Tuesday, October 31, 2006

the scariest thing

noam's evil rat
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
this is a photo noam took with her phone of the first rat. without the tail, it was the length from the tip of her middle finger to halfway up to her elbow. AAAAAAAAARGH! and hallowe'en greetings. (i have been hiding in the back of the house, since i did not have the nerve to put up the sign on the front door telling them that a crazy woman from england who is diabetic and on the first week of the south beach diet would probably not be opening the door and handing them treats).

wba 3-3 qpr

gaz vs wba
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
against all odds; despite a right-back playing left-back, a centre-back playing right-back, the centre back not really playing at all; on a dark hallowe'en night in the midlands; while everyone else was watching barca v the scum ... we scored 3 goals away from home and nicked a point. hurrah!

obesity causes global warming?

an op-ed in today's ny times. apparently, a billion extra gallons of gasoline a year are being used to transport fatter americans around the country. not only that, but how about this:

"The idea of using economic incentives to help people shed pounds comes up in the periodic calls for taxes on junk food. Martin B. Schmidt, an economist at the College of William and Mary, suggests a tax on food bought at drive-through windows. Describing his theory in a recent Op-Ed article in The New York Times, Dr. Schmidt said people would expend more calories if they had to get out of their cars to pick up their food.

“We tax cigarettes in part because of their health cost,” he wrote. “Similarly, the individual’s decision to lead a sedentary lifestyle will end up costing taxpayers.”"

the last universally acceptable prejudice - stoutism! (a tip of the typing key to an ancient episode of 'not the nine o'clock news')

maybe i'd better go out and buy some scales to make sure my south beach diet is working?

Monday, October 30, 2006

random telephone calls

my mobile just rang at 11:30 pm. when i picked it up i said hello, and a guy at the other end said, "who are you?" "hey, you called me," i said, "who are you?!" sounds like the beginning of a comedy sketch, or a sneaky new kind telemarketing. in the week before the elections, i assume that nothing is sacred. does anyone know how to set up my telephone so that anyone trying to canvas me automatically receives my recorded message instead? something along the lines of: "your candidate and cause have been recorded. please note that as a result of your call i shall be voting for anybody else. thank you and have a nice day."

o, and the guy? he claimed he was responding to a call from my number. i told him he wasn't, and we parted. where is 717 area code?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

the death of a flying rat

if you check out noam's myspace blog this week you will see a record of her current rat infestation. the first rat that was killed was shot three times by the ratman before it fell. shot with poison pellets from a rat rifle it was.

i have been a vegetarian since 1975, and to this day find the snuffing out of any life a painful experience. the only exception to this would be mosquitoes (i have always believed that mummy mosquitoes tucked their babies up at night with the promise that one day they too would feast on friedlander) and london pigeons. ever since a trip up to town in the early seventies, when we visited trafalgar square, i have hated london pigeons. our kind parents paid their tuppence for a right guard lid full of bird seed, and we tried to feed the birds. you know those beards of bees that you see photos of every now and then when the news needs a little light refreshment? imagine a toupee of flying rats, whose talons got tangled in your naturally curly hair and then they tried to fly away.

nu, i don't like pigeons, and therefore rather enjoyed the following bit from a.a.gill in today's sunday times:

"It's all a bit hard to swallow

It’s a bird-eat-bird world. The pelicans in St. James’s Park are swallowing the pigeons and the usual swooning battalion of critter lovers is reaching for the smelling salts and the green ink. Pelicans should breakfast on fish.

Though I can’t for the life of me see the qualitative difference between the life of a haddock and a feral pigeon. We go to watch pelicans being fed fish in the zoo; how much more amusing to chuck them a flying rat. I think urban pigeon coursing would be an exciting day out and fun for all the family.

We’d start with a mad woman throwing breadcrumbs as bait while we hit behind trees with our trained pelicans at the ready. Maybe packs of them would go for foxes — riding after a squadron of killer pelicans coming out of the sun would be brilliant.

The pelican is the ancient symbol of selfless charity. They were thought to feed their young with the blood from their breast (they don’t) and the pigeon of course is cousin to the dove, harbinger of peace. Some might think that charity eating peace was an augury of some imminent catastrophe or perhaps it’s just an elegant bestiary metaphor for the end of the Tony Blair years?"

qpr 1-1 leicester city

lee cook
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
one of the few bright sparks in the recent dull performances by my 'r's, here is lee cook in action yesterday afternoon. they were down to ten men and still we did not lose, so it wasn't all bad :-)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Transgender MP in toilet fracas

just read this on the bbc news site:

"An Italian opposition MP and former showgirl has expressed outrage after meeting a transgender colleague in the parliament's ladies' toilets. Elisabetta Gardini, spokeswoman for former PM Silvio Berlusconi's party, said she felt ill after the encounter during a break in Friday's session. The incident led to heated debate about which toilet the transgender MP, known as Vladimir Luxuria, could use. Ms Luxuria says she has been using ladies' toilets for years. Using the men's would have created even bigger problems, she said. The matter has now been passed to parliamentary procedural officials to resolve.

'Sexual violence'
Ms Gardini said she had been horrified to find Ms Luxuria in the toilets. "It never entered my mind that I'd find him in there", she said. "It felt like sexual violence - I really felt ill." Centre-right MPs backed her call for the creation of a third "transgender" toilet, Reuters news agency said. But ruling coalition deputies accused Ms Gardini of discrimination tantamount to racism. Ms Luxuria said she had not expected such aggression in the parliament.

Born Wladimiro Guadagno, Ms Luxuria wears women's clothes but has not had sex-change surgery. A 40-year-old former drag queen and prominent gay rights activist, she was elected MP for the Communist Refoundation, a member of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition, in April."

one of my sisters, if she ruled the world, the first thing she would do would be to give each human being their own toilet.

having grown up in bottom-obsessed britain, and lived many years in a hypoallergenic america; my objection to sharing toilets has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with some kind of fear of being contaminated by, well ... i'm not really sure but it has something to do with the smells and unsavoury nature of bodily waste products. enough already!

so why did this catch my eye? i think because, while i think the complainer is totally over the top, i also had to acknowledge that my path to thinking that had to go through my own initial reaction of yuck a guy in the bathroom. this was followed by but wait a minute this is not a guy it is a woman, and then it was ok. i was just interested that i had that yuck reaction in me. i hope and trust i would not act on it. however, knowing that it is in me too (even if i choose not to act upon it), may help me to be a bit less judgemental.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

south beach part deux

o yes d & i started the south beach diet again yesterday. o the desire! o the pain! o the struggle! am currently fighting my cravings by watching old ofra haza videos on youtube.

i am drooling a lot also, although i suspect that is from the fits-all-sizes tray with which i am trying to whiten my teeth.

it is, however, hard not to drool, even if only metaphorically. walking through the supermarket yesterday, buying only permitted foods, items on the shelf called out to me ... 'pick me! eat me! you know you want to!!' honestly, i had to go and stare at the meat counter for a few minutes to calm down. today is the second day of the beginning and brutal two-week phase. am trying to lust after ofra rather than bananas but not doing too well. send 'celery is cool' thoughts (and dental floss)

i love cookie monster!

it took me a while to figure out what tune arik/ernie is singing since i was trying to understand the hebrew. even if your hebrew is crap, if you figure out the tune, you can basically figure out what he is singing!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

a bit of hope ...

... so after writing my depressed post, i went trawling around my links. do please go look at treppenwitz - he has taught me a lot about tolerance. he might appear to be the kind of jew at the furthest end of the spectrum away from me and towards the right, yet his mind and heart are open. because of this, i am able to listen to him, instead of intolerantly dismissing him immediately.

anyway, this snippet really cheered me up. there is a second story in the post, but you'll have to go to his site to read it :-) the link is on the right.

"Monday, October 16, 2006

Small acts of kindness

[Setting: Standing on line in a bakery on Friday afternoon, casually eavesdropping on two women having a conversation behind me]

Woman 1: I'm running really late today... I wonder if they've already locked the cash registers.

Woman 2: 'Locked the cash registers?' What does that mean... they won't take our money?

W1: Yeah... basically. 30 - 45 minutes before they officially close, the owner goes around to each cash register and locks the drawers... and then goes home. The cashiers have instructions to tell anyone coming after the drawers are locked that they have no way to accept money so whatever the customers have picked out is free.

W2: I don't get it... why would the owner do that?

W1: Don't you see... it's just like in Machane Yehuda [the open air produce market in Jerusalem] where a lot of the vendors who sell perishables slash their prices an hour before closing for shabbat. That way the poor people can 'buy' the things they need for shabbat with dignity... and the vendors basically give things that can't be stored over shabbat to a worthy cause. And because some of the people doing last minute shopping really are simply running late, there is no shame for the poor because nobody knows who is who.

W2: Wait, so you're telling me it's an open secret that poor people come here during the last hour before closing and they get their baked goods for free?

W1: Exactly, only everyone's dignity is protected by the fact that some shoppers are actually running late... and by the owner's little charade of the locked cash registers. This way everyone wins; The owner of the bakery performs a 'hesed' [roughly translates as an act of kindness]... the cashiers get to take part in the act... and the recipients can just as easily be genuinely running late as poor... so there is no embarrassment to anyone at being on the receiving end of the act.

W2: [after a brief pause] Y'know... sometimes I love this country!

[Author's note: Me too!]
Posted by David Bogner on October 16, 2006"

happy families

stonehenge - the good old days
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
here's a sweepingly generalised question: are there any happy families any more?

i suppose i should go back to my own archives re the discussion on the nature of happiness.

ok - how about: where are the emotionally healthy families?

look at the cheerful children in the photo. they may even be holding hands. they have just been adding their footprints to all the others way way back to the original druids. they look like they are having a fun day. 37 years later they are both miserable, lonely and chronically ill.

perhaps in the end the question should be more along the lines of: where do we find hope?

my first thought? babies and children. being with them how can i not want to do everything i can to help make sure they are safe and well?

and if you don't have one of these little elves? i know there are millions of children in need - it is just a bit harder to make that gut connection that comes from holding one in your arms.

in any case, googled 'child poverty and hunger' and saw this re the hits:

about 5,030,000 for child poverty and hunger. (0.58 seconds)

see the page here

Saturday, October 21, 2006

something to cheer me up

shimshon albert
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
found this box of old slides today, and a scanner that can scan them. in those olden golden days when we were allowed to climb all over the rocks of stonehenge, here is my father pretending, i think, to be samson :-)

sheffield wednesday 3-2 qpr

dexter scores @ hillsborough
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
bloody hell cannot even beat a managerless team doing worse than we are (until today of course). and why are they called 'wednesday' anyway? (apparently the name comes from the wednesday cricket club whose meetings were held on wednesday afternoons, this being the official day workers were able to play sports - ed.)

a last look at berlin

piglet @ the brandenburger tor
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
one more picture from this week - piglet east of the brandenburg gate. last time we were there, the gate was covered in scaffolding. the time before, we could only view it from the west. on this day, as the sun began to set and my legs began to jellify (from a long day's walking), we took this picture.

Friday, October 20, 2006

the real thing

o & d
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
it's one thing looking at pictures of an edible little girl (seen here with her abba last tuesday night). it's another thing when you hold her in your arms yourself. cannot help falling in love!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

... ...

na ... und?
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
i looked at him. he looked at me. i looked some more. stood there for about 45 minutes, then got on the bus to the airport. what a great job, eh? just sit there, and be yourself, and everyone loves you for it.

this morning in berlin ...

berlin flamingoes
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
... i passed these flamingoes on the way to the pandas. i also passed elephants (including a baby), some possible llamas, some sort of mountain goats, the entrance to the monkey house and a giraffe. the flamingoes were stunning enough to slow me down on my way to the pandas :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

piglet and the bill

piglet and the bill
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
my favourite piglet pic of recent years, although i did kinda sorta cheat a little to get it in that i put on a bit of an american accent when i asked the policemen if they were allowed to be in photographs, and when they said yes, if they would please hold my pig!

off to berlin later today, perhaps maybe possibly to meet my lovely niece. send kind thoughts ...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

qpr 3-3 norwich

congrats to j. smith
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
first wish was that we did not lose while i was present.

wish granted.

second wish was that i see a qpr goal.

wish granted. thrice.

there is nothing like being at mecca in person. even though j. smith is on loan from chelscum he scored for us. thank you tracy for getting me such a brilliant seat.

afterwards in the pub i was saying to someone that it could've been worse - i could be a new york yankees fan - hang on a sec, i am!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

the josephus problem

just watched an episode of the bbc1 roman empire epic dealing with the judean revolt. strangely the romans vespasian and titus were very anglo-saxon and british, whereas the revolting jews - except the finely-boned ed stoppard (son of sir tom) - were rather stubbly (as opposed to the full beards observant jews might have) and a bit swarthy. mr ed was designer-stubbly, which only made him more gorgeous. o, he played josephus. anyway, were not romans italians?

while trying to remind myself whether the original josephus was as self-serving as the bbc use of his writings presented him as being, came across the following from wikipedia. i have omitted the detailed formulae - if you wish to see them, please google.

"The Josephus problem is a theoretic problem occurring in computer science and mathematics. There are n people standing in a circle waiting to be executed. After the first man is executed, k−1 people are skipped and the k-th man is executed. Then again, k−1 people are skipped and the k-th man is executed. The elimination proceeds around the circle (which is becoming smaller and smaller as the executed people are removed), until only the last man remains, who is given freedom.
The task is to choose the place in the initial circle so that you survive (remain the last one), given n and k.

The problem is named after Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian living in the 1st century. As the legend goes, he and his 40 comrade soldiers were trapped in a cave, surrounded by Romans. They chose suicide over capture and decided that they will form a circle and start killing themselves using a step of three. As Josephus did not want to die, he was able to find the safe place, and stayed alive, later joining the Romans who captured him."

the house of lords

richard coeur de piglet
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
earlier today, piglet and i went to the house of lords to have tea with my godmother, the rabbi baroness. it was lovely to see her, and exciting to be in the parts other plebs cannot reach. we followed the red carpets towards the tea-room, except for one point where the carpet was blue. j. explained that when on the blue carpet i was forbidden to speak, although she was permitted. interesting.

while at tea, j. introduced me to a gentleman who, she said, was responsible for the passage of the civil marriage law (i guess i mean the one that allowed same-sex partnerships). i looked at him and said: thank you. he looked a bit startled, and then replied gallantly: you're welcome!

life in london is o so very different.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

beautiful noam

purple ellie
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
... but i am rather fond of this one.

anyway, we had a wonderful lunch together. my first time at the ivy and, forbidden by n. to turn my head to look at jonathan ross and his pink-headed wife, i had to make do with the profile of the erstwhile bisto lady and occasional glimpses of miranda richardson over the shoulder of a man with enormous eyebrows. o, the food was quite lovely too :-)

life in london is o so very different.

happy birthday to noam!

niaf @ chinon
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
ten years younger than i am again today, she wanted me to post a pic in which she looks beautiful but i cannot decide. this is our mother's official favourite ...

a proud great aunt

dff & orange o
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
hoping to go to berlin next week myself, here is another shot of our special one in her berliner apartment with her berliner great aunt d.

blogging is difficult when you don't have your own computer :-(