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!)
Tuesday, 28 November 2006
Arguing with Amazon. You know how they ship anywhere? Well, apparently, even items that are “shipped internationally” cannot be sent to the Czech Republic. Once upon a time, this would have surprised me.

Considering a blog-holiday: creativity lost to ennui.

(actually, I just want you all to scream “Nooooo” and send me e-mails of love, support and empathy…)

Searching for choir weekends. Love singing Intunition style, but feel musical ability is degenerating due to neglect. Would like something really juicy to sing. Some sort of mass in two choirs of 16 parts. Something where you get lost on the score and have pencil marks all over to indicate “shut up”, “get louder” and “don’t take a breath here ‘cos the person next to me is doing so” along with the Italian bits put there by the “composer”. Of course, I can’t find any that are close to an English airport...

Enjoying progidous success with spy-theory: three dates so far. A 300% increase on life prior to secrecy (previously using the “-OH” technique, which was successful when a corpse(like) stupor was desired of a partner). Wondering who (two) I need to eliminate for doubleO status. MI6 (the official secret intelligence service website? A trace oxymoronic, no?) doesn’t want me though – to apply, you have to have been resident for 6 of the last 10 years in Britain. MI5’s worse: 9 of the last 10 It was also noted (after I wiped up the pool of drool from watching Daniel Craig) that MI6 is in the habit of googling things when a call from an agent comes in. What’s next? How to dismantle a bomb on youtube? So, in lieu of actually being paid by HMG, and in keeping with my temporary Le Carre insanity, I think I’ll start calling myself “N”, and telling boys off for being, well, boys.

Dame Dench; watch out.

Update (now). Amazonian success (machetes down, all). They explained that, as an international buyer, I must be absolutely rolling in dough (I smell yeasty? Silly! That’s the beer!) and consequently should stop looking at the ‘marketplace’ for bargains and pay the full Jungle price (damnit). I have thus adjusted my behavior (full-price hurts!) for this occasion and have ordered three books. Note: was gonna charge me £58 for what charged me $88.

Oh yes, I’ll STILL shop around you little buggers…you won’t get me. These books are now en route to me!!!

Update II: Mum’s. Christmas. Care. Package. Arrived. AsI’m not going directly home, the anticipation can only become more piquant (cookbooks or thesaurii, you decide)

Update III: my food-related messages (am cooking saffron & salmon risotto with courgettes this week) sent to my girls are apparently the hottest txts they’re getting. Gotta love Prague.

Update IV: am grooving at my desk to “King of the Bongo” remix.

Update V: there is a small possibility I'll get my backpay before I get slung in jail for tax dodging. This makes me happier than you can possibly imagine. With this distracting jubilance, I may not be able to...withold...the

(but I'm gonna try)
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, November 28, 2006   7 comments
I’m being pestered to post (and I hate it - not!)
Thursday, 23 November 2006
I have little to say at the moment, due to a severe case of the ‘doldrums’ at having returned to Prague. It’s not because of the city itself, it’s because of the system by which the inhabitants appear to subscribe (but don’t actually, consequently, the system only operates to piss off everyone who tries to operate withIN the system who don’t know the correct people to ensure cooperation OUTside of it). I feel as though I’m in a never ending episode of the Matrix (complete with Morpheus – the full length leather coat which can keep out the cold at a tram stop after midnight) and there’s no operator to call.

“please hold”

Brazil was amazing. People are friendly (they too, speak little or no English), and will consent to being gesticulated to and mimed at. I even managed to convey the idea that “I need a bus timetable, to show that the buses from the airport don’t run after midnight, for my expense claim for work.” All done with a 15kg pack on my back, I’d add, after an exhausting trip which included a surprise overnight stay in an airport hotel near Charles de Gaulle (the second on the list of most hated airports, following Frankfurt).

I also realised that one of the things I miss in Prague is one that I missed in NZ. Multi-culturalness(ity?). Turn a street in London and you’re faced with the ‘japanese area’. Hell, turn a street in Auckland (even) and you’re in Chowick (admit it, we all call races by different names, therefore we’re all racist to some extent).

