Friday, December 28, 2007

The Adventure (2)

So I got to the house in this huge (30-foot long) RV to find all the boxes waiting for loading. We loaded and loaded until dinner-time and felt pretty tired

So we then went out to Deseret Books for some CDs and presents, and to YarnToday to talk to Tola's Stitch'n'Bitch group.

Here's Miste, who was adamant that I couldn't take anything but a horror-pic of her. I think that she's absolutely wrong, but then, I'm just a man, so what would I know about it !

After that we took in Walmart for some supplies and went back home and continued packing the wagon ! You just would not believe how much will fit into one of these trucks, and that's what we found out ... we didn't actually leave until about 2.30 on Friday afternoon ! Talk about being late !
Anyway, we finally got on the road and went north to Malad to get a marriage licence (thanks to Shirlee in the office there !) and then on to Rexburg to the marriage ceremony. 90 minutes late - sorry everyone !
We had a great reception - pictures to come ! - and then retired to the CottonTree Inn in Rexburg. Nice room, jetted tub, comfortable bed, etc.
Next morning we headed out to Tola's parents and she, I, and her brother Guy repacked the wagon so that we could actually get at the bed to sleep ! That took all day, meaning that we started off a whole day late, and haven't caught up at all.
Sunday we stopped off to see Tola's brother Josh in Idaho Falls. His wife Charity gave birth to a new son, Riley, on Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Abrupt Change of Life

Well, I've gone and done it ! Here's the itinerary, just for those who consider masochism as a spectator sport:
Wednesday morning, 3.30 a.m.: I'm rung up by the taxi driver, asking to know where I am ! I tell him he's early - 24 hours early. No more sleep tonight :(
Thursday morning, 3.30 a.m.: I'm rung up by the taxi driver again. This time I tell him where to come to meet me and bring bags out. 4.30 sees me in line for a Southwest flight to Chicago Midway, and then to Salt Lake. Flight leaves at 7 a.m. On time ! Next flight leaves Midway at 9.25 on time ! These Southwest Airlines people are Good !
Thursday afternoon: take taxi to CruiseAmerica in Salt Lake. Got to see instruction video of how not to destroy an RV camper. In English, and then, for fun, in Dutch (well, waroom niet :) ? ). Do the walk-around and then get on the road. First instruction is to turn left on 4500, but not that it isn't marked in the direction I'm going ! I turn by doing a right-right-right-left around a 6000 block, go back the way I came, and find the road, nicely signposted (on this side of the light!).

Thursday afternoon was nice in Salt Lake City. By Ogden it was threateningly dark, and then, just as I bore right before Brigham City to go to Logan, the sleet began. 30 seconds later it was full-out snow and I was in that for the next 22 miles. Could see ploughs heading from Logan through Sardine Canyon, but none in front of us, so I just stayed behind the truck in front of me and hoped.

(this is the first of a catch-up: we're having breakfast in DesMoines right now, and the next one will be from Davenport or further east)

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Frustrations of Software (2)

Note to reader: Things here are seriously geeky :) !

Well, as you will have read in the last "episode", I was getting pretty frustrated with Ubuntu's installation system.

So, I did something else for a while and then went to bed. This morning I was slowly recovering conciousness when a stray thought wandered through my mind ..... was I looking at an error message about my instruction, or one about myself ??? When you try to do an installation in Linux you either have to be an administrator or provide the admin's password. What I had done was create the system and a user ID for me without ever setting up a password for the root (or administrator) ID. OK. Look up how to do that, and do that. Great. Now go find the instructions on how to set up LAMP again. The ones for this that I used are here and seem pretty accurate.

Next, set up Apache and try out looking at the localhost site. It works - yippee ! OK. I'm doing something right here, so let's try for PHP too ! I'm going to try out PHP5, as that looks like the one I'll need to use in the future, at the very least.

Two swift commands later it seems that I've done it. I create a small php test file and get FireFox to look at it - it does, and shows all the php versioning, which is great !

