Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Rain, mold and safety seminars

In this case, rain and mold are not related. In fact, intended to blog re: mold at work today as it was pretty amusing, but got sidetracked, as sometimes happens.

Yes, it is raining, but it really was a GORgeous day. Other than the 10 minutes to work and the 15 minutes home (during which I feel that we can now verify that Clare's umbrella Crimma gifty really is wind resistant and gave me no embarrassment by turning inside out -- such a Clever Clarence! Thank you! It also got a compliment from my friend, Sally, last evening who thought it was great fun to have caricatures of famous authoresses on a brolly.). The reason it took 15 minutes on the way home was due to the extreme distress experienced by myself upon discovery of no stocks of 2 litre sized milk in the campus shop. No matter how I huffed at the cooler, it remained packed with measly 1 litre and 1 pint sizes and the lower shelf remained empty; this wasted 5 minutes -- well, that and the line of culinarily stunted university students buying frozen pizzas and gummy candies.

Mold, however (in a completely dry environment), was discovered by Mark at work today in a pre-packaged and still-sealed packet of cheese or something. It had been placed (still sealed) into a plastic food carrier by his wife this morning, along with the rest of his lunch. He was highly offended and assumes this means that she is no longer happy preparing his lunch for him and that this was her way of saying he can bloody well do it himself (a reason for this hitherto unexpected behaviour could be the fact that she is about to burst with their first child).

In other exciting news, a new hairdryer is now in my possession, due to my having accompanied Basma to Boots in town at lunch today (does anyone else ever find that a shop can be on every corner when one does not need it, but when one actually searches and pays attention to one's surroundings, no Boots store is to be found? On a Sunday. Except a tiny corner one that happens to be closed on Sundays. Maybe it is just me.). It is the PowerDry Glamour 2000W and comes with:
* a comb
* a roller brush
* 4 puffy dryer curlers
* 4 curler clippies
* a diffuser
* a concentrator nozzle
It also claims 'ionic conditioning for frizz-free shine' and 'heat balancing ceramic technology'. Have every faith that tomorrow morning, my hair will look terribly dramatic and glamourous, lending me air of famous 1930s movie star. Perhaps I should wear sunglasses.

Finally, to round off the splendour of today, I spent an hour this afternoon at a Health and Safety Seminar on (seriously) 'How to set up your workstation'. We watched an intriguing video, hosted and narrated by a woman who talked to the audience like we were particularly dim-witted cabbages. Ideals set forth in this four-part instructional gem included:
* caring for psychological well-being in the workplace
(including making suggestions for improvement and telling others when you are unhappy -- am going on ssumption that this means 'mucking things up if you don't like them' and 'b^*(ing')
* positioning workspace so that everything is right in front of you
* sitting up straight in one's chair (I can't remember; has anyone every told me that before? Oh YES! It was my MAMA!!! Am admittedly still working on this one.)
* protecting one's eyes by:
  1. tilting computer screen to combat glare
  2. closing blinds if above is not possible
  3. cleaning dust from screen regularly
  4. adjusting brightness of screen
  5. taking regular focus breaks for eyes to rest
(I felt the need to close my eyes several times for a rest during the video.) THEN we had to play a game where we looked at a picture of a lady at a workstation and say what was wrong (Oh dear God.) And, THEN, a lady kept asking questions!!!! What?

Yay, for the last day in February! What wonders await in March?!
(oh, yes! LOTS of wonders since an adventure begins in 9 days!)

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Peat and other omitted items

I forgot to blog yesterday. Well, actually, I had to make a lovely turkey soup and then watch Finding Neverland and then my eyes were puffy and I couldn't type. (Oh whatever. It was worth a try no matter how lame.)

Some items forgot to mention in previous entry on Irish festivity (E has thoughtfully added the appropriate mention of towns in comment section -- well, maybe it didn't begin with a 'K'... but it was close! Thank you, E. One note: reference to, and I quote, repeated mention of 'the mysterious E' seems to be increasing excitement levels in the Ark-La-Tex of meeting said celebrity in a month -- you had best grow out the green mohawk and hide your glitter butterfly tattoo...):
* the top layer of the wedding cake is indeed saved and frozen.
* BUT it is not for the first anniversary... it is for the Christening Cake! Hoorah!
* (insert here some other stuff I remembered yesterday but forgot today. make it coloured so the people won't notice.)
*AND PEAT! I cannot believe forgot about PEAT! (this will get it's own entire section, not just a bullet point as much explaining must be done.)

At home (on the 11 days per year it is actually a tad nippy -- you know, below 60*F/15*C), we burn wood in our fire places (unless we are posh and have nifty things that look like real fires, but are not). And perhaps most people knew/know this already and forgot to tell me, but in Ireland, they burn peat. Peat is sort of like dirt, but complex dirt. Peat comes from a bog. My mental lexis grouping had bog as an equivalent of swamp, in the Florisiana sense of the word. So the image of what comes from a swamp bottom being burned as a fuel made absolutely no sense to me. Until someone said, 'Put some more peat on the fire' and I said, 'Who's Pete and why does he have to go in the fire' (just kidding) and so I did (and we know how I love to play in the fire). Peat also smells just ever so slightly different than firewood and there is even peat incense for sale in the duty-free shop in Knock Airport (which I shall attack on a rant against bureaucracy, but not now as it will sour mood).

