February 2003 News & Thoughts


Sunday, February 23rd, 2003

Correction and updates from February 17th.

Nick points out that the countdown clock at
the top of the SIGames website is
for the demo model. Note that the official
version
will be on sale on March 28th (my birthday). Free
shipping, too.

Portsmouth
1, Gillingham 0
(a good time was had by all at Fratton
Park
)

Clare
burst into my e-mail box with all her news. She has just made the
University of Warwick Women’s First VIII Rowing Team (I see Habershon of
the Month possibilities here) and she’s also heavily involved with
music: i.e. violin and singing, the University Chamber Choir
and Consort Group, orchestra, quartet, sextet and octet. The choir sang
for BBC Radio 3 in
the “Let The People Sing” competition a few weeks back and
she’ll let us know the broadcast date (sometime in June).

Clare also e-mailed me some pictures, which I’m putting on
her page
. Clare, I’m not going to publish the one of you and
your friend dressed for the “What I Wanted to be When I Was
Five” rowing party unless I have your father‘s
permission.


Saturday, February 22nd, 2003

I went to see Roman Polanski’s The
Pianist
this afternoon. It’s a long one, and I settled in
comfortably with a large bag of popcorn with butter.

I’m not going to get into a review of the movie. There are
plenty to be found online, and maybe you’ve all seen it already.
Apart from the three people who left after about fifteen minutes, the
rest of us (about 30, I’d say) sat silently in our seats. During
Chopin and brutality breaks you could have heard a pin drop. I
didn’t hear anyone cry, cough, or gasp.

As the credits rolled up at the end, nobody moved. The first
jolt back to reality was the usher coming in to clean up. My
popcorn was untouched. We all walked out together. And nobody said
a word.

I’ll never forget this movie.

Saturday, February 22nd, 2003

PattyMove.jpg (424660 bytes)’tis
a sad day. The first thing I saw when I got up this morning was
this sight of a moving van outside the house. Our perfect tenant
has bought a house and is moving out (sob). She’s been living
upstairs since September 1998, has never complained about anything, and
has always paid her rent early. She was so perfect that we never
raised her rent.

She’s only moved four blocks away, and we’ll probably go to a couple
of Astros/Cardinals games together this summer, but golly I’m going to
miss her.

Strange, but when she first moved here the movers couldn’t get her
sofa up the stairs and through the door, so John and I bought it from
her. We had to remove our front door to get it in. We gave
it back to her today (a little cat scratched) and warned the movers that
it was very heavy and that they’d have to remove the door, but they just
picked it up as if it was a toothpick (man, that guy was strong)
and walked out with it. Did the sofa shrink? Or has our
house expanded?

We bought AMD
stock
with her security and pet deposits. It seemed like a
good idea at the time.

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

As a follow-up to my entry on Don Pepper, his
obituary
is in today’s Times. Thank you, Paul.


Tuesday, February 18th, 2003

This incident on the Southwest Freeway
was reported on briefly this morning. Fine with me if people want
to protest, but what really irritates me is that I heard the man and the
woman involved being interviewed this afternoon on the radio. The
man said something to the effect that “there were only a
couple of fender benders. No one was injured.”

Do they have any idea what a bloody hassle a fender bender is?
Do they not realize that the people involved were most likely going to
work, as it was 8:00 in the morning? Do they not realize that when
one has a fender bender (or worse — growl) they have to fill out a
police report, exchange insurance information with the other driver,
call their insurance company, give a recorded statement to their
insurance company, argue with their insurance company, have their car
towed or drive it to a body shop to get an estimate, leave it at the
body shop, find someone to pick them up and drive them to work, or maybe
rent a car? This all takes time, and some people get paid by the
hour and lose income while doing all of the above.

On top of that, being involved in only a fender bender is, I’m
sure, quite scary.

This really ^!**@* me off.

Sorry. It’s been a long day. Time for a G & T.

Monday, February 17th, 2003

A message from Nick in the Message
Book
prompted me to look at some football news. And I’ve
discovered that Portsmouth
is headed for promotion to the Premiership
League
. Charlie must be
ecstatic. David then e-mailed me to tell
me about it, too. He, Ed, Jim
and Charlie are all heading to Fratton
Park
at the weekend.

Nationwide Football League Division One table

P GD PTS
1 Portsmouth 32 34 67
2 Leicester City 32 22 65
3 Sheff Utd 29 14 52
4 Reading 31 8 52
5 Nottm Forest 31 17 51
6 Rotherham Utd 32 8 47
7 Norwich 30 13 46
8 Wolves 30 16 45
9 Watford 31 -10 45
10 Ipswich Town 30 9 44
11 Coventry City 32 1 43
12 Millwall 32 -8 43
13 Crystal Palace 30 10 42
14 Gillingham 30 -1 42
15 Derby County 32 -5 42
16 Burnley 30 -11 41
17 Wimbledon 30 0 39
18 Preston 31 -3 38
19 Bradford City 31 -15 35
20 Walsall 31 -8 33
21 Grimsby Town 32 -26 28
22 Brighton 32 -18 26
23 Stoke City 31 -22 25
24 Sheff Wed 32 -25 25

So while I’m about it, here’s more family news: Libby
and David spent the weekend
in Cornwall watching
Jim and the Birmingham
surf team
in action. There was ice on the beach. Are
those guys crazy or what? Meanwhile, Ed was taking part in the
London anti-war march. Get over here, Ed. You and John need
to talk.

