Archive for October, 2006

wallchart wars

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

My brother Robin is quite the regular in the BBC’s online Magazine Monitor these days. Yesterday he had a post up about something in the Guardian (scroll to the post from Robin, Edinburgh).

I felt that I had to reply with a comedically stern rebuke, which to my surprise they actually ran:

Further to the snarky comment from Robin of Edinburgh regarding the Guardian’s apple wallchart, I feel I should make you aware that this comment came from someone who used to have a ‘Sheep breeds of Britain’ poster. I should know – I’m his big brother (which also gives me the right to humiliate him in public).
Andrew, Minneapolis (formerly from Edinburgh)

big

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

This morning I took Toby for his first ever big boy haircut. We went to Kid’s Hair, which as you might expect is rather specialized in this area. Toby was totally great, really confident and calm, helped somewhat by the fact that they have little TVs at each hairdresser’s work area so he could watch Winnie The Pooh. He looked totally cute in his little chair with just his head poking out through the top of the sheet the hairdresser attached round his collar – the sheet went right down to his feet. He didn’t wriggle at all and commented several times that it didn’t hurt a bit, and agreed earnestly with the hairdresser that he would indeed look very handsome. I was very proud of him.

Tonight while we were having dinner we noticed that he was stretching up his arms and looking rather sad at the same time. Emma asked what he was doing: “I’m trying to get big”. Bless. We asked him why and he said it was so that he could run faster. Emma told him that he could already pretty much run faster than her, which cheered him up – he said that Daddy can run even faster than he can but that’s OK because that’s the way things work. So he was happier after that.

adam smith

Friday, October 13th, 2006

A few days ago I filed a post which mentioned Adam Smith, and the disgusting 70s building named in his honor on the campus of Glasgow University. Here’s a link to a photo of the building. It doesn’t look much less grim in color.

Seeing the building reminds me of going to morning lectures while hung over, and I was wondering whether that had tainted my recollection of the building, but I don’t believe so. It truly is an eyesore. We also had the Boyd Orr building which was built at around the same time. It’s hard to say whether it’s more unpleasant than the Adam Smith, but it certainly did have the added excitement of causing a wind tunnel effect around the sidewalk at its perimeter which would occasionally blow unsuspecting students into the road and into the path of oncoming traffic (a safety barrier was eventually added). Here’s another photo which shows the Boyd Orr in some context with the rest of the campus – note the stately spires of the main building on Gilmorehill, which was designed by George Gilbert Scott. Finally, this photo shows the neighborhood in the 50s before many of the beautiful terraced houses were demolished to make way for concrete and Progress.

UPDATE: I just checked out the biography of the person whose name is attached to the horrendous architecture that is the Boyd Orr building. Well, quite an eminence – Lord Boyd Orr won the Nobel Peace Price in 1949, and was a leading light in nutritional research. Amongst his accomplishments he basically founded the world-renowned Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. I’m kind of horrified at myself for not having known this before, and feel a tad let down by Glasgow University for not making all students aware of this extremely impressive person.

days off

Friday, October 13th, 2006

My dad was supposed to be coming over from England this weekend, but has had to postpone. Fortunately he found a really good deal for over Thanksgiving, and my brother David will be coming too, so something to look forward to.

In the meantime I decided to take off the two days I’d booked, because I just feel a bit overdue for some time off work. Yesterday I didn’t do a whole lot – went out for coffee and discussion in the morning, did some housework and cooking in the afternoon. This morning I spent almost three hours painting Emma’s and my room following the expansion of our closet – I think the wood trim will need one more coat of paint, but that should be it.

Due to the cold weather (or maybe just because they’re cats) Scout and Nessie spent pretty much all day yesteday cuddled up together, sleeping. When they were awake I think they were a little confused that I was here, mostly because when i get home from work it means it’s dinner time for them. Since I came down from painting today Scout has been following me around, looking at me pointedly and purring loudly, which I think is supposed to get me to feed him.

elegance

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

On the bus on the way home from school, Toby sat next to two very tall and elegant African-American transvestites. They were both wearing pink and white sneakers, pale jeans, white furry jackets, one had a white and gold purse, they both had very long nails and big bling earrings. Toby didn’t seem to notice particularly. He’s a cool urban kid.

wish i was still in texas

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

It’s very nice to be back home and to be with Emma and Toby. But! On Monday I was in sunshine and 90 degree warmth, the aroma of summer and so on. This morning in Minnesota the windchill is 23 degrees, it’s dark and cold and windy and miserable.

new reader

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

Following a recommendation from Lifehacker, I’ve been trying out the new Google Reader instead of my trusty bloglines to read blog and other rss feeds. So far so good. Just need to work out if it’ll handle the blogroll feature which bloglines does so nicely – you can see the results on the bar at the left of this page.

Zoomed down to Austin, TX this evening for a couple of days after a really nice day with Emma and Toby. I was upgraded to first class again. Much better food than last time – instead of dry chicken and cruncy rice it was garlicky beef pot roast which was really tasty and the best plane food I’ve had in ages, except maybe for some great stuff on Jet Airways in India. It was the first time I’ve ever been the first person off the plane – it was a bit disorienting not to have anyone to follow. The airport of course had canned country music. Now I’m in my hotel room I’m listening to some African music show on the local public radio station which is kind of fun.

On the plane I was reading a book Emma used for her last course, “The Worldly Philosophers” by Robert L. Heilbroner. Really interesting summary of the thinking of the major economists. I’m almost at the end of the second chapter – the first was about the western world in pre-economic-theory times, and now it’s Adam Smith. It reminded me of being at Glasgow University like the great man himself, although he didn’t have to contend with the monstrously appalling early 70s building which was named after him. The only thing that has grated on me in the book is overuse, or rather incorrect use, of the phrase “in a word”. On the last page of chapter one, a paragraph ends “In a word, the time for the economists had arrived.” Furthermore the chapter ends at the bottom of that same page with “In a word, a new vision had come into being.”

election

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

Bizzare to see a friend of mine appear on the front page of the BBC News. It’s not the most exciting story ever but kind of funny.

interesting mix

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

From Emma this morning:

I was informed [by Toby] on the way to school that such and such a building was an “apartment store”:

E: do you mean department store?
T: Yes, an apartment is somewhere you live
E: Well some people do, we have a house. Charlie and Lola live in an apartment don’t they? They call it a flat
T: Yes, their apartment is called Playhouse Disney dot com