Wednesday, November 5, 2014


These are some paintings I just finished for Rose and Sophie to have in their rooms.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Turtle who was Pink and the Turtle who was Blue

This morning Sophie asked for a poem and I asked which one she wanted, expecting it to be The Jumblies or something else from Edward Lear. Instead she threw me by asking for a poem about a pink turtle and a blue turtle. I was pretty pleased with what I came up with on the spot, and tried to write it down as soon as I had a chance. I was already having trouble remembering it all, but this was as close as I could get.

Once there was a turtle
and she was very blue
She swam down to the ocean floor
and wondered what to do.

There was another turtle
and she was very pink
She swam into a deep dark cave
so she could have a think.

All the other turtles
who saw them said “Who knew
there are turtles who are pink
and others who are blue.”

The blue turtle went swimming
along the coral reef
The turtle who was pink
came swimming underneath.

The turle who was pink said
to the turtle who was blue
“It’s very good to meet you,
and tell me, how are you?”

The turtle who was blue said
to the turtle who was pink,
“You’re a very pretty turtle,”
and she gave a turtle wink.

The turtles said “Let’s marry
and swim to far away”
And the pink and blue turtles
are happy to this day.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tygers - Chapter 3

I started wrote this in my journal a while ago, after Rosie wanted another Tiger story at bed time. I intended to add more to it, but never thought of anything good to add, so I figured I'd just throw in some illustrations and leave it as it is.

It was a sunny morning in early Spring. The streams were burbling happily to themselves, glad to be free of the winter ice, and feeling important because they were taking the melted snow water down to the river. The squirrels emerged, bleary eyed, from their tree trunks and tried to remember where they had hidden their nuts. And high in the branches a robin cautiously cleared its throat and tested its voice before commencing its morning song. It was on a morning such as this that two young tigers set out to explore the sights and sounds of Spring.

They had been been walking for about fifteen minutes when the older tiger, Rosie, noticed a scufflement at the base of a moss-covered bush. They went a little closer to investigate a saw a small brown animal snuffling among the roots. It had a black, twitchy nose, two black twinkly eyes, and, covering its back were prickles. The animal paused to look at the two approaching tigers.

"What kind of animal are you?" asked Sophie, the younger tiger, curiously.

"Ah," said the animal impressively, "I is an Erinaceus Europaeus, of the order Erininaceomorpha." Then, as the tigers look confused, it added "What is commonly called an 'edge 'og. And what might you two stripey young ladies be, if I might be so bold as to ask?".

"We're Tigers," said Rosie proudly. "I'm Rosie."

"And I'm Sophie," said Sophie.

"Bernard Tiggiewinkle Esquire. Delighted to make your aquaintance," said the hedge hog."I was named after Saint Tiggiewinkles 'edge 'og 'ospital where I was born," he explained. "Bernard is after Saint," he added.

"Oh," said Rosie. "Why do you keep scratching yourself with your hind leg?"

"Ah," said Bernard Tiggiewinkle, "that would be on account of these 'ere fleas itching something terrible. We 'edge 'ogs 'ave an awful lot of fleas."

Both the tigers took a few steps back.

"Not to worry missies," said the hedgehog. "'Edge 'og fleas is most particular. Not interested in other sorts of animals."

"What are you doing?" asked Sophie curiously.

"Looking for slugs," said Bernard Tiggiewinkle. "They're delicious," he said. "Look here's one."

Bernard held up a large, semi-translucent, wriggling slug that seemed to ooze slime. The two tigers, who had moved closer after hearing that they were safe from hedgehog fleas, took a step back again.

"Would you like to try one?" the hedgehog asked Rosie.

"No thank you," Rosie said politely.

"Are you sure? They're fresh. This one looks especially juicy."

"No thank you," said Rosie again.

"What about you, Miss?" said Bernard Tiggiewinkle turning to Sophie. "Very good for you slugs is. Highly nutritious."

"No thank you," said Sophie as politely as she could manage.

"Mighty fine slug this. Don't recall seeing better."

"It's very kind of you," said Sophie, "but I'm really not hungry."

"Ah well," said the hedgehog. "Suit yourself."

"There was a loud slurping noise as the slug disapeared into Bernard Tiggiewinkles mouth. The two twitching antennae were the last part to vanish. There followed by a few minutes of munching and swallowing noises, and then a the hedgehog emitted a soft "burp".

"As I thought," he said to himself. "Mighty fine slug that."

"Well," said Rose politely, "it was a pleasure meeting you Mister Tiggiewinkle."

The hedgehog nodded his head towards them in a formal manner before turning back to the bushes to search for more slugs, and the two tigers continued on their way.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Proposal for Assessing the Severity of Medical Conditions

When visiting a doctor, which is something I seem to do a lot more often now that we have small children, I am struck by how often one is asked to quantify things using ill-defined scales or metrics. Most frequently a doctor or nurse will ask you to quantify pain or discomfort on a scale from one to ten. Now a person like me(*) will react by first wondering if this is a linear or a logarithmic scale? Then I wonder what it is it's actually measuring? Is it, for example, the total number of nociceptors firing, or some other measure of brain activity.

Eventually I'm forced to conclude that the scale is in fact an arbitrary judgement, similar to the scoring system for Olympic figure skating, which then begs the question of whether pain should receive a different score if, say, it's inflicted by a Russian or a Korean athlete.

Of course figuring all this out distracts from the task at hand.

In order to avoid such confusion, I'm proposing that the medical community adopts a system of scales based upon more tangible concepts, such as, say, living organisms. If using organisms the comparative values can take into account a variety of factors such as complexity, position on the food chain, and, most importantly, coolness.

For example, a particularly nasty virus has recently been working it's way around my household and I was the last member of my family to succumb. A few days ago, when my wife asked me how I was feeling, I said that on a scale from Amoeba to Bengal Tiger,  I rated as a sea slug. I then went back to bed for the remainder of the morning. 

The following day I felt much better and rated myself, on the same scale, as a pygmy tree shrew. (The highest I seem to be able to get on this particular scale is about Aardvark, before some new blight is bought home from pre-school).

Of course it is quite possible to vary these scales in order to get a more accurate response from the patient. For example if a patient had an interest in architecture, one could ask them to use a scale from porta-potty to The Great Pyramids of Giza, while a chef might use a scale from cheez-wizz  to Piedmontese white truffles. Some experimentation may be necessary in order find the optimal scale for each individual.

(*) I also feel that cheese should be ordered by volume, while my local cheesemongers want me to order by weight and do not seem to be aware of the density of individual cheeses. I've found that the best compromise to this problem is to order by specifying the angle to be cut from a wheel of cheese, which leaves the problem of whether to use degrees or radians.