June 2003 in New York through the eyes of an Englishman -  Contact  Current Month  Previous  Next  Feedback   Index  Software

Number 2 BEV Archive Page

For whatever reason, this is the most popular of the BEV archive pages, coming in just ahead of January 2005. I have to confess that I'm curious about this, particularly since many of the readers who get to it don't appear to have visited the BEV Home Page recently.

If you can spare a couple of minutes, please give some feedback - how did you get to this page, and what, if anything, is interesting about it?

Karaoke girls

Karaoke girls

30/6/2003 - Time wasting

Today I was by myself, so I could spend as much time as I liked programming. As it turned out, I wasted most of it. Observing that there was a significantly later version of Gcc (the Gnu Compiler Collection) available - 3.3, and I was on 3.0, I thought I'd upgrade - a version X.0 is always a bit scary, and I figured that by 3.3, they'd have most problems ironed out.

Linux is very seat-of-the-pants. You compile and build important software like the compiler for yourself, though I have to admit that they've got the business pretty organized. It's down to about 5 commands. It's some piece of work - took about 3/4 of an hour to compile and build on a reasonably fast computer.

Of course, once it was installed, everything ceased to work. I couldn't compile the existing Retro code. In the past, to define a shorthand C++ Standard Library string class, you've always to do something like:
typedef std::basic_string string;
Everything I tried to compile had this in it, and produced a mess of obscure error messages that didn't seem to gel with the code. You always blame your own code first, so I wasted some time playing with this to no avail. Finally I discovered that the new string header file already makes this declaration for you. All I had to do was delete mine. You always feel such a fool.

At five I walked up to Brother Jimmy's, and chewed the fat with Boris, then came home and ate another salad, cold cuts and cold potatoes meal. Later on I walked round to Blondies, where they now have karaoke upstairs on Monday nights, and $2 pints. I lingered over a couple of pints and sang a couple of songs.

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Flowers - not just the British

Flowers - not just the British

On this day - top of page

29/6/2003 - Tunnel Vision

Romeo was here, so I guess I took advantage, and went off into programmer land. The Retro stuff I'm working on is quite complex, and updating it to match the Windows version is not going to be trivial. In combination with this, the switch back from Windows to Linux comes as a shock, and causes large detours until you remember where you were when you did something, and why. The two programming styles and environments are utterly different.

Terry made us breakfast, while I was mentally absent - coffee, hash browns, and scrambled eggs with cheese. Then she did the washing up. If I'd been taking any notice I'd have realized she was bored shitless. On the other hand, you can't achieve any sort of worthwhile result without some suffering, either on your part, or by others. Creativity is in many ways selfish. Also, most times, nobody takes any notice of it. Check out the web-ring thing at the bottom of this page, and see how many other web journals have an entry almost every day. Am I mad, or just obsessed?

So I missed the signs, and Terry and Romeo went out for a smoke, and were gone for an hour and a half. She was OK when she got back. A little loud perhaps, but I was still head down, and didn't realize until too late that the day was blown. I tried too late to provide the affection she had needed, but to no avail. The day went downhill. You already know the form, I'm not going to elaborate.

Sandra came into the city as promised, late afternoon, and at about 11:00, after some uncertainty, Terry went back to New Jersey with her for a couple of days, as had been arranged.

Buses on 3rd Avenue

Buses on 3rd Avenue

The hostess and another of the girls at BJ's

The hostess and another of the girls at BJ's

On this day - top of page

28/6/2003 - Uneventful

Days like today are difficult to write about. I sit at my computer with a "dear diary" bubble coming out of my head, and not much more. It's vital to get something done ASAP, otherwise that temptation sneaks up on you to skip a day - surely people would understand. But I've made myself promise to try.

I found out why the program was working that shouldn't have. It was the usual reason - I had made a mistake. Once I got it right, it didn't work, as predicted. Another way of doing the same thing, which might just have been within the rules failed also, and I think I understand why. The way you're not supposed to do it, of course, works perfectly. I've left it for now and will use the way that seems to work until I discover more.

Why the buses, you might ask. Well if you live in New York, you're perfectly familiar with them, but if you don't, then now's you're chance to find out. The 103 on the right is an older model. The big 102 concertina bus is typical of the ones they're bringing into service now. You'll see it's got its nose down to make it easier for old people like me to get off, but you can get arrested for getting off on a bus anyway. The buses all accept Metrocards these days. They're your usual thin plastic card with a magnetic stripe that you buy at subway stations or news stands. You can get cards for a fixed number of rides, or a weekly or monthly unlimited. I guess the latter-day equivalent of "freedom of the city" is an everlasting unlimited Metrocard. The card reader, which stands by where the driver sits, still takes coins too. But my guess is that they'll be phased out as quickly as the MTA can get away with it. The coin counter must be very expensive compared to a card reader, and they're probably hell to maintain. You're supposed to get on at the front, pay at the machine, and get of at the back for efficient flow, but of course half the people want to get off at the front because it happens to be a few feet nearer. One feature that all the buses have in common is that about half the space is dedicated to seating for the disabled, and they have wheelchair hoists built into the rear door. Of course, 95% of the time these expensive facilities go unused - same as in Britain. I've always thought that it would be cheaper and more efficient to provide all the wheelchair users with cell phones, and have a small fleet of specialized vehicles that toured round, picked people up on demand, and took them exactly where they wanted to go.

BJ's was reasonably busy, but not what you'd call exciting. Jessica was there, and made me change the photo I'd taken on Wednesday because the other one 'made her look fat' - that'd be a miracle! Back home, we ate salad, cold cuts and mock crab, and watched the Kevin Cosner Robin Hood. There are two bits in there I particularly like because they so beautifully illustrate the intellectual capabilities of Hollywood film directors. In one case, they show the Sherwood outlaws making arrowheads by casting molten lead. In the other, the moor (Morgan Freeman) delivers Little John's wife's baby by caesarean with a rusty spoon, and two days later she's running round the forest, fit as a fiddle. Later on we went for a walk in the then pleasantly warm night air, and went for a nightcap at Mary Ann's, since Romeo was there. He came home with us to chat and watch TV, and stayed the night.

Do you have a web page that is 'under construction', or always out-of-date. The Brit has some experience in dealing with this situation - it's something that has to be done every day! For a small monthly fee (starting at $25/month), your web page can be regularly updated too. Call Steve at 212-996-9585, or email, if you think you could use this service.

You might also want to check out the Windows application "Publicity". Use it for making labels, business cards, flyers, tickets and such. Just run the executable, and it will install itself (only!).

Please page down for the rest of the month. We don't bite!

Priapus, from a painting at Pompei

Priapus, from a painting at Pompei

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27/6/2003 - What Men Want

Terry and I had a discussion earlier today about what men think. I've always realized that men have no idea of what happens in the mind of a woman. What surprises me is when I discover (periodically) that women have equally vague conceptions about men. So, for the record, here are some immutable concepts about men. We checked them out with Boris at the pub, just to be sure they weren't biased in any way. The exact phrasing may vary with the man's sexual orientation, but in this context we're not really talking about gay men anyway. So:
  • All men like to fuck, and think about it a lot (just like women),
  • All men wank/jack off if they're not getting fucked enough - some will do it anyway, the ones who say they don't are lying,
  • All men like the idea of having a woman suck their dick (in practice, their reaction to the actual event will depend largely on the donor),
  • All men would love to fuck their woman in the arse/ass if she'd let them,
  • All men will have sex with pretty much anything that moves if they think they can get away with it,
  • Drink has the effect of making men think they can get away with anything (it's possibly fortunate that drink also makes men less capable of the things we've mentioned),
  • If a man has a choice between fucking a woman he's fucked before, and one he hasn't, then the one he fucked before is SOL,
  • When a man has just come, then for some length of time depending on his age, constitution, and sex drive, he ceases to have any interest in all of the above, except drink, and possibly fucking the woman in the arse/ass if that isn't what he just did.
The old adage that 'all men are bastards' follows from the above. This is not to say that men can't be faithful, loving, emotional, considerate, and tender. However if they are, women should bear in mind that they are doing so in a state of perpetual conflict with their basic instincts. Other than that, we're just the same lovable beasts you've come to know.

