Thursday, August 31, 2006


Hmmph. I really need some advice ... or an art teacher to help me with this. I'm almost getting what I want, but not quite, all the time. It helps looking at it on screen, a bit like walking away from it for a while and viewing from a distance can. There are lots of bits that aren't right: mouth, nose, jaw-line ... and I'm not sure how to correct them or whether this picture is salvageable at all.

There are some evening classes starting up soon, so maybe there's a drawing class I could join. If time/money etc allow.

M went for an interview for a job higher up in his company, and he got it. Of course, being the all-around smarty-pants and splendid fellow that he is. :) He starts on the 12th of September. It is more 9 to 5 hours, so he'll be able to see S more, as when she is at school with his current hours, he ends up only seeing her on Saturday mornings & Sundays. But it may adversely affect my chances of getting to the gym and starting to volunteer at school.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

IVF, obesity, families and fathers

In the news today has been the recommendation that obese women are denied IVF treatment on the NHS. I'm not sure what I think about this.

I understand that being obese reduces a woman's chance of conceiving, and so it would seem logical to ask/require women to lose weight before trying a treatment. (An acquaintance was having trouble conceiving, but was advised to lose some weight, and when she did, managed to 'catch' naturally). Presumably IVF is already for more extreme cases with more problematic fertility issues, but given that weight is a factor in the likelihood of success, I think that it is probably wise to maximise the chances by advising/insisting on weight reduction.

Of course, it's never as simple as that. Sometimes fertility problems are caused by conditions that also cause weight gain, such as PCOS and dodgy thyroids. I imagine that there must be some room for manouevre within the guidelines?

I am troubled by the fact that single women and same sex couples are going to be given the same priority as heterosexual couples in the NHS. I know fine well that single-parent families are common and can be as well-adjusted (or not) as your stereotypical nuclear family. There are gay couples who raise children as well as a straight couples, while, in truth, few "normal" families live up to the dreamy ideal of, I don't know, the Addams family or the Munsters :D.

But I do believe in fathers. I think they are important. I'm not sure that deliberately going out to have a child, who will have no access to their father, is in the best interests of that potential child. I realise a lot of children grow up in broken homes, where they have limited time with their father after a divorce, or may have no contact with their father in circumstances such as when a man runs out on a pregnant woman. These children survive/do great/can be raised perfectly well by one parent. And male role models can be found outside the home, as well as within it... but living with a role model is clearly more influential.

A single parent may not stay a single parent, he/she may marry or find a partner, so there is that possibility too. I do think that love is more important than biology, but I am also aware that children often hunger to discover more about their roots, their genetic heritage, (as demonstrated frequently by adopted children). That curiosity is no doubt present in children born from IVF treatments using a sperm donor, (hence the change in law that donors are no longer completely anonymous).

While not all fathers are good role models or dads anyway, just as not all mothers are good mums.

My father died while I was still a baby and I grew up OK(ish :P ;)). But it seems to me that these situations are more "needs must" than something to be encouraged. Being a single parent is bloody hard work and I salute them. I'm concerned, however, that men are being devalued as parents.

It's a sticky one.

I'm inclined to get stroppy and say that no-one should have IVF on the NHS, actually. :D Saves the trouble of postcode lotteries and deciding who is "deserving" or thin enough. :D

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


My very observant daughter spotted this critter in the garden today.

On checking with the UKMoths site, it would appear that this is a Striped Hawkmoth (Hyles livornica), apparently a relatively scarce immigrant. It's quite a big moth.

The internet is great! :D

Porfell Animal Land

My boy was two yesterday, and we had a really good day. We bought him a trampoline, toy cars and various other bits and pieces. My mum gave him a ride-on tractor & trailer, which is rather lovely, but he can't quite reach the pedals on it yet, so it's a grower. In the meantime, we have to push him around on it, often with S sat in the trailer, or vice versa. She's too tall to pedal it, but can scoot along on it.

In the afternoon we went to Porfell Animal Land. It's a lovely place. I felt it was excellent value for money.

There were lots of different animals, from the exotic to farmyard, and they were all extremely friendly and visible. You could feed some of them, and the children got a lot out of that. We petted sheep and heard the donkeys bray. The ocelot was about the only animal who concealed himself or herself, the rest seemed as interested in us as we were in them.

Some of the grounds seemed a little shabby and there were some things which I thought would have been better screened off from public view, but it had a friendly family feel and it seemed clear the animals were well-cared for. Apparently they are all rescue animals, either ex-pets or surplus to requirements from various zoos.

The walk round the enclosures was most pleasant and there was plenty to interest the children. At 3pm they had an animal encounter/talk, which was done brilliantly. The audience got to touch a giant hissing cockroach, a barn owl, an African hedgehog and a bearded dragon. We also got up close to a red-kneed bird-eating spider, but no-one could touch that in case it released irritating hairs. Afterwards S got to hold the cockroach and a giant African landsnail.

When we got home, we had birthday cake and drinkies at my Mum's with the neighbours, and it was good fun. The neighbours' granddaughter was there and she & T interacted well. T appeared to be telling her off when she dared to touch his cars, but apart from that audacity, they got on splendidly. I took loads of pictures using my Mum's camera. I don't know how well they came out - I just kept snapping in the hope of catching the two facing the same way or something.

I think T had a lovely day, and although S sulked a bit over it being his birthday and not hers, she did have a good day as well, although you might not know it from how hard done by she seemed at times.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Little Voice

I watched some of Little Voice last night. It showcases just how talented Jane Horrocks is as a singer and mimic. She is unbelievably good.

I'm not that keen on the film itself: I've watched it a couple of times and I'm never fussed on films with grubby sorts of characters. Our film industry seems to do grubby, depressing Brits very well, (as it should :D), but it's not the escapism I'm looking for in movies. I'm thinking of Rita Sue and Bob Too, and films like that. I just find the characters rather repulsive and cringe-making, and I'm not into that humour particularly.

I don't like the tv series Shameless or (gasp and stretch your eyes at my poor taste) Alan Partridge or The Office very much because of the crassness & cringeworthy aspect that leads the characters. I feel embarrassed for them rather than amused. *

But back to Little Voice, apart from not liking parts of the plot & characterisation, the love story between Ewan McGregor and Jane Horrock's character is rather sweet and her performance is just .. fantastic.

From "Stan Ogden"'s review on IMDB : "Jane Horrocks! wow - I had no idea that she is such a tremendous mimic. I was slightly intoxicated whilst watching this film, and assumed that they were using the extracted original vocals of singers such as Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland etc. I was gob-smacked when the closing title said 'Jane Horrocks performed all her own songs'. Christ on crutches.. to call her gift 'a talent' is a travesty."

Sing it to the choir, Stan. :D

*I guess there is an aspect of that humour in many of the characters in Green Wing, which I find hilarious. There are the excessively shy Martin and the ludicrously pompous Dr Alan Statham, for example. But it goes so deeply & quickly into the surreal and bizarre that grubby reality is left far behind. And I actually like the characters, even the most unpleasant ones, whereas in contrast I find Alan Partridge wholly resistible.

Maybe I haven't given the characters in such series long enough to grow on me?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Navy Days

Today is the beginning of Navy Days and as such is proving very noisy, but spectacular. We've had jets screaming overhead, doing loop-the-loops and flying upside down and helicopters doing similar stunts.

Our normally quiet village is uncharacteristically loud, for not only do we have the Navy doing their displays but the neighbours are replacing their garage roof, while our landlady has sent the gardener to cut hedges and chop things about. Not to mention S, her best friend and T playing raucously upstairs like small elephants thundering.

It's great though, I'm enjoying looking at the aircraft and it's so much more exciting seeing it all through the children's eyes. Although T cried when the jet was particularly loud overhead, poor little scrap.

I've tried to take a few pictures, but my camera isn't up to much, I need zoom ability and all that sort of technological doodah. My point-and-click type digital camera is perfectly adequate for family snapshots, but nothing more. It'd be nice to upgrade sometime.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Choo choo train

I foolishly forgot to take my camera with me on our exciting expedition to the steam train yesterday, so my pictorial depiction of our trip to Launceston Steam Railway will be somewhat lacking. I did buy some postcards, so a photo of them and the visitor's guide will have to do. I like to stick in pictures to break up the monotony.

We rode the train shown in the top postcard, CovertCoat. It's just a couple of miles journey, ideal for short attention spans :D. It stops at New Mills Farm Park, which is lovely for children, and we had a nice warm sunny day for it too.

I took my Gran, who is not very mobile these days and our timing was such that we delayed the train, as the people who run it were kind enough to hold on while she got up to the platform. We really needed to have got there about 5/10 minutes before we did, as I hadn't reckoned on how out of breath she gets walking. M suggested that we talk about her getting some help with her mobility, such as a wheelchair for trips out, but I don't know how she would react to that. She was reluctant to start using a stick. But it might be worth it, as I feel concerned about the future. We were talking about possibly visiting the Donkey Sanctuary next week, but I'm not sure she is up to it, and it's a shame to be thinking in terms of not taking her places because of her mobility.

Anyway, shall put that in a box for thinking about later.

The engine was of great interest to T. It puffed out great quantities of steam and whistled, and he enjoyed watching it especially when they were moving it from one end of the train to the other. Coupling and uncoupling, possibly shunting? All sounds rather rude.... a bit like bum!

New Mills Farm Park is fabulous for children, it has a field filled with outdoor activities: two or three huge sandpits with buckets & spades, etc, lots of ride-on toys from pedal carts big enough for adults and teenagers to little scooters and cars for toddlers. There were swing-balls and giant trampolines, slides and climbing frames, all in a beautiful setting with a river running alongside. Then there was also the petting zoo of farm animals, rabbits and poultry. T liked the pigs in particular. S liked the rabbits and guinea pigs. There was a big orange hen that T sort of chased, and it was as big as he was, just about. I felt a little sorry for the rabbits and guinea pigs in the main petting cage, as if I were them I'd get cheesed off with all the children. But I suppose they get a lot of bunny treats out of their visitors. All in all it was very nice, and I'd certainly take the children again.

What was really nice was that my aunt & uncle and my cousin's children were there - they'd decided to surprise Gran. It was lovely to see them, and it meant that I could relax a bit as they helped look out for the children and Gran.

We had a good time there, and although I think Gran was thoroughly exhausted by the end, I hope she enjoyed it too.

Pluto's demotion

Pluto vote revolting. :D Some scientists are kicking up a stink about the demotion of Pluto, some are happy.

