Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I've been a bit lax at updating this recently, but I have a good excuse. Well actually I have four good excuses :-

1) Work. Lots of stuff going on that I can't talk about. Could be significant (you can take whatever implication you wish from that)
2) Tax return. I seriously dislike doing self-assessment every year. It's like doing a simple test with your gonads wired up to a car battery. It should be easy, but the thought of getting a wrong answer is enough to keep you on edge.
3) My girlfriend is moving in in just over two weeks (more on that in a later post)
4) It's cold, and therefore I'm mainly hibernating (as a good squirrel should)

All of the above has made my spare time as minimal as possible.

Talking of drinking (well, you were probably thinking of drinking), I may have made a slight miscalculation in my year of abstinence.

I forgot the World Cup.

I know! The world's biggest and most watched sports event and I totally forgot it. Of course, the last time I did a year off it was 2008 and although the European Championships were on England hadn't qualified - so it wasn't really missed. Plus drinking in the odd years means that I can drink during the Ashes tests.

It's a dilemma.

So I've come up with a solution that keeps my intake down by 50% but still allows me to enjoy those moments when having a few beers actually adds to the occasion - I'm going to do six months on and six months off. The clever part is that I'm going to do it from near the end of March (just in time for my birthday) until near the end of September, and then take winter off. A friend reckons I should extend the logic until I only drink in the first half of every hour, but come 9pm and I'd definitely forget (probably what day it is too).

So summer drinking it is, without destroying what's left of my liver :)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


An email conversation with a colleague who was snowed in in his tiny village last week (apparently they used all the salt on their chips or something):-

Me: "Enjoying your day off?"

Colleague: "I'm looking after a two-year old and a sick wife, what do you think?"

Me: "Could you not get them to a play a first-to-a-hundred Hungry Hippo series?

Colleague: "I normally get a black-eye if I mention 'Hungry Hippo' anywhere near the wife."

Class :)

Monday, 18 January 2010


I got back from NY in NY last weekend, but a combination of jetlag and a cold has kept me offline for a while.

(And buying Football Manager 2010 on a whim at the airport probably wasn't my brightest idea ever.)

Moving swiftly on to a week last Saturday, and I found myself on an extremely uncomfortable and turbulent flight across the atlantic. For once I wasn't sat next to a baby, a mother and badly behaved five year old, a fat man, a man who smells of chamomile, a fat woman or - best of all - someone talking continuously about the bible. In fact I was sat next to two pleasant young women flying to England to study for a while.

The elder one was studying at Oxford, had a boyfriend at Oxford, thought everything was great at Oxford etc. One of those otherwise nice people who proudly wears the 'obvious superiority' of their chosen University in a way reminiscent of He-Man brandishing a sword and exclaiming "By the power of Grayskull!!!"

The younger one was bafflingly flying to London to study at.........an American college. For four months. I think that's probably the definition of dipping your toe into the murky waters of foreign lands.

As it was the younger one's first trip outside of the Americas, the elder one thought it would be worthwhile filling her in with a few tips and advice. At this point I was stoically reading my book whilst idly listening in (we didn't converse until midway through the flight when they were both so terrified by our impending fiery death that they started bombarding me with questions to distract themselves from why the plane was moving vertically more than it was moving horizontally).

Some of her advice was useless but pointless, to wit 'how to pronounce Warwick' or 'how to pronounce Nottingham'. Some of it was quite pertinent - one should always know what side of the road to travel on, or to add milk to your tea - and some of it was hilarious:

Elder one: "The hardest problem is the accent."

Younger one: "Oh, I just lurve the accent on men."

Elder one: "That's the problem. You fall for them because of the accent, but after three or four months you'll see that English men are just as much bastards as American men."

I failed to suppress a snort at this point. Three of four months?

Three or four MONTHS?!?

THREE or four months?!?!?

Three or FOUR months?!?!?!?

That's just wrong no matter how you write it. No wonder American students are seen as easy prey when they come over here. An acquaintance I was at university with used to feast* almost exclusively on them to the extent that when he graduated we made him a mock US tour t-shirt, complete with locations and dates. In a mere three years he'd touched on 90% of the states at least once, and he'd touched on Texas more times than was hygienic. I do believe his greatest regret was not completing the set. (Though he did try and claim that one had a Hawaiian grandmother and that should count on the basis that eligibility to play football for a country goes back to your grandparents, but we were having none of it.)

Three of four months though?! It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to see that English men are, well, men. An ability to hold a door open to let a woman through doesn't equate to royalty.

In the end however, she did dispense possibly the best advice ever:

"Over there, it's not Math it's Maths. They say it's short for Mathematics. Never say Math. You will never recover if you do."

Amen, sister.

As many of you are aware I'm rather anti-religious. Faith I'm fairly relaxed about, we all believe in whatever we believe in - but organised religion has killed more people than the Flu, whilst being ever so more unpleasant. So it was interest today when I read the following statistics:

Percentage of Americans who attend church
every week: 40%
Percentage of Britons who attend church
at least once a month: 15%

Britain 1 USA 0.

