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
  44. Take a French/German/Dutch course and SPEAK THE DAMNED LANGUAGE WHEN I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES ME SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT!
  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!)
*singing* I'm dreaming of a quiet Christmas...
Monday, 26 December 2005
Family are, quite frankly, a nightmare. ARGH! I'm so unaccustomed to spending so much time surrounded by so many people. And to survive in my family, you need to have a good set of lungs and vocal chords, and be prepared to use them. Grandma (the finger of blame is firmly pointed in her direction) has gone the opposite way of late - she now whispers to be heard, so we all have to be quiet and pay attention. I, meanwhile, just go silent and then have to put up with everyone saying "are you okay?!" etc for the next two days.
 
Yes I'm fine, thank you very much, I just like my surrounding set to 80dbs instead of 180!
 
I'm hereforthwith officially promising my unborn children that they will always have their own rooms, that visitors will be made to stay in the study and that extra (especially single) visitors will be plonked unceremoniously on the couch.
 
I remember Leigh telling me that people in Canada kept offering her and Jo the master bedroom. I can't imagine how unbearably uncomfortable that would make me, I feel a right heel for having 'stolen' (no matter how temporarily) Lucy's bedroom, thereby displacing her to Joel's room and Joel to the floor at the foot of his parents bed. For heaven's sake, I spend most of the nigth on the couch (watching telly - ah...bliss) ANYway, i may as well just sleep there!
 
So turns out Rowland hasn't been reading any of the blog lately: he's one of the readers who dropped off after 'the shift'. *sigh* I should've just paid and stayed shouldn't I? Ah well...it DOES mean I can gossip about him to my hearts content. It was lovely to see both him and Julia yesterday - I really like my brother, and his girlfriend's delightful too. And, typically, he and I were the last up, watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film was brilliant, and prompted the question "would you live the most PERFECT year if you knew at the end of it your memory would be wiped and you'd go back to a normal existance?".
 
For the record, I would ("you're still LIVING it for the year!!") and Rowland wouldn't ("you'd have no MEMORY of it!"). Funnily enough, it didn't occur to him that when you have a DAMNED good night out - you live it and don't always remember all of it the next day!
 
Yesterday I was woken by a text message PRIOR to the 'up-and-down-stairs-running-child-yelling-"THIS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!"' (cute in writing...) and this morning I was woken by pigeons (or some such) that think they are owls. They're still twit-twooing out there...it's most peculiar. There's also a bird that goes "skeeeet, skeeet!" in a piercing yet raspy warble. Don't know what birds do in Prague- other than die! (the only one I've seen close to home was dead on the pathway).
 
One of the most amusing and slightly disturbing things about our family are the similarities. So, when I walked into Dee's house the other day (she's my Mum's sister for those playing the trivia game: Nomes' LifeTM) the first thing I noticed was the "Go placidly..." framed poem on the wall in the hallway (Desiderata for the less literate!). Why the women of this family even entertain the idea of doing ANYTHING placidly, I'm not at all sure, it's certainly not a characteristic we're reknowned for! I think this is one of those "Do as I say, not as I do!" things.
 
Then, turn the corner into Dees living room and there's the photo of Grandma and Jack (I never met him, calling him Grandpa seems odd - so he's Jack to me) getting married - it's a black and white photo that was touched up with colour (her lipstick, the stems of her bouquet and his handkerchief I think). These are things that I associate with my mother's house not someone else's. Very twilight zone. She's also got a set of the chiming table angels on her shelf!!!
 
Christmas was a gluttonous event, with a great big box of Cadbury's Roses (ta Grandma, that'll get me my 9000 calories in NO time at all), so many toys it's not funny, an exchange of DVD's (ta Rowls & Julia for my The Long Way Round set), more chocolate, far too much wine before 3pm (which meant some of us were less than enthusiastic about the constant stream of visitors), some nibbles (including chocolate), more wine and generally, well, gluttony!
 
Apart from the fact I
a) didn't get Joel anything (he's got so much I wouldn't know where to begin - so Cheryl allowed me to give him one of the stocking gifts),
b) I gave Cheryl (without pierced ears) earrings (thank goodness I also gave her a pashmina!) and
c) Lilian and Reg can't read their Czech calendar (oh for heaven's sake, the NUMBERS are the same!!!)
I think I did reasonably well. Lucie put on her red necklace immediately - which is always reassuring - and Alison said thanks and then opened the next present. I, too, wore most of my presents: jewelry from Cheryl, a silk scarf from Grandma and the wrapping ribbon from the Calendar from Mum: which went around my ankle - only to be totally forgotten and have to stay around my ankle, damp, after my shower on Boxing Day. Note to self for next year: don't wear wrapping decorations. Oh - and I got a toblerone too. I'm going to have to start liking them aren't I?
 
After a rather welcome and huge spread (roast beef with all trimmings) in the evening, and more wine consumption, I just HAD to get SOME form of exercise. So Lucie joined me on a stroll around the suburb. Unfortunately neither of us had a light, so I knocked on someone else's door, apologised for disturbing them, wished them a merry Christmas and then cheekily requested a light! :) Lucie was suitably horrified/impressed. She was less perturbed when I pointed out the likelihood that it was the most 'bizarre' thing that would have happened to them all day, and they'll be telling their mates about it for two weeks. Enter the spirit of the Christmas Bitch!
 
I'm really worried about my Lucie. She's 16 and completely directionless. She's incredibly astute, which means - in typical Hilder women fashion - she knows exactly which buttons to push to wind her mother up. Cheryl always takes the bait, gets angry, forces Lucy into a fight (which admittedly, Lucie led her mother into), and then there's some screaming, some frowning, some stomping and a door slams somewhere. It's awful to see them snipe at each other constantly, and I'm sure that their relationship woudl improve if Lucie moved out. Thing is, for an incredibly smart girl, she's set on making her life difficult for herself, by not getting her GCSE's, working in reception at a local hotel and illegally hanging out at nightclubs drinking to excess. Remind you of anyone (apart from the failing GCSE's bit!)? Alison's figured it out: she just puts her head down, gets in her car and goes elsewhere. Am a bit pissed off with her to tell you the truth, because her boyfriend was here for about 12 hours yesterday and she never introduced us. I thought I'd leave it to her, since I'm performing an observational study, but she really couldn't care less. She's obviously got the more 'independent' air.
 
So this must've been what it was like to watch Mum and I too, two headstrong females absolutely intent on having their way, and not wanting to acquiese. Of course, I think Mum and I have it sussed now: when we visit the other, the hostess is in charge. And the other grins and bears it, right Mum! :) Sure, we may not do things the same way, and we may drive one another to total distraction when sharing the same roof, but finally some mutual respect has crept it's way into our relationship. I'm absolutely astounded by the way she kept the family together (despite thousands of miles, completely different cultures and fussy eaters), and I hope she's chuffed with the way I turned out too.
 
Gads, how sappy.
 
Tonight we have a party planned. When I say we, I mean Cheryl. She's planning on showing off her 'cousin the doctor'. It takes some trick of memory to finally think, 'oh, that's me!!'. I'm really not all that (and the bag of chips) but other people seem to think I am. EEK! So, I'll do my pony performance after a few vodkas, tell as many 'gentle'men as necessary that the likelihood of them getting to 'know' me better is less than that of Tamiflu being a useful precaution in a pandemic (then watch them flounder conversationally before smiling, complimenting them on their shoes and wandering off to make vacuous conversation elsewhere). I'm not sure why I've suddenly turned so pre-menstrual, but I have the feeling it's something to do with familial proximity. They're all in the same country (barring parents and a few aunts etc) and that FREAKS ME OUT.
 
Tomorrow we've got lunch at Reg and Lilians, at which I'm going to try not to do anything that will prompt a theological debate (as Cheryl doesn't like them) unless I think it means we'll be able to leave the house early. I'm wondering whether I can 'learn' how to speak in tongues between now and then...that should put a quick end to the luncheon. Reg told Lucie off yesterday, (literally, he quoted "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain" - you could hear how he capitalised the L, so it's here for your viewing pleasure too) when she said "Oh my God", and I thought..."a-ha....you really ARE wound tight!". I'm wondering which would disturb him more, to hear a made up story that I've joined a satanic cult or the one where I'm in love with someone from a different religion. Whaddya think folks? Or is that just cruel?  I'll keep you informed, of course! :)
 
Hope your Christmas was as gluttonous (I read somewhere that the average Briton consumes 9000cals on Christmas Day!) as mine, and that your presents (both given and received) rocked and your family passed out on the couches in the afternoon leaving you with some blessed downtime. One can only imagine with horror how Mary must've felt with all those visitors, presents and hostess duties at (supposedly) the first Christmas, right folks?!
 
L
N
X
 
posted by Nomes @ Monday, December 26, 2005   3 comments
Christmas Eve in England
Sunday, 25 December 2005
So. England. It would appear tha tI can't moblog while I'm roaming. THat pisses me off beyond your wildest imagination. As you can see, I'm a big fan of thisform of technology and when it lets me down then I just get aggravated.
 
