Tuesday, February 26, 2008

If a tree falls

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

And if I stop blogging.....?


I am still around, just not finding the energy for anything, and steadily falling behind on your fine blogs. Sadly, I have nothing to write about, and that looks set to continue with me in this holding pattern...to get out of here...

Plus it's that dead time of year where it's holding its breath between the new year and the start of spring, after which everyone comes out of the woodwork.

I know, I need to pull my socks up and write some of those interesting research-oriented posts you've been waiting for so patiently.


I have started using agave nectar in my tea. I can't stop sweetening my tea because it's disgusting otherwise. You know how drinking pure hot water strips the throat and makes it kind of puckery? It is not a nice feeling at all, so I add sweetness to avoid it and enhance the flavour of the tea.

I'd been on brown sugar for the past 5 years, after feeling guilty about, and subsequently going off, refined white sugar. I moved to cane sugar and it got steadily darker to the point where I am now using fairtrade organic demerara.

But sugar is sugar and what I like about agave is I get the sweetness without the glycemic index, no insulin involved, no sugar highs or lows. Also, it has none of the aftertaste of other sugar substitutes. Tis all about getting older, and thinking about what goes into the body, isn't it?


Today at work we all got new LCD screens! My desk is suddenly spacious.

And tomorrow I finally get an ID photo card, so no more signing in on silly paper visitor slips at the front desk. This comes 5 months from the beginning and 6 months from the end. Ha!

Nite nite all

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Baby Tag

Being in the family way, Planethalder has tagged me for baby pics of myself and significant other. I chose one about the same age as the one she posted, but as I have no significant other, there is another one of even tinier me.

I was probably a year old here and just learning to walk. My theory is, being in a hurry to get out I was then in no hurry to grow.

The hair hasn't changed much...well, it's neater. What I am doing with my hand could be one of three things:
1) Greek Orthodox sign of blessing
2) Texas Longhorns team sign
3) Vulcan peace sign

Like a bag of sugar with spaghetti fingers and a somewhat transparent head. There are more here. I've seen these pics countless times but suddenly today I looked at them with new eyes, forgetting they were me, and I felt so sorry for that fragile little thing I nearly melted.

We have already seen Nikki's baby pics this year, so I tag ALL of you, come on, let's see eensy weensie you!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Good Old Days

I was perusing some old posts today and am pleased to say that I didn't always used to be as miffed about life as I am at the moment.

So, since I have absolutely nothing to blog about at the moment, why don't I share two posts from the days when I used to be informative? Those of you relatively new to my blog may be pleasantly surprised ;)

April 2006:
Vesuvius and the Ten Billion Tonnes

March 2006:
Genes and the Super Volcano

Or one from April 2005, when I was in a witty and philosophical mood:
Art and Beauty

Or a sensuous and literary mood, also in April 2005:
Violets from End to End

If you like, later this week I could share some other interesting old posts, or suggest something you'd like me to research. Let's get this blog back on its feet!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Cave

Behold, my little space at the top of the tower:

Stairs, kitchenette area, sitting/eating area, Aston Martin on TV

Ceiling and skylight, sleeping area, dressing area and bathroom, sunrise at the top.

It's ok, but my posture certainly isn't improving!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Stupid Dogbot

First for the "aside"

I was reading a heated discussion between a Californian visiting Houston who thought there was nothing to do there, and a few residents and natives. Three responses made me giggle.

One former Californian said:
Who gives a sh*t if there aren't any mountains, all you ever did with them was look at them or maybe drive up them and look back down.

A native Texan said:
There's this thing in West Texas called the Chihuahuan Desert. It's the largest desert in North America and much cooler than the Sonoran. They even have mountains out that way. Sure, they don't really compare with the mountains in California. While you're out there in West Texas you'll notice other drivers waving at you. No, they don't have designs on your pocketbook, they're just being friendly. Strange isn't it?

And a Houstonian said:
Otherwise...you know here in Texas we have lots of quaint sayings...and one of them is that the highway you drove in on goes both ways...


