Sunday, January 31, 2010


Having reached not just the magic 100 yesterday, but 110,  I rather failed to keep up today.  I folded exactly one.

Yours, failing the grade,

Saturday, January 30, 2010


In the story of our life this season (weather-wise, that is),  we were hit by another snowstorm just missing us today.  All around the area, heavy snowfalls: at 5 this morning, freezing rain heavy enough to let me know how deep the snow could have been had it been snowing, but it wasn't.

Fortunately, once again we got three ten thousands of an inch of snow (or thereabouts): just enough for the kids to run around in the falling flakes yelling "it's snowing!  it's snowing!"

But I'd love to have a bit more.

Yours, always wanting more,

Friday, January 29, 2010

95 and counting

Thanks to a colleague teaching today, and a committee meeting this afternoon, I was able to fold a bunch of extra dinosaurs during the day.  This evening, I've set to with a vengeance as well, and I'm now up to 95, with a couple more to go tonight.

Yours, looking forward to triple digits tomorrow,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dinosaur update

I've been folding away in a mini-frenzy (well, at least a couple of hours a day) and am now at 75 dinosaurs completed.  That's about 25% of how many I think that I need to do, so at this rate, I'll be done by the beginning of March.  I'm probably going to fold a "few" extra --- a few dozen, that is, I guess.
It's interesting: I'm not sure that I'm getting particularly better at constructing them, but I'm getting new ideas as to how to make subtle changes.  Unfortunately, since I want all 300 to be close to identical,  I don't have the energy to play with the changes for a month or so!

Yours, with tired fingers,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


(That's State of the Union, for those not in the US).
Obama gave his first SOTU address to Congress this evening (although strictly speaking, one could make the case that any address the President makes to Congress could be considered a SOTU, over here they insist on designating one speech a year in this way).  It's a bit like the Queen's speech, except that now that we have Obama and not Bush, we have have someone who really knows how to deliver a speech.
They have this persistent, and to my ears, very tired phrase: "The state of the Union is strong" which sounds worse year after year when I hear it.  But other than that, I thought that it was a reasonably strong speech.  He clearly threw a few tidbits to the left, and he beat up on the right a little, but only a little.  I suspect that it probably polled pretty well.  MSNBC didn't have the little lines tracking the focus groups with twisters to see how people were reacting, so I'll have to wait a day or so to find out how it hit those only occasionally engaged by politics.

The Republican response, on the other hand, was quite forgettable.  The brand new Governor of Virginia, surrounded by a carefully chosen group of clearly diverse individuals, all applauding tremendously.  It looked quite fake, especially compared to the reluctance of congressional republicans to applaud Obama.  And the speech?  Not any better, I thought, than Jindal was last year.

Yours, as ever, a junkie for politics,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Folding 300

I'm now more than a sixth of the way through folding the dinosaurs!  I just finished number 51 this evening.

Yours, roaring,

Bella is back

Poor Bella is back from the vet, having had two injections to treat her heartworm.  Apparently these are painful, and likely to leave her a little subdued for a couple of days: this is certainly the case this evening.  Unfortunately for her, she's not allowed to run around or get excited for several weeks now, which I am sure is going to be difficult, both for her and for us.
We'll just have to give her lots of gentle loving for a few weeks.

Yours, sorry we had to do it, but knowing that it's the right thing,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Some thoughts on politics

I'll scrunch all these thoughts into one post.

On the issue of health care: the Democratic party really needs to pass a bill: at the moment, the only option seems to me to be that the house pass the senate bill, together with some understanding, written or not, that the house and senate will both pass improvements via reconciliation (improving those parts that can be improved that way).  At least this way we can ban discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, get a good number more people covered, and make a bit of progress.  If we throw everything away, we lose a lot.

On corporate personhood: what a ridiculous notion: and now there is the idea that corporations --- as pseudo-persons, through a right to freedom of speech --- should be allowed to spend as much as they can to influence elections?  Two points here:  first, that the threat of spending is the real worry: not that corporations will actually spend, but that their threats to do so will have a really chilling, and untraceable, effect on legislators.   Second, the country has made a decision that we don't allow non-citizens to vote in our elections.  And yet we're going to allow corporations, international or not, to buy our elections?  Let's at the very least insist on a modest proposal: any company seeking to avail itself of its new-found political influence should be required to prove that it is 100% US owned.

Finally, yet another Republican voices his opinion: this time it is SC Lieutenant Governor, Andre Bauer.  He has said that his grandmother taught him not feed strays as it only encourages them to breed: he said this in the context of aid to the poor being a bad thing.  My response?  Don't vote for Republicans: it just encourages them to breed.  If they are out of office, they might well have more time to breed, but they will have lost the ultimate aphrodisiac, as Kissenger described it.

