28 September 2011

Things I find on the inter-web + some other junk

1.) Nursery for Men

I find this weird. And maybe a little bit offensive. I don't know... Men? How do you feel? I kind of feel sorry for Australians.


2.) Carlsberg prank

Beer adverts make me wish I liked beer. Not sure I would have passed this test. Would you?


3.) Porker floats above Battersea Power Station

I promise this is the only time I will ever link you to a Daily Mail article. It has good pictures, and that is why I chose it. Pink Floyd is re-releasing re-mastered versions of all of their albums. In case you don't know this (shame on you) their 'Animals' album featured a picture of an inflatable pig flying over the power station. To commemorate that album and to get some hype for its re-release, they put up another pig! Flying pigs = just plain funny. I live real near to Battersea now and so I got to see the big ole ham in the flesh. I think it's a clever PR move. Did any one else see her?

4.) Skip to Malou*

Fellow-blogger Malou has just started an incredibly cool series of posts called Windows to the World. She's borrowed the idea from somewhere.. and frankly, I'm jealous I didn't think of it first. Each post is a photo taken through a window from somewhere in the world with a short caption. Today is Dubai. Can't wait to see where she will take us next week!

That's all for today folks! Not too many words.

23 September 2011

Put Down Your Phone!

All of our lives rely on technology. We can't live without it. And don't even try to say "Oh no! I hate the way technology rules our lives!" You love it. If your phone goes a whole hour without going bu-deep for a text/tweet/facebook/email, you start to fidget and worry: "Why doesn't anyone want to be in touch with me?" Don't deny it. We're all guilty.

With that said, I'd like to now say: I hate the way technology rules our lives!

From here

Recently I was chatting with a friend who works for a big international accounting firm. She is debating now whether or not she ought to get a smart phone on the company. At first I was a bit taken aback. What do you mean debating? Everyone has a smart phone! Especially every high level professional. It seemed that this decision was like ten years too late. Today the answer is obvious: smart phone = happiness. Right? Apparently not.

She explained to me that the pros are the usual; clients can be in touch at any time, she can work while she's not at work, etc (these don't always sound like pros, but you know what I mean). But the cons are things I hadn't thought about before. The biggest being confidentiality. Naturally, working with high profile clients she is privy to some accounting information that really ought not to be public knowledge. All of her correspondence about client portfolios is strictly confidential. This means that even having her work-phone on her at a social event is a big risk.

I know that since half the population all have identical Blackberrys, I've many a time picked up the wrong phone thinking it is mine. But when your phone holds sensitive information this is a big deal. She said that even if her phone was lost or stolen she would be liable for any information that was potentially stolen. So she's torn. On the one hand her bosses and clients want to be able to be in touch 24/7, and she works hard and wants to make them happy. On the other hand, there is this massive risk of breaking confidentiality agreements and screwing up her entire career. This makes me hate technology!

Why do we all have the SAME phone?
From here

Another friend of mine is currently on a rant and rave about the total lack of real social interaction. And here she has got a real point! She is (as am I) fed up with trying to talk to people in person while they refuse to tear their eyes away from Angry Birds. Fed up with trying to organise a coffee date with a friend who is more concerned with boosting their Bbm contact list into triple digits than actually having a meaningful conversation with someone. I've got to admit that I've got a couple of ex-friends that landed in that ex-category not because they are bad people, but because I've sat through entire dinners where no more than three words were said to me, the person sitting in front of them, because there was a continuous stream of texting that was WAY more important.

This woman should have never been given a microphone
From here


Many of us find these things annoying, and more of us are guilty than we think. I know I am guilty even though I try not to be. Sometimes I have to remind myself: Put the phone down. Turn off the computer. Whatever it is, it can wait. The irony is that the above conversation is happening over facebook, and I'm sitting at my computer ranting away. Does this make me a hypocrite? Maybe. Truly I love the internet. I love Facebook. I love my Blackberry. I couldn't live without Google or email or blogs. Ultimately, I think we all need these things in our lives. But we also need to remember that they can be great and awful at the same time.


