Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

to those of you for whom it is already 2009!
And a Happy New Year to those of you who only get around to reading this when it is already 2009 (or later).
Oh the heck with it. A Happy New Year to everybody!

Yours, with new-year-ly affection for all
N.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Strengthening my resolve

We had friends over for dinner this evening -- they'd been away for Christmas, and this was the first chance we'd had to get together since they got back -- and almost as though they'd read my mind in a previous post, they brought me a gift: the origami-a-day calendar: the pages are origami paper, and each day has the instructions on how to fold the previous day's sheet.
Now, I'll probably fold my own paper, rather than the sheets, but this does rather remove the difficulty of keeping track of what to fold each day:-)

Next year, I'll do the "fold a four star model of Montroll or Lang each day". Not this year:-)

Yours, creasing into a grin,
N.

Monday, December 29, 2008

After my first productive day in well over a week (most of the productivity was writing letters of reference for people I care enough about to write good letters of reference: and then uploading them -- into seventeen different individually designed interfaces, each of which extended my task by at least a couple of minutes) I sat down to renew some memberships in professional societies.
I say renew, since I used to be a member, have, for much of the past thrumptysevix years been a member (occasionally productive, valued, and other adjectives!) although for the past year I've let the memberships lapse.
But this year I need to renew them --- and the societies are mad-keen on making it hard for me to do so!
Each society seems to assume that there are two categories: those who have been and still are a member, who want to renew, and those who have never been a member before, who want to take out a membership.
I managed to fight my way past one of the interfaces: I gave up after twenty minutes with the other. If they don't want my damned membership dues, then I'm damned if I'm going to fight for hours to sign up!

Yours, demonstrating undue diligence,
N.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On my way to Washington

perhaps.

Just for a few days --- in a week or so --- for the annual conference. I've missed it for a couple of years straight, not feeling like travelling so much these days: I want to spend time with the children:-)

But this morning I booked a way too expensive hotel room, and tomorrow I'm going to email friends to see if I can stay with them on either end of the trip.
It's been a good few years since I've spent any time in the Capitol, and it will, I hope, be possible to visit a couple of touristy places while I'm there. Plus, I will get to see lots of people I haven't seen in months, years, or in some cases even, a decade or more.

Yours, preparing to travel,
N.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Horror in the middle east

Hundreds dead. Horrific. Each side is blaming the other, and I am sure that at least a modicum of blame in each direction is deserved.
What strikes me most about it is how this breaks with tradition. Most times we have an outgoing president in the US he's worked incredibly hard to get peace in the middle east as his legacy. It's failed, every time, but many times it seems that the effort has at least staved off hundreds of deaths for a while. This time around, the efforts appear to have been, let's say, lacking.

Yours, horrified.
N.

Leftovers

One of the joys of having a standing rib roast of beef --- above and beyond the enormous gustatory pleasure that it provides, in and of itself, with Yorkshire pudding, gravy, roast potatoes, etc --- is that if you purchase a large enough piece to ensure that there is more than enough for dinner, there's a good chance there will be enough left over for another dinner.
If there's gravy left, use it too: if there isn't trim the least palatable portions off the (no more than medium rare, at very worst) roast, place in an ovenproof dish or skillet, and render in a hot oven: pour off all but a tablespoon of fat, and add a couple of teaspoons of flour. Stir well over a medium flame (you do cook with gas, right?) until the flour is nutty: add beef broth or stock slowly, stirring in to thin the roux, season, and taste. I will often add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, or some horseradish, or some mustard, or some Sriracha hot sauce, depending on my mood.
Slice the beef thinly, slide into the gravy, and heat, over a low flame, until it is heated through. Serve with a fresh batch of Yorkshire pudding (putting the rest of the rendered fat to good use!) and roasted vegetables. Leftovers fit for, well, me.

Yours, left over,
N.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Another one of those terms that has to be explained to everyone who didn't grow up with the phrase. What does it mean? Gifts to servants perhaps? Who knows. Boxing Day means the day after Christmas, the day you go round to friends for that extra party, consume a few more leftovers than you should, as well as pouring three too many imbibables, wonder what to do with the extra two glasses, and drink them yourself.
Of course, here in the USA people do this too: they just don't have a great name for the holiday.

Yours, in praise of a great name for a day,
N.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Toolbox construction

The toolbox turned out magnificently well! Even though there were no instructions included (although I did explain to Skibo about labelling sides
that were to go together with the same letter --- which helped in the construction phase....) He and Boo drilled almost all the holes with the new brace-and-(one of our)bits, and we screwed it together between us. We sanded, measured twice and drilled once, and had a constructive time!

And anyone who wants the designs, let me know. I have schematics/diagrams, and can describe them further if necessary. For a four year old (or a bit older) budding carpenter, it makes for a lovely toolbox.

Now, if only we could persuade the construction industry that 1"x8" should measure one inch by eight inches, not 3/4" by 7 1/4"....

Yours, reporting from a thriller with a driller,
N.

Harold Pinter and Eartha Kitt

Two greats gone in one day, 78 and 81 respectively.
Resquiat in Pace.

Yours, in celebration of great lives,
N.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry, merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas to all, especially my friends in the blogosphere.
You know who you are.

Yours, wishing, just for you
N.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Making a tool box

We spent some time today, with the great assistance of friends with better power tools than LOML and I have (or could use!) preparing the pieces for one of Skibo's main christmas presents --- a toolbox, 16 inches long, 7 1/4 inches wide (since that is the width of an 8 inch wide piece of lumber here --- go figure!) with
a dowel rod as a handle. Although a really simple project, it's the first piece of woodwork that I've designed myself, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. Now I just have to predrill the screw holes so that he can construct the toolbox on Christmas day.....

Yours, not yet screwed up,
N.

Monday, December 22, 2008

In our ongoing attempt at multiculturalism for the children (especially given the level of education on that score in the schools!) this evening we had a Hanukkah dinner: a couple of families, four children and six adults. We went shopping for it this morning, buying each child a small token gift, getting some chocolate coins, etc.
LOML and Boo went into a local party-supply store for much of the swag: Skibo decided to stay in the car with me: and on coming out of the store, LOML exclaimed that while they were paying for the stuff, the cashier had leaned over and asked Boo if she was looking forward to Christmas.
Yes, this was while Boo and LOML were in there buying a menorah! Talk about a need for multiculturalism!

Yours, fighting an uphill battle,
N.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Folding without seeing

A few days ago, somewhere, I read about a blind folder: someone who would sit on buses or trains, and fold cranes and the like, and hand them to random individuals. At the time it struck me as inconceivable, and to an extent, it still does: but now I have a bit of a feeling for the fact that it could be done.

Most nights, to get the children to sleep, I sing songs and tell them poems. It's a long standing ritual, and at some point, we have to break them of some of it: we have to be able to leave them awake to go to sleep by themselves. But while we're working on that, many nights I sing until they are fully asleep.

And if I try to leave before they're gone, it can lead to complaints. So I sing a song or two after I believe they've nodded off: now this can be rather boring, and tonight I reached into my pocket, and found I had a grocery store receipt -- thin, shiny paper, perfect for folding. So I folded a triangle up, creased across, and tore a square off it. All in the dark. And set to work.

Strangely, the thing that I found most difficult to do was not the folding without sight: it was the singing at the same time. Ordinarily, I could fold a crane and sing at the same time: but focusing on the folding without eyes made it difficult to sing.

Nonetheless, I managed it. A beautiful little crane, essentially as good as I could have managed in the light. And I can believe that the blind can fold.


But how do they learn? I can now imagine trying to teach a blind child, one open to new ideas, to fold: teaching mountain and valley folds by feel, first: teaching rabbits ears by touch, with big triangles, and so forth. If I ever have the opportunity to teach such a person, I won't shy from it.

Yours, with new insight,
N.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sometimes one needs a day like today

We got up late, we sat and knitted, or folded origami, or read, or talked, or cooked for most of the day. And felt completely guiltless about doing so.

Yours, so there,
N.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Practicing origami

A day with lots of folding: much, even most, of it going over some technical folds to get used to doing them. In particular, I made a first attempt at a troublewit: this was a device used by magicians/performers to amuse an audience: it has a bunch of cleverly designed pleated folds built in, and can be quickly and deftly twisted into a series of different shapes.
It needs to be folded from stiff-ish paper or thin card, and it needs to be pretty large (the illustrations of it show pieces a couple of feet long or more) and all I had was a sheet of letter paper: but it was easy enough to fold that I think that I need to find a nice sheet of stiffer paper and give it a try. Perhaps bookbinding paper would do: and that would give me a nice excuse to visit the craft store on the square.

The other technical-but-beautiful fold which I attempted for the first time today was a Kawasaki rosebud. This is built on a very-tricky-until-you-get-the-trick fold, the square twist, which is a lovely device of which I have, right now, no photos. I'm planning on trying to take some pictures of this in development at some time and will post them here then.
Anyway, the first test version turned out rather well, once I figured out the rather cryptic diagrams: as always with this sort of thing, once you get it, it turns out to be so much easier than you were making it seem before.
And the book it is in has the rather lovely title of Roses, Origami and Math.

Yours, still learning,
N.

Yours

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back to Montessori

Just for a visit, mind, but we went back to the Montessori school this evening: they were having their annual festivities, and we went to support Boo and Skibo's best friends.
It really hurt.
To see what all of these little children were doing, and to compare it to the level of challenge at the elementary school, the challenge that Boo's not getting, was really depressing.
So now we're going back and forth about how to afford another 10-12K per annum: and whether we can afford -- or afford not -- to send them back to Montessori.

