Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's a dog's life

This was forwarded to me by the ever-gorgeous Federica, and is really too funny.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Venture

The idea:

I was talking to some friends who have kids a while back, about having portraits of their children drawn. The general consensus was that they would love to have a portrait of their child, but never seem to find the time, and simply doubt that their children would sit still enough for anything more than a rough sketch.

So I started thinking that this is a service I could offer- Quality pencil portraits drawn from photo.

The process:

1. Clients email a favourite photo of the person they wish to have "immortalised".
2. I draw the portrait, and then send a low resolution jpg to the client.
3. The client transfers money to my account and I post/deliver the portrait to them immediately.

The people I have consulted so far about this generally love the idea, as it takes very little time on their behalf, and in this day and age full of "stranger danger" they do not have to introduce their children to some stranger in order to produce the portrait. The other plus is that I can do portraits of children as babies, long after they have grown up, as well as draw loved ones who have already passed on.

So what do you think? Is this something you think could work? Do you know anyone who would be interested in this? Let me know.

PS. In case you didn't already realise, these pictures are examples of some of my pencil portraits.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Just another Manny's Monday (Week 2)

Manny Goes to the Park.

Here is Manny on his visit today to the Shanghai Civilised Park, on Huashan Rd. We are yet to find the Shanghai Uncivilised Park, however today's park proved to be quite civilised indeed.

Manny poses for a photo:

Manny gazes at the Chinese bamboo grove:

Manny checks out the pond:

Manny makes a friend:

"Hey, easy there, sister!"

"Whoa, come back!"

Manny needs a rest:

Until next week,
xx Manny

PS. Check out the rest of Manny's Adventures at Just Another Manny's Monday

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Good Lord!

"It's like we're kinda being trained to be warriors, only in a much funner way!"

Friday, September 22, 2006

The wake shake-up

"Clothes on while mourning, please"

"China has banned 'obsene' performances at funerals, said the People's Daily (Beijing), after a local television expose revealed that exotic dancers were being used at funerals to attract large crowds. Following the airing of the program, police arrested five strippers at the funeral of a local farmer in Donghai County in easter Jiangsu Province. More than 200 people, including children, were attending the service when the raid was conducted. Local custom dictates that the greater the number of mourners at a funeral, the more the deceased will be honoured in the afterlife. The villagers were also told that details on all future funerals be submitted to police withing 12 hours of a person's death. A 'funeral misdeeds' hotline has also been set up."

--NVR Magazine

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Un-anserable questions answered, Chapter 2

Well after posting the "why do men have nipples" story, I have been getting the STRANGEST google searches here. Such as "How do I fix my outie belly button"- my answer: wear a t-shirt. You heard it here first folks!

Anyway, as promised is the next installment of medical genius from "Why do men have nipples? Hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini", by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D.

"Can you Catch diseases from a toilet seat?"

"Yes, you can occasionally catch something from a public toilet seat but this isn't all that common. Work, on the other hand, may be worse for your health than toilet seats. A microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Charles Gerba, found that the typical office desk harbors around four hubdred times more disease-causing bacteria than the average toilet seat."
I can remember my mother carefully laying toilet paper down over the seat of the public toilet and telling me (with a tone of thinly veiled hysteria) "Don't touch the toilet! Don't TOUCH the TOILET!!". And then she wondered why I developed a morbid fear of public toilets? (Although on the up side, I did simultaneously develope a bladder of steel)

All this time she should have been telling me not to touch the phone.


"Do your nails or hair grow after you die?"

"Human nails and hair do not grow after death. The fact of the matter is that after you die, your body starts to dry out, creating the illusion that your hair and nails are still growing as the rest of you shrivels up."
So there you have it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bits and Pieces

I have been teaching art to kids in an after school program recently. The classes are held in the rarely used club house of an ex-pat villa area- a place that feels like a fake American movie set when you walk through.

