Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits 5

Friend: Do you have an air conditioner at your kindergarten?
DD: Nooooooo, we don't have baths at kindergarten.

DD (listening to her nursery rhymes cd): Mummy! Mummy! They're saying my name!
Nursery Rhymes CD: The farmer's in his den, ee-aye-adeeo the farmer's in his den.
DD: See!? Did you hear it? (singing) Ee-aye-Adiele the farmer's in his den.

DD: Look, the shower is like a paddling pool. Can I paddle in it?
Me (cleaning the bathroom and a bit frazzled): No, just let me clean in here. Please.
DD: It's not only your home you know. It's both our homes.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bathrooms Finished But Not Finished

So here'e the thing. Although the bathrooms are finished (here's the back story) and look very nice, you mustn't look too closely or if you do, you have to ignore the little flaws in the finishing off that the builder wasn't bothered about. It's an Israeli thing - they cannot attend to the details.

The Israeli Aircraft Industry which designs the finest up to the minute aircraft has to import design engineers from England to draw up the final plans because they have to be so exact that Israelis just cannot deal with it. - A friend met one of these British plan-drafters on a flight to Israel. Another friend lives in a luxury block of apartments where the corridor to the bedrooms isn't the same width at either end. My walls aren't just not straight - they're positively wavy. It's an impulsiveness to just get on and do it without too much planning or attention to detail because, hey, it'll be fine!

I'm trying to forget about the nick in the tile above the toilet that the builder covered with grout, hoping I wouldn't notice. Of course one wipe with a cloth and it came off. The rough finish on the shower surround which he did himself instead of getting his much more competent worker to do - obviously costs less that way. The three dots of grout on the wall below the shower curtain rail where he placed the rail too low and had to move it up. The blob of gummy sealant on the side of my new toilet that I can't get off. The plastic hinge covers from my IKEA cabinets that he threw away. The jagged edges on the bits at the back he had to cut away to fit round the water pipes - he is no carpenter....

But he never said he was a carpenter. The bottom line is that when I have the budget to buy the best and employ the expensive guys, I'll get the best. Meanwhile I have very nice... just don't look too closely.




Monday, May 20, 2013

Turn Your Kids into ‘White Hat’ Hackers

A guest post by Andrew Tipp

We live in an age where kids are getting into computers at a younger and younger age. In many families teenagers know more about the internet than their parents, and even pre-teens are becoming skilled at writing code - the language of the web.

While it’s great that our children are interested in how the online world works, it’s also a bit scary that they can work out how to manipulate it. How? Well, if you learn a new language, you can learn how to say some bad things.

I’m talking about hacking - the process of accessing a physical device or digital program and discovering how to make it work in a way it wasn’t intended.

Learning to hack

A lot of kids now spend a lot of time on online gaming. And while the majority of children play earnestly and honestly, more and more are succumbing to finding hacking cheats online - and even writing the coded hacks themselves. This will come as a shock to most parents,who have no idea their 12-year-old might be into video game cheating or curiously surfing the web looking for websites they can hack.

A lot of this is pretty harmless, compared to the serious hacks that are carried out by governments and organised criminal organisations. It’s mostly about curiosity, blowing off steam and showing off to friends. And a lot of children just grow out this phase.

But once a kid has been seriously bitten by the hacking bug, there’s one of two ways they can go: to the light or dark side of the Force. They can either become ‘white hat’ or ‘black hat’ hackers. What does this mean? Let’s look to Star Wars for an explanation...

Going to the dark side

Star Wars has a very simple mythology to understand: there are goodies and baddies - the Jedi and the Sith. The Jedi patrol the universe seeking out injustice and protecting the innocent. Conversely, the Sith are the villains, and are selfish and manipulative. They’re a force for evil in the universe, and don’t care who they hurt.

Bizarrely, this is actually a pretty good allegory for web hackers. The ‘Force’ is the power of coding and hacking, which is strong both among the good and bad guys. The Jedis are the kids that grow up to be white hat hackers. The Sith are the kids that turn into black hat hackers.

What does this actually mean? Basically, white hat hackers are guys that find website vulnerabilities and inform the website owners of the problem. They’re the guys that discover and report problems with new software. They might work in software programming and antivirus protection, or they might just be passionate about it.

Black hat hackers are the guys who trawl the web looking for websites that are easy targets. They seek out sites they can hack to steal data - like users’ account, credit card and other personal details. They’re the ones who look to exploit loopholes and vulnerabilities in new software for their own gain.

The kids are alright

This should make you want to do two things. Firstly, it should make you want to talk to your kids about hacking and appropriate use of the internet. Remember, the web isn’t a moral vacuum; there are good and bad areas that influence your children. Think of the internet like a large city, full of bright and brilliant places to learn and play - as well as dark and dangerous areas, too. Places you wouldn’t want your kids to go alone.

Young hackers can often feel isolated from the result of their actions. Explain to your kids that actions have consequences, and describe how seemingly harmless ‘showing off’ pranks could hurt people.

Secondly, it should prompt you to make sure you’re already protected against the black hat hackers out there who pose a danger to you and your family. You should seek out leading, trusted providers of up-to-date online safety software to make sure you’re putting up effective barriers against the hackers and scammers.

Family, parenting and home environment could play a factor in whether kids go to the light or dark side. There’s nothing wrong with your children being curious about the digital world and how they can manipulate apps, games and websites to make them do what they want. But how will this play out in future? Will they use their power for good or evil?

