When was the last time you opened the silver paper on the top of a bottle of booze only to be confronted with a cork that you can’t pop out, because it doesn’t have a muffintop? All you have to do is use a…. Oh, you don’t have a corkscrew.

No problem. Just push the cork inside the bottle – very gently.

As to how long the cork can stay in the plonk without affecting it, I don’t know. If you empty the wine bottle, I don’t think you’ll need to worry about it.


Romania, like everywhere else if you look hard enough, is a country of contrasts. The first impression you get, on leaving Otopeni International Airport, is of coils of black-coated wire cabling hung up on the posts, as if the installation company thought it was a good place for storage. The second impression you get is of buildings of every kind: some aged with discoloured concrete and rusting metal; others brand new with modern design and architecture. Many times they are right next to each other.

In some areas, quite a few of the buildings exist in a state of semi-repair, or demolition, or construction, or at least looking as though they need repairs, or tenants. For some buildings, only the concrete frame is in place. Very close to the centre of town there is a block (as in a city block of land) with four enormous buildings, stately, with fluted columns at the front. Apparently Ceaucescu intended them to be Romania’s radio city, but they are empty shells, still looking majestic but friable along the edges.

On the whole, the impression you get of Bucharest by a glance at its infrastructure is of trying to start an old car on a cold day: it won’t at first; it tries and fails, but with care slowly comes closer to starting up. The idea that it will start eventually is because of the modern high-rise buildings and businesses that are operating in Romania. Not just McDonald’s either – thankfully, there seem to be few of these – but there are many clothing retail chains of all kinds and styles, from high-end to be-sloganed teeshirts. Then again, I’m comparing Bucharest with Perth, the cultural Rip van Winkle of cities. (more…)

If you’ve read my previous post you might be surprised at the subject of this post. The reason is that I’d mostly prepared this post before the news about my father being in his final days. He has since died, and I”m grateful that we all had time to prepare, and to say everything to each other that we needed to say.

Part of returning of “normal” life has been to read and to write. Hence this post….


I recently returned from brief tours of Romania and of Israel. For what they’re worth, here are a few tips that you might not learn from more reputable and objective sources.

Travelling safely in Romania

Romanians don’t drink tapwater unless it’s first run through industrial-strength filters. Instead, they drink bottled water, most of which seems to be carbonated. However, the tapwater is safe to drink, just like a McDonald’s hamburger is safe to eat.

On the subject of potables, I’m not much of a drinker beyond the occasional glass of red or gin-and-tonic, so you can draw your own conclusions when I say the traditional Romanian celebratory beverage, usually homemade, is some kind of rocket fuel. That was my only coherent thought as the first sip of the clear liquid started to burn holes in my oesophagus. (more…)

My old computer was slowing down for no good reason that I could see. I’m not technologically incompetent but I couldn’t find the cause. So after some thought and research, I bought a new computer. This one has a fingerprint scanner, which naturally I had to try. After setting it up, I received the following message:


Can you be too much of a  perfectionist?

Can you be too much of a perfectionist?









Without a context, you might think that modelling agencies scrutinise applicants a little too assiduously.

If you’re anything like me, you think the Zeppelin Bend is the cat’s pyjamas but you find tying it a chore. How can such a sublime bend be so awkward to form? There must be a seemly way to weave it, surely?

I decided to reverse engineer the Zeppelin and discovered that it’s two overhand knots linked together. A little more tinkering and here is the way I use to tie it. (Apologies for the brightness from the flashback.)

1. Form an overhand loop with line 1 and an underhand loop with line 2.









2. Put line 2 (with the underhand loop) around line 1, so that the standing part of line 2 is in front and the working end is at the rear. From front to back, there will be line 2 (standing), line 1 (working), line 1 (standing), line 2 (working).










3. Bring the working end of line 2 to the front and push it down through both loops.










4. Take the working end of line 1 to the rear and bring it up through both loops.










5. Tighten the lines and bring the Zeppelin into shape. Enjoy it.







Enough said.

In a recent forum a girl wrote:

If there were no limit…what flavor of lipstick would you like a woman you are going to kiss to wear?

This got me thinking.

Why not try to make lipsticks or chapsticks that taste like men or women? Or
ones with two flavours: for the wearer (say, a woman), it tastes like a man;
but the external flavour – for the one who kisses the wearer (say, a man) it
tastes like a woman? Plenty of opportunity to mix and match.

And you could have different nuances: women could taste a surfer one day (salt)
and a farmer the next (hint of urea and wheat); during the day a business
tycoon (the ink they use in money) and in the evening a musician (bourbon)?

Or how about different flavours for more intense kisses? Hors d’oeuvres for a
peck, appetisers for a pleasant one, main course for a good one, dessert for a
passionate one, and coffee and mints for a “o wow; I think my internal organs
just liquified.”

It would be good to tell whether you should date the girl again:

“How was your date last night?”

“It was okay: I got as far as the pumpkin soup. I thought I was going to get the roast too, but no.”

“So you’ll ask her out again?”

“Yeah, I think so.”


Next Page »