Thursday, March 29, 2007

Amazing grace

Yesterday was we went to cinema. There has been lots of talk about abolition of slavery as it is the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery act. So we went to see the film amazing grace which is about William Wilberforce who was the driving force behind the bill.

Neither one of us really knew anything about William Wilberforce or the struggle it took to bring the abolition of slavery bill about. The film was good, we both enjoyed it. It probably wasn't the film of the century but we learned a lot of new things :)

There were some good lines in it too. One of them was by the PM William Pitt who didn't share his friends regard for wild animals and told that he likes animals too...with brandy sauce. John Newton had a good line about the way God talks...Wilberforce was saying how God hadn't been talking in thunder to him recently and Newton answered back that sometimes God talks more like drizzle rather than thundery downpour.

We also saw the trailer for Oceans 13...we will definitely be going to see that when it comes out :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Away day

Our school had an away day yesterday. We went away to a great distance of 1.5 miles from our usual building to the Thistle hotel in Newcastle city centre.

My previous experiences of away days or closest to them were annual faculty conferences in Plymouth. We did actually go away...all the way to Torquay. But the day was so boring, lots of talks about what the faculty is about and so on. The food was the highlight but by the third year even the food wasn't really enough to keep you exited for the whole day sitting down and listening to lectures.

As my previous experience of this kind of get togethers hasn't been too good I was a bit concered about the idea. I shouldn't have been...we had really fun day :)

The longest talk we had was 5 minutes welcome by the head of school after which we were divided into small groups to play the game 'guess who'. Everyone had been asked to bring something about us to the lady organising it a week before, the items ranged from favourite books, cds and films to photos of kids and pets (I had a picture of Moses) - there were even couple of old school reports.

We had brilliant time trying to guess whose the items were. And my team didn't do too badly regardless of getting some items terribly wrong. We lost by a point.

After some coffee & pastries we had a poster session. Again groups were formed, different than before, and we were armed with siscors (can't spell), glue, marker pens, glitter, magazines and lots of paper. Our task was to produce a poster of a section of the school that none of us worked for based on out perceptions and what we think they do. We got the computing department...we had such fun cutting and glueing, finding suitable titles from the magazines etc. and to our suprise...

...and our poster won. It was selected as the favourite poster by voting :) And we got a prize. The prize table consisted of wine and chocolate eggs. I got this big kitkat chocolate egg with a mug (much to David's delight).

After really yammee lunch we had a quiz in again different teams where my team came the second last but I was happy as I had my chocolate egg.

Hopefully it will be as much fun next year, it definitely transformed my idea of what academic away days are like ;)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mr Lindsey has started blogging

It is true...he has finally been bitten by the bug. So if you got couple of minutes to spare have a look of this.

On other news I am working from home today as the mentioned Mr Lindsey took my office keys to work with him by accident. At least Moses will have company. So far he has spent some time trying to catch the dust particles glimmering in the sunlight which must have been exhausting as he is sleeping now!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What if we had no computer...

...we would have been late for church for one thing! We woke up quite early, I went down and made a cup of tea. So we were very happily sipping our tea, enjoying the sun streaming in to the bedroom, I was reading the paper and David was playing with the laptop...

...It had been about 8.20 when I made the cup of tea and suddenly I noticed that the clock on the laptop was showing 9.40! I checked my was 8.40...after a little pondering and checking with google we finally came to the conclusion that the clocks had gone forward! Out went our lovely plan of taking Moses for a nice stroll on the beach before church. Instead we showered ate and went to church (and were late).

After church we went and had lunch with a couple who are a bit older than us. We had lovely time, tried a bongo computer game with one of their sons - both of us were pretty awful - went to the park and the boys ran around after the football while the ladies sat on the bench enjoying the sun and being very civilized :)

When we got back we took Moses for a long walk in the woods. The weather has been gorgeous all day, very warm and hardly any wind. There were lots of daffodils and little white flowers (they are valkovuokko in Finnish but I've got no idea what they are in English and botanical knowledge is not one of David's strong points) in the woods. Can't wait untill the summer :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Opposite of Indian summer

We had the opposite of indian summer...there isn't a word for it in English for my knowledge...but for the last couple of days we had winter come back, in full force, after some really warm and spring like weather!

And it snowed three days in a row :) and it was cold :) and the turf still seems to be ok which is even better.

