Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas

If things on here have come to a screeching halt, this little person is the reason. Our daughter, Julia Sophia, was born on the 15th of December. More later when I've managed to extricate myself from her hungry little mouth and or the breast pump. Ah the joys of motherhood... .

Photo: Mags Arnold

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jodie Marsh is getting divorced

(Image removed at request of owner)

According to Holy Moly,
Jodie Marsh and Matt Peacock are getting divorced after three months of marriage. Continue reading.

Who can forget that worthy of a Bafta (or 10) television experience that was 'Jodie Marsh - Who'll take her up the aisle?' or the media frenzy that was the wedding itself?

Yes, I'm totally shocked. Didn't see that one coming at all.

Source

Is it a pig? Is it a sheep?


And no, this little piggy is (thankfully) not a product of one of those weird lab animal hybrid cloning experiments. According to Yahoo News, this is a Lincolnshire Curly Coat pig, which is thought to have died out in the UK in the early 1970s. A litter of seven piglets has been born with curly coats in Lincolnshire, bred from pigs in Hungary. Continue reading

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Transsexual cellulite and other news

OK, I'll admit it was a weird instinctual reaction, but this photo of Amanda Lepore (taken at Marc Jacobs' Arabian Nights themed Christmas party last night in NYC) made me kinda happy. It's such a relief to see that even transsexuals, who often put biological women to shame with their figures and the amount of effort they put into their appearance, can have cellulite. Source

In other news:

Photo: Dlisted

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

British women are fat and unkept, apparently

There's an article on the Daily Mail website by an American male screenwriter who maintains that American women are better kept and subsequently more attractive than their English counterparts. Lack of grooming and over eating are apparently just some of the things to blame.

It's a stupid claim because I think things like grooming and style are more influenced by factors such as how much people earn, the industry they work in, and if they live in big cities or small towns. It's true, while visiting New York in the past, I have commented on just how well kept the women there are. But trust me, I've also visited some places in America where ladies consider a tracksuit, scrunchie, and flipflops glamorous evening wear, and pre-book the super size seat in the cinema.

What did make me laugh though was one of the comparative pictures they used to support the story, i.e. the above one of Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter. Helena Bonham Carter? The woman is infamously dishevelled and constantly makes the 'What were they thinking?!?' fashion blooper pages here in the UK. You could put a picture of her next to one of a black-toothed psychotic hermit that lives in a cave somewhere, and the cave-dweller would still probably win in the style stakes.

In our defence, I think us Brits need respond with just two little words: Britney Spears. Enough said.

Photo and source

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dexter


It's not often that an actor successfully transfers from one hit TV series to another one, and does as good, if not an even better job of it. For fans of the Michael C Hall character in Six Feet Under, I highly, highly, recommend you watch Dexter. And even if you weren't a big fan of Six Feet Under, I still think you should check out this new TV series.

In my humble TV addict opinion it's simply must-see TV. It's shot beautifully, the cast, even supporting actors, are superb, multi-dimensional, and well chosen, and the story makes for some compelling stuff.

Hall plays Dexter, a blood spatter specialist with Miami PD by day and serial killer (with a purpose) by night. The double life he leads and subsequent conflict (both inner and in terms of practical complications) it causes for him, form the central premise of the show. But this is so much more intricate than a simple Jekyll and Hyde storyline.

Hire it or buy it on DVD - and sit back and enjoy over the cold Christmas holidays.

Official site here though I'd avoid it as it contains spoilers which will definitely ruin the progressive plot line that is intrinsic to the show.

Photo: IMDB

Tuesday roundup


On a personal note, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone for their emails, facebook messages, texts and calls wishing us good luck with the birth of our baby. Our official due date is Sunday the 16th / Monday the 17th of December, so not long to go now.

Today I'm actually waiting for the plumber as the hot water in our bathroom isn't working. This would normally be a pain in the ass, but it's doubly so as I want to use the bath as a way of coping with early labour at home. So fingers crossed those guys get it sorted asap, or at the very least before my own waters break.

Photo

Monday, December 10, 2007

Infamous techy qoutes

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with
the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"

Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.,1977

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."

Bill Gates, 1981, commenting on size of RAM in computers

Source

How to pull at the office party


Three out of five British women have admitted it was extremely likely they would do "something they'll regret" at the seasonal shindig.

Workers classified as 'mature and married' were most likely to misbehave, followed by anyone working in accounts.

Another recent study says one in four people have had sex in a car park after the office do.

I always knew those people in accounts were dodgy.

After siting these made up frightening stats, the Daily Mail advises what the best way to pull at your upcoming Christmas party is. For those of you with your sites set on your boss, the article includes this invaluable nugget of advice: "On the flip side, you have to make sure he knows that if he returns your advances, you aren't going to sue for sexual harassment."

