Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fresh rant over on QE

(I don't post often enough over there, so when I do I feel compelled to advertise over here, where the bulk of my readers linger.)

Best Onion EVER

The Onion this morning was a gem. It started with a brilliant headline...

moved on to a lovely sarcastic piece about the human condition, delightfully parodied in African big game...

and concluded with this, possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen. The photo really makes it.

In other news, my parents left this morning. I'll tell you about their visit later today.

UPDATE: oh hell, it just keeps on getting better.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Marcel Marceau

died the other day at the age of 84.

What i want to know is, what were his last words? 'Oh my God the Germans have invaded Poland!' ?

Miss Melville wondered if the cause of death was choking. As in mime grabs throat, wife rolls eyes...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good news all around us!

My parent's are arriving in 12 hours! From America! For 5 days! On their way to France to spend to weeks with their best friends in a farmhouse in Bordeaux getting plottzed! Yay for parents!

On Saturday they will be....

...meeting the Pirate's parents. Dun-dun-dun-duh!

Yikes. and Yay. I didn't get much sleep last night. I'm all a muddle. There won't be much (any) blogging here for about a week while I play tour guide and take my parents around Brizzle, but this should provide enough joy to get you through:

San Diego's mayor has a genuine change of heart and signs into action a bill in support of gay marraige.

It's been so long since there's been good news on the LGBT front, I thought this deserved a mention. I almost cried watching it. I hope he runs for governor.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Our heroine returns!

Cycling down the A4 this morning, clad in my flourescent-yellow armor -- whose magical, light-bending properties make me impervious to the advances of speeding lorries, over-confident bus-drivers, harried commuters, and road-kill -- I mused over the events of the weekend.

Friday night on the way to the Pirate's i blew a tire. Not just a puncture in the inner-tube -- that is a small matter i have dealth with many times before -- but an actual tire blow-out, where the tire itself split and left an inch-long hole. I was only 2 miles from home and still 24 miles from the Pirate (who was at the archery range doing some standing-still practice), so i stuck a sock between the tire and the tube to protect the tube from gravel and road flotsam and crossed my fingers it would be enough to get me the rest of the way. it was.

Saturday was a bright, blue, beautiful day. We slept in late and made love in the sunshine.

Blue, beautiful day.
(I took this photo of the sunflower fields about half a mile from the Pirate's house.
I did not nick this from teh interwebs.)

First stop was to the bike shop where we procured a new tire for my ride. Next stop was the car shop where we procured shampoo, polish, wax, and chamois cloth for the Pirate's new baby (known henceforth as The Big Car, because referring to it as The Aston is "just too pretentious for words," so sayeth the Pirate).

We got back and set to work at our respective tasks, me repairing my bike, putting the second canteen rack on, adjusting the derailer (which comes out of alignment every 100 miles or so, which for me is about 2 weeks) and generally tightening up things that work themselves lose from the vibrations. Also adding more reflective tape to things. Because one can never have too much reflective tape, can one?

Pirate set to work, whistling all the while, cleaning and shining the wire wheels on The Big Car and making everything sparkle. We admired our work. I put my car away and we climbed in his to go into the village, where we got ground sirloin, buns, and bleu cheese for burgers, and fresh corn and tomatoes at the farm stall. Dinner that night was burgers on the grill, sweetcorn, tomatoes, and beer, and we sat at the table in the back garden was watched the sun sink below the trees.

What struck me over and over again through the course of the day was just how normal it seemed. It was the most natural thing in the world, him playing with his car, me puttering around with my bike, shopping together, I cooked dinner (this is not an endorsement of a patriarchal culture -- I really really really love cooking and Pirate hates it, so this is just one of our divisions of labor: i cook, he cleans. We're both happy with this arrangement. The feminists can stop growling now) and we sat at the table and enjoyed the food, the surroundings, the season, and the company. For that evening I was in paradise, with not a care in the world that needed immediate attention beyond the fact that I overcooked the burgers slightly, and I had a glimpse of what live could (and hopefully will be) like. That's not to say that I expect every evening to be perfect like that one, but there's no reason why some of them can't be.

