Friday, November 30, 2007

How the times have changed!

Last week or so I heard a story from Riverdale, Georgia (just south of Atlanta, close enough to be a commuter suburb): apparently there was an election there earlier this month for city council, and there has been a fight over one of the results.

The fight is over whether Michelle Bruce committed fraud by running as Michelle rather than as Mike. The amazing thing is that the deep south used to be very intolerant, and a huge story would have been a trans(vestite,gendered) person even running: the fact that now the story is not that she ran, but that she won, running openly as a woman who was once a man, and is now being sued, the gist of the suit being she gained an unfair advantage by running that way, this fact is unbelievable.

Whether or not Michele Bruce wins, there is hope yet for tolerance in the south!

Yours, delighted by this story,

A bad crash, but the results could be worse

On Monday evening, even though LOML and I heard nothing, we noticed a convergence of emergency vehicles at the corner of the lot behind our house --- it turned out that an SUV had run a stop sign, perhaps thinking it to be a 4-way rather than a 2-way stop: it had overturned, and within minutes it was aflame. Blazing. I didn't realise that vehicles could actually do that in reality.
This evening I saw one of the local volunteer firefighters, and asked him about it: I am very relieved to discover that nobody was badly hurt: the driver of the SUV even escaped with a few cuts and bruises.
LOML and I are discussing lobbying to get the intersection changed to a 4-way stop (LOML did the same for the next intersection over a few years ago, and it has made a tremendous difference to driving patterns in front of our house!)

Yours, very relieved, but still fired up,


We went to Lowes, a big home and garden chain, because I remembered that they had had nice trees the past few years --- and sure enough, the trees were much nicer, and much cheaper, than at the other places we'd visited. I feel bad that we are not buying a tree from the charity group we usually go to, but I'd rather write them a cheque for $20 and come out $20 ahead, and have a much nicer, bigger tree.

All in all, LOML and I agree --- it is the nicest tree we've had yet!

Photos will follow, but they need taking and down and up loading first....

Yours, branching out,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas tree

With the Christmas parade, and hence our party, coming up in just over a week, LOML and I had decided that today was the day that we should go and get a tree: much as we would love to get a real tree and then replant it, we have not got the time, money, energy or land at the moment to do that.
And unfortunately, a real tree is a really big part of Christmas for me: LOML grew up with fake ones, and would be more than happy to go that route, but I really really don't want to do it.

Just as unfortunately, this year trees are in somewhat shorter supply: the growers were hit by the droughts of the past few years, and so quantity of trees seems down, and the price is up. In the end, we found a few trees that we like, or could put up with, but the ones that we liked were more than we want to pay... so we are going to look again tomorrow afternoon.

Yours, needlessly needle-lessly needled,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Installing operating systems

Emboldened by my (heavily assisted) success on Monday, I decided to upgrade the version of Fedora on the desktop machine at home today. It is amazing how much slower a six year old desktop is than a new laptop:-) It took about three times as long just for the installation process (not counting my slowness and uncertainty at setting the process going). But it's done, and it's needed doing for months, years even, so I feel good about that.
And the files that I accidentally wiped out? Well, at least they weren't critical ones.
Not hugely so.

Yours, a mixed blessing,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I love cooking

and most of the time I love food too --- but sometimes.....

This evening we went over to friends to eat: friends who seem to make a concerted effort not to come over here to eat (we live about twenty minutes apart, which makes it just inconvenient enough to be a pain). But they are friends, and their son and Skibo are close in age and friends, and Boo likes him too, so we like going over there, even if they won't come over here.

But the food. If I may call it that. Meatballs from a frozen meatball bag: tomato sauce from a jar, and pasta, cooked to al-soggie. Oh, and garlic bread, from a bag, from the store. Such a shame.

Oh well, we had fun anyway:-) And the food fed my rumbly tumbly, the stomach sounds which help keep the monsters away for the children, so some good may come of it all....

Yours, with a rumbly tumbly,

Monday, November 26, 2007

What I'm listening to right now

is Zoe Lewis' "Snail Road", and then Peggy Seeger's "Darling Annie": but that's not the important thing! The important thing is that I'm listening to it on my laptop! Finally, music is back in my life (if not on the road or when walking... but that will come sometime soon....)

