Saturday, March 31, 2007

Whatever happened to the 'stiff upper lip'?

Ok, so Iran has gone all Iranian on us again. (Like "postal" I firmly believe that "Iranian" will someday make it into the common vernacular.)

I remember when I was little, my Mum played a thinly-disguised educational game with me called "spin the globe". The concept was that we would take a globe, spin it like a spin-top, close our eye sand stop it with one finger, naming the place we landed on and some random fact about the country. At the time of course, the communists still ran Russia with an iron fist, the Berlin Wall was still dividing Germany, and the middle-east was a hot-bed of anti-Western sentiment. Um... well, so kinda like now (minus the wall) but... then.

Aaanyway.... My mother, determined not to turn me into a political lightweight later on in life, was the one who provided me with the random facts and these usually included the preferred reaction when landing on a potentially unfriendly or enemy country. So, it would go something like...

"Ewwwwwww Russia! Brezhnev! Bad man! Let's spin again and go somewhere else!"

"Oh no! China! Deng Xiaoping! Socialist Dictator! Let's get out of here!"

and finally...

"Iran. Mad-man, Ayatollah Khomeini! Spin again!"

Indeed, it is true that, with even the limited vocabulary of a five year old, I knew the words 'Ayatollah Khomeini' and could pick him out in a line-up any day of the week.

My point here being (other than sharing pretentious childhood stories) that Iran has never exactly been the west's best bud.

Cut to this week's capture of the British military personnel in Iraqi waters by those mad Iranians.

What the heck happened to the British stiff upper lip?

Good lord people! The Brits have barely been in custody for a week and already they've had enough and decided to confess. Aren't these people trained to withstand enemy interrogation? In recent video it looks like they're hanging out after a day at Disneyland, not beaten into submission at the hands of a brutal enemy.

The BBC quotes a fellow shipmate of Faye Turney, the one woman captured and the first to appear in muslim head-dress, apologizing for being in Iranian water: "You can see that she doesn't want to be saying those things - you can see that she doesn't really mean what she's been told to say. The contrast in Faye Turney's demeanour is stark; she clearly appears unhappy" " Well, state the obvious why don't you.

I get that they're in enemy hands, probably being told 'confess and we'll spare your family' or something equally as trite, but couldn't they have held out a few more days? Maybe got a bruise or two on the cheekbone to at least make it look like they were coerced, before folding like a deckchair on Brighton beach?

I certainly don't envy their position and can't imagine what I would do in the same situation... but then I didn't join the Royal Navy. It's just a bit disappointing to see them confessing so soon and, at least it seems on the surface, without a fight.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Back at the airport again

Sorry, no photos this time - you're just going to have to take me on my word. I'm still endlessly fascinated by the fact that I can connect to the internet while while waiting to board my plane, so this is just a quick post to entertain me.

Off to Portland this time, just for the day. I'm going with the CEO of my current company (also CEO of my previous company), the SVP of my current company, and the President of my previous company (also the wife of my SVP). All rather convulted... but anyway it should be "fun". When I told people at the office I had to spend 10 hours with these three people a lot of them gave me a look of deep sympathy. They're all really nice, however, in their own way but each strong and very different personalities. Between the four of us we represent almost every different variation of an A-type personality.

Yes, it will be fun...

Stay tuned for stories tomorrow...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Just to prove I WAS there!

Some photos of me "in action" at the conference in Palm Desert a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I stole them from a website (hence the "proof" and poor quality). They wanted $35 to download each photo or $9 for a 4x6. Since I'm not planning on framing them, piracy was cheaper.
Now I await the comments about what I was doing with my left hand in photo 2... sigh...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Snoop gets poop from UK

UK immgration statistics 2005: According to official UK government estimates, approximately 1,500 migrants arrived to live in the UK every day during 2005. The same figures suggest that 185,000 more people immigrated into the UK than emigrated to another country, yielding a net population gain of 500 per day. According to the figures released by the Office for National Statistics, the largest single group of immigrants were 121,000 arrivals from "new commonwealth" nations - principally, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.Of the 1.42 million total number of immigrants who arrived in the UK since May 2004, 427,000 were people registering to work from the eight former Eastern Bloc countries which joined the EU in 2004, with the vast majority coming from Poland.

By most accounts, the majority of these people come to benefit from the UK's extremely generous helping of benefits including automatic free healthcare, subsidized housing, and unemployment benefits, to name just a few. They suck the nation's social piggy-bank dry, leaving nothing for pensioners who paid into the system all their lives, and necessitating increasingly ridiculous government taxing schemes to rob hard-working people to pay for the immigrating free-loaders. And let's not even talk about the hard-line muslims who want to impose radical islamic culture on Britain and spend their time trying to recruit British-born muslim teenagers to their sick cause... we have to ensure they have all the benefits they need so paid-work doesn't get in the way.

