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The last supper

The last supper.

Try me!

Try me!


31/3/2003 - Never a dull moment

I've been living under a cloud since January. As I told you then, the company I was working for gave us an involuntary x% pay cut, to compound with a y% cut in 2002 (I'm taking risks I don't want to if I say what x and y are. Oh the joy of blogging!). Times are hard, and all that. So since I get into work early, I was the first to find out there was another downsizing going on, and it was my turn. As I said, the cloud was there, so this didn't come as a big surprise, but even so, it's a nice way to end the month. If I'm a good boy, and sign their go-away-and-cause-no-problems agreement, I get a month's salary. Things being what they are, I won't be looking that particular gift-horse in the mouth.

Seven of us were let go, I think. I guess I was in line because I'd been rather well paid, so I was a good saving, and also because, as things worked out, I was between projects ("On the beach" in industry terms). The victims were treated to lunch by a number of those who still had a job. I don't usually eat lunch, it puts me to sleep in the afternoon, so I just had a couple of pints (which has the same effect). I won't be surprised if I hear of further collapse in another couple of months.

So, my obscure little blog needs to kick it up a notch. If I'm going to make anything in the future out of begging on the strength of it, then clearly the goldfish bowl has to become more transparent. More sordid details of our life have to be exposed to the potentially paying public. The tabloids know all about this, titillate, titillate, titillate! I'll see what I can do.

Oh, and by the way, if anybody in New York needs a decent software engineer who'll take on anything, or if anybody wants their web page fixing up, or their broken computer system mended, please drop me a line, I'm your man!

Other events appertaining to the day that I shouldn't forget include my daughter Rachel's birthday, actually tomorrow. Happy birthday Rachel! My grandchild is (statistically speaking) now the size of a cricket ball (softball), and appears to be doing well. As soon as she gets a belly, I'll be nagging for a photo.

I hope!

I hope!.


30/3/2003 - Nosmo King Day

Today was the first day of the new Smoking in the Workplace law. I did a quick survey this evening, and found that there was about 50% observance. This will change if I get my way, and I am not sure that it can be left to the bar owners. We non-smokers must actively ensure that the new law is made to stick.

I have to say however, that in the place I stayed for a couple of pints during my investigation, the clear atmosphere was a joy. It's not a privilege I'll give up lightly. There's a lot of talk of smokers suing, but the law will work both ways, and I'll be looking for a group to make sure that the city bureaucracy doesn't duck the issue.

The PBI

The PBI (poor bloody infantry).

Civilians

Civilians.


29/3/2003 - Same as ever?

I am mesmerized by real-time war.
Real time; there's an expression!
What time is there that isn't real?
Passing us by, it's gone forever,
whatever happens in the fleeting moment.

TV news and press are at a loss.
So much time to fill, and so few facts.
How can such uncertain conflict
yield so little that's sensational;
so many light-news days?

I scour the web for tiny facts.
Little hints of time and place.
Where are those young men now,
living dangerously on unknown ground,
knowing no more than I.

The media hover for the human angle.
The worse the news, the juicier the prospect.
Torment some distraught mother,
hoping for anger or real-time tears
as she dreads the worst.

The spin doctors lie through their teeth.
Playing the world's oldest game.
Of course they're not surprised,
nothing surprises them, the enemy is doomed.
What else did they ever say?

After the event all will be clear.
We knew it would be like that.
Another generation knowing what war is;
but they'll never tell, leaving the next
to find it all again.

Babylon

Babylon.


29/3/2003 - Iraq in History

Irag was one of the the birthplaces of civilization. The area between the Euprates and the Tigris was the richest agricultural area of the "fertile crescent" of the ancient world. It was inhabited successively by the Sumerians, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians. The area was christened Mesopotamia (between two rivers) by the Greeks.

The most famous city of ancient Mesopotamia was Babylon, situated about 56 miles south of modern-day Baghdad. At the height of it's power under Nebuchadnezzar II, this was one of the greatest cities of the world. Famous for its Hanging Gardens, and the Tower of Babel, it may account for the present ruler's predilection for extravagent palaces.

  Potato and Avocado Soup
  • Four large potatoes
  • Two ripe (soft) avocados
  • One large onion
  • Half pound grated white cheddar cheese

29/3/2003 - OK, a break from war

This is another complete-meal soup, intended to be thick and hearty.

Peel the potatoes and cut them up as if to make mashed potatoes. Boil them with a little salt, and just enough water to cover them, until they are almost tender. At the same time, chop the onion medium fine and fry it in olive oil over a low heat until it is cooked and translucent. Halve the avocados and remove the stones, then cut into quarters and peel off the skin. Cut the avocado quarters into smaller pieces.

Now take the potatoes off the heat, and add the avocados. Mash them roughly in the water in which they were cooked, then add the onion and the oil in which it was cooked, add pepper to taste. If you want to add garlic, add crushed garlic to taste now. Simmer the result for 10 minutes, then quickly stir in the grated cheese, so it doesn't curdle, and serve. Once again, serve with good crusty bread.

A navigable map

A navigable map.

28/3/2003 - Best Iraq map yet.

Actually intended for you to find a hotel, this link should allow you to follow events in as much detail as you choose. Hope you enjoy your stay!

Terry escaped from the hospital today, catching me somewhat by surprise. I had got it into my head that they would keep her until Saturday. However, she'd obviously made up her mind, and pain or no pain, the basic activities were accomplished. I arrived just after 11 to find her walking round the ward on crutches, so then I had to go up to 95th Street to get her things and her crutches.

We went home in a taxi. As we went in to the apartment, Terry was standing still in the hallway, so I pointed the camera at her, at which point she just about fell over. I hadn't realized it was such a lethal weapon!

Appaches

Appaches with an ominous sky.

Where are we

Where are we now?

Mounted police and girls

Mounted police chatting with girls


27/3/2003 - The Best News.

Try the Agonist blog for really timely and well filtered news about the war. This guy must be working his stuff close to full time. I can't compete, so I'll just stick to speculative comments and gripes about the media, and generally slower paced stuff.

Speaking of the media, let's take a look at relevant definitions of two words:

Strategy:
The science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war.
The comprehensive planning and direction of large military movements and operations in wartime.

