Sunday, 9 September 2012

School Pics and Facial Hair

Hello Readers,
This will be a rare short post as this weekend was a scheduled non-activity weekend to allow everyone to sleep in and relax after our summer of travelling and the kids first week of school.  Tough weekend to stay home as it was 70+ F and sunny both days but we also need to recharge our internal batteries.

The Better Halves Club met last week at Blenheim House (link) in Etwall, a small village just west of Derby.  We had 4 members plus 2 half members show up.  One member cancelled due to a child's illness and Laverne and Shirley were out of town.  Sarah A's parting gift to the BHC was naming two of our members Laverne and Shirley because they act just like them.  I laughed so hard when Sarah said that, it just fits them.  It's all in fun, we call them Laverne and Shirley and they have even taken to signing their emails with their new names.  Too funny.  For lunch I had a fish and veg dish that was very good.  

The kids started school this week.  I don't have their schedules yet so I will cover their classes next week for the teachers and other curious folk in the audience. 

Super excited Kalle's first day.  She's in Year 6 or 5th Grade at home.

Happy go lucky Karl's first day in his smart uniform.  He's in Year 9 or 8th Grade at home.
And the Facial Hair of the Month winner is the Colonel Sanders!  The KFC Colonel (Wiki link) was born this month in 1890 in Henryville, Indiana.  In case you are wondering no I didn't know this fact, I am now starting to look up famous facial haired people for some of the months since all of the low hanging bearded fruit has been picked in the last twelve months.  Poor Lori didn't like most of the facial hairs (and there's another red mark on Aunt Joanie's monitor) so far so she's really not going to like the remaining months as I search for new styles. 

The somber Colonel sharing some sagely woodland advice.
One good thing about the Colonel is he delivered on my birthday cake while Uncle Sam and Vegas Elvis both epically failed on their attempts. Yeah cake!     
On Friday night we had dinner with one of Lori's Teledyne days co-workers.  Chuck was in London for business and after a chance email reconnection he modified his plans to check out Derby and see us.  A nice Italian dinner at the European Bistro with good company was a fun way to end the work week.  After dinner we walked around the city and showed Chuck some of the 16/1700's era buildings.

Finally another Carol Seppanen book update.  I finished The Jewish War by Josephus, 511 pages (Amazon link) .  It was a plodding read as Josephus wasn't a natural writer and at times contradicted himself which was mildly confusing.  For those that missed my Israel post, this is the book recommended to us by our tour guide.  Per our guide this book is the only first and/or second hand account of Jewish wars and life from a couple hundred years BC to about one hundred AD.  Because of this the Jews are grateful to Josephus for recording the history but on the other hand the writing is very self serving for Josephus so you have to take it with a grain of salt.  Plus Josephus is regarded as a traitor by some as he was a Jewish general who turned into a Roman suck up to save his life.  Jews in that time would fight to the death or kill themselves when total defeat was at hand to prevent the men from being tortured and/or killed by the Romans and prevent the women and children from being sold into slavery.  Not to get long winded but this was obviously a common problem then as the Jews had a system in place when victory or escape was futile.  Once all hope was lost the men would kill the women and children.  Then ten men would be selected to kill the rest of the men.  Those ten would draw tiles (examples of these tiles were found in a small room at Masada) and one of the ten would be responsible for killing the other nine then himself.  Josephus ended up being the last man at a fortress in northern Palestine but he didn't kill himself and instead surrendered to the Romans and weaselled his way to prominence in Rome which is why some Jews don't view him favourably.  It ended up working really well for him as he died a prominent Roman citizen with property which was extremely rare for a Jew; non-Roman people could live peacefully in conquered Roman areas but they didn't have any citizenship rights as an FYI.  As far as the book goes I am sure the Roman generals were not as understanding or noble or faultless as Josephus portrayed them to be but I guess that's part of why he was so well received by the Caesars.  He also prophesised to General Vespasian (Wiki link) that he (Vespasian) would become Emperor which came true so Vespasian thought he had some prophetic powers.  Overall the book was a tough read but informative enough to recommend it to anyone interested in biblical era literature.  Now I am reading The Silent Army by James Knapp, 372 pages.  This is the second book of the revivor trilogy that I started a while ago and the second book is as good as the first.  A balanced blend of present (FBI is the major crime fighting unit, cops use modern day weapons, cars and trains are transportation) and future (cops are implanted with an electronic eye that has a Wi-Fi link to the main computers, the eye basically does the work of a computer and monitor including projecting data in the person's field of vision, corpses are re-animated as revivors (zombies) to be used for manual labour jobs or as Army grunts) without a lot of gore.  A surprisingly refreshing change from my normal reading interests.      

On Saturday we went on a Treasure Trail (link) hunt. It's not an actual treasure hunt, it's a fun walk geared towards kids where you walk around towns looking for clues in the existing historical sites.  Once you find the clue you cross off a possible treasure location and move onto the next clue and eventually end up with the fictional treasure location.  It's designed as a fun way to explore cities although we didn't always enjoy it.  Lori and I let the kids follow the clues and helped as needed but it was a little rough at first as the kids didn't like the ambiguous clues.  We were all getting a little frustrated; Lori and I for the kid's lack of patience/willingness to explore a hidden meaning in the clue.  The kids were getting frustrated because everything wasn't immediately obvious to them.  I have to admit that they did much worse than I expected initially but did get better as we explored.  Maybe we need to do more of these ambiguous type activities to teach the kids how to think differently and branch out their minds.  We'll see.  We also had some interesting events on the walk.  There was the overly friendly Quaker lady who inadvertently helped us on a clue then seemed to be stalking us as we moved on to the next clue.  She wasn't actually stalking us (I think), we just happened to be on the path to her house so she strong armed us into looking at some Georgian era (late 1700's) houses.  There was also the gross sight as we walked upon a homeless man peeing into a storm sewer grate in broad daylight.  I have to admit I almost called it a day at that point as we had to walk past him/the spot to get to our next clue.  Yuck yuck yuck.  There was a fashion fail outfit as we saw a 20ish girl wearing a shear white top with cut out sides which showed her bare back and bra.  Not sure if teenage-ish girls all wear their bras on the outside at home but its common practise here to be showing their bras in public.  Not all of it was bad though as I learned a new word - Horologist.  One of the clues involved Horologist John Whitehurst (Wiki link).  I didn't know what a horologist (do you know what they do Auntie B?) was so I looked it up when we arrived home.  We capped off Saturday with an excellent home cooked Korean meal at our friend's.  I should have brought the camera but didn't so no pics of our tasty meal Dana.  Thanks Kuk it tasted great!   

Thanks for listening,

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