Saturday, September 30, 2006

Reading: Tears of the Cheetah

This was a fascinating look at molecular biology and genetics. It was well written and some complicated science was made understandable to the layperson, such as myself :).

It was really interesting to discover how little genetic diversity there is in cheetahs, most likely resulting from a population bottleneck (ie. they were nearly wiped out towards the end of the Pleistocene, at the same time sabre-tooth tigers, mastodons and giant ground sloths went extinct). This meant they had limited mate choice and are very inbred (to the same extent as lab mice!): their lack of diversity means they have significant fertility issues and their immune systems are easily compromised. But it's pretty hopeful that they have survived thus far, and will acquire more diversity in time.

There were some very sad and disturbing elements to these memoirs of Stephen O'Brien's studies, such as the continued practice of consuming bushmeat (which is monkey/primate. Many of these animals are carriers of SIDS, and this is believed to be the method AIDS was first transmitted to humans).

But generally there are some silver linings and great hopes for the future.


Oh I could throw you in a lake
Or feed you poisoned birthday cake
I won't deny I'm gonna miss you when you're gone
Oh I could bury you alive
But you might crawl out with a knife
And kill me when I'm sleeping
That's why

I can't decide
If you should live or die

I'm really enjoying this album.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hitler's art on auction

They sold some paintings attributed to the young Adolf Hitler by the auction house Jefferys, at Lostwithiel yesterday.

It makes you wonder.

From The Guardian:
Mr Morris said Jefferys' rationale was that the paintings went back to a time before Hitler became a despot. In fact they might give a clue as to why he had turned out as he did. As a young man Hitler was twice turned down for a place at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He may still have harboured ambitions of making it as an artist when he was painting the landscapes now up for grabs.
"Perhaps if his art had been better received and he had developed a successful career as an artist rather than being rejected by the art establishment he would not have become the man he did, ultimately responsible for the death of millions of people," Mr Morris said.

But to be honest, his art wasn't good enough, so as an argument that just falls down, flails about a bit and lies there sobbing. You can't just put all wannabe art students through fine art academies in case they might become sadistic, megalomaniacal, genocidal, fascist shit-heads, can you? Were those really the only two career paths that were open to him? Surely there was a middle ground, say, of not ordering the deaths of millions, not invading anywhere, and perhaps making a nice cup of tea instead?

Why would anyone want to own such a picture?

The weirdness of people

Some people I know, whose daughter & family had to come and live with them for a while, suspect the son-in-law of poisoning their pond with weedkiller. Apparently fencing off the pond for the children's safety was taking too long in the son-in-law's opinion, and one morning they woke up to find all the fish dead.

I can't imagine how they must feel about him to suspect him? And what if it's true?

Now pondfish can all die if there is heavy weather, pre-storm type weather, because the water hasn't enough usable oxygen and they basically suffocate. If it's heavy weather, it's best to turn on a fountain or pump to aerate the water. Presumably, as long-term fish owners, they know all this and would have done it, had conditions warranted it... But mistakes happen.

What sort of person would kill a pond-full of fish? I think him probably capable of it, for he has demonstrated an aggressive side: he's made phonecalls that have left an old lady frightened and been prepared to chase up and down motorways accompanying someone with the avowed intent of throwing caustic soda over someone.

Scary. Makes you worry for the daughter and her children. Makes you want to keep your own family (and pets!) at a distance.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Toylet trade

I've seen some sincerely horrible children's toys advertised on tv this morning.

Case 1: Winx Bloom styling head. It puckers up. Case 2: My Scene dolls, which change expression. Case 3: A baby doll that moves its mouth to say things.

Yeuch. It's not right, it's just freaky and not right!

I thought baby Chou-Chou was bad enough.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

It's my lucky day

Not only did I get the all-clear about T, as posted about below, but when we went out this evening, we won £50 worth of drinks vouchers!

Which was nice.

We got this strip of raffle tickets with our first drinks order, and didn't know what they were for, but we wandered around the pub for a bit and had a couple of drinks, played some quiz/gambling machines. I screwed up the tickets and threw them away, but M heard them announcing the draw, and made me go find them again. I thought "what's the point?" but got them anyway. Our number was the first called out! I couldn't believe it and was reluctant to go up and claim the prize! :D But hurrah!

That never happens.

True story.

Good news

I got a letter today saying that all T's tests have come back negative. This means that he doesn't have cystic fibrosis, and he does digest his food properly.

They want me to take him in for a milk challenge where they will ply him with milk-products to see if he reacts. That's science, that is. 8)

Anyway, we should be pleased and we are. :)

Reading record

It struck me that although I've been trying to keep a record of the books I've read on this blog (and a few thoughts on them if I feel the need), it isn't working as I hoped in keeping track of what I've read.

