Monday, June 30, 2008

This made me laugh

This shows, shall we say, the dangers of computers in the wrong hands....

Yours, guffawing,

Lessons learned

John McCutcheon has a lovely song which has been running through my head today, sort of the musical version of "all I needed to know I learned in kindergarten", except set to a catchy tune, and not followed up with "Chicken soup for the left-handed teenager with a hamster with acne's soul".

We've been walking down the street singing it with the children: unfortunately I can't link to a video of him singing it, so just let me recommend his album "Mail Myself To You" (the title track is wonderful too: they use it for a christmas advertisement for the post office here each year)

Kindergarten Wall
by John McCutcheon

When I was a little kid not so long ago
I had to learn a lot of stuff I didn't even know
How to dress myself, tie my shoes, how to jump a rope
How to smile for a picture without looking like a dope
But of all the things I learned my favorite of them all
Was a little poem hanging on the kindergarten wall


Of all you learn here remember this the best:
Don't hurt each other and clean up your mess
Take a nap everyday, wash before you eat
Hold hands, stick together, look before you cross the street
And remember the seed in the little paper cup:
First the root goes down and then the plant grows up!

Well, it was first, second, third grade, fourth grade, too
Where I had to learn the big things the big kids do
To add, subtract, and multiply, read and write and play
How to sit in a little uncomfortable desk for nearly half a day
But of all they taught me my favorite of them all
Was the little poem hanging on the kindergarten wall


But lately I've been worried as I look around and see
An awful lot of grown-ups acting foolish as can be
Now I know there's lots of things to know I haven't mastered yet
But it seems there's real important stuff that grown-ups soon forget
So I'm sure we'd all be better off if we would just recall
That little poem hanging on the kindergarten wall


Yours, still learning,

Sunday, June 29, 2008

July party

We're beginning to plan the menu for Friday's July 4th party: trying to figure out what cook, which dishes can be made ahead, etc. Somehow I feel rather lacking in energy and enthusiasm. Mind you, that's often how it goes with these parties: I have no energy until a day or so before and then I become a blur of activity until the party.

Getting in the way of all this is the fact that my next two weeks are the busiest of the whole year: basically covering two full-time task starting Wednesday and running until Saturday the next week. It's all great fun, but by the time I am done with all of it in early August, I'm going to need the week at the beach which we have booked....

Yours, preparing to celebrate,

Recycling posts

Another post on the children: Boo has really gotten the hang of cycling, everything except for the starting off on her own. She's pedaling along like a speed-demon! And we've been getting her to let Skibo take turns too on her bike (so we don't have to keep taking his training wheels off and putting them back on again two minutes later): and he's currently about a couple of weeks behind her in progress. He'll stay on course for a couple of seconds, go perhaps eight or ten feet, then wobble and lose it. But considering the fact that he's not yet four, we think he's doing spectacularly well!

Yours, recycling it,

Black Gold

Every once in a while I get involved in a discussion with folks around here in which someone will bring up the subject of the "gold standard". They'll mention how good it was in the years when the dollar was pegged to gold, and they'll point out how (in their consider opinion, experts in economics as all those people are:-) the US would be much better off if it would just stabilize its currency to gold again.
I've thought all along that this was a somewhat ridiculous argument -- it is only made, of course, when the value of gold is high and that of the dollar lower, relatively speaking: and it gives immense power to those countries which hold gold reserves (which over the years has included many countries the US has problems with!)

And I've thought for years that gold (AU) was the wrong choice. For decades now, oil has been the international currency, and we are finally seeing what happens when you have a dual nightmare (by US standards): oil is skyrocketing, and the dollar is plummeting.

How would the world be different now if the dollar was still pegged to gold?
And then imagine the privations that the country would be suffering if the dollar were pegged to gold, or worse, to oil! Of course, since I don't have a degree in economics, I'll leave the speculations to those who do.

