Friday, May 27, 2005

I think I can explain this

Today I had an epiphany. I don't have many, so it was quite a noticeable event. My epiphany came while I was reading this BBC article on the latest Zimbabwean police crackdown. The article is about how the police have started burning down peoples shack settlements in Harare and how they've arrested some 17,000 people in the last two weeks. Who were these 17,000 people? Apparently they were mainly street traders and minibus drivers.

Reading about this my epiphany hit. What would cause the Zimbabwean authorities to want to crack down on street traders? The answer was obvious. This police crackdown must be the vicious backlash of someone who bought one of these bangles (maybe for their wife) and then later found out it was made from a female condom (or even worse, maybe the wfie found out). It's all so obvious...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Me and Me...

croppedFace croppedTop

The wait is over, as promised, here are a couple of pictures of me sporting my new (accidental) close crop. One of things that has come out of my new haircut is that I've become a serial scalp stroker. There is something terribly addictive about the feel of a closely shorn head, it almost feels like my head is sheep.

With the benefit of hindsight it might not have been the best idea in the world for me to get a haircut that makes me look like a cross between a football hooligan and a far right crazy (if they aren't already the same people anyhow) three weeks before I turn up at the US embassy and ask them for a new visa. But, I suppose, as long as I don't get too tanned in Greece I probably won't be mistaken for an Islamic extremist. Or maybe I'll just look like an Islamic extremist who's trying hard not to look like an Islamic extremist. Chances are I'll just look like a bloke with a dodgy haircut.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Me and Nat...

So I haven't got round to taking a photo of my own shaven head yet, but while you're waiting here's a picture of the delightful Miss Portman (borrowed from this Guardian article). Do you think she got hers done 'cos she had a premonition I was going to get mine done? Nope? Okay, it's just me then.

In entirely unrelated news a friend of mine was pulled over last night, failed a field sobriety test and was taken down to the police station where he was given a breathalyzer test. The net result is that he now has a court appearance scheduled for the 2nd June, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) he leaves tomorrow for a month in Europe. It's all a crazy mess.

Oh yeah. He was pulled over riding his bicycle! That's right he landed himself a DUI for riding his bike home from the pub. I'd have thought that would be the kind of thing that should be commended not punished. In continental Europe they have campaigns telling you to ride your bike to the bar and not drive your car. Crazy, crazy world.

(A second ago, before I corrected it, the sentence above read, "He was pulled off riding his bicycle!". Now I can see how that would get you a ticket...

Monday, May 23, 2005

The long awaited Ryan's going back to Blighty post

It's official, well it's almost official, I'm going home soon. Next month will see me make my first trip outside of Yankland for 18 months. I'm really rather excited about it. I'll get to have proper Sunday roast and I'll get to drink proper English beer. Should be fun.

The reason for my trip back to Europe is to attend a conference in Greece. I've never been to Greece before, so my trip to the home of the Oracle will be a new experience for me. In fact I think it will be the first time that I'll have been somewhere where they don't use Roman letters. I suppose I'll just learn the words for beer and wine and struggle on by.

For anybody who's interested (a fairly limited selection I imagine) I'll be in the UK for about 36 hours from the 3rd June and then back again for an ill-determined amount of time from the 12th. My timing could have been a little better as on the 13th Mumsie goes to Norway to cruise around the fjords for a couple weeks. Also I have a sneaking suspicion that lots of my former MINOS colleagues are going to be in Minnesota for a meeting that week, which will be a tad annoying.

The reason I don't know how long I'll be home for is that while I'm back I have to sort myself out with a new American visa. I'm a little nervous about the whole visa situation, after Ian McShane's intervention. I'm sure my forthcoming trials and tribulations in the visa arena will find themselves retold here.

In other news, I indulged in a spot of culture last night. It was a friend's birthday (well, almost... almost their birthday that is, as opposed to them being almost a friend) and a group of us went down to the Ohio Theatre to see the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. We got a Beethoven piano concerto (number 5, I believe) and a Rachmaninoff symphony. Both were really rather good. The conductor was this tiny little Japanese man who spent a lot of his time jumping up and down, he was very animated and seemed to be enjoying himself. I'd never been to the Ohio Theatre before, and I was quite pleased to discover that the inside is like a giant Aladdin's lamp. 'Twas all very shiny and gaudy and excessively ornately lovely.

In yet more news, I accidentally cut all my hair off today (if I get a photo I might post it here, as I look fairly bloody ridiculous). When I say I accidentally cut all my hair off I am, sadly, not joking or exaggerating. These days I tend to use my $12 (I think) clippers to cut my hair, there is a saying involving a silk purse and a sow's ear that springs to mind. Today it all went a bit wrong. Twice I managed to cut away a huge swathe of hair when I only meant to cut a little bit. At the end I was left with very little hair and very much scalp. On the plus side I can probably pass for a neo-Nazi or football hooligan quite easily now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

But were they clean?

