Monday, April 30, 2007

Eeewww!

Someone got here by googling "sexy excrement." Whoever you are, GO AWAY! Ew. There's kink and then there's just gross.

Misadventures in mechanical ineptitude

Everything I touch breaks.

It's not my fault, i swear. I'm not doing anything wrong. It's just that everthing is shit and falls apart under my gaze.

Take my bike. Please.

I bought it a year and half ago, and didn't really start using it until just over a year ago. In that time i've

  • replaced the crank arms (16 pounds plus labor)
  • replaced the ball bearings (25 pounds)
  • replaced the brake shoes (10 pounds plus the Pirate's labor)
  • repaired no less than 5 punctures to the rear tire (2 pounds for the puncture repair kit, several hours of annoyance)
  • jury-rigged the rack, which broke
  • gotten grease up the sides of my right leg every time i ride it because the chain guard broke and connot be replaced
So saturday I'm cycling to the Pirate's for the night. Due to the Varsity Boat Race running an hour overtime, I got a late start. I set out and noticed my rear tire was low. I I decided to go and see how far I could get. I got 40 minutes before it went flat, decided it pump it up and keep going. 5 minutes later it was completely flat again. Time to stop and fix it.

I had also noticed that when I set out I was having to use a much lower gear than normal, and I was really huffing it. I attributed this to my being really out of shape and got annoyed with myself.

After I fixed the TWO punctures in the tire (I've gotten good at this), I attempted to re-connect the rear brake. It was really hard to squeeze together. When I finally got it in place I spun the wheel. It stopped instantly. It was pressing quite hard agains the brake. Well, I thought. That explains why it's been such hard-going. My brakes are out of alignement and I've been effectively riding with the brake on the whole way. So I disconnected the rear brake and decided to carry on with one brake.

I gave the wheel another spin. It wobbled. I spun it again and watched it very carefully. It was definately wobbling. The wheel itself was warped.

At this point it's getting late (almost 8 in the evening), I'm tired (more on that later), my back hurts, I have a bicyle with a warped wheel and one functioning brake. I call the Pirate. "Come pick me up."

He did, very cheerfully. And he brought me a banana to eat while he loaded my bike in the trunk. What a doll.

We got home and I showed him the rear wheel. "No problem," he says. "All we need to do is adjust the tension on a few of the spokes to pull the wheel back into rights."

That was when he discovered that three of the spokes on my wheel were broken, which is why it was warped.

"Your wheel is fucked."

"I can see that."

"You can't ride your bike."

"Obviously."

The problem here is that I needed the bike the following morning, early, to get to the boathouse because I coach a team of novices. The Pirate couldn't drive me because he had to leave for Oxford for a cricket match. The only alternative was for me to take the Pirate's bike.

I love the Pirate's bike. It's one of those goofy, Dutch-style jobs. All it's missing is a wicker basket and yorkshire terrier. Actually, the "sit up and beg" posture is quite comfortable for my back.

So Sunday morning I took the P's bike, leaving him with my beat up piece of shit which he now has to load in the car and bring to me in Brizzle at some point, and set off for the boat house.

My novices are adorable, they really are, but we've been plagued by problems all year, the most annoying of which is the unreliablility of my launch boat. It doesn't start, and if it does start, it stalls whenever you idle it. And it's a bitch to get re-started on the water, especially given how fragile my back is.

So we got through half our outing when the motor died on me and i had to paddle myself back into the dock, where I threw up my hands in despair. Grrr.

THEN!

Oh, you're going to LOVE this.

For the past 6 months Pirate has been bragging about his wonderful bike with his amazing reinforced tires and how he never gets a flat or a puncture. Just keep that in the back of your head, ok?

So my girls have left, I'm the last one at the boat house, I get everything put away and locked up. I unlock the bike and look down and...

lo and behold! a flat tire! (the rear one, natch.)

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???

Don't ever let me hug you. Everything I touch breaks. Don't even get me started on my printer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Doggy Super-heros

For Murph, who is woefully unaware of all the doggy superheros out there.


