Saturday, March 31, 2007

Predict This

As I type this, the NCAA Final Four (aka college basketball) games are set to begin within the next few hours. Since you guys all know what a huge sports fan I am, and since my brackets thus far have, as always, been flawless, I thought I would share my predictions for these two big games.

First up, the Georgetown Somthings versus the Ohio State Other Things. Based upon the performance of both teams thus far, I’m going to have to back the Other Things who have proven time and again that when push comes to shove they know how to shove back.

Next up is the Florida What-Cha-Ma-Call-Its versus the UCLA Yadda Yaddas. I think that anyone who has been following the tournament as closely as I have would have to agree with me that this will be a close game but UCLA will come out on top in the end.

No matter whom you chose to back, I think we should all wish these boys (who are getting out of classes for the important school activity of playing a game) good luck and may the best team win!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Harry Potter News

The cover for the new Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows, was released today. Thanks to Mugglenet for pictures. (In order: US Cover, British Cover, Boring “Adult” Cover.)

Thank you,
JK Rowling! Thank you for giving me yet one more reason I can’t wait until home leave and July 21, 2007. Yay!

So what do you think of the new cover art? Why does it look like Harry and Voldemort are in a battle of some sort?

Am I the only one who is excited unto death to see the artwork after so long?!

For grown children like myself who are keeping track of these things: Only
114 days left until we find out the answers to all of our Harry Potter themed questions.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I’m going to be honest for a moment – I really enjoy knitting but I’m not very good at finishing projects. I realize that this is probably shocking news to many of you but, alas, it’s true. I have several half finished projects and many, many more that I haven’t yet started but for which I have big plans.

The Twisted Threads ladies back in Delhi will recognize this particular project as it hasn’t changed much since I left them back in November.

Someday this going to be a really pretty purse that I can sling across my shoulder and people everywhere will want one, turning it into the next (and better) Birkin Bag. Barring taking over the shoulder bag market, my plan is to line it with an old T-shirt I bought in Paris back when I was sixteen. See I have plans! I intend to finish my purse eventually! Of course, as the Ladies know, I’ve had these plans and have been working on this same project since at least December of 2005 and I haven’t exactly made a lot of progress during that time. My one defense is that I’m knitting it on 4mm needles, which means that it is supposed to take forever.

What the ladies won’t believe is that when I’m with my lovely mother in Toronto I become a knitting machine. No, seriously, when I go home I go to knitting stores to stock up on more lovely yarn (my true addiction) and I actually produce output. Last September during a three-week visit I made my mum a scarf, which I don’t have, a picture of, and this shawl.

Trust me when I say the scarf kicked butt more than the shawl. I’m even going to make a second one for a friend who shall remain nameless since I don’t want to spoil the surprise. (And in case it doesn’t turn out I don’t want to over commit myself.)

Still don’t believe that I can produce cool knitted things? Check this out!

That’s right! This is the blanket that I knitted and tasseled all by myself. It knitted up really quickly – maybe three weeks – back in January. The problem was that adding tassels is really tedious that I just finished that part last night around 3 a.m.

I know that I don’t have quite as much output as some mothers or other talented people. I have; however, realized that knitting in front of the TV is incredibly relaxing. And that seeing a blanket, scarf, or purse grow day after day is surprisingly fulfilling. And, finally, that the best part of knitting is finishing a project and realizing that it doesn’t completely and utterly suck. When all is said and done that’s a pretty good feeling to have.

So here I am typing a blog about knitting when I should be actually knitting a baby blanket for Care Bear’s son and starting on my mystery friend’s gift scarf. My biggest problem, you see, is that procrastinating about knitting is almost as much fun as the actual knitting.

Let’s take a poll. How many of you actually think that I’ll complete so much as one of these two projects in time for home leave? Yeah, me neither. But maybe if the ladies in Gurgaon have faith in me, I might be able to manage one more row on my purse before the next time I visit them.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Charge it!

I’ve talked about the city and I’ve discussed the food but the one thing I haven’t described yet is the shopping scene in Addis. And with Shar as my shopping buddy and incredibly knowledgeable guide I did quite a bit of shopping! From roadside souvenirs and antiques to first-rate art, this city has everything a girl could ever want in a shopping venue.

On Thursday Shar eased me into things by taking me a cool outdoor venue. A line of shops bordered the road and we were prepared to breach the walls of each and every one in the quest for the perfect souvenirs for our families at home. We browsed and bargained our way down the block and I ended up with gifts for my niece, my mother and even Hubby’s sister-in-law.

Next up on our tour of Addis was an art/antique store called St. George where I realized that not being good at math can be a very bad thing. Hubby had mentioned at one point that the exchange rate was such that I could simply “drop the last zero.” That in mind, I perused the jewelry collection (Ethiopia is famous for their great silver) and, with Shar’s help, narrowed down my choices to two gorgeous necklaces. The first was a moonstone piece that was a wee bit pricey. The second was an antique silver chain with a lovely silver cross. The problem with this one was the cross screamed, “CROSS” when I wore it. After some debate with St. George’s owner I swapped out the cross for a rather cool heart shaped pendant that matched the dense chain better than the cross had.

