# Wednesday, 02 July 2008

Erm, someone's idea of world domination is a bit out here!

I was just trying to find out the name of the rivers that flow around Baghdad, as I am doing a map of ancient Bovel, including the location of Shushan (as in the Purim story). I thought that Google Maps would be a good place to look.

I loaded it up, typed "Baghdad" in the search box, clicked the button and was shown a map of... North America!

Does someone know something I don't?

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# Sunday, 29 June 2008

Punishing a scammer

I suspect that I am not the only one who has had at least one e-mail in the past offering me a tempting offer to help out a certain Rev.Nicholas Okorie in Nigeria, who promises large amounts of money in return for some help in retrieving the estate of a dead relative (or similar, there are many variations).

Well, it seems that someone decided to teach him a lesson. I have no idea if this is genuine, or someone's wishful thinking, but it's worth reading "The mark of a moron," which chronicles how someone apparently gave him a taste of his own medicine.

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# Sunday, 15 June 2008

The PSG has a new home

As some of you may already know, the PSG upped roots and moved a mile and a half south from our previous location. Having been based in leafy Prestwich for sixteen years, we finally moved south, and went to Salford.

I was intending blogging our progress as we went along, but somehow I never got chance. Not sure why! Anyway, this blog post will attempt to summarise the events of the last two weeks in a coherent manner (now that would be a first!). Unfortunately, as I forgot to take my camera out of the drawer where it lives, it was packed away by the nice removal men (see below), so I never even got a pic of our worldly possessions stacked up in a lorry. Anyway, for those interested, here's how it went...

Friday 30th May - Packing

The fun started when loads of blokes called Bob turned up at our house. I'm sure they weren't all called Bob, but that was the only name I caught, and it seemed to apply to quite a few of them. They filled every room, and started grabbing items and packing them into boxes in a manner that cold only be described to the untrained eye as haphazard. I'm sure that it wasn't really, and that there was some deep mystical meaning to the order that they followed, but it looked random to us! Sadly, as none of the Bobs ever explained the secrets of the runes to us, we found unpacking a little unpredictable, as we couldn't find much connection between what was written on the box, and what was actually in it, nor much connection between the items in each box. Maybe we need to be trained in the ways of removals... or not.

By the time they left on the Friday, our house was a complete mess. A fairly empty one, but a mess. We managed to tidy up before Shabbos, but had a strange, empty sort of Shabbos, with our voices echoing eerily from the bare walls. Those of you that visited PSG World Headquarters will probably remember that not much of the wallpaper was visible, due to the large number of children's pictures, photographs, oddities and the like that adorned the walls. Once you remove all the bookcases (hee hee, the Bobs didn't expect quite that many of them!), and take down the decorations, it was rather like living in a concert hall (only without the orchestra of course, we didn't invite them for Shabbos).

Sunday 1st June - The calm before the storm

This was a sort of lull in the proceedings. I spent most of shifting out the stuff that the removals men (the Bobs) weren't taking. It's amazing quite how much junk two adults can accumulate over sixteen years.

Monday 2nd June - The Big Day

More Bobs came on Monday morning, only one of whom had been on Friday. They packed up the last of the stuff, ready for the Final Departure. The owner of our new house rang up around 11:30am to tell me that he expected to be out of the house by midday. As the Bobs were still furiously packing, this was rather an academic issue, but it was nice to know.

We finally left PSG Mansions at around 1:15pm, with all of our worldly possessions packed into a great big lorry. It was a bit like going on holiday, only different.

I expected to feel some kind of sad twinge, or at least slight nausea when we left the PSG for the last time, but it was a remarkably unemotional experience. We drove off without a backwards glance. This seemed odd, considering the number of happy years we had there, but I guess it made it easier.

We arrived at the new house after an uneventful drive of some four minutes (approximately, I didn't time it exactly). Rather appropriately, the first thing we all did when we got there was have lunch. It was a gloriously hot sunny day, so the Boss and I sat on the patio doorstep and munched our sandwiches in (moderately) quiet contemplation.

Refreshments finished, the Bobs swung into action. Box after box came off the lorry, and I had to try and dodge them all as I directed each box to its intended location. This was made harder by the cryptic descriptions written on them, but we managed to get pretty much all of them into the right place first time.

The interesting bit came when they tried to get our beds upstairs. Due to the height of the bases, and the art-nouveau dog-leg bend in the staircase, they couldn't get these off the ground floor. This necessitated a complete rethink of the sleeping arrangements, resulting in us taking a ground floor room for our bedroom, and the children taking the second floor rooms, leaving a large gap between us. Having slept in the next room to the little ones all of their lives, we were a little nervous about being two floors below them.

It's an odd thing (well, not really, but it seemed odd at the time), but it's amazing how quickly you can fill up a house with boxes. As the Bobs were bringing them in quickly, we didn't have chance to unpack anything at the time, so we had boxes of stuff on the floor, blocking the doors to the empty cupboards. The house seemed very small!