First up is the immortal Underdog! He battled villians, he rescued bitches in distress, and his very name is a pun! What's not to love?


Back in the 1950s there was RinTinTin. RTT was on a popular family TV program, kind of like Lassie only so much more badass. Except for the loser kid. How come in all these programs there's a stupid kid, a smart dog, a perfect male role model with a square jaw and straight teeth, and a woman waiting at home wearing high heels while she does the vacuuming? Anyway...


Then you've got McGruff, here. He helps kids take a bit outta crime. Grrr!



And lastly (but certainly not leastly), our very own Daisy the Wonderbeagle!

Faster than a speeding hedgehog...
More powerful than smelly blankie...
Able to leap tall kibbles in a single bound!

Needing a new avatar

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vingnettes from the weekend

As opposed to vinegarettes. This is snippets of life, not salad dressing. Duh.

Foot-in-Mouth Disease
Saturday His Swashbuckleyness made his first ever totally insensitive, thoughtless, assenine remark. We've been together over 9 months, so I think he's still got a hell of a great record. (Keep in mind that my back hurts. A lot. Often. There is nothing I want more than to go back to rowing and rack up the medals with the rest of my team. Instead I'm stuck indoors getting fat and bouncing between phyical therapists like a nuclear-powered pingpong ball. And The Pirate bloody wells knows it.)

So Saturday morning we wake up together, the sun is shining, it's a beautiful day. We are snuggling. And what does he say? "Gee, what a great day to go sculling!" Which was all it took for me to burst out in tears. The putz.

Plant Life
When I'm depressed I play in the dirt. Works every time. To cure stree, exercise. To cure depression, re-pot all your houseplants.
So I dragged the Pirate over to Gardiner Haskins where I splashed out (spent 16 pounds) on new pots for my houseplants. And then made him spend 2 hours of his afternoon watching me pot houseplants. Poor lad. It must have been the epitome of boring for him, but look at the results!



Honest People
Saturday evening we had dinner at the Pirate's local with one of his mates from work. It's a great pub -- I had the wood pigeon in summer fruits sauce and a bowl of spring vegetable soup. It was good, but not as good as the P's lamb shank. I'll get that next time. Unless I get the pheasant again. Or the venison. But I digress.

We ate in the garden out back overlooking the valley and the setting sun. I put my purse (that's 'handbag' for the British readers) under the picnic table. And promptly forgot about it.
When I couldn't find it the next day I figured I must have left it, so I walked back to the pub. Someone had turned it in, and the barkeeper handed it to me. With all the cash and credit cards still inside it. Every penny. It's very reasurring to know that there are still honest people in the world. Apparenlty people don't all suck. Or do they...

Fat Kids
Sunday afternoon cricket games are fun. I like the Pirate's local club because it's a real family affair. Everyone shows up with the kids, and the women drink ale and clap and shout "shot!" and the kids run around the edge of the pitch playing boundary ball and biting each other. It's nice. Except for every single one of the kids is fat and ill-behaved, and I regularly see displays of some of the worst parenting skills on Earth.

Like this sunday. There was a girl, about 4 years old. Not quite as huge as the 4-year-old boy with the 3 chins who already has difficulty walking and balancing his enormous girth and will never in his entire life see his own willy without the aid of a mirror, but getting chunky. Her mother was beyond chunky. In the first over this little girl said she was hungry. Her mother replied that she couldn't be hungry because she'd just had lunch. The little girl repeated her request, and mummy gave her... a bag of crisps! For a 4-year-old! Fabulous. It took the child about 4 overs to eat the crisps, at which point she declared she was hungry again, so mummy gave her... another bag of crisps!

Now, at 200 cals/bag, this child had eating 400 calories, fully a third of all the calories she needs in a day, in the form of a food that will not satisfy her hunger and provide no nutritional value whatsoever. Of course, the salt made her thirsty, so mummy gave her... a can of coke! Another 240 calories!

Later on the afternoon, while the two sides were having their tea, the mother went into the bar and brought out a Mars bar, which she unwrapped and handed to the little girl. Who, to the best of my knowledge, had not solicited the candybar in any way. She said she didn't want it. The mother told her to eat it. So she took 3 bites and pushed it away.

