Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Life

Welcome, Poppy! The brother of my oldest friend Christopher has just had a darling baby girl. (Yes! She is the brightest thing on my blog in over a week!) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I tried.

I failed.

It doesn't feel right.

modern mercenary emotional pirates
marching on and on
unforgiving hearts of stone
unbending, unyielding, un...


...Deep breath...
(Lord Henry's back...)

Thank you everyone for standing behind me in so many ways. I would be much worse off were it not for you.

I'm going to try, really hard, to return my thoughts to normal blogging this week.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Learning Curve

This is what I have learned:

To one: Don't hold back - it will save a lot of misunderstanding in the long run.
To the other: Communicate - and try to understand - before making a decision.

  • If you like someone, tell them so.
  • If you admire something about them, compliment them.
  • If you want to hold their hand, take it.
  • If you want to kiss them, go for it.
  • If you want to put your arms around them, reach out.
  • If you want to ask a question, go ahead.
  • And if you want to discuss something with them, take a deep breath and jump in.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Stardust Melody

In a day of extremes:
I got a job and signed a contract - I lost a wonderful guy and cried a river.
A summer full of promise...the best one so far. I thank him for that.

"And now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart..." so little Olivia has to learn to erase a hundred associations imprinted in her deep soul.

violet petals, sugared blackberries, green olives...

The Tears...the ghost of you, your imperfections, beautiful pain...and flying to the moon...

sparkling pink diamonds, wrinkled pink shirt, little blue car...

a gentle voice, a warm heart, a pair of blue eyes...

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights dreaming of a song.
The melody haunts my reverie,
And I am once again with you...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Taking a break...

...from blogging for a little while.

If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I have yet to see it.
The one time I would have been correct in following my heart, I really wanted to but didn't, and that was my fatal error...

To thine own self be true

No comments, please.

Thank you,


Sunday, August 21, 2005

It's just...weird...

Have you ever had those days where you just can't wake up? I tried this morning at 9.30; next thing I knew it was 10. This went on until 12.30! I kept waking up and then going back to sleep and dreaming that I'd woken up. One time I dreamed that I was dreaming about waking up!
What was that all about?

It's reminding me of that episode of X-Files when Mulder and Scully are knocked out by mushroom spores and keep hallucinating about coming out of it.

I was under the influence of nothing at all. (PMS?)


Yesterday afternoon I went out to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am never one to gush over an actor, so you know I am unbiased when I say that Johnny Depp was fantabulous! His discomfort with people and situations was sublime. Every one of his lines and facial expressions had me giggling and snickering in my seat. I am surprised that not everyone shared my delight and sometimes I was the only one laughing.
Does that make me weird in a Roald Dahl sort of way?
(Um, including the dream this morning...)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Connection Complaints

Of my younger friends, only the girls call me. Younger male friends, even my cousin, tend to hold off. Is there some unspoken age rule here? When I do call them, they are all there for me, but insist that I not hesitate to call them. After writing that, I suddenly grasped the thinking behind that...

Oh well.


The biggest rejections since I started applying for jobs:
1) Christie's
2) Sothebys
3) Bonhams
--And all for nothing more than admin assistant jobs! I wasn't even trying for cataloguer or junior specialist!
(Although I am now on their database with the promise of a call if something suitable becomes available. Yeah, right.)
The medium ones:
4) Thames & Hudson - editorial secretary
5) Rosenstiel's - publishing assistant
6) Selfridges - PA/admin asst
7) V&A - junior curator trainee
Then the small ones:
8) Lots of typing jobs
And finally, the two art history recruitment agencies who keep insisting it's a slow period, but every time I ask, assure me that they'll call if something comes up.


I love this site, and now someone's written about it:

Thursday, August 18, 2005

And now for something...

...completely different.

Yes, time to distract your attention from yesterday's subject.

Body language can be disguised behind a mask out of a fear of rejection. This can discourage wanted and needed relationships from developing. Those who want and need certain relationships to develop must relearn their nonverbal skills and unmask themselves in order to avoid alienation.

If you want to read more, click here


Bored at the office? Test your aim with this classic game

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Whew! I can start breathing again. I was turning purple!


In other news, I've been watching the soldiers removing the Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip. I've never understood why they couldn't return from having been driven out in the first place and rightly reclaim a land that was historically theirs.

I saw settlers pleading with the soldiers, repeatedly, desperately, tearfully, angrily. The soldiers are just doing their job and such behaviour would accomplish nothing - other than make the statement that this is a wrenching situation.

I watched a young Israeli tear his shirt in a traditional Jewish act of mourning. It was then that I wanted to cry.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Joining Blogger's Anonymous

Hello, my name is Olivia...and I am a blogaholic.

I joined Mo'time (Your Eyes Only) because they lobbied really hard for it. I think they want me to stick around to keep the sanity levels somewhere near normal. You'd know what I mean if you visited...

Last night I gave in to the 20Sixers and joined; they've been asking for months. Ostensibly I joined to make commenting easier and to give and receive "sweeties".

I couldn't resist, though....I have put up a fun new blog over there. It's very pretty, and there you may - no, will - see a side of me that doesn't come out in Blogger.
They were all lying in wait to ambush me. I've got comments coming out my ears over there!

So my friends, take a peek and be prepared:
It's called simply Artmeliana.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Doo Dah La La

I couldn't think of a title.

Visited Vanessa's JP's blog the other day and cracked up reading one of the paragraphs:

Say, why not have ... as the new .com? That would be great to have a ... on the end of your web address, it entices people in. Like instead of you would just type in amazing... and you'd have to wonder, what's so amazing? Nothing, by the way, it's just some guy's website. And if your web address was wdot, you would tell people, "check out my website, www-dot-wdot-dotdotdot. Or if you did morse code you could be dotdotdotdashdashdash... (SOS!)


My shortest poem (circa 1999):

Sur les pieds glorieux
Les martyrs crient pour la foi
Mais le roi est sans douleur
Baignant dans son decadence.

If it sounds odd, that's because it is. Part of a small challenge in which we were each limited to 20 random words. Fridge magnet poetry?

I don't want to translate for you because it won't sound as good and I'm too matter-of-fact. If someone feels like giving me a lyrical rendition I'll be more than happy to post it :)


Boo hoo! Delightful failed his 3rd driving test today :'(

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Diamond Overload and more

Delightful and I finally made it to the Diamonds exhibitionspan style="text-decoration: underline;">> at the Museum of Natural History.

I'm not sure what to say about it. It was not as viscerally exciting as the Cartier one last year at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, where each piece was handpicked from the 1,000+ Cartier collection by Ettore Sottsass who also designed the stunning exhibition. That one literally took my breath away.

Diamonds are pretty! The case that stood out for me the most was one filled with an array of 250 diamonds in every colour, set under an alternating normal and black light. Hey, they glow different colours under black light.
Also, too near the beginning in my opinion was the DeBeers Millennium Diamond. It rotated in its case, its facets throwing glittering light against every surface in the room. I'd hate to cheapen the idea by comparing it to a disco ball, but...oh well.

Under a magnifying glass was the tiniest diamond in the world, barely larger than a grain of sand, it was .06 carats I think, and set into a black diamond to avoid losing it.

The very last piece was a coal and diamond necklace. Well done, but chunky and just plain ugly, although I appreciated the paradox. Something so ugly can, under pressure and high temperatures, produce something so beautiful.

Review number 2 of The Townhouse on Beauchamp Place. We went there at about 7pm and spent nearly 2 hours there. Still so relaxing, still a pleasure to watch the cycling colours under the glass bar, every drink still an aesthetic and palatable delight. By around 8.30 pm it gets really busy and people have to stand at the bar until a space clears, so Delightful and I clung
happily to our spot, although slightly miffed that someone else had already taken our corner when we arrived.
At around 8pm, the lights dim further, a new DJ arrives and the music changes from mellow to loud. Too loud for such a small space, if you ask me.