Yours, in time,

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Warning, technical phrases ahead

I finally figured out how to pass the correct boot-time arguments to the kernel when booting the Fedora Live disk, and so now I know that the upcoming upgrade will fix my sound problems. In other words, even though I still have a non-functioning mp3 player, I'll be able to listen to music on my laptop.

Thus inspired, I decided to take the bull by the horns and attempt an upgrade of my system: unfortunately, the upgrade process (even though it is the obvious one that a clueless user like me would like to take, avoiding the process of partioning and formatting drives) is one that is not advised. I tried it a few times, and each time, it hangs: for hours, if I let it. At the same point. Oh well, I thought, on to a clean and fresh install: unfortunately, it was only somewhat clear which partitions needed reformatting, and which have all my important information on (insufficiently backed-up, I might add), and since a reinstall is something that I do only once or so a year, I am never really practiced at what to do.

Never mind. I've cried "Wolf" for my guru at work to help:-) I may have to offer a meal, or two, but I'm happy to do that in exchange for a little hand-holding!

Yours, softly humming "I want to hold your hand" (the PC version).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I do love a parade

We live, as I may have said, stressed, or even over-emphasized, in a small southern town: and there are some really nice benefits to living here: among them, everybody knows everybody, and when we throw big parties, they are still manageably small. Well, the latter isn't true, but....

Anyway, every year we have a Christmas parade, between fifty and a hundred vehicles dressed up in holiday best, carrying local pols, busily waving at the folks who elected them, marching bands from the high, middle and low schools, and lots of folks throwing bad candy to the gathered throngs.

Some of us are fortunate enough to live on the parade route, and for the first year or two we lived here, we watched from our front porch: then we discovered that there were two neighbours who alternated throwing a lovely party, got ourselves invited, and ever since have watched the parade from their respective houses.

This year, one of the hosts has decided that it is too much work for them this year, and we've been asked to come in as once-every-three-years co-hosts (though I suspect that this may end up eventually being every other year!) Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, LOML and I are constitutionally incapable of saying "no" when asked to throw a party, and so this year, it's back to our front porch:-)

Yours, celebrating this, four hundred posts, and all!

Christmas party --- are we invited (to be organizers)?
Christmas parade

Parade party menu

Now we have to think about what to make for our parade party: typically the weather is cool, but not frigid: between freezing and 50 Fahrenheit, say: our co-hosts usually provide an un-spiked cider, plus a liberal quantity of spikes: so on the drinks side, we are considering either mulled wine or eggnog (so we'll probably go for both!). The eggnog recipe is my adaptation of one I've made many times, from the Joy of Cooking: among my secret modifications, I add a liberal amount of espresso --- not enough to taste the flavour, but enough to taste that it is different.
On the food front, since it is a co-hosted party, we have to work hard not to go overboard! Sausage rolls are a must, and perhaps scotch eggs, though they are intimidating to do in the sorts of quantities required. Focaccia, of course: a rosemary, a salt, an onion, and perhaps an olive one: nothing too heavy, since it is a mid-afternoon thing, but at the same time, we want to have people leave feelin good....

Yours, tossing ideas, not salads,

Christmas is coming

the goose is getting fat...

Friday night, our little town came together for the lighting of the Christmas "Tree" --- we used to have a lovely shaped, live tree in the center of the green on the town square, but unfortunately some folks decided that we'd be better off chopping it down, and putting up a bigger, but reusable fake tree. It's pretty enough, and it is huge, but I miss the real thing. And the fact that they cut down a lovely tree in the process really hurts.
The lighting itself was fun, except for the fact that there needed to be a line for the children to sit on Santa, and that line didn't exist until Boo and Skibo got close --- and then it was formed on the other side. Rather than staying, the children decided that they wanted a movie night, so we came home and had popcorn and watched "Olive, the other reindeer" (a lovely movie, if you haven't seen it!)

I'm not completely into the Christmas spirit yet --- but I'm definitely getting there: this weekend I have to sit down with Boo and Skibo, and help her spell her words in her letter to Santa, and take dictation from Skibo, who at 3 isn't yet ready to write, or even trace his letter.

