Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Going West

No wonder I'm confused... when we say the weather is 'changeable' we're not a patch on Flagstaff, Arizona where the weather is about to drop 180 in the space of a couple of days - just in time for my arrival.

I don't know what to pack for the best - snowshoes and sandals, sunscreen and soup?

Yes, I'm off into the wilds tomorrow, heading down Rte 66 from Vegas to Sedona, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Painted Desert, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and back to Vegas with a mate.

(Not sure yet whether I'm Thelma or Louise, but we'll try not to drive over any precipices!)

So I probably won't be posting for the next few weeks. Probably.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Born on the cusp

Farthing? Shilling? Groat? Fifty pee?
I grew up in the 70's during sweeping changes in how we measure things.

Decimalisation didn't effect me - I was too young to have money of my own. But my school years straddled other metric innovations. Just as we were getting to grips with how many gills in a furlong and how many fathoms make five, along came a whole new way of weighing and measuring the world (not the world, obviously - where would you put the scales?).

Early weight-watchers
Suddenly it was a sixth of one and 0.16666666666 recurring of another. Nothing recurred in the imperial system, it was 1/6 and that was the end of it, it didn't regurgitate endlessly like last night's fish.

The trouble is - in some areas I never got the hang of either. I knew a pound was a bag of sugar, but not how many ounces in a pound or how many grams an ounce is. Things could get sticky when buying rainbow sherbet in those days, I can tell you! I still vacillate between pounds and kilos, so I can't be trusted in the soft fruit.

I'm not alone. Some things just wouldn't work in metric:
  • Give me and inch and I'll take 1.609344 kilometres
  • The Rolling 6.35029318 kilograms 
  • 40.4685642 Hectare Wood
  • 0.5 Man, 0.5 Biscuit 
I'm sure you can think of your own examples

And while the metric system was much simpler, I have half-remembered (0.5-remembered?) vestigial bits of the old ways in my head and tend to cherry pick: Inches for bust measurements, pounds for weight loss, grams for postage, pints for beer, Fahrenheit for summer temperatures, Centigrade for winter ones...

...which is how I am undone. When it said Arizona was 230 in March, I thought it meant 230 Centigrade. *sigh* I don't think I'll be packing my shorts next week after all.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

How to alienate half your readers

Men are always complaining that they don't have a special day of their own (bless!), so here's a poem about men for International Women's Day.

This is about certain kinds of men, obviously, so please don't take offense if you're not that kind of man!

Men in suits

Men in suits,
men in cahoots, en route,
men with fingers in pies, fingers on buttons,
men with flies unbuttoned,
men mutton chopped in history,
men of mystery.

Men in cars, men at bars,
men in meetings, men eating,
men on golf courses, men in slacks,
men scratching other men’s backs,
men picking the biggest thing
on the menu.

Men in vests,
men investing in dodgy deals,
men inflating, men in waiting,
men betting on outcomes,
men begetting bonuses,
men in flagranto.

Men in suits,
men putting the boot it,
men shooting their mouths off,
men looting our capital,
men rooting, tooting,
men not giving two hoots.

Men in boots,
men in overalls, overbearing,
men with ball-cocks, hard hats, spools,
men with rulers, pipes and tools,
men with wrenches, work benches,
men with screws,

men with bad news,
men in boots, men in suits,
men with jokes, men who are 'blokes',
men with a spanner in the works,
men lurking, men smirking,
men working.

© Clare Kirwan

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Women! Erm...

Oops - I need to do something for International Women's Day this Thursday.

As an international woman, it would be frowned upon not to.

Do I plan a poignant, thought-provoking post detailing the continuing struggle for equality or ranting about the appalling abuse of women in the developing world? Should I alienate half my readers by posting my new poem 'Men in suits'?.

For now, I just thought I'd share this picture - I forget where I acquired it, but look out for the man at the back with the orange sign. Nufff said.

I'm off to do the dishes now. I know my place.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Buffet-Slayer

I need a buffet strategy.

Growing up in the sixties and seventies a buffet was a plate of egg sandwiches, a plate of sausages rolls, a plate of Scotch eggs (which I don't believe have nearly enought Scotch in them by the way) plus the impossible exoticism of celery sticks standing up in a glass.

I'm off to the USA in mid-March where the 'all-you-can-eat' buffet is big business, and nowhere more so than Las Vegas with no fewer than 60 on offer - a daunting prospect when I'm only going to be there 5 nights. And, of course, I eat like a bird...

... a gannet!

I love a good buffet - they're the perfect eating venue for anyone who's chronically indecisive. But they can be dangerous places - like the time I wolfed a good scoop of guacamole before realising it was wasabi! AAAAARGH! (Hmmm... they did put it next to the tortilla chips, though. Just their little joke?) And there's only so much you can eat in one sitting (e.g. 18 cakes at high tea in Raffles Hotel, Singapore).

I'm the type of person who wants to get their money's worth - so it's a balance of best value versus quality ingredients. I love the Brazilian concept of 'kilogram' buffets where you pay by the weight of what you've eaten - probably the only way a wraith-like little thing like me (ahem) can get as good value as a big piggy person - the sort of person who might eat 18 cakes in one sitting).

But at least I won't have to resort to the lengths some people go to with the 'one-visit' buffet like you get in Pizza Hut (pictured). See many more pics here: All you can cheat salad

So - has anyone got any hints, tips, recommendations... or indeed more cheap jokes about my bird-like appetite?