Thursday, June 29, 2006

Weighty matters

The boy has broken a barrier! He has weighed heavy.

He has entered the centile range appropriate to his age. He's still low in weight, but he's not out of the "normal" range anymore.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Happy days

I think the kids are having some very nice days at the moment.

Yesterday I took them swimming at a new leisure centre. I tried T in his new Floaties swim seat. To my surprise, at first he seemed happy in it and he marched off across the shallow part of the pool (which was at just the right depth for walking in it without risk of tipping). But he soon changed his mind and thought it was evil and restrictive and wanted out, out, O U T!

And he wasn't best pleased by my wanting to carry him and hold him otherwise. He wanted to be independent. But the only area he could be, was the shallow area, and he wasn't satisfied with that. He kept heading off towards the steps into the deeper water, and I had to keep hauling him back. He was so determined I started to be tempted to let him discover what I mean by "too deep!" :D He was in paroxysms of rage as I tried to stop him drowning himself.

I think it was too late for him and he may have still been hungry, so I think I'll have to plan swimming better, if we're going to do it during the week. Or I'll see if he can stay with mum while I take S. It may be something he can only go to during the day, as it's quite an exhausting activity for him: all the noise and people, getting changed, not being able to pootle about as he likes.

S was having a good time. She's very proud of her doggy-paddling abilities.

Today I took T to bitch & titch and he seemed to enjoy it alright. He likes the singing part, and the toys, but seemed concerned by the other babies who have the audacity to want to play too. We arrived fashionably late, but he was ready to leave after about three quarters of an hour anyway. He headed to the door and started banging on it in a "let me out, let me out" kind of way. :D

I didn't do very well on the mixing and actually talking to other mothers front, but at least I was there: it must be a step in the right direction.

And then we had a party with the neighbours, as their granddaughter was one this week. It was perfect for the children: they had a small bouncy castle, paddling pools, trampoline, bubble machine and a ball-pit outdoors and it was a lovely sunny day. T was in & out of the ball-pit, and up & down the slide of the bouncy castle. S made friends with two older girls quickly, bouncing madly on the trampoline and splashing in the larger pool. After some party food, T decided he would go for a paddle, but was having none of the wussy baby paddling pool: so I ended up paddling in my jeans with him in the big pool. Our hosts and the other guests probably thought I was a sandwich short of a picnic. :D

Oh, and S was given a book to write and draw her own reviews and ideas about her reading books everyday, as her teacher wants to give her more motivation and challenge in what she is doing. She's ahead of her peers and the class readers dread reading with her, as her books are so much longer than all the other children's ones. So I think the teacher thought that she isn't getting as much attention and encouragement to progress. I'm pleased that the teacher is picking up on her needs, and as proud of my girl as a proud thing that's particularly proud today. :D

What am I failing to read at the moment?

Well, M read Hellboy: Unnatural Causes so I can at least take that one back read. :)

I'm halfway through the Lee Strobel and half-way through 6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Compulsion and The Jupiter Myth lie untouched as yet, but I have brought them companions in their weary wait:

Mary Queen of Scots by Margaret George,
R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton,
Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by MC Beaton,
The Iron Lance by Stephen Lawhead
Between Planets by Heinlein (which I fancy I've read before actually, in retrospect).

It gives me a sense of enormous well-being

I got a quick one in at the gym this morning: only a bit on the rowing machine really, but it was worth it. I feel a lot better on the days I do, than the days I don't.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bloody quacks

I hate going to the doctors. I took T in for an appointment to get the things that the dietitician suggested. She had said to do that after a couple of days, as she would write to the surgery and inform them what was required. So like a good little soldier, I made an appointment but there were none until today.

The doctor wondered why we'd come and told me his prescription had been in and waiting for a week.

How is that any good to T, if no-one tells me?

He also wants to get his allergy/intolerance formally confirmed, which is understandable and good. So he's written to the paediatrician to arrange that. Wonderful. Except he asked why we hadn't had an appointment with the consultant before now: it's cos the consultant cancelled it, (despite having said in the hospital that he would have to, as a matter of urgency, no matter what other appointments he had, fit T in within a month of our discharge from hospital). He probably cancelled cos other health professionals thought we were doing ok and it wasn't urgent after all.

But I feel like the GP might think I cancelled it, and that I can't be bothered to go in and get T's prescriptions.

I'm probably being daft and paranoid.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Ack, arse, alack. M has said our dirty weekend for our anniversary is in doubt for monetary reasons.

He says we'll still donate the kids to my mum for the weekend and go for a meal and such at home, whatever happens.

But I don't want to. :(

I want to pout and sulk and gurn. I want to drum my heels and tantrum. I want a hotel and not to have to do the washing up for a day or two.

And what happens if S starts on how she misses us and all that, as she is wont to do, even if we just go out for an evening. (I don't think it's that she really misses us, just a weapon in the staying-up-late battle). If she knows we're at our house, and if she or he are difficult, it's going to be easier for mum to ask us to put them to bed and so on.

