Archive for July, 2007

Pissed off

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

My company is staffed by idiots. That probably includes me now, by association.

As some of you know, I have had no client work since I started at this organisation. I’ve earned zilch for them. I get paid nonetheless, but they are eager to get me out into paid work. And, frankly, I want to do something useful as sitting in the office trying to look busy is really wearing.

I have been associated with a new project at a large investment bank for a while now. It’s getting closer and closer, and the client and I have met and clicked. I was working on the estimate this morning, in fact. I have not yet been assigned to the project, but I think it’s close.

Last week someone associated with another project emailed me and asked whether I was available starting in September. I said that, no, by September I would most probably be at this investment bank. I thought no more about it.

Yesterday I got an email from someone associated with the other project that seemed to imply that I was working on it. However, it came out of the blue and rather than follow it up I ignored it as I had other things to do. I have discovered that this was a mistake.

This morning, as I was working at home on this estimate, I fired up my computer and found several emails assuming that I would be going on a client presentation today in the West of England. My phone had a message on it that I should get standard class tickets. I have been having difficulty with Lotus Notes, and obviously these emails had been trapped in the server while I was in the office yesterday and only emerged this morning when I connected from home.

I called the gentleman and told him that I wouldn’t be coming along and that I was involved with work on another project. He said that he’d cope and that everything was OK.

So during the day I’ve been working on the slides for the investment bank presentation, and got them off to our people working there now. My work phone rings. It’s the manager of our division. He was somewhat irate, and said that I’d put the company in an awkward position, as my CV had already gone out to the prospective client (insurance) and they were expecting to meet me. I was flabbergasted.

I explained to the manager that I had not gotten the emails until this morning, that I had not gotten any telephone contact from the other project at all (although it had been promised in the emails I didn’t get), that I was fully involved in the investment banking project and it looked very promising in terms of actually coming through, I’d met the client and the client had liked me, the work was much more in tune with my experience and skill set, and that everyone in management in my company was a dork.

Well, I didn’t express that last sentiment, but I sure thought it.

I’ve tipped off the guy in charge while my manager is on holiday that this has happened, and now I’m venting on livejournal.

When I signed on with this company, I was under the impression that it was a first-class, even world-class company, with competent management, a blue-chip client list, and lots of talent to go round. What I found was a company that is run like Metronet (the people who went bankrupt because they couldn’t satisfactorily perform maintenance work on the Underground), with managers who never talk to one another, with an IT infrastructure that creaks and groans and is in any case run from India, with an emphasis on utilisation of personnel but with a business plan that is so piss-poor that they can’t place high-earning consultants anywhere. I could go on and on.

I had another nibble from a recruiter today; I’m hoping that something will finally happen. If not, my chum Steve may come through with enough work to enable me to quit.

Today’s Randy Reverend URL

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

And you thought we were through after last week’s post about a randy minister? Absolutely not!

MadPriest implies that the gentleman in question must have been Scottish. I say that a police officer who couldn’t tell the difference between a dress and a kilt should be sent away for retraining.

Today’s Fragrant URL

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Men who wish to have the odour of sanctity about them might try this.

I, on the other hand, would rather be sweaty.

Today’s Advice

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Stolen shamelessly from

Five things needed for a happy life:

1. It’s important to have a partner who helps at home, who cooks from time to time, cleans up and has a job.

2. It’s important to have a partner who can make you laugh.

3. It’s important to have a partner who you can trust and who doesn

Monday’s thoughts

Monday, July 30th, 2007

A couple of additional items from yesterday:

  • The joke with which I began my sermon involved a woman getting cosmetic surgery. G, the parish worker (and female) said to me afterwards, “Why couldn’t you use a man in your joke?” I thought about it and realised that the original joke had included not only face lifts and tummy tucks but also a boob-job. As it wouldn’t have been easy to describe a boob-job in a very Anglo-Catholic church pulpit, I left it out. However, I didn’t think to change the sex of the person in the joke. Gives one pause for thought.
  • We watched a DVD of a movie called Hot Fuzz last night. It’s basically a cop shoot-em-up movie set in rural England rather than gritty LA or realistic Manhattan. HWMBO liked it, but I found myself only smiling most of the time, with only two or three laugh-out-loud moments. I think I must be turning into an Old Fart. Perhaps I’ve decided that the effort required to laugh out loud cannot be wasted on mere chuckle moments. And, anyway, while UK police officers are now sometimes armed, the amount of shooting they have to do is very limited. So realism wasn’t even attempted.

Today’s gripe is tourists. HWMBO gets very annoyed when I complain about them, but I can do so here in the certain knowledge that he can’t stop me. In the neighbourhood of Victoria Station and Coach Station, there are many people with pet suitcases behind them. For some reason, when out of their native habitat (which could be Lower Slobbovia, judging from their behaviour) they are unable to distinguish when they are in the middle of the pavement, anxiously scanning their maps or trying to screw up the courage to ask a passerby (often me, sad to say) where Buckingham Palace is–this while standing on Buckingham Palace Road. They are oblivious to the pedestrians trying to pass them by on one side or the other. Now, it only takes a smidgen of grey matter to realise that moving to one side of the pavement means that people won’t have to view you as an obstacle, only as a relatively harmless figure of fun. This smidgen seems to have passed them by.

The rant is over, go in peace.

Today’s Singlish story

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Note to the Singlish-deficient: Ah Beng is a working-class guy with gelled hair, he’s a smoker, often likes to ride on a fast motorcycle, and aspires to greater heights. Ah Seng is his female counterpart–in this story, he works with her. Found this in and loved it. It’s a version of a joke I heard years ago, but some Singaporean inventiveness made it even funnier.