Finally, it seems, Britain has had enough. Today in the newspaper I saw (with much relief) the first evidence of a crackdown.

British authorities denied rapper Snoop Dogg a visa.

Well, thank goodness for that. His five-concert tour would really have driven a hole in the enonomy and posed a real danger to the security of our fine nation.
I can now rest easy at night knowing that my country is protected from rich African Americans who perform the unthinkinkable act of national treason: "talking" instead of singing to background music.

Friday, March 23, 2007

YESSSS!! Good news for the avid traveler


The United States and the European Union have finally agreed to a long-awaited "Open Skies" pact.

When it goes into effect in March 2008, European and American airlines will be able to fly from any American city to any European city. It should mean more flights to more places, and in the long run, cheaper tickets.

For more than 60 years, trans-Atlantic air flight has been bogged down with a stunning amount of red tape. The U.S. has separate aviation agreements with every European country, giving each country's national carrier a lot of power to prevent other airlines from competing.

Next year, all U.S. and EU airlines will be free to fly anywhere they want in each other's territories. Britain's Virgin Atlantic, for example, says it might offer flights from U.S. cities to Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Madrid.
Germany's Lufthansa could offer a regular London-New York flight.

British Airways had loudly fought the deal, because it wanted to maintain its dominance in Europe's biggest hub, the very crowded Heathrow in London.
But Europeans failed to get what they most wanted: the right to fly from city to city in the United States. There will be no Air France flights from New York to Los Angeles.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Sorry peeps... I've been incommunicado for just more than a week now. In my defense, it's been a hectic week, so let me catch you up.

As you saw from my previous post on the 13th, I flew down to Palm Springs (well, actually Palm Desert, but let's not split hairs) to attend a conference for my new job with Trendgraphix. I told you I would tell you more about this job in a previous post, but to save you from boredom you can just visit if you're interested and just know that I am the sales person for new accounts and account manager for existing 100+ accounts, as well as marketing person, webmaster, systems organizer... you get the general picture. So, back to the Desert.

The conference was for an organization called The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (or LRE for short, since the name is so "catchy" and just rolls off your tongue). This organization is primarily a relocation referral network for independent real estate brokers across the world (but mainly in the U.S.) and, as a whole, directly competes with large national real estate companies like NRT (Coldwell Banker, ERA) and ReMax. We (Trendx) have just developed a preferred vendor partnership with this organization, so we have a foot in the door to hundreds of potential customers. So, I was there to host my own booth, network, get biz cards and generally show off our product.

In summary it went very well. Got lots of cards. Lots of people interested. Lots of follow-up to do (hence my busyness). I'm excited now because I really think I can close some deals as a result of this conference, and deals = commission. For me commission = a new house with a yard is in my future, so I'm pretty motivated.

In moving into a commission/sales position, which I have never done before, it's funny how you immediately start adopting sales person behavior. First of all, you WANT to get up and start working on moving things forward; down-time reads as "wasted time" in your brain. Second of all, you have NO patience for anyone who holds you up in that process.

For instance, I am the only sales/marketing person in this company right now, the rest of the company are programmers. Obviously, very different personalities. Nice, nice, talented people, but process oriented, cautious, ridiculously logical (to a fault). In demonstrating our product, we can't always have an internet connection on-hand, so what we've been doing is downloading entire, specific databases to my laptop so i can run offline. This is great and makes the process of demo'ing stress-free but it means that they have to take my laptop for several hours at a time to load all the information on there. My laptop is my only/primary computer and so this process hamstrings me for hours at a time. I try to get them to do it when I'm in a meeting or something but invariably it takes longer than the meeting and I'm stuck without any way of getting things done. Grrrrr.

In addition, the way they set up my laptop to connect to the LAN and internet at work, initially proved to make it a problem for me to connect to wireless networks outside of the office. So, in a moment of genius, inspired by lack-of-connection-frustration, two weeks ago I created something called a "Network Bridge" which made my laptop work everywhere. I have no idea what this is or why it worked but it did and now my laptop automatically connects to everything all the time. I LOVE IT! Of course, the tech-peeps are aghast. First of all, what made me think of doing this terrible and potentially problematic thing? Second of all, the only problem this aparently does cause is difficulty connecting to the computers from which all that offline data needs to be downloaded. So, now they want to mess with my connection settings again, to try and get it to work for the downloads. Yes, they wanted to take my computer away for several hours, so that they could mess with the connection settings that ensure I can connect to other networks, so that they can enable a download of offline databases, which takes many other hours.