Having picked out a “me” gift, Shar and I continued to wander throughout the remainder of the shop. I laughed and told her that if Hubby and I lived in Addis I would likely have bought up the shop and refurnished our home. Instead I skipped past the un-ship-able furniture and onto the lovely (and portable) textiles where I picked out yet another gift for my mother.

I mentioned how my math was based on Hubby’s assertions right? So, really, the fact that the total was almost $100 USD more than I expected is really his fault. Right?

Later that evening I met Hubby at his office to show off my purchases. He knew I had been shopping so there was nothing to do but to tell him the truth – gently. I started off with Mum’s textile gift, which Hubby promptly said we would be keeping for ourselves since it was so nice. (Sorry mum!) Then I modeled the necklace, which he declared to be yet another good purchase saying it looked lovely on me. I reached into my purse for his final surprise – the bill. There were surprisingly few rants or raves (Perhaps because we were in public?) and he said I had shopped well and he approved of all my purchases – no matter their cost. Isn’t he best!?

But the shopping wasn’t done yet!

Saturday night I asked Ben and Shar if I could return to a small art gallery we had visited earlier in the week. Hubby, no doubt someone afraid of what I would do if left unsupervised, joined me in my perusal of the works of local artists. There, I showed Hubby a small painting I had fallen in love with during my last visit. He and Ben walked around the gallery and fell in love with a tall but lovely multi-media (leather on canvas) that I knew Shar liked.

Ben and Hubby declared that their choice was a must purchase and we debated how I would be able to bring it home on the plane. I was still gazing longingly at my little painting when Hubby decided to negotiate with me. I could get both paintings if I agreed to stop nagging him about going away somewhere for Easter. Could we still maybe do one night in a local hotel? Yes.

I had two words for him: Done deal!

But that wasn’t the end of our adventures. After waiting around for thirty or forty-five minutes for the paintings to be wrapped for traveling I went to pay for them. That’s when I was told that they didn’t accept credit cards. Uhoh. That’s not good news.

In an unprecedented move Ben and Hubby then hopped back in the car and hunted for an ATM for over thirty minutes in order to find the cash to pay for the paintings. I would have given up and chalked it up to fate but not these art lovers – they wanted their paintings and nothing as silly as a lack of close ATMs was going to stand in their way.

I carried both paintings on the plane (the small one, obviously, in my suitcase) much to the chagrin of the airline staff. Upon arrival back home, and after a few hours of debate with my other personalities, I decided on homes for each painting . So wearing my necklace and brandishing a hammer, I hung them up where I could appreciate them on a regular basis - in the living room.

The only downside to this trip, I think, is that Hubby is never ever going to let me visit Addis again. At least not until he has first divested me of all credit cards, ATM cards and cash. Little does he know that I’m more wily than he thinks when it comes to my first love – shopping!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dig In!

Let me say one thing about Ethiopia: these people know how to eat and they expect you to join them! Our culinary adventures started on Monday evening and didn’t let up until the plane took off the following Sunday. We were offered and ate everything from traditional Ethiopian and homemade Indian food to Italian and Lebanese.

My biggest regret of the week was that Hubby and I didn’t bring a camera to dinner that first Monday night where we were invited to join a phalanx of Hubby’s colleagues at a local Ethiopian restaurant called Agilgil. (The photos today were all borrowed from the Internet. Darnit!) Housed in the former home of Villa Verde, Agilgil was about twenty minutes away from the Organisation's campus where we were staying at the time.

The first thing that strikes you as you enter the restaurant is the lovely traditional music being played by a group on a small makeshift stage. After you listen to these talented men for a few minutes you notice that there is a flute (or washint) being played but no flautist in front of you. Along the left side of the restaurant is a beautiful rock wall interspersed with bits of greenery – and one flautist perched on a chair. Indeed he seemed more like part of the scenery than the musical ensemble at first glance. The musicians all played traditional instruments: the kebero (drums), kirar (really cool guitar/lute shaped instruments), and the masinko, which was a cross between a violin, and again, the lute.

These talented men were eventually joined by singers and then by four fabulous dancers. The two men and two women really seemed to be enjoying themselves as they danced and told local stories through their movements. Our hosts made a point to ensure that we and other ferenji had good seats before the dancing started so we could fully enjoy the spectacle.

On a more humorous note, the power went off at one point in the evening. No one so much as batted an eyelash as we all waited for the power to return or candles to be put out. In fact, it turned into a thoroughly modern moment in this most ancient country. Instead of people pulling out lighters to illuminate the darkness many of our fellow diners whipped out their cell phones to light the way with their LCD's. As can be predicted, I was the one of the few people who found the situation amusing.

But the food was about to be served… First off we all washed our hands using the water soap brought and poured by the waitresses. Since traditional Ethiopian food is eating from a communal plate with your hands, clean hands are both a simple courtesy and a necessity.

The huge platter that was set before us on the mesob (traditional basket table) was covered with injera. One by one a series of waitresses spooned Ethiopian delicacies onto our edible plate. Rolls of injera, which we would use to scoop up individual bites, were placed before each person. The group of men next to us were all part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which meant that they were eating “fasting food.” Lest you think that meant that they didn’t have much to eat – rest assured they ate as much if not more than we did - they just couldn’t eat meat (except for some very yummy looking fish.)