Professor Iwan Williams, the IAU's president of planetary systems science, commented: "Pluto has lots and lots of friends; we're not so keen to have Pluto and all his friends in the club, because it gets crowded.
"By the end of the decade, we would have had 100 planets, and I think people would have said 'my goodness, what a mess they made back in 2006'."

I think, on the whole, I lean that way myself.

Dr Alan Stern, who leads the US space agency's New Horizons mission to Pluto and did not vote in Prague, told BBC News: "It's an awful definition; it's sloppy science and it would never pass peer review - for two reasons.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by the American Clyde Tombaugh"Firstly, it is impossible and contrived to put a dividing line between dwarf planets and planets. It's as if we declared people not people for some arbitrary reason, like 'they tend to live in groups'.

"Secondly, the actual definition is even worse, because it's inconsistent."
One of the three criteria for planethood states that a planet must have "cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit". The largest objects in the Solar System will either aggregate material in their path or fling it out of the way with a gravitational swipe.
Pluto was disqualified because its highly elliptical orbit overlaps with that of Neptune.
But Dr Stern pointed out that Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune have also not fully cleared their orbital zones. Earth orbits with 10,000 near-Earth asteroids. Jupiter, meanwhile, is accompanied by 100,000 Trojan asteroids on its orbital path.

The eight planet solution simplifies things, but in the context of school-l'arning, I don't think that's a bad thing. Interesting stuff.

What's in a name? :D

NASA's take on it



I heard a couple of disturbing news stories on local radio yesterday. One was the stabbing of three teenaged girls in Bridport.

The second was the death of a young guy, Joe Knight, who was beaten with a plank (wtf?! :( ) - in broad daylight (2 in the afternoon) in front of witnesses. There's not a lot on-line about the second story. But two men are being charged with murder.

I guess I find these cases more shocking because the South West is assumed to be relatively safe. Although I suppose I once got beaten up in the street down here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chariots of Fire, this is not.

Oh, what an interesting hour that was. At quarter past 12, I thought to myself, better go and pick up S from her sports activity. I couldn't find my house keys, so thought "Oh well, I'll only be a few minutes". I remembered I hadn't asked if I could borrow mum's car, but was confident she was home today, so ambled down with T to help myself.

But they were out.

So I jog-trotted back to the house with T in my arms, shovelled him into the pushchair and made a desperate search for the keys. Found them. The house clock said 12.25. My mobile said 12.20. I decided to believe my mobile. I needed to change my shoes as I was wearing my grown-up-woman boots, but decided I didn't have time. And the pain would teach me a lesson. :D Shut the window, put in a change of clothes for S, wondered where my twenty quid note had gone, decided M had probably nabbed it, grabbed my cards and was away.

My mobile said a few minutes had passed and looked scarily close to half past 12 (pick-up time). So off we went, attempting to do 3/4 of a mile in four minutes, the first leg of which was uphill. A steep hill. It started a light drizzle as we reached the top of the hill.

There's something very odd in being a woman running with a pushchair. You're conscious that you don't see it very often. T likes it, the wind in his hair, the need for speed! :D But my boots are really not suitable for such activities.

I was glad I had on my sports bra today. :D

I was the last parent there, but people were still leaving, so I wasn't radically late at least. I took her to her best friend's house to play from there. On the more leisurely walk home, it absolutely piddled down.

Ah well, it's me, T and the bubble machine this afternoon.

Bubble machines are great, I recommend them to all parents. :D

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stings like a butterfly. Evolution in action.

A tropical butterfly, Hypolimnas bolina has thwarted the bacterium, Wolbachia.

Since this bacterium is carried by eggs not the sperm, it took to popping off male offspring of its butterfly host. But the butterfly has developed a resistance at genetic level, with remarkable speed, only a few decades.

Excellent. :D

Dark matters afoot

NASA may have detected dark matter: the first proofs of, at least. Dark Matter would explain what gravity does not completely.

I wish I had the time and peace to do more reading about this, as it's one of the many subjects I don't know enough about and would love to know more.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A study in the inane

The Oceangram site seems to be mentioned everywhere, on blogs, on forums, at the moment. It's the new fad on the block, I think.

It's quite a nice idea, sending virtual messages-in-bottles, but it just proves that very few people seem to have much worth saying. (Nice, aren't I? :D)

I find it brings out the pedant and grouch in me after a while. Not long at all in fact :D.

It's sort of interesting to open up these messages, in anticipation of something (profound? thoughtful? inspiring? heart-felt? educational?), but in the huge majority of cases, it isn't worth the effort of clicking.

How many times can you add your location without becoming bored? So I start wanting to make sarcastic & rude remarks: criticising their grammar and/or spelling, reprimanding them for their poor manners when they don't ask you to please keep their bottle going, asking them to try to make more effort and think about what they're writing.

I have to give up on it when I start feeling like that. :)

Of course, you may ask, what am I bringing to it that others are not? And there you'd have me stumped. :D

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I haven't been on-line much due to being at a cousin's wedding. It went very well, I think. I hope they have a great future together, and their kids are lovely.

Just looking at the news about ice geysers on Mars

and the eruption of Tungurahua in Ecuador a few days ago.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Yesterday we went to see the new Pixar/Disney movie Cars. It was your typical kids-CGI fare and quite good fun.

