May 26, 2006


respect for tony

Tony Blair is in Washington DC right now, and gave a press conference with George W yesterday. In the elevator this morning I heard a couple of guys commenting on it. One of the guys said how it's amazing how articulate Blair is, and that it really shows up George Bush. Here's what Bush himself had to say
I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know
Of course Blair is not popular in the UK (although considerably more popular than Bush is here, which again puts things in perspective) but you Brits reading this, remember: you could have it much, much worse.

May 25, 2006


and, he's

Not often I laugh out loud at work, but this very short video did the trick. Picture quality is bad, but that's hardly the point as you'll find out.

Originally seen on

May 24, 2006


lookit, continued

A few posts ago I mentioned Toby's use of the command "lookit". It turns out that it's not just Minnesotan kids - long-serving Illinois senators use the word also.


bible blog

Slate magazine is doing an interesting thing right now - Blogging the Bible - in which one of the editors is reading the bible from the start and commenting on the chapters. It's subtitled "What happens when an ignoramus reads the Good Book?" and background is here.

There was a section I just read which resonated with me due to a conversation Emma and I had on Sunday. I was saying that at church (and life in general) there seems to be an awful lot of thanking God for the good things that happen, but not much accountability for the bad things and I didn't get why there wasn't so much of a balance. Emma said that the concept of God being involved directly with human affairs is much more an Old Testament than New Testament idea - in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is (my broad understanding, and by broad I mean likely to be incorrect) supposed to move humans to do the work themselves. However, here's an interesting note from the Bible blog:
God appears to Jacob in the dream and makes him an even better promise than He did to Abraham and Isaac. Not only will his descendants be everywhere, as He also offered Abraham and Isaac—God also makes this very personal commitment to Jacob: "Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

My wife and I have many evangelical Christian friends, and one thing that strikes me about them is that they have this Jacobian sense of God's interest in their lives. Like Jacob, they feel that God/Christ is with them, and that God/Christ will not leave until He has done what He has promised them. But I don't know any Jews who feel this way (or at least who talk this way). The Jews I know don't act or talk as if they have a personal relationship with God. They pray to God and feel that God works in the world, but not that God takes a personal interest in them. (Of course it could be that I am friends with the wrong group of Jews.) Do Christians have more of this Old Testament sense of God acting in everyday life than Jews do? If so, why?

May 22, 2006


new toby photos

I hope you haven't been holding your breath for new Toby photos because you wouldn't be feeling too good after two whole months. Here are a few new Toby pics for your enjoyment. Two of his uncles are arriving here on Friday so I'm sure we'll be taking more photos then.

May 17, 2006


really really late

OK, so it happened on April 29, but it's really worth watching the video of Stephen Colbert laying into President Bush. Enjoy.

May 15, 2006


gator raid

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post (and an excuse for that headline) about being in Florida - the extensive news about the unusually high number of alligator attacks in the last week. Three women have been attacked and killed in the last seven days, compared with only 17 fatalities from the animals over the past 58 years. I would assume that none will wander up to our hotel...


in orlando

I'm in Orlando, Florida for a few days attending the StarEast software testing conference which is a little bit fun and a big bit useful. First observation is that software testers aren't the most attractive bunch in the world, but I think that we're generally better looking than software developers (and we like to set the bar low). I'm staying in the Rosen Centre Hotel which I guess is one of the many conference hotels around here - it's right next door to the gigantic Orange County Conference Center and there are plenty more hotels within walking distance. It's all a bit sculpted and landscaped but quite nice - plenty of palm trees and stuff. The strange thing about the hotel is that about 80% of the guests are software geeks and the rest seem to be Brits on vacation - it's a slightly incongurous mix.

I had a good learning session on test management today, some of which reinforced and reassured about things we're doing already, and tomorrow a session in improving test methodology and process. Probably not very exciting for people who aren't in my line of work, but this is why they pay me the medium bucks and I find it quite interesting. The whole point is to make it so that when you're building software you do it right first time, and even if you think the subject is esoteric and boring it probably has a fairly major affect on your life if you consider all the computer systems which touch your life every day.

May 11, 2006



One Minnesotan verbal thing Toby has picked up (apart from saying Minnessooodah like a true local) is the command "lookit!" Emma and I have tried and failed at getting him to say "look at it!" instead but it's just not working. I thought it was just something kids say, but the more I listen to my local friends and co-workers, the more I realize it's a local turn of phrase I had completely missed until now.

Toby used it quite effectively last night - he came through to our room about 5:30am but didn't shut the door properly, and after a few minutes it creaked open on account of the windy weather outside (of course it was outside). Toby whispered spookily "Daddy - lookit! Who's coming in?"

May 10, 2006



If you live outside the US (or even inside) it is likely that you get a somewhat biased view of what "America" thinks, with regard to politics, at home and internationally. And one of the problems with the way people perceive a country is that they generally see that country through the lens of whoever is currently the leader.

So for example over the years I have spoken with several friends back in the UK about "America's support" for the war in Iraq, social issues etc, where the impression comes across that non-Americans think that American is full of gun-totin' yee-hawin' bigots and there's nothing much else happening. Well, of course there are a few of those people, just as in most countries - you generally have a spectrum of opinions and attitudes (look at support for the British National Party for example) but on the whole and contrary to many media impressions, America is generally a very sane and balanced place. Otherwise I don't think I'd still be living here.

It's certainly a lot more sane and balanced than many of those in power right now, and the people are expressing their disappointment more and more. To see this clearly, take a look at these amazing graphs from a poll out today, where you see disapproval for the President at near record levels. One stat which I think supports my view that this country is generally calm and sane is that more and more are finally "getting" that the Republican party (whose leadership have become more and more extreme in recent years) don't in fact represent their moral values. In fact only 37% of respondents say that the Repubs do share their moral values, and 50% say that the Democratic party does.

May 3, 2006


license to ill

From the news yesterday:Americans 'more ill than English' (I notice it doesn't compare them to the Scots). Here are my thoughts on why this might be the case:

1) Overwork. Americans tend to work more hours than pretty much anyone else. I think that we (I count myself as an American worker) obsess more about work and are "on" much more than British workers - not to say that British workers are slackers, but generally people get more vacation in the UK, and work weeks tend to be a few hours shorter, which adds up.
2) Leisure time. Americans might have a reputation as the people who started "doing" leisure time, but a lot of the time it's busy leisure - the stereotype is of the parents rushing around taking their kids from one activity to another. I don't know many people here who just hang around and get bored.
3) Social time. One of the things I miss most here is just going out after work, even for one or two drinks. Americans tend not to do the pint-after-work thing in the same way as Brits, and I think that's a shame - it's a great stress reducer.

I have a feeling that diet is probably a part of it too - I reckon Americans probably eat a fair bit more meat and processed foods than Brits. The study says that the numbers aren't necessarily explained by obesity levels but I have a hunch that more highly processed foods has a fair impact.

Anyone have any other unscientifically proven ideas?



Sorry for no posts in ages - I had nasty flu last week and over the weekend. Not fun. Anyway, to get things going again, here's a conversation Toby and Emma had yesterday:

T: Mummy - Armando and Jacob [two boys in Toby's class] love tornados. I love tornados - I wish I could buy one... At the Tornado shop.
E: Toby, do you know what a tornado is?
T: No, but I love them

They then had an explanation session on the tornado - how it is weather like snow, rain or sun. So now Toby can explain that a tornado is very windy and it goes round and round and picks up cows. Big tornados can be very scary but we only get little ones in the city because they don't like the buildings [this isn't exactly true, but it's helpful if you're an over-imaginative small person]. If a tornado comes we might have to sit in the basement.

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