Tuesday 2 May 2006
I am here – we’ve been away in Ireland for a week, mostly for me to visit clients but also for a short spot of R and R. Ireland is not noted for plentiful WiFi hotspots, so I haven’t been able to update or even browse for the last week.
If you’re very lucky, there may be photos.
Here’s a question for all of you who know about this sort of thing. My camera can record video in Quicktime .MOV format and I’ve used it to record Tom. The problem is, I’ve held the camera in portrait position (as Tom, when being held by his mum, is more vertical than horizontal).
When we play back the video using Quicktime viewer on the laptop, we can see him beautifully and hear his gurgling noises wonderfully. However, we see him beautifully in landscape format – he’s on his side. Nowhere in the Quicktime controls (I’m using the free download, not the Pro version) is there a "rotate" control.
Any ideas for either:
- a player that can view .MOV files and rotate them (preferably a free player), or
- a player that can play other formats and rotate them, and a converter to convert from .MOV to the appropriate format (can Windows Movie Maker rotate? if so, I have that, but need a (preferably free) conversion tool).
The first 100 days
Tom = 100. A few thoughts and observations:
- becoming a parent is daunting. But once you get into it, most of the day-to-day stuff is actually quite straight forward, at least with a very young baby. There isn’t much more to do that put food in at one end and deal with the product at the other end. But there is interaction too, an increasing amount as the baby grows older. Tom now giggles and laughs at his silly mum and dad, and he is curious about everything that is around him. And that is very rewarding.
- I don’t know if we are very lucky with Tom, but he has turned out to be very adaptable. We spent all of last week in Ireland with Tom spending long periods in the car, being in a new place every day and sleeping in four different cots over an eight day period. But was he fazed? Not a bit. He takes it all in his stride, either because he is a happy baby or because we try not to coddle him too much and have, right from the first days, encouraged him to feel confident in his environment by being there, caring for him, but not smothering him.
- as parents, you must be adaptable too. We’ve found ourselves changing mucky nappies on the floor of restaurant toilets. A four hour car journey becomes a six hour trip once you build in a couple of Tom breaks in service stations for bottle and bottom. Early to bed and early to rise is the new reality (still looking forward to the wealthy and wise bits). But, in the grand scheme of things, these are not major changes – you just need to think ahead a bit (and I must admit that Hels is better at that than me – she’s the one who always packs plentiful supplies of nappies and wipes as well as a change of clothes for Tom, wherever we go).
- you will find yourselves pulled in all directions. If you think that, as a couple, you find you are short of time compared to when you were single (two lots of family, two lots of friends), add in a baby and that feeling is doubled, trebled. Everyone wants to spend time with the baby (apart from those who don’t want a baby anywhere near them) and you could easily find yourself running here, there and everywhere. Planning is the key again – we try hard to block out chunks of days where we don’t have anything to do or anyone to see, just so that we get some “we time” (“me time” is a thing of the past).
- having a baby is expensive. Child benefit helps, but it pays for little more than nappies and wipes. And there is a certain competitiveness amongst parents of a certain sort – they want the best push-chair (guilty as charged – but well worth it), the smartest clothes (Tom has smart clothes, but a very large proportion of his wardrobe was purchased second hand, either via the NCT or from a couple of good second hand stores), the most toys (Tom has some, but not thousands – and we tend to prefer simple toys to fancy things with flashes and beeps) and the best of everything else. It pays to step back and remember that most of it isn’t necessary – we didn’t have it when we were children and nor did our parents. And the less you have, the more room you will have in your house!
- you will catch yourself swearing in front of the baby (for instance, when you pour scalding water over your hand when fighting with the microwave sterilizer) and think “hmm, I really should stop that, else his first word will be fuck”.
- and it’s all worth every minute, especially when he has a "chat" with his dad in the morning.
Thursday 4 May 2006
New Weebl and Bob, with guest appearance by Stephen Hawking. No, really.
Tuesday 9 May 2006
Fording a stream on the beach at Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry. Buying the expensive all-terrain pushchair proved to be a worthwhile investment as we explored one of the cleanest, most peaceful and beautiful beaches I think there must be in the British Isles. Mind you, I’m sure that salt water and sand do nothing for a pushchair’s longevity.
Killarney National Park
Lough Leane, viewed from Muckross, in the evening light. Stunning.
We stopped in West Cove, Co. Kerry, because we saw a sign that said there was a bakery selling pastries and ice creams. We never found the bakery – instead we found a small cove with a pretty quay and a handful of houses. It was almost deserted save for a few blokes going off to harvest mussels and this chap, rowing his way across the bay in his yellow boat.
Air-sea rescue in need of rescue?
I’m not sure that I understand the logic behind the Government’s proposed part-privatisation of the maritime air-sea rescue service.
Anyone living on the south coast will be familiar with the sight of India Juliet rumbling her way up and down the seafront in the summer, dragging ill-prepared and half-witted individuals from the water. From my parents’ home, she can regularly be seen; when I lived in Chichester, very rarely she would come into the city to drop a “passenger” at St Richard’s Hospital. She makes for a strangely comforting sight.
The rescue service has been somewhat fractured for years, partly run by the Navy, partly by the Air Force and partly by the Coastguard themselves. I can see good sense in bringing the entire service under one control, probably the Coastguard. What I can’t understand is the minister’s assertion that the proposal will provide good value to the tax payer. Surely, if we must pay a private company for the helicopters and then lease them back, they (the private providers) are making a profit at the tax payer’s expense which, if it was under direct government agency control, we would not have to incur. Compared to some other capital projects where private finance might be involved, the sums here are relatively small.
Having said that, PPP or PFI has facilitated some capital projects in other areas of government that might never have got off the ground otherwise, so it may work. From my untutored position, I’m just not sure that it is the most effective method in this instance.
It will be my birthday on Friday. It says so when you click here, so it must be true.
Wednesday 10 May 2006
Pendulumeca. All in Japanese or something, but you’ll figure it out. Quite different from the usual game fodder.
Thursday 11 May 2006
Friday 12 May 2006
As of today, closer to 40 than 30.
Send money. Or beer.
Monday 15 May 2006
- thanks to Charlie and The Peet for my excellent Neotropic CD.
- thanks also to the Uborka Two for Winter Chill 2.
- thanks to family for gifts of cash, clothing and olive oil – all appreciated.
- thanks to Hels for Gnarls Barkley, clothing and cake.
- spent Friday at Wakehurst Place – thoroughly enjoyable another opportunity to put the buggy through its paces (it passed with flying colours).
- Friday evening involved a fantastic meal out – if anyone needs a recommendation for a fabulous meal in East Sussex, drop me a line.
- Saturday was spent gardening, painting and erecting trellis for the most part.
- Sunday was spent at Pashley Manor Gardens for the Plant Fair – not one of the best that I’ve had there, but I think some lessons were learned that will lead to changes before August.
Tuesday 23 May 2006
…just very busy. More soon.
Monday 29 May 2006
I’ve really been neglecting you readers lately, haven’t I? Umm, well, sorry. But hey, I’ve been somewhat busy lately:
- Last weekend: up to Stafford with Tom to spend the weekend with Jo and Bob. Excellent time had by all.
- Last weekend and this week: much concern about SiL, who has been really quite unwell. But she seems to be making a steady recovery, which is good.
- Tuesday: an all-day meeting with my New Zealand sub-agent, who is in the country at the moment.
- Wednesday: a day out with H to the Chelsea Flower Show. We dressed in our finest summer clothes and were subjected to repeated heavy showers, with the result that we looked like a pair of muddy drowned rats. But it was worth it. Not sure that it is worth paying £35 a head to get in, though, particularly when you have to sit on the floor to eat your sandwiches and drink your tea because the catering facilities are so inadequate. They were absolutely awful when I last went ten years ago and have only improved marginally.
- Thursday: catching up in the office.
- Friday: to Chichester for a haircut and to distribute publicity materials for my event coming up at West Dean at the end of June.
- Saturday: Charlie and the Peet came for lunch – a thoroughly relaxing and wine-filled event.
- yesterday: up early to go to Heathrow to meet some American colleagues of their plane, collect plants, deliver them to a nursery near my parents and then join my parents for Sunday lunch and some plant talk.
- today: dozy sleeping and much talk of "we really should go for a walk" and "the lawn needs mowing" or "I really must start on the front garden", but it’s chucking down with rain (between burst of intense hot sunshine) – that’s my excuse, anyway.
There are many, many things that I really should find time to write about, but I’m not sure when that will happen. If you’re very lucky, I’ll provide you with some photos, as a picture is worth a thousand words (or several thousand, if your usualy verbage is as poor as that which generally graces these pages).
Wednesday 31 May 2006
Banned cartoon collection
1930s and 1940s banned cartoons – some of which are truly offensive, others only mildly so – but only when judged by today’s standards. Back then, it was an entirely normal reflection of current societal norms. Includes Coal Black an’ de Sebben Dwarfs.
It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood
YouTube is not good for productivity.
Formula G1 – a very fast racing game.