Tuesday, December 29 2009 03:22 EST
The festivities are over, but I'm still on holiday as the result of needing to chew up two days of leave before January. Rules like that piss me off, but until something radical changes, that's what we have to deal with.
So, we decided that the best course of action would be to go back to the UK for a time in January and by sheer luck managed to find some astonishingly cheap (and astonishingly crap) tickets. We have to go via North Carolina (seriously) and also have to go on US Air (really). But despite the double-dose of suck, we can go back to London for a couple of weeks and at the moment a holiday is what we both crave. It may not sound like a holiday to you cynical Brits, but at the moment the idea of spending two weeks in the grey, drizzly, slush of London is the sort of dream holiday I would wish for if I were on a dream holiday during a dream, on a dream holiday.
It's little things you miss, and so I've started compiling a list of little things to try and achieve during our stay
So if you're around, please get in touch with a mobile number and we can meet up and see, eat, or drink something cool together.
Sunday, December 27 2009 00:06 EST
Here is a great example of the keen minds behind Anarcho-Capitalism
Last updated: 15 April 2007 23:08:11
Happy new year 2009 guys! Looking forward to finding out about some of your extremist views!
Saturday, December 26 2009 22:56 EST
Here is a simple example of something that highlights some substantial flaws in American culture.
Generally speaking, I don't watch much TV over here because of the outrageous number of commercials. I just can't bear it. But today, I noticed that the SyFy channel (formally "Sci-Fi") was going to show the first "Saw" film at 4:30 in the afternoon. I don't like horror films, especially nasty ones but I wanted to see it out of a morbid curiosity.
So I flicked over to SyFy to be confronted by a woman repeatedly stabbing a burned corpse in the face. It's 4:25pm. This is the end of the movie "Autopsy". Cut to a 7 minutute commercial break. Back to Autopsy. A two minute scene, bypassing the credits into a "viewer discretion warning": "parental discretion is advised". Yeah well it's R rated so I imagine it would be.
After around 40 minutes of movie, and about 20 minutes of jocular Christmas commercials, we witness:
- A man cutting himself to death escaping from a razor-wire mesh.
- A woman with a steel contraption attached to her head that would rip her mouth open 180 degrees if she doesn't find the key in one minute.
- The woman extracting the key from the stomach of a drugged up guy in the same room, with a big knife.
- A naked man, covered in flammable paint trying to find the combination to a safe in the middle of a floor covered in broken glass.
- The violent kidnap of a mother and daughter where the kidnapper listens to the heart rate of the child while he waves a gun at the mother.
Yeah, maybe some parental discretion would be prudent, especially at 5pm.
But there's saving grace in all of this. OK, the scenes may contain some potentially disturbing material, especially for faggy liberals, but the word "shit" was blanked when the soon-to-kidnapped mother said the word "bullshit". From past experience I also know that any immoral nudity and sex will be removed too. So in fact it's all a bit of harmless fun for the kids after all!
I'm going back to the family Christmas entertainment now; some bloke's about to have two electric drills driven into his skull.
[an explanation for the ironically challenged: I have no problem with gruesome films any more than I do with roller-coasters. Some people like them, fine, I don't. Enjoy. But I do have a problem with them being shown in the name of science fiction. I also have a problem with them being shown at 4pm. But the biggest problem I have is that what's considered dangerous and immoral is not the brutal violence, but some arbitrary words like "shit", "fuck" and "cunt", and even implications of sexuality.]
Wednesday, December 23 2009 05:33 EST
Over 22 inches of snow fell on Saturday. It's beautiful but also managed to highlight some good and bad aspects of the neighbourhood attitudes. Here's how it works:
You dig out the path in front of your house. That's a minimum requirement. We are spectacularly lucky to have Tim next door who was nurtured on these laws and goes the extra distance in shoveling his neighbour's pavements. He's a good man and he's our neighbour - that's quite a good thing you know. Next, you need to get your car out. So you dig it out (which is hard work). The next step is that most people then claim their empty, dig-space by putting stuff like chairs in it when the car's not there. Despite being anti-social, it's something understandable. Shoveling snow is really hard work and when someone takes advantage of your work, it's harsh.
But in reality it's just like the other thing I hate dealing with: parking. Honestly, I couldn't give a single type-7 shit about parking. But here, it's an issue way above religion. When snow becomes involved tensions ride higher than ever.
M came home from somewhere or other today and found a parking spot. Obviously, it was a spot that someone had dug out (because all of them are) but evidently the digger was unhappy about his/her work being used by someone else (even a neighbour) and so attempted to "teach us a lesson" for parking in some available space by piling up a bunch of snow all over the front of the car. This upset M, quite a lot. One thing you have to know about her is that she generally doesn't understand why people do shitty things, especially when they do it to someone who intended no malice in the first place. She finds it jarring in the deepest way and I can only admire her for it. However, as an opinionated arsehole, my attitude is that these people are wrong and don't understand the stupidity of what they're doing and so I don't get upset; more irritated.
But seeing how upset M was, I got supremely irritated. This was probably related to the dire experiences from earlier in the evening: an aside:
As the result of a non-work related minor computer emergency, I left work late and had to lurch through some serious snowdrifts (did I mention that King of Prussia hates pedestrians?