People-watching is fun. One guy arrived early and sat awkwardly for half an hour until his date arrived. It was obviously their first, and we watched the body language over the course of an hour, how with each successive drink she laughed more, moved closer, stopped crossing her legs. No telling if he'll call her back. His behaviour was not very readable.

That's beside the point. I broke a personal record by drinking two cocktails for the first time! And this time I can't remember what was in them...Oh stop laughing, it's not what you think.

My first was the Lemongrass and Wild Chilli. It was a blushing shade of pink and I removed the red chilli garnish to prevent more oil seeping into the mix. I quite liked it, it had a great kick which blew Delightful out of the water a bit. It was pretty enough that he took a picture of it set against the glowing blue of the bar across the room.
His first was the Monkey Scrumble which he'd enjoyed last time, but has now decided he's all "Monkey-Scrumbled out".
Halfway through my first he ordered his second: a Tall and Dandy ("Like me!" *nudge nudge* to which I could not disagree.) It was tall and Watermelony and I think there was orange Stolichnaya in it but that could have been in his third.

My second (!) was a Parma Violet. I LOVE it! It's all violety and ever so refined! Delightful liked it too and then ordered his third, the Sky Cruiser, and we were both of the opinion that these last cocktails were the best of the evening.
I would definitely have the violet again. Now, the Sky Cruiser...I am at a loss but at first it tastes lemony even though it's not a lemon drink and then fades on the palate into a floral candy flavour.

The drinks at the Townhouse are far superior to Pearl's. I can't forget that I was dizzy barely halfway into my Bumblebee there, while at this place I could manage two. That's the joy.
However, we did agree we'd enjoyed the nibbles at Pearl.

And catching the eye of any staff at London establishments is a work of art. They don't keep a furtive eye on the customer. The mark of a good server is their attendance on you for barely raising an eyebrow. Nowadays you have to wave, shout, or go to the counter yourself.

I tried a bit of mind control on the girl who stood with her back to me by twirling my finger and whispering, "Turn, turn, turn." She did, and I beckoned her over forthwith.

.........Heheeh, yeeeees, I will mesmerise you..........

Friday, August 12, 2005

Afternoon of Cool

So my friend J is in town from NYC, for a week of business school at LBS in Regent's Park. Coincidentally, Columbia installed them at a hotel barely two blocks from my place.
So Wednesday evening we met for dinner and a long ramble through Regent's Park.

J is a park snob - he lives near Central Park, and when he stays in London likes Hyde Park and St James's Park. He had to admit that my park is also quite nice. And --- that I live in a cute neighbourhood! :)
And if I have to say "park" one more time I shall scream.

He knows I am blogging about this afternoon's adventure, and for his immortalisation on my blog has picked the nickname "Titan" or "Stallion". Um, no.

Determined to return to Yaugo*** see I have forgotten the name again. He's been before and loved it. When I blogged about nearly getting in there with Delightful, I called it Yaugotcha but it's not (!)

We met at Baker Street Station, took the tube down to Oxford Street, and promptly endeavoured to get lost. When we found ourselves at Wigmore Street, we got my map out (the one I never carry with me!) and stood on the corner looking like a pair of American tourists *blush*
That didn't work for long, so we actually went into a hotel lobby to ask directions. This, after insisting on Wednesday that he never asks for directions, being a guy and all...
Turns out we'd gone the wrong way out of the station in the first place and instead of going SE we went NW.
On the way there we walked through the true Soho, the part the tourists don't infiltrate and no one but locals know - a real rabbit's warren of narrow streets filled with xxx shops with names like Bend Over. J says that the Soho in NYC is the same*. We figured that if he were to set up in London, he'd have to live somewhere like Primrose Hill and we'd hang out with Jude Law, Ewan McGregor and the rest of the Primmy Hill gang. But definitely not Soho because he would get sooo hit on around there.

By the time we got to Yauatcha (that's it!), we totally deserved the treat.
We sat downstairs for Dim Sum. Yum!!! We had Char Sui Cheung Fun (my fave), almond and coconut coated crispy King prawns, glass noodle and caviar-wrapped King prawns (his fave), and mushroom parcels. We agreed that, although really delicious, it was the most awkward and difficult food to eat. Nothing gets to the mouth in one piece. But the Japanese bamboo chopsticks are superior to anything else (like the heavy melanine ones in Chinese restaurants). Sorry, melamine...melanin is a skin pigment.

(Do excuse today's stream of consciousness.)

Then we went upstairs for tea and dessert. Paralysed by the choices, J saddled me with the responsibility of choosing the tea, while he escaped to gawk at the dessert counter. So after a few questions to the waitress I chose the Orchid tea - it tastes like how orchids smell.
Did you know that between Green tea and Black tea, there is BLUE tea??? It is less fermented than the black, has less bitterness than the green, and a medium amount of caffeine. However, the orchid was a flower tea which is comparable to the Blue, if I remember correctly.

For dessert, I chose the Shanghai Lily: a tiny light white chocolate-encrusted cake with lychee-liqueur-soaked lychee bits in the centre and a pretty pink rose-flavoured fuzz on the outside, topped with a dollop of pink rose jam and a red rose petal. Every mouthful was a delight, but it was so pretty I hadn't wanted to break into it in the first place.
J chose the Galangal something-or-other: a small brown dome of custardy mousse that tastes just like the brulée part of crème brulée. It was topped with a cute swirl of sugar art.

This place is so chic. Every counter is supported by lengths of aquarium. The downstairs is dark, with a ceiling like a starry night sky. Getting into the bathrooms is like penetrating a fortress, with dark heavy Japanese doors and handles like metal Japanese characters. Each cubicle is like a miniature cell lined with black marble, and what makes it really worth a visit is the sink. The water from the tap on either side runs down a stepped incline of black granite to the drain in the centre. Official mark of a chic establishment is Molton Brown toiletries (cf. The Townhouse on Beauchamp St.)
(I TELL YOU WHAT - this Christie's cataloguing training really stands me in good stead!)

J said I had to provide the "cool" today, but this place was so "it" I didn't need to have any at all.

Stuffed to the gills, we walked to the National Portrait Gallery and went in for a half hour of the World's Most Photographed People exhibition.
There was Queen Victoria, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and Muhammad Ali.
I didn't have a favourite sitter, only certain pics that appealed to me, though at a push I'd choose Audrey Hepburn every time.

Back out into the street, a brisk walk through Trafalgar Square, Haymarket, around St James's Square and out past Christie's, then up Piccadilly to a Starbucks - like most Americans, J was implanted with a homing device for that place - and then on to a bench in the middle of Green Park, where, with no alcohol in my system, my attempt to say "sympathy vote" came out as "symphony boat".
When the breeze blew chilly, we headed back to SJW.

Mileage? Don't know, forgot the blasted pedometer again.

* Whereas Soho in London is named after an ancient hunting cry, SoHo in NYC means South of Houston Street. And this Houston is not pronounced like the one in Tx, but rather like House-ton. This I once heard was due to a falling out between members of the Houston family after which both places are named.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

(Help!) and a Poem

Earlier this evening I thought I'd lost my inspiration, my muse (I didn't know I had one until I lost it). Now...
Well, for the past few days I've been feeling invisible.
What people say (words) - or do not say (silence) - is draining my self-confidence.

You all know I don't like to burden you with anything, so I apologise. I've just deleted half of the rant I had written...
But I miss the Olivia that I was at the beginning of the summer, before I left my internship.


I now wish I could delete the entire top section, but I also value honesty.

I Need:

0. A Job
1. To see all the friends I miss
2. A good old fashioned belly laugh
3. To get down everything that's up in the air


I promise I didn't plan this, but I've reached the page in my poem book that fits today's mood. (After this, I only have 3 left!)
It was written in 1998, after a few years of unrequited love...

You shine like a star,
but distance dims the light.
You offer me words,
but I cannot see your face.
I listen to your voice,
but I cannot hear your heart.
I reach for your hand,
but I find it withdrawn.

So I watch and I wait and I wish...

That I might bask in the glow of your love,
Gaze into the depths of your eyes,
Feel the warmth of your heart
And place my hand in yours.

So I watch and I wait and I wonder...
When will that day come?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Wednesday Wamblings & Music

I love London, it's a(n) [insert positive adjective here] city! But sometimes it just SUCKS. Literally. Money from your hands. I spent nearly £70 yesterday on a week's worth of groceries, stationery, and water filter refills.

I saved a whole 64p yesterday at Waitrose buying two laundry softeners on special. Woohoo.
And gave it back by splurging on a gorgeous block of Italian butter (Beppino Occelli). It's been over a year since I last did this, but it has a flavour non pareil.

(I need a job!)


Olivia is a naughty girl. She has put aside her brown bread this week in favour of a tray of chocolate chip and crème pâtissière brioche. ...Ahem...
Anyone in the mood to nag me about this?


Looky what I found. New music I like, that I can share with you!

Athlete - Half Light (Media Player)
Love the effects.

Supergrass - St Petersburg (Media Player)

This is the one I wanted to hear last Sunday:
The Tears - Apollo 13 (Quicktime)
You've GOT to wait for that Apollo bit!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sonnet: Witnessed in my Garden

The wren must be the sweetest bird of all -
A cheeky little soul as he is rare,
And with his wife oft times he comes to call
At our green garden full of tasty fare.
Upon alighting on our fence he bobs
And dips his tiny head down to his feet.
I watch amused as with his dainty hops,
He sidles up to Jenny Wren to tweet
And serenade her mightily in song.
I'm sure Sir Christopher the Wren will win
Her tender heart. I surely can't be wrong.
Look! With twinkling eye and neck stretched thin,
She's inching up and putting out her beak.
What did she do? She peck'd him on the cheek!

Olivia K 1994

Tuesday Tidbits

"Din'nae 'Och!' at me, Geordie!"

--Jean scolding Geordie for making a sound of impatience.
[This is to be said in your strongest most guttural Scottish burr!]


My Life as a Child

The videodiaries of three 9-year old girls. I love the way they see the world. I love the way they express themselves. I love being impressed by their outlook and intelligence and use of big words. And I love the way they learned about themselves in the process.


Every time I skip the train to take the number 13 bus up to Swiss Cottage, it brakes hard at the same junction, tipping everyone over like dominoes. Last time I pulled a muscle, and that was on my first day out after my bad back. This time I was prepared for the lady beside me. I was so tight, she bounced right off.


Ready for another poem? OK.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Two Haiku

As the storm rages,
lightning flashes bright as day.
I see everything.


Sunset threatens day
as the blackbird bids goodnight.
Sleep tight, feathered song.

Olivia Klonaris 1994


As she breathed deeply into the scented rose,
she remembered his words:
Only you, dear Ruby, are my love,
my life, the flower of my dreams,
the fire in my heart.

And she blushed as she gazed
into the flaming sunset,
the cherry blossoms wafting
onto her russet locks.

Olivia Klonaris, 1994

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday stuff [Edited]

Am blogging now merely because I have run out of things to do before going out this afternoon. Oh yea, The Tears concert at Somerset House. They're Delightful's new favourite indie band.
Going to hear "Apollo 13" and "Your Imperfections" live, let's see how that goes.



So today I ran errands at a leisurely pace, which I deserved after feeling not so good last night.
I went to the cashpoint with not a soul in sight. Then it got awkward because as soon as I took out my card all these women and children appeared behind me. The numbers on the keypad are so large and my hands are so small.



I once had a waking dream in front of my computer, up till 7am writing a philosophy paper.
One minute I was typing, then I saw a boy and a girl leaving a shop, then I woke up and Microsoft Word was staring back at me.



Oh, last night I had a sort of Skype conference with JP (in San Diego) and Vanessa (in Houston). It was true multi-tasking and not quite what we were designed for logistically, or logically. It involved headsets, speakers, headphones, earpieces, mobile phones, and typing. He even blogged about it near the end of our chat and I was able to read it before bed.

I think I will tackle it. JP Skyped me while he had Vanessa on his mobile phone with an earpiece. I have a headset but was thrown off everytime I spoke because he had speakers so I had to talk over myself, and it was a bit embarrassing to hear what I actually sound like to other people.
(For instance, I was surprised to learn that I emphasise the t's and d's at the end of words more than I'd thought. Hard as I tried, I never lost that English public school accent I grew up with, though there is a tiny detectable Texan twang - Hey, say that 5 times fast.)

While we waited and talked, Vanessa downloaded Skype, then we realised she had no mic, so she could only hear me but would type her replies to me - either that, or JP would repeat her. And because JP had his earpiece on as well I could hear when she spoke but not what she said.
On top of that, while we were on, a colleague called JP and he forgot to mute himself while they talked so Vanessa and I remained silent and typed nonsense to each other while we waited.
So bottom line is, V needs a mic and she promises to get one ASAP.

Oops, time to go!

EDIT: Disappointingly, no concert last night. It was cancelled due to the father of one of the band members passing away. Delightful, poor lad, was ever so crestfallen because the point was - Somerset House is such a special setting.
So he had a proper tut and moan and I contributed a there-there-it's-alright, and then we pulled our socks up and improvised a Plan B: Leicester Square to catch a flick. (Kingdom of Heaven)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Diamonds are... [Addendum]

Great! I can see the bottom of my blog pile!

Last month, Moonglow asked a question about birthstones and I've been meaning to blog it ever since.

Being an April baby, my birthstone is diamond, a fate which I reluctantly accepted because I thought them overrated.

THEN a few years ago I learned some really cool things about diamonds, such as:
1. They are the only gem composed of one element (Carbon)
2. All diamonds are at least one billion years old, most about 3bln
3. They are so dense that they slow light to half its usual speed (of 186,000 mph)
4. They are so dense that they remain cooler than the ambient temparature
5. Their facets disperse all the colours of the rainbow

Number 3 and 4 really got my attention, and I became sort of awed by diamonds.

Then I won the DeBeers lariat that you all know about by now and took it as a good omen.

Last year I went to a Cartier exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural History and finally fell in love with number 5 because my eyes were dazzled.

At the Soane museum on Tuesday I asked Delightful what he would collect if he had to be a collector, and *without hesitation* he chose coloured diamonds...which, as with many things he mentions, was so unusual that I had to let it sink in.

The same evening on the way home, I spotted a Tube poster for the upcoming diamond exhibition at the NHM. *anticipation*

...a girl's best friend.
(pick your ending)

Addendum -
After some of your comments I've done a little research.

Caesura - Opal is a hydrous Silica with metal oxides. Sort of loses its romance after that.

OJ - Indeed, diamonds are the hardest naturally-occurring substance known to man. (10 on the Moh scale)

The word "diamond" comes from the Greek adamas meaning "untameable".

JP - Sapphire is the next hardest gem (9 Moh) after diamond. It is composed of Aluminium oxide coloured by iron and titanium.

Coloured diamonds are extremely rare and occur through gas contamination, the most common being Nitrogen (yellow). A N atom would replace a C atom on the crystal lattice.
Boron-contaminated blue diamonds are used as semiconducting material, but if the blue is caused by Hydrogen, they are not.
Colour can be added in a lab with pressurisation. Might as well just wear a topaz...