Yours, venting,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beautiful Bella

Our lovely new old dog --- Bella, a beautiful golden retriever, found over Christmas by a friend, and owners untraceable --- needs to visit the vet tomorrow.  She's tested positive for heartworm, and it is serious enough, apparently, to put her through some misery.  She loves to run, to chase balls, to play, and these are all going to be forbidden to her for a little while.  But hopefully, she'll be stronger for it in the end, and around for much, much longer.

Yours, hoping she'll still be a ball-chaser after she's better,

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Some lovely people over for dinner this evening, and some lovely food to share with them.  I made a chicken biryani for the adults, not particularly spicy, but fairly flavourful, and had spaghetti and meatballs (redux) for the children: (we'd had that last night, and there was sauce left: I threw together some more meatballs for the encore).
I've got to say that at the moment I'm feeling rather uninspired when I try to come up with what to eat: LOML and I have a tradition of being the first to ask the other "what do you want to eat this evening", and at the moment, I'm finding it hard to answer...  I'm fine when someone else tells me what they want to eat, however, and am really  looking forward to the day when Boo and Skibo are able to tell me what they'd like for dinner (other than the answer these days, which is always "ice cream"!)

Yours, currying favour, or favouring curry,

Friday, January 22, 2010


I'm making three hundred (or so) origami dinosaurs --- my own T-Rex design.  They take, depending on time and place and motivation, between ten and twenty minutes each.  Nearer ten when I'm on track.  I have until mid March or so to fold them.  I've done 16 so far. 

Yours, knowing that you're wondering why, and whether I am crazy,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Flew, shot

I'm guessing that it may be because I'm tired, and that it may be because I was on several planes over the past few days, and with 5000 of my closest friends for the best part of a week.  But the coincidence is just too good.

I got my flu shot this morning.  Completely painless, quick, sure to (perhaps) protect me (or perhaps lend a bit of protection: the experts differ as to how effective flu shots are).  I had been meaning to get one for a while.

Two hours later, as I prepared to listen to a talk by one of the leading experts in mathematical models of vaccine distribution (who gave a great talk on why we should vaccinate all school children first, then the rest of the population if possible), as I was thinking about the flu, and secure that I had been vaccinated, I started to feel, well, flu-ish.
Perhaps it's a cold.  Perhaps it's the flu.  Who knows.  But this evening, I feel crummy.

Yours, sniffling in public,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oh MA! Oh MA!

Oh MA!  How could you do it?  How could you vote for someone who has a history like he does?  Not just teabagging, not just curling irons.  But those are particularly out of sync, surely, with many of the voters who voted for him, or stayed at home and voted against her with their (lack of) feet.

Yours, disgusted,

Tripping the flight fantastic

Just booked my next flights.  I get to stay home for over a month before the next trip.  And it's back to San Francisco --- or more accurately, San Mateo, south of SF by a few miles.  The hotel I'm booked into looks stunning, in a very modern sort of way, and I think that the conference --- on education and technology -- will be very interesting.  Hopefully I'm ready to travel again by then!
I feel bad for LOML and the children, my travelling so much, and also for my students: it is always disruptive to have a substitute teach a class.  But needs must, and all.  Two trips in February, two in March, and as far as I know, that's it for this semester.  But still, that's a lot of hugs to children not given, and a lot of classes missed.

I still haven't recovered my wanderlust, my love of travel --- and after last week, it may take a trip to a luxury hotel with no flight snafus --- self-imposed or otherwise --- to even start to get me back on track. 

Yours, flipping the trite fantastic,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mixing it up

Or not.
Our mixer died yesterday.
It was a tireless workhorse, but it was not without its complaints.
Indeed, every time I turned it on, it made loud complaining noises.

Supposedly, KitchenAid mixers are the best in the business, but we've had serious issues with them.  This is the fifth one we have had since we moved up here.  Others have just ceased to turn at all: this time, a whole chunk of the mixer, the bit that turns while holding the attachment, fell off, fortunately not into the bread dough.

Time for a new brand of mixer, I fear.  A shame --- I had always thought that KA were the best one could get, but unfortunately, experience is telling us something different.

Yours, mixing it up, but at the moment, only by hand,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gently does it

After a few days away, the last thing that I needed was to be back at work in the morning: and fortunately, since today was MLK's birthday, that fate was easy to avoid.  I'll have to go in tomorrow, but at least I can make the trip short.
And so, I  managed to spend  a lovely day with family.

Yours, readier for work tomorrow than I would have been today,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Comedies of errors

In spite of mistakes over the past little while (including, most seriously, booking my return trip for the wrong day! the first time I've ever done that) it looks like I might actually make it home soon.

Yours, a little older, a little wiser, and quite a bit poorer,\

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This post was an accident.

Accidentally yours,

Friday, January 15, 2010


How lovely it was today to spend the morning thinking about mathematics and origami!
And legitimately!   And to finally get to meet some wonderful origami people!
My day was made!

Yours, having had my day made,

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Saw lots of people today at the conference, which was lovely.  Unfortunately a couple of people I'd really like to have seen couldn't make it:  but that's the way it is with global friends.

I did, however, manage to pick up some lovely swag.  You know, when you go to a conference and you want to find things to bring home to LOM:L or Boo or Skibo?  Well, let me just say that a non-existent spy agency has great swag:-)

Yours, looking forward to a swag-free tomorrow,

At the conference

Today is a slightly less busy day for the conference schedule --- so I have to go around the book displays deciding which few new treasured volumes will meet my shelves.  I'll always visit my two favourite publishers first, A K Peters --- small, helpful, nicely priced, and with a fantastic catalogue for my interests: the other, CUP is a larger, academic press, but they have a wonderful staff, and a great collection of books.  With each of them, it's like seeing old friends again.
Strike that, it is seeing old friends again!

Tomorrow will likely be a busier day: I'm helping judge undergraduate research in the afternoon, there are a bunch of plenary talks I want to go to, and best of all, there's a whole session on origami and math in the morning. I"m really looking forward to that, even if it does mean catching  the 7:10 ferry!

Origami, mathematics, and friends: what more could I ask?  At least for a few days while I'm away:-)

Yours, planning the days out,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bad flights, bad airports

but I'm here safe and sound and seeing friends, mathematical and non mathematical, and enjoying spending time with people I have not seen in ages.
The scenery is stunning, as one expects in San Francisco --- and it's been really amazing to have great public transport --- ferries and all! --- to commute across the bay!

Yours, in relief,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Leaving, on a jet plane

but I do know when I'll be back again.  Going west to a conference, going to have a chance to meet mathematicians I haven't seen for a while (weeks, months, years, possibly even decades).  Also to catch up with a good friend from many years ago.
And now that I'm at the airport, and no longer have to remember what to pack, or decide which computer to take, or make any other decisions, I can relax a bit more.  So far, the only thing that I've realised that I forgot to pack is my noise cancelling headphones, and I can manage without them.

Yours,  uncancelled,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Alone again,

naturally,.... but not as depressed as Gilbert O'Sullivan...

Second evening in the house by myself -- tomorrow I fly off to San Francisco.  Again, the house feels very strange, knowing that it's just me.   I could, of course, go over and check on the children, but it's far better not to, I think: it would just be disruptive and get in the way of them enjoying extended sleepovers.  So I'm just sitting here, thinking about packing my suitcase for the trip, wondering whether to take one computer or two, etc.

LOML is apparently having a great time: the hotel is lovely, and rather more comfortable than the one we stayed in in England last month.

Only a few more hours before the trip: I hate this day-before-trip thing.  Tomorrow will be much better.

Yours, off to pack,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

All by myself (don't wanna be, all by myself,....)

LOML left this afternoon for a conference.   Since I'm leaving on Tuesday, we arranged for Boo and Skibo to have an extended sleepover with best friends for the next few days (thanks, E&C!) 
And so now I've kissed the children goodnight, walked home, and I'm sitting here humming an old song. 

Yours, thinking what a strange feeling it is to be alone in the house at night,

Saturday, January 9, 2010


As a sucker for shows about the supernatural, I just watched the premiere of Demons, the new British show about the descendent of Van Helsing.  Thoroughly enjoyable, until the final moments.  Did they really think that it was absolutely necessary to toss off a line about how worthless his schooling was?

Yours, in praise of education, even for vampire hunters,

Where travel is concerned, I'm Scrooge

Not because I object to the cost of travel (which, of course, I do --- doesn't everyone?) but because it makes me want to say "Bah.  Humbug."
When did this happen?  Back when I live near a major airport, when I could hop on the subway, and be at checkin within twenty minutes, and get a direct flight to most major destinations, travel was fun. 
Part of it, now that I have family, is that I don't want to be away from them.
But it's more, I'm sure.  It's not helped by the fact that flying from MAI, (minor airport international, one flight per year to somewhere other than the US gets them their "international" status) is more expensive: flying to San Francisco next week is a twelve hour trip, three flights, each way.  At least coming back it will give me a chance to catch up on my lack of sleep. 