Turn a street in Prague and you’re still a ‘foreigner’ amongst an (predominantly) Ayrian race. Blue eyes and white skin gets a bit tiring when it also looks at you with blank incomprehension at why you’re here, to be quickly replaced by suspicion once you tell them you’re working for the state. (lends even more power to my ‘spy’ act previously mentioned).

Turn a street in Brazil (even in Brasilia) and you’re faced with smiley, happy people (okay, so the street cleaners aren’t exactly bursting into song at the drop of a hat, but they do smile at you when you hesitate to cross the area they’re washing, in case they get upset…) who don’t mind your weird Fritalengpanoguese (French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese) that you try to speak (“bon giorno! Donde esta bus station? Le gare? Muchos obrigado!”). They don’t look at you weird when you draw diagrams on your body to demonstrate “Brazilian football strip” and fairly embrace you when you say the magic names “Ronaldinho” or “Ronaldo”.

So what was it like? Well, Brasilia was massive. Organised. One has the impression one is walking around a lego city built by a German child on Ritalin (I imagine) who was forbidden from building model aeroplanes (the city is laid out like one). Things that are currently under construction were designed in the 60’s…so you can say it’s a continuous work in progress. But so organised…this is the place where they plan which trees to put next to which buildings, then decide to build the buildings only to 4 stories high, because when the trees stop growing, they’ll be the same height.

The conference was massive: 500 people (three weasely males: 2 gay, 1 married) doing the same field training as I am supposed to be doing – from all over the world. Am trying to inveigle my way into the next outbreak of Rabies in the Amazon though, they had to use Army helicopters to transport the epidemiologists in (!!!!). People from
Africa carefully pointed out which country they came from so that we learnt the difference. Bone structures were different too: the Ghanaians have really round faces, while the Kenyans and Ugandans looked more similar to the ‘typical’ African face shape. They’ve got massive problems with TB and HIV there. I’m just waiting for XDR-TB to wiggle it’s way into the world properly, and then we’re all done for folks. Oooh…fancy if it picked up a few strands of DNA from influenza. Recipe for humanocide.

They gave us a day off on their national holiday, so we had an organised tour (from whence the photos came) and then a gigantic lunch (meat, meat and just when you’re tired of it, a bit more meat: thankfully mostly beef with only one small pork leg waved at us) after which we relaxed in the pool with a friendly (read: death to those who lose!!!) game of water-volleyball. Hilarious fun (till we started losing) which gave us all pinkish shoulders and noses (both at the same time? Reflection, darlings, not just in a mirror).

On the last day of the conference, I was anyone but myself. We had lunch, went to lectures, and then lounged pool-side for the last set of lectures (STD’s, hilarious to hear talks about fisting spoken in accented English by someone trying desperately hard to keep a straight face and praying no one in the audience asks what fisting is, but you know, it was the SUN!!!) before whipping off bikini, replacing it with business casual attire, and being Marten to present his poster on something I know nothing of. People asked some difficult questions, I collected cards and e-mail addresses, and then it was the official closing ceremony where I did the stage thing accepting an award for someone else (Lisa, who won the John Snow award for the best epi-work).

Am quite jealous that she gets to work in an institute where work actually occurs and they seem to be involved in the ‘health of the nation’ instead of somewhere where they collate numbers, re-present them in a national table and call it a ‘good day’s work’. But she deserved the award. She was great. And it gave EPIET a good name too. Accepting on her behalf meant having to explain dozens of times that evening, “no, it’s not for MY talk, it’s Lisa who won…I’m glad you also liked my talk…”. Remind me not to do that again.

And then it was all over. Michelle (an Aussie) and myself headed to Sao Paulo, where we spent two half days looking for decent shoes (me) and markets (us). Sao Paulo is a big, smoggy, ugly, city. But it was interesting to be (temporarily) in a city of 19million inhabitants. Kind of crazy - the bus journey to the airport took almost an hour. It’s not got as good an infrastructure as London (I know!) for so many people (as I understand it) but since we were in the centre, we could be entirely wrong (and probably are). Anyway, if you head to Brazil, skip SP if possible and head to Rio instead. I missed it this time…

I won’t share my homicidal thoughts upon realising my seat mate (for the entire 13hour flight to Paris) was a 4 year old. I think you can probably imagine anyway (she was actually very well behaved, and had a cute button nose!). Nor my exhaustion at arriving home, and finding out that due to the temperature drop, miPod battery meter thinks it has no power, and resets its clock, causing me to get into work late every day this week so far. And since you’ve been extra special good, I’ll omit a verse from a Czech Christmas Carol. Let’s just say that I learnt “kolibati” = rock (as in ‘we will rock you’). And Doha College readers: can you believe we’re doing Dona Nobis for Christmas? Hark back to the days of wandering around the school bursting into various teachers rooms to sing for the class.

P.S. Thank you notes have so much more impact when they’re signed and not merely anonymous, don’t you think?

posted by Nomes @ Thursday, November 23, 2006   4 comments
Strange but true...
Wednesday, 15 November 2006 a public announcement style post designed specifically to freak one person out, David, sweetheart, I never said I stopped fancying you.

It was simply that we were moving in different directions: me, towards a continent currently covered in snow; you, towards vacuous drunk blonde 19 year old sopranos. *nonchalant shrug* Different to speak.

So I severed our relationship prior to it´s gangrenous demise into something smelly.

But in other news, I´m in Brasilia. The weather oscillates between cloudy and humid to hot and dry. It´s lovely. I should get pedicures and leg waxes far more frequently, I find myself inordinately attracted to my own feet now. Is this the second stage of the (likely) foot fetish?

And to confuse things further, the women here are far hotter than the men. *sigh* Am I crossing over? Is this me ¨moving on¨from my gay-man crushes (oh come on, I´m not afraid to admit it! I just LOVE my four main squeezes!) to the next gender/preference in the hazy scale of sexuality? Or am I just sooooooo inordinately pissed off with the general behaviour of heterosexual males (as a race) that I´m giving up?

Alternatively, come on! Who wouldn´t be attracted to someone with an elfin bronze face with almond eyes, brown silky long hair tied into a ponytail and a body to DIE for?

Oh, and, should you ever need to fly long haul, and consider yourself a bit of a foodie, go Air France. Crap leg room, but a trolley down the back to which you can `help yourself´throughout the flight (yummy sandwiches of prosciutto and brie, or Haagen Daaz ice cream, juices, wines etc.) more than makes up for it. Especially if you´ve a seat beside you.

But whatever you do, don´t change destinations of your flight midway through the vein solidifying process, otherwise it means you end up in Sao Paulo (say) without a ticket to Brasilia, since your ticket still says that you travelled via Rio!
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, November 15, 2006   4 comments
Bitching and Moaning at the Internet
Thursday, 9 November 2006

Moan moan moan, whinge whinge whinge.

According to my darling (misguided, misinformed, misanthropist) flatmate, it’s official. “[I] shan’t be single for very much longer.”

Now, you should know two things: I’m a scientist. He’s a philosopher. Thus – all our conversations, at some point, reach the following end-game, “but what you define as X, I define as Y, therefore, we’re actually talking about the same things”. See, definitions are very important for both philosophers (weird) and scientists (empirical).

That description was so that you’d have a little bit of an idea exactly how much eyeball rolling I had to undertake in response to his statement.

1. Define single.
Do you mean: happily able to starfish on my bed every night and sleep with the window open because I love the feeling of snuggling down into my duvet? Are you referring to my surprising capacity for the unexpected, “where are you?” “oh, at the national aquarium – it’s really good have you been?”, “er, no” without informing people of my intentions or inviting attendees. Or do you mean the whiney Nomes who comes home shattered night after night and complains she has no one to snuggle under the duvet and watch crappy Czech TV with? Or massage her shoulders – so extraordinarily tense from a day of shouldering the entire burden of global health*.

2. Define “very much longer”.
Because let’s face it, I’m sure there was a point at which the first dinosaur looked at the other and said “hmm, not much longer till the species is wiped out you know”. And once upon a time, two glaciers were communicating (well, the whales trapped within the glaciers were singing to one another across the hills – it’s how yodelling was invented) and one said “gosh, if we continue melting at this rate, I’ll be gone in not much longer". On the other hand, there’s also the moment of greenstick crisis (syringe fresh from extracting the blood from the vein of a patient with ebola, magically realigns with the padded part of your thumb, pierces all seven layers of protective clothing and draws your very own pinprick of ‘clean’ (!!!?????) blood) where if you wait “very much longer” before hammering a cleaver into your forearm, your insides will melt and pour out through your eyes. Exactly which “very much longer” do you mean?

3. Define your source.
You know, the only reason anyone ever gets your thesis out of the library is to steal the bibliography. No one reads the ACTUAL text. Occasionally, someone may flip through the pages and remark, “ooh, nice graph”, or “ha, line break in the wrong place here” but that’s it. So, when writing a bibliography, you’re fairly certain that someone, somewhere, someday, will thank you for bringing a little comic relief to their godawfully boring job (of stealing reference lists so they don’t have to conduct any actual research themselves) by inserting fake references (it’s best to fake the number of the volume, or omit one word from the journal title so that the name could now be one of 120 possible permutations of the 5 words that contain “Journal”, “of”, “and” and “epidemiology”). Besides, as someone who dabbles in statistics, ALL of them are massaged in some manner – even if only by accident. And given the rumourmill of
Prague gossipmongers (apparently, there was Arborio rice at Tescos, but no…the shelves were bare!!!) I'm doubtful that the statement offered above was arrived at via communications with a reliable source.

So all in all, I’m still not miserable, but pissed off. Why? Because, as I'll patiently explain to anyone foolish enough to listen (or anyone who mistakenly considers the seat next to me on the tram as available), I’m (still) in the market for a humorous, sensitive, ambitious, kind and patient male who is smarter and taller than me, built like a cross between a whippet and a weasel, can cook, does buy wine, is musical, can solve quadratic equations in their head and has read literature.

It’s not like I asked to fly unaided to the moon, so why is it harder than nuclear physics??? And don't mention the internet. Bah humbug: Prague, Oklahoma? No you idiotic free-matchmaking non-service: Prague, Czech freaking Republic!

Even the darling flatmate pointed out, “Well Nomes, perhaps you shouldn’t be so definite when you say things**.”

Oh. Now I get it. I shouldn’t be myself, right? Should I bleach my hair while we’re at it, so as to APPEAR vulnerable***? Seems that I have to choose between frontal lobotomy, or pillows and duvet for one.


But in light of being a self-proclaimed scientist, I shall embark on a wee project/experiment. Over the next month, I shall represent myself as a mute spy. This shall have the (apparently) more desirable effect of a) shutting me up, and b) making me appear more ‘enigmatic’ and ‘mysterious’. I shall compare the number of dates I go on in the next month with the average number of ‘dates per month’ from my entire life (to date, ha ha) and see which projection of self is more successful. Of course, in this month, I may end up biting my own tongue off …which could render me less successful in the porn movie casting-couch line “and I give great blowjobs…”****

*rumour is, I have a tendency towards the melodramatic. Rumour, people. Unsubstantiated.
**apparently, it’s offputting when I tell someone that I don’t expect that we’re going to embark on THE AFFAIR OF A LIFETIME, and that I’d simply like to hang out with them more and get to know them better. Which I don’t quite understand, because everyone bangs on about “being more honest” yet, when you are, they go, “oh, you cold hearted bitch”. WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT!?!??!?!?!
***According to the Czech newspapers (yes, somehow, this counts as journalism), blondes are vulnerable, black-haired girls are exotic and scary, while brunettes are the agony aunts to whom you turn when you’re having trouble with a blonde. And according to most of my acquaintances, I’m not vulnerable. So explain the salt rings on my pillowcases please?
****Never used*****, Dad, I promise!

posted by Nomes @ Thursday, November 09, 2006   2 comments
Comprehensible condolence cards
Friday, 3 November 2006
I can’t find any.

I’m too young, and have been to too few weddings/christenings/adoption parties etc. for my closest friends parents to die. But one did. My thoughts are currently with the girl who had to get on a flight yesterday back to the UK to be with her family and mourn the loss of her Mum. I can’t even imagine what you’re feeling. Mainly because when I try to, I tear up – and I’ve nowhere to have an ‘artificial’ breakdown at work. Blog hugs and all my love to you babe*.

Tights are apparently the bane of woman’s and drag queen’s lives. Why do we do it? Oh yeah – so we don’t a) have to shave our legs and b) freeze.

Speaking of which: first snow arrived overnight (on the express) and is now on the ground in Prague. It hasn’t melted yet *alarmed*. This probably means it’s here to stay. For the next 4 months. Am far less impressed with winter this time round than I was last year. I can’t believe the novelty wore off so quickly. It’s “metal gets cold” time of year again: so my left nostril and my earlobes ache when I’m outside. Has no one developed a nose-warming device (other than the armpit of the person next to you at the tram – bleee!) yet?

The winter is forcing me to stay in bed longer and longer every morning. It’s not my fault I’m part squirrel (yes, I keep nuts in trees too). My body thinks that hibernation is a great idea. Which is why when I’m not sleeping, I can be found hanging out by vending machines and fridges, all in an effort to ‘lay down some stores’ for the winter.

I’m sorry Jim. It’s over between us. It was never going to work anyway – you smelled of disinfectant.

Am looking into Bikram yoga instead. Stretch. Bend. Heat. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Weekend looms; next week, a ECDC assessment, and preparing for Brazil. Stay tuned.

*did you like the way I made your loss about me? I’m SO good. You might get sympathy food, but surely I get points for artistic manipulation?
posted by Nomes @ Friday, November 03, 2006   1 comments
There’s a good reason why dentists should not be hot.
Thursday, 2 November 2006
Because when they have their latex-gloved hands inside your gaping maw, it’s very difficult to resist the temptation to lick their fingers.

And that’s just perverse.

So, I finally took myself off to a dentist who speaks English for a consult. I got x-rayed (my face! Argh! It’s melting…) and saw my teeth splayed in that slightly “those are mine?” manner. But the hot-dentist and I pored over the x-ray together. Closely. With much “uh-huh, and this is?” from me – just to keep our heads bent closely over the x-ray for longer.

I have reached new depths (heights) of patheticness (patheticism? patheticosity? pathos? - ha ha!)

But he concluded that if all patients were like me, he’d be very bored. There’s nothing. No cavities now, nor developing. No occlusions. No peculiarities. No bone retraction (which would lead to receding gums etc.). Nothing. I am officially periodontally perfect. Wahoo. Merci beaucoup to the parents.

Some of you more bright sparks will have noticed the change in layout. The list to the right requires a tiny bit of explanation. Some people, for New Years, make the foolish gesture of ‘resolutions’; "I resolve to…". My problem is in the word. I mean, what is resolving? Chemically speaking, that means to separate a mixture into it’s component parts.

Other people find more happiness with lists. Since my timeline was thrown out the window (complete with baby, bathwater AND tub), lists have been my sole source of self-agenda-organising joy. I’m goal orientated.

So this list is a list of reasonably clearly defined tasks that MUST BE COMPLETED WITHIN 1000 days. The inspiration was from Triplux’s 101 in 1001 but I forgot the extra 1’s. Three hundred and three days have elapsed since the list was compiled – I’ve got only 697 days left. But yesterday, I knocked number 86 (back up the blog - it's ready for editing into a book. Ha ha.) and 15 (david’s casserole) on the head. Despite this being a 303 day old list, I’m quite impressed that I’ve done a lot of what I wanted to do (despite losing the list in the interim). But I still have 80 tasks to complete. Not doing too well on the predicted timeline then… (sounds familiar).

