Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Secret Behind My Family’s Swedish Meatball Recipe

Swedish meatballs have been a Christmas tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. We originate more or less from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, my father from the St. Paul side and my mother from the Minneapolis side. Thus, when I was doing my childhood growing-up in Michigan we would complete a cold, snowy 13 hour drive every year to Minnesota to celebrate the holidays. Christmas Eve was spent with my mother’s parents and Christmas Day with my father’s parents. It was fantastic! On Christmas Eve we had a huge feast with my maternal grandparents, which consisted of a honey glazed ham and the best Swedish meatballs known to man. That evening we would open presents from each other, and on Christmas morning, we'd open the presents Santa had left us in the night. Then, we would drive to St. Paul and have a succulent rib eye roast with all the trimmings and open the presents from each other and Santa, who liked us so much he also left gifts there.

It’s been about 25 years since we were able to partake in the Minnesota double Christmas feed (and double Santa visits). My mother’s parents moved to Tucson, I moved to Seattle and for a while we had to alternate Christmas visits between Minnesota and Arizona. I was blessed to have both sets of my grandparents in my life until my early thirties. Now I’m blessed that I still get to see my maternal grandmother every Christmas.

My parents have recently finished building what my mother has termed, ‘the home before the home’, a gorgeous house, designed by my father, in Asheville, NC. My grandma, who is almost 90 and fit as a fiddle, has now also relocated to the area. My brother lives 4 hours north in Raleigh, leaving me as the prodigal daughter on the other side of the pond. This would be an incredibly special Christmas as it would be the first one where all of us had been together in a few years. My parents would also get to be the Christmas hosts, which hadn't happened in decades. The recent years previous to this we spent Christmas, usually without my brother, at my grandmother's place in Tucson. The kitchen in her flat was quite small, so instead of making Swedish meatballs from scratch, we had been buying them from places like Trader Joe’s or Ikea. They were good, but nowhere near as scrumptious as the ones my grandmother made back in the day. This year my mother was pulling out all stops. We would have the homemade Swedish meatballs for Christmas Eve dinner along with all the other traditions we had observed when I was a child (except the double Santa visits).

On Christmas Eve my grandma arrived and she and my mother went into the kitchen. My mother took out the recipe my grandmother had given her years ago and said, “Look, mom, it’s your old Swedish meatball recipe.”

“Ahhh… you know where I got that?” asked my grandmother as she donned her apron.

“No, I don’t,” my mother admitted and waited anxiously to hear a story about how our family recipe had been handed down from previous generations of family in Sweden.

“From Playboy magazine,” my grandmother said nonchalantly, “Your father’s Playboy, of course. I didn’t make a habit of reading it.”

And so the delicious meatballs, which practically melt in your mouth, were made and consumed while we wondered aloud if the Playboy edition where the recipe had originated featured Swedish models that month.

And now (after some strong-arming from friends who wanted me to put the meatball recipe up here and with my mother's permission) here is the sexy Swedish Meatball recipe. (You are STILL not getting my brownie recipe, however.)

Tear 2 slices of stale bread in small chunks and soak in 1/2 cup of lite cream.
Peel a medium potato, cut into chunks and boil. When it's nice and soft force it through a strainer.
Chop one medium onion extremely fine.
Put the onion in the pan with 1 tbs butter and slowly sauté until onion is yellow.
Combine in deep bowl the breadbread, cream, potato onion, 1 beaten egg, 3/4 lb lean ground pork, 1/4 lb lean ground pork, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp pepper.
Mix very well (use your hands) until bread disappears.
Shape into 1 in balls.
Place in a shallow baking pan.
Bake at 475 (Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes, turning once until balls brown.
Melt 2 tbs butter in a large saucepan and stir in 2 tbs flour, blending well.
Gradually add 10 1/2 oz can consummé.
Add balls.
Turn to low and cook for 1/2 hour.
Stir in 1/4 cup cream.
Bring to boil, season to taste.
YUMMMY!!

Enjoy! :-)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

What Is So Important About Today?

It's World AIDS Day. As bloggers we were encouraged to write about how and why we are facing AIDS. This is my how and why.
I met Scott on New Year's Eve, 1989. To be honest, I didn't really like him at first. I thought he was arrogant and bordered on being rude. On top of that a 'friend' of mine had given me an earful about him, all of which later revealed itself to be untrue. In April when my roommate told me that Scott and his girlfriend had split, I surprised myself by suddenly thinking, "Of course they did; he's meant to be with me."
It still took a few more months for him to woo me over and eventually I fell...hard. We were quite close, almost inseparable. I had never in my entire life known a love like this and spent my days walking on cloud nine. I was living and breathing happiness. But, when you walk high on clouds it hurts like hell when you tumble to the ground. My heart was shattered when we split.
However, we never really seemed to let each other go. I eventually moved to Seattle and he moved to San Francisco. I met a man and we moved in together out of necessity. Still I spoke to Scott every week. I may have been in a serious relationship with a live-in boyfriend in Seattle, but my heart belonged to a man in San Francisco.
About a year after we both had settled in our new homes, Scott found out that he was HIV positive. By some grace of God I wasn't. Don't ask me how. I'm lucky, I guess. It took me a long time to accept that. I felt guilty for years that I didn't end up with HIV. And don't ask me how Scott caught it. How anyone catches the disease isn't the issue. The issue is they have it. I absolutely hate the fact that there is a stigma on people who have this disease. At the end of the day it is not important. It is not a punishment from God. It is a disease and one that is killing millions of people, but allow me to get off my high horse and continue.
Slowly Scott's health deteriorated and so did a piece of my sanity. My Seattle boyfriend had developed a serious drug problem and Scott was the only one I talked to about it. Two men I cared for were dying in front of me. One couldn't help it and one was slowly killing himself. Eventually, Scott's health got so bad that he flew back to Michigan to see his family. He wouldn't be returning to San Francisco.
His best friend called me, then my old roommate, then his sister. It was time, and he was asking for me. He had said to his mother, “H- will kill me if I die before she gets here.” I gathered together all my savings, and the very next day I flew from Seattle to Michigan, where we had first met and had fallen in love while at university.
The disease had ravaged his body to nothing. This amazing man I had never stopped loving was reduced to a flesh covered mass of organs, each of them slowly disintegrating. He was in a morphine coma, and there was no way of really knowing if he could hear us. His family, with the exception of his sister, were exhausted and left to get well deserved rest. She and I chatted, and I told her a humorous story about him and me. I got to the part in the story where he and I had different versions, and suddenly he moaned as if to disagree with me like he always did when we would tell that story together.
Trained as a nurse, Scott's sister wanted to stay up with us, but she was only human and eventually succumbed to the need for sleep. At last she took her respite, but stayed in the room with us, sleeping on the floor. Due to the time change, I was still wide awake and told her I would wake her if…
Once I knew she was asleep I told him things I should have said long before. I promised him I’d leave my drug addict boyfriend. I told him I had never stopped loving him; it had always been him and there had never been anyone else despite the men who had come after him. Then, suddenly he said my name. He asked if I was there, if it was ok. My eyes stung, and my voice cracked as I told him he needed to go. I was there, I loved him, and I couldn’t stand to see him like this. He needed to go, and I would see him in the next life.
He said something that sounded like “Okay” and took a breath. I stood up and yelled for his sister. This shocked him, and he jolted. ‘Oh Jesus,’ I thought, ‘even in death I can’t let him be in peace.’
His sister took his pulse, and his chest rose and fell. “Is he gone?” I whispered. She nodded and ran to get the rest of her family. His chest continued to rise and fall, and I was confused. His family assembled in the room, and he continued to breathe. His sister explained that it was natural for breathing to continue a bit after the pulse had stopped. Then his breathing stopped, and the colour left his face. I moved away from his side to the corner of the room where I slid to the floor and let his family move in closer to him. I felt out of place somehow and hugged my knees into my chest. Everything felt numb, and my face was wet. The hospice nurse came to take care of the body. That was what he was now, a body. He was gone. My first real love and my best friend was gone, and unlike the times we had tried to leave each other before, there would be no coming back.
I think of Scott every day despite the fact that it has been 14 years since he passed on. I pray that a cure for this disease is found and soon. So, please if you have some extra time or extra money, donate it to the AIDS charity of your choice and remember all those who are living with this disease, not just today but always.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Where the hell have I been?!

Someday I'll be back up for air (I originally spelled air as 'error' so that should give you some understanding of my mind's state at the mo') but until then I'm buried under piles of work. This is an extraordinarily challenging school year this year, as I'm teaching literature in addition to just writing. Granted it is only at a 6th grade level, but I would argue that makes it more difficult. I do need to muck through grammar errors and teach correct grammar and it's all VERY time consuming. I'm also teaching web design. Do I have web design experience? Oh yes, all in HTML language from like 18 years ago. Do I know anything about designing quality web pages. No, but I know people who do and thank GOD for them, as they have helped me design this course. On top of all that, I made the ultimately insane decision to take a course this autumn. What the hell was I thinking??!?!?!! I'm almost all the way through the course and averaging an A so far. However, I'm a bit of perfectionist and if I were getting anything less than an A, I'd probably lose sleep.

So that's why you haven't seen me lately. I've not even really been out socially. I can hear your shocked gasps all the way over on this side of the internet. Ask any of my London friends. They'll tell you they haven't seen me in a while- well with the exception of Halloween I suppose. Oh and here's a pic of me in my dominatrwitch costume.

Let me tell you those shoes are painful, but aren't they hot?

My mother dared to inquire about "my private life" not too long ago and I cracked up. First, because she used the term "private life" and I instantly had this vision of giving her my gynaecological exam results and second, because I haven't had the time to meet anyone new much less get together with the people I already know. It's sad. It really is.

Oh and I'm shoving my face with food as a result of my stress. Again, sad, sad, sad.

So that's me. That's where I am. And in about 3 weeks my course will end, life will settle down a bit and I'll return to my random blogging schedule. Until then...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

OMIGOD My Mother's on Facebook!!!

Dear Mom,

I thought the blog title would get your attention so you are probably reading this. I knew you would find my blog by becoming my friend on Facebook, so I thought I would send you a welcome note.

I love you so much and I am glad we are cyberly connected even more than we already are. I think Facebook will make you even feel closer to me. It will perhaps help bridge the thousands of miles that separate us physically and keep us in even better contact.

So you found my blog....again. I moved it from it's previous space when you found it before. If you scroll through the postings you will read about some things you may not know about me and may not want to know. When first realised you were on Facebook, I toyed with the idea of adding you as a friend but restricting what you could see including anything that would lead you to this blog or My Luck with Cars and Boys. However, I figured you'd probably find it at some point so why hide it? It's up to you if you want to read the postings on this blog and find out more about me. You might not like some of them and you might be surprised by others, so it's your choice really. The only thing I ask is you don't lecture me about the things I've done in the past. The past is the past. I selectively edit what I tell you because I love you so. But, now I welcome you into the world of my blog. Feel free to comment on any post you wish. Click the 'Yarp' link at the bottom of the posts and then leave a comment. You can choose to leave the comment anonymously but please sign it 'your mudder' or 'your mom' or just 'mom' or if you want to be all English, 'mum'.

You will notice that my name isn't up on this blog anywhere. Those people who know me personally and read my blog know that this is me. Everyone else just thinks I'm some woman whose name may or may not begin with H and I live in London. I don't have a plethora of readers, so please be one of my 'stalkers' and follow me to keep updated (see the side bar to the right). Or don't openly stalk me- it's your choice. You can subscribe to my blog too. If you're confused about how to do any of this, I'll show you when I come to visit at Xmas. (Let's keep our fingers crossed that the Home Office returns my passport with visa in time!)

I love you so very much and am pleased that you will now be reading this.

Smoochies,

H~

Monday, 5 October 2009

Not so Alternative, Alternative Music

In my Young Adult Literature course we have just finished looking at the influence of pop culture on today's youth and how to use that influence in the classroom. We then chose an aspect of pop culture, researched it and became a mini-expert in it. I chose (not surprisingly) alternative music. Below is my paper. Enjoy!

Not so Alternative, Alternative Music

I thought I had it easy when I chose alternative music for a mini-expert topic. Music has always been a passion of mine and I was one of those ‘new music freaks’ in high school. Not only did I live in Seattle in the early 90’s, but I also had an ex who was an “Indie Buyer” for a local record store and took me to a plethora of alternative shows. These days in London I still venture out regularly to see little known or up and coming bands. All this experience makes me a mini expert on this subject already, doesn’t it? Hardly. Being an avid consumer of a genre does not an expert make. After researching alternative music, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a genre that has grown and morphed so much it hardly seems alternative any more. Understanding the appeal it has for young adults can make it a remarkable tool in the classroom.

The term alternative music, also known as alternative rock, modern rock, new music or indie music, was used in the 80’s to place a label on those bands that weren’t on Casey Kasem’s Top 40, bucked the commercialism of pop music, but were still drawing decent sized audiences and selling records independent of major labels (Aksa 2008). However, alternative music really began long before the 80’s. According to Piro Scaruffi in A History of Rock Music: 1951-2000 in the early 60’s rock music became an outlet whereby dissent with the establishment was expressed (Scaruffi 2003). Even music that didn’t overtly have a political overtone became counterculture in nature and was forced underground due to discrimination that had previously occurred against rock-n-roll and protest folk singers. The fans of this new underground music did not prefer what was popular and easy to find. “They developed an alternative system of communication, “alternative” to the system of mass media, alternative in the sense that it dealt with and promoted those phenomena that were ignored by the mass media” (p. 32). Thus the counterculture of the 60’s paved the way for independent media and opened the umbrella under which a large variety of musical groups could stand.

Stemming from the counterculture of the 60’s, bands like the Velvet Underground and The New York Dolls emerged in the early 70’s (Taylor 2006). Punk and new wave materialised in the late 70’s and from here comes the birth of alternative music genre, which had followings in both the US and UK. However, the alternative music story is slightly different in the two countries. During the 80’s in the US, small independent labels took the place of major labels in producing alternative music albums. Most alternative groups performed primarily at smaller clubs and were publicised in fanzines, word-of-mouth or aired on college radio (“American alternative rock/post punk,” Earlwine, n.d.,). A few groups, like REM, received critical acclaim and were written about in mainstream music magazines such as Rolling Stone, yet most bands remained in underground cult status and out view of the popular music eye. It wasn’t until Nirvana’s “Nevermind” hit number one on the Billboard music chart in 1992 (“Nevermind,” n.d. para 2) that alternative music gained mainstream popularity not only in the US but also throughout the world (Taylor 2006).

While Nirvana may have gained popularity in the UK, the grunge aspect of alternative music as a whole never reached the pique of popularity it had in the US (“American alternative rock/post punk,” Earlwine, n.d.,). Much of this had to do with onset of rave culture. Guitar music had taken a bit of a back seat to the electronic grooves, which attracted thousands of young adults (Taylor 2006). Thus, dance and club culture is more widely accepted as being part of the alternative music genre in the UK than it is in the US. (“British alternative rock”, Earlwine, n.d.,). Additionally, guitar bands like The Stone Roses had an understated dance beat which made it a bit more poppy sounding than the heavy American grunge movement. British bands also seemed to be more pop oriented and focused on releasing singles; a practice that had almost ceased to exist in the album oriented US. Finally, British bands seemed to write lyrics that focussed primarily on distinctively British concerns. This isn’t to say that British bands weren’t successful in the new alternative music mainstream in the US. Blur, Oasis and Elastica all had hits and lucrative tours during that time in both the US and the UK.

