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!)
It's meme day in blog world
Wednesday, 28 June 2006
So many of the blogs I read are filled with meme's today. Obviously, in the European heat, there's nothing happening (I can't move, I might melt!) so nothing worth blogging about. Except the all-important (and omnipotent - on my blog) ME!!! So saying:
  1. How old do you wish you were? I'm actually happy with the 29. Even though I keep forgetting that I had a birthday recently (honestly forgetting, not pretend forgetting) and telling people I'm 28. Then five minutes later saying, "Did I say 28? I meant 29!!!". They run away soon after.
  2. Where were you when 9/11 happened? Camden town. My sister-cousin and I were shopping. We went back to the shop where I'd purchased my "may-have-to-live-under-it-it's-so-expensive" full length leather coat, and the shopkeeper said, "Have you heard? There's a plane in the World Trade Centre. A jumbo." We thought he was taking the piss, took our belongings and went to a pub in Convent Garden. The atmosphere was hushed. People were intent on the small screen (not football season) in the corner of the bar - hardly anyone was drinking. When all of a sudden, I noticed that the guy at the bar moved identically to a friend I hadn't seen for 9 years. It WAS him!!! We couldn't even get too excited because the atmosphere was so quiet and appalled.
  3. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Try to jostle it. Then walk away, Renee. Not like I NEED another chocolate bar.
  4. Do you consider yourself kind? I try to be.
  5. If you had to get a tattoo, where and what would it be? Ooh, a second one? I'm gonna get stuff up my spine. It's all in the works (ie. my head) and I need the contact details of a brilliant artist, who can draw believable reptilian skin (none of that 'faux dragon scale shite thanks!).
  6. If you could be fluent in any other language what would it be? Ha ha ha. Czech. Please. Now! (ie. with no further effort required on my behalf)
  7. Do you know your neighbors? I know the bartenders in the downstairs bar...
  8. What do you consider a vacation? Lying on a beach. Or in a park. Somewhere outside and warm and sunny and bright. Not being bitten by insects (the IMPOSSIBLE vacation then). With MANY MANY books. And freshly squeezed juice. Of many MANY varieties. *wistful sigh*
  9. Do you follow your horoscope? Now that I can't read it, everything's a surprise.
  10. Would you move for the person you loved? Nope. What a bitch. OK, justification is that since I'd move anywhere for any reason, then I imagine if my "Handsome Prince" (for want of a more realistic partner, obviously) were to ask me to move to Hicktown, Idaho, population 56 with him. And my answer would be no. Ipso
  11. Are you touchy feely? Yep. Freaks people out. Then I feel uncomfortable and awkward. And have to do some weird 'socially graceful get out' so they know I don't (automatically) want their children, just want skin to skin contact every once in a while. Pah.
  12. Do you believe that opposites attract? Depends. I don't find myself drawn to a serial murderer, currently incarcerated and pawing through ladies underwear while masturbating over gun manuals. But maybe that's not my opposite....?
  13. Dream job? Epidemiologist for emerging infectios diseases. Somewhere where they actually believe I went to University. And pay me well.
  14. Favorite channels? None of the kiwi ones would be a favourite. I'd kill for some Discovery or History Channel though.
  15. Favorite place to go on a weekend? To the beach.
  16. Showers or Bath? Showers. And when I feel like luxuriating, baths.
  17. Do you paint your nails? Sometimes. Toenails currently vinyl hot pink, fingernails bare.
  18. Do you trust people easily? Still. damnit. Gotta stop doing that.
  19. What are your phobias? I wouldn't say 'phobia', but I'm not enraptured by heights from where I can see the ground clearly (and the pebble that will end up embedded inmy skull).
  20. Do you want kids? Not sure. Get back to me in 10 years.
  21. Do you keep a handwritten journal? Handwriting? What's that?
  22. Where would you rather be right now? On a beach.
  23. What makes you feel warm and safe? BBQ's with friends and family.
  24. Heavy or light sleep? I a) love it that I'm a light sleeper, I can do the instant alert thing and b) love the occasions on which I'm comatose in a heavy sleep, drooling over my pillow. One shouldn't mock the power of drool.
  25. Are you paranoid? I won't have my back to the door for fear of knives/bullets/arrows/salacious gossip (and people reading over my shoulder).
  26. Are you impatieYes.
  27. Who can you relate to? The altos.
  28. How do you feel about interracial couples? How do I feel about intRAracial couples?
  29. Have you been burned by love? Yes. And still singed.
  30. Whats your life motto? Is it REALLY going to make a difference?
  31. What's your main ringtone on your mobile? Depends who calls. Main one would be "Stupid Girl", Adam's is "madness", Intunitions are "My Band". HA! Eat that Katatonikova!
  32. What were you doing at midnight last night? Getting Adam's phone charger from his room. Suffering a mild panic about todays site appraisal.
  33. Who was your last text message from? Marten in A'dam.
  34. Who's bed did you sleep in last night? The futon that is my bed (and is disturbingly comfortable!)
  35. What color shirt are you wearing? Turquoise. Those of you who know me in person will know which one.
  36. Most recent movie you watched? Crash. Disturbing and compelling in equal measure with an unquantifiable causal relationship linking the two emotions.
  37. Name five things you have on you at all times? My anklet, my kanji, my hair, my glasses and my phone. (though if you interrupt me from my light sleep, I may not have the last two on me!).
  38. What color are your bed sheets? Blue.
  39. How much cash do you have on you right now? 702CZK. That's 25 euros, 15 pounds sterling or 42 new zealand dollars. And yes, I can mostly do the convesions in my head.
  40. What is your favorite part of a chicken? Breast. Even though it's not the bit i've seen most frequently...
  41. What's your favorite town/city? This one's pretty cool. Haven't been to them all, can't judge objectively.
  42. I cant wait till... I have a red phone on my desk.
  43. Who got you to join MySpace? Oh god, someone. ages ago. And I wish I hadn't. (It's not updated, don't bother checking)
  44. What did you have for dinner last night? An omelette. Am SOO excited that the supermarket next door sells something called "kuřečí šunka" which is 'chicken ham'.
  45. How tall are you barefoot? Me name, is not Barefoot. 173cm. Damnit.
  46. Have you ever smoked crack? Nope.
  47. Do you own a gun? Nope.
  48. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Bubbles and strawberries. Then I know it's gonna be a good day: and somewhere, there'll be a deep sleep!!
  49. What is your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex? Um, look at my life. I clearly don't have one!
  50. Do you have A.D.D.? Nope, I'm just your standard overacheiver who's mind flips from subject to subject looking for potential ties and matchups...
  51. What time did you wake up today? 6:50am
  52. Current worry? The usual 'I'm a fraud' worry.
  53. Current hate? Not having enough to do at work.
  54. Favorite place to be? In a house on a hill, with a deck, overlooking a beach, with friends, having a BBQ. Completely fictitious - but it's my favourite place to be. Or: on a swing. With a book.
  55. Where would you like to travel? Wherever I don't make it to in my life. (but first, the Dark Continent!)
  56. Where do you think you'll be in 10 yrs? In an anxious fit to sign up with whichever institution is going to fertilise my eggs for me. (ie. still single, and wanting to be a mother).
  57. Last thing you ate? Breakfast: muesli with half a peach and skim milk.
  58. What songs do you sing in the shower? Disney tunes. Intunition tunes. Show tunes. I dont' shut up.
  59. Last person that made you laugh? A proper belly laugh? Pavel at the pub on Monday night.
  60. Worst injury you've ever had? ACL rupture. Ou-fecking-ch.
  61. Does someone have a crush on you? Apparently not.
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, June 28, 2006   3 comments
Instructions for craziness
Monday, 26 June 2006
When organising Mojitos in the Park,
  1. Choose a cocktail wisely. Pick one you don’t ever want to drink/make again. At least not for the entire summer. Now, what will I do with the 2L of leftover Havana Club….?
  2. Buy more ice. Even though this is the Czech Republic, and purchasing ice is a new concept, buy more than you think you’re going to need. We had warm mojitos at the end of the night, and though we didn’t care, it does seem a little less…well…proper.
  3. Establish ‘getting home’ routes well in advance (i.e. while sober!). Thus NOT leaving your visitors stranded from a night tram. Especially when they SHOULD’VE been on the one that goes past your own house!
  4. Take protection. Or at least friends who will swap places when over-amorous strangers start evaluating how close a shave your Venus gives!
  5. Put a jumper in your bag. Not for cold breezes. More for the mid-mojito-madness nap!
  6. Make room in your cupboard. At the end of the evening, everyone leaves their glasses behind. This is how you increase your glass collection. Hoorah!
  7. Change nickname to ‘Mojito Madame’. Enlist a Mojito Macgyver and a Minister of Mojito. Make everyone badges. All participants are thus Mojito Minions. Rule decisively.
  8. Take photos like a paparazzi. Most will have strangers gawping in amazement at the audacity of this crowd of fools mixing cocktails on a 45o slope. And gawping strangers are sometimes hard to crop.
  9. Take food. Sausages are an awful ‘cocktail’ food. Wholly necessary, but awful; at the time, the next day, and in memorandum. Bleargh! The paprika crisps, however, were divine.
  10. Take alternative glasses. Mojitos are NOT to be made in pint glasses. That brings a stream of vindictive behaviour from this Mojito Madame, and she’ll mix you a HORRIBLE tasting (ie. Very VERY strong!) mojito. Of course, if you successfully down that one, and request another, you shall win her favour forevermore, and be further rewarded with strong drinks. This goes for vases too (BEN!!!).
  11. Plan your answer to the question: “will you have another one?” This way, your answer will not vary (entirely correlated (r2 = 0.999) with time and mojito consumption) from “what do you take me for? A mad masochist with a penchant for lugging 20kg of ‘stuff’ uphill for 20mins?” to “yeah, but possibly something even MORE complex to make!”
It was a great evening – I can’t think how it could’ve been any better. Eight hours of slope-sitting-cocktail-sipping-gossip-swapping-tale-telling fun. Complete with sleeping flatmates, friends hooking up (FINALLY), “sorry I’m late - the trams!” dinner avoidance excuse making, a two-voice rendition of Java (and And So It Goes) and a Herna Bar pitstop on the way home. Perfect.
posted by Nomes @ Monday, June 26, 2006   1 comments
Do I even need to be here?
Friday, 23 June 2006
D, I'm sure you're still welcome to invite yourself to Mum's dinner table (though, apparently, she'd like a bit more of an advance warning than we of our generation are likely to provide!). Dinner usually costs a bottle of VSOP...

