Friday, August 30, 2013

A working pub quiz

Once again my work had outdone itself and decided to throw more festivities at the workplace. I love these kinds of things. Really I do. Bring the coworkers together, give us a little reprieve from the hard work that we do.

I'd missed some of the more recent ones - there was a doughnut or chocolate tasting (couldn't get the straight answer from the guys who sit around me) while I was away in Croatia and there may have been another one that I missed because I was busy with projects other times.

But this one I was determined not to miss. Why?
  1. Who doesn't love a pub quiz? Really, who doesn't love trivia. Especially in England. It's shocking how much people love pub quizzes in Europe in general. People get very competitive. It's lovely.
  2. There would likely be prizes. I love winning things (like most people). This was going to be a competition to the end.
  3. The people around me all had plans for Friday night and mine was conspicuously open. Seemed like a good enough reason.
  4. I didn't want to go home and do nothing instead.
  5. It started at 3:30pm and was a legitimate reason to stop working then and leave my desk. 'Nuff said.
So at 3:45pm (I even left a little late!) I went to our cafeteria and joined my team to battle against five other teams for the glory of pub quiz winnings.

Hilariously the topics revolved around our newest product release (go figure...it is company-sponsored after all...they had to make it relevant to let us get away from work...we'd let them do it this time).

There were six rounds and they were rapid fire. Luckily we were plied with much free booze of our choosing (red or white wine, two types of beer (Heineken or Peroni)) and lots of snacks (the amazing rice cracker mix that I can't seem to find anywhere in supermarkets, other types of pub snacks like cracker nuts and these amazing little round snack cracker things that I love).


I was trying to be good though and actually win this thing, so I had one glass of white wine and stayed away from the carby snacks in order to keep my brain clear. Especially since I'd partaken in the English breakfast that was available that morning in the cafeteria instead of just the free design breakfast that I'm allowed to participate in (Ginger and Hapa have been slowly converting me to their British lifestyle...I've even started to call English breakfast a "fry up" instead...this is where it all begins).

Anyway, the pub quiz commenced and my team of ladies was doing pretty well. We were in solid second for a long time (against the group of guys that we were really battling against). But then we were killed in the music round and suddenly we were second to last. Oof.

We never gained ground again.

At the end we hilariously tied against the guys' group that we were trying to beat. Oh well.

As they were passing out prizes we saw that first, second, and last places got prizes.

What! If we had known that last place would also get prizes we would have tried a lot less hard in order to get something.

Last and second place both got chocolate phones. They were actually really cool. Man, if only we'd done so much worse we could have gotten something edible as prize.

First place got a 100pound Nando's certificate. Pretty legit prize considering it wasn't advertised anywhere what we could win. Very legit. Especially considering there were only two guys in that team and it seemed one of the teammates didn't want the prize. So really only one guy won it. His family is going to be eating chicken for the next 3 weeks.

We stayed around partaking of the free booze and snacks for awhile longer then moved onto a pub for the night, staying out late into the night. Regular Friday night for the crew.

This is why I love where I work (among many other reasons).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nerd Nite London

Two posts, as promised. :)

------------------------------

Sometimes you just have to embrace what you are and gather together with your common folk.

That's what was supposed to happen at Nerd Nite London.

Admittedly this was something I heard about, oddly, through work. Though not in the way you'd expect.

I read a lot of tech blogs for my job. I'm not going to delve into that further, but just accept this as truth. Anyway, one of the articles I happened to pass (and decide to read) was about how nerds can meet each other and date, since we tend to maybe be very interested in what we do and well...not socialize as much as normal people. Something something introverts, or maybe something something OCD about our jobs or hobbies or whatever. Anyway, we tend not to do a good job of meeting new people...or other people...in general.

So the question that was put out to the author of the article (a professed nerd love doctor) was: how should nerds find each other?

The resounding answer: Nerd Nites. They're like local TED talks that are held in each city. They're organized places where people come to hear mini lectures about interesting things by local people. People who are experts in their fields or just know about a subject and want to talk about it.

I for one, love TED talks. So I was sold.

I looked it up and not surprisingly, London has Nerd Nites. If anything I would think so. They started in New York but London isn't that much of a stretch. It has 12 million people, after all. If none of them want to hear about nerdy subjects I am definitely in the wrong place.

So, I looked up the next event and bought a ticket as soon as it was available. Boom, done.

And several weeks later, I left work and went to it.

Oddly it was being held at a vintage clothing shop. I'd known this ahead of time (since the venue was announced early on and the previous two had been held in the same place) and had even investigated their website. But still it was a bit of a shock:






Not exactly what I was thinking when I was imagining nerds uniting and talking about smart things. The subjects that we were supposed to hear about that night were:
  1. Do people in different cultures experience pain in the same way?
  2. Olympics and how does it change athletics policies in schools
  3. A look into personas/alter egos and how they're used in the music industry
Fairly interesting things, though I would have gone whatever the topics had been.

Anyway I arrived ridiculously early, wanting to have time to explore the shop in detail and potentially buy gifts. I'm always on the hunt for gifts now. I think it gives me drive for shopping since I've recently decided I only need essentials for myself and I've even failed at buying those lately. Seems I'm sticking with my Finnish ways.

I arrived 45 minutes early. The vintage shop took me 15 minutes to go through. I decided to wander the streets of Shoreditch. Nothing interesting, unfortunately. All the real shops of interest (book stores, card stores, etc) were closed for the day. I noticed without fail that really all London is is a lot of pubs and restaurants. Everyone just wants to eat and drink. Really 75% of storefronts are one of the two. No wonder 50-60% of the adult population here is considered overweight. Ugh, totally on my way there. Going to scale back (okay, climbing off of my soapbox).

After my brief walk out I went back to the vintage shop. By then a bar had opened. I hadn't noticed it before because it was cleverly disguised as a cashier point before. But I guess just proves my point further: you can find a bar anywhere in London. Everything's a pub.


Everything.

I ordered a cider and grabbed a solo seat. This was going to hopefully be a successful night of meeting people, but I dunno, the Brits tend to be rather antisocial. So we'd see.


As a side note observation, most beers and ciders are served room temperature, here in London. This is the British way. I was talking to someone later in the night about this and we were both disgusted (they are Aussie). Unless it's from the tap, it's not going to be cold. I've gotten used to it, but you've been warned. And unfortunately after having been spoiled by Finland, none of the ciders here are going to meet par. Oof. I am definitely jaded.

So we waited for the lectures to start. They did, about 20 minutes late. They started with a hilarious introduction about the definition of nerds. They gave both the definitions from wikipedia and another from Urban Dictionary. Let's just say the one from urban dictionary was far more kind to our kind:

A nerd (adjective: nerdy) is a person, typically described as being overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities.[1][2][3] Additionally, many nerds are described as being shy, quirky, and unattractive,[4] and may have difficulty participating in, or even following, sports. 