Now that alternative music has developed such a global following, what’s really alternative about it? How can Cold Play, REM, Kings of Leon, Fanfarlo, PJ Harvey and Muse all be filed under the same genre on iTunes? Steve Taylor (2006) clarifies that conundrum in his book A to X of Alternative Music. “Alternative isn’t something fixed, it is constantly changing. We can’t know what alternative is until we know what it is an alternative to, and we can’t know what that is until the alternative shows us.” (p. 2-3) Overall the artists Mr. Taylor selected for his A to X guide met three criteria. They retained their voice and sense of purpose without influence of commercial or market demands, “consistently challenged the basic set-up of sounds, structure, textures and rhythms in their work” often using lyrics from a unique perspective about infrequently dealt with topics and finally “will have connected with the alternative sensibility of their own era.” (p. 3) Under this umbrella, today’s popular along with little known alternative music fits.

Today’s young adults seem to eat alternative music for breakfast. Those who are old enough go through a rite of passage where they clamour into vehicles and head to festivals for two to three days to see both popular and less known alternative music. They download music from the Internet, listen to it for free with advertised supported, downloadable programs like Spotify or LastFM and follow their favorite bands on sites like MySpace and Facebook. They become interested in the political stances and movements their favorite bands support and often become politically active themselves as a result. Using this enthusiasm for music, an educator can enhance a student’s desire to learn.

Teens tend to groan when it comes to studying poetry until they realize that they listen to it every day. Alternative music with its less dealt with topics is ideal to illustrate the power of poetry. Printing off the lyrics of a song from an alternative band most students know like Nirvana or Kings of Leon but removing the name of the band before having students read it can be a evocative anticipatory set to a poetry lesson particularly when studying Yeats or Browning.
ReadWriteThink.org has many lesson plans that incorporate music into literacy lessons. There was one particularly brilliant plan that I intend on trying in my classroom. Essentially after reading a novel and making notes throughout it, the students create a soundtrack for that novel and go so far as to create an album cover for the soundtrack. They must select their songs following a process and demonstrate in-depth analysis and make insightful connections. This activity has students visualizing, predicting and responding to the chosen piece of literature. This lesson in its entirety can be found at http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=861

As for actual pieces of young adult literature involving alternative music, there aren’t many. Many biographies about artists in this genre are primarily geared towards adults and contain content that would be frowned upon if the books were used in the classroom setting. However, there are a few. The previously mentioned A to X of Alternative Music is a fantastic book to use for reference and for younger adults there are also The Alternative Rock Scene: The Stars, the Fans, the Music by Wendy S. Mead and The History of Indie Rock by Jennifer Skancke. A good indie music biography to suggest to students around the age of 12 is "Green Day": Keeping Their Edge by Matt Doeden. Finally, to inspire students to create their own individual work, direct them to an article about the band Evan Brightly on azTeen.com. This alternative band comprised of young adults, some of who refer to themselves as “English nerds” are creating a piece that combines music, art and literature. Read more about them at http://www.azteenmagazine.com/band-reviews.php?article=324 and listen to their music on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/evanbrightly.

Alternative music is not going anywhere and will continue to change and evolve as surely as the audience it attracts does. It is no longer solely an underground phenomenon and often times it attracts large groups of young people seeking some originality and identity of their own. Understanding alternative music and using it to augment literacy lessons and spark creativity engages students and makes the learning experience more enjoyable.

Bibliography

Aksa, S. (2008) Alternative music - history and facts revealed. Retrieved October 3, 2009, from Articles Base Web Site: http://www.articlesbase.com/music-
articles/alternative-music-history-and-facts-revealed-582838.html

Erlewine, S. T. (n.d.) British alternative rock. Retrieved October 2, 2009 from Allmusic Web
Site: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=19:T579

Erlewine, S. T. (n.d.) American alternative rock/post punk. Retrieved October 2, 2009
from Allmusic Web Site http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=19:T579

Nevermind. (n.d.) Retrieved October 2, 2009 from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Nevermind

Scaruffi, P. (2003) A History of Rock Music: 1951-2000. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc.

Taylor, S. (2006) A to X of Alternative Music. London, UK: Continuum International
Publishing Group Ltd.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Eggless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Butter Cream Frosting Yum!

My friend, Kellie, celebrated her birthday last Saturday and the poor woman is allergic to eggs.

I found this recipe for eggless chocolate cake on allrecipes.com. It's nummy.

Ingridents:
• 560 g sifted all-purpose flour
• 600 g white sugar
• 85 g unsweetened cocoa powder
• 235 ml vegetable oil
• 710 ml water
• 15 g baking soda
• 3 g salt
• 45 ml vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, soda and salt. Add sugar and mix together.
3. Add oil, water and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
4. Pour into a 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Thank you Allrecipes.com!

Then I did another search for raspberry frosting and found this recipe on a blog called Cupcake Frenzy. Sadly this blog hasn't been updated since November 2006, but there's loads of good stuff up there.

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

150g butter, softened
2-3 cups icing sugar
frozen raspberries, quantity depends on how much of a raspberry taste/colour you're after
1/3 cup milk

1. Cream the butter. Add the icing sugar and raspberries and beat well. If you find you need more liquid in the frosting, add milk gradually.
2. Frost away!

Now this frosting recipe is not exact (it even says so on the blog). I suggest that you cream the butter and sugar well first and then add the strawberries. I'm not certain that the milk is wholly necessary.

So, I frosted the cake and added fresh raspberries to the top, circled the raspberries with white frosting as I thought it would look cute, put candles on the top and realised much to my horror that the colours were very Arsenal FC. I may support Arsenal but my Kellie is a Chelsea supporter. She did make a joking comment about the colours of the cake but absolutely loved it. In fact, everybody loved it. There wasn't a crumb left by the end of the night.

Here's a pic of the cake pre candles:


Here's the cake on fire:

If you have a friend whose allergic to eggs, make certain they get a birthday cake when their day rolls around.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

How Twitter Ruined My Blog

It's Twitter's fault.

Yep.

Nothing to do with me being super busy or too exhausted from thinking and reading and writing for a living to actually write about my life.

No it's all Twitter's fault for my lack of blogs. Why? Well...

Every time I have a thought or two that could possibly be a blog I tweet about it in 140 characters. It's like micro-blogging. Then my desire to tell the whole story, although the whole story with my embellishment might actually make you laugh or chuckle a bit more than my tweet, is diminished. And, I go on with my life and have more thoughts which become more tweets and the cycle continues.

Remember, I'm always thinking. Sometimes even my tweets can't keep up with my brain, but I digress.

This doesn't mean that I don't have some damn good ideas for blogs or stories for "My Luck with Cars and Boys". I have at least 3 half finished pieces that are definitely blog worthy at the very least. However when I sit down (like now) after a day of thinking and reading and writing for work to blog, I find myself zapped of the energy to complete them. Twitter, on the other hand, takes little to no energy.

And now, I also blame my new toy. You may remember that I mentioned in my post about my MacBook how I just needed one more toy to make my technological life perfect. Well, I now have that toy. Here is a pic of a dishevelled, make-up free me (after a day of thinking and reading and writing for work) with my new toy.


Yes, that's an iPhone. And it has TweetDeck on it. So, now my twittering has become even easier. You'd think I'd use it to blog and maybe I will. I'll probably even start to AudioBoo regularly...eventually. So who knows. Maybe I'll revert to my habits of regularly blogging...maybe.

Until then if you're not on Twitter, you can look to the right of this page to see what I've just tweeted.

And now I'm back to thinking and reading and writing for work before I head to bed.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Oh Grow Up!!!

Good Lord, people! How old are you???

First Adebayor, you made goal number 3 in a game against your former team and yes Man City went on to win, but tell me did you need to run 90 yards and end with an arrogant display of you postulating on your knees, arms in the air to flaunt your goal in front of the supporters of the club you played for last season? Also, did you really need to kick Van Persie in the face? I watched that game and that kick looked like it could have been avoided, but you went for it anyway. Really, how old are you?? I hope at the very least that the rumour I have been hearing that the FA may penalise you with a 5 game ban is true.

Next on my list of childish displays is of course Serena Williams. Yes, sweetie, that was a horribly bad call but if you had just gone on to play, you'd probably have won. But no. You thought it would be prudent to curse out the line judge and threaten to ram a tennis ball down her throat. And so as a penalty you lost the match and you got a fine. You deserved both.

And finally our little fit of disrespectful defiance comes from you, Kanye West. Taylor Swift wins the MTV award for Best Female Video and you see fit to jump on stage, pull the microphone out of her hand and spout out your opinion that you think Beyonce should have won. Since when did the MTV awards become the Kanye West awards?? You want your own award show, go for it. But quit spoiling other people's moments of glory. What really makes me ill is that you didn't get a fine or any sort of consequence except negative media backlash. You got off easy.

To the younger generation, it's you and other celebrities they see as heroes. It sickens me to think about the message your behaviour sent out to the real youth in society. I know that you three aren't the only ones who have done thrown such indulgent childish tantrums. However, it seems to be happening more and more among your ilk. Since when did behaving in such a juvenile manner become socially acceptable? I blame the culture of instant gratification for this glorified infantile conduct but I am by no means citing that opinion as an excuse. You’re all adults now. Grow up and act appropriately!


On the flip side we have people like Beyonce. You, my dear, recognised what Kanye West had taken from Taylor Swift and thus when you received your award, you gracefully gave the microphone to Taylor so that she could have the moment she had been denied. That was real class. Thank you. I wish there were more celebrities like you.

Okay, rant over. Have a nice day (or eve depending on where you are).

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Why Blog?

A few days ago I had an interesting conversation about my blog.

Yes, you read that right. I used 'interesting' and 'my blog' in the same sentence.

This discussion about my blog began innocently over the personal postings of my blog. A friend of mine and I have spoken about my blog from time to time. He doesn't get it. He'll read it when I write a little review or something to that effect that interests him and tweet about it, but other than that he doesn't see the point. We speak on a semi-daily basis and he knows all about my life, so why read about it? Also, he is vehement disagreement of my postings about my love life and when it has gone wrong. He has reason to be in vehement disagreement. Many, many, many years ago, long before I was blogging on Blogger even, he and I were an item and it went horribly wrong. He wasn't aware of my blog and in my rage I told the world what he did and directed them in an indirect manner to his MySpace profile by giving several obvious hints. Eventually he found it, read it, and deleted me from his friends on MySpace. We had words. I changed my post and he re-added me as a friend. Ironically, this whole incident opened us up to becoming friends somehow. And, we have remained friends since.

Since then I have been honest with anyone I may date about my blog. Not that they all dash out and read it. Believe me it says a lot about how someone really feels about you if they are dating you, know you have a blog and DON'T bother to read it. I tend to get a bit reckless with my blogging in those relationships, as if I'm daring them to have a peek. However, I still don't expose confidences. I also do not name them (Well okay, when I'm REALLY angry I have, but have since removed those names). I do, however, expose my feelings and insecurities about said relationships.

So we were having the usual disagreement about my blog and he brought up some interesting points. First, he pointed out that my posting about someone else and what they've done is the same as someone taking naked pictures of me and then putting them up but with the face blacked out. I did not agree. I said my angry posts about injustices were similar to someone taking pictures of me doing something wrong to someone else and then posting pictures of it for all to see but with my face blocked out. And, if I were caught doing something like that then yes, posting pictures with my face blocked out was justified

He pointed out that instead of blogging about it I should TALK to the person. I responded that with the exception of him I have always done both. In his opinion that's just weird. Who cares? Who reads that stuff? I said it was surprising the amount of people with voyeuristic tendencies. (However, in my head I was thinking about the average amount of visits Sitemeter tells me I get a day- five. Yes, five people a day read my blog and those who are not part of 'My Stalkers' to the right find it by accident while they're searching for something else. I love Sitemeter, but I digress)

Then he pointed out that people can and do change (he did) and just because someone did me wrong when that blog post goes up, it's up there forever. What if an ex’s new girlfriend came across it and judged him based on what was there. My response to that was 1. my name isn't even on this blog or any site linking to it, so aside from my picture how would the ex's girlfriend know it was me 2. no one who has done me wrong has their name on my site (anymore). Thus it would be a bit difficult for people who didn't know me personally to make the connection and 3. if my ex's girlfriend is researching my blog to find out about him, then my ex should be more concerned about the tenuous state of their relationship or the fact that he's possibly dating an obsessive bunny boiler rather than the fact that there's something not very flattering about him up here.

Finally, my friend said something powerful that stuck with me and has bothered me since. He said that in his view my putting up private details of a relationship was unethical. He went on to add that when I posted what I posted about him it felt like an invasion of privacy and a breach of trust. He also said that in the past few years he has sometimes worried about spending time with me in case he did something to piss me off and I posted a blog about it. That hurt... a lot. I didn’t have anything to say in response but to apologise over and over for something I did years ago and got a bit teary. He told me to stop being melodramatic and it wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be.

Maybe I've just breached his trust again by posting this but he made some very valid points about my blog and that last one followed me around like a pack of yippy dogs snapping at my ass.

I took my bitten-up butt over to some friends’ house a few days later and told them about this conversation. My friends just laughed. “I can see his point about invasion of privacy,” one of them said, “but he’s one to talk about a breach of trust after what he did to you years ago. If you have remained his friend and trusted him for this long after all of your history, then he can trust you…and does. He was just making a point and you were being melodramatic.”

“Frankly," another added, "maybe we should all be worried about being called out for treating others badly. If we all lived in fear that unkind acts towards others would be posted for all to see, maybe we’d all treat each other better.”

Somehow I don’t see my blog as some type of societal moral policeman. And, I’ve not been too nice to people myself at times. Maybe somewhere there is an anti-H~ blog.

I had a hard serious think about the reasons why I blog and came up with the following reasons:

1. I blog when I have a thought that might possibly perhaps maybe be somewhat kind of
a bit profound.

2. I blog when something strikes me as funny and I want to share it.

3. I blog when I've done or seen or read something interesting (or horribly dull) and I want to review it.

4. I blog to keep peeps back in the good ol' U.S. of A. updated on what I've been up to, although I've not been too good at that lately. They can find more about what I've been doing on Facebook or Twitter than on here.

5. Finally as previously discussed, I blog as an emotional outlet in lieu of therapy. It's psychologically purging to tell the world my thoughts and fears and get anonymous support (and sometimes free advice) either through comments or emails. And let's face it, when I'm angry I want to let the whole world know. I scream it from my rooftop and then after having a friend pick me up from the police station for a noise violation, I come home and quietly blog about it. Sometimes I'm quite open and a lot of times I exaggerate. I'm talking about being angry at things in general--from current events to love life kafuffles.

But maybe I should be a bit more editorial about what I put on here about my personal life. After all isn't it kinda like throwing stones in a glass house?

Stop by in a few months and see if I've had a change of opinion about being too personal.

Oh and if you're going to go back to my old blog to try to figure out who my friend is, maybe you should think about the quality of your own life. Why is who that friend is even important? In the greater scheme of things why was writing about all of this even important?

I think I've just entered some type of blogger's existential crisis.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I'm NOT Afraid of Some Swine!!

First I'd like to begin with a quote from good ol' Noam Chomsky

"You need something to frighten people with, to prevent them from paying attention to what's really happening to them."

That's from Chompsky's book The Common Good and every time I hear a bloody report about Swine Flu that quote echos in my head.

What great timing this pandemic had. We're in an economic crisis with banks failing, people losing their retirement not to mention their homes and jobs and I haven't even brushed the surface of all that is taking place internationally.

But stop the presses people are getting the flu and some are even dying of it!! Excuse me for asking but isn't there a strain of flu that goes around EVERY year? And aren't the young, the very old and those with significant health problems at risk of possibly dying from the flu virus EVERY year? So far the UK has had (gasp) over 30 people die from Swine Flu and almost every person who 'died from' the virus had pre-existing serious health problems. In addition (and correct me if I'm wrong) but wasn't there a Swine Flu scare back in the 70's? And what ever happened to SARS, MMR or Bird Flu? We were all significantly scared by those too but what was this fear really distracting us from?