A muddler arrived for me at work today. Barcon were brilliant.

And Jo had the marvellous idea of pre-muddling about 40 lots of mojitos (into stacked plastic glasses) so that things would go down smoothly at Mojito Madness for the first two round (approximately 20 ppl apparently). The weather is cooler today, but still warm enough to elicit the desire for mixed icy fresh drinks (thank goodness) and there's more alcohol in my flat than I have liver enzymes to process (in my LIFE).

It's true. Dad DID kick me out. And when I called their bluff ("you want me to go? Fine. I'm off. NZ all by myself? Why not! When's the ticket for? Tomorrow you say? No problems...I'll just go pack then shall I?") he (finally) appealed to my sense of honour.

Damned first-borne-catholic-legacy-romantic-sense-of-honour *sigh*. Of COURSE it didn't work on little bro. But then, neither did the drug talk, did it Pah!? (inadvertently making my little brother sound like an addict - which I assure you, he ain't!).

Okay folks. It's summer. It's Friday. It's 2.40pm. I'm at work. There's something wrong with that collection of facts. Let's try again: It's summer. It's Friday. It's 2.40pm. I'm at work.

That's better.
posted by Nomes @ Friday, June 23, 2006   6 comments
Thursday, 22 June 2006

My pirate name is:

Dirty Bess Cash

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from


Quick welcome to Luce and her friend.
  • Warning I: blogs are addictive. What’s even MORE addictive is the idea that SOMEONE out there is reading about you. And, possibly even cares.
  • Warning II: it’s self-centredly addictive to write about yourself.
  • Warning III: you use all your best material in your blog, then recite it to friends when you see them in real life.
  • Warning IV: if they’ve already read your blog (and let’s face it, most of our friends don’t – they just skim for their own names!!) then you risk boring them to tears. Which means
  • Warning V: you end up living to ‘blog it’.
  • Warning VI: be very very very very careful who you give the address to (says she, who has it as her e-mail sig) because you DON’T want to have to trawl through your own archives to remove nasty comments, or overly nice ‘crush’ comments either. Really. I’ve already had to do ONE mad dash to a computer terminal in my pyjamas….JUST IN CASE.

According to resources:
  1. I’m scary. I scared ‘the ex’ (bonjour, hola, bing bing bing, ciao!) with my ‘confidence’.
  2. I flirt with strangers. I’d make eyes at the milkman if we had one. Provided I didn’t know them.
  3. Once I do get to know someone, I don’t bother flirting any longer, and instead develop a crippling crush.
  4. By this time, the ‘him’ in question has freaked out due to my ‘scary’ confidence and has found an alternative.
  5. I therefore oscillate between indifferent and heartbroken.

Okay, all together now….”awwwwwwww” (if you can throw in a ‘poor Nomes’ there too, my ego’d appreciate it!).

Still, at least I haven’t (recently) been out with a boy of indeterminate sexuality, and discovered he’d be better suited to my flatmate, huh? (evil cackle)

But then, that’s because I haven’t been out lately with anyone (back to the sobbing).

Yes folks, life IS a rollercoaster.