Yours, Dickensianly,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fin de semaine

The end of a week, shortened by starting on Wednesday, and my schedule this semester is far less crazy than last semester.  And I'm already exhausted!
I think that my tiredness is in anticipation of next week's trip out west: making sure that I'm already beat will make me enjoy a 12 hour trip, three flights, so much more.  Especially coming back overnight!

Yours, wondering whether this semester will ever end,

Thursday, January 7, 2010


For the past two days, they've predicted snow for today.
This morning, the prediction was for this afternoon.
This afternoon, the prediction was for this evening.
This evening, the prediction is for snow.  Somewhere else.

Yours, precipitation free, and sad about it,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Short posts

One of these days, I will post more than three lines again.  At the moment, my blogging is facing almost a perfect storm.  I'm starting the new term at work, taking way more time than I have to spare: I'm just back from two trips, and heading off on a third, taking way more time than I have to spare: the children are back in school, and so LOML and I have to help get them to bed early, do their homework, shuffle them off to school in the morning (granted, this is 93% LOML, but still, it seems to take more and more time!): write notes, recommendation letters, etc.  All of which takes more time than I... oh, you get the picture.  Still life is good, but I have no time or energy to blog about it.

Plus, I have nothing to say.  And still, it takes me three lines (or more, today) to say it!
Yours, three-lining it in general,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Going to San Francisco

Having flown twice in two months, I'm going to do it again this month.
Next week I'm off to San Francisco -- to a conference, and to see friends from long ago, from short ago, and in between.

Yours, feeling like there should be a song there,

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to work

I went back to work today, for the first time in a couple of weeks.   I managed a full half-day before deciding I needed to go home and have a nap:-) Hopefully by the time classes start on Wednesday I will have recovered my energy enough to teach from 12:20-3:30 straight!

Yours, preparing for a new beginning,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Retrieving our status as pet carers

Not long ago we had two dogs and two cats (and three cats before that):  after all our pets reached a long-life end, we found new ones (or rather, let them find us).
Today we went from a dog and two cats to two dogs and two cats: we've brought into our house, with the intention of keeping, a lovely female golden retriever by the name of Belle.    She's a sweetheart with people, appears to love to play, and we are looking forward to a very happy time with her!

Yours, retrieving a retriever,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Everything is going swingingly

We dropped the children with friends, and went to pick up the swing set.   Santa had very kindly dropped it off at a neighbours house, since we were not here to keep it safe at Christmas.
Then LOML and I, with the much appreciated assistance of a friend, spent a couple of hours sorting through the various parts, and getting started on assembling the contraption.

It looks like it will be, in concept at least, reasonably simple to put together.  However, the instructions could do with much fine tuning, and just finding which bolt is B-TB, and which washer and nut go with it, has already proved rather irritating.  At two points we had to go back and reverse pieces because
(a) the instructions didn't make it clear until three steps later that we had them in the wrong direction, and (b) it was physically possible to insert the pieces upside down.
Fortunately the weather, while cold, was bright and sunny, and promises to be the same today.  We'll go out in the heat of noon (just below freezing) to finish the job.

Yours, putting it all together.

Friday, January 1, 2010

fin de décennie

It seems, as we approach the fin de décennie (no, the decade didn't end yesterday....) that the world is rapidly approaching hell in a hand basket. The news from Afghanistan, from Pakistan, from Juarez, and from everywhere regarding flights, has been very depressing. 
Our experience with flights and security was interesting: fortunately the folks at Heathrow were able to save the world from disaster by discovering the honey which LOML had packed into our carry on bags, but other than that, getting into the departure lounge was relatively straightforward.  Getting from there to the gate took an inordinately long amount of time, though.  We waited, standing in place, for over an hour to get body-frisked and have our hand baggage searched (this, remember, after we'd gone through detectors and our bags had gone through x-rays to get into the area!)  I don't mean to demean any risks, but this seemed to me to be an ineffective method of eliminating risk.  And at the expense of seriously pissing off passengers.  I've never resented business class passengers quite the same way before as I did watching them get to walk through and get frisked early!
My worry is that we'll all say "we're doing something about it" and not worry whether what we are doing is going to deter, detect or destroy any danger.

And as to the end of the decade snark above, the first decade went from years 1 to 10.  There was no year 0.  Thus, every subsequent decade in the counting scheme should also start with 1 and end in 0.

Of course, I won the argument in 1999 with everyone I explained it to, even if they didn't accept that I was right.  And yet I celebrated the beginning of 2000 with everyone regardless.  After all, no matter how well I'd won the argument, I knew nobody would be celebrating a millennium with me a year later!

Yours, finally celebrating,