Showing posts from April, 2007

Wherein I tell Bubs all....

In an effort for new material, I decided I wanted to join the interview circuit and asked Bubs over at The Compound to hit me with his best shot....and if you'd like to play, just follow the directions below. 1) As someone who reads travel lit like a freak consumes porn, I'm incredibly envious of your ex-pat lifestyle. How does an earnest midwesterner end up living and studying in the U.K. while jetting around to places like Oman and India ? Like most things in my life, my expat life is sheer fluke. Here is a step by step guide to how it’s done: Step 1) Grow up in a small town. Develop an insatiable fascination with big cities, foreign lands, and anyplace without cornfields. This will give you a mindset that keeps you focused on the prize. Step 2) Get a really useful major from a small liberal arts college…something like English or Art History. You’ll be well read and able to hold party conversation about the free-wheeling lifestyle of the German Expr

Things that are fundamentally wrong with Footloose

No one is named Ren . Or Wren. No one. A Quiet Riot Mental Health listener would not, under any circumstances, monitor cool points by asking about Men at Work. Or the Police. A town like that in the middle of nowhere would not have a gymnastics team. And if they did, popular guys would not be on it, so they wouldn't get a kick out of kicking the new kid off. Only Billy Elliott and the Jets get so mad they have to dance off their rage. (Maybe that Flashdance girl would, but I think she'd weld instead.) Rednecks in a honky tonk would not dance to the song Footloose. And they'd have pummeled that Ren kid for sport. None of those guys are high school age. 17 year- olds don't have bodies like that. Unless they're on steroids. Which kids weren't in 1984. Maybe they were all held back. There just wouldn't be that much eloquent forbidden literature graffitied into a wall. People in a town like that would write things like swear words. If that Ariel had gotten t


I wonder if they advertise laxatives and stool softeners in the morning for the same reason Dominos sponsors the Simpsons at 7PM? If so, maybe coffee and cigarettes should buy some time, as well. Or pancakes. I hear they work for some people, too.

beauty - becoming the beholder

You've read these posts a hundred times. But tonight it's my turn to write one. I watched a documentary the other night called F**k Off, I'm A Hairy Woman , wherein an Asian comedian decides to stop waxing/plucking/shaving/ depilating to see how both she and society react to a bit of body hair. (BBC Three is doing a whole series on self esteem...sadly, I missed Me And My Man Breasts , but there are always reruns.) It wasn't particularly good, but I must admit it made me think about standards of beauty. She did a lot of man/woman-on-the-street interviews, and pretty much everyone she spoke to, male or female, shared the opinion that body hair is bad on is a sign of a lack of grooming, laziness and pride, not just on underarms or legs, but on arms, on the face (except for meticulously kept eyebrows) and CERTAINLY not in the nethers , unless you've got a tidy little Brazilian or perhaps a heart for Valentine's Day. I expect this from most men, but wa

apropos of nothing

1. I am watching Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and he's interviewing Sarah Brightman . She refuses to sit on the couch and is perched instead on the arm of the sofa. It looks ridiculous. I think it's because of her giant shoes. She's wearing four-inch platform sandals. She as a very posh accent and acts as though she's regal. I say a woman who made a name for herself in Cats shouldn't be so hoity toity . 2. Tonight I was at the gym and was doing an ab exercise where I lay on my back, extend my legs into the air and then, holding a 4kg ball in my hands, extend my arms and touch my toes. I was gassy. About 5 reps in, all hell broke loose. There were people walking past me on their way out of a spin class. I was very embarrassed , but since I was a sweaty red mess by then I don't think I blushed noticeably. I'm hoping they thought it was the guy next to me. 3. Ransom pictures of the kidnapped Oscars have included a hostage photo tied to a tree, Barbie g

Legact Part II: Lessons Yeltsin Taught Us

Saw this this morning on BBC Breakfast, with the anchors openly laughing. (I'm sure it's been all over the news for hours back home, but it was quite the amusing wake up message for me.) Mr. Bush. Iraq is bad enough. You didn't need this, too. Unless maybe this was your clever way to offer a diversion from it in your legacy reels...You're a cagey one, Mr. President.