Familiar building maintenance

Familiar building maintenance

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26/6/2003 - Thursday Already

Another scorcher of a day, it's up in the 90s again. However our air conditioner seems to be holding up, as long as I can persuade Terry to keep the windows closed. So it's not too bad in the apartment, as long as you don't do anything energetic. Terry resolved this morning that she would try and get back into Radio Shack. Her nemesis district manager has now left the area, so it may be possible. We'll see.

I'm still struggling with Linux threads. What I'm trying to do is make a program with multiple threads that can survive a thread being killed by bad user code, and can mark the thread as damaged, so it can then be killed in an orderly fashion, and a new one started. The problem isn't that I can't do it, but rather that I can, since as far as I can see, the technique I'm using should not work. I guess I'll figure out what's happening in time.

I took the picture on my way up to Brother Jimmy's. The building in question looks distinctly dodgy. The walls appear to bulge, and it seems to be held together only by the steel bracing rods. You can see the star shaped end of one of them. The owner has been busy over the last couple of days doing a cosmetic job on a large crack. You can see the crack creeping off out of the top of the picture. This reminds me of home, because in Harrogate, where I lived, subsidence is quite common in some areas because of underground springs, so you see quite a few buildings with botched cracks. Maybe I'll start walking on the other side of the street.

Susan, the artist I mentioned, came in with Terry when she got back from BJ's - she was later than me because she'd met Mike Sanchez there. I think Terry wants Susan to make some changes to the picture she bought. Susan stayed and had some supper. Later it was karaoke night at BJ's, so I popped up at about 10:30 to see what it was like. It was OK, but I guess I wasn't in the mood. I left at about midnight, stuck my face in at Blondies to take a quick look at Simon's band, then went home and went to bed. Terry was out with El Tahra.

An alternate view

An alternate view

Jessica at BJ's

Jessica at BJ's

25/6/2003 - Back to the Real World

I posted the baked-beans recipe - sure you'll all be thrilled. Terry did a piece about the party, but I won't post that publicly until it's closer to understandable. As it stands, there are words missing, and the punctuation doesn't make for easy reading. She was supposed to go for an interview at CVS this morning, but she got the time wrong, got up late, and missed yet another interview - aargh!

Today I scanned the vacancies web pages again, and applied for another job. Since I don't see any sign that I'm going to get one any minute now, I've also started to focus back on one of my software projects. The one in question is a web application framework that's supposed to work on Linux/Apache, and Windows/IIS. I did the Linux version first, and it's not what I really wanted, well with hindsight that is. The Windows version, that I did later is better, so now the task is to get the two of them into synchronization. Of course, in the time since I did it, there have been radical modifications to the Linux multithreading implementation. This means that I'll have to rebuild it with the absolute latest version of everything, which in turn means that nobody will even look at it for a couple of years until things have settled down. It really is a pain that Linux hasn't come up with a well established threading mechanism. Of course, the experts say it has one - fork() - but that's not multithreading as every other operating system sees it. It seems that as far as your Linux kernel buffs are concerned, everybody is out of step but them. If I get started on the required changes, it will be a major piece of work, and I'm far from certain that anyone will ever be interested. On the other hand, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. But this is too technical and dull - shut up Steve.

The sun was out with a vengeance today, with temperatures in the 90s. The sky was really clear, and you got the definite impression of a thermonuclear explosion in the sky. Some time back, I took the picture of the fountain at 95th and 2nd in dull weather. Here you see it in really intense illumination. We have a high temperature warning for tomorrow, even though it's going to be relatively low humidity. There'll be lots of UV, so I'd better keep my white body out of it.

After 'work' we went to BJ's. Jessica was on duty - she's tiny but cute. The natives were friendly, and there are continuing signs of a migration from Blondies. The place is starting to grow on me. Boris was there again, he was cooking too, and had to rush off because he had turkey drumsticks in the oven. Later on he's supposed to be coming round to play chess with Terry, to conform to his national stereotype. I don't play chess with her, because I think it would lead to marital strife - the analogy is just too literal, and Terry is very competitive. In any case she's probably better than I am, and I can't bear to lose consistently.

The leftovers had virtually expired, so I was back to cooking. Terry had got a couple of small pork loins on her spending spree, so I cooked one of them. I half split it, stuffed it with sliced garlic, coated it with black pepper, then roasted it in the oven for an hour. We had it with a lettuce and tomato salad and boiled red potatoes. It was good.

Boris is here as I speak, and Terry has lost two games on the trot. I'll probably have to leave home.

On this day - top of page

  • 1lb navy/haricot beans,
  • Approx 1/4 lb brown sugar,
  • Juice of 2 lemons,
  • Small can tomato paste,
  • Half a large onion, chopped finely,
  • Good sized garlic bulb, peeled and crushed,
  • 1 tblsp ground corriander,
  • 1 tblsp ground cumin,
  • 1/2 tblsp ground black pepper,
  • a few whole cloves,
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder.

Use your imagination please

Use your imagination please

25/6/2003 - Baked Beans

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water. They should swell up to quite a respectable quantity. Don't try to shortcut this stage. There are malicious proteins in beans, and the soaking helps to eliminate them. Set the oven to about 225F. Throw away the soaking water, and rinse the beans.

Cook the beans in an oven-proof casserole with a well-fitting lid. Put the beans in the casserole and cover with boiling water - about half an inch more water than beans. Don't salt them at this point - they cook better without. Put them in the oven, and forget about them - well almost, you're looking at about five hours in total. You can amuse yourself sometime within the next three hours by preparing the ingredients for the sauce.

Fry the onion in a little olive oil until it's soft - a little browning is fine. Add the spices and garlic, and fry these briefly with the onion. Take the beans out of the oven, and stir in the onion/garlic/spice mixture, the sugar, and about 3/4 of the can of tomato paste. Use the whole can if you're enthusiastic about a rich tomato flavor.

Put the whole thing back in the oven. Taking it out and stirring it periodically, and ensuring that there's just a little liquid covering the beans during the first four hours. I can't give a definite time for the cooking. After four hours, add salt and do a taste check. Add more sugar if you'd like the beans sweeter. Stir in the lemon juice toward the end. Proceed until the beans are no longer crunchy.

Alternatively, go to the store and buy a can of baked beans. Why didn't I think of that? However, these will make you fart just as well as the store-bought variety, and with the quantity you've just made, you'll be able to keep it up for some time.

The victim

The victim

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24/6/2003 - Harry Potter Strikes Again

JKR is really quite amazing. You'd think after the first four books, she'd have burned out, but no. This book is at least as good as any of the others, and possibly the best. It's supposed to be number 5 out of 7, which will take us to the point where Harry finishes school. If she can keep this up, I'm agitating for more. What about Harry Potter as a young adult, through Harry Potter's mid-life crisis and so on.

