Archive for February, 2008

garfield (garfield)

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

I just saw a link to the online comic garfield minus garfield. It’s a simple concept – the Garfield comics without the eponymous and annoying cat – and very funny.

Side note: Toby refers to Garfield as Garthfield. He is very careful to pronounce the “th”.

kids will do that

Monday, February 25th, 2008

In the car on the way home today, Toby asked what a typewriter is. Apparently quite hard to describe to a kid of today who only knows about computers. The conversation ended when we were asked if we were alive while typewriters were around, like they were dinosaurs. Great. Now we feel really old.

service

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I was just on the phone with American Express, to fix something with my corporate card, and as usual the service was almost spookily good. The representative was polite, formal and helpful and the issue I had was resolved in seconds. I’ve called them a few times now, including once from India when I was trying to buy some jewelery for Emma and the store I was at had problems with their credit card machine – in this instance the rep stayed on the line for over 15 minutes, speaking with me and the somewhat incompetent guy in the store, until we got it all worked out and Emma got her emeralds.

When I said thank you to the rep today she said, “It was my privilege.” Steady on, you were only transferring money, but still – impeccable service.

scientific

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

At dinner tonight: “piccolo is the scientific name for pickles”

new toby and dara photos

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Finally got a quiet few minutes to get some new Toby and Dara pics – here they are. We need to take more though. You’ll note that there aren’t many of Dara smiling. She’s actually a very smiley little person, but when the camera does its pre-flash thing she gets all confused and starts frowning. We’ll see if we can work around this. Last night we were out at some friends’ for dinner, and to celebrate Emma’s birthday, and Dara spent a lot of time sitting up by herself. She needed someone to be behind her in case she forgot to balance, but I think that within a week she’ll have it down.

suffering

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

I just listened to a very interesting interview on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air show. It’s with Professor Bart Ehrman on questioning religion on why we suffer. The link has lots of details, including his bio and an excerpt from his book, but in a nutshell he talks about his being drawn to Christianity because he believed it explained suffering in the world, and as he became a college professor in religion the more he studied this question the more unsatisfying he found the answer, with the result (so far) that he is agnostic, and seems to be quite comfortable with this fact. A few of the reasons I liked the interview (this sounds like a 5th grade book report) was that he asks a lot of the questions I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of years; he is very scholarly and not particularly confrontational; and his reasoning seems to be quite well rooted in scripture. He has clearly been thinking deeply about these issues for a number of years.

eclipse

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I saw the lunar eclipse last night, it was (in my scientific jargon) pretty cool. Actually (dad joke) it was freezing. I’d just left my class at St. Thomas at 9pm, and was waiting in downtown for the bus home, and it was about -2F. The sky was very clear, and I could see the moon looking kind of musty red. I’m pretty sure that if I was a superstitious type I would have been completely freaked out. Here’s a quick video. Now all I have to do is get the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by 80s soft rock belter Bonnie Tyler out of my head.

ceiling

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

So last night Barack Obama won another couple of primaries in his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. So far he’s won all ten contests since the Super Tuesday votes, and seems to have a lot of what everyone’s calling momentum, moving further and further into Hillary Clinton’s core constituents – lower income families, union members, female voters. Momentum indeed.

During Clinton’s speech on TV last night (which actually CNN cut away from in order to cover Obama’s speech, which they showed without ad breaks – sweet deal for him) she mentioned that if she becomes president it would break the hardest glass ceiling of them all. When they cut back to the analyst room one commentator, who happened to be an African American woman, seemed very upset and said that while Clinton is indeed a woman and there is a glass ceiling there, she went into this as the millionaire wife of a well-loved former president and really representing the party’s establishment. Obama, who while being a lawyer and therefore not being exactly poor, didn’t have the same advantages, and by the way is being African American not also a glass ceiling challenge?

Now as you (probably) know I am neither a woman nor African American, but every company I’ve worked for in America has had one or both in very senior leadership positions, and I have had several female bosses in the past. My last company had an African American man and a woman as the 2nd equal most senior company officers. So I have been in organizations where there was admirably very little in the way of glass ceilings. Growing up in Britain there was a woman Prime Minister – she was a strong, self-made woman. But I can’t say that I know first hand what the challenges must be of being in either of those groups in everyday life or in politics, and how people would likely pre-judge your abilities based on race or gender. I do admit that one of the reasons I like the idea of Obama being president is what a message it would sent to the country and the world for America to have a black president, but at the same time I wouldn’t be supportive if I didn’t think that he is highly capable entirely on his own merits and separate from his racial background.

I would also suggest that the biggest glass ceiling is not around race or gender. I have seen many surveys where Americans have said that all thing being equal they would vote for a woman president, an African- or Asian-American president, a Mormon president, Catholic or even Muslim president. Even a homosexual president. The lowest of the low out of all the choices in the surveys, the personality trait which would be the biggest impediment to being elected president? If a candidate was atheist.

to the hills

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden just popped up on my iPod – classic and classy stuff. It always reminds me of when I was in a band when I was 17 or so – our singer was able to do a pretty decent Bruce Dickinson impression, so we did a few Maiden covers. Our drummer and bassist particularly enjoyed the over-the-topness of it all, and I’m sure we sounded about as ridiculous as the real thing.

the correct answer is yes

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Over the weekend I popped into our fantastic local co-op to get some supplies, and noticed that they had a great special on cheese – some French Brie, Le Chatelaine, for only 5 bucks a pound, down from 15ish. I noticed right away that it looked delicious and runny, and even through the wrapping it smelled good (by good I mean that if an apple smelled that way you would throw it away immediately, but perfect for a cheese).

After a day of storing it in the fridge I noticed that more containment would be needed, so it’s now in its wrapping, and a ziploc bag, and a box, which is meaning that the fridge is now 90% less stinky than before. I tried some last night – making sure to be in a different room from where Emma was, so as to be considerate of her more delicate constitution – and it was an incredible experience. Stinky, creamy, yummy.

The info on the wrapper says that it’s a great combination of creaminess, with tones of mushroom and yeast: I say that coagulated milk with fungus and mold thrown in makes a snack fit for kings.

And here’s a guy tip: In order to retain your manly credentials, when your wife asks you “Is that something really old and rancid in the fridge, or is it your cheese?” the correct answer can only be “Yes”.