It's happening again. I am sad. Really sad. I have been crying for about four hours now. The kind of crying you can't stop. The kind that isn't even sobs, but more like an eye leak, so constant is the flow. (Sobs happen, too, but no one can sustain sobbing for four hours.) I hate this. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it is positively paralyzing . I'm thinking this is fear of the unknown manifesting itself as sorrow. It is becoming plain that I will not be able to stay with my current employer if I wish to actually use my MBA to any extent, which means that I don't know what I'm going to be doing a year from now. Usually that sort of uncertainty is fine. But right now it's causing a minor panic attack. There's a lot to do to find a job. I've started the process. I'm not unprepared. It's just that it's sinking in now that there is a monumental task ahead and I am momentarily panicking. I'm also plagued with self-doubt

The European Speciality

The Client Services Director in charge of the account that I've been working on this last week wanted to thank my team for all of their efforts. He brought us TWO boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates as a token of his appreciation. Really kind of him, and I was thoroughly impressed, as most of our CSD's haven't so much as remembered to verbalise the words "thank you" in the 2.5 years I've been here, let alone given us presents. (There are one or two exceptions, but you get the idea.) Ferrero Rocher ads were always a joke back home...posh European people acting impressed by their high-brow host serving these gold- wrappered chocolate hazelnut morsels...very tongue in cheek, pretending to create an aspirational brand out of what is basically a high-end Whitman's Sampler . And though I've always thought these chocolates were fine (they are chocolate, after all, and they are certainly tasty,) I've never considered them all that special. They'

Seven Songs

I didn't get tagged, but I don't care. I'm doing it anyway. Here are seven songs currently in my obsessive-compulsive head. Links are to youtube , in case you don't know the song but want to hear it anyway. (I'm not a sophisticated enough user to just load them in as mp3s. Sorry.) 1. I'm Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart - Eels Thanks. It's about time. And it makes me feel better, even though I've been over you for a long time now. 2. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - Gil Scott-Heron The revolution will not go better with Coke. The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. The revolution will put you in the driver's seat. 3. Flathead - The Fratellis I'm working my way up to running a solid half hour, and I'm currently sitting at about 15 minutes (which is then surrounded by 45 minutes of other torture, but the running is my focus these days). Random shuffle is either a blessing or a

It's the little things

Man, it has been a nasty few days. I've had a large project due at work and have spent the majority of the weekend and the day getting it done. This meant ducking in and out of school over the weekend, working Saturday and Sunday, and basically giving up any sense of a life. I hate that. But it is 930pm now, the work is done and I am home on the sofa watching The Daily Show With Jon Stewart- World Edition , a Monday-night compilation show of highlights from the last week. (We get shows a day late Tuesday - Friday, but I use Mondays to catch up in case I missed something from Rob Riggle or Jason Jones.) Things are much much better. And I've had a few triumphs, as well. The document is 70 pages long without budgets (each of the three budgets is about 12 pages) but it all looks very organised and detailed. And I got a difficult point across to a stubborn supplier without losing my temper, even though I was squishing her head in my mind. My top achievement, though, is that I f

Why it is important to think about your legacy

Because you may have been a world leader, but when you die, every news station in the world will play this.

Good Parenting

Maybe Ireland Baldwin/Basinger really is a mean-spirited cow raised to hate her father. She's 13, she lives with her mother and her mother hates her father with the fire of ten thousand suns. Isn't it possible that she's giving him the shoulder, refusing to take his calls and being disrespectful to her dad? I guess not. Teenagers always treat their parents with respect. Especially when they're 3000 miles away. Alex Baldwin is a horrible, horrible man. Way to find the hard-hitting news, guys.

Offal is Awful, or The Unsophisticated Palate

I hate picky eaters. I firmly believe that, if you are over the age of breast milk (which I put at about the first birthday, though I'm willing to stretch this as long as the suckler is not old enough to ask for a drink or understand that lifting its mothers shirt gets it lunch,) you have to be willing to at least try new things. And though I am not a parent and therefore will be immediately attacked for stating this opinion, I firmly believe that children can learn to try things they don't think they'll like, and learn to eat things that are not chicken fingers, pasta, pizza or hot dogs. (I have seen many a parent succeed in this, albeit perhaps after a strong battle of wills, so I know it can be done if you have the mettle.) But by the time you're an adult, I believe you should be able to eat pretty much anything. You may not elect to be adventurous, but unless you're allergic to an ingredient you should be able to live with it if your host puts it in front of

Link Maintenance

I've been doing a little site maintenance this morning. Firstly, never one not to follow a trend, I've alphabetized my links for tidiness. Secondly, I've added links to blogs I read regularly, partly because it makes it easier for me to get to them if I don't have access to my bookmarks, and partly because it only seems fair I come clean about who I actually stalk...anonymous blog reading starts to feel a little seedy to me if the content is personal. Plus these are very good sites and you all should know about them if you don't already. Keep an eye on that, by the way. There are a few more soon to receive my endorsement but I'm tired of this game so it may be a week or two. Lastly, I've now separated non-personality driven blogs and other frequent use sites into "Diversions". Because sometimes you want information and amusing anecdotes , and sometimes you want to read someone's diary. There. Now you know.

