Sunday, January 29, 2006

Results of my big match

Just to get it out of the way, we lost five sets to nil. No, no. Don't feel too bad for us.

Sets one and two were really good. We were matching them point for point and we only lost 18-25 in the second set. Trust me, our opposition are good. One girl from the opposing team played volleyball for her university in Canada (nothing to sniff at) and another girl is just as good. So for us amateurs on my team, that scoreline was well done.

However, things went rapidly downhill in the third and fourth sets. Poor passing and low morale were to blame. See, that's how you know these girls are inexperienced. They cannot pull themselves together to get out of a low point. They just wallow in it and there's nothing that the captain or the coach can say that will motivate them. It's actually more tiring to play with them like this and I eventually shut down as well.

I didn't play the fifth set, which was fine with me. The lack of engagement with the other players had me down. I was also a bit angry at our coach. I thought his choices of players were all over the place. We had 12 available players for the game. You only can have six on the court. Instead of staying a bit longer with the stronger players, he continually rotated so everyone would play. I don't think that was such a good strategy for such a big game. Also, he asked this girl to come along and play with us who had never once played with our team. She had no idea of our team's particular set ups and seemed as if she learned how to play volleyball last week. Needless to say, it all went a bit pear-shaped in the fifth set and we lost 3-15.

Sorry I've rattled on about this. I have always loved volleyball since I was in high school. I was rubbish then through a combination of not taking it seriously and not listening to my (excellent) coach. I guess I'm going through a bit of a renaissance and sadly trying to recapture my youth. I was talking to the really good Canadian I played against after the game. She was lamenting getting older, as she was noticing that she is able to do less of what she could do when she was younger. I am strangely opposite. I guess I'm savouring this chance to play again competitively, so I can show myself that I can really do. Anyway, I recognise all of you are not volleyballers. If you're not up on your volleyball, click here to learn more.


I get a bit of schtick because of my American volleyball and competitive sport lingo. Most of my teammates think its pretty hilarious the things I say. Here, we don't "bump" a ball, we "dig" it. A cry of "Break serve" and "Side out" don't mean a thing to them. When someone makes a mistake, I would usually say, "Shake it off." (One of my teammates told me that when I say that, it reminds her of the Blues Brothers' song "Shake Your Tailfeather.") I have been told that an appropriate response to that situation is "Hard lines." Eh?

The Boy says that when he watches us play, he can tell my influence on the team, as they whoop a lot more than normal British people would. "Whoo!", so you know, apparently is not a very British think to say. I have some girls I play with don't say a single thing when they play on court, let alone shout. It's disconcerting! I think it has more to do with their lack of experience and trust in themselves than with any sort of Britishness. However, the reserved British nature does no favours.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Rabbie Burns

Unfortunately, I was too slow to get an audio clip of the introducing of the haggis and a reading of Burns' poem To the Haggis. This audio clip is of me describing a bit about my night.

this is an audio post - click to play

The night started off with the introduction of the haggis. Very cool and ceremonial. After dinner, there were readings of his poetry and reflections on Burns's life. There was also toast to the lassies and laddies (women and men), which, although filled with cliches and generalisations, were entertaining enough. During the readings and recitations, I saw many people heads nodding -- in sleep. That was the biggest problem.

So, on to the haggis, which, some say, is really the star of the night. I'm not sure if I can equate haggis to another food, but it wasn't unpleasant. The haggis we had was, according to others, unusually spicy. We had it with its traditional sides of neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and mashed potatoes). You're supposed to mix up the haggis, neeps and tatties, but no one did. I think it is because everyone was posh.

Robert Burns is Scotland's most famous poet and definitely a favourite son. However, I can't see the relevance that he has in modern Scottish. This is not to say that I think Burns Night is pointless. On the contrary, I think Scots use Burns Night as a celebration of everything Scottish. Many Scots still feel bitter toward the English for denying them a true independence. They feel their life is dictated by English whims. But Rabbie reminds them to be proud of being Scottish and that their Scottish ways are lovely and poetic.

