Archive for November, 2006

not so happy

Monday, November 27th, 2006

I wish I had read The Family Filmgoer before taking Toby to see Happy Feet over the weekend. It’s strange – it was marketed as a very fun musical about dancing penguins, and what almost-4-year-old doesn’t love singing and dancing penguins? However as the review states the movie dramatically changes course 2/3rds or so of the way through and becomes dark, scary and kind of nonsensical (dancing penguin tries to chase a fishing trawler, gets lost, gets washed up on some beach, put in the zoo and confused by mindless other penguins, dances for the people at the zoo who send him back to the other penguins, they all dance for some guys in a helicopter, the World Community stop all fishing around the South Pole). So, a bit of a waste of time.

Much more fun was dinner last night – we took him to a Japanese Restaurant where the chefs cook the food on a hot plate at your table, juggling cooking implements and flicking food around. This combined Toby’s two great loves of Asian food and slapstick humor – perfect. He did really well using child-modified chopsticks too.


Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Because I thought it would merge two of her favorite things, I forwarded something to Emma (from boingboing) yesterday – knitted woolly cupcakes. Em was unimpressed though – she said she’d much prefer cake that looks like knitting.

sofa, so close

Friday, November 17th, 2006

We’ve got a lot of guests arriving over the next week or two and are trying to work out where we are going to put them. Seeing as he hasn’t worn diapers for ages we decided that Toby doesn’t need a changing table in his room any more, so we shifted that up to the attic and got a cheap but nice sofa bed from IKEA, which I set up last night. He’s very excited about having his own sofa in his room, he thinks it’s a really big boy thing to have. After I’d finished it I had to go off and do something – Toby closed the door after me, then sat on his sofa for a while to sing some songs to himself.

Emma had a less positive experience with the sofa though – she put Toby to bed last night and was trying to persuade him to stay in his bed all night (which has been a bit challenging lately) so she said that he should stay in his room to make sure his sofa doesn’t run away. Big mistake – Toby’s eyes went wide and he said, “But I don’t want my sofa to be moving around.” He was reassured that sofas don’t in fact move around but he said, “I think the sofa should go back in its box now.” Eventually Emma had to put some of his animal toys on the sofa to make sure that it wouldn’t move around in the night. Fortunately he did sleep all night, but we were worried for a bit.


Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

On our block someone has put some graffiti on the stop signs. So now instead of just saying Stop they say “Stop War”, “Stop Hate”, and “Stop driving”. All well and good but to be honest, all a bit sincere and humorless, unlike this:

what about iraq?

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Emma told me about this a couple of days ago – an interview with a couple of voiceover artists who specialize in election season attack ads. It’s pretty interesting, and especially worth listening to for their takes on a couple of nursery rhymes. My brother Richard I’m sure will appreciate the mention of trout.

prints charming

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

My friend Robin has just fixed his blog feed so you can read it from your blog reader of choice. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying catching up on his news.

However, one thing I took slight umbrage (yes! umbrage!) to his description of a visit to the US and the security there. I do agree with his points about the social impacts of over-security and the scary implications of so much data (including fingerprints) being stored on people. He describes all this as “the brutal, hostile reception Americans give visitors”. Allow me to suggest that this is a tad strong. I wasn’t with him when he had his bag checked at the New York Met museum, so can’t vouch for that kind of brutality or hostility, but I like to think that on the whole Americans are generally welcoming to visitors (at least visitors from Western Europe who don’t have dark skin).

But generally this is a cultural thing and a matter of what you’re used to. There are certain things I’ve experienced in Britain which come as a bit of a shock after being away and then returning. For example when you go into a shop in the UK it’s very rare for the store assistants to greet you or even acknowledge your existence, let alone offer to help you buy stuff. Also when I’ve paid for things, it’s been very common for checkout staff to examine my money for fake bills, holding the paper money up to the light, using counterfeit detection pens etc. I’m not suggesting that these things are in any way brutal (although how brutal can you be when you’re checking someone’s bag in the entry to a museum?) but they do come across as being hostile and over-suspicious to someone not used to them.

spam sender

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Although gmail’s spam filter is pretty good I still get the odd spam message through to my regular inbox. This afternoon a great sender name: Forages E. Politburo.

post office

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Just got back from the Post Office – it’s almost 70F outside, very clement for November.

At the post office desk the postal clerk bloke commented on the fact that I was sending stuff to the UK:

Bloke: You’re a long way from home, aren’t you?
Me: Well this is kind of home, I’m sending stuff to family
Bloke: So are you a citizen?
Me: No, not yet anyway. Maybe in time for the next election so that I can vote as well as paying taxes.
Bloke: Sounds good. You know if you came from a third world country you’d be able to be here without paying taxes!
Me: Um… Well I pay my own way, you know?
Bloke: And we’re glad for it! It’s the American thing to do.
Me: [exits Post Office]

more election stuff

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

One of the reasons I’m feeling the way I am about yesterday’s election is that the electorate are finally taking their legislators to task for their performance: Exit polls: Bush, Iraq key to outcome. Yes it’s been a while coming but it has finally happened.

A thing to note about the magnitude of the change in hands in Congress – the congressional district borders are generally updated every 10 years to reflect changing populations. One of the reasons incumbents are so rarely unseated is that the ruling party has major sway in setting these borders, so you see some very strangely shaped districts, reflecting established voter types. For example urban, generally liberal voters will be kept away from diluting suburban more conservative voters. The fact that the Dems overturned over 28 seats (needing 15 to take a house majority) indicates that the change in political feeling is very much across the board.

election round-up

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Sort of a round-up, maybe a collection of random thoughts:

On the whole, Minnesota went very Democrat. Our pick for senator, Amy Klobuchar, won in something of a landslide (and is the first elected woman Senator from this state). We elected Congress’s first ever Muslim representative. The state house and senate, after being Republican three years ago, are now both solidly Democrat. Our Republican governor won by a squeak, but that’s probably a good thing for checks and balances. We did elect a raving loony fundamentalist, literalist Christian, creationist, anti-gay Republican congresswoman, but my take is that this isn’t so bad, because she’ll now be out of Minnesota most of the time, and will be trying to make noise in a big town as a member of a national minority party, so she won’t be around to try to push for state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.

I was shocked to see that our neighboring state, Wisconsin, passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, even as they elected a Democrat governor and senator.

An amusingly sad stat of the night – we noticed that in one state-level race, with 100% of the ballot counted one candidate had no votes at all. This means that for some reason he didn’t even vote for himself, and nor did his mom. Is this maybe how Bush is feeling today? Breaking news is that Donald Rumsfeld has finally resigned: