Monday, August 30, 2010

Eat Fresh

For a variety of reasons - although, admittedly, sloth is the predominant one - I've managed to somehow evade the farmers' market at Grand Army Plaza until Saturday. Slothful, indeed. But on Saturday TOH and I roamed up there and spent our last dollars on a variety of wonderful produce and meat for a grand, grand supper we cooked on Saturday night. The corn dish we cooked was out of this world (although we used goat's cheese instead of feta due to a purchasing error on my part and an apparently less than attentive/honest cheesemonger). We ate good steak, made Murricanes from our ginormous watermelon (which weighed about the same as Winston) as well as a goat's cheese, watermelon and mint salad, and had blue and regular new potatoes along with a glorious tomato salad made from wonderfully misshapen but delicious tomatoes, deliberately chosen for a mixture of sweetness and tartness. It was grand. A couple of photos from our feast are here for your delectation.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Waging War

For the past few weeks, I've been engaged in a battle of wills. A long, drawn-out battle with small skirmishes here and there. My opponent makes a move; I regroup, plan my revenge and try to set conditions so that she can make no further progress toward victory.

Of course, this is a little more pathetic when I reveal that the opponent in this bloody war of minds, this brutal engagement, is my bloody cat. And yet. A few weeks ago, she knocked a glass of water all over my laptop. Not TOH's laptop, which was the other side of the glass of water, but mine. I fixed it, with a massive repair bill, lessons learnt: no more glasses of water left where she can wreak havoc, and back up regularly. A couple of weeks later, and it turns out that the vomit on my beautiful, beautiful rug (it REALLY ties the room together) was not the only place she'd visited: my laptop was once more the victim of her vicious ways. This morning, the rug was attacked once more.

Now, you may think I'm being paranoid but, other than my darling cats and my lovely TOH, that rug and this laptop are probably my favourite things in this apartment. Is Clem threatened by the love I lavish on these two inanimate objects? It's hard to believe a creature this cute and sweet-looking could be so vengeful. And yet...

Of course, it's not hard to see that I am, perhaps, a little influenced by this, which is genuinely my favourite Onion article ever.

Or, coming clean, maybe she's taking her revenge for this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

GET IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spurs qualified tonight for the Champions League proper. Draw is tomorrow. Honestly, I'm not sure if they've just turned the air conditioning up in my office, but I've got chills just thinking about it. Less than two years ago, bottom of the Premier League.* I'm not always a fan but right now, Harry, I salute you.

* Sorry for linking to the Daily Fail, but it's the only one that mentioned it directly. Stickler for citations, me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Room 101 Revisited

Overall impression: Not so bad!

It's remarkable what a different experience I had with the DMV this morning compared with four years ago. That was, frankly, a miserable, miserable day. I was prepared for utter misery today, too, particularly after a friend warned me of the size of the queue at the Brooklyn DMV, which I was chancing on the hope that it would be marginally preferable to the Manhattan one. And I was alarmed to arrive at 8.30, when doors opened, and see no queue - how exciting! But that's because I had completely ignored the enormous snaking line going back as far as the eye (without glasses) could see. Ulp.

But everything moved quickly. No one had any complaint about my documents, unlike last time. I was expecting such a long wait that I'd be able to read for the second time the manual on which the written test would be based. No such luck - straight in and straight down. Ulp again. But due to my taking the practice tests this morning (which is why I was late enough to arrive merely at opening time) I managed to pass, and then through to photos, eye test (for which I didn't even need my glasses) and payment and out and at work in two hours. Everyone was extremely polite and friendly, and each ticket had your expected waiting time, which was completely accurate. Insane. Not what I was expecting. Of course, the photo will be horrendous, but I don't care. Maybe I could get away with conversational exchanges like this if it is...

So the long and short of it is that in two weeks I will have a) ID that means I don't have to cart my passport everywhere, about which TOH is extremely relieved given my recent track record of losing stuff, and b) permission to terrorize the streets of New York and any state which has reciprocal arrangements with my state. HA!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Let's Go, Paw Sox

This weekend was spent in the Ocean State - Rhode Island. It was pretty gloomy weather on Sunday, but Saturday was glorious. Friday night had seen clear skies for our Perseid meteor watching on the beach just east of Newport, and we took advantage of Saturday's sunny evening to watch the Pawtucket Red Sox take on the Buffalo Bisons. This was minor league baseball one level below the Major League, and so we got to see a couple of the Red Sox major leaguers rehabbing - Dustin Pedroia (MVP two years ago and star of an advert that sadly made TOH and I laugh far more than it probably should have done), Jeremy Hermida and, much to my delight, one of my favourite former Mets, Carlos Delgado, 37th on the all-time home run list and the leading Puerto Rican for homers and rbis. And, more importantly, the five-time recipient of the "Which Met Would You Most Like to Hug?" award from both TOH and me.

Sunday was then spent sleeping in, scrambling on a 5.5 mile hike (knee held up pretty bloody well given the terrain) and then fresh yummy seafood by the beach before an early night for my ungodly early train back to the smoke on Monday morning.

I didn't take as many photos as I'd have liked - I think the hike will be glorious in the spring with flowers in bloom, and then hopefully we'll go back for a comparison. But here are a couple (or, in fact, ten) of the highlights...