) and then across an icy, unlit road in the dark. When I got to the other side I jumped, to avoid oncoming traffic, to the top of the snow embankment. It was a matter of milliseconds before I remembered there were a load of spiky bushes underneath the white coating, and before managing to rationalise the current situation, I was stuck in a bush, totally covered in snow, totally unable to escape, and with a strong fear of missing the precious, hourly-scheduled bus. I eventually managed to hyperventilate and scratch myself free from the spiky, snowy, bush and plunge through the deep snow. A few small scars, frozen hands and a poor score on the dignitometer. It took me two hours to get home.
So, you will understand that by the time I did get home, the sight of my wife being upset, pissed off, and confused by someone's lame, passive-aggressive protest got me riled. So I strapped on the cleats and stomped over to the neighbours' to ask if they were responsible for this pathetic act of impotent protest. Being prejudiced, like most people, I tried "the usual suspects" first. They didn't answer, or were out. So I tried the nice people who had bought the late "Da Mayor"'s house. It took a while for an unfamiliar person to answer the door, but when he did it was obvious he knew why I was there. I'll cut the rest of the disturbing dialog out, but these are the main points:
- He said he did it. I asked why.
- He explained and I said that rather than cover our car in snow for whatever reason he had, he should have come over and told us the nature of his beef.
- He immediately shook my hand and we were friends. Then his missus opened the door and started explaining the reasons for their anger. She wasn't very convincing.
I accused them both of "passive-agressive shit" and they both apologised. M came out of the house, still very upset, and started accusing them of doing what they did [she hadn't heard the mellow agreements]. I was still uptight about the whole thing and continued to drop into rabid accusations of anti-social behaviour, but at the slightest sign of capitulation or consensus, leapt on it.
A short while later there was a knock at the door. M was still upset [not angry, upset - she rightly gets upset when people attack her for invalid reasons]. But I answered the door, and there was our aggrieved neighbour with a box of exceedingly good beer that he'd brought over as a gesture of neighbourlyness. I nearly started crying with happiness. I invited him in for some Carlo Rossi and we spent a very amusing hour talking joyful shit about all kinds of shit. It also turns out that he is
a beer brewer! He was drunk, but also extremely nice and apologetic about the whole deal. And this was despite how abusive I'd been to them on their step. Essentially I think they agreed that it's better to be friendly, or at least direct, with the neighbours rather than wage a war of attrition.
So, we've met some new neighbours and we got a crate of nice beer as a result. That's not too bad.
Wednesday, December 09 2009 04:20 EST
One of the problems of keeping parrots is that they are (generally) very clever. That's "very clever" for pets, not humans. Depending on the species of parrot, they can have intelligence raging from baby human to 4-year-old human. Our big guys are around the 18 month human stage, but with wings. Can you imagine flying toddlers ? What about flying toddlers that never grow up ? That's our guys. They spend their entire lives battling for territory, trying to have sex with whatever is nearby, and beaking and destroying things.
Pepper, the fiery redhead
, is obsessed with nesting. This involves her trying to find a dark nook (or cranny) she can sit in for hours on end, ripping up whatever is rippable nearby.
Last night, I came home to discover that she had ripped up the back cover, and many of the preceding pages of my favourite edition of Alice in Wonderland. If any human had done this, I would have regarded it as the worst crime against all that is righteous and been forced to hunt and kill them. But with Pepper, all I could do was fume. She doesn't understand what that book means to me. Looking at her, the worst I can detect is mischief...but no malice.
So, to quell my frustration, I've just ordered myself a copy of The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition
One-click ordering is way too easy.
Thursday, December 03 2009 03:42 EST
Despite last Friday being International Buy Nothing Day
, AKA "Black Friday" in the US, we ended up buying some "essentials" in Whole
. In the normal proletarian supermarkets you can't get Garam Masala, Poneer or decent lamb! I know!
We made the classic error of going there hungry; once I got within niffing distance of the cheese counter, it was all over. They had an amazing range of cheeses, better than I've ever seen in Sainsbury's. They even had a couple of cheeses from Neil's Yard and from obscure parts of the UK.
Now, by complete fluke, I'd spent a chunk of the morning looking at Cheesipedia
and was particularly taken by something called Stinking Bishop
, which I'd never heard of before. Guess what was piled up, in large, unopened, boxes on the cheese counter ?
"Excuse me," I said conspiratorially to the girl behind the counter, "but just how offensive is this cheese ? I mean, is it divorce material ?"
"Well," she replied, in almost a whisper "I don't know. But I have been told it's like old socks."
The candor took me by surprise, but I was fascinated.
"Would you like to try some ?" she asked foolishly.
"Well, if it's no bother, that would be awesome"
Her face fell. With feelings almost reaching the level of guilt, I watched her extract the beautiful orange block of cheese from its virgin box, clean it, and then cut it. She winced.
"Just a teeny tiny bit please" I said. She cut a tiny sliver of the soft pungent cheese and handed it over to me. It tasted quite spectacular and, owing to its tiny proportions, the smell wasn't too bad.
"Oh yes please, can you bag me up a piece about this size ?" I asked, gesticulating. She did, and handed it over between her thumb and forefinger.
"I'm really sorry to have made you do that" I told her.
"It's OK. It was only a matter of time." she said desperately.
For the rest of the day I kept detecting the odour of a sweaty bishops arse every time my finger moved within a few inches of my nose.
It does smell bad. Really really bad. But it tastes magnificent, particularly on some wholegrain crackers. But on the whole I'd have to say that Pont-l'Évêque
has a far better pong to flavour ratio... and that stuff has nearly got me evicted in the past ;)
Apologies to the cheese counter maiden. But your efforts were appreciated.