Washing optional

This has been a horrendous week on public transport. One of those where the fat people always want to sit next to me and then bump me the whole time that I need to give them part of my seat. To be honest I don’t really mind that much.

Possibly because it has been freezing cold a number of people seem to have decided that cleaning is optional. I speak of themselves. Their bodies, their hair, their teeth. It’s a toss up what is worse. The cloying sour-floral smell of B.O. and layers of perfume, the stench of the unbrushed dog breath or the overpowering cutting aroma of a chain smoker’s tobacco mouth.

This is often combined with the concept that drycleaning or airing a coat is unnecessary and mothballs are the scent of success.

But that is probably a really cruel thing for me to say and it therefore serves me right when Plus One comments it’s astounding how easily my hair picks up the odour of food when I open the oven and bend over it. That it is roast chicken scented for hours after!


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So last year I came down with a cold/cough thing that seemed to last forever. (In point of fact, although I am now ‘healthy’ I still seem to be getting up every morning and hocking up a tiny phlegm ball – like a smoker or a distressed cat with hairballs – note: I am not a smoker or a cat).

At some stage while waiting to heal I developed this insane urge to firstly ‘treat’ myself so I felt less sorry for myself and secondly I started to wonder how much my fitness levels were dropping off because I was in some state of imposed bedrest involving work-food-sleep-work-food-sleep-work with no social life per say as I was too tired (and coughy) to be much fun.

Somewhere in the midst of this I decided what I REALLY wanted was a fitness tracker with a heartrate monitor that doesn’t look like one particularly. (which really narrowed the field) And I didn’t want to pay full price. So I got a really nice little fitbit off ebay from a very nice gentleman who let me pay immediately without bidding as I can’t deal with the bidding auction frenzy thing that was in perfect condition and I then scraped the face all by myself on the first hour of wearing. (sigh)

So this thing has been tracking my movements for about a month but I’m getting a bit bored of this. I miss the two watches I own as there is no point in wearing a normal watch if you have a tracker with time attached to it already. The watches are just more comfy as on my wrist as the tracker doesn’t wrap sufficiently and personally I feel it consequently keeps poking into my arm in a way that it would not if I had a fatter arm (not that I want a fatter arm). This is despite what is a serious charm for my shallow self of being able to easily switch out the straps to suit fashion/activity etc. Two completely different straps fit differently but still the straps can only bend so far and the little light sensor things dig into my arm.

I am more fascinated than I thought I would be at this wearable tech. I keep worrying – especially since my wrist feels dented by the tracker – that the little light sensor things are going to give me cancer. Has anyone tested this? Or am I doomed anyways due to too many hours on early design mobile phones (think Motorola brick)? Is this thing really accurately monitoring my heartrate anyway or is it just making up some kind of guestimate that is also based off my blood pressure etc? And how does that sleep function work anyway? It actually subtracts time off for being ‘awake’ even though you are in bed. Occasionally when I think back I can vaguely remember being awake in the night as I tried to turn over or had a duvet war with Plus One but there are other periods of ‘awake’ I do not recall and I seem to have big problems hitting REM (Although this may be due to the fact that I’m plain not sleeping enough as there isn’t enough time in the day).

Strange to think though how ‘normal’ the whole concept of these trackers has become. Since owning one I notice them in various shapes, guises and brands on other people. And it’s astounding how many people of various fitness levels, sizes, ages, wear one. Will the ability to track our motions become so bog standard in the future we won’t even think about it? Like we don’t think twice now about being late meeting people because we are all connected via phones.


Filed under Fitness, modern living, technology

The Charcoal Bun

I was in a certain fairly high end supermarket chain yesterday. The type that sells decent (if fuddy duddy) clothing and fresh produce that focuses less on ‘seasonal’ and more on ‘lovely selection of everything you could ever want from around the world’…. (never mind air miles travelled and presumably without exploiting free trade farmers in Ghana or fishermen in Vietnam or conflict zones in Israeli kibbutz.

As usual I gravitated to their little piggy sweets. They do a veggie version and one with pork gelatin in. Personally I believe if you are going to eat something with an oinker of a face, just eat the pig version. I am befuddled by the veggie version. It should be shaped like a happy brussel sprout instead.

Then I got sidetracked by this prawn sandwich with a pipette cockily hanging out of it like a syringe out of a heroin addict’s arm. The main thing that distracted me to it was the bun enclosed around the prawns was pitch black. Black on top, underneath, inside.

