Thursday, August 30, 2007


With a mere 22 days before Heino arrives I had the pleasure of finding a package waiting from him when I got home. He'd hinted it was on the way and, knowing that it was a DVD, I'd already asked my wife to check the mail daily; I suspect that this run of warm days would not do a DVD any good whatsoever.

Now you might wonder why I asked my wife to check the mail. Why can't I check it myself? Well, I can, but we have only one key to the mailbox and, since we live in a condo block and the mailbox is a quarter of a mile away, it can be inconvenient. And why do we have only one key to the mailbox? The key is stamped 'do not duplicate' and when I suggested to Sonya that it might be an idea for me to have a copy she said 'but we can't copy it!'. This from the woman who has no problem whatsoever ripping the labels off mattresses[^]!

I hope any Australian readers have already twigged as to what the DVD was; the title of the post should have given it away. It was a copy of the promotional DVD for the new series of Kath & Kim[^] given away with (I presume) the Saturday Age a couple of weeks ago.

I've just had an evening of pigging out on K&K - started with the new DVD and, those bones picked clean, I watched the entire third series again. Alas, I'll have to wait until the DVD release to see the fourth series, currently running in Australia.

And, quelle horreur (hope I spelled that right), check this[^] out. With all due respect to my new country, what are they thinking??? How will they translate, if they even try, my favourite line from the first episode 'up at the crack of sparrows'! That line perfectly captures the essence of the show. Mrs Malaprope couldn't have put it better!

The impending cultural massacre aside (and yes, I will check it out if only to enjoy a good cringe, should it actually make it out of planning and into reality) I had an immensely enjoyable evening. Thanks mate!

Do me a favour

and go visit this[^] link. (It's perfectly safe - have I ever directed you to a nasty site?)

Last night it was marked for deletion on the grounds that it was of limited interest; I edited it to the extent of adding the final paragraph, the one commencing with This subject may not, in 2007, be considered notable and it looks like it's now out of danger but let's be sure shall we?

We think we're tough in Phoenix

This morning, driving to work, they were blathering on the radio about how today stood a good chance of being the 30th day of temperatures above 110°F.

Driving home they were blathering on about how today had been the ditto...

I'd have been much more impressed if it had been the 30th consecutive day; but no, it's only the 30th day, in total, for this year where the temperature has exceeded the magic 110.

Everyone has been talking about how hot this summer has been but, to be honest, either I've become totally acclimated or this year has felt somewhat cooler than previous years. Admittedly this is only my fifth Phoenix summer but there were some days a month or so ago that felt decidedly chilly; barely rising above 95°F.

And to be further honest, once it gets much above 105°F it all starts to feel the same.

I note with disappointment that so far I haven't seen 100°F at midnight. Been close with about 98°F but close isn't the same as getting the cigar. However, a colleague assures me we *did* hit the magic number; if so it must have been during our El Paso/Santa Fe trip over the Fourth of July week because I've been watching the temperature like a hawk waiting for the magic 100.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


A phenomenon I've noticed of late is the oblivious teenager. I most often see it at the local petrol station, where teenagers and slow moving cars seem to intersect. Fortunately for the teenager that's a figurative intersection.

They all sport the familiar white 'ear buds' (what a horrid term!) and wander across the traffic flow without bothering to look. Such touching confidence that we drivers will hit the anchors on no notice whatsoever. Myself, I have no such confidence in the watchful powers of drivers.

Now it's perfectly possible that this phenomenon isn't unique to Phoenix. It's perfectly possible that Australian teenagers are equally oblivious to their responsibilities as pedestrians. Where I lived in Melbourne was fairly close to the docks area and the place I usually filled up the tank was quite some distance from the nearest residences. Not really a location thronging with teenagers.

Even here, it's a phenomenon I only really see at the weekend; weekdays I usually fill up on the way to the office at a time after the high school day has started.

The other day as I pulled in to the petrol station to get a carton of smokes I was greeted by the sight of yet another oblivious teenager who sauntered nonchalantly right across my path, much as though I wasn't there. Americans are so attached to their damn kids that I wouldn't dream of running one down, much as I was tempted; they'd probably lynch me!

He did see me; of that I'm quite sure. What he didn't see was the driver coming the other way, into whose path he also sauntered. But this guy didn't have my angelic patience. He stopped about a foot away and hit the horn!