Finally, MySQL. This is a database system very popular for use with web sites. Actually installing the database isn't particularly difficult, but the intricacies of some of the later setup have to be addressed carefully.

After all this said, however, I have to say that setting up a LAMP system is an amazingly easy thing to do. I have set up AMP systems on Windows before, and none of them have been as easy as this. The easiest thing these days appears to be getting your head around what appear to be crazy insane Linux/UNIX commands, but, in fact, they do make sense after a surprisingly short period.

Next; onwards and upwards: a small intro page and some tricks !

Note to reader: End-of-geek :) !

To finish with, the AG's daughter is learning the saxophone. I can see that she has a political career ahead of her !

Other good points of the weekend have been two-fold. Firstly, England beat Australia by 12 points to 10, and then France beat New Zealand by a similar margin - 20 to 18. Boy but it was tense in the last few minutes ! Now it'll be England vs France in one semi-final and South Africa vs Argentina in the other. Association Football appears to be standing aside gracefully over there for Rugby Union Football to be seen, which is a great spirit to show: I just hope the Pumas can show really well against the Springboks. We shall see.)

That's it for now. Have fun.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Frustrations of Software (1)

Being a software engineer provides me with plenty of [Aaaaarrrgghh!!] moments - a my own expense, as you can imagine ! Despite this, I still haven't learned not to do things like tear my hair out, grit my teeth, and claw at the wall when things don't work the way the documentation promises faithfully that it does ! [Grrrrrr] is, I think, the technical term for it, but I haven't ever been able to find it in the dictionary.

Note to reader: from now on things get seriously geeky :) !

[Grrrrrr] moments normally happen when you're working on a piece of software that's (for you) totally new, so not only have you not much idea where to get help from, you also don't really understand what the help says when you do read it, as it assumes that you've got lots more experience than you actualy do have! The most recent [Grrrrrr] moments have been coming courtesy of the installation packages of an operating system called Ubuntu - a version (or "distribution") of Linux.

As I don't just have a spare PC for this I created what's called a Virtual Machine (sort of a PC in software, not hardware) to put the new OS into, and then downloaded the system and installed it with no problems whatsoever. Of course, my luck couldn't last ! According to the OS manual the installation is a simple one-liner, but as soon as I started trying to install the popular set of programs (Apache, MySQL, and PHP) that one can use for developing web sites I got a very persistent error message seemingly telling me I didn't have permission to do the installation.

Like I say, a [Grrrrrr] moment, so I'm writing this while deciding what alternative strategy to follow, as the online bug-reports, etc., seem to show that this isn't an unknown problem. Others may have got around it, but I don't have the time.

Oh yes, and all the lights went out, so I should post this and close down my other PC, I think !

Back later !

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Back by Popular Demand !

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends ! Step inside ! Step inside ! ............. Yes, well. Since my last blog, that broke a fast of several months, I've been castigated for leaving it so long between blogs. Ok ! Ok ! I didn't actually realise that anyone out there read this stuff ([grin]) !

So, I've decided to make a to-do list (I can hear the cynical sniggering already ) of topics to cover soon:
  • Internet Music
  • Agile and Extreme Programming
  • A Second Riiview (see here on April 14, 2007)
  • TBA
  • I'll try not to wait 3 months between episodes! I would guess that some people will have no interest in programming, so I'll add light entertainment too !

    Today I'm sitting in the bat-cave programming, so taking a moment off to write this. The AG just sent me this site - you should introduce you 7+-year-old to some of these tricks
    . However, there are some others:
    • Is it Prime? For starters, not if it ends in an even number, 5, or 0 (that means divisible by 2 or 5). To check further, add all the digits, and keep adding until you have just 1 left. If that is 3, 6, or 9 then it's divisible by 3 and definitely not prime.
    • The site gives an easier way of subtracting from 1000 (or similar). I find easier to take 1 from 1000 leaving 999. Then I don't have to carry at all. Afterwards I can just add the one back to the result !
    Bye !

