Another Artiss, please step forward

Sometime late last week (may have been Friday. Or Thursday) I hit upon the idea of looking up my surname in the Skype directory. Found two people with Artiss as a surname so added them into Skype, with the hope that they’d talk. And one has.

Joseph D. Artiss, from Windsor in Canada, Vice President of ArtJen Complexus Holdings Corp.

He’s shed some further light onto our surname. Now, David J Artiss from the US had mentioned to me in the past that he believed the surname came from the Artois family in France. Now, without me saying anything to him about that, here’s Joseph Artiss’ take (with my own comments in red)…

It is our understanding that we were silk merchants in Artois France, although we do try to keep the French part hidden.

As the story goes, we ran amouk [amok?] of the local duke and we escaped to England. My father emigrated to Canada from Petaugh (sw England) when he was 1 year old. He always claimed that the escapees anglosized the name to Artis and in Canada people spelt it with 2 s’s so my grandfather just went with the flow and we became Artiss. I hope that that helps.

At the time being French in England was a really bad thing so I imagine that Anglosizing names was a fairly common thing. I remember when I was 14 my parents took me on a pilgramage to Petaugh (sorry I am not certain of the spelling but I think that it is near Ippswich) [Pettaugh is in Suffolk, which is SE England. But near Ipswich], we found distant cousins there but I can’t remember if they were Artiss’ or not. It may be that they were Gunn’s as my father’s stepsister’s maiden name was Gunn.

The information on the French connection actually came from a book some time ago so I cannot give you the reference. It may be that we are related or it may be that everybody that fled that area were called Artois.

He sounds to be a very busy man, but I must get in contact again to try and find his family details.

..And It's Gone

I only realised today that maybe describing the weekend as “looming” was a bit negative. In fact I meant the opposite – and it’s Monday, which is very, very depressing.

I got a little tipsy Friday night, played a lot of Lego Star Wars and Liberty City Stories. Then Luis broke out a Megadrive that he’d bought that very evening. With Sonic. Bliss.

Saturday I was hungover. And I hadn’t drank THAT much – it’s just been a while since I drank generally. The shed roof idea went to pot. Sunday it rained so the shed didn’t get looked at again. Early Saturday morning, unable to sleep more than 5 hours, I made loads of changes to my various websites. Which then broke them. So 9am on Saturday morning, hungover, I was fixing, desperately, PHP files. Grrr.

One other “fun” thing that happened Friday night was my car breaking down. I drove up to Luis’ house, having promised to take his girlfriend and her friend to a nearby town, we got into the car and… nothing. Lights were on but nothing was at home. The key turned to the sound of nothingness. Not even a click. Embarrassed, my friends found an alternative lift and I rang my Tesco breakdown services. An hour I was told. Good drinking time wasted, but never mind. I tried the car a couple more times and it was just the same. After about 40 minutes it suddenly started. I thought I’d wait for the breakdown guys to appear anyway, in case there was anything they could fix (or at least find to explain what happened). But after 70 minutes, no one was in site. And it was raining. So I rang Tesco and cancelled.

Luis thought my starter motor may have stuck (a suggestion that members of a Renault forum have agreed with). Anyway, I parked my car in a local pub park (my breakdown doesn’t cover me for home starts, which is why I left it about a mile from my house). Saturday morning I picked it up and it’s been fine since.

I have been advised to check the leads and general connectors to the starter motor, though, just in case one is lose. All I need to do now is work out where the damn starter motor is…

Meantime, I spent much of the weekend, instead of fixing shed roofs, playing Lego Star Wars 2. Again. I’m at 60%+ with invulnerability.

Now, will someone remind me to sort out my Blog labels. Oh, and those links at the top of the page. Must do it, must do it…

Other than that, my plan for today is to thoroughly check my websites for any other issues I might have caused.

Another Weekend Looms

It’s Friday and the weekend is looming.

Behind on many jobs that I need to get done around the house, particularly pressing is replacing the felt roof on my shed. It blew off in the summer and I tacked it back. I now have the materials but the shed is in a corner of the garden, with a wall tightly around it. I think the original owners built it and then moved it into place. God only knows how I’m going to get around the roof to get the felt all nailed down.

Anyway, it must be done.

So, sure enough, the weather this weekend is due to be… rainy. As it is right now. Actually, no, right now it’s lashing it down with rain and there’s lightning occasionally flashing through the windows. Pah. Typical. It’s got to be done before the winter, though.

Meantime, my mate Luis has arranged for us to go a-boozing tonight. I hope the hangover isn’t too bad or I won’t get anything done this weekend!


They tell us to make our online banking access more secure, but remembering yet another password is forever becoming a more and more tricky business.