Ah Beng went to take night courses with the reasoning that in future he would get promotion or better job.

During work, Ah Beng liked to show off to Ah Seng about his knowledge.

Ah Beng: Ah Seng ah… I’ve been taking night courses for 3 months already, next week is the exam.
Ah Seng: Oh… Good luck ah.

Then Ah Beng started show off…

Ah Beng: Ok, I test you, who is Graham Bell?
Ah Seng: Don’t know
Ah Beng: He is the inventor of phone la… in 1876, see… if you take night courses, you would know this.
Ah Seng: …………………… *speechless*

The next day, Ah Beng showed off again…

Ah Beng: Ah Seng ah… let me ask you, who is Jean Jacques Rousseau?
Ah Seng: Wash your toilet one ah?
Ah Beng: No! He’s the author of “Confessions”, nah nah nah…told you already, if you take night courses, you would know this.
Ah Seng: ……………………. *speechless + frustrated*

The next day, once again…

Ah Beng: Do you know who is Alexander Dumas?
Ah Seng: Your gay partner?
Ah Beng: Choiii!!! If you don’t know don’t simply answer la. He’s the author of “The 3 Musketeers”, if you take night courses, you would know this.
Ah Seng: ………………….. *speechless + frustrated + irritated

This time Ah Seng cannot tahan (stand) anymore and in turn asked Ah Beng…

Ah Seng: Eh… Do you know who is Ah Kaw?
Ah Beng: Errrr… No!
Ah Seng: He’s the guy sleeping with your wife!! If you stop night courses, you would know this!!
Ah Beng: …………………… *fainted*

Today’s Missionary URL

Monday, July 30th, 2007

You might believe that if you avoid religious sites in your online life, you are safe from proselytising, but you are wrong. The Jesuits, whose motto used to be “Give us the boy at 10 and we will have the man for life,” wish to prove you wrong.

Today’s sermon

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

I preached at St. John’s again this morning. I must say that I was quite chuffed when 10 people or so after the service came up to me and told me what a good sermon it was. Normally you can tell when people say, “Nice sermon, Father” and are just saying it to be nice to you. These people I think really did like it.

As a preacher, you can tell when people are listening to you. There’s usually a rustle in the church; people might be whispering to each other, or turning the pages of the service booklet, or are shuffling around from cheek to cheek trying to get comfortable. However, when people are listening to what you have to say, the church is still. There’s no rustling, no shifting around. Everyone is looking at you up in the pulpit and no one dares to think of rustling, they’re so rapt. I achieved that today. Yay, God!

19 July 2007
Sermon delivered at St. John’s Larcom St. Readings: Gen 18:20-32; Ps. 137; Col 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13

In the name of God, the one, the Undivided Trinity. AMEN.

A woman who was in the hospital with a serious illness was praying.
She prayed to God to tell her how much time she had left on Earth.
And God answered her: You have 24 years, 7 months, and 23 days left to live.
The woman recovered, and, armed with the certain knowledge of the time left to her,
she consulted a plastic surgeon and had her face lifted, her nose fixed, her tummy tucked, and the rest of her body sculpted.
She went to a dentist and had her teeth fixed.
She went to an eye doctor and had laser eye surgery and threw away her glasses.
Finally, she left the hospital, crossed the street, and was hit by a car and died.
When she got to heaven, she said to God: “You told me I had more than 24 years to live! Instead I was cut down by a car within a month. Why did you let that happen?
God answered: “After all the surgery you had I didn’t recognise you.”

The readings from Genesis and the Gospel tell us about prayer.
Prayer is something that we are taught from our earliest age, and something that we are meant to do until we die, if not afterwards as well.
But like the woman in the story above, we sometimes treat prayer as a telephone line to God.
We ask for something, and God either answers us or doesn’t.
Sometimes we get what we want, and sometimes we don’t.
Sometimes, in spite of our own prayers as well as those of others, bad things happen to us or our family and friends.
How often have we prayed that a good friend or a close relative will be healed of sickness or infirmity, only to see that person deteriorate and die?
How often do we pray for ourselves, asking God to give us health, strength, wealth, or standing in the community?
And how often are those prayers answered in the way we intended?

Abraham is bargaining with God in our Genesis reading.
Sodom and Gomorrah are symbols in the Scriptures for extremely evil places.
He bargains God down from sparing Sodom and Gomorrah if 50 just men live there, to sparing them if merely 10 just men live there.
It’s an interesting picture of this God who can be jawed down from his original intentions through shrewd words from a mere man.
We can hope that our bargaining with God might be just as successful.

But, Jesus, in the Gospel reading, teaches us a much different way to pray.
We should start by praising God, then ask for those things we need to live, and then ask to be forgiven for past sins and spared from future temptation.
And Jesus tells us to be persistent, as in the end persistence pays off.

But he goes on to say “Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”
And here is the mystery of prayer. Nowhere does Jesus say that what we ask for will be given to us.

Ask, and something or other will be given to you.
Search, and you will find something or other.
Knock, and some door or other will be opened to you.

Prayer is not a certain path to health, wealth, or standing in the community.
We often ask for something that is not granted to us.
We get something else, which may or may not be good for us.
We may actually get nothing.
So why pray at all?

The rector of my parish in San Francisco used to say, quoting someone else, “Prayer doesn’t work on God, it works on us.”
And that’s the secret of prayer, or the mystery of prayer, or even the mystery of God’s actions in the world.
Prayer subtly changes the persons who practice it.