So I thought I'd put the ones listed on my library record of loans for the past six months (or at least the ones I actually read) into one post (which will be this one), and keep adding to it. I'll still write a separate post on any books that I have anything to say about, but this one's going to be my reference sheet, as it were, and where I've written anything about it more than "I read this yesterday :)" I'll link back to the post.

Sounds like a plan.

(I read more than the list below, only blogging them intermittently and starting to do so part-way through the year).
The Devil's Feather / Minette Walters
Disordered Minds / Minette Walters
Fox Evil / Minette Walters
A Young Man's Passage / Julian Clary
Fragile Things / Neil Gaiman
Cloud Atlas / David Mitchell
Acid Row / Minette Walters
The Shape of Snakes / Minette Walters
Morality for Beautiful girls / Alexander McCall Smith
S is for Silence / Sue Grafton
WinterSmith / Terry Pratchett
How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World / Francis Wheen
Oracle night / Paul Auster
The Brooklyn Follies / Paul Auster
Dorian : an imitation / Will Self
Agatha Raisin and the potted gardener / M.C. Beaton
A darkness more than night / Michael Connelly
Memoirs of a geisha/ Arthur Golden
City of bones / Michael Connelly
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency / Alexander McCall Smith
The wombat strategy : a Kylie Kendall mystery / Claire McNab
Eczema : practical and easy-to-follow advice . - Shaftesbury
Your child : allergies : practical and easy-to-follow advice . - Shaftesbury
Chasing the dime / Michael Connelly
The other Boleyn girl / Philippa Gregory
Tears of the giraffe / Alexander McCall Smith
The Da Vinci code : a novel / Dan Brown
The closers / Michael Connelly
The 2 1/2 pillars of wisdom / Alexander McCall Smith
The girl who married a lion / Alexander McCall Smith
The Queen's fool / Philippa Gregory
The time traveler's wife : a novel / Audrey Niffenegger
The Asti Spumante code : a parody/ Toby Clements
The narrows / Michael Connelly
The Lincoln lawyer / Michael Connelly
Lost light / Michael Connelly
The black angel / John Connolly
My Sister's Keeper / Jodi Piccoult
Six impossible things before breakfast : the evolutionary origins of belief ./ Lewis Wolpert
The contortionist's handbook / Craig Clevenger
The case for faith / Lee Strobel
Unnatural selection / Tim Lebbon
Compulsion / Keith Ablow
Agatha Raisin and the murderous marriage / M.C. Beaton
R is for ricochet / Sue Grafton
Between planets / Robert A. Heinlein
Father unknown / Lesley Pearse
Talk To the Hand / Lynne Truss
The full cupboard of life / Alexander McCall Smith
Krakatoa : the day the world exploded, 27 August 1883 / Simon Winchester
Johnny and the dead / Terry Pratchett
A petlove guide to Cockatiels / David Alderton
Kren of the Mitchegai / Leo Frankowski
The story of God / Robert Winston
Agatha Raisin and the vicious vet/ M C Beaton
The Serial Killer's Diet Book / Kevin Postupack
The birthday of the world / Ursula le Guin
Tears of the cheetah : and other tales from the genetic frontier / Stephen J O’Brien
Secret Smile / Nicci French

Reading: Agatha Raisin & the Vicious Vet

I read this yesterday. I quite like the Agatha Raisin books, they're light reading and amusing. Agatha is a real pain in the bum but also somewhat naive & vulnerable. The actual crime mystery tends to be a vehicle for her pursuit of James Lacey, her neighbour and object of unrequited love.

They're not books that make you think or challenge you, but they're entertaining.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tristan & Isolde

We watched Tristan & Isolde last night, with a bottle of wine to celebrate M's return from his course which had involved him being away for two nights. It was good fun and had *some* elements of the legends of Tristan & Isolde. The real hero of the tale was the rather lovely Rufus Sewell as Mark, King of Cornwall, who was the only one to do right throughout.

Following the movie I said that he, Rufus, was the same guy who played the Black Prince in A Knight's Tale. I do love that film, it's so good-natured and rollicking. Some people criticised it for using rock music and pop culture in amongst the medieval landscape of the film, but I thought it just added fun and that the film wasn't meant as a depiction of the time, more as a pastiche of the genre. M said he wasn't and a heated debate ensued, at which point we had to resort to actual fact-finding missions: he to the credits of the DVD, me to the internet. :D

Of course, he was right, the barst. :D The Black Prince was played by James Purefoy. But you can see where the confusion arose:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sometimes you lose your way

I had a moment of clarity last night, about my parenting.

It's easy to get caught up in a conflict, and actually equally easy to step away from it. The hard part is seeing the step away. There are no "concealed exit" signs.

