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When you are: August 2008

23 August 2008

What a Day to loss.....

Sorry, I mean data loss. So there's another high profile news item about data loss. We've had Nationwide losing a laptop containing details of their mortagees, child benefit claimants data going missing, and now details of convicted crimnials have gone over the wall.

All I can say is, finally - one we're not worried about!

22 August 2008

Happy birthday, son! Again...

More cake, anyone?
Two years old!

It hardly seems like two minutes, never mind two years. But when we look at how much he's come along in this last year - walking, just starting to string sentences together, size 6-and-a-half shoes, two room changes in nursery, chickenpox, train obsession, Nemo obsession, fully acquainted with luxurious hotels, the list starts to look more like "how did he fit that into just a year?".

However we look at it, and I think I speak for both of us when I say that it's been a great year, one to make us very proud as parents of such a wonderful kid.

Happy birthday, son!

All our love, Mummy & Daddy.



21 August 2008

Ready for bed?

On the eve of his second birthday, the boy's shown us that he's well and truly ready to move out of his cot and into a bed.

He's been showing us all week to be fair, but tonight was a clear line drawn in the sand.

He's got an inflatable "ReadyBed", just under £30 in Argos or £17 in Costco. Hmm, the Yorkshireman came out in me when we bought one for young James and picked one up for our bundle of joy at the same time.

It's been sat waiting for its first use, which it will get in anger at Holestone Moor in a few weeks time. He's been pulling the bag off the shelf of late, and we had the idea of a trial run this weekend just to see if he was ready.

And that's not quite where the fun started, the was a prelude to all this.

His favourite game at the moment is hide and seek. Under-quilty hide and seek. We used to play under-quilty with the cats, having them chase our hands and feet, but under-quilty with the wee fella is much more entertaining. It's a joy when we come home from work, he runs upstairs ahead of us, grabs "the twins" (Puppy and Bear), runs to our room and climbs into our bed, hiding under the quilt whispering "ssshhhhhh" to himself. Even more so when I "find" him, get under the quilt too, and await MOTS - I get told to "sssshhhhhh" too.

So when we inflated his ReadyBed earlier this week just so it was out for familiarisation, he took to it like the preverbial duck to hoi sin sauce. True boy, head-dived over the headboard straight onto the main bed, under the built-in quilt, "ssshhhhhhh". Oh well, that's a hit then. At every opportunity he's diving in, lying down and pulling the quilt up.

Tonight, after a long day of activities with his Mum, and a visit from Grandma & Granda[d], he was absolutey shattered. So after his supper when he climbed into his ReadyBed rather than asking for his cot, it was clear this was going to be a winner.

Trial run? Nah, no need. He's spoken to us tonight, we get the message. Bed? Ready[Bed].

Oh, and did I mention he can climb out of the cot? He would have been out by now had it not been for us using Grobags - he has started to sling his foot over the side while holding on to the bottom, with high levels of success. So much for me teaching him to climb into the bath on his own, he's using those skills elsewhere! Too clever for his Dad's sanity, that boy!

15 August 2008

Thunderbird replies & forwarding

For ages I've grappled with the fact that when replying to emails using Thunderbird you don't get the original email's details regarding sent timestamp. In Thunderbird there seems to be a "Outlook does it so we won't" attitude, but this is one that is really useful for auditing, to track threads of emails (especially when about to submit formal complaints to governing bodies).

And then, with a quick look on the old tinternet, I came across the answer.

The standard reply header in Thunderbird is

Sender wote:

This is of no use to beast nor man. So, in a file that doesn't exist by default, buried in your profile, you can add:

// Help found at http://www.mozilla.org/support/thunderbird/edit#user // Change the reply header // 0 - No Reply-Text // 1 - "[Author] wrote:" // 2 - "On [date] [author] wrote:" // 3 - User-defined reply header. Use the prefs below in conjunction with this: user_pref("mailnews.reply_header_type", 3);

// If you set 3 for the pref above then you may set the following prefs.
user_pref("mailnews.reply_header_authorwrote", "%s said the following");
user_pref("mailnews.reply_header_ondate", "on %s");
user_pref("mailnews.reply_header_separator", " ");
user_pref("mailnews.reply_header_colon", ":");
// The end result will be [authorwrote][separator][ondate][colon]

This will give you a header in your reply such as:

Sender said the following on 12/08/2008 21:33:

Now, isn't that more helpful? Apart from you need to know where user.js lives, even though it doesn't exist by default so you can't just search for it. Want the full picture? Look here.

11 August 2008

Another bovine outbreak?

We've had a major outbreak in recent history of foot & mouth disease, almost crippling the UK's livestock farming industry, affecting rural areas in terms of tourism and general movements of goods and people. Then, with the worst behind us, we have another handful of smaller outbreaks.

And has this affected us directly as a family in any way?

In a way, yes. Food prices and availability were obviously affected, but it's not that I'm talking about. It's our very own version of it, Hand, Foot and Mouth disease.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with the bovine [et al] variety. In fact, it's not even a bovine variety of the same disease, the only common elements are three words of the name. Nothing, it's not similar, it's not a human form, it's got jack all in common (apart from the aforementioned three words).

So which form of the disease has our wee fella got? Have you been listening, there is no "form" of "the" disease, they are totally different.

Right, clarity point over with, he's got Hand, Foot and Mouth disease at the moment. Symptoms started last Tuesday night really, a general feeling of being unwell, although we weren't aware of it. More symptoms on Wednesday with a sore mouth that we put down to back teeth (lumpy). Outwardly visible symptoms started on Friday afternoon, with chicken-pox like spots appearing. OK, it's got nothing to do with chicken-pox either, thanks for pointing that out. One quick visit to the doctor confirms it.

So we can't do anything other than let it run its course. He has some relief from the mouth sores by way of a generic spray (made by 3M, makers of the famous "re-record not fade away" Scotch video tapes - now that shows my age). Apart from that it's time he needs to get past it.

With an incubation period of 3-6 days we were doing the sums and it looks like he'll have picked it up at a local soft play area rather than nursery, but given he's been in nursery with early symptoms he may well have introduced it to nursery - possibly the third run of it there this year (at very least second).

I've added a link to the NHS's guide to the disease, along with the sheet the doctor printed out for us from www.patient.co.uk

And just for pure nostalgia, I've hunted down the 3M advert for Scotch's lifetime guarantee. I love the plant growing in the background...

HM Barns - how long now?

It's been a running saga between me & Vicki over the countdown to when we revisit Holestone Moor Barns, so when we were arranging payment and she asked "how many days now" she got the following reply...

"Well, it's 14 days until the boy's 2, and then...."

And then, and then I realised. TWO YEARS OLD SOON.

Where on earth did that year go? We've only just cleaned the carpet from his FIRST birthday wet BBQ.

Have travel system, will... travel?

The second most important purchase you're ever likely to make is your car.

Unless you buy a 57' narrowboat like I have my eye on - unfortunately that's all that's on one, my wallet is a little light in that respect.

So is the travel system the second most important purchase you'll make for the little one? Or the single most important thing?

From the "must-be-seen-to-be-splashing-cash" brigade, forking out a King's ransom on a pram or buggy, through the "last-year's-colours-so-what" type and on to the re-use and second hand markets, one thing is for sure. Your choice directly impacts on the environment.


Lothian Buses, the Council owned service in Edinburgh has come under fire recently for "banning" prams on board under the Disability Discrimination Act. They have clarified their policy on this, a copy of which is listed below. They have also issued their drivers with a pictorial guide to the various offerings of prams and buggies in order to help them comply with the company's policy.

And this is where it starts getting a little grey.

Lothian operate an old fleet, and an increasingly new fleet. There's not much middle ground, buses are either relatively old or fairly new. The older buses don't have the capability to comply with current legislation, but thankfully this is covered by "buses manufactured since 1999" clause so they can still operate them.