Diamonds unfit for gemstone use are known as bort and prized for their hardness and conductivity, rather than brilliance.

Oh, and one last thing before I forget...
No I forgot...
Ohhh and it was interesting too.

OH I KNOW. Precious stones are classified as being above 7 or 8 on the Moh scale; semiprecious as below.



The Graduation video is up and running on the Glasgow University site. You'll need Windows Media Player.

Here's the schedule:

00.00 --- Anthem tutorial
03.00 -- Fire procedure
04.53 -- Waiting
06.30 -- Anthem & Faculty Procession
08.55 -- Opening prayer
10.24 -- Presentation of D.Phils
After 11.55 -- Presentation of M.Phils - I'm number 7
57.55 -- Sir Muir Russell's speech
After 01.09.04 -- Closeup of me! (front row, 3rd from right)
01.00.14 -- Benediction and Exit

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Jason and Johnny

They made up the other half of our fantastic four at university, the other half being Vanessa and me.
Since graduating, Johnny has gone on to complete his MBA at the same uni, but has changed a lot, according to Jason. He used to wear cowboy boots and belt buckles, you know? And now he's swanning around on the modelling circuit.

So a couple of days ago, on a message from Johnny bragging about spending a week with 25 of these international beauties, Jason remarked: Part of me is happy for John. Part of me.


Today I opened my Inbox to find an email from Jason entitled: Photoshop is Fun!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cultured Pearls

I've just discovered this American reality show called Playing it Straight. One girl has to find the straight men among the gay guys.

She's down to 3 right now. The cute guy is suspect today because he is talking about the architecture of the San Francisco hotel, and knows which cutlery to use for what, and can interpret the painting in the dining room.

EXCUSE ME, but this is called CULTURE. No wonder Americans guys think some English gentlemen are gay.
They had better never hear the things Delightful talks about!

So he gave me the idea of blogging bar reviews. I did sort of last time, but now I might get a bit more serious.
Soda water and lime cordial = puckeringly refreshing. Try it sometime.

We went to the Sir John Soane museum (TEST: to open in new window: Sir John Soane Museum - *here all the Christie's alumni sit up straight* - did you know they hold late candelight viewings of the house on the first Tuesday of the month?
This house is the quirkiest little space you will ever enter, and Sir John lived in there. Delightful and I agreed we'd go bonkers.

It's full of amazing little rooms with nooks and crannies, skylights of all sizes, and is crammed to the corners with antiquities, statues, pieces of ancient marble, cameos, medals, even the sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti I, etc etc etc.

Then to the bar. It's called Pearl - despite being on the ground floor of the Chancery Lane Hotel (on High Holborn), it is a proper destination. The pearl motif is carried throughout and it has a relaxing atmosphere. There are comfortable seating areas separated from each other by pearly lighting features - and you'd have to check out the chandeliers.
However, we chose the cozy little candlelit booth with the couches and cushions.
Only 4 pages of cocktails, but there were also choices of wines, spirits, vintage, and cigars. Let me tell you, these £9.75 cocktails pack a punch! I could only manage half of my Bumblebee.
(Is this why I have a headache today...and why am I so sneezy?)

The Bumblebee contains: honey liqueur, vanilla stoli, Amaretto (3 alco!), mango juice, mint...probably more that I don't recall. It was not that exciting.

Delightful had a Lemongrass (well, whatever of it he didn't pour down his leg): Absolut Citron & Bombay Sapphire Gin shaken with fresh pineapple and lemon juice with a touch of lemongrass & Ginger Cordial. It was alright, a bit fresh.
And a Cool Forest: wild berries and lemon muddled with Stoli Raspberry, Stoli Strawberry and Creme De Mure. It tastes like an alcoholic berry sweetie.
With all this you get frequently-refreshed plates of olives and sweet and savoury nuts.

The service at Pearl is a bit patchy and half-hearted for such an expensive venue, so D asked for a service charge refund and might use it for dry cleaning those trousers.
Being a rather new place, it's possible they haven't perfected their purpose yet.

I re-recommend The Townhouse on Beauchamp Place instead. We are sooo going back there!!!


Overheard outside number 33. As I was waking up on Saturday morning I heard the little girl's voice outside:
--Daddy, where do you get money from?
-What do you mean?
--Do you find it on the street?
-No love, I make my money buying and selling lots of buildings and hotels.

Ooookay...See, the streets in London are not paved with gold after all.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Of the Church by the Road

I behold the countryside unfolding with beauty and abundance,

And turn my thoughts to the wondrous world around me.
How I ponder about such archaic things
As the Norman church that sits with solemn remembrance,
As though it would fain relive the glorious ages past:

Those centuries rich and colourful,
While biding its time beside the old Roman road.
Built to last for a thousand years and more,
It has welcomed shivering pilgrims from the howling blizzard,
And the faint from under the midsummer sun.
But certainly, it has suffered times of neglect and disdain.

Thus every Sunday when the organ richly resounds,
The stout Norman church glows with ancient pride,
And will remain so contented and alive
For as long as the worship flows from its gates,
And floods the green hills with melody sweet.

I retreat reverently, softly, into this ancient place so secure,
To smell the musty scent of history and feel the past before me.
I know that when the epitaphs engraved in stone
Are but scattered words upon the grass,
And the last vestige of that fortress crumbles,
Alas! Only memories will linger and brood,
As silent and ghostly as the night.

Olivia Klonaris 1993

Monday, August 01, 2005

NASA and The New Planet

For the first day of August, the story that got all the stargazers jiggling in their seats last week:


Our solar system has become well-balanced since stargazers found that tenth planet. It's 97 times farther from the sun than the earth is, and three times farther from the sun than Pluto, which you may recall was discovered in the late 1930s.

For now, it's called 2003UB313 because the pictures were taken in 2003, but it wasn't identified as a planet until early this year. Astronomers do like to make sure.

We haven't run out of Greco-Roman deities yet so I look forward to hearing what the IAU will name it.

All this hype about the planet and the shuttle reminds me that when I lived there, I was a member of Space Center Houston. I would have been accepted to the NASA oral history project, but for the fact that final exams and an emergency trip to London interfered with orientation training. :(

For old times' sake, here is NASA. They have some excellent multimedia features, streaming NASA TV and everything you want to know about space and the exploration thereof.

The Johnson Space Center, which sprawls leisurely along NASA Parkway in far southwest Houston, is really the nerve centre of the space programme. The shuttle only launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, home to the fleet.
In fact, Houston is called Space City USA on the police department shoulder patch, which also features the globe encircled by two red rings. (Space exploration is a more patriotic theme than the oil and gas exploration, which takes place a few miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.)

As soon as a shuttle leaves the launchpad, control is handed to Houston which is in charge of all shuttle activities. It also coordinates the International Space Station program. The astronauts train at JSC and of course live in Houston. Dad used to have an apartment in the Clear Lake part of town nearby, and every morning before the damp sea mists had rolled away, the astronauts would shoot overhead in their light blue F-14s.

They used to have huge Open Days before 9/11. You get a big NASA bag and collect goodies as you go along. There were tours all over the JSC, including the original mission control room. My highlight was playing with an electron microscope; the closer I zoomed in to the poor little ant, the more electrons bombarded his fragile antennae, and they wilted, curling tightly to his head.

The atmosphere at JSC retains the thrill of its man-on-the-moon anticipation. This is helped by the fact that all the buildings are distinctly early 60s in design, US government-issue (which is really not so dire as the contemporary brutalist buildings found elsewhere). Being so science-based, there is a calmness but obviously with such a mission as theirs, the underlying electricity at NASA is unmistakeable.

An eye-opening NASA Spinoffs website. How the space program has touched our daily lives, from medicine to wine-making.