There are new pictures of the ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), which we had after the dinner. I love ceilidhs, as it's the only time I can get the Boy to dance. Among some of the dances we did were St Bernard's Waltz, The Cumberland Square (my fave), The Gay Gordons, and The Dashing White Sergant. (what names!) You can click here to learn more about how to do them. I took the pictures with the camera on my phone -- that's why some of them are blurry. Others because we were moving so damn fast. Here's one of me with the Boy, gasping for breath. These dances do take a lot out of you. And I'll be going to another one tonight. How will I make it through?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

He's not home yet (uh-oh)

The Boy's working late so I've been working on tweaking the format of the blog. Two big changes have been made.

First, in sharing and communication. You can now email my blog entries to others. I believe if you click on the envelope at the bottom of the entry, next to the comments link, you can then do it. Also, I've published my email address on my profile. However, this is my alternative address. Most of you's will have my proper address; this address is for people I don't know who might want to contact me. And one other thing, you no longer have to be a member to make a comment. So I'd love to hear from you friends!

Second set of changes have to do with additions. You will notice them on the sidebar. If you click the Call me! button, you can give me a ring, via Skype. What, no Skype? Get it! You can make calls computer-to-computer [AB-so-lutely free] as well as computer-to-telephone calls, set up voicemail, etc. It's dead easy to do. So I don't sound like some advert, email me if you want the details. It is really worth it and one of the first things I set up when I got this computer. Also on the sidebar, you'll see additional links. There are now links to the websites of the TV channel the BBC and the newspaper The Guardian [so you can read some real, unbiased news, fools!; this must be read in a Mr T voice]. I've put in links all about our fair city, Edinburgh, to give you a feel about my fab city. Maybe you'll think about a visit?

Still ill, and other spills

Just enjoyed the rhyme. Not sure if there are any spills.

Well, I am still feeling rubbish. I have this persistent cough and catarrh [which is what they call nasal/sinus drip here], becoming more obnoxious and irritating when I go to sleep and wake up. In the night I went to sleep on the couch last night as I did not want to disturb the Boy with my coughing fits. Ended up disturbing him anyway and we both had a rubbish night's sleep. We have two two-seater leather sofas in the living room, and they're OK to lounge on to watch TV, but definitely not for a night's sleep. The decongestant and cough medicine have had no effect and it might be back to the GP for me.

I am highly anxious to get well. Firstly, this might migrate down and become a chest infection. Not fun. Secondly, [and probably more truthfully] we have a big match, which I referred to on the audio posting (see Monday, 23/01). We are playing my club's women's first team. We are definitely not as good as them, and I will be the first to admit it. But I hate when I hear the girls put themselves and our team down, especially in front of the other team. "We are going to get trounced by you!" one of my team-mates gleefully told the other Jets team. "Ha ha!" Yeh, but there is no reason why we can't have a little pride in ourselves. And at least go down fighting.


I had a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) [fancy shmancy name for a workshop] this afternoon. My stupid mobile* [that's another story shared below] reminded me that it was at a location near the flat. Yay! Lucky me. When I arrived there, though, it was not. Somehow I put it in wrong in my phone. Pish. I trudged home, as I would never make it across town to the proper location in a reasonable amount of time. And I really don't really care about the damn workshop anyway, and I will tell you why:

But first, a little back story for me on workshops: I love workshops. I love learning more and hearing what others have to say. Workshops generally allow me to reflect on my teaching practice, which I don't get the time to do. Thankfully, I'm becoming better at not taking in everything the presenter says as gospel and discriminating between good and bad ones.

Back to why I think I'm going to hate this workshop. It was called Reading and Learning Difficulties. Ace, I thought. I'm a resource teacher [oh, for all those who didn't know, I'm not a classroom teacher right now -- I'm doing resource; why I moved from classroom teaching, which I adored, to resource, an area I viewed with mild distain, will have to be a tangent I get into another time]. I mean, this should be right up my alley. I deal with kids that have reading and learning difficulties. All About Dyslexia would have been a better name for this workshop, which was my beef.

Ah, dyslexia. Where do I start? Dyslexia is Britain's ADD -- every child has it and it is the root of every child's problems. I had never taught a child with dyslexia in the US, and only ever encountered one child there who I ever thought was really dyslexic. From my (limited) experience, I think that every country has its pet diagnosis for academic underachievement, and dyslexia is it for the UK. In my opinion, half the children with dyslexia don't actually have it. They probably just received shite reading instruction. But that's just my humble opinion, and who am I?