Tactics:
Methods of employing forces in combat.
The science of maneuvering military forces against an enemy.

CNN leads please note. Not everything is strategic! For example, Republican Guards moving their tanks about so they won't get spotted and bombed is probably tactical repositioning. The fact that nothing much is happening on the 3rd Infantry front at present is probably a tactical pause to let other forces, such as the Marines, catch up a bit. The bombing that we see now is switching over from strategic targets to tactical targets.

Another nice touch, the US Army web page on Iraq has a 'Situation Map'. I thought that might be interesting, so I opened up the larger PDF version only to find that it is simply a map of Iraq. Yes Iraq is situated in between Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Kuwait. Is this like the plan? What happened yesterday isn't included in the plan - since that's history. The plan is revised hourly, so everything is always proceeding according to the plan.

I've been looking in my crystal ball again about where we may be. Some naughty non-embedded reporter blew the whistle on the marines travelling up the (unfinished) highway between the rivers. He said they were about 100 miles south of Baghdad. If we give the group going toward Al Kut about the same distance, but short of Al Hayy, since we haven't heard anything about that place yet, we end up with something like what's shown on the left. The 101st Airborne is also in there somewhere, but I've no basis for guessing where yet.

On the home front again, yesterday Terry was showing the first signs of complaining - she's getting better! By today I expect that this could become quite well established, and she might start trying to walk so she can find a way to escape. This supposition turned out to be true, this afternoon while I was there, she got herself out of bed and to the bathroom, admittedly using a frame (I was banned from taking photographs). OK, I had to put her back in the bed when she got back to it, but believe me this is a change from yesterday. It's dawned on her that she won't get out until she shows she can do the basic things of life, which by hospital standards are walk, and shit.

Outside, the skies over NY are being patrolled by fighter aircraft and Blackhawk helicopters. Arterial roads like 2nd Avenue have inspection points where trucks are being pulled over and searched. The downtown streets near my work were being patrolled by mounted police, though the focus of the ones I saw did not seem to be terrorists. You knew this page couldn't stay away from girls for long, right! The city has also had several anti-war demonstrations, including one today where people pretended to be corpses in the street.

Alternative map

A alternative map - click it for larger version.


26/3/2003 - Hmmm.

MSNBC reported this morning that a large Republican Guard detachment has peeled of in a southerly direction toward the advancing marines. Maybe it's south-east, to get to Al Kut before the marines, and continue on down the Tigris? (See below.) More recent reports suggest that this is a southward move designed to retake one of the Euphrates bridge crossings.

I also found a better map, that shows the main roads, rivers, and town namesn the SE sector more clearly. It's courtesy of the US Army. Click the image opposite for a larger-size version (sorry, it's a popup, so if you've got them suppressed, right click on the image, and do "save picture as", then you'll be able to view it in your browser).

What if?

What if?.


25/3/2003 - Just suppose.

Looks like my second red arrow doesn't exist. If it had, we'd have probably heard something about it by now. Suppose there's just the western red arrow, and it's just crossed the Euphrates, and it's hitting Iraqi infantry, as we've heard. What if the infantry is fedayeen, and in fact the Republican Guard have all switched to civilian clothing, and shipped of to the south-east in private cars and on bicycles, in a Vietcong-style swing round to cut the supply route. What price Baghdad then? OK, it's captured, but it's worth nothing, like Moscow was to Napoleon after the Russians burnt it. If I was Saddam, I'd be giving it serious consideration.

Where are we?

Where are we?

The sleeping beauty

The sleeping beauty


25/3/2003 - What's going on?

As far as I can tell, piecing together reports from CNN, Reuters, the BBC, and British ITN News, there's actually a three pronged attack going on. We've a pretty good idea where the one on the left is, since there were live reports from an embedded correspondent with the 7th Cavalry (3rd Infantry Division - red arrows), who said they had just crossed the Euphrates near Kabala. Getting an intact bridge must be counted as a huge piece of luck. On the main road east of the Euphrates, which is where I thought the 3rd Infantry Division was in the first place, positioning is less certain. Some elements of the 3rd may have gone this way a while back (this red arrow is least certain), and it looks like they are possibly being followed up by US Marines (blue arrows). The main marine force, by all accounts though, will head up further east, between the Euphrates and the Tigris, and they are reported as having recently got across the river and canal bridges at Nasiriya. Once again, intact bridges; big Iraqi failure to do the defensive thing, so one can only presume that they were prevented from blowing them by the US forces. The size of my arrows indicates nothing except that I'm not very good at drawing.

My conclusion from this is that the forces on the west may have to hold up some if a concerted attack on Baghdad is to be mounted simultaneously by all the advancing forces. We'll see! However, the area to the east and noth-east of my eastern blue arrow could still pose difficulties. There is, or probably was, a main Iraqi army base at Al Amarah (just off my map to the east), so there's the potential for there to be Iraqi troops lurking there, who could continue to be a nuisance to the marines in their advance.

On the home front, Terry went in for her operation as planned this morning at 6:30, to begin at 8:00. The surgeon said about three hours, so I went back about 10:45. He came out at about 12:15, and said it was a hard tumor, attached to the bone that looked like it was benign, and everything had gone well. Because it was a hard tumor, the path results won't be available until tomorrow. Terry had a spinal injection rather than a general anaesthetic, so she was soon quite chirpy, and looks quite fit.

After a while, the spinal block wore off, and she had some really serious pain. It was rather like one of those scenes in a war film when somebody gets a bullet in the gut. She was crying and twitching and complaining of being cold, and her breathing got somewhat erratic. Eventually I got the hospital staff to take some notice, and we got it sorted. As a contrast, later she ate some jelly, and sherbert, then fell asleep, which is pretty much how I left her.

 

War scenes.


24/3/2003 - OK, I'm Talking Bullshit

The media reported that the 3rd Infantry Division crossed the Euphrates about two days ago. Now they are saying that these forces are still on the west bank, and that the Marines will attack up the Tigris route. I'm much relieved, because once they take that road, the chances of attack by flanking forces in the south are much reduced, and the whole situation looks a lot safer. I'd still say though, that more troops are required for the rear areas.

Marine guarding supply route

Marine guarding the supply route.

Larry's Staples

Larry's Staples.


24/3/2003 - War on the Cheap?

