Sunday 31 January 2016

Old pictures: Miriam and I, BKK (Bad Klein Kirchenheim) 1991

In the winter of what I can only assume was 1991, we went skiing to Bad Kleinkirchheim, because Klaus Pulverer's parents had a chalet there. Who else went? Phil I think; Rob; Klaus's brother; Edmund Shaw. And perhaps others. We drove down, as I recall. However, the point of this post is the oil picture I painted some time afterwards from a photo taken then, of Miriam nearly asleep after a long day, and me resting on her shoulder. I remember that jumper.


Well, I'm no artist; this is for the records only. I would have kept the picture but the oil had got stuck to the glass, so threw it away in a fit of house-tidying. That one is colour-balanced by GIMP; here's an unbalanced one if you're interested.

I'm glad I thought to write the date and place on it, otherwise I'd have forgotten.

Friday 29 January 2016

Book review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles (text) is dead famous. You've certainly heard of it even if you haven't read it. As a book, it is fun to read. As a crime story, it is badly lacking.

The decent bits: well, it's a Sherlock Holmes story, fairly well written, and all that kind of thing. I won't bore you with the details.

Wiki says "It incorporates five plots: the ostensible 'curse' story; the two red-herring sub-plots concerning Selden and the other stranger living on the moor; the actual events occurring to Baskerville as narrated by Watson; and the hidden plot to be discovered by Holmes. Doyle wrote that the novel was originally conceived as a straight 'Victorian creeper' (as seen in the works of J. Sheridan Le Fanu), with the idea of introducing Holmes as the deus ex machina only arising later." And perhaps that explains some things.

The lack: by the end, Holmes seems to have needed an extraordinary number of clues to get the answer. And seems to find a rather odd balance between saving Sir Henry and catching the murderer. Plot holes: this is a lonely part of Devon, and yet both Holmes and Cartwright come and go freely without anyone noticing. Cartwright, in particular, is a young lad bringing Holmes food out onto the moor - at a time when there is an escaped convict, Selden, out there who needs food - and yet no-one suspects anything. One of the characters has even seen him, but does nothing. Where is Cartwright living? The convict dies on the moor - and yet there is no fuss. No explanations to police or coroner are required. the idea that Stapleton could conceal and control an enormous dog seems implausible; as does the idea of it standing for being painted with phosphorous. And so on.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Miranda's cards, done around 2008

See-also Children's birthday cards from 2015.

These are cards from various years, that Miranda collaged entirely on her own initiative and by herself, when she was about 7 years old; say in 2008. The cards themselves are from the few years previous.





And from her ninth:


and sixth birthdays:


All of these were done at about the same time I think.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Christmas 2015

Every Christmas is the same, but I'd better record one before I forget; time passes.

M and I usually work the morning of Christmas eve. D and E have of course been off school for ages. We come home early-afternoon, madly finish packing and chivvy the infants to do the same, and throw things into the car, leaving by 4 pm to make sure we get to Mother's in time for carols on the village green at 6. In a good year like this one, we've remembered we need a cat minder for Phoebe in advance; in a bad year we scramble around looking for someone at the last minute. A few years back we would sometimes drop the infants at mothers days earlier: that made sense when they were young and needed looking after, and Mother was younger and could. But now they can be left at home; and Mother is past 80 and finds their youthful ardour, unmoderated by another adult, a little tiring.

We get to mother's with a few minutes free, unload, sit down for a little, awaiting RNLT or some subset thereof. Thence to the carols by the corner, where we sing the same carols each year; thirteen of them I think, with all the verses, so it fills out the hour. With luck some mince pies and mulled wine, then back to Mothers to begin relaxing. The evening spend doing little; and finishing wrapping the presents.

Christmas day: is built around the Queen's speech at 3 pm. Mother, and others, go to church in the morning; I go for a run. Around 11 am we're back; Mother's regime of peeling the sprouts or whatever goes into action; M and N help; I just about invariably don't; my job is to sit in the living room drinking a sherry when I'm offered one by Rob. Lunch starts around 1:30, and needs to finish by 2:30, in order to get the washing up done, and the coffee made, in time for The Queen. People say, "but how do you manage to wait until 3?" but the answer is firstly that the children are now teenagers, so barely care what they get; and secondly it has been thus since time immemorial - certainly since my childhood - and no-one expects otherwise. After a brief discussion of Her Maj - perhaps a touch themeless this year I thought - the opening begins, generally with the adults in their chairs and me sitting next to the fire, and the children distributing the presents from underneath the tree. One year we tried an experiment: you get one present to unwrap, and play with for half an hour; then the next. That worked pretty well, but we didn't this year. Every now and then someone goes round with a binbag to collect all the unwrapped wrapping.

There will be afternoon tea, probably with Christmas cake. If we don't feel too stuffed from dinner, and chocolate. The "snowman" comes in at some point. Likely we will watch some Christmas special; Dr Who this year and last. And so it goes, quietly.

Boxing day: years back, the infants would rise early and rush round to RNLT's to play fun games or on the Xbox or whatever; nowadays lying in bed is more the norm. If I'm doing well I'll go for another run; and at lunchtime we'll go over to RNLT's for, errm, lunch. They live less than five minutes walk away.

Ahem. I didn't actually get round to finishing this. Happily, I did do Christmas 2016, so you can see the pattern from there.

Friday 1 January 2016

Blood pressure

(don't miss the exciting follow-up: blood pressure 2017).

M+J have a monitor, so we played with it. I got:

* 116 / 82; 65 (before a run)
* 133 / 84; 91 (soon after a 10k run)

Then, hours later, in quick succession:

* 108 / 71; 61
* 112 / 74; 62
* 116 / 75; 60
* 115 / 73; 60

Various articles say that above 120 / 80 is "pre high presssure"; but they also say it varies, and you need to average several readings.

So, interesting, and perhaps a little higher than I might like, but to monitor not to worry about.

Update: 2016 / 03 / 12: 6 k run at 17:30 for 30 mins. Then:

* 18:30: 120 / 78
* 20:30: 114 / 74
* 20:45: 107 / 66
* 21:30: 107 / 67
* 20:05: 122 / 74

Oh, and Miranda: 21:30: 127 / 69.

2016 / 03 / 13:

* 125 / 78 (10:45)
* (12 k run, slow)
* 125 / 74 (12:15)
* 116 / 73
* 116 / 69
* 115 / 71
* 104 / 66

2016/12/24 12:55 am, having done nothing in particular:

* 122 / 78 (50)
* 114 / 79 (50)
* 110 / 76 (50)
* 119 / 76 (51)

FWIW, since I looked it up, things like tell me that under 120, and under 80, is "ideal"; 120-140 and 80-90 is "pre-high". So I'm on the edge between "ideal" and "pre high".

After lunch (14:30):

* 116 / 74 (52)
* 118 / 70 (54)
* 121 / 72 (61)

Miranda (before lunch):

* 104 / 69 (65)
* 110 / 59 (76)
* 89 / 58 (79)

Miriam (after lunch):

* 114 / 70 (67)
* 112 / 69 (58)
* 113 / 71 (61)


* 117 / 75 (84)
* 120 / 70 (71)