I proposed a stroll after dinner to aid the digestion and enjoy the last of the dwindling light. Pirate countered with a bike ride, which would do the same but be slightly more vigorous. I readily agreed, and we took a lovely 11k ride around the plateau where he lives, careening around quiet country lanes overlooking the most glorious vistas and valleys, spilled over with the golden evening sun. We picked some late season blackberries and sucked their juice. And anyone who thinks they need an afterlife and 72 virgins or harp-wielding angels to find paradise or true happiness has never been in love, or been loved.

Apricot light; end of day, end of summer.

I'm not trying to say that my life is perfect or better than anyone else's so nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-NYAH or anything. I'm only trying to make the point that the world and our place in it is what we make it, and there's no reason to wait for the next life to be happy; it can be found in the here and now.


Sunday was a cricket day, and dawned clear and blue again. I've seen some of the most picturesque bits of the English countryside from her cricket fields, and yesterday was no exception. The game went well, with the Pirate getting run out at 96 runs. I was gutted. He hasn't had a century all season, and this was the very last game of the summer. I really wanted him to make his ton, but it didn't happen. As it was, it was still his best score of the season, so that was OK, and they won the game. His team mates were still talking about his performance the previous week, where a mighty 6 off his bat sailed over the clubhouse and won the game in the penultimate ball.

The Pirate bowling.
You can just make out red ball (click for bigness) on the left of the pic. He took a wicket with that one. Note for cricketers: as you can see he's bowling right-handed, which means he ran up on the left of the stumps. Look where his feet are. He's not standing on the wrong side of the track; he's more than a foot in the air.

(Better view: the scenic side of The Pirate.)
(and people wonder why I like cricket.)

Toward the end of the match an amazing thing happened: the emergence of the crane flies. Crane flies are nasty, horrible, disgusting things. I don't like them. I acknowledge they have place in the world, but that place is in Pirate's carnivorous plants, not all over my legs and feet.

Exhibit A: one of Pirate's fly traps eating a crane fly. Yummers!

Crane flies lay their eggs in the grass where they become grubs which eat the roots (cricket pitch grass is, i'm told, especially delicious to them) and then emerge from the ground as adults to boink and make more flies. What no one told me is that they emerge all at once.

It was like a fucking Hitchcock movie. There we were sitting on the porch of the pavilion watching the sun set behind the last few overs of the match (which they won thanks to Pirate bowling 3 consecutive maidens and making the rate unacheivable for the opposition), when a lone crane fly crawled up over the wooden step onto the porch and approached my feet. I stepped on it. Then another one came. I stepped on that one too. Soon there were several. The women on the bench beside me started stepping on them. We looked down and there were dozens of them, all walking towards us. Actually, they were being blown gently by the wind, but we were facing square into the wind, so they came straight at us.

Then I looked up. The sun had burst through from behind the clouds creating the most spectacular sunset (also creating impossible condidtions for the poor batsmen), and what I saw next shocked, horrified, and captivated me. The low-angle of the sunlight was glinting off the wings of the crane flies as they emerged from the ground, and the criket pitch sparkled like a snow-field. There were millions of them, glittering and dancing in the sunset. It was at once one of the most beautiful and most disgusting things I have ever seen. I was not able to capture the effect on my camera.

We stopped in the pub across the street with the rest of the team and had dinner. (Chicken, bacon, and leek pies. Mmmm.) before heading home.

After a snuggly night I packed up my things, stuffed them in my sunflower-yellow paniers, and hit the highway, like a bee with giant pollen sacs heading back to the hive.

OOh, I almost forgot to mention: Pirate's boss asked the People In Charge if he could keep Pirate for a few extra months, so he won't be moving at the first of the year as planned. Instead he'll stay where he is (within cycling distance) for an extra three months! YAAAAAAAAY!!!!)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Bad Idea! Bad Idea! Danger, danger Will Robinson! *waves arms mechanically in air*

This is so backwards I don't know where to begin. (I was going to post this on QE, but I just wrote a new post there, so I'll stick it here instead.)