...versus...

An 'individual', i.e. a person who does not conform to society's beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obsession with a given subject, usually computers. Unfortunately, nerds seem to have problems breeding, to the detriment of mankind as a whole.

Clearly going to go with the Urban Dictionary definition, though I feel sad at our current state regarding breeding problems.

Anyway, the lectures were off to a start after that. Knowledge, recorded:

Pain, and cultural differences in experiencing it

This unfortunately was the least interesting of all the lectures and definitely the most general. The woman's lecture was actually not about this subject at all and more about the general differences between western and eastern perceptions of the body (the anatomy-based concept versus that which is more spiritual or mysterious). She didn't do a good job explaining the eastern side and rather just said that well...aren't you glad you're being treated by a western doctor like me? (In truth she was only a general practitioner who had been teaching general practitioners for the last several decades...no real medical experience as far as I understood).

I generally had nothing to say to this woman and quietly sipped my drink.

Olympics and its influences on school sports programs

This one amped up the interest levels a bit as it was someone's actual PhD thesis. Since the London Olympics last year this person had the theory that after the Olympics leave a country, that country goes into promoting Olympics-like sporting programs all over, including affecting school sports programs. The real question is: does this make a difference and is it worth all the money and fuss?

General conclusions from this person: absolutely not. There is a lot of money poured into changing policy to getting school programs to promote kids to play Olympic-themed competitive sports, all of this under the guise of:
  1. We (the UK) are getting fatter. Therefore we need more exercise.
  2. Competitive sports build character.
  3. We (the UK) need to win more medals and gain world prestige.
All of these are fundamentally flawed.

First, yes, Britain is definitely getting larger. 50-60% of adults are considered overweight (this is horrendous, btw...I believe they've even overcome the American rates which last I heard were steady and in the 40-50% range). But the speaker was saying that it's likely the other way around - overweightness causes lax in exercise, not that lack of exercise causes obesity. Surely exercise is necessary for a balanced lifestyle and therefore can help in maintaining a healthy weight but it's not the Olympic sports that most people are playing anyway (not adults anyway). We usually do things like commuter exercise (biking to work), running, swimming, going to the gym. And this is for a lot of reasons: we need to organize our schedules accordingly to work and family...getting people together takes time, effort, and a lot of schedule logistics. Therefore, nope, that's not a good reason to promote Olympic sports.

Second, though competitive sports do tend to build character, and all of the Prime Ministers that were studied had indeed been part of elite sports clubs in their respective private schools...studies have shown that competitive sports usually have the opposite effect for the majority of kids. Especially boys, who can have growth spurts anywhere between the ages of 11 to 16. So you put boys, even of the same age, against each other, you could have someone who is developmentally the equivalent of an adult against someone who is basically still the growth version of a child (not mentally but physically). Lots of bullying, etc ensues.

Third, the winning of medals and other things. Well, considering that the Olympic athletic team is literally 0.005% of the general population (and that is the portion that actually could participate in the Olympics, realistically...so this number took into account appropriate age group - so not children or the elderly, etc)...this is very small. So much money pumped into such a small group of people. We're literally talking about a significantly less than 1% ROI here.

Anyway, there were many things in this lecture that I certainly didn't agree with but it was more interesting than the first lecture.

And then we were at the third.

Vjazzled - Personas and alter egos in the music industry

This was actually an incredibly intelligent lecture on alter egos and how they've been used both in the music and entertainment industry but also how basically, at the end of the day, you can't really say "alter ego." They're still the same person, despite expectations and how people may treat them differently...so...there you have it.

I won't go into the entire thing because it is quite long and very well put (so I'm not sure I could do it justice), so instead just look at the music video the artist made (called Vjazzled). Her alter ego is named Quilla Constance. Her real name is Jennifer Allen.

Note that it is somewhat risque and though it doesn't have explicitly elicit content in it, it is suggestive as such. Watch with your own care.

But also please do listen carefully to the lyrics (they might be a little hard to hear). The lyrics are what make this satire the best thing. It really is quite funny. I loled.

It is here.

Anyway, the basis of this person's lecture: alter egos have been used in the music industry to express other areas of a person's personality with a freedom of not being judged as they are as themselves (or how they are perceived normally as themselves). People tend to allow more liberties, and because of that, there has been an explosion of them in the music industry. Just think of David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust, and so many others), Lady Gaga, even Beyonce (Sasha Fierce), and Eminem (Slim Shady).

Overall I enjoyed this Nerd Nite immensely. I also made a new friend from Australia who I'll call Two. She moved here five weeks ago with her boyfriend. Just wanted to be somewhere different and this was as good a place as any. Fair enough. She's now thinking that she should get a job because she's burning through her savings (despite London being cheaper than Sydney...hard to believe). She used to do forensics back in Australia. I've now officially met someone who does CSI stuff. That is so cool.

And that was my first nerdy experience in London. Definitely going back for the next one, which is in September (they're taking a break for the summer). Those three lectures will be on:
  • Something related to the pope (I've forgotten this topic, sorry).
  • Jurassic Park lied about dinosaurs; what they were really like instead.
  • How playing video and computer games is really beneficial.
And there you have it. Nerdy nights for all! Go check out your own local chapter. I'd encourage it. :)

Moar cooking!

My cooking adventures continue...and in interesting ways.

I'd made promises the week before to make dinner for Salads. She's in the middle of packing at the moment and thought it would be a good motivator to do a whole day of packing and look forward to a home cooked meal. Plus she'd been spying all of my posts about homemade goodies and asked when she could come over. I said whenever she had time.

The date was set. I went to the farmers market as planned and decided on seasonal eggplant as my veggie of choice (Salads is a strict vegetarian...though luckily she still drinks copious amounts of wine and loves cheese).

Unfortunately she needed to cancel rather last minute, so I was left with my eggplants for another time. As this turns out, it was more than alright with me. I was out already with Church and friends at Street Feast, so festivities just continued in that vein. However, eggplants remained.

So what to do with those eggplants?

I did some investigation on allrecipes (my favorite site still for recipe mongering) and I found...

two recipes that I wanted to make.

One is for hot and spicy eggplant (Chinese style). I have done this once before (long time ago) and I will likely do it again. Takes some patience but it needs to be cooked. Delicious will ensue. I have still yet to do this one but it is in the works.

The second was for lamb and eggplant stew. I had oddly bought minced lamb again from the local organic non-GM fed butcher this past weekend as well yet didn't have the rest of the ingredients for another (which would have been my third) bout of chili. And I was feeling like something different should be made. After eating both of my last pots of chili in about two days...I was thinking that perhaps I should stop making myself food crack and move onto something different.

So, lamb and eggplant stew it was. Awesome! I even had almost all of the ingredients. After reading the other comments left...I could definitely substitute and make do with what I had.

The result?

Success!


