Bazza's Boycott Bombshell

I've lost emotional attachment to a lot of things lately, including tennis. During last night's doubles match I was really just going through the motions. I watched people on adjacent courts (and mine) throw their rackets, give their partners high-fives and make authoritative pointed-finger "OUT!" signals, while I really couldn't see what all the fuss was about. We lost our match 6-4 6-4, a score that flattered us slightly. My apathy continued into the singles, though that changed somewhat as the contest wore on. It turned out to be my longest-ever singles match, certainly by number of games and perhaps also in terms of time (I have however played longer doubles matches, most of them involving Bazza - for the latest news about him, stay tuned). Unfortunately I lost, 7-6 4-6 7-5, having been just two points from victory at 5-3 in the decider. Unusually we had a few spectators towards the end of the match, which came just shy of 10.30. My opponent employed topspin to good effect, had a surprisingly strong backhand and was generally a much better all-round player than me, so while on one hand I was disappointed that I couldn't finish the job, I was also pleased I could compete with him for so long.

Bazza has pulled out of playing tennis. I won't go into the reasons in detail - suffice to say that as he played in last season's winning team, he thinks he should be playing in a higher grade this season than the one he's been assigned to, so he's decided to boycott. The competition organisers have made some strange rule changes this season, and to be honest Bazza is probably in the right. The problem here is that in the absence of a job or a family or any of those things that keep people occupied, and as a general consequence of his condition, Bazza has become obsessed with tennis. Not just the game of tennis, but points, grades and league tables. For the last four seasons he's been ringing me up almost daily to ask about results of matches he hasn't even played in. He'll never bother with pleasantries like "how was work?" or "hasn't it been a lovely day?" - he'll always get straight to the point, or rather, the points. So for him, interclub tennis grading is Very Serious Business. On Sunday I phoned him and tried to reason with him. That's never an easy task and he hung up on me. Twice. I'll pop round and see him tomorrow and try to at least arrange a game of singles with him. My biggest fear, if he quits the game completely, is for his health. Instead of two obsessions he'll be down to just one: food.

On Saturday I spent ten hours making puzzles. For once, because someone was paying me, this no longer seemed a frivolous activity. Instead it was a very enjoyable one. I'm excited by the prospect that this could lead to something bigger.

I had a very productive session with my psychologist today. That's despite making my job-search frustrations very obvious. Realistically I now have ten weeks to move, but still no idea how I'll do that.

Catching up: Family

My mother and sister are both doing amazingly well. It's been nearly 3 years since Jane was diagnosed with stomach cancer and had her entire stomach removed. She is doing wonderfully well, with clean results on all her regularly scheduled scans and blood work. She is ever aware of the Sword of Damocles, but she is healthy and happy and loving her family to pieces.

Two years ago this month, I moved to Arizona when my mom was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. She was given 12 to 18 months to live, and -- well, 2 years later, she feels great and is loving her family to pieces. The doctors know that the cancer is still there -- they saw it during her last surgery -- but she feels good and is choosing not to have regular blood work. She feels so good and has so much energy that she is even going (with my sister and a woman who's been her friend for 45 years) to India in November. How wonderful is that!?

My mother and sister are both driving me absolutely crazy. I have no privacy. My mother wants to see me every day. She wants to swim in the pool and play the piano every day, even if I'm not home. She doesn't understand that her being here even when I'm not still counts as being in my space. I still have to have the house picked up and the kitchen counters cleared, because I don't want her to see that I didn't wash last night's dinner dishes. (I know, I know. I should have washed last night's dinner dishes. It's good for me to keep the living room picked up.)

In all fairness, Jane has really stepped up in the last month or so, intervening on my behalf. I think she's even getting Mother to accept that I really don't want to see her every day. When we talk about it between ourselves, Jane says that the time will come when Mother needs us every day, when she will be dependent on us for everything. Until then, she needs to give us a breathing room and what Jane calls "days off." (Mother is often at Jane's house for quilting conversations and baby fixes. My sister's grandson is too utterly adorable for words, and my mother adores him.)

