December 2002 News & Thoughts

Monday, December 30, 2002

You’ve probably noticed from the Branch
Office page
that more and more Habershons are finding us. If
you see any errors, please point
them out
to me. There’s a lot of new stuff going on the
site. I’m salivating at the thought that we won’t have to dig so
hard for worthy Habershons of the Month. And talking of Habershons
of the Month, I’m still looking for nominations
for January. C’mon y’all. Someone must have done something
good lately?

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Don’t know why I don’t throw this camera out. It’s getting
sicker and sicker. However, here are two pictures of bands we saw
last night at the Sidecar
. One was Pavlov’s
and the other
was Silverleaf
(remnants from 24-Count and two other bands, the names of which I
forget) making its debut. Both bands were extremely loud and my
ears are still ringing this evening. Getting too old for this
stuff, especially when there’s nowhere to sit down. Kevin has a
description of the Sidecar Pub on
his website
which just about covers everything. I won’t
describe the scene outside (haven’t I said this before?) as this is a
family website.
I’ve got the camera’s memory card out, here’s a picture of the silver
Mini with black top that I got for Christmas. I took it into work
and it’s sitting on my desk next to my slightly larger red one. My
boss has got into the habit of leaving my paycheck underneath the red

Friday, December 27, 2002
The Arizona
have a swimming pool in center field. Minute
Maid Park had, until
, Ruggles Restaurant. At $500 for a table for four it was a
once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, and fortunately my boss did spring
for it in 2001. We had a front row table on the night that Barry
could have hit a record-breaking home run right in the
middle of my Caesar salad.
I wonder what they’ll put there now? Can’t imagine Aramark
coming up with anything fancy. Bummer.

Friday, December 27, 2002
David e-mailed more pages of the
today. I’ve just been playing Mrs. Habergham’s ballad
on the piano. It’s quite mournful.
So now I’m searching for a Habershon who can play the piano, sing, and
send me an MP3 or wave file of the song. Any volunteers?

Christmas Day 2002
edjimcharlieDec2002.jpg (136071 bytes)Merry

I got up at 8:55 a.m., just in time to watch the Queen’s Speech live on the
BBC website
. The picture gets better every year. Then I
checked my e-mail and found this picture of Ed, Jim
and Charlie. Was this taken before or after
they opened their presents? Before, I hope. I know Jim’s getting a cool one.

Christmas Eve 2002
Home at last,
and we have our internet connection back. Hope all
Habershons and non-Habershons are having a brilliant Christmas
Eve. I’ve been checking out the presents under our imaginary tree
but there’s nothing big enough there to contain a viola.
My plans for the January Habershon of the Month have been
dashed. I was thinking that David would
be a shoo-in, having completed a 35-year career in the Navy. I
have just heard, however, that he’s been asked to stay on. He’s
giving them fifteen months. I guess it’s not the kind of job you
can negotiate, but I’d have held out for more money, a company boat and
an extra day off per week.
Time to read the instructions on how to cook a turkey. Merry

Monday, December 23, 2002
After this morning’s ice cold shower, the day could only get better. We
found a plumber who actually showed up within two hours
with a brand new water heater
. $575 including installation
(ouch). Not sure whether this next part is lucky or unlucky, but
while he was here the kitchen sink started leaking. $25.
So we have hot water for Christmas.
About an hour ago we had a horrendous thunderstorm. It ripped
down our flag pole and cut off our cable. And no cable means no
internet connection, so goodness knows when you’ll all be reading this.
Commiserations to Paul’s colleague
on Brain of Britain today. He was leading through the entire show
until the end when another contestant tied him. The winner was
decided on bonus points, and he lost.
It’s 11 p.m. I’m going out now to buy a turkey. That way
I don’t have to stop in any shops after work tomorrow. The
supermarket was a zoo last year on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

So much for a peaceful evening. Our ancient hot water heater
finally gave up on life and flooded the kitchen. We’ve just
finished the mop up. Now we have no hot water until it’s fixed or
we get a new one.
What are the chances of finding someone to fix us up before
Sunday, December 22, 2002