The children were reluctant to eat their tea and wanting to give up, but by changing tack I managed to get them to eat the majority of their meals and dessert as well (not that it's usually hard to get them to eat that! :D) I was so pleased with myself and so surprised, but it's plain where I've been going wrong.

I should blame myself for when things slide, because it's me that lets it happen. It's hard trying to be "up" and enthusiastic & playful when you're tired and depressed, but it just shows the difference.

It IS all about me. :D

Or at least how I tackle things has a huge effect on the outcome.

I have these moments from time to time: I know what I need to do, it's just sustaining the effort.

A lurker's occasional reward

Poster A:
I have to share this cos it made me :D. Ds come running (and I mean running) into our room about 2am and jumped between me and dh saying " the green crocodiles are coming" I calmed him and eventually put him in his own bed but was just pmsl at how fast he run and jumped. :D :D As you were.

Poster B:
A, children are very receptive, you know. Are you sure they weren't REAL green crocodiles he was seeing, that those of us who have grown up and closed our minds can no longer see? (Ducks).

Pure gold from B there. :D Chortle.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


"Community leaders have called for calm today after alarming new developments in the war between humans and stingrays.

Following the human race's courageous retaliation against the stingray empire for the death of Steve Irwin, reports have been flooding in of numerous savage assaults on trees, apparently in revenge for the brutal murder of racing car champion
Peter Brock, killed by a rogue tree while driving in the Targa West rally..."

This made me laugh today.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Can't sleep

I've been lying waiting for T to wake up & cry: his cold is pretty bad. But it's ridiculous, not sleeping in anticipation of being woken up. So I'm having a hot chocolate, and hoping to go back to bed after that.

We went ten-pin bowling today, which S loves. It was good fun, although towards the end we were getting slightly exasperated with the boy, as he spent the entire time running away from us. It wears a little thin after the nth time. It worked like this: one parent would chase the boy or try to convince him through the dark arts of sweeties and hype ("Look T! Wow! Dinosaur! Ball! Car! Look at Daddy! Oooo!") that playing near our bowling lane really was fun, while the other took their turn bowling then helping S with her go, and cheering her on.

Then all swap.

One game would have been enough, I think; two rounds just about exhausted our parental repertoire and patience.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tale of woe

Visiting my Gran always makes me feel very low afterwards.

Of course, this time I'd mucked up a bit: I'd said I'd go on Friday, but I had forgotten about T's swimming lesson. Going afterwards and getting back in time to pick up S from school would've been impossible. I didn't want to miss the lesson as it was the first of the new term and I hadn't paid in advance: I was worried that they'd give away his place as there seems to be a lot of demand.

So anyway, rightly or wrongly, I phoned Gran to postpone. She sounded so bitterly disappointed.

I couldn't bear it so offered to go on Saturday instead. The thing was, S was already invited to her best friend's house for the afternoon and it's M's first weekend as a "normal" working person, ie. 9-5 (not that it will work out quite like that), weekends off. So I had to fit her in for lunch, and be back for 3pm. But it takes an hour to get there, and given the speed you can anything with two children and an elderly person who can barely walk, it was a push. There was no point going earlier than 11am, cos she doesn't get up until fairly late, (putting paid to the conventional wisdom that the elderly need less sleep).

I felt bad because I felt I was rushing her, (and I think she would have liked a pudding), but it was getting near 2pm. I'll go again in the week and spend more time with her. I'll have to ask step-dad to pick up S from school or something, so I don't have to zip off.

I have to work out somewhere we can go that T will enjoy and that she won't have to walk anywhere. Where we went would have been OK, except she wanted to sit inside, by a window, (and the only table like that was in the far corner for viewing the play area) while I really needed to sit outside so I could supervise T playing properly. I should have insisted, but I just wanted her to enjoy herself. Must be stronger next time, I think, for as it was, I was bobbing up and down and having to leave her every few minutes, (while tearing my hair out internally). :(

It's funny how time works when you're with children - you have to add about twice the time it would take you on your own. I always remember M & I's amazement how we managed a walk on a beach, bit of shopping and a stroll round a exhibition all before lunch(!) when we had a weekend without the kids. I'd be lucky to get one of those in, with children. If you add on Gran, everything takes an inordinantly long time. :(

I dreamt about wheelchairs last night.

And this morning, T is miserable with a cold. S has only been back at school five minutes, it seems, and the cycle of colds has already begun. :(

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bit o' Bruce, bit o' Bean

We recently watched Bruce Willis looking very careworn in Sixteen Blocks on DVD at home (this last detail of where watched is significant because I always sit through movies at the cinema. At home, I lose interest fairly easily and start doing other things or go to bed).