Yours, spiritedly,

Friday, November 23, 2007


I stood on the scales yesterday, and was surprised to discover that, after eating a full thanksgiving dinner, I had lost more than 20 pounds.
Unfortunately, I believe that the scales are broken, and hence I am more likely to lose more than 20 dollars in the near future than 20 pounds.

Yours, lightheartedly,

Thursday, November 22, 2007


A happy thanksgiving to all, especially those in the US who celebrate it, and everyone else, who doesn't! Hope that everyone can find something to be grateful for today....

Yours, gratitudinally unchallenged,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

At the last minute

This morning, one of our friends called --- we had been invited to Thanksgiving at their house, but wanted a quieter time of it this year (last year they had about 25 people for a late-lunch/early-dinner feast) --- to ask if our children had come down with the preschool lurgey yet. Apparently their younger one is throwing up all over the place, and their elder is not doing too much better. Since they are at the same school (and in one case classroom) as Boo and Skibo, it seems likely we will get hit with this too.
But so far we're clear! (And if we are very lucky, being away this week will help stave it off completely).
Anyway, we picked up four new dinner guests from them for thanksgiving tomorrow (people we would have invited in a heartbeat anyway if we hadn't known they were planning on going over there to eat!
So we are happy, our new guests are happy, I get to cook ham again as well as turkey (both are brining happily at the moment), and our friends are all incredibly grateful to us for putting ourselves out at the last minute! What a win win situation:-)

As LOML put it earlier, "I had thought that I was looking forward to a quiet dinner, but now we are going to have lots of guests, I am *much* happier!"

Yours, as host,

A camera I don't intend to buy....

LOML and I went shopping today, sprogs in tow, and for the first 45 minutes or so, the sprogs were very well behaved. After they started to blow up, we decided to do the rest of the shopping later, individually (one shopping, while the other is at home with the little delights).
So it came to pass that I went to the second grocery store to pick up all sorts of extra food (more on that later), and to the "dollar store" to get a couple of tablecloths (ridiculously cheap, $5 a pop, for a fairly high quality linen tablecloth!)
While waiting for the cashier to make her way over from stocking the shelves, I perused the counters near the till: and there, hanging with a $9.99 pricetag, was a keychain digital camera! Now, the quality is almost certainly appalling --- and even at that price I'm not going to risk it, but it did seem to tell a story of the way that generalizations of Moore's law are continuing in non-computer technologies!
Less than an hour later, after visiting the grocery store, I heard an ad on the radio while driving home: DVD players (for television use, not computer) for under ten dollars! Quite amazing drops in prices, especially considering they are all imported and the US dollar is not exactly strong at the moment!

Yours, in miniature,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cameras for children

About a year ago, LOML and I decided that it would be a good idea to get Boo a camera for Christmas --- she was showing way too much interest in our (not particularly high-end) digital camera, wanting to take photographs with it, and we thought that if we gave her her own, it would be a great way to give her ownership of her photos, a sense of achievement.
Unfortunately, we were a year ahead of time. In my shortsightedness, we decided that we shouldn't spend too much on it, and neither of us considered the (really sensible) idea of buying a refurbished model.
We ended up buying a polaroid --- I forget the model number, but it was a really low end camera --- and the results have not been good. Its behaviour in low light is appalling, even with flash, and in good light it is out of focus most of the time. In short, avoid low end polaroids, in our experience!

Nonetheless, Boo has managed to take some remarkably fine shots for a now-five-year-old! I downloaded a hundred or so shots this afternoon (she had found the camera again after a hiatus) and of those, there were perhaps 5 really quite good candid shots of LOML and me. And considering that about 80% of the shots were rubbish because of the camera, I think that's a pretty good ratio!

It's almost tempting to spend much less this year on a much better camera for her:-)

Yours, in a David Bailey's parent moment,

Dragon fruit

In response to Mrs Magpie posting a picture of a dragon fruit, the outside part only, I thought I would post this. Apologies for the photo quality --- I can only blame it on a bad camera. That or my lack of abilities with it. One of the stranger looking fruits I have ever seen.