Toe cramp update

The latest stretch to make this stop did not help, but it did give me a dull charley horse like cramp in my right butt cheek. Who knew that could even happen?

Toe Cramps

For the last three hours, my right toes have been in a clenched spastic cramp that no amount of stretching, walking or massaging is fixing. There is a good inch between my thumb toe and its neighbor. the four little piggies are kind of concave and flat looking and I cannot bend them because of the tension in the muscles. This sucks.


I hate goat's cheese. I really, really hate goat's cheese. It tastes like they pee while they're being milked. Nothing good will EVER come of goat's cheese. They should either stop making it or create a health and safety standard that requires all people to label it "Hazardous Waste Alert - Goat's Cheese". Sheep's cheese, on the other hand, is delicious. Yum. I've also decided that I can take stinky cheese as long as it doesn't smell like an unwashed body part. But if I start to think I'm near a toilet all bets are off. Here's an unexpectedly delicious recipe using stinky cheese that does NOT make me worry I need a shower: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Leeks and Gorgonzola Things you'll need: 1 Sweet Potato per person leeks gorgonzola olive oil salt and pepper Wash the sweet potato/es. Dry them. Anoint them with (olive) oil. Put them in a pan, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and bake them at 375/190 for an hourish. Slice s

Delicious Dinner

Effortless, and cooked while I showered after the gym. Flatten a chicken breast. Put it in a shallow baking dish. Slap on some serrano ham. Put a thin slice of lemon on each end. Dot the middle with a little bit of butter and then grind some pepper over it. Put it in the oven (180C, whatever that is F) and bake for like a half an hour. Ten minutes before it's done toss some asparagus with some olive oil, sea salt and pepper and toss it in the pan, too. You have just enough time to blow dry your hair, pour a glass of wine and get the plate ready. And if you're as lucky as me, you'll sit down to find Pretty in Pink is just starting, so you can keep one eye on it while you read your Globalisation prepwork . By the way, why is it she's such a funky dresser throughout the movie, but then creates that butt ugly prom dress? (And technically gingers shouldn't wear that much pink.)

Best thing ever

Check out the April 4th and 5th posts here . Then go here to sign up for alerts in your town. I cannot WAIT to participate in one of these. Oh. And completely off topic, I love Eric Cartman's edition of In the Ghetto.

Music tag from CP

What was the first recorded music you bought? I'm 40. Like I can remember this. I've bought a lot of music in my day, and I can't even hazard a guess. Knowing my taste in the 70's, it was likely something by Abba, though I liked a bit of 10CC and had my share of Osmond and DeFranco Family albums. I was really, really cool, FYI. I even had dance routines. What was the last music you bought? Badly Drawn Boy, Amy Winehouse and I replaced my Weezer album (all electronically) What was the first "professional" music show you ever went to? The Carpenters. (They could have been my first purchased music, as well.) What was the last? I am such a saddo that I don't remember. I think it was the band I saw on Tom's 40 th birthday. They had a chick playing a typewriter. Let me think about this some more and I'll update it later. Unless the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain counts. I saw them a few months ago. What's your "desert island" album?

Everyday person

Now that my guests are gone, I am getting back to routine. Other than the office scandal....which is nothing to do with me...really....things are heading back to normal. We went to the pub on Friday night after work, and then out for a curry. Simple Friday night, but there was something in the air. First the waiter at the restaurant welcomed me to the UK in his think Indian accent, and ordered my friend Marina to take good care of me. (Marina goes to this restaurant more than I do so they know her.) I explained that I live in the UK, and thanked him for his kindness. He nodded and smiled. Then the owner came to welcome me. Thanked me for coming to his restaurant. I told him I'd been there many times before, and that I was looking forward to my delicious dinner. He smiled and bowed. By this time the waiter has returned. He served me first. He started calling me Miss New York, as though I were a) not from Iowa, and b) a beauty pageant winner. When he came to the table to check

Office Wars

We had a quiz night at work on Thursday. My team scored 51 as did another, effectively a tie for first place. The quizmaster , who was a solid 8 pints and counting into the night, didn't have any tiebreakers ready so he proclaimed the boys from Creative the winners since they won the last time. This was patently unfair. We did a bit of trash talking and told them they would pay. (Seriously, how ridiculous is that? Why would anyone think it is fair to arbitrarily decide a contest like that?) The next day the "winners" were all agloat . On and on like a bad dream about how great they were. Rubbing their NOT-victory in. And then they went to lunch. While they were out, a mysterious vigilante went down to their department and, in about two minutes, cleared out every trophy they've ever won. (We do lots of teambuildings and these guys are really competitive, so there were a lot of trophies.) Their go- karting trophies? Disappeared into thin air. Their bowling trophi

Bugs in Amber

"There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia." Rest in peace, Kurt Vonnegut. You changed my life, and I will be forever grateful. So it goes.

