September 30, 2005


I never knew the medical term for it until now.

My mother is undergoing gall bladder surgery today. Your prayers are appreciated.

Posted by david at 10:32 AM | Comments (3)

September 27, 2005

What Are You Looking At?

Just when you think you've seen it all...

This article in The Times today speaks for itself.

How do you infringe a baby's human rights? Just say ‘coo’
By A Correspondent

HOSPITAL visitors have been banned from cooing at babies because it was decided that such behaviour infringes the newborn’s human rights.

Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, West Yorkshire, has also banned well-wishers from asking mothers about their babies. The rules have been introduced by neonatal staff to protect the babies’ “right to privacy”. Debbie Lawson, neonatal manager at the Special Care Baby Unit, said that the barrage of questions infringed a child’s human rights.

“We know people have good intentions, and most people cannot resist cooing over new babies, but we need to respect the child. Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me,” she said.

“We often get visitors wandering over to peer into cots but people sometimes touch or talk about the baby like they would if they were examining tins in a supermarket, and that should not happen.”

New regulations have been introduced throughout the maternity unit. One ward has put a doll in a cot on display, with a message that reads: “What makes you think I want to be looked at?” Mrs Lawson said: “Hopefully our message comes across loud and clear. The Government has set a benchmark that every patient has a right to privacy and dignity, and we say that includes tiny babies as well.

“I can’t imagine why any mother would complain. Most would be against strangers poking and prodding and asking questions.”

But the rules have already brought criticism from some new mothers. Lynsey Pearson, 26, from Halifax, gave birth to her first child, Hannah, four weeks ago. “This ludicrous idea is taking patient confidentiality to the extreme. If people did not ask me questions about my baby, I would be offended.

“I am so proud of Hannah and want to show her off, and I would imagine all new mums feel that way. When I was in hospital even the cleaners asked me questions and touched her and cuddled her.

“Babies love attention and I think it is cruel to ask visitors and parents to basically ignore them.”

One couple know better than most how important it is to have interaction with visitors and other mums-to-be on the wards. Rachel and Nick Hughes, also from Halifax, had their baby Annis, 18 months ago after IVF treatment.

“New parents and babies need privacy but they also need to interact, and mums in particular crave attention for their new babies,” Mr Hughes said.

“We wanted to talk about Annis all the time. She was our little miracle and we wanted everyone to know about her. It is flattering when people talk to you about your experiences.”

The staff at Calderdale Royal are unrepentant. The ban was necessary to prevent visitors “gawping” at newborns or quizzing mothers, they said.

But Linda Riordan, the Labour MP for Halifax, said that the hospital was taking government guidelines to the extreme. “It is bureaucracy gone mad,” she said. “All mothers want people to admire their babies because all babies are beautiful. But in a case where a mother did not want to answer questions, it should be up to that individual to say so.”

Posted by david at 01:06 PM | Comments (4)

September 25, 2005

The Shrouding Mists of the Past

I always check the recent deaths list on Wikipedia and I saw that Molly Yard died on Wednesday. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I remembered using her name in a song. That's when I realised that something.

I'm getting to where I can't remember the songs I've written. I never thought this would happen. I'm sure I imagined a day would come when I didn't play music regularly - I just never imagined I would forget the music I played.

Sure, there are a handful of songs I could probably get through without too much difficulty if I were to just pick up my guitar right now and run through them. A couple of my songs have remained as showpiece tunes - something to drag out at the spur of the moment if someone says, "Play us a song." It happens every once in a great while.

I used to have a repertoire of 30 or so to draw on. I would average 20-22 a show if I was playing solo - less with the band, since we would incorporate a few by my lead guitarist. I have the lyrics to 16 of them, because I used to have them on my old, old website and I still have those html files.

I don't have my opening number ("Hide and Seek"), or my closer ("Why Won't the World Look to Jesus?"), though I recently found a legal pad with my original draft of "Goin' in the Middle of the Night".

Amongst the 16 html files is the song that mentions Molly Yard. It contains some of the most controversial, explicit and suggestive lyrics I ever wrote - a blues critique on the blending of gender roles in society called "Androgynous Zone". Now if I could just remember how to play it.

Posted by david at 04:32 AM | Comments (4)

September 24, 2005

New Subtraction

Full-of-fleas is history. This required no decision making on my part. I came home from work on Thursday and Mrs H informed that the dog was going back.

He starting getting very possessive of Mrs H, barking and growling at the children if they were cuddled up to her. He peed in a few non-statutory place. He want kill the bunny. He started obscene humping on Abby. That seems to have been the last straw.