Today, two of my close mates from NZ arrive. I call them close mates; I lived with one for almost a year (the other is his bestest friend in the whole wide world, and consequently ‘practically’ lived up at the mansion too), yet they didn’t inform me as to their imminent arrival until yesterday, which they followed with “could you help us find accommodation?”. ARGH! Accomodation. In summer. In Prague. On a Wednesday for Thurs/Fri/Sat nights.


Thankfully, another kiwi expat came to my rescue; with a vacant flat that they can use. While I panicked mildly down the phone line, he recounted that he does exactly the same thing to his mates, sometimes not even thinking to check they’ll be in the country when he’s due to arrive. Since this is ALSO a trait I’ve developed, I can’t say I’m TOO surprised. It must be a kiwi thing…the ol’ ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to everything (including sleeping arrangements; which can result in one of two possibilities: hilarity and goodtimes or fear and loathing etc.).

Anyway, it DOES mean that my mojito madness fling will have two of my favourite people at it. They’re also a dab hand at whipping up the drinks, so I know that if I’m incapacitated (too many mojitos, too fast: apparently!) the madness will continue around me. And that’s a GOOD feeling. Not only that but I do believe I’ve finally tracked down the vital tool for the makings: a muddler. Finally managed to find one in a
shop outside of Prague – and since they regularly deliver TO Prague, they’re bringing it to me tomorrow afternoon. Nothing like cutting it fine.

According to the ex, I’m sounding happier.

I think ‘more manic’ may be more appropriate, frankly, but I’ll go with happier. And I blame the weather. While I love the summer, the Intunition girls will (no doubt) attest that I swing from the wild extremes of lethargy to mania depending on the ambient temperature. My microfibre trousers (worn yesterday) were enough to push me over the edge into Wicked Witch of the West territory (hiya Lira!) whereupon I promptly melted!

So, I guess one way to spark me up would be to throw a bucket of ice water over me†, Ha ha ha ha.

THEN you’ll see scary.

† This is not a challenge. There is no leather gauntlet on the ground at our feet. You do NOT have to try this as an experiment. All persons with buckets will be avoided at all costs for their own safety. Reading of this blog does not make you more intelligent – but it does make you smell better. Results reproducible in 5% of tests. Or is it because I helped someone pick a 'hot' cologne? Answers on the back of a postcard please. And has Mums not written because she's traumatised???!
posted by Nomes @ Thursday, June 22, 2006   8 comments
Wednesday, 21 June 2006
My dear traumatised ones… *grin*

You think THAT was bad. I’m somewhat thrilled that the writer has linked me to his blogpage. I’m getting mucho traffic. So many thanks to Mr Down, Out & Lost. Mum’s gonna have a field day with THIS link! *giggle*

Meanwhile, elsewhere: thank heaven’s for Kat’s heavyhanded editing skills (ie. Audacity with the ‘delete button’). A few of the party photos she took and edited are on my flickr album (to protect the not-so-innocent!). And it’s just as well she didn’t misbehave and do this.

The lie of the land in Prague is such that were I even to GO on a ‘date’ with a charming, straight, financially/habitationally independent (?) male here, I wouldn’t know what to say. Adam and I had a big discussion as to ‘dating techniques’ last night:

NZ: get them drunk, allow them to pass out, then arrange their limbs in provocative positions with yours.
UK: similar, usually people met through friends of friends of friends. Sometimes descends into the 14year old ‘my friend wants to know if you like her’ issues.
OZ: ha ha ha ha ha ha. You’re kidding right? Offer them your favourite tupping sheep…and the rest follows in due course!

And neither of us have any idea about the US or CA except what we've seen on television shows. Using Northern Exposure and SatC as our two reference articles:

CA: Wear a silly hat. Give way to mooses (meece?). Wear so many layers of clothing that you can't bend. (snug as a bug in a rug, for sure, but it's hardly 'sexy tunes' is it?)
US: Drink many martinis. Wear impossible shoes. Spend most of your time with girlfriends or computers. (Wait! I do that!!) Go to openings/exhibitions/shows.

Given the possibility (I’m an eternal optimist) of actually venturing out with potential partners in the future (I have a ‘proto’date: a ‘we should go out sometime’ comment) I’m a little concerned with my lack of socializing skills. Sure, it’s one thing to sit and talk about myself, but…? Short of the whole ‘so…tell me about….your parents…’ line of enquiry (which always makes me feel a little awkward anyway) or the ‘why are you here?’ angle which many people choose not to answer (see: running away from stuff) or get all cagey about, and you’ve got a situation that’s a bit…well…crap. There’s always the newspapers (for current affairs topics), but not THAT many people seem to care that whale meat will soon be back on the market *sigh*. Poor whales.

Would you taste it though? Just to see…? If you stumbled across a tribe of cannibals who were sitting down to dinner, and they invited you to join them, would you? Would you suddenly go all ‘vegetarian’?

I think I’d do it: after breathing a sigh of relief that they had already cooked (and weren’t looking for another ‘ingredient’).

The weather is currently thundery each afternoon. It’s gorgeously hot during the day (would be even MORE appreciated were ceiling fans widely available) and steamy around dusk (8ish). Then, when the weather finally breaks, it’s momentarily cool, before settling again into a still, breathless night. This, of course, means that one’s sleeping patterns are broken into segments of “am I STILL awake?” moments. As a person who keeps her bedroom window open (in hope?) for air circulation throughout the year, still air is an anathema.

Myspace is weird. I get invites to be people’s friends when I don’t know them. I mean, it’s one thing writing a blog and publishing it for ALL the world to see, but just randomly inviting people to ‘be my friend’? It’s the modern equivalent of having your mother invite her friends’ children around to your birthday party: you don’t know them, they go to a different school and they smell funny. I keep pressing ‘deny’, ‘deny’, ‘deny’ like a technophile Judas.

It’s true. In my missive about the female species of the Family Hilder, I forgot to mention being kicked out of home myself. Mwahahaha. The beauty of blogging is selective recall.

There’s a photo of Max’n’myself in my flickr album now (over yonder – to the left). It was something that someone else sent in. EPIET made an AMAZING book for Max’s family: translating all of our condolence messages into Italian, printing it, binding it, and presenting it at the funeral to his family.
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, June 21, 2006   0 comments
From a daughters perspective
Monday, 19 June 2006
The women in my family are almost certifiable (confirm at your peril - we may be insane, but we're very protective too!); recently there's been another incident of "loggerheads". Most of us (to date) have either married and left home, run away, or ‘gone tertiary’ between the ages of 16 and 19.

In our family, (and I have an Attenboroughesque voice saying, ‘as on the savannah’ in my head!) this is a matter of survival: a daughter will surely commit matricide if she resides in her mother’s domain any longer – and who knows what the mother will commit.

This is because we’re strikingly similar: headstrong, stubborn, wilful, ambitious, determined. All those ‘describing words’ that are look good on the CV if you’re a money-hungry CFO – but aren’t really personal characteristics typical of ‘peace-agreement’ negotiators.

