Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you all did too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've been banned by Samizdata.Net!

So for the first time in a long while I try to post a comment to Libertarian Samizdata and get the message that I've been banned. I've no idea why; I've had no email from them. I can only presume some previous user of my IP address was a spammer. But I've been on NTL for 3 years now, with mostly the same IP address, so they're a bunch of tossers for keeping the ban so long.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A tale of two carol services

I attended two carol services this week. One at work and one at St Magnus Martyr in London with the Fishmongers.

The one at work was given by children from a local school and they sang while we had mulled wine and mince pies. The wine was dreadful. The children sang really well, and the carols were a mixture of traditional and modern 'happy-clappy' carols. The traditional carols were excellent, but the modern ones did not take my fancy at all. The music teacherdid a couple of solos and he was crap. He didn't take into account the acoustics of the building at all. And he sang in the happy-clappy manner.

The service in London was excellent: it was full blown service with choristers and traditional carols. The congregation (i.e. us) sang most of the carols but we paused a couple of times and the choristers sang. And they were excellent. Then we repaired to Fishmongers' Hall for nibbles and wine. Lovely.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Her name is Georgina

Welcome to the world, Georgina! There are such wonders in store for you.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm an uncle again

Isn't she gorgeous?

I flew to see her yesterday, and back today. I spent a long time simply sitting and holding her in my arms and when you're like that, you know that despite the bad weather outside, there's nothing wrong with the world.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bill's back!

And he's written a long one.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Idiot cyclist

I saw a cyclist get bumped today. It was about 17:30 and dark, and the moron was wearing dark clothing (no high-visibility jacket or anything), had no helmet,was weaving around the traffic, and was riding far too close to the cars. He tried to undertake a car and got brushed. Fortunately it was only a little bump, but had he been run over, I'd be willing to stand up in court and say it was the cyclist's fault. Hopefully the idiot has learned his lesson.

Halloween: nobody came.

There was me all togged up with plenty of chocolate to disburse and nobody came. Not one trick-or-treater. Well, it looks like all that chocolate's for me!

Friday, October 20, 2006

New toy alert!

I've gone and got myself an Inverto PVR. I ordered it from Boots' website on Sunday. I was less than impressed when it only came today.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Eating out

Just had a gorgeous steak at The Wyvern. Lovely meat, lovely sauce. Pity they default to chips; their mashed potato is so much better.

And I've a new toy on the way.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Paging Misty

Look ye here! Very cool.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ofcom replied

And I wasn't fobbed off. It was a well-written and thoughtful reply, with which I thoroughly disagreed.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Three weeks away from work! Well, it would be nice if my aged aunt weren't seriously ill. Still, I've got loads to do around the house.

Digital radio

About a week ago I purchased a cheap DAB radio. It's very good. The best feature: the alarm that operates weekdays only.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Three Things Meme

Directly cribbed from Misty, but I don't think she'll mind.

1. Things that scare me
Bees & wasps & the like.
The prospect of long-term loneliness.

2. People who make me laugh
The Two Ronnies.
Yes, Minister.
Actually, most people, really.

3. Things I hate

4. Things I don't understand
How to tell a joke.

5. Things I'm doing right now.
Enjoying the day.
Writing this!
Waiting for the kettle to boil

6. Things I want to do before I die
See another eclipse
Learn to fly.
Travel widely.

7. Things I can do
Fix computers (a large hammer helps) & computer-type stuff.
Proofread / copyedit.
Get things done.

8. Ways to describe my personality.
Honest & loving.
Aspergers (near enough).

9. Things I can't do
Tell jokes.
Spend money recklessly.
Run - much (I'm far too unfit).

10. Things to which you should listen
Classical music.
Other people.

11. Things you to which you should never listen
Anyone urging you to do ill.

12. Things I'd like to learn
To fly a plane.
To skydive.

13. Favourite foods
My mother's cooking
Roast beef with all the trimmings.

14. Beverages I drink regularly
Coffee / Tea

15. Shows I watched as a kid
Dr Who
Star Trek
Tom & Jerry.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

So I complained to Ofcom

At 21:02 the other night, I happened to switch on BBC 1, only to see full frontal female nudity - actually, a man in a fatsuit, but near enough. I felt it was a little too near the watershed for that sort of thing. So I complained. It will be interesting to see the reaction.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Who burnt the toast?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bad drivers

