Thursday, November 20, 2008

I like my men...

According to the marriage counsellor who facilitated our group when Packrat and I were doing our Marriage Prepartory Course (it was and is mandatory for those wanting to get married in church), Packrat is Mars and I am Venus. We are poles apart and as I am the quintessential girl, wanting attention, affection, always wanting to talk, quick tempered and passionate, he is the quintessential boy, stoic, prefers action to words, occasionally broody and loves his tech toys. It makes for interesting dynamics. These things that define him as a guy are what annoy the heck out of me, and I'm sure similarly the sentiments are returned 100%.

Unfortunately, the general distate for all the stoicism of the world and its related qualities has transcended into movies. There is much hype about the Quantum of Solace and Packrat had enjoyed it when he went to see it without me. Obviously, I kicked a big fuss over that and that guaranteed that he would watch it a second time when he went to see it with me. I had generally been neutral about the new Bond before, during and after Casino Royale. It was Packrat who seemed to have objection to how Daniel Craig made Bond boorish and almost unrefined.

My objections manifested only when we went to see the Quantum. And it manifested by my sleeping through most of the movie and waking up feeling very dissatisfied and disgruntled. I had fallen asleep because

  1. I'm always tired and cinemas often have an effect on me.
  2. I realised I didn't care for the movie. There was nothing in it to hold my attention. I knew that when I first had to fight the urge to fall asleep just after the title song and that, even for me, is early in the movie.
  3. I did not like Bond. Not so much that I did not like the movie. I wasn't given a chance to like the movie because I fell asleep but I did not like Bond.
  4. Bond hardly utters 10 words in the movie.
In fact, I was downright grumpy about him and I let it be known to Packrat. And I also declared that I hadn't disliked Bond like that before. In fact, I had enjoyed the previous Bond movies and the previous Bond. That was when revelation struck the both of us. The reason I didn't like the current Bond was part of the same reason I had liked the previous one.

I don't like the current Bond because of all the things I stated above
  1. He was broody
  2. He didn't mutter more than 10 words
  3. There was no charm. Just a lot of killing people.
  4. There was much stoicism. Yes, we know he loved the girl who betrayed him but how did he deal with that? Kill kill kill. Not what I look for in a man.
  5. He is a guy's Bond.
And I liked the Pierce Brosnan Bond because

  1. At least he had funny one-liners and wry humour
  2. He oozed charm and was suave. Daniel Craig looks good in a tux the way a model would look good in a tux. It's just a tux on a nice body. Pierce Brosnan looked at home in the tux.
  3. He looked like he was capable of woo-ing a woman instead of just wanting to have sex with her.
  4. I liked him when he was Remington Steele.
  5. He didn't alienate the women in the audienc

Not the most intellectual of reasons but I'm part of the audience and they probably lost my 6 or 8 bucks for the next movie and so on till another Bond comes along and then we'll see if I go back. But for now, I'm leaving Bond to Packrat and I think what makes it all the harder for me is that this year has seen the dearth of chick flicks and I'm shallow enough to say, that's where some of the more desirable men are, by chicky standards anyway.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:45

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dictated by Nature

Packrat and I are quite the travel buffs and we've inherited our parents' wanderlust. So, every chance we get, we travel, be it near or far, we leave. I think it also has to do with the fact that we revel in being able to leave the country, especially for cooler climates.

This year, we're off to Vegas. It'll probably be our last big trip because our children are older and it is increasingly difficult to leave them behind. Subsequent holidays will probably be in the region and will feature them more and more. Which is fine but it does change the dynamics of the vacation.

But it's becoming clear that there are two places that I want to visit and I should do it sooner rather than later. Not for any other reason but that they may no longer exist as places to visit in the near future. For a while now, we've been wanting to do the Alaskan cruise and see the glaciers and we know we should do it soon because well, the way the polar ice caps are going, there won't be much of a glacier left to see. We wanted to go last June but there was the slight matter of the birth of the twins that sort of caused our plans to change a little bit. Slightly digressing, I strongly suspect the phrase 'moving at a glacial pace' is going to take on new meaning soon.

And then, I read in today's paper that the Maldives might move. Yup, the entire country might move because on average, any given Maldivian island is about 1 m above sea level and you know, those blasted sea levels aren't doing much else than rising rapidly thanks to the aforementioned melting polar ice caps. There is the possibility that the Maldives might end up in Australia and I've been to Australia and lived there and have no desire to visit the Maldives in Australia, so we should go there. Soonish. Our friends are off to the Maldives come February. But I don't think I could do their idea of a Maldives trip. 10 days on a fishing boat is not my kind of vacation. Mine should preferably have the words Banyan Tree in it somewhere but that's just me with no ability to rough things up.

But behind all these ditzy desires is a sad sad truth that I don't want to think about and when I do, my perfect world, so delicately built on a deck of cards comes crumbling down. That the world is going to the dogs because we're selfish, greedy, self-centred (are they the same thing?) and painfully myopic. The "Save the Earth" messages played over national radio here inadvertently let on that it's not really saving the earth but "save money" by using less electricity because electricity is expensive and electricity is expensive because oil is expensive and oil is expensive (well, for various reasons but one of it is because of its scarcity) and what is really important is that we save money and cut costs and oh, by the way, by doing that, we might help save the earth as well. And that pisses me off. That, together with all the other injustices of the world that I have no power to do anything about. So, better I remain ditzy lest I manically swing to the other extreme and wallow in the doldrums of helpless, fatalistic depression.

So, more things to add to my ever growing to-do list with the limited funds especially now that I'm not going to be commanding much of an income. And that too, will probably make me depressed but at least, that, I have control over.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 20:09

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Food glorious food

Because it's been ages since I did one.

Because I was very upset a while ago when my Father in law asked me to list down a list of food I actually eat because I am particular about what I eat. I know he meant well but my mind decided to take great offence.

Because a few weeks ago, I came closest to developing a temporary eating disorder because of the stress I was under.

Because I need to not fear putting on weight.

From Tym... (which originates at Very Good Taste)

Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
Bold all the items you've eaten.
Cross out any items that you would never consider eating

1. Venison - I could never eat Bambi.
2. Nettle tea - I drank it while I was pregnant. Anything to stop nausea.
3. Huevos rancheros- Looks interesting. Must try. Perhaps when we are in Vegas this winter.
4. Steak tartare - No raw-ish meat for me.
5. Crocodile - Tasted like smelly tuna.
6. Black pudding - No blood products thank you very much.
7. Cheese fondue- I won't rule it out but my stomach just churned.
8. Carp- Did not leave much of an impression except I think I tasted grass in the fish. It is fresh water.
9. Borscht -Not averse to it. It is beef although the colour's a little bit off putting.
10. Baba ghanoush - NO eggplant. Yuck.
11. Calamari - I used to tell people I was 7 Day Adventist Muslim because I didn't eat seafood and pork. I eat pork now but generally I stay away from seafood with the exception of fish, abalone and clams.
12. Pho- If I could super bold this, I would. It was how I survived Calgary and Melbourne on student pocket money.
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart- To do in Vegas or when we finally go to NYC
16. Epoisses - No Cheese!
17. Black truffle - chi chi food
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - think apple
19. Steamed pork buns - LURVE
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras - the post is self explanatory
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese - no cheese!
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper- Wikipedia says it's a chilli like the habernero so MUST try and then proceed to blow my brains out.
27. Dulce de leche - when I think milk candy, I think of the White Rabbit one and we all know what happened to that one.
28. Oysters - seafood
29. Baklava - nope
30. Bagna cauda- It's got anchovies. So, no.
31. Wasabi peas- I like most wasabi stuff... mayo, chips, peas, fries...
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl- more the bowl, less the chowder.
33. Salted lassi- don't like.
34. Sauerkraut- taste like kiam chye
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea- clotted cream????
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O- Loved it. Had a lot of fun watching friends knock back a whole lot at a time only to be dancing on tables and giggling at the ceiling.
39. Gumbo- LURVE gumbo. Just take out the king prawns.
40. Oxtail-
41. Curried goat- CURRIED GOAT???
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal- Apparently, a curry even hotter than vindaloo. Where do I find it????
44. Goat's milk- Absolutely not. I don't even like cow's milk.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth US$120 or more
46. Fugu- Pufferfish? NOPE. Don't intend to die.
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel- smelly.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut- Many a time.
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi - not on it's own but possibly as an ingredient
53. Abalone- YUM
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal- I'd like to try a Super Size Meal, just for the heck of it.
56. Spaetzle - I like. Chewy German noodles.
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads- It's not bread and it's not sweet.
63. Kaolin- sounds like it originates from China and well, I'm not eating anything from there if I can help it.
64. Currywurst
65. Durian- SUPER YUM, in almost all forms.
66. Frogs' legs- As a matter of principle, NO.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis - I do not like the Scot's obsession for innards.
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - a fancy name does not disguise that it is actually just pork intestines. No.
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe - don't know about "louche" though
74. Gjetost, or brunost- not sure how I feel about Norwegian Brown Cheese
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu- once again, from China.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie- if it's like any other thing from Hostess... I'd be happy to go through life without trying it.
78. Snail- as an 8 year old, first time in Paris. Never again.
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum- Only one of my favourite soups in the world.
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare- No Thumpers for me.
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse- I couldn't even forgive Napoleon for turning Boxer into glue.
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab - Lives in the sea.
93. Rose harissa - maybe
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox- lox?
97. Lobster Thermidor- Probably not.
98. Polenta - maybe
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee- as a rule. no coffee.
100. Snake

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:35

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tis a good day

Today was a Melbourne-esque days and those days are extremely far and few between these days. It started with sleeping at 7am. Although this time, it wasn't because I had a paper due. More like I had 2 munchkins who were sick and whiny through the night and since I was the one who gave them the cold, I felt that I should be the one to stay up with them.

Then there was the waking up 2 hours later to traffic. Well, it used to be the trams rumbling by or the restaurant in front's bins of tin cans and bottles being emptied. Today it was the sound of the bus stopping at the bus stop outside our window. That came with the cursory moment of "Oh crap, am I supposed to be at work/school/somewhere?" before sinking back into the covers and savouring the fact that it was light out and I was still in bed.

When my brain started to chug along, I remembered there was television to be watched. It was indeed election day in the US and we've been nauseous, paranoid and totally distrusting the Americans to get their heads out of their bums and do the right thing. To say it was exhilarating was an understatement. it was electrifying and I knew as I was watching it, that history was unfolding before my eyes. Packrat and I were like mini-pundits, refreshing charts online to see the numbers inch up from McCain up by 8 votes to Obama overtaking him and leaving him in the dust. I hated CNN though. Their projected wins made me feel like I was going to get my hopes up based on what were basically guesses. So even when they projected a win with a big fat tick by Obama's name, I was scant to believe it until NY Times confirmed the number of electoral votes had surpassed the magical 270. That's when the dance of joy occurred and the day began to look extremely bright and cheery. All this happened without us leaving the confines of our bedroom and for those glorious hours, I plain ignored the fact that I had two kids whom I should probably have looked in on. But for those hours, we were just us, enjoying something non-kid related, relishing in something had impacted more than just us and caring about something bigger than we were.

Both Packrat and I shared the same sentiment as we slowly got dressed to re-enter our own reality. That this was exciting. That this was like Melbourne. Where we had time to be citizens of the world and to be our own people. We realise that as our children grow older, it's going to be harder for us to do this because these things that we enjoy doing, these somewhat intellectual idealistic pursuits are for us, for our own growth as people and it disregards reality and the roles we play in that reality. I think perhaps, that's why also, that much as we hate some aspects of our profession and every year, I swear blind that I need to leave it, I end up going back to it the following year. Because in our profession, it is somewhat expected of us to still pursue these aspirations and to be in the know about all these things. And like I used to say, it gives us the soapbox to actually imperiously demand that others be like that and care in the same way.