And Jane makes me want to tear my hair out. She keeps saying things about how well I'm doing, and how much better I am than I was when I moved out here. She's so glad I'm handling things so much better than I was. In truth, she has no idea how I'm really doing at all, because she really doesn't want to know. Mother doesn't either, actually. But while my mom simply shuts me down if I try to talk about anything emotional, Jane's response is more infuriating.

Everything, every little thing, has a positive spin on it. I tried to tell her about crumbling when I had to pull out Nick's death certificate. I was choking back the tears on the phone, until I said something along the lines of then I just had to pull it all together and volunteer at school. Her response? Let's hear it for having to pull it all together! There's something to be said for being too busy to think about it. She makes me want to scream Not everything has a silver lining!

But being out here does have a silver lining. I've made no secret about how much I miss Maryland, how isolated and lonely and trapped I feel. But this time with my family -- my mother, my sister, my nephews -- is wonderful. It's been good for everyone, myself included. I know my being here has helped both my sister and my mother in their respective recoveries. This "bonus year" with my mom is a gift too precious for words. And it's been wonderful for my boys as well, to develop real relationships with their grandmother, their aunt and uncle, and even their cousins who are so much older than they.

I've got no complaints.


I felt completely whacked at work today. I needed coffee before coffee, as well as after coffee, just to keep my eyes open. The forty-plus hours I spend in the office each week feel more and more like “dead time”; all the really important stuff has to be squeezed into my remaining waking hours, of which there are never enough. My weariness could also be due to yesterday’s corporate jolly. For our second team building in just three months, we visited a number of wineries to the north and west, sampling their produce of course. When we voted on an activity, I chose wine tasting because it would be the least stressful option; it seems several of my colleagues felt the same way. Later we went to the pub – this was stressful for me because it involved my workmates recounting tales of drunken escapades while I sat in silence, so I didn’t stay long.

Last weekend, out of the blue, I received a rather exciting email from America. A publishing company in Illinois somehow stumbled upon my puzzle website and wants to buy forty of my puzzles for US$20 each. I started constructing puzzles in 2005, when the whole world was going Sudoku crazy, and have created a variety of word and number puzzles since then. A few of them made a guest appearance in an Aussie magazine in 2006, but that's about it, so when I got an email for someone willing to pay me eleven hundred bucks (in our money) for my puzzles, I was over the moon. I'm a little nervous dealing with unknown people over the net, but they seem legit, so I'm willing to take the risk. Who knows, this could lead to something big.

The tennis interclub season began in earnest last Saturday. Thanks mainly to my partner, we comfortably took out the men's doubles 6-1 6-1, but the mixed match was a totally different ball game (it was still tennis, but you know what I mean). We were lucky to get one game in a 20-minute first set, and though we weren't playing that badly, I couldn't see a way back. The opposing woman was a demon at the net. I was heading down one of my infamous spirals of negativity, talking incessantly to both myself and my partner about how screwed we were, when my partner told me to stop talking and to act more positively. From that moment the match turned. I became more confident in my shots, and my intensity levels rose a notch or two. My partner's play also improved as she was no longer feeding off my negativity. Our opponents couldn't quite hit the heights they reached in the first set, and we wound up 1-6 6-3 6-3 winners, wrapping it up on our fifth match point. After the match we ate and chatted; our opponents were such nice people that I felt a bit guilty that we beat them. One of the highlights of interclub tennis is that you meet new people every time you play.

The current spell of dodgy weather is predicted to continue into Saturday. A good day for making puzzles I think.

Catching up: Project 2,996

Project 2,996 was started in 2006, to mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I thought it was a wonderful way to ensure that the individuals who were killed were not lost in political soundbites and patriotic fervor. I put a lot of myself into writing the tribute, and I will honor the memory of Chris Slattery all my days.

I spent a few days in 2006 reading through the tributes others had written. In fact, it seemed as though most people who wrote tributes made a point of visiting as many other bloggers as they could, leaving links for people to follow. I could see a remarkable sense of community building, as I saw the same names in the comment sections, as I received comments from other bloggers. Some of my current blogging buddies, in fact, are people I met through Project 2,996.

In 2007 and 2008, I simply linked back to the tribute I'd already written. I wasn't aware that Project 2,996 was ongoing until I got an email in mid-August asking if I wanted to participate again this year. Of course I said I would. And again, I spent the better part of two days reading through the other tributes. And I got very depressed. Not saddened by the tragic loss of human life, but depressed by what a different experience it was this time around.

First, I was utterly disheartened by how many people failed to honor their commitment to the project. They said they would write a tribute, and didn't. I know that life gets in the way -- boy do I know that! -- but even now, 11 days later a random browsing found that 10 percent of the people who volunteered to write a tribute didn't, as though the lives lost weren't important enough to remember. That makes me very sad.

Second, it seems as though very few people made any effort to visit the tributes posted by others. I have over 60 comments on my post, but I visited and left comments at over 500 blogs. At most of those blogs, I was the first or second person to comment, and even now, hardly any of the tributes I visited this morning have more than two or three comments. There is certainly no sense of communal bonding in this year's effort.

Third, I was terribly upset by the politicizing of the memorials. More than a few of them veer off into attacks on President Obama, as though the direction in which he would like to lead the country somehow dishonors the memory of those who have died. Quite frankly, I think that the memory of the dead is more greatly dishonored by those who raise the spectre of "socialism" in their so-called tributes. Several people were outraged that the President called for September 11 to be a national day of service, even though the idea for that came from families of several of those who died that day.

I was most distraught by the general tone of the blogs I visited: It seems as though this year bloggers on the left side of the aisle weren't interested in honoring those who had died. Over ninety percent of the blogs I visited were papered with invectives against President Obama. I remember seeing lots of flags on blogs for the 5th anniversary, lots of yellow ribbons in support of our troops. I also remember seeing a few countdowns until President Bush was out of office, a few yellow ribbons urging that our troops be brought home.

I know that I did NOT see angry screeds against President Bush incorporated into the pages honoring the 2,996 who had died. I know that I did NOT see grotesque pictures of President Bush as Hitler or as The Joker. I didn't even see banners screaming that the President was a liar, even though by the time 2006 rolled around, that accusation would clearly have been well founded.

I did leave one or two comments on some of these pages, suggesting that it might have been more respectful for the personal politics to have been set aside. But I didn't bookmark them, to see if the authors responded. In 2006, I wrote that "I found myself feeling a powerful connection to the other tribute authors." This time around, I'm afraid, I felt a powerful disconnect, miserably isolated.

I felt isolated not only as a supporter of President Obama (and his "socialist" health care reform), but also as a human being. I wanted to read the tributes and join with others in remembering those who had died. But so much of what I read was more about angry politics than about solemn remembering. So much of what I read was more about questioning birthplaces and decrying health care plans than about honoring those who sacrificed their lives to save others. So much of what I read was screaming about patriotism, instead of actually reflecting patriotism.

I'm not sure what I was most aware of as I read through more than 500 blogs: sorrow for the lives lost that tragic day, despair at the loss of community that I felt at the beginning of this Project, or dread of the effects of the sheer vitriol that I encountered with every click of my mouse. But it was a terrible experience, one that left me depressed on so many levels.

Will I continue to participate in Project 2,996? Yes. I will remember Chris Slattery as long as my heart beats and honor him as long as my computer has pixels. But I may not visit so many tributes in the years to come. It was far too discouraging and disheartening.

The car chronicles -- postscript

After buying the new Mazda on Saturday, I went down to the VW dealership to get my things from the Passat. I'd gotten most of the boys' junk out of it before it was towed away, but there were maps and umbrellas and a few dozen stray Legos, nail clippers and notebooks and lipstick, postcards and an icon and a cross hanging from the mirror. Stuff.

