Wednesday, 30 August 2006

"I Keep Forgettin' " - Michael McDonald, 1982

For the first time in a long time, I've been struck down with a horrendous sinus headache. Last night, I felt like I was within seconds of giving birth to some sort of alien creature out of the right corner of my forehead. I had a really rough night, but I feel better now.

John kept me regularly in hot-water bottles for my head (my ex's solution to sinus headaches...and one of the few "keepers" I learned from him). but it got so bad at one point last night that even pain medication did nothing at all.

So I stayed home today and have slept most of the day.

I'm feeling better this evening. The pain is still there but is down to a dull roar. I feel like I've been kicked in the right side of my head, and I have what looks a bit like a sunburn mark on that side of my forehead. But hopefully I'll get back to the office tomorrow.

I don't think I'll ever take a pain-free day for granted again. But then I suppose I've said that very same thing the dozen or so times, during my life, that I've been struck by pain just like this. Funny how we keep forgetting...


Tuesday, 29 August 2006

"Forgetful Man" - Hank Wangford & The Lost Cowboys, 2003

Today's idea for Lord Celery once again came from BBC Radio Five Live's Breakfast Show.
According to one of Nicky and Shelagh's reports this morning, Mick Jagger has resorted to using some sort of Autocue device, during Rolling Stones tours, to help him remember song lyrics.

This news led Five Live listeners to suggest some new lyrics to old Stones' favorites, like:

"I can't get no....medication."

"...paint it beige..."

"Pleased to meet you...hope I remember your name."

And on and on and you can imagine.

Apparently, as much as anything else, Jagger needs help remembering what city they are in at any point in time.

Although I'm not as old as Mick, I have to admit that sometimes -- given my own business travel schedule -- I can sympathize with that problem!


Friday, 25 August 2006

"Picture Book" - Kinks, 1968

How about 3 photos from my "commute" into the office in Oxford this morning...

First, here's a photo (sorry...not a great I could get with my little Minolta Dimage) of hot air balloons hovering over fields north of Oxford, as seen from my parking place in the Water Eaton park and ride lot:

(Click on each photo posted here if you want to see a full-sized version.)

Talk about sending my brain into "daydreaming mode"! And what a beautiful morning to be floating through the air!

Next -- and not so scenic -- is for the benefit of one my former employers. I think it's very amusing to see the use that one of their product barrels has had in its afterlife. In this case, one of them is supporting a temporary traffic light right in the middle of Oxford, at Carfax...

Have a great weekend, everybody! One of my goals, during this 3-day "Bank Holiday Weekend", is to post Cape Town photos on my Smugmug page. And I'll let all of you know when I relate some of the stories I promised to tell you from the trip.


Thursday, 24 August 2006

"Crazy" - Patsy Cline, 1961

I know I promised Cape Town stories. I will still post well as more photos. But today, I want to write about my lunch in Oxford with my "husby".

John came into Oxford this morning with me and my friend Cindy on the infamous Stagecoach 59 bus. He did some shopping this morning -- along with getting his watch repaired -- and then he met me for lunch at Cafe Loco, which is not far from my office.

(Click on each photo if you'd like to see a larger version.)

I love this cafe...especially when I can sit in the table right in the corner of the building. You can see somebody sitting there in the photo above...a photo I took earlier this summer, using the camera in my phone. That table has a terrific view of Christ Church College and Cathedral.

John got there first and nabbed "our table", once it became available. He had all of his bags of shopping next to him, on the floor. He'd bought shoes, trousers, socks, some hardware items, etc., etc. He began showing me what he'd bought. (That reminds me of the lyrics of "Bus Stop"...!)

We laughed at the situation. It was such a role reversal. Wife leaves the office to meet her husband for lunch, after he's been shopping in town during the morning. Husband shows wife what he bought. Wife approves. Wife goes back to work afterwards, while husband takes the bus back home.


Our waitress came over, and we shared our little joke with her. She laughed, too.

Meanwhile, we had a wonderful lunch, and once again I enjoyed the view from my favorite restaurant table in Oxford...

Back to work now!


Sunday, 20 August 2006

"Back In The Saddle" - Aerosmith, 1976

I'm back!

I got into London Heathrow right on time Saturday morning...and, incredibly, my luggage was on the plane with me this time. Security at Cape Town Airport was no tougher than usual, but things are still quite disrupted at Heathrow.

I've spent nearly the entire weekend resting and sleeping (and catching up with the "EastEnders" omnibus edition this afternoon). I'm running on-site training in London for the next two days for one of the major international oil companies, and I'm hoping like crazy that my brain will be fully-functional in the morning!

It wasn't a bad flight back...just very long. 12+ hours is a long time to spend in an airplane seat. Unusually, I had a seat free next to me, though, and that made a big difference in my comfort level.

