Thursday, 30 October 2008

It's a while since we had a silly joke...

So, why do Communists always make their tea with a teabag?

Because proper tea is theft.

Monday, 27 October 2008

I only got a C for Latin O level

... but something has been niggling at me.

You know when we say, "Domine, non sum dignus..."? Well, if I'm talking about myself as being unworthy at that time, rather than making a general statement about the unworthiness of the congregation as a whole, should I (and all female members of the congregation) not be saying, "non sum digna" instead? I mean, I know you use the masculine form if it's a generic statement, but how can a statement in the first person be generic (unless it's plural - "non summus digni" I'd accept as correct)? And surely in any case this is meant to be a personal prayer.

Just wondering...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Pig ignorant

I haven't done one of these for a while, so I thought I'd try this little test that I found over at Mac's place. She, being a blogger supremo extraordinaire, got 7 out of 8 right. How does she know this stuff?

I am more of a humble pig ignorant blogger, and this was my result:

Do You Even Know What a Blog Is?

You got 1/8 correct!

What the heck are you doing at Blogthings?

Monday, 20 October 2008

In denial

This weekend, we celebrated my niece's second birthday. Not that she would admit it - when we arrived at the party she was busy refusing to open her presents from her godfather, while her 4-year-old sister danced around next to her almost bursting with excitement and offering to open the presents for her.

She was eventually persuaded to open the presents, but she refused point blank to blow out the two candles on her birthday cake. She also had the following conversation several times over the weekend:

"Is it your birthday?"

"Nooooo" (shaking head vehemently).

"Are you two?"


I'm not altogether surprised. I mean, I'd be in serious denial if I woke up one morning and someone told me my age had doubled overnight.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Keeping my head down

We've had a spate of 'rightsizing' in the office in the last month. Yes, apparently that's the new name for sacking someone because in a downturn you want to maintain the level of profit growth you had in the upturn. Others might call it corporate greed and lack of human compassion.

The thing is, the Big Bosses haven't officially announced any of the redundancies, haven't told us anything about what's going on and why, and, most importantly, haven't told us whether they think they've done enough yet. Every week we hear about a few more people who have been called into a meeting, come out looking crestfallen and been given only enough time to clear their desks before being cast aside like dust from someone's shoe.

This means everyone is looking round thinking, "Who's next?" Of course, we feel desperately sorry for the people who have already lost their jobs, and the empty desks are a constant reminder of the times we're living in. But now rumours are flying about who has gone, who might be next, and what justification is being given for the departures.

The latest rumour is that everyone's diaries are being reviewed to see how busy they are. We haven't been told this officially, of course, and since we are all supposed to keep our diaries electronically and make them available on the intranet so that anyone else in the firm can access them, the review can be done without most people's knowledge.

In the meantime, the owners of the gym which helped me to lose 30 pounds for my wedding have just announced that they're closing it at the end of this month. Apparently it is profitable. Just not profitable enough. And it doesn't fit in with the corporate image of the wider organisation, so despite its huge popularity, it has to go.

The depressing thing in tough economic times is that the people who make the decisions seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing. So while I wait for economic recovery, which will come eventually just as it always has done in the past, I keep my head down, work harder than ever, pray for the people I know who have lost their jobs, and hope the axe doesn't fall any closer to home.

With the whole keeping-my-head-down-and-working-till-I-drop thing going on, blogging may be a bit light over the next couple of months.

Friday, 10 October 2008

A pretty good cake

This is the cake that my niece and I made for Grandfather's birthday. I think she would have liked to cover the whole top with chocolate chips, but we were running out of time, so she made do with jelly babies once I told her time was nearly up.

The cake itself was a little bit experimental, but it worked REALLY well. We used the yogurt cake recipe I mentioned once before, but we added to it a cup of chocolate chips. I then iced it with cocoa butter icing. We will DEFINITELY be making this variation again - it was delicious!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Icing the cake

The reason I borrowed my nieces at the weekend was so I could take them as a birthday surprise for my father, whose birthday was on Sunday. He loves all his grandchildren, but has a special bond with the 4-year-old, as when she was a year old my sister was very ill and my parents spent a lot of time looking after them.

