Thursday, July 31, 2008

Welcome To Dante's Cove


What is with these Amazon profiles? I mean I recently bought the 3rd season of a series I watched a few episodes of, and now they are suggesting I might like to purchase this:

So, OK. I get the French thing. And I do like a good scary movie, especially when mon C is furth of these shores and I'm homo alone.

I somehow suspect that I'm not going to close my blinds after watching this movie for fear of some ethereal spirit peering in at me. If anything I'd be closing the blinds to preserve my own privacy.

I struggle to fathom what exactly might be mysterious. Mind you, I could guess. No erections only soft bits.

Shame on you who purchase such stuff for the thrill. Try the real Haunting. Failing which get Derek Pakorah.

So, how did this find me? I have to investigate my Amazon.co.uk preferences. Therein lies the key.

Remember this? Well, I never did find my way to finishing it. Or rather, I didn't really understand the time-line of the DVD. It didn't lend itself to watching in parts, and consequently I never finished it.

Nevertheless in anticipation of doing do I purchased Dante's Cove s2 and most recently (arriving yesterday) Dante's Cove s3.

Here's the Wikipedia lowdown on Dante's Cove.






So, anyway. Plan of action - I will recap s1 over the weekend and decide whether s2&s3 are for fun.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Wednesday

So, where was I exactly?

Ah, yes. Still without hot water and gas. To tell the truth I've lost track whether it's been 3 weeks or a month. British Gas HomeCare is shocking at times. Unfortunately, that's most of the time.

In its favour, it would have cost me a fortune had the individuals who have variously attended been charging for my misfortune.

When they have turned up I reckon that between them, they have spent about 24 man-hours on tending me.

If that were at my charge-out rate I'd have spent £9,410 or thereabouts. And that wouldn't have included third-party disbursements I'd be reimbursing.

In one sense I'm mindful of billing them for the time that I have wasted making call after call, trying to find out where the engineer who was meant to have been has actually been, and trying to re-arrange or even fix appointments.

Anyhow. I'm not getting wound-up. I'm just filling time whilst waiting for the kettle to boil (for the sixth time) so I can have some warmth to my cold bath...

« Mon oeil ! »

Well, actually, I mean mes yeux.

They have healed fabulously. There is still a little redness which is bruising, but my vision is totally perfect. According to the optician, I can read 2 lines better than 20/20 vision. Makes it worth it.

I was of course extremely careful not to get a splash of anything in my eyes during the first 2 weeks post-op. My various sunglasses were my protection.



Xfe doesn't really like these glasses. They are rather heavy and winter-sports, though I like the view through the lenses.

I much prefer the shape of these glasses, however. I think they suit me, and so does he. But they aren't great to look through. They make everything rather dull.


Even when shaving I wore glasses.


The yellow iridium is deceiving though. When you look through them you don't see yellow. Nah, it's all light blue.

Dinner with Gay Banker

I recently received an invite for dinner from Gay Banker. A while back I suggested that we could meet for a coffee so that I could personally thank him for the kind (and large) donation he made to the charity I walked for with friends in Washington DC.

I strongly suggested that I should treat GB. But he refused to have it. So instead I have another treat for him. I figure he leads a fairly stressful life and I have the very thing to soothe and help him relax...

Rest assured however that he won't be needing a glass of water after it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Flower Of Scotland

flower of scotland

We had a fun weekend in Edinburgh, the flower of Scotland.

We travelled up Saturday morning by train, and upgraded to 1st, which made for an extremely relaxing journey. Pity that it didn't quite work out on the way back. We upgraded again, only to find that due to lines coming down, the Kings X train would actually terminate in York. Thus we spent York-Kings X sitting on the floor of the connecting corridor in a train that had come from Newcastle.

Still, at least it was the connecting floor of a 1st class corridor. And right outside the toilet, in the heat. Lovely.