Yesterday I actually thought I would go an entire day without hearing about Swine Flu in the news. I sat on my sofa with a fever hacking and wheezing with this COLD that I have (I'm not giving into the Swine Flu fad) and innocently watching the end of Midsomer Murders when the ITV News came on. It was three stories in, but there it was dammit! Doctors fear that fatal illnesses could be misdiagnosed over the telephone as Swine Flu. Well of course misdiagnosis of Swine Flu is happening! The hotline isn't being run entirely by medical professionals so wouldn't that be obvious?? Oh but just to make this really scary the news stories on this went on to tell the horrible personal stories of patients who almost died due to a Swine Flu misdiagnosis. So now not only do we have a pandemic on our hands but we've also got a hotline that misdiagnosis what cold be more serious and life threatening health issues as Swine Flu. BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!

Yes, Swine Flu is here and yes people are dying but as I said before most of these people had pre-existing serious health problems. Thus, if you're the average healthy person you don't need to tremble in fear of the Piggy Flu. Just do your best to remain healthy- there's probably no need for you to don a face mask, but do wash your hands a bit more. If you do get Swine Flu you'll probably just have cold like symptoms with a fever, which although annoying, won't kill you. If you've got a serious health condition or are the parent or caretaker of someone who has a health condition or is very young or old, then by all means do take all extra precautions to remain healthy and keep in contact with your GP. However, we need to cease getting caught up in the media frenzy over Swine Flu and allow it to distract us from what's really going on in the world.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Unsympathetic Sounding Sympathy

I'm ill and being unwell got me thinking about the things people say to their ill friends and colleagues out of sympathy. Some of these sayings make me chuckle. Now, I'm not saying I've never uttered any of these phrases because naturally I have. But sometimes what we say out of sympathy doesn't end up sounding very sympathetic.

"You look awful," or "You look horrible," or "You don't look good," or "You look tired." We say it out of concern but is it really something a sick person wants to hear? Obviously someone who is under the weather doesn't look that great but saying, "You look awful," makes the ill person sound just plain ugly. The more polite and grammatically correct way to express this same sentiment is to say "You don't look well." This way we're not saying the person is a hideous looking creature just that they look like they aren't feeling well.

Sometimes after chatting with a sick friend we'll simply say, "Feel better," upon leaving as in lieu of saying good bye. Mind you, I'm not talking about saying, "I hope you feel better." I'm talking about the simple command, "Feel better." That is what it is after all, a command. Who doesn't want to feel better when they're ill? Do they actually need to be commanded to feel better?

Here's another command that I recently received. "Stay healthy." Uh.... I was doing that and still became ill. I'm not healthy currently and I don't really want to continue staying the way I am right now. I am, however, doing my best to get healthy again and you don't need to command me to do so.

Finally, my favourite (and this was just said to me), "That cough doesn't sound good." When does a cough ever sound good? The last thing I think when I hear someone hacking away is that they have a great sounding cough.

That's all for now, but I'm sure there's more. If you think of any others post them in the comment section.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Torture Chamber

Damn the gym! Damn it to hell!

I recently joined the YMCA here. If you'll recall I was the winner of our Biggest Loser Contest back in November. However, I didn't lose all that weight the right way. So when the shuttle for work changed to leave within 2 minutes walking from my house taking away my desire to cycle 5 miles a day, I slowly gained most of it back.

Damn not losing weight the right way! Damn it to hell!

Kate convinced me to come with her to a pilates class. The class was £6.70 for an hour, but it I were to join the Y it would be free. So I joined and it happened to be a summer offer. The sign up fee was waived and the first month was £10 less than usual. In addition I got set up on a personalised work out program and essentially had my own trainer. I'll call her Betty.

Damn Summer offers! Damn them to hell!

So I sat down with Betty, who is cute, nice and has the perfect body, and had a whole fitness evaluation. My blood pressure and heart rate are good, my strength is great and my breathing is good too. On the other hand, my body fat, my flexibility and weight...well...there needs to be some improvement.

Damn fitness evaluation! Damn it to hell!

So Betty and I began my program today. And it's a good one combining cardio with resistance training. Betty has designed a program that will increase my core strength, tone my muscles and burn off that fat. Apparently, and I swear I didn't know this, if you have more toned muscles it's easier to burn fat. I began the program in earnest today. When she first introduced all the exercises to me, they didn't seem that difficult. However, I knew, knew, knew deep down that somehow it wouldn't be easy. I was right and now I ache all over.

Damn cute, nice and perfect Betty! Damn her to hell!

So, now I sit sipping on hot chocolate with grand mariner. It's lovely. I deserve it. I think I'll add more grand mariner.

Damn hot cho-- no wait don't. This is nice.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Lovin' That Lovebox!

It was over a week ago but hell.... I promised.

Lovebox is a 2-day music festival that has taken place in Victoria Park for the last 7 years. This year I was fortunate enough to go on the second day of the festival, Sunday the 20th of July. If you follow me on Twitter, then you got to see some of the pics I took. Unfortunately, my phone's (which was the camera I was using) battery died before I could tweet about the best band. I was, however, able to sneak in one last tweet before my phone completely went dead and I promised to blog about it.

And so not to let you down here are some pics from what I saw. Not in a wholly commentary mood but pictures say a 1000 words each or so they say.

The picture above is of The Bombay Bicycle Club. I really enjoyed them. You can check out their music on their web page or here on MySpace.

We then went to see The Chipolatas. As you can tell by their picture they are a bit of a juggling entertainment trio. I laughed and smiled so much that my face hurt. You can see some clips etc of their stuff here and of course below is a pic I took of them.

The picture above is of the Filthy Dukes. They were okay but I was more interested in what my friends were doing at the Gaymers Tree House food and beve area (eating and talking). Anyway if you want to find out more information about the Filthy Dukes, you can go to their MySpace page here.

After that we were headed to see Gary Numan, but I got side tracked by these guys and got separated from the group. I have no idea who these guys were, but they were fun.


I was able to locate my friends (after ringing them) at Gary Numan. You may remember him from the hit Cars. He's old now (but so am I). I wasn't that impressed so I watched a few numbers, snapped this picture and left. Here's his site if you're curious as to what he's up to now.


From there we went on to Noah and The Whale, who is pictured above. Ironically, it began to rain as they played. They were really quite good and I would have stayed for their entire show, but the band I've wanted to see for ages was headlining on the main stage.

And then... to my horror... my phone died. However, Marianne had a camera, thank God! As you can see from the pictures below, we were right up front for.....

GROOVE ARMADA!!!

Below are some pics and videos Marianne took. In retrospect, I should have asked Marianne to use her camera to shoot pictures, as these pictures are great. Better yet, I should have just brought my own camera instead of my phone.





I love Groove Armada and have for years. If you would like to know more about them, then by all means go to their web site. The only disappointing thing about their show was the abrupt ending with no encore. However, Marianne and I figured that they may well have been expecting to do an encore, but due to the legality of playing in a residential area on a Sunday they had to end at a certain time.

And so over a week late, but better later than never, that was my little experience at Lovebox. You can't say that I don't keep my promises. (You can say, however, that I'm damn slow in fulfilling some of them.)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Who Says the Barter System is Dead?

I have a new toy!!! It's lovely and I've been playing with it for the last few days. Last night when I was out with some friends I kept yearning to play with it some more and couldn't wait to get home. No, no this isn't the Rabbit or some sex-toy along those lines. It is in fact...

a Macbook 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2 GB memory (667 DDR2 SDRAM) and 250 GB hard drive. It's a year old- maybe less. I got it from the family of a student I tutor. They also got the 3 year Apple protection plan so the warranty extends from one year to 3 years giving me telephone support throughout that period. (And there's always my dear friend, Matt, if things go way awry)

And the best part about this was the price. We are doing an exchange. I simply tutor free for about 11 times at an hour a time and it's paid off.

