Category Archives: Uncategorized

My blogging 2013 in review


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pad thai from Thailand makes for an exotic final summer


Directly from the country of Thailand came this asian dish, complemented with our garden delights. Here is

Pad thai topped with pak choi


Pad thai on a Tuesday evening

2-3mm wide flat rice sticks
fish sauce
pad thai mix
pinch of chilli powder, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
chopped and fried chicken
2 large eggs, ready cracked
chopped and fried courgettes and red onion

top with grilled pak choi

Pre-boil the rice sticks (only for a couple of min). Add fish sauce + pad thai mix + chilli powder to fried chicken, courgettes and red onion in a pan and then add boiled rice sticks. Mix in beaten eggs until cooked and load on plate with gusto. Top with grilled pak choi and serve with flair.

Eat with a background of BBC 6 o’ clock news and follow with The One Show before selecting a classic movie, preferably featuring Dustin or Al or undoubtedly Bobby De Niro.

Re-post: Mel comments on the NY League Squash win for Sport’s Club L.A. ladies

from left to right: Melanie Heim (author of this post), Patricia Arroyo (disco squash), Louise Wilson (champ), Beth Ashbridge (ashbe), Jennifer Dorland (Jadore) Kara Popowich (kpops), Elizabeth Wainwright (Wainwright)
Susan Collins, the esteemed Republican Senator from Maine, asked me to forward this message to you:
Ladies, I haven’t been this inspired since Gerald Ford assumed the presidency. I had the good fortune to catch all of your matches via the closed-circuit spy cameras that were installed at SCLA as part of our Homeland Security Offensive on Liberal America Program, established 10 years ago. Though this costly program has done little to secure our nation, it has provided hours of entertainment to my fellow Subcommittee members. Here are my observations, which, since I am not seeking reelection, you may take as sincere:
  1. Grace and Skill – Louise, your footwork and seeming ease inspired all who watched you. I actually heard several people in the Senate chamber comment that we should do what we can to get you onto Dancing with the Stars – NY Edition, as you absolutely would outclass Mayor Bloomberg, Regis, and even Tim Tebow (if he has the guts to show up).
  2. Determination – Beth, way to dig deep and respond to coaching. Mackenzie gave it all she had (no wonder she was recently voted Most Relentless in the Northeastern Directory of Annoying Boarding School Graduates) and then some, but it wasn’t enough. I look forward to watching future drubbings handed out by you, particularly if Mel ever gets back on the court.
  3. Consistent Improvement – Jadore, despite playing an opponent who, at the least, was sandbagging, you rose to the challenge and demonstrated that no one on your team deserves Most Improved more than you. Your ascent within 12 months took Mel close to 10 years (according to a study of the future elderly recently completed by the Surgeon General’s Office). Wow your generation moves fast!
  4. Quiet Performance – Patricia, your game 2 win clinched your team’s championship, and you did it with little fanfare. You simply got on the court, didn’t give up, and delivered when your team most needed it. I have asked my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to delay by three more years any plans to invade Canada. This has been done in your honor. I make no promises, however, about Peru.
  5. Leadership – Kara, though you didn’t have a very high benchmark to reach, you went above and beyond your predecessor, exhibiting organization and key decision making over the course of a very long season. You never lost sight of your goal and modeled excellent play-hard behavior. Your team responded in kind. If you ever choose to go into politics, please consider running on the Republican ticket. We could use a few more poli-hotties in DC.
  6. Celebration – Elizabeth, nice touch with the drinks. When you’re not playing, you’re supporting your team mates and adding to the overall esprit de corps. Though my colleagues do not embrace your politics, I secretly do and hope that you continue to influence both your peers and students. A few more of you around the halls of the Capitol and fewer Lindsay Grahams, and I’d consider sticking around.
  7. Longevity – Mel, have you considered tai chi or something else that would be a little gentler on your body? I’m concerned that you continue to tax our already over-burdened medical system with your ongoing physical ailments. However, I do admire the way you just don’t know when to give up. Reminds me of Newt Gingrich a little bit, but only when I’m really drunk.
To all the rest of you, congratulations!  You are true patriots and warriors!
Fondest regards,
(by Melanie Heim)

New Year’s Eve in the Big Bad Apple


I must admit from the outset. I didn’t see the dropping ball. And I apologise for that. I feel like I have failed in my “all-action” professional tourist endeavours. But first let me explain.

On the eve of 2012 I was travelling back from the other side of the pond and as you know.. it takes a little while. So by the time I extracted myself from my economy seat, after what can only be described as a long haul, and made my way swiftly back to my island, I was rather under-motivated to sparkle myself up and venture back out into the dark night. However, plans had been made and so after a swift unpacking and a shower to awaken my sluggish self I made my way to Korea Town for a sing song.