First impressions: far warmer than Prague. And sunny! :) So warm, in fact, that I ended up leaving my black v-neck jumper at Dee's house (which is really annoying, I seldom lose things and so when I do, or leave them somewhere out of the ordinary - the house of my aunt who I haven't seen for 10 years is 'out of the ordinary' - it freaks me out just a little bit) since it wasn't really cold enough to worry too much about it. Certainly not like Prague: I wasn't even wearing gloves or earmuffs! Unheard of!
 
After a delicious lasagne (must be hereditary - though we all do it totally differently, they're equally as delicious. Maybe it's impossible to screw up a lasagne. Ideas please...) and cheese and orange segments and ice cream (I was quite full) and a good catch up with the cousins (Leigh and Verity, I haven't seen them for about 9 years I think...) and we were back on the road. Met Dee's new husband (well, of a few years now) Rex, who was lovely. Seemed a perfect foil for Joel, who's Cheryl's son (I do hope you're keeping up, I don't know how to draw a genetic diagram on the blog) - doing the 'hidden walkie talkie' thing and then measuring a large stuffed snake (as you do).
 
Joel wasn't too impressed with the lasagne, and had no bones about announcing it. Sometimes I wish I could behave like that too, it's something htat I don't think we take advantage of. Youth - that is.  It's loud being around children again, I'm not really accustomed to it. ANd he's a very lively rambunctious child. Full of questions though. His question about bird flu certainly beats that of most adults: 'where did it COME from' he asks (at the airport arrivals hall - damnit). I need coloured pencils to describe it, but we'll get there once he's finished with his toys.
 
Then home to Cheryl's. Saw Alison (I'm so uncertain of the spellings it's disgusting - it might be double L, it might be Y) briefly before she went to her boyfriends house for dinner (she's 19? maybe!) and then took an overnight bag to Lucy at the hotel she works in, since she's staying there the night as public transport is 'off' in the UK tomorrow so she woulnd't be able to get there for her early shift in the am. Home again, dinner, and much collusion between the adults (Richard, Cheryl and self) regarding the sacrosanct secret of 'santa'. I've never seen a child run so fast up to bed to be 'asleep' for when Father Christmas comes...all Cheryl did was rattle the bells on the tree. INsane. I've never had to do the 'keep it a secret' thing as an adult to a child. It's amazing - their capacity to believe so fully. Weird too. I mean...no wonder they get into strangers cars, so beautifully innocent. Poor things.

And now, after dinner, Lindt chocolate (not FOR dinner, but after) and 'assissting Father Christmas organise the presents under the tree' (hello...we had to drink his Amaretto too, thankfully the cats drank the water left out for Rudolph!) and then I asked C to boot the computer for me so i coudl update my adoring fans.
 
Who are undoubtedly all having a fabulous time of their own. Am not sure how often will be able to update, since not my computer and am scheduled to be busy too, but will try.  So sorry for those of you who are just DYING to hear from me...but I have to live a little.
 
Now, I wonder if the hairdressers has a computer so I can show them the haircut I want...
 
Nomes
XXX
posted by Nomes @ Sunday, December 25, 2005   1 comments
It's a wireframe plane with fairy light
Saturday, 24 December 2005
It's a wireframe plane with fairy lights. I wonder if they do them in 'strappy high heeled sandal'!
posted by Nomes @ Saturday, December 24, 2005   2 comments
You'd think that most people would know
You'd think that most people would know that it's dangerous to carry grenades, you know, that whole 'bang' feeling, but just in case you forgot, here's a reminder!
posted by Nomes @ Saturday, December 24, 2005   0 comments
As evidenced by lack of drunken sleepy
As evidenced by lack of drunken sleepy beings. However, a downside to heated trams and fresh carp sales is the smell. You're damned lucky there's no way to 'smell blog'! :-l
posted by Nomes @ Saturday, December 24, 2005   0 comments
Picture(19)
Friday, 23 December 2005
Picture(19)
Picture(19),
originally uploaded by nomesboxall.
Marketa and jay at slavia! YUMmy dessert, pancake, cream cheese and strawberries! Oh, and the mandatory coffee with amaretto. I know what duty free i'm bringing back...
posted by Nomes @ Friday, December 23, 2005   0 comments
Snuppy, Spooks & Sugar

Snuppy was hoax. I'm gutted. When we learnt, way back in the year dot, that undergrad genetics/molecular biology experiments seldom work, I didn't really see any reason why cloning was impossible. Perhaps it was due to lack of product placement in my life (a la "The Island" – great premise for a movie, crappy adverts all the way through!). And now it turns out that it still wasn't done. *sigh* (oh – and yes, I realise that snuppy himself wasn't a hoax, it was the following cloned stem cell lines…thank you, yes, I CAN read. I just choose to interpret for headline pleasure). You know the worst of it? There's some poor Masters or PhD student right now wondering whether they'll ever get a job again: or how they'll explain away 3 years of time wasted to another funding body in the future.



Along with cukrova (Christmas sweets) Elishka brought to school Series 1, 2 and 3 of Spooks. I thought I'd watch an episode or two while wrapping Christmas presents in the evening. The program had mediocre reviews in NZ. However, at 5.30 this morning, after watching all of series 1 and the beginning of series 2 (what a cliffhanger), I finally turned off the computer. Let's just say there are now TWO people hoping that Elishka gets Series 4 in her stocking tomorrow.


I managed to get all Christmas presents last night, except some stuff from a supermarket that I'll pick up en route to the airport tomorrow morning. That's including gifts for surprise people (those I only found out YESTERDAY that I would be seeing) pineapples in honey and rum for one set, a Muchas calendar for the other. I haven't managed to figure out how I'm going to get to London to visit Nis while I'm there (the trains aren't running, then I'm getting a haircut and she's working again) before we both fly to other destinations and now Reim (HI!!!!!!!!!!!) has also invited me to Berkshire. Next year, I'll start sneaking across the channel to visit people secretly (which strikes me as being COMPLETELY ridiculous) otherwise there just isn't enough time. Either that or, bite the bullet, hire a car and get me going for long drives. Still…I can listen to music turned up loud and sing along at the top of my voice without complaints in a car can't I?


TOMORROW?!?! Right up until now, I haven't been the remotest bit interested in Christmas. I don't know why, but I felt compelled to decorate my little room yesterday with the Christmas decorations that mum had sent. (Oh, and thanks even more for the two boxes of panadeine…international drug smuggler you!) I also finally read the card which said, "open these now, Rowl's has your other present". I'd already guessed that one pressie was a calendar and another was a lipstick, but it was still the act of opening something wrapped by someone who was thinking of me when she wrapped it up (which is what gift giving is all about!). So thanks LOADS Mum!


And now, my boss has left, and so I'm gonna shoot through too. After all, there's the rest of series 2 to finish, then series 3 and I've got some socializing and packing to do this evening.


Take care all my dearly beloveds (even the ones reading this on the quiet...!)

Nomes

XXX

And today: this made me laugh out loud at my screen!

Q1. Total volume of music files on your computer

12.31GB's – 9.7 days apparently.
Q2. The last CD you bought was

Chicago Soundtrack. Brought almost specifically so I could answer that question – last night while I searched for Ice Age.

Q3. Song playing right now

Tatouage Bleu – Ben Onono – and next will be La Der des Der – Frechal: going through a Francouzku stage.
Q4. Five songs you listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to you

Meet me in the red room – Marius DeVries & Amiel Daemion: it's hot.

Insensitive – Jan Arden: it's what I listened to when my heart was first broken back in 1993

Karma Hotel – Spooks: I like his voice and the harmony/descant line

Cantaloupe/Flip Fantasia – US3: *sigh* for so very many reasons

Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps – Doris Day: perfect singing into a hairbrush song – complete with shoulder waggles and lifted eyebrows.

posted by Nomes @ Friday, December 23, 2005   0 comments
Yay! If you'll excuse the hirsute ankle
Yay! If you'll excuse the hirsute ankles (it's winter here folks, what's the point?) and crazy foot extension, here's what entered my shoe collection last night. I didn't mean too...they just followed me home...
posted by Nomes @ Friday, December 23, 2005   0 comments
Coffee & Revision
Picture(18) BRILLIANT! First off, I sent this from my phone. Which means that I can now moblog (via flickr). Anyway....more to come - since it's so ridiculously painfree and easy (and relatively cheap).
posted by Nomes @ Friday, December 23, 2005   0 comments
So - the e-mailing thing works, but not the moblogging yet!
Thursday, 22 December 2005

Thank heavens for mothers who have an interest in genealogy. Turns out I AM related to famous people AND nobility (on both sides, no less). Perhaps their collective spirits have culminated in my overdeveloped sense of self-importance. Oh hang on, one was a Dr? Damn…they're supposed to be all humble (even WHILE accepting medals and accolades etc). Still…I suppose it gives me something to work on right? Mwahahaha.

Did I mention that I got my PhD scroll in the mail? I can't recall. I did. (you can get one too if you send off three tokens from Crunchy Nut Flakes packets and a stamp of payment representing 5 years of your life!).