And in case anyone was wondering what to do on Sunday night:
posted by Nomes @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   3 comments
There is possibly nothing worse than…
Wednesday, 1 November 2006
...tights that are too small.

Okay, maybe the whole environmental damage, extinction of species, cockroaches, war, famine, flood, fire etc….but really: let’s face it. They’re not actually affecting the blood circulation to your left leg, are they? Not directly at any rate.

This sort of thing would never happen to Angie. I grew up with her, in Doha. We had a marvellous time, and when we weren’t driving round in boys cars (yes, dear parents, it’s true) with the windows down trying to locate a good party, we were lounging on the pool chairs at the Falcon Club, or wandering down the souq attempting to buy stuff that we’d seen in English magazines. But she was always the cool one - the “pretty one”. I used to wonder why people would drop anything and help her, or be around her. Yet, she always seemed so unruffled, like a ballerina, while I would be stressed out in the heat, sweatstains belying my fear of being acutely inappropriate.

Oh hang on, is that the answer?

I was the “smart” one, who “organised stuff” and had a camera. I was the loudest at charades, whereas she was the demure one acting out “Black Beauty” by tossing her ringletted (see?!) hair like a horse for half a second. For the same “movie/book” I would have been on the floor, hands and knees, before pretending to be shot in the head and collapsing sideways. I’m adult enough now to understand that we simply had different approaches, but as a selfconscious 17 year old, I was truly, TRULY puzzled by it all.

Anyway, Mo (half Somali, half Qatari, called me for first time in 7 years when I was in a hotel room in Slovenia…as you do…to inform me he had two children and a beautiful wife) called the other night. International calls I interrupt films for, so we paused The Constant Gardener (currently accruing late fees on a friends membership at the bottom of my bag…oops) and I spoke briefly to him, before he made a three way call and linked Angie and myself. Bizarrely, she recognised me from my laugh. I didn’t think it all THAT identifiable, but there are worse things to be known by. It was the first time we’d heard one another’s voices since we hung out for Christmas in 1996.

I love having long-time friends in far-off lands. That’d include you too, naturally.

I think I may have solved the running shoe debacle. Shop #1 from Saturday (a public holiday – wouldn’t you know – which explains why things weren’t open) WAS open last night (and is open every night after work). I only had to take one bus for 40mins to get there. As soon as I walked in the door, the blonde, tanned, weasel behind the counter *she shoots, she scores* asked (in Czech) if I wanted help. I asked if he spoke English, and he did. With an Australian accent. After having lived in Sydney for two years, he mistakenly thought he was missing out on something back in the homeland. He’s been saving for a one-way ticket ever since! So we had a bit of a talk about lifestyle differences etc. and then he showed me the shoes. They didn’t have many, but he used all the right words, then pulled one off the wall and bingo. It was on my magic list. I tried it on. Alas, the size was too small. I needed a tiny bit larger…but they didn’t have it in. “I can order it for you, it should be here by Friday.” I nearly fainted.

I developed a stammer while I was at the Air France counter, changing my tickets today. I blame the fact that the 50 year old female ticket agent was wearing glasses. They fit the fashion for oversized (she looked like a “rimless owl”) but, horror of horrors, they actually had diamante decorations on the bottom outside corner of the left lens. I was transfixed. I fear I may end up in a similar way if I don’t have children – with no idea of the sartorial hanging offences??

On the way back from the airport, I read the Guardian. It was, predictably, filled up with commentary and ‘reportage’ (including the word “bitterest”!!!!) about the Stern report.

I find it disheartening to know that what the environmentalists have been saying for years already has only finally been deemed “important” when an economist summarises it all. Because, clearly, environmental scientists simply cannot be trusted to write reports in an objective manner. It seems (without actually having read the 579 pages) that he’s just paraphrased them, and then stuck their reports in as appendices.

It means that in order to try to promote treating people for diarrhoea (simple solution saves lives: 1l boiled water, 1/2 tsp salt, 4 tsp sugar), TB or influenza, we have to work out what the cost of the loss of that life to the labour force is.

Or am I just being cynical?
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, November 01, 2006   3 comments

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