Archive for March, 2008

Today’s Musical and Scientific RUL

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Last week I came across some examples of videos online where words from the song/poem/talk being played were represented on the screen in various ways.

Today I came across a shining example of this genre, which will delight both scientists and Tom Lehrer fans, two universes which often intersect.

I am seriously pissed off

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I may have mentioned that this year I was so confused by my US taxes (yes, I have to file a US tax return, contrary to the rules of almost every civilised country in regards to their expats) that I decided to get a professional to do them. I got the results today. Because I have an ISA (UK tax-free investment account) I have to pay $55 to the United States (as the interest on that account is not taxed here, I cannot set it off against UK taxes).

My blood is boiling.

I know it probably isn’t terribly much as far as the taxes of my US friends are concerned, but you get US government services. I get zilch from the US except a tax return each year and the opportunity to vote in Federal elections. Fat lot of good that’s done me in the last 8 years.

I immediately emailed the accountant to ask what he knew about the financial ramifications of renouncing US citizenship (I know, I’ve talked about that before, but if they’re going to screw me for saving, I might as well go through with it) and he doesn’t know anything and advised against it. When I explained that I couldn’t move back to the US because of the high cost of health care that I’d need, the fact that I could not take HWMBO with me, and the fact that the US government recognises me as single even though I’ve been in a civil partnership for more than two years, he said that he understood.

I have no financial ties to the US now except for the money in my Social Security account (which is negligible). Not only that, but I am ineligible for Medicare here in the UK (you have to go to the US to get it) and will probably never see any of that money anyway.

So I need to talk to an attorney quickly and then get over to the Embassy and do it, before they sock me again with another hit.

I think that the visceral reaction of American citizens to renunciation of citizenship comes from everyone having read “The Man Without a Country” in grammar school. Get ’em young and they’ll be yours forever.

Reliable backup software for Windows XP

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I have been getting a lot of abuse from Norton Ghost (v10) lately. Despite having more backup space than I can currently use, it aborts some backups, serves up annoying popups every once in a while (or more than every once in a while), and is a general pain in the neck.

Do any of my readers have a favourite backup program that they could point me to? I would say that money is no object (that’s not entirely true) but I am interested in something that is reliable and relatively unobtrusive.

Oh, and did I mention that Ghost is a real resource hog? It slows operations down to a crawl sometimes and is very resistant to attempts to postpone its online backups to a more convenient time.

Today’s Sermon

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

March 30, 2008 Low Sunday
Sermon delivered at St. John the Evangelist, 10 am.
Readings: Acts 2:42-47; Ps 118 2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

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

In the 1950

Today’s Culinary(?) URL

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Those of us who have eschewed McDonald’s for years now may not think so, but this man created something that our fellow women and men often eat daily. I wonder what his cholesterol level was.

Today’s Interfaith URL

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Got a grimy cope? A chasuble that needs a clean-up? A grey alb? Well, read this story when choosing your dry-cleaner.

Today’s Judge Crater and Lord Lucan URL

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Remember Dan “D.B.” Cooper? The man who extorted $200K and a parachute many years ago and jumped out of the plane, never to be seen again? Well, they may have discovered his parachute. Thanks to The Knightshift for the tipoff.

Today’s Quaint Foreign Customs URL

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

…is a post by on Flirting and Sex in Japan. This is a must read for all, and thanks to the several Singapore bloggers who posted this link. It needs to be in your Memories list.

Happy birthday, <lj user=”fonsus”>

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

…and many happy returns of the day.

Easter weekend and welcome to it…

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Good Friday was quite peaceful, if cold. The entire weekend has been colder than a witch’s …. well, you know what. I went to St. John’s to preach, and gave my two-minute sermon. We didn’t go anywhere in particular on Friday, just chilled (easy enough in this weather).

Saturday we went shopping; I got a pair of shoes at the Natural Shoe Store in Covent Garden. We had lunch at Thai Square on the Strand, as HWMBO wanted some Thai food. I had green curry pasta, and he had just plain green curry. It’s not too bad and is filling without being too hot or too expensive. We walked all the way to Goodge Street for a Starbucks that wasn’t full, later on.

I got St. Matthew’s ready for Sunday services on Saturday evening then went to St. John’s for their Easter Vigil. As the weather was horrible (did I forget to mention the hailstorm we had in the afternoon?) we did very little else on Saturday or Sunday.

White Easter indeed…

Today we needed to buy some health food stuff and I suggested that we go to the Embankment and share a footlong Subway sandwich then go to the Holland and Barratt’s store there. When we got there, we discovered that a Quiznos has opened there, so since neither of us has tried one, that’s where we had lunch. We shared a meatball sub and a chicken sub. Both were very nice; we’ll go there again. Off to the Heyward then to see the Russian photography exhibition (pretty boring Russian socialist realism to me, but HWMBO liked it) and the tail end of the Laughter exhibition, which we abandoned 3/4 of the way through last time because there was just so much of it.

Back home again and to dinner, roast chicken with cornbread stuffing and peas. Now to bed, and back to the grind tomorrow.

Sen. Tapper McWidestance Immortalised

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

…in marshmallow! Go to item number 8, and laugh!

Yes, you too, .

Especially you!

Happy Easter to you all!

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

It is snowing outside as we speak. I wonder if any of the bookies took bets on a white Easter this year; if so, they have lost a bundle.

Bishop James Jones of Liverpool is preaching on Radio 4 at the moment; he is doing what I try never to do in preaching: he’s retelling the reading in his own words. It does suck up time when you have a thin sermon idea, but on Easter?

Todays Transit URL

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

will be of interest to a certain ailuropod in Toronto. Watch it to the end, now!

Happy birthday <lj user=”akil”>

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

…and many happy returns of the day.

Last week and this week

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

It’s been pretty quiet around here, so no personal blogs. Last Sunday was back at St. Matthew’s after a four-week absence. Nothing changed, really. Not that I expected it to.

I am trying to revamp my website, but don’t have the technical know-how so to do. has promised to help out. Perhaps over the Easter holiday.

I am still between assignments at work. This is seriously beginning to annoy me–I don’t know what to do, but will step up contacts with recruiters and my network after the Easter holiday.

St. Matthew’s is having a Passover Seder tonight before the Maundy Thursday service. I refuse to participate in Christian Seders, as I don’t wish to participate in simulations of the liturgies of other religions. The Rector says that as Judaism is the precursor of Christianity, he’s entitled to put on a Seder. I think that’s triumphalistic. He is very annoyed about the whole thing. I shall be preparing the church for Maundy Thursday, going away, then returning to strip the altar after services.

Tomorrow I preach at St. John’s: a two-pager this time. Very short and sweet. I hope it’s effective and memorable.

I have bought an internet wi-fi radio; will probably be delivered next week. I don’t think I can get it on my Reliablehosting VPN so that I can listen to KKSF or WNUA over it, but we will see. Anything is possible these days. I got

Happy Birthday, <lj user=”djyoshiki”>

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

…and many happy returns of the day!

Results of Democrats Abroad worldwide primary

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I got the following email from Democrats Abroad:

It’s been an exciting primary season so far for us, kicked off by our own Global Primary. Whether you voted in person, at over one hundred voting centers in over 30 countries, by mail, by fax, or on-line, your voice was heard.

Barack Obama won our worldwide primary, with 65.8% of the vote, followed by Hillary Clinton with 32.5%. Joe Biden received 0.1%; John Edwards 0.7%; Dennis Kucinich 0.6%; Bill Richardson 0.1%; and Uncommitted 0.2%.

You participated in the Global Primary, you read about it in your local paper, in the Stars and Stripes, in the Herald Tribune. Heard about it on the radio, saw it on TV. As we gathered around the world to vote, our story was picked up and followed

Today’s Really Really Spooky URL

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

And I do mean spooky. With a capital “S”.

Go to towleroad here and watch the video! I mean it!

And then be afraid. Be very afraid.

Today’s Monday in Holy Week URL

Monday, March 17th, 2008

If you want to buy something, do check the model number.