Yours, feeling like St. George,

Monday, November 19, 2007

Children and coughs

This is the most difficult time of the year for children and coughs. They haven't yet built up immunities, the temperature is bouncing around all over the place, and their parents haven't built up a tolerance to lack of sleep.

But LOML and I are building that tolerance --- last night, Boo and Skibo were both up for hours each, coughing away --- the night before, it was Skibo, the night before that it was Boo. Tonight, so far it is just Skibo, but there are still six or seven hours for Boo to come through too....

But we are about to undo all that good work of building up tolerances; this week is Thanksgiving, so after tomorrow lunchtime or so, LOML and I can alternate taking naps, catching up on sleep, etc.

Yours, running on empty,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pea and ham soup

Autumnal food can be wonderful, especially when the weather plays nicely, and it is cool and crisp, and leaves are turning, falling, waiting for children to pile them up and jump in them.

Pea and ham soup is one such food; I took the remnants of the baked ham from last night, simmered it in a big pot of water with some sauted onions, celery and carrots. After a couple of hours, I pulled out the bones and meat, and added about a pound and a half of split peas, simmered another couple of hours. I blended the liquid with a stick blender, shredded the meat and added it back to the soup.... a little seasoning, and it's a meal fit for company.
So we had company.
Bread, soup, and then pumpkin pie and peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert.

Hungry yet?

Yours, feeling souper,

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Doing thanksgiving early

We have friends who are going to be out of town for thanksgiving --- hardly a surprise: they are visiting his parents in the Washington DC area --- so we had them over for dinner tonight instead. Since we had turkey last week, and we are having turkey next week, we did the second choice at this time of year: ham.

Baked ham is something that I don't remember having very often --- if at all --- growing up in the UK: we would often have sliced ham, cold, on sandwiches or with a salad, but I don't remember my mother ever cooking a ham.
It's a shame: it is a glorious dish: and here in the south they put a special touch on it: brining the ham first in a mixture of coca cola and kosher salt: then scored in a diamond pattern, baked first at high heat to caramelize the outside, and then cooked at a low temperature for two to three hours.

Served with mashed potatoes, and assorted vegetables: we did carrots and brussels sprout (boiled until just still crisp, then tossed with toasted walnuts and mandarin orange segments in a warmed vinaigrette): Southern tradition would insist on a side dish of macaroni and cheese too, and probably some sort of sweet potato casserole. But we can't follow tradition toooooo closely, can we?

Yours, hamming it up,

Friday, November 16, 2007

On Sushi

Some years ago (decades, major parts of a century?) I was bullied into trying sushi. Or rather, I was bullied into trying raw fish.
After all, sushi refers to rice, an essential part of nigiri (the individual pieces of fish/etc and rice) and maki (the rolls, typically rice wrapped around a filling, perhaps with a wrapper of nori, Japanese edible seaweed).
Anyway, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the friends who first persuaded me to try (what I thought was going to be) raw fish. Turns out that I tried unagi, cooked eel, first --- though probably if I had known it was eel I'd have felt as bad as I did thinking it was going to be raw. It was delicious.
Subsequently, I was bullied into trying a couple of other pieces: maguro (tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail): also delicious once I got my mind around the fact that these ones really were raw. And, of course, it all gave a good excuse to drink hot sake with it:-)

To think that I might have missed out on this wonderful, incredibly tasty food had I listened to my head instead of my friend all those years ago!

Yours, for the sake of it,

Hawking a book

Years ago, Stephen Hawking surprised the world over a period of a few years: first, by doing some amazing mathematics and physics: second by coming down with an awful, debilitating disease: third, by writing A Brief History of Time, a book which is probably the best-selling theoretical physics book of all time: fourth, he seemed to continue to survive and thrive, guest starring on Star Trek TNG, for example: fifth, he got divorced, and then remarried.
Now he's surprised again: he and (I assume) his second wife have written a book together. Except this time, it is a novel. For kids. About theoretical physics!

I'd write a review, but the way my reading is going, I'd need the relativistic effects of faster than light travel to finish the review it before everyone else has read it. Still, I did buy it, and really do intend to read it:-) Just like everyone who bought BHoT, and left it sitting on the coffee table in full view....