As a result, yesterday, someone from Lyon's IT department (who we still work with on some things) came over and asked me if they could take my laptop for a while. I practically leaped down his throat and told him how I had lost the laptop for 3 hours the day before, how I didn't have a laptop for an hour already that day, how the download process slowed down my computer and how I JUST NEEDED TO WORK!!!! Ahem. He retreated rapidly, of course, but I felt bad.

Then I realized............ YIKES! I am a touchy, short-tempered, selfish sales person!!!!!!!!!

  • I messed with things I have no idea about and in doing so, created problems for other people's work.
  • Worse, I didn't care about their problems, only mine.
  • I got short-tempered and irritated with someone who was just trying to do their job to help me, because I didn't have time for their solutions.

I'm working from home today. I'm going to get all my contacts into my database, plough through some busy work and then tomorrow, willingly and graciously give up my laptop to enable others to do their jobs - before it's too late.

What next? Bluetooth headset stuck to my ear 24/7? Glamor-shot photo on my business cards?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Way cool!

I am writing this sitting in an armchair in Terminal A of Sacrmento airport. Don't believe me? Look at this...

Isn't that cool? The airport has free wireless internet and, unbelievably, I fired-up my laptop and hey presto I had internet access. Absolutely bloody marvelous. Even more inspired was my idea to take a photo of me typing this very post and include it here. I have really impressed myself today. Aside from packing my phone charger in my checked luggage... not so inspired or impressive...
More from Palm Desert (yes, I said Desert and yes it will be +/- 100 degrees) when I get settled.

From rapped to ripped

I've been seeing a number of articles flying around lately announcing the possible "death" of rap music; in 2006 sales of rap albums were down 20%. Not that I keep up with the rap and hip-hop scene any more (that was sooo me of the 90s) but it is true that I haven't heard a catchy hip-hop or rap track in a very long time (Gold Digger being a notable exception).

With this in mind, today I saw the first nail hammered into rap's coffin: LL Cool J, not only on Fox News morning show (with the "white guys in ties") but promoting his new book - The Platinum Workout.

Mr. Cool J (as the white guys in ties referred to him) has aparently given up on the hip-hop scene to pursue skip-hop. Yes, that's right he's now the black Richard Simmons and best of all, he's partnering with none-other than Jarod from the Subway commercials, to promote healthy eating through those delicious low-fat turkey subs.

Next, watch for Jay-Z's Yoga workout...
(Final note: DAMN that man looks good, doesn't he?)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Funny, talented, smart, humble...

It's hard to find anyone with this power-packed combo these days, especially amongst the celebrity circuit, but John Mayer seems to be one of the rare ones. Love or hate his music, I defy you not to be refreshed by his attitude to life and music - listen to his interview on NPR at:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Put a woman in charge!

That's what Merle Haggard thinks. The day's best story is definitely the one about the old country legend writing a song especially to support Hill's bid for the Whitehouse.

It was so funny, I almost spat out my Lean Cuisine at lunch while reading it, so I thought I'd post it here for you:

Eight years in the White House
With the know-how we need
When you walk with a leader
You learn how to lead
And who kept her head high
When it could have been down
Who ran the show
When the scandal hit town
This country needs to be honest.
Changes need to be large.
Something like a big switch of gender.
Let's put a woman in charge
Put a woman in charge of the Army.
Put a woman in charge of the wheel.
The country owes it to Hillary.
And Hillary owes it to Bill.

And here was I thinking that all those country-music folks were right-wing rednecks!

Without doubt, the best news story of the day.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stop Whining!

It's only one hour since my last post and already I'm sick to death of my own whining and complaining.

Waaa waaa waaa, I'm bored, I'm restless, waa waaaaa.

If you're saying "give me a break, girl", I don't blame you. Sorry for subjecting my loyal readers to such pathetic and pointless griping about my lot in life.

Don't worry. No need to post helpful advice. I need to get out with friends, book a trip to Southern California, and start doing one chore an evening.

Yes, you just witnessed the entire range of emotions of this British ex-pat... in two hours.

I told you I wasn't that deep.


I've been so tired lately, lethargic. Literally and mentally. The day-to-day humm-drumm of life just seems to have overwhelmed me with a sense of indifference to pretty much everything. All there seems to be is work and laundry and cleaning and bills and just... stuff. Stuff I don't care about. Stuff that seems to clutter my life and get in my way.

