ME and Ophelia

Friday, December 31, 2004

Best wishes for a peaceful 2005

"I am a citizen, not of Athens, or Greece, but of the world."
- Socrates (5th Century B.C.)

"We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth together as brothers."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
Wed Dec. 29 (AFP/Jose Cendon)

Displaced boy: A Sudanese displaced boy finds shelter from the sun behind a big cloth in El-Sereif refugee camp near the town of Nyala in Sudan's southern Darfur region.
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Fortune Magazine's blog article

Fortune has posted a great must-read piece entitled "Why There's No Escaping the Blog." It is well written, witty, warm, accurate and not to be missed. Insightfully, it calls us "the swarm" and says "it didn't take long for the blogging world to do what it does best: swarm around a new piece of information; push, prod, and poke at it; and leave it either stronger or a bloody mess." Heh. Power to the people. John Lennon would have loved it. [via Joi Ito]
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Skweezer can strip and reformat your web page

Yesterday, a Google search for "blogs" brought in about 14.7 million results. Today, it's twice that. Jim Elve's post/comments explains why.

See also how Jim refuses to be victimised by Skweezer.

Note, go to Skweezer, type in a URL and Skweezer will reformat the page and will strip most of the graphics (and ads) and resize the text to make the pages fit on a small screen device.
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My new blog

This morning I started a new blog for my posts on world citizenship and UN reform. It took only a few minutes using the same template as Sudan Watch but registering the name took several attempts because the titles I wanted were already taken. It looks like Bloggers are starting up free BlogSpots at for ownership of titles or just to be able to post comments at other BlogSpots. A blog named blogosphere has no posts. It would be interesting to know how many individual active bloggers there really are.
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University of San Francisco August 2-5, 2005

The following is an extract from the website of the Association of World Citizens (AWC) who, along with the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP) are sponsoring the 2005 Global Peace Conference at the University of San Francisco August 2-5, 2005.

"AWC is an international peace organization with World Citizen Centers established in 50 countries. NGO status with the UN, including consultative status with ECOSOC.


"Only with a burning patience can we conquer the splendid City which will give light, justice, and dignity to all mankind" - Rimbaud 

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The critical years ahead

Join an Online/Regional Meetings Symposium on World Citizens helping to achieve the goals of the UN's Millennium Declaration. This is preparation for the Summit Meeting of Heads of State in New York on September 13, 2005.

"The 2005 Summit will be an event of decisive importance. The decisions to be taken there may determine the whole future of the United Nations." - Secretary General Kofi Annan

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) and War & Peace Foundation will conduct an online and regional meetings symposium on the "United Nations in the Critical Years Ahead" with the focus on how we, as World Citizens and NGOs, can be more efficient at influencing, persuading, and pressuring our governments (and all governments) to honor their commitment to the goals of the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by consensus at the Millennium Summit in 2000. The goals of the Millennium Declaration provide a foundation for creating a world community and better world for the 21st century.

People in over 20 countries will hold regional meetings to discuss this topic from January through March. There will be regular online updates on under the title: Meeting the Millennium Goals.

AWC will collect the conclusions from the online and regional meetings and issue a report and recommendations that will be published in the War & Peace Digest (which is delivered to UN agencies in New York) and sent to heads of state and parliamentarians.  

A review of this project will be part of the 2005 Global Peace Conference held jointly by the AWC and the International Association of Educators for World Peace.  This Global Peace conference will be held at the University of San Francisco from August 2-5, 2005. Stay tuned to their website for details:

To read selected highlights from the United Nations Millennium Declaration, click here to read "United Nations at the Fork in the Road" by Douglas Mattern.
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December 30, 2004

"We only want food and milk. We are not asking for everything. But our babies have no milk to drink." PASIDA MUHAMAD, in Nilaveli, Sri Lanka. [via NYT]
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BBC report confirms the World Bank has announced that it is giving $250m to help victims while the UK increased its contribution to $96m, the biggest donation from an individual country.

Support is also growing for a debt moratorium for some of the stricken countries, with France subscribing to a proposal made by Germany on Wednesday and Italy calling for an extraordinary G8 summit to discuss debt relief.

AFP news agency quoted US Secretary of State Colin Powell as describing the German proposal as "interesting". Mr Powell said the UN had chief responsibility for co-ordinating the aid effort, despite a move by Washington to set up a core group of donor countries with India, Australia and Japan.

World Bank $250m
UK $96m
EU $44m
US: $35m
Canada: $33m
Japan: $30m
Australia: $27m
France: $20.4m
Denmark: $15.6m
Saudi Arabia: $10m

2004 Asian quake disaster - toll so far exceeds 117,000
2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran - official casualty figure is 26,271
1976 Earthquake in Tangshan, China, kills 242,000
1970 Cyclone in Bangladesh kills 500,000
1887 China's Yellow River breaks its banks in Huayan Kou killing 900,000
1826 Tsunami kills 27,000 in Japan
1815 Volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora on Indonesia's Sumbawa Island kills 90,000
1556 Earthquake in China's Shanxi and Henan provinces kills 830,000

Source: Reuters, United Nations via BBC News online.
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A Ukrainian woman places carnations into the shields of anti-riot policemen standing outside the presidential office in Kiev, November 24, 2004. Ukraine's authorities raised the stakes in a face-off with their liberal opposition as they prepared to announce results of a disputed election that are likely to infuriate thousands of protesters in the streets. Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko


The National Christmas Tree is seen in front of the U.S. Capitol at dusk in Washington on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2004. Reuters/Molly Riley

Browse 200 more Pictures of the Year 2004 at Yahoo! news photos.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 12/31/2004 0 comments

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

And frost free freezer

On December 6, my order of a new Hotpoint Aquarius Slimline Dishwasher SDW60 (£302) and Hotpoint Frost Free Freezer FZA30 (£299) arrived.