Took about an hour to stew in its own juices as well as two onions, two bell peppers, two eggplants, about a pound and a half of minced lamb, an incredible amount of allspice (bit weird but totally works), garlic salt, freshly ground black pepper, the equivalent of two tomatoes (I only buy these local non-GM cherry tomatoes which I eat like grapes...they're amazing), some ketchup, and a frozen cup or so of red wine I had in the freezer and voila!

Fantastic stew. I even made brown basmati rice to go with it (something I never care to do...who cares about carbs?).

I'd have to say I'm rather proud of this one. Upping the cooking ante.

I have a feeling that the amount of people wanting to come to Ealing is going to increase as the food fanciness continues to go up...

I look forward to it. Future cooking, ho!

Recipe, here.

Apologies for the disappearance!

Dear readers,

Much apologies for the disappearance these last few days. I've been in and out of the hospital/A&E/ER and when I've not been there I've been laying in my apartment, usually half asleep and in a delirium of pain. Because of this I've not been at work and subsequently, not at a computer.

I'm slowly starting to feel human again though, so posting should resume as normal soon. Starting with today.

Thanks for your patience, tSH should be back running as normal in no time.

Sincerely,
tSH

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bank holiday on Monday

Hello dear readers,

Sorry but I'll be taking a short break on Monday. There is a bank holiday (nope, still have no idea what it's for...the Brits have given it to me so I'm taking it with a vengeance), so I'll not be around electronics of any kind in order to do posting as usual.

To make up for it I'll post two on Tuesday as per my usual promise.

Thanks and have a lovely long weekend!

Sincerely,
tSH

Out on a school night!

And despite my rather busy weekend (and that was jam packed compared to what I normally do, which is farmers market, maybe some cooking, and a whole lot of laying around and either watching tv or reading...which is lovely, really it is)...I was out again. On a Monday night, of all times.

This was not planned. I was thinking I would go to the gym after work (after being super lazy the week before and only making it once...disgusting, I know...and in stark contrast to what I had been doing when I first moved, which was a fierce like 4-5 times a week...overzealous.), then maybe hit the Waitrose on the way home to pick up some much-needed essentials (finally running out of the TP supply my parents bought me, things of that nature).

But instead I was hailed online by someone I'd not spoken to in awhile. A lovely British Indian girl I'd met in Austria (Salzburg to be specific...and then we met up again in Vienna when we were both there later) when I was backpacking back in 2011. She lives in Bristol now and is helping patients with brain disorders. Very noble and excellent profession.

Anyway, it had come down last minute that one of her friends was doing a standup comedy routine that night and had invited her into town (London town, that is). So she decided to hop on the train and make the two hour trek down. And so it was. I was then hailed and invited out.

Unfortunately the show started at 6pm, which for me is way too early (who gets off of work early enough to make anything remotely close to 6pm? You'll be lucky if you get working people assembled by 7:30pm), so we agreed to meet after the show was over, a much more reasonable 7pm.

So I went to my gym session, she went to the comedy routine, and I agreed to meet up with her later.

Ah blissful gym session...return me to my state of calm bliss. It did work. I did feel better afterwards.

And then met everyone in Camden, which is about a 35 minute busride away from Paddington (where I work).

Catching up ensued (we hadn't seen each other since before my move to Finland, if you can believe that) and drinks were ordered. A day out on the town...on a Monday of all days! I couldn't believe how young I was feeling. It was ridiculous.

And then we dove into some food together. Fried food (as pub food always seems to be).


Greasy greasy pub food. Admittedly it's always the things that you kind of want deep in your soul but you feel slightly guilty for wanting. Fried chicken wings, calamari rings, cheese sticks, potato wedges, and even a few chicken fingers. We got the maximum sharing platter.

The sauces, in case you were wondering (since they're not what I thought they would have been, given the variety of fried items) are (from top and clockwise): sour cream (despite being oddly like cottage cheese in texture), sweet and spicy sauce, and some sort of relatively mild salsa ketchup mixture.

I had a half-pint of Stella to go with it. Very nice.

Alas it was a Monday night though, and eventually, being the reasonable adult that I sometimes am, I felt like I should go. Getting back to Ealing from Camden takes a good hour. But at least the route home wasn't too bad - tube tube bus. Dealable.

Was good seeing old friends, making new friends. This London Town business is really looking up. Haven't felt this alive here in...ever.

Also doesn't hurt that the warm weather has finally started to stick. People are saying this is the longest summer stretch of weather they've had in 7 years. I'm going to pretend it has something to do with me. Har har.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Electric Cinema and Cafe

Like I mentioned from the "A meeting of nations" entry, I met up with the German girl I met from that night later in the weekend. Books.

Books is an interesting person; she's never lived in any one place for more than about 7 years, and that includes childhood. Since then that record has only been remotely touched by her time in London, which is now currently at about 6.5 years. She said she needed a bit of stability in her life before letting herself move again. I think that's fair enough.

The reason I've decided to call her Books is because her current profession is signing and selling contracts for a publishing company. Needless to say I find her job fascinating...but I think it's hard for me to think that any job isn't. She has some reservations about her current career and is interested in checking out other things, but at the moment she likes what she does and thinks of it more as a philanthropic cause more than anything else (who doesn't love books?).

Anyways after a small back and forth text chat we decided to meet on Sunday for a day of wandering Portobello Market and perhaps a movie at the Electric Cinema, which according to her is a landmark and must-see of London. I'd never heard of it so I quickly agreed.

As you'll likely remember I'd been to Portobello Market with my parents previously, but as you likely have already figured out, I do love me some markets and would absolutely never turn down the opportunity to see/wander some more. Especially with the holiday season coming up faster than I'd like to admit and various birthdays and other things. There are always gifts to be bought and things to look at.

So I happily met her at Notting Hill Gate station and we started wandering the gorgeous streets of Portobello Market. After we walked past the antiques section, which was oddly empty and a bit scarce, we started to get the impression that either something much much bigger was happening in the city that weekend or we were there during a very uncrowded weekend.

We checked the internetz. Nope, it's just that the market doesn't happen on Sundays. Which is hilarious because both of us could have sworn that it actually did run on Sundays. Nope, we're both wrong.

Anyway, there were still a few vendors and stores open to check out, so we definitely did some shopping anyway. Or at least some window shopping. Not much to buy so not much buying happened. That wasn't the point anyway; we'd just met a couple of days ago and we really just wanted to chat and get to know each other better, which we definitely did.

Eventually the shopping ended and it just happened to be perfect timing for the matinee showing at the Electric Cinema. This particular cinema only shows a few select movies at a time (about two, hand-selected). Usually one of these is more indie and is not necessarily so recent (things like "My Neighbor Totoro" was playing earlier in the month and I expressed sadness at having missed being able to see it in theaters, despite having seen it many times), and the other is usually some must-see blockbuster that would just bring in income for the theater (they were currently showing "Wolverine 3-D"...I think you get the point).

We decided to go for the indie film that was playing, which also happened to be the matinee choice for that day. "Stuck in Love."

We paid for our tickets and went inside.

What Books hadn't told me was that this was a special kind of theater. Not just in selection of movies but also in ambiance:


Old-timey, beautifully crafted, lots of moulding along the walls. Painted to remind you of the old romantic days of movie-theater-going. Not the modern emphasis of technology and surround sound.


The entire first row of seating is actually sofa beds where you can lay down with your significant other and cuddle while watching the film. Really romantic movie watching.


The rest of the seats (which is where we were sitting) are super plush leather-velvet armchairs with mirrored tables inbetween them for your food and drink (which I'll describe in a second).


Food and drink are ordered at the bar. You can get cocktails and wine and an assortment of tapas. Fancy.


To be honest the entire thing reminded me of an upscale old-fashioned version of the fatass theater I had visited in Oklahoma the time I had visited my good friends there. It was incredible.

The entire thing was just oozing romantic comfort. This was definitely the place to take a cute date. I can't wait for my dating life to start in London so I can utilize this place to its fullest. It will be fantastic and ridiculous at the same time. My favorite things.

Anyway the movie was surprisingly good; funny and witty, sad and a bit weepy. Made you think. A bit unrealistic perhaps but also kind of nice. Some interesting life lessons that I'll likely never need to learn since they're not pertinent. All in all a good girly movie.

After the movie we decided it was time to eat. So where did we go? To the cafe that's connected to the theater, of course! This is exactly why this place is the perfect date spot. Come for a bite to eat, catch the matinee movie and snuggle with your person of choice. Boom.




Cute little french patisserie is what it is. Literally right next door. Amazing.

And the food is pretty good too, I might add, and it's not even that ridiculously overpriced. I ordered the grilled salmon (trying to be a little healthier...though I ruined that with the fries).


Pretty nice portion, though unfortunately (like all the entrees), it comes with nothing on the side as a standard. Salmon, tomatoes, lots of oil. Fantastically cooked, just perfectly tender and juicy. Delicious seasoning, whatever it is. Best salmon I've had in awhile. Can't remember the last time I've had it, now that I think of it...probably not that long ago. Ah yes, when I had sushi on the previous Tuesday for the VIP corporate night at the V&A. See? Not that long ago.


Fantastic fries. They came with a garlic mayo which you can barely see at the bottom of the photo. That was the best part; the garlic mayo. As it always is. Me and fried food have had a very special relationship for a long time. Sigh, shame that it's so unhealthy. This will never make me refuse it outright though. I will always love fried food more than I should.


And maybe one of the weirder items on the menu: roasted broccoli. Came highly recommended from our waiter so we went ahead and ordered it. That guy was not wrong. It was definitely covered in butter and something else (you could tell by taste, not by texture). Amazing. Really good. Who would have thought?

We sat there talking and eating for a long time, talking as only girls know how to do. I loved it.

Maybe I will be able to make a good friend circle here after all. London is certainly looking up.

Love finding new fun people and finding new fun places.

Bring it on Don, I'm ready.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cutting the mustard

And as promised, the second posting of the day to make up for yesterday's absence:

After the weekend of making my own homemade mustard, it was time to finally try it. I'd left it in the fridge (completely sealed) for a week and I was anxious to try it. Plus I'd finally gotten a loaf of bread again so I had something to try it on (very important in the trying of things).

The result?

Resounding success!

I had it in a rather odd sandwich (admittedly) that consisted of:
  • lettuce
  • cucumber
  • mayo
  • a cheese from Bath that resembles an extreme triple creme brie but is not in fact any of those
Needless to say despite these other flavors (and I was eating some Tangy Cheese Doritos at the time...a splurge last time I was at Lidl in a moment of weakness)...I could still taste my mustard. 

It was the taste of victory.


To be perfectly honest there are a few things that I am going to improve about the recipe before I begin distributing it to other people as gifts but the main idea is right. Improvements to be made:
  • Don't cook it for as long; the consistency of the mustard I have currently is more like peanut butter because I definitely was afeared of it being too liquidy. That needn't have been a worry; it is more like a paste now instead of a proper mustard.
  • Consider buying a different type of vinegar; I used white vinegar in my recipe versus the recommended apple cider vinegar because I was being cheap and using what was on hand. I have a feeling this seriously changed the flavor and made it more bitter. Definitely would be good with something a bit sweeter.
  • Less pepper perhaps, would also make it less bitter.
Other than that, pretty satisfied. The color is quite nice; like a more golden Nutella.

Success.

Street Feast

And after my late night out with the meeting of the incredible nations?

Unfortunately hangover city. But that's kind of what happens when you go out for after work drinks then you continue the festivities with expats. I have got to get back into running a bit more.

Anyway, I did more morning routine at the farmers market before hitting the hay again for a sweet afternoon nap. After that and checking the weather forecast it was time to get on with my actual weekend plans - food festival.

Yes, I had actually planned a delightful food festival weekend. Once again. But this time I was going to try to hold off a little more in attempts to not make myself sick. We'll see how well I'd do.

I was meeting up with Church and the bunch of friends she'd introduced me to at the VIP corporate night at the V&A earlier in the week. The Finnish couple who had gone had said they were going to go and we were all invited to join them. After describing to us what it was all about (beer and local food magicians getting together in one place)...it wasn't exactly a hard sell.

The only thing that was kind of a bother about it: the location. It was located in Hackney, which I hate to say it, is not the nicest part of town. Known as a dodgy-turned-trendy-but-still-dodgy area, it's almost safe to say that it's only safe during the day and only potentially only at night in groups. So...well, we met up there in a group.

Anyway, none of us live near there (especially not me; it took me an hour to get there..and this was after a train, tube, tube, and another train). But we all made it at the appointed time (around 4:30 in the afternoon) and commenced trying to find the place.

Hilariously it was also not that easy to find, but we did eventually find it. But not before finding this artsy gem:


Delightful. Basically a huge slanted mirror over a piece of floorwork that looks like a building. Hilarity ensues when you step onto it.

Unfortunately the queue for it was an hour and a half long and we were all interested in the food festival a bit more (called Street Feast). So we decided it wasn't worth waiting. We did take a minute to think of all the hilarious things one could do on it though. I decided in my mind if I'd had the chance I would have done something obscure. Like stood up normally...which would have looked like I was walking sideways on a building. Illusions, Michael!

Anyway, we did find the fest after that and scoping of all the gorgeous food commenced. It was an adorable venue:




I know it is hard to see in these pictures, but we luckily did the very smart thing of strategizing and securing a position very early on. Street Feast happens on Fridays and Saturdays, with Fridays being the busier of the two days, so Saturday wasn't so bad. Having come between lunch and dinner it was pretty empty when we arrived as well. Because of these two things we definitely got the pick of the litter when it came to sitting places...and with the forecast of super rain for that evening, we decided to take cover in a lovely little place that served end-of-supply wines. It's right next to the Dalston Yard sign you can see in that last picture. Lovely place.

