Monthly Archives: December 2013

Boo-hoo Rudolph, my whole face is red.

This year was the first year when I have received christmas presents and christmas cards adressed mutually to me and my partner. I don’t have that much (any) previous experience with steady relationships and the idea that you’re supposed to get to know each other’s families and get a long with your partner’s friends seemed to me for a long time unnnecessary and pointless. Before Christmas, me and my partner discussed whether to give gifts to each other’s families, do mutual gifts or nothing. We joked about breaking up for a week around Christmas every year to avoid the situation. It felt like people might catch on to us in the long run, so we decided against it, which led to the following gift situation: We gave a mutual small gift to my partner’s family, who in return gave me and us several “real” gifts which made me feel a bit guilty. We ignored my side of the family and they also didn’t gift anything to my partner. And trust me, neither of us expected anything, but now afterwards it feels like we should think it through a bit better to next year because it just seemed a bit irregular.

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Anyhow, I’m back in England and back at work and my skin hates me. I think I triggered a roscea attack by using soap to remove my make-up. It’s especially bad under my eyes and the best way to describe it is as if I had slept with a thick layer of salt on my face. It’s red, it’s puffy and it’s itchy. It happened during the winter last year as well, and it makes putting on make-up torture. It doesn’t look particulary dry, but if I try to apply foundation my skin goes nuts and it stings like putting alcohol on an open wound. RAH!

I keep forgetting that it’s New Years Eve tomorrow. Feels like a travesty to not celebrate in the city when you live in London, but I’m planning to have a pretty calm fodue-evening at home. Mmmmm Heston Blumenthal’s 4-cheese stringy fondue. No, I won’t eat it just by myself, althouh lonely heremits should definitely be allowed to eat an entire fondue by themselves on New Years Eve.

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Airport and airplane hacks

I’ve become a pro at flying the last few years, especially with Ryan Air. My long-distance relationship was very bad for the enviroment in that way. I think RyanAir is great; they’re at least honest with their intentions and you get what you pay for. I don’t mind sitting through commercials if it means flying for like half the price compared to other companies. I got the idea on my flight home for the holidays to share my airport and airplane hacks that makes the experience of flying a bit easier. Enjoy!

* Always bring a set of earplugs if you’re flying with RyanAir.

* At some airports, like Stockholm Skavsta, you can get drinkable water from the water taps in the bathrooms after you’ve gone through Security. Some of the taps at Skavsta has been set to only have lukewarm water, but a couple of them have a little lever near the “root” of the tap that allows you to adjust water tempature. This means that you can get drinkable, free water to bring on the plane if you bring an empty water bottle when you pass through security (obviously you can’t bring in anything over 100ml so filling it before passing through security doesn’t work).

* Take the seats near the emergency exit to get some extra leg space.

* RyanAir has  recently changed their policy to be a little more lenient towards what you can bring on board. It’s still easy to end up with too much carry-on luggage, so if you don’t want to pay £40 extra because your bag is too heavy, you can try this: Wear all the clothes in your bag as you board the plane. Don’t be TOO obvious because people have been stopped because they were wearing like three set of jeans. No one will notice if you put on a pair of extra underwear, two shirts and an extra sweater, unless you’re sweating excessively.

* If that doesn’t do the trick and you still have too much carry-on luggage, you could try this slightly riskier move: Get a plastic bag and stuff it with the extra luggage. Carry the plastic bags like a baby and cover it with your coat. Now it will just look like you were warm and carrying your coat. You can’t stuff the plastic bag too full, or it will look weird, but it’s perfect when your bag is too heavy since you easily can conceal medium-sized heavy items. I got away with carrying on board a long tube containing two big art posters plus a bag of stuff stuff this way.

* If you’re checking in a bag: Turn up late and check in your bag last minute. That way your bag will turn up first on the rolling hoop once the plane has landed.

* If you don’t want to have to remove your shoes at security, don’t wear boots that reach past your ankles. It’s supposedly an unwritten policy at most airports.

* The following snacks and meals are good to bring on board because they don’t require heating and won’t go bad. They also won’t get confiscated in security (they could, however, get confiscated at passport/visa check once you arrive, so make sure to finish it on the plane): Pancakes with jam, sandwiches (duh), apples, chocolate, burritos, crisps.

* When booking a ticket, clear your cookies. I’m not sure if this one is true, but I’ve had a similar experience that makes me think it very well might be:

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I hope that makes flying a bit easier for you! I’m working on my “Airplane shuffle”, which is a German techno-styled dance based on the safety instructions on the back of the airplane seats. I’m sure it will be the dance of 2014.

And remember: Lights along the cabin aisle will illuminate in darkness and guide you to the nearest exit. Peace be with you.

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The very important job of making family Christmas Cards

For the last few years, mum has asked/nagged/demanded me to create a family Christmas card on Photoshop and I’ve obliged. Partly because I want to make mum happy, partly because I like editing photos, partly because it’s an… interesting challenge.

It seems like most people in my age have parents that believe that computers are magical, incomprehensible machine, but that somehow the secret wisdom of computers was imparted on their children the second we left the womb. Every 20-something hold the power to do almost anything with it with just a click of the mouse, and if we can’t get it to work, it’s simply because we don’t want to do it. My boyfriend constantly gets cryptic texts from his mum with questions like “Why is the green thing gone”, “what’s my password?”, and “I think I made the hard drive disappear. How do I get it back?”. It’s always completely innocent questions that leaves you wondering “What the freaking hell did she do? What is she talking about and how could Tom possibly know how to fix it?”.  My mum doesn’t ask as much computer questions, but that might just be because she has given up trying to understand computers and simply doesn’t use them anymore.

My point is that mum’s understanding of Photoshop is not the greatest and that I wouldn’t be surprised if she sent me a comment like this:

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Click on the image to see a collection of puzzling editing requests. Anyhow,  about this year’s family Christmas card. One rare year I got professionally taken photos to work with, but most of the time it’s a mix of regular cellphone photos taken with varying lighting conditions and backgrounds that needs to be cropped and copied into a card. I know mum wouldn’t mind that much if it looked like a tacky mess (as long as I put Christmas hats on the cats and the dog, lighten her teeth and add a decorative background), but it’s a matter of pride for me to try to make it look at least a little good. If I can’t do that, I’ll go in for making it purposefully tacky. One year, I just gave up and sketched a Christmas card instead.

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This was from the year when we had our photo taken by a professional photographer (my mum thinks he’s great, but a bunch of his photos are blurry. At least he has good equipment):

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Anyhow, these were the photos I had to play with this year. They’re not too bad individually, but they’re hardly any similarities between them. They’re all taken under different lightning conditions, different poses and using different equipments. They’re also taken in late August, which doesn’t really give you any Christmas feelings.

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This is what I managed to put together. I’m kind of disappointed that I couldn’t include any pets this year! I tried fitting in Bagheera the Dog in the card but it looked ridiculous. His head was floating in the corner of the card like he was a ghost dog looking down upon us from dog heaven.

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I can’t find any of the other Christmas Cards I’ve made, but maybe that’s for the best. Merry Christmas times, everyone, and be nice to each other. I don’t believe in God or Jesus, but I believe that a lot of people want to have a special occasion to show their appreciation for their loved ones, and Christmas is an excellent opportunity for that.

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Santacon London 2013

My very first Santacon. I had been working Monday – Thursday and therefore had to run around on Friday, the day before Santacon, to look for a Santa costume. I wanted to find something incredibly cheap, but as I grew more desperate I finally settled for a so called “luxury santa suit” for £16. My only other option would have been “female Santa suit” which obviously is a skimpy red dress and a hat, because I didn’t have time to find an other fancy dress shop. Anyhow, it turned out to be absolute shit. The label on the outside featured a costume made from velour, but the actual suit was made from 100 % polyester. The seams broke in the crotch area the first time I tried it on! I think the most baffling thing is that it was 50 % off and would originally have cost £ 32. I decided to skip the trousers and wear a red dress underneath the coat, which was a really good idea. The result was embarrassingly amateurish compared to some of the costumes at Santacon, but it was good enough that some Chinese tourists asked to take a photo with me and told me I was a pretty Santa. Judge for yourself. I’m not sure if the guy in the background is photobombing me or whether he just looked like that by accident? 

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I hadn’t realized that so many people would turn up in very well thought-out costumes that they probably had spent hours or days putting together, like the transformer Santas. I didn’t get a chance to photograph all of them, but here are some of my favorites that I managed to take a picture of:

Guy who looks like he was born to be a Santa:Image

Roman Santa:

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Wrestling Santas?

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Christmas tree:

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Inflated Santa:

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Very cold cross-dressing Santas:

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Homeless Santa:

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I think my least favorite ones were the people who turned up in morph suits! I commented to my boyfriend that coincidentally all the men in the morph suits seemed less endowed than the norm. He said that, in all fairness, it was pretty cold outside. Once again photobombed by the guy on the right in this picture:

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I had a good time though, and I think Santacon London is probably a lot different from Santacon NY. In the end it’s just a big themed party that takes place on the street, and of course you’re going to get some bad seeds as well as good ones, but the event as a whole was pretty well-organized in my opinion and I would definitely go again another year.

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You can’t see very well in this photo, but a couple that were getting married/getting their wedding photo taken, got surrounded and cheered on by Santas.