My parents knew New Man and I were coming, but weren't expecting anyone else. When we arrived on Saturday, I went into the house and said, "I'm afraid I can't leave your birthday present in the car until tomorrow, so can you come out and help me bring it in?"

His face when he saw the children was a picture, and he had an absolutely fantastic weekend with them.

The other surprise we had for him was that the 4-year-old and I had made him a birthday cake - and that WAS left in the back of the car for the next day. We had made the cake together on Friday afternoon, then I iced it after she had gone to bed and she decorated it with jelly babies and chocolate chips before we left my house in the morning. She was very conscious that it was a surprise, and kept reminding me not to tell Grandfather about it.

Unfortunately, she did let the cat out of the bag... Just after we arrived, he said, "It's lovely to have NewHouse and New Man here, but to have you as well is the icing on the cake."

My niece hastened to correct him: "Oh no, Grandfather, it was Aunt NewHouse who iced the cake."

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I knew he was trouble when I saw his sandals

You know that particular type of open-toed sandal that trendy priests wear? You see them, and immediately try to dampen down your antipathy and persuade yourself to be charitable and give the guy a chance. And then the Mass starts, and the first thing he does is to omit the Sign of the Cross. And as he goes on, changing the liturgy for the sake of change and making things up as he goes along, you realise that your prejudice has been confirmed once again.

That's how it was on Sunday. We were away visiting my parents for the weekend, and although I knew the church we went to, I hadn't come across this particular priest before.

Now, I try to respect the environment and to make as little mark on the world as possible. We have a car, but we don't use it for short journeys, and we take the train to and from work every day. I try to drive in as economical way as possible and get the greatest number of miles per gallon that I can. I keep the central heating on low and make New Man put on an extra layer if he complains about the cold (I knew this might be a bone of contention when I discovered last winter that he kept his thermostat SIX DEGREES higher than I kept mine - and that's Celsius, so in Fahrenheit it's even more degrees). I was taking my own reusable shopping bags to the supermarket long before it was trendy, and I have recycled glass, paper and cans for as long as I can remember.

You might wonder why I'm mentioning this now. Well, this priest chose to make his homily into a huge long tree-hugging rant about how we're destroying God's beautiful earth and we must all start wearing silly sandals and growing our own vegetables (OK, I made up the bit about the silly sandals). To me, this is the biggest turn-off ever, and makes me want to go out and buy a gas-guzzling 4x4 and use it to go to the supermarket half a mile down the road every day. I would rather be encouraged than berated, especially when the person berating me knows NOTHING about me and the way I live.

Anyway, it wasn't just the homily. He then kept weaving all these awful tree-hugging 'prayers' (which were actually digs at the congregation and exhortations to buy those sandals and start hugging more trees) into the liturgy. The worst was when he started on (I can't remember the exact wording, but I promise you this is pretty accurate, but maybe a bit shorter than what he said): "This is the Lamb of God, who died for this beautiful world which we are destroying. May we reflect on the effect that our way of life has on the environment, and may He take away our grievous sins towards this world. Happy are we who are called to share in this beautiful meal."

At the end of his performance, I really felt in some doubt about whether I had actually fulfilled my Sunday obligation to attend Mass. I was also having distinctly unchristian thoughts about this man.

He then compounded his sin after Mass. It's a small church where the congregation meet for coffee after Mass. New Man and I had borrowed two of my nieces for the weekend, and I was holding the 23-month-old as Father Sandal-Wearer approached. I told my niece to say "Hello Father" and he said, "Oh no, call me Pat. That's much easier to say, and much nicer, isn't it?"

Well, I'm sorry, but I think children should be taught to show respect for priests, and should call them Father. Or am I just being old-fashioned?

Friday, 3 October 2008

Things I discovered this week

I suppose the biggest discovery of the week was that mobile phones and cups of tea really don't mix. I knew it in theory, and now I know it in practice.

As a result, I now have a new phone. I'm obviously a valuable customer - they gave me a free Nokia 6500 and 10% off my phone bills for the next 18 months. Oh, and they also gave me £150 cash (well, not quite cash - credits to my phone bill) for leaving behind my old phone. The one that's full of tea and doesn't work any more.

Not a bad day's work, methinks. Now, what can I spill tea over next...?