Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Eight-legged freaks

My house and garden are riddled, RIDDLED, I tell you, with creepy crawlies.

I had to mow the lawn again the other day. It's been raining like the next great flood is approaching for the last month so everything was still damp. There were some boxes on the sidewalk by the garage that I'd been meaning to move to the rubbish. Underneath them were translucent orange slugs, (seriously, translucent orange slugs the size of thumbs,) about 15 snails and a few beetle things. Pleh. As I paced the lawn with my mower I imagined my feet crushing hundreds of little escargot and their translucent orange friends. Oh, the carnage!

Much worse than all my slimy little friends outside, however, are all of the spiders that have been making their way through every little crack in my house. Small ones are the size of my pinky nail. Big ones are the size of a silver dollar, assuming their legs are curled up under them. They're all vaguely hairy. And they're everywhere.

Killed one by the door. Killed two in the bathroom. Killed one in the kitchen. Killed two in my dining room/study. And just when I thought enough blood had been shed for the day and we'd reached a detente, I went to my room and saw TWO MORE little bastards climbing on my wall. DAMN YOU, SPIDERS. (Said shaking fists in the air, with a bit of reverb to my angry cries.)

I hate spiders. I mean really hate spiders. A lot. We're not talking fear here, we're talking white-hot fiery hate. Seeing spiders makes my skin crawl. I become paranoid that they're crawling on my legs, my neck, my arms, my face...I slap myself instinctively to kill these imaginary pests. I can drive myself to a foaming frenzy imagining them.

Eight in one house in one day is TOO MUCH.

And of course you can't tell anyone you've been killing spiders without someone telling you it's bad luck or you're hurting the environment or some other ridiculous pro-spider crap. Bollocks, I say. Kill them. Kill them all.

I'm buying some Raid tomorrow. You're going down, you eight-legged freaks.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Stephen Fretwell - New York

I'm currently obsessed with this song. Not sure why. I think maybe it speaks to my natural flight reflex during bouts of melancholia, one of which is currently plagueing me.

I'm not sure why, so I can't fix it yet. But in the meantime, I'll listen to this song and it will resonate deeply, making me daydream of the fresh start. If only things were that simple.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Somehow, I don't find this reassuring.

He was only 5'3" but dogs could not resist his stare

I have a conflicted relationship with Picasso. One can credibly argue that he is the most influential artist in the modern world. Although his renown comes from his departure from realism as he explored the fundamental elements of imagery, he was also a technically skilled realist when he chose. Whether experimenting with color, composition, structure or focus of objects, his work always captured the essence of the thing he was depicting, and he managed to infuse his passion/point of view in everything he did. He's one of a few artists whose work actually wells me up when I look at it. Truly profound stuff.

But while I find it easy to love and respect his work, it's not so cut and dried when it comes to the person. Pablo Picasso was, in fact, an asshole. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was a mean-spirited jerk with serious short man complex. He was a philanderer, a ego-maniacal tyrant, and a distant (and arguably abusive) father. He used his charisma to manipulate and crush those around him.

But then you read things like this. Who'd have guessed that one of the few real loves of Picasso's life was a dachshund named Lump?

I am a lover of the dachshund. So much so that I feel a kinship with other dachshund lovers. Dachshunds are weird-looking dogs with incongruous baritone barks. They are friendly dogs, they are generally happy, energetic, and smart. They're great companions and good watchdogs, with a tenacity that is unbelievable.

I've had two dogs in my life. Pretzel was our first real family dog. We'd had another one...probably a beagle or something, before I was born...but my brother was afraid of him and they gave him to another family. Eventually Bob outgrew his fear and really wanted a dog and, though I was terrified of the barn dogs at my Aunt Martha's farm, I learned to love Pretzel. He was awesome.

He was a full-sized chocolate. He'd been the runt of the litter, and he retained a slightly fine-boned look his whole life. He was devoted to all of us. If you were sick, he'd stay in bed with you to keep you company. He loved popcorn. He sat up on his haunches to beg. He howled along when you sang happy birthday. He ate the Easter bunny cake in its entirety while we slept, smartly leaving the licorice whiskers behind so he didn't get the runs. He cut his tail under the stove, and would then flick blood everywhere when he wagged it (which he did often.) My grandmother came up with the ingenious idea to put a balloon on the tail to keep the blood from flying, which cut off the circulation and caused gangrene...eventually half of his tail was amputated and he was back to normal.