Anyway, I watched Sixteen Blocks all the way through, which says something positive about it. :D

It was interesting enough to reprimand(:P) M for starting to tell me how wrong it was that Bruce didn't just hail a cab. His woolly suspenders had slipped a bit. But I was enjoying it anyway. Bruce did old and alcoholic well and the twist was nicely done. I wasn't sure I was really convinced that Bruce's character could reform, but it had that kind of Shawshankian feel-good redemption aspect.

I did find Mos Def somewhat irritating in the movie: he had a very nasal voice. I don't know if that was part of his characterisation or his natural speech.


Silent Hill, which we had on DVD last night, I gave up on fairly early. The adoptive mother was mad as a balloon. If you have a daughter who sleepwalks and who evidently has night-terrors related to a mysterious ghost town that she may have lived in before you adopted her, do you drive off in the middle of the night, taking the daughter with you to the strange town? When a cop tries to stop you on the highway and you see a signpost to this town, do you suddenly hare off towards the town, terrifying your child in your crazy drive and hotly pursued by the police? It's loopy and not what you would do in the best interests of the child. You might want to investigate the town, but why not check it out alone (or better yet, with an adult or two or three or four million?) Why take the child? If it was a place that has traumatised her to that extent, it doesn't seem the wisest move.

I got too impatient with the protagonist of the film to continue watching. M watched the whole thing and occasionally would hoot in disbelief and have a mini-rant. :D It was funny how the lead character would spend most of her time running away and screaming, yet she would say all the heroic "we can do this!" type of things. Sean Bean, (an actor of whom we are fond, as M loves Sharpe) had a bit of a dodgy American accent. It was not his finest hour, I think.

3 sand-in-my-socks things

No. 1

I feel irritated by the Christadelphian hoarding that says:
"Israel - the centre of the world!
Because it is God's solution"

Not because of the religious/political message particularly, although I have questions about that. But because it feels like a bunch of non-sequiturs and assumptions. Actually maybe it is the religious/political message :D. I like a good old biblical quote on churchy hoardings. You know where you are with that kind of thing.

I suppose their advert has worked in that I'm thinking about their church and wondering about it, but I'm not sure they wanted to create a slightly sand-in-my-socks kind of feeling. Or maybe they did. Who knows, who dares to dream?


"Free stress test" stalls.

These seem very misleading to me. I recognise them for what they are, I know where the Dianetics books come from, I just wonder whether everyone does.

When does the word Scientology get mentioned? Perhaps straight away, maybe I'm unwarrantedly suspicious :D. No-one has ever tried to stop me from those stalls, not since I was at university, and in those days I would toss them in my horns like a bull (metaphorically, obviously :D. And more realistically, just laugh and walk on). I guess I don't fit the profile now.

No.3 (an old one)

The old lady, who just after the disaster of the Boxing Day tsunami, had a sandwich board declaring that it was the result of god's vengeance for the sex trade in children. That pissed me off on soooo many levels, which I won't bother to explain as I'm trying to keep this short. It still gives me sand-in-socks irritation.

But I couldn't have confronted her about it, because she was old and fragile-looking so I wouldn't want to upset her. Is being old a get-out clause? :D (It seems to be with me).

Couch no slouch

John Couch Adams was the first to predict the existence of a planet beyond Uranus, (Neptune). He did this purely through the application of mathematics. A French astronomer had the same conclusion and they published at the same time.

He did this at age 24. And he was a Cornishman, born near Launceston. #Waves black flag with white cross on it :P#

Happy anniversary, Neptune & Couch.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Double take

I was walking up the street, when I suddenly thought to myself: I've been up this bit of road already, what's going on?

Am I on a loop? Is this déjá vu? Have I been transported back 30 seconds in time?

I looked back down along the street and realised the explanation: there were two Figaros, and I went past the first thinking, "Cute car, but how functional is it?" and then I thought exactly the same when I saw the second. I don't usually notice cars, but it's an unusual looking one.

There must have been a buy one, get one free at Nissan. :)

A bit of a pointless story there from yours truly.

Two thirds

of house sales in Cornwall are to second-home buyers.

Estate agents in the Lizard & St Ives areas haven't had any first-time buyers in over a year.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Some days

Some days you want people to notice you.

Some days you want them to say, "For fuck's sake, why didn't you email me?","Why are you so fucking slack?" Perhaps without the eff-words. :)

Some days you want to go back to places you know the people will say hello, even infernal internet places.

Sometimes I need a kick up the arse, dear readers: sometimes, it's good for me. I think that if you tell me what you need out of our friendship, it probably won't be wasted on me. Edited to add more vagueness, as there are no guarantees with me. :)

But hints are. M still hints what he wants, (when it comes to non-sex things :D!) and it gets him nowhere!

