Wednesday, April 30, 2008

news from my uterus

did i miss the semester when we learned about the changes in female bodies throughout our lives? for an educated woman, i am embarrassingly ignorant about such things, although being nulliparous i see no need to ever learn what an episiotomy is.

warning: if you are squeamish now may be a good time to leave this blog and check out something milder. a panda cam, perhaps, or a nice game of boomshine.

still with me? ok. so recently i've had a bit of trouble with menorrhagia (aren't medical terms useful for distancing oneself from the messy facts?). look it up (i did). the ob/gyn i was originally scheduled to see is called dr. courbain. pronounced 'korban'. which is hebrew for 'sacrifice'. sadly she was not available the day they rushed me into the office. instead i got the divine dr b.p. i usually get a bit anxious in the stirrups, but dr. b.p. was magnificent. he is a gay ex-mormon with a degree in modern german lit. thus it was that i calmed down as we sang together in german the 'kanonen song' from 'the threepenny opera'. he then gave me a first-hand account of the special underwear that mormons wear and before i knew it the exam was over. surreal.

the gist of it was that the spectrum of possibilities ran from hormonal issues, e.g., perimenopause; through polyps and cysts and suchlike, to endometrial cancer which is 96% curable and relatively rare. cancer is a horrible word. at that moment, perimenopause seemed somehow worse. "WHAT?" I exclaimed. it is hard to accept that i am waaaaay old enough for something like that.

on the way home i saw a car with a bumper sticker that said "crone" on it and thought i might have to get one for myself.

nu. the next step was an ultrasound. that was yesterday's exciting adventure. imagine the situation: a waiting room in brookline, mass. it is full of women, who are full of the 40 oz of water they have drunk in preparation for this visit. There is a door right by reception that says 'restroom'. the toilets in most doctors' offices are nowhere near the waiting room. there is a water fountain next to the restroom. the heating is up, and there is not even an ancient bridal magazine lying around for distraction. they are running about half an hour late. there is two-hour parking on the street. we are waiting. we cannot pee. we must wait. the sense of urgency makes it quite hard to be polite.

when i go to reception, they tell me that my appointment is tomorrow. i say o no it isn't. the computer says yes it is. i say o no it isn't. they are magnanimous and say i can wait and they will fit me in. i go back to my seat full of magnanimosity. and 40 oz of water.

30 minutes later, i go back to the desk and ask, please, just give me an idea how long i need to hold on. the nurse tells me that if i am uncomfortable, "you may release". but what about the examination? she tells me she will give me some more water. if that is how it works, then why have i been drinking all bloody morning, eh? although this is new england, so i didn't say 'bloody'. or anything else. i just went back to my seat.

eventually i was called, and prepped, and in came the doctor. he probed, and we looked at the pictures on the screen. he seemed to find them quite interesting. i thought it looked like snow on a television, but i found that interesting also. i could see a smiling face, and the outline of a cartoon donkey.

the news was that there is a fibroid. good to know. the doc took lots of pretty pics which will be sent back to dr. b.p. i called my friend lldoc who explained that a fibroid is made of muscle. what i want to know is how i ended up with muscle in my uterus instead of my biceps or calves where it belongs? as slb said, did it get lost?

meanwhile, as if i have just joined a new club, older women are now sharing with me many stories of their experiences at this particular time of life. this seems to be the welcoming ritual. and thus endeth the news from lake womb-begone.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

another cutie patootie

the niece of ravaj last october (the spitting image of her mother at that age). edible, eh?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

tyburn piglet

this sign, marking a shortcut for double-decker buses around marble arch from park lane, is all that is left of tyburn, which was for centuries the main location for the execution of london criminals. they were hanged upon the tyburn tree. piglet has suspended himself, temporarily, so we may memorialise the spot.

black and white and royal blue

avram grant celebrates

what do you do when two of your core beliefs collide? on the one hand, as a lifelong 'r's fan, there is an all-encompassing hatred of all things chelski. on the other hand, there is an all-encompassing desire to fight antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head. this photograph is the place where they clash. avram grant is having a terrible time as the manager of chelski. statistically he is doing better than his predecessor, yet he is constantly vilified. he receives hate-mail for being a jew. so i want him to triumph over the buggers that taunt him. but the team that he serves, o the team that he serves is the chelski. today they beat man u. i am in conflict with myself.

norwich 3-0 qpr

here is the incident that changed the game - a norwich player is brought down in a professional foul on the edge of the penalty box. someone must pay for this crime! the referee makes a decision: it shall be damion who is red-carded.

the thing is, looking at the first picture again, it would seem that the goalie is the one at fault. obviously a case of mistaken identity. as for the match - it didn't really count, so it didn't really matter. except it counted for people like the sister of ravaj, who spent good money to take the train to norwich and buy a ticket. so boo for losing qpr, especially since my akos wasn't even on the bench this afternoon!

