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Favourite sound: sudden rainstorm, squirrels pattering across the roof. Least favourite sound: caterpillars burrowing through the sealed plastic bag which contained my brown rice to get inside and do unspeakable things.

Fridge, N.

UK: A cabinet used for storing food and keeping it cool. This is hardly necessary because it’s usually so f*****g cold anyway. See also Freezer (Scotland).

US: A cabinet used for storing food so that 4000 different species of creepy crawlies can’t get to it. This is probably ineffective in hot Southern states where they have flies which drill through the metal to lay their eggs in your ketchup. See also Cockroach, Giant Cockroach, Really Really Giant Cockroach, Baseball Bat, Gun, Nuclear Bug Splatter.

Blog blog blog. Festive bogies to one and all.

I discovered yesterday that JAPANESE PEOPLE PICK THEIR NOSES. Well, at least one does – the Japanese man waiting next to me at the lights on the Fremont/Sunnyvale-Saratoga junction. He was an olympic champion nosepicker (endurance record).

It’s cold these days. Even in California. Well, the Bay area to be more precise. It is chilly and rainy and windy and sometimes, just sometimes it reminds me of a dark winter or ten in Scotland. Scotland which is cold and rainy and windy and sometimes anglophobic and nevertheless a country which I love. Especially in the last 6 months there I learned to love it even more, camping in the highlands, upping Munroes (not Monroes – that would be something different entirely [or is it the other way round – Ed]), and trogging through bogs (now I merely tog through blogs). I seem to be in a slightly coarse mood today. I may be thinking of the hash.

So, Saddam Hussein, eh, eh! Eh! A very bad man and it is good that he has been caught. I hope they bring him to trial and we can hear about the terrible things he did. Maybe in some of his unsavoury deeds he had help from abroad. I hope we will hear about that too. The US have already acknowledged helping Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war (with intelligence, i.e. satellite photos, not weapons, apparently). Whatever, it is good that the truth should come out. It is especially important in the US, where checks and balances if properly used should allow a powerful and decisive executive which can react rapidly to complex world events, but not with impunity – it must be accountable to the people. The truth will out.

FACT: THERE IS A LAKE IN AFRICA BIGGER THAN WALES.

FACT: I HAVE FORGOTTEN ITS NAME.

FACT: THIS LAKE IS LARGELY POPULATED BY A SINGLE TYPE OF FISH WHICH HAS EVOLVED OVER 10 MILLION YEARS INTO HUNDREDS OF VARIANTS.

FACT: ONE OF THESE FISH SHELTERS ITS FRY IN ITS MOUTH, RELEASING THEM WHEN THEY HAVE MATURED.

FACT: I LEARNT THIS FROM A BBC DOCUMENTARY I WATCHED IN THE MIDDLE OF ONE NIGHT BEFORE I LEFT SCOTLAND.

FACT: A CERTAIN SPECIES OF (CUCKOO) FISH MIXES ITS EGGS WITH THOSE OF THE INCUBATOR FISH.

FACT: THE FRY OF THESE EGGS ARE CONSIDERED AS HER OWN BY THE INCUBATOR FISH.

FACT: ONE OF THESE CUCKOO FISH WILL HATCH AND LIVE IN HER MOUTH, EATING THE OTHER FISH.

FACT: WHEN THE CUCKOO FISH HAS GROWN LARGE ENOUGH AND EATEN ALL THE OTHER FISH, IT WILL GROW SPINES.

FACT: THE INCUBATOR FISH WILL SPIT OUT THE CUCKOO FISH. “HER” ONLY BABY.

FACT: AND YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD PROBLEMS.

Recently there have been discussions at work about various benefit packages. It all boils down to the very complicated equation: which is better: X weeks holiday, Y salary, Z health benefits etc vs. X’, Y’, Z’. Who knows? Perhaps people who have a clue what a 402c is (probably nothing – I made it up) or what the difference is between an HMO and a PMT. Damn, I made that mistake again – by “holiday” mean “vacation”. Fact is that in Europe, if an employer offered 3 weeks vacation you would laugh in their face. If they offered a health package with $300 employee contribution per month you would laugh in their face (it’s free (except dental which is very expensive and mostly paid by employees, and optical which is generally less costly but still paid by employees)). Although I don’t understand the system here, I understand that generally benefits are less. But hey, we get paid more and can save the money (in my entire time working in the UK I managed to save pretty much nothing).

Which brings me to the other thing: the death penalty. What, comma, is America still in the Middle Ages? The death penalty makes me very very angry. I believe there is only one country in the world which executes more people per year than the US, and that is China.

Well, it has been a while again. The looong weekend was just too relaxing. Fortunately I have some important work to do right away, so I can get my adrenochrome levels back where they belong.

I came across the following picture on Yahoo! the other day. I love monkeys although I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Driving back from a meeting today in Palo Alto I managed to take a wrong turn and end up in the nether regions of Los Altos Hills. The roads twist and turn in 3 dimensions. The street signs are small, placed at confusing angles, unlit and the house numbers are in the tens of thousands, not very helpful unless you can be bothered to get out the map. I settled on a strategy of going downhill, which worked by and large. It’s a pretty good strategy unless you are in Colorado. I rather enjoyed pootling around this mysterious country, until I started to worry about running out of petrol. Heading down some particularly unpromising lane, I turned around, drove back to the last big crossroads and stopped in somebody’s driveway and hoped they wouldn’t shoot me before I have figured out where I was going. It turns out I had been going in the right direction after all. I have a wonderful picture captured from a map of the area which I can’t post until I have set up my FTP server.

Which reminds me, I set up a wireless network over the weekend. There, I did do something.

Gobble gobble.

Today is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving! I spent mine with the Hash, which was very nice. I found a really great recipe for Greek Stuffed Aubergine which I prepared for our pot luck Thanksgiving meal. I didn’t bother with the bechemel sauce by the way – I think it’s better without (and quicker to make for lazy people like me).

A dear friend of mine saw my blog and noticed that the advert selected by Blogger, in its infinite wisdom, is one for leaf blowers. Just coz I said I hate them. I am following his suggestion by saying how much I hate psychotropic vibrators, green rifles and yellow cake (that’s uranium ore). Let’s see what the ad server (and the CIA) make of that one!

I have been negligent.

It’s very cold these days. There’s just enough time in the morning between turning on the heating when I get my sorry arse out of bed and leaving the apartment for the air to warm up to a point I can actually move my fingers (important for using the indicator when driving – something few people round here bother to do (perhaps they have very cold apartments – or maybe SUVs don’t have indicators)).

This evening there is a smell of steak and kidney pie floating around outside my apartment. And an unexpected mass of mushrooms have appeared, just in time for Thanksgiving. They would make a wonderful stew, unless they are poisonous in which case they would make a terrible stew.

I went to my first Hash last Thursday. It was very refreshing to get together with a bunch of random people, united in their persuit of drinking and r*nning, and always interesting to see the underside of the neighbourhoods you r*n through. This time we ran along a single track railway which used to be used for transporting apricots – there used to be a lot of apricot orchards here before the tech boom. And through a neighbourhood which smelt of horses, past horses breathing noisily and unseen in a field, up a hill with the cars little lanterns snaking up the highway some distance away. This Thursday the Hash is having a Thanksgiving pot luck, which I will probably go to. The Hash’s turkey trot might just save my bacon this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is, for many people in America, their favourite feast. It is not religious, and compared to Christmas not commercial. It doesn’t have the baggage of that weirdo Santa Claus. And from my point of view it has pumpkin pie, which is delicious.