I was out past curfew with my friend Mike one night, and when I came home Pretzel had had a stroke and eventually died in the night. This was very sad until Mike misheard me when we were talking on the phone, and became convinced that my FATHER had suffered a stroke and died in the night. You can imagine how surprised people were when they'd give me tearful hugs of comfort and I'll brush them off with a casual remark. "It's not a big deal. It was his time, really. And we can always get another one."

After we were both in college, Bob and I decided that our parents needed something else on which to focus all that parental energy, so we gave them Max as a present. Max was a black and tan mini. He might be the dumbest dog I've ever known. But he was also sweet and happy, and he followed my dad everywhere he went. He was hyperactive and shook his tail ferociously. He'd greet new visitors by rolling onto his back for a tummy scratch, and then he'd wee on their hand, or even in their face if they got too close. (Really. Just ask CP, who never seemed to learn this lesson.) My mom got a nice little rubber ball with a bell for him to chase. Max would have run off a cliff to catch that damn ball. We had to physically remove it from his line of sight or he would bark continuously until we resumed throwing it for him. We once made him dive for it in a wading pool that was twice as deep as he was tall. He got it. My mother eventually started putting the ball in a cheese whiz jar with the lid on, and Max would lick/bite/scratch it until he opened it and the ball was his. I think his record was about 3 minutes.

Max had back problems and other health concerns and they had to put him to sleep when I was living in Seattle. Neither of my parents are ready for another dog yet. I understand. It's hard to fall in love again after experiencing a big loss.

I'm preparing for a dog of my own. I've mentioned before that his name will be Chet, and he'll be a full sized black and tan. Figure I'll combine the two dogs of my childhood. Hoping he's smart like Pretzel, and quirky/funny like Max. Want him to be affectionate without being clingy. Hoping for a face with character. With a deep, booming bark that will protect me from evildoers, even though he'd only roll over and let them rub his tummy if they got too close. (Good lord, that reads like a personal ad. I need help.)

So I'm rethinking Picasso now. Sure, he wasn't perfect. But perhaps he was just protecting himself...afraid to let people in because the world was too full of hurt. Perhaps he didn't have the energy to live a courageous life because he was putting it all into being a courageous artist. I mean, he was a dachshund-lover. How bad can he be?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Things get smaller as time goes by

Next to the big hair, the giant glasses, the high-waisted trousers, and the huge cars, my favourite thing about movies from the 80s and 90s are the gigantic mobile phones. They're the size of a human head and have twelve-foot antennas.

In other news, I have a verruca on my left foot. And here I thought it was just a plantar wart.

And today someone told me I look like Bettie Page with my new haircut.

The Communards make you see God

You know you're in England when the morning chat show hosts start talking about the Communards like they're the Beatles. But it's just not fair to do a feature story about how Richard Coles of the world-famous Communards has given up rock and roll to follow Jesus, and is now a curate at a church in Boston.

Let me have my coffee first, people.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reasons to like my job

Having another crap week, but there was a bright spot in my afternoon.

The Berkeley Hotel came in and brought us afternoon tea. There were canapes, funky little cakes, champagne, and manicures from one of their spa therapists. We just socialised and drank cocktails and ate sushi. Left with a new attitude and lovely pink fingernails that were nicely filed with neat and tidy cuticles.

If you have to stay at work until 9 or so, it's better to do it with a bit of a buzz on.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Talk about disturbing

Okay, so I just promoted this site a few weeks ago, but you MUST go watch this video from the entry on Sunday, 20 August. You can imagine my reaction.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

CPMan and Melinda June in action!

CPMan Shuffles off to Buffalo

I am so lucky that I found CPMan. We are not normal, so the fact that the two of us found each other at an early age is remarkable. There just aren't that many people like us.

We have many hobbies and interactions that others find kooky. But that doesn't matter to us. We do them anyway. It's like we're twins or something. We speak a language that other people don't understand. Ask Poor George how annoying it is to get used to.

One of the things we do is tapdance. CPMan can. I can't. But he tries to teach me regularly. If we are standing on pier, a national monument with lots of marble, or some other echoey/thumpy place it is an imperative that we have a session. And thanks to the glory of youtube.com, you can witness our session this past Thanksgiving. I apologise for the poor quality of the video...took it with my tiny digital c amera and it wasn't meant for this sort of publicity.

Jesus of the Week

"I would cry, too, if Jesus gave me the finger."

