Saturday, 20 August 2005

Photo: View of Cape Town (Table Mountain in the Background)

I made it to Cape Town...and here was the view from my
hotel room window this afternoon! I'll go exploring a little
tomorrow, since I don't start teaching until Monday
morning. (Click on photo for a larger version.) Posted by Picasa

Friday, 19 August 2005

"Sounds of Silence" - Simon and Garfunkel, 1966

SORRY for the "silence" from me this past week...and I'm posting this note to tell you that it's going to continue next week as well. I've been teaching in London this week. And because it was a customized course (for one of the international major oil companies) that I'd never taught before, it used up a lot of my free time. But it went very well -- at least it did from my perspective! We'll see what the client thinks!

Next, I'm off to Cape Town, South Africa tonight, to teach what we call "public courses" Monday through Thursday next week. What does that mean? It simply means that rather than working with students from only one company, I'll be teaching in a hotel conference room and will have students from several companies coming.

I really like going to Cape Town. This will be my third trip in three years. It's a beautiful place, and the students there are among the most interesting that I work with. They are always eager, interesting, and fun to teach. What's the downside of the trip? Well, besides the 12-hour flight to get there from Heathrow (and that's a direct flight...!), it's the fact that it's not the safest city in the world. I just have to be a bit careful there, and I never go wandering off exploring on foot by myself as I like to do when I'm teaching in an interesting place. My hotel runs a shuttle bus back and forth to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area, so that's probably as far from the hotel as I'll get to go exploring during the week. And the hotel will even pick me up at the airport tomorrow morning and take me back there Thursday night.

OH...and I'll get to catch up with what the South Africans call their "soapies". My personal favorite is called "Isidingo" -- which means "The Longing" in Zulu. (You can't read much on the site I've linked without registering, but perhaps some of you are curious and would like to read a bit about the storyline and characters.) What's especially interesting about the South African soapies is that many of them are in both English and African languages -- going back and forth between the two a bit like some Spanish-language programs on Texas TV do between Spanish and English. It's really fascinating!

I don't think I'll have high-speed internet service while in Cape Town, so it would be too expensive for me to stay on a dial-up connection the length of time it would take to update Lord Celery. I'm really sorry about that, too. I would have loved to post some photos while I'm there.

SO, here's an "I'm sorry but I won't be posting for awhile" note. I'll write again when I can. Meanwhile, have a good week, everybody! I'll be back in the UK in time for the Bank Holiday weekend.


Listening To: Alana Davis, "Surrender Dorothy"

Friday, 12 August 2005

"I'm So Excited" - Pointer Sisters, 1982

I'm still a bit embarrassed that I've gotten so "into" Big Brother this summer, here in the UK. But after resisting all of the other BB's that preceded this one, I finally succumbed to Big Brother #6. It appeals to the former-psychology-student in me. The group dynamics have been absolutely fascinating! Alliances. Disagreements. Ambiguous sexuality. Distrust. Friendships. Fun with wine bottles. This BB has had it all!

Tonight is the final night. Who is going to win?
According to the BBC, it's too close to call this afternoon. There are only 4 "Housemates" left -- Anthony, Eugene, Kinga, and Makosi. I hope Eugene wins. I figure it's between him and Anthony. Eugene deserves all £100,000. But at least he's guaranteed £50k!

John will be driving over from the London area after work today, and we're geared up to watch the show tonight -- while munching on our favoUrite Chinese goodies from Marks & Spencer. What a great start to the weekend!

But we can't help but wonder what it would be like to be without music most of the time (the housemates only rarely had any music played for them in the Big Brother house) -- much less be without any news at all from the outside world -- for so long. This is their 78th day in captivity! Amazing...

No wonder Makosi's weave has failed her! And, by the way, do you think she's really an actress, as some think, rather than a cardiac nurse in High Wycombe? I'm just not sure at all anymore!


Listening To: "El Corazon", Steve Earle

Monday, 8 August 2005

"Illegal Alien" - Genesis, 1983

It seems like there's been a huge amount of news these past few days. NASA have had to postpone Discovery's landing attempt until tomorrow because of weather conditions in Florida. Two well-known people have died; Robin Cook died suddenly in Scotland over the weekend, while Peter Jennings died yesterday (not so unexpectedly...). England won the second test of the Ashes series by only 2 runs yesterday! Chelsea beat Arsenal in the Community Shield match yesterday by 2 goals to 1. And Derek was the latest to be evicted from the Big Brother house, near the Tesco in Borehamwood.

