Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Weekend in Dublin

Heike, Liam and I visited Dublin at the weekend, and had a very pleasant stay. It was a lot more relaxing than our usual weekend trips, inasmuch as we stayed till Monday, thus avoiding the Sunday afternoon rush to the airport.
On Saturday we met up with Heidi, Caitriona and Albert, and most importantly had our first introduction to Sarah Catherine Fleming. Liam was suitably impressed by the baby.
It was just the right weekend to visit Dublin, as everyone's spirits were lifted by the magnificent 43:13 win over England in the Six Nations. The game was destined to be historic for the setting, this year being the first time that Croke Park is used for football and rugby. The atmosphere and scoreline made all the idiot hardliners protesting outside all the more irrelevant.
On Saturday and Sunday evening, Liam was able to tire himself out playing with his cousins, I'd love to include pictures, but I stupidly left the camera at home :-(
All in all a very enjoyable weekend.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Shuffling Along

I recently added the 2nd generation iPod Shuffle to our family of iPods. The size comparison is an eye-opener. The old and clunky iPod Mini on the left was sold to me as a "small" device - but that was 2 years ago. Heike's Nano in the middle is certainly slim, sleek and sexy, but still pretty big compared to the Shuffle on the right.
Which is great for my purposes, namely jogging with Electra. The Mini used to fulfil this purpose, but in old age has been skipping when jogged, and the battery life was never that great. It has been retired to more gentle duties, semi-permanently plugged into the car stereo.
The sound quality on the Shuffle has been a pleasant surprise. I had been aware of Bill Machrone's positive review in PC Mag, and the corresponding research he published, but I hadn't expected my ears to pick out the difference while jogging on a windy day listening to 128kbps MP3s. However now I'm a convert - the sound quality for me is better than the two bigger cousins in the picture.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bake me a cake as fast as you can!

Here's Liam helping out in the kitchen, as is his wont. I remember licking the cake spoon as a child, and although I can't imagine doing so now, I know I loved it back then. It must be an age thing.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Domain Pain revisited

In a previous post, I described the difficulties I had trying to set up a custom domain with 1&1 as my service provider. Since then, I've switched to Strato, and put the blog back to the FTP Publishing settings. So back to square 1, although I'm no longer all that bothered about having a Google-hosted domain, as it makes me totally reliant on Google Analytics for statistics, and this won't count browsers like mine who don't trust Javascript.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Riding a Wooden Mouse

There is currently an exhibition of outdoor Spielgeräte (LEO's translation = playground equipment, there's got to be a better translation that I can't think of) in Mannheim's Luisenpark, and Liam was there today to try things out. Here he is riding a large wooden mouse, a fun activity if ever there was one. There is more info on these great playground equipment things here: .
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Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Pirate at the Prunksitzung

Here's a picture of Liam from last night's Kurpfälzer Trabanten Prunksitzung. By this time he had already dispensed with the main part of his pirate costume, namely his hook hand.
For those not familiar with the German tradition of Fasching, a Prunksitzung involves a hall full of people in silly clothes listening to allegedly comic sketches and playing plenty of oompa music. Liam loved it, especially the oompa music. More photos here.
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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Liam's new BMW Z3

Heike was at a Kinderflohmarkt today, and came back proudly with a new BMW model for Liam. He instantly understood that it was meant for him (how do children understand the concept of property so quickly?) and took it for a spin.
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Friday, February 09, 2007

Domain Pain

Those of you who have subscribed to the RSS Feed URL as instructed in my post from Jan 20th will have noticed that the feed is currently out of action. This is entirely my fault, and will be rectified, but I can't say when.
Some background: when I set up this blog last month, I started with the FTP publishing option from Blogger. I did this because I wanted a friendlier URL than, and I already owned
Once up and running however, I found that FTP publishing has some disadvantages compared to using a Blogger-hosted URL, particularly when it comes to template layouts and access control.
So I resolved to set up the blog as a custom domain, so the URL would be owned by me, and hosted by This necessitates creating a CNAME record within my domains DNS record, a procedure which according to Blogger, is widely available from ISPs, and should you run into difficulty, "you can contact your registrar directly and they'll be able to help you out".
To cut a long story short, my provider 1&1 was crap. They told me I couldn't change DNS settings on my current tariff, then when I upgraded they said I could only change the "simple" DNS settings A record and MX records.
So, currently I'm at the dreaded blogspot URL as an emergency solution, and all traffic is redirected here. The feed is dead, as I mentioned above. I'm switching domain provider to I'll let you know if this revitalises the feed, or whether I simply stay with Blogspot.
Have a great weekend...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Photos of Trabü Ball

Pictures in the Photo Gallery here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Harry Potter Due Date

From the BBC:
"The last instalment of the Harry Potter saga will be published on 21 July,
author JK Rowling has announced".

By amazing coincidence, this is also the date that Liam's younger sibling is due to make his/her first appearance.
If the dates do coincide though, don't expect a Harry or Hermione, we like the books more than the names (although Hagrid has a certain ring to it).

Heidelberg Zoo

I just got around to uploading some pictures of Liam and Heike from Xmas Eve in Heidelberg Zoo. It was a great way to spend the last few hours before Santa's visit, despite our lily-livered bleeding-heart liberal reservations about captive animals (OK, so the animals would be better off in the wild, but they're fairly well cared for in Heidelberg, at least if I compare with my recollections of neurotic polar bears in Dublin Zoo of the 70's and 80's). And Liam loved it, especially the goats which he was able to pet.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Rape Victim jailed in Florida

This is a horrific story about a young woman who was raped near the University of Tampa campus. She reported the crime to the police, who proceeded to check their records.

Question 1: Why check a victim’s crime record as first priority?

In any case, a warrant for her arrest was on the books, for failing to “pay $4,585 restitution after a 2003 juvenile arrest”. The police immediately handcuffed and jailed her.

Question 2: Why should a 4-year old minor charge (the woman claims the fine was paid and the warrant is a clerical error) result in a procedural decision to jail a rape victim?

But now surreal turns nasty. A direct quote - “A jail worker with religious objections blocked her from ingesting a morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy”. This is such a chillingly repulsive abuse of power for religious motives; it would have been turned down by scriptwriters as too unbelievable.

Question 3: What is the appropriate response from the state of Florida? Is sacking the jail worker and paying the woman enormous damages enough? Necessary, but probably not enough. Widespread reform of police procedure is probably also required, but I think that’s still only addressing a symptom. The reaction has to include some level of public awareness raising that “personal religious convictions” are just those – personal. Keep ‘em to yourself and don’t inflict them on others.