Don’t call me DOM

18 August 2005

Could you please remove that needle?

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(this was originally posted to a Team-only mailing list; it crosses some of the boundaries I usually reserve to my personal Web site, but I figured now it’s written up in English, I could as well publish it here)

Dear Voodoo Practitioner,

Whoever you are, could you please remove that needle from the doll made to my effigy? Don’t deny it, I know you’ve done it, for some reason.

My suspicions started last month, during my first week of vacation in Normandy: whenever we tried to visit some of the numerous castles or museums there, we always got there at the exact time they were closing, or on the exceptional closed day they were observing. But I preferred to conclude we were not well organized enough, back then.

Then, when we went in Ireland for our second week of vacation, it didn’t seem natural that they would lose our luggage during a 3 hours connection. Nor did it look very normal that, coming from a sunny 35°C south of France, we would arrive in a very rainy 12°C Dublin – without our warm clothes since they were stuck in the sus-mentioned luggage.

That the sunniest days of my stay in Ireland were the 3 days of our QA Working Group face-to-face when we were stuck in a meeting room didn’t occur to me as anything but bad timing.

But my doubts re-arose when, leaving for a 20 min journey to the airport, it took 90 minutes to get there, making me miss my flight. Although I first thought I was the only one to be blamed to have been too optimistic in my times calculations, the fact that I could get a new flight to Paris, but no connection to Marseille was already making me feel something was wrong. And when I learned in Paris that they had lost my luggage again, I wasn’t really surprised anymore.

Having taken the train back to Toulon the following day, I was already enjoying the idea to take the boat shuttle back to the apartment I had left 2 weeks before – the boat being the most convenient public transportation to get where I live from the train station. I couldn’t believe the curse had followed me down to Toulon, where 200 people were gathered to get the very same boat as I, knowing that one such boat cannot take more than 100 persons. When a taxi finally got me back home, I thought that maybe ending my travel would end the voodoo power that was on me.

Until yersterday morning. We were having friends for dinner last night, and for various reasons, we couldn’t get anything ready to receive them before yesterday morning, and I said I would get a few things to eat during my lunch break. As I realized I had forgotten my credit card in my wife’s bag, and that I had spent my last check the day before, I thought I would be getting cash from my 2nd rarely used bank account. I wasn’t quite sure what the PIN for this card was, but thought I would try the 2 ideas I had in mind, knowing that the card would be kept by the ATM if I did 3 wrong trials.

Getting to my car to that end, I see that the gas tank was empty. I figured that I would get more cash from my card and full the tank while I was out. Going to the ATM, I do my 2 unsuccessful trials, and get a message that my card has been withdrawn due to 3 wrong numbers. Fumbling, I get back home, hoping to get my card back 30 minutes later when the bank opens.

30 minutes later at the bank, I learn that my card wouldn’t be available before 2 more days. Realizing that I could actually get cash from them without my credit card (but for some ridiculously high fee), I decided to get enough cash to put fuel in my car, and maybe even eventually buying food for dinner. Going to the gas station, I realize that the tank is really close to empty as the motor starts behaving weirdly and I’m very glad when I arrive there just in time.

As I start filling my tank, I get some drops of fuel on my foot. I thought at first that I had somehow put the fuel-thingy in a wrong way, until I realized the fuel was coming directly from my tank. It had obviously been pierced while we were away – probably due to the skyrocketing prices of fuel in France.

So, dear Voodoo Practitioner, if you were experimenting on me to see whether voodoo was really working, could you now stop that experiment? It does indeed work.

Well, almost, that is. It didn’t prevent me from enjoying absolutely great summer vacations, neither from doing my first trials at paragliding, scuba diving and parachuting, nor my sister to have her first baby in good health two days ago.

OK; scratch that. Maybe losing luggage and having a pierced tank is worth it, if somehow there needs to be a balance between good and bad stuff that happens to you. Actually, could you maybe add a needle or two?

Picture of Dominique Hazael-MassieuxDominique Hazaël-Massieux ( is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Staff; his interests cover a number of Web technologies, as well as the usage of open source software in a distributed work environment.