Before we knew it, Hubby and I were each stuffed to the gills. That; however, did not stop the gentleman who was sharing our mesob from ordering more and more and more food for us to enjoy. My favorite dish that evening was dora watt, which Hubby actually makes at home from time to time. But even he had to admit that the version we enjoyed that evening was a showstopper! (I have little doubt that he’ll be trying to perfect his own at home dora watt over the next few months.)

Wednesday night we went out for Ethiopian again and this time enjoyed “fasting food” which we both agreed was incredibly yummy and much lighter on the stomach that what we had eaten on Monday. The grilled fish, in particular, was incredibly moist and flavorful. The highlight of the evening; however, was the company: The Linguist, his wife, Zee, and her brother and his wife.

Rest assured, Hubby and I did not eat out every night. Midweek we moved from the Campus to the home of one of Hubby’s colleagues, Ben and his lovely wife Shar. Shar, it must be said, is an amazing cook! She kept us tied to her dining room table with fabulous feasts fit for any king!

I can’t wait to have Ben, Shar and their children as our guests here in Nairobi. The food won’t be nearly as good as Shar’s but hey, I have live elephants that the kids can pet!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Addis Ohh La La

I love watching various programs on TV where people talk about traveling and where they’ve been. “I’ve been to Paris, Russia, India, Peru, and Africa.” When did we get downgraded from a continent to a country? People seem to think that if they’ve been to one African country they’ve been to them all. And who can blame them? Paris, London, Moscow, Milan; they’re all exactly the same… Aren’t they?

Yeah, not so much.

Visiting Addis has brought this home more than ever. Ethiopia is only two hours away from Kenya by air – not that far by modern standards, really. But after a few days in Addis it is more obvious than ever that no matter how close geographically two countries may be they always have their own stamp to put on this great African continent.

First off, I have to point out that the first things most people – OK most men – notice about Ethiopia are the people – specifically the women. According to every single one of Hubby’s colleagues (all of whom brought up the topic independently and without prompting) Ethiopia is home to the most beautiful women on the planet. I won’t venture an opinion one-way or the other on that front but I will point out that the men who shared their thoughts on this subject came from a variety of different background and ages. Which only goes to prove that all men are 16-year-old perverts at heart. God bless ‘em!

The Organization’s Addis campus is beautiful. Unlike its hilly sister in Nairobi, these sprawling grounds were not home to a small farm (although we did see what one colleague called a Lesbian Dikdik) and was reached only after driving through a small construction site. (Although, if you take the back way to the Organization’s home campus maybe it isn’t so different!) Our temporary Addis home seemed to resonate a welcoming vibe wherever we went. The local bar was a common meeting place for people on their way to a friendly squash match or simply after work drinks. International staff and local workers blended seamlessly everywhere I looked.

The more I explored Addis the more I noted its differences from Nairobi. If I had to liken Addis Ababa to one place I have visited it would be Delhi. Both cities are sprawling metropolises that don’t seem to end or even taper off in any way that would tell a visitor to its environs that they had left the city limits. The winding maze of roads immediately screamed the need for a driver to navigate them. The left hand drive roads, it should be noted, were, for the most part, newly constructed and in very good condition – at least to someone coming from the land that perfected the pothole.

There was a lot of construction going on when we were there. Buildings were being erected faster, we were told, than they would find tenants to fill them. Interesting architecture was evident in everything from private homes to public buildings. Small shops along the side of the road no bigger than 7-11’s reiterated the Delhi-esque feeling. New shops were part of the construction boom giving the illusion of prosperity in the capital.

Or, perhaps, I should say, gave the illusion of prosperity beyond the borders of that capital city. If reports that I read upon my return to Nairobi are to be believed, the poverty that we all heard so much about back in 1984 has certainly been curbed but is still a very real thing for most Ethiopians. As someone who lived in Delhi I didn’t find the beggars in Addis to be terribly prevalent but there were certainly more than we have here in Nairobi.

Yet I don’t want you to think that I didn’t like Addis Ababa because I did. With a thriving art scene, and multicultural urban landscape it is definitely somewhere I would have Hubby consider for our next posting. The friendly people we met are, of course, no small part of that wonderfully positive first impression.

So is going to Addis enough to make me think that I’ve seen all of Ethiopia? Goodness no! I look forward to exploring the country beyond the beautiful mountains that frame the capital’s borders. And more than that, I look forward to returning to renew the friendships we made and perhaps, if I’m lucky, make some new ones.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Local News, Global Views

I will continue to share my stories from Ethiopia tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday when you will get to read about the wonderfulness that is Addis, and the yummy food and terrific shopping to be found in that amazing country. This article; however, caught my eye when I was reading the news today. It keeps with my Ethiopian theme while still sharing news from my new Kenyan home.

Group: More than 100 deported from Kenya
By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer

MOMBASA, Kenya - Kenya deported more than 100 people from 19 countries to lawless Somalia after they crossed the border between the two countries illegally during fighting earlier this year, and the deportees were subsequently arrested by Ethiopian troops, a human rights group said Friday.

The Kenyan government denied the men and women refugee status and even sent its own citizens back to face an uncertain future in a country with no functioning legal system, said the chairman of Muslim Human Rights, Al-Amin Kimathi. Ethiopian forces fighting inside Somalia then took the suspects and flew them to two detention centers inside Ethiopia, he added.

Kimathi said he had received unconfirmed information that three of the deportees had died while in Ethiopian custody and expressed deep concern about a Tunisian woman who is reportedly eight months pregnant.

A U.S. citizen was among those sent to Ethiopia, where human rights groups say torture is routinely practiced. Somalis, Kenyans, Tunisians, Yemenis and Saudis made up the majority of the suspects, Kimathi said.

"We are very concerned about the welfare of these people," he said. Kenyan and Ethiopian officials have declined to comment. Kimathi said his group based its information on flight manifests and official information.

Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia in December to protect the internationally backed government, which was under attack by Islamic militants. Hundreds of people fled to neighboring Kenya, where they were arrested.

While four Britons were sent home and ultimately released, the American was sent back to Somalia and later transferred to Ethiopia. Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24, is in an Ethiopian jail pending a hearing to determine his status, the State Department said Thursday.

U.S. authorities, speaking in Washington, said Meshal is not a threat, has violated no U.S. law and did not fight for the Somali Islamists, some of whom are accused of having links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. They have furiously objected to the circumstances behind his presence in Ethiopia, a steadfast U.S. counterterrorism ally.

The State Department says Meshal was held for nearly a month in an Addis Ababa jail before U.S. diplomats were finally able to see him on Wednesday.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said a formal complaint had been made to the government of Kenya over the deportation.

Earlier, however, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and Somalia, Michael Ranneberger, defended the Kenyan deportations.

"The Kenyans have carried out security operations based on their own security interests but also based on the request of the (Somali) government to interdict and apprehend terrorists. This has meant specifically the apprehension of a number of terrorists and extremists who have tried to cross the Kenyan border," he said at a news conference on Wednesday. "We would strongly praise the degree of Kenyan cooperation on security issues, as well as this is very important on the overall political process in Somalia."

Kenyan Muslim activists, who have close cultural ties to Somalia, had threatened to disrupt the World Cross Country Championships to be held Saturday in Mombasa to protest the deportation of Kenyan citizens. But they called off the demonstrations after the U.S. Embassy issued a terror alert that cited the Muslim community's plans.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Say It Ain’t So

In a brief break from writing about my recent trip to ‘Thopia (coming soon to a blog near you) I decided to peruse the news. I read about various goings on throughout the world when a headline in the Sports section caught my eye, “Pro Wrestlers Linked to Steroids.”

What?! WWE (formerly the much cooler WWF) athletes take steroids? The next thing you know they’ll be saying that matches are fixed…

Note: The wrester I have pictured here, Mick Foley, has not been named in the scandal but is really cool and I may own three of his books. Maybe.

Report: Pro wrestlers linked to steroids
By The Associated Press

Eleven professional wrestlers, including the WWE's Randy Orton, have joined the list of athletes linked to a nationwide steroids investigation. reported Monday that Orton allegedly received eight prescriptions for six different drugs — including stanozolol, nandrolone and testosterone — between March 2004 and August 2004. According to the documents reviewed, two doctors whose names also appear in Gary Matthews Jr.'s file, wrote prescriptions for Orton.

Orton, through the WWE, declined comment, said.

In its review of documents, reported it found Adam Copeland, a.k.a. Edge, and Shane Helms, a.k.a. The Hurricane, received HGH from Applied Pharmacy in Mobile, Ala., one of the pharmacies raided in the investigation led by Albany, N.Y., District Attorney David Soares.

Through the WWE, Copeland and Helms didn't respond to a request for comment, said.

WWE spokesman Gary Davis told that WWE policy prohibits performance-enhancing drugs but would not say whether any wrestlers have tested positive since the policy was enacted.

A statement release Monday night by WWE said the allegations reported by occurred before the organization implemented its "Talent Wellness Program," which deems "prescriptions obtained over the Internet and/or from suppliers of prescription drugs from the Internet are not considered to have been given for a legitimate medical purpose."

Also linked to the scandal, in various reports, are baseball's Jose Canseco, John Rocker, Jerry Hairston Jr. and David Bell, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, Pittsburgh Steelers doctor Richard Rydze, 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle and bodybuilder Victor Martinez.

Monday, also reported Arizona doctor David Wilbirt's name has come up in multiple files, including Angle, Oscar Gutierrez (stage name Rey Mysterio) and former WWE star Eddie Guerrero, who died in 2005.

Through the WWE, Gutierrez declined comment to about the report that Wilbirt had prescribed him nandrolone and stanozolol.

Wilbirt told he's not practicing medicine now.

"I'll tell you one thing and then this conversation is going to end," Wilbirt told when asked about the professional wrestlers. "They had done blood work and had laboratory work done and they had come to see me."

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Star Trek Moment

I recently wrote here about how ungeeky I was. Or how I was trying to be, at the very least, less geeky in my old age. This trip, I’m afraid, has effectively and permanently stamped “Geek” in my Passport of Life™. Oh and in case I forget to mention it: it’s all Star Trek’s fault.