Here are some pictures of my new toy.


As you can see Tweet Deck is all configured and I've been tweeting away.

Now I just need my iPhone and life will be perfect. Well my technological life at least.

Oh and this is my 50th blog of 2009. Whoop!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A Little Review on 'He's Just Not That Into You'

Lame though I may have been regarding writing, it doesn't mean I haven't been doing my fair share of devouring various forms of media- films being one. The other day not I found myself in my local Blockbuster and was thrilled to discover that 1) I could rent 4 DVD's for 4 days for £10 and 2) three films I yearned to see were in stock. So, I rented The Young Victoria, Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader and for my fourth I choose He's Just Not That Into You.

He's Just Not... didn't make the top 3 of the films I wanted to see, but I was intrigued by it for a few reasons. First, I've read bits and pieces of the book and found it to be an over-simplified handbook for women on the common sense of dating. The film was co-written by the book's author, Greg Behrendt. I was curious to see how a book, which was essentially a self-help book for lonely hearted women could be transformed into a collection of comedic stories about romance. Second, the cast was decent. I like Drew Barrymore and Ginnifer Goodwin. Bradley Cooper is hot. I've seen Jennifer Aniston do some pretty damn good acting in the film Friends with Money and Ben Affleck is decent depending on who he's playing and if he can pull it off. Finally, well....um.... let's just say it's a film I felt I should see at this particular time in my life.

For the most part the six slightly over-lapping stories which make up He’s Just Not... are funny, heart-warming and go along with the basic premise of the book. However, the main story just didn’t fit.

(Now at this point I must warn you, I'm going to ruin one of the little stories for you. So if you are planning on seeing the film and don't want to know how any bit of it ends, stop reading this now. Right, you've been warned.)

At the beginning of He's Just Not... we're introduced to 'our problem' which is narrated by the desperate Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin). Apparently, our problem, or more precisely the problem women have with dating, is that from the very beginning when we are but wee girls we are told that when a boy is mean to us it means they like us. Thus, we are programmed from the start to think that when a guy treats us badly they actually secretly like us. Now this makes sense... a bit. But of course as we all become adults guys stop being mean to the girls they like and it's all pretty straightforward right? Uh.....

Anyway, so poor, must-have-a-relationship-or-die Gigi goes out with Connor (Kevin Connoly). They date goes well and they say goodbye- no kiss just a "Nice to meet you," and Gigi waits anxiously for Connor to call. He doesn’t. (“If he’s not calling you…”) Eventually she decides to casually drop in to the bar where Connor hangs out and accidentally meets his roommate, Alex, (Justin Long) who manages the bar. It is there that Alex enlightens her to the rule, “If a guy is acting like he doesn’t give a shit, he generally doesn’t give a shit.” When Gigi tries to refute this by beginning a story illustrating the opposite, Alex interrupts her and points out that is a very rare exception and most of the time there are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. This is actually the primary point of Behrendt’s book. ‘Finally,’ I thought, ‘a realistic dating story,’ and was curious to see what would happen to Gigi.

Then, the story slowly goes into the toilet. It becomes typical romantic Hollywood crap. On fact it becomes the same crap that foster the illusion of the exceptions to the He’s Just Not… rule. Yup you guessed it. Eventually after developing a friendship where playboy Alex coaches boyfriend-seeking Gigi through her dating escapades, she gets the wrong idea from him. They then have a row, she says some pretty poignant things about his playboy behaviour and he comes to the realisation that he’s actually in love with her.

Vomit!

In real life they would have fought, probably not spoken for a while and both Gigi and Alex would have ended up the wiser for it. Their friendship may or may not have lasted, but they would never ever end up with each other. Ever!

Had this movie not been based on a book that instructs women to not over analyse but take things on face value, I would have had no problem with that unrealistic storyline. But this just seems to fly in the face of the point of Behrendt’s book. Okay so Hollywood does that sometimes, but as I said earlier this film was also co-written by Behrendt. What?? The man who wrote He’s Just Not That Into You and It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken would actually allow this storyline to happen?? And thus the author who seeks to shatter the delusions women create about dating, helps to foster one. I found that to be incredibly hypocritical. Yet this is a trite romantic comedy so maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised.

And so, He’s Just Not... is an entertaining, fun and silly film (and Ben Affleck actually plays his character pretty well) but if you’re expecting it to be true to the basic premise of its namesake book because the author helped created the film, you will be very disappointed.


And now for something completely different, I’m watching The Reader.

Monday, 29 June 2009

In Her Own Words

In my previous post, "Justice is Served", I directed you to a link in the Daily Mail which reported that the attackers of my friend, Sangita, had been found guilty. I saw Sangita at our debate club later that night and discovered that the Daily Mail had actually done her a injustice. She had written them a piece about her attack and instead of publishing it, they chopped it to bits and made it appear as if they conducted an interview with her. It's unfair to both Sangita and the readers of the Daily Mail that they did this. The original piece Sangita wrote was moving, inspiring and empowering to all survivors of crime while reminding all of us that no one is immune from such an attack. I'm honoured that she has given me the original article she wrote and has allowed me to post it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BY SANGITA MYSKA, BBC News Correspondent /Presenter
24.06.09

I’ve spent so much of my career reporting serious crime, that it never struck me I might actually be a victim of it. On the day I was approached about writing a piece, for example, I was at the Old Bailey reporting the convictions of Ben Kinsella’s loathsome murderers (for the BBC).

The difficult task of talking to victims; visiting crime scenes and dealing with the police - was so familiar to me, that quite unconsciously, I’d developed a sense of immunity. Street crime was something that happened to other people. Not to me. I simply reported on it.

That all changed in March last year. I’d returned home late and was locking the car when two men grabbed me from behind. I was knocked off my feet, and dragged backwards. My neck was twisted so hard that another few millimetres and it would have broken. I was threatened with a knife, bashed up and robbed. All the while, Daniel Mykoo, whispered his threats and instructions with professional precision.

I had become, as some newspapers were to neatly put it, the latest victim of the ‘Strangler Robbers’.

I was easy prey: I’m 5 foot 4”, weigh 8 stone and was alone. They were the cowards and I was the victim. The only thing is, it didn’t feel like it.

Instead, for days and weeks afterwards I felt terribly, terribly angry – at myself.
I felt stupid for returning home late; weak for not fighting them off harder and guilty for putting my husband through the emotional turmoil that followed.

These men had robbed me of more than my wedding ring; they’d stolen my confidence.

I began to experience panic attacks. Everyday activities felt unreasonably risky. In the past, I wouldn’t have thought twice about walking past a group of ‘hoodies’. Instinctively, I now crossed the road. I avoided meeting friends in the evening; walking home after work and travelling on the tube after dark.

A few weeks after the attack I discovered, in a bundle of paperwork sent to me following the mugging, a number for Victim Support. I’d resisted calling them for weeks. I deeply resented the word ‘victim’ - I couldn’t relate to it. I was an independent woman who had every right to walk down the street without fear of attack. The only problem was, I wasn’t behaving like it.

The help and advice the charity gave me was invaluable. Everything I’d been feeling was text-book typical of the thousands of people who experience, for want of a better phrase, this sort of mid-level street crime. Thankfully, I’d escaped with my life - but that didn’t mean I couldn’t feel shaken by it.

It’s now a year on and Daniel Mykoo has pleaded guilty to being ‘the Strangler’ part of the dreadful duo who mugged me. I’ve just returned from 4 months travelling, almost entirely on my own, across South Asia. I’m pleased to say, that with the support of family and friends, I’m very much back – in every sense of that phrase.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Justice is Served!

A while back I wrote a blog about my friend, Sangita who was attacked outside her home. Well today, while I was lying in the sun, she sent me a text telling me to pick up a copy of the 'Daily Mail', a newspaper I don't normally read. I asked her why.

And this would be the reason why.

I love it when the justice system actually works. I'll be seeing her tonight and definitely will be buying her a drink to celebrate. In addition I will anxiously await July 24th. I hope they get life for the amount of emotional trauma they put Sangita and many other women through.

What a great day this has been! First I met adorable little baby Zack, then I saw Foxy Junior and now this piece of good news. I don't think this day could get much better.

Foxy Update!

If you've been reading my blog for a while (or are a friend of mine in real life), you know about Foxy, the fox who lives in my back garden and sometimes climbs the wall and sleeps in the ivy, which allows him to stare in my kitchen window. We've spent a lot of time looking at each other and I would like to think that we've become friends.

But then he vanishes for long periods of time (much like I can do with my blogging) and I begin to worry.

I always thought of Foxy as the type of fox who would wear a little newsboy type cap with chains around his neck and a pocket watch, which he would twirl around. He was very cool, hip and a real player who after cavorting with the lady fox would come sleep in the ivy and stare lazily at me.

Well, either I'm right and Foxy is a real player or I'm wrong and Foxy is female. Either way Foxy has gotten around as this afternoon sitting in the middle of my back garden was Foxy Jr, who I shall just call Junior.

I spotted Junior after meeting Mark and Marisa's new baby Zachary, who was born on Monday. Zach is the cutest thing, even cuter than Junior. I had spent a good deal of the morning holding this adorable little human being. Thus I was feeling quite friendly and loving. So instead of running to get my camera to snap a picture of Junior, I stupidly flung open the window and said, "Hi, baby fox!" Of course it ran away.

Now I'm off to soak up the sun with the hope that maybe Junior will come say hi without biting me.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

STOP THE PRESSES!!!

J- HAS PAID ME BACK! Money was in my account this morning. He deposited cash so it really is all there!

Somehow we've remained friends despite the contention that came before. I'm meeting him for a drink today.

And there are a few more posts in the works about some interesting things and there will be some juicy stuff on Cars and Boys. However, I'm in the midst of sorting out visa crap and friends having babies, friends coming to visit and friends moving away.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Blog Makeovers

I've been thinking about my two blogs lately and how one has almost dwindled out of existence. I decided that this couldn't happen, so it's blog makeover time.

I began "My Luck with Cars and Boys" with the thought that I would take my past (mis)adventures with men and motor vehicles and spin interesting tales with them. Perhaps then I would have some interesting fodder for a novel...or at least the inspiration for one. However, I intimidated myself (if that makes any sense) with my own expectations of what this would become and I froze. The posts over there just ceased to happen.

I have decided that my blogs need to really reflect their titles. This blog is titled "H in London" and thus that is what the posts will reflect. My little (mis)adventures in my life in London and other places I might venture to from London. "My Luck with Cars and Boys" will reflect current and past tales of my luck or lack thereof in love. From this point on "H in London" will be love life free.

"H in London" has more readers than "My Luck..." for obvious reasons. Thus when I post a new post there, I'll let you know here. Hopefully this will revitalise and renew both my blogs and keep me writing and keep you reading as well.

And surprise! There is a new post on "My Luck with Cars and Boys.

As always thank you for reading. I hope you continue to do so.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Why Homosexuality Should Be Banned

Many thanks to my friend, Cliff, for pointing me to this.

Misadventures on the Izzle of Wiggit

(Note: My student's name has been changed to protect his identity)

As mentioned previously I spent from Tuesday until Friday of this past week with our year group on the Isle of Wight. There were a few small humours moments.

There were 10 chaperones for a total of what ended up to be 87 kids. Three kids dropped out last minute due to illness and four others opted not to go. We have a small year group this year- I'm not complaining! My chaperone group of ten students decided that they needed a name. They came up with the name Martinis, as my surname is Martin. I stressed that we were non-alcoholic martinis and they agreed (This was after I told two off who proclaimed we were, "Vodka!" at the top of their lungs. Personally if we were going to be any martinis I'd want us to be Espresso Martinis but I wasn't telling them that.)

I have to say that out of all the five years that I have gone on this school trip, my chaperone group was the best behaved one I've ever had. Plus, being an international school there were several different languages that the kids could speak besides English. So, when I had them count off (each student had a number) we began in English, but then there was an insistence that we switch to Spanish, then French, then German and finally Dutch.

Here are the Martinis at Osborne House (Queen Victoria's home for much of her life)


I was a bit concerned about a student I'll call TK. He constantly blurts out, goofs off and gets in loads of trouble outside of class as well. His naughtiness is never really malicious so much as it's a case of bad judgement. And a case of bad judgement hit TK as we were leaving Osborne House. Like all good tourist areas, Osborne House has you exit via the gift shop. We had established rules about what they could buy at the gift shop. Sweets and any object that can be used as a weapon were not allowed. We were out of time and so to the disappointment of my group I informed them there would be very little time to shop. But oh no, this wouldn't do for TK. When we left the gift shop, he was noticeably absent. After about 5 minutes of waiting, TK came running up to us full of apologies but proudly declared, "Miss Martin, look! I bought a slingshot!" There were a few chuckles from the rest of my group as I rolled my eyes, sighed and gently reminded him that a slingshot was a weapon. He reluctantly placed it in my outstretched hand and I kept a hold of his tool of destruction until the we returned to school.

Wednesday night was my over night duty on-call. This meant that if there were problems after 'lights out', students would come to me. One of my little Martinis had a topical allergic reaction and I had to tend to her first at 1:00 and then again 2:00am when it finally subsided. At 4am I had a dream that a car alarm was going off outside my flat when I heard a pounding on the door to my cabin. I opened the door to 6 very tired and nervous looking boys. "Miss Martin, our smoke detector is going off and won't stop....and there's no smoke." I sleepily stumbled into their cabin. There was indeed no smoke and nothing to cause it. So, I stood balanced on the edge of the lower bunk in the bunk bed, reached out and hit the magic-button on the detector and the noise stopped. There was much rejoicing and we all went peacefully back to bed....for about 10 minutes.

I heard the alarm clearly this time and was out of my bed like I shot. The boys were also out of their cabin and on their way to get me. As I went back to their cabin to do my bunk-balancing/magic-button act, one of them said that the smoke detector had begun to go off with a few sporadic beeps before bursting into its monotonous, piercing nose. I didn't want to be responsible for 'illegally' removing the smoke detector. So as it was slowly building up for its third fit, I grabbed my folder with all the very important information and rang the 24 hour emergency number. I assumed this was was the number for someone at out camp site. It wasn't.

I ended up with a very annoyed woman on the other end of the phone. The number I rang was indeed the number for 24 hour emergencies but for the company that owns the camp and several others, not for the camp itself. She asked why I hadn't rung someone at the camp and I informed her that this was the only number I had been given. After telling me she would ring security at the camp, she hung up on me. About 20 minutes and two magic-button pushes later the security man, who was so large he could barely walk, showed up. He asked me to get on the top bunk and take out the battery. I did. The smoke detector still continued to beep away. I unscrewed the detector, which revealed that it was wired to the ceiling. I tried to hit the magic-button to silence it. However since it was dangling from the ceiling, the detector's button had lost its magic. The heavyset security officer attempted to stand up on the bunk bed and balance the way I had and in so doing nearly knocked me off the top bunk. Finally, out of frustration I grasped at the wires and what appeared to be a plug. I yanked. Nothing. I yanked again. Still nothing. I yanked one final time and out it came followed by blissful silence, which was instantly broken by cheering from the boys.

The next morning the boys were singing my praises as the smoke-detector slayer while I almost slept through breakfast.

The following day my group participated in "The Sensory Trail". Essentially they were all blindfolded and had to walk through a muddy obstacle course in single file with their right hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. They were encouraged to use their senses and communication skills to work together as a team. I stood silently watching and giggling as they made their way down the path. Upon passing me one of the boys said, "I smell Miss Martin." I was horrified at first but then again he didn't wrinkle his nose-just stated it as a fact. Thus, I'm assuming (and hoping) I smell nice.