So: we pack our stuff (sometimes the mothers do this) and we leave.

A few weeks ago, one of our mothers told one of our daughters that she has to go, that she’ll not be welcome back. It’s sad, but somewhat inevitable.

I’m not going to take sides (it’s unfair to do so, I can't be objective: I AM a daughter, I haven’t one of my own!), but I want them both to know that I love them dearly. One’s my sister-cousin, and always will be. The other is my girl, my little-sister-who-isn’t – in the same way I’m my sister-cousin’s little-sister-who-isn’t.

And so I wish cool-tempers (ha ha ha ha ha ha) upon them both (who the hell am I trying to kid?). Luce, I hope you get into the college you want and start thinking about the future. SC, I hope things are more peaceful now. And if you manage to keep a healthy distance (Mum and I like it at around about 5000miles, right Mum?) who knows what might happen with your relationship in the future. It can only heal. Albeit slowly.

Having been piggy-in-the-middle/triangle-girl on Friday night (hence BIG tears, random txts to NZ, calling flaky boy and snarky txts to those I stormed out on), and given the heatwave that’s currently over us (I’m not complaining - not really - I just wish I had suitable shoes!), my mind is reminiscing over summer days at the beach, on li-lo’s, washing in and out of the waves, or lying in the sun, or throwing a ball around in the shallows, or picnics in parks, or soundshell evenings, or wine on balconies.

It may be time to investigate swimming pools. They’re called ‘bazens’ here (sounds like ‘basins’) which is a little off-putting. But apparently there are some watering holes up around the river (what’s a weir? Answered here!) that may beg exploration.

It was free-museum night on Saturday. Apparently, this annual event is a great place to pick up get some culture. A bunch of us (Adam, TLR, The-Charming-David and Marcus) checked out the Narodni Gallerie for an hour. Saw the French stuff again, the cubist things and my Orpheus. Now, having done a bit more research, I find I AM drawn to Woman with a Guitar – but I’m still not drawn to Cubism in general (esp. furniture: bleeeee!). And I found that if you un-focus your eyes, you can actually see some of what might have been the original scenario that resulted in such an oblique canvas by Picasso. But it hurts.

Home early on Saturday *gasp* (by early, I mean 2:30ish!) having visited our Herna (and witnessed, once again, the sleepiness of Adam!) then a leisurely wake up on Sunday, complete with breakfast at ‘the globe’ (which always makes me wonder whether I should keep an eye out for Peter Parker…even though the marvel directory assures me that it was the "daily globe") then shopping.

By the end of the shopping disaster (I hate flat sandals *whinge*) I was ready to hang up my basket of food and get the hell out. Especially when we saw the queues at Carrefour.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I may as well remind those in the civilised world (express lanes, 10-items-or-less lanes; wherefore art thou?) that one of the most lingering (and soul-destroying) remnants of the soviet era is the queuing. Apparently, if you don’t queue for something, then perhaps you don’t really deserve it. Maybe, when faced with so much (still new) choice, people dither about whether it’s an impulse purchase by the time they make the checkout…and therefore need ample time to come to their senses!?

Despite the supermarkets having been designed by some architect/engineer to have banks of checkouts, stretching as far as the eye can see, only two of them will ever be operational. And then, the operator will be inept. SERIOUSLY inept. Swipe the yoghurt over the laser TEN TIMES to hear the beep, rather than picking up your second IDENTICAL yoghurt and giving that a go instead, inept.

I’ve clearly been completely spoilt for choice in NZ (understandably; it’s so bloody green they had to turn EVERYTHING into an edible item, simply to have reason to clear space for infrastructure etc.) but why is it so hard to get baby spinach here!?!?!

Anyway. There I was, fuming to Adam about this sort of thing, when the woman in front of us turned and said, “would you mind just shutting up about it?”

What. The. Prague?!?!!?!??!

I’m sorry, did you miss that whole revolution for freedom of speech thing? Are you telling me, in my language, to be quiet in your supermarket?!!?!? Aren’t you supposed to be passive-aggressive instead of simply-aggressive? And where the hell did you get your crappy haircut/dye job…because I think you should be complaining to THEM not to me!

Completely shocked and aback-taken, Adam and I kind of looked askance of one another and then sniggered to ourselves and cursed her using her shopping. “May your 8L of ice cream be mush and full of ice crystals when you refreeze it, may your breath be as smelly as the 2ks of day-old-out-of-the-fridge emmentaal, and may your arteries harden instantly as you deep fry your family bag of hranolky.”

Who’s the passive aggressive one now, huh bee-arch!?

But hey! The weirdos people at girls with hairy arms think I'm sexy (according to their flicker comment!) - and that can't be a bad thing. Or can it?

Most surreal Saturday moment? Discussing a bisexual friend whom both A and I think is hot...and who gets to try...
posted by Nomes @ Monday, June 19, 2006   2 comments
Tears before bedtime
Friday, 16 June 2006
• Lack of sleep,
• Deliciously hot weather,
That time of month,
• Brain tumour (always the last on a list – Just In Case)

I can’t figure out why I’m suddenly tearful.

I tend to have a trap-door spider approach to relationships (I can hear you now thinking “where the hell is she going with this…”). I pride myself on my ability to locate a (usually, quite unawares) victim, then lure them into my trap. Mwahahaha. (the analogy usually stops there, though certain ex’s may have you believe that a prodigous amount of ‘sucking the will to live’ may follow – we ignore them!)

But since I’m here, single, I think it’s finally safe to assume that it’s not the best strategy in the world (at least it’s a bit more palatable than the whole black widow/preying mantis strategy – no?).

Trapdoor spiders live by themselves. Note to self: research different animal models for this experiment.

So yeah, more than a year after my last relationship, I’m starting to have a small desire to feel ‘connected’ again. As though a short term, pheromone charged (sorry Dad) fling WON’T suffice (chance, in Prague, would be a fine thing, I know, but hey, a girl can dream).

Therefore, the simplest thing to do in my case is to develop a crush. Ah, but who to develop one for? And if I alter my strategy, what do I doooooooooooo (especially when surrounded by so many beautiful women here)?

I was explaining all this to a girlfriend of mine, who signs her e-mails off with the disarming “Take care out there, beautiful girl,” and she said:

“Nomes, you are wonderful and beautiful and smart and fabulous (AND you can make Mojitos?!). Girls like Nomes don’t need to make advances – because there just AREN’T a lot of girls of Nomes’ calibre out there. You don’t need to do ANY chasing whatsoever (and don’t let yourself, no matter HOW much you want to march right out there, grab that man by the scruff of the neck and drag him back to your lair bedroom). You just sit back, wiggle into yourself (ie. get comfortable with and accept just how GREAT you are) … and let him come to you. If he doesn’t – then he wasn’t ever going to (Bastard).”

