Friday, December 31, 2010

Just say SOMEthing, why don't cha?!

Ever had your throat gnawed at with silence..? Takes a L-O-N-G time to chew your head off that way, you know? Lol

*hmmm...* blood squirting everywhere, things crashing to the ground as you grab at table cloths and power cords (anything that might save you in your critical final hour), the phone that rings – a life line quite literally - just an inch out of your grasp, a drowning sense of choking on your own blood, the dog barking frantically outside the window but no one cares because that’s all it does anyway. You can’t wiggle your toe, your life flashing before your eyes, you can’t breath... and then it’s all over... *sigh*

Now, where was I?

Bottom line: THE WOMAN DELETED MY COMMENT off her blog – without saying anything! “What’s up with that?”


...*chomp-chomp-crunch-crunch*... Good thing she’s not chewing my wrists: that’s MY job!

I’ve been looking at more blogs since I’ve created yadayadafishpaste and I’m realizing that just because there's a 'Comment' button doesn't mean they care what you think. Yes, they put themselves out there and yes, they create a facility where you can comment, but maybe secretly they know that you won’t – they don’t expect you to, and some don’t want you to.

I signed up for a new blog today thinking that it would be informative and enjoyable. It is one of an author who blogs about her own books and interviews other authors about theirs. In addition she seems to have a little give-away each time of the book that was the topic of a particular post. To qualify you need to comment and leave your e-mail address. So I got the first notification in my e-mail today and eagerly went to have a look. I did enjoy it and of course I left my little thumb print.

Ten minutes later, while trying to subscribe to follow up posts, I discovered that she has deleted my comment out from amongst roughly 15 others (at the time). She somehow didn’t seem to like what I had to say by the look of it. I was polite, you know (or so I thought). I even remembered to say thank you for a pleasant read. So here’s what I would like to say to her:

Hey lady! If you don’t like what I have to say I think you could have at least put a little sad face, like so:

And if you deleted my comment, am I still in the lucky draw? I would like for you to know that I like to say what I think, and therefore I think it is better that we rather go our separate ways. This blogger fling is OVER!

*Gnaw, gnaw, crunch, crunch* - now whose suppose to clean up this bloody mess?! Sit in a corner and pout for a week? NOT! You just have to find the good ones! *grin*

For my faithful, loyal subjects reading my blog - just so you know: if you want to tell me what you think, you’re welcome, and if I don’t like it... who cares! *giggles* Tell me anyway!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

These boots are made for walking

I got the most amazing boots for Christmas!! Question: I struggle to buy shoes for myself. How did you buy shoes for me - WITHOUT me - and they fit perfectly! Guess what I’ve been wearing ever since? hAhA

This is me: My foot is slightly wider in front like so (ex ray pic). Naturally shoes are designed for the tiny models walking the Paris board walks and not for REAL woman; mothers running after a mischievous 3yr old toddler, working woman spending most of their day on their feet (walking, driving or standing) and certainly no one that wears a size larger than petite. I certainly struggle – a woman walking 6 ft tall with a slightly broader foot. Heck! I used to buy a brown and a black pair of the same shoe whenever I found a shoe that did work for me! - A shoe that doesn’t just fit but also compliment your foot and your wardrobe. Anyone else like that out there? Luckily too few people actually pay attention to your feet to notice *wink*. Don’t get any ideas now *wink-wink*.

Everywhere you look you find shoes that are either one of
the extremes: either too flat when you want to dress up just a little, or heels so high you can touch the sky. Oh, I forget I already do *wink wink*. I don’t understand the logic. What about everyone else in between?

Initially I was told that new shoes always hurt your feet. Just “walk them in”. Now imagine me with chilblains in winter when even the shoes that DO fit you don’t fit you when you need it most. Then I read somewhere that if shoes hurt your feet when you fit them in the store, they are not right for your feet, and how walking in them anyway actually damages your feet. I’ve had those little bunions for as long as I can remember, but combined with lower back ache later on when wearing high heels, I made a firm decision to take better care of my feet. I’d have that over a scalpel and the risk of lifelong problems walking any day. Not all the stories you hear about surgical correction have happy endings, you know.

