Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Frickin' weather service

It was supposed to snow today. A massive, huge snow. A pile-up so high that school would be closed for a fortnight. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but how they were hyping it up, it seemed like it. They used to word 'blizzard'. You don't use that word lightly! That means something -- to school children and their teachers. It means.... freedom.

And as you have realised, it didn't bloody snow. Not a single drop of percipitation, of any kind, fell from the sky today. In fact, it was gloriously sunny without a cloud in the sky. Dammit, dammit, dammit.


And here's something that I purchased just because it was beautiful.It's a romanesco cauliflower, also known as broccoli Romanesco, and it's gorgeous. I don't think I can eat it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

My very British weekend

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Even as I write to you dear friends, I am shaking off the effects of my weekend. No matter how long I live here, no matter how much of the lingo I pick up (yes, I am now saying 'rubbish bin' and 'bollocks'), I will never be able to drink with the British. And trust me, I've tried.

Friday night saw me and the Boy at VBF and partner's place for dinner. Vegetarian Thai green curry with coconut rice, sorbet and ice cream for pudding, followed by cheese and crackers. Very civilised of us, don't you think? We were told that we didn't have to bring anything, just ourselves. The Boy was dubious about this claim -- what go over to someone's house without drink? So I said he could buy a bottle of NICE wine, no beer. He buys two.

Saturday night, we went to another pal's housewarming party, a girl from the team. I wasn't really recovered from the night before and the volleyball, so I decided to stay clear of the alcohol. However, another pal (forever to be known as the Fraulein) convinced me to pour some vodka in my Coke. I also engaged in scelping the Buckie with my team mates. The rest, they say, is history.

Today was a complete wash-out. I couldn't be arsed to do anything. I just don't know how the British and Irish do it. I mean, I had two, maybe three glasses of wine Friday night. My play on Saturday was really rubbish. My reactions were slow, my sets poor, my mind slightly fuzzy overall not a good game. There were girls playing that had got pissed the night before, playing the next day.

You really have to understand something about the British and drink: it really is in their culture. Even as I say that, I have a hard time understanding. This is because most Americans do not have drink as a part of their culture in the same way. A lot of people drink as something young people do, mostly at university or maybe something a little deviant. You certainly won't do it as hard as you did then, if you did. You probably wouldn't think getting dolled up for a night at your local pub, at aged 37. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. You probably wouldn't think of taking your entire family to the pub -- mum, dad, gran. And getting pissed with them. You would here.

This does tread the slippery slope of alcoholism, agreed, but it's more complex than that. The best way I can think to explain British drink culture to Americans is to think of the Brits' relationship with drink like our relationship with food. It's used as an excuse for a social gathering. It's comforting. Americans pig out; British get drunk -- the number of pubs here has to be equal to the number of all-you-can-eat places in the States. Drinking and overeating are terrible for you and we both can't stop. Most Americans accept the right people have to overeat, not exercise and being morbidly obese, and this is the case with Britons, but with drink. Look, think of any way that Americans use food. Interchange the word 'food' for 'alcohol' and essentially, you've got life in Britain.

Ironically, Boy drank a lot more back in the States. He had a lot of pals there and they went to the pub on Wednesdays. He always struggled on Thursday, thought to be because of being out late the night before. One Wednesday, he didn't go to the pub. He remarked the next day, amazed, at how well he felt, how the day wasn't a struggle. How do the British drink like this day in and day out? British productivity would sky rocket if people gave up drink. They probably would have never lost their empire.

Learn to talk British!

Couldn't be arsed - couldn't be bothered (not be used in formal situations)
Teetotaller - one who does not drink (though I think we might have this word in the US)
Scelping the Buckie - a two parter; see pictorial examples above:
  • scelping - chugging; drinking quickly (might be spelled skelping)
  • Buckie - informal name for Buckfast, a 'tonic' wine made by monks (although on the label it says that the use of the word tonic does not denote that it has any medicinal or healing qualities - what exactly does tonic mean then?); closely liked to Mad Dog beer in its utter skaniness and preference with those wanting to get drunk quickly and cheaply and with whinos

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Just in...

You're the third people to know after my mum and my VBF (volleyball best friend) and her partner...

No, not preggers. (Please no God, please!)

Matth's contract is up in August, apparently. We thought it was October, but it's August. Boy was going to speak to his boss about the contract, renewing, etc. in the spring. That was because he was a scaredy-dog. His work was a little so-so and he thought that if he talked to his boss about it now, he would tell him to get to steppin'. Plus, the Boy didn't even think he would be offered an extension on the contract. And who's to say if we really wanted an extension? Ergo, the waiting until the spring.

Anyway, today the Boy's boss pulled him to the side to talk to him about the contract.

And he offered him two more years, until April 2008.

So we're staying now.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

My reassessment of myself

Quickly people. Am I an introvert or extrovert?

Exactly what I would have said. Until recently. Yes, I've had a change of mind. I don't think I can consider myself an extrovert any longer, and I'll tell you why.

When I think of extroverts, I think of people like my father. He's never met a person he hasn't gotten on with. He can make a friend anywhere -- he could even make friends here. Everyone loves him. Everyone wants to be around him. He's so much fun -- the life of the party.