And while we're on the subject of the USA (these links are great, I should do this for a living), I do so like this Brooklyn street name:

There is a New Utrecht and there is a New New Utrecht (seriously), but I wasn't able to get a picture.

This was also my favourite advertisement:

Join the millions who have discovered the 'joy of saving'? Sign me up, my good woman! It kind of reminds me of this sketch :)

And finally, if you haven't already seen it, here's a video showing exactly why you should only drive on black ice if you're a complete idiot...

*His words!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Aaaaaaaaand back...

Good evening, my internet chums. How are you all today?

I'm amazingly jet-lagged and have survived going straight back to work by drinking lots of tea and diet coke. Consequently I'm buzzing and nodding off at the same time.

I've just about caught up with all your blogging. My apologies for lack of comments, but it's hard enough just fitting in enough time to read it all! I'll be back to my usual sporadic service from now on.


Things I love about the USA

Tempura Cheesecake

Things that suck about the USA

The only IHOP within a reasonable train journey being so busy with scummy people that I couldn't even get a breakfast on my final day.
Feral cats. The ones in Brooklyn breed so prodigiously that we saw a couple of 8-9 week old kittens bouncing down the pavement between Christmas and New Year. It made cooking dinner that night quite hard knowing that they were probably freezing to death outside (it was -14C at the time).

I did promise before Christmas that I'd explain what my homemade present for Mrs RS was (and no Cheeks, it wasn't a shoulder mounted sex toy). I mentioned in this post how we'd gone to a Long Island beach in the week after her attack. It was the first day when she hadn't woken up during the night every hour screaming, so we went to the beach (Mrs RS is a Californian girl so beaches are just natural for her). There had been a huge storm the previous two days - proper hurricane weather - and the beach was littered with stones washed up from way out to sea. These were a multitude of beautiful colours and minerals, and they were worn down into perfect ellipsoids (a mixture of oblate and prolate to be precise*). The sand was studded with thousands of them, and as we walked hand in hand along the edge of the surf we picked up and admired the more stunning ones.

I subtly pocketed the ones she liked as I had an idea - for Christmas I would make her a necklace of the better ones.

The moment I got home I set up a small workshop in the kitchen and, stones held firmly in a vice, proceeded to annoy the crap out of my neighbours by drilling all weekends and a touch each day after work (not too late though, never after 6pm). I soon realised I needed to buy a diamond-tipped drill bit, saw the price, and bought a few drill bits that were ground with diamonds. It's almost the same thing....

The plan was to drill through 13 of the stones and string them together as a necklace. A couple of the smaller ones shattered when I was marking the holes to drill so I dropped it to 11 stones. One month of drilling later and I settled on maybe 7. Another week and I was down to a maximum of 5. After over two months of drilling I'd yet to finish one, so I decided that I'd start off with the main stone I was drilling and add others in time - a sort of anniversary necklace, one stone per year.

And then after 30+ hours drilling the central stone of the original piece (the most beautiful half white/half pinky-orange quartz), and with less than half a millimetre of the 16 millimetres to go, it broke. When I say broke, I obviously mean exploded. Thankfully I was wearing my glasses otherwise I might have lost an eye.

Arse biscuits.

Alfamale had a suggestion that evening over a pint, and the next lunchtime I headed back to the craft shop where I'd bought the clasps and cord. They were extremely helpful and selected a series of 'bell-caps' for me (no, me neither). Only one more weekend was needed to fit, glue, polish and string everything together just in time for my flight. Seeing as I'd never done anything like this before, I think it came out well - though frankly it was more about cementing the feeling we had (that everything would be okay so long as we were together) into something tangible.

After all that boring preamble, here it is:

Mrs RS likes it, and that's all that matters :)

*Made you look that up :-p

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Holy fuck...

I found out this week that Mrs RS' nephew is called :-

Dante Elvis Armand Gudszinkskus

Surely that's some sort of child abuse?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Two peoples divided by a common language...

While there are many differences between English and 'American' English, I've been going out with Mrs RS long enough that we both converse in a hybrid of the two. I'll say sidewalk, social security and 'go for a smoke', and she'll say pavement, national insurance and 'go for a fag'.

Or we'll use a mixture, it's not exactly hard.

Or so I thought.

Mrs RS has a neighbour on the same floor as she is and about the same age - however this girl is as Brooklyn as they come, had a orthodox Jewish upbringing and is clearly bug-a-lugs mental. She also cannot understand English, despite not speaking any other language. I thought it was my accent, but it really isn't.

The first night I was here she knocked on the door to return something of Mrs RS' and as she left I said 'cheers!'

She stopped, came back to the door and said "what does 'cheers' mean?"

I was slightly taken aback, I mean I could've sworn that word was in the American English dictionary. In fact I could've sworn that the longest running TV programme ever (or something) was called.....um....'Cheers'.

Clearly I was mistaken.

The next night she again knocked on the door to drop off a box that the postman/mailman had delivered. Being pre-christmas I exclaimed "Great! We have a parcel."

She looked at me blankly. "A whut?"

"A parcel," I replied cautiously.

"Ya know," she informed me, "I jus' don' understand ya language."

That's me told.