I wanted to vomit. I have never in my life seen a parent attempt to force their child to eat a candy bar. I'm so disgusted I don't know what to think. There's ignorant, but this defies all ignorance and logic. This is somewhere so far beyond ignorant even the powerful gaze of ObviousMan cannot penetrate the fog of stupidity. I have no idea what this woman thought she was doing. I was seriously tempted to report her to the authorities for child abuse.

Oops
And the Pirate was out for a duck on the second ball, so it wasn't the best day of cricket ever.

There and Back Again
But Sunday evening was nice. We fixed some pasta for dinner and watched the P's new Red Dwarf DVDs. Normally he drives me back on Sunday evening (if I havn't bicycled), but it was late and he was tired and I didn't have my bike, so I said I'd take the bus back in the morning.
I caught the 8:03 bus from the stop outside his house and arrived at Bath Spa (train station for the American readers) at 8:30, ten minutes ahead of schedule. The train was a bit late departing, and didn't leave until 8:55, but we got into Brizzle shortly past 9, and by the time I walked home I was stepping into my front door by 9:30. Almost exactly 90 minutes. Not bad, except it only takes me 2 hours on a bike.

Now consider this: the bus was 3.60, and the train was 5.60, for a total of 9 pounds, 20 p to travel 25 miles on public transport.

Let's hear it for British public transport! It costs a forturne, but it will get you there slightly faster than an injured person on a derelict bicycle!

Cute
Here are some photos of Bluto sitting in my fern and chomping on it. I wish I could eat my furniture!



Monday, April 23, 2007

New Blog!

After last week's discussion of faith and Things Believable, I've been inspired to start a second blog. Check it out. (Don't worry, M.E. will continue to operate as usual.)

The latest MeMeMeMeMeMeMe!

Got this one from Llwetra...

(I wanted to do this whole meme as a photo meme, but discovered that all my batteries are dead so I can't take the necessary pictures. I may update later on with more pics, but I'm busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, so realistically, probably not.)

1. PICK OUT A SCAR YOU HAVE, AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU GOT IT
I have scars on the knuckles on my right hand from learning how to scull. This is what they looked like before they were scars:


2. WAHT IS ON THE WALLS OF YOUR ROOM?
Bookshelves, fairy lights, photos of my family, a calendar...


...green paint, Impressionist artwork, and a really ugly light fixture.


3. WHAT DOES YOUR PHONE LOOK LIKE.
That's the most retarded questions I've ever seen in a meme. what the fuck does it matter what my phone looks like? It's got numbers on it. That's all you need to know.

4. WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?
Oh, the usual... Meatloaf, Simon and Garfunkel, celtic rock, madrigals, 17th c. choral works, AC/DC...

5. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT DESKTOP PICTURE?
This one of the Pirate skipping stones in a river:

6. WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?
Permission to live and work in the UK indefinately.

7. DO YOU SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE?
Yes, absolutely, unequivicolly. It's a matter of civil and human rights, and the last bastion of socially acceptable discrimination in the developed world. Homosexuals are the only group suffering more discimination than women at the hands of the Christian churches. It is the only government-sanctioned discrimination. The fact that the issue of gay marriage is still considered a genuine debate boggles my mind, but then, gun control is still a debate and that boggles my mind as well, so there you go. But what it comes to is this: we cannot claim to live in a fair, just, liberal, or free society until we grant gay people the same basic rights as everyone else. End of.

8. WHAT TIME WERE YOU BORN?
7:17 pm. I know this because a) my brother was born at 5:15 pm and mother considers this an amazing coicidence, and b) mom calls me every year on my birthday at exactly 7:17 pm to sing to me.

9. ARE YOUR PARENTS STILL TOGETHER?
Yep.
10. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
Sirens. And construction works. And shitehawks. Fucking shitehawks.

11. DO YOU GET SCARED OF THE DARK?
I've never been scared of the dark, only the stuff that may or may not be IN the dark because I can't see. But the dark itself is not scary.