Spell it out, brethren.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

All you need is demotivation

When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death
by meteor.

Demotivational products which mildly amused me today.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Proms, Widemouth Bay and depressing thoughts

It's completely illegal not to watch the Last Night of the Proms in the UK, so that's what I've got on in the background, today. Five year spell in Holloway, I tell you. But Alan Titchmarsh?

Alan Titchmarsh?!

I took my gran, S & T to Widemouth Bay, where, as you can see, my camera let me down stinking.

I fiddled with the shot in my photo-meddling programme (as you can no doubt tell!) since the snap came out almost completely white originally. (I got some with a little more realism, you'll be relieved to know ;), but I wouldn't share those here anyway). I know it was a very sunny day, but my camera doesn't usually produce such a pile of wank (begging your pardon), even in such circumstances.

I'm starting to think it may have had it.

Fortunately I have another digital camera, which I don't use due to laziness, as I haven't bothered to load its software, despite the fact it has a better memory card and functions, allegedly. I've only had it a couple of years, waiting to be used... The thing is, I know my present camera, its quirks and foibles, so have kept on with it.

I fear I may have to break out of my rut.

Anyroad, I went to the dentist... er, no, as I was saying, we went to Widemouth Bay. It is lovely. It has a carpark that leads directly onto the beach, so it wasn't too bad for Gran to get down - just a small slope. There's a lovely stretch of dry sand, then a small patch of pebbles, interrupted by a stream/huge rockpool before a large expanse of wet sand (which would've been ideal for sandcastles), and at last, the sea. We didn't get all the way to the sea, cos it was a long way out, and Gran was pretty much exhausted by getting onto the beach at all. I sat her down on a folding chair just beside the path down, by the wall, and the children played around her. I let S run down to the big rockpool to splash about, and took T there to paddle for a while as well. Some of the children had caught some crabs - a boy had a nice big green one. I showed S & T a shrimp that was parootling about, so it was all nice & naturey as well. Then we went back up to Gran, and got icecreams before heading off. I would definitely go there again with the children.

Gran says she's had enough (of life) and never expected to live so long. I don't know what I should say to that. I think I can understand: it must be so frustrating not be able to do everything she could, to be trapped in her body that just won't do as it's asked, which is painful & slow, to feel stupid & get patronised because she forgets things. She's still all there with her coughdrops, but things get confused sometimes and she does tend to forget the recent past. And she still misses Granddad so much. I do too, actually; we all do. But he was her ying or her yang. He was her M.

I don't want to feel pity for her, cos it's such a double-edged word, if you know what I mean, but I do feel so sad. She was such an active woman & dominant force. Although she's still that person in some ways, she seems so vulnerable now. I wish there was something I could do. When she said she's outlived her time, I couldn't really answer: I agree, really. Not that I want her to die, I just ... Eventually I stammered out something about wanting her to be around for selfish reasons.

When she dies, I am going to be gutted.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Family viewing

I have been trying to think of a safe method of sharing digital pictures with family in N.I.

My mother-in-law has recently acquired a PC, and isn't all that au fait with it, so I want some fairly simple way of doing this, nothing that involves her having to navigate the net too much. I don't want to put her off.

I could just continue to email her pictures. However, it is a slow and laborious way of doing things, although I suppose it has the advantage of being relatively secure and personal.

I would like to be able to give her a link where she could visit a gallery of pictures of the children, a sort of blog perhaps. But I don't want it open to public view, I want it to be a purely private area where only people I invite would be able to look at the pictures.

There must be some way of achieving this. And it's probably ridiculously obvious.

Accept no substitutes! Or maybe...

In my quest to find a cheaper alternative to Marmite, I have tried a few substitutes and thrown some away in disgust. This (exotically named :P) Yeast Extract from Morrisons is currently rating well.

It has a slightly thicker consistency, and doesn't spread quite as easily, and its taste is almost ... but not quite the same. However, its price & size make up for those slight failings. Not bad :D.

I shall certainly buy it again if I'm not flush enough to cough up for my mate.

Star Trek, habitable planets and a bit of singing

As Star Trek celebrates its 40th anniversary (yay!), this story about how common habitable/possibly life-supporting planets may be, seems particularly appropriate. :)

"Earth-like planets orbiting other stars may be far more common than had once been thought, a study suggests.
Because of the way we currently look for planets around other stars, most that have been detected so far have been gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn.
But one third of these giant planet systems may also harbour worlds like our own, according to an analysis by scientists in the US."

Good, eh?

I'm a blogger, dammit...

Star Trekkin' across the universe,
On the Starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk.
Star Trekkin' across the universe,
Only going forward 'cause we can't find reverse.