It's now clear that the coalition forces are taking distinct risks that are well known to the Iraqis, who are doing their best to exploit them. Quite properly, according to the tactical plan, the 3rd (Mechanized/armoured) Infantry Division crossed the Euphrates, and went hell-for-leather on towards Baghdad. Now what's supposed to happen at that point is that another (grunt) infantry brigade or division rolls up behind, mops up the isolated enemy units, secures the towns, and generally protects the supply columns running fuel and ammunition up to the advancing elements. Of course, we don't happen to have a spare infantry brigade/division for this purpose, so the marines who were supposed to follow the 3rd in hot pursuit toward Baghdad, are now getting bogged down in that job, and other unfortunate elements following up the initial advance are getting ambushed.

This difficulty is compounded by the fact that we don't have the ability to launch a proper northern front, because the Turks won't have it. So Saddam can pull troops he might have used there, and send then down the road along the Tigris to cross the fertile crescent where they choose (we don't control the road or the crescent), or attack further south, thus making the supply line along the main road a misery. In theory, this notion is negated by US air power, which should not give Iraqi troops the freedom to make such moves. But since all the air power is busy bombing Baghdad, and since historically, bombing the hell out of ground units has always had less effect than expected, and since it is cloudy at the moment, so the satellites can't see them, we should be careful. I'm guessing there's a flap on at the moment, trying to get the division that was parked in the Mediterranean landed at Um Qasr, ASAP. The Iraqi troops might surrender of course, but I do hope the plan wasn't based on that assumption.

Some further suggestion to the media; when you are interviewing people, please listen to the answers they give. There was a wondeful example on CNN today when a expatriate Iraqi who still has relatives in Baghdad was being interviewed. On about four occasions, the man made some assertion, and the interviewer immediately asked a question that was the negative of the assertion. Also, could they please recognize that this is a war, and war involves casualties and death. 41,000 people died on the roads in the US last year. If these deaths had been treated in the same way, we'd have heard nothing else on TV news for the whole year.

On a lighter note, we went yesterday to visit Terry's brother Larry, who's in hospital after surgery to straighten out his bowels. Quite a spectacular cut and stapling job - looks just like somebody ran down his belly with the office stapler. He seems to be doing fine.

Terry goes in for her surgery tomorrow, all being well, I say that because this lunchtime we have to go for a final checkup to decide if they want to do the surgery. They wanted Terry's GP to sigh of on this (we were informed at 5:30 on Friday), but since she doesn't have a GP, we reached an impasse. She has a go now, but we still have to phone after 5 this afternoon to discover exactly when she has to go in.

Operations

Operations in Southern Iraq - Courtesy of BBC.

For some other coverage of the Iraq war that seems to know more about what's gojng on than CNN, check out the BBC and ITN. Reuters is also quite factual and informative.

22/3/2003 - Gripes about war coverage

My principal gripe is the "Shock and Awe" phrase. Some cowboy at the DOD thought of this, and of course the US media have seized on it, and it's now all you hear. Give it a rest please. OK, we've hit a large number of empty government buildings very precisely, and caused some collateral civilian damage in the process.

All the people we're trying to awe have seen this stuff before in 1991 and subsequently when Bubba bombed them, and they obviously don't give a fuck. They know better than to leave anything important in large buildings in the middle of Baghdad that are labelled "Government Building". In the meantime, embedded reporters are reporting that the 7th Cavalry, and presumably the following infantry division has been halted around Nasiriya for six hours by a group of about 200 Iraqi troops firing rocket propelled grenades and mortars. The armoured vehicles in that column should be able to drive straight over a unit of that size. We've heard next to nothing about this, so who's in awe at the moment?

In other words, we're hearing from the media about anything that is spectacular; something they can recognize from action movie experience. Also we're hearing about anything favorable, like peripheral and already abandoned Iragi infantry divisions surrendering in the south. And of course they've been terrorizing the family of the first casualty, anything to get a tear-jerk reaction. What we need is news. Can we have some situation analysis and report please. Maps would be good too. This isn't a security risk. If Iraqi units are engaging US troops, they already know damn well where they are. In any case the scale of map that I'm talking about wouldn't help much anyway. The reason we need this is that it cuts through the bullshit, and allows us to make a judgement of the honesty of our politicians.

  Black Bean & Franks Casserole
  • Four or five frankfurter sausages
  • Large can of black beans
  • One medium onion
  • As much garlic as you care to peel and crush
  • 1 pound small red potatoes
  • 1/4 pound small crimini mushrooms
  • Four small zuchini (courgettes/green squash)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili or hot sauce to taste
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro
  • Juice of half a lemon.

18/3/2003 - A cheap but satisfying meal

Cut the potatoes in halves or quarters to make bite-sized chunks, and boil them until they are almost teander. At the same time, chop the onion medium fine, and slice the mushrooms. Fry these over a medium heat in olive oil until the onions just start to brown. Then add the cumin and chili/hot sauce, and cook a little longer. Chop the frankfurters into pieces 1" long.

When the potatoes are cooked, pour off most of the water, leaving about 1/4 inch in the bottom of the pot/pan, and add the fried onions and mushrooms, the frankfurters, and the black beans. Bring the mixture slowly back to the boil. While this is happening, chop up the zuchini into slices about 1/2 inch thick than add these and the garlic to the rest. Cook until the zuchini is just tender and the frankfurters are hot. Add extra water if the mixture is too thick - go for a thick soup consistency. Add the lemon juice a couple of minutes before you serve.

Serve in a bowl with the parsley/cilantro sprinkled on top, and provide your guests with some slices of good crusty bread to dip.

Matching Shades

Matching Shades (courtesy of DoD).


The Revellers

St Pats - a line to get into a bar.


18/3/2003 - So War It Is!

So, in a couple of days some rather apprehensive soldiers may have to find out whether those chemical/biological warfare suits really work. I hope for their sakes that they do, and I hope they have a suit for the dog. If Saddam was telling the truth about having got rid of the stuff, all the better, but I'm not betting on that. If he does use them, at least it will get the French back to their senses.