My Good Friday sermon

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

I’m pretty sure that no one reading this blog will be at St. John’s Walworth next Friday, so I’m going to print my Good Friday sermon here, in case it’s interesting to anyone. As the Gospel for Good Friday is long, the sermon is short.

March 21, 2008 Good Friday
Sermon delivered at St. John the Evangelist, 1:30pm.

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


Today’s Unique Phishing Spam Email

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

is purportedly from Benazir Bhutto’s son. He’s hot, of course, but his mother and I never exchanged emails.

Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2008 00:16:07 +0000
From: “Bilawal Zardari”
Subject: Re: Benazir Bhutto
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;


I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to you for your support during the hour of need. The enemy gave us a huge blow when they took the life of my dear mother. As a matter of fact, I do not know you personally except your contact details I got from my mom’s address book. I also pass on my sincere appreciation for the feat we were able to record at the last elections despite the absence of my mom who was the party leader until her brutal assassination. The victory was to all Pakistanies as it clearly demonstrated their committment to the course my mom stood and died for. Your support is conspicuously recognized and highly appreciated.

Losing her is the hardest thing I’ve been through all my life, but knowing that she was a hero to many people does comfort me. I know she would appreciate what you all did for her. All we just crave for now is for her killing be probed by an international team under the United Nations. It is the only hope we have of getting the possible plotters of her murder properly investigated. Only this would help us convince our supporters that there was some element of collusion between her murderers and agents of President Musharaf who were determined to get rid of her.

Please do acknowledge receipt of this correspondence as I will be confiding something very important in you when I get to hear from you again.

Very sincerely,

Bilawal Zardari

I’m sure that his future email contact will tell me of some millions of pounds that his mother left in the UK that needs my help to smuggle to Pakistan to assist in overthrowing the president. I will keep you posted if my spam filters don’t kill the second email off first.

Today’s Weird News

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

I’ve heard of people who always lingered in the bathroom for what seemed like hours, primping and generally keeping everyone else from using the room. But this woman took it to somewhat ridiculous lengths.

Note that the link is somewhat oddly formatted, so you may have to scroll down to read the article; I use Flock and that’s what it looked like to me.

Today’s High-Class Prostitute joke

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

I heard from an old friend who said that he’d used high-class prostitutes in the past.

“I’ve paid big bucks for ‘special services’.” he said, “One time I paid an incredible amount for a session with TWO girls who were both just stunningly sexy and beautiful. Not only that, but you wouldn’t believe what they did!”

“OK”, I said, “what did they do?”

“Well”, he said, “for openers, they slowly disrobed, and they were both just incredibly gorgeous! Then they disrobed me, and when we were all naked, they got out some chocolate syrup and poured it all over my private parts. Then they added honey, and caramel, and butterscotch, and creme de menthe liqueur. Then they covered all of that with whipped cream, and topped it all off with chocolate sprinkles and a maraschino cherry!”

“I think I see where this is going”, I said. “I suppose, after all that, they ate it, Right?”

“Well”, he said, “maybe that was their plan, but gee, it looked so good, I ate it myself!!”

(apologies to Governor Spitzer)

A letter

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Many of you will have heard of the remarks of a state legislator in the American state of Oklahoma, where she said that homosexuals were worse than terrorists. Here, from Pam’s House Blend blog, is a response.

Rep Kern:

On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would’ve likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn’t live up to them pay with their lives.

As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I kind of doubt you’ll find one of them that will agree with you.

I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise, and remarkable woman she was. I miss her. Your harsh words and misguided beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother’s killer was a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance for themselves.

As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong.

You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they’ve been through. Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?

I’ve spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay students beat up and there’s never a day in school that has went by when I haven’t heard the word **** slung at someone. I’ve been called gay slurs many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your students?

Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection. They looked scared. They’ve already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.

I wish you could’ve met my mom. Maybe she could’ve guided you in how a real Christian should be acting and speaking.

I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from high school this spring. Now she won’t be there. So I’ll be packing my things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a writer and I have no intentions to ever return here. I have no doubt that people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more people again. I don’t want to be here for that. I just can’t go through that again.

You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something. The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom. Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.