What we ask for is not as important as the fact that we are asking.
What we are looking for is not as important as the search.
Which door we want opened to us is not as important as looking for a door to open.

In asking, we admit that we are not self-sufficient but depend on the grace of God for our life and health.
In searching, we admit that only God knows everything, and our knowledge is deficient.
In knocking on a door, we admit that not all paths are open to us without the guidance of God.

Prayer is thus not bargaining with God, despite Abraham’s success.
Praise and petition in equal measure constitute prayer after the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

And God is not amazon dot co dot uk or the Littlewoods catalogue.
You can’t call God up and order whatever you want in the knowledge that in a few days an angel will knock at the door and deliver your order.
It doesn’t work that way.

God knows what we need before we ask for whatever we think we need.
And God sometimes delivers a surprise rather than what we ordered.

Sometimes we ask for a life, and God takes one instead.
Sometimes we ask for sustenance, and we go hungry.
But the readings today give us one assurance: no matter what we pray for, God is listening, and changing us with every prayer we utter.
Our prayers, working on us, help our transformation into people who do not just ask God for what we want.
We are transformed into people who trust that God will provide us with what we need, and are thankful. AMEN


I am trying to shift my preaching style away from long sentences and paragraphs, to short, pithy, sentences. The format I typed it in above tries to duplicate how I delivered it. The next step is to memorise it and dispense with the paper. I’m terrified of that.

Afterwards we had a drink in the Vicarage and discussed our recent holidays, ours to the Far East and theirs to Croatia, which seemed to be nice despite the 40+ degree heat.

We were supposed to go to lunch at The Well with . So as it was getting towards 1:15 pm we walked over there–we were alone. After waiting for 1/2 hour and consuming two bowls of prawn crackers, I decided to go home and ditch my alb and tie and get my mobile phone, as I never take it to church with me: the opportunities for embarrassment are much too likely to happen, and I wouldn’t care ot have the phone ring while I was in the pulpit preaching.

Turns out that he wanted to cancel due to a last-minute change of plan, but couldn’t get hold of us (as our mobile phones were here). Bless him, he came back to The Well and ate with us and even treated us, before going off to the last-minute change of plan. Thanks muchly.

We came home and I continued with the new Harry Potter. I find it a bit tiresome; it’s kind of like a book set in a big railway station where trains and people are continuously coming and going. I hope to finish it tonight if HWMBO will let me read while we watch a DVD…

Later note: He didn’t.

Possible friends?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Top 25 out of 2358 users that might be interesting for user “chrishansenhome”:
(based on the popularity amongst “chrishansenhome” friends / date: 25 Jul 2007):

N Name Simple voting PageRank score
1. paxbonum 26 votes 2.0 pts
2. zenhiao 25 votes 1.8 pts
3. juzzywuzzy 24 votes 1.4 pts
4. bimbajim 23 votes 1.5 pts
5. jamespeare 22 votes 1.2 pts
6. ex_cutedwogy821 22 votes 1.6 pts
7. dirrtysean 22 votes 1.3 pts
8. cutedwogy 22 votes 1.6 pts
9. speedo28 21 votes 1.0 pts
10. photog75 21 votes 1.1 pts
11. iatrogen1c 21 votes 1.2 pts
12. sorrie_bluez 20 votes 1.0 pts
13. levistud 20 votes 1.7 pts
14. airborne67 20 votes 1.1 pts
15. sebbyboi 19 votes 0.9 pts
16. legolas79 19 votes 1.3 pts
17. jss1113 19 votes 2.2 pts
18. bobafett81 19 votes 0.9 pts
19. stingerx 18 votes 1.8 pts
20. snowyboy 18 votes 0.9 pts
21. nicky_bitchy 18 votes 1.2 pts
22. lok81 18 votes 1.1 pts
23. takira 17 votes 1.0 pts
24. runecircle 17 votes 1.2 pts
25. pyrosx 17 votes 1.3 pts

Get your own table

Today’s Civil Service URL

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

In France, it’s been found that at least one civil servant was perfectly able to function despite something that most of us would see as a handicap.

Today’s lunch

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

I usually walk out the door, turn right, then right again from Grosvenor Place onto Wilton Street, on my way to lunch. This morning after making the turn I was greeted by a gaggle of men in black suits speaking into their lapels, and three black limousines. As I walked toward them, they sprang into action. Across the street, a group of women in chadors and children left a building and got into one of the limousines. They all sped away.

These are our neighbours. I suspect they are the London family of an ambassador or oil tycoon of some sort. As they were not in burkas, they wouldn’t be Saudi. As to who they are I do not know.

I’ll lock this in case the men with the busy lapels do web searches.

Today’s Genuine Religious URL, Non-Hypocritical Department

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

From Ron’s Log comes this story of a religion writer who begged to be put on the religion beat because of his faith, and what happened to him then. LA Times, so registration will be required, but it’s worth it.

Today’s Department of Hypocrisy, Religious Division, URL

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

It seems that in North Carolina, an older gentleman has been arreted for abetting prostitution (by being a client). The headline says it all: President of the Christian Action League, 74, Is Arrested after Allegedly Paying Hooker with Checks After he paid her, he then reported the cheques stolen.

So, he’s not only a hypocrite, but not very bright as well. Story is here. This is a real McDonald’s story, because:

I’m lovin’ it.

