Thursday, 31 May 2007

"Questions 67 and 68" - Chicago, 1969

After ordering it from the government printing office earlier this week, this came in today's mail...

(Click on either of the images for a full-sized version.)

It's the guidebook to the "Life in the UK" test that I'll have to pass before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain here in the UK when I'm eligible late this year. Had I been able to make the application a few years ago, there wouldn't have been a test. Thanks to recent changes, though, I now have to be tested.

I had been under the impression (falsely) that I wouldn't have to take this test until/unless I was applying for British citizenship. But NOOOOO....I have to pass it before I can even apply for permanent residency. So that's why I quickly ordered the guidebook.

At least I can study on my own and with John's help, rather than having to attend classes. I'm assuming that I can prove competency with the English language at the testing centre in Cowley (eastern suburb of Oxford...where the Mini factory is located). At least I hope that's a correct assumption!

Here's a sample entry from the book...

And if you'd like to sample some of the test questions, you can do so here.

I'll keep you posted on this one. I hate tests....sigh!


Wednesday, 30 May 2007

"She'osoni Kir'tzono (Very Special People)" - Dana Mase, 1994

My dear friend Claudia (she was my witness when John and I got married last year) recently went on a Caribbean cruise with her two sons and their families. Her daughter-in-law Charie has just sent me a link to the photos taken during the trip. One of them especially caught my eye; and if you'll indulge me, I'll post it here on Lord Celery.

This is a very proud grandmother with her four grandkids...

(Click on the image for a slightly larger version.)

I just couldn't resist posting this one!


PS Oh...and while I'm in a photo-posting mood (and while I'm talking about "very special people"), here's one from John's family archives. This is my sister-in-law Claire, John, and my brother-in-law Paul from their childhood (and you can also click on this one for a larger version)...

I just love that photo!!!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

"If I Fell" - Beatles, 1964

On the park & ride bus out of Oxford late this afternoon, I saw a women walking with a small girl. As our bus was temporarily stuck in traffic, I had the chance to observe them for a few minutes.

When I first saw them on the sidewalk, the little girl was happily skipping along. But she soon caught her little shoe on an uneven part of the sidewalk, and down she went. Hands and knees on the asphalt. She "tuned up to cry", as my mother used to say. Her mother bent down to comfort her.

But amazingly, within about a minute, the little one was back up on her feet again...not only walking with "mum", but starting to skip again!

I used to be that resilient. I used to be able to bounce back quickly after adversity. But over the years, somehow, the bumps and bruises of life seem to make it tougher to respond so quickly.

It was good for me to watch the scene today. I'm going to try to start skipping more often again. I'll let you know if I'm successful...


Monday, 28 May 2007

"Back in the Saddle Again" - Gene Autry, 1939

Seems like I'm doing a lot of apologizing for my lack of posts these days...and I'm about to do it once again.

Over the course of the week in Calgary, the cold I caught just after I last posted here got worse and worse. I managed to struggle through my week's teaching and get back home to the UK, but by last Wednesday I was being diagnosed with bronchitis at my local GP's office. I really didn't feel very well at all until yesterday.

So I'm back...with lots of catching up to do.

I'll resume posting this coming week. And meanwhile, I'll start catching up with the musings of my own favorite bloggers!



PS I always think of my "Granddaddy" when I hear anything about Gene Autry. He used to tell us kids that he'd worked with Gene Autry back on the railroad in Oklahoma, when my father was young. Granddaddy couldn't stand Autry. He said he was one of the most arrogant "fellas" he'd ever met!

Sunday, 13 May 2007

"Miscellany" - Drunk, 1999

Sorry for my absence for awhile. I missed out on a lot of the 3-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK (the first weekend in May) because of feeling really awful. for about 4 days. I've been a little rundown since the move, and that and other stresses caught up with me, I guess. Anyway, now I'm better...and now I'm in Canada again, by the way!

So let me get caught up on what's been going on in the world -- or what's been on my mind -- since I last wrote...

Firstly, I'm in Calgary all this week. I took a few digital photos while out for a walk this afternoon, and I'll try to get them posted in the next few evenings. I'm teaching for the next 5 days, running 3 training courses for one of Canada's big energy companies. I'm a little nervous about tomorrow's class in particular. I've never taught 30 students in one class before. Send me some good vibes, won't you? I'll need them.

While I'm on the mend, I'm still not feeling too energetic. Hopefully, this comfy room at the Westin in downtown Calgary will help me recover when I'm not training this week. I just wish that John was here with me. I'll get home next Sunday afternoon. It can't come soon enough, either. I miss him like crazy.

