Thursday, 21 April 2005

"Breakfast In America" - Supertramp, 1979

Here's something to play on your computer when you're supposed to be working...although don't blame me if you get into trouble with this:

Need For Feed

Note the handy "Click Here To Look Busy" button, which displays a businessy-looking spreadsheet in case your boss sticks his/her head into your cubicle. Although I haven't tried it yet, I also see that you can customize the game with photos of your own co-workers. So you can use that feature either because you like some of your co-workers or because you don't...and in the latter case, I'll bet it'll be great fun to force-feed them fast food!

By the way, this little game is online thanks to Burger King. I figure I'd better give them some credit...whether I like their sandwiches or not.


Wednesday, 20 April 2005

"Fun, Fun, Fun" - Beach Boys, 1964

Something short today --- a referral to a website with a terrific sense of humor!

I was going to write something about the new Pope today. But I'm having second thoughts. If I write what I was thinking about, then...

a> my Catholic friends might not like me anymore, and/or
b> I might get prosecuted by the Vatican.

So instead, I refer all of you to The Sneeze! I particularly like the "i'm rewritin' it" piece, as well as the story of Cif/Jif/Vim,etc.!

Maybe I'll write about the Pope tomorrow...


Tuesday, 19 April 2005

"Words" - Bee Gees, 1968

It's funny how words can give such different connotation depending upon where in the world they are being used.

In the States, if you used terms like "scheme" or "manifesto" within a news broadcast, Americans would immediately think they were referring to something questionable at the least or sinister at the worst.

But in Britain, a "scheme" can be something as innocent as a new type of account offered by a bank...or a new savings plan at work. A "manifesto" is what the political parties are currently presenting to the British people, ahead of next month's national elections, to help them decide how to vote.

I'm having to learn to listen to the news in an entirely new way.


Monday, 18 April 2005

"Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" - Beatles, 1968

Did you happen to watch the London Marathon yesterday?

The Olympic games, last summer, came during a time when I was trying desperately to get comfortable enough with my driving over here to pass my driving test on the first try. Kelly Holmes' fabulous successes in the games, compared to Paula Radcliffe's unfortunate failures, became an important source of focus for me. I even told my Scouser driving instructor that I wanted to "do a Kelly and NOT do a Paula" when it came to driving exam day. And I managed be a Kelly after all!

Yesterday, Paula regained her position as a source of pride for Britain by
winning the London Marathon. But she had a little "incident" during the race which has distracted the media and the public from her real achievement. Personally, I didn't think too much about what happened, figuring that such physical punishment on the body can certainly take its toll on the system...much less what "nerves" can do to a person's tummy!

This morning, on BBC Radio 5, the folks on the morning show were chuckling about how it might now be difficult to tell kids not to "use the toilet" in public (as they were so delicately putting it) when Paula Radcliffe did it on live telly. So I started thinking again about the admonition to not "do a Paula"...except that it now means something entirely different!

And it also gives a whole new meaning to shouting "Go Paula!".

Oops...shame on me!!!! I'm as bad as the British press!


Friday, 15 April 2005

Photo: This Morning, Broad Street, Oxford

Posted by Hello I have to wonder what in the heck you get if you decide to pay MORE than £895 for your meal at Restaurant du Liban? (Yeah, OK, I KNOW they are just missing the decimal...but it always makes me chuckle anyway!)

Thursday, 14 April 2005

"Weather With You" - Crowded House, 1991

I've had to learn a whole new set of descriptive weather terms since moving to the UK over two years ago. "Misty and murky" is one of my favorites. So is "close". Another one is "fine and dry". This morning, the woman giving the weather forecast on BBC 5 Live said the weather was going to be "grotty"! One of the all-time best is "unsettled". The weather is rarely "settled" over here, of course, but once I actually heard that term used as well! Sometimes it's even "blowy" -- and I'm not even sure I've spelled that one correctly!

If we moved to over Houston, I'm sure John would have some similar chuckles over the local use of the terms "hazy hot & humid" (sometimes shortened to "the three H's", which it almost always is in Houston), "precip", and the "feels-like temperature". John's mother recently noted that the percentage of humidity is rarely, if ever, given over here. In the States, we're used to hearing about the percentage of moisture in the air all the time...whether it's the usual 95+% in Houston or the extraordinarily low 20% or even less in far West Texas and New Mexico.

But it's the
BBC weather maps which cause me the most grief. I simply cannot make heads or tails of them sometimes, despite the "helpful" guide to their weather symbols provided by the BBC themselves. It's always such a relief to get back to the US and see the kinds of weather maps I grew up with...maps like you can find on The Weather Channel's site. easy on the eyes and on my old brain!

Meanwhile, it looks a little "unsettled" outside, here in Oxford. Better take a brolly when I go outside!