Friday, April 25, 2008

spring piglet

endlich, finally, at last it seems as if the time of the ice and snow and cetera is past and the daffodils rule. they certainly rule in the flat of the mother of ravaj, especially since marks and spencer have had a special on them recently. piglet also found a lovely little enclave just next to the arch of marble that joins park lane, edgware road and oxford street.

a london vignette

driving back from the very far east of london, we found ourselves behind this van on the embankment, and i was rather amused by the name on the van and the name of the business. or maybe it was just the general joy of being by the river and it spilled over ... maybe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

o akos, my akos (live)

risking the affection of my dear mother in the hours before the seder was to begin, i set out early to loftus road for the express purpose of righting a wrong from my last trip when i let akos walk by without asking him for a picture. this time, as you see, i highlight his elegance with my jet-lagged hair.

akos was named as a substitute for this game against charlton (i'll save you the suspense - we won 1-0. hurrah.). thus it was that i tested the limits of my lumix digital camera with regard to action photos:

sadly, although he was brought on as a sub in the second half, we were attacking the school end, i.e., far away from me, and with the skies beginning to darken i was unable to take any pics of the boy in action.

noam says akos is her boyfriend. i acknowledge that i cannot argue with that. it does not, however, detract from the chaste love that i have for this player. he is doing well enough that rumours abound re his imminent departure to a more successful club. say it ain't so, ako (s)

ok, i have to stop this because jetlag will not be a good enough excuse :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008

bad carma

look at this. this was a car parked in a brandeis lot this morning. parking is at a premium, and look what s/he did.

my question is - howcome i was the one to get a parking ticket?

no to a google account!

no no no no no no no no NO!

i hate being forced into making these kinds of changes. don't want a google account. don't need one. leave me alone!

you can tell ravaj needs a break. well, this time tomorrow she will be uncomfortably ensconced on the sofa bed in her mother's flat in london and looking forward to seder.

chag sameach to all of you who will be celebrating a chag this weekend!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

we woz mugged!

dexter scores @ hull, or does he?

a little action from saturday, if only to say that YET AGAIN in the 253rd minute of added on time qpr concede a goal and drop 2 points. somebody did the maths today and noted that if all our games had ended in the 89th minute, with the points we would have had we would be top of the division. *sigh*

on the other hand, well done mister em for mugging the chelski last night :-)

[and maybe we will not mention that tv replays proved the ball shown above did not really cross the line. sort of.]

Monday, April 14, 2008

a father of ravaj tale

just had the loveliest of conversations with an old family friend in tennessee. her late husband, r. sol kaplan z"l, was a great pal of r. albert h. they travelled through europe and israel together in their bachelor days. peggy told me a story about a time during their israel trip when they briefly parted ways. albert wanted to spend some serious time on a kibbutz, while sol did not, so they split up. sol joined a touring party of americans for a while. one day, the tour itinerary included a visit to a kibbutz. (you can see this coming, eh?) the tour guide was giving the spiel, and as the bus pulled over the guide pointed to a man pulling carrots and said, "let's have a chat with a typical kibbutznik!" the man, dressed in his dirty workclothes and kibbutz hat, came aboard the bus to meet the tourists; and sol and albert had a joyful reunion.


nb the mother of ravaj notes that in albert's version, the group goes over to albert and all of a sudden sol recognises him and says, "good god, it's friedlander!"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

yanks take first at fenway

wang pitching for a win

last night here in boston the yankees took the first game of this series against the red sox. i was watching the game on tv - the first time i have looked at anything on television for quite a few months. when the score was 1-1, and the red sox pitcher had wiggled out of a couple of dangerous situations with yankees on base, i decided i had to make the ultimate sacrifice, and turned off the tv. and it worked - we won! have to be careful with the schadenfreude, though, since there are still a couple of games to go over the weekend.

