The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
Is a blog a bacterium?
Tuesday, 15 November 2005
I don’t have a cuttings agency providing me with summaries of how famous I am, but I DO have a page counter. And last week, I found out that there were 1406 visits to my blog in a seven day period.

Internet page counters are notoriously sensitive – one accidental click and you register as a new visitor, but that total is 7 times more visits than a similar period in September. And three times more than in October (there’s a reason I went into epidemiology). Even if I add a bug to one of the three confirmed readers computers, one of those annoying ones that opens dozens of internet windows in one go, I still doubt you’re making 500 visits per week!

So today I’ll extend a warm and hearty gulaš-y (goulash = what the heck do YOU think?) welcome to the additional 10 readers we seem to have collected along the way (I can live with 100 page visits between the 13 of you – the other 100 are legitimately mine). And now stop giving me stage-fright and start leaving me comments would you?

Welcome and ‘Ta for the chocolate fish explanation’ (I’ll stick to red wine) especially to Em – who has joined the ranks (Mums, Rowland, Chris) of those who care to write messages. And a quick shout-out to Rowls – who is clearly developing his vocation as an armchair expert. You were both wonderful.

Brett has also stepped forward with a script that I have embellished somewhat. Sure, it’s a work in progress (i.e. skeleton plot lines), but will be published here shortly in both languages for comments and stage directions.

Phew…all those formalities! Now I can return to being the erudite if somewhat self-absorbed diarist you seem to be following.

Last Friday I shifted to my new byt (beet = flat), and I now live 5 minutes away from my office. In fact, I now have to remember to go to the main gate and swipe in (akin to the ‘punching in’ of old, with slightly less violence, and more bag waving!) before hooking my computer (carried under my arm) to the cables that are coiled up on my desk awaiting it’s return.

The flat itself would be described as a bedsit, maisonette or garconiere depending on your current continent. Here, it’s officially a(n?) 1+kk where ‘kk’ means kuchyně kout (koo-chhin-ye coat = kitchen corner). There’s a room with furniture (duly rearranged - Feng Shui!), and a DAMNED fine radiator (though how it’s so efficient when it’s under the window I’ll never understand). I’ve already learnt that clean-but-wet white sheets placed over a radiator to dry => dry white sheets with brown stripes.

I’ve got parquet floors in the (bed)room and in the entry hall, which finally legitimises my long held and peculiar desire for a hall table, while the kitcheny bit has tiles that don’t seem to get cold. The kitchen itself has a half-fridge, a gas stove (four burners, and the bit underneath – for cheesecakes – and I’ve only caused one minor explosion thus far which burnt all the hair off one of my arms) and a sink with draining board. The ‘bench’ space is the draining board, the top of the fridge and an upturned tray (stolen from the canteen) on the (not burning) gas stove. You’ll note that there’s no mention of a microwave. However, there IS a kettle, so I can make myself a cup of coffee without zapping my ovaries (well, where else do you stand while you’re waiting 2mins10seconds for your cup of water to boil?). A toaster is high on my list of ‘things I need’. IKEA is my new MARIE CLAIRE.

Opposite that wall of kitchen appliances is a pantry and a shower.

Yes, a shower. So I can shower, and then while I dry, I can take one cautious step (you know, those ACC ads really put you off being casual on tiles – thanks for that Nis) across the ‘kitchen’ to turn the kettle on. By the time I’m dry, the kettle’s boiled. Communist efficiency.

Showers, however, must be a relatively ‘capitalist’ invention, as all shower heads are still ‘hand held’ – there’s no hook up the wall from which to post them. This is all well and good, until you try to shave under your arms. Water up the nose as a result of failing to deftly manoeuvre the showerhead appropriately hurts at 7am!

I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for photos. I’ve taken some, but they’re very ‘before’. I am tempted to save for a ‘mezzanine bed’. They’re apparently space efficient – as many people put couches or workstations beneath them - but let’s face it, it’s really just excusing those of us who never grew out of sleeping on the top bunk! I know what you’re all thinking though – and I’ll assure you that I’m quite capable of climbing a ladder when plastered...thank you very much!

Access is pretty good: it’s a 20min walk to my nearest shopping mall (complete with cinema multiplex and decent coffee) or a 10min walk and 10min metro to the centre of town. All this for NZ$120/month. And since I’ve got it for, essentially, as long as I want: I’ve unpacked my toiletries. This means “I’m home” (beware any of you who notice unpacked toiletries should I ‘visit’…).

As and when you visit, consider leaving you corrective lenses behind, some sights are just too painful to witness. This evening, there was a GORGEOUS bloke on the metro. I nearly went over and spoke to him just because he was that, well, attractive (god knows what I would have said!). Good jaw, high cheekbones, looked as though he’d eaten in the last three months, aquamarine eyes, taller than me (with heels), good shoulders etc AND had a tube of labello and packet of orbit professional chewing gum (aka. Extra) which indicates that he might be a good kisser takes care of his dental and oral hygiene (Hi Dad!). Anyway – this perfect specimen was in front of me as we disembarked the metro, and that’s when I noticed: although his upper half was ‘mountaineer slash medical student’, he was wearing baggy acid wash jeans and shiny black slightly-too-pointy-square-toed shoes that went ‘click’ as he walked AND *gasp* had the label attached to them still!