Anyway, glad we got that all sorted out. Today I had my last Czech lesson for the year. I'm sure I'm going to miss it lots (yeah, right) over the holidays, though I'll upload some 'colloquial' czech onto miPod so that I 'keep up' with the learning and such. I DID miss it while in Hungary, but I think that was just because hungarian was incomprehensible. Mind you, certain dialects of the 'English' spoken in Velke Britanie are also, er, slightly warped. But anyway, Elishka brought sukrovy with her – which are traditional Czech Christmas cookies. They were delicious – so I'll make sure that I get the recipe for them for when I do Christmas here next year (still not sure whether to do turkey or carp – or perhaps both?). Mum's Christmas decorations are now up at home (well, some of them) and I MUST remember to take the presents with me to the UK! J One of the workmates brought poinsettia's for all (since her manzel works at a botanical garden) so I've a Christmas flavoured tablecloth and a plant on it now. That's as far as my Christmas goes this year – next year – I'll do it properly, promise. Of course, I'll have to find some people to keep me company – but I'm sure there'll be other 'orphans' in the area.

Oh, and a quick shout out to Leigh, Nigel and family – I think she's just caught up with my blog (I see you!!). Many people seem to have dropped off since I was on myblogsite – which is a great shame – but the important people still read. Thanks guys.

Right, off to go pick up remaining Christmas presents. Including dumplings (who 's going to be lucky this year??) – I know you're dying to find out!

posted by Nomes @ Thursday, December 22, 2005   1 comments
Fwd: Test
Apparently, I can blog you from my phone (complete with photos) AND I
can even write an e-mail that then gets published on the blog. I'm
testing these two operations before I dash off to the UK. I'm sure
I'll suffer withdrawal symptoms if I don't take my computer with me
(ie. my shoulders will lose their RSI twinges) but I'm sure I can do
it provided I stay connected! :)

Nomes
XXX
posted by Nomes @ Thursday, December 22, 2005   0 comments
Wednesday, 21 December 2005
I’ve been looking at ways of maintaining a blog while I’m not in the CR. I don’t REALLY want to lug the computer all around Europe in the next 10 days, so despite suffering intense pre-separation anxiety from my počítač I’m going to see if I can audio/mobile/email blog. But while looking up all of these as possibilities, I found a ‘meme of the day’ site. One of them has ‘Wednesday questions’ which are not unlike the book of questions questions. Consequently, I had to pick one (at random) and answer the series. Don’t worry folks, I won’t do this too often, only on days where nothing of any interest at all has happened (getting one’s tax number does not count as ‘interesting’).

1. Where are your forefathers from? Ever been to those countries?
So, when people ask me where I’m from, I’m usually at a loss as to how to respond. In fact, Paolo broke it down to ‘where do which bits of you come from?’ which was useful, as I was able to say; my academic bits spring from England, my social, diplomacy and caring disposition from Qatar and my cynicism from New Zealand.
But really, I’m a composite material. My Indian grandmother absconded with her French/Portuguese hubby and moved to England when she was in her 20’s. Her daughter (my Mum) then met an Austrian/English lad and had me. Somewhere in there is another pinch of “English” and a dash of Mauritian – but I’m not entirely sure when they were added to the mix.

So have I been to the countries from whither my forefathers came? Do airports count? I’ve been to Mumbai airport. I’ve been to Salzburg (for the day). I’ve been to England (well, duh), and I’ve gotten horribly lost in Paris as an 11year old. So that means I’ve yet to discover Mauritius and Portuguese. I hear they have port over there…maybe the great Lira/Nis/Nomes roadtrip could make a quick stop….?

2. Are you related to any famous people? Any kings or queens in your family tree?

Does being famous oneself count? Probably not – and besides which, I’m not sure whether the fame and notoriety enjoyed in one’s own living room (which in my case, also doubles as my bedroom/kitchen/shower) is quite what they had in mind for this question. Apparently, one of my great great great great (?) grandfather’s holed up his entire village in a northern city in India – due to a smallpox outbreak. He prevented it’s spread to the neighbouring population or some such.
So I guess the occupation runs in the family.

As for kings and queens, of course not. Not, unless, you count ourselves as kings and queens of our own destinies and the likes. Which seems a bit farfetched for memeoftheday.

3. Think about the first person in your family to come to this country from somewhere else. If you could ask that person anything, what would you ask them?

Bwwahahahaha! I AM the first person in my family to come here. How's the weather outside? What are the distances and time differences between you in Prague and friends and family around the world? (Wellington: 18197kms +12hrs, Brisbane: 15706kms +9hrs, London: 1035kms -1hr, Montreal: 6193kms -6hrs, Abu Dhabi: 4450kms +3hrs and Doha: 4198kms +2hrs - for those playing at home)

What's one thing you want to do before the year ends?
Finish buying Christmas presents and tell people how much I really do love them (all together now, “aawwww”).

According to the cookingtohookup book, I am a ‘progressive girl’. Given I had to choose between uptown, party, gourmet and academic (I gave ‘girl next door’ a flick) I think it’s approximately correct. Not bad. Of course, I am SOO gosh-darned middle of the road (on average, rest assured, I’m still swerving terribly) that they weren’t able to suggest a ‘menu’ for my ‘nonexistant pursuant’ to prepare for me (should he get me as far as to his house) but a club sandwich always goes down well. So to speak. Of course, the closer one can get to the ex-Falcon Club recipe, the more likely you are to win my heart.

There is something I’d like to research though (finally, I found a PhD topic, only 6 years too late). How do people perceived different colours?* So I’ve also finally figured out a way to answer this question. First of all, I need to sit people down from all over the world (I figure there may be cultural/ethical differences in perception) with giant paintpots. They’ll get taught to mix colours. Then I want to say the word: “red” to them. And see what they come up with (probably one of the primary colours I give them to start with!). Then the word “maroon” and so on (I mean, what’s the actual difference between maroon and burgundy?) until I build up a personal spectrum for each individual. Then I’ll measure the ACTUAL colour reflecting from their painted daubs, and quantify how differently they perceive or understand colours.**

*of course, this is not taking into effect things like optical illusions as demonstrated very succinctly (if a little freakily) here!
**furthermore, to see if there are physiological differences that impact upon the perception of colour, I'll need for everyone to sign a consent form allowing me to take either an eye biopsy (not sure this is possible, I'll just take the eyeball entire instead) or collect their eyes at death. though if the perception of colour is affected by time, then we've got a bit of a problem...and what if the time influence is hormone-related, not time-related at all. ARGH! All of a sudden, I DON'T think the NIH are gonna fund this! :)

Cool huh?

Oh, and because my internet explorations know no bounds, here’s the robot version of me. I am networked. I am engineered for sabotage. Could this be the perfect caper? Or is it more a dill pickle?


width="240" height="180"
alt="Networked Operational Machine Engineered for Sabotage"
border="0" />
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, December 21, 2005   1 comments
Oh.
Tuesday, 20 December 2005
"For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."-Hemingway-
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, December 20, 2005   0 comments
Vesele Vanoce
ARGH!! I need to drive something fast, shoot something, or get myself into a ring with someone of equal stature and skill!! I did my Czech test today – which was okay…except I got so much wrong that I only picked up a B-. Now, that in itself shouldn’t be enough to wind me up TOO much…except that it was the worst (nejhorsi) grade in the class. *sob* Will I EVER figure out this goddamned language? A language in which the verb ‘to smoke’ is the same as the verb ‘to receive oral sex’. Maybe that’s what billy boy was saying… whichever…I’m not asking a waiter whether “I can smoke here” ever again, but now I knew why they snickered when I asked. Pah! AND to top it off, the test was the most farcically (?) delivered test I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit. The teacher gave us the pieces of paper, wrote some things on the board to make sure we understood and then sat up the back with the most recent student to arrive and took him through the test question by question. I thought I COULD listen in, but I’d rather test myself. Hence the crappy result. Merry fecking Christmas. Of course, seeing a carp get it’s head bashed in on the way home does wonders for the constitution (see photos – there’re dozens of new ones), so by the time I got back to the office, I was almost settled. Almost. Just in time for a glass of bilé vino (white wine – but I’ve probably got the sodding endings of both words wrong so for goodness sake, do NOT take my word for it) and the work Christmas party, which just made me burst into tears. Nomes is not a happy camper this evening. However, there was a small child at the party (and a banjo, unfortunately) so he and I conversed in Englech (his English, my Czech) and that was lots of fun. We went through all the countries that spoke English, and did colours and counted too. I wonder if I started a babysitting service whether I’d learn quicker…after all, since I’m a part time administrative assistant, I may as well!!!

Last week, (on ER – yes I DO have a voiceover personality in this head of mine), Umit and I wandered around town a bit. He left, and life returned a little to normal (i.e. I shopped for groceries, twisted my ankle, watched a lesbian film…very normal!) and then on Friday things got a bit mad again.

First off, carolling under the astronomical clock in old town square. The temperature on Friday in Prague was approximately -108 degrees. Kelvin. (stop thinking of little round robots named Kelvin)

Nevertheless, Intunition (comprising of Katie, Molly, Karoline, Emma, Kat, Zosia and myself) turned up wearing approximately 5 layers each. Though incapable of bending our joints, we were ‘almost warm’! We planned to sing Christmas Carols for two hours to the ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ audience in Old Town Square. The boys (boyfriends of two of the singers) provided us with svarak and occasionally threw money into our cap (leading by example…we hoped). After an hour Czech and English Christmas Carols (23Kc…approximately €0.76 – we’re RICH!) we looked at one another before death turned the hourglass (hourly trick of his at the old Orloj – astronomical clock) to set the saints spinning (same) and almost in unison (albeit in the chord of G) said “Svařák?” which translates directly to: “shall we bugger off out of here, head to a nice pub and have some bloody hot wine to thaw out?”. Thus it came to be that we were ensconced in a small bar that I’ll probably never find again (I’ve now been there three times and wouldn’t have a clue as to how to return!) for chupitos (laybacks) on the bar and mulled wine. As you do.