S's favourite bit was the tractor-tipping scene, which she relayed to my Gran in great detail today. I'm fairly sure Gran had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, but she made encouraging noises anyway, bless her. :D

As ever John Ratzenberger, who has voiced a lot of parts in Pixar movies (and was Cliff Claven in Cheers, I believe) had a part in the movie; during the end-credits, his character was at a drive-in watching all these car-versions of Pixar movies and commenting on his own performances. Which amused me.

T enjoyed the beginning of the cinema trip, his first ever. He liked the trailers best, I think. They were short enough to keep his interest, and he said "all gone" at the end of each one. He liked the cars in the feature itself, but got restless after a while, trundling about in the row. It was an afternoon performance, and not a busy one, so we had a row of seats to ourselves. He got a bit cross when I wouldn't let him out of our row, but after a while settled down for a kip and S & I enjoyed the second half of the movie undisturbed. He was pretty good for a not-yet 2 year old.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

9, 12? Plutons, planets?

Some images of possible solar system additions

If they choose the 12 planet option, I hope they stick with Xena. Its other name is far too dull.


What is it with children and boxes? :D S lay concealed in box and blanket for quite some time this afternoon.

I think she is fairly disgusted by the fact I've since filled it with spare paper. It's amazing how many old envelopes and scraps were floating around the living room.

T is for Tests

We had an appointment for T at the hospital, as an out-patient. It was at 2.30 but we didn't get seen for over an hour. But that was OK, T was quite happy playing with all the cars and other toys in the well-kitted out play area. I sort of wished I'd brought a book, after a while, but then it was probably better to play with him (looks better, y'know ;) :P). S stayed with my step-dad while we were there.

He was weighed and measured and found wanting. Well, he was doing alright for height and head size, but his weight is still 'cause for concern'.


So the doctor wanted to get his blood tested. Partly to confirm (or deny) his dairy allergy - although if the results come back negative, it doesn't actually mean he doesn't have an allergy, all it will mean is he might not, as we have been cutting all cow-juice out of his diet as per the dietician's instructions. This means his blood may not have the antibodies or whatever it is active at the moment. #Sigh# So it may be inconclusive anyway.

But that's negative of me. Hopefully we'll have an answer one way or the other, and they're going to test it for hen-fruit allergy too.

Anyway the whole blood-letting was horrendous and the poor chap was most upset, as was I (although I was playing the part of cheerleader and jolly-along-mummy).

But in more anxiety-inducing doctorly desire for checking out everything, they want to do a sweat test in order to look for cystic fibrosis. Which is one serious diagnosis. :(

I didn't really react when she said it, cos I didn't/don't think it is likely at all, I took it in the spirit of "They're just checking things out, being thorough." But even though I don't really think there's much wrong with him, I've now got this creeping fear.

Doubt, where did you sneak in? Why did you sneak in?

It's unlikely, very unlikely - it's just the combination of a couple of wheezing episodes plus slow weight gain. My sensible head thinks he's healthy enough, just a bit smaller than the average boy. But but but...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Withnail and Barbie, what a combination.

There's a tv advert for Barbie and her new pet dog. She gives it a treat, and it craps on the floor. Barbie, as a responsible dog owner, has a pooper scooper and bin. Well done her.

This reminds me of Danny and Presuming Ed's idea for a "doll what shits itself". Any excuse for a bit of Withnail & I.

No man, that's a side line. You can have that. Instructions are included. Yeah. My partner's got a really good idea for making dolls. His name's 'Presuming Ed'. His sister give him the idea. She got a doll on Christmas what pisses itself.


Then you've got to change its draws for it. Horrible really but they're like that the little girls. So we're going to make one that shits itself too.

Shits itself!?

He's an expert. He's building the prototype now. [To I] Why's he behaving so uptightly?

Because a gang of cheroot vendors consider a hair cut beyond the limit of my abilities.

I don't advise a hair cut man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight.

At least Barbie actually has jobs as well as clothes; you feel the Bratz dolls might be more likely to have the ambition of glamour model, at most. They wear so much make-up! And the ones with the latex outfits are a bit worrying.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Here's looking at you, kid.

I'm quite chuffed with a new addition to my blog: at the very bottom, if you care to look, you will see a little sign-post.

It took me a while to work out where to stick the code into the template, but I'm satisfied with the result and I do like the thing's cheek. Funky. :D :P It is kind of interesting as well - I didn't realise that about IP addresses, not being very informed about these things.

V for Vendetta

Last night was the night for feeling alright: M and I had a couple of bottles of wine, a bag of Revels and watched V for Vendetta on DVD.

It was a brilliant film, we both loved it.

Its central themes are very apposite, to my mind. The concept that governments should be afraid of their people, not the people afraid of their government. That ideas cannot be killed. That we shouldn't allow fear to create an environment that will curtail our current & future freedoms. All of which seem very relevant to me.

Added to these thought-provoking ideas and its dark dystopic vision of Britain was a fair bit of swash-and-buckle, :D, and some fine acting. I don't usually rate Nathalie Portman much, but she was excellent. Her character had been criticised as changing personality in an unlikely way, but that reviewer said she became a kick-ass terrorist or something like that, and she did not. I think whoever it was that said that must have watched a different film to the one I saw.

