Archive for September, 2008

Let them eat dirt

The chaps here are completely obsessed with germs. Scaremongering tactics (probably orchestrated by the bleach industry) have made all Americans terrified of actually touching something that someone else might have touched. Many carry around sanitising spray in case they have to touch a door handle and even supermarkets have sanitising wipes for the trolleys *sigh*.

That’s probably why there’s a very different attitude towards irradiation. I recently read an article that expressed concern that salads mostly don’t yet benefit from being zapped to get rid of all those possible germs. I guess I’m used to the European opinion – why on Earth would you want your food to be nuked before you eat it? That’s completely crazy – just buy and eat it as fresh as possible. My mind was made up on irradiation when I lived in Berlin. I left a pack of tomatoes in the fridge – and forgot about it for around 6 – 8 weeks. After this time the tomatoes looked just the same as when I had bought them. I threw them away and have steered clear of irradiated food ever since.

This whole germ thing is irritating though. We’ve survived for centuries with germs – after all, how does your body learn to deal with the big ones if it isn’t tested along the way? That’s why people today have more asthma, more allergies, and a greater susceptibility to the likes of MRSA.  Let them eat dirt I say.

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Plumbing the depths

The other day I had a blocked sink. The problem wasn’t conveniently just underneath the sink, it turned out to be at the most inconvenient and hard to reach part of one of the pipes buired in the cellar somewhere. I think it had something to do with the veggie peels and coffee grounds I’d been feeding the insinkerator thingy.

Anyway not having a working sink is not an option so a trip to Home Depot was in order. Calling the hopeless chap who is supposed to help with this was not an option – I’m still waiting for some stuff I asked for 3 months ago. In any case, unlike its British cousin (B&Q), Home Depot has reasonably helpful staff (yes they are still care in the community types but much better all the same). In any case we found the plumbing section and were standing looking at the bewildering selection of pipe unplugging devices and toxic liquids. Whilst looking at all of these, one of the orange dungaree wearing types came up.

“Can I help”
“Yes, I’m looking for somethign to unblock a drainpipe.”
Then he took one look at me and said “its blocked up with hair, right?”

Cheeky sod.


Dutch Japanese

I’ve made it to Hamster Jam. Surprisingly in one piece after the taxi driver drove the whole way up the gridlocked motorway on the hard shoulder – apparently undaunted by the stationary traffic there and the fact that sometime the hard shoulder just disappeared. Anyway on arrival he asked if I like sushi. I didn’t get why until I saw the place – it turns out I’m staying here  . It is a Japanese themed/ owned hotel and it is AWESOME.

The place has a Michlin star for one of its sushi restaurants. I didn’t know this when I went to eat there tonight. I thought it a little strange that the menu was just pictures of food with no prices. Given that I can eat my own boy weight in sushi it could have been v expensive but actually not toooo bad. OMG was it good though. A colleage and I got the last seats in the restaurant – we sat at the sushi bar(why does everyone prefer tables  – we virtually had a private sushi chef in front of us). Melt in the mouth food. Yum.

The rooms are pretty good too – mine has a great bath with a large flat screen TV above it. I’ll definitely given them a whirl. I’m less confident that I’ll try any of the alarming toilet control options though. I shudder to think what the ‘oscillating’ button does.

Japanese loo controls

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B+ for effort for United

You might know that our corporate airline of choice is United (or Untied as my fingers seem to insist on typing). Anyway the cool thing is that because the planes are ancient and the cabin crew geriatric there was a deal done that means that if we fly international business we get upgraded if there’s space.  So before you go all “oooooh get you” if you’ve ever flown on United you’ll know that’s not really _such_ a big deal.

Anyway for the first time I got to see one of the refurbished planes – and actually they aren’t bad. Crazily even in first in most United planes you still only get a choice of 4/5 progammes that aren’t on demand. But the new ones have – I watched Deception (not bad actually), Kung Fu Panda (liked it but then I’m a sucker for cartoons) and Sex and the City (wow how overrated is this? Yawn) all at a time when it suited me. There’s still the odd reminder of the age of the planes – such as ashtrays in the loos but otherwise not too bad at all.

The seat is also pretty nice  – all curvy with lots of secret hiding spaces for stuff. The only really unusual feature is a three point belt/ harness. I’ve never seen that on a plane before. Otherwise the thing goes flat. Which is nice if you want to sleep.

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Life of the jetset

Tradeshow season is back on so I guess the airmiles will rack up again. Here’s how yesterday’s fun and games started out:

2.50am alarm
3.00am struggle to wash and dress whilst being mystified that there is a 3am at the beginning not end of the day
3.30am leave house
3.35am really leave house only this time with all the stuff previously left on kitchen table
3.36am wrestle with sat nav which can’t find either the airport *sigh* or the car park I was planning to head to
4.55am arrive airport (eek it is further than I thought) – see signs for economy parking – things are looking ok
5.00am wow this place is miles away from the airport….still going
5.05am arrive Newark airport parking
5.15am still driving round carpark in bus. Grrrrr
6.10am flight to Dulles
7.30am arrival in Dulles – the worst airport on the planet
7.32am things looking up there is a Starbucks
7.35am it gets better – just seen sign to “International First Class Lounge”. Marvellous
7.41am after battling through the pikey hellhole, turns out that lounge does not open until 10am – exactly 30 mins after my flight leaves. Grrrrrr
7.50am found somewhere to sit and connect to Internet so I can do email
9.30am off to LHR

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Petrol shocker

Something very strange happened here the other day. Petrol prices (I still refuse to call it gas) went down. Now I’m very familiar with prices at the pump going up when the cost per barrel goes up – but I can never recall them going down when the price per barrel drops. What a fantastic surprise.

The price rises have been a HUGE source of wailing and gnashing of teeth here – with people even selling Corvettes and buying Smart cars because of the rise (as if you buy a Corvette for its petrol consumption). OK so it did increase significantly but compared to what we pay in the UK – it is still cheap as chips. I merrily fill my car with super-premium-with-knobs-on-petrol with a smile on my face. Usually a fill costs me about $40 :-)


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Troubling signs

 There are many like it but this sign post outside my local pharmacy has troubled me for some time.

Troubling signs

There seems to be a sliding scale for the fines. What’s the difference in offence between the lowest and the highest fine? – $150 covers quite a lot of wrongdoing. Does it depend on the size of the car? the  duration of illegal parking, the spuriousness of the disability claim (sore finger, ingrown toenail, bad hair day)? or whether or not there’s an R in the month? We need to know!

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So wrong it has to be right

 Choc Martini

I just spent a few days last week in sunny San Diego. It was great to go out to have a choice of fabulous food ( and eat without running the danger of actually turning into a burger). One night I ate the best fish and chips I’ve had in yonks served with salt and vinegar :-) washed down with Rauchbier. The next night I went with some trepidation to a Hawaiian fusion restaurant. I’m still not sure what the Hawaiian was fused with (some Japanese in there, maybe French…?) although mercifully it didn’t involve sticking pineapple on everything….

Anyway, to round off a fabulus meal of Ahi Tuna and sushi I chose the restaurant’s signature “Chocolate Souffle Martini”. It sounds SO wrong but OMG it was amazing. Imagine a black forest gateaux distilled into a single rather alcoholic drink and you’d be close. Mmmmm.I’ve already planned my next trip back.

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