Friday, February 29, 2008

News glorious news

So the surgery was odd, but easy. You go and sit on a nice comfy table, then your eyes get swabbed, then the eyelids tapped open, then it gets weird. Each eye in turn gets done. First they place a device directly on your eye, the world goes black, thenit cuts a flap off your cornea. I felt nothing other than pressure. It comes off, you have the odd site of the doctor directly swabbing your eye ball, then its a bit of flashy red light. The smell is the weirdest as it burns the lens into its new shape. Finally the flap gets put back, a protective contact lens is put in place and... voila. Its done.

You're supposed to keep your eyes as closed a possible for the next while, and you have to wear funny shades to bed to stop you from rubbing your eyes. I slept well enough, and got up refreshed this morning. My eyes are a little sore, and things are still a bit blurry. Much improved, I can see long distances, but a bit blurry. Its a combination of the cornea being a bit swollen and the lens muscles readjusting. It is supposed to improve as the days go by. I shall keep you posted, but for now, all is well.

On another note I was about to post about how well its going with the new nanny. We really like her. She's friendly, happy, and the arrangements with her bringing her little girl along some of the time seems to be going well. She's picked up all the cleaning stuff, and its amazingly nice to come home to a tidy house every night. The kids are getting along with her as well, so all was seeming better than good.

Then... last night we had her in tears as she said she'd just found out she was pregnant! Seems she has a medical problem such that she doesn't have a period per say, but had been feeling a little queer lately. Went into the doctor and found out she was 12 weeks pregnant! Completely unplanned, she said their birth control (thankfully without going into detail) must have failed.

Just our luck, to find someone we like, and likes us and the job, and... she's pregnant! Still both trying to figure out what we do now...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buck Rogers

I am a four eyes. Since the tender age of eight I have woken up, put on my glasses and effectively worn them until I took them off to go to bed. Day in, day out bar the odd day when they where broken, or to play sports I've had a bit of metal and glass sitting on my nose.

Today, bar a disaster, that is going to change. When laser surgery came out I had a friend in the field. I considered it, but as I'm not that bothered by my state, thought it safe to wait ten years to see what the long term effects where. Ten years somehow became twenty, but they changed the methodology in there somewhere, and still I waited.

Oddly enough I've just had a good number of friends who've 'been done' lately. One in particular had done a lot of research and interviewed 8 different doctors before settling on one. It seems the right time, especially if someone else has done the hard work.

So, later today I got to sit in a chair, have my eyelids be put into bondage, and to have a very precise light indeed shone into my eyes. The prognosis is, all going well, that I might end up with even better than 20/20 vision. We shall see... Literally.

I'm quite looking forward to a life with only two eyes. Glasses are a bit of a bother. They're always needing cleaning and going out in the rain is a nuisance. I also can't just buy those cool looking sunglasses.

I shall tell you how it goes tomorrow (or maybe the next day as it takes a bit of time for the brain to adjust (apparently)). Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pride vs Terror

Pride and terror seem a very odd mix, but its pretty common as a parent. You want to see them grow and learn and achieve, but at the very same time you want them safe. A soft big fluffy duvet to swaddle them up in would do just nicely.

Take skiing for instance. When Princess graduated from the nursery slopes to go with an instructor up the hill, both LL and I were hugely proud. We hung back and took the next gondola up so we could watch. Seeing her do her nice big turns following in the duck row behind the teacher was wonderful.

Yet at the same time my heart was in my mouth. Its so steep, she's taken a fall, is everything all right! Yet she gets up, obviously giggling, and carries on. After that moment of terror I was even more proud of her for getting up laughing.

Its the bit of parenting that is so wonderful and yet so horrible. You love them so much every achievement is your own. Equally every pain they have is felt double fold. You'd give anything, even your life to spare them harm.

Yet... Yet... Life means harm. Its unavoidable really if you're lucky its not too much harm, and the good outweighs it. Last week was a lucky week, lots of good, lots of pride and not too much of the terror and harm.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm back.

It was a fantastic week. We went to Austria to the little resort of Galtur. Carefully chosen because 1) its high up and 2) its quiet and 3) it was supposed to be a real family resort. It met all three points with flying colours.