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Variety is the Spice of Life

    I was rather taken by Rita Tseng's drawing of such fun-loving sheep1. You'll find them cavorting on GoEnglish.Com's site (I've forgotten what word I was looking for - sorry !), a good place to find word meanings, etc.

    They conveniently lead to another subject - knitting. I've been learning rather a lot more than I ever expected to about knitting recently ! Totally aside from seeing the finished product in shops, as we all do every day, I've been introduced to raw wool, washed and dyed wools, roving, and hanks.

    I've been re-introduced to the delights of turning a hank into a ball to knot from (much easier with a swift that when I had to stand in front of the fire on a winter's afternoon with my hands upraised like a priest and with a hank stretched between my wrists), and have discovered the tactile differences between wool blends with and without additions such as silk and nylon, etc. Some wools are specifically for making socks (and hand-knitted socks are lovely and soft to wear !), whereas others are for jerseys or sweaters or scarves or almost any other piece of apparel that you could imagine !

    There's a huge community of knitters out there that also has a large intrusion into NetSpace and BlogSpace, amd many of them have a terrific sense of humour — good even for the "muggle" amongst them. Go here for a most unexpected link between knitting and rock !

    1 - The cartoon is copyright Rita Tseng and and used with their kind permission. Please respect their copyright.

    Wilfs of the Post

    Well, I was wandering aimlessly around various sites, clicking links as the whim took me, and I came across a shop in Hovingham in Yorkshire. It's a very nice, well-designed, and informative site, and worth a read. It also has some good links, especially if you're anywhere in the area.

    Finally, on a more serious note, if you're a VB programmer by chance, Beth Massi does a neat blog of VB stuff. She writes clearly and explains things well (I need that !). Well worth a read.

    Have fun until the next time everybody.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Hire a Thief to Catch a Thief ?

    That's always been a popular saying, but the UN appears to be turning it to new use. You may not know where Zimbabwe ("Southern Rhodesia" for those die-hard colonials amongst us) is, but I'm sure that you'd find it curious that a country that has been systematically driving itself into bankruptcy over that last ten to fifteen years has a really serious chance of being the next head of the Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD).

    Now this is a very interesting and worthwhile organisation, handling such subjects as
    Energy for Sustainable Development; Industrial Development; Air pollution/ Atmosphere; and Climate Change. Basically, this is the part of the UN that's hitting the world which actually affects us rich westerners. I'd say that we would want people to head this department who come from a successful economy - not from a failed one !

    Now lets hear what the National Geographic Online has to say about the Zimbabwean economy.

    The economy centers on farming, mining (Zimbabwe holds a tenth of the world's chromite), and manufacturing. Until drought struck in the early 1990s, the nation fed itself. Whites still own choice tracts, and land redistribution is a charged issue. Mugabe's government suddenly started seizing all white-owned commercial agricultural land in 2000. African settlers were being dumped on the land without required government support (including seed, water, and fertilizer). This chaotic land reform is causing massive declines in food production, and millions of Zimbabweans are at risk of famine. The economy is in crisis, with high inflation and unemployment rates.

    Now that was written a little while ago. Zimbabwe now has massive food shortages and the world's fastest-shrinking economy. The money supply has an unusual problem - they have devalued the currency and want to print larger-denomination notes, because there will be less of them, meaning lower paper costs. However, they can't afford the ink to do it with ! In
    2006, inflation passed 1,000%, but early 2007 saw 1,700%. Unemployment ranges from 70% to 80% and according to the World Health Organization Zimbabwe has the world's lowest life expectancy - a Zimbabwean can expect to live less than 40 years if he or she survives infancy.

    As a shining example of how to deal with economic problems,
    in mid-2005, Zimbabwe demolished its urban slums and shantytowns, leaving 700,000 people homeless in an operation called “Drive Out Trash.” In 2006, the government launched “Operation Roundup,” which drove 10,000 homeless people out of the capital (non giving them anywhere else to live, of course).

