Damn you Bloglines

January 29, 2009

Arrhhhh!!!

Why is bloglines failing me? I like many others love the convenience of bloglines for keeping all my feeds together, and I therefore keep up to date with all of the blogs that I follow. But for some reason it has started to rebel against me. I know I have a lot going on in there, but I am sure I am not a power user if such thing exists.

It has been totally overlooking some people’s posts, even dropping feeds altogether. Why bloglines why! I trusted you! And now I what shall I do … I am not about to start doing things manually, but my work blocks Google reader, does anyone know of any other decent ways to keep track?

P.S. If you feel I have been ignoring you lately, I apologise and blame it all on bloglines! Give me a kick and I will ensure it is back in there 🙂


On a Lighter Note

January 28, 2009

Well actually not that light … that is the point.

OK so I may have put on a little weight. I don’t see how. I have formulated a diet based on an extensive use of Google to come up with the diet I was most likely to stick to. And I feel I have, yet it seems not to have worked. Now I have no experience of Weight Watchers or any related schemes, so maybe I am doing something wrong, so if any of you do have and can tell me where I am going wrong I would appreciate it 🙂

The principles I have been adhering to are as follows:

1. If you eat something and no one sees you eat it, it has no calories.

2. If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are cancelled out by the diet soda.

3. When you eat with someone else, calories don’t count if you don’t eat more than they do.

4. Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER count, such as hot chocolate, brandy, toast and Sara Lee Cheesecake.

5. If you fatten up everyone else around you, then you look thinner.

6. Movie related foods (Milk Duds, Buttered Popcorn, Junior Mints, Red Hots, Tootsie Rolls, etc.) do not have additional calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one’s personal fuel.

7. Carrot cake is a vegetable and counts as one of your 5 a day.

8. Cookie pieces contain no fat– the process of breaking causes fat leakage.

9. Things licked off knives and spoons have no calories if you are in the process of preparing something. Examples are peanut butter on a knife making a sandwich and ice cream on a spoon making a sundae.

10. Foods that are frozen have no calories because calories are units of heat. Examples are ice cream, frozen pies, and Popsicles.

11. Foods that have the same colour have the same number of calories.
Examples are: spinach and pistachio ice cream; mushrooms and white chocolate.

NOTE: Chocolate is a universal colour and may be substituted for any other food colour.


Stop Jenny From Hurting Others!

January 23, 2009

OK. So my last post was a silly one, make no mistake this one is Deadly Serious.

I will again start with the disclaimer that, with this post, I hope to neither cause offence, or to patronise. However I am aware that it is a hot topic, and those that disagree with my position may feel that I have done both.

I remember when we had Bart there was a big controversy over the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella). Was it safe? Did it have links to autism?

Bart was born back in 2000, just a couple of years after Andrew Wakefield had published his paper on the link between MMR and autism, and so we were making the decision during the peak of the controversy. Even though every radio show and TV talk show was giving equal credence to both sides, once you scratched the surface it was clear which side the evidence was accumulating. Wakefield’s initial study was based on 12 children who had developed autism spectrum disorders soon after having their MMR vaccination.

While this was cause for concern and reason for further investigation in itself it proved nothing. That is the way science works … a hypothesis is formed based on initial observation, it is then followed by a detailed study to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Each subsequent study hopefully being subject to tighter controls and applied to a statistically significantly larger test group, and therefore increasing its reliability and therefore relevance to the debate.

In this case, when you look at this evidence, the tighter the test, and greater the test group, the less deviation these tests showed from the statistical average.

This strongly indicates that MMR presents no statistically significant increased risk of autism. Let me repeat that … MMR PRESENTS NO STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT INCREASED RISK OF AUTISM!

Thus Bart got his Jabs, and subsequently so did Lisa and now Maggie.

The problem is due to the controversy and the way the media insist on giving balance, you still get programs where you have one person from each side giving their point of view. The problem with this “Balance” is that the overwhelming weight of medical opinion is being represented by one person, and a fringe few by another. This was bad enough.

But now we have celebrities entering the fold. Jenny McCarthy, yes with her MTV medical credentials, has decided to take the anti-Vaccine fight to the public. So now we have one anonymous doctor who is representing the majority of medical opinion verses a celebrity mom who blames the vaccines for her child’s autism. Now I feel very sorry for Ms McCarthy, and I understand her desire to have somebody/entity to blame, but she is consequently endangering innocent children.

Last year in the UK alone there were 1,217 cases of measles from January to November. This has caused the UK to be labelled as “one of the worst countries in Europe for measles”.

I will stress that obviously this is not by any means a medical blog, it is merely that this subject captured my attention 8 years ago and only seems to become more and more important. I also understand that you would be even crazier to take medical advice from “Some Bloke on the Internet” than Jenny McCarthy (Although not by much), but I do urge you that if you are in any doubt whether to immunise, do some research, read some of the following.

stopjenny.com More on the surrounding of the Jenny McCarthy story and why she is wrong.

The Times article on Wakefield’s conflict of interest.

Wikipedia list studies since Wakefield’s Lancet publication overwhelmingly indicating there is no link between MMR and vaccination.

Phil Plait talks about the American problems of the Anti-Vaccine movement

Or for far a more detailed look at this topic than I can begin to offer, Autism’s False Prophets by Paul A. Offit

Please note that I am not attacking parents that have chosen not to vaccinate their child, I am sure that they have made the decision based on the evidence presented to them at the time (although I do hope to direct them to more recent and scientifically accepted evidence). I know it seems to be the default fall back, but I do feel much of the mainstream media have indeed let parents down (Don’t get me started on Oprah!).


