Five-day weekend!

Pus$y cat, Pus$y cat, where have you been?
“I’ve been to London to see the queen.”
Pus$y cat, Pus$y cat, what did you there?
“I frightened a little mouse under the chair.”

So why has Mother Goose been running through my head all week?

Because it’s Cherry Blossom time and we’re going to Washington for five days! It’s our first visit not counting the airport. The weather forecast doesn’t look good, but we’re taking a laptop, an IPAQ, and a camera, and are staying in a wi-fi hotel, so you’ll get news and write-ups and pictures. I’ve even started a photo album in anticipation. Eat your heart out, Charlie!

(Unbelievable! I typed in an innocent nursery rhyme and it got language-filtered. Unbelievable!)

A Fantasy Wedding

John and I went to a wedding two weeks ago. It was unusual in that it was my first Fantasy Baseball wedding. I am the Commissioner of the groom’s (aka Uncle Sean) league! He moved to Houston two years ago and met a girl from Katy. I’ve been to a few Astros games with him. He’s an @tl@nt@ br@ve$ fan, but surely that can’t last much longer? I also got to meet two other fantasy players for the first time — the groom’s father, Frogmaster, and Warren (with wife, Sherry), who lives in Austin. I was Warren’s Commissioner last season as well. Also there were the Humin’birds. We all sat at the same table and had a brilliant time. The internet is a good place to meet people with the same interests, and sometimes you’re lucky enough to have them live in the same state so you can meet them live!

I’ve posted a picture of the bride and groom cutting the cake. However, if you click on it you can see the supplementary cake that appeared a few minutes later. What a hoot!

Mobile phone for kids

John and I are enjoying a rare, civilized, leisurely weekday breakfast sitting at the kitchen table reading the Wall Street Journal (to which we subscribe) and the Houston Chronicle (to which we don’t subscribe, but a free copy regularly gets thrown on our lawn). He’s just been reading me an article from the Technology section of the WSJ on a Firefly phone that will be on the market in May. Isn’t this a great idea? A telephone for kids with no numbers but with just a Mummy button and a Daddy button!

Well, I suppose it’s time to get to work. The boss is away this week, but at the rate I’m getting the work done it looks as if I’ll be working on Good Friday.

Jungle Beach

Charlie is still in Vietnam. He’s been away from England so long. Not sure how I’d have handled this when I was 19, but I think I would have felt a little homesick. Or maybe not? Here’s his latest e-mail.

Sorry I haven’t been in contact for a while but to be honest we haven’t actually done that much in the last week. We got a bus down to Hue last Sunday and stayed there for a few days. It’s a nice little French colonial city and we just rented out pedal bikes and went around the city which was great fun, and we managed to catch a traditional Vietnamese show which was pretty funny as although it was great, they all looked like they did it 4 times a day and really couldn’t care less! We then got the bus down to Hoi An, which is famed for the streets which are just lined with tailor shops. Seeing that none of us were going to get in any suits it wasn’t the perfect destination but we got bikes out one day and went to see some old temples out of town. After we eventually made it out of Hoi An which was just full of westerners buying suits and not generally doing anything else, we got the bus right down the coast to Nha Trang. However we had met a couple of guys going down there who were heading to a place called Jungle Beach. When the guy on the bus woke us up and told us it was the stop for Jungle Beach we looked outside and it was pitch black and pouring with rain, but for some reason we went through with it anyway and got motorbikes to the beach which on the most eastern point of Vietnam. It was not the cheapest place we stayed by a long way but $15 a night pretty much got us a beach to ourselves, a little cabin where we could sleep, and all the food covered which was absolutely incredible. They bring out huge meals three times a day and you can just help yourself, and in the afternoon they will bring fresh pineapple! The rash vest even got its first showing as there were perfect waves but they only had body boards so we went out on them but it was literally perfect for a long board. After two nights of pure relaxation we have come down to Nha Trang, the biggest beach resort in Vietnam before we head for Ho Chi Mihn City. So after a pretty mad first week the last week has been pretty tame but it has been very relaxing and great fun, although we find the southern Vietnamese a bit more frantic and aggressive than the northerners. I can’t believe it is Easter on Sunday; that seems to have come around really quickly. So, Vietnam is treating us very well and in just over a week we are heading into Cambodia. I hear Jamie Hab is in Australia at the same time as us so hopefully we will be able to meet up.