We stayed at the Caledonian Hotel on Princes Street, which had a solid traditional Scottish feel. Wood paneling and tartan, thick carpet and creaking floorboards.

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The view from our window - outside

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and inside

our room
It never takes us long to mess up the room

The Caley, as it is fondly known, is famous for having Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger ride up the staircase.

the Caley

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, and I'm always happy to be there. It makes me feel that I'm home. I never tire of the view of the castle on the rock.

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The Georgian terraces throughout the New Town are stunning.

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We did go to party, and here is mon C thinking about having a glass of pop (but he tends not to and I ended up drinking it).

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Someone should tell Dr Gillian that you are what you drink...

you are what you eat

So, we are still without a working boiler, and no-one can tell us what the fcuk is going on.

At least I had a brainwave. If I run a cold bath in the morning before I leave, it will have warmed up to room temperature when I get back, and I can add a couple of boiled kettles and have myself a tepid treat.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Room With A View


What a great view from our hotel room. Right over the castle.




Friday, July 25, 2008

Edimbourg

Off to Edinburgh tomorrow.

Boiler STILL not fixed. We had 4 engineers round yesterday.

Today the engineer had no clue why he was here, See what Monday brings.

Until then.

FcUUUUUUUUUUUUK.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Every Cloud

So, it's day 7 without hot water, and day 5 without gas (my boiler has been classed "At Risk", so the gas supply has been turned off), which means I can't use the gas hob.

I found out the gas had been turned off on Saturday when, struggling not to strain my eyes, and unable to use the computer or even read a menu thus ruling out a take-away I went to boil some stuffed pasta.

The gas wouldn't ignite. Because there was no gas.

Because unusual parts were damaged (well, melted) when the boiler caught fire, they weren't readily available and had to go on special order. They hope - yes, hope - to have them next Wednesday. That will be day 15 without hot water.

Still, think of the energy I'm saving and my contribution to reducing a carbon footprint. If only I didn't have to boil the kettle at least 5 times a day to get water to wash with

Xfe's back home on Saturday. He's been away from home for 34 days now...

Ted Baker has a great sale on at the moment. I'm a huge fan of their clothes, especially shirts. So I've bought a selection for smart-casual wear. Xfe will be really pleased. He much prefers when I dress more smartly.

It's the tuna pasta syndrome. You know, something you ate often as a student because it was pretty much the only affordable thing. Only a few years into working you're still eating it. Only then do you realise that you can afford other stuff.

Same for me with clothes, which I'm not a big consumer of anyway. It takes a prompt to remind myself en route to GAP that I could actually pop into Ted Baker instead.

Currently I'm listening to Chaka Khan's Funk This, to be followed by Seckou Keito SKQ's The Slimbo Passage. Each of which has an outstanding track. CK does a fantastic cover of Prince's Sign of the Times, and with SKQ it's Miniyamba (click track 5).

Right got to go. Dinner's ready (fortunately I have a steamer). Oh look, I'm having tuna. Steak.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I Should Be SO Lucky

Like I said. I'm a lucky person.

So, the engineer replaced the pump that burst on the combi-boiler and started testing it. No leak! Great.

But then he started making comments about the pilot flame.

Then suddenly, the boiler is on fire. Smoke detectors start screeching (at least I know they're working). Not good.

Calls to his manager, other service departments. News is bad, bad. The fan in the combustion chamber and the wires and the vent switch have all melted. Completely unrelated to the pump bursting. Strange, very strange.



Then the "R" word gets mentioned. Replacement. Ker-££-ching.

By then it's 3.40pm and I realise I'm not going to get back to the office in time to then head off to get the scans on my eyes prior to tomorrow's laser. So I phone just to check I don't need the papers.

"Hi, I have an appointment at 5.15pm for the pre-laser procedure scans..." I start.

"No. You can't we close at 5.30pm," he interrupts. "Let me check," he adds. "Yes, we have you at 3.40pm".

"No, my card says 5.15pm," I suggest. "I'm sure it does. And my procedure is first thing tomorrow in morning and the scan has to be done for it".

I get my trainee to take a pic of my appointment card and MMS it to my phone. Yup 5.15pm.

I tell the boiler engineer that I'm going to have to leave him alone, and to let himself out. A complete stranger in the flat alone, but he actually seemed a decent, helpful guy. Besides I didn't have any choice.

He said he should be back on Monday with his manager to inspect and see what can be done.

I run off to try to hail a cab, leaving him at mine. By now it's 3.55pm. No cab. I get the bus, then on Upper St get off the bus. Still no cabs. Now I'm at Saddler's Wells, and I get another bus.

Make it, gets done and I come home. To this:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Vision Is [no longer] Impaired...

I *can* see.

8.30am, arrive at laser surgery clinic.

9.10am, surgeon arrives late.

9.30, nursing staff checks consent forms.

9.40am, surgeon reviews scans and procedures with me.

10am, laser surgery. Aargh!

I don't really know how to describe it. Parts were unpleasant, but never painful.

I felt the laser cut the flap over my cornea. I smelled the laser burn my lens. I watched the surgeon unfold and smooth the cornea back over my eye. It was as if it wasn't my eye. I couldn't feel a thing.

I opened my eyes immediately after. I was aware I could see almost clearly if it wasn't for the blur.

10 minutes later, my eyes wanted to close.

10.50am, my trainee comes to take me home.

11.30am, I'm in bed, goggles over my eyes.

My eyes build up to a throb and pulse in a mild pain. I'm in bed listening to the radio. I apply my eye drops, I take pain-killers for the headache, I have pangs of nausea (but I cannot tell if that was for hunger).

I drop off to a fitful sleep and by 2pm I'm awake and any pain there was has subsided.

5pm, I want to get up and do stuff. I note I can see, but I don't want to strain my eyes.

6pm, see 5pm.

10pm, radio turned off, ready to sleep.

5.15am Sunday, wake up after a restful sleep. I CAN see. Better than before, just as I was told!!!!

8am, time to get up. Who can I tell that my vision is no longer impaired and that I can see? Too early for the parents, and Xfe is on his day off in Tunisia.

Throughout the day I experience the novelty of sight without aid.

I should have done this before. why did I wait?

Laser Eye surgery? Go for it. Get the intralase and wavefront for better vision that natural, and certainly better than you could see before with glasses and lenses.

These pics from Sunday, the day after...

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"G" Arrives - Funny, Had A Feeling

More Strange Phenomena.

Bobby v3.0 was at Pride last weekend. The last pic on this B v3.0 post is the spit of Xfe's step brother, and is a Stonewall FC footie player who we went to the races with and can be seen in my earlier post (2nd pic in baseball cap).

Howard meantime posted this thought-provoking read.

Like his husband to be, I got the promotion I previously blogged about. I found out on Monday when I came back from holiday.

I once blogged that someone who knew me very well for a while sensed I was a lucky person, and I believe him (you have to scroll down for yourself to find the post with that particular reference).

Well, I'm fairly confident that I believe him - the latest example of luckiness being that despite this current climate, on the precipice of recession, I returned from holiday to a decent bonus, and equally attractive pay rise (with an enhanced performance bonus plan) and the promotion.

But, dear reader, set that off against this: the sleepless nights I've spent worrying about all things that would render me unemployed. My resignation that led to my being requested to stay in a better position, and ultimately being head-hunted and getting the current position on my own terms.

The depression caused by the 70 hour+ working week I endured almost every week for the first 18 months at that first London law firm, contributing to the dissolution of the 7.5 year relationship with the one who said I was lucky.

Without which of course I wouldn't have met mon C, with whom I am sure I am meant to be with... thus making relationship 1 and 2 -thirteen years in total- a necessary means to The [settled] End, affirming my belief that I am a lucky person.

A few days before, another of Howard's posts had resonated.

He has a neurological cum physical problem with his hands, causing employment issues.

I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (yes, diagnosed in my 30's). But it has taken over 2 years for me to get a referral to a rheumatoid consultant here in London. But, look. I've finally got one.



For over 2 years I've had to cope on ibuprofen and medication taken from others.

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Having experienced standing up and finding to my surprise an excruciating pain in my feet and knees very recently I've turned to more self medication - this time holistic (I think).

Which leads onto Xfe's fckuing pyramid sales - I mean "Network Marketing" - recent experience.

His v. good friend in Israel suggested that there is a miracle product for RA ease. So, he signed up and bought the product for me (to get my own back, I'll get Xfe to sign me up so he will get an instant $35 payment as well as a commission on the vitamins etc I'll buy).

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Luckily Howard was attended to very quickly, whilst I have had to wait formally since September 2006 for a referral (despite the £1200+ I pay for BUPA each year-you have to get the fckuing NHS referral first).

So, more NHS bullshit to deal with first, then hopefully relief of sorts.

Anyway, I've lost my train of thought, as seems to be the way these days.

ahoj

ps just after writing this post on Tuesday night, my boiler burst. It's now Friday and I've been washing and shaving from boiling a kettle.

How lucky is that!!!

Engineer now here, back with the part, fixing (I hope).

So, the flat is in a real state, upheaval and I need to get it all sorted before my eyes get done tomorrow because rest of Saturday is a write-off and Sunday I need to take it easy on the eyes!!

pps Alas not. The boiler chamber has caught fire and it seems things are totally, big-time FCUKED. So I can guess what that bonus will be spent on...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Chez Nous

We're back from Israel. Well at least I am, Xfe went to Tunisia on Monday for 10 days' work.

Our flight back to Paris was delayed by a couple of hours. You know the drill. Plane arrives 20 mins late so is ready to go 20 mins later than scheduled. But by then you've missed your air control slot, and you wait another 2 hours to get one. The full 2 hours, due to congestion over Turkey and Greece.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport just after midnight. Fortunately as we both flew business class, Air France had prioritised our luggage. Sure enough Xfe's case was the first to pop out. Hurrah!

Except 50 funking minutes after the baggage carousel started spinning it stopped sans my case.

By now it was after 1am and the bitch who we had to report the lost bag to just wanted home. She couldn't really be bothered with my report. My explaining (in decent French) that my case was a silver gray hard shell got translated into two-tone soft...

So I got the forms to make the claim if the case didn't turn up. They still hadn't traced it as of last night. They couldn't even tell whether it had made the plane, which strikes me as extremely strange given the heavy security procedures at Ben Gurion Airport.

But they'd traced it by this morning, and it was with me by 11am.

In a way, it saved me the trouble of having to manage to carry 2 mother-heavy items of luggage across Paris and then London on Monday morning. But it did mean that my straight-to-the-office appearance was shocking. Apart from, of course, my deep tan.

Best Buys

Before: the prescription sunglasses. Seemingly extravagant given that I'm having laser surgery on my eyes on Saturday and they will become redundant, but so worth it.

Dead Sea mud

During: (and, erm, I'm ashamed to say it) my Crocs, which in my defence, everyone was wearing. They were so much more comfortable to wear on the beach and for walking than my camo Birkenstocks, AND I could wear them in the Dead Sea.

That, and they were special IDF edition.

IDF Crocs

IDF

(Hurrah for the IDF. Ahead of their time - since 1993, homosexuals have been allowed to openly serve in the military, including special units).

After: Xfe's tan line. Mmm!

Next Time


More Strange Phenomenon

Xfe & Agel

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dead Sea v2.0



Yesterday was day 2 of our Dead Sea sojourn, and we went off to the Ein Gedi Spa.

The spa is set in spectacular surroundings, situated on the shores of the Dead Sea and overlooking the impressive Moab mountains of Jordan.

Ein Gedi is an oasis on a plateau in the Judean Desert, as lush with wild beauty as it gets in the desert, overlooking the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth.

Archaeological sites surround Ein Gedi. To the south there is Masada – a cultural and historical treasure and a symbol of heroism for the Jewish people.

To the north are the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

In a stunning contrast to home the air here is pollution free. They have 330 sunny days annually, dry, high oxygen levels, low UV rays, thanks to being-420 metres below sea level.

Our Bathing Experience


We went back to the beach at Ein Bokek last night as the sun was setting. As the air was cooler there was a breeze over the water.

The surface was much cooler, but below the surface it was pretty hot!

Some guy with a decent body (but not really a nice face) decided to display himself for our benefit. He came into the water and decided to give himself a good rub down with salt in front of us. Then back on shore he rather enjoyed looking over to us and displaying himself. We caught some of him on photo.

Ein Gedi was stunning. The water was cooler (the sea was deeper there). However the water was still as punishing. We overheard a couple of guys (I think well educated South Africans) chatting.

'Can I ask you a personal question,' asks the blonde one of the dark one.

'Sure,' his friend replies.

'Are your balls stinging,' he queried?

'Yeah, a bit', he answered. 'Don't take a piss,' he added.

I almost warned him not to scratch his ass either.

I also overheard an American girl cursing the fact she had shaved her armpits that morning. Having forgot to shave last night, I told Xfe that there was no way I'd be shaving this morning. I'll wait until tonight.

After some sun and sea we went for some mud. It was great. 26 minerals and trace elements. A half-hor later, after it was dry, we showered in the sulphur showers. Xfe told me it is good for the skin as well, so we left following a fresh water shower with another sulphur one, smelling a little like someone was sneaking them out during the drive back to the hotel.

From Thursday evening:

Xfe floats late evening

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show off
The Russian dancing queen

From Friday and Ein Gedi:

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oasis
An oasis in the desert
sea disappears
We do like to be beside the sometime seaside... Yes, the Dead Sea is disappearing. You can see where it used to be...
more salt sand
Ouch. Feet to ribbons, need protection
salt sand

salt beach

ein gedi

xfe at ein gedi
King K-ute has no problem holding back this sea
I relax
me neither...
the family of mud
The Family of Mud
xfe happy

more warning
Bathing prohibited. Well it would be if there was any sea left
crack

Xfe in the sulphur shower
The sulphur shower
Dead Sea mud

Jordan desert
Back to the desert

Hospitality is all about Love


We are staying in Le Méridien Dead Sea, off of Xfe's points.

Thank heavens we're not paying for it. It's off season (too hot) so they are offering package deals for business. Xfe tells me that means Israeli's will come to take advantage of the buffet and the air conditioning, and little else. Even then the hotel is not busy.

However, we're still treated like the package holiday crowd. We have to queue at the Gold and Platinum Preferred Guest station while the non-preferred guests standing in front of us are dealt with.

I actually think that they are unaccustomed to having preferred guests stay here.

Apart from this gated community of 5 hotels and the oases of Ein Gedden there is nothing else here. Literally, nothing.

The Dead Sea is actually rather inaccessible, with the nearest town about 40km away-and it's a difficult drive. So imagine having to get to work here. I'd be pissed off. And that comes over in the staff, lots of whom are Russian.

We were given a club room (of course), but no-one seemed to notice that Xfe was a platinum Starwood guest until I marched down to the desk with his card, when we were suddenly given such attention.

When we came back from the beach a fruit basket, wine, dead sea mud and mineral salts had appeared with an invitation to use the club lounge.

Then, later in the evening another fruit basket and bottle of wine appeared.

However it is still shabby in terms of service. Xfe tells me that even in the smallest of backwater locations in China the Starwood service and hotels are better than this one!

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