Thursday, 31 May 2007


I had someone tell me last evening (and I appreciated the thoughtfulness of it) that they did not envy me right now being the successor to Mike, the guy who did part of my job (the exchange agreements) before and whose sudden death led ultimately to my job. He was 47 and died of a ruptured aorta and other complications while on holiday in Greece last summer. I think he came to NAFSA for 20 years at least. Everyone knew him and adored him.

The Gale Mansion did an absolutely outstanding job last evening, maybe smoothing a little bit the appearance of my competence to some of these people, and we had a toast to Mike, etc. It was kind of an ice-breaker for people to meet me and Sally (the new team), so it was a good time. I think people have been kind of sizing me up and it is more than slightly nerve-wracking, esp. when one could be construed as an imposter without a British accent and with a great blue plaster/band-aid* on my knee. But it is really going okay. Although, I am quite ready for the week to wind down (partly because days are 16-18 hours between hotel departure and return and involve loads of logistical planning along with simultaneous short-notice schmoozing. Which I dislike.).

Back to the Gale Mansion... it was built in 1912 as a home (Pillsbury family connections) and is now owned by the American Association of University Women. Lindsey, the catering coordinator for our event, gave the chefs free reign and they served a magnificently non-mundane selection of items -- from little cucumber cups with gazpacho to miniature crab cakes with dijon dipping sauce to handmade macaroons covered with chocolate to miniature lamb chops to calimari and seared tuna skewers to divine chocolate torte. It was too easy! Anyone needing to host an event in Minneapolis should use this venue. It was much more satisfactory than the initially planned location, and several people said they were happy to see something other than the downtown area.

After the relief of having our event over, Sally and I went to the Orpheum theatre for a dinner hosted by an advertiser who wants our business... Oh well :) It was a lovely, lovely theatre -- old movie house, built at the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, excellently preserved. Dinner was on the stage (where the Marx Brothers performed on the first playbill) and involved lots of chit-chat over the sounds of a jazz trio, two of whom looked remarkably depressed and maudlin. Very nice end to the day (except that I missed an Oma phone call).

A command decision has been made this morning. Am not going to the 8am session that I foolishly placed on my schedule in over-achieving fashion. Sessions at all are a pie-in-the-sky idea if one has meetings every half hour most of the day. Oh well :) I suppose I ought to get my black polka dots on for today and put some Vaseline on my teeth (a little joke -- this is to help one smile if one is competing in a beauty contest).

* reason for blue plaster on knee is that managed to injure self, and then lost band-aid yesterday, re-aggravating injury and causing resumed loss of blood. One of other vendors (insurance company -- how appropriate) has little band-aid dispensers for travel, so i went and got one, discovering later the first plaster plastered to the back of my other leg where my leg-crossing had transferred it. Yes, I am five.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007


It is today.

Am a little unsure what that means (i.e., what is today? Literally, not philosophically.).

Am quite tired.

So, what the bloody hecks am I doing up at 5.33am? Grrrrr.

There is a crow on the faux balcony outside my window and it makes me sad that I cannot try to help it. My mother says it is probably diseased, but its foot is all that appears to be injured. Last evening, it scared me since my windows are open to combat the evil that a/c seems to inflict upon my sinus system, and it was trying to flap itself steady onto the 1.75 inch window ledge until I opened the curtain. Then it limped into the corner of the ledge. It is still breathing, but is not light enough for me to see its eyes. What do you think would happen if someone tried to bring a crow through customs (tee hee hee titter sniggle)? Poor crow. Have nothing to feed it unless it likes coffee grounds or milk (dairy or soy) or chinese rice with red very hot pepper.