Of course, once our vocal chords had relaxed and extended again to their normal lengths, and once the girls had finished berating me for continually pushing the tempo of our songs (Okay!! I confess: I DO not want to spend 5 minutes singing 12 verses of Good King Wenceslas – which should really be Dobry Kral Vaclav anyway only that phrase doesn’t fit the beats!!) we realised that *gasp* there was a guy with a guitar in the corner. Singing radiohead/coldplay/oasis songs to himself. Or so he thought! We joined in (a.k.a. took over) momentarily before deciding to show them (patrons/barstaff/neighbouring shopkeepers) what we were ACTUALLY capable of and ran through our complete repertoire (at present, about 10 songs). Poor Molly can’t sing at the moment – since she’s got an appalling cold – but Dream a Little Dream is one of our best pieces. Thankfully, Karo can hold our part (whereas I can’t…) so I watched Molly mouthing the words and added the sound. We got applause – but whether it was for how good we were or for stopping I shall never know. Nor do I care to enquire.

After a few svaraks, I rushed out to catch up with Marketa who had BETTER be reading this finally! I missed catching up with her on a weekly basis while I was away in Budapest, so it was good to have another gossip. There’s always much to talk about – and I never feel bad about overanalysing with her. But it DID mean that I was late (ARGH!) to collect Nerissa from her tube stop. I blame easyjet for allowing me to relax – they took off late, so I thought I had plenty of time. Still…by now it was snowing, so Nis got to see Prague in snow right from the get go.

A brief stop in someone else’s room at the hostel (they gave her the wrong key) and a rapid consumption of Krispy Kreme donuts later (in the correct room – though in retrospect we could’ve left the crumbs for someone else…?) and we went for a wander through the city by night. Even up to the Vltava and along Charles Bridge (halfway, at least! I draw some limits when the wind is whistling by at 80kph straight from the Arctic/Siberia/SomewhereBloodyCold). I thought I might wait for the 3:40 tram to take me home after that, then my arse froze to the seat upon which I waited, so I flagged a taxi.

I kinda wish I drove here. Mainly because I have ABSOLUTELY no idea about the roads here. At one point, I think the taxi driver asked me whether he should go one way or another (very Blondie) and I tried to indicate ‘er, dunno…’ but he got upset that I didn’t know. ARGH! So…the sooner I get my bike, the better. For all involved (namely, the insurance company).

Saturday morning saw Nis wandering around town while I attempted to quickly get a bag ready. The problem with living outside of the centrum is that if I’m doing anything in the evening that involves showering, changing and getting glammed up (which, lets face it, knowing me, it probably does?) then it requires a mastermind in logistics. Just as well I’m thus equipped. Ha ha ha ha.

And eventually, I could ‘dash’ into town. Again, the weather was appalling (Prague DID indeed put on a good display of snich (snow) for our Nis) but that just meant that we were perpetually cold. So…what did we do? Wander around the Christmas markets (Svarak for breakfast – how healthy) and bought candied almonds (“all the better to burn a hole in my tongue, my dear”) and then trdnlik (yes, really) which Nis has a photo of (and I hope she puts it on her blog). This was BEFORE setting off down the expensive shop, stopping in most shops to try things on. Thankfully they didn’t have the Armani/Marc Jacobs OR Guess shoes/boots in my size *sob* otherwise I would have been faced with a dilemma. I’m SOOO glad that my feet are the size they are, my shoe collection is perfectly unsuitable enough thank you.

After lunch at Pravda (we had to!) which was divine, we set off to do more shopping – this time for presents. I think we managed to get some decorative eggs. Then we tried more clothes on in Zara – both bursting out of the changing rooms in a pique of “bloody small European sizing” rage (okay, maybe only me) and back to the hostel to change for a ‘party’.

Now, I’m very glad that Nis is who she is, because I am sometimes (yes, that’s SOMEtimes thanks v. much) the least informed member of a group. The thing is, Zosia (from Intunition) said some time ago, ‘we’re performing at a Christmas party on the 17th’ and really, that’s as much as I knew about it. So there we were, tarted up, crisscrossing town in a taxi (see aforementioned inappropriate footwear) and then up into someone else’s flat. The flat was in a lovely situation, but the décor was a little, er, lacking. The woman who owns (?) the flat is a caterer, so occasionally she rents it out for parties. Cool. But if I were renting my house out, especially for a Christmas party, I would make sure that it looked more, well, Christmassy. Sure, there was a tree, but that was about it for the Christmas lights. As far as I’m concerned, white fairy lights on the curtain rails can be there all year round – since they’re so pretty. So yeah. The food was also a little, um, well, could’ve been better. Nis and I spoke in length about how our Mum’s wouldn’t throw parties like that…or wouldn’t allow dirty plates to pile up when the guests were eating etc. (so yay to our Vivs for bringing us up proper!)

Intunition had ‘warmed up’ prior to everyone else’s arrival. But we’d sounded atrocious. And I’d agreed to sing Dream a Little Dream solo (with backup) because of Molly’s voice. So she wrote out the words, and I tried to still my nerves with wine, before realising that I’d be MORE nervous if I were slightly tipsy and so stuck to water. But our first set went quite well. And Molly’s introduction of Dream meant that I got a lot of applause. How’s this for an example of nerves: after our first song, Zosia made us introduce ourselves (who we are, where we’re from) and I said, “I’m New Zealand…er…hang on…no I’m not!” and stammered my way through my name/country like a complete bloody idiot. Grace, thy name is NOT Naomi.

A hiatus for more food, more wine, some photos and more congeniality (none of which I could be bothered with, I just gossiped with the singing girls instead of meeting ‘new’ people!) and then we did our second set (Christmas type songs) which includes the (now slightly famous) “Santa Baby”. I do so love my verse for that. But the ‘crowd’ (okay, about 20 people) actually managed to put me off my start. Our ‘stage’ directions are that we push each other out of the way (either shoving, grabbing, hooking or gabumping – you know, with your hip – it’s all terribly violent) and when I did my thing to move to the front, the crowd ‘giggled’ or made ‘expectant noise’ or something. And I couldn’t quite think what I’d done to deserve it (was my fly open?!!? Were my red Christmas knickers exposed??!?) and I lost it for a moment. I hated it. But once I did my stocking move, I was back in the game. Naturally.

Thankfully Zosia’s husband, our number one fan (sounds preferable to “our one fan” though equally correct) requested an encore. Of “Little Drummer Boy” (the words to which I’d committed to memory in the taxi on the way there…as you do!)!!! And so we complied with that, plus a whole load more Christmas Carols. And nearly everyone sang We Wish You (though after 7 verses, it was more like We Wish You Wouldn’t) so I think we nearly convinced the crowd we were good. Or okay at any rate.

Managed to get through about 10 disney classics, half a dozen show tunes, some popular ballads and a good handful of Christmas Carols once most people had left. Then a frozen walk in the snow (STILL snowing) across the bridge, and a tram ride (during which Nis provided a part for Java Jive, earning us applause from other passengers) later, and we were at the Dogs Bollocks (don’t all good nights end up there) and daring one another to go down the room to the other table (surrounded by boys) and ask them to do strange things. Mine was “get one of them to come up here and sing for us”. So…off I went. I spoke in hesitant Czech, “Prosim vas. Jsem Naomi, odkud z Novy Zealande. Moje kamaradku chceji jedno muz spiva pro nas. Mluvite anglicky?” (“Excuse me,” sort of, no direct translation, “I’m Naomi, from New Zealand. My friends want one man to sing for them. Do you speak English?”)

I was answered with “proc, mluvite cesky!” which was rather nice (“Why? You speak Czech!”) and I was able to follow with, “poorly, slowly and just a little!” so maybe the lessons ARE worthwhile. They pointed at one guy, who I then asked to sing Narodil se with us (Czech Christmas Carol). I took him by the hand (less opportunity for him to escape) and dragged him up our end of the bar. Kat has a photo of him and me, but she may not recall that she has. Her dare (since mine was successful) was to get them to write their mothers names (my part) on a part of her body (Nis’s addition). I even had a pen (since lost, obviously). She sent me a txt the next morning saying that she woke up thinking she was in ‘memento’. Bahahahaha!
Finally home (after a night tram ride with Kat – during which we changed the lyrics to Dream a Little Dream to reflect upon our view as seated passengers, of (mostly) men’s nether regions) to amuse ourselves, and blissful sleep by about 4am.