WHY?!!! *wails* Admittedly, I’m not ‘cover of vogue’ material, and I can recall some horrible incident involving matching (but deviously reversed colours) shell suits with my family (my therapist sends his regards Mum!) but that was BEFORE I knew who Tom Ford was. Anyway…for this reason – and this should be sufficient – I think it’s very important that you forget your contact lenses and just let your mind wander. Of course, this is very dangerous if in heels (Liorah, Nis) so we’ll try to make sure you avoid the ‘break heads’ (literal translation from Czech to English of the name for the cobblestones here – slightly less morbid than the Dutch ‘childrens heads’ (!) but a definite worry none-the-less!) by taking taxis everywhere.

Spanish wine that costs $3/glass has the same effect as Moravian – even though it tastes better. Meanwhile, Panadeine is worth more than gold here. Please bring/send some.

We may have the fastest escalators in the world. Which is fine, when you can summon up the courage to join the throngs and take the first step. The downside is being propelled at speed at the other end into the back of the senior citizen in front of you. I’ve not knocked anyone down yet, but I’ve definitely had to incorporate some deft side-stepping into the commuter jig.

English people are foolish. A bunch of English lads got on my metro on Saturday, and since they were talking English I removed one ear bud (as it happens, the one that’s not working properly, and causing me to wonder why all my music contains a trombone being played underwater…even the vocal tracks!?) and listen in (it’s a nice change to be able to eavesdrop). Anyway, the conversation went like this,
“So Jim, which stop are we getting off at?”
“Two stops – mala something or another.” (malostranska = by the castle) I smiled to myself
“Then where?”
“I dunno, we’ll find it…it’s somewhere near the station apparently.” I suppressed a knowing giggle
“It’s cold out. We’re gonna get hypothermia and die before we find it aren’t we?” I couldn’t contain myself and answered,
“Probably. It’s really easy to get lost here.” and was answered with
“Yeah, we’ve already been lost four separate times this afternoon.” By the guy worried about hypothermia. Unfortunately, we’d reached my stop so I had to leave them to it, but I did wish them luck. And told them to find a tourist place and buy a map as soon as they could. And then left, with a great big grin on my face!

I may have found my local. Except it’s not. But it’s called Jet Set. Only problem is that it has furry covers on it’s television sets (remember my old pencil cases? Like that, only pink!) and I’m not sure I can be seen in a place with furry television covers. Still, they’re only the telly’s outside the loos…so it’s not ALL bad. Most importantly: a cosmopolitan will only set you back NZ$6…

Angry men have NOT ransacked my apartment. Morton set me worrying when he called on my mobile and said, “Er, is there any reason why an angry Czech man should be answering the phone in your apartment?” to which I could only say no (still on the shelf…top though it may be!). Which meant that while I was spending a reasonably ‘normal’ Sunday afternoon with some people I’d never met before (coffee, cheesecake and a movie – extraordinarily normal and yet so decadent!) my belongings were being rummaged through. I decided against dashing home, I’d rather give the angry man time to cool down or clear out, and focussed on the important things (remaining cheesecake). After the movie, and a trip back to my old home (to make the bed with aforementioned stripy sheets) I finally got home to discover that not a hair (the one I lay across the threshold to tell me if there’s been an intruder – a la Trixie Belden) had been disturbed and Morton must have spoken to an operator or wrong number. *sigh* At least he followed up with an e-mail today ‘er, you weren’t stabbed last night were you?” which I answered with “apparently not!” though one wonders what would have happened had I not replied. Still…the trip to Edinburgh for NY is on…

Christmas is dangerously close. The queues are already longer. I’m trying to learn sufficient Czech that I can do all my shopping online and avoid the queues. This may mean that some of you will end up with crazy weird presents (if I get it wrong) or may not get any at all (if I misinterpret the ‘addressing’ instructions). Apologies in advance. *smug grin* Clever huh?

However, I am off to Budapest soon – and if you want fridge bling, don’t forget to e-mail me your postal address. If you click on the author name “The adventure begins…” beneath any title of an entry, a new window will open – and one of the options is ‘send e-mail’.

A French horn solo is the perfect alarm clock – thanks to Lira for providing me with that soundbite at our “sing for your supper” dinner on the 21st August (oh my god…that’s SO long ago!) – but I’m starting to be able to sleep through half of it. Any chance of sending me a new recording hon? Or any one else who can play any (particularly brass) instruments? You’re all welcome to send me music clips…the best one won’t be winning a chocolate fish, but I’ll send you a knedliky in the mail. What’s the betting Rowls informs us all what that is…
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, November 15, 2005  
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