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Showing posts from February, 2005

British Phrases I'm Picking Up

All of the following have come out of my mouth in the last few days. (And Mom, nice people use these phrases, at work even, so don't fret if they sound off color.) bloody hell bugger, bugger, bugger (best said in threes under your breath, or as a single bugger with emphasis) bits and bobs blimey (draw it out like a horse's neigh for best effect. Kind of the uffda of England) bum (for butt) right chuffed (means really excited or pleased. "Right" and "Proper" are used to suggest very/extreme/perfect/good, kind of your all-around positive modifier) crickey (yes, crickey. Means "wow".) it's in the boot (meaning the car trunk) brilliant (roll the "r" for emphasis, if you wish) keen (as a verb) we're dead chocker (meaning very busy. As with right and proper above, "dead" is also an all-around modifier, and can be used in either positive or negative phrases to emphasize that you're prett

Weekend off

Yesterday was a sad day, and now I'm going to take the weekend off to reflect. This is the first time I truly wish I were at home, so I could be with someone I love to help them deal with something quite terrible. I'll be back on Monday. Take care.

Sad news

My friend Tom's nephew, Jacob, enlisted in the Army to help pay for grad school. Since he is an only child, he got a guarantee from the government when he signed up that he would not be sent into a danger zone...the US military has a policy of protecting only sons, and there are lots of peaceful spots where valiant service is required. Last fall after his return from Korea, Jacob got a letter from President Bush informing him that this policy was being waived for Iraq, and so he was on his way there. Jacob and his mother protested this vehemently, but there was nothing to be done. The White House had changed the policy and taken the time to send the communique on their letterhead. Jacob arrived in Iraq in January. Jacob died on Tuesday. I'm not saying this is any worse than any other death in Iraq. And I'm keeping my opinions about this war to myself, since they make no difference. I just want people in my blogosphere to think about this, to think about the effect this

Breaking Down Stereotypes, One at a Time

Tonight was another BI Social Club event. (Remember Quiz Night from November?) Tonight's plan was bowling. I'd say roughly half the company showed up in teams of 5. We met in the bar and had a pint or two before we started. I was mingling with the folks and, to a one, they all asked me if I was a good bowler. Anyone who's ever bowled with me can tell you that the answer is a resounding no. Let's face it. If my 9 year old nephew can kick my butt, there's a problem with my technique. So I'd confess that I was not just bad but downright awful, and I can't tell you how shocked people were. One person even confessed that the office rumor was that I was some sort of bowling ringer, what since bowling is the national sport of the US. I set him straight and explained that our national sport was actually WATCHING bowling. He seemed to believe me. (I think he thought Kingpin was a documentary.) So we hit the lanes, and my team did fairly well. I even broke 100 in my

Winter in England

It's winter today. Technically it's been winter for months, but for me it's seemed like a really long fall. It's rainy, in the 50's most days, and cloudy/sunny depending upon the hour. Grass is green, and I mentioned the other day that spring arrived with crocuses and daffodils. Then last night is snowed. It only snowed a couple of inches and it's all gone now that it's evening, but we actually had a bit of an icy commute. It's supposed to snow again tonight with more accumulation, so I expect the same tomorrow. It's pretty funny, really. My colleagues are giddy with anticipation of snow. If someone looks out the window and they see a flake or two, they yell, "SNOW!" and everyone runs to the window. They cancel their plans for the evening in case it gets icy, and they are all atwitter with joy at the prospect of a white blanket covering all this green. I laugh at them and sound like an old coot with my, "Well, where I come from, we

Books in the Wild

If you are a reader, this entry is for you. I have discovered an exciting new hobby called BookCrossing. Here's the premise...we all buy lots of books and read through them and then stick them on a shelf. Maybe we recommend them to a friend and hand them over, or possibly we see them sitting there a few years later and pick them up for a quick read like a conversation with an old friend. If you think of it, you might leave you book behind in a public place for someone to find, but usually books end up in the bottom of your bag, and ultimately you have stacks of books at home that you enjoyed (and some you threw across the room), and your forget about them until you're forced to pack them in a box when you move and you realize you're going to spend an additional $200 on movers due to heavy, bulky book boxes. WELL. NO MORE! BookCrossing is a way to make your reading double as a public service. It's an organized group of folks who "Read and Release." Now when

British Advertising

When I was here before Christmas, the airwaves were innundated by stupid "spendSpendSPEND"ads for the holidays. I've been to see festivals at the Walker several times where they play funny and interesting British ads from the previous year, and so I was kind of disappointed when the ads on my tele weren't all that great. Now, however, it seems I've hit the start of advertising season. Half the time I'm not watching TV now...I'm killing time until the ads come on. Here are some examples of things I've seen so far: There is a very strange ad with people wearing giant wigs that obscure their faces. Instead, they have faces drawn on their very toned stomachs. They dance around the house to a silly song and act happy because they're eating lowfat yogurt. That's weird, but when they bump bellies in some sort of body puppet kiss, I wince. There's one with a little boy dressed as a bank robber (black and white striped shirt, mask) and he'

