Monday, April 13, 2009

Odds, ends and Hulala girls**

They are drilling holes in kitchen walls for the piped natural gas connections we had applied for aeons ago it seems. Three of them. Men, not gas connections. One to actually hold the power drill, another to stand besides him and twiddle his thumbs, and a third to stand in the balcony and shout to a fourth (also a fifth?) for a tape measure. Red brick dust is all over the kitchen, and it is taken for granted that I will be the one cleaning up. And I still have to make lunch. Oh well, as long as their drill doesn't blow a fuse and leave me computer-less, I shall scribble.

Here, in no particular order, are various promises I made to myself or others.

Papertigers blog is running a cute project called 'Around the world in 100 bookshelves', in which they feature kid bookshelves - ours is here. Check out the others following the tag at the bottom of the post. Isn't this a fun idea? I would love to see yours too: write to Corinne with a photo and a few lines about the bookshelf to get featured. 'By submitting a photo you will be automatically entered in a drawing to win a selection of 5 age-appropriate books to add to your little one’s bookshelf! First winner will be announced on May 15, and drawings will happen every other month, on the 15th, from then on.' Come on, go take a photo!

Behold our sock monkey! I had two pairs of those flesh toned toe-socks so essential for Delhi winters, particularly if you want happy feet and prefer chappals to anything else. Both pairs were torn in more or less the same place, and so useless for any other purpose - that, and Vivianne Schwarz resulted in the creation of this monkey -

Notice the funny face, so unlike a real sock monkey? That is where I improvised in view of the impoverished condition of my socks. And the clothes came about because of the colour of the socks too - the first time I ever stitched something like a garment I think.

There, the hole is made, and two have slunk out of the house. I think I will send the third one packing too. It is somewhat annoying to have him carrying on conversations with his mates from my balcony, wiping his dusty hands on my clean clothes if you please. But they still have to come back and put the pipes in. Wonder how long will that take, and could I start lunch in the meantime? Surely they will turn up the minute I start; sigh.

Do you know about the Melanie Stokes Mothers Act? If you are American, you may know about it already. But in case you don't, it is time you did. Check out this blog - Postpartum progress. In addition to the act, it is a great informative blog for all new mums. And dads.

It is now the next day, and the gas pipe people are back again, indignant and annoyed that I dared ask them - again - how long it will take. They had turned up about three hours later yesterday, with a mass of heavy pipes, just at the time we were getting ready for the afternoon nap, and claimed that it would take merely an hour. Claimed, mind you, who knows how long they might have taken, or will take today. So, that is the update for now.

I was tentatively exploring Hulala Girls yesterday, a site which says (in a cute girly voice) - 'girls, gaming for a green planet!' and I think we'll stick to it. It is a site new for us too, although it has been bookmarked for a while. I see the reason why of course - it requires registration, which is very well for tweens or teens perhaps, but it has been enough of a deterrent for us, with the impatience of the very young with a delay getting the games started once you've opened a site, and my own reluctance to remember yet another password. So I spent an hour or so getting things sorted out on that front, and am ready to explore today. Here goes -

Hulala girls are a creation of Christy Hui, who I suppose also owns or runs Kokomo O'global which owns the copyright here. And what exactly are they? They are three surfers with super powers, on the imaginary island of Cowlanai, with witch doctors, an amazingly young looking granny and the mandatory ululele playing uncle Billy, some mermaids, a monkey and a turtle for company among others. I am not sure if this online community, with avatars to dress up and interact etc. etc. was the first, or whether the plush dolls or videos came first, but they are interconnected, and aimed at girls in the 6-12 years bracket. If you hover on the home page, you'll find various links in the image, some of which do not appear on the menu bar at the top (friends bay for example, but it is still under construction, as it were). When you do follow a link, be warned that there is no way to just go back - it is flash based, and will load each time you click on home. At any rate, the games, which you can access only after logging on, are here -

The first two - modelicious and mermaidtastic, are dressing up games with only a slight difference in the er, doll. Cute in their own way, and while nothing exceptional, I don't suppose it is positively harmful either. Or is it? How different is a little girl dressing up a doll, or herself, in mom's finery from one doing it online?

The third game on this theme - dress up game, is more interesting. Five seconds to memorize a doll, which means hair, eye colour, and a two piece dress, and then choose the correct fit from the options given. If you are not paying attention, it does get difficult, and it is a variation from the usual memory match up games anyway.

Hulala rip it and coconut slalom are two games related to surfing, both involving use of the arrow keys for manouevring a character as it moves through the waves.

Banana boat is similar but also involves four of the number keys, to hand over items to characters on the shore -

Camp captain is the recycling game - click on a piece of trash to make a girl move to it, click again to choose which bag to put it in. Having seen a couple of these already - for example the great one at UpToTen, I found it slightly unhelpful for those who are not aware of the colour coding, because the labeling is too small to be helpful, if at all it is meant for that purpose. Still, it is good, and it will, like the other games, earn you 'shell points'.

The moosic studio is for the little ones: click to make an instrument sing. Some information about each instrument at the bottom of the page would have helped give it a distinct identity. As it is, Peep still wins in this category. Or the new ABC, or even the old one - there are quite a few games of this sort. But the one game here which I haven't found anywhere else so far is the Wiggle station. Now here is something truly original in concept - even though it is the same maze with hazards. Wiggle station is a compost pile, and the poor little worm has to survive and grow by eating the right foods and avoiding the bad ones, and so on. Each time you win or lose, there is a bit of info about composting. And the worm inching this way and that is really charming. I have had to play this one for my little one, just because it was such a hit! Wish there was a simpler just maze version also for the younger kids who are not dexterous enough to play this...

In addition, there are videos, a few downloads of wallpaper and the like, a toy shop, a board for discussions, and of course, place to dress up your avatar. My opinion of this site is somewhat hypothetical, since I have not yet reached that stage where it will be useful - but I found it slightly wearying to see another of these bikini clad dolls with super large round heads and eyes... The games were well crafted, and there are no ads. Take a look and decide.

The url -

P.S. The pipes were duly installed in an hour or so - truly a miracle. And now we just have to get rid of the paint splatters, and get the electrical point moved because of the gas pipes' proximity to it. More work, darn.

P.P.S. Here is another forwarded email which made me laugh. (Especially the very last bit, now so much in vogue.)

"Keeping up with the Joneses" -

After digging to a depth of 100 meters last year, Russian scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years, and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network one thousand years ago.

So, not to be outdone, in the weeks that followed, American scientists dug 200 meters and the headlines in the US papers read: 'US scientists have found traces of 2000 year old optical fibers, and have concluded that their ancestors already had advanced high-tech digital telephone 1000 years earlier than the Russians.'

One week later, Indian daily newspapers reported the following:
'After digging as deep as 500 meters, Indian scientists have found absolutely nothing. They have concluded that 5000 years ago, their ancestors were already using Bluetooth and Wireless technology.'


P.P.P.S. If you see some funny colour combinations just above, its not me, its blogger.