# Sunday, 09 September 2007

Eggy soliders

Is it just me, or does everyone have fond memories of eggy soliders? For those not in the know, this is when you get soft boiled eggs, and you cut toast into long slices. These slices are dipped in the soft yolk of the egg and eaten.

No, I have no idea why they are called "soldiers," but they always were, and it seems they still are. How do I know? Simple? Someone has invented a cute device for making perfect soldiers.

Ah, this is what modern technology is all about!

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You know you spend too much time in front of a computer when...

You know you spend too much time in front of a computer when you are in the middle of learning gemorro, and you glance at the bottom right-hand corner of the page to see what time it is!

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# Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Are you a piccolo player or a violinist?

Some years ago, we went to hear Beethoven's Sixth Symphony being played by the Halle Orchestra. Being one of my favourite pieces of music, it was an altogether excellent evening off. However, one thing bothered me...

During the recital, one man sat in the middle of the orchestra, apparently not doing anything. He was dressed in the same black jacket with tails as all the other men in the orchestra, but he did not seem to have a musical instrument with him, and sat there with his arms folded all evening.

Now I can understand anyone wanting to sit listening to Beethoven's Sixth, but why would they choose to do it in a black jacket with tails, sitting in the middle of the orchestra?

The riddle was finally solved during the fourth movement, "The Thunderstorm." This movement wonderfully depicts the scene of a sudden thunderstorm in the middle of a countryside outing (which is the theme of the whole symphony). Right in the middle of this piece, the man in question unfolded his arms (gasp!) and reached into the inside pocket of the aforementioned jacket, and withdrew a piccolo.

For those of you not familiar with a piccolo, it is a bit like a small flute. However, when I say "small," I mean small enough to fit in the inside pocket of a jacket (with or without tails). Here is a picture of a piccolo to add some visual interest to this otherwise long and apparently pointless story...

a piccolo

During the peak of the thunderstorm, the man put the piccolo to his mouth and played the three solitary notes (two in close succession, then one shortly afterwards) that Beethoven deemed appropriate. He then put the piccolo back in his pocket, folded his arms once again and sat there motionless until the end of the symphony.

At the time, I was amused by this, but didn't really give it much further thought. However, it came back to mind the other day, and it sparked an interesting (to me) observation in life that I thought I would share with you.

Some people go through life and really join in. Whenever there is anything going on, they are involved. They are a bit like the violins. Like them or not, it's hard to find a symphony ever written that doesn't have loads of violins at its heart. In many ways, they are the fried onions of classical music.

[In case anyone is wondering at that rather strange analogy, I should point out that my father firmly believes that all cooking should begin with fried onions. They form the basis of all his savoury delights. Since violins form the basis of pretty much all orchestral music, it seemed like a good analogy]

Other people sit there with their arms folded for most of the time. Just once in a while they will pull out their piccolo and play a couple of notes, but then they will quietly put it away again and resume their silence. These people rarely make much impression on life. That's not necessarily a good or bad thing, it's just an observation.

So, it occurred to me to wonder, am I a piccolo player or a violinist? How about you? Feel free to leave a comment if you like. I won't be offended if you don't though :-D

P.S. I showed this blog post to the Boss, and just to prove once again that women are more intelligent and deeper thinkers than men, she added the following observation:

Sure, some people sit there inactive most of the time, but when they do make some movement, it is significant. The piccolo may only have played three notes, but they had a very deep effect on the mood of the music. Similarly, kettle drums (my favourite) are sadly not a featured instrument in many pieces, but they nevertheless play in important part when they are used. So the observation is still valid, but the conclusion is more complex.

I think this is getting too philosophical for my little brain! Maybe we need to contemplate it further before releasing Silver's Observations On The Significance Of Musical Instruments In Everyday Life (or SOOTSOMIIEL for short - just rolls off the tongue doesn't it?). Remember you saw it here first!

Your comments are welcome. Just click the "comments" link below and tell us (politely) what you think. You don't need to leave your e-mail address and web site unless you want to, but it would be nice if you filled in your name so we know who actually reads this stuff!

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# Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Back to school

Today was the first day back at school for the younger girls. For Shayna Brocho, this meant the transition from Infants to Juniors, along with the transition into a skirt and blouse instead of the pinafore dress. For Chana Liba, who started Reception, the change was from Nursery to Infants, which meant a school uniform for the first time.

Here they are, proudly showing off their uniforms before heading off to school...

Shayna Brocho and Chana Liba in school uniform

I will be interested to see what Reception makes of Miss Bonkers! I'm not sure they'll have met anyone quite like her before...

Chana Liba in school uniform
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# Monday, 27 August 2007

Another good way to waste the afternoon!

I just came across what has to be one of the simplest, yet funniest little games going. Called Line Rider, the idea is that you draw a line along the screen, then watch a little man on a sledge whizz down it.

