Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 1.294: Halloween 2

'The day after the day he came home'
'Just when you thought it was safe to go trick or treating for the second year in a row...'

Exile #2 was out this evening learning to read (I'll tell you another time), so I was left to take the kids out trick-or-treating in the neighbourhood. Here they are in their cold-evening compatible costumes. They had a nice evening although they were much more disappointed with the number of groups of visitors to our house (2) more than by the small number of houses we visited (6). Their loss was our gain - when Exile #2 came home to be greeted by my upgrade to her artwork (below), we had some of the leftover candy with a cup of coffee.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 1.293: Family guy?

Why is it that this is creepy even though the other headless mannequins in the same display are not? Somehow the personal touch of implied relationship between these ones makes us react to them in a more human and therefore more disturbing way.

After nearly a week in Massachusetts I am very happy to back home this evening. As we reached Albany this evening two of my colleagues remarked that it felt like a Sunday night - in that case it should be a very nice surprise at the end of the working day tomorrow.

I was late getting home, so I've yet to see the kids. I'm looking forward to seeing them at breakfast time - but hoping they will wait until then to come and see me!
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 1.292: Oh no not again!

For those who didn't find it for yourselves on YouTube, here was Exile #4's second performance the other day:

Apparently I missed some significant snowfall at home yesterday - falling but not settling admittedly but come-on it's not even November yet.

I should be able to post at leisure from home tomorrow - assuming I'm not too tired to think.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 1.291: Box towers and tower boxing

Here's one of our recent 3D Magnatile creations and he's a man behaving strangely on a fire-escape.

Normal service will be resumed soon - really! Right now I'm busy and only in sporadic Internet contact - sorry.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 1.290: Dusk and Dawn

Quiz time: Where am I? What time of day were these pictures taken? You can play one or both. In order to limit your options: I have not been on a plane since leaving home. If you're really good at this you can probably work out exactly where I am!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day 1.289: Time to go

We've been doing some good Magnatile building again recently and, thanks to E5N1 who first tried it, some cool 2D fridge magnet creations too.

I left home at lunchtime today and didn't go back. I'll let you know why tomorrow.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 1.288: Stars of stage and screen

The picture is the solution for the 9 day old quiz. Hopefully you can see the tiny frog now with the help of Exile #4's pointy finger. I don't know how Exile #3 managed to spot it in the first place as we walked through the woods.

Yesterday I once again avoided showing a picture of Exile #4's classmates - I have felt that it might bother someone (for reasons I never really thought about) if I did. Indeed, I have gone to some lengths to avoid showing picture of other people's children on this blog over the last 650 days or so. However, it occurred to me today as I once again weighed the comedy potential of the videos of yesterday morning's performance that the kids in question are already all blog-stars in at least one place - and it is a less anonymous place than this. I wonder how many American or British children in their generation will fail to be published in some way. It's all quite different from my childhood and the excitement of spotting yourself in the crowd in the background of a newspaper picture - although I suspect that, like our TV appearance, it is the unexpected random factor that makes that exciting.

Update: check out the first video:

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Day 1.287: Centre stage

As some of you will have or will read elsewhere, it was a special celebratory assembly at the school this morning. I attended in place of Exile #2 and E5N1 who might otherwise have gone, but were both sick (only with a cold as far as we know).

Exile #4 situated herself in prime position and proceeded to out-sing the rest of her class by a significant factor during the first song. Hopelessly out of tune, but very enthusiastic. In the second song, she sorted one of her classmates out when he appeared to be struggling with which way to hold his percussion instrument. By the end, the whole room was laughing and it was hard to work out what was going on.

She caused quite a stir, and I think everyone I saw as I was leaving who had seen her performance and knew who I was commented on it in some way.

Exile #3 also did a good job of her single-line presentation with picture. She got a laugh too, although I'm not entirely sure why. They're both quite keen about their moments in the limelight these days.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 1.286: Home. furnishings

Those with - well - the ability to read, will realise that I was not quite on top of my game when I wrote yesterday's post. We did have a good night out though to mark the last week of a colleague. Having said that, it was nice to come home at a more sociable hour this evening and see the kids before they went to bed. Also, I hope to complete this post without falling asleep over the keyboard.

I spent part of the afternoon with three colleagues picking out colours, finishes and fabrics for a new office space. Fortunately there were a few fixed items: carpet, wall colour, layout. Unfortunately there were almost infinite numbers of options for everything else. It was surprisingly gruelling.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 1.285: Public service

This evening I found myself here with some folk from work - this place looks, smells and sounds like a pub. They have more beers on tap than any pub I've ever been in, but you have to take the good with the bad.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 1.284: Jesus and his reindeer...