When I think of extroverts, I think of one of my volleyball friends -- Chatty Cathy. Cathy can talk to anyone, about anything, anytime. I had to interrupt one of her conversations during a game by screaming across the court at her, as I was doubled over in pain from my stupid jammed thumb and we needed her. She a right bletherer, as they say here in Scotland. She can have a conversation with a stranger and look like she's known them for years.

When I think of extroverts, I think of people who just naturally get on with others. There is not awkwardness, no pretence. It's not hard for them to do it. They love it, in fact. And they need it.

Well, I'm not like that. At all.

I hate talking to strangers. Boy and I have to do junken-po (otherwise known as Rock, Paper, Scissors) when we both want to find out information from someone cos we both hate to approach people. Oh contraire, you cry. When I first met you, you talked about x, y and z incessantly and very openly. You don't get it. My list of things to talk about when I first meet people is much longer and broader than most others. Talk about previous relationships? Tick. Talk about dysfunctional family members? Of course. (Where do I begin with my brother?) Talk about losing loved ones? Sure, sniff. Talk about the girl-on-girl... just kidding.

I have to mentally prepare myself to meet people, you know. I have to pre-think 'spontaneous' things. All the more proof that can't be extroverted. I know some friends of mine might remember when the first time they met me at the first school at taught at in NC. I had to get with my teachers on my track and make up cheer or song about ourselves. That wild dance and song by me -- what? Do you think that was off-the-cuff? I was meticulously planning that in my head when I found out about that absurd song challenge.

My family has always considered my sister the quiet, introverted one. At her wedding, we were regaling her friends with these stories of her ways, much to their disbelief. The girl they knew was nothing like that. It felt like I was toasting a frickin' stranger at her wedding. The point is we all can get the wrong impression of people sometimes. I got the wrong impression of myself.

Look, I don't know if I even like considering myself an introvert. I did, scarily, enjoy being by myself for the last two days when I was home ill, and resent the Boy (eversoslightly) for pulling me out of the house to see a football match. (Chelsea lost! Result! And worth going out in the end). I couldn't always be alone, though. I like people and like making connections to people. Or maybe I just like entertaining people with my own personal anecdotes and self-centred stories, a la this blog. (And perhaps that's why it's not so popular.)

This could also be me getting older. I'm just not up to dealing with other people's bullshit if I don't have to. (Now the bullshit of family and long-time friends is different; why, I am not too sure.) When I was younger, I wanted friends so badly that I endured unequally-yoked friendships. I don't think I should have to any longer, you know? I'm more willing to be on my own, doing my thang than to do that, something I was scared to do as a youngster.

In the past, I learned that sometimes getting people to look at you is better than not having anyone ever regarding you. I guess I'm now more comfortable sitting or being on my own. The question is, is everyone else?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Last night, I was IMing a friend. When I typed 'LOL', she asked what it meant. In the end, it was established and I think she might have known it, though lol rather than LOL.

Anyway, there are some UK abbreviations that still get me. Like TBC. It's their version of TBA (To Be Announced). But I'm not sure what the C in TBC stands for. Called? Completed? I dunno, but I much prefer TBA.

And there's ONO, which is their OBO (Or Better Offer). Maybe the N is for Negotiated. 'Nother? Or 'Nother Offer? A little too ghetto...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Yeh, so I'm home

I won't go on about the stomach thing too much. I was brought home with the school's plastic sickie basin in my lap by the school secretary. It was justified, and not just my overactive imagination playing with me, as it was coming out both ends. I actually wrote a long and detailed account of what happened to me today -- some really good stuff, if you ask me. Just about to publish it, but I pushed the wrong button and it disappeared. My mind was so addled that I couldn't figure out what to do to get the posting back and when I finally figured it out, it was lost forever. Actually, that was probably a good thing, as it was really graphic and I used the word 'shit', in all it's variations, way too many times.

Don't know about work tomorrow either, cos, even though I'm not puking, my stomach is really hurts. I'm still belching up my dinner from last night -- eggs with brie and bacon, sprinkled with some garlic powder. I've been put off it forever. The pain I feel reminds me of the the stomach virus I had in my junior year. It took a whole night of sleeping on a chair in the living room for my parents to take me to the doctor's. I was just watching Chris Rock's Bigger and Blacker DVD (waiting for the ice skating to come on) today and I was just reminded of my first stomach incident in 11th grade by part of his act.

"You have to be damn near dead for my dad to take me to the hospital," CR said, on his DVD. "We didn't go to the doctor. We had Robitussin. 'My asthma's acting up.' -- 'Robitussin.' 'I've got cancer.' -- 'Robitussin.' 'I broke my leg.' -- 'Pour it on in there. Yeh, let the 'Tussin get all in there.'"

For my father, the cure-all was Vicks VapoRub. Hideous stuff. When we had a cold, it was slathered on our poor little chest and on our upper lip. Amah allowed my father believe that Vicks VapoRub was this generation's Holy Grail, to the detriment of our noses. And don't let him see you wipe it off! Shoot, you'd get double. Thankfully, amah did draw the line when he wanted us to, oddly, ingest the stuff. ('Let that VapoRub get right on in there.') Good ol' ma.