Now for the stupid dogbot

Ford is airing an intriguing series of ads for its smart Fiesta. I love that stupid dogbot but am not going to tell you why. Just watch the videos, have a laugh or say "aaahhh", and then tell me why YOU want or don't want him!

Avalanche Dogbot:


Head Trap Dogbot:


Deadly Gramophone Dogbot:


Bringing Down the Moon Dogbot:


Water Hydrant Dogbot:


Hamsterball Dogbot:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Arrrrggghhhhh [Addendum]

OK, it started yesterday, this nonsense...

But first the background. The kitchen for tenants' use is in a room the size of a large boiler closet. I can probably touch the walls from the centre of the room. And we thought the one in the Harrow flat was small but that was probably just the size of my walk-in closet in our first apartment in Dallas. My mother and I continually bounce off each other in there, it's so annoying, so she's fine just getting on alone down there. Thankfully there is a window with an ineffective little bathroom fan above it (!)

The water in the kitchen runs hot for about 30 seconds maximum, then painfully icy for about a minute, and so the cycle goes. In my bathroom it's hot for about 15 seconds and then NEVER gets hot again, so I have perfected the 15 second facewash, and now brush my teeth in the shower at night. This is apparently the problem with any combi-boiler.

The toilet, being a loft addition, uses a pump system. For ages I didn't trust flushing paper down the toilet, and feel insulted that the landlord thought I'd also flush feminine products down too...seriously...and when I am showering the system empties about once every minute.

Yesterday, feeling better, I helped my mother do some cooking to stock the fridge for the week. We were sauteeing onions first thing, and the smoke alarm went off. I fanned it frantically with a foil pan and it stopped, started and stopped.

In the evening, though, it was a lazy oven dinner of chips and chicken wings. My mother overbrowned but didn't burn the chips, and put the wings in the oven in their store packaging (silver plastic bowl, which she thought was foil) so the alarm went off again and the plastic melted. Landlord and I came rushing up/down the stairs at the same time.

He emphasised, pointlessly, that the (open) window must be open when cooking and that the (flimsy) fan must be on too. I told him that they were on when we were simply frying onions earlier and the same thing happened. Then he (thankfully) disappeared, hopefully getting the point.

I threw the wings away because I wasn't about to poison Mum or myself with carcinogens, and popped in some frozen Thai cakes.

After dinner I was washing the dishes, water running so cold my hands hurt, then putting the dishes away I kept knocking my elbow on the saucepan handle on the counter, and the kettle on the other side, and saying bad words.

Not only that but the only thing I have seen for the past week were the walls of my erstwhile cute loft, which I had wanted to bond with, but not in this way.

Tonight my mother decided to shower in my bathroom because the Korean girl next door to her left a lot of dirt in their shower, and Mum doesn't want to clean up after her again. Did I ever tell you how many times she burnt our favourite new saucepan and has now had to pay for a replacement?

Anyway, Mum turns on the shower and the water starts filling the shower floor. I flush the toilet to see if that will activate the pump, but the toilet bowl just fills too. Just when Mum doesn't really want to use the shower downstairs, and just when I really really need to wash my hair. I fiddle around a bit, then realise that the switch near the floor outside the bathroom is switched off. I haven't looked at it in weeks, but there is a box near it, and I did vacuum the floor this morning.

So...that's my rant. Wonder if any more fun lurks around the corner for next week?

Following: a rather shameful addendum, but it's true and I am sharing it with you.
[It occurred to me yesterday with a shock that I once lived in my family's own 4-bedroom house, with more money than we could spend. I was naive enough to think that this would always exist, no matter where in the world I lived - Mum and Dad and "home" represent security, no matter how old you are. Three years in a houseshare in a million-pound house in one of London's premier neighbourhoods was a step down from that because once upon a time I didn't know what a houseshare was...but even that was nothing compared to my current frustration. This has to end!


Sweet! Vanessa just called from Houston and we talked for an hour and I have just smiled and laughed more than the last month altogether! :)