My Portugal Eurovision entry didn't even make the Eurovision finals last night. Sadly, neither did the curious entry from Switzerland -- performing the bizarre "Vampires Are Alive". We saw them on the semi-final show Thursday night. They were so strange I was certain they would make the finals. But nope. Perhaps it's because Switzerland isn't located in Eastern Europe...

Little Madeleine is still missing in Portugal. I still hold out hope for her and her family. I can't imagine the anguish they are experiencing.

I guess everybody knows by now that, after 10 years in office, Tony Blair has announced what day he's leaving office as the UK's Prime Minister -- the 27th of June (the day before my birthday...but I think that's merely coincidental). I still can't get over the fact that, here in Britain, there can be a new PM without a general election. That's a big difference between the UK and US.

Speaking of US politics, I wonder if it's possible that we'll actually see an "Independent" candidate for President of the US next year? Certainly, the stage is set for a surprise like that.

While here in Calgary, I can already see now much I'm going to enjoy catching up on US TV for a week. It's from stations in Spokane, Washington, though, so all of the programing is on US Pacific time -- an hour later than the Rocky Mountain time here in Calgary. I'll have to be very careful that I don't stay up too late every night this week. I must go back to the UK feeling better than I did on my arrival here last night.

Regarding the above, it was wonderful to get to watch some of "CBS Sunday Morning" this morning --- and "60 Minutes" tonight. And PBS programs, too. Those are examples of things I miss.

Lastly, thank goodness that the good American public can see the talents of Melinda Doolittle on "American Idol". She's in the top 3 finalists. And I'll be able to watch the Tuesday and Wednesday night's shows while here in Calgary! Go Melinda!

OK. That's the best job I can do of catching up tonight. I'm sure I missed a few items. And I'll try to do better at staying in touch in the coming days.

So Bronx Boy, I'm doing ok now. Thanks for checking on me.

And HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all of the moms out there!


Thursday, 3 May 2007

"Sad Children" - Loudest Whisper, 1977

This is -- or used to be -- an Oxford shop called The Natural World. It's near the bus stop where I catch the park and ride bus after work each day. Unfortunately, it recently closed. It was an interesting shop full of science-y sorts of things. (And it's where we got John a replacement for his lost Australian hat...but that's another story!) It seemed to always be full of customers...many of them children.

For some time since the shop closed, I'd noticed a couple of pieces of paper posted in one of the shop windows. You can see them in the photo to the left. I am always in a rush to catch the bus when I pass the shop, and I'd therefore never bothered to see what was on them.

This morning, I walked over there before work. What's posted there is a letter from 8-year-old Sophie, who is obviously devastated that the shop has closed. I especially like the way she's illustrated her letter! And the other page is a copy of a letter back to her from the shop's staff. I was really touched. Hopefully, all of you will be, too, assuming you can read the letters via the photos that I'm posting here. You can display a larger version of any of the photos simply by clicking on any of them.


Wednesday, 2 May 2007

"Beware of the Random Factor" - Chris Opperman, 1998

When we watch the this year's Eurovision Song Contest, I will be rooting for Portugal. I will, anyway, if their entry makes it to the finals.

I realize that I live in Britain, not Portugal. I'm not from Portugal. Neither is John. But supporting Portugal this year isn't much of a problem, really. The UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest rarely gets many votes anyway. Just ask the average Brit what "nil points" refers to....

I'm reading that Portugal's entry is a singer named Sabrina, and I've been told that her song is called "Danca Comigo (Vern Ser Feliz)".

The best part of the Eurovision Song Contest telecast every year is waiting to see how funny Terry Wogan's commentary will become as he drinks more and more alcohol over the course of the evening.

And why am I supposed to be supporting Portugal this year? Don't ask...

By the way, this article is a pretty good representation of what I personally think of the Eurovision Song Contest.


Tuesday, 1 May 2007

"O Green World" - Gorillaz, 2005

I was in London last week, running another training course in Canary Wharf. When I got around to filing my expense report back in the Oxford office, I noted something interesting printed on my taxi receipt.

Here's the front...

(Click on any of the images for a full-sized version.)

...and here's the back side of the receipt.

Well, this one is first -- a taxi company claiming to be reducing air pollution by means other than changing engines in their vehicles, types of fuel used, etc. Here's the link to the company named CarbonNeutral.

OK, folks, am I the only person who is skeptical about this notion of being "carbon neutral" in this way? I believe in protecting the environment, of course, but I'm not sure that this kind of thing is much more than a marketing ploy.

I'll climb down off my soapbox now.