Previous month:
January 2006
Next month:
March 2006

February 2006

News nuggets of the day

Scientific proof that chocolate is good for you!


Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - Leave it to the Dutch to help demonstrate the health benefits of chocolate. A study of older men in The Netherlands, known for its luscious chocolate, indicated those who ate the equivalent of one-third of a chocolate bar every day had lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of death.


Posted without comment...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 

President George W. Bush's job rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, amid strong opposition to the Dubai Ports World deal and increasing pessimism over the war in

, according to a CBS News poll released on Monday.

Bush's overall job approval fell eight points from 42 percent last month. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they disapproved of Bush's performance on the job, the poll found.

Bush's previous low job approval rating of 35 percent came last October, a month after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the Gulf Coast and shortly after the U.S. death toll in Iraq reached the 2,000 mark, CBS said.

Italy from Above

Italy from Above
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs. named this image one of the best photos of the day for February 27, 2006. I found that quite surprising because I don't consider it among my best work. It was just a spontaneous moment aboard our flight from Bolzano to Rome on a tiny, 30-seat turboprop plane. I snapped it with Old Speckled Hen's tiny Canon SD400 point-and-shoot digital camera. But since Flickr added it to their "Interestingness" page yesterday, more than 400 people have viewed this image. Woo hoo!

It's a big world after all

Despite our well-traveled background, Old Scratch has visited just 21% of planet Earth, and 79% of US states, according to this nifty little web tool.  (sorry for the way this blog is cutting off the right-side of the map. The only visited country missing is South Korea. In the USA northeast, I've been to every state except Vermont and Maine).  We've got a long way to go to achieving my goal of visiting all 230 countries before I die! At least I've got most of the war zones out of the way!

Countries I've visited marked in red:

create your own visited countries map or vertaling Duits Nederlands

US states I've visited marked in red:

create your own visited states map or check out these Google Hacks.

Nothing to see here, move along

The Two Crabs have returned to London, fond memories of the Alps behind us. Boo hoo. Photos have now been posted on Flickr (click on the Flickr link at the top-right).

Val Gardena was a GORGEOUS little Alpine village tucked away in the Tyrol region in northern Italy. Yet the city is as far from Italian culture as you could get. The locals here have a distinct culture and a speak called Ladin; German is the second most-spoken language, followed distantly by Italian. The food here is mostly German & Ladin, but of course, great pizza could be found everywhere. We rarely heard English spoken here. Very few British tourists and we never met a single American during our entire week at Gardena. Definately a must-do destination for you skiiers out there.

Old Scratch health update: Today I went to see my London doctor, who has referred me to the fracture center at London University Hospital for an appointment later this week. In the meantime, my right arm is now in a sling and I'm on even stronger painkillers. I wake up every morning in excrutiating pain and I can't even dress myself at this point. My right arm is basically useless at the moment. The nurse at the health clinic said my type of fracture (multiple fractures of the middle right clavicle) is an even more painful injury than a broken leg...not that Id like to compare the two.

Next year, I think I'll stick to the bunny slopes and Apres Ski barstools!

Shattered bones, broken dreams

I've always considered myself to be unbreakable, kinda like the Bruce Willis character in the M. Knight film. I rarely get sick. I never get hurt. Aside from a broken arm when I was 7, I've never been to an emergency room...until last night.

The two crabs are currently on a week´long ski trip in Val Gardena, Italy. We've had a fabulous time up until yesterday when I joined my nephew, brother-in-law, his brother and brother's wife and their 6-year-old daughter on the Sella Ronda, a 40km ski circuit around the Sella Mountaing Group. It#s a beautiful ski run and not too difficult, but takes stamina and a day-long commitment to complete. We were having a great time, and stopped for lunch at the restaurant on the top of the world near the village of Arabba. When we came out of the restaurant, it was snowing. HARD. And the next run was the most difficult of the day, involving a very steep descent on a mogul-filled slope. I followed by brother in law, falling here and there but nothing too bad. And I was getting better and better. But the snow was getting harder and faster to near white-out blizzard conditions. I was nearly 3/4 of the way down the hill when I missjudged the distance of a mogul, landing on top of it rather than behind it, and i tumbled forward into a summersault. My right ski fell off as I tumbled and i when I finally landed, i hit the ground on my right shoulder. SNAP. I heard what sounded like a twig breaking. I screamed out in pain and a few profanities. I knew immediately I was F*cked. I stood up and sucked it up and drove on. Somehow, miraculousluz, i made it the other 20 km back to our hotel, falling a lot along the way. I thought at the worst, It might have been a pulled rotator cuff or a sprained shoulder. But as the night went on, it got worse and worse. Speckled Hen convinced me I had to go to the hospital.