I sound selfish. I am selfish.

I wish the bloody woman would send us his payslips so he can apply for the tax-rebate he's owed on his travelling expenses, so that we will be able to go. Her name is Amber and she's keeping us on amber.

Maybe she's just not hungry

This morning I was reduced to the "there are millions of people starving in Africa" argument. It didn't work on me as a kid, and it doesn't work on S. I could hear myself as my mother, but I just couldn't stop going down that same path.

Maybe she's just not hungry.

What I find horrendously irritating is she asks for something else, and this would probably go on ad infinitum. I could make her something else, and she'd eat a little, then ask for something else. What I really need is about a million instant bite-size mini-meals and she could have loads of different choices all on one plate.

On the other hand, just saying "it's this or nothing", looks attractive. :D

Maybe she's just not hungry.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Great pair of lungs

I'm a bloody hero, I am. I'm Lady Smashing of Smashington Hall. I'm the best mummy in the whole wide world, cos I inflated a bouncy castle.

And not using that wussy and oh-so-practical method of a foot-pump. Oh no. Not I. I blew it up in person, using my very own breath.

And I'm cream-crackered!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Skinny Cow (I wish)

Just sampled a Skinny Cow cookies and cream ice-cream lolly thing. It was not all I hoped for, but was pleasant. :) Only 1 and a half points according to my elderly WW points finder. So that's good.

I find I can't give up chocolate/sweet stuff altogether, and anyway it leads to me obsessing about it instead. 8) Having something like that at the end of the day rewards me sufficiently for sticking to my points. Although last night was a bit of a debacle with two bottles of wine. Argh. And I felt horrible all day, sick and fuzzy-headed.

Drinking is a bad thing, very bad. Evil, you might say. Eeeevviilllllllll.

Friends will be friends

Ran into Y today, which was quite nice. Her baby is doing better: out of high dependency and now weighing over 3 lbs. She's in a cot and on a lower level of oxygen assistance. I hope her progress continues.

Sort of worried about a friend who seems quite down. Don't know what I can do.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Me old bamboo, me old bamboo

Apparently the Giant Panda population in the wild may have been underestimated. Combing through panda poo has revealed more DNA samples than expected. In one reserve where they thought they only had 27 of the piebald bamboo-chompers, they found DNA from 66.

So that's good news, although of course, they are still very much an endangered species.

Wild Panda Population

Reading: Case for Faith

My first reaction to Lee Strobel's Case For Faith is not particularly positive. I found the first interview he did with Charles Templeton disquieting. Templeton was a contemporary of Billy Graham, but he became an agnostic.

At the time Strobel interviewed him, he was 83 and suffering Alzheimers. Alzheimers is a degenerative illness, often associated with senile dementia.
"The usual first symptom noticed is memory loss which progresses from seemingly simple and often fluctuating forgetfulness (with which the disease should not be confused) to a more pervasive loss of short-term memory, then of familiar and well-known skills or objects or persons. Aphasia, disorientation and disinhibition often accompany the loss of memory. Alzheimer's disease may also include behavioral changes, such as outbursts of violence or excessive passivity in people who have no previous history of such behavior. In the later stages, deterioration of musculature and mobility, leading to bedfastness, inability to feed oneself, and incontinence, will be seen if death from some external cause (e.g. heart attack or pneumonia) does not intervene. Average duration of the disease is approximately 7-10 years, although cases are known where reaching the final stage occurs within 4-5 years, or up to 15 years." (wiki)

Now sufferers can have very lucid days, and with an active mind, symptoms may not be particularly pronounced, especially on much-considered subjects. But still, I wonder why, on having discovered Templeton's illness, Strobel did not choose to interview a healthy agnostic or atheist.

I also find his depiction of Templeton's emotional outburst unsettling: Alzheimers sufferers are prone to these sorts of flare-ups. Strobel seemed to suggest that Templeton was severely and negatively affected by his loss of faith on the basis of this atypical behaviour of his. But it is a behaviour fairly well characterised by Templeton's disease. How much weight can we really place upon it?

Objection 1: Since evil and suffering exists, a loving God cannot

The bear trap analogy.

"Imagine a bear in a trap and a hunter, who out of sympathy, wants to liberate him. He tries to win the bear's confidence, but he can't do it, so he has to shoot the bear full of drugs. The bear however, thinks this is an attack and the hunter is trying to kill him." (Case for Faith, Strobel, p.32)

This is what Kreeft suggests humans are like in respect to God, in his interview with Strobel. I think this analogy fails on several levels: because, presumably the hunter set the trap in the first place and the whole problem could have been avoided by not placing traps for uncomprehending bears.

  • Why would a hunter who doesn't want to catch bears, set bear-traps? It doesn't make any sense.
  • God, if omnipotent, would be able to remove the trap without pain or fear, where it is not possible for a human.
  • The hunter of the bear wouldn't expect trust, understanding or gratitude from the animal. He would know that it doesn't have the ability to understand his intentions. If humans are as uncomprehending of God, as bears are of human motives, why would God expect our trust?