We definitely sat there the entire time we were there, which ended up being a good 4-5 hours. This meant someone would go and scout out new food, come back with it, and we would eat it as we drank down good wine. Fantastic plan.

And when it started to really pour down with rain? An even better idea. Great great and greater.

So of course the real question that everyone wants to know: what did we eat!?

So many many things. I did do a better job of restraining myself versus when I went to the Soho Food Fest but man...not by much.

In order of consumption:

Beef and chicken tacos



And what I meant by beef and chicken tacos was really 10hour slow roasted chipotle short rib beef tacos and habanero, lime, agave chicken tacos with mango slaw. Yeah, that kind of food festival. Real food. Fancy delicious food.


One of the Finnish girls who came with us made the bold but correct statement, "I love eating beautiful food." She's absolutely right. And so do I. It doesn't need to be gorgeous all the time, but man, that sure does help. And it makes photographing my food adventures so easy. So easy. Beef on the left, chicken on the right.


The verdict? My god so delicious. I've always missed Mexican food, ever since I moved from California. It's one of the great sadnesses that has pervaded my life since my leaving America. This definitely helped it to a degree. The beef was tasty and stringy-tender, juicy in all the right meaty ways. There was raw sliced radish, cilantro, sprinkled cheese, fresh tomatoes, and some very spicy cooked salsa as well as sour cream and a little dash of guacamole. Yes, yes, and yes. I want all of the above, all around and in my face.


Surprisingly between the two I actually preferred the chicken (this doesn't happen often...red meat almost always wins out for me). But the mango slaw is what did it for me. The sweetness of this combined with the mega spicy of the cooked salsa and the creamy coolness of the sour cream was amazing. There were pickled habaneros should you choose as well. Crunchy, spicy, creamy, savory. Fresh. This thing fell apart in my hands and I didn't care. I just wanted it all. Glorious.



Oh yes, there were sprinkled dried chili flakes and seeds on there as well. And some lime juice. Like we needed more amazing flavor. Hah! Fantastic start to the day of food. Really nice.

Korean fusion tacos and quesadilla

Yeah you read that right, more tacos. But this time, Asian tacos.


The whole Asian-fusion tacos thing has exploded in the food truck arena back home in California but unfortunately it's not made a huge dent in the world food market (at least not in the countries I've been living for the past year and some). This is unfortunate, since both of those together sound amazing to me. Anyway, this was one of my first times being able to having this combination since I'd been reading about it (for almost 2 years now) on my food blogs and I was more than happy to try it in person.


Since Church and I couldn't decide which ones to go for from the list on the menu...we just decided to get all of them. Really, we got all of them - both types of tacos and the quesadilla. Now that's what I call the spice of life (variety).

What you see there is a bulgolgi ox cheek taco and pulled pork belly taco. Each of them is then smothered in grilled kimchi, sliced radishes, roasted nori (seaweed), red cabbage and chives, and a delicious Asian mayo.

This was fantastic and by far the winner of the night. Asian-Mexican fusion? Absolutely! Yes, yes and yes. If I could have this in bowl or burrito form I definitely would. It would be perfection.

The words I would use to describe these tacos: tart, crunchy, juicy, and fresh. The kimchi really added that vinegary preserved kick that I've come to love and miss from my Asian foods.


The other item on the menu? The quesadilla. Melted cheese with roasted eggplant, kimchi, and chives, smothered in a coriander/cilantro sour cream. It was quite tasty also (I absolutely love eggplant with an unhealthy abandon now), but somehow (maybe because it was lacking meat), this one somehow did not cut the mustard.


Hilariously we ended up chatting with the part-owner of this restaurant. She's from Japan but loves Finland because of Marimekko (fair enough I suppose). She's originally from Harajuku (where I've been before and am obsessed with the sock stores). Her first name and Church's real first name are strangely similar in sound. They bonded over this.

British wood fired pizzas

This was probably the least exciting food of them all but we were running out of ideas and some of the food stands had closed by this time of night. Plus it was pouring rain so our food party scouts were only willing to run so far for our food.



Although it is hard to tell in the photos, one of these is pork and the other beef. They're both covered in sour cream and watercress, hence making them British (we felt this was a very lenient interpretation).

Tasty (especially the beef, which had clearly been stewed for hours and hours), but otherwise not particularly spectacular.

The other food items of interest at the food fest that we didn't get to try (at least not me personally): Chinese fusion crepes (like hoisin duck) and some sort of extremely deep fried Thai chicken that we were all drooling over when we arrived but didn't have the nerve to go get near the end of the night (blame the rain and the sort of disinterest in super fried at the end).

Overall a spectacular set of eats and not even that expensive. We enjoyed the festival from our haven in the wine tent and had great company the entire time. Will I go again before the summer is over? Likely not since Hackney is horrible to get to, but I am glad that I went.

More information on Street Feast here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Small hiatus for tomorrow

Dear readers,

I will be out of town for a team workshop tomorrow so there will be no post. Apologies for that. To make up for it I'll be posting two entries on Wednesday.

Have a good Tuesday and see you on the flipside!

Thanks,
tSH

A meeting of nations

Despite what many friends had told me about London and making friends, after hearing about an organization called InterNations more than once in a week I decided it was maybe time to check this thing out.

Basically it's the official expat meetup group of London. I do think it exists in other cities but this is a biggie. Unlike Helsinki, where all expats just sort of know each other, London is big enough where people need to actually organize this business and get people together for interesting things. People don't just come together. And as I've seen from my experiences here...people are just not...together.

Anyway, it took some courage but after some small amount of thought, I decided to jump in with both feet. What was the worst that could happen? I would find out that the world of expats in London was boring, tired, or otherwise about other things (plainly for people trying to find jobs or just to date or whatever) and then I could move on and try to find friends elsewhere. At the very least I would be doing something new, which is more than what I could say for most of my weekends (despite loving the farmers market, sometimes you do need to change things up).

So, I joined the website and took a breath.

Immediately I was bombarded with friend requests and notices about upcoming events. Apparently this organization was big. And actually exceptionally well-organized. It was like a well-oiled machine of people. Constantly moving. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised, given how many people it caters to but still, I was a bit shocked.

The other thing that took me by surprise - there was an event in a few days that actually looked fairly interesting. And was pretty close to my work (just a few stops down the Bakerloo line). So...what the hell.

I registered for the event, was told that it would be 10pounds at the door to pay for admin costs, or I could become a member right then and there and pay a mere 3.95pounds a month to not pay anything at all for any of the events. That's when I knew that this was definitely an organized group. They had monthly subscribers. Real people who were interested in paying real money...every month.

