Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thrilling finishes

Canada was ahead by one rock with a couple of ends to play last night:  and in a thrilling finish to the men's curling competition, they took a couple of rocks to lead by three with an end to play. 
Today, the US came back to tie the men's ice hockey final with just half a minute or so to play.  And in a thrilling finish, Sidney Crosby came back to score the first goal in the sudden death playoff.
As one with a love for Canada, these two events with thrilling finishes made for thrilling finishes to a wonderful olympic games.  And it's great to see records fall: both total medals (taken by US) and number of golds (by Canada).

Yours, loving the humour of the closing ceremony,

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Slow walking the return to normality

Finally, finally, it is beginning to look as though everyone in the house is well again.  Slowly, and at night-time there are still awful coughing bouts from Skibo (at the moment): but with luck, this will continue in the right direction.

I'm back folding again: the number has increased by about 25, so even though I'm closing on the original 300, I've got about 35 or so left to do.  Provided I stay well, there's plenty of time to finish: I intend to be done several weeks ahead of time.  Time to get caught up on everything else too, I guess.

Yours, needing the break that comes after I get back from being away!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lurking lurgy

The pall of the plague lingers on: Boo and Skibo are getting back to normal, slowly, but LOML is still suffering.  I've been fortunate, so far (and trying to assist my luck with lots of handwashing with hot water): it seems this is a nasty bug --- probably norovirus (which just burst back into the news with a vengeance: 400+ passengers on a cruise ship contracted it this week): apparently if you get it you can continue to infect others for a long time after your symptoms are gone, which is troubling.  There's been a "dramatic increase in cases" in the area, according to the local newspaper, and the symptoms match.  So, hand washing it is.

Yours, hoping LOML feels better soon, and that I don't feel worse,

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I was fascinated, by the way, to discover the etymology of the word lurgi or lurgy.  It was apparently invented out of whole cloth by The Goon Show for their episode "The Lurgi Strikes Britain", and has been adopted to describe a non-specific but often nasty illness.
This led to a very pleasant half hour exploring the wikipedia page for The Goon Show, accompanied by reminiscences of hearing occasional episodes of the show on the radio when I was very young.

Yours, still inspired to say "Hello, Eccles!" in a silly voice on occasion,

The dreaded lurgi

Or lurgy, the alternate spelling.  It's visiting our house, our neighbourhood, town, county, state.  People all over are coming down with a very nasty stomach bug, gastrointestinal misery for a few days.
Boo's had it on and off since Saturday, Skibo since Tuesday or so, and now LOML's had it for a day.  My return to the house has consequently been rather more muted than it might have been.

I'm expecting to come down with it any day now --- hopefully sooner rather than later, or not at all, since my next trip is next week.

Yours, doing what little I can to make LOML, Boo and Skibo feel more comfortable and get better,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More conference stuff

Yesterday there were some more wonderful talks: Laurence Peters gave a keynote address on seven ways that technology is changing: very informative, very entertaining: unfortunately it isn't clear that it will be on line: most of the other presentations will be viewable in a few days time, I believe.
The dinner last night was at the Museum of Technology: fine food, good wine, and lots to see and do.  Unfortunately not enough time to see everything at the museum -- but what we did see was interesting and fun.

The conference has now finished: now it's time to head to the airport in a bit, and then to travel home: my flight's late, a red-eye, with a connection, so I won't make it to the house until perhaps 11am: fortunately, I don't think that I have any obligations tomorrow, so I can catch up on sleep in the afternoon!

I've missed LOML and Boo and Skibo --- it'll be so nice to spend a few days with them before my next trip: this time south rather than west.

Yours, playing the global (or at least national) traveller,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interesting day

I spent the afternoon at HP's site, being shown (with 120 of my new closest friends) their technology.  Most interesting, their high tech house, replete with things I want (e.g. an oven which can cool food: use it as a fridge for hours, then turn it on over the internet so the food cooks while you are still at work, and is ready when you get home) but will never afford: other things that are possibly a year or two away from being possible to afford: combination computer/television built for kitchen use (complete with apps for recipe manipulation) and a bunch of other things which will come down in price over the next few years.
Also saw a fantastic talk on innovation, which I will share later (google "Killer Innovations" and he will show up.)

Yours, considering today rather better than yesterday,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grump grump grump

So I'm in California, for a conference about computing, at a hotel booked by the organisers of the conference, paid for by the organisers, and in order to connect to the fracksticklepasting internet, I have to pay $8 per day to tmobile.  Not only that, because of the way tmobile does things, it takes 30 minutes of trying, and then another 20 minutes with tech support to manage to get connected.

Yes, I invented the word "fracksticklepasting".  Feel free to use it in impolite company.  It's really not for use in polite company.