Waitress not included

Houstonians, if you like Vincent’s Italian restaurant you need to check out Pronto. It opened across the street from us a couple of weeks ago and business already looks good. John and I can’t stay away. Last night the queue was stretching almost out of the door. It’s the same format as Cafe Express — place your order and pay, and then eat it there or take it home. There’s also curbside pickup if you fax or call in your order. It’s owned by the same people as Vincent’s but with lower prices and fewer items on the menu, although they still have the roasted chicken with the garlic mashed potato.

Jim, you may remember eating at Vincent’s during your visit in 2001. To refresh your memory, remember the waitress who heard our English accents and wrote “Tip not included” on the bill. OUCH! None of that at Pronto.

A new home has moved to a new server. I hope you’re all finding it a lot faster. I can definitely tell the difference.

Why did this happen? Well, check out this e-mail exchange between me and the previous server owner. I have changed his name as I’m not a mean person. Well, not really.

ME (filling out initial trouble ticket): I haven’t been able to “ftp” for over 24 hours and am wondering if you can help me resolve the problem. Here is a copy of the log: (imagine geeky stuff inserted here)

MYGRUMPYWEBHOSTDOTCOM: Hi, we have blocked you from the server. Apparently you had a “webcam” script that was FTP uploading to the /images/webcam/ directory every few seconds. Frankly, it hung up and CRASHED the server … If you can promise not to use any automated FTP program in the future we will reallow your access.

Okay, this peeved me moderately. The word “frankly”, the capitalized “CRASHED”, and the word “promise” irked me a little. I’ve been paying them $16.95 a month plus $35 a year for a long time now, and have never complained about anything. Also, I felt that if my camera was giving them problems they could have e-mailed me at least after the fact to let me know that they’d cut me off. It’s lucky isn’t a business.

The e-mails continued (and try to imagine the agonizingly long periods of time between each):

(click on “Read More” if you haven’t lost interest)
ME: Dear Owner of MYGRUMPYWEBHOSTDOTCOM: I have disabled my webcam. Sorry it crashed your server. Please turn my account back on again. I don’t know why this happened. It’s been on my website since Christmas and only uploads once a minute, which is well within the terms of the bandwidth agreement.

MYGRUMPYWEBHOSTDOTCOM: Hi, thanks. The bandwidth was not the problem, it was the excessive FTP usage. If you look at the timestamps of the log I sent you it was starting a new FTP session and uploading once per every SECOND. Yes, 30 new FTP’s per minute or more … I have unblocked your IP.

ME: I still can’t get in. Did you change my password?

MYGRUMPYWEBHOSTDOTCOM: HI, no we just blocked the IP — can you go to and tell me what the IP address of your pc is? And secondly, what password are you trying. I can reset it to for ya.

ME: My password is ******. My IP is

MYGRUMPYWEBHOSTDOTCOM: Hi, yes that’s the IP that I unblocked. and I have reset your pass now… Please try again.

So, I finally got up and running again, but the whole thing irked me, and I was bummed out about not being able to use the PantherCam — I know you all love it and watch it all day :). It was then that John offered to host on the dedicated web server that he has, free of charge! I took him up on the offer and he began the transfer. Then I sent my next e-mail:

ME: Please cancel my web hosting account for effective immediately. My user name is “xxxxx” and my password is “xxxxx”. Please let me know if you need any further information in order to cancel my web hosting account.

I also have my domain registration through your company. What are my options regarding the domain registration? Can I keep my domain registration through you even without the web hosting account? If so, how much will this cost? Also, is it possible to transfer my domain registration to another registrar such as If so, is there any charge for the transfer from your company and how would I go about it?

In the meantime, please edit the DNS info for my domain as follows, (insert geeky stuff here).

Thank you in advance for your help.


MYGRUMPYWEBHOSTDOTCOM: You are cancelling because your webcam/ftp system opened a ton of FTP connections and we blocked your server access? That’s mature.

No problem, I’ve closed the account.

That’s mature?

That’s mature?

And indeed, the account was shut off immediately, and an embarrassing message was seen by anyone who came to the website — something about it being suspended and intimating that I hadn’t paid the bill. For all of you who saw that (it was there for 15 long hours), please be aware that your sister/aunt/friend/relative/lurking companion always pays her bills.

ME: I can’t believe you wrote that.

I’m cancelling because I need a server that will allow my automated webcam.

Please could you confirm that you have changed the DNS info. And also, please could you answer my other questions about the domain; i.e. What are my options regarding the domain registration? Can I keep my domain registration through you even without the web hosting account? If so, how much will this cost? Also, is it possible to transfer my domain registration to another registrar such as If so, is there any charge for the transfer from your company and how would I go about it?


MYGRUMPYWEBHOSTDOTCOM: Hi, uploading via FTP, on an automated basis is allowed, but not a new connection every other second as yours was doing, perhaps it was misconfigured.

Re: your domain, yes if you bought it from us you can manage it at:


and change DNS in there, I can’t change it for you.

Why didn’t he tell me that in the first place?

So, end of story, I hope. John’s server seems to be working well, and if I do have any complaints I only have to whine, “Joooooohhhhhhnnnn!”

A good place to be

Greetings from Byzantio Cafe Bar in Houston, Texas, where the service is friendly and the wi-fi is free all the time. Yes. We walked here with my laptop and John’s IPAQ. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day. We are sitting outside drinking coffee and eating Greek appetizers over a very late breakfast/late lunch/early supper. Don’t believe everything you hear about the Houston weather. It’s not always 100 degrees.

Gosh, I love the weekends!

By the way, I’m not ready to make any accusations yet, but it seems very likely that the host server has turned off the Panther Cam (bottom left of your monitor) for using too much bandwidth. Sorry, everyone, I know you’re all missing it like crazy. To set your minds at rest, all has been quiet on the lot next door. And don’t despair. It will be back soon, even if it involves switching to a new server.

Charlie's Travels — Arrival in Vietnam

Charlie’s journey continues. I hope some of my hyperlinks are helping out all geographically-challenged Habershons. You can also click on the flag for a map.

Well we have made it to Hanoi, and are already fully enjoying the Vietnam experience. We are staying right in the thick of it in the middle of town so there is no escaping the noise, or crossing the road with any confidence. I think I have seen more bikes since we have been here than I have in a whole day. Like India the food is absolutely amazing and extremely cheap when you eat in the little street kitchens. We just eat beef noodles all the time and sit on these little seats at the side of the road that come up to about your shin and would not look out of place in a playschool. We have visited the Haun Kiem Lake (I think that is how you spell it!) and Fred and I had an interesting trip down to the red river. We wandered around aimlessly for a while looking for it and then thought we would take Hanoi’s main form of transport. Sitting on the back of a guy’s bike! With both of us hanging on to the thing while he tried to convince us to go to some party we were just relieved to see the river. The actual river was not that impressive so we just stayed in a little street cafe and drank tea (even worse than Chai!) with some locals which made the journey worthwhile. We have become so used to the Indians’ impeccable English that the language barrier is quite a problem here and we often find ourselves having to write things in order to communicate, and a lot of pointing. Today we have been doing our cultural bit of Hanoi. The military museum was pretty disappointing as our collective knowledge of the wars here are pretty poor and it was mainly just little artifacts and a lot of strong Vietnamese propaganda. However the Ho Chi Minh Museum (the person from which the city gets is name) was a lot better although we only had about half an hour as they were shutting shop. Tonight we are heading up north to Sa Pa where we are doing a 3 tour of the city and then trekking to lots of little ethnic minority villages where we will stay for one night which should be amazing. We are then heading to the east coast to Ha Long Bay where we are doing a two day cruise. Then we are going to make our way slowly down to Ho Chi Mhin and then across through Cambodia.