Author Archives: Frances D

Just a Journaler



my new blog

it was simply time for a change…

From now all new posts will be at Far from Done.
This site will remain up as an archive.
Much bloglove at all.

It ‘me time’ time

Watching an episode of ‘Ghost Whisperer’ courtesy of Netflix.  Funny how many TV series and movies I have discovered via my subscription.  It’s one of the best things you can buy for about ten bucks.  You know the last movie ticket I bought cost me 13 dollars.  You could have knocked me over with a paper towel.  Fortunately it was for ‘Win Win’ with Paul Giametti whose films are always worth the price of admission.

So I’m going to chill in front of the set for a while, eat some yummy Indian take out, and finish reading ‘Chocolate and Vicodin’ by Jennette Fulda.

Til later.

The Seat Saver…

A secrurity guard at a local museum was showing this to some visitors. Too bad Jeremy retired – I could use one of these at Starbucks!

This creature is done regenerating for now

George Carlin, the granddaddy of all comics, wrote a small book with big laughs, called, “The Best of Brain Droppings.”

My dear friend Lissa gave me a copy for a gift, because she knew how much I loved GC.

My favorite dropping is about how aliens from a planet where sleep was not necessary might describe how and why we humans sleep to their fellow aliens.  I will never forget reading that section aloud to Lissa at Starbucks.

But George was right. We do shut all systems down, and make ourselves totally vulnerable for quite a length of time. But I guess that’s the price we pay for the gift of dreams.

My mind works on whatever questions or problems were ‘on the table’ the day before.  I can not tell you how many times I woke up with ‘the answer.’ 

The solid eight I got last night was especially regenerating. The two nights before I only got about four each.  I was a wreck yesterday, still don’t know how I got through the day, but I did.

I’m sure George would have something particularly funny to say about the dangers of a woman running on half empty.

Everyone have a wonderful day.

GC I know they are all laughing wherever you are.


no more “d” word

Okay so I have had this on again off again weight loss blog going on for a couple three years.

I tried it as a group blog, a social network thing over at Ning and most recently – a solo blog.

This past week I read a weight-loss memoir – ‘Half-Assed’ – by Jennette Fulda. As soon as I finished the last page I knew that I had to eliminate the word ‘diet’ from my vocabulary and web address. Jennette’s loss of over 200 pounds was more about lifestyle changes than a diet.

I have lost as much as 100 pounds on the past dieting. At 17 the weight melts off when you do double doses of over the counter diet pills and zero carbs. And yes, I know now that was totally insane.

So any suggestions for a great weight loss/lifestyle change blog would be appreciated.

You all know where to find the comments section.


AMNH Exhibits – World’s Largest Dinosaurs & Frogs “a chorus of color”

This past weekend I caught up with some of what’s going on at the Natural History Museum: The World’s Largest Dinosaurs & Frogs “a chorus of color”

I was delighted that photography was allowed at both exhibits – here’s a few snaps.

“If you wait until the frogs and toads have croaked their last to take some action, you’ve missed the point.”  Kermit the Frog

Leaf Mimics – The pointed snout, projections over the eyes, and ridged “veins” running down the back help them disappear among leaf litter on the forest floor.  The frogs lie motionless and ambush unsuspecting prey, including insects, spiders, crabs, scorpions, lizards, and other frogs.


Ambassador of Good Wheel – etan in india

A voice from behind said “Hello !, this is my car… I maintain it myself” as I was framing the mythical Indian luxury car’s behind into my camera’s view finder. It was both the ‘No hand sign’ and ‘Power break’ anachronistic emblems on the trunk lead that drew my attention.

Ambassador, an automotive dinosaur of British heritage, symbolized status within Indian society ever since…. oh.. well ever since this car was invented. “You can get our cars in any color you want as log as it’s black” said one Detroit automobile pioneer. Here, on the other side of the world, its a day and night difference, you can practically get it only in white. Nowadays politician and the rich had shifted to Japanese SUV’s and one of the last traces of colonialism on Indian roads slowly began to dwindle down..

