Saturday, February 28, 2009

Party time, a few days late

This evening we went to a wonderful Mardi Gras party: we dropped the children off at a friends place (her daughter is one of Boo and James' best friends) and off LOML and I went. A lovely time: our host had invited an eclectic mix of people, and including his grandchildren, there were probably people from 2 to 82 (I'm certain of the lower limit: the upper limit may have been higher).
It's so strange: that's two weeks running LOML and I have managed to go out together for the evening, albeit for just a couple of hours or so --- it's so nice! Who knows, maybe we can make a regular thing of this!

Yours, confused by this new experience!

Friday, February 27, 2009


Boo learned to ride her bicycle without training wheels about 9 months ago, I think: I could go back and check the blog, but it's not that important. The thing is, she still likes to have training wheels on sometimes.
And Skibo is catching up really quickly: he's just about ready to take that hint, the "if you are falling to the left, turn the wheel that way" which Boo took to heart one day last year, and after which she suddenly learned to ride.
And then, woe betide us: we'll have not control over either of them!

Yours, ready to take off the training wheels,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hundreds of applications

How do you sort through hundreds of applications? To choose just nine? What is the most effective, efficient, pleasant way to sort out the ones you want, from the ones you don't? And to do it fast enough that you can persuade the ones you want to want you too?
That is my current task. And dilemma. But we're through a first pass on them, nearly: and we've all but chosen a good number to make offers to. So, soon. Soon.

Yours, drowning in pdf files, but thankful most of it is not paper,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Randomly donating origami

I've taken to carrying memo cube paper in my pockets, and doodling away with origami wherever I am. And as a consequence, today I gave away to random strangers, friends and acquaintances tiny T-Rex's, taught a friend to fold a crane, proseletysed about how origami enhances math skills, and made a general, if pleasant, nuisance of myself all over the place:-)

Your, extolling the folds,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Not the State of the Union address

I understand that the rule is that it can't be the SOTU, but it makes no sense to me: Obama came out and reported on the sorry state of the union, and gave some ideas as to how to improve it. He was good, he was composed, he was lyrical, and he sold his ideas. To judge by the audience monitor lines on the tube, he sold to both sides of the political divide across the country.

Jindal, on the other hand, seemed a poor choice of respondant. And he flat-lined at neutral among democrats. He rambled on about how during Katrina he encouraged a sheriff to ignore regulations, and took that as a message that government's role is subordinate to everything else. Somehow, I think that the perfect response to him would be a short address:
"Yes, Governor Jindal, government failed New Orleans before, during, and after Katrina. But that is not an argument against government, it is an argument against giving over government to those who do not believe it can be effective for good!"

I'm left hopeful by Obama's message tonight, but fearful by the Republican response.

Yours, thinking about mixed blessing,

Monday, February 23, 2009


I've been folding quite a bit recently, especially since I'm teaching it once a week: and thought that I would post pictures of a few recent pieces I've folded.

The first is Robert Lang's Valentine, which I folded, semi-successfully for LOML on Valentine's day: not bad, but I did have to fudge a few of the last detail folds in the arrow. The second is a snipe from the same book (Bugs and Birds in Origami). The last is a four-star Montroll spider: my first semi-successful attempt at a four star model.

Yours, on display,

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Road to reality

Not only did Mike Leigh give a shout-out/shout-down to Roger Penrose's magnificent opus "Road to Reality", the Oscars chose to show that scene! And the Oscar went to.... someone else....

Yours, whispering "sorry, Roger",

Things break

I know things break. And buying new things, or fixing old things, is a good idea in this economy: it will fix the thing, or replace it, and it will stimulate the economy.
And we are not is such bad shakes that we can't replace or fix things. But still, it would be nice if the things breaking were things like can openers and vegetable peelers, rather than dishwashers and stoves. And it would be nice if said appliances didn't choose to break within a small number of weeks of each other.

Yours, in need of a fix,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Birthday parties

One of the things about having small children is that there are suddenly many many more birthday parties to go to. Many more. And mostly, while some sort of parental attendance is desirable, it is not desirable for the parents:-)

Today was different: a party for the grandson of friends of ours who moved away a few years ago: he was turning seven, and for various reasons they decided to have the party at a (rather large) cabin at a local lake: a lovely event: there were six children, ages ranging from two to ten or so, and they all played beautifully, running round the cabin, through the woods, going fishing, etc. And the grownups, ranging in age from low twenties to mid eighties got chances to catch up on old town gossip, on how people were doing, etc (yes, in that order).

All in all, it was a day which had shown potential to be just okay, ho-hum, and it turned out to be absolutely delightful.

