# Sunday, 16 June 2013

Why can’t I have cheesecake for lunch?

I came home for lunch earlier, and asked the Boss what was on offer. She directed me to a pan of pasta, and suggested I have pasta and cheese. As I was about to pick up the pan, I noticed a rather yummy-looking cheesecake just behind the the pan, and suggested that I have some of that instead.

For some odd reason, the Boss didn’t think this was such a good choice for lunch, but I pointed out that cheesecake has both protein and carbohydrate, two essential ingredients for a healthy lunch! She didn’t seem too impressed with this remark.

Undeterred, I had two helpings of cheesecake anyway, which was delicious (thank you Grandma). In response to a further remark from the Boss, I repeated my claim to having had a balanced meal, when she pointed out that there wasn’t actually that much carbohydrate in the cheesecake, as the base wasn’t that thick. Grudgingly agreeing to this, I happened to look in the fridge, and saw the remains of a large trifle that my dear Mumsie had provided for Shabbos. “Ooh, carbohydrate!” I exclaimed happily, and removed it from the fridge.

Due to the family nature of this blog, I won’t describe the look on the Boss’s face at this, but I pointed out that trifle is even healthier than cheesecake, as it has carbohydrate in the cake, protein in the milk in the custard and vitamins in the fruit. OK, so it was tinned pineapple, but it had probably seen a vitamin somewhere along the production line.

Some people think that a balanced diet is a piece of chocolate in each hand. I disagree. I think a balanced diet is cheesecake and trifle!

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# Monday, 29 August 2011

Banana flies

We learnt an interesting thing yesterday… if you go away on holiday for two weeks, and leave a bunch of bananas in the cupboard, then when you return, you will have a black, smelly mess that once resembled bananas, and a cupboard of flies! If you then open the cupboard door, you will end up with a kitchen full of flies! They are jolly hard to get rid of as well.

However, in the interests of public information, I am able to reveal a secret, but highly effective method of getting rid of them. You wait until they are all quiet and unsuspecting, and you sneak up on them with a vacuum cleaner (preferably with the end taken off the hose), and surprise them. They all fly up into the air, and you can suck them all up! Takes a few goes, but it’s a pretty good way of clearing them out. We got rid of loads that way.

Of course, the best advice is not to forget the bananas in the first place!

More useful advice in future posts… maybe.

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# Thursday, 24 February 2011

Churchill had more sense than most managers and executives!

I saw an extract from Winston Churchill's speech at the reopening of the Parliament chambers that were rebuilt after being damaged during the London raids in World War II.

He noted that the same measurements were used in the rebuilding as in the original, that the main room was just as uncomfortable as before... thus making it difficult for oratory and discussion to drift far from the points that were important to discuss. He stated that Parliament's cramped quarters were perhaps the greatest single material contribution to efficient British governmental decision making.

I can think of a few executives in various parts of industry who would do well to listen to those words!

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# Sunday, 19 December 2010

Blog finally working again!

I have been having all sorts of problems with my blog recently. I upgraded my server to a new version of Windows, and the blog platform that I use wouldn't allow me to post :(

I think I may have finally sorted it out, and so may be able to bore you once again with irrelevant comments and pictures of my children! If you find this thought too stomach-churning to bear (and I don't blame you), you may want to switch your computer off right now.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

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# Monday, 09 November 2009

Happy birthday blog

I just noticed that my blog is four years, seven weeks and one day old :)

My very first blog post was entitled Brand new blog - will anyone read it?, and I think the answer was “No.”

Thank you for reading, if indeed you are. I may be typing to empty space for all I know.

Whilst I was perusing, I discovered that Geocities has finally given up and closed down, taking the original version of the PSG web site with it. last updated in about 1998, this was my first foray into the world of Internet self-publication (which is all that personal web sites and blogs are really). If you’re really bored, you can see an archive of the PSG web site circa 8th Oct 1999 on the Way Back When Machine, which is a great place to waste an hour or two, as it stores archives of web sites from years gone by.

I also discovered that the “contact us” page on the main PSG web site doesn’t work any more! Oh well, I guess those that know us know our e-mail address, and those that don’t are mostly trying to spam us anyway :)

See you in another four years, seven weeks and one day :-)

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# Thursday, 23 July 2009

Hot, dry summer

sunshineAccording to the weathermen, who cannot be wrong, we are going to have a long, dry and hot summer this year.

According to the little gadget that Microsoft included in Windows Vista, which cannot be wrong, the weather outside my door is 66 degs and sunny.

According to my eyes, which obviously are wrong, it’s bunging down to a degree that would make residents of a tropical rain forest worried! I can’t remember seeing such heavy rain for a long time. Our garden is a swamp :-)

Yup, long, dry and hot, just like they predicted!

P.S. An hour later... Well, it’s now dried up, and the sky is bright, and fairly clear. My fab Windows Vista weather gadget tells me it’s bunging down! Ho hum.

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# Tuesday, 07 July 2009

Three frogs – a surprising question

Question: Three frogs sat on a log and one decided to jump off. How many frogs were left on the log?

Answer: Three.

