April 2003 in New York through the eyes of an Englishman -   Contact  Current Month   Previous   Next   Index  

Celebrants at Moca

Celebrants at Moca.

30/4/2003 - A Failed Outing

We arranged to meet Boi at a bar called Moca at 119th and 8th between 11:30 and 11:45. When we got there, there was no sign of her, and her home number was still busy. Boi is suffering from some kind of relationship angst at the moment, so I didn't take this as being a good sign. Another friend of hers was also there waiting

The bar was quite pleasant, with a good crowd, in which I was the token white. The group on the sofa gave me their camera to take a picture, so I took one back. However by my standards the place had a critical flaw. The music was overwhelmingly loud. Within ten minutes my ears hurt, and within half an hour we left, my ears ringing. Boi was a no-show, and we haven't heard anything from her. Hopefully the angst is better rather than worse.

I have never understood why some establishments/DJs choose to play music so loud that it completely drowns conversation and is guaranteed to inflict hearing damage. I could possibly go along with it if the place had been for dancing, but there was no possibility of that. Just a nice small bar spoiled by too much noise.

61 today

61 today.

30/4/2003 - 61

Today is my birthday, so I'm now 61. Not a birthday one particularly welcomes, but not as disagreeable as last year. On the other hand, the glass is half full, not half empty. I still have all my own teeth, and I expect to get laid today one way or another!

You can stave off age to some extent by keeping fit, and not getting overweight. I do my best. I'm about 180 pounds, which is about 15 pounds heavier than I should be for my height - the beer belly. I don't have the patience for organized exercise, so I just walk wherever is reasonable to walk, and get as much sex as I can.

The main thing though is to stay young at heart. One of the primary purposes of this blog is to communicate across the generation gap, so that people younger than I am can get a feel for the way life can be when you're older. That way, I hope there will be less to dread. If people get older with the right attitude, there's no reason life has to be dull. OK, end of sermon. Boi just called and is talking to Terry - let's see what the day brings.

Five minute egg

Five minute egg.

29/4/2003 - Boiled Eggs with Soldiers

Your mother may have made this for you. If she didn't it's time somebody did, then you can make it for your children. This is for one. Ingredients:
  • An egg cup - if you don't have this, don't start,
  • Two eggs - extra large is about right,
  • Two or three slices of bread - whole wheat is good.
Put two inches of water into a small pan (pot), and bring it to the boil. While it's heating, slightly warm the eggs (particularly if they just came out of the fridge) by running warm water over them. This makes them less likely to crack. When the water boils, put the eggs in carefully using a tablespoon, and set a timer for five minutes.

Now toast the bread. This always takes me at least two tries, the first time I always burn it. Butter the bread; this is an old fashioned recipe, so I mean butter. Cut the slices of buttered toast into strips about three quarters of an inch wide - the soldiers.

The eggs should be ready by now, especially if you burned the first two slices of toast. Take them out of the boiling water with the spoon, and let them dry. Put one in the egg cup on a plate, and put the other on the plate. Put the soldiers on the plate with the eggs, and add a teaspoon. To eat, tap the egg in the cup with the edge of the teaspoon about a third of the way from the top to crack the shell, Then push the front edge of the teaspoon into the crack to remove the top of the egg. Be careful not to spill the yolk all over, and add some salt. Dip the soldiers into the yolk, and eat. When that's done scoop out the white with the teaspoon and eat with other soldiers.

When you're through, relax and enjoy being a child again for a few minutes.

Picasso Buttock

Picasso Buttock.

28/4/2003 - Another Alternative Recipe

This one, somewhat with tongue in cheek (if you'll pardon the expression), is a recipe for a party quickie.

This kind of thing isn't as fashionable as it was back in the 70s and 80s, because of HIV. But if you and the woman are a monogamous article, it's still on the cards, and can be hillarious if you're in the mood. And of course, there're always condoms.

Do you have a web page that is always out-of-date. The Brit has some experience in dealing with this situation - it's something that has to be done every day! For a small monthly fee (starting at $25/month), your web page can be regularly updated too. Call Steve at 212-996-9585, or email, if you think you could use this service.

You might also want to check out the Windows application "Publicity". It's free for personal use - business users are required to pay for a license. Use it for making labels, business cards, flyers, tickets and such. Installation instructions here.


Publicity, showing a business card design.

27/4/2003 - Really Must

I really must get the revised version of my label and card software finished. So Saturday and Sunday I spent quite a bit of time on a new, and more streamlined, install program, and now the whole thing is almost in a working state. The previous version was really reliable, and never any trouble. I do hope I've managed to extend that state of affairs. Unfortunately, the nature of software is that whenever you mess with it, you stand the chance of introducing bugs.

As you can see, you can use it for making business cards, but it's really of quite wide applicability. The characteristic requirement is when you want to print a number of separate compositions on the same page, so its things like:
  • Labels,
  • Business Cards,
  • Photo album pages,
  • Folded flyers,
  • Conference badges,
  • Tickets.
It also has a very flexible merging capabilities, so you can make sets of such things by pulling the contents from a database (delimited text, .DBF files, or any database you have that supports an ODBC driver, that is most major databases).

26/4/2003 - Endorphin High

The sun caresses my neck.
Azure blue, the sky is magic.
Women in the street are beautiful and sexy.

The mosque reaches to the blue,
its minaret pointing to heaven.
An antenna seeking signals from the void.

My simple food's a feast,
teasing my tongue with its flavor.
Pleasing me even in it's color and its form.

I listen to a favorite piece
and find a new intensity of joy.
Nuances missed in music I know by heart.


My cheap wine is luscious.
I swill it in my mouth and marvel,
watching how it wets the glass that way.

Where is it from, this rush,
Perhaps the medication? If so I know
why athletes risk career and reputation.

Endorphin high, I pass the day
hoping that the mood might last,
or that I've found a trick the Buddha knew.

Three demons

Three demons - El Tahra, Jamie, and Terry.

The 96th street mosque

The 96th Street Mosque.

25/4/2003 - What Can I Say?

You hang out with fast women, and what do you get? Trouble usually, and in this case, no exception. Terry's friend El Tahra came round last night. She's been in shock since Terry told her we'd married; I think she had the view that the bachelor Terry was a permanent institution, and I was definitely in the bad books for having gone off with Di last year. So this was the first time we'd seen her in a while. Terry and I believe El Tahra to be a vampire. She's German, only ever comes out at night, and lives in a convent, and yes I mean that literally. Very baroque!

Anyway, she turns up in fine form, and it's decided we'll go to Tracy J's - El Tahra sings too. So there we are, waiting our turns, and Jamie - that's the demon in the middle with the smile - keeps sticking pints of beer in front of me, and I'm on reasonable form singing-wise, and getting applause, and compliments from young women, and El Tahra seems to have forgiven me. Terry and El Tahra have found gullible men to talk to and buy them drinks, and all of a sudden it's four in the morning, and then it's eleven in the morning, and I've missed my damn doctors appointment! Just gotta watch them demons.