Kreeft says "If there is no Creator and therefore no moment of creation, then everything is the result of evolution. If there was no beginning or first cause, then the universe must have always existed. That means the universe has been evolving for an infinite period of time - and by now, everything should already be perfect. There would have been plenty of time for evolution to have finished and evil to have been vanquished. But there still is evil and suffering and imperfection - and that proves the atheist wrong about the universe."(Strobel, p.35)

Sigh. Where to begin with this? Evolution does not have a purpose, it is a process. It isn't trying to perfect organisms, it's just a matter of what works. It doesn't have a goal to work to and then will stop happening, it's continual. Evolution isn't an answer to the universe, and isn't intended to be. It's about the origin of species on this planet. Evolution isn't an answer to moral questions, it's a process. It isn't trying to vanquish evil. It isn't trying to do good. It's impersonal, non-sentient. You don't expect gravity to solve moral issues either.

What he said also basically contends that to be an atheist, you must accept evolution, and while many atheists no doubt do (as I do), it is not a necessity for atheism. It isn't the sole reason or even necessarily a major reason for disbelief in gods. Kreeft then goes on to say that atheism is "cheap on people, because it snobbishly says 9 out of 10 people through history have been wrong about God and have had a lie at the core of their hearts"(Strobel, p.35).

Well, that's pretty insulting stuff. But let's not throw the book across the room.

  • The majority can be wrong about things. In bygone eras, the majority believed the sun moved round the earth. Not many hold to this view these days. "Most people believe" is not a reason to take it at face value; it's argumentum ad populum, a fallacious argument.
  • Let's face it, most religions are in opposition about who has the right god, (even if they were all monotheistic, which they are not: Hinduism, for example). So 9 out of 10 people throughout history have not believed in the one God Kreeft talks of, they believed in a huge variety of deities.
  • Being potentially wrong does not equal lying. To say it must either true or a big fat lie is a false dichotomy. One can make a mistake or have a misconception without it being deliberate or malicious.
  • Where does he obtain this 9 out of 10 figure from anyway?
Kreeft then goes on to equate atheism with communism. I can't even be bothered with that one.

Without God, no good?

Kreeft uses the argument that without God, we would have no overarching standard of morality, no absolute standard of goodness. But do we have such a thing anyway? A couple of examples in sexual moral codes: in Native American tradition, homosexuality was seen as a blessing and in another culture, virginity is not a desirable quality in a woman if she hopes to marry.

The golden rule, which pre-dates Christianity, can be as easily explained as a man-made concept as god-inspired. Its basis is reciprocal altruism: social creatures need their society to work within a set of rules, because otherwise the social network and co-operation would be impossible.

Anyway, these are my first thoughts on this book, so far.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mission 101?

I'm not sure I'll be able to think of 101 things, but here's the first things that came to mind:

  1. go to London for a night or two to see A and R
  2. email friends regularly
  3. go to N.I. en famille to visit M's side
  4. volunteer at the school
  5. apply for Primary PGCE
  6. lose 2 stone
  7. train at gym at least 3 times a week
  8. swim at least 3 times a week
  9. sort out the pony's papers
  10. finish breaking the pony in
  11. read at least one non-fiction book a month
  12. get T on list for nursery
  13. join a bookclub, if there is one locally
  14. set up 2nd savings account for T (like Ss)
  15. set up 2nd savings account for S (similar to T's babybond one)
  16. start saving more ourselves
  17. attend at least one bitch & titch session every week with T, as well as swimming & storytime
  18. take S swimming at least once a fortnight
  19. join S up to Rainbows or dance classes
  20. get on housing lists, update and apply for houses
  21. finish the fence at bottom of garden

Maybe that's enough to be going on with?

And I'm feeling good...

I feel really good today. I feel like I'm making progress with my weight and training, and I feel quite positive about lots of things. I did some heavier weights today and more crunches than usual. I also swam, which I love.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

We went to meet R and her fella-me-lad in Torquay.

We had intended to meet them at their hotel, but when I saw where it was, thought it would be better to meet at the seafront. It seemed a bit far for S to walk to the seafront or town centre, (if we could park at the hotel or near it). And we couldn't fit everyone in the car if we wanted to drive in. It probably wasn't that far, really, but it seemed easier. Plus I knew the carparking near the seafront. And I like what I know, and fear the unknown! Argh! (High drama there, perhaps I could win an Oscar?)

Anyway, they were waiting for us when we arrived: I hope they hadn't been waiting too long. I didn't like to ask, as I was afraid of the answer! (I do Cowardly Lion impressions too :))

It was great to see R, and her bloke seems nice. We walked and talked for a little then found a place to eat. The food was pleasant enough: I had a cajun chicken salad, but the chicken wasn't remotely spicy and bit dry. The coleslaw with it wasn't nice, but the rest was tasty. S wanted garlic bread and cheese, but when it came, demanded the cheese taken off. :D T had sausage and chips, which he mostly threw around or dropped sneakily. Well, not very sneakily. :D While we were waiting for the food, S spotted a man selling bubble-swords who was letting huge bubbles float away, so she spent the time running about popping them.