They were delivered and installed by a semi-local shop. I bought them unseen over the phone. I'd seen the spec and picture of the freezer in the shop's catalogue that a friend picked up for me but not the dishwasher which I ordered at the same time. I chose the dishwasher on the strength of a recommendation from a local friend who used the shop to buy the same model. The bill came to £601.00 plus £107.04 for extended plumbing parts and installation, making a total of £708.04.

When I placed the order, the owner said I could choose to pay by credit card or cheque. I said I would prefer to pay by credit card because there is more come back if anything goes wrong. He said he ran a reputable firm that has been in business for over twenty years and couldn't afford for things to go wrong. btw After the installation, it turned out that when the engineer presented me with the bill, he did not have the facility for accepting credit cards and so I paid by cheque.

Although the dishwasher is slimline, it holds 9 Place Settings, has a smart design with soft contours and a nice work top that make the whole thing inviting to use. Before the order arrived, a friend advised me over the phone to check both machines upon delivery. She once had a new appliance delivered that had been scratched in transit, refused delivery and it was replaced with another. Scratches may appear no big deal at first sight to unfussy delivery men, but a year later any scratch will turn rusty, start flaking and eat the enamel away.

When the machines arrived, I expected to see them in polystyrene wrappings for protection during transit. There were no wrappings. The instruction manuals and guarantees for both machines were not in plastic bags or presented as part of any "welcome" pack - they were photocopies, stapled together. I was a little perturbed there was nothing to tell me the machines were brand new.

The two delivery men worked so quickly, they had installed the freezer in its space before I had a chance to check for dents or scratches. While the dishwasher was parked in the middle of the kitchen awaiting its plumbing, I checked the outer casing and opened the door. I was surprised to see the plumbing gear sitting in the top tray with no wrappings or ties and the inside of the machine was wet with droplets of water inside the door like it had just been used. I pointed this out to the installers. One chap joked they had used it for their tea cups and a load of old rusty pots. I joked back that they'd better not be trying to palm me off with a second hand machine. They said it was normal for dishwashers to be tested at the factory before shipping.

The installer was here for two hours because he had to fit an extra pipe through the back of three kitchen cupboards to reach underneath the sink. He did a neat job and tested the machine and explained how it worked.

After using the dishwasher twice, which works great, I became apprehensive about the freezer because of its noise. I could hear it shuddering from here, in another room, and while trying to sleep. After reading its manual I felt reassured as it said to expect noise for up to two months while it settled down. Yesterday, I noticed it had been silent for most of the day so I was relieved my fears were unfounded.

Last night, I used the dishwasher for the third time. Ten minutes into its cycle, a rather loud clunk sounded. Ophelia sat up with eyes as wide as saucers. I know what she was thinking: a cat was banging on the catflap trying to get in. (I keep it locked because the wind makes it blow open). She could have been right, or a plate or something in the dishwasher could have become dislodged. It didn't seem true because I had filled the machine neatly and carefully all week - even rinsing everything first (!) and ensuring it was not overloaded.

After it had completed its cycle, I opened the door to see what had dislodged. Everything was perfectly in place. Got the manual out again and spent two hours googling for dishwasher symptoms. If the clunking noise did belong to the machine, it did not bode well. Ophelia was right, the noise must have been the catflap?

Just before going to bed, as I reached into the cupboard above the dishwasher for Ophelia's nightcap of fishy treats, I felt the tip of my sock getting wet. Looked down to see a patch on the carpet. I bent down to feel the carpet, it was wet on the left and right side of the machine. And I saw a 12" long scratch in the enamel at the base of the machine ..... grrr

At 8.30 this morning I phoned Hotpoint. They are sending an engineer here tomorrow morning. The manual says there is a 90-day guarantee on exchanges and refunds and a 1-year guarantee covering labour and parts plus a 4-year guarantee that covers parts only. Depending on what the engineer says, I may request for the machine to be replaced with the same model.

The only other thing I can think that could have gone wrong, that I shall tell the engineer, is that I used FINISH 3-in-one-tablets for the machine instead of GLIST 3-in-one-tablets recommended in the manual. FINISH does not list Hotpoint as one of the machines it recommends for its power ball tablets. If anyone else has had this experience, please let me know.

UPDATE Dec. 30: Good news is there is nothing wrong with the dishwasher. Loud clunking noise was the soap dispenser snapping open. scratch is not a scratch but a scuff mark (probably from the vacuum cleaner). Leaking water came from jubilee clips that was fitted during installation. Bad news is the Hotpoint engineer couldn't touch it. He said I had to call the shop. Their installer will be here tomorrow afternoon to assess it. Seems the only likely outcome will be that the machine will have to be moved to the other side of the kitchen, next to the washing machine which will probably mean my having to call out a local plumber to lay some pipes on top of the £100 I have already paid to have the machine installed.
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Yee-har! Texas today is admitted as the 28th US state after a period as an independent republic. The 'Lone Star State' has had a difficult birth mostly due to its proximity to Mexico, a situation that resulted in one of the most famous battles of US history - the Alamo.
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Note previous post here below has various updates.