Yours, physically,

Thursday, November 15, 2007


LOML and I finally got to go out for our anniversary dinner, and also to celebrate LOML's freedom from the shackles of employment. We did toy briefly with the idea of going out for steak etc (there's an Outback Steakhouse nearby, and they do a reasonable job: not amazing, but consistently pretty good) but at the last moment decided we'd go back to the usual haunt:-)
And so sushi it was. Delicious. And, I am told, good for me too!

Yours, fishily full,

Writing DVDs

I now appear to be able to write .iso images to DVD. At least, k3b, the linux software I used claims to have done it! Now to try booting the Fedora 8 live disk....
Please work, please work, please work!

Yours, en francais pour Alice C,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Poor Monty

Poor Monty, our spaniel, seems to have injured his foot. I have to say that it is simultaneously very sad, but since he doesn't seem to actually be in much pain, rather funny at the same time. He does a tremendous job of hopping along faster than I can run, left hind leg suspended half an inch above the ground.
The vet has given us Rymadil to give to him, but couldn't find anything which might be causing the problem....

Yours, dog-leggedly,

A pleasant, gentle day

I got to spend some time doing nice things today --- finishing up the batch of bread (which was just short of very very good), picking Skibo up from school, and spending a little time with him: and licking my wounds from fighting computers.

I spent a lot of time downloading the latest version of Fedora, release 8, which came out last week. That all went well, the sha1sums all match, so the download worked. Then came the trying to burn it all to disk. As of now, I have not succeeded. Not to say that I have failed, but as of now, okay, I've failed.
Both on windows and linux. I don't know if it is a bad batch of dvd's, or what, but for the life of me I can't seem to get them to format, let alone burn.

Oh well, my guru will be back in town next week -- I will have to wait till then to get things fixed. On this issue, today just capped a week of fighting technology issues: the other really annoying one is that my pda (which plays mp3s) has a broken headphone jack: of course, this means I have to open it up and try to fix it --- I don't know whether I really want to succeed or fail: I have decided on the dedicated media player I want to buy -- but it is really hard to justify spending a couple of hundred dollars on something like that right now.
Still, given that I bought LOML an mp3 player last year, perhaps I could write down all the details of which sort I want, and hope that Santa gets it in time for Christmas. Of course, that would unfortunately mean no music in the car or outside for weeks and weeks. Definitely time to get out the jewelers screwdrivers and open the old one up.

This post has gone all over the place, hasn't it!

Yours, ameandering down the lane,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Refining the bread recipe

Trying to repeat the success of Friday's bread, I'm making another batch (I did a batch on Sunday/Monday, which was good, but not as amazingly great as Friday's): I'm taking better notes of what I do:
This evening, late (just now, in fact):
1 cup of warm water
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of yeast
stirred together in a mixing bowl, covered with plastic wrap, left in a 65 degree (or so) room to ferment.

Tomorrow morning, early, I'll add enough flour to make a soft dough, leave it to rise for several hours: then I'll break the dough into 1 ounce chunks (approximately), soften them in about a cup or so of warm water, add about a teaspoon of yeast, enough flour that it becomes a soft dough, and a bit less than a tablespoon of kosher salt. Knead for several minutes until satiny, leave to rise, shape, rise, slash and bake at 400 or so until done, between 30 and 45 minutes, I expect.

Yours, on a knead to know basis,

And so, the final straw

At last, the final straw. It doesn't matter what it was --- it was enough of a straw that LOML decided that it was time to quit. We'll cope --- though it means a little bit of belt-tightening short term, perhaps.
I think that things are going to get a bit more peaceful around here now, though. Less angst and sturm und drang expressed....

Yours, winning the bread as well as kneading it...

Monday, November 12, 2007

After the freeze is over...

After the freeze is over .... oops... it is over. Last week it reached freezing a couple of times. Tomorrow it is back up to 77 F.
Still, the leaves are turning, and in another month or so it should be Fall. Autumn, that is.