    Have I painted too bleak a picture of this situation ? Go and visit the BBC news site. The Beeb supported the fight for independence in Zimbabwe fiercely some thirty years ago, but appears to be having seconds thoughts now. It has some pretty accurate items today. Zimbabwe has about 13 million inhabitants. So what happens when Zimbabwe finally implodes ? Most foreigners there consider that more people are not leaving because they believe that they can't, not because they don't want to. Eventually necessity will win out over belief and a large number of people will leave. The question is, where to ?
    None of the surrounding countries can be called "wealthy", with the possible exception of South Africa, and one could hardly expect any of them to take in several millions of people !

    Is this the government you want to advise the world on anything, least of all economics ?

    I really don't think so.

    Postscript: A few days after my original post the U.N. duly elected the representatives of the world's least competent government to advise us all on how best to develop our economies.

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Cinco de Mayo

    Cinco de Mayo (or, "how the US commercialised a celebration").
    This event is not Mexico's National or Independence day, but the celebration of the defeat of a small invading French force by an even smaller local Mexican force at Puebla in 1862.

    By "small" I mean that there were 6,500 French soldiers and 4,500 Mexican militiamen involved - numbers that were "usual" in the wars of independence further north some 75 years before, but dwarfed by the scale of the armies raised in Europe between 1790 and 1815, during the Napoleonic conflicts. Of course, various web sites change the figures - the Mexican number seems pretty well agreed-upon, but the French force seems to vary, up to "three times the number of Mexicans" or more !

    In Mexico this is a big celebration in the state of Puebla, but that's about it. In the USA, on the other hand, it's the cause for big promotions by food and drink companies. All in all, it seems like people in the US ( and I
    mean all the people, not just those who look like they might have walked quietly over the border last weekend ) have a predisposition towards partying this weekend. Probably because Spring has started and the weather is, at last, turning warm, and so let's all get out there and party ! May 5th is just a good time.

    By the way, for those interested in "genuine" beer, Tecate is a popular beer, but is brewed by Labatt's, who live in Norwalk, VA. Labatts are owned by Interbrew of Belgium and FEMSA Cervesa of Mexico. Dos Equis shares the same distinctive heritage ! Personally I prefer Pacifico, brewed by the larger of the two Mexican brewing giants, Grupo Modelo, who also export Corona, Corona Light, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial, and Modelo Light. Unfortunately, Anheuser-Busch owns 49% of Grupo Modelo, so things may soon get worse

    For info, thanks to MEXonline. For the picture of a burrito, thanks to WikiBooks ! For ace food, thanks to the ladies in the Taco House restaurant at the bottom of Route 70 in NJ.

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Celebration !

    It's St. George's Day to day, so all you English should be out in the streets waving flags and jumping up and down like crazy people, celebrating the day of our patron saint, St. George.

    How many of you will be doing that ?

    Well, I might hazard a guess and say that Philip Johnston might be, but I doubt that, even in England, he'll see many frolickers. We're not very frolicky people, you see, we English.

    You're far more likely to find us having a quick cuppa before getting back to work than having a celebration. Not at all like some ex-patriots, like the Irish, for instance (especially in the USA) who've co-opted almost the whole of March The Mexicans have grabbed May, and the United Statesians themselves start July off well and just keep on barbecuing 'till the bitter end !

    So I'd like to appeal to all those English people out there, and all the anglophiles in the world, to start planning for next year's April 23rd. We can plan for great meals of mountains of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, gallons of rich dark gravy, and sweet young green peas cooked gently with mint. We can sing heart-rousing songs like Jerusalem, and play dragon-slaying games.