Explanation: Although almost everyone answers two, the correct answer is three. Why? Just because the frog decided to jump off the log does not necessarily mean that it actually did it.

Is there a gap between what you decide to do and what you actually do?

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# Thursday, 05 March 2009

Goodbye syringes, hopefully forever

Some syringesIt's funny (as in odd, not amusing) how you get used to bizarre things. We have lived with a cupboard full of syringes for the last five months, we've kind of got used to them. Chaya Devoira was being fed through a syringe (down the tube), and she had her medicines from syringes as well.

The NHS has been very forthcoming in its supply of syringes, and we ended up with quite an impressive (and space-consuming) collection. Coupled with the fact that they brought us a whole pile just before she went into hospital the last time, and the fact that they don't normally take them back once they've been in someone's house, we had enough to start a modest medical facility.

I had been contemplating what to do with them all. The nurses said that they couldn't take them back, and we should throw them away. This seemed somewhat wrong to me, but who am I to argue with the wisdom of the NHS?

Therefore, I was mildly amused to discover that there is a fair trade in sterile syringes on eBay! Whilst the proceeds from selling them wouldn't be enough to fund the aforementioned modest medical facility (which we wouldn't open without the syringes), it would have been quite a nice little bonus.

To my dismay, our friendly local Community Nurse decided that she was going to risk sneaking them back in, hoping that no-one would notice. They are all sealed and sterile, so it's not really a problem.

So that was it. They came today, and we piled up her groaning car with boxes of syringes, and away drove my beer money!

At least I have the satisfaction of having saved the NHS a modest amount of money. I hope they are grateful :-)

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# Thursday, 19 February 2009

My observations on life in London

I have spent a fair amount of time walking the streets of London, or sitting on tube trains below those streets, and I have come to several conclusions, two of which are...

  1. There are an awful lot of people in London, and
  2. Most of them do not seem to check their appearance in the mirror before leaving home!
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# Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Dragged, kicking and screaming into the modern age!

Are we the only ones?

Neither of us own a mobile 'phone. We never had, and hopefully never will. I know, everyone tells how useful they are, and how owning one doesn't make you subserviant to it honest, but we're not convinced.

However, before the Boss went into hospital to have Chaya Devoira, we were offered a mobile to borrow for the (what was expected to be) couple of days that she would be there. The way things worked out, we still have it, and yes, it has been useful.

Being gadget mad, and technologically minded, the first thing I did when we were lent it was to fiddle with it until I had discovered all of the menus and options. Despite knowing nothing about the subject, I quickly worked out what text messages were, and how to read and delete them. The one thing that totally baffled me was how to send one. I got as far as where you type it, but couldn't persuade the mobile to type what I wanted, and not what it wanted me to say. It seemed to have its own idea about what I should be typing, and with all due respect to its opnion, I rarely agreed! So that was that. We used it for calls, and got the occasional text, but nothing more.

And then, the Luddite struck back!

My dear wife has never been one for technology. She insists on making cakes by hand, instead of using the electric mixer. She insists on chopping garlic by hand instead of using the garlic/herb chopper, and so on. It came as a surprise to me to discover that she had worked out how to send a text. I didn't even know she knew what they were! During her most recent (and hopefully last) stay in Pendlebury hospital (before we were transferred to London), she spent some time fiddling, and worked it out.

Well, that was it. She has sent enough texts in the past couple of weeks to require several telecommunications companies to upgrade their networks, due to the excessive traffic! I don't mind as it has been a huge boost for her, keeping in touch with her friends and accessing some of the services that people have offered.

But through it all, I never worked it out. On the one hand, I felt a bit cheated that my Luddite wife had worked out something that I, the modest and self-effacing computer genius (well, maybe not that modest!) hadn't managed. On the other hand, it gave me a weird sort of satisfaction, knowing that I wasn't subservient to the stupid device!

All that changed yesterday...

When we arrived at Yolanda's late on motzei Shabbos, she handed me a spare mobile, and insisted that I keep it while we are here. This was very kind of her, although I wasn't too sure what I was going to do with it!

We were sitting on the ward yesterday, and I decided to have a look at the mobile she lent me. I had a quick tinker, and lo and behold, managed to send a text! Yup, my very first text message ever. It went a long way, all the way from my seat to the mobile phone sitting next to the Boss, about six inches away! I acted innocent, as though I had no idea what was going on, and was amused by her expression when she realised that the text had come from me.

It turns out that mobiles have a function that predicts what you are about to type, and completes the word for you. The mobile we had borrowed initially had this turned on, which is why I couldn't work out how to send a text. The mobile was incorrectly predicting what I wanted to type. Maybe I'm weird or something :-)

Anyway, it seems that Yolanda had the same problem with it as me, and had Jon switch the functon off. This is why I was able to send a text on her mobile. I sent another one to the Boss later, this time with a picture - even she hadn't worked out how to do that yet!

So, now I'm a texting expert. I have sent four texts now. The last two came about because I got a text as I was walking down the hospital corridor to go back to Yol and Jon's last night. The Boss had remembered something she wanted to ask me, and didn't think she could catch me up. I managed to receive it, and send a reply before reaching the London Eye, which is about halfway between the hospital and the tube station. I was proud of myself. We exchanged one more each way before I was plunged into the textless underworld of the Tube.