Yours, timelessly,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

11/11: 11:11

Remember. And learn from it.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

A late fall

There were a number of reasons my parents came over from the UK at the time they did, and one of the minor ones was certainly that they might get a chance to see some of the fall colors, that is, autumn colours.
Unfortunately, they didn't count on our weather this year. Now, we did have a freeze last week: two or three in fact. And when I say freeze, I do mean that it reached 31 F. Finally the maple tree in our front yard has started to turn. Unfortunately for the tree, it is in for a surprise. We are getting back up into the mid-to-upper 70's next week. Still, for now, some nice beginnings of turnings of leaves.

Yours, as confused as the trees,

A doll's house

This morning, LOML and I had our work cut out for us.
We'd given Boo a doll's house for her birthday, and hadn't put it together first: in the excitement of Friday there was no time, so we had promised first thing Saturday morning.

And first thing Saturday morning we were reminded of this promise. And by first thing, I mean well before 7am. And by reminded, I mean reminded. By Boo, bouncing up and down on our bed reminding us:-)

Fortunately the instructions were short. There were no words, only blown up diagramatics, which in places were completely unclear. But eventually, and actually rather quickly in the end, we had put together a lovely wooden doll's house for her.

And we had one very happy little five year old girl too:-)

Yours, constructively,

Friday, November 9, 2007

Make great (white) bread

I wanted to make a great batch of bread for Boo's party today: I settled on the following method:

Mix a cup or so of warm water, a teaspoon or so of yeast, and a cup and a half or so of flour in a large mixing bowl, to make a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave overnight to rise. Add enough flour plus about 1-2 teaspoons of salt (depending on size of spoon, variety of salt, etc), and knead until smooth. Place dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave to rise.

Now cut the dough into one inch (or so) pieces: add a cup of water, and enough flour (1-2 cups or so) to make everything come together in a stand mixer.
Shape, leave to rise, slash and bake at 425 or so, for 30 minutes or so.

Yours, doing what is kneaded for the party:-)

A successful present

Boo's teacher is working with her on learning to read, write, spell, etc.
And one of the letters she's teaching is "e": and to make the point about the sound it makes, she needs words that start with "e": like egg, elephant.....
And there she got stuck. What easy words start with a different word than egg or elephant, but still have the same vowel sound? "Exact" or "elapse" are too elaborate, as is "elaborate". Finally she fixed on "Elvis": and so I decided to get Boo a CD of Elvis (Presley)'s number 1 hits.

Boo is now a huge fan, especially of "Hounddog" Definitely her favourite Elvis song so far.

Yours, thrilled she was thrilled,

A happy birthday

Boo turned five today. Hard to believe that she's a third of the way to my worrying about her driving.

Actually, I'm already worried about her driving. But now, it's ten years in the future. In ten years, I'll be worrying on a more immediate basis!

We had a lovely time: this morning she opened a couple of presents before going off to school: I brought her and Skibo home at lunchtime, and she opened the rest of her presents from family: then after I taught origami, we threw a birthday party. Lots of food: good food for the grownups too. Chili, vegetarian and non-vegetarian: hummus (with Tahini added: thanks Joyful Abode!): sausage rolls: snack food like pretzels, goldfish, chips, etc: and the best bread I've made in months. I'm not a fan of blowing my own horn: but this bread was superb. I'll describe the recipe in another post.

And everyone left early enough that we could put the kids to bed late, but not too late.

Yours, exhausted, but in a good way...

Oh dear. Here we go again

Oh dear. Another movie is out soon. And it's going to destroy our morals. And it is aimed at our kids. Run for the hills, everyone!

I will admit that I have not read the second book in the trilogy yet: I started it, and found it hard going --- not like the first one, which grabbed me immediately and pulled me in.
But so far, the Philip Pullman trilogy "His Dark Materials" looks good: I just need the time to sit and read a whole book again without being at the beach. (And I have another book, "The Indian Clerk" ahead of the second book too....)

But I just became aware of a buzz on the internet of concerned Christian parents, especially in the US, worried that this is going to be another "Monty Python's Life of Brian" only for young children: or like Harry Potter, it is going to send them to hell.

I'm sorry. I like Rowling's books, most especially because she has got young children, especially boys, excited about reading. This is fantastic. It outweighs almost anything else, especially since the books actually espouse moral codes, good behaviour over bad, the triumph of good over evil.
And the movies have been good: super in parts, very good in bits, and overall very solidly well made, cast, acted. There's a reason they have been blockbuster successes.

I don't know whether Pullman has the same potential for good --- getting kids reading: but his first book of the three is thought provoking, well written, and is certainly presented from the point of view of good versus evil. From the point of view that the good side is the good side, I'd say.
It is true, I suppose, that the characters could be said to be believers in a parody of religion. It could be said. Mind you, the same could even more truly be said of many real life religious people, including, I suspect, more than a few of those objecting to the upcoming movie.

Tell you what: I'd be more than happy to have a label slapped on the front of the theatre posters saying "This movie may offend certain people of some beliefs", so long as the same is done for every other movie that offends others of other beliefs. Unfortunately, that leaves us with just about zero movie posters unmodified.

So, let's agree that if you find this movie offensive, you can email everyone you want, campaign to persuade like minded people not to see it: but remember: if you try to keep it out of the theatres to prevent others from watching it if they choose to, then that is intruding on our rights.

Ugh. Definitely an ughlier post than I intended to write. But I got started, and couldn't focus on finishing the post....

Yours, moved to write.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Well, my plans to have made most of the food for tomorrow by this evening appears to have gone by the wayside. Competition for limited space in the kitchen, together with Boo and Skibo wanting to help make her birthday cake meant that I didn't get to play there until about 10.
So, I've thrown together hummus (chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, a little salt, some seasonings if you taste it and feel that it needs it): in the morning before going to work I'll throw together the dough for some bread:
I'll take off half a day or more, come home and then quickly assemble sausage rolls and a chili con carne, shape the bread, and leave it in the capable hands of
LOML to bake everything which needs baking. Then off to teach origami again, before rushing home to finish preparing for Boo's party!

Update: as Joyful Abode has pointed out below, I left out the tahini. Rats. That's what comes of making it late in the evening and not dragging out a cookbook! I'll have to add it this morning when I get home....

Yours, beaten, like an egg, but not whipped like cream.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Back at the beginning of October, I bragged on the fact that I had done some origami with Boo and Skibo: here is a picture of a couple of the pieces they made (as I said at the time, I precreased the paper, so that they would naturally crease along the appropriate lines).

Yours, increasingly proud:-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The lake

Many years ago, when the earth was young, and the world still cool, I spent some time near a lake. And every weekend, I'd get to go to stay at the lake with friends who had a cottage there. Second family, really.
This spring, I had a chance to visit again, and I have been meaning to post these photos for quite a while now. But given that there was snow on the ground, and the lake was still frozen, I really couldn't post them when it was still hitting 20 Celsius here. Tonight, however, it is supposed to hit freezing here, and I finally feel that I can post them. So, here is where I did a lot of growing up.....

Yours, nostalgically,

Monday, November 5, 2007

Anniversary dinner

For our anniversary we were thinking of going out to dinner: but there was a slight problem. Our anniversary this year was a Monday, and there is no drinking on Sundays round here. "Huh?" I hear you ask? Well, since restaurants can't serve alcohol on Sundays, they usually don't bother to open on Sundays: and since restaurant owners don't like spending money on managers for just one day a week, a lot of owner-run restaurants also shut on Mondays, so that the owners can run the place without help. Hence, in this area we have a tradition of restaurants --- even really good, busy ones --- not bothering to open on Mondays.
Additionally, our regular babysitter finds it really difficult to babysit on Monday evenings. Furthermore, both children go to gymnastics on Mondays at 5:30, making evenings out even more complicated: so the two of us are going to go out to dinner sometime soon -- perhaps tomorrow.
Tonight, I cooked our traditional "special evening" dinner: the one we have on Christmas Eve, for example: not a feast, but still very special:

Smoked Salmon in wine, cream, dill and shallots
Finely dice a couple of shallots: add a couple of cups dry white wine, and simmer until it reduces to a quarter cup or so of liquid. Turn down the heat, add a cup of heavy cream, and several tablespoons of chopped fresh dill.
Bring back to a slow simmer, and turn off the heat.
Serve the sauce over linguini or fettucini, and top with eight ounces of smoked salmon, cut into small strips.

It's good. Experiment with it!