Paul writes that one of his colleagues at Bedford
(School Archivist) is in the final of “Brain
of Britain
” tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. So tune in to BBC Radio
4, everyone! His name is Richard Wildman. I’ll be listening
to it on the internet at 7:30 a.m. Houston time.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

David has sent me the results of the Habershon
Christmas quiz
. They will be published tomorrow evening,
Houston time. So stay tuned.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Hummingbird (Baseball friend) and I met at Jones Hall this afternoon
and took in a performance of Handel’s Messiah, given by the Houston
. For anyone interested, the conductor was Nicholas
McGegan and the soloists were Dominique Labelle, Jennifer Dudley,
William Burden and Stephen Salters. It was the first time I’d
heard it performed in a theatre, rather than in a church. The
performance was polished, but not as dramatic as I’d expected. The
orchestra was small (about 35 players) and the choir about 70
voices. I thought that maybe they’d make more noise. Have I
been listening to it too loud in my car? I also felt that they
played some parts too fast. My favourite part, “The Trumpet
Shall Sound,” was much too fast for my liking, and the orchestra
almost drowned the trumpet.

But what do I know?
was kind of strange, too. Everyone stood up for the Hallelujah
Chorus and then clapped afterwards. Is that a tradition?
Anyway, it was great to see Hummingbird again. We hadn’t got
together since the end of the Baseball season. I felt a little
guilty — his ticket was $40 and I got in on my student card for $11.
I’m starting to feel quite Christmassy.

Friday, December 20, 2002

John‘s brother, Jerry (a physicist at Sandia
Labs in Albuquerque), is such a hoot. A parcel arrived from him
today addressed to John. As it was wrapped in brown paper I
figured there was probably a wrapped Christmas present inside. But
just in case there wasn’t I sent him an e-mail asking if it was safe to
remove the brown paper and put it under our imaginary Christmas
tree. Within the space of a few minutes I received his response:

Yes, indeed, every item is individually wrapped in festive color paper
patterned with prints that depict symbols, characters, and objects
having thematic resonance with the holiday season.

Monday, December 16, 2002

decided to escape from reality this evening and dragged John
to the latest Harry
movie. It was even better than the first one. I
can’t get enough of the owl that keeps flying into windows and makes
crash landings.
Callie doesn’t like having her picture taken, and I doubt you’ll ever
see one on her website, but if
you want to know what she looks like, she bears a strong resemblance to
Emma Watson who plays the part of Hermione. Well, I think so,

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Remember the dreadful Ed Zachary who played
over a Baseball trade with me in July? You may be
wondering why he signed the GuestMap
from the North Pole. You can check out his winter job here.
It’s amazing that Santa didn’t fire him when he found out about his
summertime antics. Or maybe nobody told him.
Anyway, if any of you have a website, feel free to steal his
Christmas gifs. If you get caught, tell him I sent you.
Sunday, December 15, 2002
may be hot and oppressive in the summer, but there’s nothing to beat our
winter weather. I’ve been out raking leaves this morning in
70-degree sunshine and under clear blue skies. All Habershons are
invited for Christmas.

Sunday, December 15, 2002
What a relief to wake up this morning and find that Sean (Fonda) Penn
(yes, the one who beats up photographers) is going to take care of us
and stop
the war with Iraq
. Let’s hope he returns safely from Baghdad
in time to put that dreadful, warmongering President Bush in his
place. Let’s also hope that mean Saddam doesn’t throw Sean in a
dungeon and hold him hostage so we have to go in early and bomb the crap
out of the place to free him.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

John’s mother usually asks us in October what we want for
Christmas. She then e-mails our lists to the family. Here’s
the one I gave her this year.

Viola strings
Viola case
A book on how to play the viola
Viola bow
A viola lesson
Anything on my Amazon wish list
A viola

I have a feeling I’ll be getting plenty of wine for
Christmas. Violas are rather expensive, and I shall rent one in
January if necessary. I’m determined that by this time next year
I’ll be playing in an amateur orchestra. It’s something I’ve
wanted to do all my life, and I figure the easiest way to get started
would be to learn an instrument that nobody wants to play.