As you know, I like Star Trek – I have favourite and most-hated episodes for all of its incarnations. (Except Enterprise because Scott Bakula is always going to be that guy from Quantum Leap – not a Star Trek captain.) Were I pressed to be honest, I might even own up to dragging Hubby to the Star Trek Experience in Vegas a few years ago. (Photos of me and a Borg will not be posted here lest any of you decide to use them against me at some point in the future.)

My trip to Ethiopia; however, may be the official tipping point in favour of geekdom. The worst part and final nail in my geeky coffin: I bragged about it to virtually everyone we met.

Upon in arriving in Addis I officially became a Ferengi!!!

Foreigners here are known not as gora or mzungu but as ferenji. How freaking cool is that?!

How freaking geeky am I to know and be proud of that fact? Oh well. I have shopping to do… Long live the Rules of Acquisition!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Departing Again

Last Sunday began, as I’m sure you can imagine, with an 8 a.m. wake-up alarm. Why 8 a.m. when our flights weren’t scheduled to take off until early evening? Dhobi Wallah wanted to get some laundry done, of course. Personally, I think it was her way of punishing me for not getting out of bed before 10 a.m. the previous day.

That or she just needed to get her clothes cleaned. You’ll have to ask her which analysis is most accurate.

As you read in my post from the same day, the whole lot of us (except for Mr. I Packed Last Week Because I’m Ever So Organized) were all rather slow off the mark that day. Cartoons and E! News (aka Teletubbies) were far more enticing than actually getting ready for any flights out of town.

That said, by the time the taxi arrived (a half-hour early, thank you) we were all ready to go. Except of course for a nameless blogger who wanted to watch the end of “Notting Hill” before we left. It was that final and incredibly sweet montage of scenes set to the song “She” that was keeping me. Anyone who has seen the movie can sympathize I’m sure.

The ride to the airport was surprisingly short despite the fact that our van seemed unable to go faster than 50 km/h. We drove through town past the Panari Sky Hotel where Dhobi Wallah had very generously and kindly sprung for dinner at the Pampa Grill the night before. (If memory serves, she gave it high marks calling the food “400 times better than Carnivore.”)

By the time we finally arrived at the airport, I was surprisingly melancholy. My lovely three-week interlude of guests was at an end and I was about to be on my own again. I have little doubt that I drove Dhobi Wallah and Her Friend quite batty during their stay, and that they were privately celebrating seeing the backs of Nairobi and me. (Feel free to dispute these claims, ladies.) I think; however, that the lot of us had quite a bit of fun during their stay. (Sometimes even without alcohol.) I know I certainly did.

I boarded my Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa that evening grinning at the dancing Amharic alphabet beneath the airline’s logo and I realized suddenly that I was glad that I was off to somewhere new rather than just sitting along back at home. Three weeks of guests may have been exhausting but it also exhilarated me and I had no desire to return to an empty apartment: especially one with numerous loads of laundry waiting to be done.

I hope that DW and Her Friend had a good time in Nairobi and left with many happy memories. And I hope that they come back soon. Although maybe not for a few weeks yet. Hubby and I officially need a week of “us” time between guests from now on. The parking lot at Sheldrick Orphanage just isn’t as romantic as a cozy apartment. Maybe we’ll find some time to talk on the plane on the way to Addis… Hopefully...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sweet Home Nairobi

After a blissfully short flight I am once again back in Nairobi. Ethiopia was amazing and Hubby and I had a lovely week of work (for him), sightseeing (for me), and shopping (me again). I can’t wait to tell you, my Beloved and Devoted Readers, all about Addis Ababa: the wonderful people I met, and the fantastic things to be found there.

But before I can start posting those updates, I have to unpack my suitcase and find various perfect spots on the walls for the artwork Hubby and I bought. (I told you that I had good stories to tell!) Oh, and I also need to make myself some lunch – I’m starving!

More to come soon… I promise!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Procrastination is an Art

As I type these words, our taxi to the airport is set to arrive in four hours. Have I showered? Packed? Chosen a library of books to bring with me? Don’t be silly!! We even still have laundry in the drier.

I haven’t even mentally chosen clothes to wear in Ethiopia. Hubby says I’ll need my brown jacket I purchased in Toronto back in September. Now that I have outer garments thought through, I need to pick out everything from undies to jeans. Oh – and a suitcase. Should I go big carry-on or bite the bullet and check-in?

Too many decisions! So little motivation!! I think I’ll watch another episode of Kim Possible and *then* I’ll think about the clean thing… Or the packing thing… Maybe…

Procrastination isn’t for the faint of heart. I’m a professional - don’t try this at home!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mmmm Bop?

You may not know this but I once held a job and worked for a living. Shocking, I know. Believe it or not, I even enjoyed said job… or at least the rocking-ass people I worked with. In fact, it is due to these très cool folks that I actually miss my life at CT&T. Answering phones that had lame people at the other end of the line is a job to which all people should aspire. I, of course, got my cute butt off the phone and became an Intern and later a Manager whom everyone hated. (Folks from CT&T may now post comments about how they didn’t hate me and actually miss me terribly. Please? *cute pathetic sniffing*)

But all that is neither here nor there. This episode of Blog is about my one time AM – D The Man. (I couldn’t think of a better blog-name for you as I typed this up at one in the morning. Sorry.) D is (or at least was) a huge Hanson fan. I never made fun of him for this… much. Even when I hummed Mmmm Bop to myself quietly while I completed paperwork, I secretly denied that I had ever swayed to the Mmmm Bopping beat.