I don't think I've seen anyone jump as high as that kid did! Ah hah! I have it. This is a cunning plan to develop athletic skillz and earn mad props at the next Olympics! Tres sneaky!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Over my dead body

Found at my desk the other day!

(Later edit: The Elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party. You think that's silly? The symbol of the Democrats is the Donkey!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

The software 'expert'

It's bad enough being the family software 'expert'. I'm sure you know the deal, those of you in the software field. You're known to dabble in computers and suddenly you're the fount of all wisdom, whether it's your field or not. It's almost impossible to explain that software development is quite a different skill to system administration. As a result, you get lumbered with ridding someone's machine of whichever nasty malware or virus they contracted because they didn't follow your sage advice about internet safety.

It's worse when the solution actually turns out to be quite simple. I was tasked with just such a responsibility this weekend; Matt (Shelby's almost new husband) needed assistance with his laptop - it couldn't burn CD's anymore, nor could he reinstall iTunes software because the installer insisted, repeatedly, that the uninistallation of Gear software required a reboot. Reboot, try again and it still insisted.

The Gear problem was simple; there had to be a flag somewhere and my guess was the registry. A quick search on the product name and there it was, the DeleteOnReboot flag was set. A search of the hard disk (not quite so quick) failed to turn up anything in the way of Gear software, which hardly surprised me. Delete the offending registry key and suddenly iTunes was clogging up his system again!

The CD burner problem was almost as simple; somehow or other he'd managed to install software for a DVD-RAM disk whilst his burner was simple DVD-RW. He swears he never installed that software but we all know what the memory of a user is like. Uninstall that driver and voila, away we go! A pity it was so easy; I can't rely on the difficulty factor to ward off the next request. On the other hand, he's a builder and it's always good to have a builder in the family. Even better if one can trade skills and expertise!

Back in the 1970's, when I repaired TV sets for a living, I used, at parties, to tell anyone who asked that my occupation was interstate truck-driver. At least it got me out of having to try and diagnose ill described symptoms manifested by a brand of TV set my interlocutor couldn't remember. It always amazed me (still does) that someone can sit in the same room as the idiot box for years on end and have no idea what brand it is. Though perhaps that's merely professional overkill on my part.

At least the poor bewildered soul who views a computer as a tool has the right idea. My own computer (the one I'm writing this on at home) died a horrible death about four months ago. I'm pretty sure it was the motherboard. But whatever, it was a splendid excuse to upgrade to an Athlon Dual Core machine.

Two days later I was finally back to where I wanted to be but with one large change. I still haven't installed either Microsoft Office or any kind of development environment. I finally decided it was time to stop using a computer as an end in itself and start using it as a tool for the other things I'm interested in.

Is that my first wife I hear shouting in the distance 'about bloody time'???

Thursday, August 23, 2007

You coulda flawed me!

An old friend (Hi Terri) sent me a link to a real estate agents web page, featuring a house in the street I used to live in back in Footscray. She knows perfectly well that even if I'm living on the other side of the world, where the seasons are backasswards, I still take a keen interest in all that happens in Melbourne and Footscray.

This paragraph (no link, the page'll be gone in a month) fairly leaped out of the web browser at me.

The sheer size of this property will flaw you it keeps going & going & going. With two of everything your guaranteed to suffer from a case of de-ja-vu, this home offers buyers enormous potential with a small amount of elbow grease....'

Lemme see, two malapropisms and at least one punctuation error.

Yeah, I know, everyone uses word processors these days but this copywriter doesn't even have the homonym excuse to fall back upon. Floor and flaw do *not* sound the same.

Picky bastard aren't I!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A slight improvement

Third time around with about a year between each attempt.

Previous scores were 23% and 27% - at this rate I'll be 100% American about the time I die.

But the change is very subtle. I'm pretty sure I chose Carter in previous attempts; and 100% sure I chose gun control and wine over beer on all three tries. Surely knowing this time around that there are four states whose names start with W wouldn't *increase* my Americanism?


You Are 32% American

America: You don't love it or want to leave it.
But you wouldn't mind giving it an extreme make over.
On the 4th of July, you'll fly a freak flag instead...
And give Uncle Sam a sucker punch!