The new house is in a mews (which has nothing to do with cats), which is home to approximately 30-40 children. We discovered this as they all came to watch the Bobs shifting boxes. Within minutes of the slide coming off the lorry, our garden was full of children - it was lovely.

In the middle of it all, the older children started arriving home from school. The little ones went to a friend after school, but the big ones couldn't be kept away. Amazingly enough, they managed not to be in the way too much. Nechoma Bryna took Simcha, leaving the Boss with two arms to get working instead of the one she had had available the rest of the afternoon. Wandering into the garden to distract Simcha, Nechoma Bryna inadvertently became the centre of a play group for all the children jumping on our slide and playing in the garden. I can see a great future for that girl!

Due to a slight underestimation of the amount of accumulated nonsense, they were still unloading by tea time. A quick 'phone call to the local office resulted in a whole army of back-up Bobs arriving to help, whilst some of the original Bobs (Monday's original Bobs, not Friday's Bobs who hadn't come back) went home to play darts and watch the football (so they told me, I didn't check this out). They finally finished at 7:30pm, and waving farewell, we were left Bobless, but not boxless.

Amazingly enough, by 9pm, everyone who should have been in bed was in bed (although not necessarily asleep), and even those who didn't have to be in bed yet had a bed, and even had bedding to go on it. We didn't even have such a late night.

Tuesday 3rd June - Unpacking

With Simcha being looked after by a friend, and the other children in school, we cracked on with the unpacking. Despite having been given everyone's cheerful warnings about how stressful moving house was, and how we would be living out of boxes for weeks, we were pretty clear by the time they all came home. My seforim were all still packed in boxes as the bookcases needed fixing to the walls, but apart from that, pretty much everything else was unpacked. As the new kitchen has less cupboard space than the old (which had enough cupboards to start a self-storage business), there were some boxes of kitchen stuff in the living room, which resulted in...

Wednesday 4th June - A frustrating, but ultimately productive trip to Ikea

As we needed somewhere to put the excess kitchen stuff, and some more bookcases, we decided to visit Ikea. This was a mistake. Not that there's anything wrong with Ikea, just that the particular Ikea that we decided to visit appeared to have been carefully designed to cause as much frustration and irritation as possible to the hurried buyer. It was impossible to get from one place to another without visiting every single other place in between. I'm sure Ikea think that this is a clever idea as it makes you walk past things you would have otherwise ignored, but the amount of wasted time and frustration it generated caused us to resolve never to visit this Ikea store again.

Anyway, returning home with our heavily laden car and lightly laden wallets, I set to building the new furniture. I wrote about my thoughts on Ikea furniture some time ago, and I don't think they've changed since!

With the new cupboards and bookcases finished, and the old ones fixed to the wall, we were ready to unpack the seforim and say goodbye to the boxes. OK, so it wasn't really "goodbye" to the boxes as we still had them all, but they were flattened and stacked in one of the downstairs shower rooms (where else does one keep one's empties?)

At this point, the story becomes even less interesting than it was before. Suffice it to say that we were totally unpacked by Shabbos, with the exception of a few things that we had no intention of unpacking yet anyway. These were stacked away in discrete corners, awaiting the development of our longer-term plans for the house.

Shabbos Kodesh

Bliss. The weather was glorious, the house was straight (as much as our house ever is), and the grounds were full of happy children.

Sunday 8th June - Moving into my new office

Well, with the rest of the house basically straight, I decided it would be a good idea to move into my new office. In stark contrast to the vast and luxurious office suite that we had discussed before moving in, I ended up with a cupboard under the stairs...

The left picture shows one end of our living room. At the end of the bookcases (on the left), you can see a door that would lead into the kitchen, were it not for the fact that there's a fridge on the other side of it, so it can't be opened. Next to this door is a cupboard under the stairs, which contains my office. The right picture shows an interior view of the office suite. As you can see, I don't have to go very far to find anything!

And finally... is it still the PSG?

For those of you who didn't realise, the "P" in "PSG" stands for "Prestwich," which is where we used to live. Now that we don't live in Prestwich anymore, there has been some debate as to what we should call ourselves. On the one hand, we have been known as the PSG for more years than we can remember, but on the other, it's no longer accurate.

Nechoma Bryna wants to stay as the PSG, because she reckons that no-one knows what the "P" stands for anyway. OK, so now you do, 'cos I just told you, but other people might not (at least, according to Nechoma Bryna). Some of the others suggested the SSG (as in "Salford Smile Gemach"), or simply the SG (guess what that one stands for!). We haven't decided yet, but as we haven't got used to the idea anyway, we are still the PSG by default.

OK, this blog entry has been longer than I intended, and was probably a lot less interesting than I intended! Well done for reading this far - if you did. Shame on you if you gave up reading earlier - but then you wouldn't know I just wrote that would you! You'll be glad to know that we're almost at the end now, so even if you are still reading, you don't have to put up with much more.