Yours, distressed,
N.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Paper planes

When my parents were visiting, I spent some time folding paper planes with my father and Skibo. At one point, I folded a plane which flew particularly well, and tried hard to remember what I had done. Unfortunately, the plane in question went into the recycling bin at some point, and I couldn't remember what I'd done.

Today I think that I recreated it. At the very least, the plane I made flew well.
And so I took the time to do something --- for me --- very new: I sat down and created some diagrams for folding it. It's actually only a couple of folds away from the plane everyone knows how to fold, and it can't be new, but it's not in any of the books I have on folding planes. Nonetheless, I'm hesitant to post diagrams for what surely must either be traditional, or worse, someone else's model.

At the same time, I'm really pleased to have taken the first step towards diagramming!

Yours, step by step,
N.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A beautiful origami model

I love origami, really enjoy doing it, and like to try new models.
Every once in a while, a model will really take my fancy: and today I'm going to mention two, which are just gorgeous: John Montroll has a book of Christmas Origami, a lovely book: in particular, the reindeer is beautiful, and is the first complex model I've learned to fold without diagrams in ages. But the sleigh, the sleigh is fantastic. I folded it from the start, thinking "Ho hum, nice enough, I'm enjoying folding this" until I got to the penultimate fold. I folded that, looked at the next fold, and it was like a well crafted shaggy dog story: everything came together at the end, opened out, and the model is just beautiful! Anyone out there with some experience of origami, get this book and try this model: it is just delightful. And it makes a lovely sleigh!


Yours, jingly-belly,
N.

Grrr

Grrr. A day of grrr's. My nice comfortable world at work is being shaken up by the budget cuts (timelines changing, workloads changing, nice comfortable ways of doing things being changed) and I'm now no longer young enough to embrace change that easily. Oh, I will, eventually, but I need time to talk myself into it.
Plus, our newly reconstructed pc? I spent four hours demonstrating the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that this time it would work. Oh, it will, enventually, but I need time to talk it into it.

On the nice side, our renovating friends are *this* close to having everything done: we're planning on going over for dinner, cooked in their brand new tricked out kitchen, on Friday. I saw it today, and with some effort I can restrain my jealousy.

Yours, green-eyed,
N.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gingerbread house, pre-school version

I accompanied Skibo to his making-a-gingerbread-house session at pre-school this morning. Fun was had by all, even me (food snob that I might be) (okay, as I am occasionally described by almost everyone else) even if the method of construction was rather like building double-wides.
We started with a cardboard box, glued to a foil-wrapped piece of cardboard.
We pasted on store-bought "frostin'", which we used to provide the stickiness to glue on graham crackers (for the uk, this are almost, but not completely unlike digestive biscuits, except that they are long and rectangular and inedible). Spurred on by other children and their parents, grandparents, etc, we created an angled roof, a chimney, a drainpipe (red "licorice"), and even a satellite dish (popsicle, the wrapper for which, prior to removal, read "50 sucks!")
Skibo was admirably restrained in his application of candy: his house looked subtle, restrained, and he got to take home a bag chock full of candy. Smart boy.

Yours, looking forward to decorating a (real) gingerbread house. When LOML and/or I have the energy!
N.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The parade

The parade has come and gone, as has the party. The food and drink has just gone. Well, much of the food, and all of the eggnog.
I really must remember next year to double the eggnog recipe: our guests this afternoon were like vultures as it came out! The sausage rolls were the next to go: of almost everything else we have a reasonable amount left over: enough to eat off for a few days, but not enough to be having to get rid of a lot of food. But however measured, a great success.

Skibo was scheduled to be on a float in the parade --- his preschool always has a bunch of children wearing decorated clothes, waving away. And then at 10, we got a phone call from another group trying to find children to ride: and one of Boo's best friends was riding, so at 2:20 I took them both down to the start, found where they were supposed to be, and dropped them off. Skibo was off like a flash with his class: Boo took longer, umming an ahhing before she decided finally to be in the back of the truck. She was adamant that she would not wave: of course, by the time her float made its way to where we were, she was waving away like crazy!

Yours, afloat,
N.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas traditions

I'm sitting now, watching the tail end of the annual viewing (possibly just the first, who knows how many times it will be on) of It's a Wonderful Life. George Bailey is about to discover that life is indeed worth living, and I'll probably, as usual, burst into a little drip or three of tears. I love this movie, soppy as it may be, and consider the day they discovered that NBC had the copyright a black day for humanity.

I've had a day of traditions -- new ones (looking after the children of our friends who are now only days away from completing their renovations, who owe us months of babysitting now!) to old ones, listening to Handel's Messiah (alas, only a recorded version, and that interrupted by children frequently), cooking for tomorrows Parade Party, and attending The Nutcracker.

We took Boo and Skibo to this evening's performance. Auntie E (not by blood, but all the more an auntie for it) had bought tickets, and had intended to attend with us, but unfortunately she's hosting the party tomorrow afternoon and so had to forgo the opportunity.
We all enjoyed the performance, which was rather good --- there were some rough edges, and it is definitely a ballet school production rather than a professional one, but LOML and I both thought that the student dancers were outstanding (unfortunately less true of the visiting professionals dancing the parts of the cavalier and the fairy).

Of course, Skibo is but four years old. And halfway through the penultimate dance I realised he had fallen asleep, stretched out in his chair with his head on my lap. Still, he had really enjoyed the great majority of the show, and I think that next year he'll be able to appreciate it all the more. Boo had seen it last year, and really thought it wonderful.

One last, light note: while sitting in the audience this evening, I heard a humourous comment being passed around: I suspect that it made its way around the entire theatre by the end of the evening. Apparently the chief sponsor of this (very small, local) production is a local urologist. Yes, a urologist sponsoring The Nutcracker.

Yours, traditionally,
N.

P.S. Yup. A little puddle of tears right here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The universal thing about remotes

is that they are universally losable. And because not one of them, not two of them, not three of them are enough to control everything, one needs multiple incompatible ones.
And of course, none of the devices have input devices built in, so the remotes are
really the only way to control them. And of course the satellite TV shows us as having thousands of channels (only a couple of hundred of which we get, only a score of which we watch) so to change channels I have to sit and hit the "down" button 1438 times.

Yours, feeling a downer coming on,
N

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Skibo's performance

So Skibo turned out to be one of the three wise travellers in the pageant.
Yes, I know, you and I and the rest of the world know them as the three wise men, and refer to them colloquially as Maggie, but today one of them was played by a girl, and so the school felt that they really couldn't refer to them as wise "men".

The performance was tremendous fun (for a parent) and was made better still by being particularly short --- around 20 minutes in total, which given that there were a lot of small children performing and in the audience was probably key to the success.

The children sounded much better in unison than individually: perhaps none of them were in key, but on average they were close.

A fun time, much better than I had feared it might be:-)

Yours, in festive spirits,
N.

All future scandals

All future scandals with a mainly non-Washington component to them should henceforth get their own scandal suffix.
All Washington scandals are "gates": Watergate, whence the term arose, Whitewatergate, Irancontragate, Plamegate, etc.

But we've seen plenty of non-Washingtonian scandals, and it seems to me that we need a completely new suffix: Spitzer looked good for a while but that feels too long: so I propose the suffix -vich, or if appropriate, -evich.

As in the current Illinois situation is a real Illinoisavich, a real Blagojevich.
Or perhaps, Illinoisevich is a real spitzer of a scandal.

Yours, enjoying coining the monikers here --- or should those be "Monicas"?
N.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Skibo is holding out against the cold

Fortunately it looks so far as though Skibo may hold out long enough to make it through the concert tomorrow evening.
I hope so --- especially because I am scheduled to visit his class in the morning to do the christmas origami demonstration, and to give them a few nice little ornaments, in particular, a series of nested "surprise" boxes, with my own design of angel at the centre.

Just watch. I've tempted fate now. I bet he wakes up coughing his little lungs up in the middle of the night,

Yours, temptingly,
N.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Poor Boo

Tonight was to be Boo's big performance. Well, her holiday performance at school, anyway. And so naturally, this morning she woke up at three am, nose streaming, coughing her little lungs up, and feeling awful.
We felt terribly bad for her, having to miss out on performing, and we also were sad that we weren't able to see all the work they had on display.
Such is the life of the family of a six year old.

Skibo's performance is on Thursday. I'll bet he comes down with something tomorrow.

Yours, holding out still,
N.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A process of rebuilding

Rebuilding the gingerbread house, that is (I'm not going to talk about the economy, the temporary 4%+ paycut we're all taking, or whether it's going to be a slender year for Christmas). We're rebuilding!
I found my diagrams from last year (sure enough, the jpgs I put up last time are not to scale, but I found the originals, and went in and changed the length of the long walls (rather than lengthening the roof --- solely because we use 8.5x11 inch
paper, and the templates were already about 11 inches long!)
LOML and the children mixed up the first batch of dough, and tomorrow we'll bake it, roof pieces first.
No pictures of the process as yet --- but perhaps we'll take some tomorrow as the children and I roll out the pieces.

Yours, under re-construction,
N.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas trees are thin on the ground this year

and they are thin in the waist too.