Were it not for the fact that at 9 months pregnant I'd be more likely to be sued for physical assault if I tried to launch myself on my boss (if I had one) or anyone else for that matter, I'd feel super confident attending any festive bash with this useful advice.

Source and photo

Friday, December 07, 2007

The debt diet


I think we've all been in a position at some point in our lives, if not currently, where the amount of money we owe on a credit car, our mortgage, or even to a friend, has us waking up in the wee hours in a sweat. It's a terrible sensation, and you feel as though your pay cheque just about covers the bills (and not even all of them), and there's nothing left for you to enjoy.

What's worse is that credit card places are a bunch of bastards. They like people who cannot pay their cards off in full each month, and keep offering to up your limit. Sounds good until you see how much interest you're paying on top of what you owe.

I once took out one of those brilliant-sounding 'consolidate your debts with one easy payment' things. Sounds like a heaven-send doesn't it? But again, as any smart girl should know, nothing is for nothing, and when you work out how much you are paying back on top of what you borrowed, it's not so nice after all. And what's worse, a lot of these places have a fee if you want to pay off your debt early. Yes, because god forbid they lose out on the interest they're screwing you with.

They had these financial experts on the Oprah show this week, and the fact is there are all sorts of ways and means to (a) get yourself out of debt - though be warned there are no quick fixes, (b) how to stay that way, and most importantly (c) how to save money.

The last of these, saving money, isn't really something you think about too much in your early twenties, but as you get older and look at the fact that you have been working for x amount of years and don't actually have any savings to show for it, well it's quite scary. Also, you only have to look at how elderly people struggle these days to know it's not a good idea to lean on the idea of pensions. You have got to start saving, and the sooner, the better.

I don't consider myself particularly money-savvy, or rather, good with finances, so it was a relief to see that you don't have to go to a financial expert (and pay more money) to get good solid advice. That's the good thing about the Oprah show, she has these world-class experts who come on and give their advice for free - OK and probably to help sell a few books too. But really, why not take advantage of it?

If you want to learn how to sort out your debt or even just to work smarter with your money each month, check out the step-by-step debt diet guide here.

There's some really useful advice - even something simple like changing your credit card provider from a place that charges 29% interest to one that does 10% will save you a bunch of money over time. Definitely worth checking out.

Photo

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The glamour of it all


I'm probably one of the few people that actually feels sympathy for Heather Mills McCartney. Or rather, put it this way, I'm inclined, unlike most people, to think she's not the only one to blame for the downfall of her marriage. You don't need to be a genius to know that it takes two people to make a relationship work and two to make it fail - however you apportion the blame.

And why people have such a hard time believing that Paul Macca could be controlling or have substance abuse issues is a mystery to me. He's an ex Beatle for godsakes! Those guys perfected substance abuse long before the light weights such as the Britney's and Amy's of this world came along. As for being controlling, well, the guy's a singer/song writing genius and has made bags of money out of it. If you've ever worked with someone who's not only very creative but very successful at it, you'll know that being a control freak is often the least of their vices.

Anyway, I digress.

Recently Heather, know for her, how shall we say, creative interpretation of her past, was on GMTV defending those photos as glamour shots. Well, I hadn't seen them until this evening, and though I don't consider myself an expert in these matters, some of them do look a little more like porn than simple topless glamour stuff.

But hey, judge for yourself. Definitely NSFW

Photo

Want butt implants? Watch this



This video is scary, not because of what went wrong specifically, but because someone would be dumb enough to get butt implants to begin with. The best thing however is the TV announcer/voiceover guy trying and failing not to piss himself laughing while doing the segment.

If you can't see the clip, click here.

Source: Dlisted

Thursday roundup


Photo: Daily Mail

Watch your waist


OK, so I've been watching Oprah again. She often has doctor Mehmet Oz on her show, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon and professor of cardiac surgery at Columbia University. He answers every and any health questions the audience may have and it's often quite educational.

In today's show he revealed the following scary health fact:

If you are 100 pounds over weight when you are 50, or if your waist size is close to 40 inches as a female and close to 45 as a male, you have the same chances of surviving a normal life as if you had cancer of the prostate or breast.

Optimal waist measurements for adult men and women are as follows:
Women = 32.5 inches
Men = 35 inches
Or half your height

He said a good way of measuring your waist is to start and finish at the belly button, and that it's OK to suck in, because you're measuring what's inside the muscles, where the omentum and omentum fat is. Continue reading

The good news is that if your waist measurement is exceeding the healthy norm, it's 100% reversible simply by changing your diet and yes, I hate to say it, by incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.