Although I don't like Bush, he has my support in what he's doing, and I admire Tony Blair for going out on a limb. Why on earth this wasn't done back in 1991 is beyond my comprehension. Somebody wasn't reading their Von Clausewitz. If you actually take the dangerous and uncertain step of going to war, you should remember it's basic purpose, i.e. to impose your political will on your opponent. If that didn't include the obvious need to remove and punish the perpetrator of the offense, and the destruction of his military capabilities, then nothing has been learned from history. Don't think I'm ignoring the civilian population in this. If it had been done, for sure innocent people would have been killed, but we just killed innocent people with the succeeding sanctions anyway, and made the rest live in misery for 12 years. Innocent people will be killed now. Fewer would be killed if overwhelming military and moral force were being applied, that is if all nations were clearly and unequivocally against Hussein. In that case, the Iraqi military would give up sooner.

The subway stations were visibly quiet this morning. At first I thought everybody must be at home busy taping up their windows with duct tape, but then I realized there was a simpler explanation. It was St Patrick's day yesterday, so a significant proportion of the population was probably lying in bed nursing a thick head. If Saddam could achieve as debilitating effect on the city as St Patrick, he'd probably be highly chuffed.

Saint Pats is a NY institution, kind of semi-legalized madness. You'll see armed police drinking in the streets, and other police confiscating bottles of beer from civilians in the street. Police and Fire Department officers from surrounding towns and cities come to join in these rituals. The bars serve beer dyed green in plastic cups, and your feet stick to the floor everywhere you go.

Cultural Note

Brits note: Though the drinking of alchohol is not outlawed in the US, you can't do it in the street, or the park, etc. You have to do it in a bar or restaurant, or at home. On days other than St Pats, you'll get away with drinking on the street by the magic ritual of keeping the bottle in a brown-paper bag.
Yanks note: In the UK, it's legal to drink alchohol, you just need to be over 18 to buy it. You can do anything that's legal in a public place.

Contemplation

Me, in Contemplation.

FDNY

FDNY Shopping.


16/3/2003 - Life Continues

This thought crossed my mind as we ate breakfast at Kavanaghs on Saturday lunchtime. I was hungry, and ate an 'Irish breakfast', fried eggs, Irish bacon, black pudding, bloody mary, and all.

The devil eats a hearty breakfast.

Does god eat?
Some theologian must have decided,
back in medieval times perhaps.
Eating too much is gluttony; a close call.
Corn flakes or a little fruit perhaps.

Man must eat.
But breakfast is the difficult event,
infuenced by our mood, and our actions
on the night before. Oh my poor head!
My shame won't let me face such fare.

The devil though
has gluttony as a virtue; in reverse.
Must give example to his sinning flock;
breakfast on ham, eggs and champagne.
The devil eats a hearty breakfast.

Early this afternoon, Terry was watching a movie she liked, so I walked out along 2nd Ave to Blondies. It was a beautiful day; spring again, and in the 50s (Farenheit, say 13C). I was rewarded with a freebie St Patrick's day T shirt.

There's a supermarket accross 2nd Ave - Key Foods. This is the preferred shopping stop of various NY firehouses, possibly to the discomfiture of the other regular customers; FDNY members still tend to get preferred treatment after 9/11. At this time it was the 91st Engine Company, who also visited Blondies because they're organizing a party in May for various members who are retiring or who've been promoted. I see and hear, so I report.


Terry & Steve at City Hall

Terry and Me at City Hall.

With Witnesses

With Witnesses.

The City Clerk

The Officiating Assistant City Clerk.


14/3/2003 - Once More Into the Breach

I was hustled out of Terry's apartment in the morning. Apparently it was bad luck for her to see me. I always thought it was supposed to be the other way round. We were to meet at City Hall for the civil marriage ceremony at 1pm. That is to say we were to arrive there at one, the actual time was in the hands of the bureaucrats. I had asked Katya from work to be my witness, and Terry was to bring Romeo.

I had to set out from work first so that I could get a money order to pay for the wedding, the princely sum of $25. The government of New York won't take plain legal tender, credit cards, or cheques (US: checks). I got there at about five to one, and Katya turned up spot on time. We looked round and asked what we had to do, then stood and waited. After about half an hour I got a message from Terry on my mobile saying she was stuck in traffic. After another half hour she and Romeo arrived. They had decided to take a bus rather than the subway, and had then baled out, and got a taxi. By this time I was fuming. Terry then proceeded to interview each couple in the place about the circumstances of their marriage, and I had to drag her into the office to fill out the form we needed to get in line. I handed over the form and my 25 bucks, and was told to sit in line. There had been no queue at one when I arrived, but now there was a good sized one. We went into the foyer and took some pictures. Then I kept an eye on the line, and the others amused themselves as best they could, Terry continuing with her interrogations. Katya disappeared - possibly to go for a smoke, and then Terry went up to the next floor for a pee. It was like herding cats! Of course, at this point the officiating clerk, who as it happened had been the cashier the day we went to get the license, called mine and Terry's names. I said I had lost her and my witnesses, and she said I was in bad shape then, and went on to the next couple.

Ten minutes later Terry reappeared, followed shortly by Katya. I chained Terry to a chair, and went back to wait. Fortunately, once City Hall starts churning through wedding ceremonies, it churns pretty quickly, so in another 20 minutes or so it was our turn again and we went in.

The NY civil wedding ceremony consists of "Does any body know any reason why not", addressed to the assembled gathering, which legally must consist of one witness - like you'd bring somebody who was going to object? This is followed by "Do you Steve..." and "Do you Terry...", to which I answered "I do", and Terry said "Yes", then thought better of it and said "I do". Katya and Romeo took pictures. The next part was the give her the ring bit. Of course, we'd forgotten about the rings, and they were still in the bottom of Terry's handbag. By the time we'd found them, and got them on the event had degenerated to mild farce, and the official was in stitches. She was really nice. I kissed the bride, and missed, since Terry turned away at that point to say something to Katya. Then we spilled out into the hall, left city hall and walked over toward the subway station. Katya had to go back to work, but Terry, Romeo and I went to Houstons for our 'wedding breakfast'.

Struggling with Rings


Struggling with Rings.

After we'd eaten at Houstons, Romeo took it upon himself to come back to the apartment with us. I was mildly peeved, since I'd considered consumating the marriage when we got back. Terry was peeved because she wanted to go and stay in a hotel, and I didn't have the money to do it that weekend. Eventually he was prevailed upon by Terry to leave. By that time, she'd organized some money from somewhere, and booked us into a midtown hotel, and I was hustled of to our 'honeymoon'.