Before all this happened Mrs H had decided that she wasn't fussed about him one way or the other, and that's not a good way to start a relationship with a pet.

So Satan's Little Helper (as I started to call him) is gone.

Posted by david at 02:06 AM | Comments (2)

September 22, 2005

I Could Use the Money

The Government is pouring money into education.

Since Labour came to power, they have pumped nearly £1 billion ($1.85 billion) into tackling truancy. The result: truancy has continued to rise, jumping another 10% last year.

It's not just schools that can't seem to get students to show up. Universities now have a first-year drop-out rate of nearly 25%. Some of those are likely to be students who never should have been there, but have been pushed into higher education by the Government's goal of 50% of the population with a university degree. Others have been so ill-prepared by GCSEs and A levels that they can't hack the rigours of university. The cost to the taxpayer? Another £500 million.

The Government has spent another £300 million on initiatives to get state school candidates into university. The result? A surprise fall in state school educated students at top universities. Well, the Government may have been surprised. I'm not.

So where could they have spent that wasted £1.8 billion ($3.33 billion)? My pay packet could have used a little bit of that. Call me an interested party, but better paid teachers with less red tape could do a lot more than endless initiatives. I am responsible for educating the 550 or so students I see in class every week and generally responsible for all of the other 650 children as I supervise them during breaks, lunch, etc. It will be three years before I earn the average UK salary.

Posted by david at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

New Addition

We have added a new member to our family.

A couple of days ago, my father-in-law brought over a puppy with at least a strong strain of Jack Russell terrier. Mrs H wanted me to say whether I wanted to keep him or not. I didn't particularly want a dog, but I left it up to her. I noted that I already had a pet and if she wanted to feed, water, walk him, and have dog hair on her furniture, it was up to her.

Aidan and Abby chased him around the lounge and he chased them. I was surprised when she decided to have her dad take him home.

Yesterday when I got home from work, the dog was there. Mrs H had developed a change of heart and gone to pick him up. She's named him Malachy. I think she wanted to name him after the Prophet Malachi, but she found the similar name of the 11th-12th century Irish saint is easier to shout. This is also appropriate as St Malachy reposed in the presence of that greatest of holy dog namesakes, St Bernard.

Malachy is also good because it rhymes with "Full-of-Fleas", so he still knows his name when I call him. Mrs H applied some sort of flea killing substance to him last night, but I was still itching when I sat next to him.

I'm not denying that he is a nice dog. The child gate on the stairs has now become the dog gate. If we are all upstairs, he wimpers at the bottom because he is lonely.

He stayed in the lounge during his first night (this seemed safer than leaving him in the unfinished kitchen) and everything was intact this morning. He seems to have found his place on the couch. He didn't leave any presents on the carpets or anything. Fortunately, the dog run area of the park is right across the street from our house, so he will have easy access to toilet facilities.

Mrs H says this is a probationary period. If he's trouble, he goes back. Of course the longer he is with us, the more permanent he will become.

Posted by david at 03:31 PM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2005

Political Drift

I took the Politics Test, and at least on the US spectrum, I came out more middling than I would have expected. I'm sure if the questions fit UK politics, I would come out much further on the Right.

You are a

Social Moderate
(55% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(56% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

H/T to Greg Wallace.

Posted by david at 10:03 AM | Comments (1)

Like a Rolling Stone

I was chatting with my top set Year 7’s yesterday, getting to know them while they were getting to know me. Of course my American origins are an endless source of fascination for them (and every year group, actually). One student asked me how many places I had lived. I clarified this to mean actually residences – addresses I have called my own.

I had to stop and count. I just kept counting. I got to fifteen before any of them were even born, and I didn’t count the three weeks I spent with a cousin in Kentucky when I was between places and looking for political work in the I-65 corridor. (I didn’t find any and ending up instead on the eastern edge of West Texas for over 15 months working at a KOA Kampground.) The total is twenty. They were amazed. So was I. Though this averages out to a change every two years, the first 19 years of my life were spent in just two houses, the one where we lived until I was 6 and the other from which I left home for college. One of them asked if I liked moving house. Remarkably, no, I don’t. In fact, I hate it. I don’t plan to do it again for a long time.

Posted by david at 08:50 AM | Comments (1)

Getting what you pay for, Part II

If you’re gonna sell something on eBay, you should be sure that you actually have the thing you are selling. For example, if you are selling dozens of discontinued stock Woolworths mini cooler tabletop fridges, then you actually have them stored in your garage so they actually get sent to the winning bidder, like mine did. It’s a bit loud, but now we can keep milk in the department and I don’t have to walk across the campus and up the stairs to the staff room for a cup of tea.

