Wednesday, September 29, 2004

ZEROCROP ::: zerocrop.com

I followed a link on Fleshbot to the Zerocrop website. You really should check this out. Fleshbot said: "dark and damaged collection of narcotic induced adventures" featuring voicemail messages from gay chatlines, recorded conversations, tortured vinyl, backwards guitars and "fucked up beats"



I say "This blew my mind; incredibly stylish graphics with an urban edge and dark sexy music that reminds me what great music is. You feel this right in your soul. This is probably the best music to fuck to that I have heard for a long time." You can try the tracks out on the built in MP3 player, and I have gone onto order the CD.

Zerocrop has apparently been around for a while, although it is new to me. Samples of his first set of tracks, "Ain't No W*nker", are also avaiable and worth checking out.

Check this site out, I am pretty sure you'll love it. Not really suitable for checking out at work - unless you're the boss!

Soccer hairstyles banned for being 'too gay'

I love this story!

The Independent Online in South Africa reports that “Attempts are gathering pace to stop young Nigerian footballers from wearing hair braids, dreadlocks and earrings.”

Many of Nigeria's top footballers, including national captain Jay-Jay Okocha and star striker Nwankwo Kanu, have their hair braided. In the late 1990s, defender Taribo West had his braids dyed in the national colours.

But some football officials seem to have had enough. One senior football official has ordered the removal of any unacceptable braids from players' hair at an upcoming junior tournament. He says their fashion statements are not culturally acceptable and promoted homosexuality.



Too gay? Taribo West at the 1998 World Cup with his gay hair braids.

Some sports administrators have said that players should be banned from playing if they arrive on pitch with an unusual hairdo.

Last week a leading government official from the information ministry slammed the soccer trend-setters on national television: "Our youths are now taking after our great football stars... don't forget that in the developing world that the braiding of hair and earrings have a sense of homosexuality."

Not all Nigerian soccer fan agree. "I don't see it as if these guys are gay," insists one fan. "I see them portraying Africa culture in another perspective."

The Nigerian government must think that Beckham is uber-gay

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Spain Church blasts gay marriage

Surprisingly, the Spain Church has attacked the Spanish government's plans to introduce gay marriage, comparing them to releasing a virus into society. Understandable, because recognising a union of 2 people is exactly the same as opening a vial of smallpox and adding it to the public water supply. Perhaps they have been too subtle. A gay union is actually more like Armageddon and the Spanish government should be charged with genocide.

What!?#*&!! The church sees it as a further erosion of its power and authority. Perhaps this is what the pope and his evil minions are more concerned about. Women going to work and taking control of their own bodies – erosion of power. Divorce from relationships that aren’t working – erosion of power. Enjoying a better quality of life rather than sending small boys up chimneys - erosion of power.
A catholic church spokesperson, Juan Antonio Martinez Camino said "It would impose on society a virus, something false, which will have negative consequences for social life." Or it might impose a little more tolerance in the world, allow people to feel valued, stop families ostracising their children who don’t fit in the traditional models of society, and recognise that loving someone, regardless of gender, is more important than making judgements of other people.

I really shouldn’t post anything about the church, it inevitably makes my blood boil and reinforces my prejudices against organised religion.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Gay kidney

The Daily Mirror today carried a report about a gay man who was given a kidney by his boyfriend. Patrick Callaghan was told the chance of his partner’s kidney being a transplant match was’ as slim as winning lotto.’

Normally a donor would be a relative but his condition, polycystic kidney disease, is hereditary and his mother and two brothers died of the disease, as well as his other brother and three sisters are also sufferers. After an 11-hour operation at Guy's Hospital, London, the kidney was transplanted. Two years on doctors say his body has fully accepted it.

‘Tests showed Mr Lo, 33, a fashion designer from Hong Kong, was a match.’ I love how this combines some lovely Daily Mirror stereotypes – the gay fashion designer and implications of gay immigration. Pretty hard to see how they could put a negative slant on this story.

However they do report his partner, Richard, as saying : "It is very upsetting to see a loved one suffering.", as well as the surgeon’s comment that it “their first operation with gay partners.”

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I Know What I Did This Summer

Still on a wave of euphoria after getting my new job, I am sure this will wear off as I realise I have still got 3 more months left in this post and I will still be expected to deliver. I have agreed my last day will 31st December, albeit I have enough leave to finish mid December, so it really will be a fresh start in 2005.

In the meantime I have actually got around to sorting some of the Cuba pictures out. It has reinforced how crappy my ancient digital camera is. When I bought it 1.5 mega pixels was top of the range (in my price bracket), but now it is hopelessly out of date and it shows in the quality of the shots. Serves me right for being an early adopter. Hopefully, Santa will be kind this Christmas and pop some lovely shiny gadget in my stocking.

Back to Cuba – we spent a lot of time on the beach, in the sea and by the pool – mainly just chilling and getting some well-earned rest, but we also had time for water sports. (I know what your thinking but it was just too obvious a comment to make!)

This is a slightly blurry view from the hotel showing the pool and the beach. It is great to be 2 minutes away from the pool with the beach right next to it.



We probably spent most of time here and left the pool for the Brits who prefer the sterility of the pool rather than risk a few grains of sand getting in their trunks. We also went out in the catamaran from this beach a few times. I had never done this before and it was fantastic. I cannot swim very well so I usually hate being out in the sea, but strapped up in my life jacket I was quite happy being tilted to 90 degrees and constantly drenched as the pilot/driver/captain?? caught the breezes and zipped us a long. We all really loved it and I would definitely have another go. Unfortunately, sailing on the north east coast in the cold sea isn’t quite the same as the 45-degree heat of the Caribbean.



We also took a trip further along the coast to go out in speedboats. They were only 45 bhp little motors, but they went pretty damn fast. We had a large bay to traverse and a river inlet for a more sedate ride. There were a few people out and, apart from one stupid woman who had no idea how to control her boat and risked her daughters safety by driving straight at us, this was a high-adrenaline ride. I was a little perturbed to realise that what I thought were logs floating in the water were actually human heads (attached to bodies). Some of the local people were diving in the shallower waters. We hadn't been warned about this and to suddenly see you are on course for a person is pretty shocking. We managed to enjoy the ride without loss of life. This is my bonny face as I hurtle around the bay, trying to look suave and sophisticated (and failing).


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Up, Up and Away...



I haven’t posted much since we got back from Cuba. Partly as it has been straight back to work, but mainly as I have been preparing for an interview. The interview was on Monday and although I took a load of papers on holiday with me to start preparing, they just stayed at the bottom of my suitcase. We got back 2 days later than expected, which meant I left it all until last weekend.

So, Saturday I start preparing my presentation, I had a lot of thoughts scribbled down, but wanted to print some overheads. Of course, just as I am ready to hit print, the PC crashes and then reboots, and the crashes and then reboots and then…well you get the picture. Eventually I managed to make it reboot from the CD drive and re-install XP. So, three hours later I get the presentation done, although I hadn’t rehearsed my script or prepared model answers. We still went out on Saturday night (maybe not the best idea) and I started late on Sunday. My boyfriend had that patient face which meant he didn’t think I was prepared enough but knew one wrong word would send me into a spiral of denial and insecurity. By midnight we had gone over the presentation and some questions as many times as I could handle.

The interview was at midday – so at least I had time to get ready leisurely and arrive early enough to look back over my notes. The interview was meant to be 45 minutes, but I was in there for an hour and a half. I think I answered most questions well, including being honest when I didn’t know something. I think that it is better to be honest rather than blog it and get caught out later.

I spent the afternoon sipping Havana Club and Fanta, flicking through crap TV and berating myself for all the answers that I could have expanded upon more. My boyfriend was home at 5 and tried to distract me while I waited for the call. Then at 6.30 the call came in…

I got the job!
I got the job!
I got the job!


I got the job! I was really pleased and my new-boss-to-be said that the panel had been impressed with my presentations and interview and were unanimous in wanting to appoint me. She said that although I didn’t have all the skills they wanted, they were happy that my answers convinced them I understood the theory and had a clear strategy for implementing it. A large part of the job will be operational management, including managing staff, and this is a weak area (I mean learning opportunity) for me Then she talked money. The job was advertised at £2k less than I am on now, and would have been willing to accept this to get out this job and into an organisation that values staff more. Of course, I would have tried to negotiate maintaining my current salary, but I needn’t have bothered they have offered me £2k above my current salary with a review in 12 months to increase it subject to performance! A major bonus as my main aim was to get the job and I really hadn’t even thought about the money.

My current boss was pretty supportive this morning and said she would have been surprised if I hadn’t got it. She said I had a good reputation locally and she had already been planning for my replacement. A shame that this hasn’t really been communicated before! But, and it’s a big but, (don’t tell her I said that!), they will hold me to my 3 months notice period. I had been hoping to negotiate this down to 2 months, but this is not an option. How I will keep motivated for the next 3 months is beyond me, my mind is already on the new job. Anyway, the main thing is that I got the job and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Back in Blighty

Back in blighty. We were due to leave Cuba last Friday, but there was a technical problem with the plane and we had to wait for them to fly a part in from Switzerland. That is what we were told anyway. With the rest of the airport manic with travellers trying to make their escape before the hurricane arrived I got caught up in the panic and was approaching all the airlines that were flying anywhere vaguely near home. All the flights to Madrid, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Bologna were full, even club and first class, so we resigned ourselves to being stuck their until the following Friday. We were transferred to another hotel (very swish) and eventually left on Sunday morning, but not until we had seen all windows being taped or boarded up and the Cuban people queuing for toilet roll and water before they were evacuated.

The weather was still scorching so we managed to have another day by the pool and see a little more of Havana, although we had been spoilt by our time at the luxurious Parque Central Hotel. This hotel is amazing. The bedrooms and bathrooms were huge and the lobby was beautiful. It was billed as a five star hotel and certainly lived up to its recommendation.

The swimming pool on the roof was breathtaking (more on this later) and the views from it were outstanding. The staff were all very helpful if a bit slow at times. They have an air of calm efficiency that I would trade for a little speedy uncertainty! If you visit Havana, I would definitely recommend the Parque Central.
We have been to Havana before and didn’t feel compelled to ‘do’ all the traditional sites. This left us free to wander a little and realise that the Havana that you don’t see in the guide books is the dirty, smelly side with several families crammed into a once glorious building that is now crumbling and without water. There is definitely a rich and poor side to Havana that isn’t as distinct in the more rural areas. I think that some of this will filter down as tourist dollars and UN grants make inroads, but there isn’t a true communist utopia (but did that ever exist anywhere?)

More to follow with some pictures....

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

It isn't big and it isn't clever

Coming up to the last couple of days of our vacation - we are off to Havana tomorrow and back to England at the weekend. We have had a very relaxing stay and, apart from a few short rainstorms in the evening, the weather has been perfect. The hurricanes seem to have bypassed us and have headed straight for the states.


The only thing that has bugged me has been the behavior of some of the guests. Most people are like us - respectful of others and with a certain level of decorum and respect. Others, however, are right royal pains in the arse. They fall into 2 main groups:

  1. Brits Abroad - This group insist on wearing football shirts all day. In the evening their wives/girlfriends will be immacuately turned out (apart from a few vulgar tattoos and an attachment to braids that only look good on black women) but the men will be wearing football shirts and shorts and resting lager on their huge pot bellies. Their main topic of conversation is that the weather is too hot/not hot enough, the bacon isn't what they are used to, there aren't enough karoke bars and they cannot get access to their favourite TV channels. God forbid that they miss an episode of Eastenders or miss seeing what their favourite TV whore was wearing last night at the Soap Awards.

  2. VERY LOUD Canadians - Groups of young Canadians who think that the whole beach needs to know the names of their kids, the size of their houses at home, the number of cockroaches they have seen, how many times they have been to the toilet and how they are better than Americans. This group will start drinking at 10 am and then proceed to takeover the bar in the evening, verbally assaulting anyone who dares to suggest they are too loud. They will invariably sit with their shirts off and try to play Frisbee across the restaurant.

Luckily, these 2 obnoxious groups are in the minority, but there should be away of filtering them out. For the UK, I wouldn't allow anyone who smokes Regal, Embassy or Lambert & Butler to get on the plane. Not sure what the solution is for the Canadians, perhaps a reading age of at least 12? In spite of these few, we have had a great time and apart from my crap dancing I don't think we have let the side down. Anyway off to top up my tan with the last couple of hour sun.


Saturday, September 04, 2004

Cuba Libra

We are half way through our holiday now and I couldn't resist a post! It is like paradise here in Guardalavaca. After a breakfast of fresh guava, mango and papaya we take a leisurely stroll (maybe 10 meters) onto the beach to stretch out in the sun or maybe seek the shade of a palm tree. The water is deep blue and perfect for swimming or lying provocatively on the shoreline (hey it works for me - don't shatter my illusions!). We have been snorkeling and out in a catamaran, but for the most time I have been happy to do nothing. It is has been really relaxing and all the mundane hassles of normal day-to-day life seem a million miles away.

We have ventured away from the hotel, cycling to another nearby beach populated by Cuban families. We do appear to be a bit of a novelty with our white/pink skin and our love of the sun rather than the shade. We have been offered cigars and rum and although it is impossible to not drink several daiquiris in the evening I couldn't drink rum during the day.

One bizarre thing has been the amount of sex that I have been offered. My partner and the friends we have traveled with have been OK, but for some reason I appear to have "I am desperate for sex" tattooed on my forehead. On the first day a Cuban girl wanted to introduce me to her friend, who was a pretty gorgeous guy, but I pointed out that I was here with my partner and they moved on. I am sure that it wouldn't have been a cost free transaction but this seemed to set the tone for the holiday. On the third day I decided to avail myself of the hotel's chropodist service and have the hard skin hacked off my feet. He did a great job on my feet but then proceeded to do a foot massage that progressed up my legs as he told me he was free for the day. As the massage progressed to my thigh I got a bit freaked out and I think the tenseness showed. He stopped there and I made my escape. Yesterday was my latest encounter. A seven foot black man approached us on the beach to offer cigars/rum/marijuana. We politely declined, chatted a bit and let him bum a few cigarettes. When my partner and friends went into the sea he approached me and asked if wanted to have sex with him. Again, I politely declined and made my way to the bar. This never happens to me at home - so I am convincing myself that it is my charming good looks rather than the tourist dollars in my pocket.

We are off in speed boats tomorrow, which we have done before, and can't resist having another go. It is just like a James Bond movie with a chase across the bay and then along a winding river through sugar cane and banana trees. On Wednesday we head over to Havana for another side of Cuba. Without doubt I would come to Cuba again. This is our second visit and although there are a hundred places I would like to visit in the world, Cuba would always head the list.