We went out on our annual get-a-tree expedition this morning (we'd been trying for a few days to find the time, and between my work schedule, the kids extra extra-curricular activities, and all else happening --- for example, LOML recording the voice-over for the local Nutcracker production --- this morning was the first day we could find a time for the four of us to run out.
We should, of course, have just gone, the two of us, during the week --- but we wanted to include the children. But this year they were still more interested in running around the stores than in helping pick out a tree.
I was very surprised by how short the trees seem to be this year, and how skinny. And how few trees were on the lots --- I am guessing that it is a direct result of the drought, but who knows. Fortunately the prices were not up drastically from last year, and we are happy with the tree we bought.

Now to decorate it! Lots of origami on it this year.

Yours, ready to get the children to fold some of it,
N.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rooting against my side

As partisan as I can be in political situations, tonight I'm rooting against a democrat, and with good reason.
All the evidence appears to point to William Jefferson of Louisiana being a crook, especially the bricks of cash in the freezer. Now, there are good reasons why he might not be prosecuted, or why the evidence might be unusable: but that is not a good enough reason to re-elect him. He should have had a primary fight and should have been kicked out then. But he wasn't, and so tonight I'm pulling for his opponent. Whoever he or she is.

Yours, hating corruption near and far,
N.

Last long day, for a while

At last, at long last, this was the last long day, at least as far as work related days are concerned, for a good little while.
I was at work at 9 this morning, and didn't settle back in at home until 7pm --- but next week things get a little less hectic, and then we have several weeks of quiet --- or at least quieter.

Tomorrow I hope we can run out and get the christmas tree: in the afternoon, Boo has her party for the dixie girl scouts, and then sometime in the early evening there is a concert at the AME church we'd like to go to --- they have a rather good gospel choir, and the christmas concert is always good. And of course, as always we will talk to LOML's parents in the morning, and perhaps to mine too.
So, all told, tomorrow is going to be just as busy. Just busier on our schedule.

Yours, emulating the bee,
N.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The great ungoverned

So what happens in a country where they decide to just shut down a parliament for a few months? And during the (we hope) steepest part of the slippery slope down into recessiontown, at that.
Will the cabinet be allowed to meet? What sorts of decisions may be taken? Clearly nothing that requires input from the parliament. Is the government also shut down? I must admit to being rather surprised at the actions of the Canadian (acting) head of state, the Governor General, in agreeing to prorogue the parliament (is the definition of "prorogue" something like to "make it more rogue-ish"?)

On our front, here, the state's economy is going downhill fast, yet the governor in his (measurably finite, and possibly negative) wisdom insists that the way out of all our problems is for the state to cut spending. And so jobs are disappearing with the dodos, salaries are being "furloughed" (that is, cut, but the base salary stays the same: we don't lose our raises, just the money), and everyone is worried.
Oh, and we had to spend over two hundred bucks to fix a computer, and today the dishwasher decided that it couldn't face the future in our household and decided to commit suicide. Well, since it was a good one, it would cost us several hundred to fix it, which is more than replacing it with a lesser model.
What to do, what to do, what to do.

Yours, wanting to prorogue the future until this mess is over,
N.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tired

That fourteen hour day on Tuesday, and a nine hour day today have really taken their toll. LOML is having to read to the kids tonight, despite the fact that it is really my turn. I can barely keep my eyes open.

And so, as the most famous pre-blogger would have said,
to bed.

Yours, (no, not really comparing myself to Pepys!)
N.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A potential New Year's resolution

coming a few weeks early, I know.
I think that I might try to fold a different piece of origami every day for the year. Now, keeping track of what I've folded, and making sure that I don't fold something twice, is going to be somewhat tricky, I am sure. So I'm amending the rules (yes, I know, I haven't even made the resolution yet, and already I'm changing it!) to allow folding a piece twice if it appears in more than one book, but not if it is something that I have folded many times before --- but to make things trickier, I'm going to go through the simpler books in order, so that all I need to do is keep a bookmark in each of my origami books indicating that the folds prior to the bookmark are either already folded, or they are ones I have decided not to attempt. In this way, each day I can peruse a bunch of books, and pick the one that I'm going to try from a smaller, much smaller, list of folds.

I'm not very good at keeping resolutions, mind you, so be prepared for me not to keep this one. Or to forget about it between now and January!

Yours, in a show of temporary resolve,
N.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A slightly daunting prospect

I was asked a few weeks ago if I would give a presentation to a Japanese Cultural Association here on origami and mathematics. A rather daunting prospect indeed, but I decided that I'd give it a go.
Tonight was the night. I had spent the past few weeks and especially days putting together some material: a bit of history about origami, a few demonstrations of simple things, and then I planned to spend the rest of the time (less than an hour in total) teaching them to fold a couple of nice things: the hyperbolic paraboloid and Tom Hull's PHiZZ units, so that they could fold dodecahedra etc.
We got off to a slow start: one of the key people in the group was late, and the decision was made to wait for her --- I was happy to do so, as she was the first one to contact me about speaking. It also took a bit longer to fold the hyperbolic paraboloid than I had anticipated, and in the end I went perhaps twenty minutes over the time I'd allotted. However, I think that it went very well: most of the attendees were Americans, but the few Japanese people there seemed to really like the presentation (as did the Americans, but I was more worried about people who might have grown up with a cultural appreciation of the art form!)

And then in the end, almost everybody stayed around afterwards to chat. I was particularly interested to find out that the woman who had turned up late was the daughter of a student of Akira Yoshizawa, widely considered to be responsible for the popularization of origami in Japan in the 1950's.

Yours, relieved that it went well,
N.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Exciting news from Canada

It seems that the Liberals and the NDP have come to an agreement which may mean that the Harper government may fall --- and without a new election at that!
For the first time in many decades, there may be a coalition government in Ottawa: curiously, if I remember my Ontario recent history, the last similar political agreement in the country was at the provincial level, and was led from the NDP side by Bob Rae, currently leading the party at the federal level.
I'm not sure what this does for Dion, head of the Liberal party, though: sure, it will make him PM, but as a seat-warmer for six months only. I don't see an obvious way for him to parlay this into continuing, but he can, I guess, secure himself a place in history just by making this happen.

Sometimes US politics is fascinating. But sometimes, a parliamentary system can give so much more excitement:-)

Yours, fascinated, at a distance,
N.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More leftovers

In the traditional continuation of thanksgiving, we had turkey soup and turkey pot pie as leftovers. Our friends the G's came over: they are back down from the mountain (the adults came down on Saturday morning, and the grandparents brought their grandchildren down on Sunday afternoon, giving the grownups lots of time to play with power tools, getting their renovations just a little bit closer to complete).
Boo decided to make up a song for the occasion: to the tune of "For he's a jolly good fellow" she sang
The G's are coming to dinner
The G's are coming to dinner
The G's are coming to dinner
Hooray, hooray hooray.
We liked this so much that we all helped make up further verses until we had a whole song. Unfortunately the children's behaviour was such that by the time that we were planning to sing it, we'd all forgotten about it. Still, there'll be another opportunity --- and excepting the fact that one of the verses referred to tonights menu, most of the song will keep.

Yours, in tune with my kids,
N.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Leftovers

As always, Thanksgiving means leftovers, and leftovers mean turkey and ham in abundance. So we had our friends from the bookstore over: they love soups, and there was a football game this afternoon so the bookstore was closed, so we were able to persuade them to come over around 3 and stay much longer than usual.
We gave them the choice: pea and ham soup (maritimes style!) or turkey and bean soup. We'll be eating the turkey bean soup tomorrow, as they plumped down for the pea and ham soup without hesitation.
The children helped with the bread this morning --- and as always we had fun with the dough, playing and learning. I'm pretty sure that before they are ten they'll be among the best bakers in the state:-)

A gentle day, other than that: it rained again, so we're up to average rainfall for the day. A lot more to go for the month, and more still for the year, but every little staves off the drought a little longer. This batch of rain looks to last the weekend too, for which we're thankful.

Mind you, if we're to get precipitation, I'd love if it would get a bit colder and snow!

Yours, dreaming,
N.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Horror in Mumbai

This stuff is so awful. How is it that people can feel the need to act this way? I can conceive of hating an individual that much, that some one person has hurt me so badly that I want to lash out, to harm, to get revenge. But to channel the hate, the hurt in a random fashion: I just can't internalize and understand the psyche it must take.

Yours, in sadness and sympathy,
N.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Waifs and strays, again

Yet another feast day in our calendar --- and feast days for us are days to feast with friends.
One group of friends had misfortune this year, and that led directly to our fortune: their house is being remodelled, and since it is a month behind schedule, they couldn't have their big Thanksgiving celebration. They went up the mountains to be with family instead: we inherited many of their otherwise unfeasting guests: friends all, we had fifteen in total for dinner today.
A turkey, a ham, sausages, potatoes, carrots, sweet potato casserole, cranberry chutney (flavoured with ginger), brussel sprouts in a vinagrette with walnuts and mandarin oranges, onion pie, etc, etc, etc. A feast fit for family.

Somehow, in all the hustle and bustle, we forgot to say what we're all thankful for. So now, in a moment of silence, and only to myself, not even to you, my semi-anonymous friends, I'm saying thanks for many, many things.

Yours, in thanks,
N.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This US version of the most american of holidays is upon us again! Happy thanksgiving to all here, and hoping that my friends in other countries have lots to be thankful for too.

Yours, gratitudinously,
N.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fearing the worst

But we'll most likely never know.

