Friday, June 26, 2009

Off the wall

R.I.P, King of Pop.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A domestic horror

A little while ago, Dipali tagged me to describe a domestic horror. Now, we have one, on a daily basis, and that’s me, but I think she meant one of a kind. Which would also be me, actually. However, a few months ago, a terror of some inconceivable magnitude descended upon us. Masked as a general contractor, wielding a clipboard, wearing expensive cologne and designer shirts. The Contractorator.

For about 3 years now, I had been nagging the BigGeek for new bathrooms. Watching too much HGTV will have that effect on any sane person, not to mention others like me. In the end he conceded to my idea of brand new los banos. My visions of restful spas, seen, you guessed it rightly, on HGTV had to be curtailed to fit our square footage, our wallet and the size of our water heater. I mean, what’s the point of having a fancy footed tub with jet sprays and bubbles which conveniently allow you to disguise that-which-shall-not-be-uttered-by-a-lady if your water heater can only heat 5 pails of water?

So, we went for the minimalist look. Small vanities, simple tiles, subdued palette. The Contractorator nodded, gave us a price including all labor and materials and we spit and shook hands. This contractor, had been un-recommended by a friend. By that I mean, I had wrangled a phone number out of her, but along with it, also many reservations about the less than satisfactory velocity of his efforts.

Now, I consider ourselves quite the opposite of naïve. Contractor-wise, at least. This was not the first major remodel we had undertaken. But your remodel experience should not be counted by the number of remodels, but by the number of Contractorators you have worked with. And by that yardstick, we came under an inch.

On good days, I had no idea what he and his assistants planned to do. The Contractorator was not big on punctuality. The smallest division of time for him, was not minutes, but days, even weeks. “I’ll come today to tile the powder room” meant “I’ll come in 6 days to rip the vanity in Chip’s bathroom.” All I could do was pray that I had a place to answer nature’s call when I came home from work. That and plead with BigGeek to not give him another penny until the promised milestone was met.

Amongst the other stupid things they did, the first was to cut tile inside the bathrooms that covered everything in a fine white powder. The second was a mysterious leak in the powder room, the third was to keep assorted nails and other toolery on the speakers. The fourth was to forget to lay tarp and track muddy boots all over the carpet. The fifth was to reverse hot and cold for the master shower because he thought “C” meant calor (hot en Espanol). The sixth was he had no idea then, what “H” stood for. The seventh was to offer to paint the bathrooms for free because of 1-6 and then ask for money. The eighth was to repair a shower leak and fail to repaint over the mend. The ninth was to forget to paint the new baseboards and the tenth was to fail to seal the granite vanity tops. I am sure I am missing a few.

Are the bathrooms done? No. the baseboards still look like they came in from a rough game of football and a huge patch of unsanded, unpainted spackle greets us every time we shower.

Tagged: Ro, MGM, Rayshma

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Russian Sage and Asiatic Lily

A romance movie set in 18th century, a story spanning across the worlds starring Ziyi Zhang and Tom Cruise. Unrequitted love. Long journeys to nowhere. Duty and Passion. But. Pause. Freeze frame. This is what I am really talking about. Showing for a limited time only. And not in your local Regal.

Russian Sage

Asiatic Lily

Special Credits
Blue Bowl: Japanese pottery gift from a good friend (who I think comments here sometimes)

Doily: Blue and white made by hand by the woman who gave birth to me.

Tall vase: An old jug. BigGeek was most annoyed that I used utensils intended for food and drink to showcase the sage.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Perceptions are like palimpsets. Particularly correct of people around us. We form an image of a person – good or bad – code it with a cipher and tuck it in the back of our minds. Many days, weeks, months, years, words, looks, shrugs, smiles, silences later, that image is retrieved, scrubbed clean and redrawn. The problem is here. Like a bad dishwasher, no matter how much we try to scrub and scour, the old image leaves a shadow. The new one covers it – or we think it does, but the shadow lurks, peeping every now and then, and when you hold your image to light, you see the old image had never left. It was always there – damaged and incomplete. Years and years of doing this and it’s a wonder if we are left with anything of real value. Just a few odd lines here and there, disjointed and divergent. Lies covering truths or is it the other way round?