One month to go

Until Heino gets here.

This is a community service announcement for the benefit of Kathy.

Well, at least it was less disruptive than the 'emergency cable tests' they insist on doing here. There you are, 1:30 AM, (or watching something recorded at that time) and an announcement scrolls in at the top of the screen, right to left, informing us that the monthly test of the emergency communications system is in progress. Always accompanied by a sinking of the spirits as the sound is overridden by something that sounds like a cross between a modem and a duck being strangled. You wouldn't believe how much dialogue I've missed that way.

Mutually Assured Destruction[^] and the 1950's have much to answer for!

Selectively deaf

And we all know exactly what I mean by that title. Andrew is especially good at it and I do believe most of the time his mother really thinks he hasn't heard. Apparently he had a hearing problem in his infancy, long before I came onto the scene, since resolved. But perhaps, being charitable, that explains why Mom believes he doesn't hear.

Of course I know better. It doesn't take much in the way of observational power to notice that whenever something good's in the offing he can hear; whenever something's not so good from his perspective suddenly he's hard of hearing.

I, of course, was such a perfect kid that I never suffered from it; neither did you! That might, however, have had more to do with the fact that somehow my parents never fell for it!

I've mentioned a few times lately that Andrew's deep into World of Warcraft. It's become quite the obsession. He surprised me last week by going out, of his own volition, and purchasing a headset, with microphone, so he could join in the chat. I have to tell you, it's very comical listening to the one sided conversations of someone in his own world.

'Dude, look behind you, behind you!'

It all reminded me of British Christmas Pantomime[^], which is remarkable in itself given that I've never seen one. But I've seen and heard the odd reference over the years and it sounds like a lot of fun! Curiously, the Wikipedia page linked above claims it's very popular in Australia; perhaps I just didn't notice.

I couldn't resist the first time I heard him say it.

'Oh no he isn't!' I responded.

Puzzled look from Andrew. You'd reckon by now he'd be used to it.

Tonight after dinner he was, of course, back at World of Warcraft, headphones on, mumbling teenspeak. I heard him ask 'Dude, what did he use?'. Without even thinking I whispered, to myself or so I thought, 'his dick of course!'. Sonya chuckled and Andrew laughed.

You see! Even with headphones on and me whispering he heard! Hard of hearing my foot!

Monday, August 20, 2007


A couple of nights ago.


A bigger mystery

So yesterday I mentioned[^] a minor mystery being solved. Not that big of a mystery but, having learned that 'Ring a Ring a Rosy' was apparently an allegorical reference to the Black Plague in London[^] one was naturally curious about other nursery rhymes. My curiousity on the subject was also piqued when I read a copy of Martin Greens 'The Annotated Alice', where he delved in great detail and wonderfully written footnotes into some of the more outré references Lewis Carroll used.

In short, grist to the mill of curiousity.

Filled with the trivia of Mary Sawyer I held it to myself until dinner time.

'Hey Andrew' I said, 'you know about Mary, the one with the lamb?'

A couple of grunts and he replied 'I think I've heard of it'.

That answer staggered me! I mean, okay, I know his interests are somewhat narrow, currently revolving around World of Warcraft but geeze, how could even he have forgotten the nursery rhymes of a mere decade or so ago?

Dinner yesterday was to be one mystery piled upon another; for Sonya piped up and informed me that they don't teach kids nursery rhymes any more. Apparently they use 'poetry' instead. Strangely enough I'd always thought that nursery rhymes qualified for that description. Shows what I know.

As for why? She didn't know. I don't know either but methinks some well meaning idiot decided that nursery rhymes were unsuitable for developing minds. Looking at some of the less admirable achievements of my generation and that of my parents they may have a point. But really! No wonder I'm having such trouble understanding Andrew; we don't have any common frame of reference to work within.

So I took it upon myself to teach him at least one or two nursery rhymes. The one about Mary and her lamb and the other about Old MacDonald. Let's see how it goes...

When Mary had a little lamb,
the doctors were surprised.
But when old MacDonald had a farm,
they couldn't believe their eyes!

It got a laugh!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another mystery solved

Though I wouldn't want you to imagine I've lain awake nights worrying about it.