The film was based on a graphic novel from the DC stable, and so was almost bound to end up in our DVD collection, as M collects comic-to-film adaptions, but we will be buying it on its own merits.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Meteor showers

Looky here :D. I'm hoping to catch sight of the Perseid meteor showers tonight.

Face North-East, and if there isn't too much light pollution, you might see it. No need for telescopes, it should be visible to the naked eye. Although of course, binoculars or telescopes would no doubt increase your viewing pleasure.

I'm hopeful that the view will be decent here and I'm a little excited about this. :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

The wuss and the tooth fairy

My little girl lost a front tooth today.

It had been wobbly for ages, giving her a slight gap to one side of her tooth. But the actual loss was a bit dramatic as she was playing under a chair and M hauled her out in playful fashion, but unfortunately there must have been a bit too much of the rough in rough-housing: she knocked her tooth and there was blood! Eek!

So that was yukky. I am hopeless with blood, especially that of my children. It was a good job M was there, as the tooth was still hanging by a thread, and he removed it. I don't think I could have: we would have ended up at the nurse or dentist.

I am absolutely hopeless. :( What happens if one of them has a serious accident, will I just go to pieces then? I suppose I was looking after her alright and would have got her to medical attention had she needed it (I know it's only a tooth!).

I feel quite queasy and light-headed just writing this.

But S is happy, the tooth fairy will be coming tonight. :)

Censorship, freedom of expression, truth, proof and all that malarkey

I was just browsing blogs: one was lamenting the fact that she had to remove a blog because her employers gave her a formal reprimand after she made comments about them on it.

OK, blogging is a little like writing a diary, but it isn't. It may feel like a private space, but it's open to public view, so you should have to be responsible about what you write. I don't think you should have free rein to slag off employers, companies, or individuals. You may think/know you're just being honest, but it's all subjective and readers have only your word for it. Unless you back your claims up.

There can be comeback on what you write, and I think rightly so. There's freedom of speech/expression and there's truth & proof. Somewhere these things should meet.

Most of us have the sometimes unfounded belief that we're in the right in certain situations, when perhaps we're not. We're all fallible and we all have personal biases. Except for me, obviously! :P

Surely it's common sense not to name (or describe so as to be identifiable) people or organisations that you have a grievance with, if you're just having a rant about them? If you can back up your claims and are ready/willing for a formal confrontation, that's one thing, but if you're simply mouthing off it'd be better to keep it vague. Or better yet, keep it to a phonecall or private IM conversation with someone you know. I think if you have a beef with someone, but couldn't say it to their face, you'd be better not putting it on-line either. Countless times on my ex-forum, people had to change user names or got upset because someone they knew started reading their posts and weren't too happy with what they saw. It's a smaller world than we think. :D

So how does this mesh with my take on Gina Ford's little débacle? (Glad you asked. 8) :P)

I think it's the nature of the format.

Think of it this way, say, I posted an entirely innocuous and fair entry about ZXrr'pptt (hopefully an entirely imaginary name :D. Especially given its ease of pronunciation! :P), and someone posted something highly offensive: a malicious lie or derogatory statement about ZXrr'pptt in the comments part of my blog. I think it would be legitimate & reasonable for ZXrr'pptt to ask me to remove such a comment from my blog, (if I didn't do so off my own bat), and I would happily oblige.

I wouldn't like to be asked to remove my own entry on the subject as well, if inoffensive, or indeed my whole blog on the basis of the offensive comment.

Of course, as a blogger I can pre-moderate comments, if I like, with ease and I can check comments regularly since I get so few! (Not that I'm bitter! ;) :D) On a much larger scale, it just isn't manageable without a constant monitoring presence.

The BBC message boards engage pre-moderation on some of their boards, or certain posters, but it is quite a slow & clumsy tool and it interferes with the flow of discussion. After all, if you post something in answer to a post but there are several responses queuing for moderation before yours, you may find that by the time your reply gets through, the debate has changed course, or you seem to be merely repeating someone else.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Gina Ford vs Mumsnet cont.

Just catching up on this story today, and it strikes me as increasingly bizarre.

I find the language used in Gina Ford's statement somewhat confusing. It describes what I would call posts or comments as publications. This is probably completely legally correct; but to my mind, it suggests an article or feature rather than the off-the-cuff conversational chatter of a forum.

And what was described as Mumnet "publishing an item which compared me with terrorists in the Middle East" would appear to have been a user's comment (see Mumsnet's response as I'm too wussy to write it here :D). It was a very silly remark and surely, obviously, not a serious accusation that Ms Ford would do such a thing or that she was involved in terrorism? I don't think anyone reading it would have considered it a real possibility, more that it was a joke at Ms Ford's expense.

Not nice to be on the receiving end of, clearly, but not what I would view as defamation of character.

And again, the wording of "publishing an item" conveys an idea of an article or feature, to me, rather than a comment in an on-line discussion. It's probably a perfectly legitimate use of language, but it seems like a bit of an over-statement. I expect it's legalese. :)

I don't think Mumsnet are doing themselves any favours by publishing the entirety of the poster responsible's 'apology', as it is clearly sarcastic 8). I think they'd be better taking a more conciliatory tack.

But I can see why this situation seems deserving of ridicule.

Perhaps it does take lawyers to get things done. Perhaps from Ms Ford's perspective, Mumsnet weren't doing enough, or not doing it fast enough, and once the legal stuff starts happening it doesn't necessarily lead where you'd expect.