...are coming back? Exile #2 directed me to the website of Oriental Trading this evening. If you follow links to first 'Holidays' then 'Christmas' you will see a section dedicated to 'Holiday stuffed animals'. This has three subsections. I wish this was a joke.

Realistic Holiday Dogs
Animals with Candy Canes
Religious Reindeer.

Well, what else could you possibly be looking for? The last section attracted our attention - it only appears to have one product, but it doesn't disappoint. It is a plush "Jesus is Deer to me" reindeer - as it says, this is "A truly inspiring gift." Indeed, who (of my faithful readers) could fail to be inspired by such top-notch punnery?

The picture is from Moreau Lake ten days ago - paint by numbers anyone? I bet it looks even better now (or has in between anyway). We watched a documentary this evening where rock music met theoretical physics - it was about a rock musician discovering about his father, a quiet physicist who came up with the parallel universes theory, was basically excommunicated from the physics world and died when his son was 19. It was very good.

The title is a tribute both to punning holiday gifts and to that particular rock musician. It's pop pun 83 for title watchers: will you be here before I sputter out?
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 1.283: No, jumper!

In the end, the frost was enough to discourage leaf-pile jumping at school bus pick-up time today. Instead Exile #3 came and waved this dandelion clock at me - now I am no fan of dandelions, but given a close look, a frosty specimen is, I'll grudgingly admit, quite attractive.

She also chose to wear her purple jumper as a sweater. Whether or not the conviction that it is a warm layer to wear over other clothes started as a confusion over the US meaning of 'jumper', I don't know, but it seems to work.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 1.282: Being rakish

These are the trees in our front yard as they looked a week ago. Roll the mouse over to see how they looked yesterday.

I hope you noticed two things: a lot of leaves have come down and there are a lot still up there.

I spent a good hour or so yesterday morning, and another one this afternoon raking leaves. There is now a respectable pile by the road - I want to jump in it was Exile #3's appreciative comment. If we're not too late getting out for the bus in the morning she may well do so.

One good thing about raking by hand in the autumn is that it's a chance to find the summer toys left in the yard - today I rescued a wooden block, a pair of sunglasses, a tennis ball and another rake from being buried first in leaves then - if they're lucky - by snow. It hasn't happened the last couple of winters, but a covering of snow from before the leaves are collected until the spring is not unheard-of around here.

I've been using the fabric from our gazebo - that finally succumbed to an old injury during the pack-up from Exile #4's birthday party - as a transporter for leaves this year. It's very effective. Yesterday I thought that there were so many leaves falling, that I could simply avoid all the raking like this:

It didn't catch many leaves, but it did dry out nicely caught between the sun and the warm drive.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day 1.281: Psycho Kitty

Qu'est-ce que c'est? It's our entry for the carved pumpkin competition at the school's Fall Festival today. The girls did a good job a scooping it out yesterday, but in the end Exile #2 did the carving - because E5N1 caused too much disruption to the process until he (and the girls) were all safely tucked-up in bed.

We all had a good time - Exile #4 won a picture in the 'Instant Raffle' (more on that elsewhere). Exile #3 made a valiant attempt to get up the climbing wall. E5N1 did a lot of walking and all of them had a lot of fun with her friends. The weather was perfect despite the ominous email I had from the National Weather Service this morning:

So that's it then, frosts and freezing temperatures are no longer remarkable. What should be remarked upon is that the pumpkin won one of three awards in the competition - well done ladies!

It's the Cheshire Cat of course - the other name is pop pun 82 for title watchers - shamelessly stolen from C&B who related it during a Rock Band 2 session during their visit. Run away - oh, oh, oh!

P.S. I've also made the competition from Day 1.279 a bit easier!
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 1.280: Push off!

I had a rough day.

I'm very glad that I have never had to engineer anything that could result in serious injury or kill anyone. I know that many people live with that responsibility and even with the reality of accidents that they have caused or not prevented. I suspect that such things rarely come down to one person's fault. That is a good thing for everyone. However, I do have a certain amount of responsibility and this morning, soon after I arrived at work, I discovered that a mistake I had made yesterday had potentially caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage and a long set-back to a project.

For two and a half hours while I waited for the OK/not OK verdict there was nothing I could do - it was definitely my fault but I was completely helpless to do anything about it. I remember one of my favourite management trainers, Johanna Rothman, telling a story about how she, as a development manager, did something similar to 'sudo rm -R /' on a development server. For the non-geeks: this is not a good thing! She wanted to stay and help sort it out, but the IT people sent her home - helpless to do anything to make up for the mistake. I felt like that today.