For all the time we spend in trying to figure out a person – friends, family and other assorted gentry, we, one day, realize with a mild horror, the fact that we are palimpsests in other people’s minds too. Fragmented, and unfinished, we are but solitary actors to their choric sapience. And some times, or perhaps many times, no matter how well we perform, we have no control whatsoever to their perceptions. And we shouldn’t, because we must all be entitled to our own wisdom or lack of it.

To add to the confusing mix is the fact that spare a few, most of us are trying to figure out who we are by trying to gauge the contents of these palimpsets. But we neither have their cipher and even if we did, their language is different than what we speak. Like the crazy house of mirrors in a carnival, this is a dangerous territory of distortions. The funny thing is this. Inaccuracies are a problem only when they injure us. I mean we are not exactly going to run and complain ad nauseoum if we are being thought of as agreeable while we know we are quite the antithesis. But how do we know we are disagreeable really? We don’t. We are only reflections of ourselves.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Veggie Update

Some pictures of the kitchen garden. A lot of people have asked me about my 100% container garden. I had no idea it was such a novel concept. I'll do a post on container veggie growing soon. Until then, a few pictures of how the veggies are doing.





Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jam On

Nothing tastes as delicious as home-made jam. No, I mean it. You won’t touch Smuckers and their thick jellied jams that taste like ordinary. Make a batch of jam at home from in-season strawberries with nothing but sugar and a little lemon juice added to brighten your mornings.
I like my jam to be a bit runny, unlike the store bought jams, so I skip the pectin altogether if the fruit is tart or add ½ the recommended amount. Pectin “gels” the jam and jellies and is usually extracted from apples. Strawberries are a low pectin fruit, so additional pectin is a good insurance that the jam will gel.

Jam recipes are all about ratios. To make strawberry jam, wash, de-stem and crush the fruit with potato masher or pulse it briefly in the food processor, leaving chunks of fruit intact. For every cup of crushed fruit, add 1.5 cups of sugar. For every 8 cups of crushed fruit, add 1 packet of pectin (1.75 oz). This will yield a runny jam. For every 4 cups of crushed fruit, add ½ cup of fresh lemon juice. So a recipe will look something like this.

Yummy Strawberry Jam
8 cups crushed strawberries
12 cups sugar (yes, that much)
1 cup fresh lemon juice – this adds a brightness to the jam
1 package pectin

In a heavy bottom sauce-pan, combine fruit, lemon juice and pectin and bring to a rolling boil. What is a rolling boil? It means that the mixture won’t stop bubbling even after you stir it. Add the sugar, stir to dissolve and bring again to a rolling boil and boil for a minute. Fill into jars. And enjoy on toast or over ice creams.

See? It’s that simple. Of course if you are making that much jam, you might want to “preserve” it so that you can enjoy it all year. You can either refrigerate it, but I just can it. It sounds a bit complicated, but it isn’t. Its super simple and the jams stay good for 2-3 years at least as long as the jars are stored in a cool dark place (like the back of a kitchen pantry). Sugar is a natural preservative, so you can seal the jam jars with hot wax or process them in a boiling water bath (which is what I do).

Prior to making jam, I run the jars (you can buy jars and bands and lids at stores like Walmart. They usually run about $8 or $9/dozen.) through a sterilize cycle in my dishwasher or you can just wash them in hot soapy water. I wash the bands and the lids with hot water and soap as well. I use 1 pint jars because they fit nicely in my water bath. Ladle hot jam in the jars, leaving a ¼ inch head space. Place lids on jars and screw bands lightly, NOT tightly. This will enable you to ensure that the lids are sealed because of vacuum, not because of the bands.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place jars in the boiling water, adding more boiling water if necessary so that there is at least an inch of water above the tops of jars. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars. The jars will start “popping” as the air inside them cools and creates a vacuum seal. Leave to cool over night. By next morning, the jars must have small dent in the center and should not “pop” when you press the center of their lids. If some jars do pop, refrigerate and consume within 1-2 months – they haven’t been sealed properly. Screw the bands rightly and store the jars in a cool dry place and enjoy. These jars make awesome hostess gifts.