Ricky dropped Emma
off at Gatwick on the day the Venezuelan was caught with a live
grenade
. Fortunately her plane took off (for Meribel) before
the terminal was closed. It seems that bad stuff happens whenever
Habershons leave places or pass through. Hurricanes, IRA bombings,
Greyhound bus incidents, and the WTC collapse come to mind.

Helen is rehearsing for a performance of
Haydn’s “Creation” in Bath. Now that’s more my cup
of tea
.

William has just e-mailed me some pictures of Minis in Notting Hill
(see Wendy’s page.)
He also sent a picture
of himself with some other students
.

Nick’s still working for Sports
Interactive
and has been writing the manual for the new game coming
out in 10 days, 5 hours, 1 minute (as I type).

And Clare? Clare? Not a word have
I heard from Clare. But I’ll guess she’s rowing, drinking,
dancing, playing her violin,
and/or churning out A papers.

Here in Houston? John is programming, and I’m off to bed.
I’m hyperlinked out.

Goodnight, Habershons (and anyone else who made it this far).

Saturday, February 15th, 2003

I’ve taken the polls off the front page. If any of you would
like to set some questions for another one, please e-mail them to me.

Saturday, February 15th, 2003

Sorry about the lack of news. The past couple of weeks have
been crappy, healthwise. Those pills
the doctor gave me for my back/leg numbness made me so sick. I’d
take one at 7 a.m. and another at 7 p.m., and every day invariably at
noon I’d get sick and dizzy at work. Stopped taking them on
Tuesday and that night I thought my head was going to explode. John
was up the whole night trying to talk me through it, telling me to think
of good things, such as him sitting in a Mini on the edge of a sandy
beach. The next night I had a sore throat, and now I’m down with a
cold and fever. I’ve spent all of today in bed and now my voice
has gone squeaky. As for the pills, they haven’t cured my leg
numbness but it isn’t as bad as it was. I’ll see the doctor on
Tuesday for the next plan of action. But I really don’t want to go
back on those pills again.

John suffers from migraines, and I think I have a better idea now of
what he goes through. Whenever I visit England the only thing he
wants me to bring back for him (apart from a Marks & Spencer shirt)
is as much codeine as I can fit in my suitcase. It’s prescription
only in the U.S.

Tuesday, February 11th, 2003

Oh yum! Kate‘s book arrived. It is full of mouthwatering
breakfast recipes and I shall try one out at the weekend. I’ve
scanned the inside flap for her page. If anyone wants to buy a
copy (Clare started the trend), I’ve made it
easy for you. U.K. readers, click here.
U.S. readers, click here.
French readers, click here.
Canadian readers, click here.
German readers, click here,
and Japanese readers, click here.
Let’s make it a best seller.

Interesting . . . the Japanese and U.K. versions are called
“Waffles and Pancakes.” All the other ones are
“Pancakes and Waffles.”

Sunday, February 9th, 2003

Remember that speeding
ticket
I got when I drove my Mini from Memphis to Houston? I
thought Habershons might be interested in how I got it completely purged
from my driving record. And maybe this will be of interest to U.S.
residents who have never taken an online Defensive Driving class.

If you get a ticket over here, you can elect to pay the fine and have
it sit on your record (not good if you plan on shopping around for car
insurance) or you can take a Defensive Driving class. Note that
you can only do this once a year! A class that you attend in
person takes six hours plus breaks, so your whole day is shot. I elected
to take one online from IDriveSafely.com.
It was a breeze. Don’t think that you can do it quickly,
though. Every page has an allocated time for reading, and if you
start speed reading it will stop you and tell you to take more
time. It also asks you personal questions (such as “What was
the name of your First Grade English teacher?”) from time to time
to make sure that it’s you sitting at the computer. There is
absolutely no way you can cheat. But the good thing is that
you can log out and come back to it at any time. I spread it out
over a couple of weeks — half an hour at a time. The only
drawback was that I failed the test at the end the first time as I’d
forgotten all the facts and figures about things like alcohol levels,
etc. It was very lenient though, just told me I’d failed and
should take it again.