Thankfully, Prague got some slunce (sun) on Sunday morning, so Nis got to see it looking a little nicer. We met at lunchtime, and grabbed a bite to eat before heading up to the castle. We bought a guidebook and then wandered through all of St Vitus’s cathedral (which meant getting SOOOO very horribly cold – you could seriously feel the heat emanating into the large ceiling) and took many photos. SOME of those photos are on my flickr pages, but the rest are still on my computer. I have, it seems, reached my upload limit for the free account. So I’ve asked Cheryl to sponsor me (my credit card is currently ‘out of commision’) to a full one, and more photos will come soon. (AND SHE HAS!!! We love our Sister-Cousins!) The ones there should be plenty to keep you entertained though. Anyway, we had chocolate and cake at the café (the one that Umit and I were at a week previously – if I time this right, I could become quite a (rotund) regular!), and then headed back into town so she could see where I live. A stop off at home, then the incorrect exit from Mustek (of course) and we came across the vase that she’d seen at the party the previous night that was made in Bohemia (of course). I found some suitable Christmas presents, and things were all terribly serendipitous. We also located some medovino (hot mead) and sugared almonds (for her) and hazelnuts (for me). YUM. A smazeny syr rounded the evening off, gastronomically (as in, we’d eaten all the bad things Prague has to offer and could now wait for the indigestion to set in), and we wandered the streets a bit more before she left to catch her train.

I went back to my tiny (but cute, and perfect for one person) flat and watched Whale Rider.

The moment the first scene of the beach flickered across my monitor, I burst into tears, complete with audible whimper to start me off. I’m going to tell you all that it’s because it’s a coming of age story about a whale (I cried ALL the way through Free Willy – and it wasn’t just at the name) and not because I’m homesick. No. I’m far too ‘travelled’ for that sort of carry on. Aren’t I?

Whatever, it was good, and I looked like a google-eyed frog alien on Tuesday morning (crying before sleeping=mutant woman awakes). Just in time to find out that I have a Czech exam tomorrow (grammar, oh goody, my favourite) which almost set me off again.
So rest assured mes amies (muj pritely) that despite my incredibly limited French vocabulary being stored in a place where I’d rather my Czech vocab was inhabiting (to the point where the teacher asked today what the verb ‘to sleep’ was and I responded immediately with ‘dormir’!!!! ARGH!), I’m gonna pass this test. And I did. Unconvincingly, but passed.
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, December 20, 2005   1 comments
Domaci Ukol.
Friday, 16 December 2005
So, looks like there’s at least two "Hilder" women being embodied by Scrooge this Christmas, neither Mums nor I have really gotten into the mood of Christmas. I’m in the mood of winter though (very much) since the weather in Prague has taken a dip over the last two days. I’m thoroughly blaming Nis for this (sorry gal) because she’s been wanting snow in Prague for her visit. Looks like she might just get it: but it’ll be with harsh high winds and lashings of snow too. Ta VERY much – I don’t think.

Spent till 1am figuring out some homework last night. Wrote about my holiday to be. There are a few mistakes but here you go (for those of you playing at home, I trust your Czech is progressing this fast!):

Moje Dovolena
Na vánoce, poletím do Anglii, navštívím moji sestřenici, jmenuje Cheryl. Můj bratr a jeho přítelkyně navštívi Cheryl taky. Cheryl má dvě dcery a jednoho syna. Půjdu do kadeřnictví pro ostřihání. Budeme jist dobré jedla, pojdeme na dlouhu procházku, budeme pit dobré víno a budeme si povídat. Za čtyři dny, poletím do Skotska, navštívim moje bývalý spolubydlice. Můj Švédský kamarád poletí do Skotsko navštívi mě taky. Znovu, budeme pit příliš mnoho, budeme slavit, budeme si povídat, a obecně budeme se mít dobře. Přiletím do Prahy 4th leden, myslím že budu potřebovat dovolenou!!!


This Christmas, I’ll go (by plane) to England, to visit my cousin who’s name is Cheryl. My brother and his girlfriend will visit Cheryl also. Cheryl has two daughters and one son. I will go to a hairdressers for a haircut (this is me desperate for things to say and new vocabulary to learn – can’t you tell?). We will eat good food (presuming I make it home from the hairdressers of course!), we’ll go for long walks, drink good wine and have good conversation. After four days, I’ll go (by plane) to Scotland, to visit my ex-flatmates. My Swedish friend will come to Scotland to visit me too. Again, we’ll drink too much, go to parties, talk a lot and generally have a good time. I’ll return (by plane) to Prague on the 4th January, and I think I’ll need a holiday.

Yes, hilarity runs rife in OUR class (which basically now consists of two students, Eleshka and myself…).

Moje Babička
Moje babička je moje hrdinka! Narodila v Indii v roce 1926. Utékla od manžela, a bydlela do Anglii. Měla tři dcery, potom jeho manžel zemřel na rakovinu. Poslal dcery do internátní školy, potom přestěhoval do Cameroonu, naučil se Anglicky tady. Navštívil Novy Zéland třikrát dokud bydlela jsem tam. Přijížděl často protože naše rodina žije všude! Doufám, že jednoho dne budu inspirovat moji vnučku stejně jako ona inspirovala mě. Ale nejdříve musím mít děti!!


My Grandmother is my hero. She was born in India in 1926 (apologies for lack of fact finding…). She eloped with her husband, and lived in England. She had three daughters and then her husband died of cancer. She sent her daughters to boarding school, then went off to teach in the Cameroons, to teach English there. She visited New Zealand three times while I lived there. She’s always travelling because our family lives everywhere. I hope that one day, I can inspire my granddaughters as much as she inspires me. But first, I have to have children!

And the greatest thing about that second paragraph (the one about Grandma) is that it was harder to translate back to English, as I’d not done it as a translation FROM English in the first place (unlike the ‘my holiday’ piece). Of course, the second best thing is that I have managed to extract only the really important things: eloping, husband dying, sending her kids to boarding school, travelling the world to dwell upon. I'm just lucky she's lived in 'interesting times' else my writing would be a lot less far-fetched-seeming. (er?)

Last bit of my homework that I’m going to subject you to: the dialogue we wrote in class today. As I mentioned, class now consists of Eleshka and myself, and since she speaks Czech at home, we progress rapidly (much to my lack of comprehension on occasion). So sometimes we get to dwell on the ridiculous. This should amuse Brett if no one else (for sheer theatrical comedy value). Ahhh…that Central European sense of humour (ie. lack thereof).

Doktorka (played, of course, by ME!): Dobry den Paní Komokova, co je vám?
Paní Komokova: Dobry den Paní Doktorka. Bolí mě celé tělo.
Doktorka: To je mi líto. Včera jste říkala že vás bolí zub, a dneska bolí tělo?
Paní Komokova: Už mam trochu teplotu, určitě vím že mě bude bolet v krku!
Doktorka: Otevřít pusa prosím…řika „Aaah“.
Paní Komokova: Aaah (you try writing dialogue with our meagre vocabulary!)
Doktorka: Vy mate strašnou virózu, moje prognóza je že mate tři dny života!
Paní Komokova: Vlastně všechno je v pořádku! Už nemam teplotu, už mě nebolí zub ani celé tělo! Promiňte, ale musím domu.
Doktorka: Na shledanou!!!

And for those of you who weren’t following closely:

D: Good morning Mrs Komokova, how are you?
PK: Good morning Dear Doctor (they’re incredibly respectful here, unlike you lot). My entire body hurts.
D: I’m sorry to hear that. Yesterday you told me that your tooth hurt, and today your whole body?
PK: I also have a bit of a temperature, I’m sure there’s something wrong with my throat.
D: Open your mouth please…say “Aaah”
PK: Aaaah (I KNOW you’re benefiting from the translation here)
D: You have a terrible virus, my prognosis is that you have three days to live.
PK: Is that all I have left???? Already I don’t have a temperature, my tooth doesn’t hurt and neither does my whole body. Sorry, I’ve got to get home.
D: goodbye.


So: moral of that story? A) Eleshka and I have sick minds. B) You can diagnose anything from a peer down the throat. C) I’m not great with ‘bedside manner’ and D) If you’re a hypochondriac, you won’t be getting much sympathy in our class!

That’s all for now folks: gonna head home to snooze before singing in Old Town Square. I do hope the tourists are generous with their money – we’re hoping to raise sufficient for 7 glasses of svarak! J
posted by Nomes @ Friday, December 16, 2005   0 comments
Remember me?? I'm the one who...*mumble mumble*
Thursday, 15 December 2005
Gosh…over a whole week has passed without an update. By now, you’ve probably all forgotten who I am.

Why has it been such a long time? Well, to start with, there was nothing to say. I mean, I know this hasn’t stopped me from writing before, but my X chromosomes were channelling some ‘man’ proteins – consequently I was thinking ‘nothing’. (actually, on the re-read, that sounds like a hideous euphemism…but it’s such an authentic turn of phrase, I’m gonna leave it there for your amusement).

And then I had a whole load of ‘things to do’. Namely, get ready for the weekend ahead. That meant the laundry (argh!! Bane of my existence...) which didn’t melt or go crunchy in the Czech dryers (hooray!), but did require hours of my time. I’ve never appreciated how nice it is to have a washing machine on-site, but believe you me, I’m never taking one for granted again!

Thursday night I met a serbo-croat photographer in Prague – who regaled me with tales of the war. Not a terribly amusing topic, I’ll admit, but hearing how someone shot themselves in the arse with their borrowed rifle? Hilarious. Especially after getting lost (read: cold) and drinking vodka and orange on an empty stomach. EVERYTHING was hilarious.