Photo

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The final countdown - Part II

And no, I'm not referring to the song they play in the wee hours at the Roxy - eliciting energetic air punching from the drunken rabble populating the glass strewn dance floor. I might add that pre-pregnancy I happily formed part of that drunken rabble on occasion.

The final countdown in this instance refers to the fact that our baby is due any day now. In fact, she could even come this evening. Roberto has suggested live blogging throughout the labour process. I didn't need to respond verbally, I think the look on my face (penetrating eyes reflecting the promise of bodily harm should he attempt to press the matter further) said exactly what I thought about this suggestion.

I do however want to do little film clips - perhaps one of me having a particularly strong contraction (to guilt trip my kids with at some later point) and perhaps when they pull the baby out - though the latter definitely filmed from this end rather than that one. The filming is not for public consumption, but rather part of a little cinematic record we've been keeping for our child and ourselves. The kind of stuff they're fascinated by when they're really small, and which mortifies them when they're teenagers and you think it's fun to show their friends.

In anticipation of us becoming parents, we've had all sorts of advice and warnings. Most notably people are fond of saying "Hooo boy, once that little one comes along, your lives change completely." We've learnt to smile in a good natured way, and nod as though this were really useful to us. But by the time the 30th person tells you the same thing as though they're imparting a valuable piece of ancient never heard before wisdom, it does wear a bit thin.

"Really?" I want to say, "And you don't think that 38 weeks of watching my body morph into a massive 'arse/stomach and not much in between' hybrid, experiencing increasing physical discomfort, exhaustion, biological functional indignities, and a non existent social life haven't been a change?" People mean well, but with hormones and chronic backache it's hard not to get grouchy.

The fact is since the day we are born, our lives are in a constant state of flux, consisting of a stream of changes with required adjustments and associated responsibilities. This progressively escalates with the onset of adulthood: You get your first job and learn to drag yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour every morning, and act (the operative word here being 'act') responsibly. You apply for a mortgage and discover if you want to keep a roof over your head, you often have to swallow your principles and prostitute your skills. You get into a relationship and come to appreciate if you respect and value that person in your life, it's best to keep it in your trousers, even if on occasion the vast amounts of alcohol in your bloodstream tell you differently.

I believe that having children is just another one of these changes that you very quickly adapt to and incorporate into your way of being, because, if nothing else, you have to. But in this case, I like to think that this particular change and responsibility comes with a whole lot of benefits which far outweigh the negatives. Saying this, talk to me again when our child is a teenager, dating someone with a lot of expressive body art, and telling us she hates us as a form of positive assertion (as recommended by her therapist).

Am I scared? Someone asked me the other day. About the birth that is, not the tattooed future boyfriend. The answer is no, I'm not scared. I'm anticipating it to be a grossly uncomfortable at best, horribly painful at worst experience, but also a necessary process to go through so that we can bring our daughter into this world. And for the record, I can't imagine it will be much fun for her either.

I've read as much as I can, spoken to my consultant, attended antenatal classes, listened to midwives, watched birth videos, heard friend's birth stories, and well, I feel that I'm as prepared as I'm ever going to be. And even with a birth plan that pretty much amounts to, "OK, give me the drugs NOW!", I'm aware of the fact that it can all be completely different to what I anticipate, so best not to anticipate too much.

I don't think mentally scaring the hell out of myself ahead of such an experience is beneficial either, this sort of thinking ahead of a challenge seldom is. So right now I'd say my state of mind is cautious anticipation - praying that we both get through it in the healthiest possible way, and putting a lot of faith in the team of people, and my lovely Roberto, that are going to help me get through it. Oh, and at the end of the day, there's always those drugs.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Holy Crap II

This must be the worst case of cosmetic surgery/bad makeup I think I've ever seen on a celebrity - this one being a recent comparative pic of Joan Van Ark of Knots Landing fame. Continue reading

A sobering reminder that perhaps a few lines aren't so bad after all.

Photo: Daily Mail

Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday roundup


What men really think about your underwear

Tis the season, and a lot of women will be racing off to the likes of Anne Summers to get some complicated kit (have you ever tried to connect suspenders to stockings while wearing them???) to impress their chaps for Christmas. Because that's what they like right? All that kinky lacy stuff that makes you look like a very well paid lady of the night?

Well, not really, according to a panel of three gents who consider themselves in the know. And their assessment of which underwear is a turn on might just surprise you, unless of course you are a bloke that is. Continue reading here.

Photo: Daily Mail

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Scamming the scammer


In response to my previous post about Nigerian mail fraud, Roberto sent me a link which features this extremely funny exchange between a mail fraudster and his intended victim. The guy had a good laugh at the crooks expense.

It's not brilliantly formatted so you may need to scroll down if there's a gap in the copy, but definitely worth reading to the end.

I also found this link with more people giving these scammers a run for their money on the b.s front. Funny stuff.

