Friday 29 August 2003

Gone Cornish

Well folks, we're off on another holiday today. This time we're driving down to Cornwall where we've rented a cottage near St. Austell. It's a stone's throw from the Eden Project which Jenny is very keen to visit. Again I'm afraid that this blog will be quiet for two weeks but I'll have another travelogue for you when I get back in mid-September.

BBC: World cheap drugs deal clinched

Nice to read some good news for a change. Again, it's one of those deals where the US was the last holdout. At least a compromise in good faith was made.

Free Mix

If you're into making music using a computer you should check out Free Mix. I stumbled upon it today. Yes it's a Russian site but scroll down the page.

Thursday 28 August 2003

Cat Adoption

We seem to have been adopted by a cat. Our guess is that he's a Birman Seal Point. Nice cat except that he's rather vocal. Very soft and furry and well-natured. While full grown he must be quite young as he's still playful. The kids love him and have named him "Snowbell". R* and I have been sneaking him food (Jenny doesn't quite approve) but he's not that hungry so he must have owners nearby.

R*'s birthday wish list

R* has been planning her birthday even though its two months away. Here's her current birthday present wish list.

  1. game boy
  2. mobil phone
  3. laptop
  4. trumpit
  5. saxuphone
  6. Harry Potter broom
  7. Harry Potter kit
  8. dog
  9. since kit (science kit)
  10. face paits (face paints)
  11. lego
  12. morchk cuntol car (remote control car)


Yesterday we had a one hour dance lesson reviewing the samba. Don't know when we'll ever get to dance it but it was fun remembering how it went.

Wednesday 27 August 2003

Musical Bill Of Right

I really like this Musical Bill Of Rights from Music For People. Everyone is capable of improvisational music. Performing music from a score is like painting by numbers.

Tuesday 26 August 2003

Roving Web Cam

I've tried a couple of webcam conversations using MSN Messenger v6.0. It works really well. No firewall problems. The frame rate is rather low but good enough. Audio is much improved with new echo cancellation. We've hooked it to Jenny's laptop so we can roam around the house and garden with it since it's using WiFi. Cool. Drop by sometime.

Horsing Around #12

We switched to a shared one hour semi-private lesson but unfortunately Jenny wasn't feeling well today and missed the class. I got to try cantering. Very scary! I swear I was close to falling off a few times. I was riding Mulberry, the lazy insolent horse, and she's particularly bouncy and harder to control than the others. She also bucked a couple of times! The canter is a bit tricky to get into and trying to stay on during the canter feels like riding in a rodeo. Obviously this is going to take work.

Tree Spirit Reading

Here's a money making idea. Offer your services as a Tree Spirit Medium with the ability to channel Tree Spirits. You can then provide advice for how to create harmony in the garden among all the plants. Make sure the rose bushes are happy and the flowers are all getting along with the shrubberies. In extreme cases, some plants might need a ceremonial moving or a tree could be exorcised of a bad spirit. Could probably even sell a range of powders and special waters for different plants. Or has this already been done?

Tooth Fairy Visits

R* lost her fourth tooth today. She's now missing both of her upper front teeth and has a big toothless smile. However, tonight is the first night she's ever decided to give her tooth to the tooth fairy. She kept the last three. We've given her two pounds for it.

Turns out that a survey by Crest discovered that the average payout has doubled in the last year to two pounds probably due to the spread of the two pound coin. Up until 1985, it was only 10p!

Sunday 24 August 2003

Almost A Diver

I just finished an intense PADI Open Water Diving Referral course held at a nearby pool over the last two days. Before the course, it required reading a book, watching some video's and answering some quizes. The course itself alternated between pool sessions practising scuba skills and classroom work which concludes with a final exam you had to pass. The theory is easy but practice is more challenging. It went well but I did find it a bit freaky at times.

Right in the beginning, I felt my nerve dissolving as diving underwater is such a strange environment! But as you stick with it, you slowly get more comfortable. I'm not a keen swimmer in the first place. Funny enough, the whole trick is to just relax. Much easier said than done! You really do have to concentrate on staying focused, trusting the equipment and swallowing any doubts. The worse bit I think was taking off the mask underwater and swimming with only the regulator and then putting the mask back on and clearing it. Or maybe the worse bit was shivering with cold underwater while waiting for my turn to try something. Or maybe the worse bit is knowing that I have to repeat the whole thing in a dirty cold lake in deeper water to complete my Open Water certificate! Coming this September...