I had a stats a spss workshop this afternoon. The instructions for what we were suppose to do where rather messy and impossible to follow so Lesley and I gave up after an hour and went and had a coffee. It was an hour well spent - far more enjoyable than trying to make sense to the instructions that did not make sense at all.

David is thinking of starting his own blog so what's this space.

One of the most amusing piece of news over the last couple of days was someone stealing a whole lorry full of Easter eggs. Most people are content with one or two ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Turf wars aka protecting your newly laid lawn

Since having the turf laid we have encountered some threats to it wellbeing. I have a birdfeeder which is frequented by a selection of little and bigger feathered friends including a mass of black birds (I am very worried for the state of my strawberries in the summer...will I get any or will the black birds eat all of them?)

There was this one black bird (pictured below about to fly away leaving discriminating evidence behind - pictured further below) who was very happy about this newly rotated earth /soil and the amount of worms that were there that he digged rather energetically for a long long time...And it is surprising how much earth can a little black bird move in a really short time! All around/on the corners of the turf the soil was starting to pile up and the black bird was not taking our hint to go away... Finally David had to go and put some bricks on the edge of the soil to stop the soil getting on to the lawn...seems to have worked so far...
But there is another threat to our lawn and we can't do anything about it :( On Sunday it was cold with a bitter siberian wind sweeping across Scotland and we got the tail end of it (it's still here). There were couple of odd snowflakes on Sunday but the sunshine was gorgeous (and very deceptive as it was freezing).

On yesterday the bitter wind was still here with the addition of rain, snow and hail in a random mixture all the afternoon. And today there was a light dusting of snow and it is still has been snowing for the last 1.5 hours...and te cold wind is still here...In usual conditions I would be estatic about the snow but now I am a bit worried about the turf, snif. But at least the snow looks pretty :)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Quiz, walk & bookcases

We had a quiz in church today and our team won :) not because we were in it though, we just about knew the answers to the sunday school questions, the trainee vicar questions were so and so and the spanish inquisition level questions went over our head...we could hardly understand the question! But we had fun :) and we won :)

It's been cold here today, we even saw couple of snow flakes this morning. We decided to take Moses to the woods (where we'd be sheltered from the wind) rather than walk on the beach (where we would have been blown away). Moses didn't seem to mind.

David is spending the evening by putting together some bookcases, he wants to make the box room/the study/his den a bit cosier and at the moment it is filled with folders and books etc. We are not really sure where we are going to put the bookcases yet. At the moment they are going into the dining room but they might have to be moved to the sitting room. We are still negotiating.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Turf, turf, turf

We have been thinking for a while that we need to do something about the was just terrible. And Moses' digging probably didn't help it. The back garden consisted of these huge wide borders (maybe 1.2 meters) and lawn that you could not call lawn, it was more like mud with some clumps of grass.

So we had a look of couple of websites asking for a quote for some turf for the size of our back garden. We also phoned up some local guys from the yellow pages and one of them came around to give us a quote for the turf and for turf & labour.

I think both of us had been putting of the actual doing of the garden as it involved quite a lot of work, leveling it all out, digging up the old lawn. So when this guy gave us a quote for the turf and labour it didn't take much convincing for us to go for that option.

So they came today, two men with a selection of fancy machines and off they went and in about two hours they had transformed the back garden! It would have taken us weeks!!! It was very nice feeling sitting inside, drinking a nice cup of tea and peeking out every now and then to see how the work was advancing, no sweat, no blisters, no uneven lawn as a result...perfect.

So here it is what it looked like before (my apologies for the before and after pictures not being matching, David took the after one and he had a bright idea to take from upstairs so you can see the whole thing whereas my efforts were taken from the safety of the back door)

And here is a close up so you can see how bad it really was

Here is Moses and David watching the men hard at work - and the programme still keeps putting horizontal pictures in as a landscape :(
And here it is now, isn't it lovely...just need some sunshine and you can imagine having a BBQ

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Some charming pics

Amy came up for the weekend and we headed into Newcastle on Saturday. Last time we went into town we didn't get any further than John Lewis. This time we got a bit further. We wondered through an art gallery, saw the monument, had lunch in a cafe and of course did some shopping. (I don't think we actually bought anything but we had fun). So here are some pics from our shopping in accessorize...

They had some hilariously big shades...and we just had to try them on :)

These ones even had some sparkling bits on them!

