Wednesday, August 31, 2005 


I love The Onion:

Londoners 2 Percent Less Polite About Terrorism Following Bombings
August 31, 2005 Issue 41•35

LONDON—Findings released Monday by Britain's Home Office indicate that politeness among Londoners has dipped 2 percent since the July public-transit bombings. "Terrorist bombers? Well, I say—good day to them—a tip of my hat to them, indeed, and may they take their leave of our green and pleasant land," said Andrew Capper of Surbiton. "Far be it from me to pass judgment, as I've never met the chaps myself—and goodness knows I'm not without error—but I should think that a few of these terrorists have behaved in a manner that can only be described as rather less than gentlemanly, if I do say so myself, may it please you, good sir." The Home Office cites post-traumatic stress in the sharp decline in manners, the worst since the 4 percent drop during the Blitz of 1940.

Ah, it's funny because it's true. Coincided with the BBC news this morning doing some interviews in Louisiana. This one woman said, "Katrina! Well... she won the battle, but we won the war." And that suddenly struck me as such an American thing to say. Billions of dollars worth of damage, bodies floating in the water, no power or water for weeks; what exactly about that situation makes you think you've won anything? Americans always have to win at everything; even when they've lost they think they've won.

Not "they". Oops. "We," I mean "we" think we've won. Uh-oh...

P.S. I notice reports of quite a bit of looting and even shootings going on, which doesn't surprise me. If the same thing had happened in England, would the British be shooting each other over bananas and stereo systems? Methinks not, but whose to say?

Monday, August 29, 2005 


Amazing sports day yesterday (watching, not playing. Please.) Obviously, I was on the edge of my seat most of the day with the cricket. It was unbelievable!!!

Then, at 1:30 in the morning (bank holiday!) Channel Five treated me to ESPN Sunday night baseball. Sunday Night Baseball! It was just Phillies at the D’backs but… wow. An enormous wave of homesickness washed over me, and I had felt that in so long, because :

1. It was baseball. There is no baseball here, I’m a huge baseball fan, and no amount of superb and exciting cricket will change that.

2. John Miller was announcing. I know no one in the UK will know who I’m talking about, but hearing his so-familiar voice, stories and jokes really brought me back to being a little girl, listening to the Oriole’s on WBAL.

I never really get homesick anymore because I’ve built a pretty awesome life here and I don’t have the inclination to ever look back. What’s the point? But last night made me realize that I hadn’t been to a single baseball game this year. Not once did I sit in the sun and keep score in my program, not once did I get absolutely hammered with my best friends and/or my dad on a hot summer night at Camden Yards. I never went to the local park to see the Bowie Baysox, I didn’t see a single strikeout, homerun, or double play. I never cursed the Yankees, or took a nap to some boring NL game. I never want hoarse yelling my head off, or stood up and hopped up and down waiting on pins and needles of each ninth inning pitch. Hell, I’ve never even seen a single National play! And I was so startled by that realization that I kind of got upset.

I should feel lucky that I became an ex-pat in these modern times where I can email my friends whenever I want, never miss calls from my mom on my mobile, and use the internet to download anything I want from home. But I don’t; right now I just feel sad.

Friday, August 26, 2005 


I bet I know what my office mates were thinking yesterday: "she's faking that headache to go home and watch the cricket." As if.

I am in the midst of:
1. a transfer report (switch from masters to PhD student, archaic device to bog us pupils down with unnecessary bureaucracy)
2. prep for viva voce, the oral exam for said transfer report
3. powerpoint presentation to kick off said viva.
4. patent application (my second ever!)
5. grant application (for such an enormous sum of money that it's impossible not to lose sleep over)
6. moving

A visit from my once-yearly migraine was probably inevitable. F it, I'm shopping this afternoon. Better to do it now before London runs out of clothes.



Damn, I think fall is here already. That is so depressing.

Thursday, August 25, 2005 


Did anyone see that wicked cool rainbow last night? After that monster storm, the sky was one of those weird skies, with the clouds strange colors. I got up to check it out, and saw, maybe for the first time in my life, a complete, full-arc rainbow with its double rainbow beside it. Kinda neat.

Also, can you see my quickly disappearing view of Tower Bridge? Progress is always appreciated, until it literally gets in my way...

Monday, August 22, 2005 


About a month or two ago, Britain recently scored higher than America on some study ranking a county’s treatment of women (based on criteria such as access to healthcare and childcare, relative pay scales, maternity and paternity leave, reproductive education and freedoms, etc.) This came as absolutely no surprise to me, and I’ll state a particular example that has made my life undeniably easier upon moving here: getting my damn birth control pills.

In the UK I:
1. Make an appointment to see a nurse (at college healthcare centre). Usually can get seen next day. (1)
2. See nurse for five minutes after waiting five minutes. Get subscription for 6 months. Cost: £0
3. Go to pharmacy. Get prescription filled (never had to wait more than five minutes for this. Maybe am just lucky as surely this is not normal?) Get six months worth of pills at once. Cost: £0.

Total time for one year: 20 minutes. Total cost: £0.

In the US I:
1. Get job and join HMO. Cost: $17 a pay period. (2)
2. Make appointment to see doctor. At least a month in advance.
3. Go to see doctor. Wait at least 20 minutes in waiting room despite time of appointment or time arrived to see doctor. Wait at least another ten minutes after changing into half naked state in examination room. See doctor for ten minutes of exam and chit chat. Get subscription for one year. Cost: $10 co-pay.
4. Go to pharmacy. Only allowed to get one month of pills once per month. Wait never less than half an hour. Cost: $30. (3)
5. Repeat step 4 once a month for twelve months.

Total time for one year: at least 7 hours. Total cost: $768

1. I know it’s probably much more difficult when seeing your local GP instead of the uni nurses, but from what I understand the prices would be the same.

2. In the five years I was at the mercy of that HMO I only saw my regular GP twice for regular checkups, I was never sick more than the sniffles, and never went to the ER; however I saw my gynecologist repeatedly so I do consider that $34 a month almost strictly for the privilege of seeing that particular doctor.

3. I don’t know if it was this particular HMO or America in general that will not allow women to obtain more than one month’s supply of pills at a time, but I’m sure it has something to do with the Conservative Christians desire to limit women’s access to reproductive healthcare and therefore force them to be less likely to use it properly and eventually not at all, hereby putting procreation back in the hands of God where it rightly belongs.)

I do not know if anyone who reads this blog has gotten the gist of it, so I’ll spell it out for you: I love it here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 


Yesterday the South Bank Centre held a free concert of Zimbabwe music and dancing after work. It was so much fun!

Yesterday was hot and sunny, so of course London provided free sunscreen for all. Love this lovely city that always wants to take care of me.

A few pints of Carlsberg and I wandered home along the Thames. I realized then that I will be moving to Waterloo in three weeks, while also working at Waterloo, and while that is extremely convenient I will sorely miss walking home on the river. It is so so gorgeous:

Monday, August 15, 2005 


Five days. Five days of hard core cricket and nothing. Nothing! A tie, a draw. This makes no sense to me as an American. Americans need winners. There has to be a winner. Why on Earth would we bother with something were both parties are the same as when they went in? No, someone needs to win and someone needs to lose. One side should be declared as better than the other. We have overtime, we have extra innings, we have sudden death face off. Why? Why play for five freaking days for no result?

(That was some cracking good cricket though. I mean, for someone who's not into it, I sure thought it was.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 


#39: Different names for the same vegetables.

Eggplant is aubergine, zucchini is courgette, cilantro is coriander. After living in the dorms a while and adjusting to my new kitchen and lack of equipment, I've started cooking again. For months I was cursing the world at being unable to obtain cilantro in this friggin' country. Dumb me. From now on any time I can't find a food I'll check it's name in a thesaurus.

Monday, August 08, 2005 


When I lived in the states I had a notorious reputation for being the most directionally challenged individual anyone had the poor luck to come across (i.e. more than a few blocks from my house and I'd have no idea which direction my house was in). I am much better in London but that is probably due to my inability to leave my flat without an A to Zed. So you can imagine my surprise when I returned from Luton Airport to London Bridge all on my own. If that wasn't enough, I then made it all the way to Blackheath (hey, three train stops is a big deal if you've never done it before!) for an engagement party last weekend.


Emboldened by my new directionally adept adventures, I took myself to Greenwich on Saturday. I went to the Cutty Sark, Royal Naval College, Royal Observatory, laid in the park, and even ate at Goddard's Pie Shop (I've decided I do not like British pies. Being vegetarian seems to put a huge dent in enjoying this type of fare. But at least I tried.) I so loved Greenwich.

Cutty Sark

Greenwich Park

Next I shall go to Brighton!!



I am very concerned about the space shuttle, and hope that inside they are playing Space Camp, you know, as motivational and reassuring viewing material.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 


While I am still convinced I'd need a PhD in cricket just to understand the rules and scoring, I am giving it the "old college try" (an expression, I've recently learned, that is not used in this country.) I am following the second test on the BBC website, and have actually found it quite hilarious, and offer some of my favorites from the (what must be considered as) play-by-play. Keep in mind that this is the BBC, one of the largest and most respected news agencies in the world.


1105: There must be a huge magnet on the cover boundary. The ball keeps going there! Four more to Strauss, who moves to 13 off 24 balls.

1125: Trescothick edges a Kasprowicz no-ball to Hayden at gully. More frustration for the tourists.

1132: The ball lands in a puddle and, while it is dried, drinks are taken. England can reflect on a terrific start, while the Aussies will be wondering why they didn't bat.

1152: Trescothick plays a remarkable shot to smack Warne down the ground for six with no great amount of backlift. The ball skimmed away to leave Warne looking bemused.

1158: A maiden from Warne but he does not look happy.

1212: Trescothick drags a Warne delivery from outside off-stump and hammers it away to the mid-wicket boundary. England supporters must be pinching themselves!

Actually, I don't know if it is the BBC or the game itself that is making me bemused. And maybe also, amused.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005 


#38: Occasionally the weather woman on BBC-insert-number-here announces tomorrow will be "fresher." What on Earth does this mean? Cooler? Less humid? More breezy? A tinge of yummy citrus flavor in the air? What?

(Now that I've acquired a telly, there's a whole new door of British culture open to me. Think of that what you will.)

Monday, August 01, 2005 

Graduate School

I haven't really had a chance to blog in forever, and I am sorry dear readers. I have been drowned in work upon my return from Scotland, and work is going well and the weather has been poor so there's never that desire to say, "Sod it, " and spend the afternoon in the park.

My first viva is coming up, where I prepare a document of my work, submit it, and then get brutally quizzed on it by professors who don't know me or what I'm doing.

I'd like to think I'm not the kind of person who gets stressed. My buddy Jim Ford and I would always proclaim at work when the going got tough and there was nothing to be done about it, "Fuuuuuuuckit." I suppose that it's different when the man is leaning on you than when it is your own work to be done. And the stress is creeping in. Literally.

I get the weirdest sensation now that things are crawling up my legs. Like tiny bugs or a fly or something, but there's never anything there. I catch myself grinding my teeth at least once a day. Add that to daily headaches and sleepless late nights, and you get one messed up little girl. Everyone jokes that a PhD will drive you insane, but now I think they were being quite serious.

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