January 2003 News & Thoughts

Thursday, January 30th, 2003

This may not reflect the feelings of all Habershons, but, to the
following, I say “Thank you.”
José María Aznar, Spain
José Manuel Durão Barroso, Portugal
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy
Tony Blair, United Kingdom
Václav Havel, Czech Republic
Peter Medgyessy, Hungary
Leszek Miller, Poland
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

John was up at 5:00 this morning typing this. Comments would be very welcome.

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

Ricky e-mailed me a few days ago to say that Don Pepper died on Saturday. Very few of you reading this
will know him, and I haven’t seen him since March 28th, 1973. But I feel so sad. He was a close family friend. He and his wife, Maureen, and Mum and Dad used to hang out together before I was born. The Peppers had three sons, and we’d sometimes take our summer holidays together — usually rental cottages in Cornwall or Devon. After leaving the Navy, Don worked for Rolls Royce; in fact, I think he worked for them for the rest of his career (Derby and London). I always remember being so impressed when, on one holiday in Devon, there was an emergency he had to attend to in London. A helicopter came to pick him up.

When Ricky attended the Royal College of Music the Peppers gave him room and board. Lucky dog. Don also let him borrow the Silver Shadow on occasions. Brat. Maureen is a terrific cook, and I remember well the amazing cake she made for my 21st birthday. It
had twelve eggs in it. Soon after that, I applied for a job in Saudi Arabia, and Don wrote me a brilliant personal reference on Rolls Royce letterhead. It’s still a treasured possession.MaureenandMum.jpg (237496 bytes)

The last time I saw Dad he told me that Don wanted to see me. He’d had health problems and had lost a leg. I wish so much that I’d taken the time to go to Southampton. But my visits to England last year were so short, and I didn’t go. Maureen came to Dad’s Thanksgiving Service in November. She took the train to Sherborne and back on her own, and I know it was a great effort.

I don’t have any pictures of Don, but the one to the right is of Maureen (left) and Mum. I remember they used to have a blast together and giggled a lot.

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

Whew! Have any loyal readers ever taken a drug called INDOMETHACIN? The doctor has put me on it for two weeks. My leg pain disappeared almost as soon as I took the first one, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I feel dizzy, nauseated, and very sick, I could run a marathon.

Talk about trade-offs.

Sunday, January 26th, 2003

I presume the Astros know what they’re doing. They’ve just sent one of our potential superstars, Daryle Ward, to the Dodgers for a minor league pitcher named “Ruddy Lugo.” Yes, that’s Ruddy with two d’s. I wonder how he pronounces it? The Astros’ manager is “Jimy,” pronounced “Jimmy.” While I’m concerned about the name, the trade makes me uneasy. I’ve never heard of this pitcher, and while Ward hasn’t sparkled yet, it seems like a lopsided trade.

Of course, I hope to be proven wrong.

Ruddy Lugo? Good grief.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2003

I’ve spent the
evening watching the Australian Open women’s semis. Have you ever seen Serena Williams wear the same outfit twice? I
haven’t. I realize the matches were taped, but didn’t know the results. And the Belgian, Kim Clijsters, on two occasions had
match points to beat Serena. How did I know it wasn’t going to happen? ESPN2 showed Serena celebrating her victory (between
commercials) in that very same dress, in the middle of the second set.

They really spoilt it for me.

The doctor put me on steroids for six days. Wonder if I’ll have arms like that by next week?

Monday (later), January 20th, 2003

Well, no camera for John’s birthday (darn). Here’s what his Mum gave him (have I mentioned before that she’s a History Professor?):

A History of the Arab Peoples, by Albert Hourani

Islam and the West, by Bernard Lewis

Atlas of World Military History, edited by Richard Brooks
A shirt
A tie
and a sweater

Nothing for me to play with on that list. But she certainly knows how to throw a party and wrap gifts. I felt quite guilty reminding
John that the audiotron I gave him for Christmas was also his birthday present.

He doesn’t seem to mind.

Monday, January 20th, 2003

It’s only a 200-mile drive (and a straight line), but this weekend I went to San Antonio for the first time. The objective of the trip was to meet Callie and Kevin
and listen to the Dead End Angels. They were playing at the Scenic Loop Cafe. Another neat place with great food, nearly all pickup trucks in the car park, and a lot of handsome cowboys inside. Maybe it’s time I bought myself a cowboy hat
so I can blend in with everyone. What do you think of the one on the left?

We stayed overnight at a Howard Johnson’s and left early on Sunday morning. We did, however,
drive into downtown San Antonio before leaving. We checked out the Alamo and the riverwalk.jpg (593747 bytes)Riverwalk (John took the picture to the right) and feasted on sausage egg and cheese stuffed beignets for breakfast. YUM! I loved San Antonio and would like to return sometime and explore the city properly.

I should also mention that yesterday was John‘s birthday. His mum’s coming over in a few minutes for dinner and will be bringing him a present. Hope it’s a new camera 🙂

Houston readers, the Dead End Angels will be performing at the Mucky Duck on March 13th. This will be a good opportunity to hear them before they become very famous and tickets are hard to find. They’re good. Reserve your table now!

Friday, January 17th, 2003

Oh God!

This man is “a danger to burglars.” I’m concerned for his fellow inmates. He should be kept in isolation.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

This amuses me too! Callie was sitting between me and the microphone. I left at around midnight but did wake up the next morning wondering if the band had played Tommy Jackson. Amazing what Midoris and a good band can do to a person. Will
, when are you coming back to Houston?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

David has been flooding my e-mail box with new pages of THE BOOK. I won’t be able to upload them all tonight as I need to do some work (missed a whole day today) before going to bed. But be excited . . . we’re nearly up to the chapter on the Rotherham Habershons.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

Since my accident in November I’ve had my leg, arm and neck x-rayed. Two compressed vertebrae in my neck were causing the arm pain, which has now gone. My knee is still swollen but doesn’t hurt. But the worrying thing was the numbness in my right leg which started on New Year’s Eve. This morning I went back to the orthopedic surgeon at UH and this time he x-rayed my spine. He then gave me the bad news. It appears that I have another herniated disc. He referred me to the back surgeon who operated on me in 2001. I called the back surgeon’s office to make an appointment, and made the “mistake” of telling the appointment maker that I’d been in an accident and needed to see the surgeon. She coldly informed me that the surgeon does not see accident
victims. “But I’m his patient. He removed two discs two years ago.” “That doesn’t matter,” she said. “He doesn’t like to be involved with litigation.” She said she was sorry, and then hung up on me.

I related this to the orthopedic surgeon, told him I didn’t even have an attorney, and perhaps he could recommend another doctor. He
said that surgeons don’t like to take on patients who have undergone the same procedure from another surgeon. He got them on the ‘phone and
talked to the nurse, who relented and told him to tell me to call back and ask for her. I called the office back and asked to speak with
“Sheila.” “Which Sheila?” the woman snapped. “We have two Sheilas here.”

To cut this short, I have an appointment for Tuesday. However, even Sheila told me firmly that they would only see me because I was a
returning patient, and that they would have nothing to do with litigation.

Sure, I’ve talked to an attorney, but only to try and solve my car problems. And I didn’t hire him because he wanted
$1,000. I don’t even know if this disc problem has anything to do with the accident, although there does seem to be a coincidence that my
leg and neck were jammed during the accident and that maybe the impact threw my spine out of whack.

But all I want to do right now is get some feeling back in my leg. Then I’ll go out and shoot everybody. I shall
keep the appointment on Tuesday as I need my life back. But I do wonder how many more hoops I have to jump through. Keep your
fingers crossed, loyal readers.

Monday (talkative tonight), January 13th, 2003

Ugh! This is so pathetic. I know you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But research? Oh c’mon, Pete.

So there goes another of my childhood idols (I hesitate to say “heroes”). I think Jeremy Thorpe was the first to betray me. I never gave a rat’s @$$ about Gary Glitter (disgusting man), but Jonathan King too? That was a sad one. I don’t know if anyone remembers that Mum actually bought “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon.” It was always quite an event when she came home from Frome with a 45. She thought he was “such a sweet boy.”

Monday (still), January 13th, 2003

Thank you, Peter, for your help with my crossword. Unfortunately I still couldn’t finish it. Will try again next year.

Monday (even later), January 13th, 2003

violaandpiano.jpg (358455 bytes)My thanks go to a loyal reader (a non-Habershon, too) who noticed that I didn’t get a viola for Christmas. Baseball buddy, Mr. Finkle of California, sent me a link last week to a viola for sale on E-Bay. I rashly bid $90 and won the auction. The viola arrived today (see picture). I had to put the bridge on myself (did I do it right?) and am already having trouble tuning it. It
seems that when I tighten the knobs they unwind on their own. I did put some rosin on the bow and tried playing a note on an out-of-tune string, but could only get a screeching noise. Now to find a viola teacher. Can anyone recommend one in Houston? I’d like to be playing in an orchestra by December 2003.

