Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Incident on Summit Street

So there's this guy, let's call him Ryan, who was lying in bed on Tuesday morning when he hears this loud clattering sound outside. As one is wont to do in such situations he rolls over and goes back to sleep. A little while later, after he has roused himself and prepared himself for the trip to work, he leaves the house and notices a police car with its lights flashing across the road. Seeing nothing else out of the ordinary he heads off to work.

A few hours later, work was slow, he returns home. Once he is back in the safe and warm he decides to drive up to Trader Joe's and buy some cheap wine — and possible some food. As he approaches his friends' minivan, of which he has use during their vacation, he notices a little white card stuck under the windscreen wiper. It is an "Exchange of Identification Information" card. He looks around at the car and notices that the back window is taped over and walking around the car he sees this:

The next day he calls the number on the card and has a chat with a very nice, very apologetic gentleman who tells him what happened. Apparently, there was a truck driving down the street with an awning (from Capital City Awning) on the back of the truck. Unfortunately, one of the braces that were attaching the awning to the truck decided to break and the awning, sensing its chance for freedom, dove off the back of the truck. Yet more unfortunately, the awning didn't time its jump very well and dove off the back of the truck into the back of the minivan — going something like 30 miles and hour. Ryan forgot to ask the nice man on the phone if the awning was badly injured in the incident but, judging by the damage done to the car, things probably didn't end well for the awning.

The moral of the story is: don't lend Ryan your car as inanimate objects will attack it. Or something like that anyhow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On Christmas cheer and other things

To paraphrase the New York Times from Christmas Day: once more the battle has come to and end and for another year the War on Christmas is over. And yes, once more, Christmas was victorious!

I trust that we all had a wonderful time and we all managed to make it onto Santa's good list this year. For me Father Christmas came a little earlier than usual on Christmas Eve; he came in the middle of the afternoon. What did he bring me? He brought me a spirit sapping, agonising Falcons loss to the Buccaneers — a loss which, with the Falcons being eliminated from the playoffs, sent my gambling firmly in to the red for the year. At least the Scouser from Orlando, that I met at Barley's during the Chicago game, will have enjoyed the result. Bastard!

Apart from the part of the evening where I was weeping into my beer in the corner of the room, Christmas Eve was very pleasant. Our house entertained one of the housemate's mother and sister, I got to roast a chicken for the first time — discovering that in this day and age it is ridiculously easy to roast a chicken.

Christmas Day itself was more of a low key affair, and no not just because we were hungover. The day largely featured sleeping, present opening, phone calls home, watching King Kong and a trip to the bar (well a trip to five bars actually, but the principle is the same).

Yesterday I got all adventurous and took a drive around south eastern Ohio. I stopped in Chillicothe, Ohio's first capital, for lunch (a greasy Chinese buffet that was the only place open downtown, and which made me feel queasy for the next couple of hours), lost to myself two times out of three games of pool (an impressive feat, I think you'll agree) at the coffee and billiards place in downtown Portsmouth and drove through Haverhill — discovering that the one in Ohio (which was apparently named after the one in New Hampshire which in turn was named after the one in Massachusetts which took its name from the hell hole in Suffolk in which I spent far too much time during my formative years), much like the one in Suffolk, is not worth getting out of the car for, or for that matter even being conscious in the car while the car is unfortunate enough to be there. (I'm just taking a little breather here as that was a very long sentence.) After Haverhill I went by Ohio's southernmost point, cleverly named South Point, before swinging north up the Ohio river, through pretty little Gallipolis with it's Our House Tavern Museum (which was sadly closed when I drove by), before ending up in an Athens coffee shop called Donkey for a little respite from the driving. It was very nice to get out of dull, dreary, cold Columbus for a while, even if the rest of Ohio was equally dull, dreary and cold yesterday.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Spreading a message of hope through the medium of fat men in leotards rubbing their bodies together

At the bottom of this weeks The Friday Thing (otherwsie known as the best fifteen pounds I spent last year) was the link below.

Words fail me.

For all of you out there who were worried about my recent housing problems — okay, so that'll probably just be Mumsie then — I have good news to report: we now have heating, water and a working kitchen sink. Living the High Life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tales of water, random acts of generosity and my latest love affair

Yesterday when I got home from work I discovered that, much to my surprise, the landlord had come round and fixed the broken water pipe in the basement. Much joy and frivolity was had by all. Sadly, I didn't get to enjoy a shower with our new found water as I had, pessimistically, elected to go to the gym and have one (a shower — for you gutter minded folks) there before going home.

Anyhow, we had water and heat and there world was a wonderful place. I even went crawling around in the basement trying to apply duct tape to sort out some of our heating issues — one of the hot air ducts wasn't even attached to a vent, so a significant fraction of last months $300 gas bill went into heating the basement floor. After the crawling around we went out, as we are prone to do in my household, for a celebratory beer (or two). Upon returning, at two in the morning, we discovered that once more we had no water. A quick trip downstairs to the basement, revealed that it was semi-flooded. My how I laughed. No really I did, it was very amusing at the time. Is it impossible for this house to stay functional for more than a couple of hours at a time? Probably.

So, just to summarise the current state of affairs with the house. The heating works, for suitably small definitions of work. The water doesn't. The kitchen sink won't drain and it's garbage disposal is broken. And we have raccoons in both the loft and the basement. It's a beautiful place. I really should get round to posting some photos. The carnage in the basement is particularly impressive. Will we have water tonight? I wish I knew. Despite chatting with his wife this morning and asking for him to call me back, I haven't heard anything from the landlord. Then again, they 'fixed' the water yesterday without telling any of us, so I still live in hope that the water will back. Regardless, I'll be showering at the gym again tonight.

On a more upbeat note, I was given a free cup of coffee today. It was very odd. Odd in a good way, but still odd. When I attempted to pay for my morning coffee at Brenen's the girl behind the counter told me it was taken care of. The gentleman sitting next to the counter had decided that he would pay for the next person who walked in's coffee. I was the next person. Being on the receiving end of a random act of generosity is a pretty good way to start the day.

Finally, I'm in love (by which I mean finally in the sense that this is the last topic in the post, not that after all this time I'm finally in love). To be exact, I'm in love with Judge John Jones. Yes, he of Intelligent Design ruling fame. I spent some time (where some is defined as most of the day) reading his 139 page ruling. A very interesting read it was to. He set about explaining how Intelligent Design (ID) was just a renaming of Creationist Science, that occurred after the Supreme Court ruled that Creationist Science could not be taught in public schools. Then he went on to rule that ID is not science, which made me smile. Then there was a severe savaging of the actual defendants in the case. A couple of my favourite lines were:
With surprising candor considering his otherwise largely inconsistent and non-credible testimony, Buckingham did admit that he made this statement.
Cleaver admittedly knew nothing about ID, including the words comprising the phrase, as she consistently referred to ID as “intelligence design” throughout her testimony.
In his conclusion he had these words to say:
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
The breathtaking inanity..., fantastic. You can download all 139 pages and enjoy it full yourselves. Me and a Republican judge, who'd have thunk it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Good News, Bad News

Good News: after four increasingly frigid nights, the heating was finally working in our house last night. Yay!!

Bad News: one of the water pipes in the basement broke. So whilst we do have heat, we don't have any water. The opposite of 'Yay!!'

I love our house. No really, it's great. Honest.

Monday, December 19, 2005

From Hawaii heat to Columbus cold

So, I get a phone call from one of my housemates on Thursday evening telling me that the furnace had stopped working. Bugger, was my first thought — but that's not saying terribly much. Anyhow, we call the landlord and leave him a message saying we've got no heat and decide to go down to the bar and drink enough such that we don't feel cold that night. I'm pleased to report that this is a task we easily accomplished. The low on Thursday night was 27°F.

Friday comes around and it's a little bit chilly in our heat-less house, but it's not too bad and the landlord said he'd be around bright and early to try and fix the furnace. Bright and early turns out to mean about 1 o'clock — there'd be something of a pot and kettle situation if I were to comment on timekeeping though. Needless to say Pat, the landlord, and Don, the maintenance man, could not fix the broken furnace and we were assured that somebody will be round to look at it on Saturday. A 1500W space heater (three bar heater) is left to warm our large, draughty house, it doesn't do much in the way of warming. Once more we endeavour, and succeed in our endeavours (Yeah!), to drink ourselves warm. The low on Friday night was 20°F.

Saturday comes and Saturday goes and nobody comes to look at our furnace. Sadly the furnace doesn't miraculously perform a Lazarus act in honour of Christmas. Bastard furnace. Phone calls are made and action is promised, again. We all go out to a house party — the party even had it's own bartender, very nice — once more drunkenness is achieved. The low on Saturday night was 20°F, and the house was beginning to feel very, very cold. (So cold in fact that my, female, housemate spent the night in my bed for warmth.)

Sunday morning begins with the arrival of two more space heaters from Pat, the landlord. Whereas the first one looked like it was from the 70's the newer arrivals look like they may very well come from pre-World War II times. One of the sounds like a jet engine, and trips the breaker when we turn it on. After angry phone calls and threats of legal intervention, somebody comes to look at the furnace. They even take a bit of it, presumably a broken bit, away with them. Sunday night is spent getting drunk (again, but only slightly drunk not very drunk as it's a school night) and miserable (because the Falcons lost again, and are now coming perilously close to losing me lots of money). The low on Sunday night was 11°F. Yes 11°F. In proper money that's Fucking Cold!

