Hogmanay traditions include a house cleaning from top to bottom and a window opened to let out the Old Year and beckon in the New. Cleaning is not among my fortes, but I've excelled on the window exhortation for two years now. The double glazed window at the back of the house blew open while I was away in a sunnier clime, became warped while flapping back and forth in the fierce westerlies and has never fastened properly since. Now boarded closed at the top, the unsealed bottom allowed a refreshing breeze in summer but a moderate gale in winter. About 50% of my extortionate 50% dearer gas bill flies out that window. However, I am 300% more organised than at the time of the IKEA debacle because it's taken only 11 months to call out a glazier, who condemned the whole window on the spot as irreparable. I will ask Peter Ballocks to come round with his toolbox and some 2-by-4 next week to shut up the bottom end too. If he uses screws instead of nails, I can simply remove the carpentry to regain ventilation in summer. Simple!
R. is away in a sunnier clime, but seems to be reading here if not her email :). R., please look out for a lucky cat charm for wee wan in Taipei. Around 1" tall is optimum. If you can't find one (and they're more Japanese than Chinese), you know she'd love some kind of replacement talisman. Maybe a lucky Chinese lion like you got for our folks? "No doggu! Ryon!", the lady said, as I recall. I expect you can find them as phone charms, which makes them a little less loseable. Not that there's any pressure or anything.
DVD heaven here, since the big wan spent his birthday gift voucher on films I like. Big Lebowski fails to fade with time and repeated viewings and Princess Mononoke (from the makers of Spirited Away and 'Howl's Moving Castle') has also gone down well. There aren't goodies and baddies in the Disney mould but humans, animals, spirits, demons and gods.
Can't wait for the New Year bumper bio-book shipment, courtesy of another set of parents.
Colin Tudge; "The Variety of Life: A Survey and a Celebration of All the Creatures That Have Ever Lived"
Colin Tudge; "The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter"
The first hopefully a broad-based survey of biodiversity over the earth's lifespan, the second a study of how angiosperms (a relatively late evolutionary product) have influenced ecology. Like Jared Diamond, Tudge is a science writer who can elegantly link up the microscopic with the macroscopic.
Nick Lane; "Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life"
Lane's preceding book, 'Oxygen', is one of my alltime favourite science books. This one should put in context the ecological and evolutionary impact of aerobic respiration, a gift and a poison in one breath.
John Grogan; "Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog"
A popular success in science readers and dog-owners alike, recommended by my folks.
Claude Combes; "The Art of Being a Parasite"
A significant proportion of the world's organisms are parasitic or symbiotic, and the rest of us are consumers of one kind or another. Co-evolution and adaptation in diseases, parasites and symbiotes is most intriguing. Which reminds me that I must zap the wee one's hair again after she's finished her Boney M session of singing in the shower.