Friday I went to a short film collection – part of the international short film festival that was screened over the weekend. I really enjoyed it – but since so many days have elapsed, I can’t recall much. I remember one film that really ‘depicted’ the sensation of loneliness. And I’ve never seen as awful a game of hide and seek as the one in Czech (there was only one film…it was counting then searching – I think I pretty much caught the gist of it). Followed by a CANZA drinks evening (Czech/Australia/NZ Assoc.) where I didn’t meet a single NZer. *sigh* Instead, I spent the evening ducking to avoid the Sydneysiders – their accent doesn’t get any smoother with distance. A few mojitos and I was home by 5am. Restraint personified…that’s me.

An early morning rehearsal for Intunition saw three people still in their ‘going out’ gear (and I wasn’t one of them!) and the rest of us singing far far far far below par. Which led to the emergence of some serious nerves – which then combined with the nerves I was feeling about Umit visiting – and left me feeling slightly queasy for the rest of the day/evening. But the performance went far better than expected, even despite the lack of foldback on the stage. Things are SOOO different when microphones are involved. But we managed Dream a Little Dream and the audience didn’t throw rotten zeleniny our way (vegetables, not tomatoes). The audience were a little, how shall we say, lacklustre. Something (perhaps, though I’m attempting to refrain from judgement here) to do with the organisation they were there for: some mission that was bringing Christianity to the Czechs via language. You can well imagine. It seemed to be very church of England; no one appeared to have muscles in their arms. And here’s a bunch of 7 songstresses turning up in black with red accessories, all looking mightily ‘hot’ and singing saucy jazz numbers (oh, come on!! Santa baby is saucy…hurry down the chimney?? It’s hardly subliminal messaging is it?). Of course, the lack of enthusiastic response (we knew we’d nailed the songs because they smiled, their applause was just a little, well, “cake” I guess) caused some of us (okay, okay...me!) to go a little overboard, consequently, when I did my verse (Santa cutie, fill my stocking with a duplex etc.) I may have “inadvertently” performed a little leg-action too. *shock*

I thought that perhaps the butterflies would stop once we’d sat down at the end of our second set. But no. Not a bit. You tell me how you’d feel if you were catching up with a guy who you had a HUGE crush on when you were 15 – and you haven’t seen him for 14 (we re-counted…surely two smart people can get it right…FOURTEEN YEARS people!) years. I mean, I’ve got friends in NZ who’ve known people for that long (next-door neighbours, childhood friends etc.) but I don’t usually count myself in a group of long-known friends. And yet…here I am, late!, on my way to the Movenpick (yes…very yummy Lira) hotel in Prague to catch up with Umit. PANIC. Just as well a) I was really really really late (one really per 30mins) and b) the girls were on the metro with me, else I’m sure I would have combusted.

But, somewhat surprisingly (as far as I was concerned) I needn’t have been worried, and Umit and I hung out for four days as though we were still in school. Albeit without Mr Aldridge and the spectrophotometer results (though now we can both interpret a chromatogram…we certainly couldn’t in lower 6th!). And he did disappoint with the Toblerone (see previous entry but one). First off was a visit to a jazz bar where we were asked not to smoke and not to talk during the playing. I mean...come ON! No smoking, fair enough, it can get pretty nasty; but no TALKING?! It’s a jazz performance not a damned opera. You can get into the music AND talk at the same time you know! Weird. After that it was a gay club (okay, I had to have it pointed out to me that there were very few females here…doh!) and then we tried Roxy (it was shut?!) and gave up and went home.

So the verdict? What should YOU do if someone from your adolescent past calls you and says that they’re on their way to visit? Invite them in, by all means. I had an absolute blast. We wandered around the castle (a little bit, though we were too late for most of the places), and the city (the astronomical clock really wasn’t worth the hype) and took photos (yep…I played tourist…and LOVED it!). All that, despite having to rug up warm all the time. I love this city sooo much. Most importantly, we found a café, where they serve amaretto coffee (mmm…winter’s all of a sudden looking a whole lot better) and cake. And a guy plays the piano (VERY WELL) after 5pm. Is it a Piano Bar? Not quite…but it’s directly opposite the national theatre – so it may well become my ‘local’. Over the weekend, conversation was enhanced (though, I hasten to add, not dependent upon) by the Book of Questions (Lirachick, thank you!!!!) but I fear that we only got through about 6 of them (questions where we both answer ‘yes’ aren’t really conversation pieces) over the course of some very long dinners/lunches. We even missed a movie and a ballet because conversation was too good. But isn’t that how life should be?

So a big thanks to Mr Oncu (Snr) for buying tickets without even hesitating to ask whether I’d be free that weekend…otherwise I may have chickened out “the weekend of the 10th? Um…you know what? I REALLY need to clean out my goldfish tank…”!!

Last night I raced up to the tram to go grocery shopping. But in my haste, I slipped on one of those longitudinal joins in the wet concrete (it finally rained, about 1mm) and essentially collapsed in the middle of the road, twisting my ankle the same way I did in Menorca. After inarticulating “Feck…that hurts” in Czech, and being helped up by someone who clearly understood, I hobbled to the grocery shop. After all, a girl who does not shop does not eat dinner…and I was damned hungry. I wasn’t annoyed because of the pain (though my first stop WAS the pharmacy: Diclofenac) but it took me so damned long to get anywhere…and I was permanently on alert in case someone kicked my ankle too. It’s not like my ankle usually gets kicked when I go out – but I was hyperaware (or was that a side-effect of the diclofenac!?). So, due to the ridiculous amount of pain shooting up the outside of my shin, combined with my inability to request an ‘ankle brace’ (the list of things needed from the UK gets weirder by the day!), I gave rehearsal a miss, and sat reading on my bed with my ankle in a puddle of ice (wrapped up in a stolen napkin – it almost counts as the perfect crime!!). Damned loose joints.

Tomorrow I go Christmas carolling in Old Town Square (where else?) which should be great for the tourists. Then a quick catch up with Marketa (since we didn’t really speak much at Stare Pani – the jazz club) before meeting Nis and doing whatever it is she wants to do. I’m hoping it’s ‘visit the café’ and then ‘decide our plans for the weekend’ though Sat night is already taken care of – party at which Intunition are performing. And then next week I’ve got a modelling job (yes, really), and socialising most nights because on Saturday I’m off to the UK!? Is it really Christmas already??

Speaking of which: those that want cards had better make sure I have their mailing address…else their mailboxes will be sobbing by Easter! J
posted by Nomes @ Thursday, December 15, 2005   1 comments
War on Tourism
Wednesday, 7 December 2005
If Bush can do it, I can too. I wonder where I find some navy seals. Tanned ones would do equally as well, I’m sure.

In the past few days having returned to Prague, I've run around like a flea in a fit attempting to get all my laundry washed (I finally succumbed to the lure of the “total service” and am now apprehensive as to the size and state of the clothes I’ll collect at lunchtime today…will they have melted? Will my hems be around my armpits? Will I create a new fashion label as a result of the bizarre clothes I have left? It’s sometimes very exciting being me!!), my house is nearly clean, I've passed on postcards from a cohort colleague to her old school friend in Prague (and had 3hr coffee), organised that photo tour from the airport, tried to translate ‘tax code’ into Czech so the EU can pay me and learnt the past tense (spala jsem špatné včera večer, tad‘jsem moc unavena – I slept badly last night, now I am tired) I’ve also managed to visit the Vanoce trch (Van-ot-seh trrr-ch = Christmas Market) in the old town square. I’ve had the ability to compare it back to Budapest.

Mikuláš, Anděl a Čert are scary! On the evening of 5 December I went down to the Old Town Square (VERY ‘If you go into the woods today…’) and there were dozens of teenagers dressed up as St Nicholas (a bishop), an angel (white with wings etc) and a devil (looking like a black cat more than a sunburnt inhabitant of hell). They roam the streets, accosting small children, quizzing them about whether they’ve behaved themselves over the last twelve months, conferring with the parents of the terrified youngsters, then rewarding (angels bestow chocolate) or punishing (tying them up in the devil’s sack – seriously, I saw children REALLY crying their little eyes out) them for good or bad behaviour respectively.

Now, apparently, many people perceive St Nick as a ‘goodie’ in this pantomime, but that upset my understanding of Newton’s laws, entropy and the likes (never particularly solid at the best of times, it doesn’t take much to topple my comprehension of physics – despite my wide personal wheelbase!). Surely, SURELY, St Nick must be the impartial bystander in this charade, the ‘person pulled from the audience’ so to speak? Else how will Newton’s IIId law stand ('for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction'). Turns out MY interpretation was more correct than some of the other expatriates: and thus was born the first Czech Traditional ‘Mediator’. A far cry from the jolly fellow you worry is a paedophile in a red and white disguise, gurning merry “Ho Ho Ho’s” from a department store grotto!

While wandering the ‘jam-packed-to-a-standstill’ square, sipping my Svařák (svar-jjrr-aaack = mulled wine / Glühwein) and noting (with considerable disappointment) that the Budapest version was nicer, it dawned upon me that perhaps I don’t really hate tourists. Nope, it’s more likely that I’m lonely as a single tourist. For instance, when we were wandering around Budapest in a group of 6, sometimes, embarrassingly, taking the same photo of the same thing, I didn’t once spare a thought as to how annoying we must be to the locals or expats. Perhaps we weren't so annoying, as we were not a large (~30-strong) group, led about by a tour rep with a ‘sign’ (often a brightly couloured, furled but extended umbrella held above head…occasionally a wooden flower of some description) stopping every now and then to collect the stragglers, listen to a tired spiel and generally block the path of those trying to get from A to B.