19 September 2011

Homelessness

My latest hiatus was a bit longer than expected I'm afraid. My life is in transit and it has been pretty difficult to find the time to sit and write something a little bit interesting.

So to London I've come to be a grown-up. I've been finding myself a job and a flat and a general pattern of life that doesn't give me a panic attack each day. So far success has been found on two of the three. Finding somewhere to live has been more difficult than I thought. See I've done the whole house-hunting thing before in Florida and now I'm doing it here in the UK. Now, I've noticed some quirky differences between here and there; some basic anthropological observations, if you will. (You probably shouldn't)

Randy Glasbergen

First, there's the adverts. UK has gumtree and US has craigslist. They are essentially the same thing with slightly different formats. I prefer craigslist only because it is simpler and I get easily distracted by fancy colours and shapes. Give me white squares please. But format is not what I'm getting at! It is content! The content of the ads is so hilariously different. In the US the emphasis is on the property: exact location, square footage, when it was built, who maintains it, full specs on kitchens/bathrooms/windows/walls/ceilings. Ok, maybe that many people don't talk about their ceilings, but you get the point.

In the UK it seems adverts are mostly unconcerned with the property itself. You get a general area (Clapham), a general size (spacious), a general feeling (bright), and that's about it. For all you know, a bright, spacious place in Clapham could be a picnic blanket on the commons. The priority is on the people. You can find out a hell of a lot about potential flatmates from an advert on gumtree; how old they are, where they were born, what they do for a living, what they do on weekends, their favourite beer, their favourite food, preference for pets, cleanliness habits, and often much much more! I may be wrong, but if you asked an American advertising a flat for their date of birth and nationality you would probably get reported for identity theft.

Then, once you get past the adverts there is the matter of viewings. In the US you are urged to look at all the physical attributes that were spelled out in the ad. "Observe the excessive square footage of this room", "Take a look at this shiny silver fridge", "Notice the perfectly smooth dry wall." Yeah, I've always dreamed of a really good dry wall. Then the questions: "What is your credit score?", "What is your income?", "How soon can you bring the deposit?" The flat goes to the first person to arrive with cash in hand. Money money money.

In the UK, or at least in London, it goes something more like this: "Don't worry about that hole in the floor, the landlord is getting around to fixing it", "No, that isn't mould. I don't know what it is but it is NOT mould!" Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Then the questions: What do you do? Where are you from? Do you eat? Do you drink? Do you cook? Favourite band? Favourite film? The flat goes to whomever is deemed the "coolest" potential housemate. Must! enhance! social life!

Conclusion: both ways suck. Really, I do prefer the Brit-way but it is so much pressure. I've got to prove that I can be your friend? I'm not very good at making friends. This may or may not have something to do with the negativity and the sarcasm. How am I meant to convince you in 20 mins that I'm going to be more fun to live with than the next guy? It's hard!



8 September 2011

Things I find on the internet

So Wednesday's post got moved to Thursday. First, because I was lazy yesterday and didn't feel like blogging. Second, because there will be no Friday post as I shall be in the air somewhere over the Atlantic. So I thought I'd give you Thursday to hold over until next week.

Same Wednesday drill though: things I've been looking at online. Think you should look at them too.

1.) Are jobs obsolete?
I like this article. Mostly because I don't have a job and it makes me feel less depressed about that. Not sure I really buy into the idea of information and creativity becoming new market goods. We're all too accustomed to getting that stuff for free now. Still, it's a bit different. Something to think about. What do you think?

2.) Sciences Still Young
My entire academic career has been devoted to the social sciences. Many of you are in the same boat too. And we continue to hear (from policy makers) that social sciences aren't useful to society and government funding will be cut in all those departments. We, those of us who do social science, know that this argument is total bollocks. This article is a really interesting rebuttal to this kind of argument. We're just on the brink of cool discoveries in a lot of social fields. Methodology is expanding and getting better. What if all interest and funding for natural sciences had been stifled just as Einstein was about to give us E=mc²?

Postcard depicting scene from Daniel Fran├žois Esprit Auber's "The Mute Girl of Portici"
The Mute Girl of Portici

3.) The opera Belgium can't see
This one is about a play that has been a symbol of Belgian unity since there was such an idea as Belgian unity. I'm not really sure why to be honest. It doesn't make much sense to me. Anyway, there is a big production of this play coming along soon. But they can't show it in Belgium because unity is too controversial right now. I find the irony of this situation really quite funny. But more than funny, it is a really interesting illustration of how politics influences all spheres of society. I study politics. These things entertain me.

4.) Back to the Start
Ever a sucker for good advertising, Chipotle won me over with this one. Well, kind of. I don't live in a country where I can get Chipotle so I can't give them business. But I sure would after this advert. Can I get an AMEN for sustainable farming?

Piggies found here

5.) CUBE
Ah... the mystery of design. This is a lengthy intellectual interpretation of an incredibly simple object. If the first article is right, and ideas are the new currency, then this guy ought to be a zillionaire! He got all that from a box? I mock, but really I am very impressed (and a bit jealous). You'll have to read subtitles if you don't speak German.



Happy Reading!


5 September 2011

My Love of Food Part II: Food P**n

While I would love to spend all of spare time eating and cooking delicious things, it just isn't the best idea (see previous post as to my deserved weight). So the next best thing is staring at delicious things! I can spend hours flicking through luscious images of everything from simple fruit salads to ultra-decadent chocolate monstrosities! I always prefer the latter. Here are some of my favourite sources of sensual, cuisine imagery.

Crap I Eat (And Drink) - This is probably my favourite food blog. There is nothing simple, minimalist, or healthy about the food featured here. The name of the game is decadence. He has an attraction to exotic foods and strange flavour combination, but also a genuine love for classic comfort food. The focus is less on photography and more on descriptive (and funny) writing. Seriously, I can hardly wait for the next post!

Crap I Eat (And Drink)

Cherry Tea Cakes - Jana, from this blog, lives in DC and bakes up all kinds of tasty treats. This is my go-to blog if I'm looking for a recipe for a tasty dessert or tea-time treats. She also uses her blog to raise money for local food banks. Pretty inspirational stuff. Cherry Tea sounds like Charity.. get it?

Of course, the blog-o-sphere is not the only place for one to find food-pleasure. My addiction was probably initially sparked by the Food Network. My favourites are Iron Chef America and, of course, Ace of Cakes. Duff and his friends make AMAZING cakes! My personal preference for a celebration cake is a traditional stacked, but no one can help getting hooked on the masterpieces they make at Charm City Cakes!

Cake: Bagels
Charm City Cakes. Yes that IS cake!




Unfortunately, when I moved to the UK I realised fairly quickly that Food Network is a scarcity. So I had to grow attached to some Brit-cooking-shows. My favourite is the Great British Bake Off. Every week is a whole bunch of beautiful baked goods accompanied by minimal amounts of reality-TV drama.

Of course, there is the crown of all Food Porn: foodgawker. If you don't already know and LOVE this site, prepare to be delighted! Food Bloggers extraordinaire all come together and contribute to an endless stream of mouth-watering photos of all kinds of food. I have literally spent entire days on foodgawker. It is pure bliss!
Hosts of The Great British Bake Off


2 September 2011

My Love of Food Part I: The Beach House

What gives you pleasure? When you think about complete and utter bliss, what is it that you're doing? Well for me, the answers are FOOD and EATING. I love food. No, I luurrrvve food. Really I ought to weigh about 190 kilos and it's really only miracles (and exercise) that prevent this. I live for food. I dream about food. "Diet" is a very threatening four-letter word. The truth is that I don't eat in excessive quantities (usually), but I'll eat just about anything. In particular, new flavours make me happy. I love tasting something for the first time and deciding that I really love it. There is nothing better than learning about interesting and unique flavour combinations that work!
So this post is going to be in two parts. Part I: review of dinner last night at The Beach House, Barbados, and Part II: my top picks for Food P**n (I'm afraid of generating unwanted traffic with the p-word)