Self inflicted hangover wound aside, I have to say it's a beautiful day. The mosque opposite my local Gristedes supermarket looked particularly fine against the blue morning sky as I wandered out with my shopping, listening to act 3 of Meistersinger on my little MP3 player. The only blemish on the episode was the fact that when I got the bacon home (I got the center cut bacon again) it turned out to be back bacon. So I phoned Oscar Meyer to complain, and a nice lady took the product number and my details. I'm now expecting to receive a hog in the mail. My bacon sandwich was consequently not what it might have been, but I enjoyed it nontheless.

If you're interested, a British bacon sandwich is a bit different than what you get here. It's normally made with a tea cake (Kaiser roll?), and is often garnished with slices of fried tomato. Fry the bacon to your taste, then dry it off, and drain most of the fat from the pan. Briskly fry a couple of thick slices of tomato until they just start to brown. Cut the roll in half, as for a hamburger, and fry the halves cut face down for a few moments after you've done the tomato. Slap the bacon and the tomato in the roll with some salt and pepper, and bingo, you've got it. Very tasty, moderately unhealthy, and, washed down with a few mugs of black coffee, just the thing to deal with a hangover. Hmm - must get myself one of those little do-it-yourself blood pressure machines.

Incidentally, the Meistersinger (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) I was listening to, is the von Karajan 1971 Dresden recording (EMI CDU 7243 5 67148 2 3), which I strongly recommend. An epic performance of Wagner's truly joyful comic opera, it will get your pulse going. I have the last two CDs on the MP3 player at the moment. If I got a 128M card for it, It would hold the whole opera which I think runs almost five hours.

The mosque is an interesting building. Looking at it today against an intensely blue sky, it looked like some high-tech interstellar communication device. Who knows? Perhaps it is. Whatever, it makes a neat counterbalance for my three demons.

The lamb to the slaughter

The lamb to the slaughter - at 5:30am.

  • A piece of salmon fillet, about a pound,
  • 1lb of red potatoes, chopped into bite size
    pieces (you'll have noticed I like these),
  • A quarter pound of baby portabella mushrooms,
  • Three zuchinni (courgettes), or a good size broccoli head, sliced or broken up,
  • The inevitable crushed garlic, as required.

24/4/2003 - Anticlimax

I spent most of Wednesday working on a revision of the BEV label/card software. It badly needs it, since it was written back in the days of Windows 95 and NT4, using a compiler which is now positively ancient, albeit of some sentimental attachment to me. I had to be at the NYU Medical Center at 6:30 for my sinus operation, so we went to bed fairly early to rise at five.

Having spent much of the night tossing and turning, and dreaming of violent subjects, I rose, accompanied by Terry, and we dressed and caught a bus down to 34th Street. Terry took the picture of me attempting to say "cheese" on the way out. It's not brilliant, but hey, you never know!

We were in good time, and had to wait about 15 minutes before a nurse came to get me ready. I put on the unflattering gown, and waited. A few minutes later she returned and took my blood pressure. At the point the day took a turn for the worse. My blood pressure these days probably has to be put at marginal, it's usually at 130/90 or so. After a week on steroids, a disturbed nights sleep, and sitting waiting for an operation, it was 160/115, and the anesthesiologist wasn't interested in doing business with me. The surgeon arrived shortly after. His inclination was to cut regardless, but the other guy wasn't having it, and I was duly rejected. I've to go to my GP, and get some blood thinning medication, and we're going to try again in two weeks.

I was mortified at the time, but I've kind of got over it now. Better I suppose to suffer the nose for another couple of weeks, than to have a heart attack on an operating table. In any case, the effect of the steroids will probably keep me reasonably clear over that time.

I promised the poached salmon and vegetable recipe, which follows.

24/4/2003 - Poached Salmon with Vegetables

This is very simple and plain, and quite quick to make.

Parboil the potatoes. When they are almost cooked, start frying the sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil (mushrooms dry up oil, if it vanishes, add a little more). Put a little water (less than 1/4") in a skillet with a lid, and bring it to the boil. Once it boils, add the salmon, and season with a little salt and pepper. Just stick it in there skin down, then cover the skillet, and turn the heat right down.

Treat the vegetable in much the same way. Put less than 1/2" of water in a pot, bring it to the boil with the vegetable, and a pinch or two of salt, then turn it down, and put on the lid so it steams. Now drain the potatoes, and dump them in with the mushrooms, and continue to fry until the mushrooms are quite well done, and the potatoes start to brown. Add the garlic and stir in along the way. By that time, both the salmon and the vegetable should be ready. Check the salmon by poking it with a sharp pointed knife. It should go through with ease. How long you wait for the vegetable is up to you - I'd suggest you take it as it is when the salmon's ready.

You can sprinkle a little grated parmesan on the potatoes/mushrooms if you like the idea, and maybe put a pat of butter on the vegetable before you serve it. Other than that, just chop the salmon into however many pieces with the serving spatula (the skin will probably stay with the skillet), and try and arrange the items tastefully on the plates.

Miss Cornucopia

Miss Cornucopia.

22/4/2003 - Bit Between Teeth

The alternative recipe seemed popular, so I spent some time today working on another. But it's not finished yet, so you'll have to wait, so there!

In a further suggestion that the weather might be thinking about spring, we had something close to a thunder shower this morning at about 5:00am. No actual thunder though, perhaps I should call it a squall. After that the day was pretty dismal until mid-afternoon when the sun came out again, and I took the bus down to 79th Street to pay some cheques/checks into the bank. That's the last income that is visible from here, so it had better last for a couple of months, during which, as Mr Micauber said, "something might come up".

I note that the British are still taking casualties in old Basra, and the French have decided to rejoin the international game. W's administration is still mired in accusations of corruption, and in internal bickering. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

We went to Blondies in the evening before dinner. Karen has been bartender every night this week, and she seems to be popular. The place, which is really quite new, is developing a set of regulars, and some character. It has an icon, which I chose for today's illustration; Miss Cornucopia. I hope she stays, she takes up space that could be used for customers, but she brings a touch of the old gods, with who I have more empathy than any others. Dinner was the rustic Minestroni, which I've already described, though you'd have to search for it. I guess I need an index.

It's Tuesday, so later we'll probably get the bus down to O'Flannagans at 66th Street so I can attempt to sing karaoke again. The steroids have worked wonders on my nose, so I'm in with a better chance, but I have to get those keys sorted out. Speaking of the nose, I'm scheduled for 7:30 on Thursday, so I have to be there by 6:30. Terry has volunteered to get up and go with me, bless her. This must be love!



21/4/2003 - Feed the Soul

I often give you cookery recipes, but we mortals have other needs, like affection, sex, and distraction. It doesn't seem reasonable to me to assume that only a proportion of the population can cook, but that everyone can make love well. So from time to time I'm going to slip in recipes of a different nature. These will be out of line, i.e. they'll appear on a separate page, then if you feel they merit censorship, you can censor them for yourself. If you belong to the category I dismissed, i.e. you're already perfect in this respect. Please submit recipes, and I'll post them!