We love her for these words, written in an e-mail with no subject, so URGENT was her need to tell me to DOOOOOOO NOTHING!!!

But then the (self-pitying) realist says, “If I’m so spectacular, how come no one wants to be with me?”

{cue drunken melodramatic sobbing, gnashing of teeth and, if possible, wailing: it’s just that much more attractive}
posted by Nomes @ Friday, June 16, 2006   3 comments
Pheromones of Transience (not the same as Transient Pheromones!!)
So Mum wins reader points, but so does Mark – who sent me the ‘offside rule explanation for girls’.

Now, there’s NO excuse for not being able to leap from my seat (except the presence of the table top, which may mean I can leap at a 45o angle to the world, but may result in either spilt beer or a bruised pelvis (both of which hurt), and yell “OFF-BLOODY-SIDE” or some such football associated expletive. What would I do without you Mark? (actually, I have seen this on shoewawa’s cup site (who ate all the bratwurst?) before, and for those of you with flash computers, click here for the visual explanation).

Managed to catch the last 15mins of the England-Trinidad&Tobago game last night. Which was fine, as that’s the only time anything happened!

Upon meeting people for the first time here, the usual expatriate-style questions immediately spring to your lips (turning you into an interviewer, albeit momentarily). Questions like, “Where do you come from?” (often obvious yet occasionally requires clarification and is a good place to start the search for ‘common ground’) and “How long have you been here?” (leads to a peculiar ‘integration’ pissing-contest, the grounds and rules for which are not written anywhere)

(c.f. the English set are the calculatingly disingenuous, “what do you do?” and “which school did you go to?” for reasons of salary and class comparisons)

The question “what are you doing here?” is often answered with a self-conscious I-know-I’m-a-cliché sigh and the words, “teaching English”, which begs the next question I find myself asking, “Why Prague?”.

I mean, sure, it’s gorgeous et al, but why here? And how long does the interviewee intend to stay here?

Are they running away from something?

I think the expatriate status has a lot to answer for. Perhaps I’m being unfair, people AREN’T running, and actually enjoy living from suitcase to suitcase, from one weird flatting situation to another, attempting to integrate – or at least learn how to ask for and comprehend directions. Maybe we’re high on the superglue that is created by massed enforced social isolation, but I wonder.

Why do we all do this? Why do we keep living this crazy ‘away from home’ lifestyle? What’s so good about ‘away’ that we can’t get at ‘home’? And if there’s nothing that’s PULLING us ‘away’, what’s PUSHING us from ‘home’?
Note: I’m not sure whether the situation is different for those brought up in an expat style (oil/military/diplomatic/aid brats, so to speak), because the transience and the ‘set of questions’ are, sadly, what we’ve become accustomed to. That superglue that forces the rapid development of strong friendships is now inherent in our ‘social behaviours’ and completely freaks out people who’ve not encountered expats before. But for those who are ‘away’ for their first time: why? Wanderlust? Then why ‘settle’ for a moment ‘away’.

And, most importantly, at what point do we who wander find a ‘home’?

Comments invited. As are links to sociology pages that cover this topic.
posted by Nomes @ Friday, June 16, 2006   0 comments
"- whiskers on kittens; - "
Wednesday, 14 June 2006
10 'darling reader' points for the first person to post a comment with the next line.

5 for the 9th.

In other news: Nomes has finally recalled what her favouritest (that's THE most favouritest of all) short story is. The Nightingale and the Rose, by Oscar Wilde. For your reference, white will be fine. Unlikely though it may be, should you choose to shower Nomes with roses - she'll gladly accept those without colour.

Note: Edward the Conqueror, by Roald Dahl (which must be still under copyright as I can’t find a copy of it anywhere other than my irl bookshelf) is another favourite, but not favouritest. Apologies to Javert (if he’s still reading this)!

A self examination (tools: a mirror, my mini-maglite and the word 'ahhh' in the chord of Gb minor) conducted this morning has revealed swollen and raw-looking tonsils. *sigh* One hopes that they do their job, and the lemsip stock pile doesn’t run out.

I miss road trips. Craig has (amazingly) offered me the use of one of his cars to get to Berlin and back at the end of the month (provided I pass his ‘competency test’). This has made me hark back to my days tripping (in a non-substance-abuse manner) around the north island.

Sure, they were only 6-8 hour road trips, but that was all I had the voice for anyways.

See, on a car journey, I don't need to get out and walk about as often as did the ex, but I DO need to crank the speakers to VERY LOUD and have a good selection of 'music to sing by' on the pod/cd's/tapedeck.

And it was thus I mislearnt the lyrics to many songs. You'll know which ones they are when I go (all of a sudden) quiet when singing. Or ask a question. Anything to divert listeners from hearing my mislyrics. The only one who's allowed to hear them is Nine (do you mean Tricky wasn’t singing about Monopoly being the top of his list in Massive Attack’s Karmacoma?)

I really miss those moments when I'm in a bubble, all by myself, singing at the top of my lungs, with the window down getting my arm sunburnt, feeling the warmth of the sun through glass, scrabbling around with my left hand for the pump bottle that’s “here somewhere”. One of my best ever road trips was in Brown Bess (like this one and colour me mortified!! to see my car on a ‘classic cars’ website!) on the return from a Christmas/NY in the UK (1996/7). I picked it up from Annika’s place in Auckland, stuck Eddie Izzard’s Definite Article on the tape deck, grabbed two packs of Marlboro Lights and three cans of Jolt and drove to Palmerston North in one go.

I won’t divulge details of the following days, but it involved sleeping in my room with the light on and all the windows open, my bed in the middle of the room, piled with all the junk that hadn’t been stolen (but had been gathered) a fridge that contained only containers of film *reminisce* and a phone who’s peculiar beep translated to “flatmates neglected to pay huge bill before they departed”.

I wonder where I can stumble across a '49 Buick Convertible with the fuel consumption of a Smart Car...?*

When you 'gizzogle' my last blog entry, it comes up with: "Dad'll be say'n bustin' like "Nomes, I am yo pusha." *snigger*

*alternatively, if someone fancies sponsoring me this puppy, I'll gladly drive it around on your behalf. It's true, my thoughtfulness has NO limits!
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, June 14, 2006   2 comments
"0900 Bird Flu speaking, how may I help?"
Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Katatonikova rang: a friend of hers has a dead bird in her garden, and wants to know who to call for a) disposal and b) pathology/testing.

I know the hotline in NZ for ‘suspicious animal health related incidents’ because it’s the MAF Emergency Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 809 966 (should any of my darling kiwi readers be noticing a rainfall of cats/dogs/frogs/birds/horses/cows etc.). Mum, Dad, the Queensland one is the Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 .

So it’s obvious innit? A hotline through which calls related to animal/human health incidents that are regularly presented in the news under the headline, “what to panic over now…”; the Czech Republic must have one. Right?

Wrong. Believe it or not, when we’d finally hunted down the copies of the appropriate public health announcement style leaflets, turns out you call either the police on 158 (!) or your local veterinarian (!!).

Which, understandably, led to the following exchange:
Nomes: Is anyone keeping track of these calls, and the subsequent investigations?
Boss: I think it’s likely the police have a system.
Nomes: Mm-hmm [sounding a little doubtful]. Do the police ever share their data related to concerns of a public health nature with the National Institute of Public Health (which is where I’m based, folks!)?
Boss: Um, no.
Nomes: [nods sagely while boss answers phone]

Right. So I now know what I'd like my surveillance system project to be.

Unfortunately though, apparently, the CR don’t have the sort of money required for these ‘early warning’ systems that involve (pretty much) syndromic or rumour surveillance. Well…due to the international health regulations new edict, we’re gonna have to source some money from somewhere, it’s gonna be mandatory from Jan 2007. Which (if we get the money then) gives me 10 months to set the system up, analyse the first bits of data, see if it’s of any use whatsoever, write a report to say that it won’t be much use until we establish a base line of ‘rumours’ and then disappear into the void after EPIET.

But it might be something to keep me out of the Herna bars and Beer Gardens for a while…

Of course, it’s gonna have to wait until after the World Cup. I foolishly printed out a draw sheet yesterday (thanks to Ben.UK who filled in all the scores from previous games) and now I have to see all the matches.

Okay, maybe not ALL of them, but there’s a few highlighted that I’ll try to get in front of a screen for. For my friends, stalkers and fans: of the first round, I shall be watching Group B, E and F games as follows:
England vs Trinidad & Tobago (15th)
Czech Republic vs. Ghana (17th)
Brazil vs Australia (18th)
Sweden vs England (20th)
Czech Republic vs Italy (22nd – this one’s gonna be tough as it’s during work!)
Japan vs Brazil (22nd)

Phew. By then, I might even have figured out the off-side rule, and be able to yell things like “are you fecking blind?” when the ref fouls one of my players following an opposition player cartwheeling to the ground despite my player having been nowhere near him. Oh yes. The force will end up being strong in this one. Dad’ll be saying things like “Nomes, I am your father…”.

Second round viewing dates will be available as and when the draw is decided…

P.S. Remind me to stop handing out my blog address when plastered (feel free to send random, sporadic, texts to remind me…). A quick ‘hi’ to the lovely River…should he have meandered in this direction today.

P.P.S. Mx: get MB to look for Science jobs in Europe...and then come over here! The flat will rent itself out, and we can go skating (complete with windmilling arms and squeals of 'uh-oh' as dogs on leads carry small children across our ankles) along a waterfront somewhere (give me ample warning to locate one). As for what are you good at...I can't even begin to list your skills and strengths, but hugs are definitely high up on the list. However, this skill rarely correlates to a career unless you feel like dealing with sick people (or animals). And they smell. And don't appreciate glitter *!!!*. Or false eyelashes... *sigh*
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, June 13, 2006   1 comments
High Flying, Adored
Monday, 12 June 2006
I’ve finally learned three jokes (thanks to Nis, Mark and Vlad). To understand Vlad’s contribution, you have to first know that there are elections in Slovakia next fortnight. The two candidates are Durzinda (in place now) and Rusko. Anyway:

Putin, Bush and Durzinda are invited to heaven to meet God. God informs them (after the appropriate greetings and formalities) that the earth will cease to exist in a week’s time. The three politicians head home and give statements to the press about their trip.
Bush says, “The good news is; there is a God”.
Putin says, “The bad news is; there is a God”.
Durzinda says, “There is good news, and more good news. First, there is a God, and second, Rusko will not win the elections in two weeks time.”

Well, I thought it was funny.

So I went to Baku briefly again on Thursday. And I was very very very fortunate to get business class tickets. Thus, it was with great disappointment that I met my ‘seatmate’ on the way there. Now, I’m not svelte. I’m not, and I know it. And the outside edges of my thighs both contact the arm rests in Economy class seats – but that’s usually where the buck (flesh?) stops. I don’t believe I encroach on my seatmates personal space (Lira?) overly (maybe I do…you who can judge are not strangers, and therefore more likely to be encroached upon!). But I violently object to someone sitting next to me in business and STILL swimming into MY seat, damnit, especially when you consider the breadth of the dividers between the seats in business class.

At one point, we had both ‘reclined’ (there’s something very freaky about sleeping almost horizontally next to a complete stranger with whom you’ve exchanged fewer than 10 words – or are my morals FINALLY kicking in!?). Unfortunately, although I’d turned away from my seat mate to face the window, he had followed suit, and had EVEN anchored his bulk in that axis by placing his hand on the INSIDE of my armrest. I attempted the polite “Er, excuse me,” British thing, but when that elicited no response, I ‘accidentally’ ground my elbow into the top of his hand instead, apologising profusely when he retracted his hand with an agonised groan. Well! *affronted*

Of course, had it been the gorgeous tennis player a few seats ahead who’d had his hand inappropriately in my seat-space, I’m sure my reaction wouldn’t have been quite so, um, ingenious. But I never promised I wouldn’t have double standards (they’re called ‘standards’, I think you’ll find).

I now know, thanks to my large German flight buddy, that smooth arms on a guy freak me out. In conjunction with gold rings (yes, plural) and gold bracelets, it’s positively heeby-jeeby-esque. For some reason, more swarthy (read: hairy and tanned) skin can carry it off. Must be the pirate connection (similar to rainbow connection: “Why are there so many songs about pirates and what does the parrot mean? Pirates are sailors, have no disillusions, and pirates have nothing to hide.”)…

Frankfurt airport is ridiculous. It’s the only airport I’ve ever visited, that seems specifically designed to induce feelings of ‘rat in a maze’ in passengers. If you don’t believe me, check out the floor plan. You may think that B10 and B50 would be in the same ‘rough’ area, probably about 10mins walk from one another; but no. Oh no. In fact, you may also think that being one of the largest hub airports in the WORLD, they’d have information stands and televisions everywhere. Also no. Oh no. In the end, while travelling down one concourse, I asked some airport staff (not air LINE staff, air PORT staff) where such beasts existed. The pair of them literally conversed for a full 5mins, uhming and ahing, before eventually walking me to their own work stations and looking up which gate my flight would depart from. ARGH! There were trains to be taken, lifts to locate, world cup fans to avoid: pandemonium. Despite having 2 hours between flights, I ended up with about 15 minutes in the most tired airport lounge I’ve ever seen before having to walk the remaining 2 kms to the gate. Grr. (on the plus side, the tired lounge DID have Braeburn apples, so I munch-munch-munch-munch-munched one of them (“then I ATE the apple…”) and put two in my bag…

I’ve just finished reading Smoke & Mirrors, a book of short stories by Neil Gaiman. There was one story that sprang to mind while flying and I wish I knew which one it was (I am NOT flipping through the entire book to find one sentence). It was one in which he describes the world as perceived by the angels (in particular the Angel of Vengeance). And he talks about clouds forming a fluffy carpet, and how dangerous it is for mortals to see that. I agree: the clouds on Thursday as I flew to Baku were of perfect consistency to hide the earth from view yet had ‘fluffy’ tops. They appeared SOOO inviting (see previous description of fear of heights) I had to shut my eyes and think of ‘plummeting, Nomes; plummeting!’. I think THAT (dancing on clouds) would be the best thing about flying.