After setting up yesterday I had 20 minutes to wait for the kids to arrive so decided I'd make use of the bar and have a cup of coffee. I ordered a latte, and the girl behind the bar jumped into action- I think it was the first drink she'd prepared all day. She frothed up some milk, and poured it into a tall latte jar, and then prepared two shots of esspresso- back-to-front order, I thought, but at that point I didn't really care. Then she realised if she poured the coffee into the milk the froth would be destroyed. So she carefull spooned the coffee in with a tiny teaspoon- one spoon at a time. By the time I got the coffee ten minutes later it was luke warm, but by god that froth looked good.

My teaching assistant, a young Chinese woman named Erica laughed and said: "We Chinese are diligent, but often not very clever". Her words, not mine.

I have also been doing some freelance voice-over audio recording for text-books and English language audio tapes in the last few months. Last week I was doing a recording in the top floor of the Population Services Bureau building. After the taping, we were waiting for the lift to take us downstairs and I was looking at a dirty, old, black medical chair in the hall. I pointed out that with its rudimentary metal stirrups it looked like a gynocological chair, and the sound technician said that it was actually an abortion chair. "Look," she pointed. "The big hole at the end of the seat there collects all the waste and that pipe there connects to the drains. So, let's go get lunch!".

Population Services indeed. EEeeeeewww!

Another newbie

Another Welcome to the World to my new niece Mia Jade, born last week (but her poor old Aunty Lou in Shanghai is only JUST getting photos of her today). Congratulations to my big bro Jack and his much better half Christine.


Daddy Jack:

Looking like her daddy first thing in the morning- the scrawny prawn look:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Smart Art

A painting I did for the arrival of my friends Helen and Christian's new munchkin, Grace.

(Acrylic on canvas, 60x80cm)


Introducing: Manny

It's been done before, but that's not gonna stop me from doing it again. Manny shall now have his own segment on this here old blog called Manny's Mondays, as he travels around Shanghai, China, and eventually the world. Who knows, he could be the first 80 cent convenience store toy bear to be sent into space!

Introducing Manny's first Monaday, a day late due to technical issues:

Manny on the Balcony:
Manny with his peeps:

PS. Don't try to deny that when you read Manny's Mondays you subconcsiously began humming the tune of Manic Monday... I'm evil, aren't I? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

To the visitor who came here after googling "hello kitty store shanghai", I point you silently to the magnet on our fridge:

If you still want the store, I can tell you that it is located on Tian Ping Rd, near Jiao Jia Bang Rd. I'm ashamed to know that, but I have been past it many times.

5 years, one week

Disclaimer: Ok I tried not to write this, and put it off for a week, because I'm not sure if I can make myself understood properly. It is not my intention to offend or belittle anyone's experience. It is not my intention to mock anyone. And it is certainly not my intention to disrespect the dead, and those still coping with the void of lost love ones in their lives.


The fact is that I don't really care where you were on September 11, 2001.

I don't care that you were eating two-minute noodles on your sofa. That you were walking your dog past a window display of televisions. That you had just come home from a night on the turps to switch on the tv.

That's not to say that this experience is not important to you. It is. It is just not important to me.

What I really want to know is:

Where are you on September 11, 2006.

Five years have passed, and what I really want to know is where are we now.

The United States of America was attacked by an international terrorist organisation. We ran off to Afghanistan to find its leader. Five years later we are embroiled in still more bombings and attempted attacks, and yet are still no closer to the inner circle of this organisation (though we did manage to find Saddam hiding in a basement, when we slipped into Iraq under the cloudy pretences of searching for WMD). We invaded Afghanistan, didn't find much, and yet are still surprised when this international organisation manages to conduct their warfare from the heart of London. How long will it take for us to realise that this is not a crazy little group of bearded men, operating out of dusty caves in sandy hills. This is a group who's members live in the houses and apartments next door to you and me.

It is no secret that I was opposed to the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I saw first hand what the devastation of infrastructure can do to a country in East Timor in 2000, and I wouldn't wish anything like that on anyone. I am not going to go into the reasons here why we should or should not have started this war. However, whether is was justified or not, one thing is for sure: it's too late to back out now.

