Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

cold, cold, cold

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Yesterday the temperature got to a balmy 34F – the first time we’ve been above freezing in over two weeks (for youngsters or non-Americans, freezing point is 32F). Unfortunately it was a one-off “warm” day and looking at the long range forecast I’m seeing nothing above 25F for at least another two weeks. Sigh.

feeling valued

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

In the car last night on the way home from Toby’s swimming class, Emma said to me, “So if you die, how much money is it that I’ll be getting?”


Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

While we were in Bermuda I read the latest Ian McEwan novel, Saturday – a ripping yarn and considerable food for thought. On the whole I very much enjoyed it even though I felt there were some ambiguities about character and story.

One of the reasons I was excited about reading it was that I could finally listen to one of the Slate magazine audio book club podcasts and compare my thoughts with those of the Slate reviewers (the Saturday review is here). Little did I know how disappointed I would be! If you’ve already read the book or don’t mind some giveaways, read on… (more…)


Monday, January 15th, 2007

In a rather progressive move, my company has from this year onwards stated that Martin Luther King day is a company-wide holiday. There’s a lot of stuff in the media about race relations (including a very interesting interview on Public Radio right now), and we’ve been talking a lot with Toby about this – he’s also got classes all week at daycare about differences and being friends.

Google have a great logo for the day – you can click on it to run a search on Martin Luther King Jr:

Google MLK logo


Monday, January 15th, 2007

Yesterday afternoon/evening we had a fun cultural experience. One of my good friends at work, who is originally from India and has been here just a few weeks longer than me, invited us to their son’s Mundan Sanskar – Churakaram Sanskar (Hair Cutting) ceremony. I understand that the details are to do with the fact that their son had potential for bad karma due to previous incarnations, and as he has reached about two and a half years old it was time to cut off all his hair to remove this previous bad karma. My friend came over with his son during the meal to tell us this – his son was quite tired after the long day of ceremonies and looked a little surprised to suddenly have a shaved head, but pretty soon was racing around with the other kids. My friend and his wife were very proud and happy – he’s somewhat formal in the way he speaks and I liked that while he was describing the ceremonies he underscored that it was logical and scientific.

We unfortunately couldn’t make it for the main ceremony, but got to the celebration afterwards, where there was a big meal with lots of their friends and family. We appeared to be the only non-Indian people there, so felt quite honored to have been invited, and we very much enjoyed ourselves. Toby particularly enjoyed the food, and was rapt when a couple of the girls did some traditional dancing – he was spellbound at their colorful clothing and the graceful movements of the dancing.

mickey’s diner

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

On Saturday evening we went to downtown St. Paul for Toby’s first exhibition opening party – the Minnesota Children’s Museum were having a party for museum members to celebrate the opening of their new Bob the Builder exhibition. I think he (Toby) quite enjoyed it – he loves the museum anyway but the BtB room was so mobbed that I’m not sure he enjoyed that particular piece so much.

About 7 o’clock we got pretty hungry, so went around the corner to historic Mickey’s Diner, which is a diner in a train diner car situated in downtown St. Paul (worth reading the link to get more background and historic info). Certainly not gourmet food but very good for what it is, including real hand-cut fries, the best I’ve had in ages – they clearly actually were made of real potatoes – what a concept!

mint cat

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Our ginger cat, Scout, has a bit of an obsession – he goes totally crazy for mint. We found out about this in early summer when we had to chase away a neighborhood cat who was rolling around in one of the mint plants in our front yard – the cat was so stoned on the mint aroma that it didn’t hear us when we were yelling at it to go away and only left when we poured water on it. We found out how interested Scout was when I took in two small leaves to see what he would think of them – he spent the next hour rolling on them and being goofy, even drooling (I didn’t know cats could drool) so that his chest fur was soaking wet.

Obviously now with it being winter (albeit mild) he’s not getting his mint fix. Until a week ago. Emma had finished drinking a cup of mint tea and had left the cup and tea bag on the living room floor. I noticed that Scout pretty quickly found it, pulled the tea bag out of the cup and started licking and chewing on the bag, purring loudly the whole time.

A couple of days later Emma made herself another cup of mint tea, took it through to the living room then went back to the kitchen to get something else. In a trice Scout had tipped the tea on to the floor and was dragging the tea bag around, very happy with himself. Fortunately the tea didn’t stain the rug but even after soaking it up the rug still obviously has some kind of mint-narcotic in it because Scout’s been spending time rolling on the formerly damp patch, purring loudly and getting wasted.

thanksgiving photos

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

My dad just sent me a link to the photos he took when he and my brother David visited at Thanksgiving. Some really nice ones of Toby and spectacularly bad ones of me.

One I like is the shot of us wearing pilgrim hats at the dinner table. The story behind this is that Toby had made a pilgrim hat at school, and Emma and I thought it would be fun to tell the non-Americans that it’s an American tradition to wear paper pilgrim hats while eating your Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone believed us with no questions asked, so that’s what we did.

back to work

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Last week was very quiet at work – lots of people were out so those of us who were here could get on with filing emails, working quietly but effectively on projects and generally getting things done with a bit less pressure than usual. Today most people are back after the holidays so we’re back in business with a lot of fun stuff to do. It helps also that it’s a nice sunny day.

The only slight issue I’m having is sore muscles all over from trying to clear the snow from our sidewalks yesterday. On New Year’s Eve we had a lot of rain followed by snow, so the layer nearest the ground froze solid and is almost impossible to remove without totally attacking it. It’s a good workout but I’m suffering a little bit now.

80s rock

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Just watched a present my brother Richard gave me – the DVD of Yes 9012Live, from 1985. Very much of its time too – crazy 80s outfits and over the top (yet impressive) musicianship. It’s made extra-white by the fact that it was filmed in Edmonton, Canada.

The DVD itself is pretty interesting – I hadn’t realized that Stephen Soderberg was the director of the concert film, and the DVD includes his own cut of the concert which strips out all the 80s special effects which were added. You can see the introduction with the extras here. There are also interviews and a bit of a Spinal Tap style backstage documentary with lots of Soderberg hand-held footage (the Tap thing isn’t helped by the fact that guitarist Trevor Rabin looks and acts so much like Nigel Tufnel). Here’s a clip from a different concert, same year.