So, I finally caught up with the rest of the world. This knowledge will stand me in great stead for the next couple of days, until we give back Yolanda's spare mobile!

I wonder what will be the next step in our exploration into the modern world? Maybe we'll get a fax machine... nah, too modern!

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# Thursday, 08 January 2009

Isn't my time worth anything?

To add to the fun and games in the house, the dishwasher packed up on motzei Shabbos. I know these things are a luxury, but we were given it as a present, and with all the crockery and cups we go through, it's become an essential.

So, off I went on Sunday morning to buy a new one. They are very keen on being eco-friendly nowadays, so the dishwasher manufacturers are all competing to see whose dishwasher uses less water, less electricity, produces less waste, etc.

What they don't seem to consider is being economical with the owner's time. Our new dishwasher takes almost three hours to do a standard wash! I know I can just set it going and go do something else, but it seems a very long time, considering I could do it by hand in about half an hour.

We had the same thing when we bought a new washing machine a couple of years ago. The new one takes at least twice as long as the old one, but doesn't wash the clothes any cleaner!

Apparently my time isn't worth anything as long as we save the environment. Ho hum.

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# Thursday, 06 November 2008

Why do women have so many more clothes than men?

Amongst everything else, we have builders in the house. Part of the modifications that they are slowly doing involves moving our bedroom from the ground floor to the middle floor, and the living/play room from the middle floor to the ground floor. Due to the extra workload I've had with the Boss and baby being in hospital, this has happened over a period of several weeks. One result was that we had a bedroom upstairs, and the Boss' clothes downstairs (well, she wasn't here to need them, and I had enough else to do that was urgent without shifting things that could wait).

I finally got around to moving her clothes upstairs the other day, and was amazed at how many she has. My wardrobe consists of white shirts (about ten), black trousers (about four or five pairs, which I consider to be quite a lot), one weekday jumper, one Shabbos jumper and a suit. She has enough clothes to stock a medium-sized boutique in a fashionable district of Paris - albeit with the wrong sort of clothes for such a place! It seems that women have a completely different wardrobe depending on the time of year. The only difference between my summer and winter wardrobe are the two jumpers mentioned above! Why do women have so many clothes?

I suppose this isn't a new question. It probably goes back to the time that Adam wondered why Eve had three fig leaves and he only had one!

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# Monday, 17 September 2007

A truly amazing person

I have just seen a one-minute film on the Aish HaTorah web site that made me cry. No, I'm not a soppy person, but I was so moved by this short film, that I couldn't help it.

Please, watch this film, and then read the article about the person. Maybe you won't cry, but if it just makes you think, it will have been worth it.

The film: The Blink Of An Eye
The article: The Hero Within

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# Sunday, 09 September 2007

You know you spend too much time in front of a computer when...

You know you spend too much time in front of a computer when you are in the middle of learning gemorro, and you glance at the bottom right-hand corner of the page to see what time it is!

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# Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Are you a piccolo player or a violinist?

Some years ago, we went to hear Beethoven's Sixth Symphony being played by the Halle Orchestra. Being one of my favourite pieces of music, it was an altogether excellent evening off. However, one thing bothered me...

During the recital, one man sat in the middle of the orchestra, apparently not doing anything. He was dressed in the same black jacket with tails as all the other men in the orchestra, but he did not seem to have a musical instrument with him, and sat there with his arms folded all evening.

Now I can understand anyone wanting to sit listening to Beethoven's Sixth, but why would they choose to do it in a black jacket with tails, sitting in the middle of the orchestra?

The riddle was finally solved during the fourth movement, "The Thunderstorm." This movement wonderfully depicts the scene of a sudden thunderstorm in the middle of a countryside outing (which is the theme of the whole symphony). Right in the middle of this piece, the man in question unfolded his arms (gasp!) and reached into the inside pocket of the aforementioned jacket, and withdrew a piccolo.

For those of you not familiar with a piccolo, it is a bit like a small flute. However, when I say "small," I mean small enough to fit in the inside pocket of a jacket (with or without tails). Here is a picture of a piccolo to add some visual interest to this otherwise long and apparently pointless story...

a piccolo

During the peak of the thunderstorm, the man put the piccolo to his mouth and played the three solitary notes (two in close succession, then one shortly afterwards) that Beethoven deemed appropriate. He then put the piccolo back in his pocket, folded his arms once again and sat there motionless until the end of the symphony.

At the time, I was amused by this, but didn't really give it much further thought. However, it came back to mind the other day, and it sparked an interesting (to me) observation in life that I thought I would share with you.

Some people go through life and really join in. Whenever there is anything going on, they are involved. They are a bit like the violins. Like them or not, it's hard to find a symphony ever written that doesn't have loads of violins at its heart. In many ways, they are the fried onions of classical music.

[In case anyone is wondering at that rather strange analogy, I should point out that my father firmly believes that all cooking should begin with fried onions. They form the basis of all his savoury delights. Since violins form the basis of pretty much all orchestral music, it seemed like a good analogy]

Other people sit there with their arms folded for most of the time. Just once in a while they will pull out their piccolo and play a couple of notes, but then they will quietly put it away again and resume their silence. These people rarely make much impression on life. That's not necessarily a good or bad thing, it's just an observation.