I can’t add anything to that. I think I’ll borrow MadPriest’s accolade for people who go above and beyond the call of duty as Christians, and say that Tucker is my


Questions from <lj user=”spwebdesign”>

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

1. What do you think of GK Chesterton?


2. When did you last wear a straight necktie (as opposed to a bowtie)?

Can’t recall, but it’s more than a year ago.

3. Diet Coke or Diet Ginger Beer and why?

Diet Ginger Beer, because there’s no caffeine in it.

4. What did you have for dinner tonight?

Leftover chicken and rice.

5. What’s your favourite passage in Scripture?

We just heard it in Church on Sunday: the Raising of Lazarus.

6. How would you skin a cat?

I wouldn’t. I like cats in general, and HWMBO, if he found out that I’d skinned one, would be very upset.

7. Who would you most like to knock over “accidentally” while boarding a Tube train?

Anyone who impatiently pushes me to try to get into the train when it’s packed full.

Questions from <lj user=”obsidianbear”>

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Some people say a generation of gay men were lost to HIV. I don’t know your status, but I will say that many gay men born in the 1950s are not here with us today. How did you avoid succumbing to the virus back in the 1980s and such?

I have always been pretty fat, and thus shy. I was never one for the bar/club scene. I had a steady boyfriend when I lived in the Bronx (for most of the time) and mostly didn’t do much on the scene. I may be lucky, for which I am thankful, but I’m also painfully aware that about forty men I knew in the 1970’s through the 1990’s succumbed to HIV, many of them men of colour. James Toms, my co-chair when I was co-chair of Men of All Colours Together/New York, is one whom I miss daily. I am also thankful for the medical advances that have meant that many of my friends who are now positive are still healthy and still with us on this side of eternity.

Would you ever post a butt-booty naked photo of yourself on LJ?

I would never say never, but I don’t see that in my future at the moment. I might trade one privately…

I don’t have anything against bald men. To me, that would be like straight men not liking women who menstruate. It happens, a whole bunch of men bald and I wouldn’t want to exclude them. HOWEVER, American gay male culture can be very snobby and exclusive. Was it tough for you when you started balding? How did you decide against toupees and such? I notice you don’t shave it all off in a Capt. Picard/Michel Foucault type of way either. tell me about that too.

When I was 16, I looked old enough (as my hairline was already beginning to recede) to buy liquor. That was the only time in my adolescence where I was truly popular with my peers. To be honest, I never considered toupees (they all look like drowned rats or raccoons perched on people’s heads unless they cost thousands of pounds/dollars). So I just paid it no attention (I couldn’t see it anyway unless I was in front of a mirror) and let it fall out. If it affected my success in attracting men, it was probably outweighed (pun intended) by my fat as a factor in the husband sweepstakes. I have shaved my head occasionally, but that strategy is very high maintenance, and I often end up with a slashed-up scalp, which isn’t particularly nice. So I just accept it and go to HWMBO’s Barbershop (sic) when I get a bit too shaggy on the sides.

Governor Spitzer

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

I haven’t lived in New York for nearly 17 years, so perhaps I shouldn’t have an opinion, but it is really sad that the callgirl scandal is putting paid to his career and forcing him to resign (his aides say that will happen later Wednesday). The Repugs have been in control of the State Senate for decades, and it looked at one point like they might lose control to Democrats after the election this November. Now I’m not even sure that the Democrats can keep control of the State Assembly.

The first thing the Democrats will have to do is rally round the new Governor, David Paterson, who would be only the fourth black state governor in US history. He is also legally blind from a congenital condition called optic atrophy. So he’d be the nation’s first blind governor (perhaps he can get in touch with another David, David Blunkett, our former Education/Home/Work and Pensions Secretary here in the UK, who is also blind). He is the son of another New York politician, Basil Paterson, who was Borough President of Manhattan for many years. He’s going to have a lot of stuff dumped on him in the next few hours and he will need help and support. If he then pulls a surprise and captures the State Senate in November, he’ll be a miracle worker. Paterson’s office as Lieutenant Governor will not be filled between now and the next regular gubernatorial election in 2010; until then, the president-pro tem of the State Senate, 78-year-old Joseph Bruno, a Repug, will perform the duties of the Lieutenant Governor, which include acting as Governor when the Governor himself is out of the state.

I gather that the FBI’s attention was drawn to Governor Spitzer through moneylaundering investigations. Again, even though prostitution is illegal (and in giving a callgirl a train ticket to Washington he was also committing a Federal offense under the Mann Act), it was the money that betrayed him in the end–a distinction he shares with Al Capone. The papers seem to imply that if Spitzer resigns, he will most likely be tried and, if convicted, sentenced to no jail time as his disgrace is thought to be punishment enough.

One good thing: no one will be able to tar the Democrats with Spitzer’s activities in November: they are almost unanimous in saying that he must resign and they want nothing to do with him. Contrast that with some Repugs who defended Richard Nixon to the bitter end.

March is question month…

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

…and I’ve been wondering whether to participate or not. I think I will, but I want to direct it a bit more than just saying Ask me anything!

Here’s a list of questions. Fill in a blank and copy your question to this post. I’ll screen comments. All rights (to not answer any question that might be illegal, immoral, or fattening) reserved.

1. What do you think of ________________?

2. When did you last ____________?

3. __________ or ___________ and why?

4. What did you ______________?

5. What’s your favourite ______________?

6. How would you ______________?

7. Who would you most like to _____________?

In memory of…

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Lawrence King, a very young martyr.

A mystery for the musical amongst you

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Ice cream trucks usually have some nauseating version of a children’s song piping away as they lure the children to their eventual deaths from extreme obesity and diabetes. However, this ice cream truck has a song that is memorable and maddening. It sounds like some Olde Englishe folk tune, and has overtones of a British military march whose name I forget. However, it’s not that. Do any of my musical lj-friends have a clue as to what this is?

Today’s Dilbert…

Monday, March 10th, 2008

…will be of interest to the Christians amongst you.

My haiku

Monday, March 10th, 2008
Haiku2 for chrishansenhome

during my sermon
will you be surprised if
i said that you want

Created by Grahame

My week and welcome to it…

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Hasn’t been a very busy week overall. I had no meetings at all this week, which is, I think, some sort of record for a time when I am not on holiday.

HWMBO’s first week at his new job seemed to go well. I made spaghetti and meatballs (with Mother Hansen’s Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe) and we had that for a couple of days. I thought that I didn’t like wholewheat spaghetti, but as long as you cook it enough it’s tasty when used with something like a tomato sauce. I don’t think I’d like it with butter and cheese.

Continuing on the culinary topic, I then made a stew on Thursday evening. It was a beef stew, and I decided to use one of the cans of Guinness that have been languishing in the fridge for a while as part of the liquid for the stew. It did turn out quite tasty, if I do say so myself.

I am still on the bench at work, so I am going in two days a week and working at home the rest of the time. I went into the office on Thursday to have lunch with Sad

Today’s Firefighting Link

Friday, March 7th, 2008

If you’re a firefighter, and you like foam parties, you might find this link interesting. It’s a PowerPoint presentation. Looks like fun! Thanks to David Rowell’s Travel Insider for this link.

Happy birthday, <lj user=”chi_thirdrail”>

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

…and many happy returns of the day!

Today’s Natural History URL

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

On soc.motss, there is occasionally a discussion about the proper plural form of the word “octopus”. “Octopi”, of course, is just NOT ON, and “octopuses” normally wins out over “octopodes” (pronounced ok-TOP-o-deez). But, in this news story, the octopus is not all it should be…and. moreover, the plural form “octopodes” is used. There is hope for journalism!

Happy birthday, <lj user=”houseboi”>

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

…and many happy returns of the day!

Happy birthday, <lj user=”idgad”>

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

…and many happy returns of the day!

Happy birthday, <lj user=”bigmacbear”>

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

…and many happy returns of the day!

The official Sen Tapper McWidestance Recruitment Video

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

…is here. Caution: Guts may be busted when watching this clip. Do not watch while drinking coffee or tea at your keyboard: will not be responsible for cleaning keyboards or desktops.