We stayed at a typical Austrian guest house in a small suite with the kids in one room and us in the next. A nice place, complete with Jacuzzi in the basement. Food was good two, dinner each night was a five course extravaganza, but thankfully quickly served. When you've got small kids having dinner nice and prompt is a blessing. It was all things the kids ate (mostly), which helps!

The highlight though was the skiing. Its not a big resort, maybe 40km of runs, but well kept. Nothing hugely exciting, even the black runs where a bit tame, but that wasn't what we were looking for this time. What really helped was an excellent ski school. The kids are all at different levels, indeed Princess at the ripe age of four hadn't had skies on before. All of them did really well. Princess, from a start of naught, but the end of the week graduated from the bunny slopes to ski right down from the top of the mountain. She is now one of those ultra cute, slightly nauseating little kiddie bundles that flashes down the slopes. The boys did equally well, no accidents, just happy kids.

For us two adults it was just a quiet week skiing in clear blue skies on really excellent snow. Nothing two exciting, but we had to meet the kids for lunch and after their classes, so we couldn't exactly go far. No, we just meandered and enjoyed the view.

It was just one of those holidays that is hard to beat. Good weather, good exercise, good views, good food and happy happy kids. Not much more to ask for really!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Time Out

Oh lots of posts burbling at the back of my brain. However, its been a busy week. Then, as of tomorrow chez boy decamps to a cold snowy clime to do a bit of skiing.

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the sport. It has hurt me as a long surgical scar on one arm can prove. I have to deal with my ego about having a wife who is a far far better skier than I am (poor male poppet that I am...). Plus I suffer from mild vertigo and sometimes looking down a steep slope I have to take my heart in my hands and literally make a leap of faith that I'll survive my way to the bottom.

All of those can be dealt with. The benefits so far outweigh them. I'm a bit of an outdoor boy. There is nothing better than crisp cold air, blue sky and mountains for a sky line. Well maybe warm sultry air, crisp white sand and crystal blue sea, but you get the idea. It means a day of exercise. It means spending time together with those I love. Its lots of goodness which make it easy to cope with those other tiny issues.

The two boys are just starting to be OK skiers. I suspect a fair bit of this trip will be spent with them on the easy blue and green runs. That's just OK. There will come a day when they are better at it than I am, and they'll go zooming off. For now some family togetherness is good.

So for now, and the next week, its this boy signing off. See you all soon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I'm in the curious position of being involved in a senior manager having been asked to leave the company. At this level people aren't fired, they are asked to compromise. Lawyers are involved, tidy sums of money exchanged, and words around the leaving are carefully crafted to assure no vocal position of blame or censure.

It ain't like this for most. I have some sympathy, the man is 59 and will be unlikely to be hired full time again. Saying that, there's a good market in what's known as interim management where you get paid a lot of money for generally short periods of work. He won't be hard up financially, though I can't speak for emotionally.

My sympathy stops around behavior. He's being awkward at every turn, telling people its a mistake, that wrack and ruin will follow. I can't help but think how I'll behave in the same circumstance (because I'll be very lucky indeed if it doesn't happen to me sometime). I wouldn't act like he is, you put on your best smile, be as helpful as possible, and exit as gracefully as allowed.

On the flip side I'm having to deal with the fall out. I'm managing his team while we go through a reorganisation, am dealing with all the issues that are coming out of the woodwork, and generally not having a good time. Its not easy, for him, for me, for the staff. Yet, as hard as it is, its the right decision for the business. Things change, you adapt, and carry on. Such is life...

Monday, February 11, 2008


Putting things off to the last minute. Its such a bad habit and one I'm more than a little guilty of myself. It seems number one son has inherited said bad habit.

He was assigned a project to get done by half term. He had to draw a picture and write a page about a Hindu God. Half term is coming up and it had to get done this weekend. We'd organised a visit to the library and he and I had done a little surfing to find some good pictures and stories. Thing is, that was weeks ago, and he'd done nothing more.

I think he was finding it all a bit daunting. He also had a lot of other home work this weekend as well as having to practice for his music boards exam on the sax. It ended up with him slumped on the floor Saturday afternoon crying about how unfair it all is. He suffers a bit from oldest sibling syndrome of having to do everything first.

Unfortunately LL lost it a bit and there was loud words and more tears. I struggle with outright anger, LL does not. Oddly it may have been cathartic for both of them. Regardless, after some dark muttering Pirate Pete buckled down.