Miracle Landing By Super Pilot

January 20, 2009

OK. We all heard about the plane crash where they all walked away last week, right?

Emergency LandingEveryone has rightly praised the pilot for pretty much single handedly saving the lives of all the passengers. However, since then people have been throwing out statistics such as there is only a 2% chance of the plane not breaking up on contact etc …

Am I the only one to notice the implicit challenge in this? There must be blokes everywhere thinking … “I could have done that” … and the worrying thing is a small percentage of them are probably pilots. MSNBC is even giving instructions

I for one will be avoiding air-travel in the near future … at least until the testosterone levels have returned to normal and the pilot is once again deemed to be mortal!


A Strange School Day

January 19, 2009

Lisa had quite an unusual school-day today. I picked her up from school, after she had had a mere 2 hours, so that I could take her to the hospital for a hearing exam. We arrived for the appointment at 11:30 where we were asked to take a seat. She took a look at the meagre selection of toys in the children’s area and decided that was not going to be how she would pass the time, after 5 minutes of “is it our go yet …” I decided to pull out the iPhone. She decided to watch the film Open Season, so I explained that we would have to stop it soon when the lady comes to get us, but she said she was OK with that. So we both sat and watched the movie … 50 minutes later we were called in for her hearing exam.

After 5 minutes of beeps and whistles we were asked to return to the waiting room where we waited for another 15 minutes before talking to a doctor that told us that she did not “need intervention” at this time, but wants us to repeat the process in 3 months time!

So we exit the hospital at 12:50 and I realise that although I have been longer than I had anticipated and needed to get back to work, Lisa had now missed her school lunch, and I would have to feed her before returning her to school! I had a choice, I could be a responsible parent and take her home and find something nourishing to give her, or I could be the irresponsible, but mega-popular “Super Daddy” and reward her bravery by taking her to visit the golden arches … I’ll leave it to your powers of deduction as to which I chose … but after a happy meal and a McFlurry I had a very happy girl on my hands (I do point out that we always play the ABC game (name a something beginning with … A … B … [I tried posting a link to explain … but my google skills failed me]) at McD’s so it was at least partially educational 😉 ).

Upon leaving the store we were greeted by another flurry. It was snowing. Genuinely lumpy flakes of snow! Alas it was too brief an outburst for it to actually stick, but it was quite exciting (I know some of you have snow up to your elbows but for us … Snow is Snow!). So although it was not exactly according to the script, it was very nice to have a bit of a Daddy-Daughter fun day. And thus here I am catching up on the 4 hours of missed work avoidance 😉


Some Of My Favourite Books

January 15, 2009

OK, so BookMama asked "What is your Favorite" But picking one book is hard. You wouldn’t ask me which was my favourite child, right? So I started writing a short list of some of my favourite books, and decided to turn it into a post.


Catch 22: This was one of those books that I could not get past chapter 1 … numerous times I started it … Finally I decided I would set aside some time to read it and press on … It does not actually take long before you see the logic in the crazyness and you really get into the book. It is one of those books that no matter how crazy he makes it, you find yourself saying “I know someone just like that!”. The book amazingly manages to be both very funny and a cold reflection of the futility of war.

A Tale Of Two Cities: This was another book that is difficult to get into. A gripping account of Paris, before and during the French revolution. Engaging in terms of both the big picture of the crazy goings on in Paris and the little picture of the story of some of the people caught up in it all. I love Paris, and to think of such horrendous goings on in the very same streets is mind-blowing.

Charlotte Gray: Although not perfect, this is Sebastian Faulks at is very best. Interesting, engaging and in places heart breaking, the followup to Birdsong took it to another level.

The Whole Harry Potter Series: OK, so I get no prizes for originality, but I really did love these books.

To Kill A Mockingbird: Thankfully we have come a long way since this book.

Pride And Prejudice: On a slightly different note, this is one of the most amusing books I have ever read. It also has my favourite opening line of all time

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.


Nineteen Eighty-Four: Chillingly close to reality. As much as I like to tell myself that Orwell was a overly dramatic pessimist, I frequently end up equating much of what goes on in modern society to sections of this book. So many of the concepts of this book have gone on to become part of the modern English language.

So what else is there … what are your favourites?
Warning: Anyone recommending “Catcher In The Rye” will be shot on sight …


Birds and the Bees

January 13, 2009

Bart is 8 now, but as a consequence of being in the school swimming team, he is often hanging around with children that are that bit older than him. Consequently his vocabulary has received a little more colour. I am not saying that he is using swear words, but he is now aware of them (even through a thick scouse accent). The problem is he is curious of anything that seems like it is being kept a secret from him.

Which brings me to a conversation I had with a friend a while back. We were discussing this and he told me that he had had the “Birds and the Bees” talk with his 8 year old. I was horrified at the prospect. Surely this is the conversation you have with a teenager, not my little boy. He may not exactly be pure but he is still rather innocent. But as he pointed out to me, he will have received much of the information from his peers by that age, this way I am in control of how it is delivered, making sure that I can explain that it is intended in the context of a loving relationship and most importantly … not until he is at least 35! 🙂

This conversation was a couple of months back, and I have resisted “The Talk” with every fibre of my being, I truly would love to take the ostrich approach, but unfortunately it is looking more and more imminent. I do want to be the one that talks to him, I do want him to feel that he can talk to me about these things, and I also feel that if I talk about it now, I may be able to set up that dialogue with him before the adolescent embarrassment kicks in and every word has to penetrate a veil of awkwardness.

So what do people think? Should I talk to him before he receives the school yard version? Is it wrong to talk about the birds and the bees to a child that still believes in Santa Claus?