It was the most vulgar thing ever. It looked like a volcanic rock had split in two and engulfed a bunch of pink shellfish in the process of trying to escape from a dark and gloomy nightclub who’s walls would also be painted black with splashes of gold and red for good measure.

I was intrigued how someone thought a pitch black bun was possibly appealing. I mean, I am not a particularly fussy eater and prone to some odd choices (the day before I’d been eaten a muffin topped with runny poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, avo, chives, bacon and lobster –  yummy btw) but this thing, although aesthetically interesting, was not something I would ingest.

Not least because I had vague memories of people saying how it wasn’t good to braai every day or to eat burnt toast because these were all possibly carcinogenic. And here this roll was labelled ‘charcoal bun’. Did it actually taste like ash? Would it be like a mouth of burnt toast? Did it actually have charcoal in it? Was it actually stuffed with chaka briquettes or was it just food colouring making it like that?

I googled this bun. Some new train of trendy foodie eating seems to think that charcoal ‘purifies the system’. (You may have seen the charcoal lumps in some of these water bottles) I sort of get if liquids filtered through it maybe it catches impurities. But are you actually supposed to EAT it?

Then again, a few years back they had this thing saying eating clay was healthy and all the celebs were doing it.

And you thought stopping your toddler from sticking all sorts of dirt, sticks, rocks and bugs into it’s mouth was a bad thing.


Filed under Food, Uncategorized

And the point is what?

So this woman climbed on the bus the other day with one of those mega prams that appears deceptively small but has 4×4 wheels that run over your feet if you don’t watch out because the wheels are spread like a squatting spider below the seat.

She had child who was getting too big for a pram, a shopping bag and a snack in hand. Curiously I looked at the snack. (I am naturally greedy.) It was a clear box of Quorn veggie cocktail sausages that she was scarfing at speed. Quorn was something I was unfamiliar with before moving countries because South Africans tend to look rather mockingly at people who don’t believe in meat. Quorn being the big brand name for a company that turns soya into a dizzy variety of meat-like products from sausages to mince to breaded chicken cutlets.

Mo Farah endorses it so it must work, even for athletes. And we are not above using a bit of the mince (with its strange squidgy soft tofu texture) to bulk out our normal lean beef mince when in economy mode. But I am not really a Quorn fan.

Looking through the opaque shopping bag I noted it contained a pot of carrot and coriander soup and a pack of ‘Lincolnshire style veggie sausages’ by a supermarket brand.

This to me was even more absurd than Quorn as a brand. This was clearly someone who believed in being a vegetarian for some reason – health/religion/love of fluffy animals – I have no idea. She was probably teaching her kid to be a veggie too. But obviously in denial about the lack of animal in her diet. Why on EARTH would she fill 2/3 of her shopping of imitation meat products? Surely if you are going to be vegetarian, you should embrace the plant. Enthuse on how you can spice and season and appreciate the delectable freshness of vegetables. And what is she teaching her child? Don’t eat meat but let me make your palate accustomed to things vaguely umami meat-ish?

I can fully understand why these products exist on the market but frankly, basing your diet around them is absurd. If you can’t work out how to live on eggs, nuts, cheese, lentils and vegetables maybe you just weren’t cut out to be a herbivore.

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Unique codifier

I’m not really a fan of hugely unique names for children. I think naming your child ‘Apple’ or ‘Lourdes’, even if you are a celebrity, something akin to child abuse. I’m never too sure some of the old names that went quaintly and quietly out of fashion bouncing back was a good idea either, even if I like a sense of history. (See the host of Rosies and Emelias and Gerties and Noahs that popped up for awhile)

I am starting to see the merit in giving children not too common names, even if not too unusual, as my parents somehow succeeded in doing. I also really like my surname more than Plus One’s. I tried to explain to him this is because it is far more unique in the world than his.

Lately I’m really valuing the merits of this. I am finding the projects I’m working a through pain in the backside because so many of the names on the projects are repeated. It’s inconceivable how many times a Dave and a Mark and Smit and an Addams or whatever has been repeated. Sometimes the first names. Sometimes almost surprisingly the surnames too, or variations thereof. So Smit and Smith and Smuts. Not really the same but similar enough for someone like me with an auto fill function to my email to hit the wrong person. Likewise for the first names.

Sometimes I get lucky and the wrong first name still has some relevance to the email. Sometimes the person is so out of context in terms of project and job function this results in quizzical emails back with the person on the other end clearly questioning my competence.