Yours, imagining worse,

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Englishman In New York

Well, strictly speaking, I am neither... but anyway, I often get asked, here in the (South East) United States: "When does England celebrate the fourth of July?"
Of course, I am almost always tempted to reply "whenever we consider the difference, and contemplate the US being a part of Britain!". But that's too subtle, so I usually reply that although we don't celebrate Independence Day do have fireworks on November 5th. In other words, I answer the question that they actually wanted to ask.
Here in our town, we celebrate the fourth six days early. In all the time we've been here, the town has never had a celebration on the day in question: this year it's almost a full week before. It will be interesting to see when they have it next year -- I'd be willing to bet a small amount that even though July 4th is a Saturday the festival will be a week earlier.
We're not actually going to the party -- but it is close enough, under a mile away, that we can watch the fireworks from our deck. We've got our friends children, M (4) and A (3) over too: they're leaving for California tomorrow, so we had them all over for dinner, and their parents are at home packing now: they'll come back in time to watch the fireworks.
So we are all sitting watching kids' television while we wait for it to become dark enough for fireworks. At one point the show exhorted them all to "put your hand in too". Skibo and M thrust their hands out (Skibo telling her "I'll put my hand on your hand"). Boo and A, on the other hand, sat there chanting "Put your poop in too... put your poop in too..." and wiggling their bottoms to suggest the action....


Yours, feeling sparkly with anticipation,

Bluegrass on the square

We went down to the square yesterday evening to listen to bluegrass. Every Friday during the summer there are a bunch of musicians playing, one band or more, it varies: the music is lively and enthusiastic. The singing? Sometimes good, sometimes bad, always with lots of energy!
Except for the fact that it started at 7:55 instead of the advertised 7pm, it was great: we took a picnic dessert of ice cream, plums and blackberries with us, spread ourselves out over the grass, and took it all in.

Even if the grass here is all brown rather than green. Or blue.

Yours, au bleu,

Upsidedown land

The federal government (read Bush's boys) have just announced that they are withholding permission on development of new solar power plants on public land, pending environmental impact studies.
This from the administration that allows the raping of mountains for coal, and has decided we all want nothing more than to gaze lovingly over the oil slicks to see the sunrise over the derricks in the ocean. Post haste.

Yours, turned inside out,

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pictures on blogger

Blogger informed me today that the pictures I've uploaded have their own album on picasa, so I wandered over there to look at them: it was quite nice to see just how many pictures I'd uploaded, and how much I liked them.
Anyway, the first picture of the lot was of a cake, and I couldn't remember why I had made it, so I decided to revisit some of my earlier posts from a year ago. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find I quite enjoyed some of my earlier ramblings! Perhaps with the advantage of time, I'll look back over some of these and feel the same thing:-)

Yours, in retrospect,

A rare day off

A day without having to go in to work: nice, relaxing, lie in until past seven o'clock, go for a quick bike ride round the neighbourhood, stroll round the grocery store with LOML and the children.
Listen to the news, and discover that although the economy is going south in a submarine, there is a bright note: in the US, "disposable incomes rose a record amount in May". They do, of course note that this is because of the cheques that the government sent out, up to $600 per adult, $300 per child, in May. I wonder if they are going to note at the end of July that this month, disposable incomes fell by a record amount?
(Of course, if they are measuring incomes on a month by month basis this would be the case: but they are probably measuring on a year by year basis, which means we will have to wait until the 5th month of the Obama presidency to get the bad news...)

Yours, lazily,

Thursday, June 26, 2008


We live in a small town (actually, a very small town outside a small town) and we don't have a lot of good restaurants around. Since it is a college town there are quite a few eating places, but few of them are particularly interesting.
And a couple of years ago, at thanksgiving, two of the more interesting ones burned down. Most especially missed is the Thai place: it was a lovely little hole in the wall, but good food prepared and served well, reasonably priced.
We had heard that they were putting in office space where the restaurants had been: but to my surprise I saw that a Japanese restaurant had opened up: so I swung by a few days ago, and discovered that in place of the Thai restaurant, we were getting a Thai place!
Oh joy!
A bunch of us tried to go there for lunch today, but it isn't open yet (and there is no sign outside suggesting when it will be open --- but peering through the windows it looked like it would be soon: chairs and tables in place, etc). So we tried the Japanese place, which *is* open --- but it was too busy to seat us all. Fortunately. I saw a colleague there when we went in, and I asked him later how it had been: I trust his opinion, so I probably won't be back there.
All in all, there is still just one restaurant around as far as I am concerned, in a twenty mile radius, that is: our favourite place, the sushi place by the lake. Nothing comes close.

