Archive for ‘Ellerslie Gym’

July 18, 2008

Of zabocas and quenks.


It was a mixed day today so let’s start with the positive which is that avocado season has started and soon junkies such as myself will have our fill. Known here as zaboca by all but the most uppity nosed types from Westmoorings, our version is somewhat different to the puny Haas variety normally found at the fruit and veg stands in North America and Europe. Ours are bigger and with a lighter texture and can get decidedly large. Because we do not import avocados from other regions it is very much a seasonal treat that is much anticipated. While other cultures come up with clever ways to use the avocado in creative dishes here in T&T we like ours served just the way it is – either just sliced and served or eaten with local crackers.


I shall start this next bit by explaining that a quenk is a wild pig that lives in this part of the world. After work I dragged myself to the gym in a torrential downpour and made my way up the steps to the gym with my $5 in my hand for my traditional bottled water. There was a newish young lady at the desk so I smiled and asked for a bottle of water offering my money. Getting the water and continuing with my normal routine with Clyphil would have been far too simple a scenario though. Oh no. The wretched woman at the desk asked me where my membership card was. I politely explained that because I always lose mine it is kept at the front desk and pointed to where it was. This wasn’t good enough for her as she insisted I take it with me. I told her that for all my time at the gym this had not been a problem for anyone before and, in fact, it was reception who suggested I leave my card there. This too wasn’t enough for her as she asked if I could not read the sign on the door saying that all members show their card. I politely expressed surprise that she was able to read the sign on the door and that I was showing her my card by telling her it was on her desk. She went on to say that she was following procedure which prompted me to suggest she should have sought employment at Dachau instead. 


By this point in the proceedings i was starting to nose breathe and was on the verge of going into full verbal assault mode. I  told her that whatever floated her boat was fine with me but I was not changing my plan to leave the card at the front desk. Did she go into customer care mode? Nope. She proceeded to tell me that her boat was floating just fine which led me to inform her it must be a pretty strong boat since it was obviously carrying a lot of extra cargo. Sadly, at that point Clyphil heard the ruckus and told her he would hold my card  for me – though even that led her to keep babbling something about  procedure as the two of us walked away into the gym proper.


It turns out that the other four guys in the gym at that time had also had problems at the desk that day and one of them was actually fit to be tied. Why do some people work in jobs that clearly don’t suit them. I am sure there was a prison guard position she could have filled. I would never dream of doing something outside my range of abilities like coal mining or teaching daycare. We need to get back to the state where customer service really falls on the shoulders of those who are able and trained to handle it. Good luck with that I guess. I would probably have better luck if I went outside and prayed for 1957 Chateau Lafite to fall from the sky.

July 5, 2008

A brick short of a load.


I seem to be getting into a once a week entry habit. I hope this is not a sign of blogitis setting in although I am aware my entries do not in any way enhance the planet.I suppose we all pass through ebb and flow periods in terms of communication so , as with all things in life, I will wait and see how it plays out. I am now handily heading out of depression territory but still not feeling all that great physically – I hope it is nothing trivial so I can have a legitimate reason for thinking gyms and personal trainers are a waste of time. When I think of how much I spend on the gym I cringe and since I can see no improvement I am led to wonder about my own sanity. Thankfully, as I have mentioned before, I am living in a country where sanity is not really an asset.

This week was the usual assortment of murders and political intrigue keeping the newsroom buzzing. Melissa Williams managed an exclusive on Thursday when I was producing news so that added a bit of excitement. T&T is currently without a permanent Police Commissioner as the previous one retired ( early) and the service commission given the task of finding a replacement had the ruling party turn down their candidate in parliament. The man chosen was Senior Superintendent Stephen Williams who has spent his life in the police. He is 47 and by all accounts a highly competent individual. Unfortunately for him he was not the man the PM wanted in the post so despite rigorous interviews and passing the polygraph test ( which some of his competitors did not) he was doomed from the outset. Mind you, he probably didn’t help his case by speaking to the papers after his name was announced as the chosen candidate by the PSC and he declared that his ambition was to own a BMW X5….note to future candidates…say “world peace”.