So, what I want to hear, read and discuss is more about what people are feeling NOW. What do they think of their governments' actions in the present time. What they think the future holds. How they think we can ever get out of this mess without leaving several Middle Eastern countries in complete ruins. Al Qaeda detroyed the twin towers, but we are the ones continuing to this day to destroy the lives and livelihoods of many millions of people. At home and abroad.

September 11, 2001, was the day the western world opened it's eyes to the future. Let's not close them again. By all means remember the past- history tells us it's how we learn. But let's not shrug our shoulders and wash our hands of the present and the future.

So, tell me, where are you on September 11, 2006?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

unanswerable questions.... answered!

Anyone who knows me well will know that I have been pondering a certain life-changing question for many years now...

Why do men have nipples?

The other day I was wandering through the ridiculously overpriced selection of battered books in the Crown Plaza gift shop while waiting for Phil. He was shamelessly using the toilets in the lobby, instead of the public toilets on the street (that you have to pay a whole 20 cents for!) regardless of the fact that we only live a block away. Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and when you gotta go in Asia, you REALLY gotta go!

But I digress.

While I was brousing the crappy books for sale, I stumbled upon this little beauty:

"Why do men have nipples? Hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini", by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D.

I shrieked in delight and promptly bought it. It is filled with all sorts of useful morsels of knowledge like:

  • Why do some folks have an "outie" belly button and some folks have an "innie"?
  • What are eye boogers?
  • Does breast milk cure warts?
  • Why does the bed spin after a long night at the bar?
  • Can you ignite a fart?
  • Why do you get all "pruney" after a long bath?
  • Can you get scared to death?
  • Is it true that left-handed people are smarter than right-handed people?
  • Why do old ladies grow beards?

....just to name a few.

But, because I know you are dying to know:

Why do men have nipples:

"We are mammals and blessed with body hair, three middle ear bones, and the ability to nourish our young with milk that females produce in modified sweat glands called mammary glands. Although females have the mammary glands, we all start out in a similar way as an embryo. During development, the embryo follows a female template until about six weeks, when the male sex chromosome kicks in for a male embryo. The embryo then begins to develop all of its male characteristics. Men are thus left with nipples and also some breast tissue. Men can even get breast cancer and there are some medical conditions that can cause male breasts to enlarge."

-- "Why do men have nipples? Hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini", by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D.

So there you have it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pro Hypocrisy

Does it strike anyone else as hypoctytical that fanatical Pro-Lifers are also usually Pro-Death Penalty, and quite often also Pro-Guns?

Just asking.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"This one time... in Nepal..."

4 years ago last friday I landed in dusty Kathmandu, ready for a year in a little village called Ittabhatta, located on the eastern border of Nepal.

That year was simultaneously the best and worst year of my life. I am still reeling from a mix of death, poverty, civil war, landslides, floods, earthquakes, child labour, together with a lifetime of smiles, friendships, and of course, the ever-stunning Himalayas. It was also in Nepal that I met Phil, so it's a pretty special place for us (though I'll save that story for another day, if you actually want to hear it).

So in memory of that year (and of the super-sized coffee I drank at 4pm this afternoon) I have made a slideshow. Skip it if you want, but I gotta do something with these photos gathering dust!

Ps. Sorry for the bad resolution- it would have taken longer to load them at full size than my coffee buzz could last.

Everything's funnier with a fever

Poor phil dislocated his shoulder two weeks ago. Three days after that he badly sprained his arm in a bicycle accident, and still can't move it enough to even tie his long hair back (I get that job). Now today he has a mysterious fever on top of all that.

Watching The Sopranos tonight, they mentioned Billy Joel, and I remembered a funny story I once heard about him. I turn to Phil and say:

"Hey you know that Billy Joel song 'I love you just the way you are'? The one Shrek sings?"

"Yeah", Phil says.

"Well he wrote it for his wife, Christie Brinkley....".

Phil sits up straight on the couch and interrupts the story: "What? Shrek wrote it for Christie Brinkley??!!"

Question of the day: Is it cruel to pee laughing at your delerious, feverish boyfriend?


PS- I don't usually reference the classics with their Pixar/disney/warner soundtracks, but I know Phil is not a fan of mr Joel, and wanted to put it into a context he would know.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm not saying Crikey.

