Thursday, October 02, 2008

Problems getting supplies

God damn it.

It’s a Thursday. The sun is out. And again I am wondering what the hell am I doing with my life. Bored should not be an adjective to describe my short dwindling days, each one bringing me one day closer to my inevitable death. Sigh.

Anyway, Magic, my partner in finding random things on the internet (does that come with some sort of anniversary and hallmark card you think?) found this book called the Hungry Scientists Handbook which I think rocks! So that got me looking around and I found:

  • cooking websites with a nerdy technical slant to it.
Which led me to :
  • Cooking for engineers (which I think The Magic thinks should be changed to “Not-really -cooking-for-engineers-cause-they-don’t-use-ISO-standards-for-their-units”)

Which led me to :

    • How to make edible underpants
    Which led me to:
    Which led to the inevitable search on Ebay:

    Sigh. Another dream of mine bites the dust. How am I supposed to instantly get my ice-cream now, without having to wait the 6 hours of churning and freezing and churning and freezing and then forgetting and ending up with crystally ice-cream? Answers on a postcard. (And do not say “go to the fucking shops” cause that’s just fucking boring.)

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Loving this from etsy

    I love etsy. And I love this print so much that I'm very tempted to buy it.

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    What else would it be about?

    Yesterday Magic and I did a bit of a swap of abilities. I swapped:
    1. Chili Con Carne
    2. homemade tortillia chips
    3. guacamole
    4. Eaton Mess made with a massive pink meringue from a very expensive French bakery
    With the Magics excellent expertise at all things nerdy and good and asked him to jailbreak my ipod touch.. I am now boundaryless from Apples oppressive hold. And I have books! Obviously, being a girl, the first book I put on my ipod was a Jane Austen novel.. But anyhoo. That’s not the point of today’s post.

    Jailbreaking means you have to upgrade your ipod touch software, which wipes out all your toons and playlists.. so today I spent a bit of time re-making them, and naturally along with playlists named “Happy” (tunes to make me happy), “Dancey” (dance tracks to bop about to) and “Yee haw” (for shame, country and western type songs..), I also have the inevitable playlist called “Depressed” (which used to be called “Suicidal Rock Tunes”).

    Boy oh boy, if you want to make yourself sad, use these songs (and have your boyfriend move to Europe forever).

    AND whilst I was listening to this today, I realized that the sun is now definitely starting to go down faster and faster each day as we head, kicking and screaming and fighting with tooth and nail, into the darkness of winter. I hate this time of year.. Damnit.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Argh. I Be Back

    I'm back. I promise.

    And as an added inducement I have all sorts of news including:
    • PARIS. I got there, I made it, and I loved it.
    • The wilderness years are over!
    • I have a sneaking suspicion that I am slowly turning into Martha Stewart.. minus the jail time for insider trading though.
    And for a small joke to end your Friday, most apt for our current times, and where I work:

    Definition of an optimist :

    An investment banker who irons five shirts on a Sunday evening.

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    What a difference a couple of hours makes

    About half an hour after I posted my last entry, the nurse at the hospice called me and asked me to come down. About 20 mintues (maybe less) after I got to the hospice my aunt took her last breath. It was wierd. One minute I was stirring my tea, watching her like a hawk, my heart pounding every time her breath was a bit late in coming, and the next minute, the nurse told me she thought she'd gone, and she turned off her air supply. She checked her pulse, listened to see if she was breathing and then she told me she had died. I was all "are you sure? Cause i think I can still see her heart moving underneath her shirt". Unfortunately, my cousin had gone back to his office to pick up some paper work and didn't make it in time. I have to say it was pretty hard being there alone (other than the nurses) and dealing with it by myself. They took her time of death from my mobile phone. I just got my phone, and I will probably always remember that moment every time I look at it.

    It's wierd cause right after it happened she didn't really look that different from before she died. The only difference was that her body was no longer struggling to breath. Thinking about it though, she didn't really have that peaceful look that they say dead people get. I really wish that she wasn't scared when she died. I really wish that she wasn't lonely. I really wish that she knew I was there with her. I really wish that fucking cancer hadn't done this to her in the first place.

    God fucking damnit. Fucking fuck.

    I really didn't think it would happen this soon. She was fighting so damned hard the last few days. I thought I'd have a couple more episodes of Gilmore Girls to watch on the Living channel. Now I'll never know what's gonna happen with the Lauralei.. will she get it together with the dude in the coffee shop or will his girlfriend get her claws in deeper? Admittedly, my aunt is now spared from my inane banter about cinammon flavoured porridge. Damn, I was looking forward to more of that this morning.

    My cousin has decided that to appease some of my overly anxious, overly hysterical family members, that he would like his mother buried in Australia. So that's where we are heading next. Back home to Sydney for her funeral. My boss ain't too pleased that I'm going home and he let it be known to me in not very uncertain terms that he does not really think I should be away for much longer than I had originally said I was going to be. I think the fact I wasn't hysterical on the phone made him think it's no big deal or that I'm taking the piss or something. I'm not hysterical on the phone because most of my family in Australia are hysterical on the phone, and it doesn't help anyone or anything crying and wailing and not keeping your shit together. I hope they can control their sobbing enough to start organising the funeral at their end, cause I do not want to have to do it from Phoenix.

    Argh. It's almost 6am here and just before we left the hospice at 4.30 I made myself a cup of tea with sugar in it. I thought I'd be up for ages, but now I need to get some sleep and I'm gonna awake for a while.. Bugger.

    Ok, so that's my news. I'm off back home to Sydney now. As an amusing aside, I'm going home as a brit cause my aussie passport has expired and i didn't get it renewed. I have to now go through the foreigners line and get quizzed with the tyrancial look of the Australian border police, checking to see if I'm not going to outstay my visa like all other Brits seem to do. Bollocks.

    Back in the burning sun

    First off, let me apologise to the people who have already seen this part of this,but it's a pretty accurate account of what's happening right now, so I've decided to blog it. Besides, it's whats happening to me right now. And it's my blog and if I want to kinda repeat stuff on it I will.

    So I've been away for a few days cause I'm back in Phoenix. I was out here 6 weeks ago to be with my mum and my cousin because my Aunt, who has had cancer for the last 10 years, and is finally succumbing to it. It's been a long road, and for many of the years she's been fighting it like a hero. The last few years though the cancer has really turned aggressive, that now it's just taken her over. She's been in a non responsive state since Sunday, so I flew out on a day's notice to be here with her and my cousin. I'll be here for a few weeks, so the blogging will not be often.. it's pretty exhausting to be fair.

    Everything here is going ok I suppose. Though that's a bit of misleading really. My aunt is really fighting hard, and is simply refusing to let go. Even though she's been asleep since Sunday, her oxygen levels and circulation are still good. Having said that, she's not eaten or drunk anything in days now. The nurses are just amazed at her resilience.. As is her son and I. My days are pretty much spent all day 9am-8pm at her bedside, alternating between bashing my head against the wall with work that I've brought over with me, and bashing my head against the wall to get the trash day time TV out of my head before it starts rotting my mind. It's loads of fun.

    I've noticed that when the nurses either change her or turn her, her eyes kinda open. The first night I got here, they opened and I said hi and told her I was here, and she looked like she was looking at me, and she also looked like she smiled. It didn't last long but then she fell asleep again. One of my cousin's friends whose mum went through the same thing said that his mum did that, but the doctors told him it was a muscle reflex and nothing more. I'm not really sure I believe that. Sometimes her eyeballs move around, and when I ask her questions, she seems to blink in response... (well all of this is with her eyes closed so it's not properly blinking). I dunno if I'm just seeing responses or if it's really happening... but I act as if it is happening, so you know, if she blinks when i ask her if she's hot, I'll sponge her down and stuff... today she didn't really look like she was responding at all to my inane banter... maybe discussing Cinnamon flavour porridge really isn't interesting enough to blink to.... I think it's fascinating (how does something that looks so bleeerrr actually taste half decent? It's amazing what you can do with enough cinnamon and sugar isn't it?).