We booked in, then caught a bus down to the Waterfront, but that was excessively full, so we went to the Bank, which was boring, so we left, and made our way back to thje hotel. On the way, Terry spotted a restaurant called the Rive Gauche at 37th and 3rd, and we went in. We talked to two men. A diplomat from Cameroon called Victor, who spent most of the time juggling two cellphones. Apparently the situation at the UN was tense. He ate chicken cordon bleu, and invited us to share a bottle of claret which was rather pleasant. Terry ate escargots. The other man was another computer consultant, Ray, who I talked shop with. We were there until almost karaoke time at Tracy J's, so we went straight there, and were there until late. Dave, the KJ let me sing the last song because it was our wedding day, and the tab was miraculously small. We fell into the bed at the hotel and went immediately to sleep, to wake half an hour before check-out time. It was a nice room, a suite, but the time we were ther to my mind wasn't worth the $250 Terry paid for it. But she was happy with the transaction, so who am I to complain.

Karaoke host

Our Tuesday karaoke host Cristen.

Pretty brownstone

A Pretty Brownstone.


13/3/2003 - The Week

OK, it's been a while. Like Christ, or John the Baptist, whichever it was, I have spent time in the wilderness, being tempted. I too stood on the rooftop, seeing all the world that was before me, and knowing it was mine, if only I'd . . . My particular form of temptation was the temptation to go back on my word. In the first days of the week, Terry did her level best to remind me of the bad old days; the reasons why she has made me miserable, and made me leave her. I'm not going to harp on it at length; harping is for bards, but I'll put it down for the record. It will seem like nothing to you, but it's the feeling that things conjure up that counts.

On Monday we had arranged to meet at the Waterfront after work (the software bugs were alive and well - they thrive on Monday mornings). She arrived complete with Romeo an hour late, having already been elsewhere. I hate this. It reminds me of when she was working at Radio Shack. She'd say she was coming home at 6:30, and I'd be cooking an evening meal, only to get to the point where everything was ready to go or cooked, but no Terry, and I'd sit and fume for an hour before she turned up, cheerful and usually somewhat drunk, and unable to understand why I might be upset. Rome had stayed the night on the sofa, and they were bickering at each other. Romeo is gay, and he and Terry have known each other for a long time. His relationship with Terry is as close to a relationship with a woman as he gets. Of course, it's close enough for him to be jealous of her relationship with me, particularly if he's had a few, which he does. I didn't need this on a Monday evening so after I'd had my couple of pints of the beer of the week - some dark obscure cloudy brew, I went back to 29th Street to write my mediocre Sunday report. They said that'd be there in a few minutes, and turned up an hour later, just as I was putting on my coat to go and dig them out. This set the tone for the week.

Tuesday was uneventful, after we went to her jeweler to choose rings. Being British, I subscribe to the theory that a wedding ring should take the form of a plain gold band. Something you can wear all the time, whether your waking or sleeping, working or playing. Diamonds are for something else, like engagements (a bribe?), or anniversaries (a penance?). At my insistence this is what we chose. Then we ate at Terry's place, and went to karaoke at O'Flannagans on 1st Avenue. The karaoke hostess (name?) had a new haircut which we were both impressed with. I sang "Kiss on my List", "Crocodile Rock", and "Wonderful Tonight", but wasn't particularly on form.

Wednesday the chosen meeting place was Cronies (no web site - I'll get to a description later). Terry was half an hour late, then proceeded to ignore me and play with one of those irritating video games complete with inane noises. We phoned Amy and asked her if she'd like to come round for supper. Then we walked back, and each went to separate shops to get things for supper. I got back and started cooking. An hour later Terry turned up, having met some old buddy in a bar. Like I said, once more, deja vu. Amy arrived to find herself in the middle of a row, and soon left. If I don't get to you before you read this, I'm sorry Amy. Please be brave and come again.

On Thursday, Terry did a bachelor-night-out thing and went to Newark (NJ) to meet Sandra, and collect the bouquet that was Sandra's contribution to the something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue collection. She said she'd be back at around 9pm. I stayed at home because I'd just looked at my bank balance, and didn't like what I saw. (I hate cheques/checks - it's so easy to forget about one you've written, thaen it's a nasty surprise when it hits your account - give me online transactions any day.) Terry polled in at 12:30 (frozen points at Hoboken?). I bit my tongue and didn't even enquire.

The picture opposite is apropos of nothing, I just thought it was a pretty example of a New York brownstone.

Irvana

Irvana at the Waterfront.

Romeo at the Shark

Romeo at the Shark.


9/3/2003 - Light News Days

Now I know what it's like for the TV news channels. What the hell do you say on a day when nothing happens? No offence to our guests - you saved the day!

We got up quite early to deal with the disaster area after the decorators, and spent about four hours squaring things up. Then we caught a bus downtown, and had some brunch at the Waterfront. Irvana was keeping bar. She's from Czechoslovakia, and Terry seems to have taken to her. Then we crept off to the apartment at 29th Street for Sunday afternoon nookey and a nap - too much information perhaps, but it is a light news day. It turned out to be quite a long nap. Afterwards, at about eight, we went to the Shark Bar on the continuing search for Boi, where we bumped into Romeo. Romeo, or Romiero as he'll call himself if you ask him, is Terry's very unofficial adopted son, and therefore by very loose extrapolation, my adopted son. You should see the doubletakes we get when he announces that I'm his father.

After the Shark we went to a new karaoke venue (this sounds like Pepys Diary!), which I quite liked - The Parlor at West 86th Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue.

Karaoke at the Parlor

The Karaoke Crowd at the Parlor - Romeo on the Right.

There were several really strong singers. I got pictures of two of them, a shot of another, who was a man, didn't come out, just to keep the page suitably sexist. I'll fill in the names when I catch them.

Irish Girl with a Voice   An Excellent Gladys Knight

Irish Girl with Voice. Lucky - a Splendid Gladys Knight.

Spring?

Spring perhaps?

The coat

Terry in the coat in the newly painted bathroom.


