Thursday, February 28, 2008

Welcome baby Jade!

Those of you who used to read Erica's Life in London blog back when she had time for such mundane things as blogging, will be pleased to know that baby Jade arrived on 26 February 2008 at 11:27 PM, weighing 6lb 4oz. Jade, I'm told, is "absolutely gorgeous" and Erica is "dead tired but v. happy" (sic). I'll post a picture of mother and baby as soon as I get hold of one. In the meantime, join me in congratulating Erica on her new arrival - and the chance to wear high heels once more!

Updated to include baby Jade's first pic.

Does time fold?

WARNING: The clip below contains spoilers for this week's epidode 5.

Coming soon to a small screen near you :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Go Carrie!

Should we get you a diamond?
No, just get me a *really big* closet.

What can I say, Carrie Bradshaw is a girl after my own heart :-)

I can't wait for Sex and the City: The Movie to come out. Anyone else looking forward to it?

Consumer evolution

This is sooooo true it's scary. Thank God our TV is still the bulky old-fashioned style ;-)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

From Greek skepseis to random thoughts

Sometimes change happens when you least expect it and without having planned for it. I've decided to anglicise the blog address, so I've gone from to, essentially replacing the Greek word skepseis with its English equivalent thoughts and adding random in front (as I couldn't get plain throughtsdotcom on Blogger). After all, what goes in here is rather random, so the new title is quite appropriate.

If any of you have a link to my blog on yours, the link won't work any more unless you replace the old address with the new one. I'm really sorry for the short notice and the extra work involved in updating your blogs. I've been thinking about this for a long time and have kept putting it off, so today I've decided to carpe diem, so to speak, and go for it. I promise not to make any more changes in the near future.

As a nod to what was for almost two years, here's a picture of the Greek equivalent to English tea.

Mmmm makes me think of summer :-)

How cluttered is *your* mind?

It's Saturday morning, I've made a jumbo cup of vanilla coffee and thought I'd try another one of those quizzes. So here's the verdict:

My Mind is 22% Cluttered

My mind is very free. I've liberated myself from most worries and problems.

And even if something does start to clutter my mind, I'm easily able to let it go.

All well and good, but the question this poses is - if my mind's so free from worry, what keeps it so busy all the time???

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The lunar eclipse that never was

The full moon is seen early Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, during a total lunar eclipse near Frankfurt, Germany.

I'm totally knackered today and it's all hubby's fault.

Well, most of it, as I was a willing accomplice, but it was his idea: wake up in the middle of the night last night (or rather extremely early this morning) to watch the lunar eclipse. Which sounded like a fun thing to do at 10:00 PM when he first floated the idea. Not so fun (or funny) when we woke up at 2:30 AM, half an hour early due to having set the alarm clock wrong (oops). Still, we persevered. After a little argument over whose turn it had been to charge the camera battery (totally pointless, as camera battery charging is a man's job in our household, like taking the rubbish down or doing the hoovering, not to mention there was nothing to take a picture of, although we didn't know that at the time) we settled down to watch half an episode of Hart to Hart until it was time to get out and look up.

Which we did promptly at 3:00 AM as instructed by the BBC, but all we could see was cloud, cloud and a little more cloud for good measure. We took it in turns to keep guard for a good 40 minutes in the freezing cold (thank God for fleecy bathrobe), and the best we managed to get were a couple of glimpses of what vaguely resembled a round object with a reddish hue. Sort of. In fact, if I hadn't known it was the moon, I'd have thought it was light pollution.

We gave up eventually and went back to bed around 4:00 AM, only to wake up three hours later feeling tired and grumpy, a state that didn't improve during the day. I guess going through a major "corporate planning" exercise at work (aka holding a finger to the wind and hoping for the best, along with lots of number crunching) doesn't help - but that's a whole new post altogether. Let's just say I got home from work this evening feeling like screaming or crying, or both. And breaking things.