I like the way she's captured the uncertainty and emotional turmoil of adolescence. The only criticism I'd make in that context is that since Harry and his friends are 15, my guess is that they'd all have discovered masturbation by now. Given the wealth of ingenuity Rowling displays on charms, transfigurations, etc. she could have a field day on that! Actually, in the book all we see is the mildest of puppy love affairs. We need to get real here, it's 2003. I first got fucked when I was fifteen, back in 1957 almost half a century ago. If the trend persists into the next book, it's going to get pretty implausible.

The other point I'd like clarification on occurs at page 634 in the USA printing. On page 632, it says "Sparklers were writing swearwords in midair of their own accord." On the offending page it talks about a sparkler "still resolutely spelling out the word POO". I can't believe a British author would be guilty of this bowdlerism - shit is shit. Will someone in the UK who has got the book please check. The context is the release of fireworks by the Beasley twins. However, it's a lot better than the earliest book in this respect - in that case, the US version was full of gratuitous edits.

Anyhow, as you will probably have gathered, I've finished it now, and really enjoyed it. Now I have to resume normal life. As usual, I'm going to find ordinary animals, household utensils, photos and pictures a bit boring for a while.

Terry's job interview today turned out to be a scam. Some company that proposed to charge you a four figure sum to find you a job. Just what we need - I gather they got rather short shrift. I haven't heard any more about the interview that I thought might be on the cards, so I guess that's out.

Camera contest

Camera contest

23/6/2003 - Aftermath

When Terry has had a few she can snore with the best. I could find no position into which I could get her that would shut her up. Eventually I became habituated to it, and got some sleep.

As you can imagine, the apartment looked like a disaster area. I rose first, rather late, and set about washing the dishes - not an inconsiderable task. Terry surfaced later still, and squared up in the living room some. I mopped the kitchen floor again. It was in that unpleasant state where you stuck to the floor - yuk. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we ate leftovers, and probably will for several days.

It appears to have finally switched to summer. The temperature today is in the 80s, and it's a pretty nice day. Not that you notice it much when you have a Harry Potter book attached to the front of your head.

Terry has job interviews this week, so later on she went out to buy a new blouse, and I met her at Brother Jimmy's. I was coaxed out of my book long enough for a brief exchange about cameras with the girl opposite. Terry's chess-playing friend Boris was there, so she had someone to talk to. Other than that, I still haven't surfaced - I'm getting on for half way through the 800 and odd pages.

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Simon making a gesture of affection

Simon making a gesture of affection

Andrew and Jen behind the bar

Andrew and Jen behind the bar

22/6/2003 - Terry's Birthday Party

Today was the day of Terry's shall I say infamous birthday party. This is one of those occasions where I'd really like her contribution. I don't quite know what to say, and I don't have pictures. But more of that later.

The preparation phase was quite normal. I'd done the baked beans the day before, and Terry had got potatoes ready for a potato salad. She now set about making that, macaroni cheese, and collard greens with smoked turkey - standard soul food stuff. In addition to this there was to be a leg of ham, and poached salmon. Everything but the ham and salmon was done by about two, and the salmon and ham were ready to be cooked. They could be done at the last minute. So I then mopped the kitchen floor, and moved stuff out of the living room into the bedroom to make some space. After that I did some reading up, and sketched out changes I wanted to make to the signal and exception handling in the Linux version of my web application server project.

Sandra arrived at about five, with the rest of the stuff Terry had bought on her shopping binge the previous day, and various other stuff she'd given to Terry. I carried it in, and hid what I could in the bedroom, then went out to buy a few new wine glasses, since we'd broken most of the previous batch. I never find they last long. Of course, since this involved walking most of the way to the pub, I felt obliged to pop in and see how people were doing. A bunch of the usual suspects were there, apparently having quite a high time. You can probably detect the mood from the two pictures. Andrew was a 'guest barman'. Simon is another British guy who frequents Blondies and Brother Jimmy's. His band is playing at Blondies on Thursday.

I didn't stay long, since Terry's do was scheduled for five, which meant we expected people to start showing around six. No such luck. By seven there was nobody there but Terry, me, and Sandra. At that point, Terry started phoning old buddies from Radio Shack who could be relied on to come and eat food and drink free drink. I could see the whole thing going downhill.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending how you look at it, one of the things that Sandra brought was a copy of the new Harry Potter book. Terry had bought me this at the discount place on release day. I had to forgive her the spending binge just on the strength of that, bless her. So I got into reading, and was then of course lost to the evening. I should say that I'm one of those readers that works on the "I've started, so I'll finish" principle.

John and Carl from Radio Shack came, El Tahra and Romeo arrived eventually, and Gerard came much later. None of Terry's family turned up. El Tahra succeeded in insulting and/or assaulting Romeo and Sandra, and Sandra was ready to kick her ass. But I'll leave that sort of thing to Terry. I'll tell you more about the HP book when I surface.

On this day - top of page

I like New York in June

I like New York in June, how about you?

21/6/2003 - NY in June

OK, it's summer solstice day - Shakespeare's Midsummer day - and it's pissing it down again. It's really consistent today too, no let up, with flood warnings to boot (pardon the pun). I'm not kidding you about the kind of clothing that was appropriate. This is the gear I'd wear in England to go out for a typical Sunday morning walk. I'm sorry the picture's out of focus, but it's difficult to convince Terry that she has to wait for the little green light to come on before she presses the button. The two reserve pictures were mush worse. In passing, I should mention that one of my favorite pieces of music is Mendelssohn's incidental music to "A midsummer night's dream".

Terry went to Sandra's in the afternoon to get things Sandra had got her for her birthday - contributions to the party, which is to be held tomorrow. She said she'd be back by about six, but I didn't take that particularly seriously. I did more work on the web page, but you probably won't notice it - infrastructure stuff.

At five I went out to get a couple of beers at BJ's. I was hungry, so working on my hunch about Terry's ETA, I had some nachos, which turned out to be a meal for the day. It was OK there, but not what you'd call gripping. Blondies and Mary Ann's were both deserted. Not really surprising, since you almost need to be able to swim to go anywhere.

When I got back, I started on the baked beans I'd promised I'd make for the party. Now, you might ask, why make baked beans - can't you get perfectly good ones in a can? Well, I suppose the answer is because you can buy then in a can - what would they be like if I made them? As it turns out, the answer is "pretty much like the ones you get in the can", but how was I to know. I presume that since they taste like the ones from the can, I now know the secret. I'll let you in on it in due course (like you'd really care!).

I'm not sure I'll do it again. It's certainly a labor of love. The beans take forever to cook, and I'm talking five hours or so. Finally I turned them down as low as I could and went to Blondies for a late pint. On the way back, when it was momentarily dry, I passed a crowd of people on the roof of a penthouse apartment bravely celebrating the day. There were far too many of them, so I hope the roof beams were up to it.

When I got back at 12:15, Terry was home, laden with goodies from some discount supermarket. I went to bed, she stayed up and started preparing things for the party, finally coming to bed and giving me some peace at about 3:00am. I think she's turning into a night person again.

On this day in 1941, German troops entered Russia on a front from the Arctic to the Black Sea, thus ensuring that Germany would lose WW2, and that 20 million or so Russian people would die. Now that's what I call a historically significant event!