    Last night to blow off some steam my cousin took me to this really random bar for a drink. It was a half country half hip hop bar/club thingy, with a dance floor and a queue that went round the building to get in. They were really egalitarian with their music though. 4 songs of country, with people dancing away in partners, girls with long hair trying to get it into other girls eyes whilst they are getting swung around, then 4 songs of hip hop, with people gyrating and dry humping each other on the dance floor. Then they'll do some sort of group dance song (you know, the type where the instructions are in the song ("Now turn. Now left two times. Now hop. Now hop again. Now hop 9 times, tap your head and rub your belly, Now turn again." ). I noticed that these sort of songs worked on both levels: the hip hop crowd can still dance cause it's kinda hip hopish, and the country good ol' boys can line dance to it. Then they'll go back to their 4 country songs again, and every one's happy. Really odd. We worked out it was because Wednesdays is "ladies nite" so I got in free but we missed the 25 cent beers... to be fair they are these weak arse American beers, which taste like water. Why drink lite beer? It's not cause of the alcohol content, which is the same, but it just tastes like garbage. I went out today and bought some full fat Budweiser. The lady in the beer aisle looked at me like I might as well have been sitting there drinking the oil from a deep fat fryer or something..

    Also, I've watched so much shite day time television in the last 2 days it actually feels like I've been here for weeks. The freakin' Gilmore Girls is on both in the mornings and afternoons, and Living TV is like some sort of drug that won't let go. I've decided that both Oprah and Dr Phil are actually the devil. (well ok Dr Phil is the devil.. but Oprahs got some sort of witch craft thing going on cause I stayed up till late the last time I was here watching her show with Tom Cruise.. I don't even like Tom Freaking-Break-Our-Nic's-Heart Cruise.. As an Australian I think it's my patriotic duty to dislike him.. ) Argh. And there are so many game shows on in the day time. I was going to say which one amuses me the most but I honestly can't think of any. I turn into a bit of a dumb arse when I start to watch them, so if they come on I flick the channel real quick before I get sucked in.. It's like looking into Medusa's face or something.. Though I have noticed that Drew Carey must have hit rock bottom cause he's now hosting The Price Is Right with screaming, hyperactive people.. golly gosh he must have some hired goons riding his arse for boat repayments or something, because I can' think of a single reason why he's on that show. It's so fucking annoying. They must be pumping airborne cocaine into the studio: all the yelling and jumping up and down like the show has cured world hunger or something, just so they can get a shot at winning an overly priced bedroom suite that won't fit in their houses anyway.

    And finally, the weather: it's 40 degrees here in the day time.. it was 34 degrees last night (at 9pm!). It's going up to 109 this Sunday (i don't know what that is in Fahrenheit.. 42 or something?). All in all, it's pleasantly warm in the Arizona sandpit that is Phoenix.

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Cliff Notes

    I will hold my hand up high and say "yes, I'm a slacker". Slacker I am. I haven't posted, I haven't been on, I haven't done much recently.

    So I can stop feeling guilty, get back on track, I am just going to give the cliff notes of what's been going on:

    1) I haven't cycled much. I did my 100 miles, I felt great. Then my ribs started to kill from the car racing and my osteo said I'd bruised all in between them on my left side. Unfortunately there wasn't much I could do but wait it out. Obviously, me being me, I was very quiet about the whole thing and never a peep was heard about how I couldn't even lie on that side and every movement felt like I was being punched in the ribs. Not a word out of me. Quiet as a mouse.

    Ok, maybe a squeaky, annoying, pissed off mouse who complained and wailed constantly about it. Through a megaphone...

    2) Speaking of my bike, I have taken it to the shop to get a quote for fitting new gears on it... My bike has 7. Apparently bikes that aren't complete jokes have 21... When the service guy quoted me £200 to upgrade my bike up to the specs I wanted, he told me I should just go and buy a new one... So I've now started entertaining the idea of an upgrade... The thing is I kinda proud of the fact I was cycling 400 miles on the crappiest bike ever. A bike that always always gets comments from other cyclists along the lines of "you're cycling to Paris on that piece of shit? Like making life hard for yourself eh?" (To which I think "I'm keeping up with you on your £1000 road bike aren't I? So why don't you just go and piss off.").

    So I went to the bike store on Monday, you know to simply peruse at the goods. All the shiny new road and hybrid bikes with their Shimano parts. Knowing diddly squat (21 gears on a bike you say? That's pretty modern isn't it?) I had to ask a shop assistant for help. And guess what? We actually had banter. Real life, honest to god, banter. Me having banter with a guy. A real life guy who works at the bike shop and who didn't talk down to me like I was some sort of cycling road hazard because I wasn't in head to toe skin tight lycra. And I'm not talking "buy a bike" banter. I'm talking genuine he-cracked-jokes-to-make-me-laugh banter. I'm not ashamed to say I actually felt a bit good about myself... Still not convinced I'm gonna spend £500 on a bike.

    3) C and I went to see Cabaret on what we're dubbing "Alistair McGowan Mondays". She has a thing for him. And in Cabaret we got to see his bare arse. Oh my yes. And we got to see the bare arses of almost all of the women in the musical. Along with their legs, their stomachs, their breasts (in and out of skimpy lace bras). Can I just say that musical theatre has changed allot since I was girl... Set in 1930s Germany just before the war, it touches on how the coming of the Nazis heralded the end of the hedonistic days of pre war Berlin. And despite all the T&A, it was excellent! However, the end of the first act has got a boy from the Hitler youth singing and someone waving a swastika. Never have you heard an audience sound so confused... On the one hand you want to clap because it's the end of the first act and the musical is really good, but on the other it's still very difficult, even after all this time, to applaud when you've just seen a massive nazi flag waving on stage. A polite British clap was what they got.

    4) I am very slowly discovering that I am in fact an excellent ex-girlfriend. Dr D has a new lady friend and a few days ago I helped him work out what to cook his girlfriend for dinner. I mean he can cook, but that's only cause I taught him how (A small aside cause I know I'm going to get yelled at for this: Dr D: vegetarian chilli, beans on toast and canned fish does not count as knowing how to cook before I turned up ok. I taught you. Deal with it). I took him round the supermarket, I told him how to make the sauce, what herbs to add, how to cook his spuds, how to present it on the plate so it didn't just look like meat and two veg. Essentially I helped him woo his girl (I was going to say to "helped him get laid" but that's way too crass, even for me.). I rock. I'm gonna make some other man a very good ex-girlfriend someday. Ah bless.

    5) The Magic and Calv are lording it up in Florida. They went last week to see the space shuttle launch (lucky bastards). I got this text from The Magic, which made me chuckle. Only geeks would say:

    "Fuck me. That was fucking awesome. Calv can't stop grinning. His cigarette almost seemed post coital".

    Now I'm not sure how The Magic knows what Calv looks like "post coital"... Hookers in Florida maybe?

    6) And finally, I'm back to making cakes for fundraising for my cycle ride. I pretty much think of only the London to Paris cycle these days. That's about it. So to help raise some funds I have been making cakes for the office and asking for donations... Yesterday it was a flourless clementine & almond cake (thanks Li for the recipe!), covered, no smothered, in dark chocolate. It looked just a like a big Jaffa cake!