nb just found an excellent name for a player, currently with the mets. he is called angel pagan. really truly he is. look here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

homophobia in british society

so the grauniad reports last week that according to a new survey, homophobia is rife in british society. since i have this bifurcated life, where i was this supposed hetero during my life in the uk, and after i left i came out and have lived in the us only as a homosexual (except, i think, from when i was born until i was almost 3) ... well, i have no real idea of how it is to be gay in the uk.

the paper notes that bullying in school is increasing, and the sense of discrimination in public life is great. read the piece here.

i recall attitudes during my sheltered life in london in the eighties and nineties in microcosm via the taunts i heard at football stadia across the country. personally i was only targeted for being fat and female. other chants tended, however, to be mainly racist and anti-semitic, e.g., monkey noises and throwing bananas at black players, and songs like "one man went to gas, went to gas a yiddo". when i go to matches these days, it appears that society is now open and accepting enough to include homophobic chants as well, e.g., "player x takes it up the bum", or "so-and-so is gay" and in a magnificent synthesis of prejudices, "african player x has aids".

enough to make you despair, eh? qpr are off to hull tomorrow. a couple of years ago after the explosions in london, the hull "fans" chanted, "you're just a town full of bombers". *sigh*

Thursday, April 10, 2008

some belated birthday wishes?

you didn't know that carlos tevez and i are like *that*? well now you do. some may say that this celebration after scoring against roma in big cup last night was a message to a family member, a family member that happens to share my name. some may say. but they forget that it is only just over seven months since my birthday. it is thus obvious to whom the message is directed.

pardon her, for she knoweth not what she doth

the world turned upside down

is this an old april fool or what? after reading in the telegraph today about the trouble that mike batt has being taken seriously after writing and performing his wombling songs in the 1970's, i youtube the wombles and come across this clip. not only are the stars of such classics as "remember you're a womble" and "wombling white tie and tails" lip-synching to 'anarchy in the uk' by the sex pistols, but they are doing it on 'blue peter' . it is as shocking as if princess anne decided to go on a home shopping network and model bikinis. or something like that. on blue peter. punk wombles. excuse me while i go and put my head in a bucket.

no no no no no no no no no! this is the way that i remember them!!

*sigh* that's better

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

knut is so yesterday

meet flocke, the latest polar bear cub to wow germans and their visitors. the nuremberg zoo recently unveiled this cutie, along with a mass of chatchke souvenirs available immediately to the public. flocke is adorable, but some people are not so happy about her debut:

as the signs say, 'i'm a polar bear, get me out of here!' and, 'if only you would see it from my point of view - the climate here does not suit me!"

when knut grew out of being cute, through no fault of his own, he became too big and dangerous to play with. he is now rather lonely, and possibly in withdrawal from an addiction to the attention of fame. what will become of flocke in the future?

link to grauniad video and story about flocke and her future

Monday, April 07, 2008

and what of the yankees?

damon's bat is broken by a devil rays pitch

the picture above kind of tells the story. the yanks are at .500, second bottom of the a.l. east. the only comfort is that the red sox are beneath them :-) the offence has yet to spark, and the pitching is still not right. i used to love andy pettitte, but i'm not so sure now; and i was never terribly fond of mussina. o well, over 150 games still to go so there is lots of time for a happy ending or a hundred.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

british bees could be next

from the latest online edition of the telegraph we read:

"Bee Wilson on the crisis facing British honey-makers [is that really her real name?]

'You don't know what you got till it's gone,' sang Joni Mitchell. 'They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.' Will this soon be true of British honey? If beekeepers' estimates are right, the British honey-bee could be wiped out in ten years. Thousands of hives have already taken a hit from the varroa mite, a deadly parasite. Now the British Beekeepers' Association is warning that British bees could be affected by the colony collapse disorder that has destroyed bee colonies all over America. They are calling on the Government to fund a research project designed to protect the nation's bees. It will cost £8 million - loose change compared with the estimated £165 million a year that bees contribute to the economy through pollinating fruit trees and other crops.