People, I have already been to more dyslexia workshops led by earnest presenters, themselves dyslexic or parents of dyslexic children. I feel insensitive for not believing in dyslexia, especially when these people bleat on and on about their particular difficulties, but I'm not changing my mind any time soon.

The main reason is that people here are so unprofessional in regard to dyslexia. What is research saying? That dyslexia by its most common and classic definition -- an affliction that causes average and above average children to have reading difficulties -- is at best a misnomer and at worst nonexistent. I remember I was in one meeting in which they were summarising a programme developed to help upper primary aged pupils with dyslexia by teaching them mind maps and organisational skills [shoot, I shoulda been included!]. The presentation consisted of statements such as, "He just blossomed" and "They just AB-so-lutely loved it", with the other listeners impressed and nodding. Finally, tired of the love-in, I asked that since this was a piloted programme, what the difference from their initial assessment to their final assessment? In essence, what evidence did they have that the programme they had actually made a difference? They looked at me like I had asked if I could just shoot child to cure their dyslexia. How dare I ask such a question? Did I hear that the children "AB-so-lutely loved it"? How very dare I indeed. I mean, can you believe that "they just really loved it" and "they just blossomed" is evidence enough to spend thousands of pounds on shite reading programmes?

Until I start to have some professional, non-biased, researched-based discussions about dyslexia with colleagues, I won't be changing my stance on the topic. And so I missed the damn workshop. And I am not sorry. Anyway, I've got three more weeks of it to go.


On a lighter note: Dennis Rodman has been in the UK, featuring on Celebrity Big Brother. Nobody had a clue who he was and he has been voted off of the show by the public just yesterday. Ha ha.


* My stupid phone tangent: So I finally got this lovely Sony Ericsson phone that has a great camera (2 megapixels!) and plays mp3s. Except the software enclosed for uploading music onto the phone is only for PCs, and they have no plans of producing the software for Macs. And I'm too bloody thick to figure out how to work the circumventing software that I found on the internet. So I have a very high spec phone that does nothing that I bought it for.

Monday, January 23, 2006

My thoughts on the way home

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My narcissim?

OK, the Boy wasn't as amused with my lasting posting as I was (see Saturday 21/01, My dyslexic dog). I have signed a confidentiality agreement and cannot discuss the nature of our argument, but what I will say is that he accused me of being narcisstic with my blog.

His comments reminded me of an amusing new something I've found online. Now that I have the mobile (we don't call it a cell -- I just get funny looks about that) (made my first call and text successfully; the girls in the car when I phoned said I looked very "natural" as I spoke and didn't do the "loudly speaking mum" thingie, so I felt good), I was looking for something to download onto the phone to listen to.

This search led to my first foray into podcasts. I didn't know much about them, but from what I gathered from Wikipedia, they were audio snippets people put together about something that interested them. This led me to iTunes, which listed hundreds of podcasts I could download for free. Getting better. What did I get?
Most of TV ones were disappointing. It was 30 minutes of people waxing on about the episode and never giving a synopsis. The Gilmore Girls one is the worst! It was narrated by a married couple obviously knew everything there was to know about the show. They were just going on and on, no periods in their sentences ("And then... you know... then what happened was... and it was just like Episode number 14 when Rory... it was so funny cos...) and just rambling. It was incredibly narcissitic. (Do have a listen though, even for a few minutes, and even if you don't watch the show, as the podcast is very funny.)

And so maybe the Boy does have a point. Maybe all of us buggers (excuse me, bloggers) are navel gazing, self-centred narcissists. However, I want you to know that my narcissism is tongue-in-cheek! Take the titles of my blogs -- most of them, save (Untitled) and the first one, begin with the word 'my'. Firstly, it's an homage to the TV show Scrubs, which names each of their episodes always 'My Something-or-other'. Secondly, it's supposed be ironic, or Alanis Morissette's definition of ironic, as in I'm so self-centred it will all be about MOI!