Yesterday, set up booth at NAFSA. It was as one of these things usually goes for the first time:
* hanging banner with the pretty cathedral picture was taken out of our materials by someone in our office, so we have two boring ones instead (one of the boring ones' information was to be on a smaller display board on the table display, but more of that below)
* display board was only delivered on Thursday
* it appears that one complete display board was in two parts of pre-wrapped bubble wrap (what sense is that?), so we have unintentionally only brought one part, which cannot therefore be used
* blue of the display board background is BLUE, the table banner is blue, and the hanging banners are blue, again. This is just entirely avoidably silly and annoys me greatly.
* logo on table banner is about the size of my hand. This is completely insufficient for passers-by to easily spot. But whatever.
* professor who is with us has brought many of his own brochures, which do not match anything else but each other
* these brochures bring our variety of brochures up to 10 and only include humanities subjects
* a 6-foot long x 2-foot deep table is not sufficient for 10 different types of brochure if one is attempting to go for an attractive display look. If one is going for a 'car-boot sale' or 'garage sale' look, then perhaps this is fine. This is not the look I am going for. There was an argument yesterday :) It involved the professor giving the example of a candy store with a large variety of items, and me saying that one doesn't just jumble up all the candy but tries to have orderly sections of chocolate, candies, gum, etc. and that six feet of space is not really enough for very many sections. Neither of us succeeded in convincing the other, but we have compromised and have 5 different brochure types on display, arranged in diagonal, cascading alternate groupings. The diagonal-ness makes up for the busyness of the visual chaos.
* the professor is now either alarmed by my OCD-ness or joining the ranks of the multitude who finds it incredibly funny. Whatever.

It has been questioned whether an alternative location has been found for the reception on Wednesday evening. And the answer is YES!!! Hoorah!

It will be held at The Gale Mansion. The coordinators have been incredibly helpful and understanding and I have had to make no other decisions other than cost and a limit on the wine. A review of location will follow the event.

Minneapolis is v. windy, and it has been lovely weather-wise since we got here. Downtown has some really interesting buildings (British Professorial Conversation the other evening was very mocking of the fact that the architecture has indulgently been chronicled in a book. Lord Almighty, just stop b!(*&ing about everything! The Ugly American is certainly a common sight, but there are other Uglies as well, and HELLO! isn't part of the purpose of this conference to discuss intercultural tolerance and understanding?). Anyhoo, so far it has been mostly empty outside other than all us outsiders but is fairly clean, unsmelly, and there are jazz musicians playing in the streets. There are lots of good restaurants, and I am taking Sally for Mexican food on Friday evening!

Monday, 28 May 2007


It is terrifically easy to be incredibly astute about the manner in which other cultures conduct their business.

English people seem to have a higher percentage of astute persons with this skill set and it can be difficult to keep a civil tongue, although I think I am doing quite well. (It is this which makes me think it will not be possible for me to 'become' totally British, as even though I am incredibly astute, it is just not the 'done thing' to choose a topic of dinner conversation something that overtly mocks a dining companion. Although, this discussion is relative to the English -- the Welsh are mostly less offensive in their astuteness; have no experience with Scottish; and the Irish just seem to have better manners of them all.)

The discussion over dinner last evening tended toward the ridiculous nature of the American nationalistic mythology. Topics covered included the influence of Hollywood on this grand error, and how severely lacking Americans are in their skill with history. Now, in itself, these are not inaccurate notions. However, a general air of superiority and a hour of beating that dead horse over a couple of hours does not improve the courteous nature of the situation (also, mocked were king size beds -- ' who else are you expecting in the bed?'). Fortunately, a smile remained frozen on my face during the overhearing of this (since I wasn't part of the conversation, although it was provided by two professors for my benefit, no doubt. Oh, please -- do teach me, kind sirs!), and they continued marinating in their notion of the superiority of the English National Mythology. Much of their snootiness toward America (which is dismissive of the Canadian presence, but then many British are rarely concerned with anyone else at all anyway, unless it involves donating money to a charity far, far away -- in this way, they are quite similar to the French, n'est pas?) circled around our slavery issue (because we just came up with the custom on our own -- such clever monkeys we are). Perhaps, there will be a chance for me to bring up the topic of our Great Emancipator (this article, sadly also perpetuating several inaccuracies -- must finish reading When in the Course of Human Events, so as to have scathing facts to argue with history professors and other snooty persons) or maybe ask which of their monarchs they consider to be the most perfect.

English National Mythology, of course, focusses on 'The Finest Hour', conveniently omitting various issues such as the slaughter of their own people on various parts of their islands for several hundreds of years for reasons ranging from potatoes to religion. It is really fun to talk about American Imperialism, I know. But like mother, like daughter, you know.

I did make one comment (after I was brought into conversation once to topic swerved to how big everything is here) that king-sized beds are fairly common as many American men are quite a bit taller and therefore do not fit into queen size beds -- as well as the fact that our houses are quite a bit larger. The professorial retort to this was, 'well, can't they sleep diagonally? Are they too macho to sleep in a queen-sized bed?' I just laughed. Yes -- of course, the other person in the bed doesn't matter. How English.