When I opened the box with booties I took one look and thought they were too narrow. What a disappointment it would be to have to exchange it first, but then I slip them on and they fit like a glove! As if they were made for me in every way: the right color, the right height, the right size… GOOD GOLLY, even the furry trimmings; exactly what I liked!

Later on I inspect them in more detail and tip it upside down: Wait a minute - is that a six or a nine? No, it is underlined, showing you which side is right side up. AAAARRRH! In the US I wear a size NINE shoe! Compared to the size 7 in South Africa I take a few moments to decide whether I should laugh or cry. Instead I choose denial. I tell myself, I don’t have big feet, I don’t have big feet, I don’t have… WAIT! If this 6 ft tall woman had feet any smaller I’d fall on my face. I tell myself I’m perfectly proportioned. I take a deep breath as I drift off in thought, absent minded, inspecting the box.

I always keep the box. It protects the shoes when they are stacked in your closet. I had to leave all my boxes in South Africa… HEY! WAIT! I look again just to make double sure. Forget about the US size 9, according to the Mexican standard (MEX) I wear a size twenty six, and the European standard (EUR) …. A size FOURTY ONE!

THAT’S REALLY IT!! I’ve made up my mind: No more reading the soles of my shoes. Don't think I'll find any diamonds there anyhow. These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do..!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Wishing everyone a wonderful and blessed Christmas. I hope your day is special and that you will revel in the greatest Gift of all - Jesus. May you experience His love for you today and see Him in the wonder and beauty that surrounds you right where you are! He loves you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stinky and the porcelain throne

Stinky is a sad, lonely chap. Even though he is as much a companion to those in rags as he is to those with riches, few seem to be proud to call him friend. Instead, when he shows up, cozy clicks seem to scatter, or his presence is met with utterances of disdain. They turn their nose up at him, sometimes waving wildly with hands (or anything they can get their hands on). Sometimes they giggle and blush. Some even audaciously proclaims that he stinks! Have they no heart?! Is it the cologne he wears or perhaps the way he combs his hair? THAT’S IT – he’s asking for his money back! Maybe he should buy a hat while he is at it.

It wasn’t always this way, you know...

There was a time when Stinky was received with open arms. Aaah, those were the days. In ancient Roman times the public toilet was quite the common place to meet – a thoroughly social event
in fact, much unlike today. They didn’t have cubicles back then and Stinky felt welcome indeed: a friend to one, a friend to all! Oh boy! Oh boy! You never knew who you would get to sit next to. Granted, not everyone stayed long, but sometimes Stinky got to make a new friend.

Another fond memory for Stinky was his days in London back in the 1500’s. There were no proper se
wage system, just a sloped ditch conveying waste to the Thames river and eventually out to sea. Stinky roamed free! It wasn’t too long before he was a permanent companion in every home, warm and snug in front of the fireplace with a good book, a cooked dinner or just quality time with the family. Things seemed to be going well until the Cholera epidemic in the 1800’s. Someone had to be blamed. Who do you think? Of course they blamed it on the Stink!

Stinky heard rumours that a certain
Thomas Crapper was plotting his demise by inventing the first modern flush toilet, but Stinky knew the truth all along: it was Sir John Harrington and his “water closet” back in the 16th century. (Thomas Crapper was only born around 60 years later.) Stinky Holmes... hmm. It had a nice ring to it.

I vaguely remember stories told during my childhood in the late 1900’s – the very late 1900’s – about the
outhouse. (In plain English it is pretty much the term for a small enclosure – usually apart from the main building - around a hole in the ground – used as a toilet.) From the stories I can remember those outhouses were often a place of mischief, pranks and much laughter for kids growing up on the farm. The notion of an enclosed cubicle really cramped Stinky’s style.

Whether you call it “
patente” in Brazil, “dunny / thunderbox” in Australia, “long drop” in New Zealand, “biffy” in Minnesota or “kybo” in Vermont... Stinky slowly became an outcast. Instead of the social butterfly he once was, he had been banished to a small, dark little box around a hole in the ground; one side... all alone. Occasionally someone would drop by, but sometimes they wouldn’t stay very long. Winter was the worse. Not only was the company scarce but no one could possibly have a meaningful conversation over the loud clutter of teeth.

I don’t know about Stinky, but a song always seems to cheer me up. I wonder if he knows this parody of "
Downtown" (summer camp folklore):

When you are sleepy and it's time to go peepee there's a place to go... kybo
When you are droopy and it's time to go poopy there's a place to go... kybo
Just listen to the rhythm of the froggies in the toilet,
Even though it's smelly I am sure you will enjoy it
The lights are not on in there, but you forget all your worries,
Forget all your cares in the kybo
Is not it fun to go... kybo
La-la-la-la... haha

Despite his loneliness Stinky has to admit that some of the ‘joints’ he used to hang out in pales (by far) in comparison to some of the hoity toity luxury bathrooms he is privy to visit nowadays: the beautiful colours and designs, the tiny hand soaps – one per customer - the heated towels, the couch and chairs. He might still not really be welcomed with open arms, but life is good and
Lavender sure is a pretty lookin’ lady. Who knows... maybe love is in the air? They say “opposites attract”!

* Kybo brand coffee (Motto: a cup full of satisfaction). The cans contained the lye (or lime) used to minimize the odour.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Kite Runner (Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini)

The book The Kite Runner is the very first novel by Author Khaled Hosseini published in 2003. It is so well written that it is adapted into a movie of the same name in 2007 by Director Mark Forster. Wow! What an accomplishment!

The book was highly recommended, however, I watched the movie first and I was thoroughly impressed!

The movie is set mostly in Kabul, Afghanistan where two boys become friends as close as brothers: Amir (Zekiria Ebrahimi) the son of a successful business man, and Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada) the son of Ali (Nabi Tanha), the slave who has been with the family for over 40 years – Amir the ‘master’, Hassan the slave boy. Of Amir is said by his father (Homayoun Ershadi), “A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who won’t
stand up for anything.” Hassan is the expression of friendship and loyalty that is almost surreal; a boy of strong character and standing up for what he believes is good and fair – a true and noble brave heart. He is the fighter/defender (albeit illiterate and poor), while Amir is a very imaginative story teller / aspiring author, but a rather passive character. Perhaps one of the only ways in which he takes after his father is his gift for flying a kite.

A tournament is held in the city. Following his glorious victory (including setting a new record) Hassan runs off – alone – to fetch the last kite that was cut, awarding his ‘master’-friend the victory – a trophy as such. It ironically becomes a framed reminder of a day of tragic betrayal that ruins a precious friendship and changes both boys’ lives forever; a day that Amir will be trying to forget for many years to come.

H: “Amir, I’m going to run that blue kite for you.
A: “Hassan, come back with it.
H: “For you, a thousand times over!

Shortly after war breaks out in Kabul and the boys are separated. Baba and his son manage to escape to the United States and there Amir has lived with his secret for twenty years. He is not the only one with a secret though. A series of events take Amir (Khalid Abdalla) back to the country of his childhood, now reigned by the iron fisted Taliban and a mere skeleton of the glorious city it used to be. He doesn’t want to forget anymore. In Hassan’s son there is redemption – “There is a way to be good again.

The movie is about people: the emotions, the thoughts, the longings, the dreams, friendship, betrayal, laughter, disappointment, family and secrets. It was very thought provoking and made me ask myself a few questions: How would I have felt? What would I have done? Would I be able to forgive? Would I have spoken up? I think it confronts us with moral issues that happens in the world every day; friends who betray, lies that are told, brutal violence and abuse, a lack of taking responsibility for choices/actions, choosing between right and wrong when it will cost you something and the consequences of those (sometimes crucial) choices.

Some have criticized it saying that maybe it is too real, too brutal, but not shying away from some harsh realities is precisely part of why I thought it to be a brilliant movie. I thought it to be honest, yet discreet.

Much of the movie dialogue is in Dari with English subtitles. I’m not one for subtitles at all but this movie had me glued to my seat, entangled emotionally and visually (like a good book that you simply cannot put down). The script was not so cumbersome that it caused the subtitles to overshadow the story, causing you to feel as if you were reading the movie. Even when there was no dialogue the level of intensity was well maintained.