Truly, I write this for my loved ones, hoping they are interested in the little things I do since I'm so far away from them. I wish I could see each of you every day, for if I did, I would share all these bizarre things (ie, dog talking) and mundane things (ie, had a venison dinner Saturday night; not enough salt) with you in person. I mean, when we share the events of our lives with our friends (and, sometimes in desperation, total strangers) aren't we are being just a bit self-centred, and even a wee bit narcissistic? Isn't sharing our woes and joys with people the only way of getting through this mad, mixed up world? Bottling it up will just make is even more crazy. Or incredibly poor with the enormous therapy bills we would have. ('What do you mean I can't come back in an hour?') Or British.

So I hope you enjoy my narcissism. I will be continuing. And I hope you take the time to be a little "narcissistic" today -- it will probably make you feel better. Add your comments below or just email me.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My dyslexic dog (and other early morning musings)

We were up until half two in the morning last night (or, this morning!). Not good, as I have a game the next day. I don't know what the Boy was doing, but I was playing with my new mobile phone -- v lovely, as they say. Here's a picture of me pretending to use it, as I am still too technologically unadvanced to make use of it appropriately and effectively. Actually, what I think I'll do it just let it sit in an inappropriate place (say, the bathroom) for an extended amount of time until I deem that I really need the last one and promise to treat the new one right. What, is that cleavage?

The Boy and I are on the fence about having children. OK, it's really just me (I know, I know, this is coming as a revelation to everyone I know, not least my sister to whom I insisted I was still following the party line of no kiddies). It's like my former assistant said, "Once you meet the right man, you just want to." I don't know if I met him just yet, but the Boy'll do (haha). We probably would think more about it if we didn't have the dogs. In many ways, we treat them like children. We are one step away from having pictures of our dogs in our wallets -- just haven't been impressed with their last portrait sittings. I think the worst thing is that we talk to them. Excessively. They even have back stories.

Here's Sarah's story: A little ghetto dog from a tough life, she had puppies at a young age [now, this is actually true]. Somehow she managed to form a band with Samantha called the Twits (Samantha on guitar and backing, Sarah on drums and vocals), with their biggest song "Sarah and the Twits" coming in the charts at no. 99. (When you see them, they can sing it for you.) When she speaks (obviously) she sounds like a mix of the crack addict from Chappelle show, a young Michael Jackson and Autumn.

Samantha has never had any children, nor ever known the love of a dog. She can be very old ladyish. She likes to do things humans do and feels indignant when she has to do "act like a dog." Samantha's had her eye on an old Victoria swimming costume and cap -- as she likes to have a padde in the sea -- as well as an old Victorian nightgown. We think she could be dyslexic (or doglexic) as she confuses her sounds, always using a big dog bark when she's really a scaredy-dog. Her voice inexplicably sounds like the Boy affecting a soft voice and she curses quite often.

Now don't tell him I've told you about this. He's embarrassed and thinks people will think we are nutters.

And here he is wearing his Xmas gift from my sister. Don't know why it's shown in a mirror image, but I can't change it. Don't say that he's never worn it girl!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My favourite British Crimbo traditions, aka Men in drag

Christmas (trust me, there is a reason why I'm rehashing Christmas now; read on my impatient friend) is very similar to Christmases in the US. Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) actually has much more significance than it does in the States, but otherwise, really the same. Family, turkey, annoyance, thankfulness that everyone has gone back to their own damn house, etc.

But there are two traditions that are typically British that I enjoy. First are Christmas crackers. (Insert your favourite whitey joke here.) They are like party favours that only come out at Christmas. You pull it apart (like some absurd paper wishbone) and get the contents inside -- it's an individual pinata really. Though they vary in quality, all crackers include a paper crown (that everyone wears, at least for a short while), a toy, and a joke (usually a "groaner"). I just loved the idea of crackers so much that I had them at my wedding (put together with the most industrial of industrial strength glue).

My second tradition I love are pantomimes, which I never have heard of in the States. I think the thing closest to pantos in the States are plays by Tyler Perry (of Diary of a Mad Black Woman). These theatrical performances only occur at Christmas, but the story has nothing to do with Christmas (so it's not a feel good story about the "real meaning of Christmas"). The lead male is traditionally supposed to be performed by a woman (though that has only happened in one out of three pantos I've seen). The lead female character is always, always, ALWAYS performed by a man. Needless to say, he is very funny and very camp. And did I mention in drag? Obviously, this is not Macbeth.