On a side note I am rather shocked to notice that my blog has crossed 14,000 hits. Since I assume I am writing to an audience of just North of zero even that modest figure rather shocks me. Even more puzzling I had occasion to search for the headquarters for the ruling PNM the other day at work and noticed that my blog comes up as the second hit on Google…right after the official web site for the PNM.  I have no idea how that happened but if you have come here after searching for Balisier House on Google looking for a positive experience….I apologize. 

March 25, 2008

Viewers, we have a problem.

It is a bit late right now and I am only posting because a couple of readers have expressed concern as to my absence from the blogosphere. I can report that I am indeed alive if not actually kicking ( far too unseemly at my stage of life). This being the Easter weekend up until a couple of hours ago I was quite happy to know that I had Friday and Monday off to plan various outings with my friends. As I mentioned my muscle pain from the gym conspired to prevent me from actually moving too much on Friday or even Saturday but I figured after working Sunday I would have Monday to play with. It was not to be as me having a predictable two days off with more than 24hrs notice was far too much to expect. On Saturday night as I enjoyed a few Wii moments the call came from the other manager that one of their ,apparently frequent, family emergencies had popped up and would I be able to work on Monday and Tuesday. I mentioned that I had certain things planned ( which I did) but if it was really necessary I could change them. That was enough for a “thanks!” and I was left contemplating a job switch. Was I happy? Not at all but I steeled myself for the inevitable.

Sunday was fine, as usual, and might even be considered close to perfect as even my addled brain was able to assemble and read the newscast with not a hitch. Monday arrived and I grumbled my way to work to put together the newscast thanking the stars above that we only had one on a public holiday and I could leave by 7pm. The news script was ready and in studio by 6pm…I went to the control room at 6:25 waiting for the news to start and….it didn’t. Some technical glitch occurred that , despite all efforts by Rodney could not be resolved in time. After a jury-rig by Rodney we got our backup system online and a quick call to the CEO determined that we would carry the news at 7:30 meaning that I had to hang around till 8pm. As it turns out I had a social engagement planned for 7pm but that flew out the window. If there are any benefits to altruism I am yet to find them.

I might have blogged about the Easter weekend had I the slightest interest in the whole point of the holiday. I have already made my views on the whole bible thing quite clear but to reiterate; it makes no sense to me. Thankfully, this view has spared all and sundry any entries I might have made full of cherry pink optimism and optimistic talk of rebirth and renewal. I fear the human condition altered not one whit 2000 years ago. It has, and always shall be, the same. The only difference it made is to the greeting card industry and National Geographic Channel re-constructionists.

That being said, quite by coincidence, an improvement in my social life has left me a wee bit reborn but only with a maximum of 24hrs notice it seems.


March 21, 2008

Junk in the trunk


As I type this I have just returned from spending a bit of time with Alvin and Binky just shooting the breeze and catching up on the usual bits of news that seem to make life slightly fun. That being said I had to take 3 aspirin before leaving the house as Clyphil has artfully conspired to ensure that every muscle in my body is in some sort of spasm following his torture session in the gym. You know it is all very well for a 23 year old to be telling people to sit on a ball and contort themselves into various unusual positions but I would like to see him do it at my age. That being said, I must say he really gets me to do things that I would never have even ventured to do at the gym otherwise.  I have now taken 2 more aspirin extra strength and I am hoping that I am able to sidle out of bed tomorrow as I have a day off and there is a plan afoot to drive to Icacos on Trinidad’s extreme South-Western tip. It is entirely up in the air if I will go or not as it is my day off and sleeping in is high on my priority list ( as opposed to getting in  Robin’s HiLux for a 4.5 hour drive in each direction). I am only considering it because I may get a chance to take lots of pics and it will be fun hanging out with the usual gang.

I added another gig of RAM to the iMac G5 that i am currently using after I agonized about whether or not to but two gigs of matching RAM so as to switch the processor into a 128 bit data path which is theoretically faster but the thought of tossing a good 512 Mb stick in the drawer seems wasteful. So far the machine is, as the say in the tech world, “teh snappy”. I am never sure why tech people like to spell “the” that way but i guess it is a inside joke on a common typo. Now, of course I am almost certain I will run out and purchase another 1 gig stick on Tuesday just so I can see how snappy it can get ( and it is pretty damned snappy now). Why do i obsess on technology so??? It is a curse. I also know that within a month I will be buying a Macbook Air and most likely an iPod Touch…just so I can have them…never mind my old iPod is working an I have given away the at least two iPods I have bought since then. For that matter why do i need an Air since it is only thinner than by powerbook and not even noticeably faster? Ah well.