According to the evening paper, the next total lunar eclipse is set to occur in 2010. Which I guess is a blessing, as I couldn't cope with another night like last night any time soon. Although to be honest, two raspberry daiquiris later I feel a lot more relaxed - another one and I reckon I'll be totally chilled out.

I'm off to crush some ice.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Barking spam attack

I came home today after a(nother) long day at work to find a(nother) selection of spam waiting in my inbox. Today's pickings include a "555 Euro of Welcome Bonus!" at an online casino - mine if I make not one, not two, but four deposits, an offer for a miracle liquid that will enlarge a certain body part that I don't possess (but if I did, said enlargement would be sure to make my girlfriend ecstatic), another email in a language I don't understand which offers me a bonus of 555 USD (Speel vandaag en ontvang tot aan 555$ in Welkom bonussen) if only I click on a .cn link (didn't know Chinese looked so similar to Dutch!) and my daily request to update my account details by NatWest Bank that goes like this:

Dear NatWest Bank customer,

We have implemented security measures consistent with our internal information security practices to help us keep your information secure. These measures include technical and procedural steps to protect your data from misuse, access or disclosure, loss, alteration or destruction.

One of these security measures is NOF (NatWest Online Form) to help us to keep your personal and banking data up to date.

You should complete NOF on a regular basis.

Please complete NOF using the link below:

NatWest Online Form

NatWest Automated Mail Service. Please do not respond to this mail.

Is anyone actually taken in by these idiots? I suppose they would have found another way to fleece people if spam email didn't work, so it must be working. It seems impossible, but people out there must be gullible enough to believe that there's free money, hugely discounted "Swiss-made" Rolex watches and longer ding-dongs at the end of a spam email. Are they barking mad, I wonder?

Speaking of which, another email that came today from informs me that there are a couple of stories which link 'barking mad' with the east London suburb of Barking. One is that the phrase owes its origin to a mediaeval asylum for the insane which was part of Barking Abbey. The second story isn't a suggested origin, just a neat 1980s joke at the expense of Margaret Thatcher. She was known by those who disliked her as 'Daggers' Thatcher - not from a reputation for stabbing colleagues in the back, but because she was said to be 'three stops past Barking'. Dagenham is three stations beyond Barking on the London Underground.

The problem with the asylum tale is the date - it is far too early. 'Barking mad' isn't mediaeval and began to appear in the language only around the beginning of the 20th century.

The first record of it in print is from the USA. The 11th November 1927 edition of the Oklahoma newspaper The Ada Evening News reported on the frenetic and, if contemporary photographs are to be believed, borderline insane sport of Auto-polo:

"At 2:30 this afternoon at Park field, a half dozen barking mad auto polo cars will be whirled into action."

That usage suggests a readership who were already familiar with the phrase, and the playing of polo in cars, while having a strong claim to epitomise madness, isn't the likely source.

A much more prosaic derivation, that the phrase refers to mad and possibly rabid dogs, is a more probable source.

Never let it be said that blogging isn't educational.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Hallmark Holiday!

I had such a laugh when I saw this, I just had to post it. Enjoy Valentine's Day, folks - whatever you do!

Personally, my favourite bit about Valentine's Day (except for the chocs hubby usually brings home) is seeing men out and about carrying huge bouquets of flowers. It makes my heart smile :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

My secret combination

All self-respecting Greeks have one main topic of conversation these days: the upcoming selection of a song to represent the country at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Belgrade, Serbia, on 24 May. Eurovision has always been popular in Greece, more so since a recent string of Top 10 successes, not to mention winning 1st prize in 2005 with Helena Paparizou's auspiciously named Number 1, so the selection of a worthy performer attracts heated debates online, in the news and amongst friends.

