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

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,

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,

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On my way to Washington


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,

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.


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,

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,

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,

Harold Pinter and Eartha Kitt

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

Yours, in celebration of great lives,

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

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,


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,

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,

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,


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,

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!

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,

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,

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,

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,

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"?

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

Thursday, December 4, 2008


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!)

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,

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,

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,