Monday morning arrives and it's C.O.L.D. My jeans feel stiff as I pull them on. My hands start hurting as I dress myself. The thermometer in the sitting room says that it is 38°F. I think it's lying, it feels closer to 8°F. Bastard thermometer. Now the end of Monday is rapidly arriving and I don't want to call my housemates to find out if we have heating, for fear that the answer will not be the resounding "Yes" that I am hoping for. The predicted low on Monday night is 7°F.

One week ago I was swimming in the ocean off Waikiki at night. This weekend I had to turn the shower on to heat up the bathroom enough to use the toilet. This is definitive proof that not only does God exists, but he's a four letter word that starts with 'c' and rhymes with cunt. (I'll give you a clue, particularly Dr. Jenner if you're reading this, the word I was alluding to was cunt.)

In other news, Thursday also brought a letter from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) informing Brit, of drunken bike riding fame, that he did not produce proof of insurance on the date of his incident, and further, that he did not produce proof of insurance at any subsequent point in the court proceedings. They informed him that he must take proof of insurance, both for the time of the incident and currently, to the BMV or face a three month license suspension and a $150 reinstatement fee. Needless, to say this did not make Brit particularly pleased. I however found it immensely entertaining, and more than a little messed up.

There were other things, but the cold has stopped my brain working. Well it's either the cold or the alcohol, and I'm betting on the cold.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The first pre-gym post for a long long while

It's finally happened. The wait is over. And no I'm not talking about the beer monkey becoming Dr Leo Jenner (although on that note a big: What??? and Well Done!), I am instead talking about the long awaited return of the pre-gym blog post. I can't even remember the last time I went to the gym, although I do know it was before my spate of drunken foot mishaps. I can tell you're all purring with excitement.

On the subject of excitement, or rather on the subject of lack of excitement, I spectacularly failed to get myself thrown of the plane from Hawaii for wearing my Pedophiles are fucking immature assh*les t-shirt. It was very disappointing, not even so much as a complaint. What is the world coming to when offensive t-shirts don't cause offence?

On the subject of lack of offence, I managed to talk to a friends grandmother about gay porn this weekend. I was rather proud of myself, it's not everyday that I get to regale grandmothers with tales involving men pleasuring each other. It's not everyday, but it was Saturday. What next? I often wonder.

If we decorate our lovely abode this year, I kind of want to put this up in the front garden.

Think that's all for now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Good Week - Bad Week

Good Week: I'm in sunny Hawaii and not snowy Columbus.

Bad Week: Four days of shouting physicists (and I'm really not joking me do a lot of shouting, even me).

Good Week: England's World Cup Draw — Paraguay, Sweden and Trinidad & Tobago — I'd take that any day.

Bad Week: United's limp exit from Europe (costing me valuable pennies)

Good Week: Did I mention the Hawaii thing?

Bad Week: Atlanta's limp defeat against Carolina (costing me valuable pounds)

Good Week: No really, did I say I was in Hawaii yet?

Bad Week: Did I mention the -7 degrees Celsius in Columbus, that I'll be going back to tomorrow?

Good Week: Still stuck on that tropical island thing...

Bad Week: ... and it's just about a fifteen hour trip to get of it.

In summary: fish = good, gambling = bad, meeting = okay and air travel = miserable.

An aside: last Saturday I was in Chicago airport (O'Hare) and I saw something that not only have I never seen before, but also, hopefully, something I will never see again. I was talking to my mother on the phone at the time and just wandering around the airport, mooching around you could say. Then there was this guy sitting in the end seat at gate C19 (mid 40's(?), green fleece jacket, blue shoulder rucksack, blue jeans — yes, I stopped to write down a description) sitting with his 12 inch iBook holding a magazine in his left hand to shield the screen from that side. What he didn't realise was that from over his right hand shoulder I had a very clear, and very unintentional, view of what he was looking at on his screen — gay porn. Now it's not so much that it was gay porn, it was more that he had the gumption to sit in the bloody airport and look at porn, it was quite impressive (in the way a car crash is impressive). I had to circle by a couple of times just to make sure I wasn't imagining it. I wasn't.

In case you're curious, I didn't mention it to my mother at the time. It's not really one of those things that are easy to slip in to conversation when you're talking about your grandmothers negative biopsy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

It's one of those long time no post, pretty short (unlike its title), because the main reason I haven't posted much is ongoing, posts

I'm worn out already and the post has only just started.

Can you tell I've been a little busy lately? The lack of sparkling wit and astute observational skills per chance? No? Okay then, be like that.

The main reason that there hasn't been a post since before Thanksgiving (little aside: I had marvelous Thanksgiving and did my best to make up for my 0 for 3 turkey rating by having two turkey dinners in one day. To be honest with you I was full to bursting after the first one (during which the Falcons won and won me lots, if lots is £25, of money... Whoo!) and I definitely wasn't expecting the second one, but what are you going to do? Turn down a homemade dinner somebody has cooked for you, that would seem terribly rude. The reason that I had two turkey dinners, is that my friend, Brit, comes form one of those broken homes (like me, but unlike me his parents still live in the same city, as opposed to different continents) and we visited both Mother and Father on Thanksgiving. I am almost still full from last Thursday. Almost: end aside.) is that next week is the ANITA collaboration meeting. So, on Saturday I will be giving up the delights of Columbus and will be sampling the delights of Hawaii for a week. Yeah, I know: hard life, huh.

The impending meeting, as ever, means that I have lots of work to do. And when you throw in the fact that I'm trying to finish writing a job proposal (same job as the last two, different way of being paid) it means I'm rather short of minutes in the day. I still have quite a few minutes in the night, like the ones I'm using right now, but most of them are spent either sleeping or trying to stupefy myself enough such that I can sleep. I managed this trick so well last Friday, that I slept until 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. I probably won't be managing it quite as well either tonight or tomorrow night, at least I hope I don't manage it as well tomorrow night as I have a flight at 10:30 in the morning.

In other news, there's been little time for other news. Actually, there has been a bit of other news, but right now my brain is half way down high street and doesn't look like it will be waiting for my body to catch up until it gets home. Can't blame it though it's mighty cold outside, you wouldn't want to be hanging around in this sort of weather. Bloody good job I'm going off for a week in the Sun hey.

Now, one talk almost down, one yet to start and one job proposal that keeps on poking me in the ribs and saying nasty things about my timekeeping.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Reasons to be thankful

It's Thanksgiving eve and outside Columbus is having its first real snowfall of the winter. What happened to Autumn? That's a good question, apparently it only lasts about a week and half. I fear that winter cold is going to be the order of the day from here on out. And you know what that means, it's time to think about buying a hat once more. At the moment I'm in my typical start of winter holding pattern. My ears tell me that I need a hat, but I just can't find one that suits me. Generally speaking I'm not too picky about the clothes I wear — a saying about silk purses and sow's ears springs to mind. But with hats it's different. With hats it needs to be just the right hat. Of course, I never find just the right hat and at some point it just gets too cold and I panic buy a hat I don't like, in order to stop my ears falling off. Maybe this year will be different. But I doubt it.

This year will mark the first time in four Thanksgivings that I'll be doing the whole turkey and family thing. Although, obviously, not with my family, I'll be borrowing (well, more sharing actually) a friend's family for the occasion. Come to think about I don't know for sure that there will be turkey and all that, I'm just assuming there will be. Either way, I'm sure it will be an interesting trip down to Cincinnati. (And I'll be in a much more festive mood tomorrow if the Falcons can pull their fingers out and beat Detroit — suffice to say I have one or two pennies riding on the game.)

On a related note, we had a very good weekend on the gambling front with wins in college football, proper football and only a one pound loss on the Falcons. Hopefully this weekend will continue my new found winning tradition.

Friday, November 18, 2005

National Fear Mongering Week

This week was National Mouth Cancer Awareness Week back home in Blighty. In celebration of this fact scientists and the powers that be have decided to take on two of my favourite activities: drinking and oral sex. Admittedly, I practice the former with rather more regularity than the latter, but that doesn't change the fact that both are clearly essential parts of any 21st century civilisation.

I was particularly pleased with the quote from Kerstin Rosenquist, "You should avoid having oral sex". Then I discovered (and by discovered I mean actually read the words that followed the quote) that Kerstin was a dentist and thought, well that explains it then. Probably some previous life experience involving pubic hairs and a patient who needs to floss more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Two buses, a police car and a short fat Italian plumber... and a little bit about genocide

Yesterday it rained. And I don't just mean there was a little moisture falling from the sky. I mean that God was angry and he sent a Noah-esque storm to wash Columbus off the map. Well okay, that might be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but you get the picture.

Now I don't mind getting a little wet. I don't even mind getting a lot wet. I do however get somewhat angry (and by somewhat angry I mean screaming four-letter words that rhyme with punt) when not one, but two buses feel the need to zoom pass splashing me with dirty water from the puddles. I get even more angry when seconds after this has happens a police car goes by and does the same. Ugggh! It's probably quite fortunate that the police car was going far too fast for me to have caught up with it, as if it had stopped I would probably have given Mr Policeman a piece of my mind — and we know how little of that there is to go around. I mean a policeman, there supposed to be public servants not public splashers. Bastards, the lot of them.