I was okay walking away from the car. There was a twinge, of course, mostly of the sort that everyone feels when saying goodbye to a 10-year-old vehicle. This was the car we'd bought together. This was the car we'd brought Rock home in; this was the car we'd taken on vacations; this was the car we all rode together in. I was sad, of course, but the Passat had served me well. Nick would have been pleased we'd gotten 10 years out of it; he'd be happy with my choice of another Mazda (he and I both drove Mazdas when we met).

But this morning, I had to take the VW title to the Mazda dealer. Because both our names were on the title, I had to take Nick's death certificate as well. I was so matter-of-fact about digging it out of the filing cabinet; I handed it so casually to the Mazda salesman, brushing aside his startled expression of sympathy. It was just part of the business deal.

But when I got back into the car, I started crying. I pulled myself together and headed out on my errands. I got to the parking lot at Point A, called a friend, and started sobbing. I pulled myself together, ran my errand, got to the parking lot at Point B, and started crying. I pulled myself together, ran my errand, and went to the boys' school for lunchroom duty. I could barely breathe until the chattering hubbub drowned out the internal wailing.

That damned death certificate. It's such a brutal document. I remember reading it when I first received it. Every word of it. Again and again. As if understanding the words on that piece of paper would help me understand what had happened, as if reading about how Nick died would explain WHY he died.

I didn't read the words today. Five years later, I still know what they say. And I still don't understand.

Catching up: All's well that ends well

I haven't been posting very much lately, and I have had a lot going on in my mind and in my life. So I'll be posting quite a few catching-up posts this week. Many of my friends already know a lot of this stuff, so apologies for the redundancy!

Last Sunday, the boys and I drove up to Phoenix; we spent the morning at church and the afternoon with dearest of dear friends from Maryland. (That's all content of a different catch-up post.) We were only four blocks away from getting back home when the car stopped moving. The engine was running, but we weren't going anywhere. I turned off the engine and it wouldn't restart.

Thank goodness for family! My brother-in-law came over, tried to start the car, hemmed and hawed, and drove us home. My mother drove over and left her car with us so I could get the boys to and from school. Then things got ugly.

Monday: Called the Volkswagen dealer at 7 a.m. to arrange for the car to be towed in for service. It was picked up at 8 a.m. Called the dealership at 4 p.m. for an update. Oh, we haven't gotten to it yet. *** Grrrrrr. ***

Tuesday: The timing belt had snapped and damaged a cylinder head. Cost to repair: $5,000. Oh, no! The car isn't worth that much: A 10YO Passat, with almost 130K miles, in perfect condition has a blue book value of about $3,500 -- and this car is not in perfect condition. But wait! I did some quick research: The timing belt should be changed every 40,000 or 60,000 miles (depending on whom you ask) -- and I had had the car in for service at 120,000. Called the dealership at 4 p.m. to talk about this. Shouldn't the shop have changed the belt? Why should I have to pay for the results of their negligence? I'll have to get back to you on that.
*** Grrrrrr.

Wednesday: The dealership argues that the Owners Manual clearly states that the owner is responsible for making sure maintenance happens as necessary. I reply that I took it to the shop for its 120,000 maintenance and trusted them to do the required work. Am I wrong to have trusted them? Let me speak to your manager. He's not available right now, but I'll have him get back to you. *** Grrrrrr. ***

Thursday: I never heard from the service manager, so I called Volkswagen America to file a complaint. They gave me the same line: The Owners Manual clearly states ... *** sigh ***

Friday: The regional manager calls me and says The Owners Manual clearly states ... Game over. Fine. Whatever.
*** sigh ***

I spent the afternoon online, reading through Consumer Reports, JD Powers, etc, and looking to see what CarMax has available. I have a short list of four or five models to look at. My brother-in-law agrees to go car shopping with me the next day.