There are three hopefuls at the moment, and I've already made up my mind who I'd like to go through to the semi-finals. Her name's Kalomoira, she's very very sweet, has a great voice and reminds me of my best friend from high school who I had a bit of a teenage crush on. The song's not bad either - it's a catchy, upbeat tune and with the right choreography it could do well. You can check it out here:

In the meantime, Ireland, seven times Eurovision winners but of little recent success, are considering sending Dustin the Turkey to Belgrade this year. There are humans too competing at the Irish final, so we won't know for sure if it's going to be the bird until 23 February.

I wonder whether the UK (also a flop in recent years) will be sending Winnie the Pooh. That'll be one to watch.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Two things

This meme comes from Tina over the pond.

Two names you go by… Tinsie or Pie (don't ask)
Two things you are wearing right now… My nightdress (ahem)
Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship… Laughter and hugs
Two of your favorite things to do… Blog and read
Two things you want very badly at the moment… An extra hard drive or a new computer
Two pets you have or have had… I had a goldfish once, but it was a long time ago. Do my mum's two cats count?
Two things that you did last night… Read Trinny and Susanna's Survival Guide; had a glass of Chauvignon Blanc.
Two people you think will fill this out… Indie (I hope)?
Two things you ate today… Yoghurt with honey; chocolate Shreddies with semi-skimmed milk.
Two people you last talked to… My friend Loops and a random guy on the train home last night.
Two things you’re doing tomorrow… It's Chinese New Year, babe! Need I say more?
Two longest car rides… The longest car ride I've had lately was when my friend gave me a lift to the shops (about 4 mins away).
Two favorite holidays… Easter and Carnival
Two favorite beverages… Decaf coffee with Baileys or Assam tea with milk.
Two people no longer alive who you’d like to talk to… my two grandmothers.

Consider yourselves tagged :-)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Karneval in Köln

For some time I've wanted to go to Cologne in West Germany for the Karneval, and I finally managed it this year. I knew it'd be fun, but it surpassed my expectations. The atmosphere was amazing - the whole city was celebrating. What I'd not realised is that almost everyone would be dressed up, not just to go to parties, but to go about their daily business.

I mean, you know it's going to be special when you spot Santa in front of you in the queue for the ATM...

Grown men in multi-coloured wigs dancing away in the middle of the day...

A group of young men in pink bunny outfits (and another Santa)...

And a group of older ladies in full clown gear.

What can I say, other than we had a fab time and we hope to be able to go next year, too!

You can see some more of my photos on Flickr.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's Pancake Day...

...and what better way to celebrate than watching a pancake race :-)

It was freezing cold and very windy in London today, so the ladies and gents who bravely put on their T-shirts and tossed pancakes outside Southwark Cathedral deserved all the cheering they got!

After the race we queued (and queued and queued) at the pancake stand. These are the pancakes we ended up with half an hour later.

Oh well. At least they tasted OK. Although to be honest we were so cold and tired by the time we reached the counter, anything would have tasted good.

Note to the organisers: Don't bother with the jacket potatoes and salad. It's Shrove Tuesday and anyone who takes the time to go to a pancake race will want to eat pancakes. Duh.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Three Question Personality Test

I've been tagged by MrsB to give five interesting things about myself and tag 5 others to do the same. Well, here's no. 1/5: I love quizzes! This one is pretty spot on, too (at least I think so - if any of you guys who know me in real life think this description is nothing like me, do say!).

Your Personality Is

Guardian (SJ)

You are sensible, down to earth, and goal oriented.
Bottom line, you are good at playing by the rules.

You tend to be dominant - and you are a natural leader.
You are interested in rules and order. Morals are important to you.

A hard worker, you give your all at whatever you do.
You're very serious, and people often tell you to lighten up.

In love, you tend to take things carefully and slowly.

At work, you are suited to almost any career - but you excel in leadership positions.

With others, you tend to be polite and formal.

As far as looks go, you are traditionally attractive. You take good care of yourself.

On weekends, you tend to like to do organized activities. In fact, you often organize them!