The Triumph of Capitalism, part 1

Whoever says "money doesn't solve anything" has not spent any time in the United States of America. But I'm getting ahead of myself: let me tell you about my first weekend in my new Californian home. One thing we need to get out of the way is all the feedback I'm getting from my Brit friends about my "abandoning" British culture and identity. "You're not an American, you're English!" So let's be clear: I was English, and happy to be one. And now I am an American. And before I was either of those things I was a Trinidadian. All of these cultures have their pros and cons, and as both Brits and Trinidadians will attest, I'm not shy about pointing out the various flaws of either. One of the primary reasons I made friends and fitted in to a social circle when I was in the UK was a willingness to adopt mannerisms and customs and concerns and a culture that was not my own. Remaining resolutely separate, an ex-pat mentality, just leads to a sense of isolation. Adopting the better aspects of American culture...
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So much to say, so little time...

I've had a great weekend, going out to dinner Friday night with K and B, and Saturday getting up early and doing the full tour of the Paramount Theatre, finding the There in Oakland, discovering the wonder of consumerism that is Target and getting less clueless-newbie about using the BART, all thanks to G, a friend of former housemate Karinski. G also took me to Club Trans Am (which needed more dancing, and a few more people) and then Playboy at The Stud (which needed better music, and lots more people). Don't worry, I'll find the best nightlife in town eventually... I have years to try. Sunday I decided to just walk around and get a feel for my new neighbourhood, so I did a lot of exploring of The Mission and took lots of photos, now uploaded for your edification, along with much droll commentary. There's so much I can say about SF, and I'm only just getting started. Random things that pop into my head, before I forget them: Jack Bauer jokes are funny. Americans are absurdly generous of...
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The Triumph of Capitalism, Part 2

We rejoin our hero, currently mattress shopping on Saturday two weeks ago... it's out of sequence, thanks to the previous post, but you'll have to deal. I enter the store and approach two identically-dressed women chatting unconcernedly on one of the mattresses: after some confused eye contact and body language it becomes apparent that they aren't employees; just unimaginatively dressed clientele. The only real employee visible then makes herself apparent. She's a short, middle-aged hispanic lady who is spreading a little now but was clearly once beautiful. She is a little character study all of her own. She initially apologizes for having bare arms: "we're supposed to wear our jackets but it's so hot in here". I say I don't mind, wondering who in San Francisco would be so anal retentive as to complain about her inoffensively bare arms, and explain that I'm looking for a bed, and don't know where to begin. She gets up and bustles off down the rows of beds, inviting me to lie down and try them out....
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Ow

I pulled something in my back on Wednesday. Today I can barely roll out of bed and hobble, old-man-style, to the kitchen. In fact, my neck and back have been hurting pretty much continuously since I got here. But when everything's changed at once, how do yo pin down the culprit? Maybe it's my desk at work. Maybe it's at home -- I may need to buy a more ergonomically suitable desk than the current no-desk situation I've got going on. Or maybe it's the new bed? Stupid soft-top could be offering no lumbar support. Perhaps it's the position I sit in on the shuttle every day. Maybe it's the keyboard on my laptop? Land of the free -- home of the chiropractor?
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ER

Not the expression of uncertainty, but rather the Emergency Room of Pacific California Medical Center, where I spent 7 hours today after my back went from bad to unbearably agonizing. So now would be a good time to compare my own first-hand experiences of the two systems. NHS Registration: I search the NHS website for a bunch of nearby doctors. In Finsbury Park I am told there are none nearby accepting new patients, so I never register. In Stockwell they are accepting new patients, so I come in, get a routine medical exam, and fill in a lot of forms. Treatment: I call at 9 in the morning and can have an appointment at 3.15pm. I arrive at 3.15, wait briefly in a quiet and empty waiting room, and am seen by 3.30. My doctor prescribes me some basic medication and sends me on my way. Payment: treatment is free. My prescription costs a flat 6 poounds. US Healthcare Registration: ongoing. I choose a healthcare plan out of 5 offered by my employer, and choose a doctor from their list online of...
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Surreality calling

I arrived home this evening, and pleased myself by finally managing to get the transition from my iPod to my iPod stereo seamless, so that the music went from my headphones to the whole room without stopping. These are the little things, folks. Over the noise of Panic At The Disco I become aware that my landline is ringing. Now, since I only got this line 3 days ago and nobody knows about it, I know this has to be a telemarketer. But hey, I answer it anyway. This is the conversation that ensued: Nasal-Voiced Telemarketer: Hello, may I speak to Mr. Laurie Voss please? Me: Speaking. NVT: Hi, I'm calling from the Dish Network. I believe you just moved into your new place? Me: Yes, that's right NVT: Well, we're offering a special right now of free installation of equipment. The service is $29.99 a month and for that you get 100 channels including 10 movie channels. But for the first 10 months you'll get it for $19.99 a month Now, this is actually not bad, and also, I need some sort of TV in the...
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Jokes for nerds, jokes for nerds

(With apologies to Ze Frank). So, first let me make it clear: you're not going to get this joke unless you're a gay web developer, or somebody who would otherwise simultaneously know about homosexual political organizations and cascading style sheets. Here is the joke: p.flag That is all. (Joke originally from Jason).
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California...

Ed came down to SF this weekend, so I spent the long weekend using his touristyness as a cover for my own, as various of his friends drove us around the countryside nearby, seeing the Marin Headlands on Saturday, Point Reyes National Seashore on Sunday and just wandering around town on Monday (yay for dead presidents giving us holidays; woo!). Photos are in the usual place. Other than that: my back is still in the process of healing itself. It's definitely getting better, but much slower than I'd like, so I'm taking it very easy this week after I spent the weekend probably relying too much on painkillers. Four weeks in, I finally got around to doing some grocery shopping (online, obviously). And I bought some cooking implements. So I may actually get around to doing some cooking soon. But frankly the portions are so huge that I always end up leaving half of my lunch and skipping dinner, which given that I'm eating breakfast these days is probably actually healthier than the way I used to do things.
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Worth a thousand words

I'm not really sure whether this image helps or hurts the Conservatives. Does it indicate how much our youth need help? Or how out of touch the much-derided "hug a hoodie" plan is? What I do know is that it is hilarious. Well done to that electronically-tagged, heavy-drinking, cocaine-using 17-year-old for succinctly embodying the zeitgeist. (via Murray, whose blog rants entertain me on a weekly basis)
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"I will out-diva you, bitch!"

Watching the Oscars on the west coast is way more fun. It all starts and ends at a completely reasonable time. It also helps to watch them in a room full of gay men who are engaged (as gay men in these situations tend to be) in an unofficial competition to win the Wittiest Remark About The Oscars™. It is in fact the American equivalent of Eurovision, except the tedious voting is replaced by tedious awards for sound editing (I mean, sound editing? Really?). Other observations: Beyonce attempting not to look pissed off that she hadn't even been nominated was awesome. As was the three-way diva-off between the stars, source of this post's headline. Why oh why oh why did they spend quite so much camera time on Jack Nicholson? I figure it's become a running joke that whenever they do crowd shots at the Oscars they always show Nicholson, so the director tonight decided to play up to it. Either that or his baldness was just so horrifically shocking that they couldn't tear their eyes away. Why didn't the...
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