    So that's pretty much a round up, Cliff notes style, on what's been going on. Now I can come back and blog about all the angst action that's going on.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008

    Possibly Unacceptable Documentation

    I am so sick of writing documentation specs at work that no one ever reads that I am seriously contemplating leaving this sentence in, and seeing if anyone even notices:

    “Essentially, the desired functionality would be to allow the user to copy, rename and move cf files without T fuking it up.”

    Tempting… very tempting…

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    My First Centrury

    So how did I do? My first century cycle ride? My first 160 kilometres? The same distance from London to Bournemouth, or Sydney to Newcastle?

    Well the good news is that I did it, and I didn't die in the process! The bad(ish) news is that it took me 11 hours (including lunch and stops) to finish it...

    I have to be honest and say I didn't actually cycle the whole thing, because there were some really large hills in there (one of which went on for a mile at about a 14 degree incline) and the first 40 miles were absolute killers. What seriously didn't help though was when I started the ride, I got a guy from Halfords to check my breaks. 6 miles into the race, and I'm struggling - really struggling, and I'm slightly panicking that I can't get past 9 miles an hour. I started to almost cry thinking "I can't do this, why can't I do this?" and then wondering how I was going to get out of the London to Paris cycle - what would I tell everyone? How would I get their sponsorship money back. It's about this point my mind wonders back to the Halfords guy and I remember that there was something funny about my back tire when he was fixing it. I get off, pick up the bike, spin the back wheel and stop, the guy from Halfords tightened up the break too much, and the wheel was rubbing the whole way, so I was practically cycling with my brake one the whole way.

    I met some really nice people along the way (once all the hard core serious cyclists got out of the way) some of which are also going to be doing the London to Paris cycle in July. One group of guys I met were a guy, his father in law and a friend. His father in law was definitely a fan of tough love. During the day I met them on and off, and the father in law told me the following: I wouldn't be allowed to complete it since I had walked a part of it, at the top of the killer hill (with the "sting in it's tail") he was at the top and said "there's an ambulance here for you", and he also told me "You have to catch up with my son in law, you're way fitter than he is!". Tough love.

    Some of the more bizare comments I came out with include "Only 46 more miles to go!" "Only 35 more miles!" "Yay! Last 20" "Oh God, why are there still 12 more miles to go??".

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    A busy 48 hours

    This is possibly one of the most busy weekends I've had in years. Not because the FA cup final was on, but because today I learned to drift drive on a Caterham 7 in Silverstone. And it was excellent. But more on that later (though just one thing: At the end of the day we had a drift assesment around the track. And not only did I get the title of "most improved" but I also kicked Calv and Magic ARSES!! Oh yeah baby.)

    Tonight though I am absolutely shitting myself. Tomorrow I have to get up at 5.30 am to get to Tonbridge Castle in Kent because I stupidly signed up to cycle the Castle Bike Ride - 100 miles around Kent. 100 miles. 160 kms. 100 fucking miles.

    The reason for this stupidity (see the topographical map, which basically shows the first 30 miles as being the ultimate killer of all killers) is that I am using this as a practice run for my London to Paris cycle, which incidentaly is the only thing I think about these days. I keep reading online training guides and cycling fantatic forums which usually have such helpful hints as "to be a true cyclist make sure you're cycling 70 miles a day"

    I feel like I'm going to be sick because I'm tying myself into so many knots... I am absolutely shit scared right now. This is the most physically exhausting thing I've ever signed up to do. Thankfully a friend of mine who has done the John O'Groats to Lands End cycle (basically the very north of Britain to the very south of Britain) told me that cycling is a mental thing: so as longs as I keep myself fed and watered and keep a positive attitude, then I should make it... And he told me to ignore all other "purist" cyclists and just remember, I can do this, even if it takes me the 7-10 hours...

    Oh god.... I feel scared.

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    What the fuck did you do London

    I go away for 9 days and London FUCKS up the political landscape??  BORIS FUCKING JOHNSON? what the fuck happened? 

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    I swear it's not another holiday

    I know, I know, it sounds like a holiday, but it isn't.

    Today, in about 11 hours time, I am off to Phoenix Arizona for 10 days. But it's not for a holiday. I am going to Phoenix, as is my mum, so we can visit my aunt, who is very sick. I don't really fancy going into the details (which is I suppose a violation of a theory that Freud had- if you mention something then it means you want to talk about it, or else you won't have mentioned it in the first place. Dr D and I used to scream whenever someone did that "ah-ha-HAAA! You're breaking the T&D law!! SAY IT! SAY IT YOU BASTARDS!" but unfortunately I found out that we didn't invent that theory. Freud did. Or he'd pinched it from someone else).

    Anyway, I'm off to Phoenix, which I believe I have already been to. Well, I say "been to" but that's only if you count stopping between El Paso and the Grand Canyon on our US road trip a few years ago to have a lovely dinner of greasy pizza in Phoenix. If this counts, then yes I've been to Phoenix.. Personally I don't think this counts as having "been to Phoenix" somehow.. surely there is more to this city than a strip of fast food joints in car park... Though I am tempted to see if I can find the place again, just for old time sake - you know, check out the old haunts, the places we knew and loved so well, all that pizza, all that coke, all that... car park space.

    So what am I doing up still at 1.45am? Trying to encode my sodding dvds into a format that my sodding ipod (not encased in beef) can play. I've had no end of annoyance with this stupid procedure. Every single thing that could go wrong with this has gone wrong, and I am about to give up and go to bed. All I want is to be able to watch a couple of Studio 60s and maybe some Battlestar Galactica (or as Calv fondly calls it "Battlestar Gay-Lactica") whilst I'm away.. is that too much to sodding ask for? Apparently YES.

    I'll try to post whilst I am away, but if I don't then you know why... it's because after years of becoming acclimatised to the crap English weather, I've disintegrated in 35 degree Arizonian heat... I just pray to god that my suitcase turns up....

    *** UPDATE *** 2:19AM
    Yes, yes YESSSSS!!! I knew my honours degree in Computing Science wasn't for nothing!! Am not hopeless sado still up at 2.20 AM swearing at her sodding pc!! Finally I have managed to get disk 3 of Studio 60 all encoded/decoded/whatever and on iTunes ready to go, but I have also decoded disk 4 and am converting it as we speak. YES!!! Am slowly joining the ranks of nerds who actually know how to use their computers for things other than blogging, web surfing, and java development. Get in!!!

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    WTF Wednesday? Rollin' with my Kobe

    This is so weird and definitely counts as a "what the fuck???"

    Japan's Solid Alliance is selling Ipod Nano cases that are designed to look like raw meat! At the very least they've had the good taste to make it look like expensive bit of raw Kobe beef. And to add to the realism, it even comes in a cellophane-and-Styrofoam pack.

    Now don't get me wrong. Despite the fact that I am definitely a "please kindly just wave my steak at the open grill and bring it to me bloody as hell" girl, even I can not see any reason why I would want my mp3 player to look like a piece of dead animal.. I really don't think I am their target audience somehow.... Would it sell well with vegetarians you think?

    As a very, very, very short aside, for an amusing example of flame wars gone bad, check out the comments on the Raw Feed page where I found this weird piece of gadget paraphernalia... This is a perfect example of what happens when people on the Internet, drunk on their own sense of anonymity, get too stuck up their own arses... very funny..