I exaggerate slightly quite how often this has gone wrong but if you ask me, once is one time too many.

I fully understand now why my old boss said, after we hired someone with the same first name as him, after three months of misdirected calls and a really delusional misdirection aimed at a twentysomething just starting out life with an active social life instead of a staid director in the prime of managerial hell, ‘We are NEVER employing someone with the same name as me ever again. No,’ (to the other director trying to placate him) ‘If that person really appears to be so AMAZING you want to hire him, he can bloody well change his first name if he wants to work here.’


Filed under anecdote, modern living, social

The things we surf

Was just debating the stuff I have looked up on the internet over the past year. And what these idiotic search engines that stalk and memorise the sites I go to must profile me out as.

My searches have included:

  • Video footage of a guinea fowl running (they cheer me up no end without fail)
  • Where is Dawid Malan the English cricketer from because with a name like that can he really be English?
  • World War 1 flying aces
  • Properties near my house
  • Places – tourist traps, hotels, transport – where I might one day go holiday if I had a sackload of money
  • Furniture
  • The option of getting an owl as a pet – specifically a burrowing owl
  • Body fat muscle ratios of women
  • How to make a yorkshire pudding
  • Restaurant menus in places I will never go eat at due to location/price/menu choices
  • How to grow various vegetables (which I have promptly never bothered to grow)
  • Random items on Amazon – rarely books – that I might one day want to own from jewellery to toasters
  • The fourth state of matter – I thought there was only gas/water/solid but the Science Museum said plasma counted (I think it was plasma)
  • Currency exchange rates
  • What time the shops open
  • Where is the bank
  • News24
  • Which universities were top in the world
  • Cellphones that could explode on planes
  • When a Brazilean musician is touring again internationally

The thing that I really resent is that these searches ARE being tracked as I’ve been getting adverts appropriate to these random searches.

Just a pity that if these people had any sense, they would realise there is no correlation between what I read on the internet and my own personal reality half the time.



Filed under anecdote, modern living, social, technology

Doggy style

I was talking to one of my siblings who has a friend with three dogs of varying sizes and shapes who are all an integral part of his lifestyle. The dogs often go travelling around with him as part of a rambunctious furry family. This has, however, lead to aspirations of human grandeur among at least one of them.

One of the dogs apparently flat out refuses to sit on the floor. He will always gravitate to the nearest chair and failing that, if kicked out by an ignoble human, will contemplate perhaps the dog basket. But never the floor.

‘But what,’ we asked, ‘does he do if he is out and about, surely there must come a time when he’s (dog) tired and needs to sit down?’

Apparently he flat out refuses to do this and will wander around forlorn for ages looking for a vacant chair.

Sometime though even this proves impossible as there just isn’t anywhere to sit, whether dog or human.

But apparently  he has come up with a solution to this – the floor STILL not being an option.

He simply sits on top of one of the other dogs. I’ve been told that they have become accustomed to this situation occurring and have learned to live with it.

Whatever means must in order to be kept in the manner accustomed…

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Human/Animal Rights

So I had a call today about an industrial unit which has basically been repossessed. We’ve always had a suspicion the rodent problem in the area may be due in part to this unit which was a ‘flour factory/bakery’ . I’ve seen reports of health and safety issues centred around cleanliness in the days when it was open.

Anyways. It’s been locked up for a few months now and at last inspection I was told there was a cat inside that had refused to leave. Although somewhat concerned about it, they were unable to chase it out and eventually decided it might be getting in and out via some other means although the unit looked sealed up. (Same as the rats)

It emerged today skinny but alive and very keen on rubbing its flea ridden self up against the guys taking stock of the situation. They called the RSPCA who, I believe, referred the case to a cat charity who said they would come past to pick up the animal. Who had clearly somehow survived on drinking water from a tap and rats/birdseed/coffee/flour/kidney beans or who knows what that the place is still fully stocked with. I assumed it was feral but the guys were informed by the neighbour this WAS actually it’s home – unlike the definitely feral furries who roam a few units down and who’ve I’ve seen lolling in the sun and doing unspeakable things in public. It had been brought in as a pest control measure by the owner who had left behind not just a fully stocked unit but his ‘rat trap’.

A few hours later I had a call back. The charity had now back tracked on coming to pick up the cat and were now claiming it had ‘roaming rights’ and should not be interfered with. We suspect the shelter might be full.