I still haven't got my driving confidence back after I was rear-ended two years ago, and today didn't help. A nice short two and a half mile trip, and people don't bother stopping at roundabouts: two tossers shot out straight in front of me. I'm not in a hurry to kill myself but idiots like these make it just that bit more difficult.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My nephew

My nephew. Isn't he cute? He's 4.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Anyone know the best way to rid a garden of a large infestation of ants?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Unintentionaly dodgy URLs

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bother said Q

As his KVM failed.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Film Twist Quiz

Try this quiz and see if you can identify all the twists.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Konáll Oakengoat

Your Viking Personality: You're a fearsome Viking, but you aren't completely uncivilized. The other Vikings make fun of you for that. You are strong and tireless, frequently shouldering burdens that would tire lesser men. You might be able to hold your own on the battlefield, but you're no "berserker".

You might grumble a bit at the lack of amenities on board a Viking longboat, but you can handle it. Other Vikings tolerate your presence, though they're not quite sure if they can trust you to fight dirty.

People who've known you for a while don't always trust your word. You sometimes come off as a bit of a snob. Vikings are not snobbish people -- they either like you, or they kill you. Try to be more like a Viking.


I must blog about the ballet soon.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The joys of Tech Support

A significant part of my job is tech support. So, I raised a ticket for one of my users with a helpdesk in forn parts. A little while later I get an email saying that the ticket has been cancelled. No details, of course. So I ring up and ask why. It's been referred to local staff, i.e. me. Who logged the call in the first place. Sheesh!

But rest assured, I screw up too. But that's a story for a few months' time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wherein Quartz has a bit of an epiphany on same-sex marriage.

And proposes the concept of a solution which helps out with some other issues too.

First off, this is a bit of a broad brush: nitpickers can assume that trivial and minor issues are squared away by clever civil servants.

Same sex marriage is a perrenial subject here, one fraught with many difficulties - what if two straight people of the same sex marry? What about inheritance? And so on.

(Just to expand on two straight people of the same sex entering a formal relationship, consider the examples of two batchelors living together, like Holmes and Watson. Or two old war comrades. Or two brothers. Or two spinsters. Or...)

But I contend that these are all side issues, reflextions of the main issues: tax and tax allowances. How can you be fair to same-sex marriages while retaining advantages for other-sex marriages and promoting family values, so you don't get voted out at the next election? I contend that the answer lies in tax. First off, we seperate marriage from partnership - after all, the partners making up the partnership of a law firm aren't married to each other, are they? So marriage becomes a religious concept for those who so believe, and we have a legal concept of a monogamous partnership (sorry, Mormons and Muslims, that's a seperate battle) restricted to next-of-kin status etc.

Now, the key to what we do is permit tax allowances to be transferred one generation up as long as all are on the same property, or down any number of generations to a minor as long as all are on the same property.

In a typical family, we have parents, children, and grandparents. By parent I mean the legal parent (or guardian), not necessarily the biological parent. Currently, it's quite expensive to have a grandparent in the home, despite the help they can provide with children, because parents can't make use of their tax allowances. Equally, parents may be looking after a grown-up child or grandparent who has become incapacitated. So we're making it fancially easier for people to care for family members, thus reducing the strain on Social Services / Welfare and promoting the family to boot.

So consider the canonical family of a working man, non-working woman, their two children, and one grandparent in an annexe. The woman can transfer her allowance to the children, as can the grandparent, who can transfer their allowances, plus their mother's and their grandparent's, to the man. The family's tax allowances are therefore concentrated in the hands of the breadwinner. Now consider the case of two people in a partnership, no matter the sex, with no children: they are no better or worse off financially than if they were not in a partnership, but still reap the other benefits and have the same responsibilities.Consider now the modern canonical dysfunctional family: a working man and a non-working or low-wage woman in partnership, several children of the woman by different men where the working man is not her legal partner. The woman can get the allowances from her children but the working man - and thus the family as a whole - cannot benefit because he is not the legal partner of the woman and thus not the legal guardian of the children and so much of the allowance is lost. So there is considerable financial encouragement to enter a formal relationship, thus enhancing family stability. This also encourages women who were in highly paid work to take time off to have children because their full allowances are put to good use. Again, consider a same-sex couple who have adopted two children: they are in almost the same situation as the first family (no grandparent). Now, the perspicacious will spot that a couple with children will benefit identically financially whether they're partners or not. This is indeed the case, but the couple will not benefit from being legally considered partners.