Oh, one could go on, but one must get ready for a v. full day of international educators :)

Thursday, 24 May 2007

A Place to Lay One's Weary Head

Figured had better try to blog a little today, or people might start to wander away and I wouldn't have an audience for my rants and interesting and amusing stories (similar to Mo-Deen in the B-52s song. If you are unfamiliar with my reference, you clearly do not listen to enough B-52s. And this is not talking about the planes.).

Tomorrow, have the day off in preparation for another Trip to America. Taxi from flat at 8.00am Saturday morning (ick). This time, going to NAFSA (a conference for international education), and it is in Minneapolis this year. Paulrus has been so kind to encouragingly use the term 'Murderapolis' in reference to my trip, so am not quite sure what to expect. Although, it has been ranked 7th most educated city in the US by EncartaOnline, so this gives me hope. At least criminals will be well-edu-mac-ated. UEA has a booth, so I have been organising quite a lot. We are hosting a reception as well, which has had a couple of hiccups: firstly, twice as many people will attend than we expected (which is good) and secondly, the first venue I booked cancelled on me (which was bad). Fortunately, after a great deal of swivetting behaviour, another venue is booked, The Gale Mansion, which promises to be even better!

Tonight, there might actually be a bed in my house for me to enjoy my repose!

Or there might not. No instructions seem to be included in very large box that was delivered at approximately 11.26 this morning. Hmm. And there are some very large spring mechanisms that need attaching. Well, we can all hope that should the various pieces make it into a unified whole, it will not collapse in the middle of night, scaring me half to death and leaving a big knot on my bonce (this means head/pate/skull in Irish -- well, I assume this as it is used by a Wirish person with whom I am acquainted...). Let us hope together! And maybe sing Kum Ba Ya.

It may sound alarming that no bed has been present until now, since I have been woefully lacking in time to blog. I have not had to sleep on my tile floor. On Moving Day, managed to get to get to Futon Company moments before closing time and collect two chair blocks (on sale), which fold out flat (this be for visitors -- hint, hint!). They have made a lovely double bed for moi and the bear over the past week and a half, but it is rawther a effort to creak one's self up from floor level in the morning, every morning. (Would have loved to have gotten a futon from Futon Co., but they are incredibly proud of their products. Prouder than I am to pay for them.)

Flat still quite unfurnished, but at the moment, is not even a slight concern as all I care about is my very own kitchen! There has been nowhere to sit other than the 'bed' or the fireplace steps, but now the blocks will serve nicely for a while.

On another note (although related to moving, since involved me being reunited with my bike), today is the fourth day I have cycled to work! Have discovered new levels of strength and determination within soul. Norwich is supposed to be flat. Well, it is not entirely :) But this is good. My time has decreased every day on the ride in: Monday (30 min), Tuesday (22 min -- using different route, though), Thursday (20 minutes -- using same route as Tue, but not getting lost in cemetary or flailing about wildly due to bug attack on eyeball).

Additionally, today have so far made three journeys between personal habitat and work due to bed/futon delivery (actually called a Shanghai Magic 3-seater sofa). And there is one more to make. Am exceedingly glad not to have to come in tomorrow!

I must be going now. Really, I must be going :)

Monday, 21 May 2007

Short Bus Fridays

Note: It is quite inconvenient not having internet at my home. Hope to have this sorted out v. soon. Well, that and some furniture. (ooh dear. I just had a big deja vu!)
Anyhoo, this post is from Friday...

Right. So, I accidentally got on the short bus on the way home today.

In order to go and purchase some twigs of a trellis-type construction, I left work early today (since shops close at 5.30, even on a Friday). My destination was one of the worst shops ever, but it was my hope that some of their trellises might still be there since have been unable to find them elsewhere and have decided to make clever window screen so that can keep curtains open yet retain some semblance of privacy (pronounced, ‘priv-a-see’ for the correct effect). Anyhoo, ran out to bus, which then proceeded to sit there for 12 minutes before taking off (‘taking off’ being entirely a figure of speech here).

On the way to shopping centre, bus stops at Norwich and Norfolk Hospital. It sits for a bit. Okay. No problem. However, the problems began when I noticed a bus passing my bus. My bus was the 22. The bus passing and proceeding to the next stop was also the 22. That 22 then collected some people (happy, no doubt, to be on a moving bus) and departed in a chipper sort of manner; and my bus continued to sit there for about 7 more minutes (all the time, clock is ticking towards closing time, let us not forget).