Yet how surprising to discover that the old childrens rhyme learned in pre-school years was based on a real event[^]?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Learning to cook

No, not my experience of that process; Maybe I'll write about that some other time. Nope, this is another Andrew tale...

A year or so ago Andrew got the bug to bake a cake. I've long held it as a great truth that every boy should know how to cook. This isn't really a manifestation of pro-feminist sympathies so much as the practical realisation that at some time or another everyone is going to be called upon to prepare a meal. How much better if Andrews abilities extend beyond the tossing of a steak onto a grill?

I note, with interest, that Morgans cooking ability is nil. Admittedly she was fourteen and full of teenage apathy when I joined this family but I can't recall her ever preparing a meal or even making suggestions. Now, a year out of home and a mother she *still* can't cook any further than reading the instructions on a microwave meal. Sign of the times?

So when Andrew got the bug to learn something about cooking I was all for it. Cakes are a pretty easy start, with the added bonus of a sugar buzz as reward! I didn't even mind when he wanted to start with packet brownies; baby steps. At least he'd learn to read the instructions. I also suspected it might be better for him to have success with his first essay into the culinary arts; my own first attempt was met with both failure and corporal punishment. But what the heck, I was six years old and it was possibly unwise of me to start an hour before the rest of the house arose, only to be discovered in a mess of butter and flour, shredded coconut and milk on the kitchen floor!

So he read the instructions, carefully, or so he thought. The recipe includes all the dry ingredients already measured and blended in a bag. All you have to do is add water and some vegetable oil, stir it all up, pour it into a pan and bake for whatever number of minutes at temperature (I don't remember those details).

I think this was the first time Andrew realised that cakes can contain vegetable oil; he seemed to think that was only for frying. But we assured him it wasn't a misprint; you really do put vegetable oil into the mix! Somewhat doubtfully he returned to the kitchen.

Oven preheated, he was ready. Poured the mix into the pan and slipped it into the oven. The instructions indicated something in the order of 25 minutes baking time, which I'm sure were the longest 25 minutes of his life as he anxiously watched the clock!

When the time was up he eagerly removed the pan, anticipating hot, fresh, brownies. What he found was a panful of sludge! Hmmm, time for a postmortem. The recipe had called for two tablespoons of vegetable oil; by some odd mental process he'd turned that into two cups! I reckon you could have fried chips in the result.

I swear I didn't laugh! I swear I was as supportive as it's in my nature to be. But somehow he hasn't felt the desire to try his hand at cooking since then. Heck, it was only a couple of bucks wasted; I smoke more than that in an afternoon.

Some people are so easily discouraged.

As if you needed proof

that I'm an egotistical bastard. I've just added some links over there ----> where you can listen to the symphony I'm still working on. So far only the first movement is anywhere near complete and even it's subject to change as I get better at using the software. Already, if you compare the first movement linked to with the original posting I did back in May[^] you'll notice differences. (The original is still there). I wasn't really happy with the cymbal clash but I was damned if I could find a way to make it longer (MIDI treats percussion tracks differently). Would you believe I had to adjust the number of clocks?

How strange to speak of software in relation to a symphony but, considering that I'm a talentless git, it's the only way I'm going to get to hear my music. I was extremely lucky in 1974 to hear a real orchestra play a little something[^] I wrote; it was execrable music but a magic moment for me.

You might notice that in the linked blog entry I talk of Symphonies 1, 2 and 3, written all those years ago. So is the music linked to over there the same music? No, it isn't, but the scores from 33 years ago are, I fear, lost forever. I certainly don't know where they are. So I'm starting the numbering over again. If the unthinkable should happen and I end up being remembered as a composer a hundred years hence and I *didn't* make this comment just imagine how confused music historians might become! Or perhaps not; I doubt anyone other than myself remembers the 1974 performance.

I want to emphasise that this is incomplete, which is why both the second and fourth movments end so abruptly. It's also possible that good taste may, belatedly, interfere with progress and wreak great changes. Where's the third movement? Not started yet!

And yes, I do plan more music after this foray.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One hell of a commute

Today was my one day[^] trip to Dallas. Up at 4:45 AM (how uncivilised!) for a 6:50 AM flight. I can report that at that time in Phoenix in mid August it's definitely dark!

Dallas is two hours ahead of Phoenix at this time of year; they do daylight saving and we don't. A pity, I like daylight saving. Thus, arriving at Dallas at 11:05 AM it occurred to me that this was just about the time I'd have been arriving at the office on a normal day. I couldn't help thinking that was one hell of a commute!

For various reasons I won't bore you with, my flight over to Dallas was in First Class. Well, if that's first class then I'm perfectly happy with economy. Perhaps if I was a fat bastard the extra seat width would have impressed me more. And perhaps, if I was a tall bastard, the extra leg room would have ditto. But as I'm neither it just seems like a couple of hundred bucks wasted. Heck, it's only a two hour flight; if I can do US to Asia or US to Australia in economy I can certainly do Phoenix to Dallas that way!

Thence to car rental where I was unfortunate enough to score a PT Cruiser. Horrible car! If I never drive one again it'll be too bloody soon! And this was a convertible, to make it worse. I just don't get convertibles. Maybe it's my hair length; I find having one's hair blowing around in the breeze uncomfortable rather than exhilarating.

Of course it was a non-smoking rental but fortunately, arriving at that hour, it was a very easy and quick drive from Dallas/Fort Worth airport east on I635 to my destination.

And so to the business of the day. In the end I didn't host a lunch; I put the time to better use by training one of our end-users in our testplan language. Since I now own the testplan editor that was useful for me as well; nothing beats seeing a real end user actually using your software to reveal all the hidden assumptions. I've got at least half a dozen bugs to fix and as many improvements in mind.

That done I treated myself to a late lunch/early dinner of Texas Barbecue! Beef'n'Ribs. Magnificent! I already regret the two ribs I had to leave; my capacity for food is less than the serving size.

Then back to the airport. This time it was peak hour and, even though I had nearly three hours until the return flight I wasn't prepared to risk the I635; I've seen it at peak hour before. Nope, it was up to The President George Bush Turnpike for this little black duck! But this time around I knew to keep going past the I635 exit and go to the *south* entrance of the airport. As I know from bitter experience, if one takes the I635 exit to the *north* entrance one has an incredible job of lane hopping to avoid various forced exits prior to the airport, particularly if one wants to avoid the tollway that runs through the airport itself.

Of course I got there too early. An hour and a half to kill before the flight but I always prefer to be early. I just don't like the stress of running to the gate!

To be honest, when I arrived at the terminal at 6:30 PM I really expected to have to kill two or more hours but it was not to be. Never has my flabber been so gasted as when they boarded us at the advertised time. If you've ever done US domestic travel I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. I think this is the first late afternoon/early evening flight I've ever done here that was actually on time!

So that was my commute. The miles from this one will push me just over the requirement for a flight to Australia. Heino, you have been warned! :-)

Monday, August 13, 2007

My feline alterego

Your Score: Longcat

71% Affectionate, 40% Excitable, 35% Hungry

Protector of truth.

Slayer of darkness.


Longcat may seem like just a regular lengthy cat, but he is, in fact, looong. For proof, observe the longpic.

It is prophesized that Longcat and his archnemesis Tacgnol will battle for supremacy on Caturday. The outcome will change the face of the world, and indeed the very fabric of lolcatdom, forever.

Be grateful that the test has chosen you, and only you, to have this title.

shamelessly nicked from Laura's blog[^]

Melbourne's dry

It should come as no surprise that occasionally I use Google Earth to indulge in nostalgia. Melbourne may be some thousands of miles away but a refresh of the memory is good for the soul. Thus I can see the house I used to live in and I can also see that my neighbour has finally been able to finish his extension. That extension seemed to take forever; I recall him talking about it in 1999 when it seemed likely that I would die in that house in Footscray. In late 2002 when I left it was still not started because of council planning permission problems.

It may not yet be finished but viewed from a satellite some hundreds of miles above it certainly looks well on the way!

I can see no evidence that the carport my other neighbour, other side of the street and four houses up, wanted to build. I recall my surprise when a letter arrived from the local council asking if I had any objections to him building a single story carport at the back of his house. Given that it would be utterly impossible for me to see it from where I lived I had no objection whatsoever and I wrote as much.