Not all UK ads are good

I hate this ad. And I hate all the other ads like it. Dumb, stupid annoying ad. Maybe you'll see it in the Annual Awards clips and laugh, but try having to watch it three or four times a week.

Ah, England

You've got to be kidding me.

Tom and Mindy in France

Had a long drive with heart to heart chatting on the way to the ferry. It was good to be able to confide in a dear friend like forget how important that is when you don't get to do it every day. We were hungry by the time we got there, but I figured there would be a food court for passengers so I just got us in the queue. Unfortunately, I forgot to factor in the part about how England doesn't seem to like to let stores be open when people actually want to buy things. There IS a food court, but it closes at 10pm, so people on the midnight ferry are screwed until they get on board . We did find a restaurant open when we got settled on the voyage, though, and we had a so-so meal of meat and potatoes. I slept, Tom read the map. Two hours later we were in France. With the time change, it was now 3 AM. Tom had reserved us a hotel near Dunkerque (where the ferry lands), but had no clear map and no phone number to get us there. We drove around the deserted streets

CP and Mindy in England

As I type, Tom is in mid-flight, winging his way to lovely Newark NJ courtesy of Virgin-Atlantic. We have had a lovely time, and so I'm going to do two quick posts - one for England, one for France - chronically our adventures . For a more acerbic, slightly off-colour edition (and with 50% fewer " u's ", go here .) Each day I'd work, and then in the evening we would dine well and talk smart. Tuesday: Tom spent the day in the City. He wanted to get a new European wardrobe whilst in the UK, so he went to Selfridges looking for a personal shopper. They claimed they were all booked up for the week, but Tommy suspects that they were pulling a Pretty Woman on him. (If only I'd been available to force them to help him, we could have had an elegant dinner and jetted to Dublin for some penny flute music that would make him cry. But I digress.) I grabbed a train around 5, and met Tom outside the Goodge Street station for a quick walk to his friend Babette'


Not sure what Tom did today. I think he watched telly and slept. He called me at work around 4, completely lost in the redways of Milton Keynes. Once you're lost you're going to have a hard time finding your way out, I tell you, because everything looks exactly the same. By 530 he'd made his way to a little pub in Newport Pagnell and I met him for a beer after work. We discovered that the pub was decorated with Victorian pornographic drawings, which seems an odd choice for an olde worlde pub but there you have it. Made us laugh pretty hard, actually. Went to a Chinese restaurant in the city centre called the Royal Lido, which Tom declared worthy of George which is a good thing. We had delicious Cantonese barbecued duck and bok choy in garlic. Came home and within about 10 minutes Tom was fast asleep on the sofa. I've sent him to bed with orders to get a good night's sleep so he makes it into London tomorrow, and I'll be right behind him as soon as I finish t


Tom is here. I left school immediately after lectures on Saturday and stopped home to finish picking up the house, because Tom is a bit of a neatnik and gets annoyed at excessive clutter. Threw the towels and bedding that I'd laundered that morning in the dryer, ran to M&S for some essential foodstuffs, and then headed to Heathrow to pick him up. (Always schedule trips to arrive on Saturday or Sunday and you get a friendly smile upon exiting customs and immigration.) I hit horrific traffic on the M1, but I'd allowed an appropriate buffer because organisation is one of my hallmarks. Heathrow was a total zoo. Tom was on Virgin, which goes to Terminal Three along with virtually every other giant plane coming from afar on a non-BA carrier, and the stop and go traffic started before you even got to the big Heathrow roundabout. T3 has a great new car park, though, so at least it has spaces and was better lit than the old one. I seemed to arrive just as half of Pakistan was tr


Hey kids, Coaster Punchman here blogging live from Melinda June! We're together for the next ten days, so prepare ye the way for several joint blog entries and tales of our mishaps together. My posts will be relatively short until I figure out how to work this infernal European keyboard. I've already said about three derogatory things about England, which Mindy appreciates since it can be annoying always being the ex-pat amongst a bunch of Limeys. Now that I know she likes it, I go out of my way to say things like "an English person would make guacamole like that!" while watching Nigella on the TV. In fact, I can't wait for my first opportunity to have a real English meal so that I can do my Jacks imitation: " Food like that is why I live in France! " So far our misadventures have been minimal: After my semi-horrid flight, Min picked me up at Heathrow, fed me English treats in the car (the good kind) and then took me for a wonderful curry dinner