The newer buses have space for a wheelchair, with seats that fold down so able bodied passengers can use them when there is no chair in situ. This space is a requirement under the DDA. Lothian's policy is for this space to be used by whoever wants to use it for whatever purpose (passengers or luggage) on the proviso that this space is a priority for wheelchair users and must be given up should one require it.

Fair enough.

This differs from Virgin Trains, who categorically state on each journey that this space must not be occupied at all during the journey.

So why are we being eco-unfriendly by using the bus? Because they have banned the use of certain type of pram or buggy. Even if you are the only passenger, they will refuse to carry certain types of baby transport. Some will always be accepted, and the grey area is at driver's discretion. So what if you need to get around town? The Council got no support for congestion charging, so need to encourage the use of the bus rather than the car, right? Wrong. If you are a parent there is confusion over whether you can actually use a bus, especially if you're in that "grey area". What are you expected to do? Let the first bus go because the driver said no, wait in the hope the next driver says yes? Or just use the car and be done with it?

That's right, jump in your Land Cruiser and screw the environment. And Edinburgh Council wonders why their citizens use the car. Because their bus service is mince, that's why. HM Government are trying to get us to decide on what car to buy based on their interpretation of the impact to the environment, I never thought we'd be told the same about prams and buggies too!

Here's Lothian's policy, lifted from their website today, along with a link to the graphic issued to drivers.

There are specific legal requirements placed on bus operators regarding the carriage of wheelchairs. The law requires all new buses (since 1999) to be wheelchair accessible, and lays down precise details of the dimensions and features of bus construction to allow wheelchairs, up to a certain size to be carried on buses.

There is no legal requirement regarding buses providing for the carriage of prams, buggies, or any "baby or toddler transport device". The primary reason for there being a wheelchair space on buses is to allow wheelchair users to travel on the bus.

Our policy can be summarised as -

  • wheelchairs have priority;
  • if the wheelchair space is not required for a wheelchair, anything/one else can occupy the space;
  • but only on the understanding that they vacate the space if it is subsequently required for a wheelchair.

This means that whatever is occupying the wheelchair space, be it standing passengers, passengers sitting on the "tip-up" seats located in the wheelchair space, suitcases, bulky luggage or any baby or toddler transport device (buggy/pushchair) etc, has to be moved out of the wheelchair space to make way for a wheelchair if a wheelchair user subsequently wishes to board. Thus whatever is in the wheelchair space has to be capable of being moved (and safely stored in the luggage rack or elsewhere) when required.

This policy has been in place unchanged since the advent of wheelchair accessible buses some 9 years ago and all wheelchair accessible buses display 3 signs shown below which clearly state the requirements.

Also shown below is a copy of the illustrated guidance given to our drivers to assist them in applying the policy. This differentiates between different
types of buggy/pushchair/pram etc to show what is welcome, what is prohibited, and what falls into the sphere of "driver's discretion". In addition to the examples shown, there are a multitude of different variants of buggy/pushchair etc and, whilst both extremities of the spectrum are clear, there is inevitably a grey area in the middle, therefore a driver may well have to ask a potential passenger whether the "device" is collapsible/foldable.

The law requires Lothian Buses to have on our buses a space for the carriage of a wheelchair, and requires our staff to request non-wheelchair occupants in that space to vacate the space in the event of a wheelchair wishing to use the space.

Click here for drivers
guide to buggies
So there we have it, Lothian's response to the back-lash that has been public concern over their policy on carrying, as they put it, "baby or toddler transport devices".

I can see a fair point on both sides, but I can also see this will just play into the hands of the yummy mummy who won't want to stand at a bus stop and watch her Bugaboo get drenched while dripping onto her Ugg boots, wondering if the next bus has room. And why should she when the X5 is on the drive? Yes, that's the sort of person that needs to encouraged to use public transport, not effectively told to buggy off. But when there's a legal requirement in place for that space to have priority (not exclusivity, priority) it should be made clear, which is what Lothian has done.

Hmm, rock, hard place.

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