12. THE LAST PERSON TO MAKE YOU CRY?
This guy:
(photo removed)
with joy.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOGNE / PERFUME?
(I'm so embarassed to admit this but it's...) *whispers* Jessica McClintock

(Sorry, GSE. I don't know much about perfume.)

14. WHAT KIND OF HAIR/EYE COLOUR DO YOU LIKE ON THE OPPOSITE SEX?
Hair: yes. or no. Long is good, bald is good, and so's everything in between.*
Eyes: 2, please

*All right, I'm a hypocrite. I try and sound all "I'm not superficial it doesn't matter what's on the outside I'm attracted to people's personalities," but really I like long hair, the longer and curlier the better, and red or strawberry-blonde hair is super-hot. Just goes to show you that the universe has a sense of humor, tho, because I fell in love with a man with straight, dark, 1/2-inch long hair. Go figure.

15. DO YOU LIKE PAIN KILLERS?
When I'm experiencing (certain kinds) of pain, I love them.

16. ARE YOU TOO SHY TO ASK SOMEONE OUT?
No.

17. FAVE PIZZA TOPPING?
Loads of sauce with loads of oregano. (Most of the pizzas here in the UK are served with the bare minimum of sauce -- about the same as how much toothpaste you use to brush your teeth -- and it's as well-seasoned as tomato catsup.) After that, good cheese (mozarella, ricotta, or goat cheese are all fine. Cheddar on pizza is NOT fine).

Once you've got good sauce and proper cheese, it can stay that way, or you can load it up with any combination of the following: BBQ chicken, brocolli, red peppers, onions (caramelized or raw), pepperoni, proschuitto, ham, canadian bacon, mushrooms, pineapple, black olives, and/or spinach. There are probably a few more things, but I can't think of any at the moment.

18. IF YOU COULD EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
See question 12.

19. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU MADE MAD?
The ditz at the sport centre who didn't want to accept a payment from my credit card because it was more work for her than paying cash.

20. IS ANYONE IN LOVE WITH YOU?
I have good reason to think so. ;-p

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Well that was fun

Or not. I guess it depends on your definition of 'fun.' I define 'fun' as...

No! No more of that! My head is spinning. We will now return to our regularly scheduled program of whining, ranting, and divulging lurid details of my relationship with a certain sea-faring scallawag. And photos of hamsters. (Natch.)

So first up, whining:

My back hurts. It hurts a lot. I'm sick of it hurting, I'm sick of not being active and athletic and ass-kicking, of feeling weak and useless and helpless, and I'm rapidly losing confidence in my therapist. This sux.

And now a bit of ranting:

The medical care at the hospital in my hometown is SHIT. My father went in for a "routine procedure" on Monday. By the evening he was in extreme pain, so the nursing staff decided to do a follow-up procedure which, while being utterly agonizing, was supposed to ultimately relieve the original pain. Did it? Did it fuck. After doing the agonizing procedure THREE times, THEN they decided to do an ultrasound to see what was causing the pain, and lo! it wasn't the thing they thought it was, so the Hat-Trick of Agony was completely unnecessary from the beginning! Awful fucking hospital. He's home now, and with mom looking after him instead of supposed trained monkeys nurses, so he's doing much better.

A few lurid details:

Sorry, Hannah; I havn't seen the Pirate since last week. He's got something up his sleeve for saturday, though (actually cancelled a cricket match to spend the day with me), so I should have some juicy tidbits for you next Monday.

And finally:


There. Are we all happy now???

Oh, one more thing. Today is April 18th, aniversary of the start of the American Revolution and Paul Revere's famous ride. Henry Wadsworth Longellow wrote a poem about it, and every year on the 18th of April mom and I phone each other and recite the poem. It's a good poem. I can't phone you and recite it for you, but here's a link: http://poetry.eserver.org/paul-revere.html

Oh, and one more thing (said Colombo): I am the number one hit on Google if you search for the phrase "Cambridge fitties." Go on, try it. You know you want to.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Faith, Part II

In my last post I put forth a definition of the word "faith" that amounted to choosing to believe something is absolutely true while you acknowledge that you don't actually have any means of knowing if it's true or not. No one disagreed with that definition, so we'll keep going with that for now. (Feel free to criticize the definition and suggest an alternate one if you like.)