Yours, down on eating out, up for eating in,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Boo survived

Boo survived her sleepover last night --- apparently she saw a photo of Skibo there, and had a minor meltdown: one that almost inspired M's grandmother to phone us to come up and get her -- almost, but not quite.
Other that that short period of time (that, and the fact that she was up really late!) she had a great time. And M's grandmother made her a lovely certificate to show that she had "achieved her first sleepover". Extremely touching:-)

Yours, relieved,

Memorializing GWB

I'm not sure that I approve of this: I feel that perhaps we ought to treat the presidency, and by extension, its former occupants, even the really rotten ones, even, perhaps GWB, with some respect.
But I did get a huge laugh out of it!
Apparently there is a group in San Francisco who have enough signatures to place on the ballot a measure renaming the local water treatment plant the "George Bush Sewage Plant".
And most of it is underground -- there's a zoo above: perhaps the could name the simian area the "Dick Cheney Monkey Business House".

Yours, monkeying about,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Boo was scheduled to have her first sleepover tonight: one block away, with her friend M, whose brother A was to be up in the mountains, visiting his grandparents.
But A pitched a fit. And wouldn't go. Fortunately, the grandparents decided that they would be happy to take M and Boo both --- so Boo is having her first sleepover, not a block away, but an hour and a half drive away, in another state..
A moving moment: she was delighted about the prospect (we, of course, were worried she might freak out, but she didn't:-) and went off wonderfully.
Of course, we're still sitting up expecting the midnight call to come and get her...

Yours, practicing letting go,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pasta primavera

It being just summer, of course it is time to have "spring pasta".
Actually, it's probably got a completely different name, but I think of it as a light, spring-like dish: mainly tomatoes, basil and pasta. I also used a little onion and garlic for depth, and simmered half of the seeded tomatoes to produce a bit of a sauce, then threw in the remaining tomatoes near the end with a bunch of chiffonade-ed basil and some fresh thyme, salt and pepper. I topped the whole thing off with some toasted pine nuts, and it was a lovely light supper for a summer evening.
LOML is not a fan of(read: detests) olives, so I left them out: I pitted a bunch of them and sprinkled them in my plate to give a little meatiness to an otherwise vegetarian dish.... in fact, vegan, given that we forgot the parmesan cheese!

Yours, spring-like in summer,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A tragedy of errors

The Republican Party this year is feeling some stresses and strains: of course it has lost some special mid-term elections in safe seats, which must make its members feel rather miserable, and it has had some relatively safe congressmen decide to retire at the end of the session.
And it has Representative Vito Fossella of Staten Island: he was pulled, tested, and caught driving well over the legal limit (several points higher, as it were). And then it turned out that he was going to visit the mother of his child (said mother not being his wife) and things got ultra-embarrassing for him, and he decided not to run for re-election after all.
Now, if you are not a poli-junkie living in the US, you might not know this, but there are almost no Republicans left in the North East any more: so this was not good news for the GOP. And then there were attempts to find just the right person to run in his place. After much searching for a soul, any soul, they settled on Francis H. Powers. This looked for a brief period to have been a mistake: his estranged son, Francis M. Powers, was all set to run against him on the Libertarian ticket, but much to the GOP's relief, didn't manage to make it onto the ticket.

So much for the errors. And much comedy too.

And now, the tragedy. Francis H. Powers died today of natural causes. Quite young at 67.

Yours, never having seen a race like it,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A hike

We walked to Boo's new school today: someone had asked her if she knew where her new school was, and she was perturbed by the fact that she didn't: we decided that it would be worth the effort to walk there so that she could take ownership if its location, really know how she got there, etc.
It's not too far from our house (we'll likely drive her there every day, but it's close enough that at some point we'd be able to switch to walking): but the way that the children walk at the moment it took 25 minutes to get there.
And by the time we got there, Skibo had decided he needed to be carried --- so up on my shoulders he went. And that, of course, set Boo off to: she wanted a ride as well, so LOML and I basically alternated which child we were carrying for the whole trip back.
Good exercise, and fortunately it was not quite as hot as it had been, so it wasn't quite like training in the military for desert duty....

And this evening it rained. First really nice rainfall we've had, all ten minutes of it, for weeks. We need more, much more, but it was lovely while it lasted.

Yours, dripping,

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bookstore friends

We had our bookstore friends over for supper tonight (she runs the store, he is a court reporter: we've thought that they are delightful people since the day we met them almost four years ago): it was, as always, a lovely, gentle evening.
A simple meal: thick cut pork chops, pan seared: courgettes (zucchini over here) and yellow squash, cut into thick slices, and sauted until dark brown: corn on the grill. I threw together an experimental pan sauce: I minced a couple of shallots, threw them in the hot pan after the chops were cooked, sauteed them for a minute or two, and then poured a cup or so of apple juice in (I'd use non-alcoholic cider, but it's not available here at this time of year, and the alcoholic version just didn't seem right today: I was after the sweetness, not the alcohol), a spoonful of coarse dijon mustard, and a good squirt of molasses: cooked it down, and added a couple of spoonfuls of heavy cream. And salt and pepper, of course.
If you like pan sauces, it's worth trying: easy, and LOML and our friends raved about it:-)

I've only been making pan sauces for a few months now, and while I don't make them every time I cook a steak or a chop, they are easy, and good on occasion!

Yours, saucily,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

the basement

Our house is not large --- although, by UK standards, neither is it small --- it has essentially only two bedrooms (there is another room which can serve that way, but the way the house is set up makes it not really work).
We do, however, have a reasonably large basement: unfortunately, there is no way to get there without going outside the house, it is rather damp and dark, and it is not finished. We harbour hopes that at some time we can finish it, put in stairs inside, and make it nice: today we took the first steps --- removing much of the trash that has been stored down there, half of it by us, and half by those who lived here before us.
I made food: LOML and our friends carried out the junk. I definitely got the nice end of the deal.

Yours, mustily,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


For a long time, fonts have been a problem on linux. Those of us who choose to use the open source software system have had to rely on either somewhat inferior free fonts, or copying across fonts we have on a non-free system on the same machine (typically windows).
Occasionally the problem becomes severe, especially in the past, it seems, with respect to MathML: the part of XML which extends HTML to allow markup to include nicely formatted mathematical equations. It seemed (at least this member of the incogniscenti) to be almost impossible to use the lovely, free, TeX fonts to do anything web-related. And assuming that everyone had access to the same fonts on their machines was dangerous.
As recently as a year ago, it was the case with major sites that either one could view a bad markup of the mathematics, or a nicer markup with a bunch of the characters replaced by similar ones: chi was replaced by x, phi by f, etc.
It now appears, however, that things are about to get a major boost: there is an initiative, STIX fonts, which is about to release their version 1.0 of scientific and technical fonts.
This ought to help unify the font situation for the scientific and technical community. I really can't wait!

Yours, cheering,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


No, not that bad a day really. Just a little bit of the bleaughs going on. And nothing to blog about. So no real blogging today. Just this piece of (^H^H^H^H^H) imitation naugahide.

Yours, bleaughly,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Al Gore endorses Obama

I'm a big Al Gore fan: I still think that the past eight years would have been very different, much better than they have been under Bush. We might still have been attacked on 9/11 --- though Gore would be much less likely to have ignored a Clinton-era security expert than Bush, and might have actually read "Bin Laden determined to attack US" instead of "My pet goat".
I think it hugely unlikely that he'd have invaded Iraq, more than likely that he'd have pushed technology changes in fuel use, and as a result we'd probably be paying less per mile that we travel.

Gore endorsed Obama this evening: and it was a speech full of meaning and gestures, full of intent and promise: but at the same time, I ended up disappointed: I felt that Gore could have done better. But then the stations all pulled away after he was done, going to regular programming rather than showing Obama's speech afterwards, thereby saving Gore the (probably) unfavourable comparisons.

Some are talking about Gore as VP: I think that it could be an inspired appointment.

Yours, feeling like we all need to be Gore-d,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blood sucking creatures

No, not lawyers.


Skibo has learned, somewhere, somehow, of vampires.

He told me this morning that his best (imaginary) friend Dodo drinks blood. We had a little discussion about that, involving words like "yuck" and "ugh". A little later we found out that he had a dream last night about vampires, and he used the word "vampire". We are assuming that it was probably a particular child who told him of these (non-)beings: he's often the source for tales we'd wish untold, but that is okay. We need now to work on emphasizing that vampires are imaginary. And that they can't come in unless invited. Oh, and eating garlic is good for you.

Yours, with garlic breath,

Sleeping without a security blanket

Boo has decided she doesn't want to sleep with her blankie any more. This a is a good thing. "Good thing" in the sense of 1066 and all that! or Martha Stewart. Italicized, capitalized, quotated, in bold.
Her blankie, now more than five years old, is showing the wear and tear that a normal blanket might after ten times as long. Shreds here, dangly bits there, almost falling apart: if we wash it another few times it will cease to be.
And that she has decided it is time to give it up is a great, huge step:-) We are looking at ways to encase it in plastic so she can have it forever.

Even better, though, is what she told us about why she has decided to give up her blankie! She has decided that holding her blankie at night is what makes her need to suck her thumb --- and she doesn't want to suck her thumb at night any more! She proudly proclaimed this morning that since she didn't have her blankie last night, she hadn't sucked her thumb. And that's how she wants it to be:-)

Yours, relieved,

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friends come and friends go

It seems, where we live, that there are folks who have been here forever, there are folks who will be here forever, and there are folks who will be here for a while, then move on.
A best guess would be that LOML, Boo, Skibo and I are in the middle category. Unfortunately it seems that most of the people we meet, the ones we spend time with, our close friends, lie in the third group.
We went to a goodbye party this evening, a lovely time - just a great party, for the German family who rented our house when we were in Canada. Last summer they lived next door to us. We got to know them well, and will miss them. Just as we miss the other friends, many, who have moved away in the last few years.

Yours, tempted by their example,

Friday, June 13, 2008

A. A. MIlne

Who would have thought it? A. A. Milne was, before he wrote for and about Christopher Robin, a mystery author.
I discovered an early novel of his in my local used bookstore today: and had to snap it up: I will report later on how it reads.

Yours, tickledy pom,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

She did it! No camera:-(

Boo did it! She got the hang of the bicycle without training wheels! And of course, Murphy's law applied, and while both LOML and I had independently contemplated bringing along a camera, we both independently decided not to do so.
Anyway, we had the inspiration of telling her that when she feels the bicycle to begin to tilt in one direction she should turn gently in that direction: those words were the key: instantly, it seemed, her body got it, and she was off riding: going for forty or fifty feet without stopping, actually really cycling!
She's going to be unstoppable now....

Yours, unstoppable in praise of her,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Meme-spreading time

The new meme on McCain: his confusion has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he is older than dirt.
Why, I am myself older than much dirt, and I like to think that I am much less confused than Senator McCain. No, his confusion can't be blamed on his advanced age: he's just extremely confused for other reasons.

Yours, snarking,

Voter ID laws

Yet another example of a woman in her nineties being disenfranchised by voter-id laws. It would appear that this woman, who has voted in just about every election she's been eligible to vote in, can't get re-enfranchised.
And to think, it's happening in McCain's home state. Will we hear him express his protests, his disgust that the law has no way of a court determining an exception?
These voter id laws have been passed in response to crises that don't exist: the subtext is that they are there to discourage certain subgroups from voting.

Yours, wishing none of this,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

International affairs

George Bush, in 2000, running for his first term, was asked the name of the leader of Pakistan. He didn't know.
McCain, in an effort to out-Bush Bush, manages to know neither the Prime Minister of Russia nor the President of Germany. He referred to Vladimir Putin as "the President of Germany". Now admittedly, not many people outside of Germany know who the President is (after all, the real power is in the Prime Minister's office). But it is pretty bad to get both the country and the office wrong!

Yours, unable to name either the President of Burundi, or the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan (but then, I'm not running for President of anything),

David and Goliath

At lunchtime today I went to a fast food restaurant (I know, I know, and in fact I agree with the sentiment: I shouldn't patronize such places... but LOML and the children were headed there prior to going swimming, and I wanted to go with them...)
On the way home, I drove my car (since I had come straight from work) -- and watched as LOML turned the minivan in the wrong direction. I pulled up next to where the van parked, and rolled down the window.

Having no camera with us at the time, word will have to paint a picture for you.

"Look at that", said LOML, pointing at a mockingbird, divebombing a hawk! The aerial display continued as the hawk took flight, leaving the fencepost on which it was sitting, and attempted to soar off. No such luck: the mockingbird flew on after it relentlessly, attacking its tail, and appearing almost to land on its back in mid flight! Finally, a quarter of a mile away, they disappeared behind a stand of trees.