Yours, always pleased when things turn out that way,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Give Jindal his due

He's showing some consistency: he says he opposes government spending, and so he's refusing to take millions of dollars in assistance from the Federal government to pay for unemployment cheques for Louisiana workers.
He seems to be doing this as a ploy to garner the Republican nomination for president in 2012: but it seems rather short sighted. First, I don't know what the recall process is like in Louisiana, but it seems entirely likely that a stunt like this could get him recalled. Second, even if he wins the nomination, there are two possibilities: the stimulus works, and Obama gets re-elected: or the stimulus doesn't work, perhaps a republican wins: but what then?

I have to say, perhaps he might want to try something other than rejecting this package: perhaps he could exorcise the demons from the economy?

Yours, exercised, if not exorcised,

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Road trip possibility

It looks like we may be making a little road trip soon: there's a couple of exhibits on in Atlanta, at the High Museum of Art, and both LOML and I are jonesing to see them. First, the Tutankhamen exhibit (I saw it thriftysive years ago when it first came to London), and second, the Terracotta soldiers from China. We may make a couple of days of it, and go to the (relatively) new aquarium too: it's apparently stunning.

Yours, culturally speaking, I want to be a Petri dish,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I'm a mediocre, perhaps a little better, folder. I can make simple and intermediate models well, and sometimes I can do a decent job of folding a high-intermdiate/low-complex model okay. And I'm getting better: folding every day helps, as does teaching children and others.
But today, for the first time, I folded a four-star Montroll model: his spider from his book of birds and bugs in origami. Perhaps the most complex model I've ever folded, but of the complex models I've tried, perhaps the easiest. Still, I did it!
And the result looked a lot like it was supposed to.
I'd post a picture, but it rapidly got given to the children, and I've no idea where it is (or, for that matter, whether it is still folded!)

After I've folded it a few times, perhaps then I'll post a picture.

Yours, temporarily proud,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Children and menus

Sometimes, it is frustrating. Sometimes it just makes me laugh.
But at the moment, with Boo (6) and Skibo (4) we have no guarantee that either child will eat any particular thing that we put on their plates. It does discourage us from experimenting with new things, and we are delighted when we make something they get excited about.
Actually, the past few days we've been pretty lucky: Skibo insists he doesn't like pasta: but with encouragement he ate a plate of mac and cheese (Anna Thomas "Vegetarian Epicure version) on Friday, a plate of linguini with smoked salmon in a wine, cream, shallot and dill reduction sauce on Saturday: Sunday he ate linguini with a bolognese-style sauce (no minced veal, but a mix of ground beef and pork). And he and Boo insisted yesterday and today that since there was sauce left, they wanted "the same thing as yesterday". Thankfully, the sauce is now finished, and so LOML and I will not get completely bored with it.
Tomorrow I'm planning to put some dough together before I leave for work, let it rise in the fridge, and we'll have pizza for dinner. Finally, a day without pasta.

Yours, cutting and pasta-ing,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Try, try, try

try, try, try, try, try again....

LOML has been volunteering at the elementary school, writing grants, teaching science, etc. And I'm acting as tech support. As part of the latest grant, which needs to be put in the mail tomorrow, we've just spent days, literally days, working to transfer a video from a DVD to a computer, from the VOB files to editable WMV files, getting them captioned, all put together into one video file, written to DVD, uploaded to the web, etc.

At various times, we could have given up. And at various times, we did, but each time, we looked at each other and said "let's try another time". It took wrangling several different software packages, fighting counterintuitive interfaces, much cursing, cussing, swearing and worse, but finally, an hour or two ago, the project was done.

LOML can stick it in the mail tomorrow. All that I can say is this: LOML's done a wonderful job on this project, and if they fail to give the school the grant, then they deserve all the curses I'll throw their way!

Yours, cussed out, for now,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

DVDed we fail

I spent the day (well, less than half of my waking hours, but not by much) trying to figure out how to help LOML. Specifically, how to get video recorded by a sony video camera onto a DVD into a format that I could edit: that is, how to go from a VOB file to an AVI or WMV file.
I found solutions, several, but not one of them worked well. The one that came closest changed all the colours to a dark shade of drab, and refused to produce any audio. Others gave great sound, but not even a grayscale still image, let alone a movie. All in all, a very frustrating, very very very frustrating day. Hard to be someone's go-to on computing issues and get defeated that way. Over and over again. Both on linux and windows. By open source, shareware and commercial software.

Yours, in need of a soundproofed room,

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sheer brilliance

(at least, if you know what a Sierpinski gasket is, this is absolutely wonderful).
, comics for the thinking mind.

Yours, inspired,

Friday, February 13, 2009


To follow up on the Darwin-Lincoln joint birthdays, this year is the 400th anniversary of the telescope. The anniversary of looking up, and wondering, with a chance of steadily improving the experiments one could perform to understand the world.