Yours, still married:-)

Guido ffawkes

When LOML and I decided to get married three years ago (we like to say that the children persuaded us:-) we settled on November 5th for the date: that way we know that no matter how mundane our lives our at that point in time there will be great fireworks somewhere!

Yours, going off like a rocket!

Spelling of Siamang

Bernie raises the question of the spelling of "Siamang": this brings up an interesting point: US spelling of words.

Having grown up in the UK, with the correct spelling of many words, it always amuses me to see the US spelling of various words; such as aluminum instead of aluminium, color instead of colour, and dove instead of dived.
And in at least two of these examples, the pronunciation is messed up as a result of the spelling too! Not to mention those cases where pronunciation is messed up in spite of the spelling being the same --- "Z" being zee instead of zed comes to mind.

I believe that much of the american pronunciation/spelling comes from the Dutch: there are lots of words, such as cookie which come from the Dutch, and many that are less well known: for example: in English we say "Mummy", but in the US it is "Mommy" (ugh!)

Back to Bernie: he also insists that the photo is in fact of him: whereas I have it on good authority that he is in fact a much more handsome devil, with a somewhat smaller wattle.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hide and seek

One of my favourite movies of all time is The Princess Bride: there's a wonderful scene in it when Mandy Patinkin says to Wallace Shaun "I do not think you understand the meaning of that word": this is sort of how I feel about the way that Boo and Skibo play hide and seek (that's hide-and-go-seek to my US readers).
Anyway, Skibo loves to count: "one, two three, fourfivesixseveneight, nine, ten, eleven, thirteen, what comes after thirteen????": and he's beginning to get the hang of the seek part --- but when it's his turn to hide, he does a dreadful job of it! He will get a quarter of the way round the tree, and as if he's a human ostrich, hide his head in his hands and hug the tree. In plain sight.
Boo is almost two years old, but almost as bad: she will hide well, but as soon as she hears someone coming to look for her, she will let out little noises and give away her position. And if Skibo doesn't hear her, she'll poke her head around the tree, and then run towards him.

Yours, in hiding,

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Busy week upcoming

We have three birthdays coming up this week: one of them is Boo's, so we are having a party for her: the other two are little boys a few months younger than Skibo, so we are going to parties for them too --- the first was today --- and also, we have a wedding anniversary as well. All in all, I have no idea where we are going to find the time to not have fun any day!

Yours, in anticipation,

More from the zoo: not a housecat

We are a pet loving family: two dogs, two cats, a whole bunch of stuffed toys, an electronic parrot which answers back.... but this is one animal that I'd not bring in as a pet! You can almost smell the raw power emanating from this beast! And look at the size of the paws!

Yours, totally intimidated by this one!

Friday, November 2, 2007

More from the zoo: the lion's mouth

Probably every zoo has one of these --- but I have not been to many zoos --- and this is the first one of them that I've seen. It's actually a water fountain (which was unfortunately turned off, so we had to go and buy a couple of bottles of bottled water instead). Still, it was a cute shot, and so I took it. LOML promptly claimed to have taken the exact same shot a few months ago on a trip to the zoo without me....

Yours, tritely,

More from the zoo: siamangs

More from the zoo: if you have never heard a siamang (which I believe is a species of gibbon: a moderately large ape: checks Wikipedia: is proved correct) or a in my case, have never even heard of a siamang, then you could be in for a surprise one day. As we approached the area where the ape enclosures were all located, we heard these extremely loud, almost whooping-cough-like barking howls. Various speculations followed on what could be making these noises: as we approached the area we saw them: siamangs from Indonesia. Apparently the calls are territorial: they are like bullfrogs in that their throats expand out as big as a cantaloupe, as you can see in the photograph below: and out comes this bellowing "Get away from here: this is our area" type of message.

Yours, silenced,

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A new month

A new month, in which many people are promising/threatening to blog at least once every day. I'm choosing not to do so, although, looking back over the past few weeks, it appears that I could probably manage it.
But I don't want that promise hanging over my head --- as soon as I made a pledge like that, it would act just like a mental block, to stop my mind from being able to think of anything to say. And it feels like that often enough already without having an extra barrier raised!
So, I am now promising not to promise to blog every day this month:-)

Yours, not doubly negative,