I then asked why that seems to so many people to be a sensible way to approach the world in which we live. Faith, the very concept, regardless of the specifics, is widely held to be a good idea. This confuses me. I got a variety of answers, such as

  • It's comforting to believe in a helpful god
  • Another definition of faith, the same as the one I put forth, but worded differently
  • It's useful for controlling groups of people
  • Some suggested reading of books written by atheists
  • Because the Bible exists
  • A request for more soft porn
  • It's a safer bet after you snuff it
  • It's a useful tool to exploit ignorant masses
  • The human brain cannot function without it
  • A rebuttal to the Biblical response
  • It's easier than not believing
  • It is the only source of morality and instills fear, which is a necessary component of a civilised society
  • There may be an evolutionary benefit to having faith
but very few actually responded to the question I was asking. I think I need to be more specific. I want to know why people of faith think the concept of faith is a good idea. I don't want to know why faith in your particular diety is a good idea. I want to know why you think the concept is sound.

I doubt that the average religous person would say "It's good that I have faith because it makes me easier to control."

Yes, the notion of God is a comforting one, but that's getting way ahead of me. We're not anywhere near discussing God yet. That's next week. Right now we're just talking about why choosing to believe things you know are unknowable is a sensible philosophy by which to live. Given that, the only answers that are relevant are
  • It's a safer bet after you snuff it
  • The human brain cannot function without it
  • It's easier than not believing
  • It is the only source of morality and instills fear, which is a necessary component of a civilised society
  • There may be an evolutionary benefit to having faith
I'd like to address these one at a time.

1. from Lorna: "There are significant numbers of scientists who, though they don't rationally believe in any form of god, still quite seriously keep a level of faith and observance because you never know what's going to happen after death."

I did know a RC priest once who told me that he became a priest because he had no way of knowing if there was a god or an afterlife, but he wanted to err on the side of caution. That is, if he lived his life w/o believing in God, and died, and was wrong, he would be screwed. But if he became a priest, and died, and was wrong, it didn't matter. Better safe than sorry, as it were.

I suppose there is a certain amount of pragmatism to this approach, but it baffles me on a couple levels: first, the priest clearly didn't actually believe there was a god. He was agnostic but wouldn't admit it. So this is really more of a lifestyle choice than a faith choice. He wasn't choosing to believe; he was choosing to live his life as though he did. Same with the scientists Lorna mentions. So strike that off the list.

2. from A Random Thinker: "Every computer needs an operating system... to function. Human beings call it faith... They need it to function in the natural world.... You can't avoid faith. The real question is which one is right for you."

I guess the crux of this point hinges on the defintion of the word "function." I am assuming "fuction" to mean "living with the capacity to look after one's self and family group in a modern, complex society, meeting all basic physical needs such as food and shelter, participating in society on some civic level, not being a detriment to those around you, and being mentally and emotionally stable." Would you agree with this definition? Anything you'd like to add?

From this definition, your point about humans needing faith to function is simply incorrect. As evidence I offer myself and tens of thousands of non-believers who manage to function in the world just fine. Simple as. Strike point 2 off the list.

3. Michael said: "It's easier to believe."

Very true. It is easier. That doesn't make it a good idea. It's easier to jump off a bridge and end it all than it is to work three jobs to pay down your debt. It's eaiser to fall off a bike than it is to ride it. It's eaiser to walk past a homeless person than it is to stop and buy them a meal. It's easier to complain about your civic leaders than it is to do something about changing the way government functions. It's always easier to stick your head in the sand and ignore a problem, any problem, than to do something about it. But just because soemthing is easier doesn't make it a good idea. Being easy isn't the same as being virtuous.

This response comes closest so far in answering my question, but ultimately it only explains why so many people have faith in things. It does not explain why that faith is useful. Strike three off the list.

4. Michael also pointed out an article in USA Today that brings up the whole morality issue. "What would a world without God look like? Well, for one, morality becomes, if not impossible, exceedingly difficult."