So, it occurred to me to wonder, am I a piccolo player or a violinist? How about you? Feel free to leave a comment if you like. I won't be offended if you don't though :-D


P.S. I showed this blog post to the Boss, and just to prove once again that women are more intelligent and deeper thinkers than men, she added the following observation:

Sure, some people sit there inactive most of the time, but when they do make some movement, it is significant. The piccolo may only have played three notes, but they had a very deep effect on the mood of the music. Similarly, kettle drums (my favourite) are sadly not a featured instrument in many pieces, but they nevertheless play in important part when they are used. So the observation is still valid, but the conclusion is more complex.

I think this is getting too philosophical for my little brain! Maybe we need to contemplate it further before releasing Silver's Observations On The Significance Of Musical Instruments In Everyday Life (or SOOTSOMIIEL for short - just rolls off the tongue doesn't it?). Remember you saw it here first!

Your comments are welcome. Just click the "comments" link below and tell us (politely) what you think. You don't need to leave your e-mail address and web site unless you want to, but it would be nice if you filled in your name so we know who actually reads this stuff!

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# Tuesday, 07 August 2007

There's no such thing as coincidence, even if you can't work out why!

As we were just setting off on our outing yesterday, one of the children opened the sliding window on the side of the car. For some inexplicable reason, the window exploded into squillions of pieces, leaving shattered glass inside and out.

After spending rather longer than we would have liked cleaning up the broken glass, I then had the boring and frustrating job of trying to find somewhere that would fit a replacement window.

Given that there are plenty of window replacement people in the area, including at least four main Volkswagen dealers, the fact that my eventual choice of company was a Volkswagen dealership in Swansea was by no means a high probability. When I mentioned the name of the dealership to the Mrs, she pointed out that this was the exact garage that had originally registered the car when it was new. When I gave the registration number to the chap when booking it in, he asked me if it was a Swansea number as he recognised it (sad waste of a brain, but that's another story).

So, I was left wondering what this all meant. We bought the car from someone in Kendal (for the geographically challenged, this is in the Lake District, north-west England, and a long way from South Wales), and had ended up taking it back home for a new window. Not just the area where it was registered, but to the exact same garage.

Surely there must be some deep cosmic significance in all of this. Out of all the areas in our green and pleasant land, we could have gone on holiday anywhere. Even having come to this area, the window could have smashed at any time. Even having a smashed window in this area, we could have gone to any one of a large number of places to have it fixed. Why did it work out that we took the car back to its place of registration?

Unfortunately, having contemplated it for some time, I still can't think of anything to conclude from the whole episode, other than advising people not to smash their car windows whilst on holiday.

Bit of a disappointing ending really. Sorry.

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# Sunday, 05 August 2007

Trekking through the forest with a broken sandal

We went up into the Welsh hills today, to visit some important Places Of Great Paddleworthy Significance. We upheld the fine family tradition of paddling, doing justice to the world-famous reputation of our long history of paddling. My Grandfather o"h firmly believed that if there had been an Olympic event in paddling, he and Bim would have won team ribbons for England.

Part of this outing involved a fairly long trek through a forest, climbing towards some apparently magnificent waterfalls. The more observant reader may wonder about the use of the word "apparently" there. It was actually carefully chosen, as we never actually made it to the end, due to the younger yummy scrummies being exhausted after so much paddling. We saw one minor waterfall, but missed the big 'uns.

Part way up, one side of the rear strap on my right sandal broke. This made wearing the sandal a somewhat flappy, if not too uncomfortable experience. Shortly afterwards, the other side of this strap broke as well, leaving me with something more akin to a flip-flop on my right foot. This made walking quite challenging.

Whilst pondering the difficulties of trekking through uneven terrain with a broken sandal, it occurred to me that this sort of footwear was perfectly normal in Biblical times. It's no wonder they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness to get to Eretz Yisroel if their sandals were anything like mine! Mind you, I don't suppose they bought cheap rubber ones for £1.99 in a bin-end shop, so it might not have been that bad.

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# Wednesday, 18 April 2007

The dangers of late-night flits to Asda

Every year, right after the last Yom Tov of Pesach goes out, I zip off to Tesco (along with most of the rest of North Manchester's Jewish population) and stock up the cupboards. This year I decided not to. We were off to Leeds the day after, so we weren't in urgent need of chometz, and could do a shop on the way home.

Predictably, we stayed in Leeds longer than we should have, and didn't have time to go to Tesco on the way home. As they are open 24 hours, we decided to go later that night. Well, it looked like a plague of locusts had hit the place! There were long stretches of empty shelves, and the usually helpful Tesco people just laughed when I asked if they had any Corn Flakes. It seems that I was the 97th person to ask in the last five minutes. So, we did a minor bit of shopping, and decided to leave the rest for another day.

On the way out, I remembered that there is a big Asda just nearby, which is also open 24 hours. Never having been, we decided to go there and just buy a box of Corn Flakes and some Weetabix. Big mistake, it cost us 90 quid!

You see the problem is that Asda sells just everything! Not just food and stuff, but telephones, toys, clothes, cupboards and so on. Our local Tesco sells some of this as well, but not as much. We really got carried away!

Trouble was, we enjoyed it so much that we've been back several times since! These late-night flits are getting expensive!

Ho hum, the cost of living eh?

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# Tuesday, 06 February 2007

How the NHS saves on prescription charges

We had a family visit to the doctor this morning. Actually, not quite the full family, but three patients and two hangers-on (Mummy and Simcha) who came to offer moral support.

We discovered a whole new side to the NHS. Instead of walking out with prescriptions for medicines, we all three came out with leaflets. Apparently it is more cost-effective to cure ailments with leaflets than with medicines. The only problem was, they didn't tell us how often to apply the leaflets. Thankfully our doctor has a laser printer, so we didn't end up with ink stains on our skin when rubbing the leaflets on.

Still, gave me something (dull) to read over breakfast.

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# Tuesday, 09 January 2007

It was 20 years ago today...

Actually, it was more like 25, and no-one can remember any anniversaries, but who cares? On the 30th December 06, a (fairly) grand reunion took place of my teenage friends (ie friends from when I was a teenager, not my current friends who happen to be teenagers, but then of course you knew that all along didn't you?). I say it was fairly grand, as it would have been even more grand had a few more people managed to make it, and had we been able to trace a few more!

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and there were lot's of "Ooh, do you remember when..." and "So what are you doing now?" not to mention the inevitable "I bet you wish I had lost this photo!!" For some odd reason, I seemed to feature in a disproportionately large number of photos, mostly highly embarassing :-D

Anyway, here is a group photo from the evening...

In case you can't work out who these people all are, here is a clue. At the front is Andrew Cohen, formerly known as, erm, Andrew Cohen! Behind him, sitting sedately on the chairs are (L-R) Simon Myerson, yours truly, Nick Myserson, Jeff Flowers and Jonny Straight. Standing behind us are (L-R) Kate Pearlman, Mink Flowers, Mandy Bergin (Homberg), Karen Usher, Debbie Hougie (Pearlman), Carolyn Saffer (Ross), Benita (also known as Bean as I remember) Dapin (Gould), Louise Sherman (Caplan, friend of Carolyn) and Jeff's wife, whose name I never found out (oops).

If you want to see the wrinkles in their full glory, click on the picture above and you'll be treated to a full-sized (2529x1944 pixels, 361Kb) version of it. This is suitable for printing, assuming you consider the subject suitable for printing of course!

Anyway, I intend to make a separate web page for the reunion, and sent out an e-mail to all those who were there asking for a brief update on where/who/why they are nowadays. As only two people have replied, I haven't done the page yet. Come on the rest of you!!

I look forward to the next reunion in another 25 years time. Ooh-err, I'll be drawing a pension by then!

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# Tuesday, 03 October 2006

The design process

For a few years now I've been a designer, either a web designer, or a software designer (or both). This job requires you to work with clients, a strange breed of human who know exactly what they want, without having a clue what they want!! Trying to create the web site or application that is in their heads can be quite a challenge when what comes out of their mouth bears little similarity.

Anyway, the reason for mentioning this is that I just came across the following cartoon, which is not new in principle, but illustrates the problem very nicely...

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# Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Mathematical oddities part 2

Following on from the mathematical oddities that I added a few weeks ago, I was sent another one today...

This reminds me of a lovely line that I read somewhere... "Pure mathematicians only use three numbers, zero, one and eight. The last one is usually written on its side, pronounced 'infinity' and means 'a lot'"

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# Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Well, they amused me (doesn't take much)

Just came across these two paradies of well-known adverts. First, the ever-profitable designer clothes for babies...

...and of course, where would we be without a parady of Microsoft?

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# Thursday, 14 September 2006

I'm in love with a big blue frog

Actually I'm not, but here we go anyway...

You know how you sometimes remember something really stupid from years back? Well, I do anyway :-D

So the other day we were sitting around the table, and I suddenly burst out singing "I'm in love with a big blue frog" which, for those of you with enough sense not to remember, was featured on the Muppet Show many years ago. It turns out that the song was actually first done by the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, back in the days when people thought that this kind of thing was funny!! I think they later regretted it. It was as embarrassing to them as Laughing Gnome was to David Bowie.

Anyway, I digress (as usual). Having got this in my mind, I couldn't get rid of it, so did a quick search and came up with the words (shown a bit lower down). I also found some MP3 extracts of the original, so if you want to sing along, these should give you an idea how the tune goes.

First the original by Peter, Paul and Mary. I couldn't find any MP3s of the Muppets version, but discovered that Disney put out a CD of silly songs, which included their version. I even found that for the princely sum of just 79p, you can buy the whole song. I did :-S

Anyway, here are the words. Enjoy...

Im in love with a big blue frog,
A big blue frog loves me.
Its not as bad as it appears
He wears glasses and hes six foot three.

Well Im not worried about our kids,
I know theyll turn out neat.
Theyll be great lookin cause theyll have my face,
Great swimmers cause theyll have his feet!