I'm so tired of the constant circle of laundry, the fact that my house is never clean or tidy no matter how much I seem to clean or tidy it, that no matter how much stuff I throw away and donate every cupboard, every surface, every nook and cranny seems to be full of more stuff I don't use and don't need. I'm tired of money - not having enough, not being motivated enough to find other ways of getting more. I'm tired of having to worry about it.

I have a constant headache. I watch too much TV but can't be bothered to do anything else. I come home from work and collapse on the sofa, falling asleep at 8:30 and then kick myself on weekends because now there's so much to do and I'd rather be off doing something exciting. But then I don't really finish the things on the weekends that I should because I'm bitter that I have to do them at all on my days off, yet at the same time I don't go anywhere or do any of the exciting things I wish I was doing anyway. (ARRRGGHH - I drive myself nuts).

I mope. I spend too much time on the computer (hello, this blog!) and then feel guilty about it - what did I achieve? I want to read more but find I read pages and pages without remembering a single word because my mind wanders to the things I'm not doing and should be. But still things aren't getting done. Perhaps I shouldn't care that there's a ring of dust and dog-hair around my bathroom floor and that my back patio smells like the dog's toilet (probably because that's its primary function). Perhaps I wouldn't care if I had a good excuse as to why.

I know life can't be exciting and exhilarating ALL the time but it should at least be interesting, shouldn't it? My life isn't very interesting. I have few friends and the ones I do have, have busy lives of their own - they're not the "come on over if you're bored" or "let's go shopping", impromptu types. Orchestrating a meeting is like planning a military operation. Spontaneity would be an imposition; people are very private, cautious, territorial here.

I miss Southern California. (god did I really say that?) It was easier to have fun and be alone down there. I would go out for drives on Sundays when I was alone and soak-up the sunshine, the sense of space, the newness of everything, the backdrop of parched hills or the Pacific Ocean... open the windows, put on some music, and just drive. For a few minutes to Borders, or for a few hours down PCH - I got a sense of renewal out of those drives, no matter where the destination.

Sacramento is ugly; sorry folks but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this eye doesn't think much of Sactown. Yes, there are some nice, quaint areas, pockets here and there with neighborhoods that boast tree-lined streets and historic homes, fit for a "small town" movie set, but on the whole most areas (specifically the ones where any mere mortal can afford to live) look like they could use a good make-over. The roads are full of potholes, there are too many traffic lights that take too long to change, too much traffic on the side streets and not enough freeways (it takes forever to get anywhere). There are too many stripmalls and too many of them that need tearing down.

There's nowhere to walk around in the open air. Unless you go downtown, there's a lack of good, independent restaurants at reasonable prices. There's nowhere to sit and hang-out alone to just enjoy people watching. The ocean is too far away. I lived 30 miles from the ocean when I lived in SoCal, but I would drive to at least twice a month, just to see it, be by it. I never realized how much I'd miss it. There's history but no culture. It's just plain boring. I'm bored by it. But I guess, for better or for worse, its home. We can't all live somewhere breathtakingly beautiful and I know it could be a lot worse.

I'm thinking I should re-paint the walls of my condo, just for a change you know? But then, I think, I still really like my Ralph Lauren Chamois yellow, so why am I trying to change it? I think what I really need is to change the walls altogether. Get out of this place.

Early this morning, while it was still dark, some kids in a stolen car (I think) flew around the corner, onto my street from the main road, hitting an electrical pole and then finally skidding to a halt opposite my condo. Our electricity popped on and off at 5am. The squashed car is still sitting there, looking trashy. I'm waiting for someone to set fire to it, that would really put a cap on the incident. Last year, SWOT descended on my neighborhood, guns drawn, to try and capture a guy in the nearby apartments that had intentionally run someone over with his car. At night, there are cars that cruise up-and-down the side street, conspicuously slowly. Every now and then some kids will smash or steal the lights at the entrance to our complex's driveway. Our neighbors are either over 60, lived here for 30 years, now belligerant and fearful, or young renters who don't give a shit. Things like this make me not want to live here any more. I've been here for four years and I feel stagnant. I need to move, to change, to achieve, to be challenged... I feel like I haven't done any of these things in so long that my mind and body has gone into hibernation.

I need more and less space all at once. A yard. Flower-beds to weed. A park to walk to. A high ceiling. Yet, neighbors who I can call on, uninvited or who we can share a bottle of wine and a Saturday night barbecue. I want to be 10 minutes away from movies and restaurants and beautiful scenery. I guess I'm not that much different to everyone else. There's probably not a person out there who doesn't want all these things; hence those places with all the required elements cost so freakin' much to live in. I'm sure mine is not a new desire.