Photo and source

Back sack and crack

We have a friend who lives in San Francisco who's fond of having the male equivalent of the Brazilian wax, also knows as a 'Back Sack & Crack' job. No prizes for guessing what that entails. I take it he's a regular, because his account of what it's like, and my own experience (once and never again) differed greatly in terms of pain experienced, or perhaps, pain reported. So there was me thinking I was a big woosie, until I came across this article in the recent issue of Vanity Fair.

It's written by the English-American author
Christopher Hitchens (pictured), who embarked on an all-over self improvement process in the USA, which, among other things, involved having the hair from his nether regions removed. Why? Who knows, but this is part of what he had to say on the subject:

Here’s what happens. You have to spread your knees as far apart as they will go, while keeping your feet together. In this “wide stance” position, which is disconcertingly like waiting to have your Pampers changed, you are painted with hot wax, to which strips are successively attached and then torn away. Not once, but many, many times. I had no idea it would be so excruciating. The combined effect was like being tortured for information that you do not possess, with intervals for a (incidentally very costly) sandpaper handjob. Continue reading

The article, 'On the limits of self-improvement' also includes Hitchens's endeavour to fix his 'British teeth' and quit smoking. A very good, well-written, and amusing read.

Photo: Vanity Fair

It's a scam

I often write about the latest grammatically challenged Nigerian fraud email I've received - tongue firmly in cheek. Then today I watched an episode of Oprah, and there are thousands of people that have actually fallen prey to these scams. "What a bunch of eejits" you'd think, but a lot of them are intelligent professional people that just got very unlucky, and OK, admittedly, made some poor choices.

From what they were saying on the show, the scams come in various guises - not just the whole 'My millionaire uncle died and I need to get his money out of Nigeria' ones. Some of them are 'You've won the lottery' types, asking you only to pay the bank transfer fees. Others involve work at home scams, and one woman was even got on an Internet dating scam.

The last one gave me the creeps, because that's how I met my lovely Roberto, and have in fact dated successfully using this service in the past. What you're told to look out for in this case however, is men or women that are supposedly English or American professionals, but are based abroad in countries such as, wait for it, Nigeria, doing charity work. The woman on the Oprah show corresponded with a guy for a few months, fell in love, and then sent money on to him towards the orphanage he had supposedly set up. I think various amounts were transferred, and eventually this bastard even went as far as to ask her to put on a white dress and meet him at the airport. The poor woman waited there for six hours before going home in floods of tears, realising she'd been had.

These guys, based primarily in Russia and Nigeria, use professional shots of men and women stolen from modeling sites, and probably even Flicker etc, to help pass off their fake identities.

The scam expert on the Oprah Show said a good site to double check on the guy or woman you may be corresponding with, in case you aren't sure, and especially if they are based in a far off country and need money 'to help the locals', is romancescam.com. You go onto this site and type in their name to run a search. The woman who had been scammed on the show was corresponding with a Nigerian-based scammer, who it turned out had 40 plus aliases.

Another woman, and this one I can very easily see happening to just about anyone, went on to eBay to bid for a wedding dress. She kept bidding (going as high as $2,500) but eventually lost out because she didn't meet the minimum or something to that effect. The next day she received what she believed to be an email from the seller saying she would sell the dress to her for the $2,500 she had bid, off the books, so to speak. As it happened (red flag time) the sellers paypal account was on the fritz, so she requested the buyer to make a direct bank transfer. Surprise surprise, it was a scam and the email didn't even come from the real seller of the dress.

The eBay spokesperson and scam expert on the show said these scammers keep their eye on these big amount bidding processes. And then, sensing someone is desperate for something they have missed out on, move in for the kill, posing as the real seller. The eBay spokesperson said one should be very suspicious of any 'seller' attempting to sell to you outside of the normal eBay process.

Let it not be said that Oprah doesn't still have a thing or two to teach to the world.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Indian teen survives pole in head

According to the Daily Mail, Manish Rajpurohit has been hailed the luckiest teenager in India after he survived being skewered by a metal pole in a bus crash. Continue reading

This reminded me of the story of Phineas Gage back in the 18 hundreds - the case they teach you about in Psych 101, where the guy got a pole stuck in his head after an explosion and experienced dramatic personality changes.

According to Wikipedia:
"Gage's case is cited as among the first evidence suggesting that damage to the frontal lobes could alter aspects of personality and affect socially appropriate interaction. Before this time the frontal lobes were largely thought to have little role in behavior." Continue reading


Photo Daily Mail

Holy Crap!