Saturday 23 August 2003

Wild Animal Essences

I was browsing through our issue of Kindred Spirit when I ran across their ad for Wild Animal Essences. To the best of my knowlege, it's water that contains the "vibrational essences" from either a dolphin, elephant, dragonfly, dove, hummingbird, mountain lion, jaguar or owl. For example, the owl essence is

"For accessing one's highest wisdom. Enhances intuition. Encourages clarity of mind and seeing the truth even in the darkest moments. Assists a compassionate voice even when facing directly things that need your attention."

So HOW do they make this stuff? Is it bath water? I dug a bit deeper and found the guy who makes the stuff. There's 41 animals essences in all!

"These vibrational essences are natural, energetic remedies that are made during a ceremonial process in the Virginia wilderness of the USA. This ceremonial process includes attuning with and invoking the spirit of the animal involved. The resulting liquid contains the vibrational imprint and energy of the animal but does not contain any animal parts. No animals are captured or harmed in the development of these remedies."

Diggering deeper, there's even more detail here that describes the ceremony.

Well I'm almost speechless. I guess it might work for some people through the sheer power of belief. And who can argue against something that works?

Friday 22 August 2003

Camping in the USA

It's been a week since we got back from our camping trip and, as promised, I've written up a travelogue which you can now read here.

Thursday 21 August 2003

God Bless America?

While traveling around any part of the USA, you will undoubtedly run across the phrase "God Bless America". I gotta admit everytime I read it, I feel irritated. Just why should The Divine One bless an entire country? And why, of all countries, would America deserve such a blessing? Alright, 9-11 was a tragic event and there is grief to overcome. But, with respect, the suffering is but a pinprick compared to other nations and I get a sense the phrase is used in a self-righteous, arrogant way that just rubs me the wrong way. God Bless The Poor Nations. God Bless Iraq. God Bless The Victims Of American Policy And Corporate Exploitation. God Bless Victims Of The IMF And World Bank.

Tuesday 19 August 2003

Horsing Around #11

After a few weeks, my rising trot was already rusty but didn't take long to get back into it. Practiced speed control because we're going to start working on cantering next. Turns out you can't go directly from rising trot to cantering. You have to make the transition from a sitting trot. I confirmed with the instructor that riding a horse is like riding a bicycle in the the sense that once you know how, you don't really forget it. So we're still persisting with it.

Monday 18 August 2003

Jenny Can Dive!

Jenny passed her qualifying open water dives this weekend and is now a PADI qualified open water diver. Brave girl! She did it at Wraysbury Lake near London. Not the first place you think of when you think of diving! She did two dives on Saturday and two dives on Sunday. She had a difficult third dive but otherwise it went well and she's got a story to tell.

Sunday 17 August 2003


Interesting website site. "You might call it a search-engine to find things you don't know about."  So for the movie "After Life" it suggests I should watch one called "Sonatine". Click the link and check out the dynamic association map. Also does books, music and websites. Very cool.

After Life (1998) by Kore-eda Hirokazu

We watched this DVD of a Japanese movie while on holiday. I really enjoyed it. The premise is that at a station between Heaven and Earth, case workers have one week to help the newly arrived dead to find one defining moment of their life to take it with them to Heaven. All other memories are erased. The movie follows twenty-two people trying to make up their mind and two case workers helping some of them. It's a slow, thoughtful movie but I thought it was fascinating. Of course, you can't help starting to think about what single memory you would take with you. It's very hard to choose. All the case workers are people who couldn't themselves decide.

Friday 15 August 2003

I'm Back!

I'm back! While a bit cliche, I gotta admit it feels great to be home among my own stuff; my own space and my beloved ADSL connection. Maryland was sweltering and we were walking meals for all the bugs that bite out there. It sure is nice how there's almost a complete absence of anything that wants to taste you where we live. However, we did enjoy our visit and stint communing with nature. I'll try to jot down some of the highlights in a travelogue soon.

Sunday 3 August 2003

What Happened to Small?

We went out for pizza here in Maryland yesterday. The interesting thing is that the pizza came in three sizes: medium, large and extra large. Now, I ask you. What happened to small? I'm sure in the UK you still have the sizes: small, medium and large but I'm now on the look out to see whether small is an endangered size in the US - at least as far as pizza go but it might extend to other things too. Maybe it's socially unacceptable now to only order something small? America!