Sunday ended up a really lovely day. Deals on behavior had been struck, birthday parties had to be gone to, and a little boy got busy with his homework. Thing is, he did a pretty good job. We discussed layout (he's studied newspapers at school) he went through his various sources and highlighted the facts he wanted to use, did a draft then wrote out his good copy. It wasn't bad at all.

As I was tucking him last night in he told me it had been a really nice relaxing day. Funny, he'd actually worked really hard, he just hadn't got stressed about it. May his life so continue...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Thought for the Day

My drive to the train station often coincides with "Thought for the Day" on the Today programme. You get religous leaders having an open forum for a few minutes on any topical subject.

Sometimes you get the most banal platitudes, sometimes there is commentary that it interesting and occasionally there is real insight that makes me node my head.

Today was one of the later days. Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, was commenting on recent scientific study that stated most often childhood obesity was based on genes. Parents could wipe their heads in relief that if little Johnny wasn't so little is wasn't their fault.

I'm paraphrasing, but Sacks very simply said that this discounts free will. Circumstance, background or even genes aside, you do determine how you live your life. In the case of children, who's free will and conscience is not yet fully formed, parental will substitutes.

I couldn't agree more. We seem to have drifted into a society where fault lays everywhere but with the individual. True, life is unfair, some people have genes which predispose them to being skinny others to being large. That is unfair and its hard. Yet free will holds true. A predisposition to your body retaining fat does not mean you have to be fat. It does mean you have to eat less and exercise more. That is massively unfair, but, you know, that's life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Privacy Lost

Its been such an informative news month. Many of our dear governments trampling of long established rights and freedoms have come to light in gaffs and explosions. The latest news of an MP being taped while in conversation with a constituent in jail.

Not that long ago (ie under the last conservative government) a request for electronic surveillance had to be approved by a magistrate, then signed off by no less than the home secretary. It had long been deemed such an extreme invasion of privacy that it required the highest level of judicial and political oversight.

No more.

Through a string of legislation surveillance can be undertaken on the simple suspicion of a senior police officer or in many circumstances, a senior civil servant. Did you know that your local council has the right to bug your phone if you are suspected of fly tipping? No judicial oversight, no conversation with a government minister, you can just have your phone calls listened to because you have dumped some rubbish. Oh, sorry, because you're suspected of dumping some rubbish.

Now I don't know about you, but I've never been hugely impressed with the quality of management of my local council. In saying that I think we have one of the better managed councils.

Did you know that there are over 100 government agencies at various levels that can access your tax records or even your medical records? They don't need to particularly prove anything, just ask for it in the normal carrying out of duties.

Now, perhaps, modern surveillance doesn't need the signature of the home secretary, though it would clearly make people think twice. However, the complete break with even standard judicial oversight is absurd. We've sleep walked into a police state people and its time to wake up.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Manly manliness

So, a week away, and though I kept up with my question answering I'm woefully behind with my other bloggy duties. Somehow I'll catch up, but its a busy week. A final question to go, but a small divergence back to life.

I didn't play soccer as a boy, I did the Canadian thing of hockey and rugby. I can't say I did much of either, swimming was more my sport, but I did play some

Rugby is definitely an amateur sport in Canada, no professional league to speak of. When you get older you switch to Canadian Football, which is similar to its American cousin but different. I had no idea that it was played the way it is in England.

I love it. Show me tickets to a Chelsea match and I'll shrug my shoulders, but tickets to Twickenham and I'm there. I'm sure I'll upset someone (or many someones) but to me Rugby is a man's sport. Soccer is all dancing, US Football all pads and protection and standing around. Rugby is fast, hard, with real proper danger.

So it was with entirely mixed feelings I heard that Pirate Pete had been chosen for his year group school squad. I love the fact that I've got a sporty boy who likes to read and do math and tootle on his sax. Yet, you can't be a parent and not feel their pain if hurt.

Yesterday was the regional finals for the nationals. They did well, not quite well enough to get to the next round, but they won the runners up plate. My boy was out there, pounding up and down the pitch, tackling and getting his hands on the ball when he could.

Boy, what a mixed emotion when you see your lad do a flying tackle. Pure unadulterated pride in watching him be tough, and a catch in your heart as you wait for everyone to get up and play on. I loved it though and was proud along with him as he talked about the final match they won to take the plate.