As a non-believer who holds a leadership office in an organized society that promotes debate and discussion between believers, non-believers, and un-sures, this is a question I get a lot. I have 2 responses:

First, morality is not impossible without a belief in god. To suggest otherwise is to say that all atheists and agnostics are immoral. This is as arrogant and insulting as it is untrue. I can give you countless examples of good and moral atheists, and just as many of unethical, immoral believers. Religion would like very much to think it has a monopoly on morality, but this is simply not the case.

Second, it's irrelevant anyway. Even introducing god into the equation at this stage is premature. I don't want to know why faith in god is a good thing; I want to know why faith is a good thing. Let's leave god out of it for the time being. I'm interested in the suppposed virtue of faith as a concept, not the supposed virtue of faith in particular things. That's the next step. If you're having trouble separating faith as a concept from faith in god, try to think of it in terms of faith in other things, such faith in giant invisible bunnies roaming the streets of Bristol, or faith in a teapot circling the sun directly opposite from Earth's orbit.

Strike number 4 off the list.

Finally, 5) Michael, King of Linking, also sent this article from the New York Times about possible evolutionary origins of faith and religious belief. The article is basically a synopsis of the work of evolutionary anthropologist Scott Atran, who has spent his career searching for an evolutionary benefit to belief in the supernatural. It asks "Why does belief in god exist," not "does god exist."

To say that something has (or had at one time) an evolutionary benefit is not the same as saying that it's a good idea in the 21st century, but it could explain why we might think that.

So thanks for that, Michael. I'll definately be reading the whole article after I've fixed myself some lunch and settled in for the long-haul.

In the meantime, if any of you have actually read to the end of this post, well done you. And if you have any more ideas on why it's a good idea to decide to believe in things you know are factually unknowable, do comment. Especially those of you who do have faith in unknowable things. I'm very interested in your thoughts.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

BIG QUESTION, and also dogging

First Question: what is faith?
I recently read a definition of "faith" that called it "the unknowable promoted to the irrefrutable."
(9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney, April 3 2007)

(Click for bigness)


I've spoken with a lot of Christians about their definition of faith, and this seems to encapsulate it quite nicely. I've been told by several people "faith is something you choose to believe," and they readily acknowledge that you cannot know for certain the thing you believe in, hence the need to believe, rather than know, it.

So, if we accept that definition of faith, my

Second Question is: Why is faith a good thing to have?

In the Gospels there is a bit after the Resurrection where Jesus appears to the apostles who are cowering behind a locked door. Everyone is ther except Thomas. Jesus appears, everyone's amazed and happy, and when Tom gets back they tell him what's happened. He announces that he won't believe it until he sees it for himself. Next week, same deal, except this time ol' Tom is in the room when the Big JC floats in, and he pokes his fingers into Jesus's wounds and delcares "My Lord and God!" And Jesus utters the famous sentence, "You have seen and believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and believed." (John 20: 19-29)

Why??? Why is it good to believe anything without good cause? Why is it a good idea to be utterly convinced of something you openly acknowledge you don't actually know to be true? The concept of faith, espeically in America, is held to be a great virtue. I remember during the 2000 presidential election there was great speculation as to whether Joe Lieberman's (Gore's running mate) religion (Jewish) would be a negative factor for Christian voters. It wound up not being an issue. The vast majority of people polled said they didn't care what he believed in, they were just glad he was a religious man.

I find it strange that as a society we think that believing things we know are unknowable is a good way to go about life. It just doesn't make sense me. If I were to say to you "I believe there are giant, invisible bunnies hopping around the streets of Bristol. There is no evidence for this idea, but it cannot be disproven, and so I choose to believe it," you would think I was nuts. You would say there's no logic in it, and just because I want to believe something that doesn't make it true. And you would be absolutely right.

So why is the very concept of faith held to be so virtuous? Why do we think it's a good, noble, reasonable thing to believe in things we cannot know?

I'm not trying to be arguementative here. I'm genuinely curious to know what you think about this. I'm really struggling with this idea.