I smile because it is just a movie, but at times I wanted to come to Hassan’s rescue, smack a few others ‘upside the head’, comfort and hug as I laughed, raged, ooo-ed, aaa-ed and cried. The focus of the movie was not to keep you guessing, but neither was it predictable so that you didn’t need to keep watching. It is filled with ironies and similarities between ‘then and now’ if you pay close enough attention. Being unable to squeeze every small detail of a book into a mere 120 odd minute movie I thought that a number of subtle details connected the dots nicely throughout without having to be too explicit or it becoming long winded and boring.

The characters are deep and evolving; many a journey is traveled and in the end they are nowhere near who they were in the beginning – journeys about discovering life and self; forgiveness, healing and redemptive second chances. “There is a way to be good again.

I strongly recommend this movie! ENCORE!!

The official website: http://www.kiterunnermovie.com/

*Note: Pictures from the web (http://www.movies.nytimes.com/ & http://www.previewmonkey.com/)

You can now add the DVD (The Kite Runner), Blu-ray (The Kite Runner [Blu-ray]) or the book (The Kite Runner) to your collection by shopping online at Amazon.com, or maybe even the AUDIO book (The Kite Runner [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]) for those mornings in rush hour traffic on your way to the office.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What in the world is Liane up to?

What in the world is Liane up to? Depends... which one?  

Liane Bahler (born Jan 1982), a German professional racing cyclist’s career started in 2001 and did pretty good for herself if you ask me. If she didn’t die in a car crash on her way to the airport in July of 2007 - 4th of July of all days - my guess is she would probably be out riding her bike.

Liane Balaban (born Jun 1980) is a Canadian actress who can be seen in movies such as New Waterford Girl (1999), Definitely, Maybe (2008), Last Chance Harvey (2009). She like to read, write, going to art galleries and music as her leisure activities. She recently moved to Montreal and describes it as a city that doesn’t revolve around acting, so who knows what she’s doing right now. Who knows, maybe she is being mistaken for the actress Natalie Portman (...which apparently happens often from what she told Now magazine in Jan 2009).

Liane Berkowitz - German - was born Aug 1923 to a concertmaster and conductor father and a singing teacher mother. She became involved with the German resistance movement during World War II. She was executed in August 1943. If she had lived to see Hitler commit suicide in April 1945 maybe she would still be celebrating!

Liane Bonin is an American journalist, author, radio producer and produced screenwriter who have written articles for Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, People and The Hollywood Reporter to name a few. She and her husband lives in Los Angeles with their three dogs. It’s too cold in winter to take long walks with the dogs. The fireplace would be my best friend right about now.

Liane Carroll (born 1964) is an English pianist/vocalist in London who has worked with artists like Paul McCartney and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. ...Singing Christmas carols by the piano, a glass of wine among scattered sheet music.

Liane Cartman takes me by surprise as I learn that she is a thoroughly promiscuous old woman with a wholesome, loving mother exterior – a cartoon character in South Park – heaven help me!! Forget wholesome and loving! Right about now she should be ashamed of herself! That should keep her busy!

Liane Gabora is a professor of psychology. I’m sure she can figure it out on her own. Haha

Liane Haid (born Aug 1895) was an Austrian actress who had also trained as a dancer and a singer. She did something right as she lived to be 105 years old (Nov 2000). I don’t think she needs to be doing anything more ;-)

Liane Hansen (born Sept 1951) is an American journalist, radio personality and senior host of the National Public Radio. She has announced her retirement to be in May 2011 and intend to spend it near the ocean on Maryland’s shore. Big transition – I’d be out shopping if I was her.

Liane Tooth is a gifted hockey player in Australia, but Tooth for a surname... hope she didn’t lose any of hers or she’d probably be at the dentist right now.

Me... Liane de Witt... Why, I’m writing this blog of course!

Note: For fear of infringing on copy right laws I have opted not to post photographs on this blog, but I've linked you to Google images on the web.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I watch a movie, I watch another movie, I watch anoth... zzzzz

Netflix is one of the most amazing inventions! Any movie lover who agrees with me say, “I”! (Unfortunately the echo of my enthusiasm is limited to those living in the US and Canada.)