And speaking of technology, I cast a rare glance into my junk mail folder on Apple’s Mail today to see if anything slipped through the cracks. Nothing did amazingly given I use 5 email addresses on the programme but the content of the junk mail truly amazes me. I mean what else but junk mail would have subjects like “Boobs galore at SM beach” or “longer and harder os good for her” or even the tantalizing “Britney loves it large”. I mean God bless Britney and her refusal to settle for anything less but really who, other than a spam emailer, has ever sent out anything with such subject lines? Even more puzzling is who on earth would open one of those emails and click through to the advertised site? Surely someone would have to be dumb beyond reckoning to respond to such a thing. I suppose, though, spammers count on the .001% ( I hope)  who would be stupid enough to actually open and check such an email. But  even in that select club who would be so extraordinarily cretinous  to actually whip out a credit card and order the product? Well yes, I suppose there might be a few people with internet access who are actually cretins..but surely they would not have a credit card? I ask myself how these spammers actually make money given the abysmal response rate? Now being a Mac user I might also assume that many of these spam items might also be vectors for viruses which cannot affect me so i will excuse those enterprising souls who use it for that purpose…but again…who the hell would open an email with such a subject line??

It says a lot about the human condition that out of the 310 items of junk mail that Mail has caught a goodly 275 are for something to do with either penis enlargement or sex in general. In case you are wondering the remaining emails seem to be trying to sell me a Rolex which , of course, one would naturally purchase via an unsolicited email. No matter how developed we become as a species with our technology it always seems that someone will use the latest and greatest tool to push sexual content. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against sex and i hear it is very good in the right circumstances, but there is something terribly wrong when sex seems to dominate every aspect of human life. Look at the internet and personal computers..possibly the most powerful combination of tools to spread information that has come along since writing and most people use it for…make a guess…sex. I would not be surprised if at least 80% of people view some form of sexual content on the web or even use it for arranging sexual trysts. I would not be surprised if closer to 100% of teenage boys use the internet for looking at sexually explicit material at least a majority of the time. Despite the fact it just comes down to something going in somewhere and a bit of friction the sex urge is part of the internet and , from what I can see, a major part of the world of spam.

Maybe it is just me but do that many men really obsess about their penis size? There seems to be no lack of fraudulent products available through spam or on the internet in general for addressing the ..ahem..point. It is all too sad.

Now if you will excuse me I have to do some clicking to see exactly why Britney is so emphatic.

February 28, 2008

I sing the body electric

It is somewhat amazing that despite the wealth of human experience available to us the process of aging seems to take most of us by surprise.One day you are sort of comfortable with your body and everything is working as it should and the next you try and get up from sitting and your knees sound like an Iraqi sniper attack.The other troubling development most of us are forced to confront is the transition of our stomachs from a happy place to bounce pennies on or to scrub your socks while lying in the tub to something that threatens to obstruct your view of your lower digits. Age brings many benefits such as wisdom, the ability to look down on younger people and lower car insurance premiums but with the good we must also take the bad.

I have managed by sheer willpower and a keen eye on my budget to avoid many of the pitfalls of getting older. I am still driving a Mondeo and have not hocked my organs to purchase a vintage Jaguar E Type both of which i think are highly commendable on my part. I would like to say I have not dated people many years younger but we will just leave that one alone for the time being.

What I have been attempting to do is to reduce the battle of the small bulge I have been noticing. Sure, I am basically slim but that just means any little bit shows. Thus far I am pleased to say my results at the gym coupled with a low calorie diet and zero alcoholic beverages has been quite successful in only 3 weeks ( less really). So as far as I see it the trick is do everything that you hate and give up everything that you enjoy and you can look much better. Mind you it sort of removes the point of life and worst of all it means you will probably live longer to suffer with the deprivation. So let’s summarize. Taking all of the fun out of life means you will have many more years to regret not having any fun and enjoying life means you will die wishing you had more time to do whatever it was you were doing.

God I would kill for a triple martini and a baked potato with a half pound of butter.