Saturday, December 14, 2002
Bummer! I’ve just realized that we passed the one-year
anniversary of without so much as a glass of
champagne. Excuse my unabashed self-promotion, but I think I’ve
come a long way since my first
News & Thoughts entry
of November 29th, 2001. If there’s
one thing I regret, though, it’s using Microsoft’s Front Page. If
any of you are planning on starting a website, stay away from it.
The longer you go on using it the more difficult it is to break away
(I’m still using it!). Eventually it just won’t do what you want
it to do. Do you know I actually have a hover button hidden in the
left-hand border to keep the margin wide enough to accommodate
“Eng/Amer Dictionary”? Couldn’t find any other solution.
As for, we’ve certainly picked up a few loyal
readers. Unfortunately my flaky
but lovable server
has constant problems with updated stats and in
fact lost all of them before July 2002. But here they are from
that date:

Summary by Month
Month Daily
Hits Files Pages Visits Sites KBytes Visits Pages Files Hits
1177 867 248 126 930 259877 1639 3224 11273 15303
2305 1830 431 229 3511 2144119 6891 12957 54910 69159
1130 785 220 103 1980 605204 3209 6831 24337 35045
479 311 95 43 749 287156 1317 2863 9350 14385
639 370 131 60 1157 263348 1876 4086 11499 19822
484 319 120 54 344 78834 598 1327 3512 5324
Totals 3638538 15530 31288 114881 159038

The numbers were up during November as a result of a bunch of
concerned visitors from the Mini Message Boards.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

needs his wrists slapped.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

John and I have been watching the Upstairs
TV series from the ’70s. There are 21 DVDs out with
up to four episodes on each one and we’ve been renting one per week from
Netflix. We usually watch one
episode while eating our supper. Probably by 2004 we’ll have seen
them all. I missed some when living in England and missed the last
ones when
I left for Saudi Arabia. They’ve aged well (a couple are actually
in black and white due to a TV technicians’ strike at the time), and I
now see them in a different light. Isn’t that the same with all
stuff you revisit 20 or 30 years later? We’ve just watched the
episode when the butler, Hudson gets upset enough with Captain James’
behaviour that he gives a week’s notice. Lady Marjory is about to
take a three-month trip to Canada, via America, and a rift results
between her and her husband over the incident. Rather than let her
leave the house in turmoil, Hudson rescinds his notice and everything is
patched up before Lady Marjory leaves the house. Anyone who knows
anything about the show knows what is about to happen to her, and I
certainly did. But I still felt a jolt and had to hold back the
tears when Lord Bellamy excitedly sends a telegram to her on the ship to
tell her that his book is going to be published. He talks to the
wireless operator and asks him to send it to “Lady Marjory Bellamy,
care of RMS Titanic.”
Some quotes from the series:
“This is not the kind of household in which we indulge in
petty arguments about who is to carry a tray upstairs.”

Hudson (1920)

“That’s absurd Edward. Imagine every house in London with
a wee pole sticking up from the roof.”
– Hudson (1923)

“We’re the only nation in the world that tears the male
patrician child from the bosom of his family, to be subjected to
football, cold baths and Latin infinitives at the tender age of eight
– James Bellamy (1922)
“We were told we’d all made a mess of things… that after
the war, we must leave it to all the younger men. But the younger men
are either cynical or dead.”
– Lord Richard Bellamy (1925)
“One ought to try everything.” – Georgina
“The stock market is no place for the likes of us.”
– Hudson (1929)

Friday, December 13, 2002
Several people have been asking me about Fred.
I thought he’d dropped the class or been dropped as I hadn’t seen him
since the last exam. I was wrong, however. He walked in to
the final this morning one minute early (chalk it up). He
wandered slowly across the front of the room and stopped at my
desk. “You wanted this back,” he said, handing me my
tattered listening guide.
The professor had left fresh listening guides for us on the piano so
I didn’t need it, but I took it back solemnly and then gave him the
biggest smile I could come up with and thanked him. He smiled a
little, then shrugged and walked to his desk.
On the back of the listening guide he’d written a lot of
formulas. It looks as if he’s taking Organic Chemistry. And
I could have sworn he was a basketball player or on the track
team. Well, whatever he is, he’s out of my life now. Just
keep your fingers crossed that he’s not an Economics major.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
We’ve been studying 20th century music for the last two weeks.
I’ve tried to keep an open mind (ear?), but atonal music really isn’t my
cup of tea. The professor gave us some background on the
composers, such as the fact that Anton Webern was shot accidentally
outside a bar by a nervous U.S. soldier. John summed up my
feelings as we left class, saying that he wished the soldier had also
shot Alban Berg.
Tomorrow morning is our final exam. No more school until
January, when it’ll be back to Economics.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
When I read this
in the Houston Chronicle this morning my main thought
was, “I wonder if Kevin’s seen this? He’s bound to get his
knickers in a twist over it.” And sure enough, when I got home
this evening his acid
had already been hard at work. For anyone who hasn’t
met him in person, he’s really quite a nice bloke — nothing like his
writing. No further explanation necessary.