Today’s joke

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

A man goes to a doctor and says: “Doc, I have a problem, I think that I am a moth.” Doctor replies that he is a General Practitioner and that the man should go see a psychiatrist. He asks the man “Why did you come to see me?” Man replies: “You had your light on”

Today’s Hi-Tech Video

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Thanks to Towleroad, we have a 5-minute history of the Internet.

A right-on movie review…

Friday, July 20th, 2007

…and it’s not of Harry Potter and the whatever-book-it-is-this-time-around. There’s a movie which is now showing in the United States called I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. (who wrote 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men) wrote a very insightful review (natch!). A must-read review for a don’t-bother-to-see movie.

Worrying by-election results

Friday, July 20th, 2007

For the UK-challenged, when an MP wishes to cease being an MP, there are two ways of doing it. The less popular way is to die. The more popular way is to become Steward or Deputy Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds or Steward or Deputy Steward of the Manor of Northstead in Yorkshire. These are ceremonial roles, under the appointment of the Chancellor, and under the rules, since they are offices of profit under the Crown, the MP loses his or her seat. The rule that an MP cannot just resign comes from the days when many men were elected MP who were unwilling to serve; had they been able to resign, they would not have had to serve. I wonder if this archaic law will be swept away by the constitutional reforms proposed by the Prime Minister.

Once a seat is vacant, there is what is called here a “by-election” to fill the vacancy. The former prime minister Tony Blair is the current holder of the office of Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds, and thus his Sedgefield seat in County Durham was filled in a by-election yesterday. Labour held the seat (with a reduced majority). However, the full results show something that no one else has remarked upon:

Sedgefield results:

Phil Wilson (Lab) 12,528 (44.77%, -14.11%)
Greg Stone (LD) 5,572 (19.91%, +8.02%)
Graham Robb (C) 4,082 (14.59%, +0.19%)
Andrew Spence (BNP) 2,494 (8.91%)
Paul Gittins (Ind) 1,885 (6.74%)
Toby Horton (UKIP) 536 (1.92%, +0.36%)
Chris Haine (Green) 348 (1.24%)
Stephen Gash (Eng Dem) 177 (0.63%)
Tim Grainger (Ch P) 177 (0.63%)
Alan “Howling Laud” Hope (Loony) 147 (0.53%, +0.15%)
Norman Scarth (Anti-Crime) 34 (0.12%)
Lab majority 6,956 (24.86%)
11.06% swing Lab to Lib Dems

The British National Party, a knee-jerk nationalist, anti-immigrant, rabblerousing party got nearly 9% of the vote. This in a constituency that hasn’t returned anything other than a Labour MP for more than 30 years (if not more).

I don’t know about you, but I’m worried about that.


Friday, July 20th, 2007

You may remember this post, in which I detailed my struggle with Citibank to straighten out my Citicard account, which we always pay in full, except that they sneakily changed the rules out from under me.

Well, yesterday I got the Citicard statement for last month, on which I expected to see my trip to the doctor in Shanghai, and a few miscellaneous other charges, maybe

Continuing nostalgia kick…I make a Manhattan

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

I often wax nostalgic about Manhattans…they are made with bourbon (or rye), sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, and a maraschino cherry.

I am going to make Chicken Breast with Tarragon-Flavoured Rice for HWMBO this evening (surprise him with culinary skills that were notoriously absent last week…) and thus needed some dry sherry. In the supermarket, I got the sherry, and then saw some sweet vermouth underneath it. I thought: “Well, make your own Manhattan!” and bought the vermouth too.

Lo and behold, 1 jigger Jack Daniels, one jigger sweet Martini (next time 1/2 jigger, although the equal proportion recipe makes a lovely taste treat), and dash of bitters later, I have a Manhattan on the rocks.

I am transported back decades.

Cigar nostalgia

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Odd for me, who just posted a little diatribe about smoking, to be nostalgic about cigars, in which I have never indulged bar a bit of adolescent experimentation. However, a recent post in ‘s LJ made me wonder a bit.

We were discussing baseball, which is a pastime in which I’ve rarely indulged lately, either watching or participating. However, when I was a kid, on a Sunday summer afternoon at my grandparents’ house the grownups would be in the garden with a highball and us children would be either running around outside or inside watching the Red Sox baseball game. In the 60’s the Red Sox weren’t, as I remember, very successful. However, they used to have some very interesting advertisements. One of the major advertisers was White Owl cigars, and I mentioned this in my second comment. This, of course, impelled me to do a web search to see what had come of them.


I was unprepared to discover that these cigars now come in all sorts of flavours such as grape, peach (peach?), pineapple, blackberry, and strawberry. These are presumably to catch the younger generation and get them used to serious tobacco before the health warnings on the packs are intelligible to them. I’m sure that my cigar-chomping ancestors and relatives (such as my Great-Uncle Hervey, who was rarely found without a cigar in one hand and a whiskey in the other) are turning in their urns. He died at the age of 65 of a massive heart attack, natch.

White Owl seems to have been acquired by the Swedish Match Company, which also owns lots of other cigar brands, and seems bound and determined to ruin the lungs, mouths, nostrils, and gums of us all, given half the chance.

Cigar boxes were, in my youth, popular recepticles for various things such as stamps, miscellaneous papers, marbles, and the like. I don’t know where kids put such things today, except…oops, I forgot. They’re all too busy posting to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and the like to need cigar boxes in which to put miscellaneous collections of things which they now don’t bother to have anyway.

