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.