Next time instead of making plain strawberry (or mixed berry) jam, I am going to try to make strawberry + champagne jam. Maybe later in the season when apricots and peaches are aplenty, I will make apricots/peach + grand marnier marmalade.
Here is a picture of the strawberry jam I made this season.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Comprehensive Geek's Guide to Movies - Final

Star Trek – The First Contact (1996) IMDB Rating 7.6/10
Fans of the Star Trek series will love this movie. This movie (and all other sequels) have snce been overshadowed when JJ Abrams rebooted the whole Star Trek timeline, but this movie is quite enjoyable. The human race builds its very first warp engine and takes it for spin. Ofcourse there is the mandatory time travel and all. If you have seen the new Star Trek and are waiting for its sequel, you might want to see this to kill time until then.

Star Trek (2009) IMDB Rating 8.4/10
The new one. The JJ Abrams one. Very well made, very slick, very enjoyable, very updated – Uhura is not space secretary but Communications Officer, keeping up with times. Almost everyone has seen it, so I am not going to give a complete synopsis here, but will only say this, I did not like what they did to Spock. That’s all.

Total Recall (1990) IMDB Rating 7.4/10
This is a family favorite. Meaning BigGeek and me. My father likes Terminator, I don't think he has seen this one. My father was asking yesterday when this (implied boring) series will come to an end, and yes, to answer his Q., this is the last post (yippee, back to regular programming soon). This movie is an all time favorite. What’s not to like? Alien planets, twisted plot, action – the Governator stars in it. Perfect Friday night movie. Go make some popcorn now! This is the end – or this is the beginning. This is your cue to groan collectively.

Also Rans
Beetle Juice
Blade Runner
I, Robot

I am legend
War Games
Vanilla Sky – This was in my original list, but this movie is more touchy-feely. Interesting movie and one of my favorite ones, but not a geek masterpiece.

Vetoed Out
H2G2 (the book rocks, the movie makes you want to throw rocks)
Star Wars
Matrix 3

Melhhuan recommened Event Horizon. I have heard of it, have not seen it yet. Thanks Melhhuan!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Comprehensive Geek's Guide to Movies (M-P)

Matrix 1 &2 (1999) IMDB Rating 8.7/10
The movie that shook the geek world. Stunning special effects, plot that would make Escher blush, software rules the world (literally)– ultimate geek paradise. One of my favorite movies that I don’t watch too often in the fear that I might feel I have outgrown it. I liked Matrix 2 more, actually. Loved the whole restaurant scene with doors and the keymaker. All very convoluted. Just like a mobius strip. So many fascinating undercurrents. I want to pretend Matrix 3 never happened. A horrendous movie to boot – the only scene I actually liked was the train scene with Kamala and her father. If you haven’t seen the movie(s), I demand you go and watch it (them) NOW!!.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) IMDB Rating 8.5/10
Geek classic. Cult following. Absurd. The movie, not the following. We have a huge framed poster of the movie hanging on a wall in our family room. Need I say more? Ofcourse I do. Because if I don’t the layout of the post will be all screwed up. So, as I was saying, if you haven’t watched it, it can be safely assumed that you are not a true geek. No, wait, let’s rephrase that, if you haven’t watched it, I will be kind and tell you to go watch it. If you have watched AND you did not like it, you will be booted from the geekdom into, well another dom where they don’t watch Monty Python. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it!

Office Space (1999) IMDB Rating 7.9/10
Programmer – check. Software company - check, Cube dweller-check, Caffeine -check. Annoying boss – everyone make their own assessment here. A hilarious comedy about software engineers and rebellion. A movie software geeks (are there any other kind left these days?) can identify with. Subplot involves hacking activity. This movie is all about the 90s software culture. Start ups, California, bad clothes and goatees.

Pi (1998) IMDB Rating 7.6/10
Ok I thought long and hard if this movie made the cut. BigGeek didn’t think so, I thought it did. Then thought it didn’t, then thought it did again. I spent so much time thinking about this movie that I was a weary, exhausted, worn-out, fatigued deatbeat. So I decide to include it and see how many of you had seen it and what you thought of it. Directed by Darren Arnofsky and shot in a high contrast B/W film stock, this is a low budget film with big budget aspirations. The movie is a story of a mathematician (genius, obviously) who works with number-theory to find patterns in the stock market. If you are a math enthusiast, you will roll your eyes because this movie is the math equivalent of the first chapter of a high school math book. But it is an interesting movie nevertheless for it has some interesting themes going on, despite the clichéd representation of a mathematician (early PhD, paranoid, socially awkward, I mean puh-lease). I learnt about a game called “Go” because of this movie. Definitely a worth see.