Today; however, D, you have been vindicated. The folks over at Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch have come to the rescue and declared that not only is Hanson not something to be embarrassed about but that they are (believe it or not) good. The author of the article even went as far as to call the Hanson boys “rocking.”

I have copied the article here for your personal pleasure, D. You have been vindicated. Now we can all Mmmm Bop with pride!

On the Scene: Hanson at NYC's Supper Club
by Mandi Bierly

One of my favorite moments from VH1's I Love the '90s series (which I would link to here if Viacom hadn't made YouTube take down all its clips) was when Scott Ian of Anthrax refused to rip on the brothers Hanson — Isaac, Taylor, and Zac— because they at least played their own instruments. Ten years after "MMMBop," the guys are doing more than that. They are, brace for it, kind of rocking.

At a packed "preview show" for their fourth studio album, The Walk (due May 22 stateside), the brothers took the stage of NYC's Supper Club to deafening screams. Cliché, but true. The feedback that momentarily halted the show later in the hour and 40-minute set was only slightly more painful. (Reading Taylor's lips when he asked "Where the f--- is it?" while everyone searched for the cause, however, was enjoyable.)

Because you know you care: Taylor (pictured,right), in particularly fine hair form, was workin' skinny black jeans and, of course, a scarf (which that boy can pull off). Isaac (left) was dapper in a black dress shirt and pin-striped vest. (Yes, he came into his own.) And "Little Zac" (center) was ultra laid back in a T-shirt — and a warm, constant grin. I think the only time he wasn't smiling was during the encore, Cat Stevens' "Peace Train." Maybe because Taylor rode it a little too long?

The new album? Yes. Let's get to it. Hard to tell which of the tunes were actually new — since some serious fans sang along to everything — but here's what I could decipher: the first single off the indie release will be the mature ballad "Go." And for the first time, Zac sings lead! Here's the video. Have a listen. And admit that the guys know how to write a chorus. And harmonize. And that Taylor's piano sounds pretty. The middle Hanson took back the mic on the love-will-keep-us-together-themed "Georgia", while Isaac did the honors on "Watch Over Me."

Though last night's performance featured several guests (including a recurring children's choir), that song starred the evening's biggest one: Andrew W.K. Yes, that Andrew W.K. Not sure why he was tickling the ivories, but he didn't appear forced. Other memorable new tunes included the Motown-vibed "Been There Before" and the funky "Blue Sky". (We had to wait for the cover of "Feeling Alright" to see Isaac dance like James Brown though).

As for the real oldies but goodies, the crowd went apes--- for "MMMBop" (watch the actual performance here). Taylor let the crowd sing the first half of the song — such a smart boy. (Is it wrong that I'm calling him a boy when he's married with three children?) I was happy to hear the big single from their last album, "Penny & Me", which is seriously a great song. As is "Strong Enough to Break" (the title of the documentary that captured the making of that record and their break from their prior label), and the pop-as-pop-can-be "Lost Without Each Other." That song always makes me dance in the comfort of my home, and apparently my body is conditioned. Three seconds into the tune I realized that I was bouncing, and turned to my +1 Karen and said, "Oh my God, I just did that." She reminded me that I was "among friends" and allowed me to continue.

To recap, in a slightly clearer version: Enjoy Hanson, PopWatchers. You've never needed our permission, but you've got it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Getting To Know You

I was recently perusing back issues of one of my favorite blogs when I came across this topic which I realized that I wanted to stea… err… borrow. What are ten things you don’t know about me? As one person on the RBB site commented about herself, I am a something of an “over sharer” which can basically be defined as someone who has a blog, blogs, and enjoys telling everyone everything in said blog.

That said, here we go. Ten things you may not know about me…
  1. Growing up, I desperately wanted to attend a boarding school. I obviously read too many “St. Claire” books.
  2. I was a horrible student and still don’t know what I want to be when and if I grow up. (Ok that one may not be too big a secret.)
  3. When I was a kid I used to make believe that I was in a musical and would sing aloud about just about anything (mostly songs I made up on the spot about what was going on in my life) on my way home from school. And I still do it when there’s no one around at home.
  4. I bought my first pair of jeans shortly before my 18th birthday as a costume for a play I was in.
  5. I am not a morning person. Not even slightly.
  6. I cried the first time my husband told me that I was his best friend.
  7. I don’t wear any makeup and don’t own any either. (Does strawberry lip balm with SPF count?)
  8. I am a closeted OCD fanatic who can live in mess but must have that mess organized and alphabetized.
  9. According to Hubby, I am secretly a 13-year-old girl. His proof: my love of watching cartoons, animated programs, and other shows aimed at a younger demographic at all hours of the day.
  10. I still sleep with stuffed animals in the bed. (Please note that the bunny is mine, the armadillo is his, and the cheetah… well… he’s communal property.)
So what weird things that you know about me did I forget to share? Or better yet, what weird thing would you like to share about yourself?!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Gallivanting Again

And on this happy note, I have news!

Hubby will be leaving on Sunday for yet another business trip to Ethiopia. Since I’ve been stuck here in Nairobi for far too long, I’ve decided to tag along for part of his trip. His initial plan was to ditch me for two and a half weeks. Instead, I’ll be joining him for a full week in Addis Ababa, which will give me an opportunity to meet some of his colleagues there and see what all the fuss is about. Plus it means that I get a new country to add to the map! Woo woo!

Since my Internet access there is likely to be dodgy, I’ll be catching you up on all the ‘Thopian gossip when I get back. See you then!

Kidnapped Britons' vehicles found

A search party looking for five Britons kidnapped in northern Ethiopia have found three damaged vehicles.

The vehicles, discovered in the town of Hamedali, near the Eritrean border, all appeared to have been damaged either by shrapnel or an explosion.

The search in the remote Afar region, which is now in its fifth day, has found no sign of the missing Britons or their Ethiopian guides.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the discovery was "distressing".

The five Britons, all UK embassy staff and their relatives, were sightseeing with 13 Ethiopian guides when they went missing in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Eritrea has denied claims its forces took them over the disputed border, which is close to where the party disappeared.

The UK search team negotiated via satellite phone from the village of Berahle, about 37 miles (60km) from Hamedali, to gain access to the kidnap site.

The British ambassador to Ethiopia, Bob Dewar, said the group might have been the victims of "mistaken identity".

"Whatever the case, there will be those in the community who are willing and able to facilitate their safe return.

"We stand ready to hear from anyone with information relating to the group's disappearance."

He added: "My thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those involved. Their families miss them terribly and want them home."

British diplomats carried out interviews with witnesses in the area in an effort to find out what happened.

One witness claimed "around 50 men" came into the Britons' camp in Hamedali on the night of the kidnap.

The BBC's Adam Mynott said one of the discovered cars had eight shrapnel holes in the driver's door, while another had evidence of a small explosion inside the passenger seat.

A third car, belonging to the local administration, was much more badly damaged, he said.

Members of the group's luggage, shoes and mobile phones were left inside one of vehicles.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said: "We are working very closely with the Ethiopian government at all levels, as well as with others in the region, to secure their safe and early return."

The Foreign Office said the discovery of the vehicles "highlights the seriousness of the situation".

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said investigators were weighing up a number of possibilities, but the most plausible was that a government in the region had encouraged local tribesmen to stir up trouble along the border.

"In this case, they bit off more than they could chew, they apparently had no idea they were capturing western diplomats and the huge international operation that would then result," he said.

Head of the Afar region Ismael Ali Sero earlier said the cars used by the sightseers - a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Land Rover Discovery - were set on fire in the early-morning raid on their camp, about 800km (500 miles) north-east of Addis Ababa.

He said about 25 Eritreans in military uniform marched the group 12-18 miles (20-30 km) to Waime in Eritrea, and a local herder reportedly saw them at the Ara-ta military camp in Eritrea.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said five of the Ethiopians who were with the kidnapped group were found near the Eritrean border late on Saturday.

One Ethiopian man told the BBC on Monday he had been one of those kidnapped, but was later released.

He said he saw the vehicles heading towards mountains on the Eritrean border, but said he did not know why the kidnappers had let him go but not the others.

Yemane Gebremeskel, of Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki's office, said Mr Ismael's claim that Eritrean troops were responsible was "crazy".

Eritrea's Information Minister Ali Abdul told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme: "I would not rule out that this is some kind of staged drama cooked up by the regime in Addis Ababa."

Tourists, who visit the area mainly to see the Danakil Depression, one of the lowest and hottest places on Earth known for its salt mines and active volcanoes, are advised to travel with an armed guard because of bandits and rebel groups

Monday, March 05, 2007

To Geek or Not to Geek

It has recently come to my attention that I may be a wee bit geeky. I know you’re all shocked to hear this since I make such a point to display to the world a face that eschews such nerdliness. I don’t brag about my ability to tell you the plot of a TNG (Star Trek: The Next Generation, thank you) episode after watching two minutes or less. I’m pretty sure that nobody knows about my slight liking for Xena (and her more impressive friend: the Battling Bard of Potedia). All these things are secrets because I am not a nerd or a geek.

Or so I thought.

The other day I was online with some friends discussing things when each of us lost our Internet Chat Cherry. ‘Ren had been online for a few years and Storm beat her estimate by saying that she had been online since 2000. All I could think as they confessed to their Big Days was, “Oh.” Not a happy “Oh” but rather a resigned and self-effacing “Oh.”

Most of you know how I met Hubby, ‘lo those many years ago. (And for those of you who don’t: all you need to know is that we met through mutual friends. They were people that we both counted as friends: ergo they were mutual. It is a very technical truth that I am willing to stick to, please and thank you.) What some of you may not have realized, or, like me, may have pushed to the denial part of your brains was that Hubby and I met over twelve years ago.

I count my official online chat timeline as being around the time when Hubby and I first met (however that may be) in 1995. In truth, I had been on IRC slightly before that in October and November of 1994. Thus, the sad truth, for those us who suck at math, is that I have been online for almost 13 years. That means that I may be the tiniest, slightest bit of a geek.

So if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and polish my pocket protector, shine my coke-bottle glasses, and pop in my Star Wars DVD while watching for all the moments that Lucas changed in the 2004 release. *sniff* I’m not really a geek am I?

PS Hubby just pointed out that while has been chatting online only slightly longer than I have. That said, he has been online emailing and whatnot since 1990. That, I believe, makes him the biggest (and cutest) geek in the room.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Produce in Kenya

Today we have the honour of having Special Guest Blogger Hubby grace us with his wit, wisdom and writing style. Or at least his ability to make pretty tables!

One of the benefits of living in Kenya is the cost of certain items. As you know from past blogs, we love to take advantage of our big kitchen and cook quite frequently. Naturally, this means buying lots of produce to support this habit. To give you an idea of what a representative basket of fruits and vegetables costs us in a given week, see the table below based on this week’s shopping. I should note that we purchase our veggies at the local equivalent of Fresh Fields: a semi-up-market fresh food vendor.

For the benefit of those in the USA, I have converted the weights to pounds and the value into U.S. dollars. Those of you in other countries will have to do the currency conversions yourself (go to the Universal Currency Converter for a quick calculator).

How does this compare with where you live at this time of year? Send us your comments and/or post them online!

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Internet is Evil

I know that you know that we have Internet access and that I have a tiny, little addiction to said Internet. What you may not realize; however, is that I have the same Internet speed and reliability that you had with dial-up back in 1997. While you lovely folks in the Real World complain that it takes a whole twenty minutes to download the latest episode of Heroes from itunes, I’m over here in Kenya bemoaning the fact that it takes me an hour and a half to download the 1MG itunes update – never mind actually getting a song off the site.

As I type this blog, my UPS backup power has been beeping at me for the last thirty minutes. Lucky for me that my internet is plugged into handy portable power supply or else I might have missed out on the ten seconds of access it was going to give me this hour.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to our wireless network being slow – this is, after all, the developing world and, as Hubby continually reminds me, I "can’t expect everything to work just like it does back home." I have learned to put up with not being able to visit certain high picture content sites, as they will take far too long to load. I have even managed to grin and bear the fact that I am barely able to hold a civilized, non-lagged, conversation on Skype. These and other Internet-related indignities have simply become part of my daily world.

The last few days; however, have been unbearable. Only a day after my lovely houseguests departed for their safari, my Internet decided that it was time for a permanent vacation. I have been unable to access anything online for more than five minutes at a time before it up and kaputs on me. Shopping online for an Easter vacation? No problem! As long as you have six hours, a tonne of patience and no desire to actually have anything on Expedia to load for you. I haven’t even been able to answer any of my emails!! (Ok I’m a slacker about that one at the best of times but now I have an excuse! Woo hoo!) This is horrible! I don’t want people to think I’m a poor correspondent. (*innocent look*)

Which brings me back to my current reality: writing back issues of Blog into Word in the vain hope that the Internet will cooperate long enough for me to post them while listening to the incessant “Beep! Beep! Beep!” of the UPS telling me what the silent TV has already screamed about our lack of power. And, because my life didn’t suck quite enough, I have men wandering around on my ceiling fixing the giant leak in the roof that almost (but thankfully not quite) hit my Irish sculpture.

So if you don’t mind, I’m going to go and read “The Last King of Scotland” since that requires neither Internet nor electricity. And maybe if I’m really good (read: get off my bottom and stop being lazy) I’ll walk upstairs and… Never mind. I’m lazy and I'm OK with that.

I’m just going to read my book quietly while I pray to the Power Gods and make small sacrifices to the Internet ones. See you online soon… I hope!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

You Can Quote Me On That

Here are some wonderfully random quotes from the last week…

Dobhi Wallah: E! is like Teletubbies for adults!

This quote was further supported the next morning when DW was caught flipping channels between Teletubbies on BBC Prime and random program about Oscar fashion on E!. I’m still not quite sure which one she enjoyed more.

Typ0 shortly after looking in the mirror and screaming: I have a grey hair!!

For the record, it was long and not exactly thin or otherwise unhealthy looking. After hearing me whine about said hair for several minutes to anyone who would listen (including a long distance phone call to my unsympathetic parents) DW yanked the hair out and handed to me. “See,” she said, “no more grey hair!” I held on to the hair for the rest of evening and showed it to Hubby, his out-of-town colleagues, and the waiter at Mercury Lounge. I still have yet to find a single a person who has any sincere sympathy for my plight.


Dobhi Wallah to Hubby: So Typ0 tells me that you count cows for a living.

Let me say for the record that I’m pretty sure that I have never explained Hubby’s job to anyone in this fashion. That said; it did become a running joke for the rest of that incredibly intoxicated evening.

Dobhi Wallah to Hubby’s South African Colleagues: So do you count cows too?
South African Colleague: No, we’re not New Zealanders.

Note to all Kiwis: before you flame me please understand that I am only reporting what was said. I in no way endorse said opinion even though I did double over with laughter when he said it.

Dobhi Wallah and her friend return next week, so I am quite certain that there are more witty and quotable quotes yet to come. So stay tuned!