Finally, my 22 felt able to begin a toddle out of the parking lot (aka, car park). Amusing even, since a large woman who had gotten on at the hospital lost control of her little shopping bag trolley and it rolled madly all over the bus before she could recapture it. Then we turned and wended our way through a neighbourhood on the outskirts, past the Frog Crossing sign, and it was pleasant.

Then things really started to go awry. First, I noticed that we did not seem to be going in the correct direction, because we passed where it seemed we should have turned toward Roy’s (How could it help but be a horrid shop with a name like Roy’s of Wroxham? Roy is a good name for a horse, and perhaps for a cowboy, but not really so much for a shop that hopes to be taken seriously.).

Became more and more concerned as it seemed we were passing stops that were supposed to be post Roy’s. Bus driver then pulled over to bus stop, for absolutely no reason apparent, and sat there for a good 4 minutes. This was in the section of town closest to a ghetto. It is called Humbleyard and is quite unfortunate.

And we rolled again.

After about three minutes, bus pulled over again and sat for a little rest. It was by this point 5.29, but I was remarkably calm and baffled and slightly amused by the whole ridiculosity of the situation. In my subconscious, perhaps I noticed the progressively violent shaking of the bus. P’raps not. Anyhoo, the next time we stopped, the bus driver turned the bus off. And we sat. People started calling people on their cell phones to explain situation (For my part, I was texting Cardiff to keep some kindred spirits apprised of available amusement). Then we started again. Woo-hoo!

Then we jerked through an intersection, around a corner and made it to a dying stop and the next bus stop. Poor driver (except not so poor since he misled me regarding stopping at Roy’s). After a bit of dull attempts to regain power on the bus, we were bundled off and onto the next passing 21 bus (which I was assured went to the shopping centre, even though it was 5.43 by this point). This bus went to Dereham Road and turned right – this meaning it was heading towards the city centre. This the totally opposite direction of Roy’s. So, I gave up at this point.

But wait! There was yet more amusement to be had! At the Dereham Road turn, a lady had apparently turned and mistaken the signal in the middle of the road as pertaining to her (instead of to traffic travelling straight on the Dereham Road). This meant that the bus jutted across all lanes of traffic and no one could go anywhere, least of all the bus. The bus driver honked. He honked again. He laid on the horn. The lady just looked around in circles and waited until the light turned green. The people on the bus were yelling at her. It was all just entirely too amazing. There were hidden cameras somewhere, I swear.

Made it to the city centre (superior sense of direction on my part, no?). Everything was shut, which is really kind of nice when you think about it, because people aren’t slaves to their jobs and can have a life. I do like this.

However, by this point, my feet hurt and I was twigless. So it seemed a good idea to go and have a pedicure to soothe my twigless self. Went to locate a shop recommended to me by my friend at work, Basma. There is a picture of pedicured toes in the window. There is a picture of pedicured feet on a poster inside. Non-English speaker told me they no do peddy-cyure. Argued with him for a few minutes, well not really arguing, more tried desperately to get my point across. Failed.

Walked to Tesco to purchase wine opener for my planned lovely dinner (to reward self for not being overcome by hysterically stupid chain of circumstances and since have had bottle of wine that have been unable to open). Tesco does not have wine openers. So, I had to sift through and select screw-tops (this is really not so bad, but it does diminish the ceremony of the bottle).

Now, I shall cook my din-dins and watch James and the Giant Peach.

Happy Short Bus Friday!

Cultural note: in the US, the term 'short bus' refers to the school bus that carries persons with special needs to school. They are generally half the length of a normal Big Yellow School Bus (which is actually kind of orangey).

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Flying Monkeys

...and this news just in from Pablo (well, it was actually a couple of days ago, but I just didn't get around to letting everyone in on this secret).

Beware the flying primates.

(this is Paul's shirt from Friday and reflects his feelings in his current employment as Office Flunky in the Film Industry. But he did get to chat again with Denzel, so that is a benefit.)