From there to a view of Yarraville. The house I almost bought. The school I attended. And then down toward Newport and Williamstown and finally the beach. A sudden shock. It's so brown! The last time I saw Willy beach, September 2005, it was raining and the ground between the road and the bay, next to the Williamstown Football Ground, was green, green and green. Now, according to Google Earth, it's brown. Finally I believe all the reports I've been reading in the Melbourne online newspapers about how severe the drought has been!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tom Browns Schooldays

I finally read it a few weeks ago. Not the first time I'd tried by any means; there was a copy in our school library and I borrowed it twice. I think I got further into the volume on the first try (20 pages) than I did the second. I'd have been maybe twelve at the time.

I've been watching As time goes by[^] on PBS almost since first coming to the US to live. Not even the first time I'd seen the series; it ran (and may still do for all I know) on ABC Australia throughout the 90's. We're on about the fifth repeat and I do sometimes wish PBS could bring themselves to be adventurous and maybe program some other British comedy in its place. Heck, they've been running Keeping up appearances[^] just as long and I find that a tiresome series. British comedy or not I just can't watch it.

Anyway, back to Tom Brown. It so happened that Lionel was reading the book in a couple of episodes of 'As time goes by'. My childhood aversion to the book notwithstanding I thought I'd give it another try.

The first problem was tracking down a copy. Half price books didn't have it; nor did Borders or the other chain whose name escapes me. It may be that there are dozens of other book shops lurking around but if so they're well hidden. Of the three that I know of, all are chains and Half Price is the best of the three. At least they don't have a coffee shop!

So I turned to the Phoenix Public Library. Yes, they had a copy. You know, it just occurred to me to check if it's online at Project Gutenberg and yes, it is[^]! So I reserved the copy they had, from the childrens section.

Hmmm. This may once have been a childs book (the copy the library has is a 1947 edition) but I think it's in serious need of reclassification. I can't see any child of 1947 let alone a child of today reading it. Definitely of limited adult interest. To be honest, I can't imagine any child of any time reading it. Doubtless there were children who did but it strikes me as the kind of book one receives from a well meaning but somewhat idiotic relative at Christmas time; the kind of book that makes the heart sink whilst ones parents force one to the insincerity of a 'thank you'.

Nonetheless, there must be a reason why it's still around.

Rather like the curate's egg it's good in parts. I enjoyed the 'jingling match' (chapter 2 if you're interested). Not, however, a game I'd be prepared to indulge in; methinks my head is insufficiently hard for such boisterous sport!

I found it interesting the way that schoolboys of tender years are described as having a daily allowance of beer! Though never explicitly stated it's implied that we're talking real beer; none of this ginger stuff!

Overall I enjoyed the book though I can certainly see why I didn't at the age of twelve; it's incredibly preachy. That's not too suprising considering the year of publication, 1857. One of my favourite 19th century novelists, Mrs Henry Wood (link over there ---->) got her start by writing a prize winning novel for a temperance society. Though, based on that novel, Danesbury House, she'd hardly have approved of beer for boys, the preaching is on a par. The villains, Flashman et al, are clearly villains, the hero, Dr Arnold, just as clearly the hero. Interesting then to compare the Tom Browns Schooldays account of Dr Arnold with that of Lytton Strachey[^], written in 1918.

The 'education' described is almost incomprehensible in this age. Latin for gods sake! Latin, more Latin and when that palls, Ancient Greek. Don't misunderstand me; there's a place for such things and I, for one, would be sorry to see Latin and Greek disappear from our language. Indeed, when, some years ago, I read in the paper that Mel Gibson was working on a film which would be entirely in Latin and Aramaic I vowed that I for one would be there to see it. I was disappointed somewhat later to discover that the movie was subtitled in English but you can turn those off on the DVD!

You can get the flavour from this quote (chapter three).

To condense the Squire's meditation, it was somewhat as follows: "I won't tell him to read his Bible, and love and serve God; if he don't do that for his mother's sake and teaching, he won't for mine. Shall I go into the sort of temptations he'll meet with? No, I can't do that. Never do for an old fellow to go into such things with a boy. He won't understand me. Do him more harm than good, ten to one. Shall I tell him to mind his work, and say he's sent to school to make himself a good scholar? Well, but he isn't sent to school for that—at any rate, not for that mainly. I don't care a straw for Greek particles, or the digamma; no more does his mother. What is he sent to school for? Well, partly because he wanted so to go. If he'll only turn out a brave, helpful, truth-telling Englishman, and a gentleman, and a Christian, that's all I want," thought the Squire; and upon this view of the case he framed his last words of advice to Tom, which were well enough suited to his purpose.