I'll try to get back into the routine of Lord Celery entries this week. I have several stories from Cape Town to relate, and I'll try to do that in the coming days. I also want to post all of the photos I took on a Smugmug page, and I'll post a link to that this week.

Meanwhile, let me get started catching up with everything all of you have posted in the past week!


Tuesday, 15 August 2006

"Reunited" - Peaches and Herb, 1979

Hello from Cape Town!

About 5:30pm yesterday, I got a knock at the door of my hotel room here in Cape Town. It was a porter with…

MY LUGGAGE!!!!! I just can't believe it!

Everything is fine…although one of the pieces had obviously gotten very wet somewhere along the way. According to British Airways’ website, they were delivered to Cape Town on the flight from Heathrow on Sunday night, which got into the airport here on Monday morning.

According to the BBC today, BA admit that at least 10,000 pieces of baggage have been “lost” since the additional security measures were undertaken last Thursday. And they claim that so far about 5000 of those have been reunited with their owners…mine being two of them.

I’m using a wireless connection in the lobby of the hotel, so I don’t have much time. But I thought I’d post a few photos taken from my room…the first from the window of the kitchen (it’s a “suite” hotel) and the other three from the balcony off the living room. It’s just beautiful, as you’ll see.

(Click on each image for a full-sized version.)

I’m fairly sure that I won’t post a Lord Celery item again until I get back to the UK over the weekend. OH....and let me post a couple of photos I took at Heathrow airport last Friday afternoon, during my chaotic check-in...

I'm sorry that the headline of the story on the newspaper above isn't visible. But you can see that the man sitting down on the roof of the Heathrow parking garage is reading about the thwarted terrorist attack.

Sorry about the poor quality of the two photos above. They were taken with my mobile phone...before I had to stow it in my checked luggage, of course!

I hope all of you are doing well. I’ll catch up with my favorite blogs when I’m back in Britain.

Take care of yourselves...and I DO hope none of you have to fly in the near future!


Saturday, 12 August 2006

"Between Here and Gone" - Mary Chapin Carpenter, 2004

Lord Celery readers will be delighted to know that Janet has arrived safely in Cape Town for her latest business trip, after a rather arduous passage through Heathrow Airport.

Sadly this is not true for her luggage which has left here, but has not arrived. Janet herself is thus 6,000 miles from home with nothing but the clothes she wore on the flight and a clear plastic bag containing her travel documents.

Her clothes, washing kit, contact lenses, cosmetics, camera, phones, computer, business paperwork, contact details.... all in limbo.

In compensation however, British Airways has given her a £35 voucher. Janet has eaten half of it already, and tells me that she will save the other half in case the room service at her hotel does not start at 6pm as advertised.

The self-proclaimed "World's Favourite Airline" has also provided her with a claim form. This assures her that "most travellers are reunited with their missing luggage within 7 days". It even goes on to tell her that BA "work hard to maintain this high standard". (If you were eating when you read that, here is how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself. )

With luck, and if her luggage is really at Heathrow, tonight's flight to Cape Town may carry Janet's bags aboard. At the time of writing, the flight is three-and-a-half hours overdue for takeoff, with no scheduled departure time yet.

Seriously though, Janet arrived safe and well, and tells me she has a terrific view of Table Mountain from her room. I guess given the news these days, a missing bag or two is a pretty small problem.

Like BA, Lord Celery hopes that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.


Thursday, 10 August 2006

"Critical Journey" - Signs and Wonders, 2005

I'm supposed to be headed for Cape Town, South Africa tomorrow night. I wonder whether or not I'll get there...and if so, when.

British police have foiled a plot to blow up planes departing UK airports. You can read about it here on the BBC News website.

The terror level has been raised to "Critical" here in the UK.

Thank God the authorities stopped this group of least it appears they've blocked their plans.

No hand luggage will be allowed, on flights leaving the UK or arriving in the UK, for the next few days...well, I guess until further notice. As of this morning, only the following items will be allowed onto the plane with passengers, and these will be placed in a see-through plastic bag:

Travel documents essential for the journey (eg passports, tickets and visas)

Pocket sized wallets and pocket sized purses plus contents (for example money, credit cards and identity cards). Handbags are not permitted.

Prescribed medicines essential for the duration of the flight, except in liquid form unless verified as authentic.

Spectacles and sunglasses, without cases.

Contact lenses, without bottles of solution.

For those traveling with an infant: baby food, milk and sanitary items essential for the flight.

Keys (but no electrical key fobs).

Every other item must be carried in customer’s hold luggage. For clarity, passengers are advised that no electrical or battery powered items including laptops, mobile phones, iPods, remote controls etc can be carried in the cabin and must be checked in as hold baggage.


As I am flying tomorrow to Cape Town to run training courses all next week, I would have taken a laptop and LCD projector (and all of the associated "bits") in a carry-on bag. And, especially for a 12+ hour flight, I certainly would have had my iPod and a good book with me. Those will now be out.

At least I wasn't planning to travel with a youngster. Imagine the complications of no snacks and toys for those traveling with a child!

According to the US Department of Homeland Security's website, the terrorist threat level remains at "Elevated"in the least as of the time of this blog entry.

I'll try to keep everybody posted what happens next. Hopefully I'll post a Lord Celery item or two from Cape Town, starting over the weekend.


Wednesday, 9 August 2006

"God Only Knows" - Beach Boys, 1966

(Click on the image for a full-sized version.)

Thank you, John, for my new life...and for loving me so much!

"God only knows where I'd be without you..."


[P.S. Today's post was inspired by hearing Brian Wilson's classic song on my iPod on my way into the office...and by John's beautiful smile, which is the first thing I saw this morning!]

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

"Shut Your Mouth When You Sneeze" - Screamin' Jay Hawkins, 1998

Although the photo above looks remarkably like one of the favorite toys of my now-departed Westie named Mac, in truth it's actually a grain of pollen. It's the stuff that can make any of us sneeze...and one of the things that drives my immune system completely crazy.

I've had "perennial allergic rhinitis" since I was a very young child, and I've been on full-time medication for the condition since I was about 6 or 7 years old.

According to the news today, I'm potentially at a higher risk of eventually developing Parkinson's disease as a result of my chronic allergies. Yikes!

Pardon the pun...but the increased odds mentioned in the article are nothing to sneeze at.


Monday, 7 August 2006

"Waiting So Long" - Supertramp, 1982

John and I are big Formula 1 racing fans. We try to watch every race we can...although I have to admit that I've lost a little interest since our favorite driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, left F1 to drive for NASCAR in the States.

Yesterday was the Hungarian Grand Prix. We couldn't watch, as we were off to Swindon in the afternoon to see some members of John's family. We figured Michael Schumacher or Fernando Alonso would win anyway, and that it might be a fairly ordinary race.

But to our delight, we found out when we got home last night that the winner was none of than Britain's own Jenson Button! After 113 attempts (114 if you count the US Grand Prix in 2005, when the Honda team -- among others -- declined to race), Button has finally won his first Formula 1 race!

Congratulations, Jenson! It's a well-deserved victory for you!


Saturday, 5 August 2006

"Play Tag (in Church)" - Vasen, 2003

(OK...I realize that I haven't been tagged "in church", but that's the best song title I could some up with!)

I've just noticed that I've been tagged by BOTH A Novelist and by Monique on the very same day! Here's the task that they've both tagged me with:

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions. [Note: To me, that means that I need to post sentences 6, 7 & 8...which is what I'll do below.]

5. Don’t you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

6. Tag five people.


"A classic example is the development of industrial melanism in British moths: darker moth individuals became relatively commoner than paler individuals as the environment became dirtier during the 19th century, bceause dark moths resting on a dark, dirty tree were more likely than contrasting pale moths to escape the attention of predators. Much as the Industrial Revolution changed the environment for moths, farming changed the environment for plants. A tilled, fertilized, watered, weeded garden provides growing conditions very different from those on a dry, unfertilized hillside."

-- Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" (one of the birthday presents from my brother back in June)


And I'm tagging...
1. "Blanche"
2. "GNightGirl"
3. "Milky Bar Kid"
4. Vikki
5. Heather

Let's see what books you five have nearby!

By the way, I would "tag" John, but he'd simply pick up that same book!


"Thank Heaven For Little Girls" - Maurice Chevalier, 1958

I've known a lot of really cute little girls in my life. Two of the world's cutest are my nieces...shown here, at our wedding in New Mexico last January, with my best friend Claudia. And although I've never met them, photos of Heather's daughters always make me smile.

I saw two of the cutest little girls ever on the park & ride bus from Oxford yesterday afternoon. I just couldn't help but try to snap a couple of shots with my mobile phone, as they shared a seat on the shuttle bus.

(Click on the photos to see a larger version.)

These two (I assume they are sisters) made a 20-minute ride go too quickly! I especially loved their little matching for one of them, and blue for the other.


Listening to: Dave Matthews Band, "Stand Up"

Friday, 4 August 2006

"Let's Put It All Together" - Stylistics, 1974

(Click on the photo above for a full-sized image.)

John and I have an issue that affects a lot of newly-married couples...especially those who, like us (sadly), aren't exactly kids anymore.

What am I going to do about my last name?

I've been "Janet L" for a long time, and that's how I'm known in the oil industry and in my new role now as a corporate trainer. It would be nice to be "Janet N", since I've married John. But changing so many documents -- both in the US and the UK -- would be a big hassle, and I don't want to complicate things with business colleagues and former students.