February 22, 2008

A criminal shame

I  had the pleasure of having Professor Ramesh Deosaran on the programme again today. He is a complete gentleman and always an interesting guest. With most of my guests I can get through everything I need to ask in half an hour, sometimes 16 minutes seems too long for some guests but  with Professor Deosaran i always feel there is never enough time. We did two back to back interviews today ( as is our normal custom) and yet afterwards i felt we could have done six back to back interviews and  still  kept it interesting.

We spoke for the first half hour about the situation in Guyana which he felt was symptomatic of a lack of government planning and a failure to address the concerns of communities. I am not sure how that fits into dealing with a gang of rampaging murderers but i gather he meant the response to Lusignan should have prevented the second incident. I don’t doubt he has a good point, not because I understand everything he was saying fully, but because the man spends his every waking hour thinking about crime and government.

We spent the second programme discussing how crime leads to a sense of civil powerlessness and how the Westminister system contributes to the state of affairs. As he rightly pointed out, in our present system the Prime Minister is essentially an elected dictator who is under no obligation to heed the concerns of the public for his 5 year term. He is hoping that we will one day have constitutional reform to allow for a dissemination of power throughout parliament. As I told him, though, it is unlikely anyone who has unbridled power will give up some of it for the greater good.

My second interview subject was a complete change of pace in every imaginable way. Peter Elias is National Director of the Miss Universe/Miss World. My views on beauty pageants is well known but I will say he answered my questions with good humour. If nothing else he is certainly the most energetic guest i have ever had on the programme.

So thanks to Heidi artfully arranging 3 interviews I have programmes to cover me till Tuesday next week which also means I can take tomorrow off. That should give me a chance to take my time at the gym and also do some house cleaning.


February 17, 2008

Night Off

Just got back in after being with friends for an evening after work. It is now 1:55am and I have work in the morning so I shall dismiss any attempt to post an actual entry and summarize my day today in point form.

  •  Planned to go to the gym this morning but woke up late because of the sleeping pills.
  • Called the office to check on things, had several coffees and then drove to work.
  • Scrounged for stories and added a story about the Boissiere House to the lineup.
  • Managed to get a hold of Nicholas Laughlin via Facebook and assigned the story.
  • Thought of the house being torn down and got quite irate.
  • Returned a DVD to the store, got two more and drive back to work ( total elapsed time: 15 minutes).
  • Newscast was completed by 5:00pm
  • Giselle and Wong went home and I killed time before reading the news by reading news on the internet and trying to figure out what my editor in New York meant by “planner”.
  • Put on jacket and makeup and went into studio to read the news at 6:20pm.
  • Heard my cue, watched the monitor for the news opening and saw only black.
  • Muttered ” i am not seeing anything” through the talkback.
  • heard Director say “oh shit!” and sat there looking at my script.
  • Much scrambling in my earpiece and then was told we have a computer problem.
  • Told the Director to call the tech person and then sat there hearing lots of noises in my earpiece.
  • Finally heard the Director ask me if we should start the news at 7pm should we get things fixed and could I please call the CEO and the IT guys ( which I assumed correctly  meant I could get out of the chair).
  • Tried to reach the luck…got the IT guy though
  • Went downstairs to see the Director under the console looking desparate at which point the IT guy seized control of the system by remote access and fixed whatever it was.
  • Told the Director that I refused to answer another viewer calling on the phone to ask when our news was going to start and we were going to start as soon as I threw myself back in the chair.
  • Threw myself back in the chair and started the newscast at 6:53pm.
  • Finished the news and drove home to relax..arrived home at 7:58pm.
  • Sit down. Grab a dinner of leftovers. Phone rings. It is Robin saying our friend Alvin II who is visiting from the US would be in town in 1/2 hour. 
  • Asked what that had to do with me.
  • Was told we ( Peter, Naz, Robin, Alvin II and myself) were going to dinner at The Verandah for 9pm before the kitchen closes..
  • Cursed on the phone and told Robin I hate this kind of mad rush and I would let him know.
  • Despite myself I was in the Mondeo and heading to pick up Robin by 8:40pm.
  • Picked up Robin and continued to The Verandah.
  • Sat waiting a few minutes for everyone else to arrive.
  • Drank 2 diet cokes.
  • They arrive and we are seated. I already ate so I just order another diet coke and a bowl of soup.
  • Grab a ciggy outside with Alvin II ( nice to see him again btw).
  • Dinner is almost over and Peter starts to feel ill and heads to the bar to lie down.
  • We continue to eat until we remember he is ill. Naz checks on him then me.
  • I encourage him to go and lie down in his car outside. Dinner is hastily ended and Naz and Peter head home to convalesce.
  • I ask A II if he would like to go out befor eI drop him back to P&N’s where he is overnighting before returning to his family in Fyzabad. He says yes. Amazingly, Robin says he will come along ( like he has a choice since I drove).
  • Call Binky to find out that he and Alvin I are at Alvin I’s we head there.
  • The five of us stand there chatting for a couple of hours while I drink diet cokes. I discover that spraying Listerine pocket fresh in my mouth before sipping is almost like having a rum and coke.
  • Alvin II, Robin and I look at each other and determine that at 1am it is time to leave.
  • We get in the Mondeo and I drop Alvin II up to Ft. George followed by Robin back to Maraval. 
  • Leaving Robin’s place I run into a 4-way police checkpoint.
  • The officer is  very polite and as I show them my Insurance and DP he reminds me that my insurance is expiring next week. I tell him that I know and just had my car undergo the useless inspection so i can renew it.
  • He says “enjoy your night sir” and off I go.
  • Continue on to Cascade where I park the car and come upstairs still wired from diet coke.
  • Open the laptop to write an entry despite my better judgment.
  • Omar is online so we chat for a bit and I tell him that his company was missed this evening though I understand he is drained.
  • Get bored of typing to him. Call on the phone. Tell him I may skip the blog entry tonight. He says “well, the world won’t end”.
  • I agree and ring off.
  • I proceed to type the last 902 words. 
  • It is now 2.19 am and I have work in the morning. 
I just realized I like this sort of machine gun entry but I recognize it must be annoying to read. Suits the way my mind works though.
Nite nite. 
February 15, 2008