Personally, I prefer to use software as a password manager. An Excel spreadsheet is one solution, but it’s not a very good one.

I have been using Password Safe. But call me shallow, but I didn’t get along with the look of it. It did, though, do everything I wanted – an ability to save my encrypted passwords onto a removable drive (so I can use it at work and home), being able to categorise my passwords into distinct groups and the ability to generate strong random passwords (you may as well make them tough if something like this is going to go to the trouble of remembering it for you).

Today I’ve come across an alternative and it’s a cracker – KeePass. It even let me port password from Password Safe into it (although I had to downgrade my copy of Password Safe from 3.02 to 2.16 before I could do this).

What both have in common is that they’re open source and totally free. You can’t argue with that.

Become an Organ Donor

Right now more than 8,000 people in the UK are in desperate need of an organ transplant. Around 400 of them will die this year and many more will lose their lives before they are registered for a transplant.

But you can help.

Think about whether you want to give the gift of life and help someone live after your death. And if you do, you can join the NHS Organ Donor Register online or by phoning 0845 60 60 400.

One Cup Cafetiere

smart_cafe_mug_cafetiereAs an IT geek it’s my duty, I feel, to drink coffee and to do so from anything other than your standard porcelain mug.

So, I use a one-cup Cafetiere. It’s plastic so looks and feels naff but I’ve convinced at least 2 people at work to buy them, and many others are envious of the coffee aromas drifting from my desk. It quite literally is a proper cafetiere – you fill it with “proper” ground coffee, leave hot water swishing about inside it for 10 minutes and then press the plunger.

The only problem I’ve found, long term, is the rubber seal around the outside of the “plunger” wearing after a while – coffee grounds then start to seep through into the coffee. At this point it’s time to buy another!

And a bargain at only £5, from Cookware Online, amongst other places. You know you want one.


It’s plastic and doesn’t look particularly pretty, but it makes a damn decent cup of coffee for not much money!

And the winner was…

Ok, I was wrong. The wedding wasn’t a struggle. But then I said I wasn’t going to drink, and I did. Conversation flowed, laughs were had and it all turned out well in the end.

And any best mans speech that can start, “I’ll admit to being a bit nervous. This isn’t the first time today I’ve got up from a warm seat with some paper in my hand”, deserves a salute. Rob, I salute you.

And the groom turned up in a bright red Ferrari.

Wedding Names

“So what are you doing with your weekend”, I hear you cry? Aside from punctuating things badly (see my previous post, and I notice the witch-queen Lynne Truss has launched a website asking for people to send examples of bad grammar), I’m off to a wedding tomorrow.

I seem to have got to a point in life where I either don’t want to drink at all or need to drink in excess. Anything less just leaves me with a headache. And as I don’t know many people at the wedding, and are getting a lift from my parents-in-law-to-be, then I’m going the non-drinking route. So that means I won’t be dancing either (I have to be drunk to dance). At least I get a free meal out of it and ideas for my own wedding ;o)

Not really V&J (if you’re reading this) – but, let’s be honest, a room full of people you don’t know and you’re stone-cold sober isn’t the most fun ways to spend an evening. Maybe they’ll surprise me.

Anyway, their wedding has reminded me of something. When I created a website for my own wedding, I referred to it as “David and Jens” wedding. I knew someone would comment on the order of the names and I wasn’t wrong. Jen doesn’t have an issue with it – to me I did it because it’s alphabetical and seems to “flow” better that way round. I don’t know if there’s a standard way of ordering names, but it usually seems to be alphabetical.

Of course, all my arguing leads to nothing because they simply refer to the aforementioned wedding of “Vikki and Jon”. You can’t win.

Anyway, I’ve booked work off on Monday because I desperately need some sleep and general rest (the only holiday I’ve had in months was a week with the family, with 9 children. And that’s not a rest in anyones book). Now, what to do…. I’ll certainly Blog and let you know how the wedding goes. Fingers crossed!

Useful Grammar Checks

The following check list should help you with your grammar. It’s certainly made my grammar what it is today.

  1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat)
  6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  7. Be more or less specific.
  8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  10. No sentence fragments.
  11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
  12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  14. One should NEVER generalize.
  15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  19. The passive voice is to be ignored.
  20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
  21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
  22. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  23. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
  24. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  25. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
  26. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
  27. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  28. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  29. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  30. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  31. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Broken Stik

It was great to hear that my good friend, Stikwaiver, is getting better.

Fellow theatre performer, musical director and dance-floor diva, John has been suffering badly from headaches. Scans showed he’d had a number of “mini strokes” (unbeknown to himself).

Lots of exercise and healthy eating later and… he’s still got the headaches and hasn’t lost any weight. Hmmm. But apparently he’s on the road to wellville.

You can read more on this on his own blog.

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