Well, my panacea is Lucozade Sport. Orange flavoured. Not Lucozade Energy, which Boy purchased for me that last time I had a stomach thing. The Energy version is fizzy, which irritates my throat. When I realised the Boy was not going to get home any time soon with it, I trudged over to the corner shop and purchased two bottles of the Sport variety, pitifully counting out the last of my change in my purse to the man on the till. I've already guzzled the first one, with grateful enthusiam. Yes children, everything will be all right. Lucozade Sport, orange flavoured, will see to that.


Don't say: "Someone's left some vomit (or throw up, or puke) in the toilet."
Do say: "Someone's left some sick in the toilet."

Don't say: "I feel sick."
Do say: "I feel ill."

Don't say: "I don't want a carbonated drink."
Do say: "I don't want a fizzy drink."

Don't say: "Go to the cash register to pay."
Do say: "Go to the till to pay."


I woke up this morning, my stomach rumbling in not a good way. It was accompanied with a naseated feeling. Let me tell you, the gift I left my friend Mr Toilet wasn't so nice. Was the brie off? Didn't cook last night's bacon enough? Anyway, I hope it's temporary, cos I have a busy day today.

Today is the Boy and my dad's birthday. I bought Boy some new running shoes and a pair of snazzy trainers. Originally, I purchased black Chuck Taylor's, but when we took them back to exchange them for smaller ones, he saw a different pair and we got them. I'm being slack about birthdays, which I hate. I love my birthday being celebrated, but I haven't done much for the Boy, and nothing for my dad. It makes me feel really sad knowing what a slack-ass I am. See, the thing is, I really do think a lot about these things. But then I convince myself I have plenty of time to execute my razor-sharp and cunning plans, as doing things too early has no impact. But then, never doing nothin' has zero impact. I apologise to everyone who's birthday I've been slack about. Send me your birthday (that's the other problem -- clueless about half of y'alls birthday) and I'll be better about marking it.

Monday, February 20, 2006


One thing, really: What was the deal with Jude Law's hair? It looked like he had been romping with a girl in the broom closet. It was all sticking up in the back, kinda like Alfalfa from Our Gang. Is he researching a role or som'ink? I mean, how come the front was perfectly coiffed, but the back of it was all mangled and nappy? Doesn't he hire people to make him look good? Yeh, he has 'beautiful blue eyes', but his hair was lookin' JACKED! (As they say where I'm from)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

My inner volleyball calm

Getting back into volleyball has been one of the best things in my life. It's also been one of the most stressful things ever, as well. Between learning how to speak to my Scottish coach (never, ever say anything directly; you must propose things, always make suggestions and speak in questions -- makes no sense, but it somehow is working), co-operating with 15 women from various cultures and backgrounds and trying to develop my own skills, I'm a bit worn out.

I've been hurt by a lot of things this season. One is my coach. My coach is always with us on game days -- he plays for a team and he's not with us if he has a game away. On those days, I'm essentially the coach and I have to make major decisions, which is not my role. I choose who starts, how long they play, the substitutes, etc. It has done my head in on some games where we have 12 people to play a 6-person game. Yet, he doesn't like me to advise the girls during practices. Two is my team. The girls seem to like it when I do my boisterous American bit; they don't like it when I criticise them. I personally don't mind criticism and at times seek it, cos I want to be better. And I know it's important for me to encourage and praise as well as criticise. They want the former, without accepting the latter, which can't happen. I've been snapped at for 'yelling' at people. That really hurts, cos everything I say is to help people become better players, never to humiliate or demean. I'm a competitive and passionate player and it's ridiculous for me not to be able to say anything.

In the beginning of the season, it used to tear me up that we were doing not very well. We were capable of so much more... well, at least I knew I was. That made me very loud and probably scarily aggressive to my timid little team-mates. It was eating me up that I wasn't living up to my ideal. But my attitude has evolved and clarity has moved in, especially in the last few weeks. We have made tremendous progress this season, even if we are not at the level I would want. I have to work with people at the point they are at, not the point I want them to be or even think they should be. I think my team could be better if we pushed ourselves and weren't so lazy. But that's outside the box, they say. That means that is something I cannot control. I can only be a good influence and encouraging. There is no point in me raging at the level of play from my team; I'm beginning to learn that it is not helping anyone to get any better. It only stresses me out and makes me hate volleyball. And that's a nightmare.

So now when I go out to play, I try to do the best that I can. I'm going to still keep my high expectations, for myself and my team. But I'm going to accept the people around me for who they are and what they are giving. I'm hoping that learning to accept what they can give at the present can make us better for the future.

Now bring on the bacon sarnies.

My Oscar race

Well, now is the time that a majority of films in Oscar contention come out. That's how it usually happens: films arrive later in the UK. Unless it's like some mega-blockbuster, which I don't usually care for. Of course there are some exceptions: Pride and Prejudice is one. It showed here before the US. I am personally prejudiced against this film, even before the whole changing of the end for dumb American audiences -- Keira Knightley is really irritating. A'ight in Bend it like Beckham, rubbish in the trailers of Domino (what was the deal what that 'American' accent?)(no, I did not waste my hard-earned money on that pish). I just find her completely unbelievable in the role of Elizabeth Bennett.