Well Im in love with a big blue frog,
A big blue frog loves me.
Hes not as bad as he appears,
Hes got rhythm and a phd.

Well I know we can make things work
Hes got good famly sense.
His mother was a frog from philadelphia
His daddy an enchanted prince.

The neighbors are against it and its clear to me
And its probly clear to you
They think value on their property will go right down
If the family next door is blue.

Well Im in love with a big blue frog
A big blue frog loves me
Ive got it tattooed on my chest
It says p.h.r.o.g. (its frog to me!)
P.h.r.o.g.

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# Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Customer notice

Sign seen in a grocery shop in North Shields...

"Please will customers refrain from sitting on the bacon slicer as we are getting behind in our orders"

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# Thursday, 10 August 2006

Mathematical oddities

Being a mathematician by training, I was amused by the following examples of students' mistakes in maths questions. I hvae no idea if any of them are true, but they are funny enough to be true!! Having marked a fair few undergraduate example sheeets when I was doing my PhD, I can tell you that these are in no way out of the ordinary!!

Question 1:

Question 2:

Question 3:

Question 4:

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# Monday, 07 August 2006

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine!!

Am I the only one who gets excited by stupid little things? No, I don't mean the children, I mean those insignificant things in life that really should be passed over as not worthy of comment, but somehow arouse something deep within us.

What on Earth am I talking about? I'll explain. Don't worry, it won't take long, then you can go and do whatever you were doing before I interrupted.

I bought a new telephone the other day. Big deal huh? Well, that's what I thought before it arrived. The 'phone I was using in my office did not have any way to increase the volume of the sound coming through the speaker, which, coupled with the headset I use (so I can type whilst talking), made it hard to hear sometimes. After some investigation, I bought a BT Big Button 100, mainly based on the fact that it was the cheapest BT 'phone that had this feature. As it happens, it was designed for accessibility, so has really big buttons...


It also has a few other useful features that the old 'phone didn't have, like memory buttons and a 1571 button that lights up when you have messages. By the way, if anyone is thinking of buying one, don't get it from BT. I got one from Amazon for quite a lot less than BT were asking!!

So, this would all seem to be a fairly insignificant event, certainly not worthy of the amount of waffle it's been given so far. Well, the weird thing is that it got me really excited!! I sit here just willing it to ring, or looking for opportunities to ring someone so I can press those big buttons!!

Am I unique, or do other people get excited by silly things like this? What is it about a 'phone with big buttons that caught my interest? Do I need a psychiatrist? Does anyone care?
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# Thursday, 20 July 2006

iPod toilet roll holder - no, it's not a joke!!

I have just discovered this...


No, it's not 1st April, this is real!!

I am speechless (for once)
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# Monday, 19 June 2006

On Chemistry, Mishnayos and an Uninteresting Result

When I was doing my PhD, one of my fellow students told me a story (apparently true) of someone doing a PhD in Chemistry. His assignment was to examine the reaction of some chemical, which for want of a better name, we will call Krinklium Trithorodine (KrTh3) with other chemicals.

He slaved away (as much as any PhD student does) for three years mixing, heating, defibulating and otherwise abusing his bottle of KrTh3, trying in vain to get it to react with something. At the end of three years he concluded that it simply didn't react with anything, and that his entire PhD had been a waste of time.

When I was told this story, I pointed out that the fact that KrTh3 didn't react with anything was itself a result. The reply was "Yes, but it's not a very interesting one."

Why am I telling you this? Well, this morning I was learning a tractate of mishnayos called Kinim, which is generally reckoned to be extremely hard to understand by anyone with a non-mathematical mind. I happen to like this tractace, partly because I'm weird, and partly because I like mathematics (which probably amounts to the same as being weird).

Anyway, the subject matter turned to the calculation of what happens when a mixture of sacrificial bird offerings from several people are brought by mistake. There is a discussion over certain specific cases as to how many of the birds were OK, and how many were no good. I started pondering if there was some mathematical formula that, given the number of people and the number of birds they each had, would tell you the proportions that were OK. I started working out some numbers to see if I could see a pattern, but decided that it was a bit complex to do by hand. I began to ponder the complexities of writing a computer program to do the calculation for me. I had grand pictures of a thesis being formed, with a new mathematical treatise on Kinim in the offing. I was going to be famous!!

The matter was put aside at lunchtime, and all but forgot during the afternoon. When I returned to the subject this evening, I decided to have another go at some calculations by hand. As I was doing these, I suddenly realised that the answer was quite simple. If the number of people were even, then half of the birds were OK, and if the number of people were odd, then two thirds of the birds were OK.

I felt a bit deflated. All my grand plans of a thesis shot out of the window. Sure it's a result, but to quote the person who told me the previous story "It's not a very interesting one."


Bit like this blog post!!
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Two basic rules of flying

Basic Flying Rule 1: Try to stay in the middle of the air

Basic Flying Rule 2: Go to the edge of the air only when ready to land.

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# Wednesday, 14 June 2006

PSG blog moves to the main PSG site

Well, having been a bit fed up with MSN and their blog site, I decided to move the PSG blog. Being the brave (and foolhardy) type, I decided that instead of trying another blogging service, I would install my own. I contemplated writing one, but instead opted for downloading a free one. Seems to work OK so far :-)

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# Tuesday, 13 June 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith on immortality

"If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error"

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# Monday, 12 June 2006

Heatwave - bleah!