And so those were the highlights of our Isle of Wight trip. Since I'm moving up a year level this was the last time I'll be chaperoning this trip. Overall, not a bad way to go.

I leave you now with some quick snaps I took of Carisbrooke Castle, which I absolutely adore and shall miss.





Saturday, 30 May 2009

I'm Back Again

I was away on the Isle of Wight for a five days. My tweets will fill you in as to the little things that happened and I will embellish and add pics in a bit. But today's a busy day of baking for a wedding shower and then having drinks with a friend who is in a bit of a career pickle. But I just wanted to quickly say hello here and let you know there is more to come. xxx

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Exdar

It's like radar, but it's all about your ex. They know. Some signal goes out. Some inexplicable signal and they know. They know it's time to get back in touch. Why is it that when you think you're over someone completely they send you a few texts, suggest you visit and meet their new dog and bam you're a sucker again?

It's hard not to be a sucker. You thought those feelings were completely gone. After all wasn't this the same Jerk who owed you money and you almost had to sue him? The same Jerk who was a prat when you thought you had breast cancer- yes him, H! Him! Run away! Run far, far away.

Oh and he's said that since things have just become more settled now he's going to become a different person in the next few weeks. To which you wittily inquire if he's getting a sex change. How very funny. How very flirty. STOP IT! WHAT, ARE YOU INSANE???

So what triggers said exdar? I have found that for me it is usually when I meet someone new that the exes suddenly remember my number. What blows me away about this current bout of exdar is that there is no one new. Uh... there is...ahem...someone old, however. Someone who has been around long before J-. That's not developing into anything and was just a bit of fun as far as I'm concerned. However, it was enough to trigger the ol' exdar.

And how do I know this is a case of exdar and not just a coincidence? Because there was more than one ex in the last 2 days who got in touch with me out of the blue. There were three of them. There was the aforementioned ex who inspired this posting and then two minor exes (if you can even call them that) who lasted about a month each. All for some reason only known to the universe decided to make contact yesterday and today.

Of course exdar works both ways. I recently began thinking about a university boyfriend for no apparent reason. I looked him up and sent him an email. Turns out he's getting married and he said I was the second ex to have gotten in touch with him. See, it's the mysterious powers of exdar at work. Its goal is to test your resiliency and resolve in this your new found place in life without your previous ex.

So, it's now up to me to resist this mysterious power which has brought my ex back into flirty communication. I must be strong to--

Oh excuse me. My phone's just beeped.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Please Take Me Back

Uh....hello....No wait, please don't go.... I know it's been a while and you have every right to be annoyed with me. I used to blog with a frequency akin to rabbit copulation and you got rather fond of reading my mindless dribble. I became part of your life.

But then I stopped writing for a long period of time. And then I returned and you were relieved. But then I stopped writing again and then started again. And then I go away. And then I come back.

I know you're sick of my vanishing from blogger and then coming back and apologising and begging your forgiveness. The lack of commitment to my writing must be driving you mad. You probably want to chuck me, delete me from your blog roll, tell me to go to hell and that you never want to read me again. You must think that I'm a blog tease. You're probably right. I probably am, but that's going to change. I promise you.

I know I've been shit. I'm sorry I've hurt you. There's no good reason or excuse for my behaviour aside from the ones I've given before- work, writer's block, etc. However, like I said I'll change. This time will be different. This time I'll blog about funnier more interesting things. I won't obsess so much on my love life except when it's something that might amuse you or peak your interest. I'll be more attentive to you as well. I'll check my blog roll more often and find out how you are doing.

To be fair it's not as if I've gone away completely this last time. You can just load this page and look to the right to see what I've twittered lately. In fact you could even join Twitter and follow me there if you haven't already. Also, you can have a peek a further down on the right to see what music I've been listening to lately as well. I know. I know. You're right. It isn't the same and like I said I'll write more here. I promise.

So, please give me another chance. Let's give this another go. We've got the foundation for this to be the beginning- or rather rejuvenation- of a beautiful relationship. It would be a shame to throw such potential away.

I love you. I really do. Please let me back on to your computer monitors and start reading me again. Please.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Possible Leak

What ho! A blog post that has nothing to do with my financial squabbles with my ex? Yes I can write them.

Marianne and I took a walk along the Thames into Kingston today and came across this boat for sale. The for sale signs on the boat made this a photo must, so I whipped out my camera phone and snapped these for your enjoyment.




Friday, 17 April 2009

And in More Interesting News...

I've just been informed that I'm going to be receiving my Rugby Premiership Final tickets that I won at the London Blogger Meet Up in March! Hooray! I also got my personalised Guinness pint glass from the same meet up! YAY!!!

It's a Day of Silence for many of the students in the US. We're on Spring Holiday or else I would be joining them. I am going to mention that our school do something similar when we return. It would be good for our high school to be involved in this. I'm sick of hearing high school students slam others by calling them gay or faggot. It's just not right.




You can't be more sick of reading about this...

...than I am of writing about it. So have no fear. This is the last time I'm posting about my deadbeat ex-boyfriend.

On Wed, I received a text from Jerk telling me that he would be home that night and would send me the number to track the post then. Then, later at night a text telling me that his flight was delayed but would get me the number as soon as he got in and that was it. Today is Friday.

And thus, my last personal request to him:

"Jerk,

Originally I said that I would give this until Wednesday the 15th of April to be resolved before taking legal action. However as you said in your text that you were again away without the number and would be home by Wednesday evening, I decided to wait.

Wednesday night you sent me a text saying that your flight was delayed, I shouldn't panic and that you would send me the tracking number as soon as you got home. It is now two days later, Friday the 17th of April, and I haven't heard from you.

It has now been almost 2 months since all the mishaps with the transfers supposedly first occurred. In addition you have written me a cheque with insufficient funds and now supposedly sent me a recorded post with a banker's draft which has gone missing and you are not providing me with a tracking number in order to trace it.

I will be filing a claim by the end of the day on Monday the 20th of April if this is not resolved. In addition to the £327 you owe me, you will also be requested to pay the £30 fee I had to pay my bank due to the transfers not going into my account back in February plus any fees for filing the claim. Filing a claim is not something I want to do, but with your inability to provide me with proof that you sent the banker's draft and documents, I don't see that I have another option.

I was really hoping that I would be writing you an apology for accusing you of being so awful and I'm saddened that it looks as though I will have to file a claim instead.

Sincerely,

H~"

And that's it. I did send him a text and a message on MSN, where he's been logged in all week but as 'Away', simply telling him to check his email and do the right thing. I know I'll probably get some crazy story about why he was unable to physically give me the tracking number (maybe he was falsely arrested again or had to go into hospital), but I won't bore you with it. When this is resolved I will let you know, but until then I'm retruning to my regularly scheduled blog posts.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

What Am I? An Idiot?

And now we are on to part five. For those of you just joining this saga, please go back 4 posts to the beginning so that this makes sense.

I received a text from Jerk today:

"I thought I said in my mail that I was going away and that is why they were calling me! I also thought I explained that the signature had to be looked up as it wasn't in the system yet. I also thought I said that, as the sender, I had to deal with them. Maybe I didn't put that sorry"

To which I replied:

"This really sounds like you are lying. I've had stuff sent by recorded delivery before and as the recipient if you have the tracking number you can look it up online. You sent me the tracking number last time you sent a recorded mail, so why can't you do it now? You said two weeks ago you would send me the tracking number, so just do it. If you are telling the truth about when you sent it, then you would have the number."

And his response was:

"I do have it but I fail to see which part of I'm away you do not get!"

And my reply:

"And I fail to see why you didn't take it with you as this was unresolved and you were waiting for a call back, especially since this all went wrong when you were away before. Had you sent the number when you last wrote this wouldn't be an issue. You are making this more difficult than it has to be."

And that is where we stand.

I don't know who is the bigger idiot, me for dating this man and lending him money or him for dragging this on and on.