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!)
Ya think?
Monday, 30 July 2007
One really must check the “who links to my blog” more frequently (I try to avoid it to avoid looking quite so desperate). Turns out that I was nominated (in a very, backwards compliment, kind of way) by Daddy Papersurfer – an old git (my father finally has a blog? No no, just turns out there are multiple old gits out there! ).

Anyway, this is apparently “blogs that make you think”. And the rules are straightforward (and below).

Now, the idea is that someone saw my blog, read parts of it, and it made them think. But what, exactly? Did they think that I was as narcissistic and vain as all that? (probably) Did they wonder over evolution and the theory of relationships? (most likely they didn’t get that far back) Did they consider moving to Prague? (don’t. Just don’t do it you masochistic freak) Did they apply for EPIET (actually, I have it on good authority that some did)? Or did they wonder where they could hire a boat in Menorca (yes, apparently)?

But real, true thinking? Thinking of the sort that philosophers have methods (and probably taxonomy for those methods) for? I doubt it. A lot.

My blog is merely an online journal, briefly touching on the bits of my life that make me go ARGH! I realise how self-obsessed this is. But one of the main reasons I set up this blog was that I was soon to be moving from one side of the world to another. Away from friends and family, to a totally foreign environment. Although the new environment is (predominantly) white, and (again, predominantly) developed (depending upon your definitions), that’s where the similarities ended. As I soon found out upon arrival, and have continued to discover during my stay.

The people are different. Not as friendly and open as kiwis. They won’t just let you into their lives, and hope that you turn out to be ‘one of the good guys’. They’ll wait until they’ve known you for 20 years first. The expats WILL let you into their lives, but begrudgingly, almost immediately with a sense of ‘the betrayal to come’ – knowing that at some point either you, or they themselves, will be leaving this city for greener pastures.

The lifestyle is different from that at home. No bus rides into wine country here. No long bbq’s up at a house on a hill overlooking a harbour. No massive parties complete with police invasions, hourly visits from noise control and a constant stream of taxis driven by incurious drivers. No smirting outside (flirting for cigarettes) bars since ‘the ban’. No musical theatre. No fitness and health craze. No cocktails on the waterfront. No skating on the waterfront. No bloody waterfront at all (do not even so much as DARE to mention our bridges here, I may come through the screen screaming like a banshee and gouge your eyes out with a spoon).

People look at me oddly when I mention I’m living with 5 people – here, that seems akin to ‘hostelling’. Our upstairs flat demands we be quiet after 10pm (or we get snarky letters from our landlords). There is dog poo EVERYWHERE in this city. The parks (in which the dogs also roam free) are loaded with dangerous things, dog poo piles and tick-borne-encephalitis bearing arthropods. The haircuts and fashion are atrocious: so much so that I wish I’d been sufficiently brazen to document the worst for you all – it’s to be seen to be believed. There are beer gardens. There is beer, everywhere. That’s if you can see through the smoky haze that forces one to “think of the children” being systematically poisoned from (often) the moment of conception. People here appear undernourished, their poor skin decrying the lack of nutrients and minerals in their diets. Bandy legs abound (it’s a vegetable, even if it’s not cabbage!) and too many people are too thin. Until, of course, they turn 30, when all of a sudden, the women become blousy and apple shaped with the sourest of countenances and the men…Ugh. I wonder if drinking a lot of beer and the development of man breasts are correlated.

In other words, the longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve thought of myself as Dorothy. This sure as bloody hell ain’t Kansas now, Toto. And you all have hopped aboard the “Mis-adventure” train (wreck) every now and then to share in the (vain)glorious yellow brick road. I appreciate your company more than you’ll ever know. I’m thrilled that so many of you have ‘stuck with me’ and continue to read le blog.

I’m not sure what will happen to said blog when I move again (10 weeks, ELEVEN!!!!) because I’ll be moving to a place more LIKELY to be akin to home. Just like everyone else there, I’ll probably start complaining about the weather, the cost of everything, and the transport (I will really miss the DPP). But whatever happens, I’ll know that you, and this blog, got me through some of the weirdest and hardest times yet in my short existence. And some of the best.

I’m not sure whether I’ve made you think, so I’m jus gonna offer an advice soundbite instead. Love like you’re not scared of it and live life the way you want to live it; there’s only one of you, you’ve only got one chance, so you may as well damned well do what feels good.

I do. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t. But hell, the ride has been marvellous, thus far, and I’ve met some AMAZING people whose impact upon me will never dissipate with miles.

So thanks.

1. If you are nominated, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think*
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,

*The problem is, I use blogs to escape, not as food for thought. So: here are those to which I escape most frequently: Mamma Martini, Oh The Irony, Lucy Pepper, Rick and Ariel.


posted by Nomes @ Monday, July 30, 2007   1 comments
Why do we do it? Because it's me me me!
Friday, 20 July 2007
Hi, my name is Miss Mediocre.

You Have Many Alpha Tendencies

You're not a total alpha female, but you certainly know how to - and like to - get your way.
You're forceful without being intimidating. You're confident without being vain. A perfect mix.
You Are a Drama Princess (or Prince)

You're not over the top dramatic, but you have your moments.
You know how to steal the spotlight...
And how to act out to get your way.

People around you know that you're good for a laugh.
But at times, your drama gets a bit too much for everyone.
Tone it down a tad, and you'll still be the center of attention.

Your Dream Engagement Ring Has a Marquise Diamond!

Like most Marquise diamond wearers, you are sexy and impulsive.
You're also good at getting what you want in life, no matter what it is.
You tend to be successful at love, your career, and anything else you desire.
Think Victoria Beckham and Catherine Zeta Jones: proud wearers of this ring!


posted by Nomes @ Friday, July 20, 2007   3 comments
At long, long last.
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
I’m FINALLY one of the cool kids. Someone’s invited me to play along on the playground. I wasn’t the last picked because the team leader ‘had to’ as I was the last standing (who else HATED that whole ‘selection’ in ‘games’?).

So thanks London Lass, for knocking on my door and asking if I could come out to play. Now, I have to reveal 7 things about myself. Everyone else seems to have done this in a concise manner. I did it ages ago (I told you I tagged myself…embarrassing, but I was always prone to be a bit of a loner…) and was far more verbose. So here goes on the short and sweet.

  1. I can do that tying-a-cherry-stalk-into-a-knot-without-using-your-hands thing.
  2. I make contingency plans for stressful conversations I think I’ll have (it’s exhausting).
  3. I’ve moved house nearly every year since 1995.
  4. I own two tiaras but haven’t purchased one (Mum & Lira)
  5. Most of my salary has gone on partying and flights.
  6. I used to own a house by a beach in NZ.
  7. I thought I was the cat who walked by herself, but I’m revisiting that opinion.

Now I just think I’m under-growed-up: tiaras, partying, moving, and ‘seductive’ moves with fruit. Hmm….

Your turn: Triplux, Bonfires, Angry, Homo, DQ, Glitter, JonnyB. Apologies to all bloggers who are now ‘double tagged’. Or who also think, "who does this young (oh, please?) upstart consider herself to be, to tag the amazing moi?". Clearly, the joy of being included has gone to my head. Forgive me blog overlord, for I have transgressed.

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posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, July 17, 2007   5 comments
Monday, 16 July 2007
I grew up (11-17) in a very hot city. I’m reminded of that place now, as my current city of abode heats, stretches, swelters and buckles under the ever-growing sun of the northern hemisphere continental summer.

But so much was different there.

Here, we have an urban concrete, plaster and brick jungle, with cobblestones underfoot – ankle/leg breaking terrain if ever there was– interspersed sporadically with leafy green parks; there we had dirt tracks, four-wheel drives and that silicon talc smell that I associate with the hot barren desert.

Here: it’s hanging baskets and window boxes with peonies and phlox while there: it was a rockery with some hardy succulents, beautiful bougainvillea and a solitary oleander.

Here: dogs (and their excreta) are in abundance, on leashes, off leashes, muzzled or not, racing, loping, lolling and much loved. There; it was haram to so much as touch a Saluki, that the animal shivered on our table and shied from our touch as we picked the tick infestation from its ears and vaccinated it against rabies.

Here we have parquet, the intricacies of carefully carved slivers of wood held together by little more than the artists tessellated design; a dramatic, busy underfoot backdrop to everyday apartment existence.

There: marble; cool to walk across, pale pink, streaked with blue and white, and extending in tiles through the lounge, dining room, out onto the patio, and up through the hallway that linked the ‘family’ areas to the ‘sleeping’ areas.

I remember the cats. One cat was almost the same colour as our marble (a pink cat?) with strawberry blonde ginger patches on her pale white coat. She (more so than he) would come into the house, out of the shade of some tree she’d been under, slink past the kitchen without so much as a glance at the food dish, wander through to the lounge, and then collapse on her side, stretched out across a marble slab to try to cool her body down.

I remember cleaning that marble after my mothers 40th birthday party. The Persian rugs had been lifted, shifted and stored for the celebrations, and there had been over 100 people traipsing in and out of the house from 7 in the evening till midday. There’d been a buffet as well as a continuous flow of alcohol. The floor was to sticky what the moon is to cheese (Monday Mensa throwaway there). And there was much swabbing and squeegeeing to be done. My job (since I am much enamoured of the makeover ‘before and after’ concept), carried out in my tutu: the leftover balloons, t-shirt, shorts and doc martens.

All jobs have an ‘outfit’.

But most of all, I remember the ever-present slight trepidation of walking across that floor. There’s nothing quite as slippery as a marble floor. Stilettos skitter like nervous horses, despite being worn by graceful individuals (we had well-heeled visitors occasionally). And if it’s wet, good gracious (er, who let Enid Blyton in?). The potential for calamity (especially for the awkward and deportment-free Nomes) was so huge that the safety officer of the house would bark that something be cleared up immediately.

And those slightly hesitant Bambi-style steps continue to be the ones use today. Sure, it seems to all and sundry (hello sundry, you really ought to think about that deed poll name change, methinks. This one is a bit indiscriminate, innit?) that I launch myself off the diving board straight into the pool under the sign that says “10,000 fathoms deep!”. Sometimes it might even seem to me as though I’ve added additional weights to my ankles – just to keep the odds of “sink or swim” a bit more ‘gaming’.

But in actual fact, I still slide my feet over the surface of existence. I still keep one foot firmly planted, just in case I should trip and fall. So when I do stumble and topple – and land hard – it hurts (marble doesn’t yield like parquet). Hard so it bruises. That fear of bruises has continually stopped me from taking as many risks as I may have appeared to have taken.

But maybe: just maybe, I’m starting (now that I’m 30, and, like, totally an adult) to have a bit more faith in myself. Perhaps I can start graduating from granddad slippers to wedge heels and lifting the back foot a little more. Perhaps this next step of my life (new job: new country, come October) will go as luckily for me as the rest has. Perhaps I need to lie down on some cool marble once in a while and chill for a bit.

I’ll try not to pant like the cat did.

*photo to follow once I’ve scanned in the tutu. Really, it's worth the wait!

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posted by Nomes @ Monday, July 16, 2007   8 comments
Where is everyone I love?
Monday, 9 July 2007
The first time you cried all the way home from the moment you left the school gates, on the bus, up the hill, round two bends and down the tall stony steps, your mother was there to enfold you in her arms. She asked you what was wrong, but all you could do was lie to her panic-stricken face.

(for me, it was about the poisonous berries that bitch had tempted me into touching, and the fact I knew we had cheesecake in the house - how would I ever reconcile the two?)

The last time you cried all the way home from the moment you left work, on the train, up the stairs, across the bridge, down the ramp, across the street and round two bends to the house, it was dark and you had trouble putting the key in the lock. But no one asked you what was wrong, and there was no one to lie to.

(okay, so it's more of a walk up a hill, down a hill, across a road, sidestepping idiot motorists and dog poo, being caught in a sudden downpour, dropping my keys through the (WHY?!) grate in front of the door and finally making my bedraggled way up the stairs (lift wouldn't come)....but yeah. Emptiness. Fuck it all.)

(this post stolen from Lamb Ramblings)


posted by Nomes @ Monday, July 09, 2007   1 comments
Narcissism hits new highs
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Narcissistic as I am, when a friend told me that he thought my face might be symmetrical, or as near as damnit to it, I figured I'd put this theory to test. He wished for me to send him the photographic evidence by e-mail, but I claimed overprotective vanity (well, they're a bit 'passport' aren't they?). However, popping them up on the internet is NOTHING. Now, I've played with the images. I know you can look at the background in the middle photo (the 'normal' one) and use that to determine which one is my 'right side' or my 'left side' duplicate. BUT: did I flip it around? There's ONE blemish (a mole) under my eye that I cunningly disguised using MSoft Paint, so that you can't use that. Other than those two digital amendments (or maybe just one...who knows?) the images are 'pure'. Taken in my bedroom. Yesterday morning, while standing facing the skylight over the futon - for those who ARE OCD and require such minutiae.

Points go to the people who can distinguish which one is my right side (as I stand - not as you look at me) and which is my left. And even MORE points go to the people who end up repeating this little exercise in Picasa/Powerpoint/Paint and posting their results (or e-mailing them to me - I'm not fussy, merely curious).

It's not that I'm crowning myself attractive (though, y'know, if the tiara fits...) but I'm very curious to know whether or not my mates are equally as 'almost' symmetrical to me. I really am.

And because it's the week of online-tests, here's the one I did to receive this charming result (note: only the 'very highs' are produced, I figure you needn't know how OCD I am...except not 'very high'!):

Histrionic:Very High
Narcissistic:Very High

-- Personality Disorder Test --
-- Personality Disorder Information --

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posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, July 04, 2007   3 comments
Slow day at the hospital?
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
So, they reckon that some of the peeps involved (did I really just write peeps? I blame my overly long fingernails *note to self*, personally, they keep sliding all over the keys. But, I digress...) in that whole London-car-bomb-thing-which-didn't-thankfully-explode-
due-to-the-exemplary-work-done-by-the-towies-in-London-town turned out to possibly be doctors.

See, here's the way it goes: you go to Med School, in whichever country you so happen to be in. Then you attempt to go to another (usually more 'developed') country, to give your family a better life/start/payment scheme - whatever. You arrive in that country and find out that your Medical degree is deplorably giggled at in the new country. You're a little angsty, but you take a job as a supermarket pusher of trolleys (this happened to a friend of mine) and eventually sit their convoluted 'registration' exams to prove that you know how to use a sphygmomonometer (YES!! Pub quiz!!!) or, jumpy spider thing as Eddie might say, and can do the two fingers held on the belly, two fingers tap on the first two fingers thing to 'listen'. If you can rub someone's torso or underarm and 'palpate' something, so much the better. Off to a Dr's clinic with you, oh, and don't forget to make your signature illegible to radiologists and pharmacists.

But life is dull. All you see day in, day out, are the complications of living life in the lap of luxury. You're no longer scheduled for a rotation in the ED (emergency department, for all those non-medics of us). You stick swabs up people's penises (at least, in countries where you don't have to be a specialist to do so), rectums and down their throats (different swabs, one fervently hopes). You scrape cells from cervixes (cervixii?), cheeks, abssesses, and if you're in the antipodes, you might have the opportunity for a little mole-removal 'surgery'. But for the most part, it's not the disease-ravaged, war-torn stuff that you dealt with at med school. There are no tsunami's, or landslides, or buses with a capacity of 48 that carry 134 across ravines before collapsing a bridge.

So, you think to yourself, how can I liven this up a bit? What can I do to make things a little more...I KNOW!!! Incendiary devices!!! YES! That's it! What a plan.

I reckon it's because we all use (and then mis-use, but that's another entry) antibiotic EVERYTHING. If I see another person hold up the 'antibacterial' version of a hand soap/fairy liquid/bench spray, and comment (in any language) to their shopping partner (who often looks about as bored to death as I feel) "ooh, this'll make the place much cleaner!" I swear to god, I shall pummel them, right then and there in the supermarket aisle (19, in Eden Tescos - yep, some of you might've thought there was nowt but pretty things and snakes and apple trees in Eden, but lo, we've got Tescos). Because it doesn't make the place cleaner folks. It just breeds bacteria that engineer THEMSELVES (lets not start the GE debate today) to be resistant to that antibacterial liquid you thought would 'protect' your family. That is, WORSE, FAR worse, than the ones you've already got merrily colonising your kitchen cloth.

So, when people DO come to the hospital, they're either pretty sick (i.e. almost dying) or it's all terribly simple (broken bone, oooh...go get it bandaged, take painkillers and anti-inflammatories, come back in 6 weeks for some axle-grinding and then have a prescription for physio for the next six months).

So, someone thought, let's make it interesting.

Don't get me wrong: I don't condone this method of thinking. Not at all. But I do understand it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must alight from my soapbox (*phew* that feels goooood) and take this plate of S. dysenteriae to the canteen. I still need to tick my 'has investigated an outbreak' box...

NB: as an addendum, I'd just like to add that, I don't know if anyone is ever safe ANYWHERE, so this shall not dissuade me from continuing to apply for jobs in anyplace. Wartorn-diseaseravaged-terroristharbouring: a job is a job is a job, and while I don't have anyone for whom I am wholly responsible, I shall go where the job takes me, THEN try to be as safe as possible. *raspberry* And to those of you who think, "oooh, maybe I shouldn't go to London on an OE then." FFS!!!!!


posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, July 03, 2007   2 comments
The Sudden Departure
Random Brutal Love Master (RBLM)

Sweet. Dear. Loving. At Gate 18. Final call.

You are The Sudden Departure.

You've been in a lot of serious relationships. More than a few have ended ugly. Uglily. Whatever. Our guess is that you're a really fantastic girl who doesn't really know what she wants, and you've broken a few hearts as a result. You fall for people easily, and you enjoy the feeling of falling in love, but once you're there, either boredom or the old "grass is greener" syndrome sets in. The mind wanders, and with it goes the flesh. And then the toiletries.

Your exact female opposite:
The Intern

Deliberate Gentle Sex Dreamer
We know you're not the classic "love 'em and leave 'em" type, at least not in a purely sexual sense. You have too many serious bonding tendencies for that. But even though you're theoretically looking to settle down, you don't settle long on one person. "Serial monogamist" is probably something you hear a lot. "Emotionally loose" is another way to put it. To the poor guys eating your dust and sniffing your panties, it doesn't really make much difference. Of course, it's not really your fault that people get hurt. You have every right to move on when you choose.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Backrubber (DGSD), The Gentleman (DGLM)

CONSIDER: The Vapor Trail (RBLM), someone just like you

Link: The Online Dating Persona Test @ OkCupid - free online dating.


posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, July 03, 2007   3 comments

Name: Nomes
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