When it comes to Oscar time, I get slightly obsessive. I want to watch as many of the nominated films as possible, so that I can make an informed decision about the best film, best actor, etc. This is good because I will see more good film now than I do for the rest of the year. Bad news: I have to watch Pride and Prejudice. And Mrs Henderson Presents (if I can find it -- another one that came out here before the US).

I won't be able to see Transamerica, as it will be released in the UK after the Oscars. Unlikely to see North Country as well. I thought it came out here last week or the week before, but no local cinema appears to be showing it. It got shite reviews over here, so maybe cinemas are reluctant to show it? I've only seen Brokeback Mountain and Walk the Line so I've got a lot more to see and only two weeks. Munich's next.

OK, I've only seen two films, but here's are my predictions so far:
  • Brokeback is too good not to win Best Film. Stupid to say since I haven't seen the rest (and as my most recent prediction -- that my volleyball team wouldn't lose our recent game -- have been shot full of holes), but it's one of the best films I've ever seen and most people will ever see.
  • Reese Witherspoon will probably when Best Actress. Ignore Keira Knightley. Judi Dench has been nominated because Americans think everything she does is amazing and they want to allow for the possibility of it being said on Oscar night, 'The Oscar goes to... well, there's nothing like a dame, Dame Judi Dench.' Charlize Theron, already won one recently, so another so soon would be a bit greedy. Plus, shouldn't hers be taken away for inflicting Aeon Flux on us all? (Just like Halle Berry's should be taken away for Catwoman) And, as mentioned above, won't see Felicity Huffman's performance. Witherspoon's performance was very good and wouldn't it be nice for someone to win without having worn prosthetics? Shouldn't an actor's wonky nose really be the recepient of the Oscar? Let's just have an Oscar for Wonkiest Face and be done with the matter.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Marinating - not so good

Funny how shit come together sometimes [ya dig]
One moment you frequent the booty clubs &
the next four years you & somebody's daughter
raisin' y'all own young'n now that's a beautiful thang
that's if you're on top of your game
and man enough to handle real life situations [that is]
Can't gamble feeding baby on that dope money
might not always be sufficient but the
United Parcel Service & the people at the Post Office
didn't call you back because you had cloudy piss
So now you back in the trap, just that, trapped
Go on and marinate on that for a minute

-- from "Spottieottiedopaliscious" by OutKast

I heard about this earlier today on NPR (musta ran yesterday) and read about it in the Guardian today. According to a study, deliberating too much on a decision can lead to poor decision making. (Read about it here) Eh? What is this? The three weeks it took me to make a decision about which mobile phone to purchase was all pointless?

Of course that is not what it means. I like to think of myself as a thoughtful deliberator and chooser, weighing all the options before making the decision. But half the time, I feel overwhelmed with all the choice and just end up randomly choosing something and hoping to God that it works out. (In the case of the mobile phone, it didn't. I have a Sony Ericsson that is not compatible with my Mac. So no music downloads for me, the whole reason I wanted the damned phone.) I find I have a hard time making decisions at a critical time. I just thought that this was some sort of defect about my character. Like my brain was malfuctioning because I couldn't handle all the variables at one time. I mean, real people could make split second decisions, why couldn't I? Apparently, says this study, the brain can only focus on a limited number of things at one time. So my brain is fine. At least when it comes to this particular point.

I think the effect this finding will have on my relationship will be tremendous. I've related to you about my terrible time making decisions. OK, take that, multiply it by 50 and you have my husband. This just will reinforce his waffling. We will never see a film or have a meal out again! Great, this study says that I'm normal. But the Boy is as well? How can two such conflicting things be true?

I, for one, will never stop reflecting on my decisions. One, I don't think that is really what the study says people should do, though that is how the media will probably portray the findings. Really, it's supporting the old addage to "Get some sleep on it." Second, I don't think some people, like me, will ever stop being worriers. Many worriers feel a lack of control over their situation and deeply deliberating, in order to 'make a good decision', can make them feel more at ease. Even if they're wrong. It could be less about the decision making and more about the coping mechanisms a person uses to get through difficult situations and decisions. Or I could be talking bollocks. Can't decide.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Daniel Kitson

Somehow, managing to get over my World Cup mourning (I'm now on to 'Acceptance' stage), I have a late Valentine's day with the Boy. Here's the bouquet he surprised me with on Tuesday. Sadly, I think I'm against cut flowers now (trying to be more ethical and such), so these will be the last I will have. Boy's response: "Whew!" I'm getting cheaper and cheaper the longer he knows me.

A co-worker gave us her reservation to see a comedian, Daniel Kitson. We vaguely had heard his name, but we knew nothing about him. He was actually good, though he didn't say much that was funny. He just a lot of things that were true: humanity is cruel and vapid and we are encouraged to be this way. I think his show was a one-man revolution to encourage people to break off the shackles of indifference and self-centredness and embrace a more global view of life.

Anyway, there was an American girl in the audience who must have felt the same way. Every time he said something that she thought was interesting or she agreed with, she would 'Whoo!' in a typical American way. The amusing thing was that everyone could see that it was disconcerting to Kitson and he finally told her, very politely (as they do here), to shut up.