I was also startled to discover (probably I am the last in the civilised world to discover this) that cigars, eviscerated of their tobacco, are popular with the, um, weed-smoking set as a place in which to put their cannabis and smoke it. Of course, only the pushers would use real hand-rolled cigars for this; everyone else buys a box of Phillies or White Owls for this purpose.

The advertisements were quite witty for their time.

I’m sure that someone knows who the rubber-faced comedian was in this advertisement above? The reason I remember it well is that he looks a lot like my Great-Uncle Denis, and we used to make very merry over this fact.

And this one:

Sometimes not having much to do at work can be enormously interesting. Do note that ads in those days were not the 10-second wonders we have today; they went for a full minute, if not longer.

Ban on smoking seems to have side effects

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

In Singapore, as well as in England, smoking was banned in most indoor venues on July 1. Those of us who do not smoke heaved sighs of relief (and we can now do so with great lungfuls of cleaner air).

However, I have seen several articles in newspapers and blogs complaining about the stench that remains in pubs and clubs after smoking was banned. People are complaining about body odours of various sorts, including underarm odour and other, less socially acceptable, odours.

I think it’s a conspiracy to try to get those of us who cannot stand smoke in venues to relent. The conclusion to which they want us to come is that smoke odour is better than those other odours.

I say, put deodorant in goodie bags and hand it out at club and pub entrances.

And as for other smells, ban those who’ve eaten beans, cabbage, garlic, or onions in the past 24 hours.

You know you want to.

Nicky is in Manchester

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

We got Nicky well and truly off to Manchester yesterday evening. It’s been a pretty hairy week, but HWMBO was surprised when I seemed grumpy last night. It’s a very serious situation to be responsible for the well-being and resettlement of a friend. I worked at home yesterday, and Nicky went for a checkup, which resulted in a change in his meds and a bit of angst. He’s not looking forward to being computerless in Manchester; his aunt doesn’t have one. His Orange mobile phone doesn’t get a very good signal at her house unless he goes to the very end of the backyard. He was already considering moving back to London later on.

We finally decanted him into the train and then went to the Ultimate Burger as HWMBO realised that I needed a treat and a break from cooking.

The good news is that our former flatmate Bom will be staying with us over the weekend! Hooray! What a lovely guy he is–we miss him constantly.

Oh, and I took the aspirin out of hiding yesterday and back into the medicine cabinet. We can now un-suicide-proof the house.

Today’s obituary

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

…is of Robert “Buck” Brown, who was a cartoonist for Playboy. Some surprises here.

Today’s Political Joke

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Seen on soc.motss…

Prior to Dubya’s first inauguration, the Clintons invited the Bushes to a karaoke party and tour of the White House. After a few pitchers of Long Island Iced Teas and a few renditions of “Send in the Clowns” and “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” George asked Bill if he could use the president’s personal bathroom.

When Dubya entered the private toilet, he was astonished to see that President Clinton had a solid gold urinal. Dubya later told Laura about it and added, “When I’m president, I could have a gold urinal, too. But I wouldn’t do something so self-indulgent.”

Later, as Laura and Hillary toured the White House, Laura mentioned how impressed George had been about the gold urinal in the private presidential bathroom. That evening, as Bill and Hillary were getting ready for bed, Hillary smiled and said: “Guess what … I found out who pissed in your saxophone.”


Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I have discovered how to ruin Mother Hansen’s Spaghetti and Meatballs. Don’t measure the bicarbonate of soda. If you put too much in, it turns into sweetish tasteless mush. The meatballs were good, however. The embarrassing thing is that I only cook it for special occasions so I embarrass myself before guests.

Had a dream last night. You may remember this post, where I talked about The Rev’d Ann Holmes Redding, who is an acquaintaince of mine, and who now believes that she is both Christian and Muslim. Well, I dreamt that I was in a church (might have been St. Luke-in-the-Fields in Greenwich Village, where Integrity/New York used to meet) and Ann was giving a talk on her beliefs. She left the pulpit and I approached her to say hello, but she disappeared into a stairway going down under the church. When she reappeared I finally got to her and said, “Hi, Ann, I’m Chris Hansen.” She didn’t recognise me, so I then said, “We know each other from Holy Apostles.” She looked straight at me and said in a kind of dazed manner: “You mean in New York?” I said yes, and she just moved away, murmuring something like “That’s nice.” She got back into the pulpit and I went over to talk to another priest from Holy Apostles, who was sitting in a pew. We agreed that she was probably drugged or somehow under the influence. I then woke up well before the alarm went off.

I hasten to add that Ann is a teetotaller and not (to my knowledge) ever under the influence of anything else. I suspect it’s my subconscious commenting on the improbability of being both Christian and Muslim at the same time and trying desperately to find a reason why she might say that.

Today’s Government Of-By-and-For the People URL

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Everyone remember John Major’s “Back to Basics” drive for clean and moral government? It backfired on him. Today’s link, from Ron’s Log, illustrates that in North Carolina at least, Back to Basics still backfires.

Today’s Masonic URL

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

One of the blogs I occasionally read features a book about Masonry. Or at least, the book SAYS that it’s about Masonry. Read on to find out why it’s a scam and why search and replace is not always your friend.

Today’s St. Christopher URL

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Those who were raised as adherents of the SWB and are of a certain age (ie, probably over 45) will remember St. Christopher, the patron saint of travel and lots of other things. Well, if he cares to, the Pope can now take advantage of a free membership that will assist him in getting around in the style to which he is now accustomed.

Today’s Profound Thought

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

On Tuesday, the head of the SWB released a document in which he said that Protestant churches were not, after all, churches as they did not accept that he himself is the head of the church. This is pretty much restating what he said, as Cardinal Ratzinger, in 2000. However, as head of the SWB I suppose he felt that it was worth restating.