The kids were reasonably well-behaved during the meal. T didn't start agitating to get out of his pushchair and apart from the cheese problem and wanting her food miraculously cooled :D, S was fine. I had to nip off to buy some plasters from Boots as her feet were getting rubbed by her trainers. After the meal, we got ice-creams & an ice-lolly for T and wandered down the sea-front. The weather was good and Torquay's a nice town.

We walked down to the small beach (the tide was in) and I said S could go for a paddle. She went all whiny cos of the possibility of losing her plasters, but when I went down to the water with T, changed her mind and was soon splashing about merrily. Alarmingly, T would go in one direction at a rate of knots and show no signs of stopping, so if we were heading into the sea, I don't know how deep he'd have gone before realising he can't breathe water. :D But he was dragging me with him anyway. The water wasn't cold, and they & I had a fun time, while the grown-ups sat on the steps watching. :D

After that, R and her fella said goodbye as they were heading for their hotel and we were going home. I wish I'd got more of a chance to talk to R. It's hard with the kids there, especially T, as he needs constant supervision and help to walk: but he couldn't stay in his pushchair the whole time. And I was the only one dressed in such a way as to be suitable for paddling.

I'm thinking about trying the mission101 thing that Splee talks about on his blog, as a motivation to get more done with my life; one of the things on it would be to get up to London on my own in the next year. I must try to get it together.

Oh what a beautiful morning!

These are pictures from our garden, because it looked so beautiful this morning.

The wild strawberries are tiny, the size of a fingernail. :D

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

A guy in the Ukraine lowered himself into a lion enclosure at a zoo, shouting 'God will save me, if he exists'.

He got rather dead.

What does this prove?

Nothing. :D

Or possibly that there is no god working on the behalf of dopey prats.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I shouldn't be allowed out alone!

I went into town to get T a baby swim seat (so I can float him and not have to be one-handed the whole time we're at swimming pools) and S a new swimming cossie. Also to get M a father's day card.

I came back with an inflatable 3-in-1 bouncy castle, slide and paddling pool. It was reduced. It was an impulse. Oops. I think we'll have to invest in a foot pump!

I bought M the first series of Green Wing on DVD for his Father's Day present. I got £2 knocked off, because the shop had placed them in the wrong section and it was clearly labelled one price when in fact it was supposed to be sold at another. So that makes a change, an error in my favour. :D

And I got T some tangerine flavoured non-dairy chocolate bars from Boots.

Socialising :)

I'm all excited because R is in Torquay this weekend and we're going to meet up for Sunday lunch tomorrow. It'll be good to see her. :D

The whole lot of us, the whole shebang is going, so we'll have to find a family-friendly eating place. But that should be easy as Torquay is a lovely seaside town and its lifeblood is tourism.

R is down with her bloke, so it'll be nice to meet him.

S's mad social whirl continues with yet another party today, with the same magician as usual. He's done virtually all the birthdays of her whole class. Must be the only one in the area or something. :D Then she's going straight to her best friend's house for a couple of hours. Poor M missed out on an invitation because she was away on holiday - I think she could've gone anyway, but M's parents didn't want to do that - and I guess I wouldn't have either, in their position :(.

But I'm sure the whole class was invited. Shame.

I love this break, cos she and T spent the whole morning screeching at each other.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Gyminey cricket

I love going to the gym, but I really don't like the bum curl machine. You have to lie face down and move the thingy up and down with your legs. M says it's good for shaping bottoms, and it's on his list of exercises I'm to do.

(It's not a bossy man thing, I asked him to recommend exercises for the bits I want toned. He used to be a Physical Training Instructor for the RUC).

Anyway, I feel really silly doing it and vulnerable. And if anyone's on the weights bench, I wait for them to move away so my arse isn't flexing so close to someone. :D Eeek.

The bear and the pussycat

Just had a shufty at Stegbeetle's blog. He comments on A's blog sometimes. and saw a link to this story about a bear being chased up a tree by a domestic cat. :D

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dream a little dream of me

I had a very vivid dream last night. It was about Y and a night out going unpleasantly wrong.

I'm not a big fan of dream analysis as I don't think we're all the same and saying something represents a fear or whatever for everyone in a blanket way, just seems daft. Ie. "To dream that you sneeze, indicates a life of ease and joy". Eh? I don't think dreams necessarily have to have deeper meanings; why can't it just be the imagination having a good old time? :D

I do think that sometimes dreams can be the fruit our brains working through problems and presenting scenarios and how we might deal with them. And I think this one last night was that.

I am worried that if I get friendly with Y again, it'll all go horribly wrong, again. Why retread old ground? Yet I do feel sorry for her after all, she's had a rotten time and must be worried sick about her baby. So I'd like to support her in some ways.

I'll just have to keep my guard up. The thing about her is, that she appears to spill everything about herself and it encourages people around her to do likewise. Unfortunately I don't think she can be trusted as a confidante.

So why am I bothering? Don't know.

I think I should heed the dream scenario and keep it shallow, keep it light, on my side, if I start seeing her more.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Reading: The Contortionist's Handbook

I read this yesterday. I really liked it.

The protagonist is an anti-hero, a expert forger who keeps having to change his identity. He keeps overdosing and nearly getting institutionalised as a suicide risk, because of "godsplitter" headaches that painkillers seem unable to control. So he is skilled in fooling the authorities and psychiatrists in order to avoid being hospitalised or imprisoned, as his lifestyle requires criminal activity. He has also been sucked into forging for some bad guys, and they don't take kindly to his frequent vanishing acts.

I read it in one sitting: I enjoyed it a lot.

In my head

Nickelback's "How You Remind me" was playing on the radio this morning, and it's stuck in my head. :)

Makes a change from nursery rhymes or kiddie tv theme tunes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Portrait of the Artist

A self-portrait by S. She drew it today.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Last night we watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on DVD, with Robert Downey Jnr (nice that he could stay out of jail long enough to make a film ;) :P) and Val Kilmer. I feel kind of ambivalent about it.

IMDB's plot summary says this:
"A petty thief (Downey) posing as an actor is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his high school dream girl (Monaghan) and a detective (Kilmer) who's been training him for his upcoming role..."

It was a tongue-in-cheek detective thriller. One of the main problems with it, I found, was that I didn't really like Downey's character. He was pretty unlikeable throughout and so it was hard to care about what happened to him or the other characters. He became slightly more likeable towards the end, (but I'd been toying with the idea of playing the computer part-way through, and only didn't cos I was supposed to be spending the evening with M, not the PC :D). Kilmer was alright.

I didn't like the plot device that had the female heroine's sister as a child abuse victim. I felt the tongue-in-cheek style of the film didn't fit with that kind of subject involved at all. If it hadn't been for that, I would have enjoyed the film more, I think.

Friendship past resurrecting?


I ran into Y at the gym today. And we chatted for quite a while and exchanged numbers. She wanted to know when I usually use the gym, so maybe she'll come down again at around the same time. I said maybe we could have a pub lunch sometime, as she's at a loose end at the moment, on maternity leave.

She's recently out of hospital as she had pre-eclampsia with her pregnancy and had to have an emergency caesarian. She has a little girl, who is now in the high-dependency unit at the hospital, so at least out of intensive care. It sounds awful, and it's weird for her, as she's home on maternity leave, yet without her baby. Her little girl isn't likely to get out of hospital at least until her due date, which was mid-July.

I don't know whether this is the restart of the friendship or whether it'll fizzle, but I am open to either possibility, I think.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Master T triumphs

Little T is finally finally at long last making some steps by himself, without being coaxed between adults. A few times today while coasting along the furniture, he has taken the bold and unusual course of letting go of the highchair and crossing a couple of feet to the table with foot power alone :D.

To much whooping and applause.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Diet coke fountains

I found this quite funny this morning. All done with Diet coke and Mentos.

Eepy Bird: Diet Coke & Mentos

It's a recreation of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas.

What the heck are Mentos?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Marital strife!

M and I were talking about our fantasy house if we were millionnaires. Ahem 8) :D.

And we found we have a major disagreement. He is resistant to the idea of employing a cleaner: he reckons in our putative life of leisure, we could take an hour everyday to do a bit of housework to keep on top of it. I said that no way did I want to spend any time doing housework if we were in the position of being able to afford someone to do the worst of it. I hate housework, it's always there to do over straightaway after you've just done it! :D He reckons we'd have so much time on our hands it'd be something to do. I said I'd rather study for a PhD, read a book, write, paint, ride, learn a skill, write my blog, poke my own eyes out with sticks in that spare time!

It got quite heated!

And then we collapsed into laughter at the daftness of the quarrel.

Mind you, might be a divorcing matter when we become multi-millionnaires! :P ;)

'Ear 'ear

The end of this week has been full of appointments for T.

Well, two anyway. :D

Yesterday we saw the dietitician, and she decided to ask the GP to prescribe super-duper non-dairy calorific specialist "milk"shakes, vitamin drops and a carbohydrate powder to add to some of his food. This is to boost up his calorie intake and make sure he's getting everything he needs. He's already eating as well as he can and following a centile line, but unfortunately it's a centile line below normal range. His own special centile, you might say. So hopefully we can build him up a bit more with these things.

And today we had an audiology appointment, which was amusing - they sounded noises and had boxes that lit up with a dancing bunny in one, and a shimmying pig in the other. It made him laugh and point. On the second ear, he lost interest a bit and was almost falling asleep, but it seems his hearing is fine. He has catarrh in his ears, which they want to check goes naturally, so we have to go back in 3 months.

Light years away

How beautiful! The stars and dust of Andromeda, captured by the Spitzer infrared camera array.

"The Andromeda galaxy, also known by astronomers as Messier 31, is located 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It is the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way, making it the ideal specimen for carefully examining the nature of galaxies. On a clear, dark night, the galaxy can be spotted with the naked eye as a fuzzy blob. Andromeda spans about 260,000 light-years, which means that a light beam would take 260,000 years to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other.

By comparison, the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across. When viewed from Earth, Andromeda occupies a portion of the sky equivalent to seven full moons."

Some really big numbers and incredible age. Awesome, in a very real way, (not the slang expression :)).

Andromeda Adrift in Sea of Dust

The Three Faces of Andromeda

The two links below take some time to load, even with high-speed broadband, so patience is required. :D

Gorgeous! :D

Fabulous! :D

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Furthermore and notwithstanding

I took some books back to the library, some alas, unread. I just didn't fancy reading much after the Time Traveler's Wife, oddly, because I enjoyed it so much, I think? Weird. I got fined for lateness, and had one book outstanding, which hilariously is That's Not My Dinosaur. Dammit, if it was on T's card, it wouldn't have cost me anything. :D

Anyway, I've brought home replacements:
- The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger
- Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert
- Hellboy: Unnatural Selection by Tim Lebbon
- The Jupiter Myth by Lindsey Davis
- The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

Will I read them all? It's anyone's guess. I could renew books I don't get round to reading, but I tend not to, as my theory is that I can't want to read them enough.

Shut up already!

Everything is Big Brother or Wayne Rooney at the moment. Yaaawwwwn. The woman doing a quiz show on telly just gleefully announced Mr Rooney will be out there and may be able to play in a match. Big whoop.

I saw a bit of Big Brother yesterday: I have this tendency to leave the telly on while I'm mucking about on the computer. Some ghastly young woman was ranting and raving in the diary chair about two of her housemates, (one of whom seemed to have done a bit of a Lolo Ferrari). She's dead. She died in 2000 in murky circumstances: at first it looked like suicide through drug overdose, but then it seemed to have been deliberate suffocation. Her husband spent a year in prison, but was subsequently released without charge. Her life-story was quite sad, it seems from the Wiki. Anyway, she was going absolutely mental about these people. I think perhaps Big Brother ought to slip some bromide in her tea, or something.

Another one seemed to have a very limited vocabulary; every other word was fuck or fucking. What on earth does she say when she's really angry or upset?

I sound like a right old fart. Oh well.

Mr Postman

Got a postcard from R today, as she is holidaying in Canada. Lucky thing! :D

It looks really beautiful, and apparently the views aren't even a third of the way up the mountain. I hope she's having a great time. She's been some interesting places in the past, such as Egypt and New Zealand. I fancy New Zealand myself, but it'll be a while before that is remotely feasible.

I'm experimenting with adding images, so this seemed like a innocuous thing to photograph and upload to my blog. It's a bit askew but that's the whole photographing a photograph thing :D.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ahh, bliss

I took the momentous decision* of putting someone online on ignore, and now I don't have to read her salacious txt-speke rubbish. :D

Petty and childish, snobby even?

But it's a relief.

* mistress of the over-statement, that's me. ;)

Knock knock knocking

Jehovah's Witnesses called today, and I was just on my way out to the gym. I could truthfully say "I'm just on my way out". I only had a small window of opportunity for the gym today and couldn't stay there long, but I guess any exercise is better than none. So anyway, they gave me some pamphletts and said if I need any answers to check out the Bible. I don't mind JWs coming round, and this pair were smiley types. I remember we used to get them quite often when I was living at home, so now we're nearby I suppose it's bound to happen. Must be on their regular route.

Perhaps living in pubs has been a deterrent in-between times - although there's no reason a landlord can't be religious. Or is there? Maybe we're bad influences in the world, or something. It's hard to imagine them coming into an open pub to evangelise. And it's bloody difficult to find a reasonable hour to call when it's shut. I know some religions forbid alcohol, but say, CofE Christianity doesn't proscribe it. Maybe it would disapprove of drunkenness? But then so do landlords, (at least at the point someone becomes an asshole). I've no idea what the JW take on alcohol is, might have to see what I can find on it, out of curiosity.

I think my attitude to JWs is probably more tolerant than some they will meet with: more so since I met on-line a JW. I remember her saying that people can ask not to visited and their wishes will be respected. I suppose if people aren't generally aware of that, it doesn't help the JW's image. I could ask to be listed, but I don't mind chatting to them if I'm around. Maybe I'd just be wasting their time, given my atheism... Then again, I remember very briefly having a job selling door-to-door and it was very daunting & unpleasant. I think someone being civil to them is probably a nice relief.

What I do find interesting about them as a group is their apolitical stance. They tend not to vote and refuse military service, do not run for office and avoid patriotic gestures: they are only interested in the Kingdom of God, not the human constructs of nation or country. They find wars between countries "detestable in the eyes of God". At least no-one need fear a theocracy of JWs.

These sort of beliefs led to their persecution during the Holocaust, which I hadn't been aware of previously. Always tend to think of the Jews, gay people, the disabled and the Romany people in relation to concentration camps, not the JWs or FreeMasons, for example.

Which reminds me, my great-grandfather on my gran's side was a big bug in the FreeMasons. (Not really relevant, but it's my family history, therefore interesting to me).

The Inevitable Wrongness of Being a Parent

Yesterday S was complaining of a dodgy tummy, but I sent her to school anyway as I know her best friend is away on holiday. She tried this tack successfully last time her friend was off school, and staged a remarkable recovery almost as 9am came and went. I toyed with the idea of taking her in late, but M was against it. 'Course he wasn't the one who had to change his plans, but anyway...

So on this experience, I decided to take her in despite her claiming the gippy tummy. But I was wrong. When she came home, she fell asleep almost immediately and slept all evening. Apart from when she sleep-walked (not sure about my tenses here) and went to wee on the bin. Fortunately I was able to redirect her to the loo and she automatically got into bed after that. I felt tremendously guilty; poor thing was running a temperature and very sorry for herself.

But today she seems fine and I sent her to school again, although I'd been sure she'd have to stay home today. Hmmm. I expect I was wrong again.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I can resist anything... but temptation (Wilde?)

I went to the gym this morning so that was good, but the diet isn't going so well. M brought home a DVD and bag of Revels last night. And this afternoon I couldn't fit the tub of coffee icecream back into the freezer after filling it with the shopping, so I ate it. It wasn't full, or even half-full, but it's funny how I could fit everything else in, isn't it? Like fate or something. :P

The DVD was AeonFlux, which was fun. I don't know how true to the original animation it was, but it worked quite well and there was a discernible plot amongst the action, which is always a plus. :D

Monday, June 05, 2006

I like big butts

On the basis that I didn't get to the gym at all last week and didn't keep to my diet, I suppose I can be ok with the fact my weight has not changed. What do I expect?

I hope to keep within my points this week, and get to the gym or for a swim everyday.

Note to self: do not to try to swim on Monday mornings in future.

The Aqua-aerobics class had taken over half the pool and made the water very choppy with their bouncing. I would have scrubbed round it and exercised in the gym instead, except I'd only taken my swimsuit and left my gym clothes at home. Oh well.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

And I bloody love Google

To discover what 3.3 kilometres is in miles, all you have to do is type "3.3 km in miles" into the thing, and it tells you. :D

No need for a brain, no need for knowledge or working things out! ;) :P

A Grand Day Out

Today we walked the nature trail I'd been thinking about this week, as a family. It was M's day off, and it was a fantastic hot and sunny day. The trail goes along the bottom of a valley, beside its river. I was in some doubt as to whether it was a river or merely a stream, since it isn't a large one, probably smaller than one lane of a road, even at its mouth. But it says on the map it's a river, so river it is.

T has been very grumpy and clingy with his cold, at home, but he enjoyed the expedition. He thought it was funny when M had to keep lifting his pushchair to get up various steps. And his little legs and arms kept going with excitement as we pointed things out to him, especially with regard to dogs and ducks. Only half the trail was "suitable" for pushchairs but we managed well, it wasn't hard-going at all, just a few lifts. It was 3.3 km, which is just about 2 miles from our starting point to our goal, a lovely family pub with tables by the river and some play equipment beside the carpark. T got out of his pushchair to eat crisps and stand on the bench of the picnic table (frayed nerves at this point :)). He wasn't having any more of this sitting lark and after a while, he went coasting round the table and the wall.

He has a completely anti-hat attitude, which is a pain, he keeps throwing the things off.

S got stuck in the tunnel in the play area (not physically, just lost her nerve), so had to be rescued, but apart from that she had a great time. She loved running along and reading out to us what the signposts had to say. There were loads of these with pictures of plants or animals to look out for along the trail. We saw damsel flies and butterflies mostly. Apparently there were otters and kingfishers, but with our noise level any shy or rare creature has so much warning of our coming, they have plenty of time to abandon their fishing or lazing about plans. I think otters are more dusk animals anyway, although could be wrong.

M and I chatted, and that was nice as our conversations tend to revolve around "what did you do today?" and "what shall we have to eat?" day-to-day. We talked about M's childhood and sex (when S was out of earshot) and the future, without getting interrupted much as S was being our trail-blazer and looking at everything with pleasure. "You can have an adult conversation" (but not about football... Grrrr, I hate that advert for Picture debts. 'Yes, I have lots of debt, please loan me more so I'm only in debt to you!' ... So I wish that quote hadn't popped into my head... And who videos their partner making a phonecall?!)

Anyway, where was I?

Oh it was fun - and on the way home, I crossed a fallen tree over the river. I felt the need to balance my way across it to the other side and back. :) M claimed it was the conviviality of a pint and a half of lager & lime, but I'd wanted to do it on the way, just got put off by a couple approaching with their dog. It was just a fit of derring-do :D. M kept shouting discouraging things and laughing (in a bantering way, not unpleasant), but he got told off by S as she didn't want me to get distracted. I think I worried her, so felt a bit guilty, as she said she didn't want me to fall and seemed to take it rather more seriously than I expected.

