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friday favourites :: 29.07.11

ever have one of those weeks where it felt like the world was actually conspiring to stop you from making any kind of progress whatsoever? i seem to have had a lot of them lately, which leads me to believe that either the cosmos is storing up some tremendous, mind-blowing gift for me [any time now, people, any time], or that i was, as i've long suspected, a very nasty person in a former life.

but there are people having worse weeks than me. every time i need to be reminded of that, i turn on the news and behold the poor, struggling journalists trying to get straight answers out of american politicians. it's kind of remarkable to hear a "yes/ no" question answered using almost every word in the english language except yes or no. of course, if things don't improve, there are going to be a lot of people having very bad weeks in the near future and not the ones who probably deserve to.

still, there are good things in the world. sometimes you just have to look very carefully. or think about it. here are a few things that helped me shake off the funk, at least temporarily.


pushed to the left and loving it :: whenever people gripe about the lack of good journalistic work on the internet, i want you to point them towards this blog. this woman's research is incredible and her writing style is extremely readable. it's also a fascinating look into the mind of someone who has been surprised by the evolution of her own political ideas. she even says nice things about a member of my family, although i didn't realise that until i had subscribed to her blog for a while.

maps :: i don't know where exactly this started, but i find maps absolutely fascinating. perhaps it's because, when i'm on the ground, i tend to get sort of lost in the details, so i find the contrast of a bird's eye view strangely refreshing. or maybe it's because it helps me visualise a place i've been, which is useful both as a writer and as a person who values a good bout of escapism.

MORE FAVOURITES AND THE WEEKLY CAT PIC RIGHT AFTER THE BREAK...



i do love randomly playing around with google earth, certainly [although- and i realise how sad this sounds- i get vertigo if i try to "move" over water], but i also have a collection of old-fashioned paper maps of places where i've been. i have a rule about only going buying maps of cities i've visited [often while i'm there]. i've only broken that rule once and it didn't end well.

but mostly, my map hobby allows me to enjoy cities, not destroy them, even if it's from a distance.

arrested development :: i have dom to thank for introducing me to a lot of television, but this one really deserves a special mention. it's not just that it's a funny show with memorable characters and good dialogue, the magic is really in the levels of wordplay and the incredible way in which seemingly random elements in the stories are tied together- sometimes across months or even between seasons. a film has been in development since the series was canceled, but five years on, they've apparently just got a working script finished... hey guys, if you need help i'm right here!!! until things come together, we can just be relieved that dvds of the series are plentiful and cheap and repeated viewings just seem to bring out more and more elements you missed before.

a special lady :: my mom is celebrating a milestone birthday this week and, certainly, talking to her continues to be one of my favourite parts of any day.

i will say that, while i'm happy that the heat wave has passed, i am a little bummed that this has also meant the passing of the pool. well, that and the fact that we needed to take showers.

this week, my hope is that the united states will manage to figure out a solution to their debt ceiling problem, just so that i can hear about something else. i'm also hoping that the high-pressure wave that seems to have lingered over me for too long will finally see fit to move on. seriously, i think i deserve a break.

thanks for reading and feel free to share some of the things that perked you up in the last seven days.

this week's kitty is the lovely princess julia, captured during prime napping hours. and yes, that is a large stuffed oscar the grouch that she's cuddling. if you'd lived with her this week, you'd understand why that choice is so incredibly appropriate. since she and her brother seth just turned two, i'll either put it down to the "terrible twos" or to her being a typically moody teenaged girl, depending on what system you're using.

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making faces :: hot stuff, comin' through

i don't even know what to say about the weather. the end of september saw temperatures at a scalding 36c/ 97f outside. this is especially annoying because we've had a moderate summer. most days it rained a little in the morning, the temperatures didn't creep into the 30s too often and there wasn't the normal stretch of a few weeks when it felt like we were living on the sun. now, we've receded into more normal fall weather, although it's still on the warm side for mid-october. that climate change thing is a bitch.

trying to think of something positive in the situation, it does put me in a perfect frame of mind to write about urban decay's naked heat palette. it's the latest in what appears to be an endless series of warm neutral and red eyeshadow palettes that have followed in the footsteps of anastasia's modern renaissance. [which i ultimately decided i didn't need after doing a thorough search of my considerable stash.] i do think that it'…

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

the portuguese referendum

what the what? "there's no referendum in portugal" i hear you say. and you're correct. the portuguese socialist party won elections in 158 of the country's 308 municipalities, the country was named the best travel destination in europe at the world travel awards and the antichrist josé mourinho had a street named after him in his home town, but there was no national referendum in the country of portugal.

but there could have been.

back in the fifteenth century, spain was... nonexistent. the iberian peninsula was divided into several states, each of which considered themselves independent of all the others. you had portugal on the atlantic side. in the centre was the kingdom of castile [which had previously been castile and léon]. in the northeast you had the basque kingdom of navarre [home to one of the many branches of my family tree]. in the south-southwest, you had the muslim caliphate that had once held sway over much of the modern-day spanish territory, but…