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They took off their hats and waved to us!Image

 

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Achy legs and full days

My knees and legs are not happy with me right now. The reason is that I spent all day on my feet yesterday, starting with a full day at work and then going straight to Oxford Circus to pick up tickets at BBC for a recording of “Infinite Monkey Cage”, which is a radio show with Brain Cox and Robin Ince. Once we had the tickets, we walked around the block and had a look at Selfridge’s Christmas-themed shopwindows, then back to BBC where I got to sit down for two hours as we watched the show. The show was about conserving animals and plants and how it’s too late to stop interfering with nature and time to be practical about what species we should try to save and not just go for the cute ones. I like Brian Cox (who doesn’t?) and people in the panel were interesting, but the show as a whole was a bit weak, but maybe that’s just because I’ve already know a bit about extinction and nature conservation. If it had been about, oh I don’t know, string theory I might have found it more interesting because I don’t know anything about it. Curiously enough, it turns out that Brian Cox was at my partner’s job today, filming something. He’s a hard working man, Mr Cox.

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I went to bed a little after 11pm and hoped that my legs would have recovered after some 6 hours rest, but unfortunately my right knee and ankle were really stiff when I got up.  Luckily, I was not in too much discomfort after taking a couple of painkillers. It’s just a matter of getting used to not sitting down, which shouldn’t be too hard since I had a very similar job last summer. Hopefully I’ll gain some muscles in the process, I wouldn’t mind having more toned legs! 😛

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Want to be a fat vegetarian?

Whenever McDonalds or Burger King or Subways introduce a new vegetarian option, I hear someone saying something akin to “Why are they doing this? If you want to eat healthy, don’t eat fastfood!” as if being a vegetarian means you inherently care a lot about your health. I’ve been a vegetarian for some 4 years, and I’ve got some news for you: eating unhealthy and being a vegetarian is the easiest thing in the world. I love junk food and if I didn’t have any self-discipline, this is what a regular day for me would look like:

Breakfast: White bread with jam, a glass of orange juice and leftover pizza.

Morning snack: Half a package of crisps and some soda.

Lunch: French fries covered in ketchup and a veggie burger with a bottle of Fanta.

Afternoon snack: Biscuits and lemonade.

Dinner: Pasta with a cream-and-cheese based sauce covered in ketchup with a pint of beer.

Evening snack: Ice-cream with chocolate and fudge sauce, meringues, sprinkles and cookie crumbles.

 

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Neighbor and landlord fail

Ugh so annoyed with my building and myself right now. We have been told that the recycling bin will be emptied every 2nd week on a Friday, but it’s been full for a whole week now. Once it’s full, someone locks the bin so you can’t squeeze any more garbage in, because the garbage collectors won’t empty the bins if they’re overflowing. Since the bin was locked a week ago, we haven’t been able to get rid of our recycling.

To make a point and to make the flat a more pleasant living-space, I took my full, designated recycling bag and put it behind the door in the garbage room. I thought this made sense because it showed that we didn’t have anywhere to put the recycling and that the bin needed to be emptied. I should point out that it wasn’t in the way of anything, although I figured I might get told off since it could be seen as a fire hazard.

Anyhow, I expected the bins to be emptied today and I planned on going downstairs and empty the recycling bag into the bin, but NO. When my boyfriend went to work this morning, he saw that my garbage bag had been put on top of the recycling bin, which was NOT emptied. Our best guess is that the collectors saw the bag and decided that additional recycling was the same as the bin overflowing, put it on top of the bin for whatever reason and refused to empty the it. I’m assuming that the bin won’t be emptied for at least another week, maybe two. If the bin gets filled up in one week, imagine all the garbage that will have accumulated over 4 weeks. It’s like they don’t want us to recycle.

Another annoying thing with this building is that the lamp in the hallway doesn’t work because the landlord won’t replace the broken light bulb, since they suspects that our neighbor is stealing the light bulbs and replacing them with their own broken light bulbs. Just buy your own damn light bulbs, FFS! I can’t stand petty theft.

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Christmas torture

Want to guess how I discovered it’s the 1st of December today…?

Went to Sainsbury and they played Christmas songs on the highest volume. I should have realized and gone bulk shopping yesterday so I could hoard my groceries until Christmas is over to avoid it. Maybe I sound like a Grinch, but listening to Santa Baby makes my ears bleed. It didn’t help that they played the most unsettling version of “Baby, it’s cold outside”. It’s already a creepy song because of the lyrics, but when it’s sung by an older man it just seals the deal and makes it sound like a predator trying to manipulate a teenage girl to stay around his house long enough for the roofies he slipped in her drink to kick in or until he gets her drunk enough to overpower her.

The worst part is that I’m not even exaggerating how creepy this song is.

 

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