So what is it about this whole tourism thing that has me so riled up? Is it that Prague appears to have ‘sold out’ to the American market? There are so many tours of the old town area all going on at the same time, following one another around the same boring route, it’s a tragedy: slaughterhouse style. Is it that I despise the crowds? The crowds were so dense on Monday night, I wondered whether a ‘cave creek’ would occur with the viewing platform constructed in the middle of the square. I was equally concerned as to whether my svařák would be splattered all over me. Is it that it’s taken me this long to find somewhere close to Old Town Square in which I can get a decent cup of coffee without being fleeced? (I still haven’t, by the way Nis, but I’ve heard the rumours from a reputable source!) I KNOW that tourism assists the economy here, I just wish they wouldn’t get in my bloody way!!!

Just want to make a quick shout-out to Nis. Without you, my dear, I would have a very standard template for this here blog. So thanks for figuring out Flickr, and moblogging and RSS template design before me…I walk in your shadow. However, when you get bird flu, I’ll be at your door with my clipboard shouting ‘throw out your flu-ridden’! It's all give-and-take in my world! :)

Anyway, it's thanks to Nis that photos are now along the side of the blog once more. If you click on one of the photos, it'll take you to a photo album thingy on a new site. Then, over on the right hand side, is a small foldery thing that says 'previous' and 'next'. I'd advise scrolling through these to read my pearls of wisdom at the bottom of each photo, or if you're already fed up with my voice, then view as a slideshow. This week, pictures of Budapest.
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, December 07, 2005   3 comments
Fortified axles, new bearings and off-road rims…suitcase mods.
Fortified axles, new bearings and off-road rims…suitcase mods.

So, I’m back a few days and some are clamouring for an update already. Give a girl a chance to LIVE the experiences she writes about would you?!

To be entirely honest, the reason it’s taken me so long to update the blog, is that I’ve been reading Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman; essentially a diary of their three month trip from London to London – travelling eastwards on two motorbikes. Though the writing was pants (a diary written by two males…what was I expecting?) the story was brilliant. I’m sure my 6th form-Biology-teacher-for-a-term has no idea what I meant by “thanks for the inspiration” in her leaving card – but when she told me that she’d just returned from a year long honeymoon on two bikes from Egypt to Capetown, a little part of me went “oooh…that sounds like fun.” Those of you who know me well, know that Africa has always been my, er, dream. Though that sounds really corny, the scenery has honestly made me cry with homesickness (I was a bison in a previous life). So yes…a small part of me now is wondering whether to get a ‘trial’ bike and get out into the dirt/mud/snow etc to practise my control. However…

…I haven’t been paid my meagre salary yet – so I’ll content myself by drooling over webpages at present.

How do you change the tyres on a suitcase? My primary coloured suitcase has travelled brilliantlz, however, it now has to contend with cobblestones, snow, wet leaves, being bumped (instead of carried) down flights of stairs and generally being thrown around on a three-six weekly basis, and I’m concerned for it’s wellbeing! I watched how the baggage (mis)handlers treated it from my prop-plane window: first, they point and laugh (‘I thought you said this flight didn’t have any unaccompanied minors, Stevo!”). Then, they throw it onto the plane like you or I throw caution to the wind. Consequently, I’m wondering whether it’s possible to change the wheels and fortify the axle. I’m considering those off-road wheels you get for inline-skates…?

My return to Prague was interesting. Previously (“on ER”), I mentioned that I’d felt patriotic. Seems it’s gotten to the point where I’ll gladly inform my neighbouring American travel rep that the worst thing about Prague was the tourists (destroying potential further discussion )! And despite the fact I was wondering whether the rubber band for the propeller nearest me would last the flight, my heart skipped a little (medical term) when the vast snowy tundra (©Sir D. Attenborough) of the Czech Republic came into view. When we landed, and my window was splattered with droplets of water – snow that had melted on the engine and been blown back – I was in love. Madness. Even the brown crusty slush on the walkway to the “plane-to-terminal” bus didn’t alter my state of mind.

And the best parts of the trip home? Two things: hearing Czech again (I’d missed it!?!) and the fact that all the Czechs (plus me) waited until the ‘tourists’ had quickly run off the plane (as if that’s going to speed up the next bit of the process) before standing in the aisle to don multiple layers, head down the stairs, be the last onto the bus-to-terminal, first through customs (love the EU passport waving thing) and amazingly first to get our bags too! J

There are a few clear indications that you’re in Europe. If a New Zealander steps in dog poo on the sidewalk/pavement/footpath (I can never choose which I prefer) then the world has come to an abysmal end; complete with lightning and gnashing of teeth (or maybe David had an extreme reaction…) However, if a European accidentally treads on excrement of chien, they merely shrug their shoulders and run through a series of options based on the apparent consistency of the faeces. Options include: stamping ones foot to dislodge the offending material, pumping ones foot up and down in a puddle to wash it out of the tread of your, finding a patch of grass and smearing it out with that, locating a perfectly shaped stick…etc. What I want to know is: does anyone ever get TOLD the algorithm? Or is it learnt by watching the behaviour of others? True anthropology…

Another sign revolves around chocolate (hooray). Antipodeans will often head straight for the rack of Toblerone, the soft-palette-destroying Mars bar of Swiss Chocolate. Whereas if you linger by the chocolate stand in a European airport (and yes, this is a confession!) you’ll note that the Italian-heeled (and Italian-toted most often as well) preferentially choose Lindt. Those wearing shoes from Bata pick Milka. And those wearing sports shoes of any description go for Cadbury’s or M’n’M’s. I wonder if I could do a second PhD on this…the field research sounds a lot better than ‘poking swabs up chickens bums’.

A distinguishing quality of EASTERN Europe is that canapés are a meal. Truly; you can nibble on a few pieces of bread topped with cheese slices, salami, a gherkin, a slice of egg, half an olive and a sprig of something green. It’s fantastic! All of a sudden, I realise the peculiar meals I’ve been eating all these years (“something that hasn’t quite gone off, with something else that needs to be eaten – on toast”) have just been preparation. Lira; it’s our culinary home (if you forget about the roasted duck, pork with everything and carp for Christmas…)!

En route home, I thought it wise to take photos for those visiting me in the future. The entire photo tour can be found on another blog (http://helpingyouhelpyourself.blogspot.com) or I can send you the word document. It means that getting to town from the airport on public transport needn’t be the terrifyingly disorientating experience that it’s meant to be, and you don’t need to be able to decipher public service announcements along the way. This meant that I was taking photos IN the airport (albeit, facing outwards) and IN the bus, and IN the metro station. I tell you, I’ve never felt more suspicious in my life (even when smuggling bacon through the border in Qatar…truly dangerous stuff). But I hope it’s worth it. Nis and Umit will have to let me know…

PS. For those of you playing ‘Nomes Trivia™’, I am now walking ‘across then down’ from my metro stop to maximise my chances of bumping into ‘tram guy’ again. And Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream has fixed my lips. Hooray for Liorah’s Nanna. Am off to purchase Vaseline as per Marisa’s advice…so ta for all the ideas people.
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, December 07, 2005   0 comments
“We merely perceive this city, through the hazy shade of November.” – Dr Mårten A. Kivi, 2005
Thursday, 1 December 2005
You are warned though - this is the amalgamation of many days worth of open WORD document...do try to bear with me...!!!

On Friday night I went to the Stereo MC’s concert. Paradise, their new album is aurally more similar to Connected than to Deep Down and Dirty, but it’s still the first few bars (or ‘measures’) of Step it Up, Connected and Creation that were the crowdpleasers. As a demonstration of the un-altered state in which I attended the concert, I wondered how bizarre it must be to be a performer who keeps putting out new stuff, only to find that the crowds still prefer your old stuff. All of a sudden, it wasn’t his wrinkles that made me think “To je škoda!” when I thought of Tom Jones. Oh, and to the crew at the Crescent (which includes all the extras), I REALLY MISSED YOU GUYS AT THE CONCERT! Not for your procuring abilities, but just for the ‘ritual’ of ‘mojitos’. Watching a couple of episodes of House just isn’t gonna cut it as pre-concert entertainment, damnit.

The night tram on the way home was torturously slow. At one point the back door wouldn’t close. Some people were left behind (because they simply couldn’t FIT on the tram – that’s how cramped we were) and STILL Mr Tram Schumacher couldn’t shut the door. An examination of the hinges and door tracks was to no avail, so in the end, the driver got a crowbar (used mainly for cleaning the tracks of leaves/dead animals/delinquent teenagers/the disenfranchised etc.) and thumped the control panel above the doors. The formulaic approach of ‘brute force over ignorance’ obviously translates perfectly!

And I’ve finally decided it IS possible to have an ‘erotic public transport experience’ sorry Dad – I’d rather you skip this paragraph if you don’t mind! (see above reference to sardine-like intimacy between riders). Thankfully, the only part of our bodies in direct contact were the outsides of our hands (my left, his right – for those playing at home) but he had a very piercing and intense (aquamarine) gaze, and since it was only turned on me sporadically (as in, when I shunted my hand right up against his – I’ve become so forward in my ‘old age’), while he talked to his parents and I talked to my friend, it was a great ride home! I wasn’t at all disappointed that it took so long! Nor even that the tram driver attempted to make up the ‘closing door’ time by whipping us around corners – thereby justifying sufficient jostling as to amuse oneself (though not in the more graphic way I KNOW some of you are thinking…filthy bloody sods that you are!)! Chris: I didn’t hear the word dcera (d-ts-erra=daughter) but since he got off at my stop (so to speak), I promise to stalk him until I trip over her.