Nice convergence. Or coincidence.

Yours, coincidentally,

Events like just now

make me even more impressed by Sully's amazing river crash-landing in the Hudson. As saddened as I am to hear that the plane crashed into a house, and that it appears that there are many dead --- about 50 or so --- it sharpens even more my appreciation of what he did. If he'd not had the ability to bring the plane down away from buildings, if he'd crashed into a high-rise, it could have been disastrous.

Yours, in praise of Sully, in spite of the sadness of this moment,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthdays!

Two biggies today: both would be 200. Happy birthday, Abe Lincoln and Charles Darwin!

Yours, in celebration,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

That gratitude post

That post I messed up about gratitude: I've just had someone do me an enormous favour: something that costs little, makes me very happy, and might upset a corporate mindset which doesn't see the little details which make up a big picture.
And the favour was done purely because someone, who doesn't know me at all, decided to do me said big favour. All I can say is that there is nice in the world, and if someday I can be less cryptic about how nice the favour was, I will. But for now, to keep the secret, let me just say

Yours, in obscure, but heartfelt gratitude,

Having difficulties accessing my blog

I can't seem to load my blog. I wonder if anyone else has noticed?
I only noticed because I was wondering what rubbish I'd written recently....

Yours, inaccessibly,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


For various reasons, the following will be obscure: I'm in a circumstance in which I wanted to

Hmmm.... this was where the system died on me. And the rest of my post is currently just as obscure to me as it is to the rest of you.
I wonder what I was grateful for....

Yours, in premature dementia, perhaps?

Monday, February 9, 2009


A modest proposal. Let's sign up all the Republicans on facebook, and then while they're too busy checking on old friends, finding out who is where and what is going on, we can pass a real stimulus package without any need for cloture fussing.

Yours, distracted,

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fifty, forty five, who's counting?

It's no longer to the day --- this way if I'm off by a day I can claim I never claimed "to the day" --- but there were two memorable events fifty and forty five years ago: deaths, and a rebirth in popular music. The day the music died, and the day that everything was revitalized --- in the US, that is.

Yours, in commemoration and celebration,

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Some days seem full of nothing

That's not necessarily a bad thing: a day to unwind can be very useful.

Yours, winding down for the day, ready to wind up for a week that, unfortunately, involved being at work at 9am tomorrow morning....

Yours, ready for spring,

Friday, February 6, 2009

I need to refocus

At least, I need to consider what this blog is about. It was about bread. And, in many ways, bread is still a huge part of my life, who I am. But clearly, if you read my posts from the past few months, origami is just as big --- if not bigger.
But in spite of that --- I am not just a kneader or a folder. And so I need to sit down with myself and figure out what it is I want to say, and about what.

Yours, very unfocused,

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Certainly, job creation spending is important. But stimulus is not just about job creation. It's about enough money flowing in the rivers and canals and sewers of the economy that things work again. And yes, some of the spending will look very wasteful. Just as sewers look like they're full of sh*t. In truth, they are. Want to do without them?

Yours, probably equally full of it,

Honeybees are good

As is a package which includes, amongst other things, honeybee insurance.

Yours, sweetly,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So much for shuttle diplomacy...

Apparently, the US Women's Badminton squad was to play against Iran, in Iran: they'd even made the audience "women only", so that the players on both sides wouldn't have to wear floor length clothes and keep their heads covered during play.
But today, it's all off: the Iranian government decided to refuse them visas. Weird. Just weird.

Yours, wondering what the politics behind the scenes in Iran mean,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Teaching folding

Tonight was the fourth class in the math/folding course: and something magical happened: I suggested towards the end of the evening (it's a three hour class!) that we should have some free-folding, and pulled out a bunch of books for them to pick models from: spontaneously, two of my students immediately went over to the five who started the course late, and have never folded before, to help them.
And by the end of the class, the five had learned a lot more, and were catching up fast:-)

Yours, loving it when the taught become the teachers,

Monday, February 2, 2009

Not exactly what I meant

This is not exactly what I was suggesting in terms of wardrobe malfunction.
Apparently, with about three minutes to go in the game, a Tucson cable provider abruptly switched the feed from the Superbowl to a porn station. For about 30 seconds, subscribers were "treated" to graphic pornography. Then back to the game.

Yours, (a/be)mused,

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bring back wardrobe malfunctions

If this is the quality of the ads in the Super Bowl, I say bring back wardrobe malfunctions. Bud Light throws someone out of the window, Audi crashes vehicles in a nasty fashion, and now Doritos throw Magic 8 Ball-type crystal balls at vending machines and people. Ugly.

Yours, disturbed,