OK, so I admit it, I'm unusual.

I know that's not news to anyone who knows me, but I think I must be the only person not enjoying our current heatwave. I have no idea what is going on outside of my area of activity (usually a mile or so around my house), but right here it's India on a hot day. Perhaps not the "India on a hot day" that would melt a brass doorknob, but certainly enough to make it go mushy.

I have partially solved the problem with a portable air conditioning unit that is sitting beside me on the desk, belting cold air down the back of my neck. This is paradise compared to the rest of the house. The problem is that is is drowning out Saint Saens' quite wonderful Kettle Drum Symphony (OK, it's really called the Organ Symphony, but I reckon there are more kettle drums there than organs anyway).

Anyway, roll on winter!!

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# Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Cake (a subject close to my heart!!)

Why do people say "You can't have your cake and eat it" - of course you can!!
 
The trick is to eat your cake and have it...
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# Thursday, 18 May 2006

The sad tail of Biffed II

Well, I came downstairs this morning to hear a funny noise form the fish tank filter. On closer inspection, it turned out that our fish had been excavating once again, and had piled up so much gravel in front of the cave where the filter sucks out water, that the filter couldn't actually get anything through.
 
Whilst digging out the cave, I noticed one of the new fish cowering inside the cave. I'm not sure if the others (ie Biffer) tried to bury it alive, or it just got stuck inside during a digging frenzy.
 
Either way, when it emerged from its confinement, I could see that it had been pretty badly beaten up. Most if its fins were gone, and it had red marks around its head. Poor thing looked very soory for itself. To add insult to injury, whilst it was trying to swim (which was obvously very difficult for it), other fish came over and tried taking bites out of it!! As if its injuries weren't enough, it was being eaten alive
 
Eliyohu looked at it and shouted "It's been Biffed again!!" I pulled it out and put it in a net, floating in the tank. That way it was still in the same water, but was protected from the others. I'm not sure if it will survive though
 
I'm glad I'm not a fish!!

P.S. added later...
Sad to say, Biffed II didn't make it until supper time. I found him floating belly-up later on, so I did the decent thing and bunged him down the waste disposal!!
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# Wednesday, 17 May 2006

New fish today

We got some more fish today. Being that our fish are the "tough guy" type, who seem to enjoy bashing each other (or some of them do anyway, the rest have to tolerate it), we occasionally lose the odd one or two.

We took a trip to see Graham the fish man and bought some Maylandia Estherae German Double Reds. Pretty impressive name
for a fish eh?

Well, after putting the new fish in the tank, I sat back to watch them swimming peacefully around in calm serenity. Ha ha ha. Biffer swung into action in a matter of seconds. I reckon he had terrorised every one of the new fish, plus most of the old ones in about twenty seconds!!

Ho hum, I wonder how many will make it through the settling in period? It's life on the edge for us fishkeepers you know!!

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Twenty boys and a swarm of greenfly

Yesterday was Lag B'omer, and in keeping with fine old tradition, most of the schools round here had an outing. I went with the boys' school to Roundhay Park in Leeds - where I spent a large amount of my childhood.
 
Despite heavy rain the day before, the weather was warm and sunny. Apart from a 30-minute light shower in the afternoon, we didn't get wet at all. Actually, that's not true, we didn't get wet from above. Severla boys managed to get wet from below by jumping in puddles that were deeper than they thought, or dibbling their toes (complete with socks and shoes) in the lake!!
 
The journey home was mainly memorable for the huge swarm of greenfly that decided to come home with us. I have never seen so many in one are in one time, and I can honestly say that I would be happy if I never saw that many again!! Bleah, they got everywhere!!
 
All in all, a good day out
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# Thursday, 04 May 2006

How rude!!

A boa constrictor stuck its tongue out at me. I don't think I've ever had that happen before, and it made a strangely deep impression on me.

I confess that the boa in question was only about 9" long and was on the other side of a piece of glass in a pet shop, but it was a significant experience in my otherwise reptile-free life!!

I wonder what will happen to me next?

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# Thursday, 02 February 2006

Hello Wilbur... Goodbye Wilbur

Last Thursday evening, I noticed funny noises coming from the fish tank filter. I decided that it was about time it was cleaned, so I unplugged it and carried it over to the sink to empty out the water. As I tipped it over, I noticed something small that looked like it was moving in the sink.
 
Looking closer, I could see a small baby fish!! I guess it must have been sucked into the filter and not been able to get out. Knowning the way fish have babies, I presume that its borthers and sisters must have been someone else's breakfast, and this little fella survived by being out of reach inside the filter.
 
I scooped him up, and put him in a jug of water so I could have a closer look (and to save him from dying in the sink of course). He was about one inch long and pink. I had just read Charlotte's Web, a very pleasant, if weird, children's book about a spider (Charlotte) who saves a runt pig (Wilbur) from certain death. As this fish was small and pink, and I had saved him from certain death, I called him Wilbur.
 