Sussing out the headgear, now we just need a wedding to go to.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What PhD stands for

The pastor & and his wife took us out for a meal last night. We had lovely time chatting and getting to know them a bit. We went to this nice Italian restaurant in town. The food was good and I had the most beautiful selection of italian ice-creams for desert...David went for tiramisu.

As we were chatting the pastor mentioned that one of the guys who used to be at church (but he moved to Exeter) had done a PhD on cricket bats (and he had got funding to do it)! We also learned an alternative meaning for PhD...permanent head damage.

Good old Google had couple of other good suggestions about the meaning of PhD*
Professorship? hah! Dream on!
Please hire. Desperate.
Probably heavily in Debt
Parents have Doubts
Professors had Doubts
Probably hard to Describe**
Patiently headed Downhill...
Professional hamburger Dispenser... "Would you like fries with that?"
Professional hair Dresser
Pizza Hut Driver***
Private house Detective
Philosophically Disturbed
Process of human Development
Patiently hoping for a Degree
Doctor of Photocopying****
Phony Doctor*****

Here is an interesting comment I found: 'The trick about a PhD is that you have to be smart enough to be able to do it, but stupid enough to actually do it'. Hmmm...

* The UK google is a bit more serious than the general google (or the brits are more serious than everyone else) using the search terms what PhD really stands for the first 10 hits on the uk google were actually seriously discussing about PhDs where as all of the first 10 hits on the worldwide google were humorous.
** Usually just telling the title of your PhD is enough to stop people asking any more questions.
*** My personal favourite.
**** Thanks to most journal articles being available online I have not got as familiar with the library photocopier as could be expected but I am getting pretty good at using the seriously big photocopier as my printer...last week I discovered how to get it to holebunch and staple anything I print from my computer...after discovering how to print double sided that was one of the most exiting things I've learnt recently ;)
***** I guess if you can't write prescribtions you can't be a real doctor

Ok, it's back to pursuing my PhD...I'm filling in lots of ethics applications (because I want to interview people who work for the NHS) at the moment which is very laborious task.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The multiple uses of a dyson

We have a trusty dyson which has served us faithfully for nearly six years now. In the course of years we have discovered many handy ways to use it (in addition to the standard hoovering).

1. Cleaning BBQs It is very good for cleaning the ashes of barbeques...the big bits are easy to shavel to a bag but you always get left with lots of fine dust that doesn't want to dissapear regardless of your best efforts (David's brother was very impressed by our imaginative way of cleanign the bbq)

2. Cleaning fireplace as above very good at getting rid of the ashes

3. Cleaning up sawdust after sanding the floor in front room in Plymouth there was sawdust left in all sorts of unimagenable (is that a word?) places, they caused no trouble to our faithful DC04 absolute

4. Getting rid of plaster dust David had a go of plastering (see evidence below) but it did not turn out very flat and needed some fine tuning i.e. sanding. The sander died in the process but dyson survived

Somewhere along the way we discovered that dysons have a filter...and you are suppose to clean it every couple of months or so...we had not done this and whilst removing the plaster dust the dyson just suddenly died! Thankfully dyson has very comprehensive helpmydysonisnotworkingwhat'swrongsection where we found out that we were suppose to clean the filter - regularly. We found the filter quite easily but what was interesting was that after washing it was not grey but bright blue!!!

Also another interesting feature we've discovere that dog hairs get stuck in the hose part very easily if there is a little blockage, like a match got caught sideways. They built up very very quickly even with Moses having relatively short fur. Suddenly you realise that the dyson is not actually removing anything from the floor and when you start investigating the situation by starting to take the dyson to bits, you discover that all the possible parts are filled with dog hair.

And then you got the fun of trying to get them's not too bad when they are close to the beginning of the pipe/hose section but once they are a bit further in it's very tricky as you even haven't got gravity on your side :(

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Little bit of this and that

It's been lovely sunshine up here all day long. It really feels like spring is coming :) In the park by the metro station daffodils, crocuses and primulas are flowering. Even in our back garden the first daffodils are appearing.

David put a washing line up in the garden couple of weeks makes life so much easier being able to dry the washing outside. Before that the spare room had also doubled as the chinese laundry with clothes drying on every possible surface!

I had my stats/spss exam today. We could take notes with us so it wasn't really that serious (compared to my psychology stats exams when we actually had to calculate all the things using formulas & calculatos rather than spss).