In the morning, I took MY FIRST TAXI!!!! I actually ORDERED it over the phone, which was a huge adventure for my scanty Czech. First of all, I asked whether the operator spoke English. And she responded with ‘a bit’, to which I replied ‘mluvim se cestinu pomalu y trochu taky’. While I spoke in Czech (“I’d like a taxi at this time to this corner”), she replied in English so that we could both be sure that I’d not be stranded. In the taxi itself I managed to tell the driver that;
a) I wanted to go to the airport,
b) it was my first taxi in Czech,
c) I’d been living here 9 weeks and
d) I’d been taking Czech lessons for 5 weeks. That got me to the town…after which my scintillating conversation skills evaporated. Suddenly, an army of anteaters approached the taxi.

(just checking to see if you’re paying attention)

Only, they weren’t really ant eaters at all, more: people with leaf blowers. But there WAS a platoon of them, ‘blowing’ the pavement on one side of the street. I’d always wondered who raked leaves into piles taller than myself, and now I know. I wonder if they clean 25m2 apartments too!

And now here I am, in Budapest. There are a few differences between this city and my home city, and I’ve come over all patriotic for Prague.

Budapest, like Prague, is a city (or rather; two cities) built on either side of a great bloody river. More intuitively (in my opinion) the Danube actually flows in a southerly direction, whereas the Vltava runs north (which just ‘feels’ wrong for some crazy reason). Buda is the city on the western bank, and Pest is on the Eastern. There are many bridges that span the river – I’m not sure if, like Prague, there is a viewing platform in the middle of a northern park from which you can see all bridges (told you, I’m all Prazdan now), but the bridges are more ‘industrial’ in appearance than ‘renaissance’. The river has one island in the middle (not the three that ‘float’ in the Vltava) and there is a whopping great big hill on the north western side (Buda) upon which sits the castle. It, too, is lit up at night, but it is smaller, and the cathedral is shorter too. This leads to it having a far less impressive appearance – though, begrudgingly, it IS pretty. Perhaps the prettiest building is parliament, but that’s not as well lit at night.

On Sunday when we ran around the city, on a breathtaking tour in which we attempted to see everything while ‘getting somewhere’, we crossed the bridge, looked at the castle, took the funicular up the hill to the lookout – you know, all the normal stuff you do. And I took a photo of the Mary Poppins that stands (umbrella up) on the south western side…though apparently, she’s an angel, not Mary Poppins. Methinks they’ve never had horrible cough medicine here!

The street upon which our hotel is situated is a war zone. Or rather, it’s roadworks – again – with a large EU billboard on one end. I’m not sure quite what one should infer from this, but you are more than permitted to draw the conclusion that the EU is ‘building roads’ rather than bridges! And yes, the cacophony again includes the chip, chip, chipping of obelisk construction. And yelling. However, they’re very fast. It’s almost the end of our organised week here, and whaddya know? They’ve almost finished. It’s almost freakily as though they knew that we were approaching…

Arabia is quite close to Hungary. This means that instead of smelling of BO on the metro, people have drowned themselves in pungent ‘eastern’ scents. Pack anti-hayfever drugs. Rather charmingly, the metro uses ‘transformer faces’ as the insignia for the lines. At any moment, I expect my ‘blue line’ carriage to make that peculiar ‘zzhrrr zzhrrr zzhrrr’ noise that they make as bits and pieces of them mechanically swing around into a ‘rocket launcher’ position and fight ‘the red line’!!!

The hotel is very hot. As in, the outside is cold (though not as cold as Prague when I left) and so you wrap up warm (rats on ears, dogs on feet etc.) but this means that the moment you enter the hotel, there’s more than just a faint patina of sweat sheathing one’s body. So you must go through the contortions of a hasty unwrapping in the hotel lobby – which I think is a form of archaic entertainment for those who work behind the counter, I’ve almost hung myself with my own scarf several times!

However, upon first entering my room and running around all the heaters turning them off/down, and opening the window AND finally sticking my head out the window to cool down (think of a dog on a speedboat!) I realised that I could hear the faint sounds of a Piano Concerto, being played by one of the people in the opposite apartment building. The charm of which was not lost on me, as I lay on my bed – exhausted from my previous nights exertions at the Stereo MC’s concert – drifting off to the sounds of well-played Beethoven. So I didn’t make it to the rugby – oops. Did we win?

The course is challenging. The most challenging aspect, as is usual for me with a computer course, is working sufficiently slowly that things continue to make sense. I can’t take things step by step as we’re given in the ‘manual’ (which is written in barely comprehensible paragraph format which will mean that if I should ever have to use this program, I’m gonna have to rely on intuition and trial and error – again). Thankfully Mårten works fast as well, otherwise I’d go completely spare. So the course is run from 9:00 – 5:30ish, with a few breaks during the day. We start with a lecture (during which about 22% pay attention) and have another one after lunch. These are ‘landmark’ lectures – or an indication of ‘where you’re supposed to be by now’. The rest of the time, we plonk away on our respective keyboards, manipulating data that was gathered in a resthome outbreak that occurred in 1986. The weirdest thing is wondering whether the people whose illness we’re analysing are alive, whether their survivors ever think of them, or whether we are the only people in the world who ‘remember’ (if that’s a suitable verb to describe someone you’ve only met through a database) who they were, and how many of them had diarrhoea in September 1986.

Another increasingly bizarre thing is that everyone here has different keyboards. Sure…they all start with QWERTY on the top row, but the differential between layouts increases exponentially as your fingers travel eastwards. Mårten’s keyboard, for instance, has a variety of vowel keys with “¨’s” over them where your right pinky finger sits, whereas I have a key with a “§“ on it (I’ve still yet to translate that!). Now, this shouldn’t actually be a problem at all, unless you start attempting to type database code into someone else’s computer. Some keys I’m fine with being in different places, other keys are a pain in the arse. Then there’s the fact that the Hungarian and the Czech keyboard swap their z’s and y’s around. You try writing quickly on them…half of your keystrokes end up being ‘backspace’ (thankfully, ALWAYS in the upper right hand side). But since the flaky crumbs from the pastries that he keeps bringing back to the table are accumulating in between our keys, the keys themselves may not matter soon! If I put on weight while I’m here (ARGH!) then I have only him to thank (yes mother, I AM being force fed, honestly!).

So…one of our crew is ‘growing up’. Ok, I’m not entirely sure that he’s ever likely to, given he’s got a Y chromosome, and is often surrounded (ie. henpecked) by at least 5 α-females as well, but he’s actually made that giant leap (for himself) that means I’ve hopefully got a wedding to go to in Slovenia in August ’06. Congratulations to the gorgeous Maarten, all the single girls (and several gay lads!) in the world HAVE sighed in disappointment, but I (as their representative) wish you and Varya all the very best happiness that a successful marriage will (apparently) provide you!

That was the news from BEFORE the course. Lisa is still living in her shoebox, but her boxes ARE reported to be arriving on Monday. She’s currently performing a rather technical analysis to determine exactly HOW she’s going to fit 2.5m3 into her current 10m2 flat! But it’s amazing how positive one can view 30m2 when you’ve been living in 10! Lisanne is also living in 25ishm2, and one of the best parts of catching up with the crew has DEFINITELY been comparing how awfully small our pads are.

News during the course is rather scant, as we’re all bored of dealing with our dataset (which they keep having to provide replacements for as we don’t do the right thing!), and exclaiming things in our new languages (no one understands mine, typical!) at each other. It’s like the tower of Babel, with a slightly more European twist (and more language warping as well, probably). Having now swapped all the swear words that are in our various software dictionaries, we can formulate interesting, yet unintelligible, insults for each other.

The evening schedule usually takes includes a walk, a restaurant and then home. After a while, this gets a little tiresome (least of all, bloating), so four of us last night decided to head to a movie instead. And so I picked out a movie in one of the furthest quarters; transport to which included taking two metro lines, an HEV, a tram, and a Danube-side walk. A movie, and then finding a late restaurant that served ‘home-type’ food (you know, food you’d cook for yourself when you can’t really be bothered) and I was in bed by 12.30 – reading “The Long Way Round” and wishing I had a motorbike again!

Tonight though, I’ve organised a trip to the Opera. There are 19 of us going to see Madame Butterfly. And so, my darlings, I had best love and leave you: to do my face in a butterfly challenge! J

Paul: what restaurant?
Chris: Dr M.A.K says hi!
Mum: Miss you!
Cheryl: Don’t wait with the tree – just decorate it as though I would!
Ross: great ‘band’ picture: downloaded onto a computer at the front of the room. That’s my mid-afternoon distraction sorted for tomorrow.
Liorah: did ya like your letter?
Rowls: any facts you can share?
David: ta for staving off the bank...when are you coming to Europe?
posted by Nomes @ Thursday, December 01, 2005   1 comments

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