Inheritance tax? You follow a similar rubric: instead of a person's estate having a tax-free allowance, each inheritor (including the partner) has an allowance, and related inheritors can give other inheritors all or part of their allowances.

To me, this seems like a simple and elegant solution which not only squares the circle of same-sex marriage but promotes social harmony and welfare

Now, it hasn't been done, so I'm obviously being hare-brained and missing something, but what?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bar review: the Peppercorn in Harpenden

Summary: don't bother.

I've just got back from dining at The Peppercorn. It's just been refurbished, so I thought it worth a go. The cider there is decently priced - £2.45 for a pint - but the interior decor is entirely unremarkable. I didn't notice anything of interest. The menu was short and expensive, with few of the usual bar staples. I ordered the lamb chops - £12.95 - and opted to eat outside since it's such a lovely evening. After sufficient time for two long phone calls, the food arrived: three modest lamb chops with a roundel of potato in the middle and a scattering of beans, spring onions, and peas. It wasn't hot. But it was moderately tasty.

Eating outside was a mistake: there was insufficient insulation against the road (granted I was sat next to the hedge, but I'd earlier sat further away with no difference). This is unlike the Old Bell, a few hundred yards up the road where you can sit outside and not be bothered. And the view from the Old Bell is great too.

The price of the food did not match the quality, nor the quality of the place. If you want to eat well in Harpenden, go to the Old Bell. you'll eat better in a better place for less. Likewise the Wyvern in Luton, which is in staggering distance for me.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Global warming bigots

I recently had a run-in with the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) bigots. Now I'm a sceptic: there's a lot of evidence out there which works more than one way, and detailed measurements simply aren't available for sufficient lengths of time. I don't know, but I know that I don't know, but these were of the 'if you're not with us, you're against us' variety. Arrogantly dismissive of everything not in their world view. No consideration of the Little Ice Age or the Medeival Warm Period. And AGW is bad too, if it exists: no thought that it might be keeping us from an ice age. No thought of the effect of volcanos either. Belief but not knowledge.

Bollocks to the lot of them.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I passed!

I had an exam today. I wasn't confident of the material, which turned out to be quite right as my main training material was next to useless. But I squeaked through and now it's on to the next one, probably in 2 or 3 months.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fox cubs

I was late at work today. I happenned to look outside and saw three fox cubs playing. Very cute. At least they'll keep the rabbits down.

Of course, foxes can be pests, as any shepherd will tell you, and if I had a shotgun, they'd be fox-fur by now.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Dr Who is back

And it was a rather good episode, wasn't it?

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I've had a pretty frustrating week, but I've just received wonderful news. That is all.

Friday, March 31, 2006

United Guilds service

Today was the United Guilds service in St Paul's Cathedral. Wow! I haven't been there for some years, and this year, they'd finally got rid of the scaffolding inside. The people restoring the cathedral have done a wonderful job and it looks gorgeous.

It was a good, short, service, with Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor preaching from the pulpit. He told lots of jokes but this was probably the best:

He and a friend were travelling in Ireland and came to a village. The village had two inns, so the question arose as to at which should they eat? So they asked a local; who, after sucking on his pipe and putting it down said, "Whichever one you choose, you'll wish you'd chosen the other."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A cunning plan.

I have a succession of short weeks ahead: a 4-day weekend this weekend gives me a 4-day week this week and next, and Easter then gives me two 4-day weeks in the following weeks. Four 4-day weeks on the trot. Should be good.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New toys!

I've been shopping at I Want One Of Those and bought some new toys.

First up is the corkscrew keyfob. Collapses down to a cylinder when not in use so it doesn't make a hole in your pocket.

Next up is a mini-tool. Sort of like a Leatherman (TM) but about the size of a 50p piece. This is actually one that's better for the ladies as it can be easily slipped into a purse and extracted when your glasses need adjusting, the kid's toy needs a new battery or whatever.

The Eon Ice credit-card torch is incredibly cool. It went straight in my wallet.

I was disappinted with the 'glowing keyfob': it didn't really glow that much. Maybe I need to give it a little time?

Put aside for later were the knife and steel and the lantern torch. Okay, I did test that the former really could produce sparks.

Monday, March 27, 2006

So XP died on me

Good thing I've got more than one machine. I tried to use NLite to create a CD with the RAID driver slipstreamed but that didn't work out, so I had to hook up a floppy. I guess I'll have to manually merge the driver - lots of good stuff at

I've had to do a repair install and it's looking good so far.

But why does it happen when I've just finished Far Cry?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hands free kit

I did get it fitted. I should have postponed it - I really wasn't well enough that day - but it's done and it's good. So next time there's some twit of a Darwin-candidate in front of me, I'll be on to the police; I really don't want to be collateral damage.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I shouldn't have tempted fate

I tempted fate with my last post. Someone shunted my car this morning :(. No injuries apparent so far and the guy seems to have given me good details. Unlike the last one. I'm going to need a new bumper at the very least.

It's back.

No longer am I getting errors when trying to post. Now all I have to do is find something about which to post. :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Got a cold

I am not well and it sucks.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Now this is serious gaming

24 monitors. Yowser!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Driving while using a mobile phone

I felt lucky to get to work alive today. I was stuck behind a Polish car (i.e. left-hand drive) and the driver was using a mobile phone in one hand. He was swerving all over the road. I stayed well back. Unfortunately, I didn't have a hands-free kit of my own else I'd have reported him to the police. I have today ordered such a kit. It's being fitted next Thursday.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I have got to start swimming again. That is all.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Apparently, I'm 'defiantly independent'

So I had my annual appraisal yesterday. As part of the process we get feedback from colleagues and customers. And this phrase stuck out like a pikestaff. Of course, from the context, it was obvious that the person had originally typoed 'definitely' and MS Word's spellchecker had done its worst.

But I couldn't stop laughing throughout the day.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

An evening at Fishmongers' Hall

I'm a Fishmonger. No, not a fishmonger as in someone who sells fish, but a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. And we had a Livery Dinner last night.

So, I left work early to get togged up in my dinner jacket, only to find that I couldn't find my bow tie. You can't wear a dinner jacket without a bow tie. Fortunately, I was able to dig out my old school bow tie: twenty-five years old and a bit dusty, but it sufficed.

The journey up to London was quick but cold, and we were quickly welcomed with Pol Roger Champagne, or proper, freshly made, lemonade for those not imbibing. I met all sorts of people, including someone new to Fishmongers' Hall and showed him the dagger with which Sir William Walworth, Prime Warden of Fishmongers, slew Wat Tyler in 1381. There was also the Master of the Leathersellers, and some people from the British Shellfish Association.

Dinner followed, dreamed up by master chef Stephen Pini. My starter was lobster with a confit of crab and prawns. Delicious. Then there was a mussel broth with teriyaki salmon with a quenelle of watercress and greek yoghurt. Very creamy and utterly gorgeous. The wine was a Meursault-Genevrieres. The main course was a supreme of guinea fowl and basil, wrapped in parma ham, in a very rich shallot and calvados sauce. I found the guinea fowl rather bland on its own, but it provided a superrb base for the others, and the ensemble was simply wonderful. And swished down with a rather good Ch. Calon-Segur 1990. Then came the desert and then the speeches. The Prime Warden's guest (though actually a Fishmonger himself) was Major Sir Michael Parker, K.C.V.O., C.B.E, and while his speech got off to a bit of a shaky start, he soon warmed to his theme and it was really rather good.

We then retired for more drinks.

I should explain that dinner is served on a huge assembly of a table shaped like a U with a spur up the middle. The Prime Warden sits at the head of the U, presiding over the assembly. My dining companions were most congenial and included a retired microbiologist, an an ex-marine, and a Channel Islander.

The only downer was that my guest couldn't make it - scared of being in a dinner jacket - and no-one else wanted to come!

After that, things went downhill: they'd cancelled the d*mn trains. So there was me expecting to catch the 23:45 from London Bridge, only to have to trek across London and catch a train at one-ish which took the long way home. I got home about 02:30. Unsurprisingly, I was rather late in to work in the morning!

The Renter Warden, the Clerk, Stephen Pini, and the rest of the staff really pushed out the boat and it was a wonderful experience.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Domino's new Fajita pizza

I had one of Domino's new Fajita pizzas tonight. It was crap. Don't get me wrong, it's not badly cooked - the cooking's well up to their usual high standard - but it's just that the taste of the ensemble isn't remotely up to par.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Yellow Peril also save from peril

A member of the much-maligned Parking Wardens writes up an incident. He did good. So remember, they're not always the enemy.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

6 weeks and no update

No, I haven't been in a drunken stupor; I have, however, had severe PC problems. And been very busy at work.