Next post: Star trek – the first contact, Star Trek, Total Recall, Vanilla Sky

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Comprehensive Geek's Guide to Movies (C-G)

Contact (1997) IMDB Rating 7.3/10
Ok, his one is right about where IMDB rates it. Based on a novel by Carl Sagan, the movie is a story of an astronomer who discovers signals from an alien intelligence to build a machine. Nobody has any idea what the machine does. Is it meant to communicate or destroy? I liked the movie because it gives a non-traditional view of aliens. I think that non-traditional view has since become not that non-traditional. The movie is very intense. The only flaw is that is takes itself very seriously. But it is a good, interesting movie to watch and it will put you in a nice wow-haze for a day afterwards.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) IMDB Rating 8.7/10
I wasn’t sure if the Kubrick masterpiece was a geek movie. But in the end thought it was. It presents in a very absurdly comic manner the possibility of total annihilation due to nuclear warfare. This movie, I thought was a comic exaggeration of the “what-if”, but a year or so ago, I watched a Trinity and Beyond, a documentary about early experiments with nuclear weapons. I was gobsmacked to see the US military testing nukes and watching it from 10 miles. People back then really had no idea. (Also see this criticality accident that caused death of scientist called Lois Slatin due to irradiation back in 1946.)

Dude, where is my car (2000) IMDB Rating 5.0/10
No, no, no. not 5.0. Come on! This is one hilarious comedy. Absurd, crazy right up the Bill and Ted or Buckaroo alley. An amazing spoof of main stream sci-fi. The movie starts when two dopeheads wake up after a wild night of partying and can’t remember where they parked their car. While on their quest to find their car, they encounter many strange people. A transsexual stripper, street gangs, alien-seeking zombies, drop-dead gorgeous aliens. You name it, this movie has it. This is an immortal movie. Great lines. Sweet!

The Fifth Element (1997) IMDB Rating 7.4/10
I can never get tired of watching this movie. Or watching Bruce Willis. This is more main stream sci-fi than say Contact, it is a very well-made, slick film based in the distant future of 2200 where NYC is dirtier than ever and interplanetary travel is as common as jumping on a plane. Although the plot is quite predictable, the movie has an awesome feel-good factor because well, the Earth has risen to defend us from evil. And the fact that the US President is a shown as a black man – which is a reality today. Awesome movie.

Gattaca (1997) IMDB Rating 7.8/10
Again underrated. The movie is set in a future where genetically designed babies are common and genes determine your standing in life. Vincent is a naturally born baby, not genetically enhanced and according to the geneticists, will not make it to 30. He works as a janitor for Gattaca Corp. , an Aerospace company and dreams of being an astronaut. An intense movie, it has lots of very interesting scientific and ethical and philosophical undercurrents. One of my favorite movies. But its not your casual Friday night reel. This movie will make you unsettled and you will go back to it again and again, days after you have seen it.

Next post: Matrix (1&2 only), Monty Python, Office Space, Pi

Monday, June 8, 2009

Comprehensive Geek's Guide to Movies (A-B)

Aeon Flux (2005) IMDB Rating 5.5/10.
Frankly, this movie deserves a better rating and the world needs more geeks. I totally enjoyed the movie. It starts out as a futuristic action movie, but ends on a very interesting note about birth and such. I don’t want to give away more because there is a nice suspense here and any more detail would be nothing short of spoilers. All I say is that if you are looking for a good Friday night movie, and have exhausted everything else on your list, watch this. You won’t be disappointed.

Apollo 13 (1995) 7.5/10
Ok, by now, I have stopped taking IMDB ratings seriously. Because, in my books, this movies rates a 9 or more. Based on a true story of the third manned mission to the moon by NASA in 1970, it was termed as a “successful failure”. There was an onboard explosion in one of the service modules of the craft, but the crew with their ingenuity and sheer bravery, managed to reach back safely to earth. This movie was a reminder about the perils of space exploration – we are ages away from Star Trek like ships, but I would like to think we are getting there. It is in part because of astronauts like Lovell, Swigert and Haize, science continues its climb. A must, must see.

Back to the future (1985) IMDB Rating 8.5/10
One of the best sci-fi comedies. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it has time travel, time travel contraptions and funny paradoxes. The movie has cult following. The original movie ahs two sequels, out of which the second one is a bit weak with Marty’s family problems knocking down the otherwise feel-good factorof the movies.

Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure (1989) IMDB Rating 6.7/10
This movie, if you haven’t seen it is an undiscovered comedy, sci-fi treasure. Oh, I am so jealous of you now. Two ridiculously dopey high school students (one of them is, yes, Keanu Reeves) travel in time to complete a history report. Directed by Stephen Herek, this sci-fi laugh out loud, absurdity will have you clutching you stomach as you writhe in mirth. That funny. The sequel (Bill and Ted’s bogus journey) is awesome too, albeit not as light hearted as the first movie. Party on, dudes.

Buckaroo Banzai and his adventures across the 8th dimension. (1984) IMDB Rating 6.0/10
What the hell is wrong with IMDB? 6.0? Where are the geeks who will appreciate this completely madcap, absurd gem? Buckaroo is a physicist/neuro-surgeon/black belt kungfoo master/world class rock musician and more. He finds a way to go through solid matter (based on the assumption that matter is 80% space). He does, but finds that the 80% space is actually another dimension. This is one crazy awesome movie. Lotsa inside jokes which you will get if you are a true fan of sci-fi. Great lines. Absurd. I mean a character in the movie is called New Jersey and several others are called BigBoote. Not for a wanna be geek. Such wackiness is reserved for the true-blue-nerd.

Next week C-G: Contact, Dr.Strangelove, Dude where is my car, The fifth element, Gattaca.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Comprehensive Geek Guide to Movies

Yesterday, over dinner, I told BigGeek I was mighty impressed with Mahendra over at An unquiet mind with his A-Z film meme. I had been toying with the idea of doing something like it, but given the fact that my memory has a strong functional resemblance to a large sieve, I would do the meme only to find movie ‘X’ was not my favorite movie at all because I would remember 2 weeks later that I had seen Movie ‘Y’ too and had liked it better. The scope of the meme had to be shortened to benefit my limited forte. And thus an idea was born to compile a guide to movies that would appeal to geeks. Because what am I if not a geek?

As soon as I told this to BigGeek, he out-geeked me. After nodding vigorously at my first three suggestions while sipping his merlot delicately, he said, “Define movies that appeal to geeks”.

“Hmmmmmm.”. I said. “Let me try. Movies that appeal to left-brain. Movies that have some absurdity to them. Science and math references. Movies that awe you with the magic and scope of science and technology. Movies that let make you go, ‘Hmmm’, but in a logical, rational way. Movies that redefine true science and provide some (even if slightly absurd) vision of where technology can go. Movies that give us a different perspective of scientific theories. Clever movies that have plots like the Mobius strip. Movie equivalent of Escher’s sketches. All geeks are fascinated with the nature of alien intelligence, how the universe works, Schrodinger’s cat, free will and the paradox of time-travel. So movies that deal with those. ”

So after debating and hemming-and-hawing for about 30 mins, we drew up with this list. The movies that made it had all or most of the above mentioned attributes. The also-rans, were, well, also-rans because they lacked some of the above mentioned aspect to make it to geekdom. The movies that were disqualified (and no, we don’t list every movie in the world that was not on first two lists) are some choices most people would think appeal to geeks, but they don’t. Well they don’t appeal to me and I am a geek. I have also left out comic-book geek movies for reasons I don’t quite understand myself. So there, unleash you inner geek and let me know if we missed some. Movies are sorted alpha-numerically and the list will be divided over a few posts.

The Comprehensive Geek Guide to Movies (transferred epithet not intended)

12 monkeys (1995)
IMDB Rating 8.1/10

Directed by Terry Gilliam (of yes, Monty Python fame), this movie has time travel. Not one, but several. As Cole (Bruce Willis) searches for clues to find the virus that has devastated the Earth in future (2035), coercing people to live underground, he travels not just in place but in time as well. The plot line is pretty interesting because it raises questions of whether it is possible to change the past and alter the future and it questions the existence of free will, given the movie’s end. The movie is an action-packed thriller for a perfect Friday night with loads of nerd undercurrents. Bruce Willis is the icing on top.

