Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Poem: Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,

The night above the dingle starry,

Time let me hail and climb

Golden in the heydays of his eyes,

And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns

And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves

Trail with daisies and barley

Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns

About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,

In the sun that is young once only,

Time let me play and be

Golden in the mercy of his means,

And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves

Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,

And the sabbath rang slowly

In the pebbles of the holy streams.


All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay

Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air

And playing, lovely and watery

And fire green as grass.

And nightly under the simple stars

As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,

All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars

Flying with the ricks, and the horses

Flashing into the dark.


And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white

With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all

Shining, it was Adam and maiden,

The sky gathered again

And the sun grew round that very day.

So it must have been after the birth of the simple light

In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm

Out of the whinnying green stable

On to the fields of praise.


And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house

Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,

In the sun born over and over,

I ran my heedless ways,

My wishes raced through the house high hay

And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows

In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs

Before the children green and golden

Follow him out of grace.


Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me

Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,

In the moon that is always rising,

Nor that riding to sleep

I should hear him fly with the high fields

And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,

Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea.


By Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Poem: Autumn

They brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia,
Opulent, flaunting.
Round gold
Flung out of a pale green stalk.
Round, ripe gold
Of maturity,
Meticulously frilled and flaming,
A fire-ball
of proclamation:
Fecundity decked in staring yellow
For all the world to see.
They brought a quilled, yellow dahlia,
To me who am barren
Shall I send it to you,
You who have taken with you
All I once possessed?

By Amy Lowell

Mental Notes: Blood brain shooters

For all of you who want something different for Halloween -- Brains!

Bloody brain shooter

Channel your inner mad scientist with this Bloody Brain Shooter. Mixing acidic lime juice and Irish cream causes the cream to curdle, creating brain-like strands in the shot.


1 1/4 oz. strawberry vodka such as Stoli
1/8 oz. Rose’s lime juice
3/4 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Splash of grenadine


Chill vodka for better smoothness. Add vodka and lime juice to a shaker, shake and strain into a shot glass. Using a straw, dip some Bailey’s Irish Cream into the shot. Once you submerge the straw into the Bailey’s put your finger on top of the straw to hold the Bailey’s in the straw. Dip the straw tip into the vodka and slowly release your top finger. The Bailey’s will curdle a little bit due to the lime juice and you should be able to make strands of Bailey’s.

Repeat the straw/Bailey’s process to build a “brain” in the shot glass. Add a splash of grenadine to the concoction to add the ‘blood’ to the mix. Down the hatch as a shot.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Coffee Break: Californication

Here's one of my favorite narrations from "Californication". While some folks would dismiss this show as just smut, I find that it has more heart in it than most others on television today.
(Supposedly written by David Duchovny's character Hank Moody for a blog he was "reduced" to writing.)

"Good Morning L.A.

In the land of the lotus eaters, time plays tricks on you. One day you are dreaming, the next your dream has become your reality.

It was the best of times, if only someone had told me.

Mistakes were made, hearts were broken, harsh lessons learned. My family goes on without me while I drown in a sea of pointless pussy.

I don’t know how I got here, but here I am -- rotting away in the California sun.

There are things I need to figure out -- for her sake at least.

The clock is ticking, the gap is widening. She won’t always love me, not matter what."

Mental Notes: Revenge of the Bitch

I couldn't help myself with this one.

While browsing through, I came across a couple of interesting articles about 7 secrets only two people in the world know about for some reason and found an excerpt listing Carly Simon's "You're So Vain".

Named one of the ultimate revenge songs, I initially thought this was written for Warren Beatty.

Turns out Carly Simon never admitted who she wrote the song for. The song could have been anyone including James Taylor, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson and Warren Beatty.

Well whoever the guy is, he had to test the woman "hell hath no" saying and is now somewhat immortalized in a song now considered to be one of the best songs of all time.

Only one other person on earth knows who that song is about, but as the author of the article said so nicely:

"All we know for sure is 1) Simon is never going to tell us who it's about and 2) we're real assholes if we think it's about us. Which it totally is. Bitch."

Cracked also made a list of the 10 Most Bitter Female Rock Songs. Let me share with you three of my favorites here -- not because I'm angry now, but hell -- I could be later.

While I hope I never get this angry again, I also lovingly dedicate this to a couple of cheating ex-boyfriends.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cocktail Links: Mixed lists

Cocktail Links: Psychology

Cocktail links: Are you scared yet?

For ye folks who love Halloween, here are a mix of links to prep you up for the most God-forsaken holiday there is. Of course, not everything here is scary. I just thought I'd throw it in anyway.
For those with a nerves of steel only (Don't say I didn't warn you)

Mental Notes: Musical Rules Of Thumb

Can't really say if all these are true, but it's interesting nonetheless.

