Monthly Archives: October 2009

How Much Time Would £36 Pay For?

This afternoon, after a week of exchanging emails with HP Support, my printer has accepted the UK ink cartridges that I bought for it last Saturday. The cartridges said nothing about being suitable only for machines bought in the UK; they said they would work in an HP C4480, the exact model printer that I shipped over here; and when I installed them, they reported that they were “incompatible” with my US-purchased printer. Needless to say, I was irked.
I just counted; HP Support sent me twelve messages since I registered my frustration last Saturday (and of course, I sent fourteen, since I started the chain and ended it). Bruce, Ashley, Ronnie, and Nick gave me instructions that differed at least slightly each time, and sometimes their instructions didn’t fit the model of printer I’m working with. All told, I know I spent more than two hours fiddling with the printer and fulfilling their instructions. On their end, they must have spent at least a half hour or so. It’s hard for me to believe that companies actually come out ahead by devising, installing, and maintaining region-restrictions on their products. But hey, I’m a lecturer in biblical studies; what do I know?

Next Project

I’ve blogged before about my recipe for supplemented ramen (and since then, Brooke has suggested adding egg to the list of potential supplementing ingredients, and that makes a delightful difference — thanks Brooke!), but for a couple of reasons I’m beginning to explore beyond merely supplementing ramen packages.
Reason One, I’m determined to start improving my cooking habits in general. Ramen is cheap and easy, even supplemented, and that helps provide simple, inexpensive, rapid food at the end of a tiring day. But I ought to be able to put together a simple noodle meal without a package, so I want to figure out how to do it myself. Reason Two, I’m concerned to achieve more complete ingredient control. Margaret will be here for a couple of weeks this winter, and I’d like to be able to prepare gluten-free comestibles for my wonderful wife. And Mark reminded me that some ramen is not vegetarian-friendly, and Margaret noted that I should watch out for MSG and salt. OK already; if I make it myself, these will not be problems.
So what will I do? Rice noodles shouldn’t be too hard to come by, so I’ll track some of those down in preference to the wheat noodles in most ramen packages. Plain rice would do, too, if I can’t put my hands on mei fun (I have a rice cooker here, thank heaven). I’ll throw in some of the supplementary ingredients that I cataloged before. That leaves the “flavor sacs,” the little packets of chemicals that induce you to think that you’re eating something tastier than just boiled noodles.
After some googling around, I have a line on some DIY seasoning combinations. I’d like to be able to make one or two different curry versions, a version that tilts more toward teriyaki flavor, and perhaps one other direction. Vegetable bouillon will be one ingredient; garlic, curry, ginger, chili (for me, not Margaret), perhaps powdered milk, soy sauce. I’m not sure what to try for proportions (and I don’t mean to use all the ingredients I just listed in every dish!), and I’m open to nominations for other ingredients, but when I arrive at substitute seasoning recipes for my DIY “ramen” noodle dishes, I’ll definitely post them here.

Humble Research Is Better Than None

I have a colleague at Glasgow named Yvonne (Sherwood), and each time I send her an email I remember the pioneering African-American newscaster on Pittsburgh’s KDKA news station, Yvonne Forston,* whom the irascible Bill Currie persistently used to call “ ‘Y’-vonne” (pronounced “Wye – von”). I remembered it, but hadn’t known of other details of Yvonne Forston’s career, and I definitely hadn’t remembered that Bill Currie used to broadcast for the woe-begotten ACC athletic teams down the road from Duke. Now all that stuff has come back to life for me.
* She seems to have made relatively little impression on the Web; that’s a wrong thing, and if I still lived in the greater Philadelphia area I would track her down and try to get more details and reminiscences to record for digital archives.

Vice Versa

One of the things that strikes me as odd about my current school is the perfect ease with which it tolerates being identified as either the University of Glasgow or Glasgow University. There are both sorts of signs around the campus. Campus acronyms frequently have recourse to GU; the official functions and statements typically go out as the University of Glasgow. But both names function, and I’ve heard no concern that one of them should predominate over the other.

Sorry, Sorted

Judy’s comment struck home to me. Something in the whole interaction was deeply off-kilter, but I couldn’t figure it out. Then, while I was at Iceland again, I had a moment of clarity.
The problem, I think, lay in the fact that, yes, people were saying “Sorry” to me (as one would expect in the US) — but they had a funny tone in their voices because they would ordinarily have expected me to say “Sorry” first, where I was saying “Excuse me.” So I said something that (as Mark suggested) sounded stroppy to my interlocutors, and they answered “Sorry” — and I was hearing “Sorry” as part of the conversation — and I couldn’t figure out what was awry with the interaction because I was hearing what I expected. OK, lesson learned, I won’t say “Excuse me” but “Sorry.” I almost look forward to standing in a crowded aisle.


Busy transcribing my remarks given at the Duke Archaeology and Politics conference. I was certain I had done so already. Evidently, I was wrong.


I’ll try to get all of them out in one post, so it’ll be easier to ignore them (and I’ll put them in an “extended`” entry, too). A number of persistent annoyances have been ganging up and trying to force themselves from my ill-tempered moments onto the internet, and perhaps by offering them their own little corner, I’ll get them off my back. Nothing wrong with Glasgow, neither the University nor the dear green place itself — just some odds and ends that don’t fit right with smooth sailing through my daily life. Continue reading Complaints

Not Quite What It Seems

I was going to post a video of albino moose here today, in honor of my father-in-law (whom the kids know as “Pa Moose”), to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Pa Moose and Grandma Pat. Unfortunately, being of an incurably investigative frame of mind, I poked around for a while and noticed that some of the same images were being reported as originating in very different locations. That led me to the invaluable where — now pause for a moment, who would have thought that “albino moose” would require a Snopes search? I rely on Snopes frequently, and when I started this post, it would never have occurred to me it would end this way — it turns out that although someone somewhere took some photos of unusual white-haired moose, the moose involved are probably not albino, and they did not magically transport themselves, in the same poses, to several different states and provinces. It’s all a bit of a let-down.
But the point is — Happy Anniversary, Pa Moose and Pat! Congratulations on fifty wondrous years!

Remembering Ramsey

Bp. Pierre noted a remarkable story about Archbishop Michael Ramsey, which reminded me of an anecdote I can’t verify from the web — so I figured I’d blog it, to see if anyone corrects me.
As the story goes, the archbishop was visiting Nashotah House, where someone asked him the liturgical protocols for an archepiscopal visitation, to which Lord Ramsey (as I recall, allegedly, etc.) replied: “When I kneel, everyone kneels; when I stand up, everyone stands up; and if I’m very confused, I put my hat on.”

I’m Not Ignoring You

To everyone who has invited me to join their networks on Linkedin: I’m trying to accept, but for some reason Linkedin doesn’t want to add anyone.
And if you asked to Facebook friend me and I didn’t accept it’s probably because I haven’t the faintest recollection who you are. If you don’t jog my memory, I’ll continue to ignore your invitation (so I suppose that yes, I am ignoring you). And if I really don’t know you at all (you’re a friend of a remote friend, or you think we have common interests), please excuse me if I don’t add you to my already overinflated network. Or you could make a real connection with me, leaving comments now and then at the blog, please don’t email me — I’m drowning in email (that’s directed to people I don’t already know, not friends and relatives), that sort of thing.

Rome-ing In The Gloaming

People have asked me what I think about Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution permitting Anglicans lay and ordained to join themselves to the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining at least some of the liturgical and theological inheritance of the Anglican Tradition. Since I’m a pretty resolutely catholic-minded theologian, and an extremely resolutely Anglican-Episcopalian, there’s a lot to say about this move.
First, though, let’s get over the “winning”/“losing” game of numbers and political maneuvering. Christians should have learned at the foot of the cross that “winning” and “losing” in temporal terms don’t have anything to do with the truth of the gospel. Benedict, I am very confident, is not trying to “poach” Anglicans, and Rowan Williams isn’t in an ecclesiological arm-wrestling match to constrain Tiber-leaning clergy and congregations. If I understand Williams aright, he consistently aims at articulating the most precise and truthful ecclesiology he can, regardless of who likes it or doesn’t. (I’m willing to grant that he may not always succeed, or that he may sometimes succumb to tailoring his arguments to fit one audience or another, but even when he lapses he’s a sharper theologian than all but a newborn’s handful of his detractors. Few things trouble me more than self-congratulatory theological hooligans who paint their faces with the colours of their favoured partisan, then hoot and jeer if they don’t “win” in any given church showdown.)
Continue reading Rome-ing In The Gloaming

Pragmatics and Syntax of “Sorry”

Let’s say I’m trying to navigate a crowded aisle at Iceland. A somewhat oblivious young person is staring blankly at the varieties of butter, margarine, and related spreads. In the US, I’d say “Excuse me” in a gentle, regretful way — and I’ve been doing that over here, too. Over here, though, people say “Sorry” when they make room for me to get by, with a tone that sounds unfamiliar to me.
Should I be saying something different? Is “Sorry” a very conventional response to “excuse me” over here?