I had never taken a ride on one. My backpacking travels and interest in rural village life don’t frequently intersect with fortune, power or with an owner of such a curvy white classic.

In some places around India Ambassadors are used as tourist agency limos or even as upscale taxis. My choice are the budget tariff auto-rickshaw or government bus.

Back to the voice… A. Jai Harlan Pappou proudly owns his since 1996. Actually his retired father bought it back then from it’s original owner, a hotel business man from Chennai.

- “22 km/liter” he said. About 49 mpg, a very impressive performance feature for any 4 wheeler, much more for a piece of machinery skipped by evolution. Wait ! The gas tank proudly features “diesel” in curly red English letters. “How much is 1 liter of diesel fuel?” I asked. Rs. 40+, which means, compared with Rs.76 gasoline rate this mobile fossil is yet an extra 40% in efficiency. Around 70 mpg !! on a cost based scale. It does drop, but only by 5mpg, once you enjoy the comfort of the OEM A/C.

So where’s the catch, you ask. It’s the beauty sleeping under he hood, a ‘Made in Japan’ Isuzu engine. The factory stock engine was made by an Indian licensee of Isuzu but in 1996, for an extra Rs. 40,000 it was replaced with an imported reconditioned Isuzu power unit manufactured in Japan.

Speaking about cost, Rs.3.7 lakh (370,000 orabout $8200 in current Rupee Dollar exchange rates) was the price tag on the HM as it dropped off the assembly line in 1989. 7 years later it changed hands for Rs. 70,000.

Pappou is currently working for a financing arm of a local bank while waiting for a teacher position in the public education system. His parents, sister and… any family member he mentioned were either principals or assistants. Judging by his open, respectful yet friendly approach, his patience with my curiosity, questions and his clear knowledgeable explanations I feel he’s going to be an asset to schools and a blessing for students. Oh… and I forgot his dedication for following up and maintaining relationships such as with his car!

He says that even if he buys another car ever, he is not going to sell this one. The speed pickup is such that he passes most new car’s around and that is not at the cost of overheating. Knowing from my own experience of living in hot weathered cities in Israel and California, there’s no better test field for an older engine then a summer in such a city. “No waiting 10 minutes for cooling the engine” Pappou shared such a familiar scenario with me.

Then, he opened the doors and let me in. He started with the bucket seats ?! Ehh….. as an Aquarius myself I noticed that these buckets can’t bear water. Quite flat although there was a curvature only it was more towards the cushy rather then the cozy. Well, some English terms have a different lives in other countries.

Next came the tilt-back / sliding front seats. I was not aware but I believe these are not yet a standard feature on Indian cars.

But the serious surprise was hovering above. A built-in drop-down flat screen with ceiling mounted stereo speakers. By this time I was smiling. This could only rhyme with chitichiti bangbang or my Israeli 1970’s English learning TV series ‘Scootermen’ (where the special task duo was riding a Vespa scooter with a video conference monitor installed where the glove compartment used to be).

The windshield, apparently, is a sort of UV filtering, mirror-like as Pappou described, or another glass treatment I am not yet aware of, but the bottom line is that in winter time there’s no condensation on the inner side and visibility is maintained.

Despite the spotless paintjob on the outside, the doorstep had a corrosive “viewfinder”, a see-through to the road beneath. “The salty rain in Chennai, the ocean…” Pappou said digging into the car’s early days. “Inside it is very quiet” he added.

The tires deserve special attention. No joke. In India, whatever comes in touch with the road surface and survives deserves respect. More over the drivers who safely steer worn-out rubber (well… by western standards, a tire which grooves are no more then a mere trace of themselves). Pappou is riding on Gipsy wheels. Now don’t catch me me here please, I really tried to get this one straight. This combination of wheel and tire gives a sharp braking ability even on unpaved, gravel roads. However I bet any of you readers can’t beat the cocktail of brand names and variety of wear conditions Mr. Pappou had installed on only 4 wheels.

-” so is it not a problem that there are no grooves in the tire ?”

