# Thursday, 17 August 2006

Bowls, a game for gentlemen... or not

In the park near our holiday home is a bowling green. We decided to introduce the children (and Daliah, who was with us for the day) to this most gentle of games. As you may know, this game is supposed to proceed at a slow and leisurely pace. Picture old men in flat caps, plodding across the green at a snail's pace. Aryeh Yehuda didn't quite grasp this bit...

Needless to say, most of his bowls went whizzing across the green and landed in the gutter on the other side!! Mind you, my own shots weren't much better as I couldn't seem to make them gentle enough. Amazingly enough, I actually won two of the three games, but only because Nechoma Bryna did a couple of superb shots that were right on target. Unfortunately (for her at least), they were slightly too hard, and they knocked the white ball right over to the other side of the green, right next to my bowls!!

A good time was had by all, and the teams all lined up for a post-match photograph...

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Shayna Brocho makes friends with a butterfly

We went strawberry picking today, and as we were wandering along, I saw a white butterfly fluttering by. I pointed this out to Shayna Brocho and Eliyohu who were holding my hands, and Shayna Brocho said "Oh yes, I've seen it before, it comes in our garden sometimes."

Gently, I pointed out that as our garden was in Manchester, and we were currently just outside Gateshead, maybe this wasn't the same butterfly.

Not perturbed in the slightest, Shayna Brocho insisted "It is the same one, I recognise it!!"

I decided not to disillusion her...

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# Tuesday, 15 August 2006

My fabulous sense of direction

The Mrs sent me off to Tesco last night to stock up on a few basic provisions that we decided not to bring. Given that a major supermarket is rarely far away in our green and pleasant land of shopkeepers, we saved on the limited space in the car, and opted for the traditional start-of-holiday trip to the supermarket.

This should have been a simple affair, five minutes there, twenty minutes in the shop and five minutes home. Of course, had the Mrs come with, this probably would have been that simple. As it was, between my sense of direction, Nechoma Bryna's directions and the two boys' hysterical laughter every time we took a wrong turning, it took us about 30 minutes to find Tesco.

Oh well, having found the shop, I thought it should go easily from now on... or not. Believe it or not, we got lost in the shop. No really, I mean it!! It took us about an hour to find everything we wanted, which involved driving some poor Tesco employees mad with our constant requests for directions. Good job we didn't have a big shopping list!!

Oh well, having paid and got back in the car, I thought it should go easily from now on... or not. Coming out of the car park, we were faced with a bewildering array of choices. We could turn left, or turn left, or erm, turn left. For want of a better direction, we turned left. This would have been fine, except that we wanted to go right. OK, so you just find the next convenient small road and turn round, right? Wrong. There weren't any. As we drove further and further away from the way we wanted to go, I became less and less sure of where we were and how to get back.

With little warning, and even less chance to opt out, we found ourselves driving over the Tyne Bridge. Under other circumstances, this would have been a pleasant and interesting diversion. With three children, beside themselves with laughter, and the thought of ending up in Scotland ahead of us, it was, shall we say, not quite as pleasant and interesting as it might have been. Actually, the Tyne Bridge is nicely lit up at night, and the view of the other bridges over the river is worth seeing. Maybe we'll go back when we know where we are going (or when the Mrs is navigating).

To cut an increasingly long story moderately short, we ended up driving past St James Park, home of the famous Newcastle United football team. At least, I'm told they are famous, my knowledge of football goes about as far as a basic idea of which way to kick the ball (towards the end where the chap who you don't recognise stands in front of a net). After that, it was actually quite straightforward driving and we arrived home a mere hour and a half late.

Oddly enough, the Mrs wasn't a bit surprised...

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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

Making a fool of myself - Part 97a

The Mrs took the children off to the park this afternoon, so I had the house to myself. It was lovely and quiet and I had the chance to get a lot done (I didn't, but that's another story).

At about 4pm, a large blue vehicle drew up outside the house, and I assumed that my peace had ended. The doorbell rang. This is not unusual, as the little ones often like to ring the doorbell when they get home, even if there's no-one in.

I decided to surprise them, so I crept out of my office. I sneaked up behind the front door and leapt out with a "ROAR!!"

It was the milkman...

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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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# Monday, 31 July 2006

Build your own house - for free!!

OK, it's not quite as exciting as that might sound, but I came across a real gem of a program yesterday, and the best bit is that it's free!! Within about five minutes, I managed to build a new house...




Now that not might look like your idea of a dream house (nor mine), but considering that it took less than five minutes to build, it's not bad!! You can whizz it around, zoom in and out, and go for a walk around inside.

All of this was done with Google SketchUp, a 3D modelling program distributed by Google. Although there is a posh version that costs, the basic version is free, and very easy to use. It's about 19Mb to download, but well worth it. You can build all sorts of wacky and wonderful things, not just houses. I have made a start on a model of the Beis Hamikdosh (which is how I came across this in the first place), but I reckon that would take rather longer.

Download it and have a play, it's a great toy!!
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# Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Happy birthday Daliah

My oldest niece Daliah turned eighteen today. Judging by the blog entry, David is feeling old and redundant. This got me thinking (well, something has to)...

1) Are parents ever redundant? OK, we can get old, that's a fact of life, but my parents certainly aren't redundant. Maybe I don't rely on them as much as I did when I was small (my life nowadays tends to involve more answering bottom-wiping calls than making them!!), but I certainly need them and rely on them. I have to disagree David, parents are never redundant.

2) Daliah is eighteen. I remember the day she was born. They were living in Israel, and I was there for the summer. I went to their flat a day or so after she came home, and held her for the first time. She was so small. I had never really held a baby before, certainly not one to whom I felt so close. My father has a video of the moment. I looked up at him and said "I want one!!" B"H I got my wish six times over (bli ayin horo). Time has a habit of flying by when you're not looking. I guess that's why middle age hits some people so badly.

Anyway, happy birthday Daliah. May you continue to grow into the fine young woman that you have become. We are all looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks. Lots of love from all at the PSG.

Goodness me, I think I'm getting old, I was almost crying when I typed that

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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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