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Alligators give head?

Alligators give head? Don't think I'll try.

Don't be such a wimp

Don't be such a wimp.

20/6/2003 - Life Is Strange

An odd thing is happening to me. For some time now my hair has been almost entirely gray. But now for some strange reason, it's growing back dark. I see dark hairs in my beard, and the hair at the back of my head (which is all there is) has darkened considerably. I'm also back to being a once a day man - quite consistently. I believe it's mostly to do with not having to go to work. Though I also believe the quantity of sex is significant - gets the old hormones going. If there's anybody out there with some medical knowledge who can explain this, I'd be interested to hear. Of course, if it means I've got some horrid terminal disease, then I'd probably sooner not know.

Today was OK, even good. Terry was back from her excursion. I have to say she's quite steady in this respect. She may be a bitch when she's drunk, but when she gets up in the morning, all is sweetness and light. I installed a message-board system for Brits Eye View. You can get to it by clicking the discuss link at the top of the page. Please feel free to comment on absolutely anything. I'll only censor you if it seems likely I'll have to pay more for hosting of the site. I also added links to the June page to get you back to the top of the page.

In the evening - for something completely different - we went to Brother Jimmy's. Jessica was on duty behind the bar, and the place was quite lively. When we got back I made the chicken kebabs I was supposed to make yesterday, and for some random reason, they turned out absolutely spot on. Cooking's funny like that. You do the same, or very similar things, but sometimes it seems to work out just right. I made garlic mashed potatoes, with the red skin variety (skins left on), and it was a most enjoyable meal.

At 10:30 we went to Tracy J's. Terry wanted to find Maria, and talk to Jamie. Maria wasn't there, but Jamie was on form. She's straightened her hair, and was looking good. I sang "Wonderful World", which it appears everone else likes, though I don't.

On this day - top of page

20/6/2003 - Happy Hour

Times are hard, and competition fierce,
each bar must have some little edge,
balancing economics with ingenuity.

The trick's to get them in;
laid back after one or two quick drinks,
then serve some food in sniffing range.

To plant that little seed of doubt,
shop and cook, or sit here and eat?
It's cheaper here than making it at home.

A board outside promotes the bar's pet hook,
brute force low price on cheaper drinks,
or two for one, or beer in in bulk.


Give them the drink for free - almost.
To do so literally won't fly.
The city shuts you down for that.

Provide that early evening buzzz,
and hope come seven they'll be eating;
maybe hang out and buy another round.

Check their tab later, only to find
what started as economy quite blown.
My god, how did we spend all that?

Next day the fog of work dims memory,
after all, we had a super time.
Hey, join me after work - it's happy hour.

Happy birthday!

Terry and Kim

Terry and Kim

19/6/2003 - Terry's Birthday

I got her some flowers so she had something to wake up to. I don't know if I'm allowed to say which birthday it is. Perhaps I'll ask her for a birthday contribution - it's time she started writing some bits for the page.

Watch this space for further adventures. Since it's her birthday she's probably entitled to have a few, in which case sparks could fly!

I wasn't far wrong. The day went swimmingly until she went out at about 4:00pm, promising to meet me at Brother Jimmy's at 5:30. She arrived at about 6:15, having been to see her ex-boyfriend Bruce at Dorians. Now I kid you not, if I were to go and meet Diana at all, or visit my ex-wife without some good reason, and some detailed explanation, she'd kill me for the first, and I wouldn't hear the last of it for weeks about the second. But I presume that what's sauce for the gander is not sauce for the goose. Ayway, I digress, with Terry was another woman - Kim - who she'd met sometime at Mary Ann's. Apparently Kim also lives with a white guy. She stayed about half an hour, and Terry and I left just after seven.

It was at this point that I put my foot in it by nagging Terry about her habit of feeding dollar bills to video game machines when we don't know how the food and domestic bills are going to get paid next month. She snapped at me, and after that the evening followed a predictable pattern. She'd told El Tahra to come over at 10:00, so mercifully there was some distraction, and in fact the two of them went out at 11:30, so I got some sleep.

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More murky overcast

More murky overcast

Terry's pub pastime

Terry's pub pastime

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Napoleon defeated at Waterloo by Wellington & Blucher in 1815 - "a damn close run thing!".

18/6/2003 - Small Rants

When you've no money, so you don't go anywhere, and don't do much other than self-imposed work, it gets quite difficult to sparkle everyday. From what I can see, looking at other peoples blogs/web journals, many resort to writing only occasionally, and some give up altogether. I'm rather determined to do neither of these, so if things get dull from time to time I ask my readers to please bear with me. It's a real life, and life isn't always exciting.

Having found HTTPSnoop and rebuilt it, this morning I made a small alteration to the hit counter so it returns the content length. This should make it quicker.

In the afternoon I went down to 31st and 1st to the NYU Medical Center. The health insurance company had sent me a check for the sinus operation, which the surgeon's office were anxious to have. So I though I'd walk it down there then I'd make sure it was correctly endorsed over to him. I don't really understand why they send the check to you, rather than to the doctor. I'm sure there's some perfectly good reason, but it could be counter-productive. In the present murky weather, some poor soul who was close to the edge might just decide to cash it and take off to the Caribbean.

My remaining rant concerns weights and measures - specifically measures. It's possibly less of a rant than an explanation of a British attitude. Terry always teases me about the way I pout when some barkeeper gives me a pint glass that has an inch and a half of froth on the top. Many bars in the US justify this as a virtue - the beer has a head on it. It certainly is for the bar owner, since he's saving himself 10% or more on each glass. But to a Brit, this is infuriating. In a British pub the glass would be returned instantly, with a demand that it be filled. There's a traditional form of words for this - "Do you think you could get a double scotch in the top of that? Well fill the bugger up then!". If it happens twice, you probably don't go there again. This arises from a formal difference in the whole notion of a pint glass. For a start, the US pint isn't really a pint at all as the Brits know it. A Brit pint is 20oz, while the US one is a meagre 16oz. Also in the US case, this is just an approximation - it's roughly a 16oz glass. The British pint glass is a formal unit of measure, etched with a crown to emphasize this status. When a Brit asks for a pint, he's entering into a contract to pay the stipulated price, for a measured pint of beer. This is allowed to include a head, but it should be half an inch tops. When you've been brought up on this attitude from boyhood, it's a hard one to lose.

So now you know. If you're in the city early evening (6:00 - 7:00), and you can stand the embarrassment, come and join us at Brother Jimmy's (92nd and 3rd) for a beer - quantity unspecified.

Let us out!

Let us out! Reptilian fauna at Brother Jimmy's

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My $1 pint - well part of it

17/6/2003 - Tuesday, High spot of the Week?

There's no getting round it, whether you're working or not, Tuesday is somehow a low-spot day. You don't expect anything much to happen, and for the most part, nothing does.

A week or so ago, when we went out with El Tahra to her friend's birthday, I had tried to get money from an ATM at a gas station down at 4th and Bowery. The transaction aborted half way through, so I got no receipt, and no money. I phoned the guy who owned the ATM, but he just told me to get on to my bank, and they would reverse it. Of course, when I got home and looked at my bank account on-line, sure enough, the amount I'd asked for had disappeared from my account. So on Monday I phoned the bank, navigated through the tedious menu system, and eventually got someone who gave me a number to ring for ATM problems. I phoned there, and the man made a note of my complaint, but said I'd have to phone back later, because the transaction wouldn't be there until the next working day. Today I finally remembered to call back, and the woman I spoke to set in hand a reversal of the transaction. Today I can see the money back in my account, but I still have to wait for up to two weeks before I get confirmation. If this sort of thing hasn't happened to you, now you know the form.