Probably not what I should be reading when I am due to give birth in the next couple of weeks myself, but a woman in Manchester gave birth to a baby weighing, get this, 14lb 8oz. That's around 6.57kgs. To contextualise, most newborns are around the 7lb mark. Continue reading

Photo: Jack, now six months old, weighs 22lb and wears clothes for an 18-month-old. C/o Daily Mail

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oprah's 7 ways to restart your day

If, like me, you struggle to get up in the morning, here are some helpful suggestions to kick start you into the day on a more positive note, thanks to the Oprah website.

And on the subject of Oprah, this is what happened when five celebrity hairstylists and their teams made over more than 100 people in 48 hours.

When men get sick


The Man-Flu - More free videos are here
Click here if you can't see the clip

Thanks to the lovely Roberto for the tip :-)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Undercover reporters and other news


Yep, stimulating stuff people.

On my end I'm 36 weeks pregnant today and on the home stretch. I've developed varicose veins, hemorrhoids, a touch of narcolepsy, and my hands and arms resemble Angelina Jolie's. Recently I've also been having weird twingey pains in my cervix, and have chronic back ache. But other than that, I'm just peachy.

With the pending birth of our baby, some people seem to think this is a good time to regale me with horror stories of the birth process - as happened to them, their mother, or their aunt twice removed. I'm not sure if the intention is to prepare me for the worst, and therefore seen as a service, or merely a sadistic ploy to illicit panic.

My cleaner, who is from Lithuania, and seems to read newspapers better equipped to wipe your bottom with, is also fond of telling me just what a miserable job the NHS is doing - accompanied by more nightmarish birth stories as happened to her and various other women that feature in said newspapers. She also, just for the hell of it, includes stats on infant deaths, thanks again to the inept NHS.

I'm not even having my baby on the NHS, but it still annoys the hell out of me. Some people have a very irritating tendency to form
sweeping generalised opinions based on a handful of worst case scenarios. Sure, the NHS has its faults, but as far as a subsidised public health system goes, it sure beats the hell of out some other countries where you would rather die than land up in a state-run hospital. Recently a friend of mine was asking me if I have a private doctor for general health stuff, and my response was although I have access to one through my husband's work, I am actually completely happy with my NHS surgery. I've experienced professional treatment and care there for the last 4.5 years, and before that an equally excellent surgery in Ealing for five years.

Anyway, best not to let people get you down with their scare mongering, though easier said than done when you are 8.5 months pregnant and stuff tends to get on your nerves. My sister told me that the sound of her mother-in-laws voice was akin to nails being scratched down a blackboard when she was pregnant. I laughed at the time, but it's funny how you do in fact become highly sensitised and in fact intolerant to certain people, sounds, foods and even smells when you are carrying a child. Unfortunately my cleaner, whom I normally get on with like a house on fire, has become one of those people that annoy me. Which, admittedly, may have something to do with her aforementioned negativity.

Tonight is our final antenatal class where we discuss, among other things, how ones life changes once the baby is born. Sounds like a no-brainer to me, but there are some women who do apparently have a very misguided fantasy of what having a baby involves. This seems to feature images of dressing the baby in lots of lovely little outfits, but neglects the lack of sleep, sore leaky breasts, hormonal ups and downs, and dirty nappies.

I feel like I have a one-up on the other women in my class, thanks to frank bits of advice imparted by my mother and grandmother from around the time I hit puberty. These went something to the effect of: "Do not have children they will ruin your life." Sometimes this was phrased as: "Do not have children it will ruin your marriage." Another version might be: "Once you have kids your life is over." The last being my favourite, I think, in terms of its simple eloquent minimalism, yet 'cover all bases' kind of appeal.

Suffice it to say, I've got a pretty well established idea that once the baby arrives it's not going to be an easy ride. I'm hoping this 'preparing for the worst' kind of thinking means I might be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't turn out that bad. "Don't count on it," I can almost hear my grandmother saying.

Photo: Daily Mail

Friday, November 16, 2007

Got curves? Here's the news you've been waiting for


A study has revealed that that extra padding women with hour glass figures carry around their hips may be more than just the result of too many Maltesers.

According to the BBC:

Researchers studied 16,000 women and girls and found the more voluptuous performed better on cognitive tests - as did their children.

The bigger the difference between a woman's waist and hips the better.

Researchers writing in Evolution and Human Behaviour speculated this was to do with fatty acids found on the hips. In this area, the fat is likely to be the much touted Omega-3, which could improve the woman's own mental abilities as well as those of her child during pregnancy.

Men respond to the double enticement of both an intelligent partner and an intelligent child, the researchers at the Universities of Pittsburgh and California said. Continue reading

Thanks to the lovely Roberto for the tip.

Photo source: Daily Mail

Happy Friday


Here are a few links for your Friday reading amusement:
Photo: Daily Mail

Monday, November 12, 2007

The new Spice Girls Tesco ad

Yeah as if Victoria Beckham shops at Tesco's! Still, not a bad ad, if you can employ a (great) degree of suspension of disbelief.