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    "Get off my god damned land"

    Me, standing in my yard, gun in hand, pointing at the offender. I stare, eyes squinted, and say in a low voice "get off of my god damn land" and bam! Pull the trigger. SQUIRT. Warm, soapy water goes all over the branches hanging over into my yard from my neighbours massive rose bush, which is covered in black aphids. And when I say covered, I mean, the branches, the leaves, the shoots, everything is covered in little black crawling insects. And NOW they are migrating into my yard. They've gone over my walls, onto my balcony, on to my door frame, all over the pots, everywhere. And since I watched a movie about killer ants that, well, kill everything and everyone they come in contact with, as a child, I have a horrid distates for little insects. They make my skin crawl. EEK.

    I've read that squirting soapy water is a pretty good way of killing aphids.. apparently it clogs up their breathing apartus and they suffocate. I've also read that ladybirds are a good way to get rid of them, but they are £25 for 25, and there is no guarantee that they'll stay on the plants... And I don't much fancy having to make 25 little leashes to chain up my ladybird slaves...

    I hate gardening. I kill every plant I touch, and even when you think it'll all be ok, you get an invading army of aphids running amock in your garden. Will it never, ever end???

    Cycling to dumpsville

    No, not that dumpsville. The Dumpsville that is the London Olympic Site.

    Now that I am going to Paris on my little bike, the only thing I can pretty much think about now is how painful this 300 miles over 4 days is going to be..

    Sunday two weeks ago, I officially started training for my London to Paris cycle ride by joining the London Cycling Touring Club on a Sunday 2 star ride from London Victoria to the Olympic site, via the east end, and then back through Greenwich. A 7 hour bike ride, which should have taken about 40km.. Whilst it was good to get some experience of what 7 hours on a bike would be like, unfortunately it was just a bit, well, slow. 8 miles and hour is not fast, especially when the ride was supposed to be the second hardest they do (the hardest being training for segments of the Tour de France). Whilst the leader was really very nice, he did turn it into a bit of a tour guide operation. It started with describing different interesting buildings in London (where the first cycle shop in London was, stories about St Pauls) but as the day progressed the stories became more and more random and, well, less interesting. We cycled deliberately on a detour soley to go past a gastro pub near the Magics house (personal note: The Magic - we have to go to The Gun. It looks amazing!) so he could show his wife where he met a friend once, he then showed us his old school, 3 of the houses he used to live in, the very spot where he watched Prince Phillip open the Cutty Sark to the public, and finally to the place where he got chucked into the mud by some school friends in the 50s.

    On the plus side, I got to meet some nice people, and I now know to expect from a 7-8 hour cycle. A very sore arse.

    Last Sunday C and I went on another cycle ride with the London CTC. Half an hour out of London, and despite it being pretty much Tory voting countryside, it was lovely out there. And today, for the first time (I'm ashamed to say) I went to the gym to start training on a bike (point - by first time, I don't mean first time ever just the first time for training for this insane ride).. Apparently, according to the literature that I got from my charity, one hour in the gym is equivalent to 2 hours in the saddle. Unfortunately, I really hate gyms. And when I say hate, I really do mean hate. There is no roads, no wind in my hair, no sun, no rain. Nada. Just oonce-oonce-oonce music blaring, and ultra fit people being uber aggressive with dumbells and what-not. Yeesh.

    And finally, I've also started my fund raising, which entails me making cakes, bringing them into work and shamlessly asking for donations in return. I've so far made a Victoria Sponge, dark chocolate florentins (whose recipe I've nicked from Clotilde at chocolate and zucchini), apple tartes, and today, a coffee and walnut layered cake. All have been pretty lovely (buttercream icing is very popular), so I now have to get my still-sore-from-Sundays-cycle arse into gear and make more food.

    Speaking of sponsorship (hint hint) if you would like to sponsor me, drop me a line at tryingtopanda at yahoo dot co dot uk and I'll send you my sponsorship page... Nudge nudge, wink wink, know wha' I mean, say no more.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Worst Feeling In The World

    After a night out in a pub, drinking 3 too many pints, and then going to a restaurant and drinking awful house red wine, getting into a cab and saying "Where's my laptop?"

    Driving to said pub. No laptop. Crying eyes out all the way home. No laptop. Horrid realisation that all my photos from China and past holidays are all gone now because I have, yup you guessed it - no laptop.

    Best Feeling In The World: Calling up restaurant with awful house red and hearing the words "Silver Dell? Yes, we have it".

    I love my laptop. I am giving it the biggest kiss ever. Geek girl, reunited with her most loved geek toy = joy.

    Friday, April 04, 2008

    You're Friday Moment of Zen: Kebab-y!

    Damn you cruel fate!

    The Red Polar Bear, owned by Kazem Ariaiwand is officially the worlds most northern kebab van! Mr Ariaiwand moved to Spitsbergen after a failed asylum attempt in Norway, and set up his business in an old military van last year in Longyearbyen. Having already been to Svalbard once, it seems we have to go again! Kebabs!! The most northern kebabs in the world!! We've already been to the worlds most northern McDonalds in Rovaniemi, it seems only fair to have a chicken kebab with extra hot sauce back in Longyearbyen.

    As a small aside, having checked out "The Worlds Most Northern" and I find I can cross the following of as places I've been to:
    Town > 1000 people Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway DONE 78°13′N 15°33′E
    City > 50,000 people Tromsø, Norway DONE! 69°40′N
    Metropolitan area > 1 million Greater Helsinki (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen), Finland DONE 60°10′N 24°56′E
    City (proper) > 1 million people St Petersburg, Russia DONE! 59°56′N 30°20′E

    Shops and service facilities

    Item Place Latitude/Longitude
    Bank Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway DONE!
    78°13′N 15°33′E
    Automatic Teller Machine Longyearbyen, Svalbard, NorwayDONE! 78°13′N 15°33′E
    Night club Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway?? Where was this?
    78°13'N 15°33'E
    Pub Longyearbyen, Svalbard, NorwayDONE! 78°13'N 15°33'E
    Supermarket Longyearbyen, Svalbard, NorwayDONE! 78°13′N 15°33′E
    Tourist office Longyearbyen, Svalbard, NorwayDONE! 78°13′N 15°33′E
    University University of Tromsø (ext link), Tromsø, NorwayDONE! 69°40′N 18°56′E
    University campus University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Longyearbyen, Svalbard, NorwayDONE! 78°13′N 15°33′E
    Anyhoo, just a small aside.

    Ahh most northerly Kebab Van.. if only you'd been there when WE were there... I would have enjoyed you infinitely more than the cured seal meat I had, which was awful.

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Why Wednesdays? Would you put a bunch of carnations in there?

    Ok, ok, ok, I know technically it's Thursday but when I turned on my laptop it was still Wednesday so I don't care.

    Why Wednesdays: note this is not a "Why is it Wednesdays?" but more "What the fuck is this? - on a Wednesday".

    To kick it off, I offer up this as exhibit A: Uterus Vase by The Plug & Stéphanie Rollin

    The Uterus Vase (or as I'm going to call it the WooWoo vase) is a limited edition of twenty pieces, all lacquer and varnish upon a resin core. The idea behind this vase is to "restore dignity to an over-utilized image". To me though it just looks like a big monster holding it's arms out... And honestly, I'm not sure how a bunch of gerberas would look in resin core white WooWoo.