Founded in 1997 Netflix has been entertaining audiences for just over a decade by means of internet video streaming (“watch instantly”) and DVD and Blu Ray rentals – disks delivered right to your door. When you’re done watching it you simply seal it in the return mail envelope, leave it in your flagged mailbox and the mailman collects it on his next trip. The turnaround time is pretty good – usually around two to three days.

How do they know what disk you would like to watch next? Each customer has an online account/profile. Any movie that you want to see (not available online) can be added to your queue. Whichever is next in the cue is delivered to you. 

When you create your account you complete a rather comprehensive questionnaire which indicates the kind of movies you enjoy watching and based on that movies of all genres are recommended to you when you search the online database. This is very helpful considering that the online collection alone is in excess of 17,000 movies and recorded TV shows. How’s that for choice? You can search for movies by title, director, actor or genre. The Netflix service is available at a subscription of only $8 per month. It reminds me of an “eat all you can” deal at a restaurant;  everyone knows you can only eat that much, but it is there for the taking.

Although the Netflix catalogue does include films with explicit sexual content Netflix largely avoid offering pornography. I can certainly appreciate that!

A while before leaving South Africa SABC has decided to fill prime time television viewing hours with more local is lekker content. Many of the foreign produced programming that I enjoyed was either removed or rescheduled to the late evening or early morning hours. I was not impressed! Prior to that there used to be an hour of family viewing each night between 7:30pm and 8:30pm on SABC3. That slot often coincided with my cooking dinner and I enjoyed watching titles such as Sue, F.B.Eye, Cold Case, Bones, Law & Order and Monk (to just name a few) in between the clutter of pots and pans.

South Africa has 11 official languages. That is a very diverse audience if you’re a broadcasting company offering 3 channels (4 if you include e-TV). If you were not subscribed to DSTV you either had to come to terms with (almost) every program – feels like - containing English subtitles or find something better to do. Eventually I felt like I was reading television rather than watching it, so I found something else with which to occupy myself.  Finally I got to see the murder solved, the bodies found, the bad guys tried and locked up and the happy ever afters... or not.

Enjoying movies as much as I do you can be sure that you’ll be seeing some of my personal movie reviews on here as I get to watch them. I’ve got to tell someone what I think, right?

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I’ll be starting dinner soon, but until then I think I’ll curl up on the couch and lazily watch a movie. If it’s not a great one I can always “Return to browsing” or take a nap. Better set the clock then just in case ;-)  Either way it sounds like a cozy idea on a -17*C afternoon!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

IHOP and Belgium waffles at midnight

 I had my second very pleasant visit to the IHOP in Manhattan, Kansas yesterday. My first was breakfast for my birthday a few months ago. That morning I had a hearty breakfast with scrambled eggs, toast bacon and pancakes on the side. My fiancĂ© had one of the omelettes and the rich hollandaise sauce made a lasting impression. We had a feast for only $20 and ‘took no prisoners’! haha From the glance I had of the menu that morning I knew that I would be back a few more times.

The IHOP (for me) resembles a little of the Wimpy restaurants found in South Africa, except Wimpy’s coffee is still tops! Their menu consists of a wide variety of meals from breakfast to sandwiches and burgers, appetizers to fresh salads, crepes, soup of the day and some dinner options including meals with steak, chicken and shrimp. Fish is not an item easily found on any menu that I’ve laid eyes on so far. Buttermilk pancakes are certainly a signature item for IHOP. If you’re not a fan you might very well find it growing on you in time. Pancakes at IHOP are like coffee at Wimpy – it keeps you going back for more! :-)


For my second visit – a bit of a midnight snack – I had the Belgium waffle with vanilla ice cream.  The waffle is not usually served with ice cream, but I was pleased when the waitress found a way to fill my order instead of making excuses for it not being on the menu that way. It made me feel more at home for sure. Cravings can be tough when it is for something across the ocean instead of up the road.

I am pleasantly impressed with the layout of the restaurant (also clean and neat), the amount of windows that lets the morning sun flood in – I love natural light - the reasonable prices and the good food, as well as the friendly, efficient service!

