Sunday 1 January 2006
For the first time since 1986 (I think – understandably, my memory is a little hazy in this regard), I didn’t go out for New Year’s Eve. Although we had tickets for the cheesey disco at The Pub Next Door, Hels and I are full of a particularly unpleasant cold, so we decided to stay in and in fact retired at 9.30 – ridiculously early. Having said that, I do feel better this morning, so perhaps an early night paid off.
Today we have spent the morning tidying the house in preparation for the arrival of the parents for NYD lunch – a suitably low key way to spend the day.
Of course, you’ll all be expecting a review of the year. Well, here it is:
- trip to Essen
- trip to Angers and Honfleur
- stuff you don’t need to know about
- announcement of the result of the stuff that you don’t need to know about
- trip to Maastricht and Bruges
- trip to Devon
- three other trips to the Netherlands
- other not very exciting stuff
In general, 2005 has been a year of consolidation and was always going to struggle to live up to the excitement of 2004 – but there has been excitement enough for us. Both home life and work life have been successfully consolidated, although we’d like to have more money coming in in both areas. And, thankfully, 2005 has generally not featured much in the way of bad news, certainly not anything that I’m still dwelling on now.
As for 2006, clearly there is one event that is going to dwarf all else. Becoming parents is going to change our lives in ways that we probably have yet to even imagine. I think we are reasonably prepared for what is coming – certainly from a practical point of view, we have pretty much everything under control (all saving the final touches to the nursery).
As for resolutions, I’m not a huge fan of making promises that I know I probably won’t live up to, but here goes anyway:
- finish the garden. This is a major project that could take weeks or months, involving relocating our car parking area and moving large quantities of soil by shovel and wheelbarrow – but it will radically improve the look of our house.
- get some learning done. Not sure what yet – something towards my MCIM or Chartered Marketer status would be good. Perhaps some language learning. I’ve even been thinking about learning shorthand.
- really get on top of business. There have been moments this year where my business has led me and I’ve not been leading the business – clearly that must change, although I think I’m ending the year in a much better position to that which I started it in.
- to update grayblog more regularly, probably with more photos. And hopefully not just of the cats or the baby.
- to take more exercise and lose a little weight. We eat healthily in terms of what we eat, but fall down on how much we eat. Which in itself is not a problem, but when coupled with my increasingly sedentary lifestyle has resulted in a noticeable bulge. This year, the bulge will go and probably by means of increased activity. Doing the garden will help that.
Crumbs. That’s enough for one year!
Anyway, happy new year to all of you who come here regularly and particularly to those who are good enough to comment. Blogging remains good fun, both writing and reading, so I fully expect to still be here in another twelve months. I might even fix the archives!
Meanwhile, go and check out the good news at Uborka.
Blue flag, blue sky
Well, I thought it was pretty.
Gnarled tree in Knole Park, Sevenoaks. Christmas Day 2005.
Thursday 5 January 2006
Not quite right
Something struck me as wrong about this article:
Sounds plausible at first sight, until you consider that the toll gates on the southbound bridge (as opposed to the northbound tunnel) are at the southern end of the bridge, so do not have any impact on the number of vehicles entering the bridge span. Many times I have been using the Crossing on my way home during rush hour and have been caught in queuing traffic on the bridge itself, the queue caused by vehicles waiting to access the toll booths. Does this mean that, next time I’m stationary on the central span, I should start worrying about whether the bridge is going to collapse? Or is the minister trying to wriggle his way out with a rather lame argument?
Sunday 8 January 2006
Tony Banks, RIP.
I always admired him for being genuinely enthusiastic about sports and caring particularly for grass-roots sport, not just the big teams (even as a Chelsea supporter). You can’t help but think that he would have loved this weekend’s FA Cup matches (which were one in the eye for the Independent’s comment that there are no shocks any more) and must have really been looking forward to the Olympics in 2012. A sad loss for sport.
Wednesday 11 January 2006
Weebl and Bob episode 100 in which, clearly inspired by the Simpsons or Harry Potter, a character dies.
I’ve been invited to be interviewed on Radio Kent on Saturday morning (Radio Kent being rather imprecisely named as it covers a not inconsiderable part of Sussex). The Pat Marsh show is doing a feature on blogs and blogging between 11.15 and 11.45 and wanted me to chat on that subject, but I’ve declined the invitation as I’m keeping my diary clear in case I have to take H to the hospital at a moment’s notice (the baby being due to arrive any day now). But it might be worth listening to – I hope they don’t focus too much on the geeky and egotistical aspects of blogging and talk a little about their value for information and community (two factors which have always been and probably always will be sadly lacking from this site!).
And we all remember the issue of Computer Active for 3 May 2001 that featured this site, don’t we?