Other than that, I resurrected a program I had written at one time for intercepting traffic between your browser and a web server. If I can convince myself that it's stable enough to perform a useful function, I'll post it in the software section. I wanted it so I could look at what my hit counter was sending back - blind faith is one thing, but it's nice to know. I also spent some more time on understanding Perl.

After work, we went to Brother Jimmy's again. There was another different barman - Jamie - and Terry found something reasonable to drink, so it should be doable. Passing Mary Ann's on the way back, we met Romeo. Terry stayed a while to talk, but I'd just bought ice cream, so I went straight home. Terry came home a little later, but then went back to take something for Romeo. A little later she phoned me and asked if I'd go over and walk her home. I went, to discover Terry wearing a wig, and looking like a stranger - not one I fancied either. I didn't like the sensation, and had hoped she'd got over wanting to look like someone other than herself. Of course she was disappointed because I didn't like it. The atmosphere was strained for a while, but there were a couple of good films on the TV, so we eventually settled down, and the rest of the evening was peaceful.

American bistro

American bistro

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16/6/2003 - All Not Lost

The man who wanted my resume was still on speaking terms today, and the resume had arrived. It's on its way somewhere now, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Having offered you no titillation of late, I've spent some time this afternoon on a new 'recipe' - Hot Doggie. Hope you find it useful. Other than that, the day consisted of paying bills - yuk - and doing some further self-training on Perl. After 'work' we're going back to Bro Jimmy's to see what it's like on a weekday. I'll let you know how it goes, and find a picture for the day later.

The pub was quite pleasant, it was a different barman - Scott - who is a good conversationalist, though not as decorative as the girls at Blondies. Well, at least that's my point of view, Terry's may differ. The theories about economy didn't work out quite as planned. Sure enough, my pints of Bud were $1, but somehow or other Terry managed to have three drinks that totaled $21. So she got to pay the tab last night - we'll have to revisit the theory. Pint number one arrived in a plastic cup, but Scott seemed quite happy to give me a glass. The picture, by the way, is a view across 3rd from Brother Jimmy's that I picked out from among my collection of pictures for the day.

Terry made lots of new friends out on the sidewalk while smoking. These weren't customers for the most part, just passers by. Interestingly, the people you see on 3rd seem a completely different bunch than on 2nd. It's like you were in another city - the character of the avenue is different too. Then if you go across to Lexington, at least at this far uptown, it's different again, and there aren't any bars at all.

When we got home, we revisited the position I wrote about earlier in the day - very pleasant - then ate leftovers. We had plenty, there was rice and beans, pasta with cheese sauce, some salmon, and asparagus. After that, my mind's a blank.

A 3rd Avenue ho

A 3rd Avenue ho

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15/6/2003 - Father's Day

Muriel's Wedding went on until quite late, so we weren't up particularly early. I'd had a bug report the day before about installing Publicity V4.0 on XP, so I spent what there was of the morning adding some extra diagnostics to the setup program so I could send it to the man and maybe find out what was going wrong. I've installed it on Terry's computer, which runs XP, numerous times without any problems, but you can never tell. After that I returned to the Perl project. I don't like it, but I am starting to get the hang of it.

Terry did some tidying, and went to the store to buy us cherries. They should be good by now, but actually all look somewhat under-ripe, and are rather expensive. The ones we got fitted the pattern, but I like cherries anyway.

In the afternoon it was determined that I should be taken out for Father's Day. This was to be a triple purpose outing: a) the above, b) to take the Bond DVD back to Blockbuster, and c) to find a bar up on 3rd Avenue where we might be able to to go in the evenings. Terry has pretty much written off 2nd Avenue. The spot that seemed most likely was "Brother Jimmy's". The main attraction was that they have a happy hour from 5:00pm - 7:00pm when they serve $1.00 pints of Bud/Bud light. This was enough to convince me that it should possibly become the official pub of Brits Eye View. It beats Blondies 2 for 1 deal at $3.50 a pint by a decent margin, matches their price at weekends, and the manager seemed friendly.

I sat by the window, reading the Sunday NY Times, and taking photos of anything that went by. Terry flitted about talking to people, went outside for smokes, and played with a video game machine. So it met with her approval too.

In 1215 on this day, King John of England put his seal on the Magna Carta, one of the more significant baby steps toward parliamentary democracy.
Brother Jimmy's The manager John at Brother Jimmy's Terry and bikes Terry and friend on the way home

Project of the day

Project of the day

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14/6/2003 - Perls of Wisdom

I've avoided Perl for some time for a variety of reasons:
  • It's interpreted, so I don't see how it can be fast,
  • It obviously grew like Topsy, and has no real design, except the desire to do everything three different ways,
  • All the books on Perl spend about half of their text telling you what a wonderful language it is.
However, lots of the job specs I'm seeing these days mention it, albeit usually the UNIX oriented ones, so I figure that in terms of making the money we need to lead the life we love, what the hell. A pint in the hand beats your principles any day.

I've had the book for ages, and started reading it several times. But that's no good. To find anything out about a new language, you have to write something meaningful in it. So as a learning project, I've decided to take my simple Javascript XML parser, and translate it by degrees into Perl. After that, I'll be an expert, or at least as far as you can be in herding black cats in a blacked-out room.

So now you now know how I spent Saturday - bet that was exciting.

In the evening, after we'd eaten - black beans, rice and chicken, I'll do it later - it was decided we'd go and visit Boi at Strivers (139th and 8th). I'd been there the previous week searching for Terry, and they'd told me then she worked Saturdays. So we set out at about 10:45, and went there the slow way. I say that because it always seems to me that the C/A trains seem to run much less frequently than anything else. Today was no exception. We got to Strivers at about 11:45, only to find that Boi wasn't there. We suspect that may mean she doesn't work there anymore.

So we left and went to Nickies at 125th and St Nicholas. Terry met some guy she used to talk to at the Lennox Lounge, so she was happy. Indeed, she was happy enough to repeat the subway ride on the way home, which I'd never have suspected. We watched an Aussie film called "Muriel's Wedding", then went to bed.

American Idols at Tracy J's

American Idols at Tracy J's

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13/6/2003 - Friday the 13th

Today passed without any great disaster, or at least maybe it did. Terry had a little bit too much to drink on Thursday evening, and was getting a little difficult. She wanted to go out, so we went to Tracy J's. I wasn't really in the mood, since I could smell trouble. Although it was quiet, there were some pretty decent singers, and obviously some of the crowd enjoyed themselves.

Getting home was a bit of an ordeal, since the uptown trains weren't running from 23rd Street, and by then Terry was definitely looking for trouble. But she let me get to bed and to sleep. She stayed up all night working on a piece of writing she's doing, and as far as I know, went to sleep on the sofa at about 7:00am.

In the morning, I worked quietly and let her sleep where she was. I'd looked over the hit-counter I'd written, and did some more work on it to make it a little more 'industrial strength'. Terry woke at about 2:00pm.