Do you suppose birds ENJOY flying? Or do you think they’re always in search of the next meal/nest/predator and haven’t the opportunity to enjoy it – always calculating thermals and uplift instead of going “yippeeeee, Bob, oi, Bob, check THIS out…” and doing aerial tricks?

I really must organise a hang gliding thing.

I think I picked up a football hooligan gene from somewhere!! (Dad??) World Cup fever has hit the football-playing Europe, so there are plans afoot to boycott the last few hours of work, reshuffle english lessons, hijack trams etc all in order to get to the 'beer garden du jour' in time for kick off. Insanity. And - I'm a fully subscribed member of this set of imbeciles. Not ONLY such silly behaviour, but it does occur to me that perhaps the reason I'm attending the Czech/USA game this afternoon is not to watch the ball play on the screen at all, but to mock friends supporting the USA. And that, ladies and gennelmen, is hooliganism. Especially if you take into account my bucket of ballistics...

This morning I arrived at work to find out that a friend and colleague has died in a car accident in Turkey. This is more and more bizarre, this whole ‘death’ thing. I haven’t really had any experience with it in the past. People who’ve died have either not been terribly close to me (even if I had a crush on them years previous to their final demise), or old relatives of whom one tends to expect it (even if not so sudden). I haven’t had many friends die suddenly and it’s weird.

I suspect that as I age, more and more of my address book entries will have a cross beside their names (actually, I'm not sure HOW I’m going to record these events) because they age at a similar rate, and as we age, we are putting ourselves in more risky situations. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around though? Or is it just that our total hours-at-risk-lived are so high that serious events are more likely. I’d hate to be so clinical as to perform a risk analysis for death (when the P(death)=1 anyway!), but it does spark off that certain ‘hmm’ feeling.

So now I’m wondering what to write for a condolence message. I’m crap at this sort of thing – much better (apparently) at the self-deprecating wit which is hardly the biscuit required here.

I remember M was looking desperately for a job in his home: Italy. He loved life there. Although he didn’t rate himself as much of a dancer, he was always up on the dancefloor with the rest of us, boogying until late in the night. Unless he had to present the following morning, in which case he’d always sensibly take himself home. He had a great mind, was three steps ahead when it came to my questions re analysis or data structure. He touched my arm when I spoke to him, and always looked me directly in the eye (which I'm not good at doing, so I have heap-big respect for those who can). He loved a drop of wine (or two, I have a great photo of him pouring wine from two jugs into his mouth simultaneously) though I never saw him lose control (typical drinking behaviour of the Mediterranean European, I guess!). He had a very infectious giggle, and I'll miss that.

Ciao Max (complete with kisses to either cheek).

Oh god, I have to delete his phone number from my phone.
posted by Nomes @ Monday, June 12, 2006   1 comments
Pirates: oo-Argh!!
Wednesday, 7 June 2006
It would seem that people REMAIN disinclined to send me actual jokes (as in, those semi amusing strings of words that one can commit to memory for the purpose of making others smile later) and would rather a) point me in the direction of auction sites, b) make vague references to sea monsters or c) argue another point.

Surprise on the candidates for c)!!!

Anyway. Prompted by the ex to do my OWN googlesearch (too obvious!), I’ve since found this which offers a reasonable description for the origin of the ‘pieces of eight’ idea.

The search for “arr jim-lad” is somewhat more obfuscated, mainly by the possibility of incorrect spelling. Who knows exactly how the primary author of this phrase originally wrote it. I could fit more r’s, more h’s and probably a g or two in it as well, but bearing in mind my English English language, I could even squeeze a ‘silent w’ into it if I really tried hard. But I did learn that Boris Andreyev played Long John Silver in the Russian screen adaptation of the novel. The novel that I really must read one of these days.

Even more disturbing is the number of ‘bizarre links’ (said in the Nevermind the Buzzcock’s voice, please) that one can encounter when looking up something seemingly esoteric (such as ‘arr jim-lad’!). My favourite (yes, one must click on several at random, just to see if they are worthwhile) was definitely a whole page devoted to counting the number of different spellings of aargh, the matrix that (inevitably) results and the number of webpages related to each different spelling (including statistical significance as portrayed visually using colour intensity!).

I’m sorry, did someone say ‘too much time on hands?’?

What I want to know is that it seems we’re getting (or at least, we have an awe-inspiring amount of access to) a rather vast breadth of ‘information’. And the quotation marks are there in case someone wants to argue with me over the definition of the word ‘information’. But, I know from my own personal experience, that the exposure to information that I’m subjected to seems inversely proportional to a) the amount I care and b) the ability to retain said information.

Is it brain overload? Is this a latent autism structure that we’re now building into the psyche of every-child (2s audio-visual ‘bites’ now being the equivalent of a ‘news flash’ on children’s television productions)? Are we encouraging people to learn or to think? What am I doing with the extra brain space that isn’t being filled with this junk (devoting it to ‘ignoring’ said junk?)?

Or is my seemingly ‘too many windows open for memory’ warning sign merely an indication of too many nights with my friends, Messrs Smirnhoff, Stolichnaya and Finlandia?

To add insult to injury, aren’t you rather impressed with the duration of time for which one can expound on pirate-related topics! And we haven’t even seen Pirates of the Carribean II yet (the presence of Johnny will promote even MORE expounding, I promise/threaten you!)

I know shoehorns are the best/easiest way to slip shoes on. I, however, don’t use them. I much prefer the ‘wiggle your ankle’ method (unless it’s sprained, in which case, this is the one movement that reminds you when you’ve forgotten due to overdosing in Diclofenac) or alternatively the toe-scrunch method. Yes, it’s true, I put my shoes on badly, despite having been brought up by a Mum (hiya!) who always reminded me HOW to put the (many) shoes I’d begun to acquire on.

Yet, in all of my life, I’ve never been to a place, or lived amongst people who REALLY use the shoehorn. But here I am, in the Czech Republic. I’m not sure what the national symbol is (probably related to ice-hockey – ooh, no, it’s a lion *yawn*) but I really do think it ought to be a shoe horn. People use the damned things to get into slingbacks (seriously). You can get shoehorns of different lengths (obviously) and different materials (um, all are slippy though). Which is how (one assumes) we have ended up with two shoe horns in my office (shared with one other). Both of which are used by only one person. Guess who it ain’t?

