segunda-feira, 28 de agosto de 2006

12 things about football ...

... that should cross over into life off the pitch
1. Boots with studs

Harder to walk in than heels, so destined for the catwalk surely.

2. Shorts

Not too long, not too short, not too baggy, not too tight, not Bermudas, not hot pants, not culottes, not pedal-pushers. Shorts.

3. Acrobatic celebrations

Got a pay rise? Do a hand stand

4. Away kit

If you are hosting an event you can make your guests change the colour of their clothes.

5. Substitutions

Dinner not going well? Bring in some reserve guests and send the bores for a shower.

6. Half-time

Everyone stop what you're doing, take a break, then change ends. Works everywhere from the boardroom to the bedroom.

7. Names on shirts

No more embarrassing 'I know we've met before but ...' moments.

8. Off side rule

Useful in domestic rows. For example: 'Your point might be a good one, but you were standing too far forwards when you made it, so it doesn't count.'

9. Shin pads

As a fashion accessory. And because banging your shins really hurts.

10. The magic injury spray

He's stretchered off the pitch clutching his leg and writhing in agony, a man in a tracksuit sprays something on him and the next minute he's running around like a five-year-old on Red Bull. Where do we get our hands on that spray?

11. Mass hugging

Congratulate your colleagues on their achievements by jumping on top of them.

12. Big socks

Because as a rule everybody should pull their socks up.

15 things no man wants to hear... from a woman

1 Any stories about ex-boyfriends, even ones told against the poor blokes. If your ex was a violent, brainless, tattooed ex-con, this will only make us feel boring and unmanly. And scared.

2 The phrase 'I'd say it's bang-on average, if not slightly bigger'. Best to steer clear of the size issue. Like us talking about your weight, it can only lead to misunderstanding and hurt.

3 Obsessive accounts of your diet and exercise regime. Men like skinny women, true. But they dislike being exposed to the borderline eating disorders and pathological obsessiveness that produce them. And curvy and sane always beats mad and thin. Eventually.

4 The accusing phrase, 'What's wrong with the blue dress, then?' after we have said we like the red one.

5 Any details of your day at work. Although men can find the most basic things endlessly fascinating - the number of buttons on their shirts, farting - they will suddenly develop ADD when it comes to your professional life. Unless you are a porn actress. No, actually, even then...

6 Any information about things you thought about buying. We are perfectly happy to admire actual purchases, but yearning for those phantom shoes/dress/bag exasperates us.

7 Stories about other men patronising you. This will give us an irresistible urge to ruffle your hair and say in a kids-TV voice, 'Awww, did dey? Did dey do dat to oo?' I know, sometimes we're asking for trouble.

8 The word 'Fine' as a stand-alone sentence. The scariest syllable in the female vocabulary.

9 The sound of weeping. It destroys us.

10 Any details of strife you may be having with your female friends. The endless round of hurt and rapprochement that constitutes girls' friendships mystifies us. If she's that much trouble just delete her from your bloody mobile.

11 The phrase, 'Hang on, I'll just reply to this text before we order'. We want first claim on your attention, woman.

12 The phrase, 'Can you turn over, you're snoring'. Great, that's both of us awake.

13 The words 'Am I special? Am I?' Especially if you are drawing a circle around our nipple with your finger at the time.

14 Anyone else's name, in your sleep.

15 Your dreams. Unless we're in them. And in a good light, too. If not, save 'em for the shrink.

segunda-feira, 21 de agosto de 2006

Hooray for the Bidet!!!

The first step was easy: sit down and use the toilet as normal. The technology only kicks in when you are perched on the seat; which, incidentally, is gently heated to the temperature of a half-bled radiator. And then I had a choice: press "bidet" or "wash". Not knowing which was which, I threw caution to the wind and experimented. The former was a more gentle affair, as a mellow jet of warm water shot up towards my bottom. The latter involved an extended, shower-like spray head and was rather more ... bracing.
at Saki, a Japanese restaurant in Smithfields, London, was such a revelation.