Well alright then.

Friday came around and after several drinks with coworkers I hopped on the Bakerloo line and got to the appointed place with surprising ease. 10pounds at the door and boom, I was in.

They'd rented an entire club for us to mingle and meet each other. Us expats. From all corners of the globe. Of course British people were welcome as well, and as far as I could tell, there were actually a few of them mixed in with us.

We were all given one free welcome drink (really just the cost of admission) and poof, instant mingling. 

As I was getting my drink I was immediately greeted by someone also getting there and we started chatting. Someone from Greece. We chatted for a bit before deciding we should network with other people.

I stopped by a twosome that was talking. As it turned out it was an Irish guy and a Singaporean girl. We chatted about various things before I was pulled into another group and then another group. Lots of talking about various things - the people here had all done so much and were so interesting!

Eventually it got a bit overwhelming. And I was hungry. So I rallied the people around me and we went out for food. We stopped at a delicious Indian restaurant. I have no pictures because conversation continued at a manic pace.

Needless to say I made some good friends that night. I ended up trading contact information with everyone at the table (there were four of us total at the end), but met up with a German girl over the weekend (who I'll call Books) and have kept in close contact with the Irish guy I met when I first arrived (who I'll call Liono).

I guess it just goes to show you never know who you're going to meet and when. The one thing I will say about this versus the way I've met expats in other countries: this is like using a shotgun whereas in other places it's more like using a handgun. Here you try to meet as many as possible all at one time versus other places which have a much more focused approach on getting people with similar interests together. There are other splinter groups within InterNations (there are dinner groups and wine groups, language groups even), but these seemed a lot less popular on their page and I imagine you only get into those once you know what you're looking for.

How interesting. This was definitely worth checking out. Check and check.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Half a decade later...

I received an email this morning. A rather unexpected email that put a smile on my face.

It was an automated email congratulating me on completing five years of work at the same company.

My god, has it been five years since I started working here? Yes.

I did actually know that. People have been asking me rather frequently how long I've been working here. And I've always known the answer. Also I am constantly reminded of this fact because in every relocation and tax form they have you restate it as it means something to the people who need to pay you or not pay you, give you benefits or not give you benefits. Everyone wants to keep things straight. But that's not important.

It dawned on me, after smiling not so secretly to myself about being appreciated and recognized (a little thing, I know)...that that is half a decade. I've been working at the same place for half a decade. I'm not that old. This is actually a significant portion of my life. How...odd.

Anyway, little monetary bonus on the paycheck this month and...

everyone at work who has reached this milestone has mentioned some sort of special pen that they received as well. 

Note, it's not monogrammed with your name or anything of the sort. It's not even a particularly special pen, but for whatever reason my company feels the reason to give you this particular pen on your 5 year anniversary of working with the company. 

I am so excited to see what this hideously unspectacular pen looks like. Bring it on company, show me this pen. Show me how special this pen can be.

After a quick google search of "fancy pen" I am going to pretend that it will look something like this:


Gorgeous, intricate, made from precious metals.

In all likelihood it will look something like this:


It may even seem this large in my hand. Most pens do.

Anyway, I look forward to solving this mystery. I will post if/when this pen ever arrives. I anxiously await it.

In the meantime I'll celebrate my five years of service with something nice sometime. I'll have to figure that out later. Seems I have plenty of time.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

VIP night at the V&A

Once again the corporate membership at the V&A was going to be used to my utter benefit. What was going on this time, you ask?

Free entry to all their seasonal exhibits for several hours with the other companies that held corporate memberships. There would be a live DJ and bar as well (unfortunately one you had to pay at but you can't win them all I guess), and a spectacular 20% discount at the gift shop. Hoohoo!

I, being the museum dork that I am, definitely leaped on the opportunity and invited Salads. Unfortunately she ended up not being able to make it (last minute meeting and such), but I did end up going with one of my other coworkers, Church, and her group of friends. So that was more than alright.

The seasonal exhibits were definitely something to shout about: there was an exhibit on David Bowie (this had been running for several months now and was so popular that they were extending it past its original run date...this is also one that you normally had to pay extra money to see...and we were getting to see it for free!), Memory Palace (the one I came to the opening for the other month) and a new exhibit that had just opened earlier in the month on 1980's fashion called From Club to Catwalk.

I was excited. Though I'm not a huge David Bowie fan I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about and I did want to see Memory Palace again with different eyes. The fashion exhibit had also been thoroughly mentioned in the lecture I had gone about fashion and BMI. All related. :)

Anyway, Church and I left early to meet her friends at the front of the museum and then we were off to a running start. First order of the night? Getting timed admission tickets to the David Bowie exhibit.

It may have been free to us, but that didn't mean that everyone else with a corporate membership didn't have the same idea. Because of this they were giving people timed tickets so the entire exhibit wouldn't be swarmed. Plus there were headsets that went along with it to get the full experience. Gotta plan that business accordingly.

Luckily we'd arrived right when the doors opened so our time was only 15 minutes away. We decided to get a drink at the nearby bar and drink in the outside coolness. The temperatures have finally started to be summery here for the last several weeks so we've all been taking as much advantage as possible (lunches outside, shorts, sandals...you name it). Naturally this has made every single British person I know start to complain about how hot it is...but when the heat dies down in another few weeks they'll switch to complaining about how cold it is. They always need something to complain about (I mean this in a literal way; complaining is a national pasttime it seems).

Pimm's was the drink of selection, and it was lovely. We drank it in the inner courtyard as we waited for our time to arrive.


Eventually our time came but unfortunately no drinks were allowed in the exhibit (guess we should have figured that). So we quickly finished the rest and entered.

The "David Bowie is..." Exhibit

What followed is what I can only describe as a sensorial clusterf*ck.

The headsets were designed so that as you walked through the rooms, looking at various objects and walking up to monitors playing videos, they would start playing the appropriate audio. This could include playing Bowie's top hits or the audio to the video that you're in front of, maybe some audio clips of Bowie talking about whatever was relevant to the information in front of you.

However, because they were sensitive to where you were in the room, should you pass the invisible line that divided one area from another, the audio would fade out quickly and another would start.

This actually lead to rather hilarious reactions in people. You would see people listening to their headsets and then suddenly a look of anxiety would cross their faces, they would abruptly stop walking, then step backwards to get the audio back that they were previously listening to. Or you would see people burst into spontaneous dance. I wonder if the people who made the exhibit were expecting this kind of reaction.

Anyway the exhibit was actually really well curated. The entire experience was extremely immersive. You couldn't help but be in Bowie's world; be swept into it and engaged. You walked out the other side and were Bowie.