    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Proud day as a cyclist

    I hit my first pedestrian today! Oh yes, after many almost run ins with incredibly stupid lemings who just blindly walk out onto the street without looking if, say a bus, a truck, a car or a cyclist is hurtling towards them, I finally collided with a pedestrian. This morning a middle aged woman came running out infront of a bus, and into the cycle lane just as I was traversing that exact same piece of space. Bash! Right into her - breaks screeching in the rain, me bending the handle bars in an attempt to not go over the top, as I slamed to a stop, front wheel right between her legs. I screamed out, in possibly the most East end accent since Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins "FAAH-KING HELL WOMAN!!". Unfortunatetly (or fortunately, I'm not sure yet) she wasn't hurt, and was still smiling despite my obsence Van Dyke impression, was very appologetic and asked if I was ok. This of course made it impossible for me to yell "why weren't you bloody well looking where you were bloody well goinig?" and I could only grumble "yes, I'm fine. Are you ok?". Grrr. I hate it when I want to be angry and yell at someone and they are nice to me. Inconsiderate feckless bastards.

    Speaking of cycling, it's only 3 months 20 odd days (but whose counting?) until my London to Paris cycle. I've taken a more pro active approach to fund raising by deciding to start making cakes, bringing them into work, and hoping people will chuck some pennies in a donation tin in exchange for buttery goodness. I write up a little blurb about what it is that I'm doing, what I'm offering in return for their hard earned cash, and if possible a little bit of history about the cake (no not like "I've had these eggs in my fridge for the last month" but more "A Victoria Sponge is named after Queen Victoria because she liked them so much". I've also got my first corporate sponsor! Li kindly donated a bunch of Green and Blacks eggs which went down quite well! Unforunately they went down even quicker with people when I took the tin away and they didn't feel the need to donate any money.. Yesterday I brought in my first Victoria Sponge, and I have big probably drink induced plans of making custard tarts, bakewell tarts, coffee and walnut cakes... I figure this tactic will work 2 fold - 1 I get money for cakes, 2 I get to actually practice making cakes and sweets - something I'm not massively confident about because I get really bored eating cakes, so I never make them for myself.

    As far as training is concerned - well.... that's another story. The charity I'm raising money for had an information day a few weeks back that I went to. And whilst everyone seemed nice, I met some pretty hard core cycling snobs - the kind that usually work at places like Evans where they don't talk to you unless you're covered head to toe in skin tight lycra (actually is there any other kind but skin tight?), are wearing cleats, and have the body of an adonis. If you're like me - sneakers, cycling shorts, t-shirt, and not adonis like in anyway, they have a remarkable less likely to help you and remarkably more likely to believe you're made out of thin air and thus ignore your existence completely. Much in the same way that sales assistants to do women in electrical or computing shops. Bunch of ****s.

    Anyway, at the information day, I met people who are seriously hard core - one guy had already raised way in excess of the money needed for the event, was doing London to Southend cycle rides, going on rides with a cycle group every Sunday ("where we ride at about 26 miles an hour constantly"), and generally looked at me like I was never going to finish. When I'd mentioned I was learning how to ride in cleats but I had fallen over and hurt my hand, he sniffed "oh I did a similar thing a few weeks ago! Though I think I broke my rib. Did I go to hospital? Of course not, I'm seriously hard core and needed to be back on my bike the very next day or I will die. Besides, I don't need a doctor. I can push the rib back in and live through the pain cause I'm a cyclist".

    Christ what in god's name have I got myself into?

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    Your Friday Moment of Zen: Being patronised the 1940's way

    Why oh why did I go to Le Cordon Bleu school? All I needed to do was be patronised by this 1940s film made by the Home Economics Department at the University of Kansas. "Cooking Terms and What They Mean" is intended for young, newly wed white women and attempts to teach them how to interpret recipe instructions. "While the premise seems benign, it is delivered in such a way that puts the films main character, a twenty-something newly wed woman, on so low an intellectual echelon as to say she is incapable of divining meaning from common cooking terms."

    In the film, Margie and Tim are just back from their honeymoon. Tim, being a man, heads off to work in the morning, while Margie stays at home, touching all her new appliences in the kitchen trying to decide what to make Tim for dinner. Will she be able to make Tim all the food he likes just like his mother?? What they don't show you is that after she makes a disasterous cake because she doesn't know what "cream the butter" means, she'll probably realise she can't keep Tim happy with her food, only use her kitchen as a place to drink sherry by the gallon, and sit around wondering why the fuck she didn't go off to university so she could be the one out at work and leave Tim at home to fuck up the cooking. And what will happen to Tim? Why he'll go out on the piss every night with his co-workers and try to pick up girls from the typing pool at the office of course.

    Ahh the 1940's. Where the little lady was expected to stay at home and baby their hubby's just like mum. Watch this and enjoy. Enjoy the fact that us women are not expected to do this anymore. Unfortunately I actually know women who are still like this. And they're around my age.

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Late Night Waiter

    Heard in a late night cab home:

    Me: "So if I make cakes for work and people don't want to donate money, then that's ok too. I'll just say 'well Jesus will judge you'".
    Calv: "No, you should say "your god will judge you""
    The Magic: "So would Einstein judge me for not paying for a cake?"
    Calv: "Einstein's your god? Really? I'm a bit disapointed in that"
    Dr D: "Yeah me too. Not Carl Sagan?"
    Me: "Yeah Mag, Einstein? Really? I would have you thought your god would be much more impressive and unknown than that"
    The Magic: "Well, to be honest guys he's not. I just thought I'd pick a name you might all know".

    BAH-ZING. Magic was our waiter that night. Cause we got our arses handed to us.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    I'd have posted yesterday if I hadn't passed out at 7

    School is so much fun. But it's also absolutely exhausting!

    Yesterday I gutted and filleted my second fish in my life, the first being on Monday. I've worked with fish a lot but I've never actually had to gut one myself... Just watched fish mongers and my mum do it... Yesterday we cooked:

    Pan fried trout with beurre sauce
    Medallions of pork with a herb crust and mustard sauce
    Coconut Creme Caramels
    Mixed seafood thai broth

    I spent all day on my feet, but when I got home I was completely wiped out. So much started to feel like I was getting the flu, so at 7pm I packed myself off to bed, like a child in kindergarten.

    Today we prepared and cooked our own lobsters.. I have always maintained that as a meat eater it would be completely hipocritical of me to be squeamish about where my food comes from. Beef comes from cows, tasty bacon comes from cute pigs, KFC buckets comes from chickens - let's face it that probably are not reared in the most fabulous of conditions (and that's an understatement). But when I saw the little lobsters squirming around on the plate before they were to be cooked in a boiling broth, I felt a real twinge of guilt. Poor little bastards. Poor little tasty bastards baked in their thermador sauce with guyere cheese melted on top (oh yes, I still ate one.. vegan I will never be).

    We also made squid ink cannelloni with a crab filling and sweet sauce. I found out how to extract chlorophyll out of spinach (slowly) and I rolled my own cannelloni sheets! I suck arse at making pasta and even with Chef watching over me I managed to fuck it up a little. One side was a longer than the other and when I was cooking them two of the cannelloni sheets stuck together in the pot. Idiot.

    Tomorrow is my last day (sob) but I'll tell you what, making all this food all day in a boiling hot kitchen is tiring work. And bizarrely I have no appetite at all. Cause I went to bed so early the night before I hadn't eaten anything, so I had to force myself to eat some toast for breakfast. I then had to force myself to have some a couple of rings of squid in a lime, tomato, olive, caper salsa for lunch... God it sucks to be me right now!

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    First day at school

    Today was my first day of cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu!! And it was fucking fantastic!! Hot, quick, tiring, fantastic fun!

    I learned how to cut up a whole chicken into 10 pieces, how to fillet a flat fish, how to french trim a rack of lamb, how to make veal stock with veal knuckles (16 hours of gentle simmering people, 16 hours..), how to prepare mirepoix and what ration of vegetables to meat to use, what the french term for the oyster of a chicken is - Le sot l'y laisse - "the fool leaves it behind".

    The whole day was fantastic. Absolutely 100% would love to do this forever fantastic!!

    All except for when the chef put some cognac in my chicken casserole.... As soon as the cognac hit the hot pan and it's heady aromas hit my nose all sorts of memories of bad casinos and free champagne cognacs in St Maarten, drinking Armagnac by the unreserved bucketful at our favorite East End pub, and horrendous hangovers where I could barely hold on to the floor in the bathroom what with it spinning out of control all around me came flooding back. My face got this contorted "EEEK I'm not feeling so good" look to it but thankfully I pulled it together and managed to control my urge to gag out loud. Being sick on the kitchen floors of the prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking school simply would not do.....

    4 weeks later

    It's been almost a month since my 30th birthday, and what have I been doing?

    Basically, anything I've never done before: so far, almost every week I've done something that I've not done in my previous 2 decades of life: skiing, dentist, hospital (not in that order). It's been fantastic!

    My Almost Brilliant Career as a Ski Bunny
    The most exciting thing I've done was go skiing in Cervinia, Italy with Li and her friends! And for all those of you who are now asking "how many bloody holidays can this girl take?" the answer is 28 sweet, sweet, non working days.

    I've been skiing once before for a grand total of 2 days, about 12 years ago (god that sounds old), however that didn't work out so well for me.. I spent one day learning how to stand skis and how to fall on our skis. The next day we went up the biggest mountain I'd seen in Australia, where I was completely paralysed with fear of death, and had to be helped to snow plow down by a very unimpressed ski instructor. This time however, I refused to be gripped by fear and after 3 hours on the baby, baby, baby slopes, I was convinced that a life skiing was definitely one for me. I had decided then and there that we were all going to be going down the big blue run within 2 days - all part of my "just go for it" idiotic attitude I'm planning on taking now I'm in my 30s.

    On our second day, Li, Mary (the girl I was sharing with) and I, who were all beginners, enlisted into ski school - which is just like primary school but for adults all acting like Bambi on ice. Within 3 hours, we were all snow plowing our ways down, and I was loving it. With my mantra of "knees bend, feel the boot with my shins, legs apart" I was plowing my way down the second level blue run. Snow plowing, which is the beginner skiers best friend and life saver works by keeping your knees bend, and your legs apart so the edge of the skis can slow you down as you go hurtling down the mountain. Unfortunately for me, I find doing this properly quite hard - my legs simply refuse to stay apart and my knees keep forcing themselves together - I guess 13 years of a catholic education with nuns really have driven home the idea that good catholic girls keep their legs firmly shut...

    At the end of our second day, this is where I decided that a ski bunny life was the life for me: ski all day, party at night, get a tan whilst lying on a deck chair in t-shirts in the amazingly hot sun with snow under my feet. So on the mountain, next to the Matterhorn I called Dr D and told him to tell our boss I quit:

    Dr D: Um, yeah she says she quits... yeah she says she wants to be a ski bunny... yeah I don't know what one of those is either..

    So am I going to properly quit my day job and become a fully fledged snow follower? Hmm I'm not too sure... our 3rd day skiing down the insane run to the village almost killed me - if my fear of flinging myself off the cliff wasn't enough, then perhaps the constant falling over as snow boarder after sodding stupid brainless snowboarder smashing into me kinda took the edge off it... My second last day I was tempting fate and honestly was expecting to break something - unfortunately for Li, she took the bullet for me. On our way down from the top of the mountain, her skis crossed themselves and snap she micro fractured her femur, and tore the ligaments in both her knees. Clearly not a girl for doing things in half's. I personally reckon this was all a master plan for her to pick up the burly Italian paramedics who skied her down the mountain in a sledge... she might not see it that way, but she was getting an fearful amount of attention from the Italian boys when she was upstanding, so I reckon her damsel in distress should have had them flocking to her!

    This brings me nicely to my next "I've not done this before" of my 30s:

    Attaching my feet to my bike and peddling like a falling stone

    As I'm doing the London to Paris cycle, I thought it was high time I learn how to ride in cleats - pedals that attach to your shoes. Having got a pair for my birthday, the Sunday I got back from Cervenia Calv attached them to my bike and off we trundled to the local park so I could learn how to ride - again. Cycling round the park, I was really getting the hang of it.. the whole "feet attached to moving bike, twist my feet to get them out of the cleats" thing seemed like a piece of piss. That was until I went round the gentle bend, saw a man and his massive german shephard, slammed on the brakes and in slow blurry motion went crashing into the ground, smacking my head into a metal bar fence, and seriously hurting my hand..

    Thought I'd dodged the bullet of hurting myself by not breaking anything skiing eh? Yeah, well fate really hates me..

    I ended up for the first time in my life in casualty not just visiting but getting my hand x-rayed cause it hurt like crazy. Calv said the worst thing that could have happened was that I broke something in my wrist. I said no the worst thing that could happen is that we go to hospital and they find nothing wrong with me and me looking like a total baby. You know what? I could have been a psychic. The nurse looked at my x-rays and say "well, it seems you've only sprained your hand.. you'll be fine in a few days". Bloody crap - Li fractures her femur. I, like a hypochondriac go to hospital with a sprained hand. And by the next morning it started to feel allot better. Definitely that's the worst thing.

    Not yet paying for his kids college education
    The next thing on my "not done this before" tour of my 30s: seeing if I can help the local dentist send his kids to Eton.

    Strictly speaking I have been to the dentist. Twice. But both times were those "first check is free, but after you're addicted to the pain of having a sadomasochist ripping into your mouth, you'll have to pay" visits, which I don't really count because they didn't do anything other than say "if you want that chip in your front tooth fixed, we'll have to remove your back 4 teeth" (Why?). However seeing as I am now in my more, ahem, mature 30's I thought it was only wise to go and get myself checked out... So you can imagine the amount of abuse I got when I said I'd not been in 16 years. My dentist told me before I opened my mouth he was expecting to find lots of problems, and then proceeded to tell me off for not having been before (well I can't imagine why not..) Fully expecting root canal or all of my front teeth needing to be replaced and being forced to live with the nickname "gummy" forever, I was shocked to my core when the dentist said I nothing wrong with my teeth. At all. GET IN!! I'm not "big book of British smiles" yet!! WOOHOO!!

    Tomorrow: Cooking, cooking, cooking
    I have wanted to go to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school for about half a decade now. Finally, thanks to Calv, C, Dr D, and The Magic, I am going to a 4 day course starting tomorrow. I'm frankly shitting myself. I'm insanely nervous but looking forward to like you wouldn't believe!

    So that's the cliff notes version of where I've been, what I've been doing, and were I'm going.

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Friday Moment of Zen: Watching a massive brain hemmorage from the inside

    One my biggest fears in life is realising one day I am having a stroke. Why? Partly because I keep getting told if I keep eating too much salt I'll end up having one, partly because I was the person who found my grandmother lying on the kitchen floor when she had hers and I had to watch her deteriorate - lose function, lose her ability to walk, look after herself, go to the toilet unaided. But mostly because I am terrified that one day I'll end up in a "locked in" situation - where I'll still be able to think, see, feel, hear but not be able to move my body.

    This brings me to my "moment of zen".

    Dr Jill Bolte Taylor is a neroanatomist who in 1996 found she had a ringside seat to her very own stroke - a massive hemorrhage in the left side of her brain. She watched as her brain functions shut down one by one: motion, speech, memory, self-awareness... All the while her brain was deteriorating she was processing its breakdown as if she were a "curious explorer taking field notes".

