Saturday, October 27, 2007

What IS the point??

It seems like our politicians, Police Officers, Councils and ACPO ask for some new power or legislation to restrict the way that people behave (the old rules of society, where you behaved properly because that was what you OUGHT to do having gone the way of the dodo some time back.

But what exactly is the point of them crying out for new laws and powers when they can't - or won't - use the ones that they already have?

Take fireworks, for example. No, please, take them. As far away from here as possible. And keep them away for 364 days of the year, if you wouldn't mind.

Now we had a new Fireworks Act in 2003, closely followed by some Regulations in 2004 (the Act was a pretty bland affair; the real meat and bones of our fireworks rules are in the Regs). One of those rules - fairly widely publicized at the time, oddly enough - was a new late night limit on firework noise. It was simple. Not after 11pm, except on a few particular dates, including - not so oddly, this time - the 5th of November.

Well, it's not the 5th of November yet. But it is after 11pm here. Well after. And once again, it sounds like downtown Beruit.

Enforcement action in evidence? Don't be so silly.

Perhaps it only works if we all carry ID cards?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More pictures as and when I take them

Right, I've posted enough pictures of baby Shula for now. I'll keep updating my Picasa web page (because it's the easiest way to share them with family and friends), but I need to find something new to blog about.

Meanwhile, my photo albums can be seen here:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A few more pictures now we're at home

Here are a few pictures of Shula in our lounge, lying in a chair that vibrates (when the battery isn't flat, that is). Jury's out as to whether she finds it soothing or not.

Sleeptime now. Instead of using either the cot (because that's in the nursery along the landing, and I'm not running backwards and forwards at 2am having cracked my arm doing just that a few months ago) or the moses basket (because we've forgotten who we lent it to), we've bought another gadget.

this one is called an Amby Nature's Nest - apparently they are THE thing for your baby to sleep in if you're in Australia, being in widespread use in maternity wards and hospitals over there (I trust that my man in New Zealand can confirm if it's an Antipodean thing, just unique to the Aussies, or a load of marketting guff).

It's a sort of hammock-meets-sling, attached to the frame by a big spring, so any shuffling in the night is converted into a gentle rocking motion. The hammock has mesh sides for good ventilation, baby sleeps with its feet at the bottom and it's almost impossible to shuffle further down - or up - without great effort, and the way the sling gently curves around baby is meant to mimmick being back in the womb. So babies are supposed to go to sleep more quickly, and sleep more soundly, than on a conventional flat mattress. I'm not aware of any studies that put it in a better or worse light than conventional sleeping arrangements so far as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but anecdotal evidence is that babies are more placid in a Nest than in any other sort of bed.

Oh, and they are eye-wateringly expensive. Still, it seems to be giving her a peaceful night's sleep (which should translate into a peaceful night's sleep for me, so well worth the money).

Verdict after two night's use is that it seems to work just fine, though right now we're still being woken every 2-3 hours.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Some more photos

Six hours (and a couple of feeds) later, and we're all looking a lot more normal. Lauren was allowed out of school for a visit too.

I've dug out a picture of Lauren at the same age.

They both look pretty similar (I think the Lauren photo was taken about 24-26 hours after being born). Two obvious differences stand out when looking at the old photos of Lauren: firstly she had her eyes open much wider, and in more of the photos (which accords with my recollection, of a little baby who spend the first couple of days staring at EVERYTHING); and secondly, hasn't the quality of the output from digital cameras improved? The shot of Lauren was takenon someone else's camera - my own camera of the time produced nasty, noise-ridden and low resolution shots. Like this one:

New Baby

We went to the hospital last night at 6pm, with Jan feeling fed up, full of headache and back-ache, and she was getting herself all het-up about baby, simply because the official "due date" was Sunday just gone. memo to the world - "due dates" are best guesses, not to be relied upon AT ALL. Baby will arrive when baby is ready, regardless of what some midwife with a chart says is the due date. And stressing about it when baby is "late" is a massive waste of energy.

Anyway, the trip to the hospital ended up being a 5-hour stay - being monitored, being monitored again because baby kept moving, bloot-tests, headache tablets, and more monitoring, before being sent home just after 11pm. "Not in labour yet - take two of these and see if they help with the headache".