More faith schools are NOT the answer! This is the government passing off it's responsibility to provide decent education. Fix the bloody schools, you cowards, instead of turning them over to the hands of people who will use them to confuse science and religion in the minds of young people and indoctrinate them into silly ideologies they can use as justifications for killing each other later.

Help me, Obi-Wan Dawkins; you're my only hope!

Monday, September 10, 2007

My donuts got no jelly!

So I finally, a full 10 months after my inital injury, got a concrete diagnosis on what went wrong with my back.

For those of you who don't know the story, I shall summerize briefly:

November 06: injured my back while rowing in Fours Head in London. Was in agonizing pain. Completed the race (and beat the quad!!!) but had to be carried to an ambulace after we crossed the finish line. Was flat on my back on heavy pain meds for 3 days.

Received unnofficial diagnosis of ruptured disk from Dr. D'Artagnon who came galloping to my rescue (with aforementioned heavy pain meds). Couldn't get the student health service to even acknowledge I had a problem, let alone do anything about it.

Quit rowing to recover, suffered chronic back pain of varying intensity for months. By easter was flat out again.

Became depressed from pain and lack of rowing, went on happy pills.

Bounced from therapist to therapist hoping to find someone who could help.

April 2007: finally got an NHS referral to a back specialist.

May: Saw back specialist, who ordered an x-ray which showed nothing wrong with my vertebrae. Specialist then ordered an MRI to examine the soft tissue.

July: MRI scan was conducted.

10 September: results of MRI are finally revealed to me.

yes, you read that right. They did the MRI in July and wouldn't tell me what it showed until SEPTEMBER. This is the National Health (lack of) Service.

So what did it show???

I have a degenerate disk (L4/5).

Your disks are like jelly donuts. When I ruptured my disk i sqirted all the jelly out, but it doesn't regrow. So now I have a shrivelled, permanently dehydrated disk in my lumbar spine.

The good news is:
  • it's as healed as it's ever going to get, so
  • I can return immediately to rowing, and
  • the little whinges of pain i get are nothing serious and can be ignored, because
  • my back, core, and ab muscles are doing a great job of holding my spine up and keeping the dried disk from collapsing, and
  • I might go conceivably go the rest of my life without the problem ever becoming worse.

The bad news is:
  • At some point, tomorrow or never, the disk my begin to collapse because it doesn't have the internal pressure of the fluid.
  • This will hurt
  • And will probably require spinal fusion surgery to correct, which sucks.

That said, Tim Foster had spinal fusion surgery TWICE and still managed to win an olympic gold medal, so there ya go. Not the end of the world.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with an ergometer that needs to be taught a lesson.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ha! I told you so I told you so!

I said it before, and I'll say it again: the parents did it.

I wonder what all those saps who put Madeline McCann posters in the car windows are thinking now...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Goat fixes airplane. Or does it?

Read this article, and see what you think:

Goat Sacrificed to fix Nepal Jet

now scroll down.

Were you shocked? Are you apalled that there are people in this world who think the best way to go about repairing a technological device is to sacrifice an animal to appease a god?

Next question:

Do you profess to be a person of faith? Do you follow any religion?

Because if you do, if you genuinely believe in divine intervention, than this story should be perfectly reasonable to you. But would you get on that plane? I'm betting not. I would wager that even those among you who practice a religion find this sort of behavior rediculous, as well you should.

But that should tell you something about just how much you actually believe in supernatual, superstitious, religious hocus-pocus.

If you really, truly, deeply, at the very heart of your being, think that there is/are sky fairies who watch our every move, pay attention to what we are doing, give a shit about what we are doing, answer prayers, intevervene, and all the rest of that, than there should be nothing at all strange about how the Nepalese maintenance went about repairing a malfunctioning jet.

If you really believe in god, put your money where your mouth is: fly Air Nepal.