Monday roundup

This is just a quick post before I head off to our weekly antenatal class where they are showing us birth videos. R tried to get out of it by saying he had some or other board meeting - yeah right. A likely story.

Just a few links for your reading enjoyment:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's tough being a model

This is a very funny montage of models falling during fashion shows.

Oh well, they get paid enough ;-)


Thanks to the lovely Louise for the tip

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday reading material

There's not a lot going on at the moment, so here are a few dregs for your amusement:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Interesting music choice there boys


Thanks to the lovely Roberto for the tip

TGIF


Photo c/o Daily Mail

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The holiday thing


Happy Halloween y'all! And to celebrate, because let's face it with this huge bump this is about as much celebrating as I'm going to be doing, here are some appropriately creepy news items:
Our baby is due on the 17th of December, but if she's anything like her father, she'll come three weeks earlier than that. For this reason I'm doing my Christmas shopping early, and have even ordered our tree online which will arrive on the 10th of December - just in case - a phrase that is becoming quite popular in our household. If you are interested in having a real tree delivered to your home, with the option of removal and recycling, check out pinesandneedles. For the record, this is the first time I am using them myself, so I cannot vouch for the service yet.

I love Christmas, but I hate Christmas shopping - only because of the crowds and the chaos. Now that I'm roughly eight months pregnant (34 weeks on Monday), I'm definitely not in the mood to stand in long queues, or get shunted around by women with large handbags, or bashed into by tourists with backpacks. God, I hate backpacks.

Cue internet shopping - what a heaven send. Though, for the record, you cannot order hard copy vouchers from HMV or Virgin online - only e-ones which then get sent directly to the recipient via email. Great if you aren't going to see them over the festive period, not so great if you want to give it to them in an envelope in person. I'm just giving you the heads-up before you, like me, go through the laborious online registration process only to discover the fact.

I imagine my posts on here may become less frequent over the coming month, and may even come to a standstill once the baby arrives, at least for a few weeks. I'd ask one of my friends to be a guest blogger, but if my various attempts at getting them to contribute to other online endeavours are anything to go by, it's probably not a good idea. They're a bunch of lazy bastards. That, or the fact that they actually do what they get paid to do at work, and don't have time to peruse the Daily Mail every hour. Shocking really.

Photo: University students made up to look like zombies take part in a bid to break the world record for the "biggest zombie lurch" in Sydney September 22, 2007. Source

Sunday, October 28, 2007

World's creepiest places to visit


It's Sunday night and I have an especially unpleasant case of backache. I am however aware of the fact that tomorrow will be Monday morning, and if you are anything like me, you will get into the office and hate everyone.

So to ease you into the day, and in reverence to the upcoming Halloween festivities, check out this piece on the world's creepiest places to visit. Forget ye olde pubs and manor houses, think more along the lines of the Paris catacombs and dive sites among WWII wrecks in Micronesia. Interestingly, Roberto and I have actually visited one of them, that being the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.

It's clearly a blatant attempt to encourage you to spend your hard earned cash on some travel, but it's a fun read if you have a taste for the morbid.

Photo: Winchester House, San Jose, California. C/o concierge.com

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday roundup


Photo: Dave's Daily

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The final countdown

I realise I haven't written about my pregnancy on here for a while. "Thank god for that!" some of you are saying. Well, your relief was short-lived, because I think it's high time for a graphic update.

I'm 32 weeks into my pregnancy now. To give you an idea of how much further I have to go, you are told that babies can arrive from the 37-week mark already, but estimated due dates (though only approx 5% of babies are born on these) are at the 40 week mark.

My own lovely Roberto was born at 37 weeks - the only time in his life he's ever been early for anything, but there you go. From when my baby started to move around, or rather, from when I felt her move for the first time, I've had a sense that she's going to come earlyish too, but this is admittedly based on nothing more than intuition.

I've been nesting for most of my pregnancy, but in the last few weeks it's become a lot more intense. Nesting is a sort of instinctual thing, where a woman starts to tidy, clean, shop, drive her partner insane with obsessive compulsive worrying, in preparation for the arrival of her baby. This becomes more frenzied as her due date nears, and in fact a sign that labour is imminent for some women can find them suddenly deciding to paint the nursery at 2am, or iron a stack of clothes in a zealous burst of energy. In my case these things would probably indicate that I had lost my mind entirely - especially the idea of me actually picking up an iron, but apparently it happens.

