Friday, November 23, 2007

Goodnight Moon

There's a nail in the door
And there's glass on the lawn
Tacks on the floor
And the tv is on
And I always sleep with my guns
When you're gone

There's a blade by the bed
And a phone in my hand
A dog on the floor
And some cash on the nightstand
When I'm all alone the dreaming stops
And I just can't stand

What should I do I'm just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door he followed me home

Well goodnight moon
I want the sun
If it's not here soon
I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say
Goodnight moon

There's a shark in the pool
And a witch in the tree
A crazy old neighbour and he's been watching me
And there's footsteps loud and strong coming down the hall
Something's under the bed
Now it's out in the hedge
There's a big black crow sitting on my window ledge
And I hear something scratching through the wall

Oh what should I do I'm just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
I just hate to be all alone
Outside the door he followed me home
Now goodnight moon
I want the sun
If it's not here soon
I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say
Goodnight moon

Well you're up so high
How can you save me
When the dark comes here
Tonight to take me up
The mouth from woke
And into bed where it kisses my face
And eats my hand

Oh what should I do I'm just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door he followed me home
Now goodnight moon
I want the sun
If it's not here soon
I might be done
No it won't be too soon til I say
Goodnight moon
No it won't be too soon til I say
Goodnight moon

--- Shivaree ---

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Proud mother

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's a small world

In one of my last posts here, I praised Andre Pipa and his magazine, Volta ao Mundo, which I used to love when I lived in Portugal. Turns out that Andre is now one of my flickr friends! Yesterday, he dedicated this photo to me! I am honoured!

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's freezing...

It'll take ages to defrost the car before I rush Ana to school... a problem I never had in Lisbon... I can't believe that they're still having temperatures in the 20's in mid-November!
Inside it's nice and warm but it's hard to get up in the prospect of facing the cold outside...
It's Friday, though! And it's also "Children in Need" day. Non-uniform day for Clara and the usual drama about what to wear.
Blessed uniforms.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The neighbours' cat

Hi! I'm your new neighbour!


My name in an academic publication! Who would have thought it?

(Click to enlarge)

Mum: that's the Omega watch you and Dad gave me!

Still, my memory's persistence...

Monday, November 12, 2007

New neighbours

We finally have new next door neighbours, and with with a touch of Portugal, too!
Mum Vanessa, dad Andrew, and daughters Samantha(8) and Nicole(6) - who are both attending Clara's school - all share the Portuguese surname "da Ponte". Vanessa and Andrew came from South Africa 10 years ago. Andrew's family is originally from Madeira.
We didn't meet Andrew when we went over to introduce ourselves and present them with a bottle of Touriga Nacional and a Best Wishes in your New Home card, but the rest of the family is lovely. The kids love playing outside and they have two adorable cats. Ana and Clara are ecstatic...
Our former, very strange neighbours left last Friday without even saying goodbye...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Top book on my nightstand

Top book on my nightstand

Thank you, Mami!

Clara's Autumn project

Clara's Autumn Project

Clara has been having themed projects as homework every weekend. This was the poster she (and the whole family with her) came up with for the Autumn theme. Doesn't it look great?

Quote of the day

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand." - Bertrand Russell

Thursday, November 08, 2007

For my daughters

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

* Happy *

I got my camera back and it's like new! Big happy smile on my face!

November kitchen windowsill

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Garden corner

Garden corner
Clara's playhouse is currently being used as a greenhouse to protect some of the potted flowers from the early morning frost (yes, around here temperatures have already dropped to freezing point...).

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bonfire night

The amateur fireworks going off outside are driving me up the wall, so much noise and smell for such little and ephemeral beauty...

For the past four years, the 6th of November has meant cleaning up after my neighbours' [sometimes reckless] fireworks extravaganza.

And then again, this might all just be a clever plot to get alienated folk like me into joining in the collective hatred for Guy Fawkes, a fellow with a pointed hat and beard who - all those hundred years ago - didn't blow up the houses of parliament and went down in history for it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. -- Rick Cook, The Wizardry Compiled

If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside. -- Robert X. Cringely, InfoWorld magazine

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it. -- Ellen Goodman (1941 - )

[Rear] Window

I love to drop by this blog every now and then...

Reality is something you rise above... Liza Minnelli so accurately put it in her autobiography.

Looking down

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Missing my camera

Taking pictures has become second nature to me. It is therefore with no surprise that I feel so utterly handicapped since my camera went for repair two weeks ago! I could not put this dreaded separation off for any longer however... some months back, my Sony DSC-W100 - whose guarantee ends soon - was involved in an accident. Although it survived it and was still taking pictures, its overall condition was very poor.

