Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Just got this via email and thought it was quite good so I'm posting it in it's entirety. I actually mis-read the title as "Life in the 1950's" and had got through a fair way before realising... ;-)


The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water
temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to
be. Here are some facts about the 1500's:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting
to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the
house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons
and men, then the women and finally the children Last of all the babies.
By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.
Hence the saying, " Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the
cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it
rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and off
the roof.

Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This
posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could
mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet
hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came
into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would
get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on
floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added
more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping
outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the
saying a "thresh hold".

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that
always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things
to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They
would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in
it that had been there for quite a while.

Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge
in the pot nine days old".

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It
was a sign of wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon ". They
would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and
"chew the fat".

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid
content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead
poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the
next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of
the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking
along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.
They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the
family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they
would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a " wake".

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of
places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the
bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they
would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the
"graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved
by the bell" or was considered a " dead ringer".

And that's the truth... Now, whoever said that History was boring.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I've stolen this from Stephen to use as my blog image, however cannot for the life of me work out how to link it to my profile directly from bloggerbot/picassa, so am posting it here first...

Friday, August 26, 2005

I really love this cartoon... not sure where I found it but I guess the web address is the owner of the work.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fine Dining

So, I went to the White House for dinner last night... as my little brother works in the kitchen there, the wait-staff took extra special care of us.

Food was great - I had Waikanae Crab Ravioli as a starter followed by Venison on an 'orgy' of mushrooms with a truffle jus. Is this the first time a main has hit $40 in Wellington I wonder?

My companion went for the day's entree special of Scallops on a citrus mash with a beurre blanc, followed by a beef fillet.

Washed down with a Mt Difficulty ("Mt Doom?") Pinot.

All in all, a magic culinary experience.

We got to talking on the way there about the fine dining restaurants that we have known in Wellington during our time, and lamented the passing of Brasserie Flipp and Petit Lyon. Both were world class in this tiny town.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Another winner from Google

Google Desktop Search Beta 2 is out and it's fantastic. Trust me, just get it.

Tons of new features, including a toolbar search directly inside Outlook - so it's just made Lookout obsolete (as GDS appears faster than Lookout).

Those crazy kids, what will they come up with next?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Is your boss a psychopath?

Find out by filling in this questionnaire:

And if you ever wanted Google in a 'Swedish Chef' interface:

[I know there's no relation whatsoever between these two links. That's how the interweb works...]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Audiophilia is not a crime.

I bought some new kit while I was in Christchurch. A Perreaux pre-power combo (SX1 & PMF1050) that will celebrate its 20th birthday in October.

Today I've been having a good listen, and I must say I'm very happy with the purchase (even though I *thought* I was happy with my previous amp, a NAD integrated. That will move to the boudoir with my old Wharfedale sub/sat system.)

I've been going through various albums and it's like I'm listening to them for the first time. Bob Dylan's "Oh Mercy" & Ben Harper's "Welcome to the Cruel World" really showed them off. It's the bottom end that is really impressive, even at low volume. That and the imagery.

Of course, now I need a better CD player ;-)

I figure if I can find a NZ-made CD player and turntable, then I'll have a completely NZ setup (as I run Monitor Acoustic speakers - now going by the 'Image' name).

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Garden City

So, I've been stuck in Christchurch all week with work.

Went out for a wee sift last night, and found a rather stylish lounge bar called "Rootes".

It's below another bar/restaurant called "Minx" - - the naming apparently comes from the Hillman Minx, which was made by an outfit called "Rootes". (Here was me thinking that it was some sort of Afrikaan's name...)

These seats were very cool (you were encouraged to sit on them, as as first glance they just looked like light sculptures...). Reminded me of the sort of thing that Mathmos does in the U.K.

And the lighting on the wall changed colour occasionally, not a sound-to-light change but just a randomly timed thing. Very cool, well, very cool in my eyes.

They had a great cocktail list too... I wasn't drinking as I wanted to be super-fresh today, but I could appreciate it just from the page. So, if you're in Christchurch, head to Lichfield St, go downstairs, and see Ritchie behind the bar. He does the best Lemon/Lime/Bitters I've ever seen - he flames the bitters first in a brandy balloon!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I Dream of Microwaves

... is the title of a book I've just finished, and feel that I should rave about to you, dear reader.

It's the first book from Imad Rahman, a Pakistani-American, and features a protagonist who then appears in multiple short stories. I liked the fact that characters you were introduced to in one story would then appear again subsequently in a completely different plot.

I think what warmed to me to the lead is that he is an erstwhile actor (something I can identify with from a previous life) and he drinks too much (er...).

The opening line from the first story:

"I was trying to get my mind off drinking by pouring hot coffee on my arm when I got a letter out of the blue from an old girl-friend, Eileen."

[This bode well for the rest of the book, the same way I felt sure about 'Sideways' (the novel) when I saw the quotation from Withnail ("We've gone on holiday by mistake") following the dedication.]

Another favourite line (delivered to a hospital operator during a bout of chest pain):

"I'm being attached by my heart."

Recommended especially to anyone who has spent time cracking the boards, either amateur or pro...

Monday, August 15, 2005


I've never seen anything like The Vegan Vixens before.

But you can rest assured they won't be invited to BBQ chez The Sifter.

They bought their tickets...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sherry? Sherry. Sherry? Sherry. Sherry.

OK, So I lost the Bloody Mary battle with Stephen when he pulled the sherry trump card. And that did lead me to seek out a bottle of the stuff yesterday, which Guy used to good effect to mix some damned strong B.M.'s.

Preceeded and followed by a Brazilian beer (hey, what the hell, I'd never tried them before and they're in a good-looking bottle. Girl at The Mill said they're similar to a Corona, and they are to a certain extent, I drank them with a lemon wedge.)

And then as we watched Monty attempt to seduce Marwood, it seemed only fitting to take a small glass of Sherry straight-up. Bit dry, but would have gone with oysters rather nicely.

Then made a couple of 51's, and watched The Ladies Man which is quite funny - and surprising that the public library hold it.

Then off for dinner at Boulot, took a gamble on the cabonara and was pleasantly surprised. For such a simple dish, so many places get it wrong. I remember one place in Ponsonby that served up something like a cream soup with pasta floating in it, and tried to call it a cabonara. Sheesh...

Then to the Brewery to witness the AB's beat the Wallabies. Followed by Havana Bar, where I had to endure a guy who looked (and acted) like the brother-in-law from The Castle. I swear he was talking about kick-boxing too.

All roads lead to Red Square...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Random photo of the day: A cool bar in Camps Bay, Capetown, South Africa. Loved the broken-mirror Absolut wall-art.
BTW, if you haven't all already, go and grab Picasa - a fantastic (free!) photo organising/sharing app owned by Google that you can post directly to your blog from.

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