In the afternoon I got an email from someone I had sent my resume to. He asked me to phone, so we talked, and it seemed there was a possibility that I was a fit for a job he had to fill. I was to send him my resume so he could do some work on it. This was the point of possible disaster. I emailed him my resume, but then he phoned back half an hour later to say it hadn't arrived. It became clear then that my email and web servers were both down. They didn't reappear until late evening, so I do hope I haven't missed some deadline.

On this day in 1920, the U.S. Post Office ruled that children may not be sent by parcel post - how inconvenient, it's so expensive to send them on a plane or train.

The girls at Mary Ann's

The girls at Mary Ann's

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12/6/2003 - Really Depressing

The girls cheered me up, including Karen, who shed her patch today, and is now going nicotine free solo. Once again, good on you Karen. But they don't reflect the principal sensation of the day.

The hit counter was a bad idea. Since it's been there for half a day, either my programming is crap, or I'm spending a large proportion of my time working on something that nobody reads. Maybe it's time to turn into a public broadcast station. You know how, every so often, they give you a week of pestering for money. Well, it's like that week. If you read the page, and derive any enjoyment from it whatsoever, I need you to help me spread the word. Please email five of your friends, and tell them about Brits Eye View. Ask them in turn if they like it, to do the same thing.

There's more though. Half of what this page should be is missing. You should be emailing me, and emailing each other. As soon as some flow of email starts, I'll expand the page so you can see what other's have said, and exchange views about anything you like with them. It's supposed to be the nucleus of a family!

It's very difficult to keep up this intensity of effort without any support or encouragement, and that isn't sour grapes, it's just a plain fact. I'm not about to give in, but I want some support - the ball's in your court.

  • Two or three boned chicken breasts,
  • One medium onion,
  • One green pepper,
  • 1/4 lb baby bella mushrooms,
  • Two or three tomatoes,
  • Crushed garlic - lots,
  • Juice of two lemons,
  • Coating spices - blend 1 tblsp ground cumin, 1 tblsp ground corriander, 1/2 tblsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder.
Chicken kebabs with salad

Chicken kebabs with salad

12/6/2003 - Chicken Kebabs

Trim any fat off the chicken breasts, and cut them into chunks approximating to 1" cubes. Add the crushed garlic to the lemon juice, then add the chicken. Mix so the chicken is well coated with garlic and lemon juice, then press it down to marinade. Do this the day before, or as early as you can, and put it in the fridge until needed.

When you're ready to cook, peel the onion, and cut it across the equator, then cut each half into four quarters. Split these into segments two or three onion layers thick. Cut the green pepper in half, top to bottom, and remove the seeds, then cut each half into three slices, and cut the slices in three. The aim is to make pieces about the same size as the chicken pieces. Use the mushrooms whole, or in halves or quarters, once again cutting so the pieces are about the same size as the chicken pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half, then cut each half into quarters.

Now remove the chicken from the marinade, and roll it in the spice mix to coat it. Turn on the oven at 400F. When you've done all this - it doesn't take long - you're ready to start threading the kebabs onto their skewers. Use steel or bamboo skewers a foot or more long. Impale the ingredients on the skewers in a reasonably consistent order, like onion, pepper, chicken, tomato, mushroom, then repeat the pattern, until you've used everything up. Make a runt skewer with anything you have left over. Place the skewers on a rack of some sort over a baking tray to catch drips. Put them in the oven and cook until you can put a pointed knife through the chicken easily and without any sign of blood.

Serve with salad, or rice and Tarka Dahl. We had it last night with a fairly dry Pinot Grigiot (Casarsa 2002 - $7.85 - a cheeky little wine). The picture is a cheat, for some reason last night I completely forgot the spices, so we ate them with lots of pepper, and some hot sauce. If you don't have, or can't be bothered with the spices, this works pretty well too.

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hits since 6/12/03

12/6/2003 - Blind Me with Technology

I made a hit counter for my page today, so now I'll be able to find out if I'm the only one who ever looks at it apart from Terry and Sandra. The way I've done it, everybody else in the world will know too - hmm. The hit counter works in a somewhat different way than others I've seen, so any nerds out there might be interested. I've written it up as a minimalist CGI hit counter.

On this date in 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte began his fateful invasion of Russia.

Magic mushroom

Magic mushroom

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11/6/2003 - Just an Ordinary Day

I never noticed the big pink phallus before, it's on the corner of 91st Street, up on 3rd Avenue, right by the Post Office. What was the architect thinking? He must have been on some good stuff - see what I've got little girl, it's a magic mushroom.

Terry's gone to have her hair cut this afternoon, while I've been working, so this is a test. I'll be a happy man if she comes home in good shape. The temptation could well be there though, since it looks like it's going to piss it down anytime now, and she might need to shelter somewhere. Fingers are crossed.

It seems that the 'peace roadmap' in the middle east is the usual road to hell. I hear W condemning the bus bombing in Jerusalem, but I don't see how he can expect to be able to sustain the process if he fails to mention the Israeli rocketing of the Gaza Strip on the same day. This thing isn't going to get solved in any hurry. You only have to look at the time and intervention it took in the Balkans - Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc - and in Northern Ireland, where it still isn't solved. And I suspect it won't get solved by someone who stands with both feet in the Israeli camp, that is by any US politician. There can't be many of them who can afford to alienate the Jewish vote. Also, in historical terms, I don't buy the indignation about Palestinian factions using attacks on the Israeli civilian population. The US and Britain had no qualms about slaughtering the German civilian population during WW2. Ah but, you say, the Germans in WW2 were bad guys. I believe some of them were, but there's a good proportion of the Palestinian population who feel the same way about the Israelis.

I'm going to do kebabs again tonight, try to avoid disaster, and try to remember to take a picture. So you might finally get the recipe.

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The girls in Morroco

The girls in Morocco

The Metro North main line

The Metro North main line

10/6/2003 - A Bronx Day

El Tara phoned last night and invited us to a party down in the East Village. We got the subway to Astor Place, and walked from there. The venue was somewhat strange, a couple of middle age transvestites did stand-up comedy and conjuring tricks respectively, and there was a belly dancer. It was the birthday of the man who does El Tahra's web page. Quite a few people turned up to start with, but the place emptied out quite quickly. As a compensation, El Tahra took Terry and I, and another friend of hers - Shareem, to some local bar with a Moroccan motif, and bought us a drink.

Today I went on a photographic outing to The Bronx. It was another beautiful day, hot enough in fact so I wore a hat. When you're bald and fair skinned, this becomes a necessity in hot weather. When I got back, Terry said Nolan had called, and asked us to pop over. So first we did what we'd intended, and went over to the West Side to look at a sofa ET had seen in a thrift shop. We weren't taken with it. Then we went back to Bronx to see Nolan, taking the 2 train and changing at 149th Street to the 4.

This time I had charge on the camera battery, so I got to take some pictures from Nolan's 16th floor balcony. He has quite a spectacular view of the city. I took views that would make a 180 degree panorama, which I'll try and stitch together sometime. The Metro North main line runs right by his building, so a few of the pictures were of trains - a British preoccupation.

Nolan was on pleasant form. He gave Terry a new wallet for her birthday present. We drank a little wine, and stayed until about seven. Then we treated ourselves and shared chicken and beef fajitas at Mary Ann's. A little extravagant in our present financial state, but I can't always turn on the cooking urge.

Manhattan from Nolan's apartment

Manhattan from Nolan's apartment
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9/6/2003 - Godless

God released me from morality when I was twenty five,
letting my firstborn die in my arms.
A child, without sin - what more can he impose?