When you fly over Ireland or you drive along the road, there are these fields that are tilled up dark, dark brown dirt-looking stuff with trenches between. To me, these always looked like some of the richest soil imaginable which must be used for growing magnificent beet roots or something. But no. These are peat bogs. There are special machines that people hire to come once a year and cut up the bog on their land and leave the peat to dry until it is needed as fuel and then they go out and get stock. I found this whole concept fascinating.

Tonight, then on the way back from the movies with Sally, I asked what exactly are The Broads of Norfolk. And it turns out they are man-made waterways that are partially the result of peat being dug out. Now, the waterways are purely used for pleasure boating (Sally is not terribly impressed with the experience as it is not overly exciting, but I think I might like it).

Movie reviews (in v. brief):
Finding Neverland -- now no one is allowed to mock me for not seeing it until now; we all know how long it takes me to see movies that everyone and their dog has seen 14 times. Johnny Depp is not to my eye the gorgeous being on the planet that everyone has decided he is, but I think he is quite the most fantastically versatile and talented actor. Now, am going to have to locate biography of J.M. Barrie...

Notes on a Scandal -- Wow. Amrie saw a movie in a theatre... and it wasn't vexing and Spanish, either. Although fully expected this to be Dame Judy Dench being pursed, disapproving and dour, with slightly amusing moments until the climax of revenge (which I anticipated as someone's house being burned or a tea cup thrown to the floor in a fit of pique), after which everyone parts and a nice sunset closes to never let the new enemies encounter each other again (maybe someone could move to the Dordogne). Now, it does close at dusk (equivalent to sunset in amrie lexis, although as we have seen above, this can be riddled with error), but this is as far as my prognosticative abilities went. Much more psychological, and were it not for the overlay of internal monologue of Dame Dench's character, it would be much darker. Although, this is where -- on a tangent here, if i may -- the difference lies between people who find nothing humourous in life and those who find great enjoyment and humour in life. Some people have an internal narration going, and some people don't. There is also a soundtrack to life, which some people are more adept at hearing than others, and this psychologically works similar to my theory on narration. This is a v. black comedy, and am not entirely sure it is an easy movie, as the two people with me were not sure that they liked it at all and labelled it 'a bit strange'. Cate Blanchett character much more likeable than in Babel. DD must have had an absolute ball of a time performing this character. And I think all my quirky friends should see this film.

Babel is just bizarre. It is terrifically long and, while there are interesting moments in the film and it is intriguing in its realism at points, there are also quite a few points where you want to slap characters for their utter stupidity. (Do I have a problem with anger projection onto inanimate and unreal objects? Hmmm.)

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Irish Wedding

After my foray into Irish culture over the weekend (purely with the most sociological of intentions), it is my studied opinion that the Irish do weddings the very best.


Evah, evah, evvvah.

Thursday, coach ride to airport was interesting since we went through all sorts of little towns on the way to Stansted. This was enlivened further than just the circus music and thoughts spinning round my brain, when a lovely lady got on at Thetford (on her way home to Sussex, after spending a week with her mother who is 87 years old) and told me lots of interesting things. Here are some things observed and/or learned on this segment of my journey (in no particular order):

* When carrying a banana in one's luggage, one should ensure that it is not on the side of the bag which will be continually bashed against one's person whilst walking.
* There is are not one, but two, wool shoppes in Attleborough!
* Thetford is the ancient capital of East Anglia.
* There are weekend markets sometimes at both Snetterton and Newmarket race courses.
* Newmarket is a lovely town, with amazing stables and horse tracks and fields along the sides of the road. I ought to have taken a picture of the three gorgeous creatures which crossed in front of our coach.
* I saw a dog herding sheep in a field with his owner directing!!!! (I mean, yes, I have seen it on Babe, but not in real life.)

Then I flew to Ireland. To Knock, specifically. One observation is that the English landscape is like manicured smooth green velvet squares. The Irish landscape, on the other hand, has the most varieties of greens you can imagine and is rather like gorgeous crushed velvet (I think from the rockiness of the land and it's more untamed style). Knock International Airport is similar to Bristol Airport in E's opinion. Bristol is a metal hut in the middle of a field; Knock Airport is a metal hut on top of a mountain. A small grouping of cows watched our plane land, make a 180 in the middle of the runway and head back to the terminal building :)

We stayed the Thursday night at the farm where his mam grew up (outside the village of Creggs). E's Uncle Johnny lives in the family home and his Aunt Rose Marie lives across the road; attempted to make friends with a wild black kitten, but failed. It did talk to me, so there was hope... Uncle Johnny took Ciara, Mark, E and me on an outing to Creggs. Although there are closing times, pubs do not kick people out... they just close the doors and draw the blinds until everyone decides to leave! However, we did not push ourselves too much, as certain nutters had been up for approx. 40 hours by that point.

Friday was wedding day, which I found entirely interesting since have never been to a weekday wedding before. The tone of the event was completely unchoreographed and just generally jolly (and there was doodly-doodly music, too, Clare!). Now comes the fun part!

From the church, there is a procession to the reception. Streamers are tied to all the cars, and there is much honking of horns and blinking of lights. THEN (this is apparently a western Ireland thing), along the route, people have built bonfires in their drives and they stand along the road and wave as the wedding party goes by! Had it been a nicer day, I have been assured there would have been more fires; as it was, there were at least 75 fires!