8/3/2003 - OK, I Lied

First a nod to Thor - following my plea on Thursday. Sure enough today it is warm, and the sun is shining, and a tree I passed this morning on 28th street had a yellowish blush to it in the sunlight. A nod also to the Metropolitan Opera and WQXR who provide La Boheme as a touching background today.

I have a confession, there was more to Thursday than I said. I haven't quite made up my mind about this life in a goldfish bowl thing yet. When you do something secretive, is this transparent to the viewers outside the bowl, and you just keep it secret in your actual life. Hmm, unfortunately the two overlap. Anyway one of the main reasons why I was being secretive is blown now, so here goes.

On Thursday, Terry and I actually went to City Hall, and got a marriage license. Now why, you might ask, would I consider marrying this madwoman, and why now. As it happens, I've already had this interrogation from Lynn, so I know that there are no satisfactory answers. But for the record, the story is:
  • I love her, and despite her wierd behavior and mine, I believe she loves me.
  • We've been together, more on than off, for getting on for three years, so we know each other pretty well, and are pretty good friends.
  • Terry is going into hospital for the tumor operation on or about the 25th, and wants to be married before it.
  • It's something I've said from the beginning with her that I would do, when the time was right. I now arbitrarily deem the time to be right.
So then on Friday evening we meet at the Waterfront, and Terry, fresh from a day with decorators redoing her apartment, turns up in her best fur coat. This beast is an Emilio Gucci A-line mink made from male pelts, with a sable collar and choir sleeves, which is getting on for being an antique, and is worth god knows what. Terry wears it everywhere like it was a dustman's jacket (US - no exact translation, literally garbage collector's coat). Of course she won't hang the thing up in a pub, because she's justifiably afraid that someone will steal it. So it hangs over the back of her chair, and people burn it with their cigarettes, and spill things on it.

On this particular ocasion, the girl sitting at the bar next to Terry, who had probably been there since work with a group who were drinking shots, puked on the collar. We did our best to clean it up, using bar napkins and soda water. Then we ate the food we'd ordered, and after recovering her scarf, which also got a direct hit, from the kitchen where it had been taken to be cleaned, we walked back to my apartment. Terry went on at length about how malicious it was of the girl to puke to the left, when she could easily have puked to the right into an empty space. Eventually I became irritated with this, and told her that she should wear something she cared less about to go to the pub on a busy night like Friday. This constituted disloyalty, or treason, or something similar. Terry said that since I obviously didn't want to be with her, she would go home, and went.

I snoozed, and listened to music for a while. Then she phoned and told me she'd just had a blazing row with her mother, who she had told about getting married, though we'd said to each other we would marry first and tell everybody after. She said she was going out with ET, and I, peeved by the unexpected dislosure, said I'd see her in the morning. About three I woke and went for a pee. At the same time I heard a key in the lock. I turned on the light so as not to surprise her by emerging from the bathroom in the dark, and she fell in through the door. You've got to love her!

This wasn't entirely a surprise. If Terry is the Drama Queen, ET is Queen of the Night. I swear she's a vampire; anyway you rarely see her in daylight. She'll no doubt appear in due course. More surprising was the fact that Terry had come back to my place rather than going home. However, when I saw her apartment the next day I understood. After the decorators it looked like a bomb had dropped on it. Redecorating a NY apartment is one of those things like getting a quart into a pint pot. My jaw must have dropped - Terry sent me home to work on this. She's due back down here at about 4pm when she's done a bit of work on reconstructing the apartment.

Android?

Is this the real thing?

Napoleonic proportions

An army of Napoleonic proportions


6/3/2003 - Scary

Wednesday was a wash. The DSL connection at Terry's apartment was on the blink. Today started with rain, which then turned to hail/freezing rain, then to more snow. When will it be spring please?

The scary bit: Did you see that presidential press conference? Wow! War must be imminent! Obviously they've moved the real Dubya into one of those NORAD deep bunkers, and that was a trial run of the android they'll use for all his public appearances during the war. Seems like they successfully switched the journalists too, since the questions were seamlessly integrated with the script, and nobody pressed in the slightest when they weren't answered.

Apparently about 300,000 troops are assembled for the event. This is about the same number as the now coy French had ready to invade Britain almost exactly two hundred years ago. Of course, the firepower is probably orders of magnitude greater, but counting boots has always been a military preoccupation. After all, the other guy's firepower is usually much the same as yours. Napoleon's Grand Armee hung around for quite a time then too, but when they moved, they went off in a completely different direction on the campaign culminating at Austerlitz. Hmm - perhaps all them other mid-east countries that say bad things about the USA, or have outstanding UN parking tickets better watch their step!



Another oddment came up today as we were talking to the barman at the Waterfront. It may interest those who don't live in New York and/or haven't heard. On March 30th, a comprehensive ban on smoking in workplaces comes into force in the city. The most controversial aspect of this is that it will outlaw smoking in most bars and restaurants. The smokers get off scott free, it's the bar that get's fined. This is good for us non smokers, since it means we don't have to complain to the smokers who choose to ignore the ban, we can just badger the poor landlord. There's been a similar ban in California for a long time, on the other hand popping outside for a smoke in the winter in California isn't quite the same as popping out in the winter in New York. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Terry seems resigned, she's going to be in hospital for about four days when she has the leg job done just before, then when she gets out she won't be able to smoke in bars, so there's a chance she might give up. I have to try and get her on the patch or something, to improve the chances.

Terry's card

Terry's business card!


4/3/2003 - A Tiny Apology

Terry phoned the health care company next day, and it turned out that their assessment of two days related to the prescreening for her operation. This is a little better, but continues to indicate that they don't know their arse from their elbow. We've still no clear idea of what they propose to cover, and in fact there now seems to be doubt about the date of the surgery. It would appear though that Terry is less likely to be put out on the street complete with catheters etc.

I had made myself some business cards the other day, and Terry was complaining that she didn't have any. The result is shown on the left, scaled down and slightly modified to protect the 'innocent'. There's some truth in it. Terry was working in real estate before she was attacked by the tumor in her leg. She's also got quite attached to the C50 digital camera. The relationship counseling - "get a life" - part refers to her tendency to get into other peoples business, which I suppose is just a girl thing.

The text on the right which is too small to read says: "Copyright Terry Morris 2003 - all rights reserved. For business use only, timewasters not welcome. If you're for real, give me a call."

