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May 2006

Greetings from Amsterdam

Hello all. Quick post because I'm typing this on a pay=per=minute vending internet machine. The two crabs are in Amsterdam with Pineapple Princess' sister and brother-in-law. Woo hoo! Got here via the train-ferry-train combination, only 25 pounds and 7 hours from London. And its FRICKEN freezing in Amsterdam, abut 54 and drizzly. WTF. It's like almost June!  Good lord.  Next stop, Paris, where at least its in the 60s. Ciao.

Broke-BONE Mountain

From Coconut/Old Scratch/Lil' Joe/Brokebone:

1538w It's official -- I'm having surgery to repair my right clavicle.  Right now, my surgery is scheduled for July 4. That's right. Independence Day. I think that was some British doctor's idea of a sick joke. It will be my first time ever under the knife.

A bit of background. On Feb. 13, I broke my collarbone on a ski trip. It happened on the Sella Ronda, a 36 kilometer circuit in the Dolomites, which are part of the southern Italian Alps. I was skiing on what was considered a blue circuit though I would have given it a black diamond.  Anyway, we were skiing in very heavy snow with near-whiteout conditions. I hit a mogul HARD and basically rolled down the mountain in summersault style, landing on my right shoulder.

I heard the snap.

Like the sound of a pencil breaking in half.

It hurt like hell. Somehow I managed to ski all the way back to our chalet at Val Gardena ski resort. Pineapple Princess dragged me to the emergency clinic a few blocks away, where the doctors (who didn't speak a word of English, just Ladin and Italian) diagnosed my injury:  Complete fracture of the middle clavicle.  I was treated with a figure-8 brace and wore it for about 6 weeks.

After that, everything seemed fine and dandy until March.  I was out pub crawling with Pineapple Princess and some friends on a very cold night along the south bank of the River Thames.  Sleet and freezing rain had made the sidewalks slipper. It was I was a bit squiffy, walking faster than I should have. You can guess what happened. I slipped. And reached out to catch myself by putting out my right arm. The force of the impact rebroke my collarbone.

Clavicle_drawing Fast forward to May. After 5 rounds of X-rays and check-ups, my clavicle has shown absolute no sign of bone growth. The only thing holding the bones together is scar tissue. Nearly 4 months since the accident, my shoulder is still sore, even if I'm doing something routine like washing the dishes or pulling a suitcase.  I can't do anything like bike riding or weightlifting, which I used to do quite frequently at the work gym back home.  I've been drinking my milk and taking my calcium pills but nothing has worked.

This is the last resort.

Clavicle fractures are actually quite common, as it's a very prominent bone. Unlike most bones in your body, it is not protected by muscle or tissue. Just skin. About 95% of clavicle fractures heal completely on their own. I'm one of the unfortunate 5% that need surgery to physically reconnect the bones.

The surgery involves reconnecting the clavicle with a small plate and screws. It's a one hour operation, an overnight stay, followed by two weeks recovery time with your arm in a sling. Most people can go back to work and resume normal activities within two days of surgery. 

Doctor says in 85% of the cases, the surgery is a complete success and most patients are back to full function within 6-8 weeks. In about 7 cases, there are minor complications like infection. But in a handful of cases, there are serious complications like major infection or nerve damage.  I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that this time, I'll be in the majority.

This isn't my first fracture. I broke my left arm when I was seven. I was showing off for Suzie, the girl next door when we lived in Manassas Park, Va. I was jumping from the top of a sliding board onto the ground. What a dumbass I was. I'm not sure why I thought that would impress a girl. But as it turned out, it worked because a few weeks later, we "played doctor" and she showed me hers (I chickened out).  To this day, my left arm is slightly crooked.

But that's about the extent of my health issues. For the most part, I've been pretty healthy all my life (knock on wood) and have survived some dicey situations in work and play (skydiving, scuba diving, suicide bombers).   

At the moment, doctors say I'm as helathy as a horse and can go ahead about my normal life as long as I don't put too much weight or pressure on my right arm. So I'm going to go ahead and push on with my long-delayed business trip.

I'm heading to Baghdad the first week of June for three weeks. Before that, going on holiday to Amsterdam and Paris with Pineapple Princess' sister and brother-in-law. After Baghdad, plan to meet Princess in Amman, Jordan for some R&R. A bit of fun before I go under the knife! 

Sarastro Restaurant, London

Sarastro Restaurant, London
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

On Sunday, the Two Crabs attended the birthday party of a British gal pal. The party was held at Sarastro Restaurant in Covent Garden. It's one of those places you either love or hate. From the outside it looks like a plain cement block building but inside, it's like walking onto a film set. The narrow room has been transformed into a mini opera house, complete with balcony-level private booths overlooking the main floor. Every square inch of the interior is covered in gold foil, purple velvet, Italian masks, paintings, a giant gold statue of a man with an erect, umm, member, and other odd knick-knacks.

During the dinner, strolling musicians perform classical music and opera at the top of their lungs. Dinners are encouraged to clap or sing along. And the stranges part of this place has to be the bathrooms ("toilets" for you Brits). The bathroom walls are covered from floor to ceiling with erotic -- some may say pornographic -- artwork. I would have loved to seen the expression on these kids' faces when they walked into the bathroom!

Click on the Flickr icon on the right to see photos of the erotic artwork. NOT for kids or the easily-offended!

God bless Twinkies and other American crap

Jessicasimpson_2 Confidential to American expats living in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom:  Here are a few resources I've compiled for where you can buy American "stuff" in Britain.  But be forewarned that your U.S. urges for home will cost you a pretty pound.  A box of Twinkies will sell for about $12, and a box of Lucky Charms costs almost $18!

American shopping

American Soda Company

11 Shelton St., Covent Garden

Let's Eat Direct

The Overseas Buyers Club

Panzer's UK


Rosslyn Deli
Our personal favorite, located in London's beautiful Hampstead neighborhood.

The food hall of London's mega department store has a small "Cult Foods" section where you will find some American products

Where to meet Americans

The London Expat Meeting Group

(IMHO, the #1 expat advice and meetup site)

The American Hour

American dining guide

Great southern barbecue; plastma TVs show American sports. Three London locations.
* 10 Poland Street, London, W1F 8PZ Tel (020) 7287 7575
* 169 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7SS.  020 7622 4248
* 4 Broadway Chambers, Fulham Broadway, London, SW6 1EP 020 7610 04440

Ed's Easy Diner
Five locations throughout London

Fatboys Diner
Location: Trinity Bouy Warf, 64 Orchard Place, London. E14 OJW.
DLR station: East India

Texas Embassy Cantina
1 Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square

* 44-46 St John St, EC1M 4DF. 020 7689 2424 (open 24 hours)
* 104 Heath Street, NW3 1DR. 020 7435 2396

Brick Lane festival

Brick Lane, east London
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

Yet more images of East London. This is the main intersection of Brick Lane, the home of London's Bangladeshi community. This was taken Sunday at the festival marking Bangali New Year. The building on the right is a former brewery and now houses bars and nighrclubs popular with college students.

East London

The Ten Bells: Jack the Ripper's pub
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

London awoke today to the sad news that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills have split. Oh well.

I've posted a bunch of new photos from East London on the flickr site. The East side is what you would call the "REAL" London. It's the working class section of town, immortalized by the BBC soap opera, "The East Enders". The Two Crabs spent Sunday in Shoreditch, the city's predominate Bangladeshi neighborhood, for a street festival marking Bangali New Year.

This photo shows the Ten Bells pub in East London was where Jack the Ripper picked up his prostitute victims and lured them to their deaths. Today, the pub is a complete dive, a hole-in-the-wall. Except for a few reproduced newspaper clippings in the stairwell to the toilet, there is no reference to mark the pub's grim history.

London calling

Rye in color
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

So I've been torn over the direction of this blog. Originally it started just to keep family and friends in touch with our lives in London.

But the more I read about gazzillionaire bloggers, part of me is considering starting a new blog specifically for the purpose of making money. How? I have no idea. Could be travel. Could be celebs. Could be war. Or a combination of the three like I did before with "War Junkie."  Maybe I'll resurrect that blog and keep the personal family crap on this site.

Thoughts? Ideas? Grants?

In the meantime, I'm full force into the new job search. If anyone, ANYONE has any job offers or contacts in London, drop me a line! Yes, I'm now officially desparate.