Of course, today is the anniversary of the excommunication of Henry VIII. While the Anglican Church has faults (a whole load of ’em), not paying any mind to Benny the Rat is not one of those faults.

I suppose that in time the ecomenical dialogue that has been developing since the 1950’s will continue, with or without the mackerel-snappers.

Today’s Ticklebox Repair story

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Now, I’m sure that if I googled for this one I’d find it all over the ‘web. However, I saw it in a friend-of-a-friend post and shamelessly nicked it for my blog. So sew me.

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die. This is so priceless, and so so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Cxtxbank billed her for February, March and April for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, now it was somewhere around $90.00.

A family member placed a call to Cxtxbank. Here is the exchange:

Family Member: “I am calling to tell you she died in January.”

Cxtxbank: “The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.”

Family Member: “Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.”

Cxtxbank: “Since it is three months past due, it already has been.”

Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?”

Cxtxbank: “Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!”

Family Member: ” Do you think God will be mad at her?”

Cxtxbank: “Excuse me?”

Family Member : “Did you just get what I was telling you – the part about her being dead?”

Cxtxbank : “Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.”

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: “I’m calling to tell you, she died in January.”

Cxtxbank: “The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.” (This must be a phrase taught by the bank!)

Family Member: “You mean you want to collect from her estate?”

Cxtxbank: (Stammer) “Are you her lawyer?”

Family Member : “No, I’m her great nephew.” (Lawyer info given)

Cxtxbank: “Could you fax us a certificate of death?”

Family Member : “Sure.” (Fax number is given) After they get the fax:

Cxtxbank: “Our system just isn’t set up for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.”

Family Member: “Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don’t think she will care.”

Cxtxbank: “Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.” (What is wrong with these people?!?

Family Member: “Would you like her new billing address?”

Cxtxbank: “That might help.”

Family Member: “Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69.”

Cxtxbank: “Sir, that’s a cemetery!”

Family Member: “What do you do with dead people on your planet?

Update on Nicky

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

I would first like to thank, again, those who have been concerned about my and HWMBO’s welfare. We are fine. First, an update on Nicky’s situation, then an observation.

Yesterday I stayed home to work and talked with Nicky. He continues to whine a lot, but when discussing the homeless situation I convinced him to speak with his aunt, who lives near Manchester and is retired. He called her and she’s happy to let him come up there to live. So, in the space of five minutes, the homeless problem becomes a logistical problem. I’ve just spoken to S., who is agreeable to Nicky’s dropping by Friday evening to pack a bag. I anticipate getting him on a train to Manchester on Saturday. He may return a few times for the rest of his stuff, but basically he’ll be up there for a while.

The job situation does not admit of such radical solutions. In a way, going up there will be a minus, as he’ll have to get himself psyched up to get a job and, as he’ll be living in the sticks, commuting will suddenly become an issue.

He didn’t eat much all day, but in the evening we went out alone to The Well, since HWMBO came home with a migraine and needed to rest in a darkened room. We had an order for his dinner (Well special Japanese noodles), so we went off there. Nicky was still quite whiny, given to asking questions at random (“Do you think that S. hates me?”) that were somewhat silly and inappropriate, but I coped. I do think that S. dislikes Nicky a lot, but after the drama Nicky put him through for the past year or so I totally understand and sympathise. Everything I hear and see makes me even more grateful that HWMBO and I, improbable spouses, have endured for nearly 9 years now.

I had some pork dumplings (6 on the menu, but we are always provided with 7 courtesy of Vincent), half of which Nicky scoffed along with an egg-drop soup. He had some sort of noodly dish which I can’t recall, and I had Chicken with Cashew Nuts on crispy noodles, hold the salt and MSG.

I have to say that this particular dish was absolutely the best I have ever had there. The taste of the vegetables, the mushrooms, and the chicken was absolutely first-rate and fresh, not spoiled by an excess of salt, which now burns my mouth. And, I am happy to have been able to tell Vincent so in person. What a great chef he is!

However, their credit card terminal is still not working. The maintenance company cocked up, and he hasn’t had a functioning terminal for a couple of weeks. I only had a fiver and some change in my pocket, and was quite embarrassed. He told me that I could pay next time, but I still said that I would be right back, so after some “after you, my dear Alphonse” to-ing-and-fro-ing I left with Nicky and HSMBO’s dinner in a box. I unfortunately forgot my bag with my mobile phone in it, but remembered it after entering the shopping center. I went to the cash machine there, got some cash, and returned to The Well and paid, and left a 15% tip to boot. With my bag in tow, I went to the supermarket then home.

Now, the observation. I am very aware that stress is a bad thing for me and everyone else. I am doing my best (and, I think, moderately succeeding) in dealing with Nicky and his situation with a mixture of calm serenity and concern, larded with practicality. I am not taking sides, I am not trying to deal with matters (like his health, mental and physical) with which I am unqualified to deal, I am pushing him toward a successful conclusion to the interlude and am not taking “No!” for an answer, but just pressing on. He is cooperating, as much as perhaps he would not wish to.

I think that, while I am concerned about Nicky, I am not stressed about the situation. I can see the conclusion, I am driving toward it, I have a strategy to deal with it, and I am not being deflected by Nicky’s whining. He wants to have a Pity Party, and I’m not RSVPing.

