# Sunday, 18 June 2006

Up, up and away

Yesterday (Shabbos) was a lovely sunny day. I was sitting by the window in the early evening, and I happened to look outside, and saw a large hot air balloon rising behind the house opposite. This being rather an unusual sight, I called the family and we went outside to see.

As we watched it rise higher, one of the children noticed another, then another, and another. After ten minutes or so, we could see about six or seven balloons floating around over the houses. As we watched them, some more appeared.

In the end, we saw thirteen hot air balloons. Most were the traditional shape, but a couple we more interesting. The oddest one was shaped (and coloured) like a large yogourt pot, complete with open lid!!

The favourite of them all though was the last one. Despite being the normal shape, its colours were eaily the nicest. It started off red at the bottom, then faded to yellow in the middle and became green at the top.

We watched them until the last one disappeared behind the trees, and then tried to get the younger girls into bed. This proved rather difficult as they insisted on looking for more balloons. The boys went off to stand on their bedroom windowsill, where they had a better view. Having just managed to calm the girls down and get them into bed, one of the biys yelled "Hey, there's another balloon!!"

You just can't help some people!!

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# Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Face to face - at last

I discovered a few months ago that I have a second cousin living in Stamford Hill (london). We spoke to each other over the string-driven modern type electric telephone, and seemed to get on well. He is slightly younger than me, with one less child, but otherwise a similar background and history.

He rang me yesterday to say that he was coming to Manchester for a wedding and would I be around to meet him. I wandered over to the hall after learning this evening and (amazingly enough in a crowded hall), managed to find him fairly quickly.

It was weird meeting someone face to face for the first time. We got on well, although it was sometimes hard to know what to say. We managed :-)

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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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# Monday, 22 May 2006

Microsoft stupid, Apple stupid!!

Those avid readers of this blog (hello) will eagerly remember the New Mac entry, where I mentioned that I bought an Apple Mac. Well, after a few teething problems with the wrong operating system, I finally got hold of a copy of OSX, the latest and greatest version of the Mac OS. I looked forward to an installation and usage free from the stupid usability issues that bug Windows users. Boy was I wrong!!

Stage One - Installation time
A few years ago, when Windows NT was the buzz, I reckoned that it took about 20-25 minutes to do a full installation from scratch. XP takes a little longer, but not significantly. I was expected OSX to be about the same... I inserted the CDs and started the machine, to be greeted with the "Installing OSX" screen. I was a little, erm, surprised when it told me that the instalaltion was expected to take two and a half hours!!! Yup, about four times as long as it takes to install Windows!! Strike One.

Current score, Microsoft one, Apple nil.

Stage Two - Registering the OS
Practically as soon as the install had begun, it asked me for loads of personal information so that it could register my details with Apple. Wait a sec, I don't want Apple to have my personal details, they're personal. It seems that Apple don't care about this and insist that you supply them. You can't click the "Next" button to go onto the next stage on installation unless you fill out all of those boxes. The only consolation here was that it assured me that my country would be used later to localise the installation.

Being the awkward type, I decided not to give them any real information, and entered useful tings like "a" for my name. I gave my real country as I was looking forward to having it do all my regional setting for me. I clicked "Next" to continue, not impressed that I had basically been forced into supplying info that they don't really have any right to demand. By contrast, Microsoft make registering an option, and they don't ask you until the operating system is fully installed. Strike Two.

Current score, Microsoft two, Apple nil.

Stage Three - Localisation
Computers are very sophisticated nowadays, and they will recognise your locale and modify the interface accordingly. Thus, a French person, even when living in the UK, with the time zone set to Uk can still have the interface in French. Jolly clever eh?

Whilst watching the OSX installation out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that it was preparing the Traditonal Chinese localisation for me. How super!! Whilst wondering about this, I noticed that it then prepared a Spanish localistion as well. To my amazement, it spent over 30 minutes preparing loads of localisations for languages that I cannot speak. Apart fomr the gross waste of time, this was after it had assured me that my choice of country (see above) would be used to set localisation for me!! Needless to say, when the installation was finally complete, I still had to set some of the localisation stuff myself. Strike Three and out.

Current score, Microsoft three, Apple nil.

Conclusion
Windows may have its faults, but Mac OSX isn't so brilliant either!! Shame that neither of them seems to have bothered watching real people use their installation procedures. They might have picked up a few tips!! Maybe I'll send them this entry... or maybe not!!

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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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