Life without the honey-bee is too horrible to contemplate. Maybe this explains the new popularity of home-grown honey. Four years ago, when I wrote a book on honey, British honey seemed in the doldrums. Compared with the great varieties of the world - Spanish orange-blossom, Greek thyme, French lavender - native honey was dull. Too much came from oil-seed rape, which makes it highly crystalline and cabbagy. But suddenly our honey is exciting again. It answers the new demand for local food. And there is more variety than before. Through honey you can sample the riches of Balmoral heather (Duchy Originals), and soon the blossoms of London's royal parks (from June Fortnum's Bee's Superior Honey will come from hives on the roof of the shop in Piccadilly) ... British honey is still a tiny chunk of the market. In 2007 our bees produced 4,000 tons - less than usual because of the wet summer. By contrast, we eat 24,000 to 26,000 tons of imported honey a year. When you realise how scarce it is, British honey seems like liquid gold: 95 per cent is not sold through supermarkets. Do track it down - to farmer's markets, specialist shops such as The Hive in London ( or even the individual beekeeper (find your local beekeepers association at"

charlton heston is dead

heston pickets a whites-only business in 1961

i have never been a fan of charlton heston, especially with regard to his conservative perspectives such as supporting the national rifle association. his most famous film, for which he won an oscar, was probably 'ben hur'. mort sahl reviewed the movie thus: "loved him, hated hur." i'll watch it again if all there is on the other channels is horse racing. on the other hand, he was responsible for that wonderful moment in 'planet of the apes' when he sees the broken head of the statue of liberty, realises he is on earth, and damns humanity. i do enjoy that! and he was a good sport on the dame edna everage shows when he fell down the stairs (well, the stunt heston did the actual falling i believe). anyway, may he rest in peace, gun in hand no more.

baton-twirling bear

bears can get bored when they spend all their lives in the zoo. remember gus, the polar bear in nyc? he swam in manic circles until the zookeepers gave him a bucket to play with, and then he swam in circles pushing the bucket. now we are hearing about claude, a black bear who twirls sticks obsessively. i guess it is better than being hunted for your gall bladder :-(

Saturday, April 05, 2008

qpr 2 - 2 preston north end

camp helps to keep us in the game

from all that i hear we were quite dire. akos is still out, and rowan is out for the season with a busted leg. just because we are safe now doesn't mean that we shouldn't be trying. *sigh* 0-2 down with 1 minute to go a lot of people had already gone home, after all, the new season of doctor who begins tonight. i learned my lesson in the early eighties never to leave early when we came back from 1-3 to win 4-3 against oldham i think it was. anyway, bring on wild thing as a sub and even though his legs just cannot do it any more, he has the will and he has the spirit and he dragged us back scoring one and assisting with the equaliser. which was in the 93rd minute. of a 90-minute match. nu - the most exciting thing i heard from the listee reports was that juzza got sir tom finney's autograph. wow!

a blurry view of dex's goal

Friday, April 04, 2008

woody allen sues clothes company

From Reuters
April 1, 2008
Woody Allen on Monday sued American Apparel Inc, claiming the U.S. clothing company used his image in advertising on billboards and the Internet without his consent. The billboard ads, which depict Allen dressed as a rabbi, appeared in New York and California, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Allen, an Oscar-winning U.S. director known for his work in films such as "Annie Hall" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors," said in the suit he was neither contacted by the company, nor compensated for the use of his image. "Allen does not engage in the commercial endorsement of products or services in the United States," according to the lawsuit. He is seeking damages in excess of $10 million, according to the suit. A representative for American Apparel did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The company makes and sells its own cotton apparel and has more than 180 stores in the United States and Canada.

strangely enough, i remember hearing an early stand-up routine (sadly not on youtube) called 'the vodka ad' all about how woody doesn't do endorsements, which coincided with my finding an old playboy magazine in our house that had a picture of him in a vodka ad. this i just googled:

oh, and here is the one in my mag:

i guess the point is that he does not do this any more?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

the things they do with lego

i love lego. or legos as people here call them. they were my favourite toy as a child. red and white, with the occasional tiny yellow or black block, and the excitement of a sloping one that could be used for a roof, they were simple and fun. they are still a lot of fun now, and i cannot be critical of the prefab sets since my office desks had lego harry potter helping yoda to fight darth vader, and the window sill in my room right now has indiana jones jousting with the black knight while sir george and denholm elliot speed towards a nazi checkpoint on a motorbike with sidecar.

since the kind of imagination we had to use when i first played with lego is no longer so relevant, fans have adapted their imagination to contemporary ideas of fun. this could be an explanation for things like this.

nu today i found an article that presented famous photographs recreated in lego. my apologies that i have mislaid the url, but here is an example for you to enjoy: