Friday, May 30, 2008

A (Pretty Amazing) Live Commercial.

This is so cool! Or another entry from Honda for the Advertising Hall of Fame. Last night, on British TV, they had a LIVE parachute jump for a Honda commercial. They didn't know ahead of time if it was going to work or not. But, if the weather was too bad, they did have the dress rehearsal taped so they could use it if they had to. We missed it because we were on a train, making our way back from Legoland. But in the age of the Interweb, you don't have to miss anything through the glory that is YouTube.

Watch it. Then go buy a Honda. Or not.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

File Under "Dedicated to the Job"

A newspaper photographer in Utah got speared by a javelin while covering a high school track meet. Not only did he take pictures of his own injury, which required 13 stitches, (click on this link; it's slightly too gross for a family blog like this one) but he went back later and finished the job.

Ryan McGeeney, the photographer who's an intern at the paper, said, "It was pretty embarrassing. I just felt like a jackass. I wasn't scared. You can tell right away when you're hurt really bad. I just knew I wasn't really injured."

McGeeney, who's studying for a master's in journalism, is a former U.S. Marine who served in Afghanistan. When asked why he took a picture of his own injury, he said, "It just kind of seemed like the thing to do. It's one of those things where, if I didn't take pictures of it, I'd wish I had. Also, if I didn't, it would probably be my editor's first question when I got back."

I am impressed. Give that man a job.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Fifth Birthday Thing Two

Thing Two is now five. When asked what this means, he says, "I'll use my soft voice and not yell. And I'll stop sucking my fingers!" We'll see about that.

Here are some of the things I love most about Thing Two as he reaches his fifth birthday:
1. The fact that he can't actually walk down the stairs, and can only jump, loudly, from step to step.
2. How he still loves a cuddle to start his day, and whenever we read a book together.
3. How he loves his big brother, and wants to do anything that he does. This also means that while he professes a love of "Dr. Who" he actually spends most of the episode out of the room, only occasionally checking to see if it's scary, and it usually is for him.
4. His continued love of movies, earning him the moniker of Mr. Move.
5. His optimism and jolly nature.
6. How he loves to help me make yummy things (cookies, cakes, you name it) and crucially, he's a good helper.
7. How he won't be swayed by other people's opinions. "It's my decision," he's said on more than one occasion.
8. How he still loves to hold my hand when we're walking.
9. His absolute and unshaken belief that he is a Superhero. When asked recently why he stopped doing yoga (a story for another day) he said, with all sincerity, "It took away my superpowers."

Happy Birthday, Thing Two. May you have many more.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fantastic Mr. Fox Saved!

Mr. Fox, (isn't he a cutie?), held by the nice man from the RSPCA with the big leather gloves.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep well on Wednesday night, as I was so worried that the fox would infiltrate the house, get into the cupboard and drink all of our cider (see "Fantastic Mr. Fox" by Roald Dahl, illustrations by Quentin Blake). But I am not a farmer. I am a city dweller. In fact, I thought more than once, isn't this why we moved to the city? So we wouldn't have to worry about wild animals (other than those at the pub after big football matches)?

I woke up at 6 a.m. and immediately went outside to check the window well to see if the fox was still there. He wasn't! Problem solved!! I thought. Our most favourite way to deal with difficult things: ignore them, and they solve themselves. But alas, about 30 minutes later I heard the barking again, so I knew he was still there.

Thing One and Thing Two woke up, and went outside to see him. But he kept disapperaring. We thought he was moving between our window well and our neighbours (there's a small drainage hole between the two properties), but at one point the boys were at her house, and I was at our house, and we didn't see Mr. Fox. Where did he go? A little while later, he emerged from his hiding place and the boys could use one of the dining room windows to see him running around in the window well. It was like the zoo! But in my house.

Once I got to school, I immediately saw two friends who I knew could help. They are the type of people who are incredibly capable and always know where to go and what to do. "Do I call pest control at the council?" I asked them. "Call the RSPCA. They'll be able to help you."