We drove about an hour from the town that begins with a K (feel like complete cartographic failure at repeated inability to remember name; it is very long) to Gort for reception at The Lady Gregory Hotel. Gort is a lovely town and it would be fun to go back and explore. Most everyone had arrived and checked in by 4 or 5, retired to the bar until the next segment, and dinner began at 6-ish. More people came to the dinner than were at the wedding. After the speeches, there was an intermission so the tables could be moved, carpets rolled up, band set up and then...

Everybody danced! All night long. There was regular music and there was jitterbug music and there was waltzing and there was country music (the Irish like country music) and naturally there was doodly-doodly music (again, you should have been there, Clare!). There is a dance called The Siege of Venice, which is a set dance and is generally impressively organised chaos. For the safety of others I refrained from joining in. There are two lines of four in each group; the lines go forward and backward and forward and backward and then by twos go sideways and then back and then over or under depending on which direction you are heading. Various guests got up and sang or played in the band at intervals (E did show remarkable level of self-control and did not give his (in)famous and popular rendition of Born to Be Wild). One question from the night is where is Tipperary and why is it such a long, long way? But it is fun to try to dance there even if your legs feel like they have been beaten the next day.

The wedding cake is Fruit Cake! And the mother of the groom made these probably two months ago (so they could soak, you know). Marzipan icing was really lovely and simple white with a ribbon to match the bridesmaids' dresses and cakes were square and arranged on a sort of candelabra sort of clever thing with arms instead of all stacked up. (Yes, mama. I KNOW I ought to have taken a picture of it...)

After dancing goes for a few hours, plates of sandwiches are brought out (for reviving qualities of crisps and bread and sausages) and wedding cake served to each table before MORE DANCING!

The bouquet is thrown. And the garter is thrown. But there are a couple of differences:
* The girl who catches the bouquet comes to the front and sits next to the bride.
* The groom removes the garter with his teeth! hee hee hee
* The man who catches the garter has to put it on the girl who caught the bouquet... with his teeth!!!!! Have informed E and his cousin that this would never fly in certain regions of the world with which I am familar :)

At the very end of the night (which was well into the next day), remaining guests made a pyramid path of arms and the bride and groom ran through it to The Chapel of Love by The Dixie Cups. And then I was tired (although perhaps it won't take me as long to bounce back as Matthew, who claims to have gone to an Irish wedding six years ago and still be recovering. Light-weight.).

It is really lovely to see such intergenerational family closeness (so much family was there!) and jollity for what should be a thoroughly joyful and non-stressful human event. It was just real. And this is a beautiful thing that we need more of. I have the greatest respect for people who balance abundant joy at being alive with purpose in life and faith.

Am quite sure that there were some other intriguing revelations that I meant to type in, but my shopping venture into the city centre today has drained me. For now my brain and my legs need a little rest... and some milk and chocolate. Shall have to inquire of E as to some more of my questions/observations when he gets back to Cardiff and is reachable by phone/Skype -- the trio is travelling back on the ferry, leaving Ireland tonight at 10.00pm or something that makes my energy store deplete in a swooning manner just thinking about.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007


And our Word of the Day is smurry.

Suzy at work informed me of this linguistic item this morning, which she has just learnt, as it was a rawther smurry morning. Have since verified the meaning online at a most charming blog: Pomegranates and Paper. To relieve your suspense, smurry is when it is persisting it down in a misty sort of way. My guess is that this is because the mist kind of makes the world look a bit smeary and that 'smurry' is a corruption of this (sort of like 'Murree Crimma' -- heh heh heh. Although I am being quite serious.).


Have watched (sort of) Top Gear, which is really the funniest auto show I have ever seen. (Actually the only one, but I really do enjoy it!). Tonight, they made a space shuttle out of a suburban or something and it was quite a feat. Not necessarily successful in traditional notions, perhaps, but as one of them reviewed, 'I think we did quite well, considering. Nobody was killed...'. One of E's favourite sections of the site is called Carbage, and it is hysterical! They have obviously been to Louisiana.

Talked to the Mama tonight and being Superior OCD Mother and Daughter Team (SOCDMDT) that we are, we are busily planning an agenda for the next trip to the 'Port 'o' the Shreve! Hoorah for obsessive planning!

Must now go and prepare self and baggage (only one bag so as to not check luggage. And if they try to take my 120ml bottles off me, I shall be QUITE displeased. We shall just not mention it, but put them in the little clear bag on the belt. Here is a question: umm, wouldn't the shady people just pack the liquids in the bag anyway and not declare them? Would they be caught?) for tomorrow's excursion to Ireland! E's cousin on the paternal side (she thinks. E is sometimes a little fuzzy on too many details, clearing up why we get along so well -- smirk.) is getting married in County Galway (she thinks). Reception is at The Lady Gregory Hotel in Gort, and I have been warned to prepare for a v. late night! Take coach tomorrow morning from right outside my office directly to Stansted and then fly to Knock, where shall meet E, Ciara and Mark, which mad people are taking the 3.30am ferry tonight from Wales to Ireland and then driving all day. (Was supposed to join this excursion, but 6-hr train ride, min., from Norwich would not have gotten me there before they are leaving Cardiff at 10.00pm to drive to the West coast.) I hope it isn't smurry the whole weekend...

Toodles for now!

p.s. ooh! have found another fabulous author -- E.M. Delafield (and Wiki). Am reading The Diary of a Provincial Lady at the moment; it is delectably funny and also a delightful cultural commentary of the post-War period. It is kind of like a 1930s version of Bridget Jones (in a much tamer sort of way, but writing style v. similar.)

On November 14th, the Provicial Lady writes about a friend who is coming to visit on her way to her own home in Norwich:

(Query: Why Norwich? Am surprised to realise that anybody ever goes to, lives at, or comes from, Norwich, but quite see that this is unreasonable of me. Remind myself how very little one knows of the England one lives in, which vaguely suggests a quotation. This, however, does not materialise.)

p.p.s. Additionally, there is a Chicken Pox epidemic sweeping Norwich right now. Lorraine in our office who developed pox last week, has been diagnosed with Chicken Pox in her lungs... Helena's housemate broke out today and offices all over campus have people out with the pox! Deary me -- it sounds like there weren't enough Pox Parties about 20-30 years ago!

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Pancake Day!

It is Pancake Day, aka Shrove Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras!

Pancake Day is the name for the day before Lent in Anglican areas of the world, and I somehow missed this last year; actually, this is rather more my speed than ArkLaTex, or even Louisiana in general, Mardi Gras celebrations. Trying to explain Mardi Gras to the people in the office was rather entertaining for all, especially since it is known as a gay holiday event in Britain (and this is usually in the summer for some reason). General response was along these lines, 'Beads??? Why? And they show body parts for BEADS?!?! Riiiiiight.' So, one of the cafes on campus offered pancakes today and it was really a cultural necessity for me to not stay in my office and obsess over my spreadsheets. After all, I do work in an international office (Sally and Craig, above).

Pancakes here are more like crepes in my existential definition and they were freshly made in a skillet when you ordered (a skillet is called something else here according to a particularly opinionated Wirish person with whom I am acquainted). Fat pancakes (like American-style) are called 'Scotch Pancakes' here. There was a choice between sweet (you put your own topping on -- Sumiko's sweet to R has chocolate and caramel sauces and chocolate sprinkles)

or savoury (there was a choice between spinach and ricotta, to R, or mushrooms and bacon). This was mine and it was yummy!

It too about 2 minutes for the four of us to devour our pancakes (Sumiko shows the correct mode of attack).

In other news today, a 22-week birth is causing quite a lot of debate. What is life and when exactly does it begin? As is the fact that one of the 21 July 2005 bombing suspects apparently enjoys disguising himself in unusual ways.

Here is an interesting item: There is actually a law that prevents the unlawful pricing of charges at banks! It is legal for them to cover their costs on things such as overdrafts, late fees, etc. For example, it costs approx. £4.50 to deal with an overdraft and so customers can legitimately complain and claim back for charges such as £35 for each overdraft. Hmmmm!

Finally, the luckiest frog in the world crossed a very busy Bluebell Road this evening. I saw this thing creeping stretchily on the pavement in the glare of the headlights and was horrified to realise it was a little (well, actually a pretty fat one) froggy with an apparent desperate need to get to the Bunny Field. He just kept going Steady-on and made it across the road not intersecting with any tire tracks at all!

Monday, 19 February 2007


So, some people may think it is cause for concern, but it really just kind of happened. It was just taking forever, and I was also too lazy to keep going with those teensy tiny needles, and so I bound it off, and now the bear has a new shawl. Made out of lovely multi-coloured pink and purple Danish wool. Pictures would be on here except for that pesky storage thingy that is going on with the 'puter.

In addition to spontaneous craftiness this weekend, I have also two new friends! One is a silky black kitty who jingle-bells outside my window in a most luridly flirtatious sort of way, until I open the window and pet her as she walks her front paws up the wall, stretchy-like, before flitting away to begin the pantomime again :)

The second, I met on my walk into town to meet Mat Parry yesterday for an afternoon repast at Henry's and a shopping outing to purchase washers for an ingenious engineering idea, but more about that later. So, my map obsession forces me to imprint a map of my surroundings as quickly as possible and so it is necessary to wander in different routes each time. Yesterday's wander led me down one dead end before taking me through a little development in my neighborhood that might be a retirement village or something. It is a community of little terraced bungalows and free-standing houses with a nice central park-ish area in the middle with a pond and tall grasses.

As I wandered through (because the map made it look like there must be an alley through to Unthank Road), a man with binoculars around his neck said, 'Hello' and I said, 'Hello' back. He was looking for a pair of dunnets (cannot find anything online and am prob. wrecking the spelling) that he had just seen, and it turns out he has a sister who lives in Kenner, Louisiana! He walked along with me and showed me the way to the alley; he was born in India, where his father was a regimental officer in a place I did not recognise. He is 66 years old, one of 11 children (!), moved to Britain in 1945 after the war was over and has lived in the development there for 15 years and he and his wife will get to automatically move to one of the bungalows when they cannot manage their house anymore. I do not know his name, but he said I should come through the shortcut anytime :) And so I shall.

So after my hot chocolate in the city centre (well, actually my first one), found washers appropriate size to rig my lamp shade and lamp (which do not go together officially, but they just work better than the shade that came with the base), so now my lamp does not look drunk (the rubber band was just not working any more). Hoorah!

Today, have decided that I want a Springer Spaniel. It would be pleasant and fun to walk along The Broad amongst the bunnies when the mists are coming over the water and woods as the sun sets.