A curious mixture of good sense and nonsense! Going to school and not be a good scholar? But I can't help admiring the rest of the sentiment.

I'm probably making too much of it but I've found far worse ways to spend time than curling up, in the summer heat, with this book.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Murphy is alive and well

and living in Phoenix. Funny, I thought the bastard was living in Melbourne but it seems he followed me. I wonder if USCIS (formerly INS) know about him? There's one illegal immigrant I'd gladly see deported!

You'll remember the other night I said we had enrolled in a ballroom dancing class? You might also remember last week that I said I'd be going to Houston at the start of September. I haven't travelled for business for almost ten months so it was only natural that our first class falls in the week I'll be away. Of course!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I read an article the other day about the effects of coffee on older womens memory. Apparently if a woman treats herself to three or more cups a day her memory will not be as subject to the effects of age. Equally apparently, the same effect doesn't work with men. That'd be right! Of course, that does explain why I can't remember which website I read it on!

So I had a bit of a chuckle over dinner last night, pointing out that it obviously wasn't correct; my wife is dreadfully forgetful. That's a bit of a dangerous game to play but what the heck, I can live dangerously if I choose! Indeed, it's become so well established that I'll say something and stick my hand out so she can slap it. Which she does. Frequently!

I think it's all in fun but, after two divorces, do you think I'm really qualified to judge?

So Sonya defended herself by saying that I don't always remember things either.

'Well my dear' I replied, 'that might be true but I really can't remember the last time it happened!'.

Andrew almost choked but managed to suppress it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Putting my foot in it

A few weeks ago I was thumbing through the Scottsdale Community College advertising when I noticed they had ballroom dancing lessons. You might not believe this but I used to do just that, back in 1974 and great fun it was too. As I said at the time, and my opinion hasn't changed, it has the great advantage that you get to hold your partner!

So I suggested that Sonya and I might consider it. I think I surprised her but she was nothing loath to go for it. We tried the online booking thang but for some reason it wasn't working so I suggested she give them a call on the Monday (I pulled the foreign accent routine again). That was a week and a half ago; she kept forgetting until today when I sent her an email during the day to remind her.

Fifteen minutes after sending the email my mobile rang; it seemed that, whilst she could be enrolled there and then, I couldn't until I rang their office. Why, you ask? Silly question, as though you didn't know I was going to tell you!

At last years elections there were also a dozen or so propositions to be voted on. They're a bit like a mini referendum. One of them, Prop 300, was aimed at preventing illegal immigrants getting a subsidised education. This proposition was passed. It seems that the college won't enrol any student until after they've read the text of Prop 300 at them and ascertained eligibility for 'in state' tuition fees. Yeah, it seemed just as silly to me as it does to you reading about it. Nonethless I complied and rang the number Sonya kindly emailed to me.

The woman at the other end of the line started laughing when I told her why I was ringing. 'Do you really want me to read prop 300 to you?' she asked. 'Of course' I replied, adding 'but I've already read it.' She seemed surprised. When I told her that I didn't think it all that wise to vote for or agin something if one doesn't understand what it's about she seemed more surprised. But I've been bitten by the vote for something when you don't what that something is[^] bug before!

So she read the text to me and then asked if I was a citizen. I admitted I was. I puzzled a little over the fact that she'd asked that question; hadn't I just said I'd voted on the proposition? It took a few moments for the penny to drop; little point in going through the whole rigamarole without putting the onus on me to explicitly claim that I was eligible for in state tuition.

But the strangest thing of all? Not once did she ask for my name. I could have been Adam for all she knew. It'll be interesting to see if they go through the whole performance again at the first lesson.

Deceased lizards

You read the title right! We have a dead lizard in the bathroom (and I use the word in the American sense). That's one of the few downsides to having cats; the buggers *will* insist on being atavistic and bringing the spoils of the hunt into the house.

It's hard not to be touched at their obvious pride in their hunting skills. A couple of months after Kitten came to live with us she proudly brought in her latest victim and laid it at my feet; about a metre of dried vegetation she'd dragged all the way along the back lane and skillfully navigated through the back window! How could I not pat the heck out of her?

