# Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Two little girls and a football table

Well, having had a rather busy week last week, I didn't get time to post anything here... so time for a quick update.

One little girl

One of the more exciting, if messy things to have happened here was that Simcha started on solids. Her first taste of them was some mushed up carrots, which went down a treat. She has now ventured into mushed up sweet potato, and will no doubt try other mushed up vegetables soon. She did try some carrots that were merely bashed a bit rather than really mushy, but she wouldn't eat those, so it was back to mush!!

Another little girl

Chana Liba started school last week. Having successfully "graduated" from playgroup, she is now officially a Big Girl and goes to school with Shayna Brocho. Despite our slight concerns as to how well she would take to a new environment, she hardly looked back as she went in on her first day. Thankfully, she seems to have settled down well and enjoys it very much.

And a football table

One day last week, Aryeh Yehuda was explaining to me the concept of some complex sounding game that they have in school for wet breaks (not that if ever rains in Manchester of course), and happened to mention that the school were thinking about buying an air hockey table. Now I had been looking at just these very things on eBay only the day before, so I spoke to the school administrator (who lives a few doors away) and told him not to buy one without me checking prices first. He was actually quite happy to let me sort it out for them, so off I went. They wanted two tables for school, and he wanted one for himself.

I sent off messages to a few of the people who were selling new ones, asking what price they would give me for three, and then spotted that one of the sellers also sold football tables...

A football table

I rang the school administrator back and managed to persuade him to buy one of these as well!! They all arrived on Friday afternoon, too late to take them down to school (shame). I decided, purely in the interests of research and quality control, that it would be a sensible idea to assemble the football table and an air hockey table - just to make sure they were in full working order of course :-D

Needless to say, we were very popular on Shabbos afternoon. It was like the World Cup all over again, only more fun. A good time was had by all.

On Sunday, I was speaking to my Mother, and told her about the fun that they had all had with it, and she very generously offered to buy us one!! Thanks Grandma :-)

It's supposed to arrive today. I wish it would hurry up. If it doesn't arrive soon, I might have to resort to doing some work!!

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# Tuesday, 05 September 2006

The saddest day

For those of you that don't already know, my grandmother (known as Bim to the close family) passed away two days ago. She had been ill for a short while, and deteriorated quickly. We went to Leeds to see her on Sunday, and she passed away right before our eyes. The funeral was yesterday (Monday).

It's hard to know what to say about her, it's still too new. She was a truly remarkable woman, who even in her eighties had all the energy and enthusiasm of many people several decades her junior.

I would like to write more at some point, but right now I can't think of the words.

Goodbye Bim, we all loved you.

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# Sunday, 20 August 2006

Daliah and her cousins

As Daliah (eldest daughter of my brother David for those who may not know) is visiting England at the moment, we took the opportunity to meet up with her a couple of times. After some initial problems finding each other (which layby were you in Grandpa?), we spent the day in Durham.

Now I don't want you to think that the children fell in love with Daliah, but they did!! Shayna Brocho especially. She spent every possible moment either holding Daliah's hand, or sitting on her knee. That is, when she wasn't hugging her of course...

Even the normally shy Chana Liba warmed to her and allowed herself a cuddle...

You can tell how surprised Daliah was by the fact that she wasn't even looking at the camera.

The ultimate test came when she managed to persuade Simcha to sit on her knee...

For a five-month old, Simcha has remarkable object permanence (the ability to realise when something ought to be there but isn't), and usually starts crying as soon as Mummy is out of sight. Not only did Daliah manage to hold her for quite some time, she even did it when Simcha could see her Mummy and know that she was in someone else's arms.

It was lovely seeing her, albeit too short. Come back soon Daliah, we all miss you.

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# 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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