Here is some interesting history from

All spaniels can trace their origins back to the spaniels of Spain. Up until the 1600's all spaniels were considered as being of the same group of dogs, with various sized dogs in the same litter. The larger of these were the forefathers of today's English Springer Spaniel. In 1892 the Kennel Club of Great Britain recognised Cocker and Springer spaniels as separate breeds even though they sometimes appeared in the same litter. This was soon stopped by the two breed clubs and a standard conformation was made of each breed. The Kennel Club of Great Britain granted breed recognition in 1902; the American Kennel Club granted recognition in 1927. This breed is of the oldest sporting gundogs. Their original purpose was for finding and springing game for the net, falcon or greyhound. Nowadays they are used to find, flush and retrieve game for the gun.
In religious news, several primates in the Anglican Communion in Africa (I think I am getting the organisational details correct) have released a statement regarding their decision not to attend a Eucharist during General Synod, delineating further the division that The Episcopal Church (USA) is setting between itself (well, there is also dissent in the US as well) and much of the rest of the Communion.

Additionally, I have begun a real-person sized shawl in pink and purple Danish yarn...

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Minty Glorious day!

Well, it is an absolutely glorious day and I have been aware for most of it so far (woke up at 7.17 am after passing out with book on my chest before 11 last night). However, my entry into civil society will be delayed due to a minty mask which is on my face at the moment and makes me look as though I suffer from a green version of the pox (there are chunks of leafy particles in the concoction).

Second week of work went well and I still have not fallen out of my chair or tripped in any public venue (oh, wait. I did almost fall up some stairs yesterday since my foot hit the edge of the step instead of the square middle. but, it wasn't in front of work colleagues, so it doesn't count.). Trip to Australia is almost fully worked out. My observation is that the stereotype of Australians as very laid back is an accurate one :) So, there are fairs on university campuses in less than a month, right? Some of the universities still have no official agenda and/or information to reps who will be travelling (such as, oh, the times of the fair, etc.). This week, a couple of the unis emailed to say that they will be covering accomodation costs and reps should let them know if they need accom. Okay... and I don't think this is related to OCD... I made the last of my accom reservations on Monday, which seems actually a little late to me. Hotels in Australia, though, fascistly do not allow any variation from the reservation (breaking down the stereotype in this case). So, in essence, I could have saved part of my budget. Grrrrrr. Well, better luck next year.

It is a relief to me, though, that there will not be a need for armed guards to escort me to and from exhibitions. This is what Wayne (my line manager) and Sasha and the other uni reps have as a service for their excursions every day in Pakistan. Armed guards walk in front of and behind each rep, put them in their cars (with police cars in front of and behind) and the entire procession honks horns as they travel to the exhibition. (Yes, let us alert the general populus to the fact that here are some people who need protection... there is no need for subtlety here!)

Today, my colleague, Sally is collecting me for an excursion! And yarn (wool) is reportedly a part of this activity. I am quite looking forward to seeing a little outside the city.

On a closing note, Lady Lindsey Lovelylocks has provided me with an introduction to Nora, a piano-playing cat. No, really! She belongs to a piano teacher and started playing on her own :) Part of the above link includes a duet with a student She apparently has a page as well:

Since we are on YouTube as a topic, there was an article on the news yesterday about Geriatric1927, who is an octagenarian who makes videos and publishes them online. His name is Peter and he is a widower and has published more than 60 videos ranging from 1minute to 13minutes. These are him telling stories about his life, including experiences from WWII and cultural observations.

In the series, Peter describes some of the major events and periods of his life, including:
Growing up during World War II, and living as a young teen in a city that was bombed by the
His experience in the primary and secondary education system of England in the 1930s, and his fortunate (in his eyes) selection to have his education 'extended' past the age of 14, a privilege during the period reserved for children deemed to be intelligent.
His conscription into the
British Army, and again his fortunate selection to be a Radar technician, occurred as a consequence of the aptitudes his superiors detected in him. This role kept him out of combat, for which he is grateful, as he did not have to witness "the horrors of war", yet was nonetheless imperative for the war effort.
His return to civilian life and the job he had left behind.
A period of tertiary education in
Leicester, England, where he met his future wife, and developed his passion for motorcycling.
His employment in Leicester as a
public health inspector.
(from Wikipedia article)

'Telling it all 34' is about his grandfather's funeral. 'The Vicar and the police questions' is v. good. His first try is 'Geriatric Gripes and Grumbles' and he also has a website.

He is precious!

Friday, 16 February 2007

Salmonella, anyone?

Why is my favourite preservative-filled food product the one that had to be riddled with Salmonella? And on Valentine's Day, too!!!! :(

[and new Honey Roast is so delectable, too!]

And yes, the two jars brought back to the UK with such joy by myself are indeed part of the product recall as their production sequence numbers begin with 2111. HOWEVER, since my 40 oz. jar is 9/10 consumed, I am going to go with assumption that it is not bacteria habitat and just go ahead and clean that sucker out with my spoon and a nice glass of milk. Eamonn, sadly, will need to pack his jar up (since he is obviously not as obsessed as I and has not even opened his jar yet) and bring it back to Albertson's when we go to the ArkLaTex. Oh wait, actually it is only the lid that you have to bring back for a full refund...

For those who may not be as informed as perhaps they would like to be, here is a little bit of Peanut Butter History. Actually, I didn't know much other than George Washington Carver... for shame.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Daily Life

(other than the minor amusements that are my service to humanity)

Since my photo uploading has been very sparse for a v. v. long time, it has been pointed out that certain persons would like to know where I live (at this point, only one person in the immediate close friend group other than myself has seen Norwich. well, at least my Norwich.).

This is the house where I live with Sarah and Rob. Sarah is a youth worker and Rob (from New Jersey but sounds terribly British) used to be in university publications business -- random coincidence? Yes. Sadly, the Mini is not mine :( My room is the one on the left and comprises what used to be the garage (pronounced, 'GAIR-rudge' in Britain). I would take some photos of the inside but a) am doing my linens still (see previous entry) and b) my vexatious computer is saying something nonsensical about profile storage space.

My walk to work takes about 10 minutes and I walk through the university grounds and beside The Broad, which is the man-made lake here. This is taken from the path through the park and the university is up the hill past the trees to the right. Every morning, there are people out walking their dogs (have I mentioned the impressively mannered behaviour of dogs in this country?). There are some white dots as well in the grass; these are seagulls, and they do a little dance on the ground at random. My guess is that they are trying to get worms to come up. Or maybe they are just cold. Who knows with seagulls.

Oh, and this might be an interesting view. White buildings in the distance are the university and this vantage is about 1/3 of the way there. This is taken from the main road that is between the stairs at the end of my street and the beginning of university grounds. There are some cute fuzzy ponies that live in this field, but I missed them in the photo.

The Bunny Brigade is out in force when I walk home after dark , but they are rawther tricksy to photograph. This is the best that could be -- sorry Steffi!
(bunnies are located in the first 1/3 of the pic from the left. they are the two brown dots.)

Will take pictures at work. Took camera for an outing the other day and let it sit nicely on desk all day. Then it came back home with me :)


Although repetition can be fun when one is doing something such as, say, eating chocolate covered McVitie's biscuits, I am doing something a little less inspiring. Those of you who know me well may find this story mildly amusing and people not so well-acquainted will think, 'What kind of eeediot...?'

I am doing laundry. Linens, specifically. This in itself is no unusual activity (unless you are part of the tribe of 97 scary Albanians who lived around the corner from Gold Street and who Steffi suspects have eaten Skimble; but I digress.) until one becomes aware that the laundry being washed in New! irresistable fresh scent Crushed Silk and Jasmine BOLD detergent was run through the washer and dryer a little less than 24 hours ago (don't bother asking what crushed silk smells like -- let the marketing do its magic). The only problem was when my lovely sheets and towels were removed from the dryer, they did not smell anything like crushed silk, let alone jasmine. No, indeedy; I forgot to put the detergent in my second wash of Valentine's Evening.

Have you ever omitted washing powder from your personal practices of textile cleanliness? Well, it must be said that this negligence should be avoided. Instead of basking in the joy that is a part of the sleeping-on-clean-clean-sheets experience (esp. crushed silk and jasmine) on Valentine's night, my olfactory system instead flared in protest at the alternative scent of heated dirt that had then been set on fire (when things come out of the dryer sometimes, they are a little warm, you know. Usually, this enhances washing powder scent; unfortunately, it also enhances the aura of dirt.).
So, we are trying again :)

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

A pox! A pox!

Fortunately, I have already had chicken pox and at the moment am suffering from no other ailments (although the turkey I ate earlier for my Valentine's dinner is sitting a little iffy in my tummy). Hmm -- it is my learned opinion that maybe some bread and Peter Pan will help this.

Anyhoo, a second person in the office has developed chicken pox. Last week, Suzy was out with the pox (it is apparently horrid and painful as an adult. Suzy's mother apologised to her for not making sure she was infected as a child :)) and now Lorraine is out -- yesterday with the gastric flu and now she has the fully blown pox. At least it was not any closer to her wedding -- that would be unfortunate. Two other people are feeling a little coughy and flu-ey, so I must stay up with my lemons and hopefully not ruin my trip to Ireland next weekend... Then, another team member got a call from her son after he went to the doctor and found out he has Scabies!!! The doctor told him he probably caught this from handling dirty money (this is HORRIFYING! ewwww....)

Today, with it being the Day of St. Valentine, we shall discuss the legend of Claddagh (although St. Valentine has to do more with valour than chocolate. However, I find that chocolate makes me brave and so there could be a tenuous argument made.). This is a traditional Irish symbol and is supposed to represent a person's relationship status. Meaning depends on the hand on which it is worn and also the direction that the heart is facing. It is worn on the left hand to signify marriage or engaged status and on the right hand to signify if a person is in a relationship. If the heart on the ring faces away from the wearer, then the person's heart is available; if it faces inward, their heart has been taken by someone else.
Just don't give the person you love the pox.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

This could get...

A. Nnoying.

It seems that there is a conspiracy. A vast mental-health-wing conspiracy to drive Amrie MAD through the tortuous sounds of abandoned car alarms. When my dictatorship is established, there will be no need for car alarms because people who break into cars will be chained into an abandoned car and have to live there for a year -- rain, snow, etc. This will detract from their contributory status within society, admittedly, but perhaps they can be forced to knit chic creations for powerful international governmental figures. Yes, this sounds good.

It is a good thing that I am in a benevolent mood this evening due to my returning from work tonight and finding a Valentine from my wonderful Oma! She is the best card-sender there is and I am a horrid card-sender. It apparently skips the second generation (except Lindsey is rawther good -- maybe it is just me... sorry all for the acute lack of cards and general festively stamped correspondence. No, actually, Lindsey is the wonderfully wierd one as she is the only cousin who corresponds on paper... I must try harder.). Anyhoo, Oma through her forethought has prevented Purposeful Damage to Property this evening.

Alarm has been going off now for approx. 9 minutes and this is a) detracting from my writing b) contributing to my shoulder tension and c) stressing me out since my book is waiting (The Bourne Ultimatum). Oh dear -- such stress :) However, I highly recommend that it stop within the hour, as my ear plugs are somewhere in a box in E's upstairs hallway in Cardiff.

As of today, entire travel coordination is done for trip to Australia (hoorah), so the little diary entries can begin to be colour-coded (HOORAH!) and everything is now truly imminent. Today, was also an interesting day since the afternoon was spent interviewing candidates for a new position in the office. You would never guess that it could be so interesting to be arrested in Moldova for walking down the street. Another candidate looked exactly like Cousine the Lindsey!

Oh, praise the good Lord! After 17 minutes of mental pain, the alarm has stopped. On to the bookkkk -- nooooooo! again.... why, oh why, oh why?

It's dark -- surely noone else on the street will report me for PDtP.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Snow and such

So, it snowed on Thursday (as soon as I walked out the door, sans brolly). It snowed for about 5 hours. Sadly nothing stuck here, unlike the rest of the country, which had 7-11 cm; similar to Shreveport, this pretty much slowed Britain down. B was not able to leave on his silly-o'clock-in-the-morning flight to South Africa, where he planned to surprise his parents -- so that didn't happen and no one was surprised. Airports all over were closed on Thursday, but back open on the Friday (hoorah) and lots of distressed travellers were available to be interviewed on the news. Because seeing displeased people with a whinging venue is always useful and informative. Personally, I preferred video of toddler dressed like the little brother in Christmas Story who tilted over with his arms straight out (except it was sad when he screeched).

Unfortunately, this weather prevented E's Friday meeting in London (that, along with the extra snow in Cardiff on Friday), so he was not able to make his planned excursion to lovely sunny Norwich for the weekend.

On a side note, there must be something in the water here. Or the dirt. There are SOOOO many bunnies here! Literally herds of bunnies (this is the wrong collective noun, but my shoulders hurt. Hurting shoulders IS relevant here.) -- on my way to work, they are in the field alongside the road; in the evening, there is so much rustling in the leaves in the university park on my walk home, that if not for the flashes of white doing hopping motions, one might fear stalkers. On Friday evening, there were at least 15 bunnies that hopped across my path! Readers may recall my observation of hundreds of bunnies from the train windows on the way through East Anglia in October (my interview trip); it is my opinion that there is a larger rabbit population in this region than in any other in Britain. We shall have to investigate, shan't we, Steffi? :)

Norwich was not sunny this weekend at all, as I proved and possibly provoked by not listening to my inner voice yesterday and returning to the house for sensible brolly. Since my decision was not to walk 2 minutes back, instead showing fortitude in the face of weather in dedicated postal person sort of way, the rain just sneakily gradually persisted down mistier and mistier in a most annoying sort of way. My goal was to walk to the only yarn shop in Norwich, Norfolk Yarn, and from thence proceed into the centre and toodle up and down the interesting little streets with their interesting little shoppes in search of something non-black to wear to Irish wedding. Norfolk Yarn is actually pretty far away from my house, but it seemed useful to my search for a home, and healthful besides, to explore. This cunning plan was drenched (pun fully intended) by the time I didn't make it to the shop (in my head, the address was 188, when in actuality, it is 288 -- blast, blast, blast. See, my notes to myself ARE helpful).

Soaking wet with spirits dampened, I tromped to the nearest sheltered bus stop and felt cold and vexed until a bus came along so that £1.50 could be traded for a ride back into town. At the first stop, after declining a man's offer to let her get on the bus ahead of him, a poor burka-ed woman got on and argued with the driver about the number of tickets she had paid for since he wanted her to buy another one as there were more children than tickets. So she counted the children, claiming one free child or something and then tickets for the driver; he remained unamused. Then, she said she had no more money and he told her to just get on the bus. Approximately, 3.4 seconds later, she and two of the children started screaming to 'STOP THE BUS!!!' Although four elementary children plus two in a stroller got on the bus with her, another one apparently got left at the stop -- oopsy! THEN, they wanted the bus driver to wait with the bus until one daughter ran back to the stop and came back with said deserted child. He declined to acquiesce this proposal (this means 'No') so they trooped, quite literally, off the bus into the rain. I felt sorry for them, but it was pretty funny.

So, I walked and shopped (i HATE shopping) until my coat was soaked, my brain was tired and my eyes hurt from all those horrid lights they put in dressing rooms to make one look firstly like one is suffering from cyrosis and secondly like a doughnut with legs. Like that stupid Pillsbury DoughBoy, who is a mascot I strongly dislike. Then money was taken out of my account for the rent and depression set in. Oh well... So it was time to head home. Fortunately, due to nauseating lighting skills in shoppes, no absurd purchases were made :) So, all the benefits of retail therapy (if you can call such inanity therapy -- other than the book shoppes of course) with none of the guilt! Success!