Monday, December 9, 2002

Correction: David wishes to point out
that he is not on terminal leave and is, in fact, working very
hard 🙂
Sunday, December 8, 2002

Whew! It’s been over a week since I updated this page.
Blame David here. Ever since he bought his
new scanner he’s been bombarding me with pictures and recipes and
Habershon quizzes. I think that being on “terminal
leave” from the Navy also frees up more of his time.
It’s also been a busy week with work and school and trying to deal
with insurance companies and car problems. However, last night,
John and I actually went out. And . . . surprise surprise, we went
to an American football game. I’ve never taken any interest in the
sport, believing that Baseball is the only sport worth my time,
and I suppose I still feel the same way, although we did have a good
The game was a college game between
the Oklahoma Sooners and the Colorado
and was called the “Big XII Championship.”
That’s the Sooner Schooner on the right. The Buffaloes had a REAL
buffalo, but it ran across the field so quickly I didn’t have time to
take a picture. Sorry about the bad quality of any photographs
you’re looking at — our camera is in a bad way. The game was held
at Reliant
, which is the home of the brand new Houston
. Here’s a view of one of the car
. My boss had bought tickets, thinking that his beloved
UT Longhorns would be playing. They didn’t qualify, and I tried to
sell the tickets on EBay for him, with no luck. He therefore gave
them to me. It just so happens that our friend, Kevin, is a rabid
Sooners fan, and he jumped at the chance of going.
So we headed off
to Reliant Stadium. I bought a program.
Kevin lent me a Sooners scarf, and I sat next to Callie
who patiently explained everything that was going on. It was easy
to know when to cheer, because there was a yellow block of Colorado fans
opposite us, and every time they went quiet I knew something good was
happening. What a contrast to Baseball! For a start, the
stadium was HUGE. The roof was open — it was a strange roof —
didn’t seem to open all the way — more like Wendy’s
. When a player gets hurt in Baseball a trainer runs on
the field with a bag. When a player gets hurt in football about
six doctors run on the field dragging a hospital with them. When I
could see the ball things were fine, but I kept getting distracted by
everything else that was going one, such as the cheerleaders, the
scoreboards, the marching bands, the
ads, the clocks, and the fans. And there had to be about twenty
umpires. Everything seemed orchestrated. And talking of
fans, one drunken Sooners fan actually fell over three rows of seats and
landed on top of me. Kevin was quite protective and told the fan
to behave himself.
I seem to have got all the above mixed up chronologically, but that
was the kind of experience it was. A lot of new sights and sounds.
The right team won. Kevin
explains all
. He was very happy last night; in fact, I wasn’t
expecting him to surface with a write-up until at least Tuesday.
The game finished around 11 p.m. The four of us then piled into
my smoky rental car and drove to the Firehouse
hoping to catch the end of the Randy
Rogers Band
‘s performance. Amazingly enough, his opening band
was still playing. Then around midnight when we were expecting
Randy Rogers to come on there was an unscheduled performance given by an
Elvis impersonator. Apparently it
was a birthday present for one of the owner’s friends. And
unfortunately he sang more than one song. After that, Randy
Rogers appeared
and sang until 2 a.m. He was a little bit
country for me, but my musical tastes have been changing quite a bit
since we started hanging out with Callie and Kevin, and I found myself
enjoying the show. The drummer was cute. He wore a Baseball
shirt. I’ll be happy when Will
and/or Michael
come back to Houston, though.