Terrorist plot targets flights

A suspected terrorist plot to blow up flights between the UK and US has been foiled by the police.

The security risk is critical, we're told. :( Apparently no hand luggage can be taken on-board. These are precautions in case there is another dimension to the plot that they are currently unaware of.

21 arrests.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


At last Damilola Taylor's killers have been brought to justice. The Preddie brothers have been convicted of manslaughter, after forensic evidence was found, that had for some reason been missed previously. 8)

But it's so sad that these two brothers, who were just 12 & 13 at the time, could have been capable of such a crime. And for what reason?

It's mind-boggling.

Mamamamameeemeeemeee Milkshake!

Today I have made T a birthday card to send into Milkshake! I hope they show it. It features Noddy and his car, as T loves cars. He's going to be 2 in a couple of weeks. Argh, no longer my ickle baby. :P I've put up a slightly doctored picture of it,as I'm fairly pleased with the way it has turned out.

I wonder if we should take his ungie away.

Poor chap. :D One minute bemoaning the passing of babyhood, the next wanting to take away his dummy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


As part of my resolve to read more non-fiction, I am currently reading Krakatoa by Simon Winchester. He does seem to emphasise the importance of what happened there in 1883 as regard to international communication, which isn't of so much interest to me.

I am enjoying it a great deal. I find volcanoes and plate tectonics fascinating. I'd love to visit some places of especial geological interest like Krakatoa, YellowStone, New Zealand or Iceland. (As long as they don't go boom when I'm there. :D. But small chance and fat chance, for the moment. Of travelling, not of eruption. :D)

I haven't been getting through books at my usual rate because of S being on summer holidays. It's nigh on impossible to get T to have his day-time nap with her around, and I've been trying to get us out of the house a lot to avoid all the conflicts that seem to arise at home. The problem is that he wants to follow her around and do whatever she is doing, and she occasionally wants a break from him. But then, if he does start playing with something on his own she often starts interfering with what he is doing too. So it's six of one, half a dozen of the other, most of the time.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

The myth of the hanged Munchkin

According to urban legend, one of the dwarves who played a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz hanged himself on set during a scene, and can be seen in the background on the original print of the film, during the scene in which the TinMan joins Dorothy.

I wonder why people seem to love propagating urban legend so much. I guess fiction is neater, more interesting or funnier than the truth. Like the common belief that Master Bates was really a character on Pugwash's Black Pig.

I feel like a real spoilsport whenever that one comes up. :D


I was thinking about my interests as listed in my profile.

What level of interest or expertise would you expect if you list something as an interest? :D I'm interested in a whole lot of things, but don't necessarily know that much about them. Some are things I know reasonably well, some I have opinions about (some more well-based than others :D), and some I have a lot to learn about, (if I get the time and energy).

I think on the basis of wanting to know more about these things, I may list some more on there.

Gina Ford vs the web

Apologies to those who commented on my previous post on this subject: I hadn't actually checked comments before I deleted. And wouldn't have done so, had I realised. It was only later when I saw my email notifications that I realised anyone had read or commented on it.

I deleted because I didn't wholly agree with myself anymore: the stand she is making seems more extreme than warranted. I do still think that personal comments or malicious lies about people should be removed, but it seems that this case is going too far. (One step beyond, da naaa da naa da naa). The law in the UK doesn't seem to be up to the job in this area. I think it needs to be reviewed and more in line with the US. For once. A whole site shouldn't be under threat because of a number of views of the people who use it.

I gather the on-line communities involved have swung into action, emailing and starting petitions*. I hope they succeed and Ms Ford thinks better of her litigation. Some of the national press has taken up the story.

The baby guru who threw her bottle out of the pram Daily Mail - UK. (#Hawk, spit# Daily M@!l)
Mothers' website falls foul of Queen of Routine Independent
Childcare expert threatens to have website shut down Guardian Unlimited
Childcare guru goes to war over website Times Online

I wonder under what circumstances she stopped posting at Mumsnet, as I gather she was once a contributor and poster on there: as 'Ginababe', I think I saw. On the one hand, if she feels she "knows" posters there, I can sympathise with how painful it must be if she feels they are bad-mouthing her and it may feel more personal than perhaps other on-line communities of which she was not part. But she seems to have extended her net towards other UK parenting websites as well.

I guess going after one alone screams personal problem with them? Or maybe not, perhaps she just stopped posting there because of time constraints or whatever.

It cannot be acceptable to attempt to prevent discussion of parenting methods on parenting forums. It's unfortunate when things get personal, but as long as the administration of a site makes reasonable efforts to remove malicious, untrue and spiteful remarks, I don't think it should be running the risk of getting sued unto closure.

*I don't think on-line petitions are particularly effective tools, however. Even if the email addresses are checked by an automatic system, it's very easy to have multiple emails. Also there's usually no verifiable way of knowing the real location of people, (and usually politicians are not too interested in the opinions of people who don't vote in their country/area). Without that kind of location & demographic information, a petition has no power to influence. If someone really wants to make their feelings on an issue clear, writing a letter to, or even emailing the relevant people is more effective. I think on-line petitions just fill the immediate sense of wanting to do something, without actually doing much of anything.

That said, I suppose they do enable the press to say "so many people have signed this".