Yours, astonished,


Watch John McCain sometime. I know, I know, it's painful, but watch one of his speeches, and watch his blink rate. It's incredible: he beats Bush on a blatantly lying day by a beat rate of two to one! I don't like to assume that just because someone is blinking like crazy that they are saying something that they don't believe --- after all, perhaps he is just so old that his tearducts have dried up, or something, but....

Yours, wondering if he's on the blink,


A day of local/statewide primary elections today.
And being that we live in a one-party state (nearly) LOML and I both had to as for (gasp) Republican party ballots (there was one race on the D ballot, and four on the R ballot, including three where we had strong preferences one way or another).
As I approached the sign-in desk, and had to ask for a R ballot, the woman in front of me expressed essentially the same feeling: at which point the woman running the show said "Yes, we've heard the same sentiment from a lot of people today".

At the moment it looks like two of the three races where we have a strong preference have gone sour. Oh well.

Yours, flying false colours,

Monday, June 9, 2008

Congratulations to MrsM

Congratulations to MrsM, who celebrated her blogiversaire just a couple of days ago by getting offered a new (and hopefully even better) job!

And, I'm glad to say, she didn't decide to stop blogging!

Yours, passing on the celebration meme,

New books

I'm now the proud owner of a bunch more origami books: Dover Press publishes a bunch of reasonably priced, relatively cheaply printed books: among them a good number of origami texts: and I've just taken possession of a slew of them.
Enough, it seems, that at one new fold a day I'm busy until the end of the year. And a few months after that too.

The first to be folded, a Montroll pelican. A lovely, intermediate fold.

Yours, getting set to fold,

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I suspect

I suspect that the first second is the hardest. Learning to trust that you are not going to fall over. Once you get past that, the second second must come easier, and after a few seconds, it's just a case of keeping it going.

Boo has just transcended the first second, perhaps two. This evening we went out to the nearby dentist's parking lot (where there is lots of shade!) and despite the heat, LOML and I took turns running along holding her upright on her bicycle, and letting go when she felt stable. And by the end of twenty minutes (which is all we could take: it is not just hot here right now, it is hot!) she had managed lots of times to ride for a full few milliseconds. And then on the way home, while Skibo and I went on ahead, LOML helped her on the sidewalk --- just outside our house, I heard LOML calling me from behind: "She's got it!" And sure enough, she's got it! The first second! Now the seconds will come easier, and before we know it, we are going to be terrified about her on the roads every second of the day!

Yours, on balance,

Saturday, June 7, 2008


People often ask me what the difference is between the UK and the US. Rarely can I cite an example quite as clear as this judicially ordered courtroom spanking: I am especially disturbed by the comments from the readers.

Yours, sickened,

The speech we've been waiting for

Hillary Clinton gave a great speech today: I felt that she has taken great steps towards unifying the party behind Obama, and did much to make up for McCauliffe's "next President" remarks in introducing her on Tuesday evening.
It is clear now that she will work as hard as is necessary for his election, that she realises her future is better with her going all out to help him rather than standing back and hoping that he falls.
Good. It's time to get the national focus on the differences in policy and person between Obama and McCain. On to the general election.
Mind you, hearing the press continually harping about how "compressed" the schedule is --- we have about 150 days to go -- is amazing: how other countries can run an election in just a few weeks the press here will never know!

Yours, relieved, but not too surprised,


The problem with having children of different ages is that they do things for the first time at different times. And almost always, it is the older who does something first: even if the second child does it at a younger age, it is hard to remember that.

Boo had decided recently that she wants to ride her bicycle without her training wheels: so this morning we took the wheels of and LOML ran behind her holding the saddle, over and over again.

Mind you, I think on this score we might remember that Skibo rides without training wheels younger: he looked almost ready today --- and LOML ran up and down behind him too. It won't be long, I think.

Yours, unready for life without training wheels,


I'm fuming at the moment: at a piece of software that I use on a regular basis in my work: they've changed their interfaces over the years, and had been thoughtful enough in the past to keep the old interface around for people like me: the old interface is less glitzy, but far more powerful than the new interface. However, when I installed the latest version on my 64 bit machine, I discovered that they have decided not to support the old interface on top level hardware.