(Stolen from Jesus of the Week, but it made me laugh so I had to share.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Soho cures everything

After my sad/crap day yesterday, I decided that today I needed to do something to make me happy again. I have this proposal hanging over my head and, though I knew I needed to go to the office to work on it, I also knew that I was at my joy minimum and it was imperative that I take action immediately. Fall below the joy minimum and there's serious hell to pay, boy-o. Spiraling depression, lethargy, general crankiness...and there's no guaranteed joy infusion in my near future to fix it so it's best to avoid the situation entirely.

I started with a nice lie in. No alarm screeching me awake, just a leisurely wake/doze for a couple of hours that culminated in a cup of coffee and some web surfing in bed. Watched a little of the Saturday morning cooking shows. Made a delicious omelet and had crispy toast with a glaze of real butter and apricot jam.

Went to the office only when I was good and ready. Had a productive four hours there and, though I will have to go in again tomorrow (probably for six or seven hours, if I'm realistic,) I made headway into the tasks at hand so it will be better than it could have been.

Promised myself to leave at four, and I did. Flew to the train station, jumped a local into the city, and an hour later I was walking the streets of the Big Smoke, taking in the people and the noise and the big red busses like a tourist abroad for the first time. Man, I love London.

Met my friend Patricia in the lobby bar of the Soho Hotel. It's a nice little place called Refuel, and they make some kickin' cocktails and have a decent bar menu for snacking. I had a Belvedere Dirty and then a slightly sweet Manhattan. Patricia had one of the house martinis (lemongrass vodka, cucumbers, ginger, etc.) and then followed my lead with the classic vodka M.

Total aside...there's a video on right now called Computer Camp Love. Pretty funny.

Had some snacks at Refuel, as well. (Some killer brushetta with chorizo and roasted red peppers, some little duck and peanut kebabs, and some edamame.) The plan had been dinner, but we didn't really need it after that. Instead, we wandered the streets of Soho, watching people, chatting, and making mental notes of cool places we think we might need to try sometime. Decided we could, in fact, eat more. Found a funky little sushi bar called itsu with a conveyor belt server and industrial red lighting. Just the ticket, I tell you. Avid readers will remember my sushi disappointment earlier in the week. Well, this time I was successful in my quest. The place wasn't a purist sushi joint but it was still satisfying. They did a Japanese/Thai/Vietnamese combo thing with their sushi. We had:

New Style Tuna Sashimi (peppered with a bed of asian slaw)
Chilli Crab Crystal Roll
Seared Fillet of Beef with Shallot Sauce
itsu Sesame Spinach
Spicy Dumplings
Grilled Eel Sushi
Crispy California Hand Rolls

The handrolls were so-so , but the rest was superb and the prices were great. Stuffed we were, so we decided to wander some more. Walked down alleys and side streets, past sex shops and wine bars and hip restaurants with body guards and weird little curio shops and noodle bars and record shops. Stopped at a cafe for cappuccinos and some fabulous desserts. Moseyed through Chinatown and jumped the tube in Leicester Square.

It was a perfect London evening. Rambled around the city. Saw pretty people, ugly people, fashionable types and others wearing momjeans (even some men wearing momjeans.) People didn't have that middle class big-haired trampiness about them. The men weren't all hooligans. It's a proper city, full of people just out relaxing and enjoying a nice (if slightly rainy) summer night. I love that. I miss that. Life has gotten so school-focused that I've been staying in MK too much. In MK, I don't feel like going out because your choices are tacky chain bars and restaurants in the centre or sleepy villages with good restaurants. Not my scene, thanks.

Of course, the drunk train home sucked, as always. The English drink way too much. Have a cocktail or two. Have a glass of wine. But if you're over 25, don't neck your beers at a pace that has you puking in the loo and stumbling down the aisles. It's pathetic. But that's why God made iPods. Put the earbuds in, close your eyes, and you're riding home with Paul Weller and Ryan Adams. Gary and Chuck from Hemel Hempstead can piss off. Stupid bastards.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday night in

I've had a crap week. I was busy at work, and many of my suppliers (read ALL) were late getting me info for a proposal I have to have written by Monday, so I'll be spending the day tomorrow catching up. My stomach is still a bit churny, so I didn't quite feel like myself. I've been worried about my dad, as his cancer is growing again and we were waiting for test results to tell us where. (Still no answer, as it hasn't grown enough.) There was that whole physical pain thing with the arms. And it's been pissing down rain for three days.

So tonight I stayed in. I had tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner. I surfed youtube for videos (see below) that made me happy. I watched Love Island. I read a book. I caught up on internet stuff. I downloaded a few things I've been forgetting to address. I watched that OK Go treadmill video about 15 times because it mesmerises me.

Now I'm listening to the shipping forcast.

I feel better.

