Archive for December, 2006


Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Last day of the month and indeed the year. Here are the top search items which brought people to in December:

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Friday, December 29th, 2006

This just in: housework can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Ladies, take note. Also take note: I’m just reporting here.

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.


Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Last night we went with our neighbors to the British TV Advertising Awards at the Walker Art Center, which they show every year. This year’s crop were pretty cool – some amazing effects in a number of them, and a lot of humor mixed with quite hard-hitting public service ads.

Unlike previous years there was a much more international theme – a lot set in France or the USA for example, rather than being very British in feel. Honda had some great ones, including one where a choir “sings” the sounds in and around a car for a day – the rain, road surface, CD playing etc. Also the mobile phone companies seemed to be trying to outdo each other on the feelgood factor, the sweetest one being a couple who ballet dance through their house, through the garden and then into the street where they walk off holding hands – the idea being that relationships get stronger over time.

My personal favorite was for Guinness- fantastic.

book report

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Last night I finished, in a big splurge, the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s about a boy in New York City who lost his dad in the September 11 attacks, and about his family, particularly his grandparents who were deeply traumatized by the bombing of Dresden.

Very well written book – very moving indeed on many levels: the effects that 9/11 had on the boy and his mother, the responsibilities of being a parent, the general effects of war on people for years afterwards. Highly recommended.

titles fixed

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Next stage in the blog update was to fix the issue I’d had with blogger (or at least my own blog) which is that the posts didn’t have proper titles. I had always put the titles between <title> header tags in the post’s text field, but wanted to strip out the titles to the actual title field. Now that I’m using WordPress it’s much easier to do this kind of thing because I have access to the posts on my own database.

So step one was to get the headers out of the post fields, and insert them into the title field:

update wp_posts
set post_title = substring (post_content, locate ('<h4>', post_content) + 4, locate ('</h4>', post_content) - locate ('<h4>', post_content) -4) where post_title = '' and locate ('<h4>', post_content) > 0;

The where clause makes sure I’m only updating posts which don’t already have a title and that have the header tag in the post.

Now that the titles had been updated we still had a problem because the titles were still in the actual post text, so need to just strip those out:

update wp_posts
set post_content = right (post_content, char_length (post_content) - locate ('</h4>', post_content) - 4) where locate ('<h4>', post_content) > 0;

I’m sure there’s a more elegant way of doing this, but it worked, and for now I’m really enjoying having a bit more control over my own posts. Next step will be to categorize all the old uncategorized posts.


Monday, December 25th, 2006

A very pleasant christmas thanks, we had a great couple of days. Lots of singing, seeing as yesterday was a Sunday, so I had to do the morning service, then the midnight service (obviously later in the day), then the morning service again today. Music went pretty well – one of the nice things about St. Mark’s is that the congregation sings out, so the carols were pretty nice.

Last night our friends Kristi, Silje and Kjetil came over for dinner. I cooked a great big hunk of beef, which came out extremely well, plus some fingerling potatoes and caramelized shallots. We all ate far too much, but still made space for Emma’s excellent white chocolate cheesecake, and Kristi’s pecan pie and pudding.

Today we’ve just had a pretty mellow time, which has been perfect. At church this morning there was no childcare, so Emma took Silje and Toby along in the procession. It was totally cute seeing two little people in red robes carrying jingly bells, and the kids really enjoyed it. Back home we opened our presents and got some great things. One of the great things about Toby is that his enjoyment of presents is in no way proportional to the dollar value, so he is as excited about getting an apron for baking or a small car as he is about the totally great Playmobil pirate ship. I enjoyed the pirate ship myself because it took about two hours of assembly – good to unlock my inner child for a bit.

I should mention also that the Santa thing went pretty well – Toby was so pleased to see that Santa had eaten the cookies and drunk his milk, and that Rudolph had eaten the four brussels sprouts, that Emma got all emotional. Again Toby was really pleased with the simple things, including Lightning McQueen chapstick (he was initially just as excited when he thought it was a pack of two batteries) and another couple of pairs of dinosaur pajamas to add to his collection.

new look

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Welcome to my blog on WordPress! After a lot of messing around and feeling messed around by blogger, I’ve decided to make the switch and host my own blog. The blogger thing was a bit of a shame – I’ve been with them over five years but after their strange move through beta to their new version I was feeling a bit jilted. They offer lots of new features, but only to people who have their blogs on a Google server (blogspot being one) – people like me who publish via FTP don’t get the new stuff.

So it’s been an interesting move – the setup was actually really easy, but the import was hard. WordPress has an automated importer from blogger, but it doesn’t yet work for the new version. So I’ve just spent the last couple of hours going through this somewhat geeky kludge to get everything working. Seems to be OK so far, I hope.


Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Oops, didn’t mean for the format to change. I was looking at the features for the new version of Blogger and wanted to try out the new layout tool to take advantage of the labels feature amongst other things. Well after tons of casting around it seems that these features aren’t available to people like me who host their own blogs (publish via FTP rather than on blogspot or something), but in the process I inadvertently changed the template. Hope it’s not too much of a shock to y’all.

bing and dave

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

At this time of the year one of our local radio stations plays nothing but Christmas music (interspersed with commercials). It drives me completely insane but Emma loves it. One of the songs in high rotation is “The Little Drummer Boy” by the bizarre combination of Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Today there’s an interesting feature in the Washington Post on how such an unlikely recording was made.