# 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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# Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Chana Liba and the "scrimpler"

The other day, the Mrs was walking with Chana Liba, and they passed a garden that had a sprinkler going. As it was a small garden, water was being sprinkled into the street. Chana Liba took great delight in running in and out of the spray, and refused to come home for about half an hour.

In the past week or so, we have had some of the hottest weather in the UK's recorded history. On Sunday we had the paddling pool out, which caused great excitement amongst the children (ours and next door's). The problem with this is that it takes up a lot of room, and it uses a lot of water. Also, the Mrs doesn't like leaving Chana Liba in it.

So, we decided to buy a "scrimpler" as Chana Liba called it. I just ventured out from my air-conditioned room, into the baking sunshine, to fit a hose pipe to a water supply in the cellar. I fed the pipe out into the garden, and attached the scrimpler. Getting rather wet in the process (which was actually quite refreshing), I set it going and stood back to watch the fun...

...Chana Liba wouldn't go near!! She stayed by the edge of the garden, avoiding the water. Ho hum.

Kids eh?

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# Monday, 10 July 2006

Simcha's first bounce!!

As Simcha is holding her head up very nicely, we decided to try her in the bouncer. This is a fantastic toy that, sadly, isn't made for adults. Shame as it's wasted on babies!! Ours was a present from Uncle David and family when Nechoma Bryna was born (thanks guys). It has been used by each of the PSG babies in turn, and it still going strong. Simcha had her very first go in it today, and here is the result...

As is usual, it took her some time to work out what to do, but once she got it, she had a great time.

Now why don't they make these things in Daddy size?
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How many beans make five?

A few months ago, we decided to try and get some beans to grow. This all started because Shayna Brocho's teacher had done something similar with them in school, and she was eager to try it out at home. So, one Sunday afternoon, Shayna Brocho and I raided the food cupboard and pinched some cholent beans (butter beans and red kidney beans to be precise). Bored of doing homework, Nechoma Bryna decided to join us.

We lined the inside of some empty jars with absorbent paper, then pushed the beans between the paper and the glass and added about 1" of water (so that the beans were above the water). The principle is that the water soaks up water and makes the beans damp enough to grow.

Due to the fact that Shayna Brocho's teacher had done it by putting the beans on some wet kitchen roll in a box that was placed in a dark cupboard, we decided to do a couple like that to compare the success rate.

Well, within a few days, we had a fair number of roots and shoots growing, which developed into nice bean plants. Eventually these were transferred into plant pots, resulting in the PSG Bean Plantation shown below...

The main picture shows the porch window sill with nine bean plants growing well. The inset shows three flowers on one of the plants. Altogether, we have around 50 flowers growing, each of which should produce a pod containing several beans.

All in all a fun way to learn about how beans grow. At the rate they are going, it will be a tasty way too!! I reckon we will get enough beans for one cholent.
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# Wednesday, 05 July 2006

Simcha update

As you can see from the picture below, our little Simcha is growing into a not-so-little Simcha (bli ayin hora). The picture below was taken during one of her many happy moods. She has developed a gorgeous smile, and a little giggle. This is complemented by a lovely fat tummy, which is currently impervious to raspberries, but I am biding my time on that one!!

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# Friday, 30 June 2006

The time of their lives

Shaarei Tefila (where I learn in the mornings) is currently being bashed around as part of the new building. At the beginning of the week, a digger arrived to whack bits off the building and dig a large hole where the bits were.

Being the little boy at heart, I popped out every now and then to, erm, check that the builders weren't slacking. Honest, I wasn't watching the digger, I was making sure they were doing their job right. Ahem.

Anyway, I got chatting to the chap who drives the digger, and pointed out that he should do this job in the evenings as he would have a large crowd of cheering boys for an audience. He told me (half jokingly I suspect) that if I brought our boys down after school, he would give them a ride in the digger!! Not one to miss an opportunity, I took him up on this.

So, on Friday, I took the boys off to see the digger. True to his word, the driver sat them on his kneee in the cab and let them do some digging. He had his hands over theirs on the controls, but they really felt like they were operating it. A good time was had by all...

They both tried on his hard hat as well...

I got to sit in the cab, but being too big to sit on his knee, I wasn't allowed to drive or dig. Shame :-)
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# Sunday, 25 June 2006

Idiot's guide to DIY - by an idiot!!

You know you sometimes read those "DIY projects that went wrong" articles in such august journals as Readers Digest, where they tell the sad tale of someone who decided to knock through his living room and dining room and ended up pulling down a supporting wall, resulting in a collapse of the house?

Well, I always wondered how people could be so stupid. Of course, someone like me would never do anything stupid, ahem.

Shayna Brocho wanted a shelf by her bed, so being a good Daddy, I bought one for her. Having done this sort of thing many times before, I wasn't unduly worried about it. Having said that, previous experience has shown that the bricks in our house are very soft, which coupled with the unusually thick plaster, means you need long screws to hold even light things to the walls. I decided to use 4" screws for the shelf, as it was bound to get some hammering.

The job went reasonably smoothly, until I was almost finished. Shayna Brocho and Eliyohu went into the boy' room for something. They came back in and asked "Daddy, why are there matches sticking out of the wall in the boy's room?" I dismissed this as a childish attempt to get me worried - until they repeated the question.

With a growing sense of tredipation, I went into the boys' room, only to discover that the wall between the two rooms is evidently made of thinner bricks that I had guessed. The holes I had drilled for the screws had gone right through to the other side of the walls, so when I had plugged the holes with long matches, they had poked out of the other side!!

Ho hum. It wasn't actually the best place to hang a picture, but I put one there to cover the mistake. Maybe I should write to Readers Digest :-)

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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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# 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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