Our younger, bigger, bruiser of a cat is missing: he's eleven, and he's big enough to take care of himself --- we don't de-claw our cats, though we do remove other significant bits and pieces --- but he's been missing for three days now.

One day is not too much to be concerned about. Two is more worrying. And now, my expectation is that we'll not hear his familiar squeezing through the only-just-big-enough cat flap again. We've contacted the neighbours to keep an eye out for him, and the animal control folks in case he turns up: and we're still hoping someone let him inside during the cold weather.
But my hopes are hard to hold up over time.

Yours, still hoping,
N.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Boo's mondegreen

Skibo has a Christmas concert coming up (it's a church-run preschool, so they call it that rather than a holiday celebration....) and so his class is busily preparing their songs. He's even got a CD to listen to so that he can practice.
Unfortunately, the songs are either dreadful, or worse, lovely songs cut down to half-a-verse-and-no-part-of-a-chorus. Think "We three kings" terminating in "afar", with no mention of fields, fountains, moors or mountains. And absolutely no stars of wonder.
His favourite song to sing is "Go tell it on the mountain" (full chorus, no verses): and Boo loves the song as a consequence. She sings along heartily (and truth be told, rather more musically: those extra 21 months really make a difference!) but with one small "improvement" to the lyrics.

She sings the Sarah Palin version. "Go kill it on the mountain".

Yours, still laughing,
N.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Burrowing

The Bush adminstration version, not the pre-hibernation digging of cute-but-dangerous-furry mammals.

Apparently lots of political appointees are being transferred into permanent "non-partisan" positions, often one for which their qualifications seem rather slender. The intent seems to be to place these ideologues in the way of a new progressive administration.

Political Animal has the best suggestion yet for how to deal with these burrowers.

Yours, seeing the potential for a new reality TV series, Dancing With The Cons,
N.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Letters from America

An absolutely riveting documentary this evening: on Alastair Cooke, and especially, his "Letter from America", which he broadcast almost 3000 times. He formed a big part of my life when I was growing up: my parents would listen to him devotedly every Sunday morning. Decades on, I still recall his description of the city of Oxford as "Detroit, with colleges". And if I sat down and thought about different topics, I could probably easily remember dozens of other lines, concepts, ideas that he touched on.
Fascinating. Just fascinating.

Yours, absorbed,
N.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The season is officially here

Our town, it seems, has started the holiday season. I put it that way, since now that it covers both Christmas and Thanksgiving, it needs a broader name.

This morning on the square they had various church choirs singing a few hymns each. Unfortunately, they were staggered over a period of a few hours ---- and the temperature was cold enough that we didn't feel like staying outside for more than one group --- we'd have had to wait half an hour until the next one.
Even though we're not religious ourselves, having grown up in England with the omnipresent state religion, we've absorbed all the hymns and enjoy the ceremonies. As a consequence, I'm quite looking forward to all the things taking place on the square, starting with the lighting of the (fake) tree on Friday.

Yours, getting in the spirit,
N.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thank you notes from classes

I got the most beautiful thank you note today from Boo's class: it is a full poster-sized sheet of paper, with a note written by the teachers, and signed, beautifully, I might add, by each of the children.

Oh, and it says they'd *love* for me to come back and teach them some more origami:-)

Yours, wondering if I can go back tomorrow.... oh... they're not open on Saturdays?
N.

Ouch

NUMB3RS, the math-based crime procedural on CBS, started the episode tonight with a disclaimer: the episode was conceived, written and filmed prior to the train crash in LA, but because of similarities, it might be painful to watch.

I'd imagine that the folks involved with the show may have had some serious worries about showing it at all.

Yours, moved.
N.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More morigami

Today I went to Boo's classroom: her class is working on the letter "B", so I'd made butterflies, birds, boxes, a bat, and had plans for a boat.
Plus, I'd made a turkey --- well, that's a bird too, right?

After signing in at the office, and getting a badge to stick on my clothes, I found the class walking from lunch (at 10:45 they go to lunch: they're done by 11:15!) and went with them to class: Boo held my hand the whole way, looking proudly up at me every once in a while.
We sat down, and I started talking about origami, and said that if they had any questions they should ask: and I discovered just how willing and eager 5 and 6 year olds are to, in the guise of asking questions, impart information about their parents' tv viewing habits, what they had for lunch, and whether the sky is green or red on cartoons.
But when I started pulling out pieces I'd folded, they started to focus, and got fascinated: especially when I pulled out a box --- or so it seemed: a simple masu box with top --- except that inside it was another box, and inside it, another, and finally, after several repetitions of this, inside the final box, an iridescent butterfly. Ooohs and aaahs all round.

After showing them all the pieces I'd made ahead of time, I took small groups to a table and folded doves. I'd pre-creased the paper to make it possible, and made sure that the teachers joined in (it really helped having another adult with each group of four children): but each child took home a nice dove that they had (essentially) folded themselves.

Finally, as an almost afterthought when some of the children mentioned dinosaurs, I offered to sit and fold a dinosaur while they all watched: and they watched, enthralled, as I talked them through the whole sequence, showing them the model halfway through, asking them if it looked like a T Rex yet ("No!!") and expressing amazement as they saw the thighs take shape, then the arms, then the head.

And then, as I was preparing to leave, and telling them how much fun I'd had, there was a spontaneous near-scrum as the children decided to come forward and hug me, kiss me, hold my hand, and generally participate in the most amazing outpouring of emotion and affection I've seen in ages. I came this close to tears, I swear. And I'm doing so again right this minute...

I'm going back again to fold with them another time, really soon.

Yours, emotionally folded,
N.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pickup cooking

We seem, again, to have picked up Thanksgiving: last year, our friends were going to have a big Thanksgiving bash, but all came down with various versions of the dreaded lurgy a few days earlier. LOML and I immediately decided to pick up the slack, and invited several suddenly dis-invited guests to our place instead.
This year, said friends, yes, the same family, are having their house remodelled. And in spite of the fact that they were adamant to the builders and contractors and all that it was essential that it be finished by late summer, it is still not done. And it won't be done by Thanksgiving. In fact, it won't be done by the time of the great annual rotating Christmas parade party, which they were going to host (to show off the beautiful remodelling job!) this year.
We're not picking up the party --- we did that one last year too, by choice --- it is the sort of huge bash that one can only host once every few years. But we will pick up the turkeyfest.

Yours, always happy to play in from the bench,
N.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alaska senate race goes to the democrat

It looks as though the counting may be just about over in Alaska --- with about 2500 votes to count, and more than 3700 votes difference between them, it looks like a done deal.
Furthermore, the difference is much more than the difference needed for a state-funded recount, so if Stevens wants a recount he will have to pay for it himself: and I'd imagine that with his felony record the party would be far from eager to help him out with the costs!

Yours, pleased to see this one go this way,
N.

Morigami

Skibo's class again today (and in a couple of weeks time). This week they are studying the letter "D", so I took along a dragon (Jeremy Shafer's model, based on Robert Lang's version), a dinosaur (T-rex, my modification of the Shafer dragon, the wings becoming the dinosaur's thighs), a dog, a dove and a duck.
I folded copies of the latter three in front of the class, having just as much fun as last time, and finished up again with the story of the captain and his boat and t-shirt. I know, I told them that last time, but they are only four years old --- I bet that when I go into their class in a couple of weeks they beg for it again:-)

Yours, parentally proud to participate in his classroom,
N.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

and that's not a good thing.

This morning, as is my wont, I went to the cafe to fill my mug with coffee: they always have satellite radio playing in the background, and usually I can just tune it out (or more accurately, just listen instead to my music in my earphones).
Today, however, there was someone I had to speak to briefly, and had to turn off my ogg player, only to have Christmas music thrust upon me.
Apparently the satellite broadcaster has had stations playing Christmas music since November 1: it's just that those stations haven't been playing in places I've been.
As to why it's a bad thing (other than the obvious reasons): I am assuming that retailers want the Christmas music to persuade shoppers to buy presents earlier this year than usual --- because the economy has tanked, sales are down, customers are depressed about salaries, etc --- so this is just another
bad sign.

Yours, unready for the Christmas spirit,
N.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Small children, and fear....

I love, absolutely love the movie "The Princess Bride": the dialogue, the acting, the script all make me want to watch it over and over again.
I watched it with the little ones a few months back, and although they were afraid at points, they seemed to enjoy it (and enjoyed it more in memory too). So, when I discovered that my mother and father not only had never seen it, they'd never even heard of it, I decided they should watch it with Boo and Skibo before they left for home.
Unfortunately, with all the birthday parties going on (ours, others), and all the other celebrations of the past few weeks, it didn't happen.
This afternoon, while LOML was out, the children and I sat down to watch it again. This time, the fear seemed far more intense for them: we made it through the fire swamp scene, cowering behind blankets, and regardless of my reassurances that all would be well in the end, they absolutely refused to watch any further. I'm left wondering how long it will be before they discover the fun of this flick, the joy in the cameos of Mel Smith, Billy Crystal, Peter Cook, the ballet in the fight scenes....

Yours, fearless, but helpless, in their opposition,
N.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

James Bond

It seems there must be a new Bond film out: all sorts of blogs seem to be focussing on who is the favourite of all the Bonds (always leaving out, of course, Niven, David, and Allen, Woody).
Strangely, nobody seems to be relating the story of how Connery came to be cast as Bond in the first place. The story as I have heard it is the following: Ian Fleming really wanted Roger Moore to play the role, but he was tied up, happy playing the role of Simon Templar, and unwilling to break his contract to take the role (curiously, there's a similar story as to why Pierce Brosnan wouldn't take the role in the mid-80's).
Apparently Fleming was having lunch with Brocolli, and discussing the fact that Moore wouldn't take the role. Looking over Cubby's shoulder, he spotted someone walking away across the studio lot, and said "That's him. That's Bond."
The actor walking away was Connery, of course.

Yours, always opting for "stirred, not shaken". And never vodka.
N.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rain, at last

Today, or more precisely, this evening, it started to rain. Not drizzle, not spit, spot or sparkle --- no, it's a nice drenching rain.
It's only supposed to rain for a few hours, but we'll take what we can get.
We do need a few more weeks of drench, though. If you have any to spare, and you can convince it to come our way, I know a lot of folks here who'd appreciate it.

Yours, drily,
N.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Origami for children

I'm going to be giving two origami presentations next week: one for Skibo's class (again) and one for Boo's class (their first presentation).
I intend to make it up to Boo's class on Thursday by actually trying to teach a bunch of 5-6 year olds how to fold a dove. To this end, I expect to need a helper, so this coming weekend I'm going to fold a whole bunch of doves with Boo....

Yours, planning to inspire,
N.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And the election continues....

The counting hasn't finished yet in Oregon, so my 90,000-ish margin prediction there can't be tested yet (although Merkley is ahead by about 50,000 at the moment, so he's looking good for the seat).
It's Alaska today which is looking interesting, though: a bunch of votes were counted this afternoon there, and they've turned a 3,300-ish margin for Stevens into a 3 vote margin for Begich. Yes, with about 40K to go, there's a 3 vote difference between the candidates. With luck, Begich will pull this one off, and Stevens can go off to fame, obscurity or prison, whichever beacons hardest.

Yours, still in counting mode,
N.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A moment, please

Thank you.

Yours, lest we forget,
N.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The season of birthdays

This month is crazy for us: we have Boo's birthday, of course: but the previous weekend we had three birthdays, two with parties: this weekend we had a party on Saturday, Boo's party yesterday, and another cake-and-ice-cream party this evening: next weekend there are two more. And these are just friends we're pretty close to: if we added in all the others going on, it would get really ridiculous...

Yours, partied out,
N.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Boo!

Boo is six today!

Yours, in celebration,
N.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

An uplifting story

We had dinner with friends tonight: they run our favourite bookstore in the next town over.
She told a story about an elderly gentleman, perhaps late 70s, who came into the store yesterday, and asked if they had any books on Barack Obama. She pointed to the appropriate bookshelf, and he went over to them. He spent twenty minutes or so, and came over with Audacity of Hope and Dreams from my Father.
He whispered to her:
"I didn't vote for him, you know. But I heard his victory speech, and I thought to myself 'He didn't read that speech, he wrote that speech himself: it was very good.' and so now, I want to find out more about him. He's quite impressive."

Yours, hoping that there will be more people seeing things to like,
N.

Overheard, redux

Boo: "Guess what! The White House was made out of a tooth. A cowboy started sucking up all that rattlesnake poison where he was bitten on his arm. And he had a cavity and he didn't know it. And when he spat it out some stayed in and he didn't know it, and it got into his cavity and the tooth grew and grew. When his tooth fell out it grew and grew and was so big that it could be turned into the White House, and people carved it into the White House and that's how the White House got here!"

Yours, fascinated by history,
N

Eavesdropping

What you'd have overheard this morning in our house:

Skibo, please don't tape the cat flap shut!

Yours, still laughing,
N.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bravo New Hampshire, Colorado!

New Hampshire now has a majority of women in its state house: and it has women as head of the senate and head of the house: and it just elected its first woman senator.

Colorado now has become the first state to have both senate president and speaker of the house african americans. A great first!

Now, if we could just get rid of Prop 8 in California, the country would be beginning to look pretty good....


Yours, in 2/3 celebration,
N.

Bad pun

but nobody else seems to be making it: after Barack winning the single district electoral vote in Nebraska, is one major city there going to be renamed Obamaha? The two biggest cities are then named for Illinois presidents?

Yours, ducking,
N.

365

That's one electoral vote per day for the past year, except for the fact that this is a leap year.

Oh well. At least the first family-elect want to adopt a shelter dog rather than buying a pure-bred if possible....

Yours, in favour of such adoptions,
N.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Congratulations to Senator-elect Merkley

Congratulations, Jeff Merkley: the media are calling his race for the senate in Oregon in his favour. I'm pleased to say that my prediction for that race yesterday look as thought they might be pretty good (not sure that 90000 is the correct margin, but at least he's won!)

Yours, watching Alaska for uncounted senate ballots next,
N.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to deal with the withdrawal symptoms

Now that the election is over, how should I deal with the withdrawal symptoms? First, no cold turkey for me. There are still four senate races to obsess about:
(did Alaska really decide to elect a convicted felon? Republicans are more tolerant of scurvy criminals than I thought!)

So, here is my take on one of them. Smith will likely lose to Merkley in Oregon, perhaps by almost 90000 votes when all the ballots are counted. This in spite of the fact that Smith currently has a nearly 8000 vote lead. Of course, we may not know for sure for another day or so.

In the other races, Alaska is just plain weird. Minnesota is so close that there will be an automatic recount --- not sure what will happen there. And Georgia has a special rule that a candidate must get more than 50% of the vote: otherwise there is a runoff election in December: this looks likely to be the case this year.

Yours, continuing my addiction,
N.

Please to remember, the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and happy anniversary, LOML, my love!

Yours, remembering,
N.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

McCain: classy

McCain's concession speech: classy, in its way, though I did wonder where it was going, at one point.
Mr. McCain, though I would not have voted for you this year, I salute you.

Mr Obama, you have the torch.

Yours, unilluminatingly,
N

Yes!

Yes!

Yours, saying "Yes!",
N.

ps Yes!

Looking good

If the predictions are correct for a few states, and if the early counts are correct for some others, things are looking good.
Yours, in anticipation,
N.

Playing the (waiting) game

Several times over.
I went to the polls at 7am, as they opened.
I waited. For 93 minutes. And voted.

Here, I was lucky: LOML went to vote at 10 and had to wait more than 150 minutes. Yes, more than 2 1/2 hours.

And our state went to McCain. May he savour our votes.

Yours, finally feeling free to breathe...
N.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Condolences to Barack Obama

How sad. His grandmother, who raised him for many of his younger years, has died. How I wish she could have lived to see him elected tomorrow.

Yours, in sympathy with his family,
N.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fuming

Years ago, when I moved into a new apartment, a couple of days after the moving truck had left, my door was broken in, and burglers ransacked the place. Being me, they didn't get much: something of immense sentimental importance (which reminded me that the memories it represented were so much more important than the memento itself --- after a few weeks of fretting about it --- so from that I learned a useful life lesson), a jacket, and a stereo. Clearly I was not as good a haul as some, and probably much less than they had hoped.
Still, the feeling of violation persisted for months. The stomach-tightening, mind-twisting sensation finally went away, and now, decades later, I can look back and just remember it, instead of reliving it.

Today I am fuming for a less intrusive, but still upsetting, violation. Our yard sign announcing our favoured candidate in an upcoming election was ripped out. And of course, the party offices are shut on Sundays, and the candidate is not expected to win the state, or come anywhere close, so he only has one office, in the state capital. Nowhere near here.

So, after a little creative googling, I printed out a copy of this, which I found here.

Yours, donating another $20,
N.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three days and we will know

And I'm unable to hold my breath for that long.
Even as a former trombone player.

Yours, waiting,
N.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Frogs and fish

Skibo's class has been practicing the letter "f" this week -- and I had arranged to go in to give a demonstration of origami.
So I sat down and showed them how I fold a frog. And then I showed them how I fold a fish.
And then I did the classic origami story of the captain who wanted to go sailing, left his house (first intermediate fold), put on his hat (second fold), found his boat (third fold), and then had the wind and waves break off his bow, stern and sail --- only to open up the remaining piece of paper to expose all that was left: the captain's t-shirt (the final unfold).

It's a wonderful, easy, standard story, but I love telling it, especially to little children.

The demonstration went really well: my mother and LOML both came along to watch, and LOML later told me how wonderfully well I'd done (which is always nice to hear, even if it's not from an independent observer:-) This morning when I went to pick Skibo up from school his teacher asked if I'd come back and do another in December. Naturally, I said I'd love to!

Yours, loving the attention:-)
N.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boo and School

Boo and school redux: we got her first report card --- and she could get anything from a 1 to a 4. 1 is bad, she's not getting it, 3 is she's got it, 4 is she's exceeding expectations. So of course, what you expect is lots of 3's.
Except, the numbers are all tied to "expectations": can she count to 10? (Yes, she can count to much higher than that --- isn't that exceeding expectations????): can she recognize these words? (Yes, she can, and all the other words on the list for the next ten months --- again, isn't that exceeding expectations????) etc, etc, etc.

She had all 3's, with the exception of two fields: art and music. Those were filled in by different teachers. My read of this is that her teacher either that she's exceeding expectations on a whole bunch of criteria, or she doesn't care. Either way, we are, to put it mildly, upset.

It's conceiveable that I'm suffering from standard "my child is a genius" syndrome --- but I don't think so: we had Boo read all the words on the list she's supposed to know by the end of this year, and she got all but three or four of the fifty or sixty words. She counts like crazy, and gets the idea of the difference between reciting numbers and counting objects. And she's older than most of the rest of her class --- she ought to be a bit ahead at this stage, on average. What really pisses us off --- and my choice of language compared to my usual language on the blog might indicate my true feelings --- is that her teacher doesn't even seem to care enough to realise that Boo is exceeding expectations.

Yours,
N.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What to do now?

Boo came home from school yesterday, and quite quietly and calmly explained that she finds it frustrating that school is too easy.
And I don't blame her --- today they are (and I quote, praying that it is a typo) practicing saying the numbers from 1 to 10, and counting objects from 1 to 1.
This for a little girl who regularly sits and counts well into the hundreds. By fives. Who can do addition and subtraction.
And she can read --- so they are practicing recognizing letters.

We can't afford the cost of sending them back to the Montessori school, but it is looking more and more tempting to do so.

Yours, as frustrated as Boo is,
N.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yorkshire pudding

MrsMagpie was kind enough to post a recipe for scones, and one of her commenters mentioned an inability to make Yorkshire pudding. I don't have the recipe I use to hand right now --- it is at home, in my copy of Cooking with Julia and Jacques, by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin.
However, I can reveal the secret which transformed my Yorkshire puddings from flat lumps to beautifully risen, crispy rounds: in addition to baking in individual muffin pans, the key ingredients to success seem to be getting the temperature
high enough (making sure the pan is on the heavier side, that it is pre-heated in the oven for a few minutes) and using enough eggs.
Yup. As soon as I got the batter eggy enough, it worked. Prior to that, it flopped.
Literally.
So now, if I recall correctly, I use about a cup of flour, a cup of milk, and five eggs. But check out J&J's wonderful cookbook for the recipe!


Yours, passing it on,
N.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Other states have similar laws

I've now found several other states that have, or have recently had, similar laws on the books. As to whether they will be enforced, who knows.

I'd really like to see a court challenge to such a law.

Yours, feeling bolshie,
N.

How long does it take to vote?

I'm curious what's going to happen here on Tuesday next week.
My state has a law that no voter may remain in the booth for more than 3 minutes: this goes back to the 50's or so, I believe, and was probably enacted as an attempt to disenfranchise some segment of the population (slow readers, less well educated, etc) which might catch more minorities than whites.
Although there was recently an attempt to strike the law, it failed, and so the law is still on the books. And if what I've been hearing is true, it is supposed to be enforced this year.

Now, in my county, there are some sixteen or so races on a typical ballot (it varies by town within the county, and I haven't yet seen an official ballot for my location) plus one local and three state-wide referenda.

This works out to between six and seven votes per minute, or eight to ten seconds per vote.

Now, the referenda are likely to take significantly longer to read than some of the other questions, so I'd say this leaves an average of say, 6 seconds for such momentous decisions as "where do I touch this screen to vote for my choice for president".

If they do start throwing voters out after three minutes, my suspicion is that they're going to have riots on their hands!

Yours, prepared to be disenfranchised,
N.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy thanksgiving

Delayed edition.
We did our delayed version of Canadian Thanksgiving this evening, turkey and all, since my parents are here. And the best thing about it is that we get turkey and bean soup for dinner for at least one, and perhaps two nights coming up.
Ten of us for dinner, one turkey, and enough left overs for soup. What more could we ask for.

Yours, giving thanks, one more time,
N.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A recipe

A recipe. It's been a little while, but here's a recipe.

Take a boneless leg of lamb --- or take a bony one and debone it.
Rub the deboned side with curry powder, cover with a mix of chopped mango and dried apricot, and baby spinach: roll, tie and roast as one would a leg of lamb.
(We start at 450 F, and reduce to 325 after 20 minutes or so --- enough time to crispen the skin --- and turn regularly for about an hour and a half thereafter).
Remove, let sit long enough that the juices are reabsorbed into the meat, carve, and enjoy.

Yours, pleased with the result,
N.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eleven days to go

Eleven days, and we should have at least some idea of what the outcome is going to be. At the moment, the polls are looking favourable to the Obama campaign: and the news items seem even better: cases in point:
i) the McCain supporter in Pittsburgh who claimed she was mugged and mutilated by an Obama supporter now admits she did it to herself
ii) Sarah Palin condemns fruit fly research, suggest putting money into research that would combat autism: enterprising reporters point out results about proteins which affect autism come from, yes, fruit fly research
iii) Sarah Palin deposed (not in the French way) by Alaskan investigator in troopergate scandal

Back many years Pittsburgh had a rather incompetent band of criminally inclined people who were, let's say, not the swiftest crooks on the block. They became known as "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight". I think that McCain is probably taking lessons.

Yours, counting the days... (it's 11...) .... and the hours (it's 264....)
N.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

150 kiloclams

Let's see. $150,000 on prettifying up the "real American" candidate.
Of which about five kiloclams went on makeup, right?

Putting lipstick on a what?

Yours, disgusted, and I didn't even contribute any money to the NRC,
N.

Update: Daily Kos had the perfect answer to the lipstick question here: "Putting Lipstick on a Pygmalion".
Absolutely. Flipping. Brilliant. (And no, I didn't mean flipping.)

Little things can really make my day

At work, parking is rather hard to find. Most days I try to get into work before 7:15 so that I can get a decent spot: and some mornings that takes quite a bit of determination and will-power.
But the good people in charge of parking have a regular lottery, and from amongst the thousands of us who pay for parking permits, they select a few who will get their own personal parking spot.
It's only for a couple of months or so, but it is still more than enough to put a warm glow on a chilly autumn day:-)

Yours, in place,
N.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Parents arrived safe and sound

and I managed to negotiate Atlanta traffic to pick them up.
And the Atlanta airport didn't manage to lose their luggage: they merely mislaid it for half an hour.

But they're here, and the children were suitably excited to see them, and all is well.

Yours, settling down from hours on the road,
N.

October Surprise

So it appears that terrorist groups are claiming that they want McCain elected, since he'll be hot-headed enough to help bankrupt the US, fiscally and morally.

But they're smart, and they know we're smart, so they must know we'd figure out that the best way to foil them would be to vote for Obama.

Except they know that we'll figure out that they're smart, so we should vote for McCain.

Except .... iterate ad infinitum.

I'm channelling "the best known is never get involved in a land war in Asia".

Yours, with apologies to The Princess Bride,
N.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Parent coming to visit

My parents are coming to visit tomorrow --- so it will quite possibly be the case that I'll have less to say than usual. Or more, who knows.

Either way, I'll either say it or I won't.

Yours, in anticipation,
N.

Monday, October 20, 2008

To Senator Obama

I'm sending wishes for a recovery, preferably speedy, for your grandmother --- I'd love to know that she can see you win next month, see you sworn in, and I'd be especially thrilled if you can say at the end of his second term how proud you are at all the good things that he's accomplished.

Yours, sending wishes,
N.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Age is not just a question of years

I was astounded this morning to discover that Colin Powell is less than a year younger than John McCain. It just served to remind me that age is a function of more than just years.
Of course, the same is true of experience.

Yours, youn in years, if not in age,
N.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama in St. Louis


See, who needs to hold a town hall meeting, when you can hold a city hall meeting? Or in this case, what appears to be a meeting of the entire city!

Yours, impressed with that turnout,
N.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Renaming Boo

We may need to rename Boo. To Bow. As in, tying a bow. As in, she managed to tie a bow this afternoon --- after a little instruction --- perfectly! Over and over again. And she vowed that when Skibo's ready to learn, she'll work to teach him the same tricks:-)

Yours, as always, awfully proud of her,
N.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the plumber

Joe the plumber (cf the debate last night: google him if you are still lost) somehow brought to my mind Jake Thackeray's brilliant "Sister Josephine":

Sister Josephine
(Jake Thackeray)

Oh Sister Josephine
What do all these Policemen mean
By coming to the convent in a grim limousine
After Sister Josephine

While you Sister Josephine
You sit with your boots up on the alter screen
You smoke one last cigar
What a funny nun you are

The Policemen say thet Josephine's a burglar in diguise
Big Bad Norman fifteen years on the run
The sisters disbelieve it "No that can't be Josephine"
Just think about her tenderness towards the younger nuns

Oh Sister Josephine
They're searching the chapel where you've been seen
The nooks and the crannies of the nun's canteen
After Sister Josephine

While you sister Josephine
You sip one farewell benedictine
Before your Au Revoir
A right funny nun you are

Admittedly her hands are big and hairy
And embellished with a curious tatoo
Admittedly her voice is on the deep side
And she seems to shave more often than the other sisters do

Oh Sister Josephine
Founder of the convent pontoon team
They're looking through your bundles of rare magazines
After Sister Josephine

While you sister Josephine
You give a goodbye sniff of benzedrine
To the convent budgerigar
A bloody funny nun you are

No longer will her snores ring through the chapel during prayers
Nor her lustful moanings fill the stilly night
No more empty bottles of alter wine come clunking from her cell
No longer will the cloister toilet seat stand upright

Oh Sister Josephine
Slipping through their fingers like vaseline
Leaving them to clutch your empty crinoline
After Sister Josephine

While you sister Josephine
Sprinting through the suburbs when last seen
Dressed only in your wimple and your rosary
A right funny nun you seem to be.

Yours, changing the subject,
N.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Addicted to CNN's lines

Hello.

My name is Breadbox.

I'm an addict.

I admit it.