Think twice before you love or put your trust in me,
I'll judge you silently as days go by.
There's no forever, no future, no lifetime pass.

Spending my life a wanderer, new fences, greener grass,
I'll trust in few things but myself.
Though now the world is small, no places left.

I beg forgiveness from those I have passed by.
You will have judged me as you please,
and I have no rebuttal, but also hold no grudge.

What's my authority in this? None but my own.
I'll meet my maker when he's ready,
and, if he gets in range, spit in his eye.
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Curious cat

Curious cat

8/6/2003 - At Home

I'm hard put to write anything about today, since we didn't do much. The weather was better, still overcast, but at least dry.

I took a look inside the sofa to see why it's sagging at one end. Two springs are broken, but it looks like if I can find some suitable springs, and wire them in, I can probably do something about it. There are a couple of upholstery supply shops in midtown, so maybe tomorrow I'll pop down and see what they have.

I also attempted to make a bread-and-butter pudding, but it wasn't a great success - too dried up. The problem was that I overfilled the dish, and some of the mixture boiled over onto the bottom of the oven. Of course I'd just spent time cleaning the oven, but then that's life at the moment. The pudding is actually quite tasty, but the wrong consistency - I suspect that this oven runs hotter than it should. It will be OK with some ice cream.

I'm pleased to report that the pudding incident was about the extent of my problems today. Terry showed no inclination to go anywhere. The walk in the rain yesterday left her leg a bit stiff. There were some half-decent movies on the TV, so we hunkered down and spent the day at home with the cat. As you can see, she's a calico, imaginatively named "Cali". She likes it when we stay in.

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Terry by the river

Terry by the river

The peasant's view of the mayor's pad

The peasant's view of the mayor's pad

7/6/2003 - Excursions

We slept late, on my part intentionally. The weather forecast was for heavy rain, and I had a feeling it might be a long day. When she got up, Terry apologized for the night before, and also said interestingly that she could remember everything that happened, which she admitted was often not the case. She said that she could see now what a horrid person she must be when she was like that. Perhaps this was progress.

We pottered, ate some breakfast, made love, and considered what to do with the day. The Guggenheim was considered, but that's $15 a pop, which seemed a bit much for our current economy. Another possibility was the American Indian museum down at Bowling Green - tomorrow perhaps. In the end we opted for the craziest of possibilities, a walk down by the East River. So we put on old clothes, and something waterproof on top, and went without umbrella prepared to get wet. We both quite enjoyed it.

When we got home, and had got dried off, I developed an urge to make a desert, so I went to the shop to buy some ingredients. I got back at about 5:45. At about 6:00, Terry 'went out for a smoke', and reappeared at 8:30 - need I say more? She wasn't too bad, and I managed to persuade her to stay at home for the rest of the evening, but it was a close-run thing. The dessert never got made.

Various degrees of insanity

Various degrees of insanity

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8th Avenue at 154th Street - uptown

8th Avenue at 154th Street - uptown

8th Avenue at 154th Street - downtown

8th Avenue at 154th Street - downtown

6/6/2003 - Nice Weather, Poor Day

Weather-wise it was a beautiful day, in the 70s and not too humid. I had two missions, first to take a check to R2K for June's COBRA, and second to take some photos. The COBRA check was a killer. I had to pay for me and Terry, and my ex-wife Lynn. The health insurance premiums went up on June 1, and that made the required check just shy of $1400. That's a lot of money when you don't have a job, so I handed it over with considerable reluctance. I don't know where the next one is coming from. It's the American dilemma of the times, which to choose food, or health insurance - the most powerful nation in the world can't look after the health of its own people. But we're going to set up a universal health care system in Iraq?

I got back about 4:15, transferred photos to a CD, and tidied up my email spam. Terry was getting dressed up, and had clearly had a few glasses of wine when I was out. On the dot of five she said OK, let's go, so we walked on the road to Ruby's. I don't like the place, and I'm afraid it shows. So after we'd been there about ten minutes, Terry said I should go to Blondies, and she would go for a glass of wine at Mary Ann's. Of course the snag with this is that if I'm not there, she could be drinking anything. Anyway, I went to Blondies for a while, and read the NY Post - a right-wing tabloid - which was creaming itself over the problems at the NY Times. Then I went across to Key Food to get potatoes, corned beef, and broccoli.

I popped in at Mary Ann's to pick Terry up on the way home. She told the girl behind the bar to give me a beer. I didn't really need to pay $4.50 for a bottle of Bud, but it was clear that she was deep in conversation, and you can't just sit at a bar empty handed.

When we got home, I washed the pots. Terry was going to cook. Then at about 8:30, she said she was going across to Rite Aid to take a disposable camera that had wedding pictures. I saw no more of her for four hours. She phoned me at 12:30, by which time I was downright angry, and told me to come and get her from 84th Street. I walked on there, gave her two dollars in quarters for the bus, which she refused, and then set off back. She got a taxi, and arrived back before me. I was not up for a repeat of Monday night, so I went out and walked round the block, or sat on the wall outside, evading her as best I could until she eventually went to bed. I slept fully clothed on the sofa until about six in the morning, at which time I judged it safe to use the bed.

The significant on-this-day event for today has to be the WW2 Normandy landings in 1942. On that day, a load of brave American young men were slaughtered on Omaha Beach to achieve the freedom of a country that now seems to despise them.

A Montgolfier balloon

A Montgolfier balloon

Voyeur, moi?

Voyeur, moi?

5/6/2003 - A Little Brighter

The day is advertised as partly cloudy, or partly sunny - according to your philosophy - and we're promised a high of 69F. This is a significant improvement. So this morning I made an effort to get myself going. I tidied up the kitchen, mopped the floor, and put in six job applications. If these run true to form, I shan't hear a word. My principal difficulties here in NY are that I don't have experience in developing financial systems, and that my development experience has mostly been on the Windows platforms. Most of the software organizations in NY are UNIX houses. Though I'm not without UNIX experience, if you count Linux, this has been with personal projects, not in long-term employment. But I certainly won't find anything if I don't send applications, so we'll see.

Terry has also been active on the job-search front, and is working on her resume as I speak. This afternoon, cash being short, we're going to do laundry, so we might meet some new people, or see something interesting. Oh, by the way, the keys Terry lost were picked up by El Tahra's boy friend - god knows why.

Today in 1783, the Montgolfier brothers demonstrated their first serious hot-air balloon. Later in the year some heroes or idiots, as the case may be, flew in one of them. Either that had to take some guts, or they were pretty drunk; The usual alternatives.

We went to Ruby's for our evening bevy, but were turned away there because we didn't have ID. How ridiculous can you get, she's 4x, and I'm 61, so we look like we might be underage?. Obviously they've had a warning or a conviction for serving someone who they shouldn't have, and the owner has imposed a blanket rule. So we left, and went to 'The Big Easy', next to Blondies, which is one of the few remaining places available to us as a couple. We were the only customers there, and the music was not to my taste, so I wasn't particularly happy. Terry let me off to go next door to Blondies, and we met up at Mary Ann's - a Mexican restaurant with a bar at 93rd and 2nd, after I'd done the shopping.

The usual suspects were there, and Karen was on duty. In my mind (a pretty weird place), this is the official pub of Brits Eye View. The question of the moment when Karen is there is "where's the patch" - it's a moveable feast. She decided to give up smoking about two weeks ago - good on you Karen - and has been getting her nicotine from one of these devices since. The answer to the question today is opposite (with Karen's consent).