Part I: The Beach House
As a family, we like to go out for a nice meal when we're all together. Especially because we aren't all in the same place that often. Last night was my parents' 32nd Anniversary (big up) so that was our excuse this time. We went to The Beach House in Holetown. I'd never been before, and to be honest, it wouldn't have been my first choice of restaurants. But I'm really not that picky and I was happy to give it a go. Let me tell you, VERY good decision. The food was excellent!

First I ate Grilled Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto. Mmm! The scallops were big and juicy and perfectly cooked. Living in the UK, nice fresh scallops is not something I eat very often. So I was really pleased to have these. The risotto was just a tad undercooked (which is rare for risotto) but it was nicely flavoured and to be honest I was too taken with my delicious scallops to care. Other starters of note were the Crispy Pork Belly. I cannot describe it any better than that. It was crispy. It was pork. It was belly. And it make my belly very happy indeed.

For the main course I had Grilled Swordfish with Melon Salsa. The fish was delicious. Fresh, perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked; just a perfect piece of real Bajan fish. But the star of that dish was the melon salsa. That surprised me. I'm not in general a big fan of melon. I find it a bit boring and a bit tasteless. But this was anything but tasteless. First, it was beautiful! So many different colours really made it appealing. I took my time tasting each little colour at a time to identify it. As far as I worked out, it was honeydew melon, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, tomato, and butter-nut squash. These were all diced finely and seasoned with a mix of herbs, the dominant flavour being cilantro. It was absolutely delicious. It was surprising and refreshing and colourful. I'm definitely going to try to create my own version of this sometime. Amazing!

My family always shares desserts. In fact, we share most food, but there is an unwritten law about sharing desserts. So between us we had three: Bajan Lime Tart, Bread and Butter Pudding, and Apple and Sultana Crumble. The Lime Tart was not what I was expecting. It was a deep pastry shell that was thin and just a bit flaky. The lime filling was a mouse-like texture and barely-green colour. It was topped with a coconut meringue that smelled like bonfire-roasted-marshmallows. It was really very tasty. I like that the lime flavour was subtle yet refreshing and the thin pastry didn't make the dish too heavy. I would have preferred a bit more contrast in texture between the lime-filling and the meringue topping, but in general a very good dessert. The Bread and Butter Pudding was probably my favourite. This is unusual because this is not really my favourite dessert. This one, however, was not a heavy dessert as it often it. It was light and fluffy and had the perfect amount of cinnamon and raisins. It was also served with a really nice vanilla ice cream. The last one we had was the Apple-Sultana Crumble. This wasn't very good. It was more sultana than apple and there was too much of the crumble bit. It was the heaviest of the desserts we ordered and didn't really satisfy the sweet-requirement at the end of a meal. On the up-side, it was also served with that delicious vanilla ice cream.

My overall opinion: go eat at the Beach House! Just don't order the crumble. The food is simple but very well prepared. The menu blends West Indian and English inspirations, but I left feeling as though I had had a genuine Caribbean meal. My one critique is that the option for appetizers is not very great for a vegetarian or someone who doesn't eat seafood. Neither my mother nor my sister eats seafood and they were both quite disappointed at the options: Caesar Salad or the Pork Belly.The only vegetarian option was the soup-of-the-day (Potato and Onion), but I couldn't help but think that some days the soup might have a meat-based broth... So maybe not the best place to go if you eat veggie, but if you love a good piece of fish, a good view, and decent service, I would highly recommend The Beach House.

Sorry no pictures, I was enjoying the food way too much to get the camera out. Look at some photos on their website.

Come back Monday for Part II: Food P**n!