Monday, August 16, 2010

What She Said

One of the things that a middle-class, highly educated Euro-louche-lily-livered-liberal such as myself finds confusing, bewildering, and often difficult about living in these US of A is the high levels of religiosity. I come from a place where barely 10% of the population attends church on any sort of regular basis.* It's just not... done. We don't believe the Prime Minister needs to be religious - indeed, in the debates any religious belief was downplayed so as not to bring about accusations of zeal/intolerance/irrationality. It's just a different landscape, albeit one that I still, after many years, sometimes find hard to get used to.

But what I find utterly intolerable is the utter ridiculously bigoted, terrible reactions to Park 51. I'm not going to go into my reactions, but Jill summarizes nicely some of the reactions (good and bad) and also points you to some incredibly well-researched, well-written articles that neatly point out why the opponents have no standing to prevent the building of this community centre (I recommend reading them all). I've been incredibly disappointed in Harry Reid - what precisely does this NY issue have to do with you, Senator Reid? - and unsurprised by the racism, anti-Islam and general nonsense coming out of the mouths of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich et al., who spend most of the year throwing New Yorkers under the bus for their liberalism, elitism, and generally not being "real" Americans.

It's not all bad news, though. What I find heartening (given the context) is the polling that suggests that while a majority of US dwellers don't want the mosque built, a majority of them also believe that the builders have the right to do so. But mostly, the person who I have come to admire, greatly, for his stance in this is Mayor Bloomberg. I'm not a big fan of big Mike on a lot of things, but his courage, eloquence and passion on this subject have made me almost want him to break all those crazy term-limit rules and run for a fourth.

My favourite passage (tissues ready):

Our doors are open to everyone. Everyone with a dream and a willingness to work hard and play by the rules. New York City was built by immigrants, and it's sustained by immigrants -- by people from more than 100 different countries speaking more than 200 different languages and professing every faith. And whether your parents were born here or you came here yesterday, you are a New Yorker.

We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life. And it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11, 2001.

* I also come from a place where the most devout - in terms of observance - members of the population are Muslims and, despite what you might read about the state of Britain in The Daily Mail et al., it hasn't fallen apart as a result.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Things Have Changed

It's the start of the football season, league only, but it's started at home. It's always such an exciting time, with Dr. TOH absolutely blindingly optimistic, me far more pessimistic, but it's an open book. Anything might happen - although I usually know that nothing good really will end up happening to Spurs - the Champions League qualification really was a shock - but Carlisle, Wednesday, something good really might happen.

But listening to 606 today, I was really quite heartened by something. I don't normally listen, but after the cricket was over early for bad light, I wasn't quite ready to stop the sports fest. And I noticed a couple of things: 1) it is completely normal for women to do the sports round up, which certainly wasn't true 10 years ago; and 2) the host and the guest, a footballer, as well as a caller, were quite happy to discuss the beauty of David Ginola (it is remarkable, obviously) and how he would "bowl over" a person in his presence. It's just... so different. The normalcy with which these straight men discussed Ginola's gorgeousness and his charisma, and it's not being outre, it's not being controversial, it's just normal. For all the moaning about the changing nature of football, this was a discussion that I think they couldn't have had so normally even ten years ago. Same with Danny Baker's admission of his swooning at the beauty of Dimitar Berbatov, which spawned a massive, weekslong discussion on his show of the other men that male fans had a thing for. It's great. Really, truly, great. I may be doing them a disservice, and it's really not based on any sort of evidence (other than it not happening in any of the matches I've watched so far with them), but I honestly can't imagine a lot of male American sports fans that I know discussing NFL players similarly. Which is a shame, because there's a lot of nice things to look at in that sport.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Or not. Not feeling up to my usual work-going self today, so I have been sat battling a rather nasty stomachache and the rubbishness of my work notebook that seems unable to maintain an internet connection for very long, which is really rather inconvenient when you're trying to connect to a virtual network so that you can indeed work from home.

But, in some happier news, I have been comforted by the powers of a hot water bottle. It really is a remarkable thing, a hot water bottle. I don't tend to use mine for heating our bed, although I should do more often given how frozen my feet get. Instead, I use it as a rather effective way to ease a bad stomach, unsettled for whatever reason. TOH's folks' excellent and failsafe method is a small glass of scotch diluted with water but, of course, that's not quite so easy to explain at work. I find it rather fascinating how heat helps some things, but cold helps others, even though there is at least anecdotal evidence that different places and cultures use heat or cold for the same problem (which in itself creates a very interesting chain of thought about whether the body learns a response to an outside stimulus, like extreme heat or cold, or whether there really are different healing processes going on. But I digress). Nonetheless, the rather silly point of this post is that I wanted to share with you just how great a hot water bottle is. Which does indeed make this post seem silly.

In other health-related news, the brief cessation of hostilities that followed this post has subsequently falled apart, with the result that I am once more covered in welts all over my body. Joy of joys. Being a mosquito magnet combined with a very, very, very slow healing process is not exactly a pretty sight for those unfortunate enough to get close to my legs. It does, however, give me an excellent excuse for not having to shave or for a sloppy job done. Which is a sign that perhaps I am a bit of an optimist, after all.