Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bring me Fungus

Not long ago, in a blog not very far away, a wise man they call JW10 posted of Horse:

He told tales of burgers and ready meals invaded by horsemeat – invaded so cunningly that no-one could tell! 

Well, since JW10 unleashed this scandal, 60% of us have changed how we shop!  We don’t trust food any more - we're fleeing Processed Meat in terrified droves and some hitherto eaters of flesh are even going for vegetarian options!   The end of the world is surely nigh… 

Except, of course, for Vegetarian ready meal brands, sales of whose burgers, mince and sausages have suddenly soared.  Flavoured with hints of chicken, beef and not horse, they’re made from a form of fungus, you know.

A form of fungus.  What's so trustworthy about that?

George and I don’t eat huge amounts of processed food because we like cooking.   Mid house-move though, we lived entirely on ready meals and jolly nice too in their tempting plastic trays.

The first ready meal I remember was MadeByVesta – a veritable revolution in the sixties. At the time I’d never cooked anything except Chocolate Krackolate Cakes for school fetes (always a best-seller), but was inspired to make one of these miracle ready-curries for family tea.   Add boiling water, it said, give a quick stir and leave to festerno need to stand guard or stir again.   I'm sure that's what it said...

Mum and dad’s pan never recovered, and I gave up cooking.

Until, in bedsit-hovel days, I found Cup-Noodle and Pot-a-Soup. Nice and quick between work and gallivanting. Pour in boiling water and they’re… really edible. I became addicted -  sometimes adding, for an avant-garde twist, a tin of processed peas – sublime!

Even today, many find joy in pot and cup – only this week we met someone who’d tried his first Noodle ever, and found it Was Good.   Someone else we know delights daily in the taste and convenience of soups in a cup.   (A busy local TV celebrity who generally cooks cordon bleu). 

My own habits changed and I discovered (for gourmet gatherings) Boil-in-the-Bag.   That first Chinese Feast was a Triumph!  Except for the prawn balls, which turned out to be Not-boilinthebag and ended up bobbling around in the pan with strips of their molten plastic...  However, thirty seconds under the grill Worked Wonders.  

These days, cooking is always a joy, and I owe a goodly part of my expertise and quick thinking in the face of trauma to the eyebrows of Fanny Cradock:

Inspirational.  And it is She who's (Wikily) credited as the originator of the Prawn Cocktail! 

But what now of the horses?

Well obviously - it's all been a huge emotional upset...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is Cyber-Loafing for You?

Are you sitting comfortably? And is your comfort conducive to making a good job of whatever it is you’re doing at the moment?

It has recently been revealed that the founder of Facebook likes to keep the office temperature down at 15C/60F in order to encourage productivity. This is a whole degree below the office legal minimum - apparently intended to keep us jiggling about in our seats, brains palpitating in sync and pouring forth ideas and Stuff of brilliance.   Instead of enjoying ourselves.

For researchers at Kansas State University have shown that 60-80% of internet time in the office is spent Cyber-Loafing

If I knew what it was I’d have a go – it must be a Lot of Fun...  but is it fair? 

Lucy Kellaway of the FT refers to such dilly-dallying as Theft of our employers’ time. Well I feel bad about that already, but it was suggested that some kind of public shaming was needed - stocks were mentioned (would there be enough room in the car park for them all?). 

Or simple discomfort might suffice - Ms Kelloway tried standing up all day at work and didn’t Twitter once…

When I last worked in an office, mere email was a thrilling new world (‘oh god – where the hell’s that one gone?’). Surrounded by the webly temptations of today, it might be difficult to Just Say No

I mean, having a free moment before Rummikub club, I’ve just checked today's HuffPost, some favourite Twitterings, then I've googled - the musical group of the son of someone I met at the bus stop; a youtube vid on how to streak your hair with a hat full of holes and a crochet hook; and routes from France to UK for imminent visitors. 

And every google offered multitudinous sites, all of which led to countless other fascinating sites, and eventually answered every question in the universe.

Apparently in the harmonious period BeforeCyberloaf, people were sometimes encouraged in the workplace to put their All into actual Work by inducements of luscious fruit or zumba classes or the like - merry distractions to bring a beam to your face and to gird your loins for plunging back into the fray.   

Meetings BC (it is written) were more likely to carry on ad infinitum because everyone would get comfily ensconced round the table as they were plied with tea and coffee. 

Well  NO MORE!

SinceCyberloaf   it takes more than a chocolate bourbon to wrench us away from our personal diversions - it takes punishment!

At 15C (and chairless), people in meetings will no doubt be battling to get their word in and jog briskly off, woolly hats askew.

Coated at our desks, we'll try anything to keep warm...
...though I think that's going a bit far and just LOOK at those trainers! 
Anyway, Is Cyber-Loafing for you?
Yes! Oh yes! - it's a Drug, it's an Obsession, it's a Joy!
And it's in the back bedroom with the rest of our office space.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Space rather Oddity

Dear Mr Tito
I would like to apply for the position of Space Tourism Pioneer advertised this week in space journals (and other less worthy papers), and enclose my CV.

To begin with, I’d like to point out that I have kept a picture of you in my treasure box ever since you became the world’s first space tourist in 2001.   Such is my passion...

When I saw that you now want to inspire a new generation of space investigators, I was so excited!   I mean, the capsule’s really-really dinky for a start...

I’ve studied all the coverage in depth, and can only suggest I’d be perfect for the job:  flexible, adaptable, able to fit in small spaces, can bring my own never-failing sea-sick pills...

A quick scan of my CV will show that I have much more to offer:

I am half a "happily married middle-aged couple" (will there be a test of any sort on that...?).

George is quite handy around the home when any temperamental bits of machinery pack up.

We quite like staying in watching dvds (films like Alien have not put us off, and Apollo 13 taught us exactly what to do in an emergency).

Somewhere we read with a teensy bit of concern that the trip would involve "minimal clothing, food and water" - what does that mean?  

Will there be minimal tubes of stuff that expand when you swallow them into Bangers and Mash or Pork Curry or something, with water incorporated?  - Let us know if you need a list of preferences...  

And those  minimal space suits look jolly comfy! - we could easily spray each other from time to time with Freshasabreeze.   (I often use it on his socks anyway…)

In fact, I don't suppose it'll be much different to that week’s camping in the Yorkshire Dales we had at easter, and that was fabulous fun!  

The only thing I didn’t like was the trek across the field to the loo-block at two in the morning, and Obviously I won’t have to go outside our capsule!!   (actually I must ask about that procedure…).   And can I just check - will there be anywhere to plug in my hairdrier?

So sixteen months of "no-escape togetherness" may seem scary to some people, but George and I are never at a loss when it comes to occupying ourselves – for those down in the dumps moments, a good old sing-song never fails to raise the spirits, does it.   Would there be room for George's accordeon?

We can't wait to boldly go and experience the thrill of looking out of the window to  "see the Earth getting smaller and smaller".   And sixteen months without gas bills or hedge-pruning can't be bad, can it!

In conclusion, Mr Tito (Dennis!), I'd be available for interview any time except Thursday mornings.  (Although I could miss my  knitting-a-sock for pleasure and profit  if necessary).  

I - I mean, We, fearless, intrepid voyagers - look forward to hearing from you.  (Have enclosed SAE for your convenience).

If we find a Martian, can we keep him?