An additional problem is that my UK Work Permit is in the name of "Janet L", and I don't want to confuse UK Immigration officials any more than they can be confused already. And my work permit runs through the end of 2007.

So, what do we do?

So far, I'm legally still "Janet L" but am delighted to be known as "Mrs. N". Once I have been granted my "Indefinite Leave to Remain" in the UK, as "Janet L", then I could change my name and be known as "Janet L N". That's how many of my American female friends have handled the issue, especially those in the business world.

Another option is that John and I could hyphenate our surnames...or make them "double-barreled", to use the UK slang term. We would then become "Janet & John L-N". But that kind of surname implies a certain amount of pretentiousness over here, and John doesn't like that idea. I'm not sold on it either.

I've found our solution -- "meshing"! You can read all about it in an article called "What A Mesh" from the BBC's website. It's all about a new trend for newly-married couples to fuse their surnames! Don't forget to read the comments at the end of the article, too. A few of them are priceless!

Does anybody reading this know a married couple who have actually done this?



PS After writing the above, I was just thinking that there's a great example of meshed or fused words staring me in the face here -- the blog!

Listening to: Paul Simon, "Surprise"

Thursday, 3 August 2006

"Uncool" - Derailers, 2003's a follow-up to yesterday's post about "Guilty Pleasures".

I found a news article this morning about "Q" magazine's poll of the "least cool record it is okay to love".

Here are excerpts from the article:

ELO are top of a new poll to find the least cool record it is okay to love.

Their 1976 hit 'Livin' Thing' beat singles like S Club 7's 'Don't Stop Moving' and Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' to the top spot.

The top ten in full:

1. ELO - 'Livin' Thing'
2. Boston - 'More Than A Feeling'
3. S Club 7 - 'Don't Stop Movin''
4. 10cc - 'I'm Not In Love'
5. Gary Glitter - 'Rock'n'Roll Part 2'
6. Foreigner - 'Cold As Ice'
7. Billy Idol - 'Rebel Yell'
8. Status Quo - 'Whatever You Want'
9. Gerry Rafferty - 'Baker Street'
10. Gloria Gaynor - 'I Will Survive'


Now, Lord Celery's American readers may not know #'s 3 and 8. I certainly didn't know anything about the band S Club 7 until moving to Britain, and I'd barely heard of Status Quo.

Anybody who read my item yesterday can guess that #10 is already in my list of "Guilty Pleasures"...along with a bunch of other goofy disco hits.

But I'm baffled by #'s 1, 4 and 9 being on this "uncool" list! What's wrong with ELO, 10cc, and especially Gerry Raffery's "Baker Street"? The latter has one of the coolest sax solos in music!


Listening to: Fatboy Slim, "The Greatest Hits"

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

"Guilty Pleasures" - Quiet Riot, 2001

A discussion on BBC Radio 5's breakfast show this morning shook me out of my morning stupor, with a big laugh.

They were discussing what BBC Radio 2 apparently call "Guilty Pleasures". These are songs which people love but are embarrassed to admit they love.

My own "Guilty Pleasures" are the song "Dancing Queen" by ABBA and my closet obsession with old 70's disco music (especially when I'm driving out on the open road). YUCK, you're probably thinking. But undoubtedly each of you have your own list. And some of items would make me say "yuck", too!

But what made me burst out laughing early this morning was this comment...

There are songs that are guilty pleasures.
There are songs that just make us feel guilty.
And then there's Barry Manilow.


Listening to: "All In Time", Jim Cuddy

Tuesday, 1 August 2006

"My Little Town" - Paul Simon, 1975

Today, I want to highlight a new blog that I've linked in my "Family & Friends" section. And I'm using Paul Simon's great mid-70's hit, because that song has always made me think of the little town I lived in from my junior high days through my first year of college.

That little town is Salem, Illinois.

I have a couple of Salem links way down on the right-hand side of the main page of Lord Celery. It's a great little place.

While in Seattle last week (or maybe just before we brain is still so fuzzy this morning...), I got a note from my long-time friend Vikki Cleveland. Vikki has always been a prolific writer. She's finally started her own blog. And I'm delighted by the news.

My father's job with one of the pipeline divisions of Texaco sent our family the 500 miles northeast from Tulsa, Oklahoma up to Salem in the early 60's. It was a really tough move for me...leaving lots of family and friends...leaving everything I'd ever known up until then. Vikki and I became buddies almost from the beginning of my time in Salem, and we've managed to stay in touch almost continually ever since.

So, I wanted all of you to notice the new link to...
From the Pen of Vikki Lyn

Vikki, I'm so very sorry it's been so long since I've gotten to see you!

Thank goodness Al Gore invented the internet, huh?