Five That I Don't

Neko Case - Hold On, Hold On

The Magic Numbers - Love Me Like You

Teddy Thompson - I Should Get Up

Rilo Kiley - The Frug

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Me and Mia

Five Songs I Feel Guilty About

Scissor sisters - Comfortably numb

Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down

Charlotte Church - Crazy Chick
Kelly Clarkson - Since You've Been Gone

Kelly Clarkson - Since You've Been Gone

Fun Lovin' Criminals - Scooby Snacks

Quinoa + Halloumi = Yum

Eat your wholegrains! they say. Eat more vegetables! they say. Alright already. I had this for dinner last night AND for lunch today and found it to be DEElishus. Retsina on the side is best, though a sharp chardonnay or a dry rose (read that ro-zay like the wine, not the flower) will do, too.

My Greek Salad
Cook up some quinoa. If you're a newbie in the quinoa world don't fret. Just put one part dried quinoa to two parts water in a pan, bring it to a boil then drop it to a simmer and let it go for about 15 minutes. (Cooked quinoa look like giant big-headed sperm. Get over it.) Drain it in a mesh sieve and set aside once it's done.
Okay. While that's going, put one part fresh lemon juice and two or three parts olive oil in a mixing bowl big enough to really toss the final salad. (I hesitate to use the word "toss" now that I've brought up "sperm," but there you have it.) Bung (yes, bung) in a bunch of freshly chopped oregano and some pressed garlic and muddle it all with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste it and make sure it's balanced and add anything you think it needs.
Open the pack of halloumi and slice it into 1/3 inch slices. Heat a very little bit of olive oil in a non-stick skillet, and fry these slices until light brown on each side. (You can also use a grill pan if you like those sear marks.) Drain the fried cheese on some kitchen paper and when it's cooled a bit, cut it into cubes.
Chop up the following into sizes your mouth can handle. Proportions can vary according to your taste: cucumber, tomato, red onion, kalamata olives, green pepper and radishes if I'm coming to dinner
Okay. Ready for tossing. Vegetables first. Toss. Halloumi next. Toss. Finally the quinoa. Toss toss toss.
To chill or not to chill, that is your question.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I am watching Melinda and Melinda, my namesake Woody Allen movie. And I think I'm onto a new "ism." Hairism.

The weird, emotionally unhinged Melinda has curly hair. The odd-but-loveable Melinda's hair is relatively straight. Curly Melinda is a big mess...her hair is emblematic of her life. Straight-haired Melinda is going through a rough time, but really she's a loveable girl with a heart of gold. Curly Melinda tries to throw herself off a balcony. Straight-haired Melinda ends up happy with the loveable oaf played by Will Farrell.

Quick...you're casting a movie for a wacky female character. What's her hair look like? Gilda Radner? Carol Kane? Now you're casting for a serious role. Meryl Streep?

This is not just a movie. This is life. When my hair is straight, people take me seriously. When I let my hair spiral in its unrestrained state people chuckle at everything I say. Straight-haired Mindy is solution-focused. Curly Mindy is wacky and creative. I've actually incorporated this into my work persona...I change my hairstyle depending upon the image I need for the tasks at hand that day.

This is ridiculous. I'm exactly the same person regardless of the kink in my hair. Judge me not by the waviness of my locks. Or by the color, because that's not real.

Marks and Spencers Sushi

There are really only two places to get sushi in MK. Pret a Manger and Marks and Spencer. There's also a chinese restaurant here that supposedly has okay food and sushi's on the menu, but since a) sushi is not chinese, and b) I don't usually agree with MK restaurant reviews, I am reluctant to try it.

I love sushi. Tom got me started with it when we were living our fabulous west coast life. We'd met in Hawaii for a long weekend and my mom's cousin Gary and his wife took us out for dinner. (They live there.) We ordered sashimi and sushi appetizers and, though I protested that it just wasn't my thing, Tom shamed me into trying it by pointing out that picky eaters aren't attractive. And I admitted that I was wrong. In fact, not only did I not not like sushi, I found it to be delicious!

You can get good sushi everywhere on the west coast, so we kept expanding my horizons...soon I was eating maki and nigiri and sashimi any time I could. And not just limiting my selections to prawns and crab (cooked) or salmon and tuna (safe.) Sushi now ranks as one of my favourite foods. I've even taken a class at Cooks of Crocus Hill to learn to make my own.

