It's a completely cool, multi-purpose blog.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Libraries in Space

Cool! There is now officially a library on Mars:

NASA’s Phoenix mission has just returned the first images of a library on another world! The Planetary Society's Phoenix DVD -- which carries Visions of Mars, a collection of 19th and 20th century science fiction stories, essays and art inspired by the Red Planet -- landed on Mars on May 25, 2008 aboard the Phoenix spacecraft. Attached to the deck of the Phoenix lander, the DVD also includes the names of more than a quarter million inhabitants of Earth.

The first images of the disk, taken by the Surface Stereo Imager (SSI), show the DVD at home on its new planet, waiting to be found by astronauts of the future. In fact the label on the disk says, “Attention Astronauts: Take This with You,” which appears clearly in the crisp SSI images.

"Seeing Visions of Mars on the Red Planet culminates fifteen years of effort," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, who conceived the idea for Visions of Mars. "This disc serves as a message to the future, as well as a memorial to the past, including to those on the disc, like Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke, who are no longer with us."

The contents of Visions of Mars represent nearly 30 nations and cultures. Mars has long fired the imaginations of people around the world, and that fascination has been captured in countless stories and artistic visions of the Red Planet. The Planetary Society brought together the best of those visions to add an extra dimension to the Phoenix mission. The collection includes works by The Planetary Society's co-founder Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, Arthur C. Clarke, Percival Lowell, and many more. Visit for more information and to view some of the images from Phoenix.

The library should be able to last many hundreds of years on Mars, so there will be plenty of time for a future generation to discover and enjoy the works included on the DVD.

How do I get to be the librarian?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Meme - unread books

And from our "Life Goes On" department, here's a rare meme post taken from CW. These are the 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicise the ones you started but didn’t finish and underline the ones read for school.

Why 106? No idea.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Brothers Karamazov

Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair

The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad

The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World

The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange

Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse

The Canterbury Tales
Tess of the D’urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves

The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield

One unfinished, none read for school, I've read 63 and 42 are unread. Of the unread ones, I actually want to read most of them, but some of these I will never bother with.

Barnaby relief

I have just heard from M, who took B2 to the hospital this morning for his first post-op bath. The news is that he is as well as we could have hoped - hurrah! The graft has taken, meaning that we can now shift our attention from surgery related matters to longer term stuff like physiotherapy. It's a long road, but it's all uphill from here...hang on, that can't be right can it? All downhill is wrong

Anyway, he's well in himself too. M had to do a lot of work this weekend, which left me with the Bs. We had lots of fun, although I am now totally knackered.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back home

As you can see, B2 came through his skin graft op just fine. As it worked out, he required a graft to the front of his right shoulder and a couple of small point around his right nipple. The donor skin was taken from the front of his right thigh because the skin around the back was a little dry thanks to eczema.

Apparently the donor site is the one that will be really sore for the course of this week, but it is pretty well guaranteed to heal up nicely. The site of the original burn is a bit more problematic, but we will know more after his post-op bath at the hospital on Monday morning. Best case is that it is healing perfectly, but he will need to wear the splint and a pressure suit every night for a year or so, and have the burnt area checked by medics every year or so throughout his childhood. Worse case is that the graft hasn't taken and we're back to square one.

The big positive for us is that B2 seems in a much better mood now than he has for weeks; smiling and laughing, and slowly getting more mobile. In fact he is the brightest among the four of us. B1 is playing up as a result of lack of attention, whilst M&I are physically and emotionally exhausted.

I'm hoping for a very, very quiet weekend.

Monday, May 19, 2008


B2 had a visit to hospital today and he's been confirmed for an operation early tomorrow morning. Keep everything crossed for the poor wee chap.


We had a rough weekend with B2 not sleeping at all well. We think that the dressings were irritating him, so yesterday M got him some drugs (antihistamines, I think) that appear to have helped.

He's in good spirits, but even that is a bit distressing because we know that he is likely to undergo an operation on Wednesday and he will be knocked about all over again. It seems so unfair for the little fella to have to go through it all, but he's always been a phlegmatic character so hopefully we can all help each other through what looks set to be a trying week.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I know that a few of you (a) know my mate Jeremy, or (b) are interested in fantasy/SF, or (c) are interested in writing in general. Whichever, go check out his new writing blog at


Monday, May 12, 2008

Tough times

We went back to the splendid Children's Hospital at Westmead this morning for B2's dressing to be changed, which was the first chance for the doctors to have a look at the damage. Unfortunately, the prognosis wasn't what we were hoping for. The wound is patchy, but the worst bits (on the underarm, mainly) are bad enough to require a skin graft. That will happen next week, which means general anaesthetic and the whole deal. Poor wee sausage.

It was also the first time that I saw his skin, because he had been dressed by the time I got there on the day of the accident. I was pretty shaken by it - there was blood and puss and other such unpleasantness. Horrible, but he is bearing it with his usual stoicism.

Thanks to everyone who has sent B2 their wishes on comments, via email and so on. It means a lot.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Little trouper

Here's Barnaby post-burn. You can glimpse the bandage containing the dressing underneath his outfit. The splint is to keep his skin stretched so that it doesn't heal up in the wrong way. He finds it very frustrating, because he has just learned how much fun it is to get around.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Last week we were pontificating on the old superstition* that trouble comes in threes, and wondering what our number three would be after the illness and the burglary last week. Well, we found out...and how.

The first I knew about it was a panicky phone call at work from M telling me that B2 had had an accident at daycare, he was burnt and an ambulance was on the way to pick him up. It wasn't clear where I should go or how I could help, so I usefully flapped around a bit in the office. Eventually we determined that I should head over to meet B1 and M at Westmead Children's Hospital.

What emerged was that he had pulled a water bottle heater onto himself and scolded himself on the chest and the top of his right arm. He received good first aid (cold running water), so the initial prognosis is that the burns are not too severe, and are on about 5% of his surface.

He had to stay in overnight doped up on morphine, and the next morning he had a dressing applied and a Scooby Doo mummy style layer of bandages put on. He has to keep it on for a week at the end of which they will have another look and determine whether he needs surgery. We are hopeful it won't come to that.

He also has to wear a very clumsy looking arm splint to keep his skin from healing in the wrong way, which I think he is finding very frustrating, especially as he has only just learned to crawl. Judging by his first night at home, though, I think his continuing cough is causing just as much distress.

Incidentally, the anaesthetist was called Andrew Weatherall, but it isn't the DJ bloke as far as I can tell. Oddly, if DJ Weatherall didn't exist then neither would B2. No Weatherall, no Screamadelica, no meeting M at a Primal Scream gig, no Bs.

(300th post!)

*Superstition may not contain any truth value