I can't believe you're 9 years old today! Sorry John and I can't be with you to help you celebrate!

We love you!

Aunt Janet & John

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

"FM" - Steely Dan, 1978

Too bad that these are illegal to use in the UK -- Monster iCarPlay Wireless - FM Transmitter for iPods.

How could such a cool little device be illegal to use here? And how did I find out?

Well...I knew that such devices were be used to play iPods through car stereos. They are very handy for taking your music collection along with you in the car. Sometimes there are locations where there just aren't any decent radio stations to listen to. If so, what do you do if you're tired of the small handful of CD's that you have in the car with you? You hook your iPod up to the car stereo, that's what you do!

So, when John and I went to the newly-opened London Apple store last year, I looked and looked for one of the iPod FM transmitters. Couldn't find a one. That seemed strange to us, given that it's a massive Apple retail show, stocked with every imaginable iPod accessory. When I asked one of the young men working there, he gave me a look which suggested that I'd just asked him for a kilo of heroin or something!

His response stunned me. He said that they don't sell them because they aren't legal in the UK! Huh???? It seems that the reason is related to the history of radio broadcasting in Britain...and of offshore stations like
Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg. Radio Caroline's website has a very interesting (but undoubtedly biased, as you might expect) history of British radio and the resulting offshore commercial stations. It seems that the government still prohibit the broadcasting of a radio signal -- even a very low-power one -- without the proper license. That even includes the use of devices such as the iPod FM transmitter!

But while recently looking at Monster's Apple accessories, I've just spotted Monster's new iCruze unit...WOW! Not being a radio transmitter, I guess these will be sold in the UK.

By the way, can you believe that I actually have 5959 songs on my iPod, as of today? That's a heck of a lot more choice than I would have needed during today's 90-minute drive!


Tuesday, 12 April 2005

"We're In This Love Together" - Al Jarreau, 1981

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to love be a "partner" in their life.

We can't solve all of their problems. We can't make their past go away. We can't make them happy when they feel bad...or sad...or hurt.

What we can do, though, is be there for each other...literally and emotionally. We can let them know they aren't alone in the world. We can help them confront and deal with their past. We can support them when they deal with their current problems. Most importantly, we can help them dream about the future.

Sometimes I believe that the older I've gotten, the more I've forgotten to dream about life in the future like I did when I was a girl. I don't exactly know when I gave up that activity, but it certainly happened. I guess that's what comes with the stresses and strains of everyday life.

John, thank you for your help in teaching me to have dreams again. And in my dreams, the future is, as Claudia has suggested, full of happiness, an interesting life, peace, and love...for us...together!


Monday, 11 April 2005

Photo: London, Saturday afternoon 9 April 2005

If we'd had a bit more time, as we were walking around Central London Saturday afternoon (we'd been out buying an engagement and two wedding rings!!!!), we would definitely have climbed around on this construction project...since this sign clearly didn't prohibit our doing so! Posted by Hello

Friday, 8 April 2005

"On A Day Like Today" - Keane, 2004

So many things are running through my head today. I'm working from John's house until Wednesday of next week. I'm really glad to be here. I miss him terribly during the week, when we're not together. I'm delighted that I can spend all this time with him. We have a lot of things to talk you can imagine. We're planning our future together!

It's kind of a weird day, though.

The Pope's funeral was this morning. I've had the TV coverage on as I've worked this morning. At least I did for awhile. It started getting me down about 10:30, and I switched over to the
Paramount Comedy Channel to watch some old episodes of US sitcoms. I think I needed the comfort of familiar friends. Most enjoyable was an episode of "Soap". It was the final episode of the show, as a matter of fact. It certainly brought back a lot of memories. It made me think of the early days in my oil trading career, at Texaco. Bill, do you remember how you used to re-enact the previous night's episode for Ronnie and me...even getting up on your desk once for dramatic emphasis?

And speaking of weddings, Charles & Camilla were supposed to be getting married today, but it's been postponed until tomorrow because of the Pope's funeral service. They seem jinxed, don't they? By the way, it seems to me that the rest of the world is a lot more interested in C&C's wedding than anyone here in Britain. I share the opinion, held by many here, that they should just be allowed to get on with the rest of their lives. I'm glad we aren't in the spotlight like they are.

Here are some of the other things running through my head today...

---how much I LOVE Keane's album "Hopes and Fears". I wonder what they'll do next...and when?

---how easily I drove over to John's Hertfordshire home last night! I'm really making good progress feeling more comfortable on British roads. I've noticed that when I get to John's house, my hands don't feel like I've been in the "death grip" position most of the way like they used to. I'm very proud of that. Real progress!

---how happy I am that I've made such a wonderful friend here in England...a friend that wasn't somebody John already knew. I met Cindy because we often ride the same bus from the village I live in down to Oxford. She's been a terrific gift to my new life here!

---wishing we were still on vacation in New Mexico. I miss the variety of colors of the landscape there. Please don't get me wrong...I really enjoy life here. That doesn't mean I don't miss things about the States, though...especially my family and friends. I get so sad when I think too much about how far away they all are. Often this feeling overwhelms me just after I've seen them. I'm fighting that feeling now.

---wondering why so many people in Britain don't seem to like Jessica Stevenson's recent BBC sitcom "According To Bex". I didn't realize that until I accidentally bumped into a bulletin board about BBC programs yesterday. Strange. I think it's innovative and well-delivered by the cast of characters.

---looking forward to the upcoming new BBC series "Love Soup". I wouldn't know anything about it except that they were filming on John's block (and outside and inside the house just around the corner from his) when I drove up last night. I wonder if John's Focus or my Audi will be on TV? By the way, it's an interesting premise...the idea for "Love Soup", I mean. Makes me almost shudder to think how slim the chances were that John and I would ever meet. It's not worth even considering...

---and speaking even more about TV, I really wish we'd managed to see a current episode of "Desperate Housewives" on TV while we in the States. How did we manage to not do that, I wonder?

Now, before you think I'm really "down" today, I'm not. Just feeling introspective.


Thursday, 7 April 2005

"Blinded By The Light" - Manfred Mann's Earth Band, 1976

Sometimes the titles for my musings come easily. Do any of the rest of you "soundtrack" music in your heads, as John and I do? I suspect we're not a long shot. There's always music "playing" in my head. I guess I'm fantasizing that I'm starring in the movie of my own life or something. Or perhaps it's a sign of senility to come?

In any event, this morning's blog entry title was playing in my head as I drove down to the park and ride lot, heading into my office in Oxford. It's wonderful to drive in the sunlight again, after the dark, dreary British winter. I didn't even mind squinting!

But I got to thinking that my driving commutes in Houston were always fraught with the complication of staring into the sun. You see, no matter where I was living during my two rounds of residency in Houston, I always ended up driving east in the morning and back home to the west at the end of the workday. I always kept sunglasses in the car. I had to.

But here in England, I'm driving first south and then north going to/from work. That's quite a change! I can actually see what's around me without squinting into the glare of the rising or setting sun! This morning, it was the shadowy figures of a woman and her dog taking a morning stroll in one of the neighboring fields. It looked like something from an oil painting. Almost idyllic.

It's so refreshing to be taking such a different direction in my life these days!


Wednesday, 6 April 2005

"Landslide" - Fleetwood Mac, 1975

It wasn't exactly a "landslide", but it sorta felt like it. The weather was awful in North Oxfordshire this morning. It was the first time I'd driven again in Britain since our vacation. I was already a little nervous about switching sides of the road and car again, after driving so much in the States over the past two weeks. And it was pouring with rain. At least it wasn't pitch black at 7am, as it had been only weeks before.

As I was driving down the A4260 (the two-lane road which connects my village to the nearest Oxford City park-and-ride lot) and meeting "lorries" (trucks, to us Yanks) on the other side of the road, I was getting splashed so severely that I felt like I'd been hit by a landslide. I love my little Audi. She's so calm and secure under those kinds of circumstances. But I still felt like I was being completely buried in water for a few seconds every time I met an oncoming truck on the narrow road. It was disconcerting...even if only briefly.

But the funny thing was, I really wasn't all that nervous. I didn't even feel disoriented being back in a righthand-drive car again. Really interesting. I guess my brain's becoming adapted to switching sides of the car and road. I suppose I am "bi-drival" now, as an American friend suggested!



PS I really did soundtrack "Landslide" as I was driving this morning. As I walked into the office, I was thinking about the lyrics. I found this page on the web about this famous Stevie Nicks song. Funny. I've been thinking a lot about my parents lately, too. Wish they were around to share my joy.

Tuesday, 5 April 2005

"Two Of Us" - Beatles, 1969

I'm back from vacation...or "holiday", as they'd say here in Britain. I should be horribly bummed out. We had a wonderful time. I loved the sights, sounds & tastes in Texas and New Mexico. I loved the reunions with family and friends. I should hate being back at work.

But I don't. Everything looks rosy to me right now. Why?

John asked me to marry him during the trip...and of course I said YES!

It seemed so appropriate that he ask me while we were in Houston...where I was living when it all began for us. That seems like another lifetime ago...

Wow. I can hardly believe this is happening! I must be the happiest woman on this or any other planet!

OK, then. I'll get back into the swing of writing here in my blog over the coming days. Meanwhile, though, take a look at
Today Is Absolutely Today, a blog created by a very good friend of mine. He has some very interesting things to say! Reading his posts will keep you busy while I come down from Cloud 9 and once again think of things to write about myself.