Saturday: 8 a.m. I get in the car with my sister and brother-in-law, and Jane says Pierre was so excited for you to get the Mazda 5; he thinks it's just what you want. But he called the dealer and they don't have any in stock. Does he know when more will be arriving? He's supposed to call and let us know. Ten minutes later, Pierre's cell phone rang. It was the Mazda dealer. They got ONE Mazda 5 in last night; they hadn't even prepped it yet. We went to CarMax where I drove a few different cars; then we headed to the Mazda dealer. It was still covered in plastic -- even the wheels! To make a long story a little bit shorter, I am now the proud owner of a pretty blue Mazda 5, and I'm very happy.

The boys were ecstatic, climbing all over it and discovering all its gadgets, Hey, HardPlace, I found another feature! And this morning they spent 20 minutes wiping imaginary handprints off of it.

All's well -- in spite of the stress -- that ends well.


Ah Spring! A time for new thoughts and hence new projects. Here's what I've been working on lately - two new projects. Firstly a new plane (well new for me) actually it's a fairly second hand plane that Ralph gave me. It's a sloper/sailplane made from vacuum-bagged fibreglass over blue foam cores and has a fibreglass fuselage.

As you can see it's a bit shabby and has had crash repairs. It's now called a Redblack to reflect its colours. I'm strengthening the wing by adding a drag spar and also adding two more servos for flaps. This should help to land a bit slower and hence make it flyable around the Mount with it's rocky landing zones. Well that's the theory - we'll see how it goes.

The other project is a spinoff from the Redblack which needs servo covers to protect the servo horns under the wing. Ralph helped me to make up some alloy ones using his jig, but I have also built a vacuum box and tried to make some covers from vacuum formed plastics. The jury is still out on whether this will work, but until I get more suitable plastic sheets, here's the pics of what I've made so far and the box.


I’ve been feeling much better this week. There’s no obvious reason why – for all practical purposes I’m in exactly the same position as I was last week, only I’m a week older – but my newfound acceptance of my work situation seems to have helped. At work we’re all supposed to be full steam ahead on a lifelong career path, but since I want to jump off the conveyor belt at the first opportunity I’m constantly forced to act out a role. This perpetual play-acting is tiring and ridiculous but crucially it no longer gets me down.

Statistics New Zealand rang me up on Wednesday about that job. For a moment I got very excited about driving down to Wellington for a possible interview, but that was only because it would make a pretty cool road trip. When I realised I didn’t particularly want the job and wouldn’t survive their rigorous interview process anyway, common sense prevailed. Predictably our conversation focused mainly on the last 5½ years; at best I added some serious embellishment to my work history, at worst I outright lied and felt quite uncomfortable doing so.

On Thursday we had a fire drill; this was reminiscent of the scene from Office Space where Milton sets fire to the building. I’m getting more like Milton every day. The other highlight of Thursday was spending hours on the phone to the IT help desk trying to install a system whose name was pronounced identically to my own name but spelt differently, and without which I’d be completely screwed. Of course when I finally did get the program installed I was just as screwed as ever.

I’m sure all you avid Fixed and Floating readers will be thrilled to learn that the new tennis season is almost upon us. Thursday night’s practice match gave me a real boost: I cared about my performance, I could think about what I was doing, and I’d even go as far as to say I enjoyed it. We were the underdogs, so a 4-6 7-5 3-3 tie (from our point of view) was clearly a positive result for us. One of our opponents was Superman, who’s taken over from me as captain of the interclub team.

As I write this, Mum will be halfway through the first round of her 36-hole final of the club championships. Hopefully she’ll be burning up the course. Dad will be in the UK for another month; I don’t know if he’ll get to see my brother, who spends his weekends taking people up for tandem parachute jumps. Sometimes he’ll clear £400 in a weekend. I’ll be honest here and say I’m quite envious of my little brother. Making that kind of money doing something you love is a pipe dream to me.

RSPB Saltholme

Spent the weekend in the Hartlepool area and whilst there visited the new RSPB site. I was suitably impressed even though it was very cold and windy. A nice visitor centre with friendly staff, some good walks around the site and an adventure playpark for the kids. Lots of birds to see, highlights for me were the Yellow Wagtail, Curlew Sandpiper & Little Stint, all new for the year taking the total to 105

No camels? C'mon!

The Big Desk Move was beneficial to me after all: I get more sunlight, plus I'm now not the furthest from the loo in the whole company. Today at work I realised an important thing: I don't like my job and I can't wait to move, but that doesn't mean there's something hopelessly wrong with me. I don't want to be there and I'm happy with that.

Janet very kindly got in touch with the Dyspraxia Support Group; there's a real prospect that I'll get some voluntary work in that area. It's a bit scary, the thought of working with real people, but it's exciting at the same time. I'll have to work out how many hours I can do - in this line of work you're not plugging numbers aimlessly into a spreadsheet any more; people's lives are at stake. It's imperative that I'll be functioning at full capacity.

On Saturday I celebrated the lifting of my self-imposed online poker ban by playing three freeroll tournaments. In the first - a badugi freeroll on Carbon Poker - I broke my all-time record by busting out on only the second hand. I then fired up a deuce-to-seven tournament on PokerStars and soon found myself with a draw to the nuts. I drew one card to 7542, made an eight and went all in - and all out - against a pat 87432. Finally I entered a PokerStars badugi freeroll and came through a 5¾-hour marathon to snatch the 63rd (and last-but-one) ticket to the money round. I've now amassed five such tickets, so I should probably play the money tournament at some stage, but they start on Sundays at 2am which isn't exactly when I'm most on the ball.

On Sunday I had a wander through our local nature reserve and stumbled upon this sign. I've seen a few amusing signs around here; I might post one or two of them if I get the chance. In the afternoon I played tennis with some people from work, not that I was really in the mood for it.

I've started reading How Language Works by David Crystal; I get the impression that when it comes to all matters linguistic, he's the man. Language is a subject that interests me greatly - I just wish I had more time to study it. My Italian classes are going great though. Next week's session will be the last of the term; celebratory drinks will be in order.

One down

Eldest son got married, that's Joe in the middle. Any offers for the other 2?

That sinking feeling

Monday kicked off with our weekly team meeting, the new supersized team of ten in attendance. The meeting lasted an hour and a half. Sometimes my head would be in eleven different places at once, all of them outside the meeting room, while at other times my mind was nowhere. I survived the scary bit of the meeting - the "what are you currently working on" bit - by dredging up something from the recesses of my mind. As the session extended deeper into overtime I became more and more desperate to get out of there.

That evening I had my Italian class. A brass band practises in an adjacent room at the same time as our class; they play theme tunes to American hit TV shows, usually The Simpsons. Andy suggested I invite one or two people out for a coffee after our next class; I've always been too scared to do that sort of thing even though I can't rationalise in my mind what it is I'm scared of.

On Tuesday I had my fortnightly mental health bonanza. During my appointment with the psychologist I made a concerted effort to remain positive, or at the very least to halt the never-ending spiral of negativity which dogged some of my previous meetings. This made for a much more productive session. I barely had time to grab a kebab after seeing the psychologist, then it was off to the men's group. We chatted about a variety of subjects, though it was Brendan who did most of the chatting. I get on well with Brendan - we have quite a lot in common - but he does tend to dominate conversations and can become almost obsessive about certain topics. I'm not sure he realises this and I doubt I'd have the balls to tell him. On the other hand I am sure I have dozens of annoying traits that nobody tells me about.

We sat through the corporate equivalent of a school assembly on Wednesday; because of this (I don't quite get the logic here) it was a casual day. I'd completely forgotten of course, though it was just as well because Friday was also a casual day and having two of them in one week tests my wardrobe to breaking point. After work I applied for a job with Statistics New Zealand down in Wellington. Although Wellington would probably suit me in the long term, I think I'd be better off where I am for now, so even if I do miraculously get the job I might not take it.

I had my first one-on-one meeting with my new boss on Thursday. He wanted to discuss my targets for 30th June 2010, making sure they align with the company's strategy, vision and values. This was a pointless exercise because if I'm still there in nine months, I will shoot myself.

Last week I had a sinking feeling in my stomach all day, every day I was in the office. But Friday was the day of the Desk Migration Procedure, which for me made that feeling even more acute. There had been lot of talk about the move; I'd ignored all of it, waiting till the day itself to find out where I was going. I moved all my stuff as fast as I could and then met up with Mandy who works two floors above and who, like me, is trying to work out an exit strategy. When the Big Move was complete, the Big Boss gave a congratulatory speech while drinks were poured. I had no idea what the move was about, nor did I care. All I cared about was getting home.

More bird news

This is Harry sat in an Osprey's nest, took us ages to get him up there! Whilst on our travels I have also seen Barnacle Geese and Whinchat taking the yearly total to 102.

In Memoriam: Reprise

I first published this piece on September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks. I am privileged to once again remember and honor Christopher Paul Slattery.

With the passing of Christopher Paul Slattery, a son died. A brother died. A nephew died. A cousin died. A friend died. A colleague died. A brother-in-law died. An uncle died. His family, friends, and co-workers can tell you far more about the life Chris lived than I ever could. So let us pause now and think about the life he did not live.

Chris was a son who never got to toast his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. He will not be there to help his parents when they are old, to support their faltering steps as they supported his first ones. He will never introduce the love of his life to his mother and father; he won't hear his father's advice and jokes about marriage, and he won't see his mother's eyes shining with proud tears at his wedding.

Chris was a brother who will never send Dan another whimsical IM; he will never make Erin laugh again. He will never fill their hearts with love as they watch him play with their children. He will never see those children grow up, graduate high school, get married.

Chris was a friend who will never host another tailgate party; he'll never see another Giants or Rangers game. He and his cousin Tim will never open their pie-in-the-sky bar and restaurant. He will never see another parade go down Fifth Avenue. He will never fly another kite on Nantucket.

Chris was a colleague who will never broker the most important deal of the year, work on the division's biggest project, or simply make sure the day-to-day details are moving smoothly.

Christopher Slattery was a son and a brother, a nephew and a cousin, a brother-in-law and an uncle, a friend and a colleague. But he will never be a husband and a father. He will never feel his heart skip a beat when the phone rings with a certain tone; he will never have butterflies in his stomach when he asks someone to share her life with him. He will never know the wonder of becoming a father, of falling in love all over again, this time with someone so tiny as to be unbelievable.

From all accounts, when Chris died, the world lost a gentle, kind man with a wonderful sense of humor, a man who "lived life large and packed it full." He will always be remembered by those who knew him. Let us also remember what Chris lost, the opportunities for love and laughter and living.

Read more about Christopher Paul Slattery:

Read more tributes from Project 2,996.

MOAB 09 - The Runaway Bride

Well, this is not so much a new post, but a delayed post. It's been a while since I posted anything... anywaya lot of the oxygen has been sucked out of my gaming the last few months, real life keeps getting in the way. However, I'm running a comp at MOAB in less than a month so I've got to scrounge time to get ready for it.

The game is Wargods of Aegyptus.

The scenario is trying to locate a missing person : Helen, princess of Sparta and lately of Troy.

She and her handmaidens were shipwrecked and lost, scattered throughout the land and her husband has arrived at Thebes and is threatening all sorts of mayhem if she is not found.

The full details are at :

Anyway, it should be fun, spectacular in a sandy sort of way and keep us all off the streets.

And this time it looks like I'll be getting a decent turnout : between 8 and 12 players! Most I've had before is about six.