I often categorically claim that my successes in teaching are not the number of distinctions my students get for the subject but that they realise that it is part of their responsibility as people to actually care about things that go beyond them and their very limited blindered worlds. It's a hard battle and I often get angry when I have to fight uphill against the pragmatics of society to get the message across. This part, is un-Melbourne-esque, though I think the roots of my professional ethos come from there. So when I felt the intense need to talk to people or students about it and I couldn't because they're all in the throes of exams, I felt a bit lost. Similarly, when I discovered this, I felt I needed to show it to someone, again, I couldn't because much as I want my 18 year olds to care about the world and ideals, I do need to balance that with the fact that exams ARE important.

I think we're still reveling in it, that not all Americans are the stereotypical dumb American although I did hear of an American in Singapore who forlornly declared that now America had elected a man who was unGodly and would lead them straight to hell. I'm sure he thinks Obama's the Devil Incarnate and is Muslim as well, as one of my opinionated students readily declares to anyone who might listen. Thankfully, my soapbox is larger than his.

Added on 6 Nov
Now that the American press has had a bit more time to digest what has happened, it is indeed heartening to see in the Op-Eds and editorials messages of hope and support for POTUS elect. It really does feel like the Americans see themselves slowly waking from the dark, dismal stupor that has been the last 8 years.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 19:11

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Why bother?

My in laws are a little bit puzzled why we've been talking about the US elections so much recently, why we changed the channel from their beloved Channel U to CNN and MSNBC this evening at dinner. Most people don't really bother. It is after all, just another election in another country. But we do care. So much so that NY Times is left open on the browser so that we get the results as they come in and if the kid wasn't in the room with us, we'd have the tv on the whole night to watch them as they come in.

But why bother? It really doesn't affect us. Our bonuses aren't going to grow with a new adminstration. Our IRs aren't going to go away. The state of our economy isn't going to get better, why bother. Perhaps it's got something to do with the audactity of hope.

Or perhaps it's got to do with the fact that I've been teaching it for the better part of this year, explaining the concepts of the electoral vote against the popular vote. Explaining the concept of democracy and Federal government. A throwback to the days where I ate and breathed American politics and history. Perhaps it would be a nice round off to my year of academic nostalgia.

Or it could be the fact that we only in the last few months finished The West Wing series which ended with a resounding bang worthy of the pilot season where a new President was sworn in and this character had been fortuitously based on Barack Obama himself. Life imitating art or art imitating life or is it art at all?

I don't really know. It could just be that it's the end of the academic year and I'm so burnt out fumes left me about six months ago that I need a distraction to wind down and this comes at the right time. However, that would mean that it's just a conveninent distraction and that's not worthy of the significance of it so I shall dismiss it although I must admit it has no small part to play in all this excitement.

If I think hard about it, I think it's because I love being in the throes of anything that's driven by passion and cause. It ignites me. And even though this is a couple of continents away and a gazilliion time zones, we calculated and I think the results of the elections will only hit our papers Thursday morning, it's contagious. It means change and it means possibility and most of all, it could possibly bring an end to the mockery that has become the USA.

But with all this hope also comes a great amount of worry. Worry that the Americans will live up to their stereotype of being dumb. That they will repeat the colossal mistake of 2004. That because of all the hype, the Republicans will work harder to get the Grumpy old man into the White House. That all our hope will go to naught. And academically, there's the Bradley effect to worry about. Incidentally, Tom Bradley was African American too.

What they need is a nuclear meltdown in Arizona to seal it for Obama but that would really be life imitating art and in a very very cruel way. Only in the fake world where a fake president is elected will that be oh as successful as it was with minimal damage and fall out. I dread that in the real world, if the party in red wins and the Grumpy Old Man dies and the hockey mom, caribou killing VP gets to run the world's superpower, the country will just have all the library books burnt in the square and baby seals will no longer stand the chance of survival among other very bad things.

And that's a nightmare scenario of nuclear proportions.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:51

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"