On the other side of things though, it was rather confusing. You would have music playing and sometimes audio clips with people talking, and in many of the rooms there was also loud music playing on loudspeakers, or huge screens playing Bowie concert clips, giving you the full live performance experience. This combined with what was already playing in your headset made things...well, very overloading. A lot of the older folks I could see walking around had to take off their headsets because it was too much to take in at once. I will say that I do think this was on purpose though. Bowie is too much, and at times his life was too much. This combined with the drugs and all of the expression he wanted to get out (whether it was his or not)...well, this just sounds like the life of a musician during that time period.

Also, despite what the intro said at the beginning, there is no way you could go through that exhibit in 45 minutes. Unless you were running, and read nothing, and stopped at none of the movies that were playing. What was stated as "two rooms" was more like six. I barely made it out of there in under an hour fifteen and that's because I needed to use the bathroom. I was the second person from the group to finish and I thought I had sped through pretty decently.

Overall I rather enjoyed it; much more than I thought I would. My conclusions about Bowie are this though: he's an androgynous, beautiful man who photographs very well. A gorgeous coatrack for any designer or makeup artist who's wanted to make a bold statement. He has made a brilliant career of pretending to be different people at different times. Well-played, Bowie. As someone who has never really been into Bowie's music, I can respect that to an extent and enjoy it for what it is.

Anyhow, all around rather good. A good experience. Here is information on the exhibit.


Memory Palace

After this we did a quick walkthrough of the Memory Palace exhibit. Unfortunately after the sensationalist Bowie exhibit no one was really in the mood for the quiet literary nature of Memory Palace. I still loved it just as much as I had that first opening night, and definitely spent the most time in it from our group, but people weren't really interested. I guess it does take a certain openness of mind and concentration. You do need to read what's written and take in the story and implications.

I tried convincing people of its value but only one of them was interested. He took the time and thought it was good. Well, I guess one is more than none; I'll take what I can get.


From Club to Catwalk: Fashion in the 1980's

I have to admit that I've never loved the 1980's when it comes to fashion. I used to make the joke that I was born halfway through the 80's for a reason - so I could miss the horrible fashion.

Honestly as I've gotten older I've started to believe this statement is maybe a falsity. I think now that it would have been a fantastic time to have lived through, but that there would be so much regret when one looked back at the photos that were taken. I have no idea though, perhaps some of my older friends and family members could verify for me - do you look back at the 80's with fondness, or is it tinged with regret because the fashion was so out there?

It is understood that fashion is just recycling. Certainly the 80's had a lot of that going on. But there was definitely something else going on as well. There was definitely an emergence of something new. Something daring. And a lot of drugs. But that's neither here nor there.

This exhibit focused on different aspects of fashion in the 80's and what clubwear, ravewear, and the more crazy aspects of everyday wear looked like. Naturally since this was in a museum this was geared toward the high-end of things (so any lingerie that was shown was from La Perla, any big collections were from Vivienne Westwood), but still, it was interesting to see, as someone who definitely did not live through that era as a sentient person.

All I can say in conclusion is this: actually it might have been fabulous to have clubbed and raved through the 80's. Looked like anyone could express themselves and get into it, get into the high beats and electro-lure of the music. Be completely immersed in the dirtiness of the subculture and the androgyny that prevailed. Fall deep and hard and not want to come back out. That's what it looks like from the outside at least. I understand the allure now, and don't just see the sort of horrid cheapness that I used to see.

Well, cheers to that. :) Maybe the 80's wasn't such a bad era.


More info can be found here.

After the exhibits

So after the exhibits we had about half an hour before the museum event was going to close. We decided it was time to hit the streets for some dinner before calling it a night. Night wasn't over quite yet.

We walked a block or two down the street to a local sushi restaurant and parked ourselves down. It was one of those restaurants that had a conveyor belt that brought the sushi around in a circle instead of on boats. I'll still never understand why this is more appealing than actually having them float on little boats like they do in the States. Perhaps we've just perfected the art of indoor water systems and other countries didn't think this was a smart idea or something. Anyway, these were on conveyor belts again.

The restaurant was recommended by the half of our group that was going home for the night. They said the prices were reasonable and the fish was fresh. That was enough for us.

We ended up going to town in a pretty serious way. We had salmon maki, some rolls with salmon and avocado, some unusual blends of avocado and mayo or cucumbers and what seemed like mussels, and some delectable fried eggplant with teriyaki sauce. We even had a red bean mochi for dessert. All with free green tea. Not bad I'd say.

And they were right about the prices - only 11pounds per person after we'd split everything and added tip. Perfectly reasonable I'd say, considering we'd decimated 12 dishes between the three of us. Certainly more affordable than the meals I'd eaten at Yo! Sushi recently.

The most hilarious moment of the night: as we were sipping our tea enjoying digestion at the end of our meal, we noticed an errant tempura shrimp that had slipped its plate on the conveyor belt, hoping to make an escape:


We considered for a few moments whether it would be polite to just snag it and pretend it didn't happen, since no one in the restaurant was paying attention and clearly it wasn't going to be put back on its plate now that it had fallen off (now unsanitary)...but a few moments delay in our decision making and it fell off the back of the stand, into a bucket of other fried items (looked like soft shell crab). Well, back to your own kind it seems. Hilarious.

And so after that we called it a night. It was quite a night indeed.

Gotta say I'm loving this whole museum corporate membership. I fully plan on continuing my use of it. Booyah.

Not bad for a Tuesday night. ;)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

To the sinny-mah!

Later that day I slipped a sandal tenderly on my foot and went out to meet my new girlfriend Salads for a date at the cinema.

Salads and I had been introduced through Finnish K, whose wedding I attended last summer when she married British American J. They now have a baby and are living comfortably in the suburbs of Espoo. We reminisce occasionally about my love of mustaches and how that brought us together.

Salads and Finnish K met each other when all of them were living in Delhi, India. Funny who you meet on the road. Similar to the situation Salads and I are now in, Finnish K and Salads were in the same situation in India then - new to a city and wanting to make new girlfriends. I mentioned my plight in making new friends in London last time I was talking to Finnish K and the connection was made between Salads and I. Well, there you go. Friends making friends making friends. And the world turns. People, brought together.

Anyway, back to our movie date. I still hadn't been to a cinema in the UK, despite my numerous times visiting and my now 5 months of living here, so I figured it was high time. Plus Salads was exhausted from her apartment hunting and job so our weekend activity needed to be low-key. Well, that I can certainly do.

We decided on somewhere central - Leicester Square. I didn't know any of the major cinema chains so just chose one that I could find and vaguely recognize - one called Vue. As it turned out this wasn't the best of the best but whatever, still learning.

We originally wanted to see the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, but unfortunately that's already been phased out of most theaters and is only showing at select ones, perhaps even one show a night (the last showing). So that was nixed pretty early on in our planning discussions. What other good movie was out that we both wanted to see? Well, my tastes tend to run pretty nerdy and unfortunately she's not much into that, so I'm on my own for things like the new Star Trek movie and probably even things like Pacific Rim (she's not much into horror either, I've understood). Well that's okay, I can do those things on my own or wait until my intern downloads them for me. Life goes on.

So I suggested we go see "Now You See Me," a ridiculously entertaining movie about magicians who do bank heists. Yes, yes, and yes. Playing at a central theater at the right times.

We bought tickets online and made our move.

First observations?

You can definitely buy booze at the theater here:


Beers, ciders, and some hard lemonades and things like that are definitely sold at the concession stand. I happened to be having a chat with one of my friends in the States while I was waiting for Salads to meet me and he asked me if booze was available. The loud answer? Absolutely. You can definitely drink beer while enjoying your movie in your mainstream theater.

I don't think I will ever get used to this, even though I think it is a fantastic idea. I guess even in countries where people do relatively drive a lot this is still an accepted thing. People are supposed to be able to handle their liquor a lot better...or something.

Second observation:

You can buy your tickets online (and reserve exactly which seat you want, like in Finland) and then go to this little kiosk and print your tickets immediately.


I know we have sort of similar machines in the States, but for whatever reason this struck me as nice and convenient. You could even buy tickets from this machine should you not want to interact with a human. One of these days we won't even need human workers for places like these - just machines.

Third observation:

Theaters have to build up rather than sideways. This theater had escalators that just kept going up and up and up. There were tiny floors so we kept having to get off of a tiny escalator to get onto yet another tiny escalator (our theater was on the top floor). Some of these floors didn't even have anything on them (like a cinema screen or even a lounge spot). I'm not sure what the point is other than to get us up higher without having to build a really long escalator and not take up a lot of space horizontally. Seemed really silly either way. We had to literally go up maybe ten escalators to get to our theater.

Fourth observation:

Stadium seating is not really stadium seating there. More like a gentle slope.

Unfortunately a very tall man with a long head was two rows in front of me and he loved to sit straight up in his seat, making it fairly hard to see the entire screen. I didn't want to be rude and move to another seat to block someone else's view [British problems] so I just bore it and tried to enjoy my movie as much as possible. Kind of interesting though that we still don't have stadium seating in some of these places. I guess if you're building up instead of sideways though, maybe this makes sense.

Fifth and final observation:

British people love to talk in movie theaters. Loudly. There's no concept of not talking during movies and not checking your cell phone. I hate to admit it but even Salads was one of these people, and she's not even British. There was no message ahead of time about silencing your cell phone or not disturbing other people's movie experience. None of the jazz I'd seen in almost every other country. Just, you're here for your movie, here are the trailers and boom, feature presentation. It did make me wonder.

Generally speaking Now You See Me was a delightful movie and I loved the experience, even with all the little quirks. I'll likely go on my own again sometime to see all the nerdy movies that no one wants to see with me. But at 14.50pounds a pop it's not exactly a cheap entertainment option (especially with all the free options they have in the city, seemingly on a regular basis). So I'll probably not become a regular cinema-goer unless my significant other is really into it, really rich, or otherwise somehow convinces me that this is worthwhile all the time.

I do miss American cinema and its affordability. There is something to say about making things affordable for the masses. This is clearly not something that is translated to other countries, booze-availability and seat-selection or not.

Until I'm back in cheaper lands though, I'll enjoy the cinemas when I can, and likely choose better theaters to go to. As we were leaving Salads told me that I should choose Odeon cinemas next time, as they show more selections of movies, have more locations, are sometimes cheaper, and seem to always have stadium seating.

Well, there you have it. Lesson learned and number one cinema experience down.

I <3 movies.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I fought the oven and the oven won...again

So during my cooking mania this past weekend I decided to use the oven to bake a blueberry crumble. This seemed innocuous enough; I'd certainly been an adept baker in the past and I missed it, to be honest. This was a time to use my newfound knowledge of how to turn on my oven and actually use it. I'd not been charged for this ridiculous knowledge and I was going to celebrate. Celebrate by making myself a tasty summer berry dessert.

Unfortunately this didn't translate that well in real life. Well the blueberry crumble did. That thing went gloriously. Look at how gorgeously it turned out, despite the horrid accident I will shortly describe:


Yeah, quite nice I'd have to say.

Anyway, back to the story at hand. I was preheating the oven (which was actually now humming with life and heat) when I noticed that the racks were in the wrong positions.

Damnit! I should have checked this before I turned on the heat but in my joy of actually knowing how to turn on the oven I didn't bother looking. Foolish mistake #1. There were many to be had that morning so this wasn't where the stupidity stopped. Far from it, unfortunately for my foot.

So I took out the offending rack. There was just one too many at the top that would have prevented my glass pan from going in so I took it out. And instead of placing it on the counter or the stovetop like a normal logical human being, I...

...propped it up on the ground against the laundry machine. I figured it would be out of the way there and I wouldn't have any chance of touching it.

Boy was I wrong. I was so incredibly wrong I can't even describe how wrong I was.

Oh wait I can! Because you can see my incorrectness literally burned into my skin!

A few minutes after taking said offensive rack out of the oven, I decided that I would be industrious while my crumble baked. I would put away dishes and wash the other dishes I had dirtied.

The drying rack is right behind where I'd just put a burning hot oven rack. Yes.

I walked into the thing. Directly into the thing. My toes wrapped around it. Scalding hot metal.

I didn't feel it at first since nerves have a long way to travel to the brain from toe to head. Then suddenly I was swearing like a sailor for a good ten minutes or so, likely scaring the bejeezus out of my neighbors because all of my windows were open to welcome in the summery sunshine we've been getting the past two weeks.

Glory almighty that is some horrible feeling. My intern asked if it smelled like bacon. My response: no idea, I wasn't exactly paying attention as my entire foot was encased with searing white hot pain.

The result? Second degree burns all over my foot (mostly my toes):


There is no good picture that captures this, but basically the damage happened on my big toe, between my first and second toes, between my third and fourth toes, on my little toe, and under my little toe.

Literally walked and wrapped myself around that thing. There couldn't have been anything more retarded.

I moved it out of the way as soon as I could stop screaming. Moved it behind a chair in the family room - completely out of the way.

The British oven has once again conquered me; proving itself far superior to me in intelligence and craft.

I get it. I will show proper respect next time.

Won't stop me from cursing its name for the entirety that I live in this apartment but at least I will try to keep these obscenities to myself. Well, relatively.

Oven: two. Me: none.

The general aftermath: the burns have blistered up nicely and I can't actually feel anything with the skin anymore. I went to the pharmacy this morning (a day after) to see what kind of ointments or remedies they might sell. Nothing that I would consider worth the money, so it's back to antiseptic gel at home and not much else. Here's to hoping for little scarring. Even if it does scar though, I'll just consider it an appropriate battle wound for my ridiculous stupidity in the moment. I'll remember it fondly as "That one battle I had with my British oven. The one I lost."