    Friday, April 20, 2007


    Well, it's Friday again. You find me sneaking in a quick few words here as I wait for compilations of a program. I was wilfing around a few minutes ago and found this blog from Karin Eriksson, which links to knitting, if anyone's interested (there seem to be a lot of knitters around here!). Her designs and style are really nice, and she has an etsy shop too. All of us here in the USA should make an absolute point of searching out all the European artists that we can, as their styles are so different to US ones.

    Today started with great reluctance to get up, followed by panic as I realised the time :) Took Offspring to school and then went off to work with friends.

    Back later with more ...

    Well, I never made it back, so see you all on Sunday !

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    A Lesurely Mid-Afternoon Posting

    yeah, well. I had intended on blogging this morning and this evening, but this morning's log just seemed to vanish in the haze ! Mostly it was consumed by taking Offspring's pal to school, taking Offspring and Cousin to grandparents' (both Better .5 and I are working today), and getting to where I'm working. Offspring and Cousin aren't in school today because they went to Medieval Times for Cousin's birthday present and didn't get to bed until around midnight.

    Humour of the day was this reprint from Auntie.

    Pretty much everyone has been having their say about what happened the other day at Virginia Tech. Take a slow read of Bryony Gordon's take on it: it may temper things a little differently for you after you've read it. I hope it does.

    So, for all those curious to know, today was one of tracking down software bugs. In an application written in VB.NET 2005 and SQL Server 2005, with input from and output to Excel. It turned out that a conditional statement read "if so-and-so is true then ..." instead of
    "if so-and-so is not true then ...". So, a lot of strange complaints started cropping up in the program, as it processed things later and found them to be wrong. A good work-out for the error trapping, but not the way I'd intended

    Finally, a word of hope to all those languishing on the "wrong" continent. Apparently some air prices are going to come down rather dramatically, almost as far as with Freddie Laker, if you remember him. It's supposed to happen next your and there's some info here. Personally, I'll be commuting from a small town just outside Limerick if The
    O'Leary does his sums right ! Maybe all the other readers can come and visit NJ ? !!

    All the best to you all !

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    The Evening Post

    It's just after seven in the evening as I write this, so it'll be out in time for you night-owls in Paris and London to read before you go to bed !

    Today was a long day of scouring job lists, looking for positions to apply to. Not many today, but a few. The Better .5 and Offspring are off to Medieval Times in Newark, a thoroughly worthwhile fun evening out. They're be eating and drinking and be being entertained, and I'm here programming and listening to Al Stewart CDs.

    Good for me, though, because while wilfing around I ran into this interesting page. I got about half-way down before I was crying so much with laughter that I had to stop reading. Now some of you, I should say first, may not be very amused at this at all, but some of us have found it hilarious. Having warned you, you can click here. There are several pages all together: two or three are very funny.

    Tomorrow will be a day of programming work and job searching, instead of the other way around like today.

    For a final note, I'd like to commend the military Establishment of India for daring to have a sense of humour. It is refreshing to be able to see that one country's military, at least, is able to laugh at itself, even if on just a few occasions. For this nice page, please go to the Defence India site.

    Good Morning ?

    Well, I never got to post again last night, so we'll try doing today in bits.

    This morning I woke to the alarm clock, staggered from bed to shower, and dragged clothes on to find that the Offspring wasn't nearly ready for school and, as a result, the Better .5 was still not dressed and obviously unable there too. Together we got him ready and out of the door.

    Then around to his cousin D's, to pick him up ... . They're having their kitchen painted today, so they haven't any clocks ! D is running late :( We get D and head off to school (thank you the school bus system for arranging two buses in our way to slow things down !).

    We get to school (fuel guage showing bright orange at this point, which means I have only about 5 miles to go) and I can drop off the kids. Warning to fathers here: if you ever thought of your wife as meek, gentle, and mild-mannered, then don't come here to drop off kids. The way these mums drive would put a pack of snarling hyenas to shame ! Talk about aggressive !

    Then quietly to the petrol station and finally home to the Better .5, who's almost ready to leave for work (mine being here at home for the time being). Breakfast ? Some ReadyBrek would be nice. Put it into bowl, add milk, nuke for two minutes, and then ... pick up the overflow and do it again for 1.5 mins ! This time it's ok - just very hot ! Cold orange juice from the fridge for safety !

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    I Love Al Stewart ('s Music !)

    I got an envelope from England today with a CD in it. Well, so ? you might say. Well, I lost a few CDs a while ago, and eBay has been the way I've managed to get copies of them again. Sometimes they can be very expensive, and sometimes not.

    I just got hold of Al Stewart's "Between the Wars", which seems amazingly rare for such a good CD. I've seen a lot of copies going for $40 and $50 or more, which is startling ! I got this one for about $15 including shipping from the UK to America, which was nice. Cheaper, in fact, than the CD was to buy originally.

    Today was warmer than yesterday, and my in-laws' basements didn't flood any more than they did yesterday, which was good news. It's been very wet here in New Jersey these last few weeks. I could do with a holiday in somewhere dry. Like California, for instance, or Utah ...

    I'll continue this a little later, but, for now, greetings to all those who take a read before going to bed. Sleep well !

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    Global Warming or Freezing ?

    Global Something in this part of the globe, anyway. In England they were "suffering" from temperatures of 26C (78F) just a few days ago.

    This morning I was awoken by the school phone chain telling me that the Offspring's school would be cancelled. "hunh" said I with famous aplomb to the voice at the other end (luckily someone I know well) and was informed that it was going to be a Snow Day. No school buses were running. So what I said - the Offspring doesn't take the bus - he's forbidden from taking the bus !

    "Oh well" said the Voice, it seems like the middle of town is flooded and the buses can't get through".

    "Nobody but little old ladies in little old houses lives in the middle of town, " I said: "what's to stop the driver taking the scenic route?" "Not allowed to change the route !" was the reply ! Oh well, I thought, consigned the Offspring to another 30 mins of sleep, and did the same myself.

    By the time the 30 mins had passed and I was showered and hauling the Offspring out of bed, I could stick his nose up against the window pane to look at the vast numbers of swirling white mega-flakes blowing past and say "See !!! Look !!! Snow. That makes it a real Snow Day !!!". By the time he got back from the shower, though, the snow white was all gone and the rain was back.

    Still a Snow Day, with the buses grounded. So we headed off to his grandmother's and baled their basement all day. Hard work that, walking up and down stairs all day with buckets full of water.

    Now I can rest, relax, and do some programming that'll help brush up my VB.NET 2 skills some more. I love programming - I just can't get enough of it. I have to confess to being a code junkie. I really like writing the stuff. Still, aside from the occasional lapse, I'm going to resist turning this into a Geek's Hangout. Maybe you'll see items here on knitting, spinning, and tapestry soon, or the problems of buying a new car ! Whatever it is, be sure that I'll be having fun doing it.

    Thanks very much to Sarah and Diane who posted comments to my post of them many months ago: you boost my ego in the nicest of ways !

    Late Addition

    Sorry - this was here, but not written about. For good info on weather stuff, please go here and read, learn, and inwardly digest (as my teachers always used to say !)

    Saturday, April 14, 2007

    Wii: What to Play ?

    We gave my son (nine and a half) a Wii for Christmas. He's had it for three months now, playing it under strict restrictions (Wiikends only, for example). We have some Wii games and some GameCube games, and here's a list of some titles and how they get rated by him and his cousin. If he slates your favourite game, well, remember that he's telling it like he finds it, not as one would like it to be.

    Wii Games
    Wii Sports: Very Good
    Cars: Very Good
    Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz:Challenging
    Monster 4x4 World Circuit:Best Game Ever
    Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam:Awsome
    Sonic and the Secret Rings:Challenging & exciting
    GT Pro Series:Too hard to handle the cars on turns
    Rayman Raving Rabbids:Raving fun !!
    Creature from the Krusty Krab:True to SpongeBob
    GameCube Games
    Spyro: A Hero's Tail:Fun and Exciting
    A Series of Unfortunate Events: Challenging, fun, & true to movie
    F1 2002:Very very hard indeed, but very realistic. Good lessons
    Nicktoons Battle for Volcano IslandGood clean fun !

    I don't know if it's more by luck or by good judgement (I suspect mainly the former !) but we've ended up with a set of games that he and pretty much all his friends like.

    The novelty of playing "unattached" certainly helped to start off with, but hasn't diminished in any way so far. The kids also play with the various system parts, like making Miis, and perusing the shop and, sometimes, going online. This latter I have made a "with daddy only" activity, and they respect that - they know what I do for a living and that I know (I hope) more than they do !

    In sum, I was apprehensive getting a game machine for my son, having nightmares over whether he'd be up all night playing on the thing, but so far I've had no problems. Now if you ask me again in another 6 months things may be different, but only time can tell.

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Kurt Vonnegut: 1922 - 2007

    Thanks to " Today" for this. It's a piece of the
    past for, I'm sure, many of us.
    Mark Flanagan of says:
    Kurt Vonnegut passed away yesterday at 84 years old. 84
    years is a long time for anyone, but Vonnegut often seemed
    frankly amazed at his longevity. He was, famously, a heavy
    smoker and prone to depression. It's interesting how often
    our great artists, who contribute so much to people's health
    and happiness, live lives that seem short on both.

    New Jersey is, as many know to their cost, a heavily taxed
    state. In fact, one could term it a "State of Transitory
    Wealth", considering how much goes to the state in
    Trenton. Here where I live we just got a reassessment
    of out properties. Mine about doubled, which is lots more
    than the real increase in value. However, you can't appeal
    it unless you can show that the new value is at least 15%
    above or below the average for similar properties around
    last October. Difficult as nobody was selling then !

    I got an email from Blogger that I had a comment, but the
    comment hasn't shown up yet !. hmmmmm. Oh well.
    It was from Tina Ernstrom, the photographer for the Messiah
    production that I mentioned. Apparently I was being
    particularly blind, and all the preview pics are still
    there. Sorry !

    For the DVDs talk to John Ribera (

    Interesting Blogger feature: I've selected Trebuchet
    as a font today. I have to do all my line-wraps by hand !!

    Have fun everyone.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    The Blogger Returns

    A posse ad esse non valet consequentia
    From a thing's possibility one cannot be certain of its reality)

    Living here in America I have become aware, partly by observation of the people around me and partly by comparisons with those in Europe that I left behind in 1992 to come here, that this little fragment of a cautionary note is, in very many instances of human life, totally ignored. In fact, I see quite the reverse attitude. People are becoming obsessed about what might happen, rather than what very probably will happen.
    I suppose that this is a natural consequence of the national shock caused by the events of the 11th of September, 2001. Instead of assessing risks and benefits and planning to avert or ameliorate those problems that are reasonably attempted, and accepting that some things just can't be tackled, one sees demands that every eventuality be considered and planned for.
    If one is dealing with a nuclear reactor (as I have been for the last 21 months) then this is a reasonable attitude, in that the consequences of many errors are both catastrophic and easily avoidable.
    If, on the other hand, one is dealing with something fairly minor, one hardly needs to go to the same lengths. I could point out some cases, however, where care seems to have been replaced with an obsession bordering on paranoia ! Like people here also say: "get a life, for heaven's sake" !

    Do you IM ? I think that this is a tool that people seem either to use an amazing amount, or not at all. Right now I have an MSN account, a YIM account (Yahoo), and, by special invitation, an IMVU account. I used the MSN account for a little while, but wasn't that enchanted by it, so stopped. YIM, on the other hand, is a lot nicer and has people that I actually talk to, so that's always there. IMVU bills itself as a video/graphically oriented IM, and, to some extent, it is. However, it desperately needs to take lessons on ease of use from Webkins, the site my son plays on.

    This is a short blog (letting me get some rust off my nib ) so I'm closing it down here. Mentions go to Porcupine Tree, whom I shall see in May (see here for others going), to Tola, who commented on one of my blogs: "you're such a sweetie" !, and to anyone else who deserves it !!

    One very last thing. A little while ago a group of people in Logan, UT, put on a performance of the Messiah by Handel. If you like this, take a look over at this blog page where there are some pictures. Unfortunately the number is shrinking, but you can also get a DVD of the performance (when it's mastered !) and the proceeds go, I believe to a project that helps identify people withy hearing problems in Baja California.

    She also has a quick review of the new AppleTV too, which is seriously cool !

    ~~Late addition ~~
    I just got told that the place to contact for DVDs is NAFDA. They do good things.

    Saturday, January 06, 2007

    New Toys - Where Will It End ?

    sic transit gloria mundi

    which might describe me. I'm writing this as the first piece of English (or anything else, for that matter) that I've composed on my new Acer 9300 laptop. A birthday / Christmas / New Year's present to the Man of the House from Himself (via TigerDirect and UPS), of course, as nobody else would dare do such a thing :)

    I'll only bore you a moment with stats (2 GHz 64-bit AMD cpu, 2 GB DDE2 DRAM, 17" screen) before going on to complain that the keyboard is, of course, one of those chiclet types with about 2mm travel but so what ? It's quiet, no heavier that the one it replaces (a Sony Vaio from 2000) and easier to type on. It has a built-in wireless network card, which is convenient for scribbling in one places, like standing one-legged in airports (I'm lousy as a stork, so I never do that), but it'll be too big for the tables in Starbucks (I hope), giving me an excuse to find somewhere else !

    I can see that sitting in aeroplanes is going to be fun, as the thing is only about 2" narrower than my hips, and that's got to be too wide for the little fold-down tablettes. Still, maybe I'll ust fly Virgin from now on and play all their in-flight games instead.

    I've been wandering the internet in search of tidbits, as is my wont, and landed on Bill Thompson's article today in the Telegraph. When, in what seems not to have been a previous lifetime, I worked in a web company help produce a tool to make web pages, the problem of finding out just how many people were visiting the sites was quite a problem.Revenue comes from advertising the cost of advertising space is determined by "eyeballs", the estimated number of individuals who would look at the space. Many of our customers built sites that got you to identify yourself in some way (at least once) so that subsequent visits could be discounted (or not, depending on many things).

    However, Bill points out that many of the younger generation discard identities with reckless abandon - sometimes because they're forgotten the password and can't be bothered to really think to remember it, and other times because they really deliberately want many identities (to trade amongst, for instance). This is probably going on in large amount - now that he mentions it I realise that I've seen it myself, and not taken any notice, but Bill is a more astute watcher of humans than I - and it rather makes a mockery of all the executives counting heads and asking for money based on that !

    Have a fun weekend everyone. I've some programming to do.

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Happy New Year !

    Happy New Year to the others who led me into Blogging - at which I've been somewhat of a failure, but I promise to try harder !

    Sarah Hague (St Bloggie de Riviérè). Sarah - you're the best !!
    Colin Randall (salut). The most entertaining journalistic refugee.
    Diane Rauscher-Kennedy (Art). I swear I'll save up enough for a stunning objét of yours soon !
    Tola (FaeryKnits) (a.k.a. YesGirl). Also a good rep for the SCA.

    There's a lot of others around who were a Good Influence on me this last year, I'm sure, and there were lots of good events to celebrate. Things like the successful launch of the Corot orbital telescope to hunt for planets around other stars. Things like the Powers The Be finally recognising that Global Warming in real (it would have been so nice if they'd actually started doing something about it 20 years ago, instead of waiting for the water to start lapping around their ankles !).

    Best wishes to all who read this.