I am also aware that some of my serenity could be produced by the beta-blocker which I’m taking. This medication, among other things, slows down the heart rate and makes me (anyway) just a bit logy. Thus, I am more calm and collected than I might otherwise be. Actors and public speakers often take this medication (some illicitly) before a performance in order to combat stage-fright. I’m sure it’s very effective.

So I am aware that stress can have an effect on my blood sugar. Oddly enough, I am not angry, nor am I suppressing anger. I am channelling any anger I might have into planning for the future. This has been, so far, remarkably effective. Hooray!

This morning I called S. and made arrangements for Nicky and I to drop by Friday evening and pack a suitcase with those things he needs right away. I shall be there to keep everyone focussed, and hopefully Saturday Nicky will be in Manchester starting all over again. Thoughts and prayers, as appropriate, for the successful conclusion of this saga would be appreciated.

Today’s comic strip URL

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

In the late 1940’s someone at Life magazine thought it would be amusing to get comic strip artists to draw their characters first normally, then blindfolded. The results are shown here, and it’s quite amusing.

Today’s Have a Modern Home with USB URL

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Today we have two products that, in connecting to your computer via its USB ports (which you all have, I’m sure) will make your life happier and more productive.

First up we have something that, used judiciously, might allow you (as a manager at work) to determine who’s working and who’s not.

Here’s a picture of a gadget that might not light up your life but that might make your significant other a bit nervous.

Today’s Google URL

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

If you are frustrated in your criminal activities, perhaps not to adept at, say, opening safes, Google is your friend, as noted here.

Compassion and health

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

You had a heart attack about a year ago. You also have someone who loves you who doesn’t want you to have another heart attack. I don’t want you to have another heart attack because I want to meet you in London some day.

I don’t think this should be your responsibility if the man has any other friends at all. If he says you are his only friends, that’s a sign of much longer term problems if true and manipulation if it isn’t.

You’re not responsible for doing more than you can emotionally afford to do.

I don’t know about UK involuntary committment laws, but in the US, suicide attempts will be considered reason enough.

Someone mentioned the Samaritans — I’ve noted someone else mentioning them in connection with serious depression in the UK and that does sound like a good idea. They’d be able to deal with the legal aspects of committment in the UK if it comes to that. Your mental health people would be able to help him sort out his other problems.

Your own health comes first. Really, really, really.

I wanted first to thank everyone who’s responded, or those who just read the entry about my friend and spared a thought. It is much appreciated.

Second, I’d like to muse a bit on compassion and its relation to health. I am very grateful for the kind words has expressed (in the comment cited above) regarding my health. And she is right: my own health does indeed come first.

I’d like to assure everyone that in this case, the additional stress occasioned by my friend’s difficulties is not affecting my health. I feel fine, I am not drinking, overeating, or doing anything other than I would normally do.

The stress I would be under if I were to let Nicky down and try to pass him off to other friends, acquaintances, or the tender mercies of the street would, I am sure, affect my health in an adverse way.

So as not to be co-dependent, I am committed to helping Nicky get the help he needs within a week. However, I would be remiss in my duty as a friend and as a fellow traveller on Earth if I didn’t at least try to help.

So, thanks all. I will keep you abreast of developments as and when they happen.

Masonic Humour

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Those of you on this filter know that I am a Freemason. As a Brother, we are obligated by an oath not to reveal certain secrets, including signs, words, and grips, of which I shall reveal nothing. Suffice it to say that there are no horrible secrets in Masonry–as we often say, it’s not a secret society, it’s a society with secrets.

Anyway, someone posted a link to the Usenet group alt.freemasonry, where he had posted the following joke, which I think can be appreciated by all. (Note: a “cowan” is a non-Freemason)

The Sign of a Freemason

A Quaker Mason formed one of an indiscriminate company of Cowans at an inn where the landlord was also a Brother. Numerous jokes were cracked at the expense of the Fraternity, and the Quaker was called upon to show them a Mason’s sign.

One of the company offered to give him a bottle of wine if he would comply with their wishes; and, at length, though with much apparent reluctance, he agreed, on the condition that the wine should be immediately produced, and that the individual consented to receive the communication privately; the Quaker adding: “Friend, if thou does not confess to the company that I have shown thee a Freemason’s sign, I will pay for the wine myself.”

The proposition was too reasonable to be refused, and the candidate desirous for Masonic knowledge retired into another room with his formal friend. When there, the following dialogue took place:

Quaker: “So friend, thou art desirous of seeing a Freemason’s sign?”

Cowan: “I am.”

Quaker: “Canst thou keep a secret?”

Cowan: “Try me.”

Quaker: “Good! Thou knowest that our friend Johnson (the innkeeper) is a Mason?”

Cowan: “I do.”

Quaker: “Very well.” Then taking him by the arm, he led him to the window. “Dost thou see that ramping lion which swings from yonder upright post?”

Cowan: “To be sure I do – it is our landlord’s sign.”

Quaker: “Good! Then friend, our landlord being a Freemason thou art satisfied that I have shown thee a Freemason’s sign, and thy bottle of wine is forfeited. For thy own sake, thou wilt keep the secret.”

The cowan returned to the room with a look of astonishment, confessed that he had received the desired information; and the mystery, which he had purposely observed, tempted others to purchase the secret at the same price.

One of those days you wish you hadn’t gotten out of bed

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I guess it was natural that it was a Monday. The day itself wasn’t too bad; the usual worklessness at work, then home. At a little after 5 pm the landline rang. No one spoke when I answered. I hung up. Then my mobile phone rang. I answered that, and it was my friend Nicky.