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fun day

It was a family fun day at the community school, so I took S and her best friend M, and T to it. There were two huge bouncy castles: one with a slide and rollers, the other an ordinary one. There were football thingies to do, face-painting, archery, arts and crafts, a puppet show and a rock-climbing wall.

They both had a go at the archery, which they enjoyed, although neither really had the strength to pull the bow-string back and aim without wobble. S hit the target a couple of times and was definitely getting better. M was doing well too. Then we went over to the fire engine, and they got to spray the hose. M managed to hit the target with the hose and tip it up. After that, they climbed inside, and I lifted T up to see inside too. He wasn't that impressed.

We had a picnic under a tree and then they went on the bouncy castle. After that they got their faces painted. We watched the tail-end of the puppet show and then went back to bouncy castling for a while.

M is scared of heights, so didn't try the rock-climbing, but S did and managed to get half-way up. Which is great, considering the holds on the wall were more the size for older children. I was actually very proud of her.

And that was the end. The only problem really had been how long the queues were. Although there weren't that many people, a lot of the activities took quite a while and could only have two or three going at a time. But you can't knock it at only a quid each for the whole day's activities. And I think the children had a great time.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Welcome to the world

Our friends D & A had a baby boy on the 2nd of August. :D

I write about this late, because they texted me on my mobile, and I rarely check it. I only read the message today. It's more of a static than a mobile.

I'm so happy for them. I hope their little girl likes having a little brother as much as S (usually) does. :D

Law and Order: SVU

I watched an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit on Channel 5 last night: it was an episode called "Angels" from season 4. (I always want to call it Law & Order SUV).

Its plot was based around the cracking of a paedophile ring. I wish I hadn't watched it, really, as it has left an unpleasant, uncomfortable feeling with me. I don't usually watch programmes with this type of theme as they leave me feeling anxious and physically sick, often, even when entirely fictional.

I was wondering today what sort of guidelines protect the child actors? The young lads in this show were supposedly between 7 and 11, I think. But whether they were older, playing the parts of younger boys, I don't know. I am uncomfortable because it exposes the child actors to very disturbing ideas. It's not that anything was hugely graphic, but the boys had to act the parts of molested children telling their experiences to the police. It's one thing knowing that there are bad people in the world and knowing not to keep secrets, stranger danger, good & bad touching, and having ownership of their own bodies, but I don't know.. It would be too much for me, as a parent, I think, if my children were actors. :S

I wonder how such issues are handled within the acting community and in tv studios.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Astronomy fair?

There's an astronomy fair next Saturday, but I don't know that it would be fun for the kids.

On the other hand, we could always leave if they were bored. The town it is near has a beach.


Planemo Twins. Better than the Olsons.

Artist's impression of the Planemo Twins.

I do like a bit of astronomy. I'd like to dabble. :D I think the way ESO name their telescopes is great. No highfalutin classical naming for them, no sirree :D.

I wonder if they have ones called "Slightly Bigger Than Average" and "Small but Perfectly Formed". :D


A new addition to the family.

Eloisa the tiny caterpillar.

S rescued "her" from a spider's web and thus the creature has exchanged possible dinner á deux with a spider for a spell in an ex-mayonnaise correctional facility. I hope she isn't considering popping her clogs and will fulfil her potential of becoming a butterfly, otherwise it'll be disappointing for S, who is most excited about the prospect. She wanted to take her to bed with her last night.

I'm not sure which particular plant she eats so we bunged a variety of leaves from the vicinity inside. Hopefully one will be suitable.

Every night I'm there
I'm always there
She knows I'm there and heaven knows
I hope she goes (Eloise)
I find it hard to realise
That love was in her eyes
It's dying now
She knows I'm crying now

And every night I'm there
I break my heart to please
Eloise Eloise
You know
I'm on my knees yeah

I said please
You're all I want so hear my prayer
My prayer
My Eloise
is like the stars that please the night
The sun that makes the day
That lights the way (Eloise)
And when that star goes by
I'll hold it in my hands and cry
Her love was mine
You know my sun will shine

You're all I want you've got to hear my prayer
My prayer
My Eloise
I'd love to please her
I'd like to care but she's not there
And when I find you
I'd be so kind
you'd want to stay
I know you'd stay

And as the days grow old
The nights grow cold
I wanna hold her near to me
You know she's dear to me
And only time will tell
And take away this lonely hell
I'm on my knees to my Eloise

You are my life so hear my prayer
You are the prize
I know you're there
I know you're there
You're all I want
you gotta hear my prayer
Yeah yeah yeah
You're all I need but you're not there
Oh no you're not there
No no no no
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
My Eloise
Oh I'd love to please her

Friday, August 04, 2006

More on Mel Gibson... Bipolar?

I was reading an on-line discussion about Mel Gibson's outburst and followed a link to this piece about him from March 17, 2004.

What interested me and the person who pointed out the article, was the first sentence of the last paragraph: "He has made it known that from an early age he suffered from being manic depressive, but through his strong faith and appropriate medicines he has been able to overcome these shortcomings to attain the heights of stardom."

If it is true that he suffers bipolar disorder, then that gives him an obvious 'out' for some of his behaviour. This makes me wonder why it hasn't been brought up, or if this article was inaccurate. (Or, of course, I may have missed mention of it. But when I google I don't come up with anything official).