Now here is something you need to understand: British men LOVE to dress in drag. Some British celebrities are known for it: Paul O'Grady (top picture) and Eddie Izzard (second picture). There is a huge tradition of it, you know -- even before Shakespeare (think about the storyline of the film Shakespeare in Love: girl, impersonating a boy, playing a woman). But that's nothing new to Americans (hey, remember RuPaul?) However, what's different is that it is an incredibly acceptable thing to do here. Men of all ages do it (not just drunken college students) and I have yet to meet a British man not to have done it or known a man in their family to have done it. When I said that to a group of British blokes, one laughed heartily. He hadn't -- but his dad had.

Anyway, going back to pantos: the Boy was in his work panto, playing the lead role. Can you find him?

In case you didn't see him, here's a close up.

He's enjoying it too much, isn't he? Should I be worried?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

My good day, plus do I miss the States?

It was beautiful in Edinburgh yesterday. Thick, grey clouds plagued the city all day Friday, threatening to rain. It musta done over night, cos when I went out to get the paper Saturday morning, it was evident it had rained, but the sky was clearing. As the day progressed, the clouds continued to push away, the temperature became milder and it eventually became bright and sunny. These rare days make me love being here. The weather in Scotland is like psychology experiment into the effects of variable interval rewards. Most days range from not bad to shite. Then they throw a day in like Saturday and you forget all about the other "just OK" days.

It was my team's first game back since the Xmas break. We managed to win 3 sets to 2 after going down 2 sets to nil. I was pretty angry after the first set, especially as we were 22-18 up and lost 25-22. I got some flak from my coach, as I am the captain, and I should have repositioned the players. Trust me when I say to you that I have zero influence on this team. They do as they like and they have a very hard time adjusting to adversity. I was glad, in a way, to lose the first set. I thought it might set light to them (because we were playing an inferior team), but we just lost the second set. Matth came to see me, only his second game viewing. He says we've improved, which is true, and so has my setting. Yay! As a perfectionist, that's all I want to hear. Everything is coming together, but not in time. We're playing the best team in the league on the 28th, who just happen to be my volleyball club's first women's team. We are likely to get spanked. Check out the match report on the team website (listed to the right) to see how your Autumn did.

The Boy also noticed that while I was the only black person playing between, I was just as pale as everyone else. I am becoming British! Argh! I do miss being brown, but there is no way to do it unless I go to the ubiquitous and myriad tanning salons in the city. I'll go, but I'll be wearing a SPF 45+. George Hamilton’s sadly orange countenance is very popular over here, but I promise you that I will not succumb to that. Although, our friend Jose (the Boy and mine's Honduran friend who considers himself black) tutted about how pale I was when we were with him in June.

We saw the film Jarhead. I liked it so much, but the Boy was less impressed. He reckoned it wasn't anything special, as men in any close, intimate situations (fraternity, sports team, etc) behave in that same manner. I was coming from it in a different way. It reminded me a lot of the military culture in which I lived and grew up. Obviously I didn't really see the all the vile things military men did, I saw and heard enough. Plus, I loved the soundtrack. The movie was set during Desert Shield/Storm, so overheard was Naughty by Nature's "O.P.P" and Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

When I do see films (last one: Just Like Heaven) I do appreciate them a lot more since being here. The infusion of American culture reinvigorates me for going back into Scotland-land. You can tell when Americans are in the audience at a cinema here: the laugh louder than necessary. Just a natural American quirk (and shows how reserved the Brits are). Do you know that when I meet Americans here, 95% usually can't tell that I too am from the States? But the British people know. When a British person asks me, "Where are you from?” it usually means, "Which state do you come from?" (British people are like Black Americans who meet me: they just instantly know I'm not exactly like one of them. Black people always ask me, "What you mixed with? I know you Black, but...” Here: "You're American, or Canadian?") So when I see an American film, it reminds me that no matter how many British words I accept into my vocabulary, or no matter how much my inflection changes, I have to hold on to a little something of my terrible, arrogant, great culture that is of the US. Cos that's who I be, no matter how hard I hide it.

I'm even getting over my stomach bug and I ate a proper meal at a Japanese place after the film (well, half of it). Of course I wanted tonkatsu my favourite of all eats. They only had "Cutlet Pork Steak Rice" on the menu, which I assumed was said tonkatsu, but I decided not to assume, so I asked. Twice. The woman had no idea was I was talking about. Then I looked carefully at her and listened to her speak. She was Chinese! Clever. There are way too many Chinese restaurants in Edinburgh and very few Japanese. And the Chinese restaurants are crap. Really bad. I've had way too many overcooked, burnt meals to name, filled with MSG. (No dim sum!) Be thankful for your ethnic food, Americans. I so miss proper Chinese and Mexican food. The British are well known for the lack of good food. Somehow the ethnic population in Britain are becoming regarded for the same thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Just a few ramblings, so no title. Part of the reason is that I've been feeling ill for the past two days with a tummy thing. I've been feeling nauseated (or is it nauseous? I can't ever remember which one is the proper one), with diarrhea and the ocassional headache. I've been eating sparsely, so maybe this will help me lose some of my Xmas weight. I've got more rolls than a bakery!


I've done very few illegal things in my life. I've never done drugs, unlike some in my family, and they will remain nameless (oh, c'mon everyone, you've got to know it's everyone in my family but me). I've been caught speeding a couple (read: several) times, but nothing big. I have this memory that I tried to lift something from High's when I was about eight, but I think that was my sister. Look, I'm a rule follower, scared to deviate. In some ways, that helps one that is abroad, cos when you're a rule follower, you shut up and watch others so that you don't break any rules (laws or culture norms). So here's me, the rule follower in Greggs this afternoon.

Greggs is the only place I can get the closest thing to a glazed donut. You can only buy it in Scotland; when I was in Leeds (which is in England; it's near where the Boy's family lives), it wasn't in the Greggs shop. They call it a Yum-Yum and its twisted instead of in a circle. And indeed it is yum-yum, though I do feel like a numptie when I ask for it. (I mean, is it "a yum-yum" or just "yum-yum"; I only seem to see people point to it, not naming it, probably for that exact reason.) The queue was huge as it was lunch time. The local high school had let their pupils out for lunch (and probably a bit of peace) and I saw two blatant shoplifting occurrances. And I was not the only one who saw it, but no one said a word. So, as a dutiful rule follower, I said nothing. That's the great thing about Britain, you can do whatever the hell you want and no one will say a thing. Mostly cos we're scared of being attacked. Good thing about UK: thugs don't have guns. Bad thing about UK: thugs have knives.


Downloaded 17 songs from iTunes and will probably listen to them every minute for the next four years. Used my Xmas money from Matth's dad (thanks, BTW). But could not download TI's "ASAP." I mean, that song was all over the place this summer when I was back in the States. Well, at least in North Carolina. Don't matter, cos it was hot. And they didn't have "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" on iTunes! (Feeling: incredulous) Am I the only person who remembers Bone Thugs-n-Harmony with fondness?


Big up to my hu'bands, my no. 1 reader!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My Roman holiday

So you know, what we saw:
  • Vatican City, including
    • the Sistine Chapel
    • the Post Office
    • St Peter's Square, Basilica and dome
  • the Colosseum
  • the Forum
  • the Spanish steps
  • the Keats-Shelley House, place of Keats's death (the outside)
  • Trevi Fountain
  • the Pantheon
  • the Galleria Borghese
  • Castel Sant'Angelo

What we didn't see:
  • Michelangelo's David
  • the Catacoombs
  • the Raphael Room in the Vatican Museums
  • the Mona Lisa (cos it's in France)

I was shocked when my sister recently told me that the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck film Roman Holiday was my favourite, not her's. I really don't remember that and I didn't believe her. I wanted to tell her that she was crazy. That she was the one that really liked the film and dreamt of being Audrey Hepburn with her short little pixie crop, meeting her rugged own Gregory Peck and riding around on the back of his scooter. Well, maybe it was my fave.

I guess it's all the more poignant then that Roma was my first place of visit in continental Europe. Where do I begin? What is there to say? Well, to be boring and predictable, Rome is breathtaking. It makes Edinburgh look, frankly, like shite. And just so you know, Edinburgh is the most picturesque, most historical city in Scotland and probably the UK. The crap of Edinburgh stinks royally when smelling the roses of Rome.

I mean, the history. C'mon. People in the UK wet their pants when they find the foundations of ancient buildings. There in Rome, whole buildings are intact, often with very little maintenance, as there are so many old buildings in the city. I mean buildings 2000 years old! And beautiful -- statues and carved fountains left and right, in every piazza and square. Not just important places. In little crappy, rundown spots. Simply amazing.

Also, I've found a new obsession: Gianlorenzo Bernini. I will not be leaving the Boy for him as he is long dead. He's an amazing sculptor that could make marble figures look incredibly life-like. I've seen a few statues, many that were very good, but there was always one thing that didn't convince me of realness: the feet. All the feet were messed up. But not Bernini -- everything was masterful. Now the pictures do not do him justice, but they give you a taste of his genius. His David is left and Apollo and Daphne is on the right. (Pictures courtesy of Web Gallery of Art)

The Boy and I did, however, succumb to what travel writer Doug Lansky called "The Bubble." (The Guardian, 7/01/06; check it out at here) In his own words:
It starts back home with the media: books telling you what you're supposed to see before you die and magazines listing must-sees with the conviction of biblical commandments. If you're going to China, for example, you'll feel so compelled to see the Great Wall that missing it could send shock waves of guilt so deep they could carry over into the next generation. Imagine trying to justify this to friends when you return. What? You didn't bother to see the Great Wall? Was it closed?

On our last day, we raced to the Vatican, impatiently tapped our feet as we waited in line, raced through to see the Sistine Chapel ("What? More guilding and cherubs?") and ran over to St Peter's Basilica to climb the dome and take clumsy videos of the Roman horizon -- for what? For exactly the reason Lansky said: I don't think I could bear someone saying, "What? You didn't go to the Vatican?"

I mean, what's the bloody point of me and the Boy going to the blinking Vatican? I mean, I'm Protestant and we have no interest in the Pope (tho' he seems like an alright dude). And the Boy, he's an atheist. So the pair of us are zooming around, really hating being there. It would have just been a more productive day if we have ambled along some of Rome's cobbled streets, had a fantastic lunch at some cafe, and stopped for a delicious cioccolato, doing what we wanted to, as opposed to what we thought we wanted to. Well, I saw a lotta crap.

Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. But I will make sure I don't get caught in the Bubble again. But I mean in Rome, it's hard not to. You can check out the pictures online. Remember this website, as I'll post pictures for you to see there. You'll need to register, but it ain't a big deal -- really. Sorry, there aren't more of us, but when you see the sites, you'll see why I didn't want our ugly mugs ruining all the shots.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My fun with pictures

Annoyingly aforementioned new computer -- I recognise that it's like name dropping for the un-famous; I can't very well talk about dinner with Samuel L Jackson, so I go on about my new computer -- has a 'photo booth' and I can take pictures of myself (and anyone that will sit in front of it). So I'm trying to choose a picture to be in my profile. How about this one?

The photo booth is really fun. It takes your photo, then you can mess with it using all different types of techniques. Here are a few of me:

The first one is done with thermal imaging (are my teeth that warm?). The third is pop art, ala Andy Warhol. And I don't even know what the third and fourth technique was. Well, I've decided on my profile picture. Check out the profile to see what the decision was. Can you figure out what I did to get the picture?

Friday, January 06, 2006

My new year's wish, plus Pimp My Nutcracker!

Sadly, the pimping of nutcrackers (hehheh, you said nutcracker) will come later.

This is not about a New Year's resolution. It's not that I don't believe in those things. In fact, the last one I can remember was resolving not to each red meat (excluding bacon, cos I mean, c'mon, it's bacon and I think God really wants us to have it). I was successful with that one for years. I only broke the resolution cos my relationship with a vegetarian was getting more serious. I mean, the thought of never having a proper burger in my own home is troubling, but the thought not having one EVER is sickening. So I do eat meat when I go out and have things like bacon and sausages, which I can cook individually, at home.

So resolutions are not pooh-pooh'd by moi, necessarily. Though I do hate them from January to March, cos everyone makes a resolution to lose weight. Great, but really, are ya gonna keep it? And it always messes up my workouts. I have a favourite hip-hop dance class that I've been going to since week 4 of moving to Edinburgh -- more than two years. It's run by this Spanish guy who, if you didn't know he had a girlfriend, you might think was gay. But I think all Americans (and British) think that a guy who can dance too well is gay. Dance horribly, he's a man's man. Dance adequately, musta gone to some liberal arts college. Dance good/well, metrosexual (and if you don't know that term, one word: wikipedia, cos I mean, c'mon people), but still straight. Dance very good, uh-uh. Anyway, all these NYR (New Year's Resolvers) come in and pack the class and make it very hard to have a good time. So, I guess in that way, I am against resolutions.

But again, this is not about resolutions, but about wishes, and here's mine: I could have some Aunt Jemima's Pancake Syrup. Truly! I just finished the last of what I had (lovingly purchase and carefully brought back from the US). No, they do not have anything like this fake maple syrup that I love so dearly across the pond. My amah says that you're not supposed to post liquids in the mail, so she won't send any to me. But I have this lovely pancake recipe (below) and it's so good with AJPS. Sigh...

Delish, homemade pancakes

(Not that Bisquick crap)

Whisk dry ingredients together. Beat eggs, then add other wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry. Cook as you would.

1.5 cups of flour
3 Tablespoons of sugar
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
0.25 teaspoon of salt
0.25 teaspoon of nutmeg (the key to this recipe)
2 eggs, room temperature
1.25 cups of milk
0.5 teaspoon of vanilla
3 Tablespoons of melted butter or margarine

(C'mon, you can convert decimals to fractions, right?)

And now, a big shout out to Mi


for showing me that, in all my years of daring to hope, it IS possible to pimp nutcrackers. The relevant website is listed below. Go CA-razy people. I assure you, hilarity will ensue.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My new computer, or the modern Luddite

As I write, I am listening to Elvis songs that I had imported from a CD onto iTunes. Like any gadget, I am deeply in love and devoted to my new toy (iMac with 17" flat screen, lovely). However, the more I use it, the more I realise that I know NOTHING about it. What do they say? 'A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.'

Yesterday, the Boy and I were on Princes Street, shopping. We decided that after two years here, we would succumb to the national obsession and own a mobile phone. I really don't want to have one cos I don't have enough friends to warrant such a thing. However, I live with a man whose can't ever make a plan, as if deciding what time to meet for a film would kill him. Too many times to mention have I been caught at home (or out) and not sure where he was. It seems to make sense, but I don't like it. Nevertheless, since I'm going through such a thing, I was determined to make a good decision about it and get the best deal possible. Thus, the shopping.

The dude at Carphone Warehouse was hilarious. While everyone nodded sagely to my tale ('I don't own a phone and never have and am looking for my first one.'), he did a double take. It was all Laurel and Hardy, as in "Eh? What's this?" Even the people standing next to me were shocked. Matth and I are indeed a rare breed.

The shopping was what brought out the "importing of songs onto iTunes." All the phones have mp3 players (as well as phones and video players, and some that show TV shows and music videos), so I needed some thing to listen to. So as I was importing songs from my personal CDs, the process stopped. After trying everything in my limited repertoire of repair (curse and hit the machine, pray, etc.), I forced it to quit by turning off the power at the outlet (which is something you can do over here, as there is a small switch by the outlet). How was I to know that was something life altering?

The internet would not open. No web pages, emails, nothing. Matth spent the next two hours cursing, hitting the machine and pushing various buttons (ah, one step more sophisticated in the repertoire of repair skills) as I pretended I didn't do anything wrong. An hour long phone call to the Madasafish technical support people did not help (At the end of the call: "Uh, I'll have my manager call you.") and Matth was forced to spend more time on the computer.

Obviously, you can see he solved the problem. And how exactly did he do it? No idea, he says, just tried this and that. Scary. We paid good money for this thing and we have no flippin' idea how it works. Now we'll be getting mobile phones. And I have this blog in which I am supposed to be sharing my life with you. You notice no pictures, despite Christmas in Rome and Yorkshire. Hmm... this should be good. Hopefully I shall learn how to enhance this before your very eyes. Watch this space.