Move along, nothing to see here

It is now just a pinch short of 1am and after spending the last 5 hours hammering away at the Curacao chapter for Fodor’s 2009 I am almost in sight of the end. That being said, the last section which is rather innocently called “Essentials” is one of the more finicky sections so I probably have another couple of hours work before I am done. Rest assured, those hours will not start now. So how do I end several gruelling hours hunched over a keyboard? Well how else? By banging away at a quick blog entry. No one can accuse me of not being obsessive compulsive about some things.

I managed to survive Valentine’s Day without much trauma by artfully immersing myself in work and my pretending to enjoy being at the gym. Speaking of which I realised this morning that since my building has now been transformed into a “gated compound” I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the damned gate opener thing. Since that followed on the heels of be being awakened multiple times by people sending me Valentine’s text messages I was not in a good mood this morning but I managed to shake it off by consuming several cups of coffee. Who was it that decided that something that starts off fresh and quickly decays into a withered mess would make the best possible Valentine’s gift? Was it meant to be symbolic? If so then someone has a lot of explaining to do.

I didn’t hear of any of my couple friends successfully pulling off a romantic evening. Last I heard Alvin and Binky were wondering where to go for dinner at 10pm…good luck with that one. Omar aka Grommit called to invite me to a “Bachelors Lime” at Shakers around 9pm but as I was hopelessly immersed in writing at the time I had to decline. Strangely, “bachelors” included Astrid but I suppose she is an honorary one. Even though I am being a responsible adult I am sorry i didn’t pop into town to join them but I suspect the temptation of martinis might have thrown my diet off just a tad. God I would love one just about now ( gin, whisper of vermouth, stirred and with 2 jumbo olives,  thanks) but since such a thing is not going to happen I have taken a sleeping pill and am now off to chemically induced slumber.

Bon Nochi.

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February 14, 2008

While my keyboard gently weeps.

I am in the home stretch of Fodor’s Curacao now but if this isn’t the longest home stretch in the history of humanity I would like to know what is. Having merrily made my way to the end of the “Where to stay” section I was greeted by the cheery “Where to eat” section rising up to meet my cursor. Cheer turned to dismay when I realised there are apparently more good restaurants in Curacao than there are in bloody mid-town Manhattan. I just want to finish this chapter, fill in a few maps, send an invoice and relax by the pool ( note to self…find a pool) with a large delicious cocktail. Apparently, fate has destined that I must endure a couple more days of back pain and aching fingertips.