Part of parenting is about giving children a solid grounding in moral behaviour - and that should extend to the online world as well as the ‘real’ physical one.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Other Two Daughters

I haven't done a 100 Word Challenge for ages but today's prompt instantly spoke to me. Go to Julia's Place for more interpretations of the photo below.

"When I'm big I can have a baby in my tummy." said DD. 

"Yes, then you'll be a mummy."

"Or a sister. Maybe I'll have a sister because I haven't got a sister? Oh, I want a sister."

There were two sisters. I think about them. They would've been 5 1/2 now. What would they be like? Would one of them be like DD? I would want one to be like DD because, had they lived beyond 21 1/2 weeks in utero, I would never have gone on to have DD.

In no case scenario could I have all my three girls.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Where Do Over Fifties Holiday?

Since they retired my parents have enjoyed travelling and seeing the world a bit. Not endless travel but now that they only have to take the two of them they found they could afford a couple of holidays a year.

For many years they owned a timeshare apartment in Tenerife (first fortnight in March) but hardly ever used it as they preferred to swap it for other locations around the world. It was a cheap way to ensure a holiday every year (or two holidays if they took two separate weeks in different locations).

Image by Don DeBold
One year they went on a cruise and Mum was hooked. Dad enjoyed it, I assume, and indulged Mum's cruise lust every couple of years.

However, on entering his eighties, Dad has been increasingly reluctant to travel abroad and especially reluctant to fly. Then this year both of them were quite ill over Easter while DD and I were visiting. And they had a Russian River Cruise booked for June. Moscow to St Petersberg? I can't remember but it involved flying to get there - Mum had had her way.

One morning towards the end of our stay I overheard a tentative and obviously rehearsed speech at the breakfast table. (Yes I was eavesdropping from the other room. Well it's a small flat.)

Dad: I have a suggestion. Why don't we cancel our booking on the cruise. If we do it now we may get some of our deposit back but if we don't it doesn't matter. Then we can find a nice hotel somewhere in England where we can sit and watch the world go by.

Dry Land Cruisers (not my parents)
That was the voice of 80-something. Mum, however, is a mere 70-something and doesn't really want to spend her holiday watching the world go by. At home they are both active - they play bowls, Mum plays bridge, they entertain, they go to the theatre...

It got me thinking. There has to be a compromise between jumping on and off a cruise ship and sitting watching the world go by. Places that are like cruises on dry land perhaps? With all the facilities but none of the perpetual motion. Places that cater to a mature clientele without noisy kids, unruly teenagers or raving young adults to interfere with a more leisurely pace. Places where the entertainment is geared to senses of humour and tastes ripened over 50 years. There are places like this.

Where do your parents go on holiday?

This post was written in association with Richardson's Holiday Villages - catered holidays for adults only, on the Norfolk and Sussex coasts, with full entertainment programmes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hokey Kokey Jerusalem Style?

Today is Jerusalem Day. We are celebrating taking back the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967 during the 6-day war, from Jordan, who took it from Israel in 1948 - having just been given it back by Britain who took it from the Turks in 1917. The Turks took it from the Ottomans who took it from the Romans (Have I missed anyone out? Mamluks maybe?) who took it from the Jews in 70 AD where King David had made Jerusalem the Jewish Capital in 1003 BCE. Full circle, but that's enough history.

Suffice to say that all the schools are doing something. DD's kindergarten which, as you know, is opposite our place had a very cute ceremony. I tried to send this very short video to all the parents but it was too heavy for my email to handle so I'm posting it here and sending the link instead. You can't even see DD as she's too close to the wall.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Little Toilet

If you've missed what's been happening here, read this post. Just a taster of the renovated bathroom facilities. The other room has a shower, a toilet, a bigger sink and storage cabinets but it's not quite finished. This room is the little toilet - because sometimes you need two toilets in a home.

Before as part of one bigger L-shaped bathroom with a bath but only one toilet.

Only one door, obviously, and the horrid window.

A second door was added. (And a dividing wall but I didn't get that on camera.)

A couple of little details

New little toilet room on the right.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Shoes At The Door

We pull the guest bed out in case she falls out of bed
You may have noticed my Silent Sunday to Silent Sunday week with no posts in between? We needed to redo our bathroom. All the pipes were corroded and full of rust and everything was falling apart. I had known this, deep down, for a long time but had been ignoring it due to lack of funds. However, with no choice (and parental help), I went ahead and got it done.

Details (and pictures) to follow but you need to know that I packed up the whole house and we moved out for two weeks. Thanks to very kind friends we had a place to stay. On Friday we came home. It was like moving house - unpacking all the cupboards, changing furniture around as we did a bedroom swap, cleaning the dust that was still circulating and settling after I'd cleaned and cleaned and cleaned again...

I prioritised getting DD's bedroom clean and ready to make her feel more settled and so that she had somewhere to play while I tackled the rest of the flat. I told her that her bedroom floor was clean but the rest of the floors were filthy. As she was climbing and walking all over her bed, she must put on shoes when she comes out of her bedroom.

Of course she kept forgetting and I had to follow her back with the wet wipes to clean her feet before she climbed on her bed again. Eventually she started to remember and I'd hear her approaching with the announcement, "I'm coming to tell you something Mummy but It's ok, I'm wearing my flip-flops!"

After supper (we ordered a pizza) and stories there was a lot of this coming to tell me something, but she eventually fell asleep. When I went to check on her I found she'd placed her shoes at the door so as not to forget to put them on when leaving the room. #meltingheartmoment