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I went to Malta for five nights over the Easter holiday and have subsequently shifted through the 200+ photos from the trip trying to determine what might be worth sharing with my family or possibly posting about.  Although I know next to nothing about automobiles, I am an appreciator of classic vehicular aesthetics, and so writing about the buses in Malta is an imperative – I’ve never come back from a holiday with 10+ pictures of buses before, but this was exceptional.

The Boy and I stayed in Qawra on the northern part of the island, which we quickly discovered was not as happenin’ as more central areas like Saint Julian’s Bay, Sliema/Paceville, or even Valletta, the capital.  Fortunately, the bus service was cheap, accessible, and charming (for the most part).

The buses in Malta are, in a word, supercool.  They reminded me of the Weinermobile, as they are painted mustard yellow and hotdog orange and have excellent chrome detailing.  We took six or seven different buses during our stay there and while they ranged in vintage, every one displayed prominent Catholic iconography on the interior, which was actually more appealing than it sounds.  Several of the older buses featured a thrilling hop-on door that didn’t close, so we could see the countryside whizzing past as we barreled down the exceptionally well-maintained roads: (more…)

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I am an attractive young woman.  Evaluations of my level of attractiveness and the relativity of my youth will vary from person to person (not to mention day-to-day), but generically speaking, this is a fair statement.  I am also a professional in an industry populated mpstly by men.  As such, I am largely at a disadvantage, but retain one *unique* advantage based on my personal presentation, if I choose to cultivate it.

This is a song familiar to a lot of you.

My office wear is carefully calculated to appear appropriate in the service of my own physical and mental comfort.  Any aspect that could be challenged as “alluring” or “radical” is studiously balanced out.  If my pants or skirt are form-fitting, my sweater or blouse is loose or non-confrontational.  If my shirt is vee-necked and tight, my trousers are wide-legged and paired with a blazer.  My hair, which is highlighted red and blonde, is subject to much comment by male colleagues (usually that it is too red and they prefer me blonder).  I take it into consideration, but still wear silver-hooped earrings every day, because I like them, and their size and shape belies how much my ears stick out (I hate my ears).  Every day, I wear an extremely high-quality, fake silver Rolex and a tasteful silver ring I bought on the street in Barcelona.  I take pride in the fact that people who have worked with me for years are surprised to find out I have a tongue stud, because I chose a subtle one ten years ago.

Pantsuits and pearls are for client meetings, with discreet pearl-drop earrings and straightened hair.  I have one gray suit and one black pinstriped suit.  I wear them with shined, heeled black boots for external meetings, or burgundy Franco Sarto heels for meetings in the office.  I bought both suits half-priced in a sale for $300, and then spent $100 in alterations.  I don’t own a skirtsuit because I haven’t found one that fits me well enough to merit alterations, although I have a gorgeous turquoise shift that my mother bought me from M&S when she visited me last year, which is very professional without looking matronly.  I keep it in the coat closet at work with a spare set of pantyhose, in case of an emergency client meeting.

Having been compared to a librarian, a schoolgirl, and a flight attendant at the office, I am careful to ensure I don’t look too costumey.  I once wore a tight black sweater over a crisp white shirt, with a black skirt and buckled leather boots and realized, mirthfully, that I looked like a Pilgrim, but no one noticed. I wore that outfit again for Thanksgiving, for my own private tribute, because I am an American in the UK. (more…)

There is a video after the jump that will save your life, but first, I have to introduce it.

Do you remember when you were a kid, and you would pretend to speak Spanish (or French or Swahili or Mandarin), and approximate a bunch of sounds that seemed suitably foreign and, to your ear, could passably compare to the language you were imitating?  Heck, I practiced this at a bar recently when a dude I didn’t really want to talk to approached me and I pretended to be Russian, and quickly mentioned that I “no speeek Eeengleesh” (I thought it was a reasonably muddy Eastern Bloc accent at the time).

My mistake.  “Как поживаешь?” He asked with enthusiasm.  “Ahahaha!”  I said, nervously.  “Yur agzent… bery gud.”  Then I hightailed it to the bathroom to hide.

Anyway, if you have ever been a child, you know what I’m talking about: the pleasures of gibberish and linguistic imitation.  When I attempt the broken, ungrammatical Spanish I sometimes inflict on folk today, I can’t help but give it a little extra UMMPH, a little rrrrroll of the “r” – una pequeña mas pasión! – than I would making the same ungrammatical statement in English.  “I no go… THE BED!” for example.  My Spanish is slightly less sophisticated than that of a very emphatic toddler, but just as intense.

In the same vein, I have wondered before what The English sounds like as a gibberish language to foreigners.  Surely kids in Mexico and Spain and Chile were pretending to speak English in the same insane-o manner I was pretending (still do!) to speak Español.  Turns out, I was right, and there exists a grown-up person music video from Italy (very close to Spain) from 1972 that nicely illustrates the point.

I can’t possibly list all the reasons you should watch this video, but I will start with: (more…)

When I moved to Scotland over two years ago, one of the things I purchased on my very first trip to the grocery store was a bottle of Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky, aged 12 years.  The handsome green bottle was encased in a tall, serious, emblazoned tin, with the prestigious history of the whisky detailed in gold lettering on the back (for quickie course of the proud tradition of whisky/whiskey, the Wikipedia entry is as good as any a place to start).

I stocked up on a number of basic necessities that initial trip – it was a new home, never mind a new country! – but the bottle of whisky still made the list of must-haves.  I was already entertaining fantasies of newfound friends, colleagues, and yes, gentleman callers, popping round for a chat, a smoke, and a civilized drink.  I was ready to embrace Scotland, and if Scotland would embrace me, I would greet it with a glass of decent Scotch and amusing banter!  I was ready for this new life, and eager to partake in the cultural mores of my new home.

Ignoring the fact that I was never actually swept up in my envisioned social whirlwind (due to my inherent loner tendencies and the reality that it was so freezing cold six months out of the year that I left my apartment only to go to work and Blockbuster), the whisky did not go down as smashing a treat as I had imagined.  Oh, I did have people over, but I quickly discovered that the offer of whisky was far less compelling than the offer of beer, wine, or a vodka mixer (all of which I fortunately kept on hand).  It turned out to be a good thing I never sprung for a proper whisky tumbler, after all, as I couldn’t convince anyone to drink the stuff. (more…)

In order to educate the public and combat the prevalence of colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in the country, Canada has taken the logical step of constructing a 40-foot-long touring colon.  The interactive colon, which according to this AOL report, resembles “a disturbing take on the traditional bouncy castle,” features informative video lectures on a variety of colon diseases as well as an (Italian?) muppet named Dr. Preventino.

If you would like to see a giant, inflated polyp, you can take a video tour here.  I can imagine that thousands of bored schoolchildren have forcibly toured the inflatable colon in the few years it’s been traveling through Canada, but I have a hard time imaging adults, who should be the real targets of colon health education, voluntarily spending a Saturday afternoon this way (“Hey, Hon!  Dr. Preventino and the giant colon are in town!  Let’s have an early lunch of leafy green vegetables, followed by a single aspirin and then walk briskly over to city center to check it out.”).

Of course, I haven’t been to Canada, so this could  be makings of a heady weekend, for all I know.  I don’t think it’s a bad idea, actually, just that they could have gone farther with it.  Why not tie it in with a waterpark, and construct a Journey Through A Urinary Tract Infection Slide, for example?  A cancer-cell versus radiotherapy shoot-’em-out game?  I see no reason that if South Korea can have a sex theme park, Canada couldn’t have an awesome public health theme park.  Everybody wins!

If you would like to get in on my public-health theme park, please submit your medical tie-in ideas for roller coasters, log chutes ,vertical drops, etc in the comments.  Canada’s Ministry of Health?  Have your people call mine and let’s make this happen.

turkish bath classicI just returned from a week in Turkey with the boyfriend, and it was, as expected, fantastic.  We hit the beach, took a cruise, went parasailing, and traveled to Pamukkale (the cotton castle) and the ancient city of Hierapolis, which boasts an amphitheatre from the second century and a natural spring bath.  We visited a carpet factory and watched the creation process of handmade carpets, drank loads of traditional apple tea, and hit the local market and bazaar.  A high point of a great trip, however, was taking a Turkish bath (the Hamam).  I’d heard of Turkish baths plenty of times, but didn’t really understand what one entailed.  Figuring that the best way to find out would be to try it, I signed the two of us up for one the second day of our visit. (more…)

messy_suitcase_blogThis Friday, I am going on a trip to Turkey for a week.  I am looking forward to Turkish baths, the market, some culture and history, and most of all, some sun.  The Boy Person and I booked an all-inclusive resort for what I can say was a seductive price, and we are primed and ready for a week off of work and some serious B&B time (Booze & Beaches). 

The only fly in the sunscreen, which is not really a snag but sort of an inconvenience, is my little “anxiety attack.”  In more clinical terms, I mean my “spells,” those wee dashes of the vapors I get when it comes to packing.  While I am somewhat prone to spells in general, and have a glass pill bottle of modern remedy in urgent hand, I don’t understand exactly why the act of packing for a trip – any trip – sends me into a swoon. 

I understand that when other people have a weekend away (I’ve witnessed this), they gaily toss two pairs of socks, a toothbrush, some fresh undies, and a travel guide into their bag, and declare themselves ready for action (I have found this sort is typically male, and they will readily borrow your deodorant and clean tee-shirt when they have none, which your nostrils usually regard as worth the sacrifice).  There are also people, like my friend Kadinsky, who have packing down to an art form, and are miraculously prepared for any situation – be it dinner at the Ritz or mountain rescue – by the virtue of one smartly-packed bag,

I think of these two types as the Nonchalant (the former), and the Superhero (the latter), and however much I might wish to emulate either, it is a psychological impossibility for me.  I have read articles on packing; I make pre-trip lists that document exactly how many band-aids I will need for my blisters and AA batteries I will need for my camera; I attempt to pack a week in advance, for a trial run:  And yet, none of this helps.  (more…)

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