I am addicted to CNN's lines. You know, the ones during the debates, the ones which show how each candidate is perceived by a select group of independent, undecided voters.

Yours, flat-lining,
N.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nothing left to do now

Nothing left to do now but count the votes.

No, not here in the US, in our northern neighbour, Canada.
They still vote on paper there, I believe.

Yours, waiting, breath a-bated,
N.

Amazing pictures

These pictures are absolutely amazing: photos of the sun, in incredible detail.

Yours, astonished,
N.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Congratulations to Paul Krugman!

One of my favourite columnists -- and definitely my favourite at the NY Times: two years running I've approved heartily of a Nobel prize choice (even if the Economics prize is sort-of-not-really-a-Nobel-prize).

Yours, cheering,
N.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian, that is!

Yours, with plenty to give thanks for,
N.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A prize, a prize

a veritable prize! Well, perhaps not veritable, but a prize nonetheless.
The turtle touched a sentimental theme in the town (a long story, for some other day) and my cake won "Nearest to our heart".
A new prize, invented this year. Possibly equivalent to the kindergarten competition prize of "You entered, so you win a juice box and a pretzel".

Yours, winningly,
N.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chocolate turtle cake

The cake is now constructed. Rather than finding a recipe for an easy-to-carve cake, I went with a recipe I knew would taste good: Child and Pepin's roulade au chocolat base, stacked in two layers for the legs, and four layers for the head and body.
I'm very proud of the results, so far. I'm going to ice it in the morning: I almost wish I didn't need to -- and perhaps I don't: but it will probably look even better when I do.

Pictures to follow.

Yours, under construction,
N.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Doing the "viral" thing

This ad is brilliant. Spread the word!

Yours, virally,
N.

How to say "no" to a request

First, don't say yes. No matter how many times they ask.

Now I have to figure out how to bake a cake in the shape of a turtle between 5pm Friday and 10am Saturday.....

Yours, panicked,
N.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

baking contest

There's a baking contest in town this weekend --- and they're lacking in entries. I got a personal request to participate, to help get the event to fly.
My problem with this is that the contest is based solely on appearance: taste doesn't matter: and there are no opportunities for savoury entries (bread's out, as are sausage rolls...) It seems that all they want are incredibly sugary cakes, decorated to the hilt.

If I were less busy Friday afternoon, I might still consider doing it --- but as it is, I think that I'll give it a miss this year.

Yours, unsavoury at best,
N.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Food porn

Or more properly, food preparation equipment porn.
Today I got my latest King Arthur catalogue (always a lovely event -- and it reminds me that I need to order another couple of pounds of yeast). Anyway, when I win the lottery (which will probably be at least a week or more after I start playing the lottery....) I definitely want one of their $10,000 outdoor pizza ovens. Until then, unfortunately, I'll just have to drool.

Yours, half baked at the idea,
N.

I wonder

I wonder: if I supported McCain, whether his opening few minutes of the debate would have sounded coherent....

Yours, opposed,
N.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Today's advertising

A couple of advertisements I noticed this evening, in quick succession.
Cargill advertising that they've "worked to develop more marbled cuts of pork" for barbecue fanatics: in other words, their working to undo all the years of developing "less fatty" pork. I say bring back the fat on the roasts as well: I miss a really juicy pork roast on occasion, and the "other white meat, without fat" that is all that one can buy in the store just doesn't cut it.
This was followed by an otherwise forgettable commercial, but for the fact that it used a cover of "Space Oddity" as its music. I loved the music. And I've no idea what they were advertising.

Yours, playing captive audience,
N.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Enemies one

The first Enemy, that is, the first episode of The Last Enemy, shown tonight on PBS' Masterpiece Contemporary was an interesting show. Full of holes, not yet "strangely compelling drama", but I think that it could get there.
To the extent that I think the government is unable to do what is depicted on the show, I suspect that the reason is one of technological shortfalls rather than anything else: at least in Britain, which by most accounts seems to have changed the furthest from "I'd never carry 'papers' the way they have to in France or Germany" to "It's okay with me if you track my every move on traffic-and-other-cameras".
The holes I saw most obviously were in the things relating to academics: for example, the idea that the Corporation would get the idea for his name "because he's big news in the International Mathematical Union" is almost vaguely plausible --- but the idea that he'd be short of a few bucks for research is ridiculous. There are plenty in the scientific community who find it difficult to get good research funding, but Fields medalists tend not to be amongst them, and with good reason!
The good stuff, the best moment? Stephen's rant in the cabinet meeting, in which he explains, stream of consciousness style, exactly how the TIA database owners already know more than an epsilon about you. Or me. Brilliantly done.
I'll probably watch to the series conclusion: I suspect I'll get more sucked into the story, and more willing to suspend belief: LOML probably won't watch another minute, having fallen asleep halfway through episode one.

Yours, in a mixture of realized fear and suspended belief,
N.

Oooohhhhh --- coool

Masterpiece Contemporary: a mathematician returns to England to combat privacy infringements!

Not realistic. I'm not coming back.

Yours, privately,
N.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Solar power

Here's an idea for the Obama campaign --- let's really push solar power. Let's really push developing affordable solar power: we've been investigating how much it would cost to install it for us, and it appears that it would be a figure
well into the (many) tens of thousands of dollar --- which of course we have lying around in pocket change (what is the dollar/pocket lint exchange rate today?)

But there is serious hope on the horizon. A couple of months ago, an Australian PhD student by the name of Nicole Kuepper won some well deserved accolades for her development of a much cheaper and less involved process to create solar cells. Her focus, laudably, is on how to bring inexpensive solar power to third world countries. But it seems likely that the techniques she's pioneering (described as "making solar cells from nail polish, an ink-jet printer and a pizza oven") could revolutionize the renewable energy industry.

Yours, ready to get baking,
N.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What I hate about being sick

Well, there's lots to hate: but I especially detest the muzzy-headed-ness I get when I rush home from work, lie in bed the whole afternoon trying to get better, unable to actually get rested. And then a bone-chilling tiredness that will go away, probably in the morning, settles in for a nice visit.
I've got what LOML had on Tuesday, Boo had Tuesday night, and I'm fulling expecting Skibo to come down with in the next day or two.
The plus side of it all is that for both LOML and Boo it was over really quickly: a day for LOML, and a few hours for Boo.

Yours, self-quarantined,
N.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Spontaneity

A big difference that I'm seeing in the debate tonight: when Biden turns to the camera to talk directly to it, it seems like a continuation of what he's saying: it seems like just a natural politician at work. But when Palin turns to talk to the camera there's a slight beat as she starts into the well rehearsed and very clearly prepared and memorized --- and very well delivered --- speech. But it certainly looks to me like she's spouting memorized speeches.

Yours, off the cuff,
N.

Unsurprisingly

Unsurprisingly, Governor Palin is far more together in the debate than she has appeared in recent interviews: but at the same time, I have to admit that she makes my skin crawl.

And I find it interesting that she's insisting on referring to Senator Obama as "Barack" every time she mentions him. It comes across to me as incredibly condescending: almost as though he's the family servant, and doesn't deserve a surname, let alone a title.

Yours, creeped out,
N.

Warty Bliggens

Apparently Bill O'Really? is claiming that he is an existence proof for a deity.
I'd just like to suggest that this hubris is rather amusing: it reminds me of the wonderful little poem from Archy and Mehitabel

warty bliggens, the toad

By Don Marquis, in "archy and mehitabel," 1927


i met a toad
the other day by the name
of warty bliggens
he was sitting under
a toadstool
feeling contented
he explained that when the cosmos
was created
that toadstool was especially
planned for his personal
shelter from sun and rain
thought out and prepared
for him

do not tell me
said warty bliggens
that there is not a purpose
in the universe
the thought is blasphemy
a little more
conversation revealed
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the same
universe
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
warty bliggens

to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me
if i were a
human being i would
not laugh
too complacently
at poor warty bliggens
for similar
absurdities
have only too often
lodged in the crinkles
of the human cerebrum

archy

Yours, blemishes and all,
N.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Banned Books Week

Here in the prototheocratic US, there are frequent, and usually unsuccessful, attempts on a small level to censor books. Other media are much more successfully censored --- for example, even though it is on cable, and not subject the broadcast media obscenity laws, The Daily Show will always bleep out obscenities. Compare this to the potty-mouthed-ness of television in some other countries (yes, I'm talking about you, UK!)
But typically books have led a more charmed life: at least, in the post-Lady Chatterly's Lover phase of things. Which leads me to the point of my post today: here is Tom Lehrer's Smut, written in celebration of the Supreme Court's decision in that case.

Yours, uncensored, except by myself,
N.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

LOC

It seems in the discussions I'm reading of the "crisis", that one of the biggest problems is that credit has run dry. One site asked "how many of you run a small business that relies on a Line Of Credit (LOC) to pay its employees?" Another points out that unless we do something mortgages are just not going to be available.

This leads me to a couple of questions

If you have an existing line of credit, why would this affect you? Can we not pass a simple measure disallowing cancelling of lines of credit unless you default on a payment? And if there is need for extra liquidity for the banks for existing lines of credit let's discuss how we handle that.

As for new mortgages, if the supply of credit is so low compared to the demand, why hasn't the price of credit (that is, the interest rate, right?) increased to meet it? The way that I see it, some of the financial institutions have surreptitiously increased the price by implementing nefarious schemes whereby naive customers end up with a temporary low rate, followed by an enormous rate, at which point the bank either makes a huge profit, or takes over the property. Would it not have been far fairer in the first place to be honest about the true cost of the loan?