But today's Lord Celery blog has to do with a very interesting, timely article that John has found on the BBC's website. It's called "The New American Dilemma", and it was written by Harold Evans as the first of his new weekly opinion columns.

Take a look, if you have a few minutes. The line that resonated the strongest with both of us is the following quote:

"It doesn't make sense nearly four years after 9/11 to make grandmothers take off their shoes at airports when terrorist infiltrators at the broken borders could wreak havoc."

I could not have written it better myself.


Listening To: "Some Cities" - Doves

Friday, 5 August 2005

"What If We Give It Away?" - REM, 1986

For the past two mornings, I've seen the same old man on St Aldates, as I've walked from the bus stop down to the office. He looks, as my father would have said, "down on his luck". Sadly, he's only one of many such people you can see on the streets of Oxford. They are more visible early in the morning, when there aren't so many people crowding the narrow sidewalks.

What has made this man stand out for me is the cap he's wearing. Of all things, it's a St Louis Cardinals baseball cap. The cap is 'way past its prime -- really well worn. I didn't think much about it at first. After all, I grew up watching Cardinals baseball. But then I realized just where I am. I'm not in the US. I'm in Britain. I'm in Oxford!

That started me thinking. I wonder where he got that cap? Who owned that cap originally? How did it get to Britain? How old is it? How many lives has it passed through during its own lifetime?

And then that train of thought made me think of my father. He's been gone a long time now -- he died in 1987. But I'm afraid that a lot of what made him quirky is stuck inside me, too!

What eventually happens to all those "things" we give away?

Daddy and I once had a discussion about that, centering around a windbreaker I had once given him. It was a promotional giveaway from a small oil trading company I worked for back in the early '80's. It was navy blue, with the company's name written on the front in white letters, where a breast pocket would be. Somewhere along the way, my father gave it away. And we once laughed to think that someday we'd be driving around in the bowels of downtown Houston and see some drunk, homeless man wearing that jacket which advertised "M***A ENERGY" so proudly on the front! (I won't embarrass the owner of the now-defunct company by writing out the entire name. But my friends who read this will know exactly what I'm talking about here!)

Of course, I've never actually seen one of those navy blue windbreakers again. Perhaps someday I will. And I have to wonder where I'll be when it happens!


STILL Listening To: "The Outsider" - Rodney Crowell

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

"Space Oddity" - David Bowie, 1969

I'm sure you can guess what I'm going to write about today, can't you?

Wow -- what incredible video we're getting from today's walk in space by astronaut Steve Robinson! I am so pleased that his mission seems to have been successful. I'm going to link NASA's internet coverage of the mission again here, in case you didn't see the link in my note of a few days ago. The video of the spacewalk that I just saw on the BBC's 6 o'clock news looks like something from a sci-fi film!

Now we all need to pray for Discovery's safe return to Earth, when the time comes.

Speaking of safe returns to the ground...thank goodness that all of the passengers escaped from the Air France flight which ran off the runway -- and caught fire -- in Toronto earlier today. As much as I fly -- for business and pleasure -- the scenes from Toronto's Pearson International Airport were really unnerving.


Monday, 1 August 2005

"What's Going On" - Marvin Gaye, 1971

There's a lot going on in the news right now...

1. Very close to my heart is the news that Aunt Blanche got home to New Mexico just fine over the weekend. God bless her. She was wonderful company, and my house is certainly a quiet place now without her there! John and I can't wait to see her again in January!

2. Man, do the folks at NASA ever deserve a break right now! I'm anxious to hear more about possible damage to Discovery.
Here's a link to NASA's own coverage.

3. Needless to say, our news here in the UK is full of coverage of two major issues -- the
investigation of the London terrorist bombings and the latest from Northern Ireland. But there's another big story today as well. And it's tragic. An 18-year-old black student was murdered in a Liverpool suburb over the weekend. He died in an especially horrific way. These awful things don't only happen in America.

4. PLEASE tell me that Michael Owen isn't really going to Man U.....!
Hey, now I read it MIGHT be Chelsea instead. Now that would be fantastic! More to come on that story, then!

5. We've booked our tickets for our "wedding trip" to New Mexico & Texas in January! I hope the time continues to go quickly. I can't wait!

6. After years of hearing this as a rumor in the oil trading business, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia has now actually died. His successor is the former Crown Prince Abdullah. A BBC reporter has put together a very interesting piece about King Fahd, which is worth a read if you have a few minutes.

7. Good Lord -- Kinga's back! And I'm not talking about the Transilvanian flutist, either.


Listening To: "The Outsider" - Rodney Crowell