My latest addiction is to a short, fat Italian plumber. I think that you probably know who I mean. Likes mushrooms, has a brother, answers to the name Mario? And I'd always been a Sonic kind of a guy. Oh well...

The question on everybody's lips this weekend was, "Do you turn blue when you have a quadruple heart bypass?". So far the statistics are: Blue 0 — Not Blue 1. Stay tuned for updates.

Oh, by the way, we are up to two in a row on the not-mashing-up-my-foot-on-a-weekend index, I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear.

What else? Um, spread-betting can be a little bit dangerous. But that's okay because I've been studying the How to Identify a Betting Problem on the Sporting Index website. Here are their questions:
  1. Do you stay away from work, college or school to bet?
  2. Do you bet to escape from a boring or unhappy life?
  3. When betting and you run out of money, do you feel lost and in despair, and need to gamble again as soon as possible?
  4. Do you bet until your last penny is gone, even the bus fare home or the cost of a cup of tea?
  5. Have you ever lied to cover up the amount of money or time you have spent betting?
  6. Have others ever criticised your levels of betting?
  7. Have you lied, stolen or borrowed just to get money to bet or to pay betting debts?
  8. Are you reluctant to spend 'betting money' on anything else?
  9. Have you lost interest in your family, friends or interests?
  10. After losing, do you feel you must try and win back your losses as soon as possible?
  11. Do arguments, frustrations or disappointments make you want to bet?
  12. Do you feel depressed or even suicidal because of your betting?

Here are my responses:
  1. No. But then again I do most of my betting from work (probably shouldn't mention that as betting is somewhat frowned upon over here in Yankland).
  2. Not really. That's what drinking is for. (Okay I'm kidding — more or less)
  3. Nope, I just top up the account and hope for better luck next time.
  4. Do I gamble away the price of a cup of tea? What are these people smoking? You can't win anything much for the price of a cup of tea.
  5. All the time. But then again I'm a habitual liar. It takes all my willpower not to answer yes to this question on the US visa application form: Have you ever participated in persecutions directed by the Nazi government of Germany; or have you ever participated in genocide?
  6. Of course. People criticise everything I do.
  7. Nope.
  8. What the hell is 'betting money'?
  9. Did you really just ask me if I lost interest in my interests? A crazy person wrote these questions.
  10. No, I want to continue losing as quickly as possible. This isn't a questionnaire about whether or not you have a betting problem, it's a questionnaire about whether or not you're retarded.
  11. No. They make me frustrated and disappointed. I want to bet, cause it's fun.
  12. Well I can't say I fell happy as Larry when I lose. But I haven't started staring longingly at the medicine cabinet yet. (Point of order. We don't actually have a medicine cabinet, if we did though I'm pretty confident I would keep the staring longingly to those times when I'm too hungover to get out of bed.)

So that's that cleared up then. Isn't it?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Vulvote: A Love Affair

Do you ever have one of those moments when you fall completely in love with something at the drop of a hat? I do, and today I fell in love with (well okay, I fell further in love with) The Friday Thing.

The reason? They created the perfect word for describing voting females (and male politicians attempts to chase after them). The word, as those who read titles may have guessed, is vulvote. The article is here.

Vulvote it just rolls off the tongue... or something.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Quick one before the lesbian bar

In a change to my usual posting routine (or whatever it is that's like a routine only missing the regularity) this is quick post before I head off down to the bar (normally I write these quickies before going to the gym).

My one word review of the American justice system: Shambolic.

At least that's how it was up on the 12th floor of Franklin County court house. Shambolic, but very entertaining.

How often do you get to hear a police officer say the following to a prosecutor, "I was watching Law and Order last night and I have a question."? Well, if you're me the answer is once. (The question was about whether judges could overrule plea bargains — they can.)

Last Wednesday also marked the first time that I'd ever heard a judge telling a man, who was wearing handcuffs and an orange F.C.C.C prisoner suit at the time, that in the future he should not to turn up at the courthouse drunk. The man in question had spent the night in jail for contempt of court for showing up drunk the previous day — needless to say, the reason he was at the court was for a DUI hearing.

I haven't got time to mention all the slimy lawyers who were squirming around the place. "I haven't forgot that you owe me $50 Mohammad.", said one lawyer with his up-turned palm reaching towards his client.

At the end of the day all that happened in Brit's case, was that there was a continuance for another month. How much money do they need to waste on trying to prosecute a guy riding home on his bike? Quite a lot it would seem.

In other news, I attended my first Ohio State football game this weekend. It wasn't really much of contest, finishing 40-2, but it was a fun day out with the crazy folk. And this weekend was the first time in three weeks that I didn't injure my left foot (and no I didn't injure the right one instead). I feel ever so proud of myself.

Okay, I'm off down to Blazer's Pub for a beer or two.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The toe incident

This weekend I hurt my toe, well actually I hurt two of the toes on my left foot. Today I am still hobbling and the toes are still somewhat purple and swollen. This is definitively not a good state affairs.

As you may have guessed the incident involved the consumption of a small amount of alcohol. It started out tamely enough with a gin and tonic (well lemon and lime juice as they were out of tonic) at Columbus's scariest bar (the barmaid was flat out insane, at first refusing to serve me and then talking crazy talk about this and that and how she used to speed) and a couple of beers before watching The Weather Man — which I really liked, it's just one of those quirky slice of life films but very well done and quite amusing. After the film the journey home descended into a bar crawl during the course of which I got to watch my 2-0 start to Saturday's gambling descend into a 2-4 disaster. I was not a happy camper, a fact I announced repeatedly during the evening. I even managed to get home and situate myself safely on the sofa before the incident.

It was a simple enough task. Go to the kitchen and get a glass of water to take upstairs to Brit. You'd have thought that even under the worst of all possible worlds the task would not end up with two possible broken toes and toe wet beds. You'd be wrong. For some reason I jogged across to the kitchen, then slipped, smacked into the door frame with my left foot (at which point the toe injury occurred), twisted through the air, fell into the rubbish bin and ended up lying against the wall clutching my foot and nursing a bruised arm. I then proceeded to go upstairs and throw a glass of water over Brit's bed — what can I say it made sense at the time — which led to my bed having a glass of water thrown over it by the time I retired (hurt) for the night.

Today I'm off to the courthouse. It's very exciting. Will I get to see the wheels of American justice turning? Or will Miss Justice lose the baby in a miscarriage? Stay tuned for more exciting updates. (Or don't.)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Betting madness (or is it?)

So, I've finally decided on my picks for this week's college games.
  • Ohio State (-3.5) @ Minnesota
  • Ohio (-5) @ Buffalo
  • Washington State (+29.5) @ USC
  • TCU (-6.5) @ San Diego State
  • Idaho @ New Mexico State (-5)
  • Michigan @ Northwestern (+3)
I'm not too confident about New Mexico State, being as they haven't won all year, but maybe this is their week to get off the mark. It could well be my first 6-0 of the season, I'm feeling good about this week. (Of course it could also be my first 0-6, but we try not to think about that.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ethical reasoning

There is something about this story that is somewhat disturbing. (For those who don't follow links the story is about a test carried out in Johannesburg that finds circumcised men are 61% less likely to contract HIV.) Actually I tell a lie, there are several disturbing things about this story.

Firstly, who the hell dreamt up this study and what were they trying to prove. I mean what good can come from this research. We already knew that both those and without foreskins can develop HIV, so it's not going to be a cure. If, as they did, you find out that circumcised men are less likely to contract HIV then you're going to be putting out a mixed message to people about what's safe and what's not — after all most of us only read the headline. Somewhere like South Africa mixed messages about HIV, contraception, etc. are probably not good. And yes I'm looking at you Mr. Pope and your crazy bloody religion when I say that.

The second disturbing thing is what exactly did they tell the 3,274 uncircumcised volunteers, half of whom they circumcised. If somebody tells you that you are participating in a study to monitor HIV infection, surely you take extra care about where you putting your fella and what he's wearing at the time. Don't you? Were they told they were in this study? For that matter how the hell do you find 3,274 men aged 18-24 who are considering having their foreskins whipped off? I don't know anybody who'd consider it (and yes that is exactly the kind of conversation that I end up having — all the time).

Thirdly, what did they do when they stopped the study on ethical grounds? Did they circumcise the rest of the men? And did they stop the study too soon? Would the infection rate in the two groups eventually be the same (once the x percent who were regularly having unprotected sex with the skankiest women were all infected)?

Fourthly, circumcision: uggh! (I have trouble just looking at Rabbi knowing what crazy shit they practise.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

On Alpha, addictions (featuring Frankie and Brit), celebrations (featuring me) and then some more on addictions

My second favourite story of the weekend was that of Tropical Storm Alpha, which, I'm sad to report, has now been downgraded to Tropical Depression Alpha and looks like it will eventually lose in a fight with Wilma. For the first time ever we've used up all 21 names and we've had to move onto Greek letters. Although it looks like we might get away with it this year; I think it's a tad unwise to set about calling a possible hurricane Alpha. Hurricane Alpha might try and earn the name, so to speak, as we all know God and Mother Nature have a darkly comic streak in them.

My favourite story of the weekend was that of Frankie Coleman. Apparently Mrs. Coleman, the Mayor's wife, was arrested around 9pm on Thursday for operating a vehicle under the influence, OVI. There are a number of things I love about this story. Firstly, it was 9 o'clock in the evening — you really have to be putting in a concerted effort if you want to get your blood alcohol up to 0.27 by 9 o'clock on a Thursday evening. Secondly, she hit a parked truck and then got confused and claimed the truck had hit her. Mainly though I love this story for the comparison between Frankie and Brit. Brit is the friend I wrote about being pulled over for riding his bicycle home drunk from the bar. I think it's really, umm, impressive that Brit and Frankie now face identical charges and identical penalties. Because they both had high alcohol OVI's they both now face a mandatory 3 days in jail and 3 days in alcohol class, not to mention fines and license suspension. That's right folks choosing to not drive your car home and being pulled over for wobbling on your bicycle is apparently worthy of the same punishment as driving your car in to a parked truck and then claiming the truck hit you. You've got to love a justice system like that. In fact I love it so much that on the 2nd of November I will go down to the court house to offer moral support and try not to burst out laughing as the state of Ohio tries to send Brit to jail. Maybe I'll even wear one of my new t-shirts...

It was my birthday yesterday, "Happy Birthday to me!", and all that. I only mention it because you didn't write, call, send me a present, or anything. Unless of course you did, in which case it was great to hear from you, I love the gift, the card was wonderful and no I didn't know that about Timmy. I celebrated my birthday by going out on Saturday night to a place which had all the beer you can drink for seven dollars. The beer is fairly crap, but seven dollars is only seven dollars. On the way to the bar we were in a car that ran out of petrol. I've never been in a car that ran out of petrol before, it was enormously entertaining. Not quite sure how you manage to not put any fuel in your car and expect it to keep on running forever, but for sheer entertainment value I may have to start adopting the policy. On the way home from the bar, I was somewhat less than sober and decided it would be a good idea to kick a plastic lawn chair. I now have a very sore left foot (why I kicked it with my left foot is lost in the annals of history... or at least it's lost in the murky fog at the back of mind).

I have two new addictions: betting and eBay. Now I realise betting isn't really a new addiction for me, but my betting on college football is a fairly recent thing. The last three weeks I've bet on several games each Saturday, coming out with 2-4 (for a big loss), 4-1 (for a okay win) and 5-1 (for a good win) win-loss records for the three weeks. It's lots of fun. And this week it actually made be give a damn about Fresno State, I don't even know which state Fresno State is in. I do know that they beat the spread against Idaho and made me very happy (well moderately happy, I think the aforementioned beer pushed me up to very).

My other (new, best not to mention all the old ones) addiction is trying to buy vintage Waterman's fountain pens from eBay. I'm not sure why I want one — I think I can probably blame most of it on Neil Gaiman. But, for whatever reason, searching and bidding for old pens on eBay has been eating up a disproportionate amount of my time recently. I'll keep you posted on how this new addiction develops.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

News from the 17th least corrupt country (possibly)

It's official (well it's on the BBC News website) I now reside (well actually I think I only start residing here next month, but that's a whole 'nother kettle) in the 17th least corrupt country. Doesn't it just give you a warm, gooey feeling inside? A bit like a toasted marshmallow. Although it has be said that the UK is one whole point less corrupt than America, so those of you over there can definitely look down your noses at the damned, corrupt colonialists over here. It's also kind of amusing that Australia, the nation we sent our criminals to, is less corrupt than both the UK and the USA, the nation we sent our crazy religious people to (well sent may not be fully accurate, but hey give a guy a little artistic license).

I love tables like the CPI table, they are all so brilliantly arbitrary and use scary Orwellian names like, "Corruption Perceptions Index". Not to mention great press release quotes like, Corruption isn’t a natural disaster... (okay I'm being a little unfair as the full quote is, Corruption isn’t a natural disaster: it is the cold, calculated theft of opportunity from the men, women and children who are least able to protect themselves. Plus they're full of interesting information like there is a United Nations Convention against Corruption, I feel the problem will disappear entirely once it comes into force (Why isn't it already? It didn't tell me that.)

At least Zimbabwe managed to climb up to the heady position of being the (joint) 107th least corrupt coutnry. Go Zimbabwe. They've increased from 2.3 to 2.6. Although I have to say I think the index is backwards as bigger numbers in a corruption perception index should really be more corrupt than smaller numbers. That way you could give the unit a name, like a Mugabe or better yet an Aitken (although, like the unit of beauty, the SI unit might have to be a milli-Aitken).

The perfect job?

I stumbled across this job advert today. I think that I could probably blag the whole Ofcom regulation issue, but I'm not sure it's worth it for only a month long job.

A missed opportunity possibly.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Getting shirty

Now, most people probably heard the story from a couple of weeks ago about a woman who got thrown off (well asked to wear her t-short inside out or leave) a plane for wearing a t-shirt. Now, I'm not quite sure how anyone thinks a t-shirt featuring Bush and Cheney and the phrase, "Meet the Fuckers" is either hilarious (as Lorrie Heasley, the woman in question, did) or offensive (as some narrow-minded passengers getting on the plane did) but that's besides the point. The point is that something is clearly all messed up if people get so irate over a t-shirt that somebody is asked to leave a plane.

Needless to say the discussion made me think of my favourite t-shirt:

Which I think it's fair to say some people would find offensive enough to have me thrown off a plane for. But apparently fear not, because, in a wonderful piece of marketing, those nice folks at T-Shirt Hell have our backs. If you get thrown off a plane for wearing one of their offensive t-shirts then they will make sure you get to your destination, possibly using their corporate jet. I think it's fantastic.

In fact I think it's such a fantastic offer that not only am I writing this about it, but I'm also getting the frankly brilliant:

Who'd have thought five words could mean so much, and be so clever? (I also bought this t-shirt, but it's not as exciting — for those times when one needs to be a somewhat reserved). I didn't have the courage to buy the I plane NY shirt yet though, well I'd have the courage to buy it but I'm not sure I'd have the courage to wear it.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

"A woman can’t breastfeed a child who’s been aborted."

I saw a poster advertising the links between abortion and breast cancer on one of the noticeboards in the Architecture building (where I go for coffee), it directed me to this site. Curious, well part curious and part infuriated, I perused the site for a little bit. To me at least it is largely unreadable, as illustrated by this opening paragraph:
Women have the right to know that 28 out of 37 worldwide studies have independently linked induced abortion with breast cancer. Thirteen out of fifteen studies conducted on American women report increased risk. Seventeen studies are statistically significant, sixteen of which found increased risk. Most of the studies have been conducted by abortion supporters. The first study was published in an English publication in 1957 and focused on Japanese women. It showed a 2.6 relative risk or 160% increased risk of breast cancer among women who'd had an induced abortion.

13 of 28, 37 of 16, statistically significant, Japanese women, 2.6 relative risk... stop! Too much information. It seems rather like when you're a child and you make up a long convoluted story about how this was the pen you got from Brighton on a trip you went with your grandparents last summer in the rain and the train was blue, when really you found the pen on the floor and don't want to admit you left your pen at home. Lies, damn lies and all that.

Now it may well be true that you have an increased risk of breast cancer if you have an abortion. But seeing as each year you wait to have a kiddie your risk increases, and each kiddie you have your risk decrease, I'd have thought that number one on the list of "What You Can Do" would be obvious. Get yourself knocked up, do it early and do it often. We can go back to the good old days of 12 kid families where 2 or 3 of them died, after all breast cancer wasn't such a worry in Victorian times. And to think there's all that kerfuffle over teenager pregnancies. They should all just say, look I'm doing this to reduce my risk of breast cancer.

In almost entirely unrelated news, I wonder if this rather excellent new Guinness ad will air here in the heart of intelligent design country. I rather hope it does.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Quickie before leaving the office

Not that kind of quickie. Please get your mind out of the gutter, it is quite crowded enough down here without anyone else getting in the act.

I had quite forgotten how, um, interesting PostSecret is. I particularly like the one about the Da Vinci code, and it's not very often that I like the idea of naked old men. In fact I might start doing it myself, well okay probably not, but I can dream.

I feel safer already. Just what the doctor ordered wouldn't you say? Why not create another 'intelligence' agency that can be held accountable if the shit ever hits the fan. Although I do like the fact that the head of the NCS is known only as "Jose", I wonder if he's hispanic or if he's even a he?

All of which makes we wonder if I should finally apply for a job with these guys?. All I have to do is send my CV and a covering letter to some random PO Box in London, and I too could be helping to save the world... or something.

Enough random, disconnected musings for now.

Monday, October 10, 2005

How not to make a pot roast and other tales

This weekend was not, in all honesty, my finest weekend on the planet. It started off well enough with a visit to the Franklin Park conservatory, home of many pretty plants and such. I think the desert region was probably my favourite as the cactuses (cacti just seems too tarty) were very pretty. The fish and chips at The Old Bag of Nails pub were almost up to the standards I was used to from the Gloucester Road chippy, the name of which I have mislaid in my mind, which came as a bit of a surprise. Well to be honest the fish was very nice, but the chips fell a little short in comparison.

Saturday, however, was pretty much a disaster. With the exception of doing my laundry I would have been far better off if I'd just lain in bed all day. You see I, ahem cough cough, gambled, cough cough, a little bit of money on this weekend's college football. By a little bit I mean more than the price of a few beers and less than the price of a car, okay less than the price of a really cheap car. Sadly my record on the weekend was 2 right in 6 attempts, which equated to me losing all but 73 pence of my stake. Not entirely successful, I think you'll agree. To compound matters I watched the principal game on which I gambled, the Ohio State - Penn State game, with some of my work colleagues who were supporters of the opposing team. I was not an entirely happy bunny. Things actually managed to get worse after I'd lost all my money, and do to a combination of stupidity (mine), negligence (mine, COTA's and the taxi company's) and stubbornness (mine again) I ended up walking home the seven or eight miles from where I was watching the game to home. My shins still kind of hurt.

Sunday things went little better. The highlight, well low-light technically, was when I managed to make a casserole dish explode. At the time the dish contained the pot roast that I was cooking to eat on Sunday night. Apparently some casserole dishes don't like being placed on the hob. Mine has never minded in the past. Of course, I wasn't using mine when the explosion took place. I did successfully manage to pick out most, if not all, the pieces of glass and transfer things to one of my casserole dishes for the roasting part of the cooking. You'd be amazed, or not probably, how much mess a full casserole dish disintegrating on the stove top can create. Ho hum, back to the drawing board on that one.

I seem to recall I messed something else up this weekend. But I can't recall what, now that I think about it. Maybe it will come back to me. Probably not.

I did manage to finish Anansi Boys last week, and it was very, very good. I spent a lot of time smiling while I read it. Very clever and very cute, and now I really do want to hear Lenny Henry's reading of it — although possibly not enough to actually buy a copy. Right now, well not right now, I am spending a lot of time smiling while I read Terry Pratchett's Thud!. I do love Vimes. It's a manly kind of a love though, not the other kind.

For those of you on tenterhooks (fabulous word) regarding George and the carpet (I actually mistyped that crapet, which is kind of appropriate) she's still being decidedly anti-social in her choice of toilet location. The thing that I find confusing is that she has a litter box, and seems perfectly content to piss in it and will occasionally use it for a crap, but still in the middle of the night there has a strange desire to shit by the front door. We might have to adopt a multiple litter box approach to the problem.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Featuring clawless cats, caustic-free chilli and other crazy c-words (but possibly not that c-word)

New place. Same shit. Apparently, we've got a mouse. Well we've got at least one mouse and possibly more (I'm afraid they really all do look the same to me... sorry all you mouse equality people). We also have, and I don't know if I mentioned this before or not, a cat. She's called George. All you need to know about George is that she's very fluffy (and you didn't really need to know that), she shits on the floor next to the front door each night (and you probably didn't need to know that, but I was just curious if anyone had any grand plans on how to convince a cat not to shit on the floor in the same spot every bloody night) and she's been declawed (which strikes me as a little cruel). Yesterday George caught the mouse — who for now I'm going to call Maurice — it was rather amusing, for all involved I think. George would bat Maurice around a couple of times, forgetting she doesn't come equipped with claws to hurt him, then pick him up in her mouth. She didn't seem to want to actually bite him, just to hold him in her mouth for a while. Then George would let Maurice go and start batting him around again. There were several iterations of this process. The highlight of the encounter had to be the time that Maurice and George sat six inches apart and just stared at each other for a minute (right before Maurice hid behind the bookcase). I'm not sure what the eventual outcome was, last I saw George was staring intensely at the stereo cabinet and Maurice was, presumably, hiding under it. I think they've become friends. Isn't it sweet.

This weekend was a very good weekend for me on the book front. Not only did I pick up a copy, a signed copy even, of Neil Gaiman's new book, Anansi Boys, but I also bought a copy, also signed, of Terry Pratchett's new Discworld novel, Thud!. It's very exciting. I've only had a chance to read the first chapter of Anansi Boys, but I already feel a certain warmth towards Fat Charlie (not that kind of warmth). It should be a good week reading-wise.

Not only was this the week that Messrs Gaiman and Prattchet released their new works, but it was also featured, the long awaited, release of Serenity. I have to say Mr Whedon made a really rather good little movie, sorry... film. It started off a little slowly — trying to catch up those people who hadn't seen the, sadly, short-lived TV show Firefly — but after a few minutes was up and racing and I was loving it. I'd recommend it to anyone, although I'd be curious to find out what non-Firefly watchers think of Serenity.

(The following paragraph only features in this post because chili begins with the letter 'c'.)

Yesterday's chili was very disappointing; not nearly the kind of kick that most people who've had the pleasure — or otherwise — of sampling a Ryan chili have come to expect. I hope to purchase some painful powder of one kind or another on the way home, to spice up the leftovers.

On the subject of disappointments I saw Christopher Hitchens and George Galloway on Real Time with Bill Maher over the weekend and, sadly, Mr Hitchens is no longer my new hero. I still rather enjoyed him when he was having a go at devil-boy, but it's a little much to stomach his unwavering support for Bush. Now, I'm not saying that Laura Bush isn't a lovely lady but I don't really need to hear, repeatedly, about how great she is.

Oh, I almost forgot, I found out what the blue flag with the two yellow dashes (like an equals sign) on it stands for. I've been seeing these flags all around the Victorian Village and the Short North for the last year or so, and never knew what they meant. I think I was a little confused by the fact the colour scheme looked to be the same as the (hated in these parts) Michigan Wolverines. But it turns out it's all about equal rights. The symbol is that of the, rather misleadingly named, Human Rights Campaign. Now I'm not saying that lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenderers (or whatever the political correct term should be) don't deserve equal rights, it's just when I think Human Rights Campaign I think more about slavery, institutionalised violence, etc. and less about marriage (and yes I know there are other issues, but that's the chief tub-thumping one at the moment). I found out because a pretty girl in the park wanted me to donate, as little as $10 a month, to HRC. I felt a little sorry to disappoint her.

In other news, I got offered a job at UCL. It wasn't actually the job I applied for, that went to a theorist from Cambridge who is the 'T' in MRST, and I'm not the 'N' in anything. I haven't said one way or another whether I'll take the job. There's also the slight matter of a PPARC fellowship application that needs to get submitted in the next couple of weeks. But hey, it was still nice to get a job offer even if it does mean I now have to make a decision.

Oh and I should just mention that Leo submitted his thesis. Which will either mean something (probably close to surprise) or nothing (probably close to,... err nothing) depending on if you know Leo.

Friday, September 23, 2005

An apology...

I'm very sorry. In the past I have suggested that George Galloway is that part of the female anatomy that rhymes with the kind of boat found on the river Cam. However I believe that Christopher Hitchens, my newest hero, is probably correct when he says:
Those of us who revere the vagina are committed to defend it against the very idea that it is a mouth or has teeth.

So apologies for likening the repulsive Galloway to that part of a woman. I can't guarantee that in the future I won't make the same accusation again though, as it is one of my most favouritist words.

Here are the full details of what Christopher Hitchens thinks of Galloway, or at least some of the details. Which came to me via last weeks, always excellent, The Friday Thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The world gone mad (again)

This is, quite frankly, horribly wrong.
"This is an attempt to say, 'Look, there's a great story here - let's get into it and let's not get put off by the things that are going to be the sub-plot. Let's give you the big plot'."

And now for Ryan's ten word bible:
"Jesus good. Up the bottom bad. Give us your money."

It's just possible that I've watched too many of the crazy evangelicals you get on Columbus TV.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

After the dust has settled...

So, on the plus side, I don't think I made a complete and total arse of myself in the interview at UCL yesterday. One of the questions I neglected to ask was when I'd find out about the result, which was probably something of an oversight. But other than that I was quite pleased with how it all turned out.

Despite the fact that every item of clothing I was wearing (with the exception of my knickers, well boxers) was brand spanking new — bought on Friday or Saturday, to be precise — I had very few insults regarding my attire. In fact all I got were a couple of comments about my tie: ugly and too short.

In other news, that nice Mr Gaiman has just released (or his publisher's have at least) his latest book, Anansi Boys, and I am terribly excited about the prospect of buying a copy and reading it.

Incidentally since I arrived in the UK at 10am on Sunday morning, I have successfully spent something on the order of 15 hours (10 on Sunday, 5 on Monday) in licensed premises. Which I think is a quite a good achievement all things considered. Although I suspect that tonight I won't actually be able to add a great number of hours, if any, to the grand total, sadly.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

From the airport

So, here I am sat in Port Columbus International Airport, drinking gin & tonic and watching Ohio State trail to San Diego State. I'm off to London in about an hour, well actually I'm off to Detroit and from there I'm off to London, for a job interview at UCL on Monday. It should all be fun and exciting.

For your amusement here is the last message sent to my Gmail account:

Found it!
The Complete Upholsterer by Carole Thomerson ISBN 0 7112 1092 6
I have just ordered it from Smiths it cost £11.89 if you collect it
from a Smiths Store. otherwise Book Fellas charge £14.61 including

Monday, September 12, 2005

Trip to the dentist and more naughtiness

I've just returned from my latest round of mouth abuse at the hands of the dentist. Well actually it was more at the hands of the dental hygenist, but the dentist capped it all by recommending that I get my wisdom teeth removed. Urggh, it's not something I'm looking forward to. At least they knock you out for it, but still it's not something I'm relishing.