I’ve recently read Andrew Marr’s excellent book about journalism, My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism, in which he talks about the media’s tendency to exaggerate a story, taking health scare stories as an example. There’s an excellent example around at the moment, that of Avian Flu H5N1. Now, I’m not suggesting complacency at all, but I think we need to get a better perspective on this story. The health officials are happy that the virus does not currently pass from person to person. In fact, it may never pass from person to person. So far, there have been only 156 human cases worldwide resulting in 77 deaths. Now, if we take the population of the planet to be 6 billion, that means that 0.0000026% of the population has contracted the disease and 0.0000013% have died from it. That’s one person in 77 million who has died. For comparison, in a much shorter timeframe, SARS infected 8096 people and of those 774 died (WHO figures) – roughly one person in every eight million.
For further comparison, the World Health Organisation has figures that show that 1.2 million people were killed in road accidents worldwide in 2002 alone (the most recent figure I could find). That’s 0.02% of the population or one person in 5000. Of course, many more were injured.
The number of people dying from preventable diseases, malnutrition, lack of clean water and AIDS/HIV is even higher than these figures, yet avian flu is the story that dominates the headlines. Because these other problems are not perceived by the media as immediate, exciting or dramatic, they rarely make the news headlines. Dramatic stories, no matter how over-blown, are the stories that take the lead and make the front page – because the media needs sensationalism in order to sell newspapers/get viewers/get listeners. I suppose you could argue that we, as consumers of news, are responsible for this. Discuss.
Friday 13 January 2006
sesquipedalian \ses-kwuh-puh-DAYL-yuhn\, adjective:
1. Given to or characterized by the use of long words.
Cyclops kitten – thanks Bob.
Hmm. A baby due any day now and people send me links to deformed kittens.
Sunday 15 January 2006
Blob on fluff
Treacle doing her best black-blob-with-eyes thing whilst sat on a fluffy cushion.
This photo should satisfy Bob.
Monday 16 January 2006
Cubefield – one of the best Flash games that I’ve seen for a while, falling into the simple-yet-addictive category.
Wednesday 18 January 2006
Use a pseudonym on the net? Leave comments on blogs or newsgroups? Well, you could be in trouble with the law.
Under new legislation recently signed by Dubya, it is now an offence to “cause annoyance” on the internet without disclosing your true identity. So if you flame someone on a site, perhaps in their comments, and do so using a pseudonym, then you could be liable for fines or up to two years in the clink. Sledgehammer and walnut, anyone?
Seagulls beat Chelsea 2-1. I never thought I’d see that result!
(OK, so it was the FA Youth Cup. But it’s still a good result!).
Friday 20 January 2006
Wilson Pickett, RIP.
Most long-term readers of this site will be aware that I’ve never really been a fan of television and, for many years, I didn’t have one. Since meeting Hels, TV has been around a little more and I must confess to avidly devouring episodes of The Simpsons as well as food programmes and the occasional documentary. However, yesterday we had a dark day – Dad gave us an unwanted digital receiver box thingy. We now have all the free channels – Three, Five (digital only here), More 4, Even More 4, More 4 Than That, As Much 4 As You Can Take and 4 The Love Of God No More 4 Thank You. I think we’re on a slippery slope unless I can programme it so that only BBC Parliament comes on (the world’s most boring TV channel).
The Day After Tomorrow
There is a three-word entry in my diary for Sunday:
So, if you find it’s gone a bit quiet here, you’ll know why.
It’s not much of a secret that we’re getting fed up with the waiting now. H is extremely uncomfortable, no matter whether she sits, stands or walks around. Neither of us is sleeping very well at all, with the result that concentration has gone out of the window and we pass chunks of the day in a zombie-like trance. And we know that it probably will not get any easier in the next few weeks, with more sleepless nights and the novelty that is a smelly nappy to contend with.
You have to wonder why people volunteer for this sort of thing.
UPDATE: Not more than half an hour after writing that, Hels became concerned that things were kicking off. So we phoned ahead and went to the hospital (a 30 minute journey from here). H was attached to monitors and given a trace and lots of prodding, but it proved to a false alarm – nothing had started and the baby was acting normally. So we relaxed, came back home and actually had one of the best night’s sleep we’ve had in the last week. But it does all keep you on your toes.
Saturday 21 January 2006
Wednesday 25 January 2006
New born Tom
Please welcome Thomas Oliver Henry to the world. Born at 5.18pm on Monday 23rd January, Tom weighed a “healthy” 9lb 8.2oz, as proven by this photograph. That’s 4.32 kilograms if you like that.
I’ll have more to tell you in due course, but for now it is enough to say that mother and baby are doing well, are now at home and in need of much rest. And Dad is very very proud.
Monday 30 January 2006
Christopher Lloyd, RIP.