# Wednesday, 21 March 2007

My daughter the literary genius

Simcha now has a huge vocabulary of high quality words. She can say "bup bup," which means "Please pick me up" as well as, erm, well not much else really!

Still, we think she's a genius.

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# Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Who says the art of fine writing is dead?

Apparently, the following quote appeared in the Washington Post. As usual, I no responsibility for the accuracy of this claim, but I hope it's true!

"...its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer."

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# Wednesday, 07 March 2007

Great site - how to build almost anything

I just came across a great site that tells you how to build almost anything. I found instructions for how to build a Jacob's Ladder (great toy that fascinates the adults too), a match rocket and loads more. See it for yourself.

Have fun!

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From Horseshoe Crab to Formula One in two weeks - Simcha update

Having commented on Simcha's similarity to a Horseshoe Crab, at least in terms of her inability to roll over, she has made remarkable progress in the last two weeks.

We first noticed that something had changed when she was found sitting up in her cot one morning. Given that she sleeps on her back, she much have rolled over to sit herself up. This was purely conjecture for almost a week, until we spotted her in action.

Since then she has come on in leaps and bounds. She now walks around the furniture quite fast, and whizzes up and down the room using a baby walker, reminiscent of a Formula One driver. She hasn't yet figured out how to turn, so she hits the wall at the end of the room and looks around for help until some kind soul turns her around, but her speed is quite impressive.

I know, in no time at all she'll be getting married and we'll be wondering where the time went!

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Nice one from English Heritage

Anyone living in England must have seen the blue signs that the English Heritage put up indicating places of (questionable) interest. I have no idea if this one is real or a clever piece of image manipulation, but I thought it was lovely!

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# Monday, 12 February 2007

Am I stupid or are they?

Seen on the web site of a telephone provider just now...

"Broadband free for first 6 months, thereafter no extra charge

Go on someone, explain that one!

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# Tuesday, 06 February 2007

My daughter the horseshoe crab

Some time ago, we went to an aquarium, one of these huge ones with loads of fascinating aquatic creatures. Despite the magnificent spectacle of the main tank (which was the size of several olympic swimming pools), my personal favourites were the horseshoe crabs...

Horseshoe crabs

I have always had a fascination for stupid creatures. Penguins have long been a favourite of mine. They stand around on ice floes, not sure what to do. One of them will suddenly decide to go for a swim and, before you know it, ten thousand penguins are having a swim. They enjoy this for a while and then, one of them decides to get out. Before you know it, ten thousand penguins are back on the ice floe wondering what to do. One of them will suddenly decide to go for a swim and, ... well, you get the idea.

Horseshoe crabs have their own peculiar oddity. As you can see from the picture above, they have a domed shell that comes down to the ground/sand/floor/whatever all around. Underneath, they have really little legs.

Now the problem they have is that they are ideally designed for operation the right way up. Flip one over and it doesn't know what to do. It just lies on its back waving its little legs frantically until one of several things happens...

  • A surge of water comes along and turns it back on its front again. This is somewhat fortuitous and cannot be relied upon as an option. However, it is better than...
  • Other horseshoe crabs come along and run all over the upturned one. This causes it to get all upset and wave its little legs even more. At first, you feel sorry for the poor little fellow (at least, we assume it's a fellow for want of an easy way to determine gender), but after a while it's hard not to laugh. They look very comical like that. It's probably not the least bit comical for the horseshoe crab, but maybe I have a mean streak. Either way, this is better than the final option...
  • A passing predator spots the helpless and agitated upturned horseshoe crab and decides it's time for a spot of lunch. One serving of horseshoe crab a la carte later, and that's the end of that.

Now, anyone with enough spare time on their hands to have read this far might be wondering why on earth I bothered writing about this, and (if they had read the title of this entry) what this has to do with my daughter. Read on dear reader, for your patience shall be rewarded (although only slightly).

Simcha is now ten months old. This is a lovely age, full of fat tummies and giggles. She is crawling around the place at a fair speed now, but still has one major handicap in her movment. Unlike most babies, she still hasn't worked out how to roll from her back to her front. This means that if she ends up on her back, which is not infrequent, she does a remarkably close impression of an upturned horseshoe crab! Ah, so that's what all this drivel was about!

Once on her back, she has pretty much the same options as the horseshoe crab...

  • As surges of water are not so common in our house (B"H), the first option can be replaced by a surge of sibling who sweeps her up into their arms and smothers her in kisses with many a cry of "You're so sweet!"
  • Other children come along and crawl/roll/walk over her. This is usually done in a friendly and non-painful way, but does nothing to help the now squeaking Simcha get back on her front.
  • A passing older sibling spots her and decides it's time for a tickle. At this point, she is helpless and easy prey for the PSG ticklers, who will tickle away until they have had their fill.

Oh well, at least she survives to crawl away, unlike the hapless horseshoe crab. For some great pictures of these creatures, you can visit a web site all about them. Just don't tell them we sent you there!

By the way, those who are squeamish might like to know that horseshoe crabs aren't actually crabs at all. They are actually more closely related to spiders and scorpions, so that's OK :-D

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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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# Wednesday, 24 January 2007

An open letter to Ikea

Dear Mr Ikea,

I write to you in desperation. I realise that you place great importance on giving your customers value for money, but I really feel that in the interests of the Greater Good, you should increase your prices immediately.

You may feel that this is not in your best interests, but I am inclined to disagree. Your pricing structure is altogether too low, and this can, I fear, lead to domestic stress.

"Can we just pop to Ikea dear?" sounds like an innocent request, but beneath it lurks a dark danger. You wander around the shop and she says "Ooh look at that, that's very reasonable." You try and ignore it, but you can't.

"It would look really nice in the front room." - You try a few non-committal grunts, but these don't work either.

"That would be really useful for keeping all the children's toys off the floor." - You try distracting her by pointing out something obviously unsuitable for your home, but it fails.

Try as you might, you can't win. She's been hooked, and you aren't going to leave the shop until she's bought everything.

So you arrive home with a car packed full of huge innocent looking boxes. You can't ignore these boxes like you ignore all the other DIY jobs that she's been asking about for months. These boxes are too big. What's more, they are in the middle of the floor, and the baby is trying to eat them. You have no choice but to stay up until 1am building cupboards, positioning shelves and so on. That's not even the end of it though...

Once you have a new piece of furniture, she does insist on rearranging the entire room to be "more practical" or "give us some more space now we have that big cupbaord you just built" (like it's my fault?)

Please Ikea, put your prices up.

A Desperate (and tired) Husband

P.S. In fairness, I should point out that the instructions were easy enough for my ten-month old baby to understand...

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The Dynamics of Venus and Mars

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine.
He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else. And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realise that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"
And then there is silence in the car.
To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.
And Roger is thinking: Six months.
And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward...I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?
And Roger is thinking: So, that means it was...let's see...February that we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means...let me check the odometer...Whoa! I'm way overdue for an oil change here.
And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed, even before I sensed it, that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.
And Roger is thinking: And I'm going to have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.
And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.
And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty, the cheaters.
And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centred, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.
And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty. I'll take their warranty and tell them just what to do with it.
"Roger," Elaine says aloud.
"What?" says Roger, startled.
"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have... I feel so..." (She breaks down, sobbing.)
"What?" says Roger.
"I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."
"There's no horse?" says Roger.
"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.
"No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.
"It's just that...it's that I...I need some time," Elaine says.
There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.
"Yes," he says.
Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand. "Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says.
"What way?" says Roger.
"That way about time," says Elaine.
"Oh," says Roger, "Yes."
Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.
"Thank you, Roger," she says.
"Thank you," says Roger.
Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn.
When Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he's never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it.
The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyse everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.
Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say, "Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"
And that's the difference between men and women.

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