My mother always used to tell to make sure I wore clean underwear in case I was hit by car. I never fully understood the logic. Do clean knickers somehow protect you from the car? And to be honest if I'm going to get hit by a car it's entirely possible that my underwear would not remain clean very long. Either way it's got to be better than fainting from your vibrating knickers. Poor woman. Very funny though.

The irksome little man strikes back

I really enjoyed Jeremy Paxman's interview with George Galloway on election night. It was rather amusing to watch these two egos clashing against each other as Paxman attempted to hold Galloway's feet to the fire over the racial aspects of his campaign. Having come away with a reaffirmed belief that Galloway is an irksome, noxious individual I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed reading the transcript of his senate hearing.

I still think he's an irksome little man, but he can certainly puff up his chest and bang his drum anti-war, anti-American drum when he wants to. And when he does it can be rather amusing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A sad day indeed...

Kylie Minogue has breast cancer. I grew up with those breasts. I remember them on Neighbours when Charlene was tinkering with Willie the car (full name: Will he ever go or won't he?). I remember them from both her first and second pop careers. I do hope they'll be okay...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

This can't be a good thing...

So it turns out that Malcolm Glazzer has finally managaed to convince the Irish duo to sell their share of Manchester United to him, meaning he now owns a whopping 62% of my favourite football club. I am not very pleased.

I can't believe it will be benefit the club or the fans to have someone using the club to try and milk as much cash as possible from the fans. But I guess if you live by the sword...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Amusingly named monkey of the day

I just came across this article on the BBC News website. Turns out we've discovered a new monkey in the South American rainforests. To go along with the Brown titi and the Dusky titi we now have Callicebus aureipalatii — Golden Palace titi.

Golden Palace titi, it sounds like a seedy strip joint. I want to go to the Golden Palace titi.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Updatey sort of post, with a bed and a t-shirt

I realise that I forgot to mention my discovery of 40's while I was down in the middle of nowhere Texas. 40's are a marvellous invention. Somebody out there was obviously thinking when they came up with 40's. I mean it's so obvious. What is the only thing that can make bad beer better? Yes, you've got it, quantity. Drink enough of the stuff and it tastes like ambrosia (the drink of the gods, not the custard). Enough is, of course, normally an almost unhealthy quantity. But, I am living proof that it is possible.

One of my last nights in Palestine was spent getting very drunk then going for a moonlit ramble accompanied only by two 40's. It's truly wonderful how the drunk mind works, when else would one think it is a good idea to go wandering, at night, through down the wooded pathway, around the gaping chasm and over the earth mover? At the end of the ramble I found myself, quite to my surprise, in an old junkyard. I now really, really want and old fifties pick-up truck or car, they're just so cute. And without the help of the 40's I would never have known the junkyard existed.

I bought a bed the other day. I'm not quite sure why, but one day I decided enough was enough, borrowed a car and drove to Pittsburgh to buy a bed. It's very comfortable. Although, I must confess, at two o'clock in the morning — while I was balancing a nearly seven foot long piece of wood on one leg and supporting two other pieces with two more of my limbs, whilst trying to tighten a bolt with my one remaining arm — I did question the wisdom of my purchase. I've now come to the conclusion that Ikea furniture is designed to mock single people, at least single people who are too stubborn, stupid or friendless to ask somebody to help them. Maybe if I was an octopus it would have been trivial to assemble the bed, sadly I wasn't and it was bloody hard.

But I now have a bed, and better yet a sofa. It is actually possible for me to sit down and watch TV, without having to sit on the floor. And if I have somebody round my apartment there's now somewhere for them to sit. Oh the luxury. It really makes me question what the bugger I was doing for the last X months.

While I was at Ikea, I noticed some of the staff whispering too each other pointing and then laughing. And no, they weren't laughing at me... at least not all the time. They were amused by an comically obese man. It wasn't just that he was comically obese, it was that he was comically obese wearing a t-shirt that said "Size Matters" on the front, and "You Are What You Eat" on the back. It was really rather amusing.

Friday, May 06, 2005

What is going on in the UK election?

It's all bloody interesting. I'm (almost) sure that Tony is going to end up as Prime Minister, but the map is covered with lots of little scraps between the three parties. All in all it means that every constituency is very different from every other one.

It's always amusing to see an ethnic returning officer standing in front of a group of very prim and proper white men, the candidates, reading out a long list of numbers.