When the news came in, everything was fine (except my nerves).

In a lighter moment later, we spotted this vehicle (the right-most of the group of cars on the left) stationary and holding up the rush-hour traffic. The driver phoned a friend who arrived soon after.
Rather than get out and help him push his car off the road, he parked behind him. We joked "What's he going to do - push him off the road?" The answer was - yes!
In fact, they went right through the junction and out of sight.
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 1.279: Spot the thing...

The picture may be a week old, but the fun is brand new - can you see what the girls are so interested in? Exile #3 brought her notepad and made quick observational sketches of all sorts of interesting things. I brought my camera and made quick observational photographs of her observational sketching.

Today has been the first rainy day in a while, with colder weather expected for the next few days. The driveway is completely carpeted with leaves - I foresee raking in my weekend.
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Day 1.278: A year in the life

You don't have to go far to enjoy the changing seasons round here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 1.277: At your connivance...

This morning I did my first raking of the season - it seemed that the trees had decided - literally overnight - that there was no reason to hold on to their leaves any more.

Yesterday I had a request by email at work: "Please complete this form and send it back at your earliest connivance." I managed to resist (just) the temptation to comment on this odd turn of phrase in my reply, but not here.

Odd phrases are everywhere at the moment, not least in the 'Celebrate every day' column in our local monthly newsletter. It tells me that today was 'National Dessert Day', but we've also missed:

October 2: Name Your Car Day,
October 7: National Frappe Day,
October 9: Moldy Cheese Day,
October 11: It's My Party Day,

and, my favourite:

October 12 (if only we'd known): Moment of Frustration Scream Day.

That's only the highlights of course - there really is one for every day of the month. Which also means there are still many joys ahead:

October 18: No Beard Day,
October 20: National Brandied Fruit Day,

and if you overdo the brandy you can get straight on with:

October 21: Babbling Day.

Later in the month is the not-to-be-missed Sylvia Plath Day. "First, are you our sort of person..?"

But, if you're of a more adventurous persuasion, may I suggest you join with us in celebrating:

October 25: Punk For A Day Day?

" you wear a glass eye, false teeth or a safety pin through your nose?"
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 1.276: Home alone

So our guests have gone. Hopefully well on their way across the Atlantic by now. We have had a great couple of weekends with them. More time than we have spent with them in several years - but gone by all too quickly. I suspect the kids will be missing them by tomorrow (if they're not already) - they had lots of fun - much of it involving running.

With no more visits in the diary, we are preparing to face our first full winter here on our own (having arrived part way through one and visited the UK during the next). Not that we are friendless here by any means - we have good friends both fellow ex-pats and voters locals.

We will have plenty to do over the next few months - raking, shovelling and staying warm for three, but first thing is to get the girls up and off to school in the morning, so I best be getting to bed.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 1.275: Pie over two

Ever since the arrival of C & B over a week ago, there has been talk of Pumpkin Pie. This has been a favourite of C's for many years (and I've known him for more than 25!). Finally this afternoon after a lie-in, a lazy morning by the fire and out in the warm sun and a shopping trip to buy the ingredients, C made his pie with help from Exile #4 (and a little from Exile #3).

We left it baking while we went to the church gathering and on our return everyone had a taste. Exile #4 wasn't too keen (although she enjoyed the crust and the whipped cream) and E5N1 seemed much more interested in his milk, but everyone else declared it to be good and Exile #3, C and myself even managed a little second helping. We didn't quite finish it though as you can see.

After the kids went to bed, we had returned to our alter-egos Phyloxera in the wonderful world of Rock Band 2 and for one last night (for now at least) we were the kids in America (oh-woah-oh).

Apologies for being a bit angular tonight (at least I wasn't too obtuse).
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 1.274: More o' leaves

This afternoon we visited Moreau Lake State Park - it's one of those places that has previously been only a sign at a highway exit for us. It is a beautiful place and we had a warm sunny day to enjoy it. The kids were all on good form - something of a relief after a fragile morning (we suspect that Exile #3 as well as the rockers had failed to get enough sleep).

We had a very satisfactory leaf fight, a short hike and some time on the playground and the beach by the lake. Oh, and did I mention the foliage?

We had a nice dinner on the way home, now a pleasantly outdoors-y tiredness has caught up with us all.

Day 1.273: Fall at the lake

It was work today followed by a very good Rock Band night that was still going strong after 1am - oops. If only the kids wouldn't wake up at normal time on weekend mornings! C&B have made it back safely from their trip to the biggest city in the state (so good they named it twice) - hopefully we'll find something good to do for their last couple of days with us.

Here are some pictures from our time at the lake yesterday:

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