2001: A Space Odessey (1968)
IMDB Rating 8.4/10

I was frankly surprised that it rated only 8.4 on IMDB. This movie is ultimate geek paradise. Supercomputers, evolution, contact with alien intelligence that is more than just humans + bad makeup. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it brings Arthur C. Clarke’s vision of future to life. I really like how Clarke (and Kubrick) present the future. Some basic values like human contact and need for family remain unchanged, but are seen in the light of a new technology and a new world. To me, the movie is a tribute to what science has achieved and can achieve. True scientific innovation is full of one step forward and two steps back from which we learn and HAL represents that. I think, despite HAL, it presents a positive view of technology and what the human mind is capable of achieving. This movie leaves a lot unsaid, which is very “Kubrick”. It gives us pieces and allows us to make our own conjectures, which is always fun.

2010 (1984)
IMDB Rating 6.6/10
I definitely would rate it higher than that. I think most people who loved 2001 hate 2010. 2010 is more cut-and-dry. Directed by Peter Hyams, it is more direct and in-your-face. But it’s still a great movie. Evolution of our minds and of science continues and the sequel explains a lot of points that were left unsaid in 2001. What happened to Dave? Was HAL fixed? What happened to the monolith? Is it good science fiction? Yes, no doubt. Definitely better than standard issue Hollywood Sci-Fi like Independence Day and suchlike.

Edited to add: To be continued. Next week geek movies starting with 'A' and 'B'.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dog fight

If a day is going well, I have noticed, a karmic balance to the contrary is usually achieved by 4:00 pm. This Saturday, my own gentle temperament underwent a raging change due to a certain bovine who buttonholed me in a small park. Allow me to narrate the sequence of events that concluded with ample exercise of vocal chords, liberal finger waggling and general foot stomping.

As it turns out, I was looking after a friend’s son for the day this Saturday. When he and Chip got tired of riding bikes and kicking ball, I decided to walk them to the small park at the end of our little lane. It was a beautiful day. The sun was warm, but not too warm. Gentle breeze and all that. The only regret I had was that I had forgotten my book at home. When we entered the always-empty park, two children came up running to me warning me to beware of a certain dog. I squinted my eyes and through the sun I could see a girl of about 12 sitting on the kid’s play set, a snarly dog beside her.

There was no way to know if the dog was having a bad day or it was generally ill-tempered dog. I certainly wasn’t interested in finding out. The kids ran to the play set and the dog snapped at them. Then growled and snarled and leaped. The boys were scared, obviously. I asked the girl, nicely to take the dog away since it would not let the children play on the play set. She said “No.” I gently pointed her to the fact that play sets were for kids, not dogs. She was as surly as the dog and sullenly told me “No.” I asked her again, she said “I am not.” After 10 minutes of trying to reason with her, asking her to get her mother, I lost my patience and told her if the dog was not off the play set, I was calling the authorities. She climbed down and two minutes later returned with marching bovine of a mother and her surly husband.

“Lady, “the mother barked at me, “Do not judge my daughter.” Huh? I thought and said, “Huh?”. “She came home crying.” “She and the dog were on the play set. The dog was being very aggressive and would not let my kids play. It also frightened a couple of women who were taking a walk because it leaped at them and snapped and your daughter was unable to control it on its leash. I asked her to take the dog elsewhere.” “This is a public park. My dog is allowed everywhere.” Shouted the husband. Obviously, civic responsibility and logic, both, were both lacking in this couple. I repeated my statement. They repeated that their dog was gentle. I saw the woman who had been scared by this dog. I pointed it out to this cow. She shouted to her “Did my dog scare you?” The woman was scared by the dog’s owner now. “No Ingles” she said. “See?” said the dog-owner. “She said no.” At that point I did not know whether to laugh or get really, I mean really angry and settle this mano y mano. I, instead chose to point the very obvious fact that the woman had said “No English.” Which meant she did not understand the question. The dog-owner, was severely lacking in the general common-sense department as well because she said, “Whatever. She said no. OK? She said no.”

At that point, I lost it and said “Madam, all I asked of your daughter was to keep the dog off the play set. Your daughter was as misbehaved as your dog.” At that point, she spluttered. Not knowing if I intended an insult, they walked off shouting “My dog is welcome everywhere. This is a public park” and all the empty rubbish that made no sense at all, given the context.

Of course, in the course of the altercation, I kept repeating my point like the clichéd broken record and the choicest wit came to me 15 minutes too late. Not that it was needed here, given the fact that the combined intelligence of the couple was less than the shredded rubber mulch underfoot, but it would have provided much needed smirk-laden satisfaction to me. Because, sometimes, just making your point is not enough!