Not knowing quite what to do with Wilbur, I put him in a small plastic box of water and floated it in the main tank. That way, he was safe from the jaws of Biffer (our tank bully, who would consider Wilbur a tasty snack), but he would have warmth from the heated water around him. I gave him some food and went to bed.
 
The children were highly excited the following morning, and I must admit that I was too. My thoughts drifted to Wilbur during most of the day. He seemed quite active, swimming around his plastic tub. I decided that I would have to do something better for him on Sunday. I thought of rigging up a small container of netting, so that there would be a free flow of water in and out, to save me having to swap the water in his tub so often. Happy, I went of for my pre-Shabbos bath.
 
I came downstairs an hour or so later to find Wilbur dead!! He was belly-up in the bottom of his tub. I have no idea why, but I was really upset.
 
Funny how something so small, and only here for a short time can make such a deep impression. I guess there's a profound message in that. I leave it to you to consider.
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# Monday, 02 January 2006

I hate flying!!

Haven't been on an aeroplane for years. About nine to be precise. I hope it will be that long until I go on another
 
We went to visit the family in Eretz Yisroel. Trouble is, this involves flying. I'm not sure who enjoyed the experience less, me or Nechoma Bryna. Actually, I think she won. She gripped my hand as the 'plane took off and managed to break a few fingers during the ascent. Landing wasn't much better!!
 
Coupled with the fact that we got up at 2:40am (English time) yesterday, and got into bed at 11pm, I think international travel isn't my forte. Maybe I'll go by boat next time.
 
If I can wake up, I may even write some words about the trip. Right now, all I can think about is bed and 'planes!!
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OK, so keeping a blog isn't as interesting as I thought!!

It seemed like a good idea at the time, keeping a blog that is. I liked the idea of sharing my personal musings and ponderings with the wired world. The thought that people around the globe might contemplate the deep philosophical concepts that I created filed with with a sense of enthusiasm.
 
Reality hits hard sometimes. You have to be fairly motivated to write junk every day. Don't get me wrong, I can spout waffle 'till the cows come home, it's just finding the time to commit them to writing.
 
Oh well, maybe I'll get around to some more. Elgar is bashing away on the CD player and that is enough to inspire anyone to contemplate the higher realms of life.
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# Monday, 26 September 2005

An observation on the nature of things (breaking)

Our vacuum cleaner blew up today. No "please" or "if you don't mind", just a funny noise, a flash and a cloud of foul-smelling smoke. One minute it was vacuuming, next minute it was smelling.
 
Made me wonder about the nature of things. When I was a boy, things didn't break. Mind you, it was always sunny and the school holidays lasted forever, so I guess that's what the subjective view of passing years does for you.
 
My second observation on the nature of things occurred to me as I was writing this. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind sit reading the idle musings of someone they probably don't know (unless you're one of my family) on irrelevant and fairly pointless subjects like this? Blogs are funny things too.
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# Thursday, 22 September 2005

Fluorescent lights are funny things

I have been having problems with the light in my office for a few days, and decided that it was the starter than needed replacing. My dear wife bought a new one, and it worked fine.
 
One would think that would be the end of a very short and equally dull story, but...
 
...two days later it started misbehaving again. Instead of coming on straight away, it was taking some time to come on. After a few days, it stopped coming on at all. Just the ends of the bulb were lit.
 
At this point, I decided it might be the bulb, so I took one from the play room, which I know works, and put it in my office. This did the same as the office bulb, implying it wasn't the bulb, but the (brand new) starter.
 
I then took the starter form the play room and put that in my office... and it didn't work either!! The bulb and starter than worked fine there, didn't work here.
 
To cut an increasingly long story moderately short, I have since decided that fluorescent light bulbs do not obey the normal laws of physics, and are actually subject to another set of laws altogether. These of course are not understandable by the human brain.
 
This morning, my wife reminded me that I hadn't put a starter in the light fitting in the Boogle (which was also part of the "swapping them around" experiment). I pointed out that this was because the starter was faulty. Just to prove this, I put it back in and, erm, it worked fine!!
 
Must be that bucket of sheep entrails () I sacrificed to the Great God Of Fluorsecent Lights this morning
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# Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Someone did read it!!

Well, I was wrong, someone did read it!! Two people actually. One was my brother (hello David), which is not surprising as he was the only person I told about it.
 
I don't know who the other person was, but his comment wasn't the sort of thing you expect to see on a family site so I deleted it. I'll have to see how I restrict comments on this blog.
 
pause for tinkering...
 
Well, it seems that you can only have comments allowed or not. You can't allow certain people to comment and not others. I switched comments off. I'll just have to live without the feedback.
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# Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Brand new blog - will anyone read it?

Hmm, why did I start a blog? I've often wondered why people have them. Unless you're someone famous (and maybe even then), it's kind of like saying "Hey, come and read all about me", which sounds somewhat egotistical really.
 
Maybe I'll write about someone else. There's a new idea for a blog, what someone else is doing!! I could start a trend and make a fortune. Hmm, then people would want to read about me and how I did it, which would mean a blog, which brings us right back to square one!!
 
I think I'll go and lie down for a while :-)
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