Lastly, continuing along the theme of things that baffle me, while I was out with my mate yesterday for a couple drinks and a flick, we went into the ladies' loo at the Arnolfini and discovered, much to our amusement, that there was a couple in one of the stalls having sex. Very loud sex, complete with heaving breathing, moaning, grunting, the periodic and cliche'd holy exclaimation, and of course the ever-popular skin slapping. I admit it: I giggled. It was pretty funny.

One or more of you lot was involved in that encounter (Spinny??), give a shout out!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spring cleaning

I've declared today a cleaning day. It's a pretty, sunny saturday - the perfect day for cleaning because i'm in a good mood and full of energy and ambition. I'm also eating a banana smeared in peanut butter as i write this. It tastes good.

I have really fond memories of saturday cleaning day back when i was in college.* I would start with stripping the bed and washing the sheets and pillow cases. Folding clean laundry has always been one of my favorite, meditative hobbies. My first boyfriend, a real douchebag by all accounts, totally got off on watching me fold laundry, so I would do his as well as my own. In retrospect it was either a ploy to get me to do his laundry for him, or there was something eerily Oedipal about it. Not sure, don't care.

After the laundry I'd do all the other tidying up type things, including cleaning the fish tank (I alsways had a betta tank during my undergrad years), watering, trimming, and repotting any plants that needed it, and vacuuming, etc. Something about doing pleasant, domestic chores in those frantic, essay-writing and lab report days had a very calming effect on my state of mind. Most of all what I remember was the smell.

I have deep olfactory memories of my undergrad college. I went to a little college in Connecticut, founded in the early part of the 20th century that had less than 2000 students in total. All the buildings on the campus were cut granite, and the only reason the walls weren't covered in ivy is because ivy is bad for the mortar so the grounds people were keen on keeping it under control. But the smell -- ah, the smell!

Every spring there would be one day when suddenly the winds would shift and, instead of blowing down from the north bearing arctic misery, they would suddenly do a 180 and come up from the south, laden with moisture and the smell of salt from Lond Island Sound. At precisely that moment the viburnum would open and the whole campus would be saturated with the fragrances of the sea, the flowers, and all the spring cleaning soaps that got dragged out of storage.

Even though I can close my eyes at any moment and remember that wonderful, distictive homey smell that heralded the resurrection of the student body after a winter spent hibernating in art studios and computer labs, I would give almost anything to be able to return to Connecticut at that moment and breathe deeply the air of one of the happiest times of my life.

And maybe fold a few sheets, you know, for old time's sake.


*If you didn't already think I was a freak, you sure do now.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Good Idea: Going up north to your boyfriend's parents' house for Easter weekend, where the weather was lovely and sunny and dry all week long.

Bad Idea: Going away on a posh Easter holiday to the continent where it was 11 degrees and raining all over the rest of Europe. Nyah-nyah!


Good Idea: hot, hot, Pirate whoopee.

Bad Idea: Sleeping in separate bedrooms. (Not by choice.)

Good Idea:
Dressing up prettily and going to church on Easter morning with the family.

Bad Idea: Going to a boring, morose church service with no music or celebratory inclinations of any kind. I've gotten more enjoyment out of bellybutton lint than I did out of that liturgical "celebration."

Good Idea: Going to the Grandmother's house in Cumbria for Easter Sunday Dinner.

Bad Idea: Spending Easter Sunday wishing the Grandmother would hurry up and die already so the Pirate can inheret the gorgeous house (the old vicarage) with the lovely gardens next to the babbling river in the pretty stone village surrounded by green pastures of fluffy white sheepy type things so you can both move in and be happy ever after tending the vegetable patch and listening to the hens clucking pleasantly in grass.




Good Idea: Making the Pirate an enormous, 4-layer chocolate and raspberry cake for his birthday.

Bad Idea: Giving up chocolate right before Easter and thus negating the possiblity of eating any of the aforementioned cake, despite being the one who made the fucking thing. Stupid, stupid, stupid...

Good Idea: Spending a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Point-to-Point horse races.