1. If you like a new song when you first get it, you'll tire of it in four weeks; if you hate it at first, you'll like it in about six months; if you feel indifferent about it, you'll always feel that way.
2. The first string that breaks on a guitar is usually the high E (1st string); next likely to break are the D and G strings (3rd and 4th).
3. Music played on a high-quality musical instrument sounds better no matter who's playing.
4. You will not tire of your music collection if you have 200 cds or more.
5. You'll like an album if you like at least one-fourth of the songs on it.
6. If you're playing improvised music and flub a note or phrase in a scale, repeat the mistake and there is none.

Coffee Break: Perversion of proverbs

This weekend, co-vocabularists are invited to pervert proverbs by submitting “preverbs” – two traditional sayings bisected and misarranged.

Illustration is the best explanation:

A rolling stone leads to Rome.
All roads gather no moss.

God helps those who flock together.
Birds of a feather help themselves.

Better safe than never.
Better late than sorry.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Poem: Burren Falcon

Roused, she unpleats her feathers in the wind,
shakes her head, takes a quick shit, unloading
before flight. The sky pours hunting inks of colour:
pupils enlarge, fill the eye’s pool. Mountain,
dolmen, ferns, hem the low outcrops where
ascent begins again. She escapes the falconer’s arm,
outward though not half far enough,
her senses mewl for mice, chicks, newborn lambs
with sweet eyes and succulent hearts. Erect
with desire, her feathers flatten, she is scattershot
in the sky’s skin, blood-charged as she lunges
where limestone encloses the mountain’s
lungs. She tears on to a little death, beak
like a hooked needle, finally threading flesh.

by Mary O'Donnell

from The Ark Builders
Publisher: Arc Publications, Todmorden, 2009

Coffee Break: Banshee

Nightcap video: Airport Musical

Is that too much to ask?

Writer's Block: The Journalist's Code of Ethics

I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.

I shall not violate confidential information on material given me in the exercise of my calling.

I shall resort only to fair and honest methods in my effort to obtain news, photographs and/or documents, and shall properly identify myself as a representative of the press when obtaining any personal interview intended for publication.

I shall refrain from writing reports that will adversely affect a private reputation unless the public interest justifies it. At the same time, I shall fight vigorously for public access to information.

I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties, nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature that may cast doubt on my professional integrity.

I shall not commit any act of plagiarism.

I shall not, in any manner, ridicule, cast aspersions on, or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.

I shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise.

I shall exercise caution in publishing names of minors and women involved in criminal cases so that they may not unjustly lose their standing in society.

I shall not take unfair advantage of a fellow journalist.

I shall accept only such tasks as are compatible with the integrity and dignity of my profession, invoking the “conscience clause” when duties imposed on me conflict with the voice of my conscience.

I shall conduct myself in public or while performing my duties as journalist in such manner as to maintain the dignity of my profession. When in doubt, decency should be my watchword.

(This Journalist's Code of Ethics was unanimously adopted during the founding congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on July 30, 1988.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mental Notes: Evolution

Remember this? I do. This was the model of my second mobile phone -- the one that I kept for years -- in fact, up to a little over three years ago.

It's one of those phones I didn't want to let go of, but alas all good things have to be left dead and buried at some point in time. But those were the days...

I miss my old phone as I sometimes miss my old life. Strangely I can't help but feel it represents what are lives are like.

My old phone was simple but useful with a bit of an edge. Today, I carry something sleek and fancy but dull. Well, at least it isn't a Blackberry.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coffee Break: Pixar intro parody

via Popped Culture

Coffee Break: A Thousand Years

A thousand years, a thousand more
A thousand times a million doors to eternity
I may have lived a thousand lives, a thousand times
An endless turning stairway climbs
To a tower of souls
If it takes another thousand years, a thousand wars,
The towers rise to numberless floors in space
I could shed another million tears, a million breaths,
A million names but only one truth to face

A million roads, a million fears
A million suns, ten million years of uncertainty
I could speak a million lies, a million songs,
A million rights, a million wrongs in this balance of time
But if there was a single truth, a single light
A single thought, a singular touch of grace
Then following this single point , this single flame,
The single haunted memory of your face

I still love you
I still want you
A thousand times the mysteries unfold themselves
Like galaxies in my head

I may be numberless, I may be innocent
I may know many things, I may be ignorant
Or I could ride with kings and conquer many lands
Or win this world at cards and let it slip my hands
I could be cannon food, destroyed a thousand times
Reborn as fortune's child to judge another's crimes
Or wear this pilgrim's cloak, or be a common thief
I've kept this single faith, I have but one belief

I still love you
I still want you
A thousand times the mysteries unfold themselves
Like galaxies in my head
On and on the mysteries unwind themselves
Eternities still unsaid,
Until you love me

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Nissan Land Glider

Nissan new concept car that turns much like a motorcycle. The car is designed for use in congested urban areas. It has a narrow frame that seats the passenger behind the driver.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writer's Block: What's in your coffee?