I am rather health conscious and try to eat well even when I am not cooking myself. For beverages I try to stay away from dehydrating drinks such as coffee and carbonated drinks, i.e. Dr Pepper or Pepsi, and would usually prefer fresh juice. This has proofed to be a very difficult choice to fill in Kansas. At most restaurants your options range from limited to non-existent as your only choice seems to be orange and/or apple juice; if you’re lucky you find cranberry juice. Personally orange juice is too acidic, which often leaves me disappointingly having to be satisfied with water. Hopeful though, in winter (when I’m sure I’m going to need it) decaf coffee is on tap :-)

A definite plus for me with IHOP is their association with MyPyramide.gov which aim to encourage and assist people in making good food choices for healthy living. Their user friendly website include a tip of the day, access to obtaining a personalized eating plan, and applications for healthy eating kids amongst endless other tools and ideas. They are also listed on the Healthy Dining Finder website. I like the logo: “from fast food to fine dining... treat yourself well wherever you are” - Certainly a good philosophy to live by if you ask me.

In my opinion IHOP is a good choice for a delicious and healthy breakfast or light lunch - an all around good experience that makes me reach for my wallet with a smile, and one I gladly recommend.

* I smile to myself as I discover - right before posting this - that IHOP is an abbreviation for The International House of Pancakes - now it makes sense :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Walmart cheaper? Who cares? The shelves are empty!


Walmart had its humble beginnings in Bentonville, Arkansas in May of 1950 when Sam Walton bought his first store and opened Walton’s 5 & 10 (five & dime). He invested 95 % of its capital in 1962 to open the first Walmart store. Today there are over 7,600 stores in 17 countries around the world (including Pakistan? - I would never have guessed).

In 2006 research showed that Walmart’s reduced prices caused consumers to save $287 billion - up to $957 per person or $2,500 per household.

Yes, compared to some other grocers in the area I have found Walmart to be competitive in their pricing of basic foodstuffs such as bread, butter, milk, etc. but my first ever visit to this renowned store was met with a good measure of disappointment at the empty holes on shelves where once were sugar and water; not even an "out of stock" sign in sight. A possible explanation at the time was the start of the school/university semester. Surely semesters don't start every other week, does it? Is it any different at other Walmart stores? Oh well...

Walmart is a pretty good 'one stop shop'. There you can find anything from groceries, clothing and kitchenware to outdoor equipment and apparel, jewellery and hardware, to toys, books and music. Hell, you can even have your hair and nails done, grab a bite to eat at the restaurant and use the fancy toilet that flush by itself when you move away from in front of the infrared beam. Now that is hygiene for you. But unfortunately you can’t stay too long. You need to make a second stop at a competing store, paying only a fraction more, to buy the items you couldn’t find at Walmart. Hey, better luck next time - think I'll be back for those fancy toilets though *wink-wink*.

It was a Black Friday indeed for the family of Jdimytai Damour who was stampeded to death by about 2,000 frantic shoppers entering a New York Walmart store November 28th , 2008. (That would have been a dreadful day for an empty shelf indeed!)

I can’t help but be reminded of the fable The Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise – ridiculed by the hare for moving slowly – challenges the hare to a race. Sure enough the hare has a strong start but, arrogantly assured of imminent victory, he takes a nap along the way. When he wakes he discovers to his utter dismay that Tortoise has kicked his butt. Hmm... Imagine that!

In doing a bit of snooping around of my own I found stores that stock brands that Walmart do NOT stock; brands that are more affordable than the choice I would have made at Walmart, which means I pay less anyway. I found wider variety, better customer service and customer reward programs, things that make shopping at Walmart that much easier to resist. From a business perspective: is it not your goal to have more people shop at your store than at your competitor across the street? So if you can be beat on low prices, what else have you got to offer? Nothing like a bit of healthy competition in the market place! Oops... the store across the street has the same fancy toilets... haha

Maybe Walmart has been around so long that they've become complacent, thinking nothing of a nap in the middle of a race, but if a Walmart Hare won't sit up and pay attention, a competitor Tortoise might just beat him to it! Guess who I'll be cheering for?

Cheaper prices? Who cares? The shelves are empty!

* Walmart history as per Wikipedia