    She's given a fantastic and fascinating speech on (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.) At one point she even says "Oh my gosh, I'm having a stroke! I'm having a stroke! And the next thing my brain says to me 'WOW! This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?!'"

    Admittedly some of it may offend some people who think words like "energy force" is as disgusting as rotten cheese, but you should watch to see how she describes the differences between the left and right hemispheres, brings out a human brain, recounts the events of that morning in vivid detail, from when she thought her hands looked like claws on the exercise machine, to how at one point she could only dial her office by trying to match the shapes of the squiggles on her business card to the shapes of the squiggles on the buttons on her phone, to how one the way to hospital she thought she was going to die, to her shock when she realised she was still alive, to how 2 weeks after she woke up in hospital, surgeons went in and removed a golf ball sized blood clot in the left hemisphere of her brain, to how it has taken her 8 years to fully recover.

    The reason why I'm posting about this is because for the first time in about 19 years I feel like perhaps if or when I have a stroke, maybe there could be some hope for me too. Watch the video - it's long, but honestly worth it.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Back with more stories of stupidness

    Want to hear a story about us making complete tits of ourselves? Yeah course you do.

    Dr D, Calv and myself were off to a housewarming party on last Saturday night. We get to the house, in the middle of a long line of terraced houses you get in London, and see loads of balloons and loud music and lots of voices next door. The thing is, none of us really knew where we are going and taking note of salient points like, I dunno, the address of the house is not our forte really. So we all think "well there's a party in there, and we are going to a party so we must have read the number wrong". We walk up to the front door, ring the door bell, and some bloke answers it who we've never seen before, but heck, it's a house warming - there are loads of people we wouldn't know. We mosey on in, start walking to the back of the house and then notice everyone looks about 17, they've all dressed in kinda slutty school outfits, and it looks like a scene for Skins or something... that's when it hits us: those balloons with "Happy Birthday" all over them outside are not because they didn't have any other type of balloons. The sign with "5 things to remember as a Christian youth member" was not an ironic little joke in light of all the booze that supposed to be inside, the totally out of character hip hop music was out of character for a reason. And the 17 year olds who all stopped their conversations and doing god knows what in the kitchen to stare at 3 30 plus year olds looking confusingly around were definitely not our friends...

    There are lots of things out that are very embarrassing. Having to quickly mumble "sorry, wrong party" as you scamper out the door quick as you can, with a whole brigade of teenage brats laughing their arses off at your in definitely one of them..

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Just about to turn...

    That's it. I've got 4 minutes left of my 20s. In 4 minutes time I am moving out of the 18-29 demographic and smack into the 30-39 year olds. Out of the decade where men struggling with their mid life crisis would be attracked to me, and into the tick-tock-tick-tock decade, where according to popular culture of today, I should fear dying alone, being eaten by alsacians, and no one will notice I've died until the smell starts drifting through the walls.

    I'm leaving my 20s. Right. Now.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    You're Friday Moment of Zen: The Magic Sandwich

    Going through some old pics today, I found this: The definitive step-by-step guide to the Ruffle-Chip-Tortillia-Sour-Cream-Sandwich that The Magic invented whilst on holiday at the Tex-Mex Capital of the World Rovaniemi. THIS is a moment of deep fried zen. Yum.

    Ingredient 1: Take Tortillia Chips (preferably from plate of chicken wings).

    Ingredient 2: Get Ruffle Potato Chips (preferrably with ribs but for you veges out there, omit meat)

    The Steps by Step Guide

    Step 1: Break Ruffle Potato Chip to size to fit neatly ontop of the tortilla

    Step 2: Top Tortilla Chip With Ruffle Potato Chip

    Step 3: Add final layer of Tortilla Chip

    Step 4: Dip sandwich into sour cream sauce from ribs. Again if vege, use regular sour cream that doesn't come from ribs.

    Step 5: Finished product. It's not the prettiest sandwich in the world, but not everything has to be pretty in the world to be good.

    Stage 6: AARRGGHH!! Eat Ruffle-Chip-Tortillia Sandwich. Yum. Fattening but yum

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Happy Birthday C!

    Me, your friend who is younger by 6 days!


    Who cares about their twenties anyway?! 30 is the place to be I hear, it's where all the cool kids are (or are going to be in 6 days..)

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    If only I'd known, I could have saved myself so much trouble

    Finally! After 6 years, all the hassle, all the guilt from my folks about not moving back to Australia, leaving everyone I know and care for back home, everything. Finally, I've got my British passport! One of the main reasons for not returning to Oz is just so I can have that little purple book so I don't visa's to travel, can join the fast immigration queue at the airports and have complete freedom to move anywhere in Europe.

    So how does it feel to finally have it in my hot little hands? Bloomin marvellous. Though doing a quick google search about the different types of pictures of native birds in the passport showed me this link. God damnit! If only I had know that I could have bought a British passport from! And apparently at low prices!

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    You're Friday Moment of Zen: The future of deep fried chicken, the Holy Grail of Deep Fried Chicken, the Cup of Wonder: The Col-Pop.

    South Korean fast food joint BBQ Chicken (that's not Barbeque Chicken but "Best of the Best Quality Chicken") have invented the ultimate in fast time snacking that blows the Colonel's bucket o' chicken out of the water. The age old problem of "how do I walk along, eat my chicken nuggets, drink my drink AND scratch my arse at the same time when I've only got two hands??! TWO HANDS GOD DAMN YOU!" has been solved by BBQ Chicken by discovering probably the single most important invention in our life time: Ladies and Gentlemen, BBQ Chicken proudly presents the Col-Pop: The single cup that holds 32 ounces of fizzy goodness AND your deep fried chicken nuggets. IN ONE CUP! Now you can eat, drink, and scratch away!!

    Those crazy South Koreans. I NEED TO TRY THIS! THIS is my holy grail.

    The cup has a seperate container in the top to hold the nuggets and keep them hot, and the bottom is designed to keep your drinks cold, with the addition of two straw holes so you can hold it all in one hand. Genius!

    The guys at serious eats have road tested this beauty, and I love the fact that they've also added this gratuitous graph showing the ease of snack portability through history:

    BBQ Chicken is slowly and quietly working on it's world wide DOMINATION of the fast food industry, and hopefully will make an appearance in the UK. Until then, I might have to get my underscratched arse to Spain or South Korea to try one of these. If you are anywhere near a BBQ Chicken, I urge, no I beg you TRY ONE and let me know if it's the beacon of justice I know it can be.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Never a truer word spoken

    Apparently this was sold in supermarkets and was a genuine mistake made in Ireland. I don't think it was a mistake - I think they described Ainsley just right.

    Monday, February 04, 2008

    2 years on and 14 days left to go

    That's right. 2 years ago yesterday, I started this blog out of sheer boredom. Ah, it's great to see the quality of writing is still as rubbish, with content still as random as ever.

    On a secondary random note, I currently have 14 days, (well 13 days and 20 mintues but who's being pinicky), of my 20s. I realised recently that I've been cheating myself out of my 29th year by constantly forgetting I'm not actually 30 yet.. I find myself reading lots of "now you're in your 30s" articles on the net, miscalculating people's ages, and generally, forgetting how old I am. I actually have to keep reminding myself that I'm 29. Well, I at least get to do that for the next 14 days...

    So how do I feel about that hitting my 30's? I'm not sure yet... Part of me has resigned myself to the inevitablity of getting older, that it's just another year, and it probably won't make much of a difference to my day to day life..

    And part of me is seriously FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.