We went briefly to the karaoke at O'Flannagans this evening, and I found myself a new song that I enjoyed doing - Hall and Oates "Kiss on my list". Well I'm saying I enjoyed doing it; I would have done if I could have persuaded the KJ to knock the pitch down a 3rd. As it was I was screeching on the top notes, but I could still tell it's one for me. It's strange, before I got the microphone in my hand I could not remember the tune to save my life, but after the first couple of bars of intoduction it came back to me.

From the bus up 3rd Ave.

Back to Terry's on the bus up 3rd Avenue.


3/3/2003 - Reality Rules

Mondays are OK if you have a quiet Sunday. In the important sense I had, and I woke with a clear head, and got into work at about the usual time. This varies between 8:00 and 8:30 depending whether I've spent the night at 29th Street or at 95th. By now, the weather had completely cleared. The sky was bright blue, and it was cold enough to freeze the balls off the proverbial brass monkey.

I spent the day investigating some obscure bug in a complex legacy software system. This sounds dull, but actually it's quite interesting to try and do it in the most economical way, pinpointing it by using some logical sequence rather than by trial and error, and fixing it it a minimalist fashion; as little surgery as possible. You can't always achieve this, but it's satisfying if you can.

After work I wrote up Sunday's section of the page, then met Terry at the Waterfront, where we had some nachos and a beer. Terry produced a letter she'd got from her 'health care' company. In very roundabout language this said that although the surgeon's view is that Terry will have to stay in hospital for about four days, they will only pay for two. Of course, this can't be a bad thing, because everybody knows that the US health care system is the finest in the world. What it probably means in practice is that she'll have to discharge herself after two days, then I'll have to wheel her round to the emergency department, and tell them that somebody did surgery on her and she doesn't feel well as a result. But everybody knows it's the best.

We'd met at 29th Street because Terry had taken washing to the laundry round the corner on Friday, and, in principle, she had the ticket. In practice, she couldn't find it, so we had to search the laundry for my bag, and sign a receipt in blood because we didn't have a ticket. When we'd eventually retrieved it, we caught the bus up to 95th Street, and I went on up to 125th to pay for my monthly parking. Terry cooked some fish and rice with leftover vegetables, and for the rest of the evening we did absolutely nothing. Aahh!


The sky clears

As I emerge from the subway, there's blue sky

Curry central

Curry in a Hurry - 28th and Lexington

Looking up Lexington

Walking up Lexington back to 29th Street
the Chrysler Building in the background.

2/3/2003 - Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Sunday dawned still rainy, but quite mild. I woke Terry to find her in an amorous mood - the capacity of this woman to go from vitriolic to nice as pie overnight never fails to amaze me. Later my thoughts turned to breakfast. We needed coffee, so I put on last nights clothes and sortied out to Gristedes for a can of Columbian and other odds and ends I knew we needed. I also stopped at RiteAid on the way back and got a new coffee maker. We'd been struggling with a caffetierre and water heated in a pan since the glass jug on the last one got broken. But I was in the mood for a couple of cups, and since I found one that cost the princely sum of $15, I thought "why not!"

I ate rye bread toast with butter and marmalade, and drank coffee without grounds - a real treat! The agenda for the day required Sandra, Terry's oldest and best friend from Irvington in NJ, to arrive sometime in the afternoon. I was to go and see "Gods and Generals" to give them some quality girl time together. I also had to go downtown to see my sub-landlord Greg to give him his monthly rent check (UK - cheque). Well of course, working on the page took longer than expected - as usual, and at about 2pm Terry went out to buy food to cook a meal for Sandra. As she left she called over her shoulder to say she hadn't taken her keys, so don't go anywhere. Consequently the matinee performance of the movie escaped me. Terry was gone for some time finding the duck she had promised to roast. When she returned I took myself off down to 29th Street, intending to shower and get a change of clothes, then perhaps have a beer at the Waterfront, and go pay Greg the rent.

When I got off the subway at 28th Street, the clouds had partly cleared, and there was a patch of blue sky as I walked over to the apartment. By the time I'd taken a long shower, and pottered about, and got dressed once, thought better of the outfit, and got dressed again, and finally got a reply from Greg on the phone, it had magically become after five. I caught the train downtown. Terry phoned me as I got out of the station at Brooklyn Bridge to tell me dinner would be ready in half an hour; somewhat sooner than I'd expected. I walked quickly round to Gregs block, and gave him his check. Further time got used up in conversation - Greg foolishly asked me what kind of software I work on, to which there is no short answer.

By the time I got back to 95th Street Terry and Sandra had finished eating, and I got the "what kept you" greeting. Not that I got the feeling anyone was particularly upset. The food was still hot, and Terry had done a good job - the duck was most enjoyable washed down with a couple of glasses of Tio Pepe - I'g missed out on the remains of the white wine.

Terry and Sandra had determined that after dinner we would return to Panorama for after-dinner drinks, so I went along, but drinking only soda water. I don't like to get toasted on a Sunday night since it's work in the morning. After we'd been there a while, Terry put on her coat and said she'd be back in a minute. I fall for this every time! Sandra and I are both leaning on Terry to stop drinking hard liquor, and after twenty minutes or so had passed I said to Sandra that she'd probably gone down the road to Dorians to get something with vodka in it. Sandra thought I was probably right. We paid up, and got our coats on to go and pursue her, but at that point she returned, visibly worse for wear. She confessed, yes she'd been to Dorian's, and she'd been drinking there with Bruce, her ex. I was suitably furious - things had been going quite well for a month, but this weekend was clearly a relapse. Sandra took Terry home in a taxi. I walked back to vent my exasperation.

When I got back, Sandra was clearly at least as annoyed, and she soon left. I turned on the TV, and searched the 999 channels for something to watch. Now of course, Terry wanted to sit on my knee and be lovey-dovey. I told her to leave me alone until I'd calmed down, and find something to do. The something else turned out to be changing her clothes and putting on fresh make up. Her appearance after this process told me clearly that if she went out by herself she'd get into trouble, so I reluctantly agreed with her that we'd go to Fitzgeralds for the karaoke. We had been there no more than half an hour, with her sipping on a glass of beer when she borrowed my cell phone, put her coat on and went out from the noise to make a call. I fell for it again! Twenty minutes later I found her, and dragged her out of a bar across the road, falling about. I eventually got her home - I'll spare you the details. I just went to sleep. She came to bed and passed out. Next day Sandra called and read her the riot act for the umpteenth time.

Ok, ok! I can hear all my friends and relations in unison, saying Steve, what are you doing? She's never going to change! You're all no doubt right. As you'd point out to me, I've already tried the approaches that seem obvious, i.e.
  • Not going out drinking with her (she goes out by herself).
  • Going with her and trying to control the intake (as described above).
  • Warning her of dire consequences to her health (no effect).
  • Trying to persuade her to get medical treatment (she doesn't want/need to).
  • Warning her of dire consequences to the relationship (no effect).
  • Executing dire consequences, as in going off with other woman (she drinks more).
  • Revoking dire consequences - coming back (slight temporary effect).
However, I have to say, if I was in her present state of health, with surgery lined up, I'd probably be a basket case too, so I'm going to stick by her as long as my patience will last. I love her (Lynn would say it's a co-dependency), and If she can get on top of it we could be happy together. If she can't she'll destroy her liver and kill herself - I did tell you this was a soap opera, right? Sandra, your support will be appreciated in this.


Terry and Tasco

Panorama - Terry and Tasso

The lovely Carmela

The lovely Carmela posing as the statue of Liberty

Competing Photographer

The Competing Photographer

Jerome

Jerome - Terry's first victim at the Lennox

1/3/2003 - Actually March

Last night Terry and I met after work at Panorama. In my experience this always forebodes a difficult evening, since Terry tends to get there early, then ends up having one drink too many, and having one of her 'Drama Queen' evenings.

Alex and Mimo

Panorama - Alex and Mimo behind the bar (the Sicilian connection)

The evening was no exception to the rule. I had a couple of beers, Terry drank sherry. Then we went to Food Emporium and bought vegetables to go with a large steak that Terry had bought for me. By the time we got home Terry was overexcited, and wanted to talk about our relationship in intense terms while I was trying to cook the dinner. This didn't entirely work for me. I was hungry, and the meal was non-trivial - getting a piece of steak cooked properly under an unfamiliar grill, and doing roasted artichokes, garlic mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables. The meal was good, but by the time we ate it, tempers were frayed.

After dinner Terry retired to the bathroom where she has an infernal machine that converts the bathtub into a bowling alley, and blows bubbles up her arse. This kept her out of mischief for a while. Then it was decided we would go up to Harlem to the Bayou to see if we could discover where Boi is working now. Boi is actually a girl, she used to work there, but now we've lost her. As it turned out, nobody knew, or nobody was saying, so we went a little further down Lennox Ave to the Lennox Lounge.

There we encountered a competing photographer, and Terry talked to Jerome, and two women who she thought were friends of Di, but professed not to be (The Lenettes). After that she got into an argument with some rap singer who was there, about whether or not I was her sugar daddy. It wasn't a promising scene, so with a little persuasion I extracted her and we went to Tracy J's, where I got to sing twice, and Terry got into a snit because she couldn't find her scarf, and I was supposed to have been looking after it! This resulted in a further argument in the taxi on the way home. I nearly went back to 29th Street and left her to her own devices, but I thought better of it. This morning we were fine.

The Lenettes consented to a picture, and I think they came out just great!

Lenettes

The Lenettes

We were late to bed, so rose late. After breakfast I put this stuff togther, and we decided we'd go to see the 5:50 show of "The Pianist" at East 86th Street.

We went back to Panorama to get a bite to eat before the movie. The lovely Carmela was there, so now I've got her picture to add to the Panorama set. Carmela has a lot of post-relationship anger to sublimate at the moment. In my view she should just pick a random set of x men (where x is the number of segments of free time she gets a week), and take the bunch of them for what they're worth. I can't see that she'd have any difficulty getting them. "Do you want one of my free time slots" would probably work, since she's drop-dead gorgeous. But this is the male mind at work, and that has no conception of how a woman's thinking works.

It was an excellent movie. Disturbing, and moving, yet at the same time inspiring, because the pianist lives through and continues doggedly where he left off. It also had a very authentic period feel, and the violence portrayed wasn't the sort portrayed in 'action' movies. There, an explosion consists of a few cans of gasoline geting fired, and a roaring boom - spectacular but quite unreal. The shooting and explosions in this movie had genuine violence. If you've seen the movie, think of the scene where the German infantrymen brought up the small artillery piece and used it at short range to blow a hole in the ghetto wall.

Terry snook out half way through because she found the movie too disturbing. I'll give you three guesses where she went. Anyway the rest of the day wasn't much cop as a result. I propose to say no more about it. Let's talk about a happy Saturday instead

      A Wet Saturday
The rain came heavy and mild,
melting the piles of dirty snow,
and flooding the gutters.

On Monday they say
the snow will come again.
The first real winter in years.

My love and I nurse our hangovers,
expensively acquired last night,
and toy with plans for the day.

Won't do that again we vow;
experience suggests otherwise.
Just the odd one perhaps.
We make love as old friends do,
easy, knowing each others ways.
Bringing smiles to the wet afternoon.

Then lie in contemplation,
her dark skin against my stark white,
each lost in thought.

It's five - the thought of eating comes.
We search the icebox,
and find the remains of Friday's dinner.



Silly but free download

Here's a small and rather useless windows program that has a reasonably large collection of quotes. Save it on your desktop then you can noodle with it when you're bored. When I get round to adding more quotations,
I'll repost it.

1/3/2003 - Trivia

I realized in the course of working on the February page that I was creating the material upside down. In the event that I ever acquire any regular readers, I don't expect they'll want to have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find out what's going on. So from now on, new things will be added at the top. By the way, if you haven't noticed, there are previous and next links at the top of the page so you can get to other months.

As to what's going on, well nothing at this point, since it isn't actually March 1 yet. So here's a dragon curve to consider. This is a 12th order dragon curve. It's the curve you'd get if you took a long strip of paper, and folded in half 12 times. Then you teased out the folds until they were all right angles, and stood the strip on it's edge. Of course you can't fold a piece of paper that many times, but a computer can fold a line.



Bet you found that really rivetting ;-) Here's the program to draw dragon curves of different orders.

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