This last part of the pregnancy also means you are usually quite fat, or in the case of some very fortunate genetically blessed women, at the very least, horizontally distended. I've tried to eat sensibly throughout, and indeed my weight gain is on par with the 'recommended' amount so far, but it still feels, and looks, as though a large chunk of it has gone straight to my backside and thighs. My breasts resemble those pictures you see in National Geographic magazine of African tribal women that have had six children already and eschew the lingerie racket. I have permanent dark circles under my eyes thanks to being permanently knackered, and I'm grouchy not just from being hormonal but because I have fairly chronic back ache.

All in all my pregnancy look is very attractive, or rather, I'd like to think it is to some tiny obscure fetish group out there somewhere - probably in deepest darkest America, the website run by someone called Hank.

Knowing you are going to have your baby in the next few weeks also brings home the fact that you actually have to deliver that baby is some shape or form. Ah, now the fun begins. Everyone, and I mean every person and their donkey (including those that have never had children themselves), has an opinion on what the best way is to bring a baby into the world.

There's the people who advocate the 'totally natural' method, of not using any drugs and letting your body do what it was built to do. Yes, because my body was built to push out what feels like a watermelon causing the place between my vagina and bottom to tear, without any pain relief. Then there's the camp that say to hell with that, I want to choose when my baby is born and want it taken out of me via C-section with the least amount of pain involved. Nice in theory, but lots of abdominal pain and discomfort in the weeks following as this involves cutting through the abdominal tendons. Then there's the in-between camp, the one I fall into, which is that I'd very much like to push my baby out vaginally, but would like some help in the pain stakes via something like an epidural, morphine, crack cocaine, etc.

Regardless of what anyone says, giving birth does involve a lot of pain. Admittedly there are ways and means of coping with it, and some women do so better than others, but it's still pain. I have purchased three birth books, and perused a fair share of others in the book store, and regardless of whether the book is called, 'The instinctive birth book,' or, 'Birthing in water', or, 'The leather sandal wearing candle-burning Tarot guide to birth,' all the pictures therein of women giving birth look as though they are going through pure hell. Guys, imagine passing a kidney stone, or one of those excruciating calf cramps you get in the middle of the night and times that sensation by 1000. And then imagine having to go through that almost perpetually for approximately 14 hours, in some cases more.

And unless you are having an elective C-section, in which case baby is usually taken out a week or two early and you don't actually go into labour, these other methods, even with an epidural, still involve the pain of labour. You see, an epidural can only be administered when labour is confirmed via changes in dilation, which can take some time, and having to endure many hours of contractions before that happens. So if you are thinking you'll just walk in there, as did I, and get a shot and that's that, think again.

We've been going to antenatal classes where they teach you things like how to breathe through contractions, and what positions are best to get baby to descend into a good position for birth. We're told that our bodies do in fact know how to push that baby out on an instinctual level, and that things like fear of pain (silly us!), and holding back, are what slows down and interrupts the natural process. Oh and fear of making a number two on the delivery table is apparently high on a lot of women's paranoid list, not just mine. Well, guys, with all that pushing, it's an understandable concern. And for the record, they say it doesn't happen that often, and if it does it's not a large amount, and no big deal. They discreetly remove the mess and let you get on with the important business of getting that baby out.

So yes, lots and lots of things on my mind right now, which, along with a tendency to forget everything and stand around with a vacant idiotic expression on my face in the middle of supermarkets, means it's not long to go.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

TGIF

Very upsetting news about Lucky Dube - just another victim of the pointless violence in South Africa. Will it ever end?

And on the subject of South Africa, there's much talk about the World Cup rugby final between them and England tomorrow night. My South African family members and friends have been appalled at my claim that I'll be happy if either team wins. Personally I don't see the problem - they are both my teams and it's a win win situation for me. There's also something to be said for loyalty to a country that has welcomed you and been home to you for 10 years. So get over it guys! I have a suspicion South Africa are going to be the victors, but I wish both sides well.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Romanian orphans and other news


Photo: Santapaul

Monday, October 15, 2007

Home delivery

The words 'home delivery' sound very nice don't they? Personally they make me think of steaming hot pizzas, Waitrose groceries, and moses baskets delivered to my doorstep, while I get to stay in my pajamas and not worry about my hair. And even for people who do have a shred of dignity when it comes to personal grooming and appearance, 'home delivery' generally implies a convenient worry-free arrangement.

Having moved into our new home four months ago however, these words now have a distinctly different ring to them. My experience is genuinely a 50/50 one in terms of satisfaction. Some of the time things go according to plan - you get called one hour before the chaps are due to arrive so you know to be home, and the people who deliver your things are genuinely helpful and upbeat. That other 50 percent however, involves being house bound during that five-hour delivery slot (afraid to even take a nap in case you miss the doorbell), and blood pressure escalating arguments with obtuse delivery men.

