Tuesday, October 30, 2007 


Here I am now, well into my fourth English fall. Yes, I say 'fall' and not 'autumn,' much to the chagrin of nearly every Brit I've met.

Me: Ah! What a gorgeous fall day!
Brit: A what day?
M: Fall day.
B: Pardon?
M: Fall, as in the season.
B: Fall? What's this now?
M: *eyes narrowing* You know, after summer, before winter.
B: *grinning widely* Don't follow you.

And this goes on until a stream of curse words starts to pour out of me. I'm not kidding, I've had this exact conversation at least twenty times since moving here. I don't know what it about the word 'fall' that makes me insist on using it singularly (I do promise that I have given in to many other regional dialect preferences) while at the same time makes the natives refuse to recognize it (often they enjoy hearing my take on the vocabulary differences, for taking the piss if nothing else). But with 'fall' we are at an impasse. I guess to me, 'autumn' sounds outrageously pretentious. It's a very pretty word but somehow I can't say it without feeling like a total prat. (#57: Insistence on using the word 'autumn'.)

Anyway, to wash this unpleasantness away, today I took some photos of my favorite tree in front of one of my favorite London buildings:

Fall indeed. Summer 2007, we hardly knew ye.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 


I'm a big American sports fan, and miss that part of my old life terribly, but do try to keep up. As a student I can't afford special satellite or internet packages that allow me access to the games, but I do alright via ESPN, etc. So imagine my surprise last month when it became obvious to me that London was keeping better track of NFL schedules than I was:

At first I just shrugged it off, "They're in two different conferences but whatevs, that's the trend nowadays with nearly all American professional sports leagues-- wait a minute, I'm not in America! Why the hell is the NFL being advertised on the tube?!"

The answer, as of course I'm sure you know by now from the advertising blitz that has ensued this week, is that the Giants and the Dolphins are playing each other at Wembly Stadium. Something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime, mainly because I was sure I'd die before Wembly would ever be finished.

I'll root for the Dolphins because 1) they are 0-7 this year and 2) three years abroad has not tempered my hatred for the Giants and Jeremy Shockey. I doubt anyone else in London will even care. I've given up trying to convince them that it's a sport worthy of their attention, and I figure this will be even more difficult after all the excitement generated by the Rugby World Cup. American football players wear a ton of gear to protect themselves, only play either offense or defense (meaning each player only plays about half a game) and on top of that, play stops every few seconds. It takes over three hours to watch a game consisting of one hour of play. So compared to rugby or soccer which are much more action packed, I don't think this is going to go over well here at all.

Of course, please don't anyone tell Christian Slater this.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 


Look, I've already resigned myself to a hellish fate for writing this down publicly, but the next time I read or hear something about Madeleine McCann I'm going to have a total mental fit. I seriously can not take it anymore. Part of the problem is that ever since my move last month I am now a commuter who takes public transport. This means I am privilege to two, yes two, free papers every single day. I get the Metro in the mornings and the London Paper in the evenings (sorry but London Lite is just shit, so I refuse to pick it up.) Couple these with the fact that I am already a news junkie, and keep a personalized Google News profile as my homepage, and I am completely saturated with incoming information. Usually this keeps me quite happy, I enjoy knowing as much about the world as I can possibly absorb. But out of all the stories in all the world, this one does my head in. To me it's all very simple: either 1) her parents killed her; or 2) her parents left her alone to be kidnapped and then put on such a show to find her that they probably freaked out the kidnapper into killing her as a way to avoid being caught with her. In both scenarios she's dead, and not one more story that comes after this will be anything pleasant to read. Either she'll never be found (heart breaking) or her body will turn up one day (horrible). So why is anyone still interested in this? If just a smidgen of the effort that's gone into finding this one little girl had been applied into searching for the other 77,000 children who go missing in the UK every year, there might actually be some happy stories to report. So frustrating.


Monday, October 15, 2007 


I've been making a much more concerted effort to get around England this year, I'm not sure if people noticed but I do get chided on this quite a lot in comments and emails. A lot of, "my town is the greatest and if you don't come here you'll never get the full experience of living in the UK." I appreciate these insights, I really do. But I'll never make it everywhere. That said, I really do want to see as much as I can, after all Europe is awesome, but this is where I came to live.

In the spirit of that, may I present to you my two hours in Winchester. Apparently it has a very big cathedral, used to be the capital of England, has the Table-that-they-tell-tourists-is-THE-round-one-knights-used-to-sit-at-but-
that's-not-true, and Jane Austen died there. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

King Aurthur's Round Table

The famously long Winchester Cathedral

The Guildhall

View from atop one of the gates

(Not sure what this is, may be part of Winchester College, feel free to correct me if you know).

Monday, October 01, 2007 


Took what I think may be my last (one of my last?) European trips, this time to Barcelona for a long weekend! I thought everything would be so great, based mostly on weather forecasts and the fact that when I told my PhD supervisors I was leaving I didn't get yelled at for half an hour. But no. I started to suffer from an extremely nasty flu the day we left, the weather wasn't that great, and vegetarian food was actually pretty tough to come by (I thought that would have improved in the seven years since I was last there). Other than that, we had a great time, which reached a zenith when we accidentally stumbled upon the nighttime portion of the La Merce festival. People dress up as devils and put on massive dragon costumes and spray fireworks directly onto on another. It was madness! I think we saw one ambulance standing by for about 5000 people! But no one seemed to get burned or otherwise injured, and it was a really surreal experience. Amazing!

View of Barcelona from Park Güell

Casa Batlló by Gaudi

Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia Garden

Arc de Triomf

The Cascada in the Parc de la Ciutadella

Josep Subirachs sculptures on the Passion façade of La Sagrada Família

On the beach!

caught in the middle of the La Merce festival!

Cool chick

Torrid Travels

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