Likewise if you are selling hard drive enclosures, even if you are a regular retailer of such items on your own website, you should have the items in stock. This is especially true if you are going to charge way, way over the odds for 1st class Royal Mail recorded delivery.

Don’t just wait until I get pissed off after a week and send you a stroppy email before you write back and say that you didn’t actually have the item because too many had been sold and you are expecting some soon from the manufacturer. And don’t fail to send the virtually weightless flash memory stick for which you charged as much postage as price, because you want to drop it into the same package and rack up as much profit from postage as you possibly can.

Bad eBayer! Bad! Bad!

Posted by david at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

Getting what you pay for, Part I

BT are supposed to change the wiring of our phone sockets for free. But I suppose this is one situation where you get what you pay for. As I have mentioned previously, I ordered the change of service on the 24th of August. The first available date for a technician was yesterday afternoon. That’s right, 26 days. I tried to ring Mrs H before I left school and there was no answer. Maybe she’s gone out, I thought.

When I got home, I learned that BT rang her mobile about 3:00 to say that they couldn’t keep the appointment and we would have to ring later to book another one! Fortunately, the number to ring and book is free. Unfortunately, it is only free from a land line, which of course is exactly what we don’t have! So I had to find a phone box, of which there are bloody few because everyone has mobiles so there is no money in payphones anymore.

As soon as the kids were in bed, I went to Tesco, where they have a phone across from the checkouts. Listening to the recorded message through all the racket behind me, I was able to make out that they only take calls from 8:00am to 8:00pm. So Mrs H will have to find a public phone today while keeping the kids quiet and occupied and stuck on one place for as long as it takes to get a hold of a live person.

Posted by david at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

More than we bargained for

When you hire tradesmen, you never know what you’re going to get.

The person we originally got to put in the kitchen (because Ikea wanted more for the fitting than for the kitchen itself), measured it incorrectly by 15 cm (under which pretence we bought the units) and then never showed up for work. Fortunately, the bloke we found to do it was cheaper, could do more of the jobs the other would have subcontracted, and didn’t talk down to Mrs H like she was an idiot. It’s still not finished, but we’re getting close.

For the cabinets to fit along the entire length of one wall, an unnecessary gas pipe had to be removed. Mrs H called around. One man wanted £80 to cut and cap the pipe. Now to me, it didn’t seem like a lot of work and £80 (that’s about $145) seemed a bit excessive. Another could do it for £60, but it would take several weeks for him to get to it. We didn’t really have several weeks to wait.

Then we found someone who could get to it right away. He was CORGI registered and everything (both he and Mrs H had seen a recent episode of BBC’s Rogue Traders, so he showed us his CORGI card). Sure enough, the pipe didn’t take a lot of work. Five minutes or so. (That would have been £960 an hour with the first man.) Mrs H had already agreed to have him do the fittings for the new hob, so we didn’t pay him for the cut and cap on the night.

He came back last night to fit the hob. Our house was built prior to the reign of the present monarch, so the existing connections lacked a certain modernity and compatibility with the stove. This was not a five-minute job. There was sawing and soldering and I don’t know what else. It took about an hour. I would hate to think about what £80-man would have charged for this.

When all was said and done, both jobs came to just £50.

Posted by david at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2005

The Curse of the Lingonberry

We used to love Ikea. Even not that long ago. Now it is difficult not to use a profane adjective before the word every time we say it.

We bought a kitchen from Ikea. Not the kitchen we ordered exactly, but a kitchen. They sent the wrong sized units and didn’t include the hob. They sent lovely solid beech worktops. We didn’t order the solid wood, but they didn’t fail to charge us for them. Lots more than we intended to pay for worktops. Worktops that must be oiled regularly and are not suited for standing water.

When Mrs H went to Cardiff to complain, they refused to have them collected and replaced. That was after she waited over an hour to be served in the customer service area. Okay, “served” probably isn’t the right word, because that implies someone does something for you. She actually had to go behind he counter into the stock area and shout at them to get them to do anything. The waiting area was full of customers. One man who was more patient had been waiting for two hours to be severed. They just couldn’t be bothered to get the stuff off the shelves.

Mrs H led a re-enactment of the Peasants’ Revolt. When she started shouting, the others gained the courage to begin complaining. The Ikea dependence upon the British “mustn’t grumble” attitude was, if but for a moment, undermined.

This was not he first time we have had trouble. Once when we were all at Ikea and had to get something from the customer services, Mrs H gave the girl her ticket. The girl said, “Yeah, okay,” and walked into the stock area. She never returned. When Mrs H finally found someone else, they informed her that the girl was on her break. When Mrs H explained that we had been waiting for some time, she was told that the girl was entitled to her break. There was no suggestion that perhaps someone else should take over the job in the meantime.

Ikea are simply big enough that they don’t have to care. They don’t need individual customers. They save more money using their methodology than they lose in making customers angry because of it.

This is so much different than the local shop where we bought dressers for the kids. I say local. They are actually located 30 miles away. The dressers were made to order out of solid wood, including the backs and bottoms of the drawers. They were delivered for £10 (the cost of the petrol). When they arrived, they were the wrong ones. The shop owner/delivery driver dutifully put them back in the van and returned a couple of nights later with the right ones. We then discovered that Abby’s had a little gouge in the top and rang him. He offered to have another one built and deliver it. We were just happy with a few pounds off.

The dressers were a little more expensive than something similar at Ikea, but we won’t have to buy another one. Ever.

Posted by david at 12:42 PM | Comments (5)

September 14, 2005

The Inbetween Times

Mrs H is handing over the keys to the old place even as I type. Because the phone won't be turned on at the new place for several days and because it takes another 10 days to get the broadbamd working (and my laptop refuses to connected by modem for reasons I cannot discern), I will have to post when I can from work - not during lessons, of course.

Things are going much better so far this term. I have a much better timetable. And with a permanent contract, I feel like I belong.

Now, I must use the remainder of lunch to get ready for Year 11s and everything they can find out about Allah from the first surah of the Qur'an...

Posted by david at 01:16 PM | Comments (3)

September 11, 2005

Weights and Measures

One in every £8 spend in the UK is spent in Tesco. Today I figured out how they make so much money.

I went into our local store to get some fruit for lunches this week. I saw the endcap of the fruit section had nice looking plums. I've been known to like a plum, so I thought this might be a worthy addition to my lunchbox over the coming week.

The plums were advertised as on special offer for 97p/kg in prepacked 1kg punnets. I picked up a punnet, but years of fruit buying caused me to instantly recognise that the weight was not commensurate with a full kilo. I turned over the label attached to the punnet netting and sure enough it declared a weight of 750 grams.

I took the punnet to the scales and weighed it. Sure enough it was just over 750g, which was as labelled, allowing for the weight of the plastic container. Then I took it to one of the price scanners located in a nearby aisle. The price: 97p. Not 97p per kilo, but 97p per .75 kilo. I was about to be had.

I brought this discrepancy to the attention of the young lady stocking citrus and she came over to confirm that what I said made sense. She did not have any idea what plan of action to take, so she brought this to the attention of her supervisor. To his credit, he immediately stripped off all price indication of 97p per kilo.

So how is it that Tesco made too much money? The endcap of plums was almost empty. Every other person buying plums off of it throughout the day and probably for as long as the promotion has been running (due perhaps to their lack of experience in the handling of fruit weights, but more likely to their blind trust in Tesco) has paid 33% too much. If this promotion coupled with the supply of plum punnets was used by more than just my local store, that's a lot of extra money.

Posted by david at 09:40 PM | Comments (2)

Staying Awake

According to Schott’s Food and Drink Miscellany, instant coffee has less than half the caffeine of filtered coffee. A 6 ounce cup of the real thing contains about 105 mg – the freeze-dried variety contains only 60 mg. In either case, this is much more than a cup of tea with a mere 35 mg.

Posted by david at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

The Ashes

It is not very often that football season is in full swing and the public focus is on cricket. However, this year England have a chance of winning the Ashes and that makes everything different.

The Ashes is a four-inch terracotta trophy representing an biennial series of five international test matches played between England and Australia. The last time England "held" them was 1987. (The actually trophy never leaves the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum in London.) This year the series is being played in England.

Most of the time, I am only a casual observer of cricket, but I have also been caught up in the mania. I saw the last day of the test at Trent Bridge (the Nottinghamshire cricket ground) and I’ve watched what I could of the current match at the Oval (the ground of Surrey Cricket Club).

People have tried to make comparisons between cricket and baseball. Both use a small ball, a bat, and fielders, but that’s where the similarities end. In cricket, each team gets two innings at bat and ten outs in each inning. Two men are at bat at the same time. The bowler bowls overhanded – way overhanded, after running toward the batter from the equivalent of center field. When the ball is bowled, the batter doesn’t have to swing, though he has to keep it from hitting the wickets behind him because they have little pieces of wood balanced on top.

If the ball is hit, the batter doesn’t have to run. If he doesn’t like a ball, he can just ground it a short distance. The batters are in the middle of the field and there are no foul lines, so the ball can go anywhere. So as you can imagine, with the fielders spread everywhere and trying to catch the ball barehanded, there are a lot of runs. Especially as the distance travelled for a run is only 60 feet. It’s just a matter of trading places with the other batter. And to be safe, the runners only have to cross the line with the front of the bat, not their feet. It is very common for good batters to get 100 runs in a single at-bat. The record is over 400.

Here are a few more dissimilarities. Bowler also trade off after every six balls. Matches break for lunch and afternoon tea and are never played under the lights. Ground the ball out of the field and get four runs. Hit the ball into the stands and get six runs. Ten players have to chose from about 40 possible fielding position. These have names such as Silly Mid On, Short Square Leg, and Deep Gully.

So it’s nothing like baseball, really.

Posted by david at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)

September 09, 2005

My Two Mummies

I just don't have time to blog about this tonight. You migth as well read the horrifying truth for yourself

UK scientists have won permission to create a human embryo that will have genetic material from two mothers.

The Newcastle University team will transfer genetic material created when an egg and sperm fuse into another woman's egg.

Read the rest on the BBC website.

Posted by david at 12:33 AM | Comments (1)

September 08, 2005


The Government has managed to make a bad thing worse. Before Labour came to power, only seven out of ten parents were getting the child support collected for them. Now seven out of ten aren’t getting any payments.

Frank Field, a former Labour welfare minister declared the situation a "meltdown". He wrote an open letter to Tony Blair in which he said the CSA is "bolting down the hatches" by refusing to publish key information. He said he 2003 reforms made a "poor service even worse." Former ministers frequently have to communicate with the PM in an open forum as Number 10 is usually very closed to them.

There are exceptions to this closed door policy. One of these is formerly disgraced the former Home Secretary, now reincarnated as Work and Pensions Secretary, who keeps hoping to pay child support for children that aren’t his. He actually admitted that there was nothing in Mr Field's letter that ministers were not "painfully aware of". Yes, it is so bad that the Government have to admit that it is true - this from a Government that never admits anything, especially if it is anywhere close to the truth.

What are some of Mr Field's specifics that the Government is aware of?

• The amount of non-collected maintenance written off has crossed the £1 billion mark for the first time.
• As write-offs reach record levels the total sum of maintenance still to be collected records one of the biggest-ever increases in a single year: up by a third to around £1.26 billion.
• The total amount of maintenance collected by the agency shows its first-ever decline in real terms.
• The proportion of lone parents receiving a first payment where the maintenance assessment had been made, dropped by a third — from 72 per cent to 52 per cent.
• The total backlog of parents waiting for a maintenance assessment continues to rise — up by 20 per cent in the past six months, the latest date for which data is available.
• Worse still, 40% of all applications for child support on the new scheme are still waiting for an assessment to be made.

And what is this costing the taxpayer at large? 54p for every £1 collected.

If the Government are going to promote an amoral society and single parenthood, they ought to at least get the necessary infrastructure properly in place. With the teenage pregnancy rate soaring higher with each prophylactic initiative, the CSA must not only suck ever last penny out of the fathers – they have to actually get the cash to the mothers so they can buy Burberry and bling.

Posted by david at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2005

RIP, Little Buddy

Bob Denver has passed away at the age of 70. Gilligan's Island probably never will.

BTW, I can tap out the theme song by rapping my knuckles around the top of my head and opening my mouth in different ways. I can do the same with the theme to Green Acres.

Posted by david at 11:46 PM | Comments (2)

Channels of Communication

We bought a bell for our front door. After the button is attached to the door, the bell bit can be plugged in anywhere within a 100 feet.

Recently people started prank ringing our bell. The amazing thing is that it would happen right under our noses. They would wait until one of us was actually outside getting in the car and would simply vanish. We couldn’t see them quick enough. How they could get inside the gate, up to the door, and vanish without being seen by either the person in the house or the person leaving was a mystery.

Then the other night I was unlocking the car from the doorstep and the bell went off behind me. Then I locked it, and the bell went off again. Our front door and our car are on the same frequency. So now every time anyone goes out or comes back in the Astra the bell goes off.

Posted by david at 09:58 PM | Comments (5)

September 04, 2005

Six Years

As of today, Mrs H has put up with me for six years. Last night she gave me the just-released book by Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory. In true form, I hurried to Tesco and bought some chocolates and a few books that I thought she might enjoy.

I tend to do this with both our anniversary and her birthday. I remember it all year, up to the last few days before, and then my mind goes blank.

Posted by david at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2005

We Built This City

Okay, I thought I’d heard it all. Jazz singer Lillian Boutte was tapped by BBC News 24 to comment on the situation in New Orleans (and I quote it exactly as it was said)…“And now as it’s said, I don’t know but I just give a rumour, the Republicans believe that now that New Orleans shouldn’t even be put back on the map – that it should be flattened and used for whatever purposes, but you’re taking a history of the world…

“The music community is the thing that’s going to build up New Orleans. I don’t care what they say, the Republicans can talk what they want about levelling off this place, they’ll never be able to do it – the world will go against them...

“They’re [the looters] going wherever they can where its useful for survival, they’re going into different cities now and ramping [sic, unless this is some new term in the 'hood]. They’re just taking everything down if they don’t do it, it’s not just going to be sustained in Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama, it gonna go over the whole of America.”

Yes, you heard it here. The Republicans want to raze New Orleans, but the musicians are going to build it up again. I suppose they are going to rebuild the levees, pump out the water, and reconstruct all the buildings. And foot the $50 billion bill. Sure. The musicians – not those terrible Republicans. And it’s gonna be the Republicans' fault that the looters are going to spread anarchy over the whole country because they can’t get what they need to survive by stealing everything not tied down (including one Wal-mart, where they "acquired" all the ammunition.

I only quote Ms Boutte from one of the interviews they did. They just kept being her back one to spout more drivel about the Republicans and George W.

Whilst I'm sure the musicians will actually save the day, Greg Wallace has a list of what the Republicans' friends in corporate America are doing.

Posted by david at 11:19 PM | Comments (2)

Supply and Demand

Thanks to Katrina, gasoline prices in the US are going up again. And thanks to Katrina, petrol prices in the UK are going up again. With the shut down of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the reduced production of Gulf Coast refineries, the US needs to get fuel from somewhere else.

This means that oil tankers originally headed to European ports are headed to America. The going rate for tankers has doubled, because US suppliers are willing to pay that to bring the tankers across the Atlantic. So there will be less oil coming into the UK and our prices will continue to rise.

In the background of a BBC television news report from the States, I saw gas prices at nearly $3.00 a gallon. Wouldn’t that be nice. I’d love to pay $3.00 a gallon for gas. Petrol here is now about 93p/litre. Thanks to the strengthening of the pound against the dollar, that now translates to a mere $6.50 a gallon.

Posted by david at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)


Following on the star rating of hospitals, the Government as published a similar system for GP practices. This was announced the same day I needed to make an appointment with the surgery where I am registered.

One of the key targets set is the requirement to see patients within 48 hours. Our surgery has gone one better and will see patients within 24 hours of making an appointment. Sounds great, doesn’t it? How do they manage to do it?

They don’t take appointments. At least not any appointments more than 24 hours in advance. So everyone gets on the phone at 8am trying to get one of the slots for the day.

By meeting the Government targets and getting a higher rating, the surgery gets more money. Yes, socialised medicine is still about making money. It’s only a matter of from whence the money comes.

Posted by david at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2005

End of Summer

I go back to work tomorrow. I am spending the day in the department planning and preparing for the year. All the teachers come in on Monday and the kids start back on Tuesday.

Always one to put a positive spin on things, I have already calculated that it is only 51 days until half-term break.

It seems like the summer has gone by so fast. It doesn't feel like autumn should be here yet. The summer temperatures are still here - it was a warm 68ºF today and we are expected a downright toasty 77ºF on Saturday. Practically a heat wave.

Posted by david at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

Many Years

Today is the beginning of the Orthodox Church year. In the West, it is also the commemoration of Righteous Abigail, the wife of the Prophet and King David. However, since there seems to be evidence, or at least good historical reasoning, that this commemoration pre-dates the Schism, we have adopted it as the name day for our own Abigail.

We have told Abby that it is her name day, but she seems fairly oblivious to this fact.

May God bless his handmaiden Abigail and grant her many years. Oh, and may she not marry a fool like Nabal, "harsh and evil in his doing" (NKJV) or "surly and mean in his dealings" (NIV). Hopefully she'll get a David the first time around.

Posted by david at 03:05 PM | Comments (1)