I did make a silly mistake though...we were asked to correlate weekly income with the amount spent on food per week. We'd been given variable for income during the term so we had to use that to calculate the weekly income. I did it all beautifully, I did wonder that it was a bit odd that the mean weekly income was only £7 more than what was spent on food per week but didn't think anything more of it. When we were walking out somebody asked me if I had used 10 or 12 weeks as the lenght of the term...I used neither...I divided the term time income by 52!!! Oh well - you can't be perfect ;)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Barking muddy dog

Poor Moses. He wanted to go out while we were cooking and so we obliged. My dad phoned so I went and chatted with him while David finished the dinner. Then we sat down to enjoy our bangers & mash. While we were eating we could hear these muffled barks every now and then...quite like when Moses is barking and whimpering in his sleep. He did it quite a few times and I remarked about it to David.

It was only at the end of the dinner it dawned on David that Moses was still out!!! Poor poor dog. He was wet. He was muddy. And he was very happy to get in. It was fun trying to de-muddyfy him. Now Moses is happily sleeping in his den behind the sofa warming himself by the radiotor. And kitchen floor is covered in muddy water.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

In the land of democracy

Yesterday when I was reading some article about support for research I came across an interesting comment in the end of the article. The prime minister has a website where people can start up petitions and sign them to show their support, more people had signed a petition to have the prime minister to stand on his head and juggle with ice cream than the one supporting research! Their arguement was 'if he's not going to resign, the least he can do is provide us with some entertainment'.

If you have some spare time and want to be amused looking through the petitions is very good way of doing it...some of them are very legimate and sensible like saving a hospital from cuts or closure or scraping the speed cameras. Some more interesting efforts of democracy are in the rejected petitions section.

Some of the better efforts in this section include freedom and sovereigty to Tooting but it was deemed to be outside the remit or powers of the pm and the goverment as was a petition of reclassing broccoli as toxis substance. Getting people walking on the side of the road to wear lit up helmets was rejected as it was believed to be intended as humourous.

I feel sorry for the poor soul who has to read through all the petitions to see if they are a duplicate of already exisiting one and whether or not the petition will be rejected or not. I'm sure coming up with usefull or useless petitions wasn't exactly what the people had in their mind when they fought for democracy but at least it does make some fun reading ;)

PS: David is biting his nails, we are watching Liverpool-Barcelona in the champions league, 2 minutes left and as things stand Liverpool are going through...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Kitchen makeover

For the last month and a bit we've been in process of doing up the kitchen. We got given the doors and the frames so all we had to do was to get some carcasses. The process got complicated because all the carcasses had to be cut down to fit the frames as well as the to fit the size of the kitchen.

So here is the kitchen before. Note the missing panel underneath the sink also the cupboard in the corner you could not use as the door fell of every time you opened it! An other interesting feature was a draw that was held together with some packing tape.

And here is the kitchen after the improvements:
What you can't see from the picture is that when you walk in the kitchen looks much bigger when you walk in because it hasn't got cupboards coming nearly to the door on the side opposite to the cooker. We still need to do the tiling, lightstrip underneath the top cupboards and sand the floor. So not much to do.

David has done and amazing job doing it up! He is very handy man to have around :)

He has disappeared to mens curry and quiz night with the guys from church. (The guys from local churches get together every couple of months for curry & quiz, the idea is that they bring along a non christian friend...I'm eagerly waiting for the report of the evening...). Me and Moses are having a nice cosy night watching top gear and eating salmiakki. At the moment they are taking over London with home made stretch limos..........

On other news my sisters (my second eldest little sister) boyfriend has become third on the 500m speedskating worldcup in Calgary. And his time was a new finnish record.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What to do with a wanna-be geek?

For the last couple of days David has been having very worrying symptoms...he has announced in many occasions he wants to become a mac geek...he wants to buy lots of geeky books all about programming and general mac geekery. Very worrying.

One good thing is that after looking for books in amazon he realised that they were rather expensive. So I am saved for little while from having a husband who is turned into a total geek instead I just have a saturday/occasional geek husband. What I am conserned about is that David has found various mac geek websites where all these geeks discuss their problems and offer solutions to each others problems!

So it is not enough that he knows how to use his mac, he wants to understand it...but computers were not meant to be understood - they were made to be used. One of the books he was hoping to find on amazon was all about understanding why and how os x (my guess, the operating system?) works - he knows how to use it but know he wants to understand the nitty-gritty behind it...

Any ideas how you cure a wanna-be-geek? Or is it a chronic illnes that is going to lead only increasing levels of geekery?