worst cheese ever

January 16th, 2009

Next time Emma complains about me eating stinky cheese, I will reminder her that it could be a lot worse – it could be stinky and alive

worth reading

January 12th, 2009

We’re getting close to Feb 12, 2009, which is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and will be celebrated by many/some as Darwin Day. One science writer has taken a cue from Slate.com’s recent, and excellent, blogging the Bible series to do a similar series by reading On the Origin of Species and writing about it chapter by chapter (here’s the set-up and here’s chapter 1, about variation through domestication). Fascinating stuff, and I’m excited to keep following this series on this most amazing man and theory.

not much hope

January 11th, 2009

The news from Israel and Gaza about the ongoing violence is pretty nasty at the moment, to say the least. There’s so much history and antagonism from both sides, and I just wish that the human reflex to try to resolve everything through violence wasn’t so pervasive. Apparently, according to this guy, it’s also a godly reflex too (and I’m sure there are plenty of people on the other side who could sound equally objectionable). Sheesh.

new toby and dara pics

January 6th, 2009

I just posted up some photos from Christmas and New Year of the young ‘uns. Enjoy!

christmas eve

December 24th, 2008

The start and end of Christmas eve for a Toby who is almost six and very excited:

Up at around 6am to wait outside his parents’ room until someone gets up. When I found him, he immediately asked whether Santa had been yet. I told him that it was the wrong day and he was very upset, but excited that it will be tomorrow.

End of the day: after she read his stories tonight, Toby asked Emma how big the letter C is. She asked him what he meant, and he said “You know, the *real* letter C.” I think he meant some Plato-type Utopian ideal of a C, it wasn’t really clear. Interesting question though.

elaborate deception

December 23rd, 2008

It’s that time of the year when Emma and I, along with parents all over the world, practice a ceremony of elaborate deception on our children. That’s right, we’ve been very careful not to give the Santa game away to Toby (and Dara, although she wouldn’t get the idea yet anyway).

In Toby we are blessed with a very smart and inquisitive child and we’re pretty sure he would see though the Santa thing quite quickly, so we’ve had to be very careful with how we get Christmas stocking presents together and what we talk about when we’re discussing them. I, of course, end up feeling a bit of angst around whether it’s OK to be doing this – on one hand it’s a lot of fun but on the other it is kind of a con trick, but on the other hand he’s only five so enjoy the magic of Christmas and enjoy having three hands.

I did the same thing with the Advent calendar my mother sent him, when I said that if he opens a door early it’s bad luck. Of course I had no way of telling him how that would work, and fortunately he didn’t ask, but it felt again like I was being a bit of a fraud.

Anyway. There’s a lot of interesting information on the wikipedia about Santa – it’s worth reading.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

new kid pics

December 18th, 2008

Just posted up a bunch of new Toby and Dara photos – here they are. Hope you like them.

questions

December 17th, 2008

The Slate Explainer column has been running a list of unanswered questions from readers. Here’s this year’s crop. I like how some of them are very terse, but some are long and rambling, ending with some kind of justification:

Is the stomach normally full of air like a balloon, or is it squeezed flat by the other organs, like a balloon with no air that spreads open as food and water come in? Are the other organs squeezed and compressed like a squeezed sponge, or are they like a sponge not being squeezed? What about the intestines? Are they squeezed flat normally, or are they open like one of those long balloons that magicians make animals out of? I’m trying to get a picture in my mind what the inside of the body normally looks like.

upgraded

December 13th, 2008

You hopefully can’t tell, but I’ve just upgraded m’WordPress installation to the latest version – 2.7. It’s a slightly cumbersome but not particularly difficult process involving a mixture of database backing up and FTP file manipulation. You just need to concentrate so that you don’t overwrite the wrong things. Apparently from now on it’ll be a one-click process so it should be much easier for the less technically inclined.

Anyway you shouldn’t be able to tell, but let me know if anything seems different or broken.

achievements

December 13th, 2008

Very proud of the kids today, if I may be somewhat boastful. Dara is just being a happy girl in general, and now has about 6 or 7 definite words. It’s continuing to be great to hear her chat come along and get more of an idea of her personality.

And Mr. Toby is doing great at school too. We went to a party for his class yesterday afternoon, and firstly it was so good to see how much fun he was having with all his friends and how much they liked being with him; secondly we heard from his teacher that she had just re-assessed his reading progress. When he started in September he was about level A in reading – levels 1 and 2 are foundation; levels 3, A, B and C are kindergarten level. After a few weeks, one month ago, he was at level C. Levels D through I are first grade level; J onwards is second grade. His assessment yesterday showed that he was at level H. I’m very pleased at how he’s doing – partly to see his progress, but also because he’s just enjoying reading so much. It’s really rewarding that he’ll pick up books and work through them, and is feeling so good about his abilities.