The cost? Well, my ticket was written in Diboll, Texas, and I
don’t know whether it’s the same procedure everywhere, but I had to send
$75 to the Court to cover administrative costs and to notify them that
I’d be taking a Defensive Driving class. I also had to get that
form notarized which could be a hassle for some. Not for me as
everyone around me at work is a notary.

I then had 90 days to prove that I’d taken a Defensive Driving
class. The actual class cost me $39.95 plus postage and handling
of the certificate. I also had to fax them a notarized copy of my
driver’s license.

I called the Court about a month after I’d sent the certificate, to
make sure they’d received it and removed the violation from my
record. They had. It was an expensive way to go, as simply
paying the fine would have cost a lot less, but now I have a clean
driving record.

And, incidentally, taking the Defensive Driving class was useful,
too. I learned plenty of things I’d forgotten and plenty of things
I didn’t know about driving in America. It’s a different cup of
tea from England.

Saturday, February 8th, 2003

RandyRogers_Firehouse_Feb2003_1.jpg (398026 bytes)Enjoyed
good food and great company at Barry’s
last night,
followed by music at the Firehouse
Saloon
. The Randy
Rogers Band
was playing (John‘s picture on right). I think
this is the fourth time I’ve seen them, the last time being at El Campo
two weeks ago where there were only four of us, much to the band’s horror (it was a long
drive and El Campo’s population is small — very small). Kevin
kept sending tequila shots up to the stage, however, so they stuck
around and we got a private show. John got into an argument with Randy
between sets (typical). For anyone who follows his
website
and the Habershon
Forum
, I don’t have to tell you what the argument was about. Kevin
mentioned it
as well.

Back to last night: a band called Rodger Wilko (John’s picture to left) opened for Randy. I enjoyed their music and will definitely catch them
again. The lead singer, Zack Walther, was very entertaining. He writes most of the songs and has a good voice.
The band had a female on bass, Stephanie Macias, very fresh and attractive,
and she had an in-tune, powerful voice which reminded me ofRodgerWilko_Firehouse_Feb2003.jpg (417956 bytes)
of Alanis Morisette. I loved the way Zack introduced the band at
the end, one by one, and let them loose on their instruments for about a minute
each. The keyboard player rattled off Greig’s Piano Concerto, followed by
Fur Elise, and then Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. And when they’d all finished their
cadenzas,
Zack yelled, “That’s us. Rodger Wilko. Whaddaya
think?” It was difficult not to respond.

John bought their CD. It gave him a chance to meet the bass
player and get her to sign it. Strangely enough she doesn’t have
any solos on it. She just sings back-up vocals. We’re
wondering why.

Our CD collection is getting quite
extensive and I manage to keep it in alphabetical order (which is very
easy to do when I have two papers to write and need an excuse not to
start them). I’m hoping that the only argument we have this weekend is whether
this new CD should be filed under “R” or
“W”.

Saturday, February 8th, 2003

I finally managed to snag a picture of Helen.
Go to her page to see her getting ready for a concert.

Quick, before she finds out 🙂

Friday, February 7th, 2003

Guess who’s home 🙂

Update tomorrow. We’re going to Barry’s for pizza and then to
the Firehouse for some music.

Saturday, February 1st, 2003

Our ±17-year-old cat, Mud, has not only gone stone deaf, but has
beenmudsnewpad.jpg (244961 bytes)
moving very slowly. We think she has arthritis. Houston,
believe it or not, has been having some cold
days
, and as soon as I sit
down Mud attaches herself to me like Velcro. I’ve begun to
understand how she feels, as I’ve been soaking for hours in the bathtub
after work to try to soothe my aching back. So I decided to buy
her an electric
heating pad
.

It arrived yesterday, and it’s a hit! You can tell by this
picture that she loves it. She didn’t even come and sleep on my
pillow last night and I actually got a good night’s sleep. Anyone
who has a cat that does that knows what it’s like to turn over in the
middle of the night and get a mouth full of fur. Notice how her
tail is stretched out? No longer does she curl it around her to
keep warm. I was only going to buy the cat sized pad, but John
insisted we got the dog size. That was a good decision.

I’ve shared a house with cats for most of my life, but this is the
first time I’ve bought a heating pad for one. It definitely comes
with my seal of approval for anyone who’s thinking about it. Just
think, you can actually choose where you want your cat to sleep.
What power!

Incidentally, if anyone’s feeling generous, here’s
what I want
.

Saturday, February 1st, 2003

No, I haven’t deleted the Poll, Message Book and Forum in a hissy
fit. Bravenet, the site from which I get this free stuff, seems to
be down. Great timing.

Saturday, February 1st, 2003

Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson,
William McCool,

Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, David Brown, Ilan Ramon.

Another
shuttle tragedy
. As I type, people in Texas are finding debris
from the Columbia. We didn’t hear anything in Houston.

Saturday, February 1st, 2003

The very serious Habershon Poll seems to have caused some
sparks. I hope everyone will go over to the Forum
and add their two cents.