Cinco de Mayo

Cookies definitely make life much better :)

Have decided that probably Wayne (boss) is not involved as flight seems to have originated somewhere he was not. Shall follow story, though.
College fair (as one may have guessed) was not so productive, and so was finally glad to get to Cousine Lindsey and begin afternoon toodle :)

Paid ridonkulous fare to get 15 miles to Pearl River (see Bear to R enjoying the sunshine) and Linds came and collected me. Then my navigational skills were not up to par (with the added fact that I was supposed to be reading the directions in reverse order), so we got lost repeatedly. But we had sushi at Mike's Sushi on the sidewalk and were looked at with disdain by the waitresses because we giggled a lot. There was a man in a muscle shirt and white sweat pants with two extremely tiny dogs. There was a pervy guy sitting at the table behind Lindsey who openly stared at every female who walked by. Much amusement.
Linds's apartment is sooooo cute and absolutely massive! Hardwood floors and really well-renovated. Such a cute town and safe and quiet. We walked down Tarrytown's Main Street (E says it is the most common street name in the US) and then we walked down S. Broadway. There are interesting market shops; a cute shop called Whimsies, with expensive and clever gifts; a chocolate shop; a wool/yarn shop; a homemade ice cream shop; and loads of people walking their dogs. I was licked in the face by a sweet Doberman.

The bear got to visit Sleepy Hollow (where the Headless Horseman is from). This is about as old as history gets in the US -- so no laughing, my British friends)
Drunken Japanese people can be loud.

My eyelids are rather droopy today due to the fact that there were several people in the room next door last night, who would whoop at intervals just long enough for you to get almost to sleep, in between bouts of quite animated conversation in Japanese. When you are annoyed, your heart beats faster and you can hear the pounding in your ears should you have inserted earplugs.

The graduate fair today is terribly disappointing (although they do have some of the loveliest brickle cookies ever! I had to eat three just to make certain they were as good as the initial taste hints. Cookies improve one’s attitude towards the Japanese as well. The brownies can just be trashed, though.) I am v. glad that the Vice-Chancellor did not come to this event since there have been about 45 attendees in total today and no one has come to my table at all. (I need a cookie.)

Another thing that turned out concerning today is the air crash in Ghana. My boss, Wayne, is in Africa and is flying between Ghana and Nigeria at some point (although cannot find out when since the calendar option in the office is not important as it was at Centenary.). There were 5 Britons on the plane that crashed, and he was flying with his British passport (he is American). By the time I left hotel, decided that there is a good chance he was not on it as it was a Cameroon flight and I don’t think he was going there. But still -- Pray, please. Thank you.

Friday, 4 May 2007


So, in my inbox this morning was greeted with notification that the wine bar (named Willie's -- titter, titter) in Minneapolis, where I have scheduled a $3800 reception, is closing permanently and will not be able to accommodate my event. The Event which is scheduled 20 days from now. EEEEEEdiots! It was hard enough to find this venue in the first place, as 19,000 other events are scheduled by various universities for the conference of over 7500 attendees. This gives me heartburn. Am slightly in a giddy panic.

Anyhoo. The Queen is in the US to visit Jamestown, VA on the 400th anniversary of settlement. Sadly, on CNN this morning, they have a complete British stereotype prat delivering live coverage. He hops up and down; he grins toothily too close to the camera; he is just goofily trying too hard to be funny. It is tragic. But of course, everyone in the US is wetting their pants over it anyway, and a woman with a terrific ay-uck-sent (accent) on the news last night said she wants to meet the Queen today when she is in Jamestown. Bless.
Now, they are doing a news story on how to meet the Queen. How to dress and what rules to follow. All this, but no one here knows anything about Darfur or Zimbabwe... AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!

Have already woken family members this morning (remember the good old days when I would call people at silly-O'Clock in the morning on Saturdays? My poor family and acquaintances. Lisa A., though, would always get up and come over for Croffee and Paul has dogs, so that was okay, too. Everyone else just hated me.). Well, I had just talked to Britain where people are at work, and so I forgot it was not 7am yet here (oops) :) And Lindsey's email said to call her! Tee hee. She was all sleepy. Yet very accommodating of her 'special' cousine :) Will phone her back later...

In US news yesterday (the McPaper, aka USA Today), found out about money-making venture for my lovely friend, Vir-roo -- since she lives in Houston already. The headline is: Museum Pays Cash for Live Cockroaches. Anyone who lives in the South knows that this is a foolish financial decision. You don't need to pay for them. But 'EWWWwwwww!'

Then there was the GOP (Grand Old Party, for foreign readers, = Republican) Presidential Debate last night. It was entertaining and slightly informative, but I could only keep eyes open for about half of it. Have to say, I find Giuliani the best of the 10 (the news is using that new term 'nuanced' that we all know and love -- haha), although he is kind of subdued. Even the Mormon guy is totally cosying up to ticking all the boxes trying to make sure people know how 'holy' and Right he is. With his big whitened-teeth smile. All of them but Giuliani just seemed to lack any concept of individual thought. Nuanced, indeed :)

Am moving hotels today. It will be closer to alumni event for this evening and also to event for tomorrow morning. And there will perhaps not be porn on the bathroom wall. Here is picture; tell me what you see! (in the comment section below, please, so's everyone can have a laugh)

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Enrique, malls and storms

Things I did after arriving at Newark:
*forgot to get power adaptor at airport
*confused self with automatic ticket machine
*reported lone piece of luggage at Airport Station
(station staff response was to mosey down to look at it after about 10 minutes and then wander around it for the next 15 talking on a walkie-talkie)
*used the term 'Circle K' to taxi driver and she didn't know what I was talking about (so that was modified to '7-Eleven or something like that')
*discussed taxi driver's boyfriend's temper
*discovered that there is free hotel shuttle to convention center!
*ditto for free shuttle to mall (initially exciting)
*went to Menlo Mall on free shuttle
*hung out outside mall with scary bus stop people waiting for shuttle to return (you British people will not understand this and will think I am being rude. But there are a definite majority of scarier than not people at bustops in the US. Although I did get change for a $1 from a nice lady from Columbia/Cartegena and we talked a blue streak then.)
*watched some rubbish t.v.
*went to sleep about 7pm
*woken by lightning at some point (hoorah for thunderstorms!)
*awake since 5.30am this morning. yay. although bed is remarkably comfortable!

When the shuttle took me to the Menlo Park mall (isn't that where Edison invented the lightbulb? Well, not at the mall, gaaaaaahhh. But yes! Although maybe it is sound... don't have time to read right now.), I BEGGED Maria from Argentina to wait for me as it would only be 5 or 10 minutes to go find power adaptor and come right back out. Perhaps due to language barrier, perhaps not, as soon as I was inside, she drove off (my Radio Shack adventure took literally less than 5 minutes).

My instruction was to call her at the hotel. I did not have any US coins (no sniggering, please), so had to get a Dasani from the machine (for the robbery price of $1.25) so's I could have change for the (icky) payphone at the charming rate of 50cents! Then was on hold for 5 minutes (all the while Maria is no doubt driving like mad back to the hotel), before they agreed that the shuttle would come back and get me. Also, I should phone back in 10 minutes just to check -- don't have any coins ma'am -- okay, it'll be there. Sat outside feeling very out of place, alarmed at the Jersey/hispanic accents all 'round, clutching my power adaptor for comfort.

After about 15 minutes with no sign of the shuttle, begged for change for $1 from nice lady, blah, blah, blah; shuttle finally showed up, driven by Rrrrufino (you have to trill the 'rrrr's, you know, or you have to say it again). Maria had obviously fled after her callous abandoning of me at the mall. Rrrrufino is the chef. He is from here (but not really so much). He is actually from the Dominican Republic and he like to talk, although am not really sure that I learnt very much from him. You leeve in England, nice! Edison, nice. Beeg house, nice! You leeve in Loosyanna, no? I think he has four daughters: one twin (or maybe that was 20), one 10, one 5 and one almost 4. Attempting to engage in various conversation was amusing.

Re: being a chef--
A: Oh, you are a chef! That sounds interesting and fun!
Rrrr: Yes!
A: What is your favourite thing to cook?
Rrrr: Yes, I cook!
A: What do you like to cook most?
Rrrr: I cook!
A: But, what you like to cook, do you like cooking anything more than other things?
Rrrr: Oh, I cook everything!

Re: vacation --
A: So, you go to the Dominican Republic to see your family. Do you travel much in the US?
Rrrr: (blank look)
A: You travel to Domincan Republic to see your family, right? And so do you travel anywhere in the United States?
Rrrr: My family, they leeve here!
A: Do you travel much in the United States? To see things?
Rrrr: (raised eyebrows)
A: Do you go anywhere on vacation?
Rrrr: Yes, I work at hotel for 2 weeks!
A: But do you get to go anywhere fun in other parts of the US... like Las Vegas or Los Angeles... (fade)
Rrrr: Ah! My brother, Enrique, he work at 2am!
A: Aaaaaahh, right!
Rrrr: He work in (unintelligible) and (unintelligible)
A: Aaaaaahhh! I see!

Headline News items involved: immigration protests (illegals protesting...hmmm... for the right to be full citizens. This happened all over the nation yesterday. There was violence. Shock.); new audio tapes from Kent State (how do things like this get just stored for 33 years? Are these things real? And if these people have had this info, why have they just sat on it?); impeachment crap; Britney Spears' come-back; Iraq funding.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007


Or maybe Luftblog sounds better.... hmmm. YES! I like it! (I flew KLM -- Dutch Royal Airlines today and heard the word Luft alot.)

We are about an hour from landing, so it seems to me to be time to listen to a segment of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, read by Stephen Fry. This is different from the narrated version, although it is read by a Brit. I am not sure which one to prefer. E was very thoughtful and has provided me with this bit of vacillation and indecisiveness. Hoorah for indecisiveness!

KLM has best airline headphones encountered thus far. Or maybe it is just that their planes are more insulated… not sure. However, little suspended screens for film ‘watching’ are not fun and so I have finished reading two books – Of Cats and Kings and Girl in a Red Tunic – read the ‘fake’ Guardian (the free one they give you sometimes as you get on a plane), listened to the classical station until the loop got a bit old after the 5th time and then listened to a bit of The Beatles documentary channel. I had to stop after listening to William Shatner’s rendition of Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds. He sounds like he had a significant enema of Skittles before the reading because it is so fruity.

Morning started fairly well at 3.30 with the alarm. However, I got ready quickly and found that I could have gotten twenty more minutes of sleep just fine and been in perfectly good time for my taxi. Oh well. I was the fifth person to enter the airport this morning immediately after its opening. So, that was too early, as check-in for my 6.15 flight didn’t begin until after 5am. Oh well. Then, Norwich International Airport has one of those ridiculous Airport Improvement fees – this annoys me. Oh well, at least it was only £3 instead of the 10 euros at Knock Airport. And at least no one took my ProActiv and contact solution. Although had they been in my hand luggage they probably would have as I was randomly selected for a ‘Liquids Search’ – good GAWD, they must have sad, affection-deprived people sitting in cubicles somewhere thinking of new and idiotic ways to annoy passengers and security workers. Then the coffee shop didn’t open until 5.30 and I could not get a coffee at 5.28. Oh well. The sun rise was lovely!

Flight to Amsterdam takes less than an hour. If it has not been mentioned before, I would like to point out that waves do not move when viewed from the air. You can see the ripples, just nothing moving. This is interesting.

Amsterdam Airport is okay, but a little boring. You cannot take liquids (i.e., water) into the boarding area here, either. Even if you buy it in a shop in the airport. This is inane. Is this a US flight thing, or does this happen for every flight? I do not know.

This flight video does go into great depth to let visitors to the US know what to do. There is a little video with dark silhouettes carrying backpacks and briefcases. They approach desks manned by other dark silhouettes and mime having their fingerprints and photo taken. This is repeated at least 29 times, presumably in 29 different languages. Sometimes there are subtitles, sometimes not. I had to close my eyes before I memorised the pattern. I did not drool.

Girl with a Red Tunic is an ‘historic’ murder mystery. It is one of the silliest pieces of pumped out tat ever. One ought to have known better since it does say ‘A Hawkenlye Mystery’. Anytime (well mostly) a book has the formula ‘a/an ++’ below the title, one ought to squint suspiciously at the volume. However, my reason was temporarily clouded because a) books were 3 for £1 at the charity shoppe; b) it has a little pseudo-familie tree drawn on the third page; c) on the page facing the familie tree, there is a map entitled ‘The Weald of Kent and East Sussex, c. 1200; and d) it has an olde worlde picture-e of a laydie with a wimple on the front cover. Oh, foolish bargain hunter! WHY, OH WHY didn’t you just get the other two for 75p each and deal with it?

Perhaps should prepare computer for stowing as people do seem to be rushing busily back and forth through the cabin. Oh well. I should very much like a large glass of milk and a nap when arrive at hotel.