Here’s a difficult to read story about dealing with a pregnancy that you know will lead to the death of the child at birth or soon after. I was pointed to it by a friend who is close to one of the families in the story. Unexpectedly I know the other family, as Janel used to row with me in Minneapolis. In both cases the families didn’t deserve the burdens they’ve had to shoulder (not that anyone really does), but have borne them with a grace I don’t see in myself.

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I rarely blog about the cute things my kids say, because I don’t want you all throwing up in your mouths. But I thought you might cope with this one. Sam is 4 years old…

Sam (seeing a piebald horse out of the car window): Daddy, there was a horse there that looked like a cow, but it was a horse.

Me: I saw that too! I think there’s a special name for horses like that.

Sam: Yes, a cow-horse.

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We were lucky enough to inherit a PS2 from my brother-in-law, who has upgraded to an XBOX 360. There are scarcely half a dozen games I like, the off-the-top-of-my-head list being something like:

  • Elite
  • Populous
  • Civ
  • Dune 2
  • DiceWars
  • Gran Tourismo

That last one makes me happy to have the PS2, the only platform that runs GT. I can waste many happy hours on that, which is fortunate because I utterly suck at all other games. For example, last night I tried Half Life, and died before I even saw anything to shoot because I couldn’t climb up a ladder without falling to my doom.

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Pros and Cons

Something I miss about Minneapolis
Cycling was a lot easier in the US. Off the main routes roads are often pretty quiet, speed limits were a handy bit lower (55 instead of 60 or 70), roads are wide giving plenty of space, and there’s an excellent network of cycle paths. In contrast almost every road is busy here, they’re either main routes that are difficult to cycle on or minor little roads that have little spare space, and the impressive national cycle network comes nowhere near me.

Something to balance that out
Yesterday (11 March) we had the windows open throughout the house. That seems like a simple thing, but we found that in Minnesota it was only an option for a couple of months each year; the rest of the time it was either too cold or too hot. Add in the fact that we don’t need screens to keep out the mosquito plague (something that used to drive me nuts), and I think I can cope with cycling on narrow roads.

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Exports is currently doing the rounds of blogs and emails, because it’s a very cool (though hardly original) idea. It distorts the relative sizes of countries based on a range of statistics. For example, the number of war deaths per head of population would result in Australia being practically invisible, while a mapping of the number of koalas per head of population would feature Australia quite prominently. If that doesn’t make sense, just look at the site, it’s pretty obvious.

Anyway, among all the ‘social commentary’ stats about births, poverty etc. there’s this map of toy exports. Parts of Europe are bigger than I would have expected (esp. Italy), but the big feature (literally) is China – it’s significant in several of the manufacturing categories, but not to this extent. In fact it’s even more distorted than this map of toy imports.

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