The dead lizard has been there a couple of weeks. It's so small there's no danger of an overpowering smell of putrefaction. I find myself fascinated by the question of how long it will take my wife to notice. Her lack of observation probably has much to do with the fact that I stand, she sits!

Quite some years ago when I was living with Peta we had what seemed an eminently sensible agreement regarding the dishes. We'd take it in turns to wash em. This was a long time before we had a dishwasher. The only problem was that she'd never wash them. Always with the excuses! I don't say that I was perfect but I had learned some years earlier that it's easiest to wash them right now, before the crust forms!

One summer she'd let them go about three days and the pile was growing (to say nothing of the fungus). It became a battle of the wills; who would give in first? Me out of turn or her? At day eleven I gave in.

How very childish!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Curious and strange

are the ways of management. You might remember how, just under a year ago[^], I got to within three minutes of boarding the plane to Dallas only to have the trip cancelled.

Non transferable, non refundable ticket good for a year. At the time I certainly imagined I'd be using the ticket in the near future; you'll remember how much travel I was doing in 2005/2006. As it turns out, it's been nearly ten months since I last did any business travel and that trip was to Austin, not to Dallas.

Truth to tell I'd all but forgotten about that ticket; I hadn't paid for it. But do you think the boss has forgotten? Not bloody likely! It so happens that I will be going to Houston at the start of September for a few days; he asked if I could use the Dallas ticket. No I can't. Wrong city, that trip will be after the Dallas ticket expires and the reason I need to go to Houston is to test some software I'll be writing between then and now - it certainly won't be ready before this ticket expires.

Then he asked if there was any other reason I might have to go to Dallas, but only for the day - no overnight stay. That way they don't incur the cost of a hotel room! Well yes, I suppose I could ask the people I deal with on a weekly basis on teleconferences to lunch. Actually that's not a bad idea; I haven't met Karl yet and he sounds like a nice guy. Assuming he's available.

Of course, to get to Dallas in time for lunch I'm probably looking at an 8 AM flight which means arriving at the airport at 6:30 AM, which means getting up at 5:30 AM. I'm sure you've noticed, from my posting times, that I'm a late person. Rare indeed is the time when I'm not still up at 2:00 AM. Well, at least I'll find out if the sun's up that early.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tonight I joined a very exclusive club

and, stealing shtick from no less a character than Groucho Marx, normally I'd refuse to join any club prepared to have me as a member. But this was a club I was happy to join. The club being, of course, those who've met Roger Wright. For the benefit of non-CodeProject[^] members, Roger Wright is a piece of the furniture around the joint. I'm not sure that he didn't join CP before there *was* a CP!

He lives up in Northern Arizona in a place, if you believe him, that's even hotter than Phoenix! We've been planning to catch up for at least the last four and a half years; two previous attempts failed. The first when he and Shog (another CP reprobate) planned to meet at The Grand Canyon and I was invited, on too short a notice, to join them. As it turned out I was probably saved a wasted trip (though no trip to The Canyon is truly wasted) because neither Roger nor Shog could find the other!

The second failed attempt was when he was driving from Tucson through Phoenix to home. It was a while ago so I'm not entirely sure of the details anymore but it seems he was driving along Loop 101, missed noticing any one of the 15 exits prominently labelled 'Scottsdale' and got lost. Mind you, I reckon he was lost anyways; going through Phoenix from Tucson to parts north of there really shouldn't involve the Scottsdale part of Loop 101!

I'm sensing a pattern here; don't trust Roger for directions.

This time he was in Phoenix proper, staying at a hotel a few hundred yards off my beaten track from office to home. Four hours, one beer (mine) and an uncounted number of drinks later it was time to finish the drive home. We started in the bar of course but the insanity of smoking laws here (not that it's unique to here alas) drove us out onto the patio.

He weakened for a moment as a spattering of rain came down but I rallied him to the cause; this was warm rain and I could see little reason to scurry indoors. I seem to have disappointed him by not flinching as we listened to a running gun battle on the adjacent freeway. But we all know you don't hear the bullet that kills you (though how we know that beats me - one can hardly ask the dead).

A thoroughly enjoyable evening!