Just after 12 midnight we were on our way back in, with Jan *sure* that she was in labour. (She's been wrong twice already this week; the staff had turned us away last Friday, and again on Monday.)

But guess what - she was right this time!

Booked in at 12.30, monitored, moved from room to room, and finally settled in the second or third delivery room about 1.30am. Jan decided to have a hot bath to see if it would help with the back-ache, as a prelude to asking to use the birthing pool. It didn't help one bit, so she decided not to bother with the pool either. Birthing ball requested and similarly discarded, as by the time they found where they'd hidden it, she was on the bed pulling on the gas & air like there was nothing else that mattered.

Waters broke sometime after 2.15am, and she started to push at 2.30. Baby Shula was born 30 minutes later at 3am on the dot. Which was actually pretty darned fast in my book, and largely fuss-free.

Shula weighed in at 7lbs 2oz. Baby was fairly quiet and tired after all the pushing and shoving, but was awake enough to start feeding about 30 minutes later.

Jan found the whole thing pretty tiring (and very painful - especially as she needed a few stitches), but she was very pleased to get through it all so quickly and with just gas & air as pain relief. She was up and about an hour or so later, and had a bath to get cleaned up (I can't remember the last time I saw so much blood, snot and tears). She was feeling perky enough to walk to the maternity ward at 6am, with baby Shula grumbling about wanting another feed.

Here are a few pictures taken at 4-5am this morning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm A Fun Guy?

So fun that I spent some of this morning out in the back garden with a camera.

It appears that one of the thinks that happens when a lot of building takes place on a plot of land is that all sorts of bits and pieces get dumped in the garden prior to being covered over with the topsoil. Bits of wood and timber being pretty much top of that list. And as the wood rots, it provides an idea breeding ground for fungi.

After a couple of warmish days, and a downpour yesterday, I woke up this morning to see a fine crop of assorted mushrooms or toadstools in the back garden.

We have two main types appearing. I'm fairly sure that the predominant type are coprinus micaceus - glistening ink caps. And they either go very dark as they mature, or we have another member of the coprinus family* growing alongside them.

* there is some debate about whether all the members of the ink cap family are in fact properly calssified as coprinus, the latest DNA evidence tending to suggest that there are at least two different species that have independantly evolved the deliquescing dark gills.

If anyone is 100% sure that I'm wrong, and they know precisely what I've got in my garden, let me know. Right now, I'm about 80% sure, and the websites are 80% sure that the fungi are "edible but not exactly nice". If it turns out that they are actually poisonous, I'll need to do something about them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Halo 3 has stolen my life

I'm sure that it's only temporary, but right now I'm rather hooked on Hal 3 - Microsoft's biggest title for the Xbox 360 games console. I'm not very good at it - certainly not against other people in online games - but it's proving to be hard to ignore.

Of course, it helps that the game has been the biggest and fastest "entertainment" package in history - it's "opening weekend" sales comfortably eclipsed any other game, but also every movie release in history too.

Other than a Halo 3 obsession (and before that, a racing game called Forza 2), my favourite games recently have all been of the traditional variety with a board. Phoenicia is - I'm told - a reworking of a much older game. I've never played its progenitor, Outpost, but I have played Phoenicia often enough in the past 3 months to know that it's very good.

And there's Duel In The dark. I know that at least one of my readers isn't normally interested in games, but this might be up his street. I'll try to make a longer blog post about it later in the week, but in essence it's a game of bluff, misdirection and reading you opponent right, with a theme of RAF bombing raids over Germany in WW2. The RAF player pre-plans his target and the route to be taken by the bomber, then uses a Mosquito to either protect the bomber and harass the German nightfighters, open a path in the ground defences, or misdirect the Germans as to the bomber's next move. The German player meanwhile lays out his ground defences once the RAF route has been planned, then uses four nightfighters to try to intercept the bomber on his way in and out of Germany, but has the added complication of managing the planes' fuel load. Each side scores victory points during the game based on how well then manage their roles. Takes about 45 minutes to play a game, so there's usually plenty of time for two players to swap roles after one game and try it from the other side's perspective. Oh, and unusually there's a very simple way to play a solo game (although this isn't as good as playing the game face-to-face).

More info here: