Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NASDAQ & DOW UPS AND DOWNS


I was reading yesterday about the black day for the world's stock markets. The Dow dropped over 500 at one point yesterday and the NASDAQ was pushing 100 points down. That is quite some drop for one day. I was into market analysis big time back 3 or 4 years ago and was sadly able to quote the majority of share prices on the NASDAQ, the biggies on the DOW and even some of the NYSE on a daily basis back then. I even remember one of the kids being able to draw the stock price graph for Cisco systems or the Qs before they could read or write! It is interesting to see the collapse originated in China - for a while Chinese stocks like SINA, SOHU, CHINA were jumping up in leaps and bounds (but also occasionally falling flat on their faces) so you really needed a strong constitution to stay in them for long - I had a few shares in each for a bit but bottled it between 2001 and 2003 when post 9/11 was hitting the fan. I do remember even on its worst days (9/11 excepted of course) that a fall of around 40 points was bad so to watch it drop by more than double that yesterday must have been vomit-worthy for those still in. I do occasionally still miss the adrenalin-surge of the New York markets but I sleep more soundly at night I guess. Maybe one day I'll have enough money to play City chick in Times Square once more, we'll see where destiny take me.

BT BUILDING, GLASGOW


BT Glasgow
Originally uploaded by
phyl1.
I don't think I am completely reactionary when it comes to architecture - sure I love old buildings like in Paris or the tenements in the West End in Glasgow, but I don't mind some modern stuff too (60s and 70s rough-cast monstrosities omitted, that goes without saying), however what on earth is this nonsense? I mean someone was probably paid more than my annual salary to design these 5 varyingly-coloured turds blocking the entrance to the BT telecom building in central Glasgow - come on - when did this become art?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NO IMPROVEMENT

Well the week isn't improving yet - Charlotte got sent home from school today with a viral something which is manifesting as a bad headache, a temperature and no appetite. Meanwhile Pudgy still has something green and disgusting oozing from one of his eyes. But I guess my psychic powers must be working as I sent myself a day´s work home before I left the office today, just in case I needed to work from home tomorrow.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A 'TYRING' START TO THE WEEK


tyre troubles
Originally uploaded by phyl1.

I guess if I try to look on the bright side of things - this morning was light, dry, sunny and warm. I was not driving alone with Marcel and Charlotte in the dark on the Kingston Bridge at 50mph at 7am, rather stuck in a traffic jam at 8am with Thomas, who unlike me did have the strength to unscrew the bolts on the wheel, it was payday so I could buy a new tyre and because of the speed, the car didn't skid out of control. However, I can think of easier ways to start a Monday morning, and I would rather still have that £111 in my pocket :-(

Oh and the Citroën handbook was a great help :-\ The first instruction it gave us two, not-very-adept wheelchangers was to 'remove the embellisher'. It was 8am, we'd just had a tyre blow up on the motorway - we stood there like a pair of numpties scratching our heads - the what??? Then suddenly re-reading how to remove it, I suddenly realized they were actually referring to the hubcap - I write dictionaries for a living - I have done for 16 years and I have never once heard the word 'embellisher' used to mean hubcap - so a blowout can be very educational - I made an instant mental note to add a category to the next big dictionary - a definition reading something along the lines:

embellisher n (=hubcap) an obscure term used in car handbooks to puzzle stranded motorists: 'Before jacking up your car, first remove the embellisher'

I wonder how often statistically you have a tyre explode anyway - this is my second in 22 years of driving. So that is approximately 1 blowout ever 110 000 miles, not too dangerous I guess!

Friday, February 23, 2007

VW BEETLES

...And I mean the real Beetles 'of the people' as opposed to the Yuppie Beetles you can buy these days if you feel like spending twice as much on a little car as a car is actually worth just for ponce-value.
I remember this one fondly - not sure why I photographed it in black and white (a teenage phase I guess) as it was a beautiful pale blue colour with a dark blue roof. It was the first car I ever drove - I had been nagging my dad from I was about 6 to teach me to drive so when I got to 16 I was fit to burst at the prospect of having to wait yet another year until I was old enough to get a provisional, so my dad, as a treat let me drive my mumś beetle (notice not his own Saab!) on my 16th birthday. I not sure that was a great idea in retrospect as it probably made me even more unbearable for the 366 days between my 16th and 17th birthday.
Anyway like most 60s babies I have a soft spot for the original Beetles - they were the car of my childhood, the first old bangers we drove in the 80s. But by the 90s there were few left and we all missed them and secretly moaned. Then around the millennium they brought out the replacement yuppie Beetle - nice enough - they do stand out as different as the original did but the market was all wrong. They were aimed young rich singles, not families with loads of kids and little money. I still remember driving to Blackpool in a Beetle in '77 - 4 people, 2 suitcases, a tent, airbeds, camping equipment, where did we put it all?! (It had practically no boot) And they had those fake leather seats your legs stuck to on the one hot day every summer if you had the misfortune to be wearing shorts. That was what Beetles were really about, not those silly vases on the dashboard the new ones have.
You are probably wondering my point by now? Just that 70s were Beetles driven by family men, 80s were old Beetles driven by teenagers, 90s were no Beetles and noughties started off as new poncy Beetles BUT in the past month I have started to notice them all over once again in Glasgow and around it - lovingly preserved Beetles of all colours - all around 1970 models. I have seen one or two every day for the last month, and all different ones - I would even kind of like one myself - well as a second car - for nostalgia's sake :-)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

TRABI-DAY


It seems to be the Trabant's 50th birthday today so the BBC has a pile of bizarre Trabi photos. Seeing them just reminded me of the 6 months I lived in Germany, in Konstanz in 1989 - that was a very interesting year to live in Germany, remember? ;-) Oh and just for Charlotte since she's into blogging pink cars - here's a selection of pink Trabants!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CHILDCARE


I turned on the radio yesterday to hear that the headline news in Glasgow in February 2007 is that childcare costs a lot! This is news???? It hits the headlines in 2007 that many people are paying out more in childcare than in mortgage. I am astounded they've just noticed. It is almost 9 years to the day since Marcel first started nursery in the West end of Glasgow and even then my nursery fees were 30% higher than my mortgage. They wonder why the population isn't growing, why we are soon going to have more pensioners than kids in this country and in the same breath they mention that nursery costs on average one third of the average person's income per child. Well given most people need to pay more than just childcare - I mean most people have accomodation to pay, food, a car, petrol, insurance of various different types, heating, holidays, etcetcetc and they wonder why we can't shell out 60% of our salary for childcare for 2 under 5s. Give me strength. It isn't rocket science. If they want us to work and have kids then childcare has to cost less than your entire salary, no?

Pudge goes to a lovely nursery - I can't recommend it highly enough, but yes it does cost a third of my income to pay his 5 morning sessions a week :-(

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

WE ARE GOING TO THE SUN!!!!


Charlotte has decided to write a book - as you will be able to read if you go on to her blog today. I think her wee story is great - being able to write so many paragraphs after just one year at school is impressive. However one thing that I think is missing from the version on her blog is the cuteness of the original. You see she wrote it up by hand before putting it on her blog. The problem being blogger doesn't really let you spell things too wrongly. But the original is so sweetly childlike so I thought I would transcribe it here in spite of blogger's spellchecker no doubt throwing its arms up in despair as I do it.

We are going to the sun!!!!

This book tells you about rockets and planits. Furst I will tell you about the sun. The sun is a hot plas to go. If you go to the sun you will di becose the sun is the hotist thing in the eoonavers. Now I will tell you about the Eerth. It is a plas with lods of animals.

Now its mars is a rela hot plas but the sun is hoter than mars also mars is made of lava. It is now Joopiter. Joopiter is mad of lod of gas. I thinc that Joopiter is the onla Planit that has gas in it.

Now I will tell you about rockets. I thinc that a rocket to the sun wood tack about ten yeers. Now I will tell you about the Erth if you teak a rocket to Erth wood teak 7 yeers. Now its Mars. I think a rocket to Mars wood teak about 8 yeers. I thinc a rocket to Joopiter wood teak about 6 weeks.

Now thars tow aleeins. One of the aleeins gets eatin by a monster from Mars the uther aleein made a rocket and floo it to the moon. It can be yelo or gray. When the aleein went to the moon there was an asanot on the moon and the asanot spoc inglish but the aleein did not speec inglish so the aleein did not undrstand the asanot but after they traid to tock there sheeps brock down. They thot they had to sta on the moon forever but anuther rocket came and took them away but the aleein that was in the roket did not lete the astanot in the roket so the tow aleeins got bak to there on planit.
You have to agree that 'eoonavers' has to be the sweetest word you ever saw - you can just hear her sounding out every syllable to work out the spelling, can't you?

ALIENS FROM MARS THIS TIME?


I thought I'd come up with the perfect way to do that green-eyed Lotsie photo I mentioned the other day. I was sure I'd cracked it. But as you can see I still seem to be creating martians rather than beautiful artistic shots :-(

Saturday, February 17, 2007

BUMBLE BEE (COLOURED) PHOTOGRAPHY

Stung by my failure to produce a stunning shot of Lotsie's green eyes, I did a quick colouring in (or colouring out as you actually have to do it) of a photo of I took of a bush near my garden last spring - just to prove to myself that I could actually master the technique. I think I have got the hang of it, now I need to find a more interesting subject or two.

ALIENS FROM JUPITER


Aliens from Jupiter
Originally uploaded by phyl1.
Tonight I had this great idea. After seeing Thomas's Blue Pudge in a grey world and yellow duck I got this idea that a simple black and white shot with just my kids' eyes coloured in would be nice - Marcel's are olive green, Charlotte's a lighter green and Pudge is blue so I thought this would work for all three. I went through all the steps in the GIMP tutorial but the eye colour was so pale against the grey that it simply still looked grey - I was more than annoyed so put on my thinking cap. I went back to the original photo, turned up the greens and down the reds till the photo was much stronger in colour. Then I swapped into black and white and set about erasing the grey mask over the coloured eyes, expecting my lateral thinking couldn't fail to result in anything short of a stunning shot of Charlotte's beautiful green eyes...Wrong again - I got this seriously weird result which was so far from what I was attempting that I felt it necessary to upload it anyway. I guess I should retry over then next few days - I'm sure my idea will work eventually - I just need to adjust my greens a wee bit.

Friday, February 16, 2007

SUNFLOWERS


Sunflowers
Originally uploaded by phyl1.
I love sunflowers. I was out for a walk one day last summer in Southern France when a huge thunder storm hit - while everyone else ran for cover I decided the best thing to do was to run into a nearby field of sunflowers and try to photograph their beautiful yellow heads under a grey and menacing sky rather than the stereotypical blue one. And of course now we use digital rather than film, there was nothing to stop me taking over 50 photos in the hope I would actually catch a fork of lightning above my beloved flowers. As it happens I only caught one, here off to the side - but it is real - there was no cloning involved here!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

BLUE PUDGE IN A GREY WORLD


Blue Pudge in a grey world
Originally uploaded by viralbus.
This is a photo technique I have always wanted to try, and just like cloning it is a ten minute affair with the GIMP software. I can´t wait to have a look through my photos this weekend to find something I can try to partially colour like this!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

EUROPEAN BOOBS!


While reading his Danish newspaper this morning, Thomas came across an article about breast sizes in Europe. He was more than surprised to see it quoted none other than Glasgow's own Daily Record! Following the story up, he went back to the original article in the Daily Record. Apparently British women have the biggest breasts in Europe :-\ This fact, he said, did not surprise him! However it did make me wonder after a problematic few days shopping. You see I don't seem to be able to find my swimsuit. With both the older kids liking swimming and Pudgy being so at home in water I feel like I should just let him go because he'd be happy to attempt to swim already, I feel they are really missing out on their previous weekly visits to the pool. So about 4 days ago I set out to buy myself a new swimsuit. I tried the usual obvious shops, and they all had reasonably priced one-piece swimsuits, bikinis and even tankinis BUT and it's a bit BUT in my case, they all had non-removable padded breasts. Given I spend half my life trying unsuccessfully to stop my overlarge chest from falling out of an E-cup bra, why on earth would I want padding in a swimsuit? I would look utterly ridiculous! So if British women do indeed need a D cup or greater in general, could someone please pass this important information on to the swimwear manufacturers so we don't all end up looking stupid next time we dive into a pool, please?

CHARLOTTE'S BLOGGING TOO NOW


Charlotte decided today she needed a blog - I hadn't signed her up before because with her only being in p2 I didn't think her literary skills would be up to it...WRONG! She looks like she could become quite prolific!
(Oh and unlike her girlie mummy, Charlotte's blog isn't PINK, it's predictably BLACK.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

DON'T SAY THIS ISN'T CUTE!


Flicking through the BBC's in pictures section as always I came across this collection of baby panda shots. Now you have to admit these are heart-warming, no? It isn't often you see this many baby pandas together, is it?

THAT 'PARALLEL-UNIVERSE' CHILD AGAIN


Mandors
Originally uploaded by viralbus.
I was sitting at the traffic lights in Rose street the other day with Charlotte in the car in the front passenger's seat. She spotted this sign and immediately came out with: Look mum, if you take the 's' off that and change the 'r' to a 'y', then swap round the vowels then that sign would say 'Monday'! What???? Whatwhatwhat? did you just say? How and why does anyone think like that?

LOTS AND LOTS!


Lots of Lotsies
Originally uploaded by
viralbus.
I saw this staircase in Kelvingrove museum on Saturday and just knew it had to be the perfect setting for a clone photo! Given Charlotte hadn't had a clone shot done, she was more than happy to pose as soon as Thomas took out his tiny tripod!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

PRICELESS COMPUTING

I am sitting here typing on my computer. Its new cable is plugged into its new DC socket :-) I wonder how long this will last :-\ It is amazing the different treatment you get when you start explaining you'll be happy to take your computer to be fixed elsewhere using your refund if they will simply admit they aren't competent enough to repair it!

But I'm sure you'll be the first to know if this repair also fails - you may need to shield your eyes from a barrage expletives if it breaks down again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

MORE CLONES


Marcels playing poker
Originally uploaded by viralbus.
After encountering the multiple Pudges this morning, Marcel was more than impressed, describing it as positively the coolest photo he had ever seen and begging for his very own set of cloned siblings. I guess from his reaction to the result, he was more than pleased with the outcome :-)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I JUST HAD TRIPLETS!


Triplets
Originally uploaded by viralbus.
Thomas has been playing about with cloning and come up with wonderful shot of multiple Pudges. Can you imagine if it was real? Marcel, Charlotte, Léon, Gordon, extra Léon, extra extra Léon all hurtling around the livingroom at Granny and Pumpa´s house spilling all 3 red cups of juice! Photography really is fun these days. What will the wee man think when he sees this photo at 16 - will he wonder if he was one of triplets and if so what happened to the other two pudgy guys or will photography be much more surreal by then? We're still old school I guess - believing to a certain extent that a camera never lies - well it didn't use to but then we went digital!

BACK TO THE BLOG


a bath together
Originally uploaded by phyl1.
Haven't blogged for a few days - it's been a busy few. (And the bloody laptop socket has come loose AGAIN)
First I did some DIY - I tiled a wall in the kitchen and am impressed by how straight I managed to make it! (Photos to follow once it is actually finished and grouted).
Then I had a birthday - that's me 39 - how can that be possible when I still only feel 23???? I think I'll cancel next year's for sure - I can almost deal with 39, but 40 is just unimaginable - I still remember when it was my dad's 40th! I think I'll try living by Amanda's philosophy. She explained to me on Sunday that she turns 35 in 3 weeks - she's going to stick there until she turns 50 when she then might start admitting to being 39! Cool :-)
On my birthday the wee guys had a bath together for the first time. There's a whole series of shots, if you want to see them. They had so much fun. Being born within week's of a cousin definitely seems to make for a closer than normal relationship. Let's hope they'll still be this close 20 years from now (though hopefully by then they'll have better ways of amusing themselves than chasing each other naked up and down the hall in Gordon's house!)

Friday, February 02, 2007

WHAT'S TODAY?

First D.J.: Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today.
Second D.J.: It's coooold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?