I, too, found her most annoying. Look, I agreed with the fellow as well, but that is not how things are done here. I guess I can't stand Americans who come here and think everyone will think they are cool because they are Americans, thereby behaving in a 'typically' American way: being loud. People take the piss out of us here all the time, more than Americans realise. Like if someone says something a bit stupid, then a British person would most likely affect an general American accent to respond. Something like, "Yeh, like, no duh." Or, "Ohmigod, you're, like, so stupid." (Whereas in the US in this situation, I would put on a southern accent)(Actually, when British put on an American accent, it's usually a 'valley girl' type; when Americans put on a British accent, it is usually vaguely posh and southern sounding)

But, I digress. The show wasn't really a 'Whoo!'-type show, so it was grating that she wasn't picking up on the context, despite watching the same show as everyone else. But, as I think about the annoying American bird more, I don't find her as irritating. I think it's natural for people to try to reach out and to respond to others that they like, say things that agree with, or care about. Which is what I guess she was doing. It's normal to try to make a connection with others.

I dunno. Something to marinate on.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hell update

After clicking an absurd amount of time, I finally received a message that there are no longer sufficient numbers of tickets for Brazil v Australia. Unlike them, I did cotton on to this about half an hour ago.

Choices now? I don't think I can really call them choices, do you?
  • Tunisia v Saudi Arabia - obstructed view only (o.v.)
  • Ecuador v Costa Rica - o.v.
  • Saudi Arabia v Ukraine - o.v.
  • Paraguay v Trinadad and Tobago - o.v.
  • Iran v Angola - o.v. and regular
  • Ukraine v Tunisia - plenty of those buggers, although only o.v.

Well, at least I can say that these last (nearly) 7 hours haven't been in vain. I've learned that George Foreman has no fingerprints. People don't think much of the Dutch. And you have so much joy to read from me, which is really the most important thing!

Is there an emoticon for THIS?

Realising I was losing it, I decided to take a kip for half an hour. At this point, the 'Next Try' (as I called it; as known as 'Still hope' window) window had come up very little. I felt like I had hope when I saw this window.

Instead, I was getting the 'no hope' window.

Well, why not follow the advice it gave? "Access to the following pages may involve long waiting times at peak periods. We recommend returning and trying again a little later." So off I went for just a small nap to refresh. Feeling much more human-like (reasonable and able to speak in complete sentence without resorting to grunts), I went back to the website.

There are now no tickets for any games left. Not a one.

The list goes much farther than that. And trust me, the list is red, the whole way down. And despite not having a single ticket available now, guess what still comes up? Cheeky bastards.

As if I'm next in the queue for my order for non-exixtant tickets to be filled. Yet, still I click Next Try. Still at it, like some crazed crack addict. I could cry, but I'm a bit far past it and on to despondency.

Mmehhhh (the sound of slowly going mad)

2.11 PM. I'm still at it. Minutes? 132. I am now at two windows, waiting to see which one will get through first. I had three windows up previously, two going for the aforementioned Brazil v Australia match and one for the third place match. The two windows for the Brazil v Australia match have moved on the second round, but the third palce match has not. In fact, this window opened up.

When I clicked the English button, the text was only in German. Or was it Dutch? Dang, I'm an American. It all looks the same to us. Or maybe it really was in English, but because I'm going mad, it looked funny. But don't you see it? They're just laughing at me. The wankers are laughing at me!

My World Cup hell continues

12.30 PM. I've been at this for 90 minutes now. They are cruel, cruel people. Some times I see this message and it gives me hope.

And then I see this message. Do they not have any respect for the waiting room of the waiting room?

My World Cup hell

This year's World Cup is being held in Germany starting in June. Boy and I are huge football fans. Now the Boy is a serious fan, knowing names and stats. I'm a bit more of a fair-weather fan. I'm not going to succumb to the sexist idea people have: the man watches for the game, the woman for the colours of the kits. I actually do like football and played all four years in school, All-Island All-Star, a first in my school's history, thank you very much. Also, I've been to the World Cup before in 1994. So there. I think my football qualifications have been firmly established.

Anyway, I thought it would be nice for us to go, since we're so close and all. I realise I have very few football fans out there and you all won't give a toss about what I've been through with the last ticket buying round (suffice to say, we did not get tickets), so I'll take the story from the present: I've been at the computer now for 30 minutes, this hell beginning at 11.00 AM. Good news: tickets are available! Yay! Bad news: on a limited basis and certainly not for the game we were lusting after. Crap! Additional bad news: we are working on a first come, first served basis. I'm going to have to upgrade to a cry of 'Shit!', don't you agree?

The only tickets available are for the third place game and various group stage matches. I mean, do I really care about Iran v Angola or Ivory Coast v Serbia and Montenegro? I know it's the beautiful game and all, but that's just a tad ridiculous to watch a match of team you don't give a damn about. And pay €100 each ticket (or £70, or $120) for the privilege. After counsel with the Boy (Me calling his work: "Not there? Ok, uh... tell him to call me back... ASAP. Seriously. This is a matter of life and death."), I've decided to go for the third place game.

Well, it's now been 40 minutes since I've logged on to the website, and after a change in choice (no longer concerned with third place game and going for Brazil v Australia), there has been movement. I am now "in waiting area at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ ticket shop." Sadly, this will not be the end: "At regular intervals, you can make a fresh attempt to be re-directed." It gets worse: "Once you have been redirected, you will not be directed into the waiting room again." I am waiting for the waiting room! I am waiting. For the waiting room. The saga has only begun...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Your unethical life, or your New Year's resolution

First written 15/01/2006 (Actually, it's not so unusual. I have a lot of entries that I've written, but haven't yet shared)

I know you don't want to hear this, but it must be said. Seriously, you have to know this: you are an evil person. Really. Truly terrible. I would call you a bad word, but my mother might read this and she doesn't know I use the word bastard. But really, you are awful. Why? Because you drink orange juice.

Indeed, this is why you are the scum of the earth. According to Leo Hickman (read the article here), if you're asked "Is it OK to drink orange juice?", the answer is not just no, it's hell no. This is the case for many reasons (of which I will only briefly say; if you're more interested in this, click the link you lazy bones, instead having me do all the reading and paraphrasing): it takes an extraordinary amount of water and pesticides to make orange juice; child labour goes to produce it in some countries; illegal immigrant pickers in the US are paid pitifully; the airmiles it takes for the orange juice to get from Brazil.

But you're unethical for many other things you do: drinking bottled water, drying cleaning your clothes, using a patio heater, going skiing (which y'all love to do), buying a diamond ring, getting a Christmas tree (all according to Hickman -- and more -- read the other articles here.)

Don't worry if you realise you're an unethical person. I have enough guilt for the rest of us. Orange juice (after the last lot is dranked, as they say) is banned from the house and we will only be drinking organic, British apple juice, if juice is drunk. We now drink organic skimmed milk and I eat organic bacon. Boy won't eat farmed salmon and only eat free range eggs. We have just signed up to get "green" electricity, provided from renewable sources (i.e., wind power)

But the whole thing is a pain. I mean, if I was really living ethically, the Boy and I wouldn't have flown to Rome, as pollution from the plane is awful for the environment. We would fix the bathroom light so that it wouldn't be on 24/7. I wouldn't have a tumble dryer. I'd have those damn energy saving light bulbs in all fixtures. I guess the thing I've realised is that I should do my best, but I won't be perfect. Look, just change one thing to be more ethical -- think of it as a New Year's resolution -- and I'll take you off my Wretched Person Ever list.


Since first writing this entry, I've been on the fence about including it in the blog. But I feel I must now because the guilt is now bubbling over inside of me. I looked at a lot of websites about ethical living in research for the original blog entry and one particularly struck a cord. If you want to be grossed out for the rest of your life, I don't suggest you click the link. Suffice to say, I now drink soya milk and if I eat other dairy, I will only eat organic products because of it. I've actually gone all the way organic for home foodstuffs, which, I think annoys the Boy. Organic milk and meat, he sees the point, but veg and fruit? Organic pasta? Organic jam and organic chocolate? Organic ketchup? Well, I've done it. I'm probably off my rocker, but I just feel like I can't be lukewarm about this thing, you know? I guess what I'm trying to say it for all of us to take a look at our actions. It's incredibly easy to ignore the effect we have in our world. For anything to be around for the next generation, we are going to have to be better people, right?


Here's the first thing you can do to make a stand to be better people: get rid of your Yahoo accounts and refuse to use Yahoo. According to the Guardian, Yahoo has turned in Chinese dissidents who have used their accounts to post essays critical of China. These dissidents have now been jailed for speaking out.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My (our) move into the art world

The past few days have been filled with some quasi-pretentious art endeavours. And yes, I have enjoyed them. I like art and I like thinking about art, making my own interpretations and trying to understand the artist's meanings. I could be able to go into art criticism, but never be the artist itself. Despite the nays of loved ones, I am a crap artist. I was never a visual artist and I think even said loved ones would say that anything visual I did was rather shite (though I hope my mother enjoyed the mosaic house number plate I made for her)(I made that two years ago). I did some writing when I was younger. Though I enjoyed it, I never could manage to get any better. I hated that I had these ideas, but no really good way to say it. So I've stopped writing. Fiction that is. No, you'll continued be subjected to this.

I've seen two excellent, some might say art-house, films in the past week. Hidden is a French film that is a metaphor about the role of Western culture has played in the collapse and breakdown of some non-Western cultures and their people. Think of Western culture's role in the breakdown of Afghanistan, Africa, or the Middle East. Or of white America's role in the failures of their country's ethnic people (Black, Native American, etc). The ending of the film was very powerful and shocking. Lady Venegence is a straight-up revenge film in the vein of the Kill Bill series, but, in my opinion, better. This Korean film, also known as Sympathy for Lady Vengence, was beautifully created and filmed. I would highly recommend that you see both films if you can.

Though criticism is good, today the Boy and I became more than mere art critics. We were the creators of art. How did this, a shite artist and a mathematican scientist creating art, occur? Well, I shall tell you.

We went to an exhibit of three artists at the Fruitmarket Gallery. Edinburgh, being a capital city, has a large number of incredibly good galleries, both national and public. Though the gallery said that the three artists profiled asked some of the same questions with their work, thereby allowing them to be shown in the same show, I thought the exhibits were vastly different.

Before the talk of the creation, I have to tell you about Sean Snyder. This guy had gathered amateur pictures taken in Iraq (by soldiers, contract workers, etc), with the subject matter not the war itself. For me, it was to see images that differed from the ones constantly photographed and broadcasted -- bombing and wreckage -- and for us to see it as a real place. Some of good ones were of a make-shift 7-Eleven (selling a Jesus Christ rug) and a traffic jam. A particular favourite was of a cat sitting behind some barbed wire. (Cos, I mean, when you think of Iraq, do you think of the cats there?)

Pia Rönicke had a series of seven pictures on the topic of urban planning and living depicting either different ideas of such topic or different aspects of that topic -- I haven't been able to figure it out. That, however, was not the best of Rönicke's work. Five lightboxes of 30 lights were wired to a large switchboard (with switches numbered 1 to 150), allowing people to manipulate the the lights. Letters could be made and words written -- as long as they have five letters or less. After deliberating (and eliminating the use of any rude words), the Boy and I have created a 'piece', pictures of such are below. When I suggested the word, he instantly agreed to it. He was very good at quickly figuring out which switch to pull or not -- the mathematical artist (or artistical mathematican?). Anyway, leave your comments on your interpretations, criticisms, and feelings on our 'work'. If you think we're good, we might have another go. You never know, this might be us moving on to a second career.

Do know that all that above (the talk of the 'piece' and our 'work' and moving into a second career) is a piss-take. A joke, people.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Where am I?

It's 7.32 AM on a SATURDAY morning. Why am I up? No, I'm not asking you. I'm moaning to myself. We have a match through at Glasgow at 10 and it takes an hour or so to get there. So why am I meeting my team members at 8 am? Cos last time we got lost going through and an hour journey took two. So coach told us to meet at 8. Clever.

So here I am with my porridge and soya milk, trying to be a good girl. The British do call soy (as in milk and sauce) soya, which I have adopted, to the amusement of an American pal here. I am willing to try a lot more British phrases than most Americans, for several reasons. I'm married to a Brit, so I hear them all the time. I don't have loads of American friends here, who would probably harrass me about saying these things. And I also teach in local schools and I don't want to confuse the little buggers any more than I already am with my American accent. When I first arrived, they all wanted me to talk and say something in 'American'. My sister did the same thing to the Boy when she first met him.

Oh, go to this website! www.oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com Apparently this guy is bartering his way to a house, and he started with only one red paperclip. Pretty amazing. When I see stuff like this (you know, like the guy with the million dollar webpage), I think, 'Damn, I'm an idiot. What am I doing instead of this this stuff up?'

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Whats up nigga? (or, Is anybody out there?)

Decided to scroll down, looking for exciting the comments from yous!


I guess I am just writing to hear myself talk.

Well, here's another way to ignore me: I've signed up for myspace.com. This was on the urging of an old high school pal, though the kick up the pants had to be from a girl I play volleyball with. So I joined but I'm still not sure what it entails. Volleyball Pal said its a way for all your friends to keep in touch with you. I don't have friends, I replied. Oh, she said, shutting up.

Apparently, if you sign up and become my friend (ha ha, I'm making you make our friendship official), then we can leave stupid messages for my own page's forum. Yipee! I've checked out my best friend's brother's myspace pages. Generally, people just seem to leave messages like, "Whats up nigga?" (Yes, with no apostrophe) Please know that my best friend and her brothers are not black, not even mixed with. I guess that's some thing whiteys are saying to each other over there to amuse themselves. Sorry, I'm not up on American culture so good. I guess you would be justified in leaving me messages such as the above, though it might need to be modified to "Whaz up half-nigga?" or "Wotsup hapa-nigga?", or something like that.

Going on about my best friend's brother, the younger one apparently has 141 friends. I don't think I've ever known 141 people in my life! He's 17 and of course, very deep. I have to give you the URL to a song he wrote because it kills me. I have the permission of his sister for this -- well, when I told her I was going to do this, she couldn't reply for laughing so hard. However, it is "copyrighted", so "dont steal it" (quote from him). I'll give him his props -- it was written by Richard Moore, 2004. Take a deep breath. (He was feeling a bit depressed when he wrote it: the emoticon lets us know)

Myspace.com is just another thing for me to keep up with, with that, the blog, email, the mobile. It might prove to be more of a bother than it's worth, but I'll give it a shot. My best friend's brother was giving me myspace tutorials on Skype. Now I have a song on myspace, too! I've uploaded pictures and filled in my profile. Soon enough, I'll learn how to actually communicate with other people.

Ah, I can't wait for all my nigga greetings! Peace out fools!

There are cute new pics of the dogs. Click on the Photos! link to the left. Did I mention they were adorable photos?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Feelin' good -- a summary

It was a nicely quiet weekend and a good Monday, thank you for asking. Actually I have a list of things that I'm supposed to be doing for school (write parent letters, lesson plans), but I'm going to pretend they don't exist for now.

We saw two films this weekend. On Friday, it was Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It's a very British film and I'd be surprised if any of you will go to see it, let alone get some of the jokes. I sat there, slightly befuddled. Just as Matth and I were getting into the film, it ended. It's unlike anything I've seen -- it's a film-within-a-film-within-a-film that is based on a book. Whew.

Brokeback Mountain on Saturday -- truly the most heart-wrenching film I have ever seen. Actually, I was lying when I said above that I was feelin' good -- I have been melancholy since seeing that film. But it's really good and I recommend it, even if you'll be sobbing at the end. (I did have a cry later at home)

Have purchased way too many songs on iTunes, don't tell the Boy. But I couldn't help it. I was getting nostalgic for high school and downloaded a lot from the nineties -- a lot of singer-songwriter songs (i.e., Shawn Colvin's Sunny Came Home and Stay by Lisa Loeb) and New Jack Swing (BBD's Poison and Shai anyone?) And yes, I did download Color Me Badd's I Wanna Sex You Up. No, not any Milli Vanilli. Yet.

Saw the kick-off for the Super Bowl, then went to bed. It was 11.30 pm, can you blame me? Do you realise everyone else in the world calls it American football?

Oh, here's a picture from my second Burns' Night that I didn't share. Obviously, the men wore their kilts. If they are properly kitted out, then they will have a sporran (the woolly purse type thing that hangs from their waist) and a dagger kept in their sock. Thought you might be tickled by that. What a good excuse to carry a knife around: "I'm Scottish and it's part of my culture."

My lovely Boy got me a massage for Valentine's Day and I'm going for it on Wednesday. Obviously watch this space for details, as this is my first proper massage. I'm having a full body massage and then they are going to lay hot stones on pressure points. I can't wait. I had a particularly hard training session tonight (lunges, argh!) and tomorrow's training won't help. I'm going to lay back for 80 minutes and pretend I'm rich and posh, like Victoria Beckham, or sum'ink.

It's now much later from when I started this post and I still didn't do anything I was supposed to. Though I did do the night-time dog walk with a weary Boy tonight (late night at the lab). Don't I get points for that?

Friday, February 03, 2006

My thoughts as I leave school and wait for the bus

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My bitter days

I don't like to give y'all a bad impression of Edinburgh or Scotland. It really is a lovely place and I would love for you to experience it yourself, but I have to be honest. It was really cold today. My computer's weather thingie says 30° F, and it feels it. We had our first hard frost of winter, as you can see, forcing me to wear Matth's big ol' hat. Aren't I cute?

It didn't let up by the time I left work at 4 pm. A freezing fog had descended over the entire city.

It didn't let up on Tuesday either. When I looked out the window the next morning, everything was blanketed with white. This is on my way to work, though it really doesn't show how covered everything was.

I'm considering having just a blog to bitch about teaching experiences here. Just know that the title has as much to do with my work situation as it does with the current weather wave.

A little about my school: I teach in a posh school. Now if you know anything about me, you know that this is not my first experience with a posh school. My first teaching post was in an affluent school. Save a good friend who still works there, I do not look back on those three years with complete fondness. The parents were very demanding and kept me on my toes (to put it lightly). Eventually, I left because I knew if I stayed, I would have been crucified by disgruntled parents.

Now I had an inkling that this current school was a posh school. But I thought I would be able to handle it as I was older and wiser. I had more tricks (so to speak) to help me deal with parents. I wouldn't be intimidated like I was last time. Well, the parents are the least of my worries. (Although, I did have a set of parents grumpy that I was providing resource for their child in math. I mean, he had a Ph.D in mathematics and she was an accountant. So, I should just "let her off" because of her pedigree? WHAT-ever) It's my colleagues.

I think that working part-time and working in resource does me no favours. I am never around in the afternoon, which is when all teachers let their hair down and socialise. And classroom teachers are notoriously renown for distrusting resource teachers. I also think that being foreign doesn't help. They look down on me because I don't know the reading schemes that they use here. Big fucking deal that I don't know anything about these books. They're stupid and boring. (Sorry I cursed, but the reading scheme is a particularly sore point for me)

There is one teacher who is particularly bad. She is so very snippy and unprofessional. I could tell you stories upon stories about this woman. The one I will share is that I was offhandedly saying to her in the staffroom that from my observations the group that one of her pupils were in might be inappropriate. She went off on me in front of everyone eating their lunch. It was all I could to not snatch her up. The next day, another teacher approached me and apologised for the other bitchy one, saying, "She's like that." She's very chatty with everyone else in the school, but very cool to me. I think this is because she doesn't know how to handle a little brownie foreigner. Unfortunately, she gets under my skin. And she was giving me a hard time on Monday, making me a very bitter person.

Sometimes I think I romanticise my school in Durham. It wasn't perfect. We had a kooky principal and it was tough going teaching some of the pupils. But I did love it. Probably because I was surrounded by (mostly) professional, conscientious teachers. I was inspired to try harder and learn more to make my teaching practice even better. Here, it takes all I can not to call in sick.

Well, I would have a relevant excuse. I'm still ill. The cough has lessened, but now it's a sore throat. But only on the left side. My back hurts, which is never a good sign. Ever since my accident, that is my indicator that I'm not doing well. The stress of work and life is not helping me get any better. But I do feel better for sharing with you.