Today was another negative case in point. We ordered a chest of drawers from Heals. Upon ordering it, we were very specific about the fact that it had to be carted up to the third floor of our house, and which as it didn't formerly belong to Barbara Cartland, doesn't contain a lift. Personally I haven't encountered that many houses with lifts in them, but perhaps I'm moving in the wrong social circles.

So we waited the requisite week and a half, and this morning two friendly enough chaps arrived, friendly that is until I reminded them that the drawers had to be carried up to the third floor.

"Third floor? Oh no my dear, we only do up to the second floor. We are an external contracting company and it's not in our contract to do third floors. Health and safety you see."

I fished around for the order receipt and pointed to the printed details which specifically state: "Deliver to third floor." The chap merely shook his head and said, "Well they'd have to get a special company to do that for you, that's not us. We can carry it up to the second flood and leave it there for them, but we can't do the third floor."

At this point my blood began to boil, only because this scenario is by now so very familiar to me. I cannot count the amount of times I've stood on our doorstep in my slippers, my increasingly pregnant belly heaving with frustration, arguing with delivery people who turn up to our house claiming no knowledge of what has been arranged with the shops we purchased our goods from. Do these people not communicate with each other?

I called the shop and explained the situation and got told, very politely and sympathetically I might add, that they indeed have a contract with these chaps which states no delivery past the second floor, and that the sales girl who did the transaction should have pointed this out to us.

"Well," I said, "You also happen to have a contact with us, which is in the form of this order and the specifications that we need delivery to the third floor. It's here in black and white - proof that you were informed of it at time of purchase, and ahead of delivery. Had I known you had this policy I would not have made the purchase."

All this waiting around for delivery people over the last few months means I've had a lot of time to watch TV, specifically legal and crime shows. These have given me the confidence to use such words as, 'Black and white,' and 'you were informed at the time of purchase,' with a fairly convincing air.

She said she needed to speak to the dispatch company and would call me back in two minutes, and that the (increasingly irritated) two chaps standing outside my doorstep needed to hang on a tick. To her credit she did call me back in two minutes and asked to speak to said irritated delivery chaps. A brief exchange ensued and the phone was passed back to me. And was that a satisfied, 'I told you so!' look on his face as he did so?

Miss polite told me that having chatted with them she had established that they were indeed unable to take up the drawers to the third floor. "It's a weight thing you see, they are physically incapable of doing so." I had to bite my lip. Clearly they were physically capable of taking it up to the second floor, but some strange delivery man equivalent of kryptonite must kick in at the base of the third set of stairs, rendering them incapable to continue. I also had a strong desire to suggest that they could actually remove the drawers and take those up separately thereby dramatically reducing the weight of the whole, but it was clear the dye had been set.

I was told to wave the chaps off, who merrily left along with our chest of drawers, and that a special 4-man delivery team would be in contact with me to redeliver. "Today, if not then tomorrow," she politely assured me. That is they will contact me today if not tomorrow, not deliver. God only knows when that will happen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

So is it or isn't it safe to drink while pregnant?

According to the Daily Mail:

Pregnant women can drink a small glass of wine every day safely, according to new official guidance. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence reignited the debate over consuming alcohol while pregnant by saying that drinking no more than 1.5 units does not harm unborn babies. Its official advice contradicts the Department of Health, which this year told pregnant women not to drink at all. Continue reading.

This is just one example of a myriad of conflicting information you are given as a pregnant woman, and the list is a very very long one. I've been told not to eat shellfish, then I saw a health pamphlet saying I can as long as it's cooked. Then someone told me not to eat peanuts, but another study said it was good to eat them so your unborn child doesn't develop nut allergies. Then there's the whole thing about not sleeping on your back, and yet another study saying actually it's OK to.

Confused? Welcome to my world.

I had very bad morning sickness - 10 weeks of projectile vomiting, and a myriad of foods that I couldn't stand the smell or taste of. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, alcohol was one of them. Since then I've just stayed away from it because I haven't really had an overwhelming desire for it, and if I had had one, chances are I would have stayed away from it anyway.

You see, I fall into the category of pregnant woman that is quite simply known as: paranoid. There are probably a host of things that are completely fine to eat or drink, but if I hear just one possible negative thing about them, I avoid. My, perhaps misguided, thinking on this is that it's 9-10 months of my life to do without these things and give the life I'm carrying the best possible chance. If it turns out there was no reason to worry, then fine, but if the risks are proved valid, I'm covered.

Saying all of this, things like damaged sperm, or genetics can lead to problems that have nothing at all to do with what you eat or do during pregnancy. And in some cases you can do absolutely everything by the book and still have complications. It's certainly not an exact science, and you can only do so much and hope for the best.

Click here for a humorous and informative article that details the constant conflicting bits of information women are given during pregnancy, and which explores the validity of some of those 'stay away from!' claims.

Photo and source: Daily Mail

Wednesday news roundup