Today, the umbrella went with on outing to the Earlham Farmers' Market, and did it rain? A single drop? No, definitely not. So, in addition to my week's worth of din-dins, I had to coordinate this very large stick (although it is a really attractive stick, with faces of famous women authors). By solid afternoon, the sun was shining quite permanently and it was a lovely walk back home, although it was kind of windy.

So I rested by knitting, talking on Skype to various and sundry, and watching Pirates. Now it is time for sleepy bye-bye so as to be spiffy for second week of induction.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007


The meteorologists are personally wetting themselves with excitement over 'the coldest weather since December 2004' or some such statistical ephemera. But it is kind of exciting to see the map of Britain turn progressively white with forecast of snow from West to East from approx 10pm tonight to 6am tomorrow. Oooh! This is fun! On SkyNews, the white stops just short of Norwich, but BBC1 says there may be up to 7cm in the morn :)

As a matter of observation, it is blooming colder here in Norwich than in Cardiff. Or at least it has been.


So, gainful employment has been begun. And I like it a lot, although there is so much to absorb before my first outing, which incidentally will be to Australia (did i mention that?ooh, sorry.). Oh my Lord, it is exciting and yet mildly intimidating. Not least of which because of the fact that the reason for me to have this position in the first place is due to the previous person's untimely demise; and he had worked there for 20 years and knew everything there is to know about exchange agreements, travelling, everyone he remotely encountered, etc. But at least it is worked field instead of a cold one. And everyone seemed to really like and respect him.

My colleague is going to Pakistan in a week, where just last week there was a car bomb outside the hotel he and the faculty members will be staying. And there was another bomb today -- dear me.

In Britain, there is a letter bomber who has struck three times in the same number of days, so there is a warning out. Since I don't open many packages, this is not imminently a danger for me.

Anyhoo, to fill those outside the family who have not therefore been filled in on my accomodation (tee hee) -- my abode is in annexe (actually, enclosed garage) of a lovely house approx. 10 minute walk from mi officina. The couple I live with are very friendly and helpful and also don't mind my privacy at all. My room is triple the size of my room in the Hobbit Hole and probably almost the same as the room on Gold Street, except with a different orientation (long, instead of square-ish). V. v. clean (terribly important) and excellent light (again, important for mental health and designated knitting area [DKA] potential).

In the morning, I walk up the hill (or slip up the hill if there is ice as yesterday. Doc Marten mary-janes are in my future.), down steps to the next street, left to corner, right onto Bluebell Road (sadly, there is no ice cream here -- why is there a link called 'Learn About Ice Cream'? whatever.), cross the road almost two blocks down (this is to confuse you Brits who haven't a freaking clue what a 'block' is), walk through the university's park (past a lovely lake), up a hill, and there we are!

My office has a great group of people (assuming the four I haven't met are equally cool), very welcoming and only mildly take the mick about y'all. My direct line manager is from Portland, Oregon; he sounds British to me, but the Brits think he sounds completely American. He has had to field the mockery for words like eggplant, zucchini and the pronunciation of database with an initial short [a] for 6 years or so, so he is glad there is fresh meat. The office is open plan, which is a little daunting at first, coming from Private Office World [POW], but I think it should work fine. My computer doesn't get registered til tomorrow, so then I will hopefully be an entity, have email that works, be listed on important lists and be able to get on with it.

Well, obviously there is still a lot to be commented on, but my wrist is tired. And I need to stretch my hips. (This may sound bizarre -- yeah, okay. I admit it DOES totally sound ridiculous -- but having spent 16 months moving around a lot and not sitting in one position longer than 14.7 minutes, esp. not in a desk chair without my legs crossed Indian-style, my hips ache! ha! I suppose I am made for an ADD job where I move around a lot.)

Monday, 5 February 2007

A Beginning

And let us hope not a Baudelaire Bad Beginning.

My, my, my... a whole new blank slate of a blog to frivolously scribble on (metaphorically, of course). Oh hoorah!

There is a lot to catch up on (and many grand insights to be proferred), but I just can't be arsed at the moment. Also, have already been given task to assist with short-listing for one new position in Inter, so there is selective behaviour to indulge in. (or would that be in which to indulge? I think so, yes.) Power, mwah-ha-ha.

Thank you, Dawny and Katharine -- Wirish indeed made the trip safely (much more simplified than if I had attempted it myself via train) and helped me organise myself before heading back to C-town for a weekend of rugby :) Alas, poor Wales... but it was an outstanding game (as I saw between naps yesterday).

Yes, Matthew, I have sewn on the extra toes and am settling into being Normal for Norfolk (oh, look! a film!). Of course, I have only been here for three days and have mostly been comatose from the manic speed of uncertainty and spontaneity at which my life has proceeded over the past, oh, three months or so. The mention of crawling into straw sculptures has gone completely over my head, but your kind recommendation will no doubt spring to mind should this become an issue.

Anyhoo, must get on task now and think about planning the ridiculous amount of travel to be undertaken in the next few weeks:

1) Ireland -- 22 to 24 Feb for Wirish relative's wedding
2) Longview, TX -- 31 Mar for Katie B's wedding
(in which will be in really lovely pastel pink dress with big fun bow, a la Eloise!)
3) AUSTRALIA -- unsure re: dates but prob. week prior to TX
(my time sense is going to be a pulpish mess)

However, my point-collecting greed is looking forward to some FFM (frequent flyer miles).