I actually went to the gym again this morning and spent over an hour on machines whose names I do not know. There was one that felt like cross country skiing after too many martinis and another contraption that reminded me of when I used to ride a bike as a teenager under the influence of valium. Still the time passed easily enough with an actual instructor guiding me and BBC on the TV monitors. I am a bit disappointed that I don’t look like Brad Pitt yet after two whole days but such is life. In any case I would prefer to look like Johnny Depp. I should also say that I have switched to a low carb diet and given up drinking..ok for the last few days…but still. That reminds me of a scene from Bullets Over Broadway when Harvey Fierstein’s character is shouting to Helen Sinclair:

Sid Loomis: You’re a star because you’re great and you are a great star, but let me tell you something, Helen. In the last couple of years you’re better known as an adulteress and a drunk. And I say this in all due respect.

Helen Sinclair: Look, I haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Eve.

Sid Loomis: You’re talking Chinese New Year’s.

Helen Sinclair: Naturally. Still, that’s two days, Sid! You know how long that is for me?

Other than  that it was an okay day at work with Capt. Gary Griffith chatting with me about his apparent betrayal and humiliation by some key players in the COP executive. I have no idea what the real story is but I am sure it is interesting. Tomorrow I have another interview and the Fodor’s assignment to continue. Oh yes, and the physical torture too. Actually I looked at myself in the mirror today and any spare I have is more of a racing bike sort..but better to nip it in the bud.

Heavens, tomorrow, or rather today, is Valentine’s Day. I shall walk about and cast a gimlet eye on anyone who even remotely shows affection near me. Then I shall come home and watch Four Weddings and a Funeral by myself. ……………bonaire-3-015.jpg

February 13, 2008

The shape of things

I steeled myself all morning and after my one scheduled interview I donned appropriate attire and headed to the gym. I hate gyms and I resent every minute I have ever spent in one. Any thought that my mind might have changed today was quickly dispelled upon entering and seeing row upon row of torture devices lined up in all their shiny glory.

There are many reasons I hate the gym not the least of which is I am not body obsessed and never understood why so many people are. I go purely for my health and to counteract whatever years of smoking and eating rich foods might be doing to me. None of my close male friends would fall into the Adonis category and even the gay ones seem to be content with just keeping the poundage under control. Unfortunately for me, gyms are full of people who are obsessed with how they look and seem content to spend half their day lifting things and grunting in order to look like a Southampton dock worker. I assume they find it makes them look attractive but I frankly don’t see it as I usually believe there is an inverse relationship between brawn and brains.

To make matters worse I am of a slim build ( despite the fact that I am thinking of having Michelin stamped on my midriff) and having tried this before I know that after months and months of gym activity I will not look that different. My body has a set template and refuses to budge.  I am also not crazy about pain and all that “no pain, no gain” talk makes me rather queasy. I have had many an exchange with gym instructors informing them that it is my money and I will lift only what weight i damn well want to lift.

Today’s experience was typical and lasted ninety minutes. I walked for 40 minutes on the treadmill bored out of my mind as there wasn’t anyone even remotely interesting to look at and the TV monitor was on football. I used to read a book while on the treadmill but i was informed by an instructor that it was bad form and an indication that i was not “pushing myself” enough. Then I wandered about and used some of the machines that were not occupied by the few young and presumably unemployed members ( it was 3pm) or by idle instructors sitting and chatting to each other. That resulted in straining every muscle in my body by which point i felt moisture on my forehead. At first I thought I had struck myself and had a head wound but a closer examination revealed it was, in fact, a bead of sweat. I do not approve of sweat and my family has been assiduously avoiding any semblance of it for several generations so that was my signal to stop.

I shall go back tomorrow either before or after work to have them programme my exercise key but if anyone comes towards me with callipers  they had better prepare themselves for violence.

Actually, speaking of that, I weighed myself when I got there and I am 154lbs which is well within the range I have been for umpteen years. I suspect, however, the fat to muscle ratio may have changed a bit.

Managed to get quite a bit more of Fodor’s Curacao done tonight and tomorrow I have an interview with Capt. Gary Griffith who seems to be in the doghouse with the COP now despite making an abject apology on national television yesterday. The joys of politics.

Off to bed now. To sleep perchance to ache.