I returned home, armed with information. But before I could call the RSPCA, Friend No. 1 had stopped by to see the fox for herself. As it turns out, Mr. Fox was a big attraction. I could have charged admission. Of the five friends who knew about Mr. Fox, three of them came by to visit. Many also shared their fox stories. Everyone in London, it seems has a fox story. Friend No. 2 went up the hill to the butchers to get Mr. Fox something to eat. The RSPCA recommended water, chicken carcasses, boiled potatoes and green vegetables. I thought I could have just put one of our garbage bags out there and let him go to town, but then I thought of the mess I'd have to clean up later, so we gave him water and some kidneys (who doesn't like offal?).

Gavin, the man from RSPCA with big, thick leather gloves, arrived within an hour of having called them. By this time, Mr. Fox had disappeared again. I think he was suffering from performance anxiety because of all of the attention. But now I knew where he was disappearing to: there was a little hole under our window that he was using as his new home.

Gavin coaxed him out, and guessed he was about seven weeks old. This was bad news for Mr. Fox, because foxes don't get weaned until eight weeks. So Mr. Fox really needed to find his mother. Luckily, he was in pretty good shape: he didn't break anything in the fall down the window well. His nose was a bit raw from trying to climb up the window well for the past two days. Gavin took him back to the RSPCA van to clean him up and get a better look at him.

Upon returning, Gavin said the best thing for Mr. Fox would be to let him loose in the wild (read: our back garden) and hope that he can find his mother in the neighbourhood. The RSPCA does have a fox sanctuary in Kent that they do take rescued foxes to, but he said Mr. Fox should be OK. We let him have a good run around the garden [see below] and he was gone. I'm pretty sure he made his way under our fence into the wilds of Greenwich. I do hear barking in the back occasionally, but I'm pretty sure it's from other gardens.

So Mr. Fox was saved, and now he is gone. Good luck Mr. Fox! And look out for Boggis, Bunce and Bean!

Run, Mr. Fox! Be free, Mr. Fox! It was good knowing you, Mr. Fox.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

This story begins two nights ago, when Manchester United was beating Barcelona. As we live near a pub (who in London doesn't?) nights like this can get somewhat crazy and loud, so when I heard some incessant barking, I didn't give it much thought. I chalked it up to a puppy being left outside the pub. I heard the barking again in the morning. This time, I looked around the front garden to see if I could find the dog, but no luck. I forgot about the barking again.

Last night, while watching Kevin being voted off the British "Apprentice," I heard Thing One upstairs, and asked him if he wanted to come down for a bonus hug and cuddle. As he joined me on the sofa, he turned to me and said, "Mom? What's that barking?"

"I know. I know," he said. "I heard it first last night. I had a look around for the dog, but I couldn't find anything."

"He sounds like he's in trouble," Thing One said.

"Well, there's really nothing we can do about it," I said. "I don't know where he is. OK. It's time for bed."

A few minutes later, I heard a "whoosh"-- a telltale sign of a written message from above. (Thing One occasionally sends down letters to us when he really should be in bed sleeping."

The letter, complete with spelling mistakes, said:
"Dear Mom
I cant bare listning too the poor dog. I say we look for it because in the morning the bilders will be here. PLEASE!
Love Thing One"

How could I turn that down? We put on our wellies and went out to the front garden to investigate. The barking got fainter the farther away we got from the house, so I looked down the window well, remembering the time that our neighbour's cat accidentally fell down there. I couldn't see anything, so Thing One ran upstairs to get his torch [flashlight]. We shone it down, and there looking back up at us was a tiny, baby fox. 

Thing One, who always looks on the bright side of life [see below], said to me, "Well, that's good news and bad news. The good news is at least the fox isn't going through our garbage! But the bad news is how do we help the poor fox?"

Thinking that there wasn't much we could do at 10 p.m., I told Thing One that we'd have to leave it until the morning and then I could call someone who would be able to come and help the fox. Thing One returned to bed.

Now we await two things:
1. An opportunity to take Mr. Fox's picture
2. The arrival of the RSPCA, who will rescue the fox for me.

Watch this space.