So that had me fuming, and writing nast-e-mails to the software company.

Then (after more glitches over a week or two) I spent some time working last night, discovering bit after bit of useful information related to some stuff I've been doing: getting more and more excited about some interesting details that turned up, until, two hours later I realised that what I was seeing was impossible.

And so now I'm putting in bug reports (on a part of the software which was probably written twenty years ago -- fortunately I know the person who probably wrote that part of the code, so I have sent a bug report in that direction!) rather than working on something exciting. It's a very serious bug, albeit one that appears not to have appeared in the past twenty years --- I wonder how much it has happened and caused errors in people's research!

Yours, putting a bug in the company's ear,

Friday, June 6, 2008

If John McCain has any sense

If Senator McCain has any sense, he'll green-screen again. This may look like he's being picked on by Colbert, but it is probably the biggest gift he could be given. All he needs to do is pick up the gauntlet and run with it himself: produce a green-screening of his own speech, and make it a theme for all of his future speeches. It could even make him look media savvy! And I don't mean those new-fangled "technicolor" moving picture shows that he thinks I mean, either.

Yours, screening for your pleasure,

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Fist bumping

Our friend L has a gesture we love: when Boo has done something good, L will bump fists with her and say "Rock on, sister!" It's a lovely gesture of solidarity, an emphasis on strong women, and her passing that on to Boo makes us love L all the better:-)
So we got chills watching Obama's speech, or more precisely his interaction with Michelle Obama right before his speech on Tuesday: he gave her the rock-on sister bump.
Infinitely more inspiring to see than the John McCain "I can speak slowly through lime green jello" speech earlier in the evening.

Yours, bumping up,

Thoughts on the primary

I've tried, and I suspect, failed, to try to remain respectful of both candidates over the past few weeks of the primary process. I was particularly disappointed, as I may have mentioned on Tuesday, with Hillary Clinton's speech that night -- as I was with her being introduced as "the next president of the USA" at a point at which this was a ridiculous statement to make.
But that is over. Now the former rivals are meeting (having surprised the press, keeping word of the meeting quiet): and I have to say that in the two days since the final primaries, Hillary has been more impressive. I hope that she will be able to persuade her supporters to turn to backing Obama: whether he chooses to place her on the ticket, in the cabinet, or to rely on her in the Senate (certainly to shepherd through the healthcare legislation he's promised) she is going to play a leading role in America's political future -- and I think that that role is brighter if he wins the election than if he loses it. As is the future of the country.

Yours, looking for a brighter future,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Second thoughts

We're beset with second thoughts right now.... especially about the children, and moving them from Montessori to the public system. Granted, it will save us on the order of ten thousand dollars a year in fees: and granted, we are big believers in supporting public education: but we're worrying whether it is going to work.

Boo is not helping -- not that that is her role here -- by being sad to the point of tearful at the thought of leaving her current school, of not seeing her teacher again (though LOML and I think we may invite her over to dinner at some point). Until a few weeks ago, Boo had been excited at the prospect of going to the local school: and it may well work out wonderfully: but her newfound resistance is going to make it harder.

Yours, hopeful still, but nervous,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

From the winner's platform

It must be easier as the winner to extend a word of praise to the loser. And I thought that that was borne out this evening by Barack Obama's praise, fulsome and deserved of Hillary Clinton: he was generous to a fault. Her speech, on the other hand, when it is clear that he has won, was short of recognition of that fact: had I not known that she had lost the nomination, I might have taken it for a victory speech.
And her words of him? They were few. Kind, perhaps, sort of, but few.

I think that she bought herself not being offered the VP slot this evening.

Yours, politely,
I almost posted earlier, but it wasn't clear. And now it is.
I thought that Obama would want South Dakota's delegates to put him over the edge, just in case the race there didn't go his way -- as the only recent poll has strongly suggested it might -- and that way, he denies the Hillary story it would provide.

I cancelled the post about twenty minutes ago, and at 9, the anchors broke into John McCain's "speech" to announce that finally Obama has won the nomination.

Yours, finally,

The race

It appears that in a few minutes --- or an hour or two at most --- the race for the Democratic Party's nomination for president will be over. As in really over. Unless something changes in the next couple of months.

And as our friend E said today (and she's an ardent feminist, professor, head of women's studies...) it would be truly wonderful to have a woman candidate. But she's willing to wait for the one who won't pander, for the one she can believe in.

Truth be told, I think that both Clinton and Obama are guilty of some serious pandering this election season: I think Clinton's has been worse, and of course, neither hold a candle to the true Pander Bear, Senator McCain. But they have all done it.

At least now the campaign can really start: and the focus can be on which of two extremely different plans are better for the country: facing environmental catastrophe scientifically mindset or an ideological mindset: a continuation of Bush-style appointments to the supreme court, or a return to reality: tax cuts for the uber-wealthy, or sharing the cost of providing services for the country: understanding that our place in the world is as one of many, or trying to push the rest of the world around: etc.

Yours, ready for round two,

Monday, June 2, 2008

An early morning Boo-ism

Boo came into our bedroom this morning, relatively early (i.e. she woke up herself, rather than needing to be awakened! and it was a school day!) and said "Mummy, Daddy, do you know what I dreamed?"
We denied all knowledge.
"I dreamt that Miss G was playing 'Make and break harbour' on her radio at school".
I explained that I didn't think that Miss G would know that song, and asked if perhaps she'd like to sing it to her: Boo replied that she didn't know it well enough.
So I suggested we lie there and sing it together: we did: it was a beautiful moment, absolutely gorgeous.

Now, I've been singing her the classic Stan Rogers' lament about the end of the fishing industry in the Maritimes as a bedtime song for months now --- she first requested it after I'd gone round the house singing it for a while: it's a beautiful song, so sad, yet at the same time, full of the hope one can find in the most desperate surroundings. And since she first requested it, our bedtime ritual has included the following:
Me: "Who would like a song or a poem?"
Skibo: "I want what Boo wants"
Boo: "Copycat. I want Railroad cat (TS Eliot), Train Whistle Blowing (aka Morningtown Ride), Monsieur le President (aka Le Deserteur) and Make and Break Harbour"
Within the year, I expect to be doing a full length concert for them each night:-)

Yours, sung out, out loud, and loving every minute of it,

Facebook to facebook

I still don't understand facebook. I don't really see what advantages it has over blogging: and I see a bunch of disadvantages. But I have taken a few more facebook-y steps in the past couple of days.
My cousin friend-ed me on facebook on the weekend, and of course I confirmed her to my circle of friends: this reminded me that I was a member of facebook (don't ask why: there is a not-great, and prosaic reason). I hadn't logged on in at least many months.

But since I had logged on, I looked to see what some people I knew were doing: one, it turned out, had gone to study at Oxford for a year, which was surprising and interesting, and gave me the impetus to email her and find out how things had gone.
Today I found myself being friended again by some new people. When will it end? Probably when I don't get facebook still, and hence don't interact with it!

Yours, faceless,

Acting the part of a student today

Geek alert. Geek alert. (Obligatory disclaimer: no chickens were harmed in the production of this geek post).

This afternoon I went to a class on using linux: I went mainly because the class is essentially a prerequisite to the next course: on using a rather moderately sized cluster of machines designed to work in parallel: and I want to supervise some work on that cluster --- so I decided to attend all the courses so that I am well informed.

It reminds me of what it is like to be a student: and especially, what it is like to be a student in a class in which you know most of the material. Or in today's case, all of the material: I wanted to jump up and volunteer to help teach the class: but I stayed put and stayed quiet. There'll be time to help out later if it gets harder: and I can give some of the other students help tomorrow morning if they need help keeping up. And since they are already working with/for me, it makes it easier for me to jump in...

Yours, in geekiness,

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Soaking the corn

In response to Alice's question below: why do I soak the corn before cooking it?
I like to cook over high heat: and if I put corn (in the husks) directly onto the grill, the husks would burn up immediately. However, if I soak the corn for a little while, half an hour or so, the husks absorb some of the water, and they are slower to burn.
I usually grill the ears until the outer husks are completely charred, and the inner husks are charred enough that the kernels have just picked up a little hint of charring.
In addition, the water held by the husks has the effect of steaming the kernels inside as well, so they get a combination of a grilled and steamed flavour. I have also seen suggestions that putting a knob of butter inside the husk works well too --- but I prefer to rub the butter onto the husk after the grilling is over.

Yours, huskily,