I'm not a financial analyst, though I do understand a little about the way that mortgages work --- enough to build my own mortgage calculator, for example, rather than relying on a bank's version. Nonetheless, as a vaguely educated voter, interested in the issues, I'm not convinced that the bailout bill was the right way to go. I'm going to be interested to see what changes they make to it tomorrow when the Senate is scheduled to vote on it: do they bring in more sops to the right, to get Republican support, or do they tilt it to the left to get more Democrats? At the moment, I fear, it's going to be leaning right.

Yours, tilting at windmills,
N.

A day of misery for LOML

I awoke in the middle of the night to hear LOML calling for a glass of water --- having thrown up repeatedly in the bathroom. An utterly miserable day --- I tried as best I could to make it better, keeping children away, taking them to school and picking them up again afterwards, etc.
My day was doubly busy for other reasons: the deadline for my promotion package is coming up, and so I'm frantically trying to get all my t's dotted and my eyes crossed: in addition, I'm running a conference Thursday and Friday, and so I'm up to my armpits (at least) in that too.
Still, next week things get calmer. I'll probably get sick then!

Yours, in sympathy for LOML, and in anticipation of getting sick,
N.

Monday, September 29, 2008

L'Chayim

L'Shana Tova!

Yours, wishing all of us a happy new year....
N.

Relief

I'm tremendously relieved to hear that Hurricane Kyle appears to have softened enough that it didn't cause massive destruction when it finally arrived in Nova Scotia.

Yours, relieved.
N.

41 vs 43

Bush 41 is remembered as George Herbert Walker Bush.
Will 43 be remembered as George Herbert Hoover Bush?

Yours, on the brink,
N.

This bailout package is gone

The stock markets have predictably dropped, although not enough to cut of trading. Yet.

I am not convinced that this package was the best one that could be produced: it looks almost as though the Solomonic baby-slicing was precise enough to put off both sides, at least to the extent that it couldn't pass this time.

Rumours of another chance to pass it in a re-vote later. We'll see.

Yours, still on the sidelines,
N.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On fly swatters

Skibo, this evening, talking about fly swatters:
If you don't like children, and you have children, you have to have one:
a children whacker

Please bear in mind we try to be non-violent with them --- to the extreme! --- and this doesn't reflect LOML and my use of said children-whacker....

Yours, amused as always by what they say,
N

Folding dinosaurs

Today, in celebration of a local little museum, I get to teach potentially hundreds of children how to fold dinosaurs. A thrilling prospect. And at least a little daunting: I have almost no control over their ages/skill levels --- all that I can do is to suggest the really simplest folds to the smallest children......

Yours, humming "You got to know when to fold 'em"
N.

Worrying for friends, places

I hate it when places I love, and friends who I love who live there, are threatened: last year it was the flooding in the UK: this year it's been Louisiana and Texas: and now I hear that Kyle is barrelling up the coast towards a place I've called home: the Maine/New Brunswick border.
Almost exactly five years since Halifax and Nova Scotia were hit, Kyle looks like it could cause some nasty damage, especially to the St. John area. If you live near there, my thoughts are with you: Please, please stay safe!

Yours,
N.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Flop

After nailing the Palin, SNL just attempted to jump the shark. I am sure that neither the Obama nor the McCain sides found much funny in this sketch: even the bits which were making fun of the other side.
Sad.

Yours, saddened.
N.

Oh. Wow.

Tina. Fey. Nailed. Palin.

Yours, 'nuff said,
N.

"Markets"

As the "markets" have had their problems in the past few days, it occurred to me that we have another market ready for problems: the market in political candidates. There are several of these, perhaps the best publicized of them over here being Intrade.
Earlier this week, it appeared that someone was attempting to raise the price on shares in McCain on Intrade: the other markets all started moving towards Obama (following the polls) whereas Intrade didn't. Given the relatively small investments required, this looked like perhaps an attempt behind the scenes to bolster him, perhaps to keep a theme from developing in the press.

In the past few days, the price of a share in Palin being replaced has risen, touching 10 cents --- that is, for 10 cents you can win a dollar, if she is replaced. If it weren't for the fact that it is so much fun having her on the campaign, it would be worth suggesting that somebody buy the shares up to 50 or 60 cents, so that the meme would develop that she had to go.

Mind you, I wouldn't put it past the "maverick" to try to kick-start his campaign by replacing her: perhaps he could claim dereliction of duty for not appearing on all the news networks to defend him after the debate last night...

Yours, just musing,
N.

Rest well

I was young when I first saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Young enough that the final scene was one of those moments that has frozen itself into my mind, my experience of movies, of visual storytelling.
Paul Newman, rest well.

Yours, in a moment of reverence,
N.

And now we wait

We wait for the ultimate stamp of approval on one of the theories of who won the debate last night: who does Saturday Night Live skewer this evening?

Yours, in anticipation,
N.

(Apologies to four of the five of you who occasionally read this blog --- I just can't seem to blog about anything else at the moment....)

Friday, September 26, 2008

POW

McCain nailed it. POW, with twenty seconds remaining.
No time left for Obama to respond, he plays the POW card.

God. How. Cynical.

Yours, not declaring a winner,
N.

Couldn't stay away

I tried. I intended to stay away from it. In spite of myself, I find myself watching the debate.
But I promise. Not a word about it. Not another one, that is.

Yours, silent,
N.

Committing

Oops. I mean committee-ing. Last time, two weeks ago, I reported that I hate committee meetings: this afternoon's was rather more interesting --- interesting enough that I signed up to participate in two subcommittees. And quite possibly, if I can't get out of it, chair one of them...

And I ended up reasonably happy about the prospect. Not keen on chairing, but...

Yours, getting sat on,
N.

Oh joy! Some rain!

After weeks (it seems) of no rain, and months (in truth) of only very little rain, we look likely to get a couple of days of --- maybe not drenching --- some rain.

Yours, running out to catch the drops on my tongue,
N.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain is as effective a senator as he was a pilot

It appears that McCain has brought an apparent deal on a bailout to a state of crash and burn.
Who knows whether this is a good thing or not.

Yours, on the sidelines on this issue still
N.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Debate

If McCain feels the need to be in Washington (for the first time in a couple of hundred votes or so) on Friday, and so the vote should be postponed, instead of postponing the VP debate, and having the P debate then, how about just switching them?

I'm sure Biden'd be ready. What about Palin?

Yours, switching it up,
N.
A thought: is McCain's problem perhaps not one of doing two things at the same time, say walk and chew gum: but rather one of trying, on so many issues to do and not do the same thing at the same time: walk, and not walk: economy strong and not strong: for this, and against this.

Yours, wondering which came first, the flop or the flip,
N.

Palin on McCain

Paraphrasing:

Palin: I can give you examples of great things he's done.
Couric: Please. Do. Give me some examples.
Palin: I could give you examples of great things he's done.
Couric: Please, do. Specific examples from his 26 years there.
Palin: I'll get back to you on that.

Wow. I would have thought that she'd find it easier than me to find good examples of good things he's done. But she didn't.

Yours, understanding why they don't want her out in public,
N.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sharing another musical find

Time to share my latest musical find. I say "mine" but really, of course, it is not: Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu has been a star in Australia for a little while now, and has opened for Elton John's concerts there, I am told.
I heard him featured on The World, a news program co-produced by the Beeb and Public Radio International --- every once in a while they have some really interesting music on the show: Gurrumul's voice was so amazing that I immediately googled him, and ordered the CD. Coming from Australia, it took a little while to arrive, but yesterday it finally got here: I've listened to it through perhaps half a dozen times since then. If you're looking for it, I found it at SkinnyFish Music.

Yours, entranced,
N.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Messed up electoral systems...

Here in the US almost all of our electoral systems are messed up: and I have a small, modest proposal to mess with it further: instead of just allowing people to vote early (as happened starting today in three states) let's allow them to vote early, and publish the running vote totals in each state. That way, we could really get the enthusiasm up and running on both sides of the race: early voters would know that they were encouraging later votes: and most importantly, the six weeks before the election would be less tedious.

Yours, watching every poll, only to find they're opinion polls this month,
N.

Nothing exceeds like excess

McCain is refusing to condemn the golden parachute which HP gave to Carli: he claims that "he doesn't know the details of her compensation package": but her details are all over the newspapers: and yet he's willing to condemn other compensation packages -- whose details, presumably, he learned from the newspapers.
Or from the google. If he's mastered it yet.

Yours, unencumbered by any golden, indeed, any wooden, parachutes,
N.

Autumn

I love this time of year: the temperature finally comes down to a reasonable level, the mornings are crisp, and the evenings mild: that little chill at the end of the day is perfect for walking a dog.

So, to everyone, a happy first day of autumn --- or spring, if you are antipodean.

Yours, falling for the season,
N.

Internet service

I hate it when this happens. Late in the evening, the DSL modem starts acting
up. Too late to spend a pleasant hour or two gritting my teeth with helpful call centre folks called Rolf and Vincent who just happen to have very strong Indian accents.
(As an aside, I have no issues with them hiring folks in other countries for their support centres: that is their business decision: but please, don't give them fake names to give the impression that they are "western").
So, we are without internet service at home for a little while --- and need to switch providers anyway. Now the question is: can we put up with the lack of service while we switch?

Yours, feeling a disconnect,
N.