Now I’ve known Nicky for about 9 years. Nicky is Singaporean, gay, a graphic designer in Singapore. He moved here and became attached to S. They have been together for 6 or 7 years now. They live in Islington, in a very nice flat, and have a dog. Very ordinary couple. Nicky finally got his indefinite leave to remain last year, after much difficulty. HWMBO and I go out to lunch with them occasionally, and I would consider them friends, but not bosom buddies, of ours.

Nicky and S split up a few months ago, and Nicky asked whether he could stay with us for a while. S, however, allowed Nicky to stay with him while he got a job and another place to stay. So we hadn’t heard anything for a while.

Nicky sounded a bit out of it, and he said he needed to come over and stay the night, that S was throwing him out. I said fine, we’d put another chicken Kiev in the oven.

When he got here, he was totally disoriented. He sat down and told me that he tried to commit suicide this morning. He had taken some ketamine and some sleeping pills. (I later discovered that neither of these would kill you in the normal course of events).

Well, this made me very sad, upset, and worried. I’m worried because I have two large bottles of paracetamol (Tylenol) tablets, a large bottle of aspirin, lots of knives, and various types of bathroom chemicals around. As none of us are suicidal, thank God, the house is not suicide-proofed. I took away the paracetamol and aspirin and hid it, also the bathroom chemicals upstairs.

There are other circumstances around this that I can’t talk about, but suffice it to say that I calmed him down, made him dinner, and went to S’s flat to get some stuff that Nicky needed, and heard S’s side of the story. Won’t take sides, but have great sympathy for both.

Nicky is having a pity party right at the moment, and is talking nonsense (or as Singaporeans say, “talking cock”) such as “I don’t know if I’ll get up tomorrow.” He just asked for paracetamol; I gave him one capsule and watched him take it.

Tomorrow in the midst of everything else, I’m going to get him to a social services agency that can help him with his homelessness, his medical needs, and the like. This is in between working, going to a meeting of the Audit Committee of the Diocese, and trying to stay sane myself as well as support HWMBO, as this will affect him as well. He is so compassionate that I’m sure he’ll be OK, but we need to be mutually supportive as well as supportive of Nicky without making him dependent.

Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated–thoughts if you are not religious and prayers if you are.

Today’s Useful Singlish Lesson

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Today’s lesson, bengs and lians, is the word “merlion”.

As those of you who live in or have visited Singapore may know, the Merlion is the symbol of Singapore.

In Singlish, to “merlion” is to projectile vomit, viz what the Merlion statue is doing in the above picture.

I shall begin using “merlion” immediately.

For <lj user=”trawnapanda”>

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I think that this community will be of interest: .

Today’s “Help Wanted” URL

Monday, July 9th, 2007

If you’re a young Australian bloke who considers himself a hard man, then this job is probably right, er, up your alley.

Today’s Religious URL

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

The Rev’d Ann Holmes Redding is an Episcopal priest. She was one of the first female Episcopal priests I met when I became an Anglican, as she was attached at Holy Apostles on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. She is a great preacher and a good priest and celebrant.

She now has become slightly controversial, as she believes that the is both Christian and Muslim. The story is here.

I am conflicted. I would not deny anyone their own faith journey, however unconventional. But I find it difficult to accept that a person can be, as she says, “100 percent Christian and 100 percent Muslim.”

In additional to her personal journey of faith, this situation will play right into the hands of the right-wing nutcases who believe that the Episcopal Church in general has gone off its trolley. Ann’s bishop, the Rt Rev’d Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island, has inhibited Ann from priestly orders for a year while they both think about the situation.

Today’s Sports Video

Saturday, July 7th, 2007 – Watch more free videos

Today’s “First prize is, second prize is” URL

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Normally if you enter a competition and are the only entrant, finishing should guarantee first place. However, in this Cambridgeshire baking competition, being the only entrant was no guarantee at all.

Today’s Time-Wasting URL

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

This guy is counting to a million. On his webcam.

Random thoughts for Wednesday

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007
  • It seems that the proliferation of touch-in cards is getting to me. As I was exiting the Underground this morning, instead of taking my Oyster card out of my pocket, I took my office ID card out and tried to get out of the station with that. Very red-faced.
  • Why is it that people on the street almost always choose to ask me directions? I was standing at a crossing waiting for the light to change, along with about 5 other people. So why did the guy in a suit choose to ask me out of all those people where Victoria Coach Station is? Do I look like I know where I am? Even worse, do I look like I know where they are?
  • So why is it that Palm never bothered to develop a Palm OS 5 driver for their SD-form factor Bluetooth card? There is no way to add Bluetooth capability to my Tungsten C, as far as I am aware. If anyone does know a way, do tell me.
  • My boss has stiffed me for lunch today. I do wish that he’d be able to make a scheduled meeting with me (and others, I gather) without having to reschedule the meeting many times.
  • It seems more likely that I may stay at my job now that I’ve been found a consulting berth at a client site. This was quite startling, as I’d almost given up hope. We shall see how things pan out.

Enough random thoughts. My head hurts.

Today’s quiz

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

25 %

My weblog owns 25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

This week’s “Duh!” moment

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

…comes from the Annals of Improbable Research monthly email, in which we find this gem:

2007-06-12 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Waffles and Age

Each month we select for your special attention a research report that seems particularly worth a close read. This month’s pick:

“Differences in Perception of Sweet and Savoury Waffles Between Elderly and Young Subjects,”
S. Kremer, J. Mojet and J.H.A. Kroeze, Food Quality and Preference, January 2007, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 106