Doesn't sound very exciting huh? Just try it! It's rare that these sorts of things make me laugh out loud, but this sure did! So tell me it's cruel to laugh out loud when a little computer man flies off his sledge and lands head-first on the ground. Tell me it's not a nice way to get your kicks. Tell me all you like, but it sure is funny all the same!

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# Monday, 20 August 2007

Good way to waste, erm I mean spend the afternoon

Whilst doing some real work (gasp), I came across this great web page where you can make your own sand art picture. It's simple, but fun!

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# Tuesday, 07 August 2007

There's no such thing as coincidence, even if you can't work out why!

As we were just setting off on our outing yesterday, one of the children opened the sliding window on the side of the car. For some inexplicable reason, the window exploded into squillions of pieces, leaving shattered glass inside and out.

After spending rather longer than we would have liked cleaning up the broken glass, I then had the boring and frustrating job of trying to find somewhere that would fit a replacement window.

Given that there are plenty of window replacement people in the area, including at least four main Volkswagen dealers, the fact that my eventual choice of company was a Volkswagen dealership in Swansea was by no means a high probability. When I mentioned the name of the dealership to the Mrs, she pointed out that this was the exact garage that had originally registered the car when it was new. When I gave the registration number to the chap when booking it in, he asked me if it was a Swansea number as he recognised it (sad waste of a brain, but that's another story).

So, I was left wondering what this all meant. We bought the car from someone in Kendal (for the geographically challenged, this is in the Lake District, north-west England, and a long way from South Wales), and had ended up taking it back home for a new window. Not just the area where it was registered, but to the exact same garage.

Surely there must be some deep cosmic significance in all of this. Out of all the areas in our green and pleasant land, we could have gone on holiday anywhere. Even having come to this area, the window could have smashed at any time. Even having a smashed window in this area, we could have gone to any one of a large number of places to have it fixed. Why did it work out that we took the car back to its place of registration?

Unfortunately, having contemplated it for some time, I still can't think of anything to conclude from the whole episode, other than advising people not to smash their car windows whilst on holiday.

Bit of a disappointing ending really. Sorry.

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# Sunday, 05 August 2007

Trekking through the forest with a broken sandal

We went up into the Welsh hills today, to visit some important Places Of Great Paddleworthy Significance. We upheld the fine family tradition of paddling, doing justice to the world-famous reputation of our long history of paddling. My Grandfather o"h firmly believed that if there had been an Olympic event in paddling, he and Bim would have won team ribbons for England.

Part of this outing involved a fairly long trek through a forest, climbing towards some apparently magnificent waterfalls. The more observant reader may wonder about the use of the word "apparently" there. It was actually carefully chosen, as we never actually made it to the end, due to the younger yummy scrummies being exhausted after so much paddling. We saw one minor waterfall, but missed the big 'uns.

Part way up, one side of the rear strap on my right sandal broke. This made wearing the sandal a somewhat flappy, if not too uncomfortable experience. Shortly afterwards, the other side of this strap broke as well, leaving me with something more akin to a flip-flop on my right foot. This made walking quite challenging.

Whilst pondering the difficulties of trekking through uneven terrain with a broken sandal, it occurred to me that this sort of footwear was perfectly normal in Biblical times. It's no wonder they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness to get to Eretz Yisroel if their sandals were anything like mine! Mind you, I don't suppose they bought cheap rubber ones for £1.99 in a bin-end shop, so it might not have been that bad.

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# Saturday, 04 August 2007

Torah - it's the Real Thing!

I had a unique experience on Shabbos morning. For security reasons, the sefer Torah that had been brought to the family camp where we are staying was not kept in the makeshift beis medrash, but was kept in someone's flat. Due to restrictions with the extent of the eiruv, we had most of the davenning in the beis medrash, but the leining in the foyer of the flats. In order to get a good position, I went onto the balcony directly over the bima, so I was not only able to see and hear the leining clearly, but had an unusual view. I have never watched leining from almost directly above before, but it gave a whole new angle (pardon the pun) on it.

When hagba was done, the person who had raised the sefer Torah sat down on a chair that had been placed in the most conveninent position, which happened to be directly between two Coke machines. It was an interesting juxtaposition, the holiness of a sefer Torah, surrounded by the epitome of the materialistic Western world.

It brought a new meaning to the words "It's the Real Thing" - although not the ones the Coke people had in mind!

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# Sunday, 29 July 2007

Three little girls

We went to Leeds to see Grandma and Grandpa. Simcha went flying...

Shayna Brocho and Simcha

In case anyone is wondering, Grandma and Grandpa's flat isn't all pink and fluffy! That was a background I added as it suited the pink and fluffy nature of the two girls. Wonderful what fun you can have with an image editing program!

To complement the earlier picture of Simcha in the fancy chair, here is one of Chana Liba...

Chana Liba
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