The only issue is the extra terrain... and for one scenario, the extra Necromancers! Luckily I have enough horde mummies for almost any eventuality.

I have temporarily disabled the video in my previous post. Thanks for your patience.

Bird list update

I know, I know, I'm really sorry, but anyway, the bird list, at the last count was 95. Since then I have visited Bempton Cliffs again and seen a Puffin, a Guillemot and a Kittiwake which takes me to 98. At the beginning of August we all went to Wales for a week where I saw a Jay (99) and I am pleased to announce that bird number 100 was an Osprey. The caterpillar in the picture was taken at Conway RSPB site, Harry particularly liked it as it is in Hull City colours.


It's been an encouraging last few days, even if I've been pretty subdued most of the time. Mum has just flown back after spending the last five days up here; we got on really well.

Undoubtedly the best thing to happen to me in the last week was my meeting with Janet where we discussed jobs. Voluntarily helping people with autism could be a serious possibility. Whether I'd be any good at that, who knows, but it's something I'd certainly be passionate about. I also feel I have a reasonable understanding of the condition, having known Bazza for a few years and possibly even experiencing a mild form of it myself.

I now officially have a new boss. I think that's a plus for me, but on the flip side I'm now in a team of ten. A couple of years ago when there were only six of us, I had at least some idea of where I fitted in. On Friday we went out to lunch to celebrate the birthday of one of my colleagues. Why his birthday was such a big deal - his desk was decked out with banners and balloons - I don't know. I enjoyed my meal but felt uneasy being with my workmates. I just sat there, ate, and hardly said a word.

On Saturday Mum and I took the ferry into town and looked at one or two art galleries in Parnell. Later we had a very tasty meal at Manna, a Thai restaurant in Devonport. Yesterday I played p├ętanque with the French group at Browns Bay. We had glorious weather.

The only other news is that I applied for a job via Seek. It's an Economist role. There's a 70% chance I won't hear anything and a 29% chance I'll hear something negative, but it's a start.


The song we danced to on September 5, 1992

by Sweet Honey in the Rock

Sometime the day breaks in my life
Sometime the sun shines in my life
Sometime things work right in my life
You are my sometime, you are my sometime, you are my sometime.

When shackles fall from my heart
When the rocks seem to roll from my way
When I find myself open to love
You are my when, you are my when, you are my when.

For the ending of being alone
For the believing in the smiles and warmth I feel
For our leavings to come back again
You are my for, you are my for, you are my for.

Sometime don't come every day.
When seem to never get here at all
For is the future that I could never face and
you bring them all to me

You are my sometime
You are my when
You my for ... ever


My friend Heidi posted something earlier this week, on the 5th anniversary of her Jamie's death, that stopped me in my tracks:
The problem is that what we had together was all I ever really wanted, and there's nothing that's been able to take its place. I try to make do with friends, family, work, travel... but he's still what I ache for.

That one line sums it all up for me. What we had together was all I ever really wanted. And having had all I ever wanted, I don't know how to want anything else. No wonder I feel so lost.

Knocking on wood

We're into the fourth week of the new school year, and -- dare I say it? -- everything seems to be going very smoothly.

Homework wars have been minimal -- of course, serious homework is just now really kicking in. Neither boy is arguing about not being allowed to do his homework in front of the TV; neither boy is seriously arguing about having to start it 30 minutes after we get home. Both boys HATE the one day a week that they have to write 20 spelling words four times each.

Dinnertime has been downright pleasant: I allow them to eat in front of the TV on weekends, but on school nights, we are at the kitchen table the way we should be. I've missed that and am reminded just how lovely it is. I've even been cooking more real food more often. I guess that part of not cooking stemmed from the fact that we weren't eating together, a cascade effect of sorts.

I've been going to Curves 3 times a week, and I feel so good! I guess the time was right for me to get back into working out, because I really look forward to it. Yay me!

That's all: Just a quick update because I really haven't had a whole lot to say.