Korea Town is centred on a section of 32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway officially titled “Korea Way”. A business hub by day and food extravaganza by night we were booked into an altogether different activity. Tonight we were not going to be indulging in Korean barbeque (although that is on my To Do list), we were going to perform to a packed out room (mainly due to it’s size) in the singalong pursuit known as karaoke.

For the more avid readers this will resurrect memories of one of my earliest adventures in the city. An event that culminated in me jumping on stage, in the Stonewall Inn, in front of a small to medium sized incredibly camp audience of wannabe performers to squawk out a sort of rendition of the Funny Girl classic “Don’t Rain on my Parade”. The room was stunned in utter amazement that I had tackled such a feat. It left some speechless and others desiring that I too disengaged my vocal cords for fear of broken glass or the like. However, never a quitter, I took this New Year opportunity to reawaken my ambitions of Broadway musical stardom and proceeded to destroy Billy Joel masterpieces, strain my voice box through the best of Whitney Houston and perform, for the children not in attendance, a wonderful interpretation of Disney’s “Under the Sea”. My pièce de résistance was undoubtedly the near perfect execution of Chicago’s ‘When you’re good to mama”. For this number I was on my feet. I was dramatic as if on the Ambassador Theatre stage and was truly loyal to the award winning screen production where Queen Latifah made her mark on that great work. Another great staging was my take on Tom Jones’ “It’s not unusual”. Oh boy I let myself loose on that one despite lacking the typical dulcet tones the Welsh are so renowned for. In fact, rumour has it that there is a recording of said performance circulating the internet but that is simply cheap gossip and must be left well alone.

In conclusion, I was lost in my own singalong world and despite being minutes away from the famous NYC action I was probably croaking away as the clock struck midnight. Hello 2012 in the Big Bad Apple.


Halloween snowed out?


The Big Apple has seen a trace of snow as early as October 10, but the earliest measurable snow occurred on October 15, 1876. 

Yesterday, on October 29th, measurable snow was certainly.. well… measured. As I trampled through H&M in search of bright green tights, fitting of any self-respecting Robin Hood, I miraculously found a lovely woolly jumper. Not my intended purchase, but nevertheless, with my newly acquired tights in a shocking flavour of green and my warm woolly number I exited onto Lexington Avenue surprised to be now under a barrage of white pellets of cold. Streaming down from the sky, these icy gifts were determined that they had not arrived too soon. The population tended to disagree but alas to no avail. Measurable snow kept falling and I made an unofficial record of over 12 hours of downpour. Not the optimal situation for a green tights’ outing (but let’s just say that jumper must have been fate? and not simply a shopping weakness on my part).

Halloween, yes the holiday of death, brujas (witches in Spanish-I am still working on that) and all things sinister, is shockingly huge in this country. I was quite amazed. Wandering the streets of the Big Pumpkin I was greeted by Mario (of Nintendo fame), various tellytubbies, masks of Family Guy’s Stewie and Shreks galore. Basically all manner of insanity being beaten down by the snow.

Most of the time I am unphased by the plethora of oddly attired people treading the streets of this great city, but last night was brilliant. I could play “Are they dressed up?” on the subway, which basically involves me guessing to myself whether the person is in “costume” or merely day wear (a game originally devised by me). This is a much preferable game to “Look at that rat! Ooh there’s one!”, which is a common distraction I have played many a late night waiting for my ride home.

But, you are probably wondering if my green tights got their special outing? They didn’t. They remained hidden beneath my cosy jeans and I made my way home, accompanied by a fully grown clown, a bee keeper and his bees and some cold looking couples who clearly didn’t prepare themselves for a Halloween of snowy slush.

What does cancer mean for us today?


The New York Times has done a great piece on the state of art in cancer biology now. With a wonderfully cute video, complete with drawings , Picture This: Cancer is perfect for the lay person as well as the scientists of the world to show us how science communication is quite the talent. Nice one George Johnson et al.

Click here for the full article.

But today is also great news for some cancer patients as the FDA approval for a new melanoma drug is finalised. ABC reports on the drug Vemurafenib, a pill that targets a specific gene mutation found in about half of melanomas. Most sufferers of skin melanoma do not survive more than 9 months but this drug has shown a dramatic effect on shrinking these tumours by around 70%. It specifically targets the protein product of the mutation found in 50% of melanomas effectively killing the cancerous cells specifically, having no detrimental effect on normal cells in the body.

Medical oncologist from Sloan-Kettering Paul Chapman is delighted with the results. For those who have this mutation he says, “This is the first pill that you can take that will shrink your melanoma, and we know will leave you living longer than you would have.”

What splendid news for a Thursday afternoon.