Ok, I don't know how to say this without sounding like a total bitch, but the simple fact is that I am just not distraught and shocked that Steve Irwin is dead.

Yes, it is sad, but I am not terribly upset by the news. Nor am I surprised. If he had been killed whilst filing his tax return, or folding his laundry, perhaps. But the man's life work had put him in dangerous situations time and time again. Saying that I am surprised he was killed by a wild animal is like saying I am surprised a pack-a-day smoker eventually died of lung cancer.

Do I feel sad for his wife and kids? Of course, my heart aches immensely for anyone who loses their soulmate, and any child that loses a parent. That goes without saying.

However the fact is that I never watched his shows, went to his wildlife park, or watched any of his international interviews. And although he was famous, I would never have called him a National Icon. In fact, more often than not he has been declared by public opinion in Australia as more of a National Outrage than an Icon. Taking his one month old son into the crocodile enclosure during feeding time in 2004, was an even so publicly despised and ridiculed it rivaled the Michael Jackson-Baby-Over-The-Balcony event in terms of questionable child abuse. So much so that Australian laws were changed in direct response to the event and the Queensland Government released new rules prohibiting children and any untrained adults from entering crocodile enclosures. This was just one of the many public scandals, and within the zoological community he was widely known as a careless risk-taker.

Yet now that he has died, there is suddenly an out-pouring of Princess Diana-like public grieving, selective amnesia declaring him a "lovable larrikin" and even a tribute song. In light of past public opinion, the reaction to Irwin's death stinks of hypocrisy.

Just because the man is dead does not mean I am going to suddenly pretend that I liked him. In truth, his personality irritated me a lot. Just because I agree he had raised the profile of native Australian animals worldwide, does not mean that I think he always did it the best or most humane way he could have. And just because he died in a freak accident does not mean that I consider him to be a tragic hero. The man died doing what he loved, what he had exposed himself and his family to for many years, and what he got paid a lot of money to do.

The death of anyone is sad, but I never knew the guy personally, and I never really liked his public persona either. I can't pretend that I did, just because I'm an Aussie too.

In truth I am more upset over the death this week of my uncle, Ken Hubbard - a man who, after 25-odd years of self-imposed isolation and alcoholism, was just getting to know his family again and getting his life back on track. He died, alone in his bed, and wasn't found for days. Now that's tragic.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Vitamin Ski

What do you do in Shanghai when the weather is unbearably hot and sweaty??

Why, you go skiing of course!

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Man, this guy gets around!

Thanks to Mignon for the link.

Friday, September 01, 2006

On becoming Martha Stewart

For those of you who do not know, I am somewhat of a Martha. I am also vegetarian. These two forces combined recently and the product is Lou's Super Easy Vegetarian Shephard's Pie:

Lou's Super Easy Vegetarian Shephard's Pie

450g can* Caneloni Beans, drained
450g can Kidney Beans, drained
450g can Chick Peas, drained
600g can Pasta sauce (or Tomato soup, but pasta sauce is better)
2T plain flour (or you can use Gravox gravy powder for extra flavour- but check the ingredients to get the vegetarian one)
1t basil
salt and pepper to taste

Dump all this in a saucepan and stir over med heat until thickened a little (if it gets too glue-like add a little water/more pasta sauce/tomato sauce/ketchup- anything really to thin it).

Cook about 5 large potatoes, and mash thickly with butter and not too much milk.

Put tomato/bean mix into caserole dish and top with mashed potato.

Sprinkle a little grated cheese over the top.

Bake in mod hot oven for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!! Even Phil-The-Carnivore-Roy loves this one!

*note: can sizes are rough estimates- it truly doesn't matter if you have more or less.

Welcome To The World!

Welcome to the world Grace Miriam:

Congratulations to Helen and Christian for cooking up this perfect little bundle of scrumptiousness.


Behold the expression on the face of Carbi the Wonderdog after his first bath:

Carbi is my sister Liz, and her husband James' diabetes alert dog.

Doesn't his expression just say: "Dude, this is SO not cool."