Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category


Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

In need of a bit of light relief this afternoon. We were supposed to be going on a work fun trip to a pizza place and then to play mini golf in the sun. Except it’s been pissing down with rain, so the trip’s been postponed. And Toby woke us up at 4am so I’m a bit wiped and although I’m getting through all the work I need to do today it’s a bit more of an effort than it should be – several mugs of tea are helping but only just. And it’s my birthday tomorrow and I’m booked almost all day in meetings. How fun. For some reason the prospect of being 32 isn’t a happy one, and I’m usually pretty good at birthdays. Maybe it’s because it’s not a real milestone kind of age, I don’t know. Anyway, fortunately I happened upon the excellent Opinions You Should Have site. It’s a Blog You Should Read, very amusing.

geek glitterati

Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

I am going to follow Paul‘s lead and make my two remaining gmail account invitations available to the first people who ask me. So send an email or leave a comment.

The first account has already gone to Emma who was most upset last time that I didn’t offer one to her.


Tuesday, June 8th, 2004

Hmm, I’m not sure where to start with this – an article in the Washington Post relating a “patriot day” school assembly for 6 and 7 year old kids where they are taught to be American and love their country.

It’s something Em and I talk about a bit and probably think about more – how America shows patriotism compared with how it’s displayed in the UK and many other European countries. I reckon the causes of this are probably because this is a country founded by immigrants and while I don’t want to belittle the US’s involvement in the two World Wars and the sacrifices made by so many people, I don’t think it was hammered quite as hard, in that there weren’t young men from entire communities wiped out, as happened in the major World War I battles, and it didn’t undergo the Blitz, or rationing for years afterwards.

I do appreciate the way that Americans are proud of their country – it gets me a little riled when Brits moan about their country, which is in fact a lot better than they think – and I’m sad that the British flag has become so synonymous with racism that many Brits are uneasy about displaying it. And of course I like living here, or I would move.

But there’s something that makes me kind of uneasy about the whole thing of these patriot days for young kids, especially when it can so easily spill out into the “we’re better than anyone else” realm, not to mention the slightly spooky quote from the 7 year old who says that he would fight for his country. And as is pointed out by a political scientist in the article:

“Loving your country is not something you indoctrinate,” said Jane Junn, a Rutgers University political scientist who has done research on civic education and immigrants. “It’s something a person has to come to themselves.”

This goes through the whole Pledge of Allegiance thing – I think that many Europeans feel uneasy about seeing a classroom full of children pledging themselves to their countries – it can easily smack of indoctrination and the pictures of children in Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia being “programmed”.

It may be a difficult thing for us with Toby: Em and I both want him to be proud of where he’s from and his American childhood and I guess we’re going to have to deal with things like this in the coming few years – potential uneasiness with these types of ceremonies which are so different from what we experienced when we were children. It’ll be an education for all of us.


Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

Still really liking my gmail account, and there’s something new today which I think I may have had a hand in. I wrote to them a couple of weeks ago suggesting that they had some way of showing if you had new mail in the window’s title bar. Without that you need to open the window each time to see if you have mail, but this way you could see in the Windows taskbar, or Firefox tab if that’s your excellent browser of choice. So I was pleased this morning when I noticed that the title on my gmail window was Gmail – Inbox (10). I’m sure more than one person will have suggested this but at least I know I was one of them.

Getting bigger

Sunday, May 30th, 2004

Well the weekend’s been a bit of a washout, gardening-wise, due to lots and lots and lots of rain. We did have some sun on Saturday afternoon so Em and I did tons of uprooting of things which we think will probably re-grow but at least it was good exercise. Way too stormy today to do anything much, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow – the forecast is for more rain.

So today Toby and I went to the computer store and got a rather nice Epson photo printer which was on a good deal, and recommended by Paul. I’ve just finished installing it, but of course needed some new pics to print on it, so I got involved in uploading new ones, captioning them etc, and it seemed churlish after all that not to give the Toby fans some new shots. Hope you like them. I also finally got around to changing the order of pictures on his home page but now it’s clearly an alignment mess so I need to invest a couple of minutes in building a table. One day…


Friday, May 28th, 2004

Finally, it’s Memorial Day weekend coming up, and we have Monday off. The stretch from New Year to now always feels really long, especially for a Brit like me who is used to getting time off over Easter (Britain being a regular God-fearing country rather than a puritanical work-obsessed God-fearing country). So we have some plans for the weekend, some of which we might actually achieve. The biggest thing probably is to get the front garden in some sort of order. We (mainly Emma) have done a nice job on our little side garden, and it now has a lovely little patio and some flowers, and isn’t going to take much work to finish. The front is a different matter though – when we moved into the house the neighbors told us that before it was on the market you couldn’t see that the house had a porch – the porch in fact wraps around the front and side of the building so the plants basically obscured the whole first (ground if you’re a limey) floor. To add to the trauma, our neighbors across the road do a wonderful job on their garden and I can just tell that they’re looking plerplexedly at us every time they leave the house.

Last summer after a season battling unsuccessfully with these out-of-control monster plants, we paid one of Emma’s friends from work to rip everything out, and that was quite successful. However a lot of weeds and creeper plants are starting to sprout through, so we need to take decisive action this weekend. The plan is to spend a chunk of Saturday ripping things up, maybe using some chemicals on the more persevering plants, and getting rid of some of the old over-chunky mulch. Then on Sunday after we’ve finished doing more weeding and digging we’ll probably do a bit of planting – we need to get some good ground cover plants – and on Monday put down a ton more of new finer mulch to make it look a bit nicer and to inhibit new weeds. That’s the plan anyway, I hope it’s going to work.

out of the shadows

Thursday, May 27th, 2004

Yesterday Al Gore hit the news with quite a diatribe against the current Administration and their policies. I think that his calls for Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz and other senior officials to resign are just wishful thinking, but it’s a well-crafted speech with a lot of historical background and it’s worth taking a few minutes to read.

Also you may enjoy this list of questions for the people who still support Bush. (both links from pharyngula

ad links

Thursday, May 27th, 2004

I don’t know if it was Google who started marketing this, but many news sites these days have custom ad links attached – our local paper and also CNN. So I was reading on the latter site about a Muslim cleric being arrested in London for possible extradition to the U.S. and noticed in their ad links a few legal advice websites: one headed “Legal advice for any situation”, and another for the site Kind of ironic, really.

hope it was attached

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

Yesterday I was sadly not amazed to hear El Prez refer to General Sanchez as having served his country in an “exemplerary” fashion. NPR played the quote several times so I did have the chance to confirm my suspicions. But it’s nowhere near as bad as saying this.

local man

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

When we left the house this morning we noticed that there were a bunch of police cars just a block and a bit along the road from us, with the road all yellow-taped-off. We assumed that maybe there had been a small car accident but I just read that a man had been arrested there – he’d been screaming and punching cars (described in the paper as “irrational behavior”) and more worryingly had punched a woman as she walked by. The cops got several 911 calls and picked the guy up but he apparently lost consciousness and died shortly afterwards. The initial report was that he had not been restrained but there will hopefully be an update later today. We of course didn’t hear a thing – we’re so observant.