Either way. Someone tried to pick it up (fleas and all) and got scratched for his trouble. Probably a lawsuit in that somewhere if the scratches get infected. They then tried to chase it out but it wised up to its possible eviction and scuttled away. They’ve had no choice but to lock it back in for another few days until we work out what to do about all the contents in the unit, which will now include one evasive kitty.

We can only assume if it survived this long it can manage over the weekend. Even if it can’t, we can’t apparently interfere with its ‘roaming rights’ for the time being.

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Ferry nice

Plus one insisted that he didn’t like planes and somehow forced upon me the idea that it would be better to travel by train and then ferry rather than fly to Europe. Personally although I part see his logic, I also think it is part demented because you are now limited to places the ferry goes to and from for holidays. And YES you can get all the way to Bilbao, Spain like this but it takes a bloody long time and my holiday time is over by then. And then you’d probably rather be on a proper cruise ship known for luxury rather than practicality like a ferry.

It was the most surreal experience getting the overnight ferry from England to France. The one other time I did it before I was part of a massive youth group and we all jumped excitedly from a coach to run around the ship for a few hours before sinking into an exhausted heap somewhere like a litter of puppies. I have no recollection of actually eating anything or doing anything particularly constructive on the boat or indeed that it took that long, which it must have.

This time around there was just the two of us as foot passengers on an overnight journey. We had a rudimentary little cabin with two bunk beds, pale pink duvets and a teeny bathroom pod with toilet and a shower with surprisingly hot water at strong force. It was exactly luxury but it wasn’t slumming it either.

A lot of people had chosen to skimp on the cabins (there are, to be fair, also more people than cabins) and had taken the ‘sleeper seats’ instead. You could see some were seasoned travellers at this. They came on board with cooler bags of supper, their own blankets and pillows, tracksuit bottoms and the determined look of people ready to camp it out in public. I’m pretty sure they also had a car to return all these belongings to having said that.

To be fair, the ‘sleeper seats’ have more – much more – room than economy cabin class in an airplane. But the seats still don’t recline all the way down and you still land up napping with the hope that noone nicks your bag while you are asleep. (This is probably just ME being paranoid as a South African thinking like that having said that.) I did think however it probably wasn’t too bad when, on the return journey, I could feel the boat moving and in the windowless cabin had to lie very very still or risk feeling very very ill because I am one of those fools prone to motion sickness and highly confined spaces with artificial air blown into them don’t really help.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the ferry. It had a proper sit down restaurant and a canteen fast food one and some random cafe up top plus a bar with horrendous live evening entertainment. Not to mention a whole duty free shop, two tiny cinemas in a basement somewhere and a games arcade for the kids. I’ve always thought of ferries as highly practical big boats like buses on water that just tote you from one side of the harbour to another, not something that had actual facilities on board.

Am I totally sold on this being the way to travel every time? I’m not so sure. But I think I could be biased by the slight sea sickness and the fact that it is really hard to see the world from a boat like that. If, indeed, you manage to get a window at all.


Filed under Holidays, travel

Technologically challenged

So someone pretty close to me – I shall not say who because it’s frankly idiotic and embarrassing – upgraded their phone.

I complained the day I synced my fingerprint to my work phone, I clearly had really rough skin or a big cut or something on the day. But it does not recognise the whorls about 90% of the time. Fortunately, the technology allows for five fingers to be imprinted. And my other finger mostly works.

So this other person says but they don’t think five fingers is enough… We all looked confused. Most people have a preferred finger or two per hand so four is usually more than fine with a spare for a loved one to get into your phone.

The phone this person used to use was just touch activated. Apparently (and we had a demonstration of how this worked) they sometimes use the one hand or the other. And almost all digits, including the RING finger. ‘HOW,’ demanded their other half incredulously, ‘are you using your ring figure on your non-dominant hand to activate the phone? Why wouldn’t you use your index finger, or maybe your middle finger which is longer? And why use the hand you don’t use for anything else?’

‘Oh, you know,’ said the person, ‘sometimes you are sitting there working and then the phone rings and you choose the closest finger.’

‘And it is your ring finger?’

‘Yes and then you know, sometimes the phone is on one side of the table and then maybe it’s on the other so you want to use your other hand and then when it’s IN your hand you want to use another finger… the phone needs to be able to accept more fingerprints because this is confusing to me.’

Perhaps, my dear. But only confusing to YOU. The only person I know who tries to apparently hit all sorts of random digits at random locations to activate their phone.

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Filed under anecdote, technology