Once back to the car, we went for fish'n'chips and drove home. It was a really good day-out.

All-in-all it was a four-mile walk! Not bad for S, and she only complained a couple of times on the walk back to the car, even though she was tired. So I was pleased about that.

This evening we went to mum's briefly and I discovered that M has also been making plans regarding our 7 year anniversary in July, and were remarkably similar to mine. :) A dirty weekend in Newquay, hopefully, with the kids at mum's. Just have to book somewhere to stay. I hope for the one we stayed at on a previous anniversary, but will have to see what's available.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Reading record: My Sister's Keeper

This book by Jodi Picoult is rather different to what I usually read, which tends to be S-F, fantasy and detective/crime thrillers. I read the blurb on the back and I thought it was an interesting idea, and the ethical issues it brings up sold me on reading it.

It's about a family whose eldest daughter suffers from a very aggressive form of leukaemia, and they choose to have another child, genetically compatible with her, in order to help her fight against the cancer. A designer baby if you like. At first Anna their donor daughter's birth provides cord blood to help put Kate into remission. As she grows older, however, blood and bone marrow are needed when Kate relapses. Unlike the cord blood donation, these are invasive, painful procedures and pose some risk to Anna. But Kate's life is at stake.

At 13, Anna's kidney is needed and it is at this point, that Anna gets herself a lawyer and asks to be medically emancipated from her parents.

The story is told from various viewpoints, in first person, and jumps around in time periods for the backstory. I noticed early on the omission of Kate's narrative voice, so suspected one of the twists of the story.

I thought it was well-written, as all the characters of the family were sympathetically portrayed and you could understand and empathise with them. The pulls between wishing to save a sibling & wishing to be free of obligation, the difficulties of living in a family which has started to implode from the perpetual stresses, fears and demands of the sickness of one member were all well-drawn.

I felt that the plotline with the lawyer, Campbell, and the guardian ad litem, Julia, was superfluous, really. The love story/mystery ailment just seemed unnecessary.

It was all about choices over your own body, parent/child relationships, and how to balance the needs of one child against those of another. It threw up some interesting questions.

Spoilers in background colour:
I felt Anna's concealed motivation of Kate's desire to give up the struggle was believable. I was disappointed in the ending, however, I felt it was a cop-out to have Anna die in a car-crash and therefore save her sister.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Christian killcrazydeathrampage game?

Not sure what I make of this. At all. Sort of, huh?

The team behind the "Left Behind" books bring us a Christian shoot-'em-up?

Violent Video Game Marketed Through Mega Churches

15 minutes

My mum's been in two local papers this week, and on radio and telly recently. :D And this is nothing particularly unusual.

She's had much more than 15 minutes of fame. :) And it's through being good at her job.

Proud, me?


What a fantastic word. :D

Sardonic's another.

In the name of accuracy

I was a bit inaccurate earlier :D.

Songs- - no, song.
And hate, well, hate is a very strong word.

But when I hear that song, I just want to shout "Get over it!", "Get a grip!" and "Take responsibility for yourself!"

In a harsh and grumpy way.

"They fuck you up, your mum and dad. / They may not mean to, but they do. / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you." (Philip Larkin) but then again ... at a certain point in your life, you have the choice and opportunity to try to be who you want to be.

I really like this:

Don’t try to find yourself. Decide who you want to be and be it.
Don't try to find the meaning of your life. Find the things that you want to mean something to you and pursue them. Knock off the finding and searching and get down to the doing.

Which was written by someone on a forum I frequent. It sounds simple, but it's actually hard to live up to. I think it's worthwhile tho, to try to be more than the sum of your parts. I think the past has a huge impact on who we are, but it's better not to let it control us forever.

Songs I hate

Kelly Clarkson: Because of you

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Come out, Phoebe!

We had a good day yesterday: we went to the beach. :) It was nice when the sun was out, but chilly when it went behind the fluffy white clouds. So the family cry of "Come out, Phoebe" was issued.

I saw that there is a lovely nature trail near the beach, and we thought we might try that today if the weather holds.

Or maybe we'll go to the leisure centre in a nearish town and see what its prices and facilities are like. Although I have a membership locally, it's very expensive to join up as a family, yet I want S to be able to go swimming. It might be worth the extra travelling/inconvenience to look at this other place. It also has a créche and longer opening hours.

T was very clingy and miserable yesterday, which spoilt the beach somewhat. I was worried he was getting sick again. He seems ok today, but still a bit hotter to the touch than I like. :(

Please no.

M seems a bit reluctant to let us have the car again today - wants us to borrow mum's if possible, but I think while S is on holiday, we might as well have it: it's got better child seats and it's bigger, comfier. I suppose it's a bit of a bummer being stranded at work, but ... tough really. :D And I don't see why I should put mum and stepdad out, when I can put him out instead.