It wouldn't excuse what he said and did but it would make it more, I don't know, more likely he wasn't himself? Whoever himself is. (One of the problems with mental illness is working out what is the real person and what is the fruit of their illness, and I think, whether that is a meaningful distinction to try to make? And indeed, one of the problems with reacting to someone's behaviour when drunk, is whether to see it as part of that person or whether it makes them act atypically/changes their personality?)

Alcohol can cause a relapse in bipolar disorder and certainly exacerbates the problem.

"Researchers at Duke University have refined Kraepelin’s four classes of mania to include hypomania (featuring mainly euphoria), severe mania (including euphoria, grandiosity, high levels of sexual drive, irritability, volatility, psychosis, paranoia, and aggression), extreme mania (most of the displeasures, hardly any of the pleasures) also known as dysphoric mania, and two forms of mixed mania (where depressive and manic symptoms collide).[8]
Symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of stimuli that are not there) and delusions (false personal beliefs that are not subject to reason or contradictory evidence and are not explained by a person's cultural concepts). Feelings of paranoia, during which the patient believes he or she is being persecuted or monitored by the government or a hostile force. Intense and unusual religious beliefs may also be present, such as a patients' strong insistence that they have a God-given role to play in the world, a great and historic mission to accomplish, or even that they possess supernatural powers. Delusions may or may not be mood congruent." (Wiki)

The part about intense & unusual religious beliefs is interesting, (for his particular form of Catholicism certainly fits that description), especially when allied with the fact that there is a genetic component to bipolar disorder. I have in mind his dad as a candidate. :D

Of course this is pure speculation and I am not saying that he must be mentally ill to hold those beliefs; it's just an aside really. A possibility.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The energiser bunny child

Yesterday T was in excellent form. In the morning he managed to turn on the 'sticky keys' function on the computer, which had me perplexed as I didn't know it existed. The first I knew was discovering a strange icon on my start bar (if that's what the bar of the bottom of the screen is, can't think of another word for it). I had to look it up on the internet, to remove it. :D

S had a tennis taster as her holiday activity, and while she was bashing about with her racquet, T was leading me a merry dance by pegging it at every opportunity. He was in and out of the clubhouse, round the back of the clubhouse, tottering on the top of the steps down to the tennis court, skirting round a bramble patch, on the edge of guttering: generally skedaddling to the most unfortunate and potentially dangerous locations.

At least it kept me busy. 8)

S had been invited to the ten-pin bowling party of M's older sister. I had driven M because her parents had a car-ful of their older daughter's friends. I decided to stay for the party as it takes too long to get home and back: I would have possibly managed to get home in time to set off to pick them up again. :D Anyway, T was feeling great and demonstrating his speed walk. He set off across the lanes, with me in hot pursuit, headed for the machines, dodged around the food bar, hurtled towards where some building work was being done and the barriers were set so that small children could squeeze between or simply walk straight under. Countless times I would scoop him up and take him back to our point of origin, and while the bowling might occasionally hold his interest enough for him to try to peer down the machine where the balls come popping up, (making me hover over him so that he wouldn't put his head low enough to get knocked out or put his hands in so his fingers would get squished), it would only keep him from marching off for a minute at most.

I found it rather hectic. :D

S did quite well in her bowling with M, winning the second game. She was definitely getting better. She enjoyed it all so much, she burst into tears when she realised there was no more bowling. Which was embarrassing.

Kids, eh? :D

Ah, what shall we do today?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Modern Art

I took the kids to a museum today. The natural history part of it went down well: there were plenty of interactive exhibits and they love animals, (even stuffed or the skeletons of, :D). We also went to the art gallery section, where there was a Turner exhibition and some modern sculpture.

Modern sculpture! I didn't understand it and I found it quite ugly. It didn't evoke anything in me, other than it looked poorly made. Actually I was just looking at the photos of it on-line, and oddly, it looks better and more meaningful. But seeing it in reality left me cold.

I'm a Philistine! :D


Apparently more properly: cryonics.

On the radio today, they were talking about a couple who intend to have themselves frozen at death in order to be thawed out & cured in the future. It's just a baby technology at the moment, where they have no idea whether it will be possible to revive someone, whether the cryogenic procedure will preserve the body & brain effectively. It could be merely a very expensive funeral.

What I wonder about is whether in the future, people will want to revive these bodies?

I would assume that the companies that do this will have a responsibility to ensure that should the technology allow it, it would be used to revive them. But with over-population and depletion of natural resources, I wonder what a future society might think about adding these dinosaurs to its number. There might be interest in them as voices from the past?

I suppose Futurama's premise could become a reality. :D A pizza delivery boy could become a pizza delivery boy of the future.

I just wonder how well they would be able to adapt to a more advanced society, and what they would have to offer that society. Would they have money? (Presumably they leave their money to their families to inherit? What if their descendants piss it all away or their family line dies out?) Would they have the skills to get work? Would they have family? Imagine starting out with nothing, everyone you knew dead, knowing no-one, in a strange like-but-not-like kind of world.

I guess it would depend on how long it would take for technology to be able to revive them: perhaps things wouldn't be that different. Or perhaps it would be a Star Trek stylee Utopia. :D or a Judge Dredd type dystopia :0.

It seems an awful waste of money to me and I don't really get the motivation. Why the desire to live at any cost? I never do understand the apparent desire for immortality some have. Curious.