So, what to do? That's always what it comes down to. You can whine and moan and complain about your lot in life but at the end of the day the only one who can change it is you. And everything is a trade-off. Usually, the only reason why people don't do something they say they want to do is because they're more afraid of letting go of something else in return. It sounds like I need a list. And this I shall save for another time...

Defining "trollop"

Thanks to my friend, Julianne, who is currently living in Oz and who recently posted a comment to my previous post, there has been much interest in the word "trollop".

So, here for those of you who are curious, is a definition:


In England (particularly where I grew up and where this word, I think, originated), this could also be substituted for such 'tasteful 'words as "tart" and "slag". I'm pretty sure that Oz has adopted these words too, since Australian English has a lot more in common with English (as in the English that comes from... ENGLAND!) than American English (which really isn't English at all, is it). In fact, when I met up with Julianne's Australian friend, who lives here in Sac, I was filled with a sense of instant cameraderie the moment she said "trolley". For those of you who spell colour without the u, this is the correct word for shopping cart.

Excellent! Now we all know how to scream obscenities at our fellow x chromosomes in the language of our forefathers. One more giant leap for woman-kind.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

An "interesting" news day

$500 to all newborns What a great idea! Of course, it will never fly. Gotta build those prisons as the nice Republican said. God forbid that we divert money away from the criminals to help the newborn babies. This from someone who probably espouses Christian values in another forum. Can someone please explain this point of view to me?!?

Meanwhile, on pag SIXTEEN (because obviously this isn't a topic of any national or regional significance): More in US plunge deeper into poverty. Not only are there more people living below the poverty line in the U.S., but those people are even poorer than they were before.
43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people are now classified as living in "deep poverty" -- the highest rate since at least 1975 (aka: my lifetime). But hey, the richer are getting richer, so let's hide this story somewhere in the back of the newspaper - wouldn't want to upset the fragile conscience of those who refuse to pay a little more in taxes to fund programs that might help save some of these poor buggers from rack and ruin.

And finally, in England... Marriage rates dropped 10% from 2005 to 2006 to the lowest rate since records began. This is an interesting and thought-provoking statistic. The article says that:

Years of research has shown that married couples are better off and healthier than cohabiting couples. Children of married families are likely to be healthier physically and mentally and to do better at school. They are less likely to fall into drug or drink abuse, early sex and pregnancy, unemployment or crime. Ministers and public officials often say the figures simply mean that better educated middle class couples are more likely to marry. Their opponents say it is increasingly plain that the public commitment of marriage ties couples together and helps bind their families.

Personally, I do believe in marriage (well, duh, being married twice might be a clue there), but I have always viewed this as a personal choice rather than something that had societal impacts. I do think it is possible to bring up healthy, well-adjusted children outside of a marriage but I also think it is harder to do so. However, I have always viewed the US religious right's protectionist attitude to marriage as somewhat extreme and intolerant (which generally speaking describes the religious right's views on any given subject). But it is interesting that, as religion plays less of a cohesive role in UK society (fewer people identifying themselves with the Christian faith and a higher percentage of immigrants bringing "other" religions with them), marriage rates go down, crime goes up and, well, society in general seems to be less considerate and compassionate.

This is one I'm going to have to think on. How to balance tolerance and personal liberty with the good of society as a whole...?

Welcome Evani!

Auntie Shell getting in more good practice

My good friend Mala had her baby on Tuesday. Little Evani entered the world at 6lbs 9oz and 19.5" long. As you can see from the photos she is petite (although I'm sure Mala would differ on that perception) and precious.

On my way to see her I ran into Linh, another good friend of ours, and we visited together. Something funny happened, however, when we arrived into Mala's room.... A nurse and security guard preceeded us, flew open the door, stared at the baby in Mala's arms and then proceeded to say into a walkie-talkie "Ten four - the baby is here! The baby is here!" Somehow Evani's little tracking device had come off of her tiny ankle and this had set alarms off in the maternity ward, making nurses fear that she had been "stolen". It was an amusing moment, since it coincided with our arrival, but at the same time it was sobering.

All of us believe that Linh should be next!

Both Mala and daughter are in excellent health and should be out of the hospital today - gosh, so fast! I can't believe that Evani is finally here. After watching her grow in Mala's tummy at close quarters almost every day since Mala found out she was pregnant, it was an awesome moment to see her here, in the flesh. I know millions of women give birth every day but I'm still in complete awe of mothers - to go through so much pain and then to be sitting there with a smile on your face the next day... I can't imagine. It's all such a wonderful miracle.

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