In other news, I was very bad again. I realise that I have a problem, but still that doesn't really make it any better. Do you know what I did? I bought one of these. I know it's naughty and unnecessary, but it's so little and cute I just had to have one. And considering my first iPod is now sitting in thirty pieces on top of my counter and the little iPod shuffle I use is fairly annoying without a screen and... okay I'm just making up excuses. Anyhow, it should be sitting at home waiting for me when I get there this evening.

What else? On Saturday I fly back to London for a job interview at my old university, University College London. Which should be an experience. I haven't actually worked out where I'm going to be staying while I'm back in London, but hopefully I'll sort something out sometime this week. The last job interview I had was way back before I started my PhD, it didn't end well as I got upset that the person interviewing me couldn't answer two fairly fundamental questions: How much are you going to pay me? and How long is the average working day? (to the latter I got the response there's no such thing as an average day, and I felt like explaining that if you add up all the hours someone works and... but thought better of it.)

Still haven't taken any photos of my new place, or posted any pics from my time in California and New Mexico, when I get a chance I'll try and rectify that. I also haven't recounted the story of Ryan and the Kansas State Trooper. Or the story of Ryan and Kim and the hotel in Missouri (that's a good one). Or the strange tale of the inhabitants of Columbia, MO. Or mentioned what speed we drove from the volcano to Kim, Colorado. Or said anything about The Aristocrats. Or mentioned Ryan and Brit's trip to the Sunset Lounge, where they spent the evening getting rather drunk on malt liquor.

Oh and apparently I need to floss more. And I've got to write a fellowship application before tomorrow. And it's the first game of the Falcons' NFL season tonight — against the defending NFC champions, the Eagles. And if Atlanta win I make a little spending cash for when I'm in London. And I emphasise the little. And I'm sure my English teachers would all be very impressed that I managed to start five sentences in a row with the word 'and'. And...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The back in my office post

So, finally after many weeks I'm back in my office in Columbus. I've got a new house (which is very nice), a job interview in London (which is also very nice), a new fitness centre (ditto) and some new house mates (which is odd, but so far very nice also).

I think I really fell on my feet with the house, it was great that I arrived at 10 pm on Thursday night and had somewhere to go. In fact by midnight all my stuff was moved in, thanks to a pickup truck, a minivan and a rental car. It wasn't all unpacked, but it was all in the house. I'll have to post a few photos of the place when I have a chance to take them. We even have a swing seat on the front porch. All we need is a rocking chair and the place will be perfect.

Before I talk about our drive home across America, I just want to mention that fun we had last Monday (the day of ANITA's engineering flight). The day started with me staying up all night and getting very confused when people who went to bed kept saying yesterday and I wasn't sure if they meant Saturday or Sunday and ended with a couple of whisky bottles being passed around the picnic tables at the Billy the Kid (the bottles were being passed around so vigorously that Kim, who drove back with me, didn't manage to make it in to work until after five the next afternoon). Whilst the whisky passing was fun, the highlight of the day had to be getting lost on dirt roads in New Mexico while looking for the landing site (dirt roads in which our PI — principal investigator, i.e. big boss man — managed to get his car stuck in the mud, requiring the rest of us to push him out) and doing shots of tequila (with 8 of my fellow collaborators, including the PI), salt and lime included, using the boot of the car as a bar. After the shots we all decided it would be a good idea to climb a nearby rocky outcrop to try and see the payload, we couldn't but had fun scrambling over and under barbed wire fences.

Now I think I might go to the shiny new gym and work off some of the quesadillas and buritos I ate in New Mexico.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Greetings from Raton, NM

Sorry about the scarcity of posts recently, but I've been working my bottom off in Fort Sumner, NM. Now though ANITA has had her maiden balloon flight (I'll post some photos when I get back to Columbus), she soared up in the air to about 120,000 feet and then came crashing back down to Earth. Actually she had quite a gentle landing, most of the gondola and all of the electronics survived.

My stuff, the flight software and data acquisition, pretty much worked as advertised. There were a few things I could have done better and a fw things I should have done differently, but all in all I'm quite happy with the way it turned out.

Right now I'm at the Holiday Inn Express in Raton, New Mexico. Myself and Kim (one of the Ohio State grad students) are driving bvack to Columbus. According to Google we have 1,393 miles to go. Although we might make a little detour or two along the way, maybe starting with Capulin volcano this morning.

Ooh and I've got a nice new home when I get back to Columbus (probably on Thursday). On the first day my new house mates moved into the house, they were busy unpacking stuff downstairs in the kitchen when somebody wandered in the front door went upstairs and rifled through some drawers before making off with some money. I have a feeling it's going to be a very interesting year.

Oh well, this is all for now. I'll try and post an update along the way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In which coolers are crushed and chili is barely touched

This is another one of those evening after the night before kind of posts. Last night was ANITA's Ft. Sumner barbecue night. The motel in which I'm staying (the aforementioned $380,000 Billy The Kid Country Inn) has these great picnic tables and old iron barbecues. So everybody chipped in their $20 and a run was made out to Clovis to pick up supplies (except for alcohol which was purchased at Fred's — apparently the only place for 90 miles that has a Sunday liquor license). Much food, drink and merriment was had.

In my case probably a teeny, tiny little bit too much drinking was done. But hey, I had fun (at least I'm pretty sure I did, some parts of the evening are a little vague in my memory). The comical highlight of the evening was probably when I tried to sit on a Styrofoam beer cooler. Actually I managed to sit on it quite well, sadly it didn't really manage to support my weight all that well and was pretty much destroyed. In fact I have a little piece of the wreckage here on the table with me, I might keep it as a souvenir. I ended up with a wet and muddy bottom, but fortunately no damage was done to the beer inside the cooler. There is even photographic evidence of the coolers demise which I might post here if I get a chance.

As you can imagine today was not the most productive day I've had on this trip. It started off with Kim knocking on my door at 9:00 am and rousing me from my chemical induced slumber (on the plus side I was at least on my bed, where I apparently passed out with the door open last night). I didn't actually feel to bad this morning. That was probably because I was still drunk and it took until lunchtime for me to sober up. All of which meant that the bowl of green chili I ordered, proved to be a case of optimism winning out over realism, and the chili came away with me after only a slight prodding at the dinner table. Still it tasted quite nice for supper this evening, after I had taken a couple of naps and was feeling a bit more human.

Right now I'm sat alone at the picnic table watching a cute little black and white kitten chasing and eating grasshoppers. It seems to be having a whale of a time, not so sure about the grasshoppers. And yes, I also have a beer here, although it's only number two and I'm not sure if there'll be a number three.

Whilst I've been sat here the local police and sherrif have cruised past upwards of six or seven times. I'm not really sure what they're looking for, apparently not a physicist drinking a beer and typing on his laptop.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Still sat at a picnic table

It's true I'm still sat at a picnic table outside of the Billy the Kid Country Inn (which could be yours for just $380,000). It turns out that in my hotel room I don't have any wireless reception, so if I want to surf the web or type this post I've got to go outside to the picnic tables.

It is terribly addictive to sit here and watch the work that's going on up in the NSBF hangar over the webcam. Apparently the zoom feature of the webcam had to be disabled last year as somebody got upset that people were using the zoom, to magnify parts of her body that she didn't necessarily want internet perverts (such as myself) to study in such detail. Although it's possible we might get it reinstated, which I'm sure is good news for any of you who really want to look closely at the back of neck, or my left hand.

It's somewhat odd to be stuck in a tiny little town in the Middle Of Nowhere again, it almost feels like I'm back in Tower, Minnesota. Except Tower having three bars, whereas Fort Sumner has one and that one closes at 10pm. Well that and the fact that I have New Mexican summer weather (very changeable, hot and thunder stormy) as opposed to Minnesotan winter weather (very consistent, very very cold and snow stormy). The thunder is really pretty though... but the snow was kind of cute.

Still it's nice to be somewhere where I can use my British driving license as a form of ID. In Irvine, California they did not like the fact that I didn't have a Californian driving license. It was very annoying. Whenever I went to the supermarket or the liquor store there was a 50/50 chance that they would refuse to sell me alcohol. It was all very grrh worthy.

On a brigther note I should find out next week whether or not I've made the shortlist for the lectureship position at UCL. We wait with baited breath.

Where's Ryan? (Or actually where isn't Ryan right now)

For all of you wondering where I am and what I'm up, apparently you can see for yourself using a NASA webcam. This is what it looks like right now on Thursday evening. Of course right now I'm not at work, instead I'm sitting at a picnic table in the car park of the Billy the Kid Country Inn drinking beer. Oh and it's thundering and lightninging. It's very cool.

I fear more beer is calling.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

It's not possible...

"But some are concerned that it would encourage more porn on the net."

Really does anyone believe that anything would encourage more porn on the net. From what I've seen, and to be perfectly honest I've seen an awful lot (and a lot of it was awful), it woud not be possible to encourage more porn. There is really no shortage of porn out there, I can't believe there are that many would be pornographers who aren't already plying their filthy, wonderful trade already.

But then again I'm not the president.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sun, sand and sea on my first day off in three weeks

Yesterday was our first day off for three weeks. It was lots of fun. There was alcohol, taken in an apartment so close to the beach that you could almost reach out and touch it, good food and fun and frolics in the sun. Well there were only frolics if you count playing ball with a twelve year old kid as frolics, which we will for now. I wouldn't mind but he kept on beating me... oh well.

It was definitely a much needed day of rest before flying off to New Mexico today, and starting leg two of Anita's integration. With any luck we will soon have a nice big shiny instrument that we can strap on to a balloon and send it up, up and away in Fort Sumner.

Yesterday also marked the start of the new football season at home. And yes, I was up at 4:45 in the morning so that I could watch Man Utd beat Everton. I think I may even have won a few pennies on the match. On the subject of sports I'm currently, when the hotel wireless allows me to, listening to day four of the third test. It's very exciting, England appear to be doing rather well which is something of pleasant change.

Oh well, better pack up my stuff so that I can go off to the airport. Albuquerque here I come.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Tonight has been a night of firsts for me. For the first time on this trip the ocean glowed for me. I'm really not joking either, the ocean actually glowed. Apparently there is some algae or other little critter in the ocean that likes to produce light when it gets excited. It was really rather impressive to see the waves glowing as they crashed against the shore.

It was also rather impressive that you could go down on the sand and write your name in glowing lights in the sand, just by running your foot over the surface.

The other new thing that happened tody is that I had the manager of the hotel in which I'm staying call me up in my room to complain I was making too much noise. I was a little perplexed as all I was doing was watching TV. I guess that somebody sitting here in the flight path of Orange Cunty airport, was so upset at the fact I was watching TV that they felt the need to call the mangaement and complain. I must be a terrible criminal.

Oh well never mind. Tomorrow I'm off to Hollywood and Venice Beech and then on Sunday I'm off to New Mexico. Urggh.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

...using a shoe as a pillow

I woke up this morning lying on my bedroom floor, covered with my blanket and using a shoe as a pillow. I'm not quite sure how I got there. Did I actually make it into bed and then fell out and decided the floor was pretty comfortable? Or was it just all a little bit too tricky to climb in to bed last night so I curled up in a ball and passed out on the floor? Who knows? Certainly not me. On the plus side I was using one of my shoes as a pillow and not one of my sandals. As my sandals are currently quite pestilent and should probably be burned, possibly at the stake.

Oh well, lets see where Ryan can end up tonight. There is probably even a chance that I end up in bed. Probably...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Starts with 'C'

I see that lovely chap Galloway is up to his old tircks again. He really is a... well actually I think Liam Fox sums it up pretty well, "George Galloway is a sad and twisted but ultimately irrelevant politician".

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tales from (almost) the midnight hour

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I'm still at work. This is not a good state of affairs. We have brackets with mirror image problems, cards that are too big to fit into computers and various other issues. On the plus side we ticked everything of our acquisition software/firmware checklist and I got to stick lots of plots on the wall.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I've yet to have a beer. This is not a good state of affairs. In fact I would almost go as far as to say it's a bad state of affairs.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I might have a house to go home to when I finally return to Columbus. This is a good state of affairs. I seem to have remarkable luck when it comes to being out of town when house/apartment hunting is going on, and then returning to a new home. Hopefully this luck will continue and I'll have somewhere nice to go home to.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I'm still at work. It's days like today that are the reason why I've not been writing very many posts recently.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I've got to stop typing and go and do more work.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The long time no post post

Yes I am still alive (and somewhat kicking) and yes at has been a while since I posted anything, but you see I've been busy. In fact here am at quarter to seven on a Sunday evening and I'm still at work. This is not the way things are meant to be. I should really be down the pub at this point in the proceedings. Alas, not to be.

Anyhow here I am in sunny Southern California... and by the look of things here I'll be for a couple of more weeks before I go off to lovely New Mexico. Should all be a giggle and a laugh. Or something.

Sadly, I don't have the time right at the moment to fully regale you all with tales of my drunken adventures in Orange County. Suffice to say it is surprisingly dfficult to get drunk near the UC Irvine campus. And in fact if I stay at work much longer I may well struggle to eat this evening.

But just a teeny tiny little bit more work to do...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Featuring passports, planes, an application and a really exhausted author

I'm writing this from the strange desk-bed contraption on which I will be sleeping for the next two weeks. The desk-bed is in a student housing area of UCI, in fact if this blog came with the ambient sounds you would be able to hear the noises from a bunch of students playing basketball in the background.

During the last 36 hours I have written and submitted application for a job as a lecturer in London, driven to Canada and back, flown to Santa Ana, seen Niagara Falls (from both the American and Canadian sides), drank only three beers and slept only three hours. It would not be an understatement to say I was bloody knackered.

The Canada trip came somewhat out of the blue. There I was dripping wet from a thunderstorm, that had opened the heavens to drench me 100 yards from the safety of my friends apartment, when my phone rang. The phone call was from my friend who had been in Canada for the weekend, and whose house I had just walked drippingly in to and over the weekend had moved my stuff in to storage within. It turns out that he had managed to get in to Canada using his American driving license, but sadly he had not managed to get back in to the US using the same form of ID. His passport, instead of being with him in Canada, was upstairs on his desk. Being as I'm such a lovely person, I offered to drive his passport up to the border when his wife returned with the car. So I did.

Before I drove up to Canada, it's about a five hour drive from Columbus to Niagara Falls, I took the time to complete my application for the lectureship at UCL (it will be interesting to see what if anything comes of it). The drive up was memorable only for the fact that I managed to get sunburn on my left arm, as it seems I always do on long drives in America. Still my friend was very grateful for my efforts, and the falls are very impressive and it made me think of Wonderfalls and there is a nice coffee shop in Buffalo called Spot. Which is not bad for a 10-14 hour road trip.

Although the fact that when I got back to Columbus, after midnight, that I had to tidy up my job application and submit it, before sleeping for a few hours and getting up to catch my flight out here to California. Means that by now my brain is no longer functioning. It needs to be embrace unconciousness for a while.

For the record unlike my last day trip, and only previous visit, to Canada I did not ride on a golf cart with an Indian (sorry Native American), sprinkle tobacco and dirt on a burial mound, see a porcupine, drive for over and hour on a dirt track or nearly die because both myself and the driver of the car were falling asleep on said dirt track. And unlike International Falls they do actaully have something worth seeing in Niagara Falls.

Um sleep now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

When Ryan met Sean

So, there I was walking down the street, on the way to the coffee shop in which I'm currently sat and where I came to work on my job application, when something very odd happened. Somebody, Corporal Sean B. Corcoran, tried to recruit me to join the U.S. Army. At first he didn't believe when I told him that I was English — who knows maybe this is a ploy that many people try on the army recruiters, "Oh, I'd love to join the Army but actually I'm from Guatemala and therefore I'm ineligible" — but eventually he conceded that maybe I was actually from Britain and he stopped the hard sell. He did still leave me with one of his cards, in case I ran in to somebody who wanted to join up. So if you're interested in becoming a paid killer of brown people (another quote from the man mentioned below) drop me a line and I'll hook you up with Sean's telephone number.

I found our encounter particularly amusing as I was wearing my Bill Hicks t-shirt — he of the, "If anyone's actually stupid enough to want to join the Army..." (paraphrased) fame.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The tired and homeless post

It's (almost) official, I am now homeless. Well, I will be tomorrow when I hand my keys back to the landlord. All my worldly possessions, at least all of them that aren't in my grandmother's loft or my mother's garage or somewhere else in England, are hiding in some friends' basement. They got there, including the queen-sized bed (albeit in pieces), in the back of a friends truck. This is the truck that my friend will most probably have to sell to pay for the lawyer who is dealing with his DUI charge. Yeah, that's right the DUI he got while riding his bicycle home from the bar. Somebody somewhere has a twisted sense of humour.

It feels very liberating to be homeless once more. I imagine if I were really homeless and sleeping rough the feeling of freedom would disappear pretty quickly. As it is with me flitting across America (well flitting between here, California and New Mexico) for much of the next two months I imagine I will shortly be feeling less liberated and more imprisoned, particularly when I'm cramped in to an airplane seat designed for a hobbit. (I think that the people who designed my shower in Delphi must also be responsible for all the uncomfortable plane seats I've had the pleasure of using.)

So that just leaves a job application and some more working flight software before Wednesday. Not to mention returning my keys and cable box and changing my address and arranging for mail forwarding and... probably some other stuff that my tired Sunday night brain can't quite workout at the moment. On the subject of changing my address, I am legally compelled to inform the USCIS (i.e. the Department of Homeland Security) of where I'm living within 10 dayd of any change. I wonder if I should write to let them know I'll be living at the Billy the Kid Country Inn for most of August?

Ho hum, I'm going to have to leave the coffee shop (whose wireless isn't working) and try and get my cable modem to work back at the old flat so I can post this message and check my mail (which was the reason I came to the coffee shop in the first place). After that I have my Sunday night free beer club beer to look forward to, and everyone knows that free beer tastes better.

Oh by the way, there really was a poster for The Descent with the "Outright Terror... Bold And Brilliant" quote on that Number 30 bus. I saw a picture in Time magazine.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I wonder if it's true...

From today's The Friday Thing:
— Total Film blurb for The Descent, on the side of *that* number 30 bus.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Breaking news from Zimbabwe

After all the frankly depressing stories we get about Zimbabwe, it made a nice change to come across this story: Zimbabwe sex row athlete jailed.

It has all the hallmarks of a great story: an ambiguous headline containing the word sex; a guy dressing up as a girl (always amusing); and a great African name — Samukeliso Sithole (you can imagine how I first read his/her last name).

Priceless. (Or four years in a Zimbabwean jail, depending on how you look at it.)

Cleaning discoveries

In the course of tidying and packing in my apartment this evening I've found:

  • A card (with ships on it) from an ex-girlfriend's father (she was even an ex- at the time the card was written).

  • Two cuddly toys, that were the property of the previous tenant (I assume).

  • A bugger-load of dirt

The first two made me smile.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blue Sun, British bombers, the BBC and boxes

Yesterday something happened to me for the first time (no not that — get your mind out of the gutter and the first time that happened was in... well maybe we don't need to go there). Somebody recognised my Blue Sun t-shirt. Not only did they recognise the t-shirt, but it turns out they were one of the lucky ones who managed to get hold of a ticket for one of the Serenity previews. The guy, a computer geek (un-amazingly), thought it was really rather good.

(If the above makes no sense then I'd suggest you go to your local video shop and rent or buy the Firefly DVD's. As I've mentioned here before it's a really rather good TV show. And even if you're too lazy/poor or otherwise unimpressed by recommendations, you should definitely go and watch Serenity when it comes out at your local cinema.)

(If the above simply made no sense because it's late in the day and my brain is somewhat fried, then you should still get the DVD's and watch the film.)

British suicide bombers. It makes a nasty shiver run up and down my spine. You'd have thought it wouldn't make a difference where the bombers came from, but it does. There's something particularly repellent about the fact that four guys (assuming they were all male) born and brought up in the UK, would decide to blow people up on their way to work one morning. Growing up in Yorkshire might not have been my cup of tea, but it's not like growing up in Palestine. Which is not to say I condone Palestinian suicide bombers, just that there reasons for doing it are a little more obvious. Oh well, hopefully it's something I will never come to truly understand.

Everyday when I come into work I have a little browse on the BBC website, looking at the list of confirmed dead or missing people, just to see if there are any names I recognise. Fortunately so far I haven't recognised any names. It's a very macabre way to start the day.

My apartment is slowly being changed from somewhere that somebody lives in to somewhere that cardboard boxes inhabit. By Monday or Tuesday all the cardboard boxes will also be gone, either that or I'll have messed up royally and I'll be buggered on Wednesday. And yes I only added boxes to this post because I was looking for another b-word to put in the title.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

And on the subject of rhyming with boats

"We argued... that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings."

-George Galloway, RESPECT MP

I say we stick George and Nick in a room and let them have a fight to the death. (In the interest of equality we'd have to kill the winner, of course.)

There is a word for this man

"Last year BNPtv put together a horrific video which made the link between mass immigration and the prospect of terrorist attacks in our capital. The video made the eerie prediction that the London underground would be a target for such terrorist attacks... Following the Islamic fundamentalist massacres in London, two tendencies will rapidly become apparent: First the pro-government media will swing into action, bringing out a steady stream of injured ordinary Muslims and a flood of 'moderate' Muslim spokesmen to condemn the extremists. Second, millions of ordinary Brits just won't believe them, with severe extra strain on race relations as a result. And, of course, those sceptics will be right to doubt what the media and the political Establishment tell them, not least because, for all the ritual condemnation by the Labour Party puppets in the Muslim Council of Britain, a significant minority of young Muslims in this country do support the terrorists - the celebrations among the traders on Bradford Market this morning being a case in point. "
- Nick Griffin, The British National Party

Begins with C. Rhymes with a kind of boat often found on the river Cam.

Thanks to The Friday Thing for their special London attack issue.



The BBC is reporting the following message which they found on an Islamic website. I'm not sure if it's just an opportunistic group claiming credit for the attacks or if it's real, either way it's hard to comprehend the mindset of the writers.

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, may peace be upon the cheerful one and undaunted fighter, Prophet Muhammad, God's peace be upon him.

Nation of Islam and Arab nation: Rejoice for it is time to take revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London. Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.

We have repeatedly warned the British Government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid.

We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the Crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He who warns is excused.

God says: "You who believe: If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I've got to be in London in 2012

So that gives me seven years to sort my self out and get back to London so I can enjoy the Olympic games in my 'manor' (Mr Beckham's words). I have to say that I'm really quite excited. Although I imagine by the time I get back everybody will be complaining about the disruption caused by all the consturction work...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The month to come

I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be a teeny tiny little bit busy this month. Sometime in the next 4 weeks I've got to apply for a job in London, finish writing and testing the ANITA flight software and find myself a new apartment.

Not to mention working out when and whether I'll need to be in Irvine and Fort Sumner during July and August.

It's going to get a little bit hectic I imagine.

I can at least enjoy the fact that I've managed to convince, well to be honest it didn't require a great deal of actual convincing other than the loaning of my DVD's, another person of the joys of Firefly. Which I think takes the grand total of my converts to two. Maybe not prolific but every little helps, so they say.

Oh and I finally got around to seeing the new Star Wars film this weekend (it had Natalie Portman in it, so I had to see it some time). In short I think it was much much better than the other two prequels but still vastly inferior to the originals. Surprisingly the film was only hampered a little by the fact the Hayden Christensen can't act for toffee. Of course the same could possibly be said of Mark Hammil...

Thursday, June 30, 2005

A quick post about Belgium

"Even for someone tolerant like Herman De Croo, that's going a bit far". And if I had to meet a gathering of religious politicians — muslim or otherwise — I too would need to be able to get drunk.

A personal favour from the TSA

Those nice people from the Transport Security Agency did me a favour when they inspected my bags before the Washington to Columbus flight. They found one of my birthday presents from my mother and unwrapped it for me. They did leave the book, Michael Palin's Himalaya and the ripped up wrapping paper in the bag though.

What was particularly interesting from my point of view is that they didn't unwrap the three other presents, one birthday and two Christmas (my mother likes to plan ahead), in the bag. Apparently it was only the book that the deemed posed a threat.

While I was browsing the TSA's website, I discovered this page containing a smattering of the written recognition TSA screeners and staff have received for a job well done. You can find a similar level of recognition for the previous five months if you look in the archive section. In the words of Eric Idle, "Say no more!"

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Featuring a guitar, a girl, a plane and a rainstorm


I made it back to Columbus, more or less in one piece. There was a while, when I was sat on a plane on the tarmac of Washington's Dulles airport for five hours (due to the thunder-ing and lightning-ing, that it didn't look like I was going to make it home last night. But I did. And I managed to do it without strangling the incredibly offensive woman who was wishing the flight crew dead using almost every swear word known to America. Now, I'm normally all in favour of excessive swearing, but not when it's used in a spiteful and malicious way, then it just becomes petty and pathetic. Still with any luck karma will kick in sometime soon, we can but hope.

When I got home to my apartment, which I will be vacating at the end of July (oh, the joy of apartment hunting), I discovered that I now have a dinner table. Some of my friends, who were taking care of my plants and things, discovered this table that was about to be thrown away and appropriated it for my flat. It's rather odd to come home and discover that you've got more furniture then you had when you left. Sadly a similar trick did not occur for my bank balance.

Finally, I'll end on a confession: I lied. A pretty girl, carrying a guitar on her back, walked (well more strutted) up to me asked me a question and I lied. I don't know why I lied, but I lied. It wasn't a tricky question or a personal question, but still I lied. Maybe a career in politics beckons for me...

(By the way the answer should have been, "Far too much for what it is" or "Fourteen ninety-five" if you happen to be the pretty girl with the guitar.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Praise for American bureaucracy

I take back everything nasty I've ever said about American bureaucratic institutions. Well everything that is except for the stuff that was true or deserved, or both, which was, sadly, most of it. Those lovely people at the US Embassy in London have given me back my passport, they even went so far as to stick a visa in the passport for me. There is quite a stark contrast between the washed and unwashed visas, the old one really looks quite shabby. Comparing the two I'm amazed they didn't tell me to take a hike and get a new passport.

So there we go all it takes is a ten day holiday in London (during which I was working most days, sadly) and about £80, or $145, to get oneself a shiny, well more matte really, new visa so one can return home to Ohio. Before I do return, there is just enough time for me to spend the weekend in Geneva. I'm quite looking forward to going back there and maybe having a spot to eat at l'Aviation or La Meyrinoise (the owners of which used to run the infamous Pizza D'Oro).

On the subject of Geneva, this Swiss map site is fantastic. If you click on Gastronomy it even shows you the locations of the restaurants. It's like Google Maps only better, and for Switzerland. I also find it rather amusing that the world stops at the Swiss-French border according to the map.

In other news, because I'm stupid I bought a new English phone this week. I'm even stupid enough to do it three hours before I was meant to be getting a text message from a friend telling me when she'd be meeting me for a coffee. Fortunately the phone decided to start working about half an hour before she sent me the message. So, I'm now the proud (?) owner of a swanky little camera-phone phone. I feel such a ponce.

In yet more news, I've got to work out where City Airport is and how I can get there before 8:00am on Friday. I've resolved not to throw up on the way to the airport this time. I think this is possibly a resolution I can keep.