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Support the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Update: I am happy to report that I did indeed ran and finished my first marathon in Edinburgh. Many of you have already donated to the Guide Dogs but if you are one of those sceptics who first wanted to see if I could pull this off, you still have a chance now. The justgiving page will be accepting donations for a few more weeks after the race. Thanks!

I am planing to run the Edinburgh marathon on May 31th in order to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. This is going to be my first marathon and not surprisingly I am still rather intimidated by the thought of running such a long distance. (I have done a half marathon and a bunch of 10 mile races this winter.) On the other hand my training progresses according to schedule and assuming that I don't pick up any injury I should be in good enough shape by the end of May to tackle this challenge.

You can support the Guide Dogs by visiting my site at and making a donation. Of course you can also contact me directly for an offline contribution. (Checks should be made out to "Guide Dogs" and I have paper forms for cash donations.) Your money will make a difference for a great charity.



Freddy Mercury lives

July 27, 2009 by sylvie

He played the Monmouth festival last night. How do I know? Well, I was there. As you might know by now we moved out of our apartment this weekend. (I should better say 'I' moved out since the man of the house conveniently buggered off to China just when the movers showed up...) Being officially homeless now and with a week to kill before our flight to California I headed for Wales for some R&R - that's where I came across the Monmouth festival.
Much to my surprise the Queen revival band was really good. Granted, I am not an expert on tribute bands (or Queen, for that matter) and I usually jump though hoops to avoid all classic rock. However, they managed to draw almost as big a crowd on a miserably rainy Sunday night as the moderately famous britpop band who played the night before in good weather. My only complaint was that as a proud owner of not a single Queen album I flunked most of the singalongs. (I did ok on "We will rock you"...) Read more

Blogging from the Bog

July 24, 2009 by fisch

Today is my last day at Cedar Castle: the sabbatical has finally arrived. So have the movers. They are schlepping the boxes Sylvie has carefully packed throughout the last week, but there is a lot of grunting and cursing - perhaps we packed too tightly. All our stuff goes into storage for half a year. I am of course mostly in the way, so I'm blogging from the only seat that's left in the house :-)
Next stop: Beijing.

Moving Fun

July 20, 2009 by sylvie

While the man of the house spent your tax payers money on conference tour to continental Europe last week (he claims it was work!), I was left with the dubious honor of dismantling his lounge furniture for our upcoming move. Fortunately, he owns some fancy schmancy USM Haller designer shelving system that is meant to completely come apart. A kind of steel Lego for grownups. The bad news is that it doesn't work as advertised. As I had to find out, the over-engineered connectors that help binding the corner elements to the straight tubes tend to get wedged inside the tubes, making it impossible to reach the screw at the other end of the same tube.

The ill-designed connectors turned out to be quite a nuisance and for a while I was pretty worried that I wouldn't manage to break the shelf into small enough pieces to get it though the door and down the stairs. At one point I even made a few panicky phone calls to the London distributors. Luckily, in the end patience and a few well placed whacks managed to get the job done, so I have a few more boxes of books, a pile of steel, and an empty wall to show. Oh, and the alcohol collection, which so far has not been packed up. Read more

Closet Cull

July 19, 2009 by fisch

Moving date is coming closer, and despite vigorous protests of the Royal Society for the Welfare of Shirts and Trousers (RSWST), we had to cull the ever-growing population in our closet. Don't feel too bad, though. Of the 10 shirts that were culled now, at least 9 haven't been worn once since they were saved by the ASWST from a similar operation more than three years ago. Neutral observers confirmed that the cull was done as humanely as possible, and privately confessed that the shirts should probably have been euthanized before they left China for the US in the first place

Movers And Shakers

July 13, 2009 by sylvie

I can't think of many jobs where being older counts as an advantage (funeral home director?) but this week I came across one - movers. I had representatives from two moving companies over to get an idea how much it would cost me to get our stuff into storage. Both guys gave me a fair quote but both also emphasized that they only employ mature workers with many years of job experience.
Unfortunately, one of them broke down under pressure and admitted that some of his "lads" are not quite 30 yet. Needless to say, I hired the other team. Read more

Pastel Overload

July 11, 2009 by sylvie

Today I folded 500 flyers for a campaign, my running club is doing at the Race For Life tomorrow.  Of course, I don't really have the right to complain as I designed the flyer myself. By the time somebody pointed out that a three-panel layout is bad because it needs two folds per copy I was pretty far advanced and didn't have the energy to start again from scratch. All I could do at that point was to vouch to take care of the folding myself.

In the end the whole thing wasn't too bad anyway. After a bit of testing I was folding only slightly slower than the printer was printing. Of course  I had acquired a mild pastel allergy by the time I was done which had to be cured with a few bright posters. Read more

Ride-Through Banking

July 8, 2009 by sylvie

I just rediscovered these strange shots on my mobile. I took them a few weeks ago while on honeymoon with my friends R&R. (Somehow this sounds wrong, but anyway :-) One evening we had just finished dinner at pub in Kirby Stephen and were ready to head back to the cottage. But when we left the pub we spotted a lonely horse outside. Tied to the fence of the high street bank office!

We later found out that a bunch of gypsy travelers were in the area for the the Appleby Horse Fair. They seemed to camp outside Kirby Stephen for a few days on their way to the fair. In fact we even saw them, and the horse, resting on the side of the road the next morning. Read more

The Dog Ate The Homework

July 7, 2009 by sylvie

Today's Close to Home reminded me of a time when I shared a house with a woman and her daughter. The kid had just started first grade and for the 100th day at school they got a special assignment: They were given a sheet  of paper with a 10x10 grid and were asked to glue 100 pieces of breakfast cereal into the boxes.

The kid was an eager student, so she finished her homework right after school, then placed it on the table and went off to play. Unfortunately, her aunt's dog soon discovered the sheet and promptly polished off all cereal...

When we adults realized what had happened, we were rolling on the floor with laughter. The poor girl on the other hand was devastated. She clearly didn't see the humor in the situation and nothing we said could convince her to turn in the homework "as is" the next day with the famous words "Sorry Miss - the dog ate my homework!" (Probably just as well since I bet her elementary school teacher couldn't have kept a straight face either!) In the end the girl's mother took pity with her and quickly replaced all the fruit loops.

Unfortunately, I can't quite remember what happened to the dog but I am pretty sure he survived the glue soaked carb loading, However, I can't rule out a (very minor) belly ache.

Work And Play Around The World

July 6, 2009 by sylvie

It's official now - after much discussion and only a few minor planing disasters we finally booked our flights this week. We'll be arriving in California on August 2nd, moving on to Auckland, NZ on October 10th, and returning to England on February 1st, after a week long stopover on Rarotonga, Cook Island. Except for the Cook Island leg, the trip is a working sabbatical for Bernd but I hope to live up to my leisure title. Yeehaw! Read more

Nudging Flies Into Urinals

July 4, 2009 by sylvie

I am reading this pretty cool book right now. It's called Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, two behavioral economists. Their basic thesis is that one can (and should) "nudge" people into doing the right thing for themselves, by exploiting common, often somewhat irrational, behavior, for example by placing healthy fruit at eye level before the sugary desserts in the cafeteria. I am only about 50 pages into the story but I already had a major revelation, although not exactly the way the authors had intended. Read more