Monday (later), January 13th, 2003

We had good news from the vet about Cindie. Apparently she has a treatable bladder infection. John’s feeding her antibiotics and her appetite’s back.

Monday, January 13th, 2003

I just checked. It’s exactly ten years since I started working on my undergraduate degree at the University of Houston. January 13th, 1993 was my very first day. Amazingly enough, I haven’t missed a semester, and have been plodding along averaging just over twelve credits per year.

Nothing much had changed as I headed for my first class today. The students look younger but there’s still nowhere to park. I
remember vividly my first day in 1993. I was extremely nervous about going back to school, wondering if I’d be able to keep up with
everyone or if I’d make a fool of myself and have to drop out quietly. I had only gained admission on the “Adult Options
Program” which is a kind of probation. Once you have eighteen credits and if you’re above a certain GPA you get officially accepted as
an undergraduate. Anyway, that very first day I couldn’t find a parking space and was starting to sweat thinking I’d be late for my very
first class and be put in detention, or something horrific. I circled and circled, and then saw a student striding purposefully across
the lot. I rolled down my window. “Are you about to leave? May I follow you to your car? Where are you
parked?” I asked desperately. She nodded and pointed, “I’m leaving, but I’m parked illegably.”

Illegably. Illegably? At this point I knew I was going to do okay in college. I relaxed, found a parking space, and made it
to class on time.

That was ten years ago. You’d think I’d have it all down by now. But today I left work extra early and arrived with twenty
minutes to spare, and circled and circled. Found a space and walked briskly to McElhinney Hall, which is where all the Economics classes are held. At
least, every Economics class I’ve taken has been at McElhinney. And my schedule said Room 112. I walked down the corridor.
108, 109, Ladies, Men, Maintenance, 110, 111, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119. Strange? I retraced my steps. 119, 118, 117,
116, 115, 114, 113, 111, 110, Maintenance, Men, Ladies, 109, 108.

I felt like Harry Potter at the railway station. This can’t be happening to me, I thought, pulling out the UH catalogue. Sure
enough, my class was in Room 112, but Melcher Hall, not McElhinney. All the Economics classes were listed as 110-M, 111-M, etc., but the one
I’d signed up for was MH-112. And Melcher Hall is a 15-minute walk away. I started to sweat again.
Good God, I’ve been sweating for ten years now — will it ever stop? I had to think fast. I really didn’t want to take two
classes on opposite ends of campus — the whole idea was to take them both in the same building. So I quickly looked at the other
classes on the list. And I very nearly went into Room M-108 where “Experimental Economics” was just about to start.

But my brain was in overdrive, “No no no. You’ve already spent $200 on the textbooks. You had enough trouble with Game
Theory. And you’ll never make it through Experimental Economics unless you give up all extra-curricular activities.” So I
left the building and trekked across campus to Melcher Hall. I arrived there twenty minutes later (the direct route was blocked by
construction fences) and found Room 112-MH. A sign on the door read:
“”Economic Development” has been moved to Room 119 mcELHINNEY.

Screaming silently, but relieved that I wasn’t going to have to make that 20-minute walk in ten minutes twice a week, I headed back to
McElhinney. And I got there just in time to meet the professor, read the syllabus, and learn that Wednesday’s class would be in the Social Work Building.

Wednesday, January 8th, 2003

Yes, I’m still alive. I’m having back problems (numbness in the right leg) and haven’t felt like doing anything when I get home. Our three-legged thirteen-year-old cat, Cindie,
is also very sick. We took her back to the vet this evening. They ran all kinds of tests and we should get a diagnosis
tomorrow. Her weight is down to 5 lbs (from 9 lbs two years ago). Meanwhile we are trying to keep her comfortable. The
only thing she seems to want is milk.

What a sorry household.

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003 (70 degrees and dark now)

Something I miss about England? Crosswords.

Crosswords are no fun unless they’re cryptic, and no challenge unless you can send them in for a prize — I have no interest in doing them if
I know the answers are somewhere in the same newspaper. I think this
in The Economist is the first I’ve seen over here which fills both criteria.

Trouble is, I’m rusty and need some help. Please?

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003 (74 degrees and sunny in Houston)

A cowboy walks into an empty bar and orders a whisky. When the bartender delivers the drink, the cowboy asks, “Where is

The bartender replies, “They’ve gone to the hanging.”

“Who are they hanging?”

“Brown Paper Pete.”

“What kind of name is that?” the cowboy asked.

“Well,” says the bartender, “he wears a brown paper hat, brown paper shirt, brown paper trousers and brown paper

“How bizarre,” said the cowboy. “What are they hanging him for?”