Yours, needing to invent some words right now,

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Off to SF again

And once again, I'm off.  To the west coast again, to a conference run by HP.
My flight is nicely delayed in Atlanta.  Nicely, in that we expect that it will leave about an hour late.

Yours, posting spottily for a few days,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Poor wee Boo

Poor wee Boo.  She's been sick today.  Only once, but it was an absolute doozy.  Our golden had run off (she has more holes in the fence -- every time we close one she finds another) and we were driving around looking for her, when Boo exclaimed that her tummy hurt: I turned for home: a minute later, she announced that she was going to throw up: I asked her how long she could hold it, and in response, with the house in view, one stop sign away, she projectile-vomited all over her clothes, herself, and the back seat of my car.

After much googling, it's clear that it is an ordinary, extremely unpleasant, case of stomach flu.

Yours, feeling terrible for her.

Happy Anniversary to my Mum and Dad

Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad!  Quite golden!

With love,
N, LOML, Boo and Skibo

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back home for a day and a half

And just like that, I'm back home.
A hundred and fifty miles or so this evening, and I've returned to the house.  Our friends are bringing Boo and Skibo back once they've finished their dinner, and I'm catching up on sitting down and relaxing for a few minutes.

I felt really good about the review process I participated in: I really think that we did a good job with the oral presentation, making the case for some involvement from higher administration, pushing to make a few things happen sooner rather than later (and in a couple of instances, a few days difference could make the world of difference in the outcome).  So, I think that I have served my purpose well.  We still have to write the formal written review, but that should be relatively straightforward, I think.

Yours, thinking it strange to feel like a grown-up who's done a good job....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fun as a grown-up

Visiting another department, interviewing the faculty, students, staff, etc to do a review is rather fun.  Of course, there's a document to write at the end: this will take forming our good impressions and thoughts into coherent paragraphs, making a document that makes a good case that they are doing well, but with support can do better --- but it won't be hard to make that good case. 

Yours, not wanting to review a dysfunctional department, but enjoying this one,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Playing catch-up

Having missed two days of work this week, I played catch up this morning.  This was made quadruply more difficult given that I had to leave this afternoon for a trip: I'm playing grown-up-academic for two days, helping a program with a self-assessment exercise.  I've never done this sort of thing before and am consequently a little nervous about it. 
This evening a group of us went out for dinner: the two external evaluators, some internal folks, and a half dozen people from the department.  Great food --- Indian, which I don't get anything like enough of at home, unless I make it -- and stimulating conversation, much of it about the department, where it is, where it needs to be, how it is served by the IT group, etc. 
And so now, to bed, with reading material for tomorrow.

Yours, not ready to play grown-up, but forcing myself to play ready to play grown-up,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Parental pride and transitions

Boo stayed home with LOML today while I went off to my stress test: she was not feeling very well, so we kept her home.
When I returned, she was just about to finish reading a book.  A chapter book.  A chapter book with very few pictures, and 100+ pages.  Which she'd read in a little over two hours.  After a few questions, it was clear that she had actually read it, absorbed the story, and loved it.

This is a huge transition: she'd been able to do this for a little while: as a first grader reading at a fourth grade level (or so her teacher tells us) we knew this was possible: but to see it happen was lovely!

Yours, amazed at her transitions as a reader, and equally amazed by her brother,

More stress == less stress?

A stressful morning, although much less stressful, and for much less time than I expected.  I went to the cardiologist for a "stress test", following up on yesterday's excitement: I had, of course, read ahead on the net as to what stress tests involve, and talked to someone who had had one recently, and so was completely unprepared for what to expect.
I was expecting a several hour ordeal, possibly with radioactive chemical tracers: I was pleasantly surprised to not have to have any injections: further, rather than having to be there for four hours, I was in and out (filling out forms included) in 75 minutes!  The treadmill was much less stressful than I had anticipated: about ten or fifteen minutes from start to finish on there, followed by a rush to lie down so that they could listen to my heart on the ultrasound machine, to compare with the rest state from earlier.

The good news is that things look good: my heart didn't display any evidence of blockages or problems on the ultrasound, my blood pressure is okay, etc.

So, it's back to normal levels of worry instead of the elevated levels of yesterday.

Yours, stressed out, in a good way,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scary things

It appears that I am okay.  But it was scary for a while.  I went to the ER this morning with some chest pains, more than a little worried, more than a little scared.  LOML drove me, and (thanks immensely to good friends) we were able to drop off the little ones first (it would have been much worse had they been with us.
After several hours of being hooked up to EKG/heart monitors, oxygen, blood pressure cuff, etc, and having met with an ER physician and a cardiologist, and having made an appointment for a stress test tomorrow, I was pronounced free to go.
Apparently the symptoms are unlikely to be heart-related, and hopefully the stress tests tomorrow will help clarify the picture --- i.e. rule out heart issues.