So you can imagine my dismay when I moved to MK and discovered all of my options were mediocre at best. The Pret sushi is passable. It's relatively fresh and, though unimaginative, it isn't offensive, either. They never give you enough wasabi in England, but what can you do? The M&S sushi, however, sucks ass. Their snack sushi doesn't actually have fish...it's all rice, seaweed and carrots or ginger. (NO wasabi with that one.) The lunch size sushi is just nasty. They make a tuna teriyaki roll that is basically CANNED tuna in teriyaki sauce rolled in rice and nori. There's a crab roll that is mostly mayo. The tamarind tomato roll is good, but I don't think of it as sushi. They skimp on the pickled ginger. The salmon they use tastes more like lox than sushi. And they don't give you chopsticks with your takeaway.

Yet somehow, I never learn my lesson. I was running an errand at lunch today and stopped by M&S to pick up something to take back to my desk. I had numerous choices from their delicious ready-made collection. Sandwiches and wraps. Salads aplenty. Delicious fruits packaged for individual snacking. Curries that are palatable. Chocolate mousses with only 99 calories per serving. Fool that I am, I selected the sushi sampler. Mmm sushi sounds good! Maybe that tuna salad roll isn't that bad!

I am a fool. A fool with canned tuna sushi stuck in her throat.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

This is the best reality show ever. Even better than My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance. Who was on the episode of Grey's Anatomy that I saw this weekend when I was recovering from the pukefest.

This kicks ass. It would have to...you know how much I hate Andrew Lloyd Webber. (He should have done a Salinger after Jesus Christ Superstar and saved us all from that whole Cats fiasco.)

Things I like about men in England: No. 36

They don't bury their hands in their front pockets and skulk around with bad posture in an attempt to look cool. Many of them actually let their arms swing as God intended. (I'm a bit focused on arms today. You always want what you don't have.)

Things you can't do without lifting your arms

I had an appointment with my personal trainer on Sunday, and since I've been a bit of a slacker over the last month (what with holiday and all,) Hannah gave me a workout that would push me and get me back in line. On Sunday, the chest/arm/shoulder exercises were challenging but I could do them. On Monday, I had an embarrassing "drop-the-weight" incident about rep 13 in my third set. Today, I can't lift my arms without grimacing.

This kind of pain makes one appreciate the many things we can do in this life. The power and coordination and complexity of our bodies. Here are just a few of the lessons I've learned today. Oh, for the good old days of waving.

  • You can't use your legs and torso to slither out from under the duvet.
  • Unfortunately, one's head, neck and face are an integral part of daily hygiene. Actually, unless you're only planning to groom a small part of your upper thigh, you're going to need arms that move.
  • Arms both lift AND bend when dropping trou. Who knew how active arms are when you have a wee?
  • FYI, those fridges with plastic grip spaces along the door instead of actual handles may look modern and clean and all, but they're impossible to open with one's chin or teeth.
  • The steering wheel is really high up. I wonder how knees would look with opposable thumbs?
  • You can't fit a book in a small purse, but it won't drag on the floor when it hangs from your paw.
  • If you take the stairs slowly you don't need the railing. (Okay, most of you don't need railings past the age of four or so, but I'm a special case. I take general precautions whenever I can to avoid taking an embarrassing header in front of the general public. It's like I'm Chevy Chase.)
  • You'd be amazed how much your upper arms work when you type. But keyboards are better than using the mouse.
  • If you don't use your arms, it's a lot easier to diet.
Luckily, the 4kg ball on the ab-work hasn't taken too big a toll. Wouldn't want a cold right now, but at least I can get out of chairs.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

New on my daily blogroll

My site meter lead me to a new site that had become a regular favourite. Tom Waits fans, eye for goofy news stories, silly Jesus pics, and a youtube shout out to Andy Kaufman. Them's my kind of folks.

It's likely that one or more of you know of this already (hence the site meter link,) but the world should know more about "Sprawling Ramshackle Compound."

Beware - the next post requires comment reading

You'll see below that I published an email from a Palestinian colleague in the next entry. I didn't edit it because I found it really powerful as is, mostly because I've met the letter writer and I wouldn't expect the kind of anger and the racism reflected to come from him.

If you don't want to think about the Middle East, don't read it. If you do read it, then read the comments. My friends Pam and Brad make some very good counterpoints, all of which are helping me as I chew on the news and try to make sense of this whole global quagmire we have found ourselves in.

Stopping the Insanity

When the bombing first started in Lebanon, one of my cohorts at uni sent an email to his fellow students asking for support in ending this horrible situation. I was on vacation in the US and, though I sought his permission to reprint his letter here, by the time I had proper internet access to post I was stupidly preoccupied with other things and forgot to do it, and then time went by and cease fire talks started and I wasn't sure how timely it was.

But now, in light of the whole bomb-the-planes-over-the-Atlantic thing, I decided that I really did need to put this up here. I'm angry at those terrorist bastards. They're really messing with my life, and I haven't done a dang thing to them. Sure, I'm pissed that I can't travel with my ipod or a bottle of water or a book to entertain me. And my job is dependent upon people wanting to travel, which is not helped by terrorism threats. But more importantly, trips home for holidays and for visitors who want to come see me just got a lot more complicated. I used to say a quick prayer of thanks when we got past Scotland or Nova Scotia, since that's where bombs used to go off. Now I will be praying every fifteen minutes just because my plane is still in the sky. And I can't choose not to fly...I live in England, most of my loved ones live in the US, and this isn't changing for a few years. And while it is lovely to imagine my steam trips home across the sea, the likelihood of me affording the time or money required for a ship are slim these days. (And I think I've mentioned that I hate puking.)

The author of the email I've included below is Palestinian. He's in my MBA programme as part of the engineering doctorate school at Cranfield and is sponsored by a major car manufacturer. He's friendly, bright, and has a great sense of humor. He does not "hate us for our freedom." In fact, he loves Americans and America...he goes there on holiday and embraces many of the values we do. He's lived in Britain his whole life, and though his Muslim/Palestinian background informs his life, it is not the only thing that makes him tick.

When terror plots get exposed, people immediately start talking about the Muslim extremists. They wonder why they hate us, how they could want to kill us in the name of religion, why they don't appreciate us intervening and saving them from tyranny. The email below explains why.

Text of email:

Hello, I hope this email finds you well.

You will have no doubt seen the terrible collective punishment being dished out in Lebanon and Gaza. I have watched as much of the news as I can again tonight and I must admit I'm reaching the end of my patience and so I have decided to write an email to vent some steam.

Tomorrow morning I am going to contact the top men in Cranfield and ask that any links with Israeli Universities and Corporations be suspended with immediate effect. I am contacting you now as soon-to-be captains of British industry to ask that you remember what the Zionist entity has done to Lebanon and take this into account when making your business arrangements.

There are some I'm sure that will be thinking of Hezbollah's rockets against Israel, but those people should keep in mind that the untargeted rockets of Hezbollah have killed all of one tenth of those killed by the so called precision/targeted bombs of Israel. Also, while Hezbollah and Palestinian militia hold three Israeli soldiers prisoner there are literally hundreds upon hundreds held in Israeli jails. Israel supporting by the USA with around $14 billion a year is the original aggressor.

At the bottom of this email you will find a link to the House of Commons address book where you will be able to find your MP. I urge you to contact him/her and demand that Mr Tony Blair grow a pair and do something. While he and his friends sit on their hands Lebanon in the words of the Lebanese PM and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is being "systematically torn apart"”.

I want to say now that I am biased, my family is Palestinian so you don't have to share my view but I hope you can find it in you heart to help the people of Lebanon and Gaza in anyway you can. When two buildings got knocked down in New York Mr Bush started World War 3, but that son of a bitch is more than happy to see innocent Arab women and children blown to bits.

Finally, if and when you encounter ignorant people that say that this will all blow over or that it isn't really any of their concern please remind them of Sir Isaac Newton'’s third law : "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction"”. In other words, some of the events we see around the world have a root cause and one of them is the disgust at the utter hypocrisy shown by Western governments. We can be sure that if a Western country was being bombed to hell Bush would have picked up the phone by now. This kind of thing makes it really hard for moderates to sustain an argument against more radical elements when it is clear for all to see that as far as the American regime is concerned some lives are apparently worth less than others.

I will stop there before I have a heart attack!

Thanks for reading,

Take care.

I am not here to question Israel's right to exist. I know the Israeli/Palestinian conflict goes beyond the current war, and that Israel struggles to maintain sovereignty in a region that wants to see it dead. I feel for Israelis who live with the daily fear of bombers at cafes or markets...I don't ever want to live like that and it makes me angry that anyone does. And I also feel for the Palestinians who've had their property, their land, and their livelihood taken in the name of Israel's "security," who live under house arrest in horrific conditions because they are the native inhabitants of disputed territory. If I could find some black and white answer that would solve the problem, I'd obviously be telling someone and getting ready for my trip to Oslo to collect my prize.

But I think it's important that we, as westerners whose governments unquestionably support Israel and who daily face an increase in global terror and general ill will, take time to understand our culpability in this situation. The emotions of reality get swallowed by the Bushies talking points and the right-wing media pandering, and everything becomes a wonkish policy discussion that bores the general populace into apathy. If reasonable people who condemn terrorists and their ugly behaviour are still angry with us for our foreign policy, imagine how the unreasonable people are feeling.

Like blowing our planes out of the sky, apparently.

Chances are that the readers of my blog are politically opinionated and know all of this already. (Except for Brad, who just thinks I'm unpatriotic. =) But I know it takes a lot to remind me to write a letter about things like this...most of my activism happens in conversation and blogging. In case you fall into that category, I thought I'd remind you that it wouldn't hurt to send some letters and get others talking about this so that the upcoming election and future foreign policy starts helping us solve terrorism, instead of just fighting it.

In case you don't already know, here's how to find your senator.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I hate puking

I went out for lunch yesterday, and I had delicious salmon skewers. Two hours later I was cold, clammy, and void of any color in my face. Came home, crawled in bed, and made it a whole hour before jumping back out in a dash for the loo. I've learned I can make it from bed to porcelain in three steps, assuming my aim is true. I'm lucky English houses are so small.

My head aches, my stomach seems to be speaking Russian, and I want to die.

Puking sucks.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Celebrity Love Island Sucks

Technically, they have to call it Love Island, as there are no real celebrities on it. But Kat's addicted now, so we've got it on while we're catching up on our respective holidays.

Pierce Brosnan's son, Chris, is positively creepy. For starters, he's a moron. He's also a misogynist. He tries to talk jive or ebonics or whatever the kids are calling bad grammar with a rapper accent these days. He thinks he's really cool so he talks too much, even when he has nothing to say. And he's always talking about balls. And by balls, I'm talking family jewels, nutsack, scrotum.

If he were good-looking, at least you'd kind of understand why he is still on. But he's a minger (a ginger minger, to be precise,) and so he's not even eye-candy.

Pierce must be so proud.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jesus looks like Scott Patterson

Check it out. This week's Jesus looks like Gilmore Girls' hottie and sexiest man on television, Scott Patterson!
Look what I found!

Evidence that I am a total SADDO

1. After dinner, I decided to watch The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
2. While watching that movie, I thought to myself, "Isn't that Paul Williams, squiggy little midgetman, ubiquitous talk show guest and talented song-writer from the 70's?"
3. So I googled him, and linked to his IMDB entry.
4. To celebrate my savant-like memory for pop culture and odd-looking celebrities, I am now having a jam-fest with The Singles 1969 - 1973.
5. Did you know that the first concert I ever went to was The Carpenters? Steve Martin did his wild and crazy guy routine as the opener. I was eight. Way before they started trying to contact aliens.

Important reading

Read this. It's talking about this.

Twenty-six (yes, 26) federal statutes broken by the Bush Administration and not one major media outlet has covered it. And it's August, for goodness sake. August defines slow news month. And W is on vacation so he's not treating Tony Blair like his lapdog or swearing with his mouth full.

And on a G8 tangent, I'd like to give a big shout out to Koizumisan for that freaky, freaky hair. We'll miss you when you're gone, pal. Unless, of course, your replacement has a giant 'fro. That would totally rock.

Where is Dr. Scholl when you need him?

On my way home from the office, I had both my windows open and was enjoying the fresh air. Until I realised that that fresh air smelled like sweaty feet that have fermented to a cheese-like, vaguely poo-scented funk. I actually thought for a second that my own feet were polluting my air...it was kind of hot and I had some poorly ventilated slip-on type shoes on, so you never know...but after closer consideration I decided it really WAS Milton Keynes stinking up the joint, not me.

FYI, you don't want to live in a city that smells like sweaty feet.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Substandard Eating

I really hate it when I waste time and calories on sub-standard meals. And when I am tired and have absolutely no food in the house and am doing impulse buying at the grocery store, I want my over-priced ready meal to be delicious and fulfill the craving that I have.

So why is it that it's always crap that's bland and horrible?

Why would my dimsum taste of cumin? There's no need for cumin in my dumplings. Dumplings should not taste like empanadas. And who puts star anise in pad thai?????

Waitrose, that's who.

Note to self. Next time just spend the extra £10 on a real takeaway.

Attention, MPR listeners

If you happen to hear a Brit named Sean Rickard on Marketplace talking about the breakdown in the World Trade Organisation talks, pay close attention. He's one of my economics lecturers.

My advice for Eurotravellers

  1. Take the AM flight, because you land at 8PM.
  2. Pick a flight that is only half-full. The space is AMAZING.
  3. Don't sleep. Read a book or experiment with those exercises they tell you to do in your seat. Keeps you much more alert than Two and a Half Men, plus it's good for your thigh muscles to figure out how to lift your knees and do leg circles without kicking the seat in front of you.
  4. If you watch Akeelah and the Bee you'll ball like a damn baby in front of people. Be prepared.
  5. Sing along softly with your iPod. It freaks people out, but no one will have the nerve to ask you to stop.
  6. Drink lots of water. You'll be hydrated AND you'll be up and down to the bathroom which is good for your circulation. Who needs flight socks?!
  7. If the loo closest to you smells like pee 20 minutes into the flight, pick another toilet for future runs. It's only going to get worse, but it's likely that not EVERYONE is peeing on the floor so your odds are good that there's at least one better smelling cubicle.
  8. Strike up a conversation with the dishy guy sitting in front of you. He will help you with your luggage in baggage claim and offer you a ride into the city. (Note to self...don't take your car to the airport in case a dishy guy offers you a ride.)
  9. Once you've landed and driven to your destination it will be 10 pm. Have a light snack to supplement the carb-filled day of snacking on the plane.
  10. Head to bed, take two Tylenol PM, and sleep like a baby for the night.
  11. Wake up refreshed and ready to deal with your new timezone.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Last day of Va-cay

It is the last day of my two and a half weeks in the US. For the first time in months, I'm totally relaxed. My shoulders are not scrunched up in unreleased tension. I have a nice new haircut and some vital wardrobe additions and some critical items that I can't get in the UK. I have had a lovely time with my family and friends. I have gotten proper sleep. I have done homework and gone for walks and watched television. I am happy.

My short stay in Minneapolis before I flew to New York yesterday was perfect. I had a lovely dinner at The Craftsman with Tim and Kelli, and we dissected American politics and culture and caught up on general life and acquaintances. I had a delicious breakfast at The Original Pancake House and then went shopping with the Girls, where we found many great sales on fabulous things. Then the Girls hosted a little party for 25 of my closest friends and we ate and drank heartily on a Thursday.

Anne C. picked me up for a quick breakfast and dropped me at the airport. Came to NYC courtesy of NWA, then Tom picked me up and we went to Odrun's for dinner. She lives in a fabulous apartment in the West Village, kind of near Greenwich Ave and 7th. She made norwegian comfort food (delicious,) and we sat on the terrace to enjoy the night air. There was a lovely breeze and her apartment is on a high floor so we had a great view, as well.

Tom and I have had a lazy TomandMindy day, which means a slow morning start, dim sum, then a trip to the Brooklyn Museum. We are now home for a little mid-day resting, and will head out tonight for dinner. Tom's plan is to show me classic Brooklyn Italian tonight. I will like that.

I have to repack my suitcases sometime today, and then I need to head to the airport at 6AM. I'm on the day flight back to London, and 24 hours from now will be asleep in my own bed. How strange.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What we get up to on a Tuesday

This morning we got up around 9. We ate breakfast and read the paper. Mom insisted that I make the coffee, as she's tired of the ridicule about the brown water she makes each morning.

I watched a little The Price is Right, and then Dad and I came back to Magpie for a cup of coffee (iced americano for me, actually.) He's reading a book. I was working online for some school stuff, and now I've decided to post here to keep you abreast of my exciting holiday schedule.

We're meeting Mom in 15 minutes at the Hart's Teas and Tarts for lunch. Teahouses are all the rage in the small towns of Iowa, and usually have nice Victorian decor and light sandwiches, quiches, and salads to supplement the teas and pastries. My mom's antique store is two doors down, and she and the teahouse owner are good business buddies so we get great treatment there.

After lunch, I expect more scrabble. It's unbearably hot here so we stay in the air-conditioning during the heat of the day. It's due to break though, and they're predicting some pretty major storms. I expect we'll watch them rise up on the deck, then tune to the weather channel to watch their progress.

The plan is sweet corn and gourmet burgers on the grill tonight, plus I'm making a salad and there's some watermelon left over.

Updates on yesterday:
Didn't have time for Pirates of the Caribbean so we might fit that in today. When my folks picked me up we DID, in fact, head straight to McDonald's for lunch. They've remodeled. We ate light, just in case we wanted ribs at the hotel, but we had ice cream cones anyway. My scrabble scores are averaging 330 right now and my best play yesterday was "crusted" with the s pluralising zip and the e creating "dime", plus I think I hit a double word score. Oh. And I played "joiner" in a good place, as well.