Bad Idea: Spending a sunny Saturday afternoon among thousands of drunk spectators and having to spend 40 minutes queueing for the priveledge of using an overflowing porta-loo that ran out of bog roll at 11 am because they drastically underestimated the number of people who would show up.



Good Idea: Driving to aforementioned P-to-P in a royal blue, 1969 Aston Martin DB5 with black leather interior and sunroof in mint condition.

Bad Idea: Listening to jazz flute interpretations of pop music hits on CD during aforementioned drive.

Good Idea: Pudding!

Bad Idea: Pudding at every single meal, twice a day, for a week. I'm going to live on brown rice, steamed vegetables, and grapefruit for the next month.

Good Idea: Being nice to your boyfriend's parents, your (hopefully) future in-laws, and making pleasant small talk at family meals.

Bad Idea: Spending a week making polite conversation, taking constant effort to never say rude words, make rude noises, or mistakenly suggest anything inappropriate about anything. (That takes a lot of energy, I can tell you.)

Good Idea: Spending an aftertoon visiting a stately home.

Bad Idea: Visiting and taking guided tours of 4 stately homes and their gardens in as many days with your boyfriend's mother who wants so much for you to have a wonderful time and learn everything there is to know about the history of the area.



Good Idea: Go down to the local archery club with your boyfriend and spend a nice couple hours pinging off arrows at a target, while your boyf (who happens to be Robin Hood), shows you how to use all the fancy equipment and teaches you to shoot properly.

Bad Idea: Holding the bow incorrectly so that whenever you let off a shot the string scrapes the inside of your left elbow and leaves a massive, painful bruise. Also, losing one of Robin Hood's very expensive competition arrows in the grass because you failed to hit the target altogether and lord only knows where the blasted thing went.



Good Idea: Giving your boyf a Birthday Blowjob.

Bad Idea: There really isn't a downside to this one.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Easter Departure

I'm leaving tomorrow (Wed) for up north, to the home of the Pirate's parental units, for Easter. I will be back the following Wednesday, 11 April. I may or may not be blogging during this time period, it's tard to hell.

I'm looking forward to this trip, which will include (but not be limited to) the following phenomena:
  • The Pirate's birthday (there will be an absolutely amazing chocolate-raspberry cake involved, but owing to my chocolate addiction and subsequent personal ban I will not be partaking of aforementioned cake. Instead, I will be partaking of the Pirate.)
  • The funeral of one of Pirate's close colleages (this is obviously not going to be one of the fun bits, but it needs done)
  • A big ol' Pirate family gathering, including both parents, the only brother, the paternal grand-dame, and all the aunts/uncles/cousins on the father's side. It's going to be quite an event. I hope I don't get people's names mixed up.
  • Church on Easter Sunday. (I bought a ribbon to tie around my straw hat to match my dress. I feel very posh.) I'm not a church-going type these days, but I have very fond memories of Easter mass, and I just LOVE all those Alleluias!!!!!
  • Hot hot Pirate whoopee
As you can see, it's going to be a busy trip. Be good and behave yourselves until I get back.

Monday, April 02, 2007

For Llwetra

The Pirate and I went back to Longleat this weekend to see the house and maze and other stuff we missed last time. The maze was free because 2/3 of it was closed off for repairs to the bridges. We still managed to spend 40 minutes in it getting lost. You can see why.


We also went into the "Pets Corner" area, which is really just a small zoo for small animals where you get to pet the snakes and guinea pigs. I didn't get to pet the snakes and guinea pigs. There were too many sprogs around, and the keepers seem to think that people over the age of 11 aren't interested in snakes and guinea pigs and ignore you. I like guinea pigs. And snakes.

But they had otters, which is why this post is dedicated to Llewtra. I thought of you, honey, and took lots of photos, even though these are Asian otters and not European otters. They're cute, though, and they make the most adorable squeaking noises!







Then we walked around the gardens (which frankly were pitiful given the size of the estate) in a drizzle. There wasn't much to see except some anally-retentive topiaries (I don't like topiaries; i like my bushes to look like bushes thank you very much) and wierd, mulit-boobed modern art. This amused me, though:





Mmm, irony.


What did you guys do this weekend?