The hospital was something of an experience: being pushed on a hospital bed from the room to radiology, lying down, looking at the ceiling rushing by --- and better yet with eyes closed --- felt like a roller coaster ride: it gave a different perspective on motion.  Staring at the ceiling tiles for hours, noticing small details (a couple of stains, most tiles facing in one orientation, two rotated by a quarter turn from the others).  And the "representative from the business office" who came through about two hours into the process to explain how much the co-pay on (one part, I assume of) the process would be, and would I be able to take care of it right now?

This latter request left me speechless: fortunately, it at least came after the ER physician had explained that he didn't believe the pain was heart-related, but that he was going to run some more tests.  And I do understand them wanting to collect right away -- it probably saves them some expense in chasing down payment later. 

I was left impressed with everybody there (even the money collector -- I would not have wanted to have to do that job!): especially the nurse and the physicians.

Yours, feeling very relieved this evening,

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day/ Gong Xi Fa Cai

A lovely Valentine's day: Boo spent a long time (much too long, but it was beautiful) making valentines cards for everyone we know in town, and then we went round delivering them --- first by foot, and then, realising that there was too much coughing going on, and it was cold, by car.

Then this evening, we had our Chinese New Year celebration: longevity noodles in a peanut sauce, chicken in a garlic ginger marinade, with stir fried vegetables, and cucumbers marinated in vinegar and mint.

Yours, wishing everyone a happy new valentine's chinese day year,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

If you're going to ask the question, you ought to know the answer

Not in general, of course, but if you are quizzing your older sister on math problems, you might want to stick to questions you know the answer to.

Skibo this evening asked Boo "what is eight hundred plus ninety hundred?"
But whatever she answered, I don't think he'd have known whether it was right or not!

Yours, amused by this, of course,

An awfully lovely day

Indeed it was:  both awful, and lovely. 

The lovely?  The snow, the joy in the children (and the adults) walking and playing in it this morning: the beautiful sunshine sparkling through snow laden, ice dripping branches, snow angels on the ground, and laughter echoing through the air.

The awful?  How bad both LOML and Boo are feeling, both with dreadful dry hacking coughs -- no looseness to bring relief, that terrible tickle bringing frequent spasms of intense coughing.

Yours, hoping that since the snow will all be gone tomorrow, so will the rest of it.

Friday, February 12, 2010


And not only snow, but here!  It started a little after 3, and it's due to go until about 11.  Not tremendously heavy, but not too light either.  Absolutely beautiful!

Hopefully it will stay around long enough tomorrow for the children to run around and play in it for a little while.

Yours, thrilled,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Keep the filibuster, but make them really make it a filibuster

There's a lot of discussion about getting rid of the filibuster these days, since the Republican party at the moment has gone completely overboard with it.  My feeling on this is one of frustration at the fact that every vote needs a super-majority, but I still don't think that we should get rid of the rule.
My reason?  I'm a conspiracy theorist at heart.  I believe that the whole use at the moment is an attempt on the part of republicans to get the democrats to get rid of the rule.  Then, next time they are in the majority, the rule is gone and they can pass laws as they please.

I'd rather see a different change in the rules: let's make sure that the use of the filibuster means that there has to be a continued presentation on the senate floor, a la Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, rather than the mere "we're blocking this: give up" rule we have now.

This way, filibusters will be very visible, and parties who use them frivolously (as now, by republicans, in my opinion) will pay a penalty at the ballot box.  Parties who use them wisely will reap benefits.

Yours, frustrated, but still certain that scrapping the rule is the wrong thing to do,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Misery and joy

LOML is justifiably miserable --- coughing awfully, but unable get relief: we've all got something of the same thing, but much less bad: it's one of those coughs which sits at the top of the lungs, dry and hacking, no looseness to it at all.  Hopefully it won't last too many days --- or worse --- weeks.

The joy?  We went to a concert this evening by the African Children's Choir --- stunningly beautiful, even if I did have to leave halfway through with Skibo, leaving LOML to the second half with Boo (and I wasn't too sad to leave: in spite of enjoying the show immensely, I was falling asleep in my seat at the end of the first half).

Yours, commiserating and sharing in LOML's misery,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Congratulations S!

One of the children's friends, a few years older than they are, recently won first place in the local elementary school's science fair.  To her, I say congratulations! 

Yours, wishing her further successes!

Gingrich is still around????

Gingrich, of the Newt variety, is apparently still around.  He was bloviating pontificating on the Daily Show this evening.  Stewart pointed out that the shoe bomber had had his "Miranda rights" read to him (for those in other countries, you know about this: it's the "you have the right to remain silent" stuff that you see on US cop shows), just the same way that the underwear bomber had had similar rights read to him.  Gingrich responded with "But Richard Reed was an American citizen".   This apparently made all the difference for him.

Unfortunately for Gingrich, this means that he is either extraordinarily ill-informed, or mendacious.  As in stupid, or lying.  There was immense press coverage at the time regarding Reed's being a British citizen --- it was seen and is seen as a frightening thing: one of the nations closest to the US is spawning home-grown terrorists.  Surely Gingrich knew this at one time: either he's lying now, or he has forgotten an immensely serious fact.  And thus is stupid.

Yours, going with a combination both,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Teaching runs in the family

This evening Boo spent the better part of an hour sitting with Skibo, reading words to him for him to spell, explaining why the "ey" combination in "they" sounds like "ay", and generally doing a lovely job of teaching reading to her younger brother.  It was heartwarmingly beautiful to watch, from out of sight behind a door, for fear of changing the dynamic.  If I could have figured out a way to do it without them noticing, I'd have set up the video camera for posterity.

According to LOML, her art teacher said this afternoon that Boo is wonderful, and that she is one of the ones she knows she can always turn to to help teach something.  After this evening (and similar occurrences lately) I am not surprised at all.

Yours, delighted to be surprised, but not surprised to be delighted, by my children,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Down to double digits

I'm now left with 99 more to fold!  I think that I need to count down rather than up from now on.

Yours, contemplating taking a bottle of beer off the wall,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Closing in on 200

I'm over 190 in my quest to fold 300 t-rexes.  And I'm really wanting to put into place the design changes that I've discovered --- but I feel that the models should all be as close to identical as I can make them. 
Still, in a week or two, I should be done with these, and then I will feel free to explore the design process of this model further.
There's a definite zen aspect to folding something over and over, carefully, as precisely the same as one can.  I understand the way the thing fits together better than before, even though it is my design.

Yours, aware that the next challenge will be to diagram the sequence of instructions,

Friday, February 5, 2010

Apocalypse Snow

Not here, of course (weather permitting?  never!) --- we are still waiting for our annual single snowfall: but up north they are really getting hammered with the stuff.
So, I'm sending good vibes and luck up to all those completely snowed in: two feet of snow in a couple of days will bring everything to a halt and cause a lot of difficulty.

Yours, pointing out that the main reason for this post was the title,

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Phew!  What a relief!  Webster's desk is not going to the newbie in the Senate!
Kerry has apparently staked a claim to Ted Kennedy's desk, so Scott Brown won't get to use the storied desk.

I'm a political junkie, as I may have mentioned before. I find the whole process fascinating, personal interactions included.  But this?  Even I find this story rather ridiculous.

Yours, ashamed to say that, yes,  I can find a political story I'm not interested in,

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Better behaviour

Apparently the whole class behaved better today.  Let's hope that the behaviour continues to be better rather than getting worse.

On the dinosaur front, it's all downhill from here.  Or at least, I'm more than half way through the 300.  Almost time to start counting down instead of up:-)
Now it's time to start thinking about my talks.

Yours, preparing ahead for a change,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Critical transition points

In the ed biz, of which I am a small part, there is occasional talk of "critical transition points": typically this means the changes between undergraduate and graduate programs, or between high school and college, etc.  I don't know, but I suspect that similar critical transitions have been identified all the way down to birth.
But today, LOML and I encountered another critical transition.  And it's one in which the classroom and the teacher and the classmates remain constant.
We had a note today from Boo's teacher explaining that essentially the whole class had been misbehaving, being disrespectful to various teachers, not paying attention, and making a racket when quiet work was called for.  And Boo had a page of lines she'd written, along the lines of "I will be respectful at all times"...
To me, this is another critical transition: from child who is basically good in class all the time, to wilful, perhaps openly disobedient child, challenging authority.  And it appears that the whole class is at the transition together.
We've read the riot act to Boo.  We've apologised to her teacher.  We've told Boo that she needs to apologise to her teacher.  There's a buzz going around on the phone between various parents, discussing what's going on.

I wasn't ready for this yet.   I recall being a bit older when I was rebellious in class.  But ready or not, here it comes.

Yours, pondering what to do if bad behaviour continues,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Boo and Skibo brushing hair at last

It's been a constant struggle now for years, getting Boo and Skibo to brush their hair (Skibo's not as difficult about it as Boo, since her hair tends to tangle rather more than his).  But today they came home from the local pharmacy with a couple of hairbrushes with mirrors attached, with swing-out handles: the sorts of hairbrushes James Bond would use.  Stealth hairbrushes.  Superhero hairbrushes.
And so this evening, Boo spent twenty minutes brushing her hair with this.  And loving it.

Yours, amazed how something so simple can cause such an effect,