Tag Archives: observational

House hunting

West Witterings - ChichesterIt’s important to dream. On our annual jaunt to West Wittering to stay with our infinitely patient and generous friends, we took a walk down the street ‘hunting’ for that dream property (knowing that its a pretty unattainable distance for our income bracket).

The vast differences in style – from the uber-modern to the Bilbo-Baggins-esque – was astonishing. Virtually every single house we saw could have featured on Grand Designs at some point – although some of them would have earned derisory comments from Kevin McCleod…

It’s a nice dream…

Five rules of debating

These apply to 1:1 discussions and not if you have an audience. If you have an audience, these rules can more or less reverse (depending on the audience). This list isn’t exhaustive.

  1. Confidence by itself generally loses out over evidence when all participants are equally reasonable.
  2. Not all people that seek out debate in casual conversation are equally reasonable.
  3. Don’t confuse prejudice with argument, and never make a personal comment part of your debate – you cede all authority.
  4. If you can’t resolve the debate in the cold light of sobriety it won’t suddenly make sense intoxicated.
  5. “Let’s agree to disagree” is a polite way of saying “I have no desire to pursue this conversation” and gives any participant in an argument the option to gracefully exit without giving up their perspective.

I’ve found myself in the position of defending people, products and positions I’m not particularly a fan of recently because people violate these rules in conversations with me. I’m not one to generally take a stand on random principles these days, but do find it hard to let totally unreasonable, unfair statements about anything stand. One of life’s little ironies.

Driving an automatic

vwautoThe new car is very nice indeed. Full of lovely tech, smooth, fast (amazingly so for a 1.6) and comfortable. It has been dubbed ‘Polo’ by my lovely wife – somewhat confusing given that it is a Golf – but somehow it fits.

It is strange to be driving an automatic. My foot keeps reaching for the clutch, especially when I’m braking to a stop. It’s like a phantom limb, making its ghostly presence felt, only to turn intangible when I reach for it.

Practicality means, however, that I’m driving the other car at the moment. Those of you that know what that is know that I am absolutely not complaining…

Winter is coming

Fresh BreathWhen I was a kid I was fascinated by the way breath misted on exhalation when the weather was cool enough. It was a frustration to me that it didn’t happen in Malaysia.

Yesterday, for the first time since the Summer proper began, my breath misted. Which doesn’t quite have the same exciting cachet it did when I was 10 and first visiting the UK, marking as it does the decline of the summer.

<sigh>. At least we have one more summer break to the seaside planned – looking forward to it, Damo!

Talking to traffic

TrafficI’m not mad. I just find it better to vent my frustration at inconsiderate driving by talking at it – well, grumbling at it – rather than letting it work me into a frenzy of internalized stress. It is – very possibly – a trait I’ve picked up from my aunts, who pretty much all do it.

When some people hear me talking to traffic, it raises concerns about my stress levels… but I find it quietly cathartic.

Do you talk to traffic? /I’m not mad.


Collapsed whilst relocating campsiteWatching the footage from Glastonbury took me back four years to my first trip to the festival. I was overweight and underfit, struggled with the camping, and knackered each day by the tramping about in wellies. I hated not feeling clean and I felt properly wiped out by the cost of everything.

But I had fun, after a fashion, and in most respects thanks to Amanda’s amazingness -  and its funny how – looking at the footage – the discomfort in itself acquired a sort of nostalgic charm.

I’d like to go again, or to another festival – better equipped this time – if we can work out a way of making it fun for Emily. I’ve had the Big Chill and Bestival recommended to me as family-friendly, will need to give it some thought….

Hay fever data visualisation – failed

I had hoped to find an open source of historical records on pollen levels over the last 10 years ago to establish if there was some correlation between my having felt better this year than in the last 3-4 and general pollen levels. It seemed like it would be a fairly simple bit of data visualisation – line graph up the average monthly levels of different types of pollen over the last decade or so once I’d sourced the data from the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit.

Unfortunately its data is not available to the public and they haven’t responded to my email. Anyone else got any other ideas for sources of open data on this?

Not a good photographer

Not My Nikon D80 We wheeled out the SLR this weekend for some family snaps, and to capture Emily’s enjoyment of Waterbabies. I loved capturing snaps; the ridiculously quick exposure times make it much easier for me – a stumbling amateur photographer – to capture those key moments as they happen.

But I totally lack the mindset of a photographer. I rush to frame the shots, struggle even to obey the simple ‘rule of thirds‘, invariably get the lighting wrong, and take ten useless photographs for every half-passable one. I’ve put this down in the past to being the sort of person that’d rather be in photos than take them…

I’m a bit better with my iPhone. The primitive capabilities of the iPhone’s camera are easier to learn your way around, and inevitably I work my around its limitations where I can.

Maybe I’m just making excuses for not being able to work out the myriad functions of the D80… I should probably go on a course. How did you get better at taking photos?

Babies and personal space

One of the things that’s taken the most getting used to with Emily for me is understanding the need to respect her personal space. With other people’s babies I’ve known in the past, there’s been a lot of play, cuddles, bouncing, etc., apparently on our own terms. With Em, we’ve become incredibly aware of the need to let her mark out her own boundaries for play.

We’ve been disciplined about it – never thinking or speaking of her as ‘baby’ but always as Emily (or various unspeakably cute variations on that theme). And as she develops and her personality continues to present itself, it’s been amazing to watch her dictate the terms of engagement with other people.

The other day, my dad tried to pick her up for a cuddle before she was quite ready for him and I suggested he hold back, and just hold his arms out and smile at her. Sure enough, Emily sized him up, stuck her arms out and leapt into his arms for a bit of a play.

Wonderful to see.