Can't go back to using the Canon camcorder... can't find the SD card... and it's not the same...
I'm catching up on my reading and on my piano playing, though...

Reading spot

Music of the hemispheres

Article in today's Guardian about Oliver Sacks' book "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain". Fascinating stuff. Must read.

It is a remarkable fact that if I merely type "the Mission: Impossible theme tune" or "Beethoven's Fifth", you will probably start humming to yourself. We take it for granted, but how is it possible? What is going on in our brains? Oliver Sacks, the neurologist author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, here devotes a book to the cognitive miracles of music. "It really is a very odd business," he muses, "that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads."

Sacks's deeply warm and sympathetic study is about pathologies of musical response and what they might teach us about the "normal" faculty of music. It reports on fascinating new findings from anatomy - a musician's brain is easily distinguishable on a scan from those of others; and the passage from ear to brain is not a one-way conduit but works both ways, the brain being able to tune the ears, as it were. But mostly Musicophilia is about the more mysterious, and currently inexplicable, ways in which music affects the brain, for good or ill. And when it affects the brain, it affects the whole person, as Plato knew, seeking to ban some types of music from his Republic for the health of the citizenry. Shakespeare's Richard II, meanwhile, could have provided an epigraph to Sacks's book - the King at one point complains: "This music mads me. Let it sound no more; / For though it have holp madmen to their wits, / In me it seems it will make wise men mad."

Sacks tells some very moving stories about those with terrifyingly profound amnesia, or Alzheimer's disease, for whom music can "restore them to themselves". People with aphasia can be taught to speak again through singing. On the other hand, previously healthy people begin to have "musical hallucinations", blasted by intrusive ghostly music during every waking second; and others have seizures in response to music, or "musicogenic epilepsy" - which, intriguingly, can be selective. One woman Sacks cites "had seizures only in response to 'modern, dissonant music,' never in response to classical or romantic music" - and her husband was a composer of the type of music that gave her seizures, which one suspects may be a hint. But such a violent response to certain music might be more common than suspected: "Many people, [one researcher thought], might start to get a queer feeling - disturbing, perhaps frightening - when they heard certain music, but then would immediately retreat from the music, turn it off, or block their ears, so that they did not progress to a full-blown seizure." Indeed, certain styles of free jazz have always made me physically nauseous.

There is, of course, a continuum between the pathological states that Sacks discusses and everyday experiences of music. The phenomenon of "brainworms" - irritating tunes and jingles that get lodged in our heads - is only one step away from full-blown musical hallucination, and Sacks also compares it to the obsessive ticcing of Tourette's syndrome. It is intriguing, too, to wonder where on the continuum certain historical figures could be placed. Here, for example, is Tchaikovsky as a child, weeping in bed: "This music! It is here in my head. Save me from it!" Was he suffering from vivid musical hallucinations, which he learned to manage by writing them down? Here, too, is Shostakovich, refusing to have a piece of shrapnel removed from his head, because when he tilted his head in a certain way he could hear music, which he incorporated into his compositions.

At the other end of the continuum are those Sacks describes as "amusic", who do not seem to understand or feel music at all. He considers with pity the case of Vladimir Nabokov, who famously said he experienced music merely as "an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"; he also wonders about how little music is mentioned in Henry James's work.
And yet even profound amusia might be just an exaggerated form of a dysfunction, or adaptation, that affects us all. We might be drawn to this conclusion in a roundabout way, by seeing that, contrastingly, other people are awakened to profound musical powers after some kind of brain injury. A 42-year-old man struck by lightning suddenly experiences an unquenchable thirst for music, learns to play the piano, and starts to compose. In a wonderful footnote, Sacks offers his own wry confession that "in 1965 ... I was taking massive doses of amphetamines", and experienced a heightening of his powers of musical memory and transcription, although his abstract reasoning was shot to pieces. This, he suggests, might be the effect of suppressing the work of the temporal lobes. And so the intriguing hypothesis develops that we might all have such latent musical talents, if only we could find the spigot and turn it.

Sacks also describes a rare congenital disorder called Williams syndrome, in which people never develop mentally beyond the abilities of a toddler, but have an extraordinary musical facility, playing back any piece on first hearing. Though he never exactly spells it out, the melancholy supposition arises that a repression of musical potential is the price we pay for our powers of ratiocination. Some might think the price is too high.

The old piano