Speaking of shoes, have I mentioned previously that the word ‘comfort’ is frequently bandied about to describe why people wear particular clothing. Many, MANY times, I’ve sat on a tram, been struck – as though by lightning – by the fabulous lines of some guy’s jaw/cheekbone structure and done the full look up and down thing (a.k.a. the Czech stare, it’s almost invited, let alone permitted). Decent(ish) haircut, Czech! Bright eyes (and moist nose, yes yes), Czech! Broad shoulders, strong looking neck, Czech. Tapered torso, slim hips, strong thighs, Czech. All going well so far. Then: ARGH!!!! SOCKS AND SANDALS! WHITE! WITH JEANS!!!!!!! *hysterical sobbing*

Decent-ish, when referring to a haircut, takes into consideration our geographic positioning in Central/Eastern Europe. When one thinks that the Czech Republic is in ‘eastern europe’, one is prompted to remind oneself that Vienna is further east than Prague is. Oooh! However, when it comes to fashion, I think Vienna may as well be San Francisco for the difference in style. For instance, stonewash denim is a really big thing here. In fact, you don’t have to TRY very hard to come across a person who will, for instance, be wearing patchy jeans. These aren’t the ‘worn’ patches that are in shops elsewhere, but patches of different material. I saw a ‘marvellous’ cord/denim mix the other day: denim on the right buttock, cord on the left, denim on the left thigh, cord on the right…etc. And the ubiquitous socks with sandals. So we all know that stonewash denim requires the mullet haircut to really finish the look. So, hair immediately begins to develop into a mullet when you get here, regardless of how it started. You could arrive with an undercut, and within a few weeks, the ‘under’ would have started to grow faster than the ‘over’. It’s true. So it is, that I’m unable (now) to pour scorn on others for their choice of 80’s hair-‘do’s (or don’t’s, if you prefer), since my very own mop is now longer in the back than…(sorry Altos!)

Am off to Azerbaijan tomorrow. Have never been flown so far, for such a little contribution. Am now trying to fill our dance card so that not a moment there is wasted. So far, we’re visiting with the Min of Health, BP (who are flying us in) and USAID. Keeps me out of mischief for a weekend at least…will be back Sunday, so you’ll hardly notice my absence. Have a good weekend all! X

*ahem* if you’re really interested in this web-language phenomenon, you can start by looking at which links to many other such sites. You know you want to…
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, June 07, 2006   1 comments
Monday, 5 June 2006’s not just where the heart is. It’s where you feel secure; a sanctuary awaiting your return, filled with the things that make you feel happy, snugly and comforted."

Or so I told philosophy-Ben (mild-mannered American English teacher who wants to ‘be’ a philosopher by day…) about 30mins after meeting him on Friday. Adam has a bunch of friends: two of whom are named Ben. They each run a ‘club’ and attend one another’s: one is a politics club, the other a philosophy club (politics-Ben is a less mild-mannered English Investment Banker looking for WTO missions by day…). And yes, we DO find it mildly-disturbing that supposedly ‘growed-up’ men are running ‘clubs’. These are in addition to David (charming American author – just completed book on some special American author who’s name I forget) and River (lovely American English teaching philosophy graduate).

However, it IS entertaining to be with a bunch of people who don’t have science/tech backgrounds for a while. Pol-Ben and I have already had one long (animated?) discussion. Apparently, while I now think of him as entertainingly earnest and cute (I’m trying to be emasculating) in his absolute belief of a capitalist and ‘democratic’ governmental model, he couldn’t speak highly enough of me to phil-Ben. Who has also complimented me, I think, by telling me that he’s really happy that I’ve come into Adam’s life (and apartment, obviously). My succinct description of home is apparently almost verbatim what Adam also thinks home should be (question asked of us without prior knowledge, when we were approximately 30kms across town from one another). So yeah…although I’m sure we’re still in the honeymoon stage of flatting together, the compatibility index seems high!

Just as well, as battling Carrefour (now Tescos) together in a 45min dash with a wayward trolley (aren’t they all?) with someone on a different wavelength would be a nightmare. But off he went to get drinks, while I filled our trolley with “things to make into small nibbly things”. Menu for the evening: apricot-blue-cheese crowns, chicken tortilla/sushi rolls, tomato/basil bruschetta, mushroom/feta/arugula bruschetta, homemade guacamole/salsa and cornchips and homemade mutable (baba ganoush) with toasted pita bread.

All that for an invited 20 people (or thereabouts). And you know what? It all disappeared, eerily ‘flash’ like!

The evening went off (as they say in NZ), complete with a ‘half of intunition’ Java Jive moment (you knew it had to happen), a dance with a pot plant that loves a drink (KatII), a “here, put these on” costume change prior to ‘going out’, a 4am visit to Le Clan with Danish boys (alas, no, not that one) and a surly Australian chick, a 2pm (!) return home, 2:30pm joyous discovery of ‘not having spent all the cash withdrawn’, 3pm shower, 3:30pm post-party/evening gossip-sesh with Adam/Kat/River and a 6:30pm 40min snooze on the couch while the boys hunted food for dinner.

Learnt a new joke (set) though - courtesy of River – the “pirate” series. Apparently, we English English speakers aren’t ‘rotik’ (sp? Hell, I’m not sure I even remember the word correctly!) which means that we omit ‘r’s from our alphabet, pronouncing ‘are’ ‘ahh’ instead (bloody TEFL teachers!). To practice making r sounds, one thinks of pirates, and their favourite vocal emission which apparently results in fun and laughter all around. Witness:

Why did the pirate not want to walk home?
Because it was too faaaarrrrrr!

How did the pirate get home?
By caaarrrrr.

Hilarity ensues.

Stage direction there in case your reaction was a similar ‘raised eyebrow’ as mine.

However, it did lend us to finding out that in the States; pirates do not have ‘pieces of eight’ (R: How do pirates buy groceries? N: [frown] Um, pieces of eight? R: WTP?!!). So where did we get this piece of pirate knowledge from? In fact, in this vast database of knowledge we hold within our brains: where does the “pirate” page come from?

There is no ‘knock knock’ joke in Czech, either. But that didn’t stop Adam from inventing:
Knock knock
Who’s there?
The Who?

(yes, after trying to elucidate the reason why people think (both philosophy grads…ARGH!), THIS was the ‘lighter’ side of the evening)

But…horror of horrors, it seems I’ve run out of jokes (crap or otherwise). I simply can’t remember them.

So, my lovely readers, your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to send me (via comments, no e-mails) your favourite and most amusing joke. The one that makes me giggle the longest, or spray coffee the furthest from my nose, WINS!!!

P.S. Latest news out: hung government in the CR. The socialists and Christians are ganging up (100 seats) and the democrats and greens are doing likewise (100 seats). Ipso facto, plus ca change: plus que meme chose.
posted by Nomes @ Monday, June 05, 2006   9 comments

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