post Office and isn’t delivered for 50 years.

Hymns for Today, with Subtitles

Monday, May 7th, 2007

From Adam Buxton comes a subtitled Songs of Praise with a difference.

I am a mid-level geek

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

My computer geek score is greater than 70% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

I believe the reason I didn’t score higher is that I am not a programmer, but a lowly software tester. Obviously I need to take some programming courses and get up to speed.

Well, maybe not.

Today’s There will always be an England, Chapter 943

Friday, May 4th, 2007

In the Guardian was an obituary:

SLAVIN, Patrick, devoted Guardian reader died peacefully on April 29 2007 aged 74. He would be secretly pleased to find his name in this paper. (details of funeral service)

I suspect that if he knew that his name would be in the Obituary column he wouldn’t be as pleased as the writer of the obituary thought he would be.

McGreevey, Groucho Marx, and God

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

My non-USan lj friends may not be familiar with the story of Jim McGreevey. The Honourable James E. McGreevey, former Governor of the state of New Jersey, came out as a gay man a few years ago. He left office (somewhat under a cloud because of his extracurricular activities while Governor with a “security consultant”), filed for divorce from his wife, and dropped out of politics.

He has now re-emerged as a convert to the Episcopal Church and has been accepted into General Theological Seminary, on 23rd Street and Ninth Avenue in Chelsea (the new Greenwich Village of Manhattan, repository for all things gay male). He intends to study theology with a view toward being ordained an Episcopal priest.

And thus we inevitably turn to Groucho Marx, who used to tell this story:

A priest came up to Groucho, shook his hand and said, “Mr. Marx, I’d like to thank you for all the joy you’ve brought into the world.” Smiling, Groucho responded, “And I’d like to thank you for all the joy you’ve taken out of it!”

Religion, like politics, seems to be (in modern times, at least) an exercise in removing the joy from life. Where some organised religion says, “You mustn’t bear false witness if you want to go to heaven,” or “Don’t use artificial means of contraception as it’s unnatural and against the will of God,” politics says, “Teachers: you mustn’t take children on a field trip unless you’ve had a risk assessment done by your school of the destination as our insurance company won’t cover us for damages if (God forbid!) one of the children is hurt,” or “You are in such danger from terrorism that we will take away your privacy and your civil liberties in favour of trying to protect you from terrorist acts (but of course, we can’t absolutely guarantee that some crazed terrorist won’t kill you, so do watch out please…)”. The joy of taking a trip on an airplane when you could just check in and walk to your plane has gone for almost 40 years now. Children end up staying in their classrooms (where they might be protected unless some mentally-ill alienated kid has been able to buy a gun), people end up fearful and nervous, and the joys of life are slowly sapped away from us.

Mr. McGreevey is said to have been attracted to the Episcopal Church for a while. Indeed, how could he not be? The Roman Catholic church, not content with covering up its own priestly misdeeds over the years, wants to make sure that no one else has fun either. Appropriate genitalia are the key to having fun; any loving relationship where the genitalia aren’t appropriately matched becomes sinful. The Episcopal Church, by contrast, has on the whole decided that loving relationships are worthy of being celebrated and supported on their own merits. This hasn’t extended to general willingness to perform marriages where that is legal (Massachusetts) or bless same-sex unions (anywhere), but they’re getting there. Gay and lesbian clergy and bishops are (mostly) accepted and celebrated.

So Mr. McGreevey is about to go from one joy-sapping vocation to another. My question is this: will his path to ordination be smoothed over because he is a celebrity? I have known postulants for ordination in the past whose path to ordination was blocked by things such as fibbing about their past, being divorced, or having extramarital sexual relations. These people, however, were not celebrities, just ordinary people seeking to answer a call that they heard in their lives. I hope that Mr McGreevey’s days of joy-sapping are over. If he does have a genuine call, it’s not up to me, to GTS, or to the Church to negate it: he’ll persevere and, I hope, triumph. If he does not have a genuine call, it will become clear soon enough. Back to joy-sapping, then.

Six degrees of separation note: The Rev’d Kevin Bean, the Vicar of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan, where Mr. McGreevey was received into the Episcopal Church, was previously the Rector of St. Andrew’s Church in Marblehead, where my grandmother was (long ago, of course) a communicant.

Today’s “Physician, Heal Thyself” URL, Chapter II

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

If you’re a magazine editor, don’t offer a column called “100 Dumbest Moments in Business” if your technology is not up to snuff. You’ll end up being saved by your lawyers, albeit inadvertently and accidentally.

Today’s Hardware URL

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

Did you ever want a furry computer mouse? This page tells you how to make one. However, it’s not for the squeamish, as taxidermy is involved.

Today’s lottery notification email

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

I normally delete these things unread, but something said I should read this one. For those who are not UK-based or Anglophile, Sir Terry Wogan (who is said to be their “Foreign Service Manager”) is a television sportscaster and general TV and radio factotum here in the United Kingdom.

I wonder how many gullible people who received this email will send off their details and get fleeced by the 419ers who are behind this.

Reference No:MSW-L/327015002/06
BATCH NO: 2006JULY#414



Dear Winner,

Microsoft Co-operation Management Worldwide are pleased to inform you today of 2nd May, 2007 that you are a winner of our annual MS-WORD LOTTO LOTTERY conducted in Africa being the host of the event for this present year MEGA JACKPOT LOTTO WINNING PROGRAM held on the 25th January, 2007.

Your email address was attached to ticket number 214-056-278 with serial number s/n-01025 and drew the lucky numbers 724-595-62-07-45 and consequently won in the 3rd category.

As a result of this , you have therefore been approved for a lump sum payout of US$1,000,000:00 (One million united states dollars) payable in cash credited to file Reference No:MSW-L/327015002/06 .

This is from total prize money of US$50,000,000 (Fifty million united states dollars) shared among thirty lucky international winners in this category.

All participants were selected through our Microsoft computer ballot system drawn from a collation of frequent internet users all over the world from America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia, as part of International Email Promotions Program, which is conducted annually to encourage the use of internet and computers worldwide.
Your fund (Cashier’s cheque) has been insured with your Reference No: MSW-L/327015002/06 and will be ready for delivery but in order for your cheque to be issued and insured in your name and for you to begin your claim you are urgently required to provide the following information through email to SIR TERRY WOGAN, Foreign Service Manager, London United Kingdom, {}

1) Your full names
2)Your full home / office address
4)Direct Land/Mobilephone/fax numbers
5) Occupation / Age
6) Sex
7) Next of kin
8) Amount won
9) Lottery date

Please note that above detailed information will be absolutely neccessary for the processing of your payment cheques,drafts or wire transfers.

Also this winning is valid for THREE WEEKS and failure to issue claims after this period will automatically void your
payment. Remember to quote your ticket number, serial number and lucky number in your future correspondence and most importantly as part of our security protocol you are to quote this security code MSW/JUN/SS06 to the Foreign Service Manager, this is to prevent scam.

Congratulations once again from the entire management and staff of Microsoft Corporation to all our lucky winners this year and thank you for being part of this Promotional lottery Program. Our special thanks and gratitude goes to Bill Gates of Microsoft and all his associates for alleviating poverty around the world through this promotion.
Mrs.Olivia Ahmed Malik
Past winners.

One of the logos of Microsoft Windows, the Company’s best-known product.

Today’s 1984 URL

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

A soc.motss .con recently took wild rides on Segways….but in the future, more sinister forces will be using them.