Pappou pointed at ‘Radial’ embossed on the tire wall as what makes the difference and explained that only radials can handle long rides on hot days without overeating, loosing grip or excessively wearing out. Street wise, his experience speaks for itself. How many can drive the same car for 15 years on the harsh roads and traffic of India and still have it reliable and clean looking as this one.

Based on his vast knowledge I was surprised he had no idea how many cylinders or what’s the engine displacement on his motor. Well, on Indian roads size doesn’t matter so much. Actually it better be small if you want to get anywhere in the dense and mixed-up traffic. Especially if your driving a ‘space-guzzling’ 4 wheeler.

We got around to wrap up our spontaneous tour. Similarly to this hybrid of old-school design and new-age technology, so was Mr. Pappou, the financier in sharp specs and corporate looks, speaking with shining eyes about his native village. There are an ancient Hindu temple, Mosque and church. He offered and promised to show me around if I gave him a 2 day notice so he can arrange to be there.

Back at my room I thought: in India new and old live so complementary side by side. There’s respect to whatever sustains and proves itself over the years regardless of where it originally came from.

Today, ambassadors are still produced.However the central and state government fleets have only aging Ambassadors. The current purchasing shifted to other local and foreign models. Pappou mentioned that Indian intelligence services are using them to electronically monitor street activity.

You can check out more stories and photos at JPG Mag

I just finished reading these two:

Desi Cow – Or – how to spell “Indian street”

Indian Motorcycle Diaries

More about my experience in rural India and this documentary project: My India: Where every village is home – Experience !

Did I mention…

that I stopped in at Pompeii The Exhibit

What I knew two hours before experiencing the exhibit:

Pompeii was a city in Italy that was buried in volcanic ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

Now ask me what I learned after two hours of viewing actual:

  • Household Items including but not limited to furniture, cooking utensils, pottery, painted plaques scales and personal grooming items
  • Jewelry crafted in gold for the wealthy, and glass for the less fortunate.
  • Currency including a gold coin that was worth 100 asses.

You’ll also:

  • Visit a bordello bedroom
  • View statuary that shows how both Greek & Egyptian culture influenced the art and religious beliefs of the community.
  • Walk among the dead – One area of the exhibit displays body casts of actual victims

Click here to View a Short Film

I also watched three great independent films On Demand.  It’s a real treat to be able to watch a film that is currently in or coming soon to theatres from the comfort of my futon.

Vidal Sassoon The Movie

They’re Out of Business


Oh and on Sunday night I had dinner with the girls at Pisticci - the first restaurant here in New York “to go Green.”

The food was amazing.  My salad included goat cheese filled fresh figs and mango.  For an entree I chose homemade meatballs and polenta.  We three shared tiramisu, coconut cake and a pineapple tart for dessert.  Yummeeee.

My company was totally right on too.  I love you ladies!

Until next time.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Memories

There’s a well-known chain of restaurants that serves Kraft Macaroni & Cheese on their kids menu.  The staff allows me to order it, even though they aren’t supposed to, along with an entree from the adult menu.  They’re just cool that way.

It’s the original version; the kind that comes with the little foil pouch of processed cheese powder in the box.  The macaroni is a thin straight tube.

It was one of the first things I learned to cook as a child.  I like to toss the cooked pasta in melted butter, coat it thoroughly with the powdered cheese, and then add warmed milk till it’s just right.  This method when done correctly produces a lump free sauce. 

I haven’t made a pot on my own since my grandmother passed away in 2003.

My unmarried uncle Peter lived with her.  The man lived to grocery shop.  An extra bedroom served as their pantry.  Grandma always made sure there was sliced turkey for a sandwich in the fridge, and boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the bedroom I mean pantry. 

Whenever I went to visit she would say, “Frannie there’s something in the ice box for a sandwich, and Petie bought your macaroni.”  Then she would shake the box to add a little sound effect to the sell.

We would have tea, in golden cups that were way older than me, and a sandwich while the macaroni cooked.