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# Monday, 05 May 2008

The Massachusetts Turnpike Experiment

I just discovered a very funny write-up of an experiment that someone supposedly carried out on the Massachusetts turnpike. I have no idea if this is genuine, nor when it was done (if at all), but I thought it was funny enough to be true, and worth a couple of minutes' reading time.

Read the first part of the experiment here, then click the link at the bottom of the page to read the second, third and fourth instalments.

P.S. If you're really out of touch with reality like me, you might also wonder who or what Mariah Carey is. For anyone equally isolated from what the rest of the world likes to call Reality, it appears that Mariah Carey is a female humanoid who makes money by exercising her vocal chords in public. I know nothing more, and do not wish to either!

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# Monday, 28 April 2008

The PSG hits YouTube - will the Internet ever recover?

Having had fun making short video reports for the world-renowned bastion of fine journalism, The Daily Prune, I finally got around to making some of them public.

First off is a video I made on the Friday before Pesach. As first day Pesach was Sunday, this made Friday erev erev Pesach. We were engaged in the usual traditional pre-Pesach activities, such as jumping around in a sack of potatoes. Don't believe me? Just watch...

(to watch the video, just click the small "play" button in the bottom left of the player above. If you click on the big "play" button in the middle of the main video window, it will open the video in a new window on YouTube)

Next is the report of one of the PSG's chol hamoed outings...

I may get around to putting some more of them here if anyone is interested.

Please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the videos. Just click the "Comments" link at the bottom right of this blog entry, and then scroll down to where you can leave your comment.

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# Sunday, 13 April 2008

The ultimate gift for Pesach

For the person who has everything, a Pesach toilet seat...

For the person who has everything, a Pesach toilet seat
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# Monday, 07 April 2008

Hey, I can speak Polish!

Our cleaner just arrived. Like most cleaners around here, she is Polish. As the Boss was busy frying fish balls for the forthcoming Yom Tov, I let the cleaner in.

I never realised how many words of Polish I knew...

She asked for a shmatter, and then asked if we wanted her to do some Pesach cleaning!

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# Sunday, 23 March 2008

Shayna Brocho's birthday

Today, Shayna Brocho reached the grand age of eight.

The day's excitement started when there was a timid knock on the bedroom door at about 6am, following by a small voice saying "I had a bad dream."

I called, and Shayna Brocho bounced in, leapt on top of me and snuggled under the covers. The bad dream seemed to have been forgotten in an instant, and it was cuddle Daddy time.

Now I don't want you to think that I had any problem with this at all, other than the fact that I wanted to go back to sleep. Thankfully, Shayna Brocho's idea of snuggling Daddy involves putting her arms around me and snuggling close. This is in contrast to Eliyohu, who jumps up and down on me, tickles me, etc.

Anyway, an hour or so later, she heard the sounds of movement in her room, and decided to go and see what was happening. On the way back, she passed by the landing window and spotted... SNOW!

With a huge shout, which woke up the rest of the house, she ran back into her bedroom and announced the good news to the others. This was the start of the party. It was noisy and lively!

We had a celebration birthday breakfast, which she spent in the very best place, on her Daddy's knee. During the breakfast, she opened her presents, ably helped by her Daddy of course...

We were actually looking at the camera, just a different camera!

My parents came to stay for Purim and Shabbos, so were there when Shayna Brocho opened her presents. My mum had been teasing her for a few weeks that she was getting two fish fingers for her birthday present. Sure enough, the present was...

...two fish fingers! Shayna Brocho was highly amused, and gave her grandma a big hug...

Just in case you're worried, she got a real present as well! After the presents, it was time for the birthday cake...

If you turn your computer screen upside down, you will see that the cake is a star-shape, with a girl's face in the middle.

Happy birthday Shayna Brocho

Nothing at all to do with the events of the day, but I managed to catch a nice picture of Simcha at the same time...

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Chuckling eggs

When I was a boy (cue "old time" music and black-and-white photos of men in flat caps), my mum used to make fried eggs for supper sometimes. She used to call me over to listen to the sound of the eggs frying in the pan. It's worth frying eggs just for this alone, as they make a lovely, soothing sound, which she used to call "chuckling eggs."

Tonight, as the Boss was making supper, she cracked some eggs into a bowl to make fried eggs. Without any fiddling at all, the eggs landed in the bowl like this...

OK, maybe it's my imagination, but if those eggs aren't smiling, then my name isn't George Smith.

Erm, wait a sec...

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# Saturday, 22 March 2008

Purim

Being Purim, it was dressing-up time. The little girls were the only ones I managed to photograph, so unless I can convince the others to dress up again, you'll have to imagine what they looked like.

Anyway, here are (left to right) Queen Shayna Brocho, Queen Chana Liba and Simcha the Sheep...

This isn't actually a great picture of Simcha, but it's the only one I could get with the hood up.

Aryeh Yehuda was dressed as a pirate, mainly because that's what the school decided. All the boys in his class were dressed the same, which made an impressive show when they went out collecting. Eliyohu was dressed as Moshe Rabbeinu, and looked every bit the part!

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