Lt. Uhura, report.
There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
there's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, Jim.

Analysis, Mr. Spock.
It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.

There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
there's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, Jim.

Star Trekkin' across the universe,
On the Starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk.
Star Trekkin' across the universe,
Only going forward, still can't find reverse.

Medical update, Dr. McCoy.
It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead, Jim;
it's worse than that, he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead.

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.

There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
there's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, Jim.

Starship Captain, James T. Kirk:
Ah! We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill;
we come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, men.

It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead, Jim;
it's worse than that, he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead.

Well, it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.
There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
there's Klingons on the starboard bow, scrape 'em off, Jim.

Star Trekkin' across the universe,
On the Starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk.
Star Trekkin' across the universe,
Only going forward, and things are getting worse!

Engineer, Mr. Scott:
Ye cannot change the laws of physics, laws of physics, laws of physics;
ye cannot cahnge the laws of physics, laws of physics, Jim.

Ah! We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill;
we come in peace, shoot to kill; Scotty, beam me up!

It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead, Jim;
it's worse than that, he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead.

Well, it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.

There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
there's Klingons on the starboard bow, better calm down!

Ye cannot change the script Jim.
Och, #!*& Jimmy.

It's worse than that, it's physics, Jim.

Bridge to engine room, warp factor 9.
Och, if I give it any more she'll blow, Cap'n!

Star Trekkin' across the universe,
On the Starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk.
Star Trekkin' across the universe,
Only going forward 'cause we can't find reverse.

Star Trekkin' across the universe,
On the Starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk.
Star Trekkin' across the universe,
Only going forward, still can't find reverse.

It's just your everyday boy meets goat story

What is it with goats in the news this week? They must be employing Max Clifford.

Today I spied this tale of a "shotgun marriage" between man and goat.

Funny in a sick way. People are weird!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Don't give me no backtalk, sucker

My young Mr T was difficult last night. We haven't had that many broken nights lately, but he seems to have started up again.

He got me up at 1.30, every 5 minutes until nearly half 2, at which point I decided to pretend to sleep on the bedroom floor beside him. I crept out at around 3, but although he had appeared to be deeply asleep, clearly he wasn't.

Eventually I took him downstairs, and we dozed off on the sofa together. At around 4am, I attempted to spirit him upstairs to bed, but although I managed to get into my own bed, just as I was dropping off a terrible wailing commenced. Argh.

In the end, I brought him into bed with us, which I hope hasn't set a precedent. :( It's difficult because I don't want to have him screaming so much as to wake up S, while she has school in the morning. I might have to get stern at the weekend in hope of breaking this habit, as there seems to be no real reason he is waking.

Don't give me no back-talk, sucker.
I pity the fool.
First name Mr, middle name period, last name T.
Don't make me mad! Grrrrr
Quit your gibber-jabber!

I have a Mr T keyring, which says all the, er, inspiring things above. It's particularly good in quiet shops and cafes. :D

Cystic fibrosis vs tuberculosis?

And for my sixth post of the day, since I'm in prolific form: another New Scientist article.

This time, I'm posting about a possible explanation for the persistence of Cystic fibrosis. (This is obviously a condition on my mind at the moment, although I don't think T has it).

Logically you might expect CF to die out or already to have died out, since in the past, commonly, sufferers would have shuffled off before reaching an age at which they would be likely to become parents. Therefore it might be anticipated that such a gene would disappear. However, CF has been recorded a very long way back in human history, so it may be that it gives some advantage when a person carries one copy of the gene.

The genetic condition, Sickle Cell anaemia provides a model for this: carrying one copy of the Sickle Cell gene protects against malaria and therefore gives an advantage to carriers, (presumably outweighing the disadvantage of losing people with two copies of the gene).

There is some research to suggest that CF confers some protection against Tuberculosis, which would explain why carrying one CF gene would be an advantage and hence why the mutation persists.

Define planet, please

"A pair of low-mass stars is masquerading as an extrasolar planetary system in a new image by the Hubble Space Telescope. Such discoveries will add to the heated debate over what constitutes a planet.

About 200 planets have been found around nearby stars, many of which are at least as massive as Jupiter. Now researchers led by Kevin Luhman at Pennsylvania State University in the US have found an object about 12 times the mass of Jupiter orbiting a low-mass star called a red dwarf.

However, Luhman argues that the pair is not like other extrasolar planetary systems. For one thing, the mass of the smaller object puts it just on the border of what is considered a planet and what is considered a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs are technically considered stars, although unlike normal stars they do not have enough mass to sustain nuclear fusion."

This is likely to be an ongoing debate. I suppose we have to get the right wording for things, but I just find it a tiny weeny little bit silly.