Though Saki claims to be the first commercial establishment in these islands to install the paperless toilets so beloved of the Japanese (70% of households in Tokyo have one), it is probably a while before they will take the whole nation by storm. But could the mere fact that such a whizzy loo has been pioneered anywhere public in the UK be indicative of a wider social change? While investment in public conveniences has generally plummeted over the past decade - there are an estimated 6,000 public toilets in Britain now, compared with double that 10 years ago, and some places, even big cities such as Birmingham, now have no free public loos - there are signs that a quiet revolution is under way among the nation's cisterns and urinals.

"It's just like when mobile phones came in," says Iyako Watanabe, the Japanese-born managing director of Saki, of her futuristic loos. "For a while there were lots of refuseniks, but once you get one, there's no going back." Colin Davies, MD of Ascot Hygiene Ltd, the only UK distributor of Saki's Dutch-manufactured £400 toilet seats, agrees. "Once you've tried them, you can't live without them," he says. "Whenever we visit friends who don't have one, I can't wait to get home. It's such a joy."


Read on, 'tis British, but very good :)

segunda-feira, 7 de agosto de 2006

More on curry vs. Alzheimer's

Some of you may recall earlier posts about the possible health benefits of curry, specifically curcumin, a polyphenol found in turmeric. There have been studies suggesting that curcumin may help fight cancer and a host of other ailments. The New Scientist and the Daily Mail have recently reported on a new study linking the antioxidants in turmeric to healthy cognitive function in a group of over 1,000 elderly Asians. The study, from researchers at the National University of Singapore, found that curcumin may lower the build up of amyloid plaque and inflammation associated with Alzheimer's. Researchers call the evidence tentative in the study's abstract, saying that further investigation is required.

quarta-feira, 2 de agosto de 2006

Mad about the soy

The soybean is native to China and has been cultivated there for more than 3,500 years. An astonishingly rich source of protein, it is fundamental to Chinese cookery and food culture, and has become one of the defining characteristics of the Chinese way of eating. Soy sauce is considered one of the seven household essentials (alongside salt, oil, vinegar, tea, rice and firewood), and it can be argued that bean curd, or tofu as it's often known in the West, has a place equivalent to dairy products in European food cultures.

No one is sure about the origins of bean curd. Legend says it was invented in the second century BC by Liu An, the king of Huainan; some argue that a stone relief excavated from a tomb of the same era depicts a bean-curd workshop. The earliest written reference to bean curd, however, is in a 10th-century text, and the Liu An legend only began a few hundred years ago, during the Ming dynasty. Some scholars have suggested that bean curd was first made by nomads who migrated south and hankered after their customary cheese; others that it was developed by a rural doctor who would have been familiar with soy milk and had gypsum in his medicine chest. All that is certain is that by the Song dynasty it had become a popular food.

'Flower' bean curd and firm white bean curd are just the most basic forms of this most versatile foodstuff. In the markets of Hunan, there are stalls piled high with a dozen different varieties. There are slices of golden smoked bean curd (la gan zi or xiang gan); treacly blocks of stewed aromatic bean curd of various kinds (lu dou fu or xiang gan); deep-fried bean curd puffs (you dou fu); 'hundred-leaves' sheets of leather-thin bean curd (bai ye); waffle-like 'dried orchids' that have been cut into trellis patterns and deep-fried (lan hua gan); and 'bound chickens' (kun ji), tightly tied rolls of thin bean curd that are used by Buddhists as a chicken substitute.

There is also fermented bean curd (dou fu ru), a chilli-laced relish that can be as sublimely rich and creamy as a high blue cheese. Fermented bean curd is eaten as a relish with rice congee or noodles for breakfast, or simply nibbled at the start of a meal, to whet the appetite - just a morsel on the tip of a chopstick is enough to send your taste buds wild with umami excitement. It is also used as an occasional seasoning in Hunanese cookery. Along with soy sauce, black fermented beans and winter-sacrifice beans, fermented bean curd brings to Chinese vegetarian food some of the rich and savoury tastes that one associates with meat and poultry.

Fire Rainbow

This is a fire rainbow - The rarest of all naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena.

The picture was captured on the Idaho/Washington border. The event lasted about 1 hour.
Clouds have to be cirrus, at least 6000 metres in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals and the sun has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees.