Saturday, February 26, 2011


Moderating intake is something I'm not good at. This explains this whole month - it's all or nothing. I read a very interesting article that discussed ways that people lost weight by subtly changing their lifestyles - listening to the radio every day for three months, walking round the block every day - and that helped them make positive weight-loss changes so that they lost weight slowly but kept it off. I was pondering those methods this morning, and I would love to think that I could do some of those with my less healthy habits.

But then I remembered cheese. O, cheese. I have no ability to moderate when it comes to cheese. Which is why I just can't have it in the house other than a lump of pungent, sweaty pecorino that a) I believe moved houses with us nearly two years ago and b) I can't really cut off chunks and eat on its own. So while I'm all for the gently, gently approach cheese is the one substance for which I refuse to even try "moderation." My only moderation can be to have none of it anywhere near my fridge. And I will eat it with abandon when outside the house.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pros & Cons

Things that are great about not drinking:
  • No hangover. Although I'm tired, it seems I do sleep more deeply than if drunk (actually getting some decent sleep) and thus while a lot of being hungover is the tiredness, even the curtailed sleep is better when not drinking.
  • Eating better. Not just while drinking but the next day, too.
  • Lots of exclamations of admiration at one's willpower and determination and falsely modest disclaimers from me in response.
  • Resistance of peer pressure does not come into the equation. I can't get talked into "one more" because I'm not having any, so my personal control doesn't really matter.
Things that are not great about not drinking
  • Boredom with drinks (and everyone else's boredom with my boredom with drinks - last night's grapefruit & soda water was quite nice, and then I had a gingery lovely concoction at this place, complete with preserved ginger, which I loved).
  • Having to repeat conversations because the people who were drunk don't remember it all
  • Realisation that when one is drunk, one is rather less together, smooth, sophisticated and funny than one thinks one is. Collective drunkenness is clearly an enhancer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


It's clearly another sign of impending middle age that I am increasingly enamoured of Radio 4 and its sister station, BBC 7, which repeats old Radio 4 - and Radio One - comedies, dramas and so forth. As a youth I loved Radio One, with The Evening Session and then Mark & Lard being essential listening - I often didn't do anything but listen to the radio in the evenings and I was far from alone in the musical geek kingdom. I then switched to Fivelive for the sport, and stuck with it, ignoring the increasingly heinous phone-ins.

But now, in my thirties, it's all about Radio 4. While I still listen to Radio One's dance music selection (which is pretty unrivaled as a radio station, at least based on what I have listened to in NYC - that does not include podcasts which is a different story), it's Radio 4 that really fills my day with fun. Each week I avidly await the download on Friday of the Radio 4 Friday Comedy Podcast - which on great weeks is the News Quiz and on not great but still highly enjoyable weeks is usually The Now Show. I listen to Just a Minute, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue or The Unbelievable Truth during my lunch break at work. Plus BBC 7 has provided great joy in the past few months with That Mitchell and Webb Sound (truly revelatory in its quality), old Round the Horne, Dad's Army, a fab adaptation of Strong Poison and general fun.

The one programme that beats all of these, however, is Bleak Expectations. I don't know how funny it would be without a familiarity with Charles Dickens - I suspect less but not significantly so. I am familiar - and a big Dickens fan, generally - and I find it absolutely side-splitting. This weekend I was forced to stop what I was doing on several occasions because I couldn't concentrate due to laughter. I've contemplated purchasing the entire series on several occasions, but I always pull back. I think it is partly because I like the episodic nature of listening to it on the radio. Somehow that seems much more serendipitous, the offering up of the show to you on the airwaves, rather than it being part of a library you own. Or maybe it's just another version of the grass is greener - something that is not your own and readily accessible is more alluring.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Water Everywhere

One of the bonuses of not drinking alcohol is the increased intake of water that I experience. Or, rather, it should be. Instead, I am bored of it. Absolutely, mindnumbingly bored of it. Yesterday I drank it with orange juice; during the week I had limes and seltzer.

I'm sure my skin will benefit, particularly given that the frigid winter outside means a lot of time indoors with central heating at full blast (New York buildings don't tend to do heating or air conditioning by halves). It's all well and good being hydrated, but it's dull when there are no options. Fizzy drinks aren't exactly a great option given the ridiculous amount of sodium I would consume if I let myself. I can't take much caffeine, but I am resorting to a nice cuppa in the evening. It's not (yet) affecting my sleep, and is a refreshing change. Thus I found myself having one at a dinner party at 11 last night.

The not drinking is, in itself, actually fine. I've not really felt any desperate envy or unhappiness at not being able to drink, despite going to a concert, a club, and a dinner party with good friends who enjoy their wine. Perhaps it's the fact that roughly at the halfway point, Valentine's Day, I get to have a drink, but it really feels like less of a hardship than doing something slightly out of my usual routine, my normal comfort zone. Take yesterday, for example. Any other month of the year I would have rocked up to the office party (we get wine and a variety of nice foods on Fridays from 5.30), eaten and drunk, and then headed to my monthly wine club. Instead, I booked myself into a bikram class and sweated out the week's stresses and headed for a relatively calm dinner. It's not better, or preferable, even; it's just good to try something different and feel that I'm taking advantage of not drinking rather than feeling like I'm depriving myself.

So what I'm trying to say is so far, so good.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Testing, Testing

Yesterday was the Super Bowl and although I ate my own body weight in wings and seven-layer-dip I refused to engage in that tempting brew of alcohol. It was... well, it just changed things, I suppose. The Super Bowl is often an all day drinkathon - which, given that I was to be up and on the 6.43 from Providence to Penn this morning, it's probably a good thing it was not. Instead, we went snowshoeing (which, by the way, is extremely hard work), cooked and ate but didn't go bonkers. It was fine, but it's always disappointing to find you've bought some lovely healthy looking lemon-flavoured seltzer watery type thing, all very European looking and sparkly and fresh, only to discover it contains more sugar than booze. So again this month may feature a lot of moaning about the alternatives to alcoholic beverages. I apologise in advance.

On the other hand, I thought it was a pretty good match last night, although I was increasingly stressed at and concerned by the Steelers' seemingly inevitable comeback last night. More power to you, Mr. Rodgers, I thought it was a thoroughly deserved MVP award and you were rather good.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Match Made in Heaven

I'm always fascinated by how creative partnerships work. When I watched the BBC's history of Soul, Soul Deep, they had a fabulous recounting of how Hold On, I'm Coming by Sam & Dave was written by the folks at Stax, including Isaac Hayes. One person can spark off another, and then that's it - you have a ridiculously catchy and brilliant song.

This springs to mind because yesterday TOH and I discovered one of the greatest musical partnerships we - and you - had never heard of. Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote some of the most famous, glorious and celebrated soul songs of all time. Their discography is, frankly, ridiculous. Why did they work together so so well? Who did what? Who knows, but I do know that somehow together they wrote the following:
  • Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
  • I Heard It Through the Grapevine
  • Car Wash (and also for Rose Royce he wrote Love Don't Live Here Anymore and Wishing on a Star)
  • War
  • Ain't Too Proud To Beg
  • He Was Really Sayin' Something
  • I Can't Get Next to You (which is currently my favourite song)
  • Too Busy Thinkin' About My Baby
Fricking genius.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Boring Post About How Backing Up is Soooooo Important

Veronica Mars and Back Up.

Yesterday I got the mac equivalent of the blue screen of death. Just a whirring little circle and the apple. It's a dreaded thing, and I could hear the hard drive scrabbling away at itself, trying to boot, but just not getting there. Heartbreaking to hear my little machine struggle so, in what sounded suspiciously like its death throes.

And death throes they were - the apple genius bar confirmed something nasty had happened to my computer. Even after diagnosis, the genius bar dude looked confused, which somewhat confused me, until he remarked that I looked far, far too happy for someone who had just lost their hard drive. Then the light dawned - "Did you back up?"

For once, yes. I could answer yes. And, no less, as recently as Tuesday. It was the culmination of a series of "sensible" choices - when the hard drive got drowned by Clem last year, choosing the extortionate option that preserved our warranty and TOH's excellent decision to purchase an external hard drive to which I back up each week - which made me far more excited today than I should have. Particularly as it now proves that being prudent and sensible make me excited and, therefore, I am not gently slipping but careering, head first, into middle age.