The actual discoveries are fascinating and beautiful.

Out out damn Spot

You once were a faithful dog, but now you're not.

An explanation for my slack housekeeping may be that I have a nice clear conscience.

Cleaning your conscience.

"To test his hypothesis, the team asked volunteers to focus on ethical or unethical deeds from their past before participating in various exercises. Those who focused on immoral actions were more likely to select activities or products that involved cleaning, such as selecting an antiseptic wipe over a pencil as a freebie for taking part in the study.

In the final experiment, participants were asked to focus on an example of unethical behaviour from their past and were then given the option to wash their hands. Participants were then asked whether they would volunteer without pay to help a desperate graduate student out of a tight spot.

Seventy-four percent of those who had not washed their hands offered to help, while only 41% of those who had washed volunteered."

I'm practising this one: do you think it'll convince M?

No ma'am, I'm just being daft. Gimme the bleach, please.

Good with faces?

Face tests

I did these tests this morning, for no particular reason, other than boredom. I got 100% for the first one, the Famous faces test. Ahem.

For the second I got 68%. It alleged I may have some problems with facial recognition because of the relatively low score. I don't know about that. I think recognising someone you have seen only twice from a static image, from a bunch of similar photos would be pretty tough for most people.

But maybe that's sour grapes. :D

Speeding? Mehhhh

I was speeding for lack of goats!

This story raised a smile this morning. :D Especially this bit:

"Canadian police spokesman Joel Doiron said he had never found a goat on the highways of eastern Ontario in his 20 years of service.

He sounds very serious. :D I have a vision of the Mountie from Due South. (I know, I know, crass stereotyping! Leave me alone, I'm enjoying it! :P)

"Nobody's ever used the lack of goats here as an excuse for speeding," Mr Doiron told the AFP news agency.
"I've never been to Switzerland, but I guess there must be a lot of goats there," he said. "

Goats from Oxfam :)

The ends justify the means?

There must be something wrong when your own prisons are against the rule of law in your country, so you try to evade the problem by having them abroad .. or secret.

There must be something wrong if your own courts say your proposed method of "trial" (military tribunal) of suspects (you have held for years without chance to defend themselves) is illegal.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"Everybody goes to a gypsy, right?"

Er, no...

I met Y yesterday. She was out walking with her daughter and her bloke, and we (T, S & I) ran into them as we were returning from the park after school. We chatted for a while at the top of the hill, and since the conversation seemed to be going on a while, I asked them down for a coffee. It was all very pleasant, although I don't think we have an awful lot in common anymore. I don't think I'm the person she knew, although she doesn't seem to have changed all that much.

But then, I don't really know her very well these days, I guess.

She was telling me about this remarkable experience she had with a psychic: that the woman had predicted she would have great worry over a little girl and that a man would be worried too, and in May there would be lots of changes. At the time she thought it was all about a girl she teaches. Now she connects it to her premature baby. (Which was late April, but maybe I'm just too pernickety ;)). She went on to say that the psychic had got loads wrong, but it was amazing about what she did get right.

Er, no...

Two hits in a reading, out of how many? ("Loads" wrong, from Y's own view.) And from what she said about the reading, it all sounded exceptionally vague and widely applicable to me.

£25. Pffft.

I didn't bother sharing my opinion, I thought I'd save it for a rant here. :D

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Reading: The Serial Killer's Diet Book

I read this novel by Kevin Postupack yesterday. I found it quite hard-going to begin with and rather pretentious and false, but I was actually laughing out loud towards the end.

And that's all I have to say about that.

I've just started Kren of the Mitchegai by Leo Frankowski & Dave Grossman.

Edited to add: I really enjoyed the latter book, although at first I found the cannibalistic lifestyle of the Mitchegai very off-putting. It was interesting how their alien morality became understandable although nonetheless stomach-churning at times. I think it is the first in a series, so I must look out for its sequel(s).


Not sure why this photo of my drawing has come out blue. It was pencil on white paper.

Hope my camera isn't on its way out. I'm pretty happy with this sketch though: I'm starting to think I may be improving.

In the name of ...

It only really penetrated my tiny mind recently that the way we have named our children has been an announcement to the family and world in general that it's extremely unlikely that we will ever move back to N.I. to live.

Naturally M was already aware of the ramifications of using traditional Irish names, and I sort of knew but hadn't really put it into those words.

I think I regret it slightly, although I love their names. It's a bit like I have cut the children off from a possibility without fully appreciating what I was doing. I wish he'd thought to point out to me (in words of one-syllable :D) what it meant; but I guess he's known he doesn't want to go back there ever since he first got out.