Ever wonder what's really inside coffee? Well, here's the breakdown -- at least the partial breakdown. For the full WIRED magazine article, click here.

This is why the world produces more than 16 billion pounds of coffee beans per year. It's actually an alkaloid plant toxin (like nicotine and cocaine), a bug killer that stimulates us by blocking neuroreceptors for the sleep chemical adenosine. The result: you, awake.

Hot H2O is a super solvent, leaching flavors and oils out of the coffee bean. A good cup of joe is 98.75 percent water and 1.25 percent soluble plant matter. Caffeine is a diuretic, so coffee newbies pee out the water quickly; java junkies build up resistance.

Creates a tarlike, medicinal odor in your morning wake-up. It's also a component of cockroach alarm pheromones, chemical signals that warn the colony of danger.

Quinic acid
Gives coffee its slightly sour flavor. On the plus side, it's one of the starter chemicals in the formulation of Tamiflu.

3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid
When scientists pretreat neurons with this acid in the lab, the cells are significantly (though not completely) protected from free-radical damage. Yup: Coffee is a good source of antioxidants.

Chemically, it's a molecule of niacin with a methyl group attached. It breaks down into pyridines, which give coffee its sweet, earthy taste and also prevent the tooth-eating bacterium Streptococcus mutans from attaching to your teeth. Coffee fights the Cavity Creeps.

Nightcap Video: My favorite lullaby

Wednesday Poem: Liturgical Poem

“Love I sing, I say love”

–Meir Wieseltier

Let’s pretend that the war here was made of love
An oppressed enemy swept away by love
A mutual, one-sided occupation of love
Bustling settlements swarming with love
The eyes of preachers in mosques bellowing love
In refugee camps, walls stained with slogans of love
The news every hour, sugared announcements dripping love
Roadblocks with barbed wires in the name of love
Terrorists infiltrating shopping malls buckled with love
Coexistence, a hollow word, an abandoned tank made of love.

by Shai Dotan

translation: Ohad Stadler
from On the Verge; Publisher: Am Oved,
Tel Aviv, 2005

Coffee Break: Corsets, cameras and camouflage

by Tolu Ogunlesi

KateAdie She was the only woman on the frontlines during Gulf War 1, surrounded by 43,000 men. So how did she cope with doing that thing that men can do in public but women can’t? “Nudity is tolerable, using the loo in front of other people isn’t,” she explained to a wine-sipping group of us gathered around her at a Nairobi house in August; as we awaited the start of a dinner party to end the 2009 Storymoja Hay Festival.

To read the full article, click here.

Mental Notes: Destressing journalists

(Reposted from Frank Cimatu's Unholy Hours/Pine for Pine)

21 Things You Can Do While You're Living Through a Crisis
by Dr. Mark Lerner, President, Institute for Traumatic Stress

1. Take immediate action to ensure your physical safety and the safety of others. If possible, remove yourself from the event/scene in order to avoid further traumatic exposure.

2. Address your acute medical needs. If you’re having difficulty breathing, experiencing chest pains or palpitations, seek immediate medical attention.

3. Find a safe place that offers shelter, water, food and sanitation.

4. Become aware of how the event is affecting you (your feelings, thoughts, actions and your physical and spiritual reactions).

5. Know that your reactions are normal responses to an abnormal event. You are not “losing it” or “going crazy.” It’s okay not to be okay, right now.

6. Speak with your physician or healthcare provider and make him/her aware of what has happened to you.

7. Be aware of how you’re holding-up when there are children around you. Children will take their cues from the adults around them.

8. Try to obtain information. Knowing the facts about what has happened will help you to keep functioning.

9. If possible, surround yourself with family and loved ones. Realize that the event is likely affecting them, too.

10. Tell your story. And allow yourself to feel. It’s okay not to be okay during a traumatic experience.

11. You may experience a desire to withdraw and isolate, causing a strain on significant others. Resist the urge to shut down and retreat into your own world.

12. Traumatic stress may compromise your ability to think clearly. If you find it difficult to concentrate when someone is speaking to you, focus on the specific words they are saying and work to actively listen. Slow down the conversation and try repeating what you have just heard.

13. Don’t make important decisions when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Allow trusted family members or friends to assist you with necessary decision-making.

14. If stress is causing you to react physically, use controlled breathing techniques to stabilize yourself. Take a slow deep breath by inhaling through your nose, hold your breath for five seconds and then exhale through your mouth. Upon exhalation, think the words “relax,” “let go,” or “I’m handling this.” Repeat this process several times.

15. Realize that repetitive thinking and sleep difficulties are normal reactions. Don’t fight the sleep difficulty. Try the following: eliminate caffeine for four hours prior to your bedtime, create the best sleep environment you can, consider taking a few moments before turning out the lights to write down your thoughts, thus “emptying” your mind.

16. Give yourself permission to rest, relax and engage in non-threatening activity. Read, listen to music, or consider taking a warm bath.

17. Physical exercise may help to dissipate the stress energy that has been generated by your experience. Take a walk, ride a bike, or swim.

18. Create a journal. Writing about your experience may help to expose yourself to painful thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, enable you to assimilate your experience.

19. If you find that your experience is too powerful, allow yourself the advantage of professional and/or spiritual guidance, support and education.

20. Try to maintain your schedule. Traumatic events will disrupt the sense of normalcy. We are all creatures of habit. By maintaining our routines, we can maintain a sense of control at a time when circumstances may lead us to feel a loss of control.

21. Crises present opportunities. Cultivate a mission and purpose. Seize the energy from your experience and use it to propel you to set realistic goals, make decision and take action.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why it often rains in the movies

Because so much consequential thinking
happens in the rain. A steady mist
to recall departures, a bitter downpour
for betrayal. As if the first thing
a man wants to do when he learns his wife
is sleeping with his best friend, and has been
for years, the very first thing
is not to make a drink, and drink it,
and make another, but to walk outside
into bad weather. It’s true
that the way we look doesn’t always
reveal our feelings. Which is a problem
for the movies. And why somebody has to smash
a mirror, for example, to show he’s angry
and full of self-hate, whereas actual people
rarely do this. And rarely sit on benches
in the pouring rain to weep. Is he wondering
why he didn’t see it long ago? Is he wondering
if in fact he did, and lied to himself?
And perhaps she also saw the many ways
he’d allowed himself to be deceived. In this city
it will rain all night. So the three of them
return to their houses, and the wife
and her lover go upstairs to bed
while the husband takes a small black pistol
from a drawer, turns it over in his hands,
the puts it back. Thus demonstrating
his inability to respond to passion
with passion. But we don’t want him
to shoot his wife, or his friend, or himself.
And we’ve begun to suspect
that none of this is going to work out,
that we’ll leave the theater feeling
vaguely cheated, just as the movie,
turning away from the husband’s sorrow,
leaves him to be a man who must continue,
day after day, to walk outside into the rain,
outside and back again, since now there can be
nowhere in this world for him to rest.

by Lawrence Raab

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mental Notes: Weird apartments, anyone?

My best friend once rented an apartment that looked like a hall, with the kitchen and dining area at the right and the bedrooms at the left. The living room looked like the lobby of a clinic that had something that looked like a stage. It also had an odd orange kitchen that had shelves that look like they were a display cabinet for a store.

I have to be frank. I never really had to rent an apartment until my later 20s. I moved to Manila and found a studio apartment that had this tiny room that felt more like a storage room than a bedroom. But the studio was better than the one I found in a condo that was just square with no windows.

Until that time, I never really considered how strange some apartments can get.

I am now living in a country where people generally live in buildings due to the land area. It is a modern city, but as I went apartment-hunting (something I've done about three times since I moved here) -- I found that there is no shortage of strange apartments.

Fact is stranger than fiction. Before I got my first apartment here, I went through the tedious task of viewing several flats.

One of the firsts an agent took me to was at the top floor of this really old, filthy building. The apartment was supposed to have a good city view. Unfortunately, it was too much of a view.

The apartment had huge office-sized windows that ran through two sides of the apartment -- which included the toilet and bath.

While I appreciated the view -- I didn't really relish the idea of the city getting full view of me in the shower.

Nevermind that the kitchen was right in front of the bathroom door. You can't get down to business at all without the whole world knowing what you're up to...and that includes what you do in the confines of that apartment. Either that or spend a several hundred dollars on heavy drapes or blinds.

But this was just one of them. Another apartment I viewed was in a cozy location, but had a very odd layout. There was plenty wrong with this one too, however what stood out was the bathroom that looked like a hall. It was a step up from the rest of the apartment, and you are greeted by the shower. In another step up is the 'throne' where I could have my royal subjects bring my pipe, bowl and fiddlers three.

There are plenty more stories where that came from, but here is a nice blog of strange houses you may want to stay away from -- not necessarily in one city/country.

The apartment here is one of the several weird flats that will make you think -- what the heck were they thinking?!?!?!

Because sometimes it can be lonely on the throne...