Sunday Morning

I have a Sunday morning routine. I go for a walk...if it's nice out I go about a mile and half for exercise. If it's cold (like today), I just stop at the one-stop to pick up a copy of The Observer and some tomato juice and other necessaries for breakfast/coffee, and then I sit down and read the paper. About 945 or 10, I take my grocery list and I head to the MK Food Centre to do my shopping for the week. (Yes, Milton Keynes has a Food Centre with three main groceries...the NewCity planned ahead; if one store doesn't have something, you are next door to a store that might.) The store opens at 10, so I'm usually one of the first there. This is my preference, since I hate crowds and REALLY hate crowded grocery stores since I've become a label reader. Anyway, I work my way through the store with my cart, stocking up on whatever I need for my week's recipes, and of course I grab a luxury impulse item or two. I can usually get out of there by 11, home in time f

Big Weekend Part 2

So Saturday dawned, and Pam and I had a quick bite for breakfast and caught a train into the city. We bought the cheap fare, which means that we saved £5 but we had to take local service. No problem, really, just means more stops. The train was empty at Milton Keynes, but down the line it got pretty crowded. At Leighton Buzzard (yes, that's really a town name), three surly laddettes boarded the train. ("Laddette" is a term for hooligan girls who cop attitude and pick fights.) They were pretty rough looking girls, probably 18 or so, and were obviously out from the night before. They sat right behind us, so we could hear their charming conversation. Lots of swearing, some discussion of a friend whose baby was fine but she looked horrible, and other general bad attitude scandal bitching. The conductor came through the train checking tickets, and it turned out the girls didn't have any. He reprimanded them, they called him a wanker. He took their addresses and threatened

Big Weekend

Wow. It's been a big week, and there is LOTS to tell. In fact, so much that I don't think that I can get it done in one blog, so check back throughout the week for updates. Where to start... Thursday - Monday, my friend Pam was here from Austria. You can see pictures and hear her side of our visit at her site, nerdseyeview.com. I highly recommend her blog...there's even a handy link just to the right of this entry. Pam and I have good wandering energy together. We can move with no agenda and make a day of exploring everything from art to grocery stores. She laughs at all my really dumb jokes, she's my ukulele idol, and she is excellent company. I can't tell you how much I was anticipating her arrival. See, Pam is married to a kind-hearted handsome Austrian, and since his job keeps him in Cowtown, Austria except when he's on holiday, Pam spends 3 months or so there every winter. This means that, in addition to all of the fundamental things we have in common, w

London is just a quick train away...

I live in the middle of the countryside. Well, not exactly. Technically, I live in a giant suburban sprawl, except there's a good 30 miles of countryside between MK and London. The "New City," as MK Radio likes to proclaim. Everything was built within the last 20 years, except of course for the villages that the new build consumed...those still have thatched roof cottages and sheep grazing. But really, if I drive 10 minutes, I can be on a twisty country lane watching hedgerows roll by. So it's easy to forget that I'm really close to London. So close, in fact, that in 45 minutes, 35 on a fast train, I can be in the heart of things. Or, if I'm fool-hardy enough to take a car, I can sit on the M1 with thousands of other folks stupid enough to drive to London. In the last three days, I've done both. My first trip was via auto to Slough, industrial hellhole made popular with middle-managers everywhere as the home of The Office , the BBC's incredibl

Spring

It's spring here. I went on my walk this morning, and the bulbs are up...crocuses, tulips sprouting everywhere. There are buds on the trees. There is green startingto replace the bare stalks on the rhododendron. The rainy start to the day broke into fluffy clouds against a blue sky. The grass is a lush, green carpet. It even smells loamy, like the world is coming back to life. And it's only February 6th.

Pancake Tuesday

One of my favorite little treats of my life in Minneapolis was Pancake Tuesday. Basically, it's an Anglican Mardi Gras tradition to eat pancakes for dinner that evening. I always celebrated PT with Karen, Darlene, and occasionally Bev and Bill. Sometimes we'd find some church in the neighbourhood that was serving overdone pancakes to raise money for their youth, but usually we'd just go to the Perkins in Highland. (Note to CPM...I live in England and I have to spell like them at work now, so you're going to have to live with the extra u's and the transposed er/re's for awhile. I'm sick of people making fun of my spelling. Live with it.) While it's always a treat to have pancakes for dinner, when you pair it with a Perkins Mushroom and Cheese omelet, well, it's near perfection as an annual event. This whole Pancake Tuesday was a new thing for me, but I played along because I got to have dinner with people I liked and that dinner consisted of more forb

Home Again

I am safely home in Milton Keynes. Had a great flight, and even slept the whole way, so feel pretty close to back on time zone. I had a horrible time at the holidays, which I attribute to age and a bad cold, but this time I seem okay. Made it a whole business day without headache, erratic behaviour, or excessive flakiness. Got my laptop from work, so now I access to email all the time and all kinds of websites BI blocks. For example, I can now get directions from streetmap.co.uk, thus preventing me from getting lost on my way to new places. I can shop online, I can read blogs and websites that discuss politics and controversial subjects, and I can even choose to download music, if I were to get an ipod someday. I'm pretty excited about being back. I am now here for the long haul, with no currently scheduled date to return home. (Spring is the best I can say right now for my next visit, inquiring minds.) Can't decide what to do next. It's a big world out there, but

Updates on Christianity

As many of you are aware, I get pretty honked off about right-wing evangelicals and their bigoted crap that gives JC a bad name. I retaliate by making fun of them. Here are a couple of updates for your viewing pleasure. Remember Spongebob and his love that darest not speak its name? Well, he's welcome at the United Church of Christ . Oh! And don't forget to worship the Jesus of the Week .