There is always the hope that the situation in N.I. will improve to the extent that the conflicting messages sent out by their plastic-paddy name vs. accents (and dubious parentage :P ;)) won't be a problem. And that political leanings won't be deduced from names that just seemed rather nice. I won't venture an opinion on N.I. apart from I wish they'd all "be excellent to each other" (thanks be to Bill & Ted). Things are better over there than they were, but there's still a long way to go. It did hearten me when we went over last time to see a great deal of regeneration in his hometown.

And I may even be over-estimating the difficulty it could cause for them in the first place. Not that we have ever seriously considered moving over there permanently, so it's all pretty much moot anyway...

Uncomfortable reading

Being bored this morning (cos S is back to school... Yay!), I went to visit my ex-forum. They have a thread talking about their bad experiences in childhood. Really bad experiences. I couldn't read it all: brain said no.

I find it disturbing, not only because of the content of the thread, but because it is an open, public forum and who knows who is lurking? Someone could be getting their sick jollies out of reading such material. Perhaps it would be too obscure to bother with, as I've no doubt there are easier & more graphic sources for that kind of thing on the net.

I think telling their stories is out of a motivation to make others feel not quite so alone in their pain, a therapeutic out-pouring, cartharsis, to get support and to express the unexpressed. But to expose your past to the glare of strangers like that: if it's courageous to make yourself vulnerable like that, is it also foolhardy?

I'm not sure a public forum is the best place for it. What with all the trolls or lurkers who may know the people involved in real life, or sickos and freaks. I have such a high opinion of many internet users! :D

Monday, September 04, 2006

T feeling testy

The test went reasonably well: we were taken virtually straight away to a room which was nice & sticky & hot, and T was electrified for 5 minutes. He didn't like that, because he had to have his arm held still and had weird things stuck to his arm. Afterwards the nurse put a collecting vial on his arm, wrapped it in polythene ("There's a man up on the mountain. Why he's up there, fuck knows, but he's up there with a leg bound in polythene, you can't miss him, he's your man. And have another look in that shed. Find anything. If you can't find anything, bring in the shed." [/Withnail and I]) and then bandaged over the top of that. We were then there for 40 minutes. It was a nice room though, with plenty of toys for him to play with. The nurse got enough sweat from him so after that, we came home.

I wouldn't like to be a paediatric nurse - T plainly saw her as evil incarnate and cried bitterly when she was doing all these things. It must be quite unpleasant being the person apparently deliberately hurting (or in this case inconveniencing) a child. Perhaps knowing you're helping children outweighs the times you're seen as the evil one. And I suppose older ones are capable of understanding why certain things need to be done. But then, I could never be a medical type - queasy at the thought of blood. :D

Come on let's sweat (sweat sweat) baby

Today 'tis T's sweat test.

I need light clothing and he needs a couple of changes. They are going to pass an electrical current through m'boy! Yikes. And collect sweat for 30 minutes. It's going to be an interesting morning.

M worked yesterday so he could come with us, because he's a lovely dad and a backbone to me :D.

Stingray barb-ie out of Steve

I thought it was an early April Fool this morning when I read that Steve Irwin "Croc Hunter" has died after an encounter with a stingray. It's just so unexpected at his age, although I suppose his lifestyle exposed him to many dangerous animals, and his approach to zoo-keeping/animal-handling was somewhat controversially hands-on.

There's an element of dark humour in this, but then to think of his wife and his two children, especially his little girl Bindi, who we sort of "know" through their appearances on his shows...

Sunday, September 03, 2006


It's two years since the school siege in Beslan ended.

This was so horrific: it is something that still gives me chills and makes me feel sick. I think because it was so drawn-out, so cruel, and because it was children. Of the major terrorist events since 2000, it is the one that scares and appals me most, (although of course the train/bus bombings in London were horrendous. And September 11 was frightening and beyond wrong).

I don't admit this often, (cos I know I'd get my arse kicked :D & possibly rightfully so) but when I first saw what was happening on September 11, I thought it was a bit of terrorism come back to bite the Americans in the arse. After all, it has been partially American money that has funded terrorism in N.I for so long.

In my defence, I didn't realise the true proportion of events until later. I saw what was happening on screens without the sound and it seemed almost unreal. But I do continue to believe that the one bit of good that came out of the horror of the twin towers was that the realities of terrorism were brought home to some of those responsible for helping to prolong the conflict in N.I. Not that it's all over there (and not that that is all there is to it, either), but at least there's some improvement.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bad words

You wouldn't expect this word to become an offensive weapon. But this morning it has been a series of hammer-blows to my psyche.

Not a moment shall pass without this war-cry bludgeoning me.

I am losing my tiny mind and the word "Mummy" shall be the cause. Write it on my headstone and put a line through it. Aaarggggh!

School starts soon.

Thank a very rude word for that.