I'm going to start with the fairly ambitious equivalent of a three course meal. We'll call it Afternoon Delight.

If younger readers are wondering what I'm doing writing about this at my age, as in "Is there sex at 60?", then the answer is that I manage quite well, quite often, and don't get many complaints. Of course, I am on the steroids at the moment, so I might revisit that point next week.

Ann feeding the 5000

Ann feeding the 5000.

The antique collection

The antique collection.

20/4/2003 - A Family Easter Sunday

Ann, Terry's mum, had phoned in the morning to intimate that she was cooking a small meal later that day, and would we like to come over. When Ann says a small meal, she means that she will be laboring in the kitchen all day over some huge creation. All the children are required to attend, and either eat, or at least take some food away. Terry said should we, and I said sure, so we were to go over to Patterson for about 4:00pm.

When we arrived it turned out that Terry and mama had miscommunicated about the time, and the meal was in fact for 6:00pm. A feast was in preparation. Candied yams, duck, Cornish hens, regular chicken, ham, stuffing, macaroni cheese, cabbage, string beans, and sweet-potato biscuits. Just a small meal! Ann (despite her picture, where she looks a little glum), was in a bright mood. The time passed quite quickly, with a couple of glasses of wine. Relatives and acquaintances, most of who I knew, came and went. Terry's sister Sonya and I managed to be civil to each other, which is an interesting departure.

Ann collects antiques and bric-a-brac, and in fact the main downstairs rooms of her house constitute a gallery that is only otherwise used as a dining room for such occasions, and from which the cat is barred.

Ann's collection of dolls

Ann's collection of dolls.

At about the appointed time, a larger bunch of family turned up, and the food was ritually savaged. I particularly enjoyed the duck, the ham, the macaroni cheese, and the cabbage. No one seemed particularly impressed or bothered that Terry and I had got married, although a number of her siblings ritually checked us for matching wedding rings. They seemed content enough with the result. After dinner I taught Terry's niece Amber to play Happy Birthday (one fingered) on the piano in the antique gallery. At the last similar event we had done Frere Jaques. By the next time, Amber may have turned into a teenager, so that might well be her piano repertoire for life!

Everybody took food away, so what had looked enormous vanished almost entirely. Brother Brian was cooking ham at home, but took some with him to be on the safe side. Brother Kenny - the politician and budding patriarch - came to collect the plate of food his mother had made up for him. He checked Terry's leg, and sniffed what she was drinking suspiciously. It was only a wine cooler, so it passed.

Ann also gave us things from her kitchen that people had given her, but that she didn't want. We got dates, Italian toast, various pickles, and a timely bottle of good looking virgin olive oil (I'd just run out). By the time we got home, Terry had overdone it on her feet, and needed to rest her leg. I went to the Parlour to check out the karaoke there. I sang Hotel California, but I still haven't got the key right. It was too low. It took me an hour and a half to achieve that, so I called it a draw and left.

19/4/2003 - Moving Out

Today I had agreed with Greg, my sub-landlord, that I would get my stuff out of 29th Street, and we would get the place cleaned up so he could end his lease and get his deposit back. So I set off at 8:30 to get most or all of this done before he was scheduled to arrive at 10:00. This went well until I got to 29th Street, which had police barriers at the end. As it turned out, this was probably quite unofficial. The FDNY Company at 29th Street was holding a memorial gathering for one of their members who had died, and had probably posted the police department 'No Parking Saturday' signs themselves. I explained my mission, and they let me in, one of them telling me I'd better be quick because cars would be towed.

So I broke my balls getting the remainder of my stuff out of the place. The heaviest item was the Ikea gate-leg table that I had bought to double as table and computer desk. I had to dismantle it to some extent. Everything else was just carrying. But isn't it amazing how much shit you have when it comes down to moving it! Before I'd finished, the line of arriving FDNY cars double parked outside had overlapped my Jetta - so much for the towing and the no-parking signs. I arranged with one of them parked next to me to get out at 9:55, before their ceremony began, and phoned Greg to tell him to back off for an hour and a half. I could have moved my car to another street, and then done the cleaning, but my experience of parking cars with possessions in them in New York hasn't been good. Some crack-head will break your window to get at small items inside that can potentially be converted to cash. I preferred to run the stuff up to 95th Street first, then come back and clean up later.

This was to cost me. I got a $105 parking ticket while standing double-parked outside the 95th Street apartment with my hazard lights flashing, getting my stuff out of the car. This is completely against the spirit of the thing. Obviously some traffic police person was in a vindictive mood, or the city, strapped for cash, has ordered a pogrom on motorists. If I'd got there an hour later I'm sure I'd have missed it, and I shall appeal it.

Of course getting the stuff into our apartment was also traumatic. It's pretty well full anyway, despite my attempts to make space. Terry kept asking, "Is there more?". The rest was perfunctory. I brushed and mopped out 29th Street, and Greg was sufficiently impressed. Bye bye pad. It was a pleasant little apartment, in an area I liked. I have no photos. Everything was too much of a rush. I don't make a very good photo-journalist do I?

A family group

A family group - Duby, Elissa, and Odalis.

Our bartender

Our bartender at Coogans.

19/4/2003 - Caught Again

In the afternoon, I did a little toward sorting out the heap of stuff I'd brought in, then had a nap. One item that aroused interest was a coat hanger full of ties. This was clearly more organized than I am, and I confessed that it had been contrived by Di. Later, Terry and I went on to 86th Street because she wanted to pay a check into her bank account, and buy some sneakers to go to her physiotherapy classes. The sneaker buying was a disaster. The ones she wanted to buy were some specialist type with exaggerated heel supports that I just knew she would find uncomfortable given that she still has intermittent swelling in the bad leg. Both the shop assistant and I told her not to buy them, so she put a curse on the shop and left, muttering. I should have tumbled at that point.

We ate leftovers and frankfurters - OK, OK, I can eat like a slob with the best of them when it suits me. The idea for the night was to return to Coogans for karaoke. Terry modified this to be preceded by an extension of the Boi hunt. Apparently she'd had good intelligence that Boi was now located at a bar called Strivers (no web page I can find) at 139th and 8th. My next clue came in the taxi on the way. Terry asked the cab driver if we were ever going to get there. The intelligence was good. Boi was indeed present at the specified bar. We didn't stay long. The hunt apparently was more important than the catch, but we have Boi's phone number again.

So then we went on to Coogans. I put in some tickets to sing, and came back to the bar. Terry singled out the attractive family group, and between us we got two or three pictures. Then, back at the bar, Terry announced that she had cut off the ties from the offending hanger. I thought she was serious, and was somewhat pissed. She went to pee, and another woman came and took her seat. I was fuming, so said nothing, and when Terry returned she reacted and left. I drank my beer and followed, taking the subway and the bus. It finally dawned on me on the way home that it was probably about PMS time. I always forget this - is this a common male thing? The subway and the bus took forever. All the engineering work on the subway is done at night and at weekends, so it can get quite flaky, because it's an old system, and needs a lot of work. The buses just get infrequent.

When I got home, I was presented with the intact ties, and a few well chosen comments, and left to sleep alone, while Terry slept on the sofa. Steve! How to be an asshole without really trying.

(My apologies to the bartender for my poor retouching of some horrendous red-eye in his photo. I'll get the hang of this one day. However I think the ladies will agree that even allowing for that, he's cute enough to feature!)

The 'designer kitchen'

The 'designer kitchen'.

18/4/2003 - More Improvements

Today I worked on more mundane improvements. Hooks to hold the shopping cart that we never use, the step ladder that is necessary to get at the things that are way up the walls out of reach, and the broom and mop. Also some coat hooks near the door in the vestibule in anticipation of the removal of the rest of my clothes from 29th Street. Really fascinating stuff - I'm sure you're enthralled. But I can't contrive an exciting life every day!

Romeo came to visit in the afternoon. He's had an operation on his knee that also involved a sizeable cut. Unusual nowadays, knee surgery is mostly arthroscopic these days. His knee is in one of those metal reinforced braces that you have to unlock to sit down. He seems to be doing pretty well with it, since although he's still got stitches he can bend his knee quite well.

We went to Blondies, and I managed to dissuade him from drinking martinis in front of Terry. She doesn't need that degree of temptation at the moment. Then I cooked poached salmon and vegetables for them, which I'll write down for you shortly. We watched some movie on the TV, Romeo left, and we went to bed early.

This was my second day of the steroid overdose, and I could actually breathe through my nose; a real treat. Of course, I'm even more embarrassing in public now, since the steroids cause what's roughly equivalent to an avalanche by removing some of the obstruction, so I'm blowing my nose all the time. It's one way to find out if your woman loves you!

Sudden blossom

Sudden blossom.

17/4/2003 - A Contrast

They said it was going to happen on the weather forecast, but even so, I think everyone in New York was in a state of disbelief until it did. On Wednesday, when I was working on the kitchen, naked and sweating, the temperature reached 31C (88F). Thursday morning it was about 3C (38F) with wind chill and rain to boot. It had a peculiarly depressing effect. The blossom had suddenly come out on the couple of hot days before, and must have regretted it.

I had to go to NYU Medical Center for the pre-screening for my sinus operation. The normal pre-screening was pretty minimal, an EKG because I'm over 50, and a blood sample. But the piece-de-resistance was the CAT scan with the head frame. CAT scans in and of themselves don't bother me. I had one before I saw the surgeon, and simply went to sleep till the woman woke me and said she was through. This one was a different matter. First I waited for two hours, while emergency patients got X-rayed, then I was called, but they'd run out of head frames, so I had to wait another hour while they got one.

The head frame is made out of fairly rigid polythene. It has balls that locate in your ears, and a pair of lobes that fit against the bridge of your nose, so the whole thing can be aligned to your head. Two stiff springy arms reach round and grab the back of your head. It is not particularly comfortable, especially when you have a somewhat misshapen septum (nose bone). But there's more. You then lie on your back in the scanner, and the guy applies two strips of elastic bandage to hold your head down by strapping down your chin. Needless to say, I forgot to ask for a photo - I'll try and get one later

Now of course, I can't breathe through my nose at present to save my life, and breathing with my lips drawn back through clenched teeth didn't work for me. So I had to lie there for half an hour or so trying to hold my bottom jaw open but rigid, against the elastic. Of course after some time of this, your chin goes into reflex trembling (think of the knee-trembler analogy) which you then have to resist in order to keep still. It wasn't a pleasant experience.

Changing rooms

Changing rooms.

16/4/2003 - Domestic Improvements

I haven't been completely idle, honestly! Once I moved the contents of the kitchen at 29th Street here, it became clear that we had a kitchen organization problem. For example, the dishes would fit in the cupboard, but in order to get out a soup dish, you had to remove the stack of soup dishes, then take one off the top, then put the stack back. Not good for soup dish longevity!

So, I spent Wednesday creating new shelf space in a way that hopefully would not prevent us from co-existing there. The rack with the microwave and TV is part one, and the two wire shelf units are part two. Great color coordination don't you think? The rack didn't come in white, and the shelving didn't come in black; Bummer! I also strapped the TV cables and electrical supply cables that had previously snaked about the floor.

Now all the pots and pans go on the bottom wall shelf, while less frequently used objects are up top. The kitchen utensils hang on hooks under the bottom shelf. My spices, dry goods, and canned foods now live on the rack over and next to the TV, and there's still a virgin top shelf. The bottom shelf of the rack is to contain a couple of filing boxes, and The existing ornamental wrought iron rack is much less packed - more space up for grabs. We also now have we have an extra crockery cupboard that makes the dishes quite manageable.

I have to finish this off with an offcut of counter-top to replace the existing workspace under the new shelves as soon as I find a piece. I'm sure this won't win me any interior design prizes, but it makes the kitchen a more pleasant place to work.

The man in the hot seat

The man in the hot seat - General Garner.

15/4/2003 - Back to Middle East Politics

Well, it has to be said that the war, by historical standards, was pretty lightweight. The following figures give some idea of the order of magnitude of military casualties (killed and wounded) in various preceding wars:
  • Napoleonic wars - 2,000,000 (very approx)
  • WW I - 7,210,000
  • WW II - 23,298,000
  • Korea - 2,437,000
  • Vietnam - 3,472,000
  • Gulf War - 300,000 (very approx - no good figures)
  • Current Iraq war - 20,000 (very approx - no good figures).
Two carrier battle groups are already pulling out, and so it appears are the media. Domestic news has started to figure on CNN again. General Garner is going to have to learn the meaning of the adjective Byzantine, and before we know it the only news from Iraq will be about foreign politics. It's well known that unless such news is from Israel, or involves terrorism, then it hardly ever breaks through into prime-time news broadcasting in the USA. Maybe I'll keep an eye on what's going on there.

Mr Nigel Arquebus-Forbes

Mr Nigel Arquebus-Forbes.

14/4/2003 - Brit's Eye View Exclusive Scoop

Brit's Eye View has obtained an exclusive interview with Mr Nigel Arquebus-Forbes, a one-time friend of the great uncle of former POW Patrick Miller. Mr Arquebus-Forbes recalled "I remember seeing Patrick once when he was a child. He looked like a perfectly ordinary schoolboy then. Who'd have thought it!". When asked what he thought should be the priorities of the administration with respect to MIA and POWs, Mr Arquebus-Forbes replied that he "hadn't really thought about it".

Any resemblance to former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain is quite accidental, and should not be taken as an endorsement of the appeasement of totalitarian regimes, or as subliminal advertising for the seedless cucumber industry.

Compact cookery

Compact cookery.

14/4/2003 - The Apartment Chef

Why cook in a New York apartment? Yes, I realize I'm something of a freak. From what I see in the streets and supermarkets, many New Yorkers seem to prefer to have food delivered, eat out, or purchase ready-to-heat meals. I like to cook for three main reasons:
  • It's good for the soul,
  • You get to eat food you like cooked to your taste,
  • It's a way of expressing your creativity,
  • It can be as cheap or expensive as you choose.
Why is it good for the soul? Well, it provides a link to our past and our heritage and traditions, and it's also a connection to the earth, and a reminder of our place in nature. We all have some family traditions of diet, and many of these stem from our ethnicity. Even though our vegetables these days are grown using pesticides and god knows what, they're still a connection to the soil. Raw meat reminds us that we are omnivores and kill other animals to eat. Cooking can also be a connection to other ethnic cultures.

I say you get food you like cooked to your taste. That of course supposes you've learned some rudimentary skills to reach that point. Believe me, it's worth the trouble. Start with recipes, but try to get a hold on the principles of what you're doing, then experiment. The creative element only arises when you get to that stage.

On cost, yes, there's cost up front, since you need to acquire the utensils. But then you really do have flexibility on what you need to pay for a meal. Yesterday I bought some pork knuckles for $1.75. I have half a cabbage left from something else, and some cooked potatoes. I'll buy some good bread for another $1.95, and I guarantee you we'll eat a simple gourmet meal for supper. As you can see, we don't have much space either, so don't use that as an excuse!

Terry at Coogans

Terry at Coogan's.

The Coogan's crowd

The Coogan's crowd.

13/4/2003 - An Idle Sunday

My son's birthday today - happy birthday Richard. It was a late night last night at Coogan's for karaoke, a bar way uptown in Washington Heights at 169th Street. We like the place, not least because it has great racial diversity. Good karaoke team too, but a lot of competition to sing. Terry made some new friends (below).

I made the mistake of drinking Harp like it was Budweiser, while it is in fact considerably stronger. So I have something of a thick head today, and the morning was a write-off. I did manage though to get the SMC router hooked up to the DSL connection at Terry's, and to get my computer set up. So there is now one of them at each end of the desk.

Girls at Coogan's
Girls at Coogans.

Chicken & rice

Chicken and rice.

13/4/2003 - A Quick Meal

  • Two chicken breasts, boned,
  • Can of chick peas (garbanzos, ceci, kabli chana),
  • 1 tomato,
  • Handful of string beans or broccoli
  • A few crimini mushrooms,
  • One small onion,
  • Crushed garlic as required.
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
Cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces, slice the mushrooms and chop the onion medium fine.

Wash the rice repeatedly in cold water until the washing water stays clear, then drain it. Put the rice in a pot with a well-fitting lid, and add one and a half cups water. Bring it to the boil, and give it a quick stir to make sure there isn't any sticking. Now place a piece of kitchen roll on top of the pot, and put on the lid to make a good seal. Turn the heat as low as possible, and set a timer for 10 minutes.

Fry the chicken, onion, and mushrooms over a medium heat until the chicken is cooked. In the meantime, put the chick peas along with the liquid they come with in another pot, and bring to a boil. Chop up the tomato and the string beans or broccoli, and add these and the crushed garlic.

When the 10 minutes has passed, turn off the heat under the rice, and set the timer for another ten minutes. Add the cooked chicken, onions, and mushrooms to the chick peas etc. Season and add a splash of hot sauce. Then cook over a low heat until the rice timer has expired. Arrange the rice around the edge of the plate and serve the chicken etc. in the middle.

The infantry of the future

The infantry of the future.

12/4/2003 - An end to war?

The Jessica Lynch thing is really getting up my nose, and I can tell you that at the moment, this is not a pleasant place to be! However, the fact that this woman (or should I say child - old enough to die for her country, but too young to buy a drink) has achieved superstar status, makes you think.

It seems that the requirement put on the military, by their senior officers (educated in Vietnam), and by the media in their abhorrence of casualties, is that they should be able to conduct warfare without any MIA, POWs, or casualties. The US should be omnipresent and omnipotent. Like the Greek or Roman gods, it should be capable of smiting nations that offend it at will and without harm.

Such errant enemies will then rapidly learn to spread their legs, and as Victorian women were advised, "think of one's country". The conquerors will be greeted with kisses and flowers. After all, they are there to teach the correct ways of US democracy, and introduce the benefits of HMOs etc. The humiliation engendered by this process will guarantee a generation of teenagers willing and eager to sacrifice themselves in suicide attacks (well demonstrated among the Palestinians) against the occupiers, or more likely against the soft-bellied US homeland.

Back in the USA, homeland security costs will rise to eclipse the astronomical costs of omnipotence. The citizens of the USA will live in the best of all possible worlds; fear, rampant inflation, and massive taxation. The conquered will enjoy the benefits of reconstruction, and any internal attempts to create repressive regimes will be put down by the benevolent occupiers. Hmm! Perhaps we should be cautious; those things you wish for have that habit of coming true. Maybe it's better to recognize that war is cruel and brutalizing, and that people die badly, and are captured and forgotten, and that's what you sign up for when you 'take the King's Shilling'. If you think of it that way, there's more of an incentive to avoid it.

Another day over the East River

Another day over the East River.

Looting, arson, and general mayhem

Looting, arson, and general mayhem.

11/4/2003 - Progress

Horrible weather again today, though not actually as bad as promised. It was supposed to rain until tomorrow, but at least it's stopped, though it's still blusterly. Not good umbrella weather. The street is littered with dead ones. I was full of good intentions, like buying an electric drill and putting up shelf brackets in the kitchen to give us a bit more storage space. But having got the car from the parking garage, and found a place to park it at 95th Street, I think I'll just leave it there and go out again tomorrow when the weather is supposed to be more spring like. A wet Friday afternoon seems more suitable for an attempt to extend the Khama Sutra list to include positions suitable for woman with large gash in thigh. Terry's niece is supposed to be visiting at some point, so our investigations need to be fairly quick.

The situation in Iraq seems much the same. If I changed the word Kirkut to Mosul I could use the same text as yesterday, except possibly that there's even more looting, and now also arson and vigilante groups. W and Rumsfeld seem to think this is OK. Lets hope that the Iraqi's don't catch on too quickly to the flexibility of the US legal system. Otherwise the law suits arising from this rampage could be quite spectacular. Damage to or theft of property arising from disregard of the Geneva Convention by the worlds richest state sounds to me like a lawyers field day! And once again, guess who'll have to pay.

Two weeks after

Two weeks after.

Yet another tower block

Yet another tower block.

10/4/2003 - Progress

One of my jobs on Wednesday was to get Terry support stockings and biking shorts so she could be dressed as she was supposed to dress since the large dressing came off last week. Time flies when you're enjoying yourself! These were duly donned this morning, and we sortied out to the surgeon's (Dr James Wittig) office for the second follow-up visit. Terry had been enjoined by Victoria, Dr Wittig's assistant, not to be late. I can't think how they got that idea! So we actually arrived a little early, having caught an express bus down town that made pretty good time. This of course was fatal. Dr Wittig was running late, so we sat there for an hour waiting. Eventually we got into an examination room. Terry and I took off the superficial dressings, then Victoria removed the steri-strips. Compared to the week before (I spared you that), the wound looked much better, mostly dry, and clearly well knit. It's about six inches long, maybe a tad more, and of course is to the bone. It got a quick clean-up, and some fresh steri-strips, and Terry can now shower and allow the steri-strips to fall off as they will. For all I know she's pretty ripe by now, but since my nose doesn't function at all in that direction, I'd be the last to know.

The next step is physiotherapy (UK - physical therapy US), to get the leg working again. That's probably going to be quite painful at first. An establishment with a pool was recommended, but whether that's possible will depend on the idiosyncrasies of the US health don't-care system.

I took the picture of the building under construction on the way home from the visit because it's characteristic of the upper east side these days. There may be something close to a recession going on, but wherever you go, there's probably one of these tower apartment blocks sprouting before your eyes.

On the Iraq front, Tikrit fell, and looting became even more widespread. OK, Rumsfeld and his boys got the sharp-end military job done by successfully gambling on the collapse of the Iraqi conventional forces. But there was never any real margin for anything going wrong, and no resources for follow up, consolidation, and establishment of the peace, in particular policing the captured cities.

In many similar situations in history, the situation was one of stated, or de-facto, martial law, and looting was something you got shot for! Of course we don't want to do that now, because that would make us unpopular. I'll bet we regret it later. Allowing lawlessness now, because it's cheap and politically expedient, is one of those things that typically comes back to bite you in the arse.

You can bet your life that ordinary people's legitimate posessions get looted along with regime property, and expecting people who suffer from that to magically swallow it and accept the law later is unrealistic. People bear grudges. It's also going to cost us money. When a new Iraqi administration is constructed, it's going to need desks, and office chairs, and computers and so on, and who's going to end up paying for them I wonder? Cheap now, pay later.

Later in the day, Terry and I had another mild run-in about smoking. I'm protected against second-hand smoke now on public transport, in shops and offices, and in bars and restaurants. This is a joy. However, it makes me increasingly resent having to put up with it at home, which is now my workplace. Terry has promised she'll stop smoking in the apartment after I have my surgery, so that the chances of the effects of the operation sticking, and not having the same old cycle repeat itself, are improved. What I don't understand is if she's prepared to do this then, what difference does a couple of weeks make? It's not like it's just good for me. The effects of smoking high-tar cigarettes will catch up on her in time, and they're all the more dangerous since there's a history of cancer in her family.

Saddam for the drop

Saddam for the drop.

9/4/2003 - On Risk

Well, it certainly looks now like if Saddam Hussein is still alive, he's not in the Baghdad area. What there is there now is a hiatus, or even a vacuum. The assumption that existing administrative bodies can at some point be taken over and run by a new administration is I think, a fallacy. All administration jobs were tainted by the Saddam regime, and the job holders are going to distance themselves from that. So there's no police force, and possibly no people to run the water, sewage, and electricity services. This lack of organization is probably now the greatest threat in Iraq. There's plenty of historic precedent; 10,000 die in the prosecution and resolution of a war, then 100,000 civilians die of starvation, dysentry, and typhus in the aftermath.

I was listening just now to one of the Iraqis in exile leaders questioning why the lead elements of the proposed civilian administration were still sitting in Kuwait, when there was so much chaos in Iraq. The commentators to a man replied that they would be waiting for the security situation to stabilize. But I agree with the Iraqi exile leader. This is a desperate situation for ordinary Iraqis, and it's appropriate that some risks be taken. If the assembled team is composed of people who have a high level of risk aversion, it's the wrong team!

Having said that, I do realize that risk aversion is rife in the US. It still amazes me after 12 years here that people leave you with the words "Have a safe day". This seems to me to stand life on its head. If I want to be wished anything, it is a happy day. I will take whatever level of risk I think is appropriate in conducting my life - that's nobody elses business.

Forgot to feed the meter?

Forgot to feed the meter?

The thoughtproof curtain

The thoughtproof curtain

8/4/2003 - Pretty Good Intelligence?

Media fee, media fi, media fo, media fum;
they smell the blood of Saddam and Son.
Is he alive, or is he dead,
they'll labor the point
to make their bread.

It was pretty good intelligence the last time also. If I were Saddam Hussein, I'd have been doing business by secure e-mail from Syria for some time now. He probably didn't rate that restaurant anyway. You had to go four floors down and along all those tunnels to take a crap.

I suppose we'll find out in due course who they buried under tons of rubble yesterday. However, the information minister (cloud cuckoo?) does seem to have been conspicuous by his absence so far today, or maybe I just missed him.

8/4/2003 - Faraday Shower

Has it ever occurred to you that you never remember what you were thinking about while you were in the shower? Perhaps showers are like a Faraday Cage. The principle described by the Faraday Cage is that as long as you are surrounded by a sheet or mesh or grid of conducting material, any arbitrarily high voltage can be applied to the outside of the cage, and it won't have any effect on something or somebody inside. Perhaps a shower cubicle has the property that any thoughts you have in there never make it to the outside world.

This struck me when I was thinking about what to write about next, after I'd just taken a shower, and tried to remember what I'd been thinking about there. I suspect it's something to do with the hypnotic effect of the spraying hot water. I tried it with cold, and then the cage effect didn't work. I distinctly remember thinking "shit that was bloody cold!" In a nutshell, it's a light news day.

   A nameless chicken pasta
  • 1/2 lb pound penne,
  • 1 lb or more baby carrots,
  • Half a yellow onion,
  • One zucchini (courgette),
  • 1/2 pint milk, and some left over cream or half and half,
  • Half a dessert spoon of corn starch (corn flour),
  • 2oz grated parmesan,
  • 10 tsp ricotta cheese,
  • Crushed garlic - four or five cloves,
  • A little chopped basil.

PS: I always eat these things before I think of taking a picture, and this case was a particular shame.

7/4/2003 - A Chicken Pasta

It's probably close to Alfredo, but both Terry and I really liked it, so I thought I would write it down.

You probably won't need to peel the carrots. If they came peeled, that's fine, otherwise just wash then, cover with water, add a little salt and bring to the boil. Heat some water for the pasta to the boil.
Finely chop the onion and start frying it in olive oil. Add the pasta to the boiling water about now. Slice the chicken across its length, not more than 1/4 inch thick, add it to the onion, and fry gently. Keep turning the chicken and onion over. Slice the courgette into rounds about a quarter of an inch thick, and add them to the fry, stirring them in.

Blend the corn starch with a little cold water. Bring the milk to a boil in small/medium saucepan. As soon as it boils, add the garlic and the corn starch, and stir until it comes to the boil again. At that point add the cream, and continue heating until it just boils again, then remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the parmesan over the chicken and onions, then pour the sauce over it, and stir it in. Add the ricotta in teaspoon sized blobs, then stir gently again, season to taste, sprinkle in the chopped basil, and turn the heat down low.

The carrots and pasta should now be ready. Drain them, and arrange them on hot plates, half the plate covered with pasta, and half with carrots. Ladle a stripe of the chicken and sauce along the junction. Looks pretty, tastes great. I'll think of a name for it.

Snow again!

Snow again.


Publicity - Label & Card Software.

7/4/2003 - Back to Winter

Well, it's certainly not a beautiful looking day today; another winter storm hits New York.

It was just starting as I set out to visit the ENT surgeon this morning. I've had bad sinuses for years, and every so often I have to go and get my head cleared out. It's been about seven years I think this time, and in addition, I've been putting it off until Terry had finished with her surgery. But now it really must be done. My nose is almost totally blocked, and it runs at random intervals and at the most embarrassing times. It makes life a misery.

The man says he can do me two weeks on Thursday, or possibly on the Monday if there's a spare operating theatre slot. Apparently techniques have improved some since last time I got done. The main problem with these operations is that they are conducted inside your skull, in a confined space, close to your eyes and your optic nerves - a scary thought. As a result, in the past, surgeons often did not remove as much rubbish as they might have because they could not be sure how close they were to vital bits. The new technique is based on a CT scan, and uses computer modelling of the cavities inside your head. The CT scan is done with a rigid plastic mask fastened to your face. This mask contains metal markers to give three dimensional reference points. Then when you have the operation, you wear the mask again (I presume in some fixed position), and a transducer on the cutting tool inside your head sends signals to a computer. The computer displays the position of the cutting tool relative to the mask, on the CT scan picture. Clever, I thought, still scary, but it sounds a lot better than groping blindly in a pool of blood and snot.

So I don't have very long to wait, and as a plus, the week before the operation I get to take an overdose of oral steroids to clear the inflamation up some before the operation is performed. These always have a spectacular effect on sinus conditions. They also make you feel pretty horny!

I haven't mentioned it before because I haven't had much time to do anything about it. But I will now. Some years ago I wrote a Windows application called "Publicity", which you can use for making labels, business cards, flyers, etc. I think it's still the most versatile and powerful program available for this particular niche. I'm going to dust it off and give it a face lift and an improved on-line manual. Not that there's much wrong with it. It seems to work fine with XP and Windows 2000. I really just need to clean up the registration and install to make it a no-brainer.

Feel free to try it. It won't crash your computer. Many thousands of people have downloaded it, and it's been trouble-free for a long time now. It's free for personal use, but I expect businesses to purchase a licence (see my ad box).

On the war topic, there's a Rudyard Kipling style account of the British advance into Basra in the Scotsman. It's quite a read!

Looking across the east river - click for full size

Looking across the east river.

The location

The location on the map.

6/4/2003 - Frigid Spring

It's a beautiful looking day today, but when you actually go out it's damn cold, with a fierce wind chill. Nontheless, when the camera battery is recharged I want to use the excellent light to take a picture of the East River. It's easy to forget if you don't walk over that way occasionally that we actually live here in a maritime city, just a few feet above sea level. The view is looking from the FDR Drive at 96th Street toward Wards Island and the Triborough Bridge.

We are to have a visitation later. Larry (Terry's youngest brother) and Annie (Larry's significant other), and Stephanie (Terry's youngest sister) and her husband Dwayne are supposed to be coming for dinner. Of course, we only have three dining chairs, but this has never put Terry off. A side agenda, since Dwayne has a pickup truck, is to go and get the bed from 29th Street as a replacement for the king-size we have here now. Terry is going to sell that, but where it's going in the meantime isn't clear to me.

Terry is cooking a seafood quiche that contains no eggs. I (and Larry, who's a chef) maintain that this is a contradiction in terms, and that what she's making is in fact a cheese and seafood pie. How many angels can dance on a pinhead I wonder.

Returning for a moment to current affairs, for US readers who haven't found the URLs, the British news sources you might want to look at are: These tend to be a little quicker in reporting events that CNN and MSNBC, and they'll give you a different slant. John Keegan, of the English newspaper the Daily Telegraph asked an interesting question on Friday. Where are all the Iraqi soldiers? Before the war there were reckoned to be about 500,000 of them, so if we've captured 10,000, and killed as many (which is more than we've heard of), there are 480,000 unaccounted for. The article is an interesting read. Another article gives you a hint of how the UK troops are going to relate their experiences of fighting as allies of the US to their children. Soldiers of my father's generation who fought in WW2 had a similar impression.

For the others

For the others who died.

For the others.

It's working.

6/4/2003 - Emphasis

Just so I'm not entirely out of line with the media view of the war, let me just say, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, Jessica Lynch, and Jessica Lynch. Also let's just note in passing that a number of her comrades were killed, so they won't be famous, but that's pretty boring isn't it? I'm sure you don't want to hear any more about them!

I have another rant - I must be that way out today. First I should compliment the bar owners of New York on their enforcement of the smoking ban. It seems to be quite broadly observed. However, it now focuses attention on another problem. The smokers stand outside the bar to satisfy their addiction, and when they've had enough of a fix, which is usually much less than a complete cigarette, they toss the dog end onto the sidewalk. Smokers regard their rejected debris as being in some way different from regular trash, and don't think that it requires disposal. As a consequence, the sidewalks outside many bars are now in a disgusting state. Dog ends are litter, just the same as any other litter, and the city has laws against littering too. In most developed countries, these are quite strictly enforced. Mr Mayor, can we please have some attention paid to this also?

A trip into town

A trip into town.

Terry's dressing

Terry's dressing - still draining.

5/4/2003 - And Beyond

This is quite bizarre. An armored column can take a drive through parts of the city, apparently without any significant resistance. One feels this can't last, unless the Iraqis have simply abandoned the capital and pulled their troops north to defend Saddam Hussein's home region. It's certainly quiet at the moment, the media seem to have abolutely nothing in the way of news, and are just filling time.

I was amused this morning, when W's weekly radio broadcast was on the TV. CNN pointed out that the broadcast had been taped. Was this the real W, or could this message have been taped before the war? Sounded a bit too intellectual to me! Should we be speculating that the Iraqis have succeeded in rubbing him out.

Terry continues to improve, the wound appears to be healing well (I'm trying to persuade her to let me take a picture). She is having some nuisance problems with the hole in her leg that originally contained the drainage tube. This is still draining, and probably will for a while. The problem with this is that it soaks the dressing over the wound, and loosens the Steri-Strips that are holding the wound together. One of my tasks for the day is to find some more of them.

I'm adjusting to the life of leisure, though terrified of spending money, since it's not particularly clear where the next buck is coming from. On the other hand, Terry doesn't seem to have a problem with it (spending money, that is), so we should be OK. Today I have to pay the electricity bill for 29th Street, and I must go up to Harlem to pay for the monthly car parking. Now I don't potentially need the car for R2K business, I'll probably get rid of it at the end of the month when I've got the stuff out of the other apartment. A car is more of a liability than an asset in the city. Also I want to get a cheap inkjet printer so we can make business cards at home, and generally look after other business type activities.

Baghdad International

Baghdad International.

4/4/2003 - At the Gate

So, there are now substantial coalition forces in the immediate vicinity of Baghdad. Now we get to the dificult bit. How do you dislodge thousands of fanatics who are prepared to fight to the death, from a city of 5 million inhabitants, without destroying the city and the inhabitants in the process. I don't think it's a trick that has been done in military history. It seems to me that the job has to be done by those elements of the Baghdad population who have reason to hate Saddam Hussein. The problem then becomes simpler (I didn't say easy). How do you organize, arm, and supply such internal forces. First, of course you have to find willing participants. Radio has to be the key, since the power is off, and therefore most TV sets. So the important thing would seem to be to silence Iraqi regime radio sources, and to dominate the air waves over the capital.

I hope we have some suitably agile and devious minds in the command structure of this operation, because it's brain power that's going to get this done, not firepower.

The apartment at 95th Street

The apartment at 95th Street.

Fish and chips

Fish and chips.

3/4/2003 - A Dilemma

In a way I was glad to be laid off. I think this will kick me in the arse to find something to do that's more in tune with my current mood and aspirations. However there's a problem. Whatever I'm to work on, for the moment is going to be at home, and home is now the apartment at 95th Street. I still have the apartment at 29th Street, and it's paid for until the end of April, but I need to run it down and get my stuff out of there. At least for the next couple of months, until she's fully mobile again, this means I share the space with Terry, and it seems that this means I have to live with background noise consisting of Soap Opera audio, and a smoke contaminated environment. The smoke's bad because it further irritates my nose, which is really bad as it is, but the soap-opera audio is a killer. As you can see, it isn't a big apartment, so there's no escape.

To me it's like having strangers in the apartment, who are constantly arguing and bickering. Worse still, most of the women have these whiny simpering voices that get right up your nose, and the men are all arseholes who you wouldn't put up with for ten seconds if you met them. The first 30 minutes or so is OK, but after that it really starts to get on my nerves, and I just want to leave.

I don't know what to do about this. Terry regards it as an inalienable right to watch this shit. I could spend my time at 29th Street until the end of the month, like I was going to work. But that's not a long term solution. Also there's no guarantee that Terry will be able to go back to the work she was doing before the tumor raised its ugly head, so I don't know how long-term a solution needs to be. We're going to take the bed from 29th Street and put it in the bedroom here because it will take up less space than the king size Terry has now. So I could set up my desk in there, but it's a tiny room and my guess is it would be rather claustrophobic with the door closed. Even then you can still here the whining voices through the wall. In any case we need the extra space for somewhere to keep my clothes.

On an unrelated topic, my friend Eric Marks said something on Monday which I'll note. He had remarked that there was an inclination to redefine French Fries as Freedom Fries, and proposed that since fries already have a perfectly good English name, and since the British are at least a steady ally in the present war, we should simply adopt the English word, and call them Chips. This has my complete support!

Tank firing across the Euphrates

Tank firing across the Euphrates.

2/4/2003 - Pause Over

The Marines on the right flank have now apparently caught up enough, and the supply position has improved, so this morning we awoke to find the forward units attacking.

There are claims that a Republican Guard division was destroyed, but there are more reports of advance without significant resistance. I hope that doesn't mean the RG units weren't successfully pinned down, and that they have just melted away back into Baghdad where they can dispute every street. We'll see!



Circling choppers

Circling choppers.

1/4/2003 - Happy Birthday Rachel

It's my eldest daughters birthday today. Many happy returns!

Yesterday I was downsized by the company I worked for, so if anybody in New York needs a decent software engineer who'll take on anything, or if anybody wants their web page fixing up, or their broken computer system mended, please drop me a line, I'm your man!

Other than that, for the moment I'm a gentleman of leisure. You may notice that I've already been busy, I've switched to April, and have (I hope) improved the text quality in the NY panorama picture that heads the page.

I've little to say about the war. I think the obvious pause is a good idea, though I don't for a moment believe it was part of a plan. In a way it gives the coalition an advantage. The enemy have to sit and sweat it out, under constant bombing, since apart from distractions like suicide attacks, they daren't do anything to risk their main force. At the same time, the fresh troops being brought in get chance to improve the supply line situation, which is clearly not good. Young men on that sort of duty need to be decently fed! I'd be quite happy to see this stage continue for some time, as long as they can stay away from the civilian areas in Baghdad. This way the Republican Guard get hammered where they are, whereas If we attack them, they'll just fall back into the city and suck us into house-to-house fighting. Of course, if we do succeed in staying away from the civilian areas, the Iraqi regime will find it necessary to attack them itself to get the headlines.

   Rustic Minestroni Soup
  • 6 ounces streaky bacon,
  • Medium size cauliflower,
  • Medium size onion, yellow or spanish, according to your taste,
  • Large can cooked cannelini beans,
  • 1/4 pound spaghetti,
  • 2 - 3 medium sized tomatoes,
  • 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese, or more if you like,
  • Crushed garlic - as much as you like,
  • Chicken stock cube.

1/4/2003 - More Cold-Weather Food

Since the weather remains cold, I've been encouraged by Terry to describe another complete-meal soup. I'm sure it originated from some genuinely Italian recipe, but it is as I've come to make it over time.

First a word about bacon. There's seems to be some kind of conspiracy regarding bacon in the US; some of it has mysteriously disapeared! In European shops that sell bacon, you are generally offered at least three choices of cut. There's back bacon, which is the best, and has a lot of lean. You can sometimes get it in US supermarkets, where it's described as Irish bacon. Then there's centre-cut bacon, which is about half and half meat and fat. Just yesterday I found some in our local supermarket, but it's the first time I've seen it. Then there's streaky bacon, which is mostly fat, and is what's generally known as bacon in the US. Yanks, stand up for your rights! Ask your provider what happened to the rest of the bacon. Perhaps the Canadians or the Mexicans get it, to your disadvantage. For this recipe you can use the cheap streaky bacon.

Chop the bacon accross its length into about half inch strips, and chop the onion medium fine. Fry the bacon a little first to release some fat, then fry both over a medium heat until the bacon starts to be crispy, and the onions brown.

Break up the cauliflower into bite sized pieces, and roughly chop the tomatoes. Break the spaghetti into lengths about an inch and a half long. Depending how solid you like your soup, you can use more or less spaghetti. Boil the cauli and spaghetti for about 12 minutes, by which time both should be cooked. Then add the beans, tomato, stock cube, and the fried bacon and onions, fat and all, and of course as much crushed garlic as you like. Bring back to the boil, and cook for another five minutes, Finally season to taste, and stir in the parmesan. Once again, serve with good crusty bread.
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