Mind you, we're in a tinz village one hour from the nearest big city with a hospital. Hen found a orthopedic surgeon right in town and luckily he saw me after hours. He made his diagnosis in about 10 seconds, confirmed by xrays - fractured clavicla (collar bone). In TWO places including one that was a complete break.

My ski dreams are over for this year.  I'm now wearing this hideous brace that looks like a man-bra to keep my shoulder blades pulled back to allow the bone to set. Doc says it will be about 4 weeks until i can remove this hideous contraption. But it could have been a lot worse, like my neck. The only upside was that i had to cancel my upcoming trip to Baghdad because there is no way I can lift a suitcase, let alone a 25 pound body armor and 50 pound rucksack.

I got a partial refund on my lift pass and ski rentals. Whoop-tee-doo. Incidentally, the doctor charged me just 195 Euros for the visit, which included two xrays, the brace and consultation after-hours. I can get the entire bill reimbursed by British National Health Care System when I return to London... In the USA, that same emergency room visit would have easily been $2,000.  US medical system SUCKS. 

With my ski trip over, I'm just chilling in the internet cafe, exploring the village while SPeckled Hen continues skiing like a champ with my sister. At least I had 4 good ski days, including tackling a couple of black runs. But I haven't given up. I plan to ski down that mountain again next winter. You cant keep a ski addict down!

Think Snow!

(Yes, I'm bragging.  This is a picture of where we're heading tomorrow: Val Gardena, Italy.  For the geography nuts, it's located in the northeast corner of Italy near the Austrian border. The nearest major city is Bolzano.)

The Two Crabs are heading to northern Italy tomorrow for a week of sking the Alps. Woo hoo!  Old Scratch, if I do say so myself, has become quite the skier considering I only learned to ski three years ago.  Last year my mum-in-law gave me a partial season pass ticket to Ski Liberty, a small ski resort in Pennsylvania just across the Maryland border. I spent every Friday there last winter honing my skills. But I'm still nowhere near as good a skier as Old Speckled Hen, who jumps moguls as if they were tiny ant-hills.

Anyway, the Crabs will be sharing the slopes with Old Scratch's sister and her family, who live in Paris...and her husband's brother's family from NYC.  It's a family reunion, Alpine-style (insert your own Von Trapp joke here). 

Incidentally, the Torino Olympics in Italy also begin tomorrow. But those are taking place on the northWEST corner of Italy, about 200 miles away. Go USA!

Flak Hall of Shame

This is an ACTUAL shameless PRESS RELEASE issued by an actual shameless publicist.  Names and emails redacted to protect the shameless. You see what I gotta deal with everyday!?!?! 

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 2:03 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: (press release) How About a Heart Shaped Bikini Line for Valentine's Day!

Thought this might be of interest -- something off the beaten track!  Nad's from


(all natural hair removal products) has come out with "Naughty Nad's" which enables you to shape your bikini line according to your personality or mood!  Hearts, Lightning bolts, triangles?  It's sizzling hot down under and could be the start of a new trend here!  Let me know if you want pictures (of the product!!) or a sample!  Press release is pasted below....



Spice up Valentine’s Day

Naughty Nad’s Lets You Make a Personal Statement—

in the Most Personal of Ways

LOS ANGELES--As you get ready for the sexiest day of the year, what will your beauty regime tell your special someone about your bedroom style?


With the newly introduced Naughty Nad’s Bikini Design Kit, you can personalize your most intimate region with one of four ‘Naughty Bikini Shape’templates to match your playful personality.


Are you a safe yet sensual ‘Landing Strip’ kind of woman?  A risky, mysterious ‘Bermuda Triangle?’ A sassy romantic branded a ‘Heart Breaker?’ (what could be more perfect for Valentine's Day?) Or perhaps you are the courageous and electric type who dares to bare their ‘Thunder Struck’ bikini line.


Whatever your style, Naughty Nad’s is certain to spark off a sizzling night.


Continuing Nad’s ongoing commitment to natural ingredients, Naughty Nad’s contains sweet almond and calendula oil, known for their soothing properties. It also has a sensual peach and mango scent.


Follow the directions on the Naughty Nad’s package for best results.  Simply remove the lid and warm the jar in the microwave for one minute. As the wax cools for about another minute, select one of the personalized adhesive design templates and apply the wax. Once the wax has cooled on your skin for about 15-30 seconds, remove it in the opposite direction of hair growth.


The result: a creative and sexy statement that you are ready to heat up the bedroom and really “celebrate” Valentine’s Day.


Naughty Nad’s


Design Kit is now available at Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, CVS,  Walgreens and other fine stores.  Recommended retail price is $15.99. 

Media, please contact


at XXX-XXX-XXXX for photographs, template design shape pictures or a product sample.