Going back to the refusal on ID, (and I've probably done this rant before) the British system, which is more relaxed, and kicks in at a younger age (you can drink legally when you're 18), seems much more likely to work to me. There, at least as it was when I was in Britain regularly, the kids start sneaking into pubs when they're about sixteen. The bar staff tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, but if they get visibly drunk, they don't get any more, and won't get served again. As a result, they get accustomed to alcohol gradually, and learn some moderation. Otherwise the privilege gets revoked. There's no binge drinking when they reach the advanced age of 21 - that would be so uncool. In more legalistic terms, I support the point of view that if you're old enough to die for your country, you should be old enough to buy a beer - can't see how you can argue otherwise. The same applies to buying property etc. US readers might also be surprised to know that the age of consent (for sex, that is) in most European countries is sixteen or even younger. This doesn't appear to cause any particular increase in the incidence of teenage pregnancy. Neither does it seem to cause any particular increase in the incidence of seductions of sixteen year old girls by older men. They know where they are, and are quite likely to tell him "fuck off, you dirty old man". If you don't trust your kids, and treat them as if they're growing up, they won't.

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Water, water everywhere

Water, water everywhere

4/6/2003 - No Letup, the Sequel

My reserve picture for the day, which will probably be the picture for the day, sets the tone. Terry was to go for a job interview out on Long Island. This was the second attempt, she missed the once-an-hour train at the last try. On the other hand, it's not clear that the guy she went to see was in that day, but that's beside the point. Anyway, we set the alarm for 6:00am, and I duly awoke, and shook Terry, and reminded her at five minute intervals until 6:20, that she should get up and go. Then unfortunately I dozed off until 6:50, by which time the job was, as the British say, buggered.

She made the attempt, but missed the train at Penn Station by two minutes. It then took her an hour and a half to get back home. We went back to bed in a mood of fatalism, but at least the time we spent there was a bonding, so the time could have been worse spent.

I was going to go out today to find stuff to photograph out of the ordinary run of day-to-day life. As our finances diminish, that's going to get rather boring rather quickly, but as you can see, it's not a wonderful photography day. C'est la vie!

Please note that I've added a daily link to On-This-Day.com, where you can find famous birthdays, and things that happened on this day in history. Today marks the end of WW2 resistance by the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in 1940, and the beginning of the battle of Midway in 1942. Midway was one of the most strategically important battles in WW2. At that time I was one month old.

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Back to dismal

Back to dismal.

3/6/2003 - No Letup

Today was another one down the tubes. Terry was OK in the morning, and possibly a little contrite. However, she announced at around lunchtime that she was going to see her friend Nolan in Bronx. She said she'd be back around five.

The weather was back to cool and wet, to suit my mood. I went to the hardware store at 97th Street to get a lock and chain for my bike, and moved it down into the interior yard of the apartment building. That's nominally a secure area, but apparently the pizza and other delivery riders have a habit of checking such places for unsecured or badly secured bikes, and they vanish. Other than that, I accomplished nothing useful.

At 4:15 Terry phoned to say she was on her way back, and she'd be there by about 5:00, so we arranged to meet at Ruby's, which is now about the only place we can use as a local. She turned up at 5:45, having 'bumped into' El Tara at a pub over on the West Side. How she happened to be on the West Side was not explained. Having been, for the most part, a pleasant companion and partner since February, it appears that she has now reverted to her former ways. The evening rapidly turned into a write-off. I am plunged into despondency.

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The gloom lifts

The gloom lifts.

2/6/2003 - A Better Day at First

Nothing much seems to have gone right recently. We've lost our jobs, Terry lost he health insurance, we've had rows, the weather has been foul, and last night Terry lost her keys, which make both of us within two weeks or so.

El Tahra and her friend came over for dinner. We had another weird combination to eat - baked Cajun salmon and risotto. It seemed to work, everybody ate it. When they left Terry and I determined we had enough cash between us to get the bus on to Fitzpatricks and have a nightcap. Terry's keys were nowhere to be found. We searched for ages. Eventually we gave up and went for a beer, but Terry was uneasy so we soon left and searched again, fruitlessly.

We both felt rather glum. However, in the morning it was a brighter day. Looking again, I almost immediately found the keys I had lost. This was a plus, since it meant I only had to get a new cylinder and keys for the apartment door, and not get new keys cut for the building door and postbox.

Then in the course of checking reviews for the top digital cameras yet again, it finally dawned on me that they all had barrel distortion at wide angle, and in fact the C50 is quite decent in that respect. So I stopped blaming the camera, and thought in a different box about what to do. And of course, there's software that will do the job. I downloaded a trial, and tweaked the pictures I'd taken at the building in Brooklyn. It seems to work quite well, though it's slow - obviously computationally intensive. Maybe I'll take a look at the algorithm.

Sandra is in the city, so she's coming for supper. It's going to be kebabs, and I must remember to take a photo this time.

Unfortunately, things didn't continue on this happy note. What's more, it was bad enough so that I'm forbidden to write about it, well not for public consumption anyway. This is very difficult. Having committed to the effort of writing and maintaining this log, it's dishonest in a way to expunge parts of my life that are very real, and will certainly have bearing on how I feel in the future. However, short of living the life of a hermit, I can see that such censorship is bound to be required of me from time to time.

Maybe I'll ask Terry to write about today instead. I've been trying to get her to write a parallel blog anyway. It seems like she could do with an alternative way of passing the time.

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1/6/2003 - The Smile

I wrote notes for this a couple of months ago, and then lost them, but yesterday I found them, and worked on them a bit, so for what it's worth, here goes.

It's an ordinary morning,
standing on the subway platform.
Suddenly from out of nowhere
appears the smile.

A smile for someone else
is my shy first assumption.
But then I see the eyes are
looking at me.

A pretty face;
perhaps a Latin background.
The smile fades, but the eyes
probe me frankly.

The train sets out,
downtown - Brooklyn bound.
At City Hall she leaves
with glance and nod.

How can this be,
why would she smile at me?
Next day I set out earlier
and she's not there.

Next week I find her time;
you could set your clock by her.
The smile is always there;
a silent warm greeting.

We learn to speak.
A voice matching the smile and eyes,
always relaxed and easy,
is a little daily treat.

Now my job's gone,
swallowed by the recession.
We meet no more, but still the smile,
lingers like the Cheshire Cat.

A soggy day in NY town

A soggy day in NY town.

1/6/2003 - June 2003

Here we go again - another blank page. The weather remains in it's rut - June, and it's still raining. As I've said before, it's just like home!

While I think of it, a cooking hint. The other day I'd cooked baby carrots and string beans for something or other. The next day we had kebabs with potato salad. I took the cold carrots and string beans, with the lightest sprinkle of salt, pepper, and chilli powder (steady on that). Then I just wet them with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Served like that as pickles or salad, they were excellent.

I think it will be a feeding people day today. Romeo, Gerard, and El Tahra are all possibilities. Unfortunately we drank all the white wine. There's some red left, but it looks like a supper with beer.

I finished the WWII book on Friday. It's called "19 Weeks", by Norman Moss (ISBN 0-618-10471-2). If you're interested in a trip back sixty plus years to an evocative period in time, I'd recommend it. In addition to the atmosphere - Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and the London Blitz - it also sheds a lot of light on the transatlantic politics of the period, and the roots of the current relationship between Britain and the US.

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