    30. In my 30's. Three. Zero. No longer 20's. No longer late, late 20's. In mah early 30's. And that's just a slipperly down hill slope to my 40s.


    Seriously, double Makauley Culkin Home Alone screaming: AAAAAAHHRRGGH.


    The only plus side to having only 14 days left of my 20s is that we're well into Birthday Season! For the uninitiated, Birthday Season is the 19 days before my birthday, where I get to do pretty much anything I like. Why? Cause it's Birthday Season. How does it differ from every day life? Cause I get to say "but come on, it's Birthday Season!".

    We (not the royal We, but The Magic, Dr D and I) started it off with a bang last Friday with pints of finest ale, 2 bottles of champagne, many mojitos and ameretto (which I haven't drunk since my mid 20s, which kinda makes sense since the guy who keeps buying ameretto is turning (in his words) the "Big 2 5" (ah shut the fuck up)). Birthday Season then proceeded with lovely hangover at orchestra on Saturday, and an afternoon watching Superman II (the Donner Version - it's freakin random) on the Magic's MASSIVE HD Wall of Cinematic Beauty, lying on his couch, eating fish and chips. Ah so good.

    On a quick random aside, Christopher Reeves when he is arguing with Marlon Brando about wanting to run away with the cool Louis Lane (not the whiney annoying Kate Boswell, yuck) is seriously, seriously hot. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself: Superman, angst, cuteness, petuently arguing with this Dad about why he can't quit his caped life and go get some. ANGST. So cool. You can keep your Batmans and your spideys. Superman rocks. (Ok, seriously: I'm writing about Superman being cool. How can I be mature enough to be in my 30s in 14 days time? Honestly? There should be some sort of test you have to pass before you leave your 20s to check if you're emotionally and mentally ready..)

    Tonight C & I (who's also celebrating her own birthday season), went to a private opening of the British Science Museum, where we got a tour of the Age of Computing exhibition, (yes, I was kinda excited about it, yes cause I'm really quite sad). We got to see Charles Babagges Difference Machine 2, and a picture of Ada Lovelace to which I wanted to whisper to C "she was boffing Babbage you know. It's in all the computing science books. First time uber nerds got to shag ever, so it's all the university material, as a beacon of hope to nerds universally that some other geek will find your own brand of sadness endearing and sexy".

    So there you go. Birthday Season, 20s, 30s, Superman being a total hottie. Here's to another year of total Panda randomness....

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    Another restaurant struck of the list

    Where have I been? No where in particular, just busy. Cook alongs, Australia Day BBQ parties/house warming parties, work... I have some posts I have to finish, but to make up for it, I offer a wee tale of embarrassment that happened to me last night, to keep you all amused...

    I have a knack of getting myself remembered at restaurants (like the Yo! Sushi I go to where the waitress seems to think I work or live or huddle in a gutter nearby seeing as I eat there so often). Well, it seems I've done it again.

    Our local Chinese is fab. I know that buffets are not peoples ideas of haute cuisine, and having had some amazing Chinese food in China last year, this is not exactly up there with the greatest chow in the land. But it's good. And it's 2 minutes from our front door. And a young male waiter is always really friendly with us, and when we walk in, he'll automatically bring us chop sticks, a diet coke, 3 Tsing Taos and know we'll herd ourselves to the family feedbag that is endless crispy duck with pancakes.

    Well now he has another reason for remember who I am...

    Last night I went out with our work Social club for our annual meal (and to be honest, free piss up). After our thai food, much debate of the events this year, the budget, gossiping about whom we don't like, and 8 bottles of wine between 5 of us, I went home a little bit, well, smashed. Unfortunately my ability to keep the crazy in doesn't work so well with that much white wine sloshing about, cause when I got off the bus, I passed our local Chinese restaurant, and saw all the waiters and chefs inside their little gated bit next drinking tea, smoking, and generally relaxing after a hard night of work. I then saw the waiter who is always really nice to us. Now remember, the crazy is spilling out everywhere, so I stop, and say in probably glass shatteringly loud levels "HELLO!! IT'S YOU!! YOU'RE FINISHED FOR THE NIGHT EH?! HELLO!!!". (oh the shame, the shame). So he gets up, cigarette in hand, opens the gate, speaks to me for a bit, asks if I want to come join them inside, to which thankfully I managed to mumble "no thanks, I'm stumbling home", then totter myself down the street.

    So when Dr D suggested (and I'm sure his motivating factor was not the endless supply of spring rolls) that we go there for dinner tonight I flatly refused. I am not going back, as I will die of shame and pray that the ground opens up and swallows me whole.

    Well, at least until the calling for crispy duck is too great for me to turn down... So I give it a week?

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Come to me Gordon

    When C & I were on holiday in Italy (well St Moritz to be exact) recently, we shared the largest, smelliest, kirsch spiked, cheese fondue I've had in ages. In fact, the cheese fondue, much like many people's fashion taste in St Moritz, seemed like a good idea at the time but on execution was actually was pretty horrid.

    I know that I say "cheese dreams" quite a bit, but I kid you not, cheese fondue causes me to have the bizarest, freakout, never-in-thousand-Sundays-will-come-true, Lucy-In-The-Sky-With-Diamonds kind of dreams more than any other substance I've come across. After my fondue extravaganza, I had the weirdest dream that Gordon Ramsey was teaching me how to cook. Being Gordon Ramsey, he started yelling and screaming at me, telling me I was rubbish and what not, which pissed me off no end, so I yelled at him to go and sod off, threw my knife down and stormed out. The strange thing that happened was this: he ran after me, swept me into his arms, like his Rhett Butler to my Scarlett O'Hara, told me he wanted me to be his girlfriend(!), and couldn't bare to be without me.

    Now this was a dream. A dream. If you can't fulfill your wildest fantasies with a world famous chef in a dream, then god knows when you're supposed to. Calv has accused me of being one of the most contrary people he's ever met, and maybe he's right. Cause rather than ripping Gordon Ramsey's clothes off, and saying "yes! yes please!", I said "um.. well, you're married aren't you? And you've got some really beautiful kids right? Yeah, I'm sorry about this Gordon, but there's no way I can possibly go out with you..". Yes. In my dream, where Gordon Ramsey was begging me to be his girl, all I could do was say mutter some prudish rubbish about him being married and say "no" (and no, I'm not saying that sleeping with a Michelin star chef whilst he's married is something that I condone. But come on - it was a dream!).

    Well, today Gordon Ramsey on Channel 4 is doing a live cooking show where you are supposed to you cook along at the same time with him. He's making scallops with fresh salsa, steak with wedges, and chocolate mousse for afters. Here it is people. The dream was a sign! Now all I have to do is watch his show tonight, cook along with him, get mad, tell him to sod off, then calmly wait for him to rush from his live studio mid show, straight to my front door, confess his undying love, and see if I am as "good" in real life as I was in my dream...

    I'll keep you posted with what happens... It's a sign.. Yup, defo.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    4 hours later

    I think the seriousness of what I've just committed myself to is starting to sink in.. London to Paris. On a bike. Sacré bleu!

    Unfortunately, I think that I'm starting to turn into one of those annoying "cycling bores" because when I got to the pub tonight, rather than really talking to anyone, I started pouring over the latest Evans cycle brochure thinking about all the gadgets and bits and bobs I am going to "need". And even worse, I started to bore everyone with the various details, pros and cons of each of the bits and bobs I now want to buy.

    Please god, don't turn me into a "cycling bore". I hate people who constantly wax lyrical about the sport they do and can hold no other form of conversation. Please, please, please don't let me become one of them!