Thursday, 28 February 2008

"Norwegian Wood" - Beatles, 1965

Sadly, I am not getting to see any Norwegian wood during this, my first-ever trip to Norway. The hotel where I'm staying is connected to the Stavanger Forum, and my only views have been from my room and from the training room at the Forum.

Here's what I can see of Stavanger from here...

Ahhhh...the glamor of travel! And I'm flying home tomorrow.

Maybe next time...


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

"Shake, Rattle and Roll" - Big Joe Turner, 1954

Good evening from Stavanger, Norway! I arrived over an hour later than planned this evening, due to weather-related delays in Copenhagen (where I had a connecting flight), so I can't send any photos tonight. I'll try to post one or two tomorrow or Friday. I'll only be here two nights. This one is a short trip.

But I wanted to write a quick blog item tonight about the earthquake we experienced in England around 1am today. Here's a link to BBC News' information about today's quake. It was the strongest felt in the UK in the past 25 years, and it was a magnitude 5.2.

Did I know what happened? No. Not at all. John said I stirred, but I didn't fully wake up. He did, though. and remembers vaguely wondering why things were rattling in our bedroom. We had no damage at all, although some of our artwork was a bit askew this morning.

I can't believe I didn't even know what happened until I woke up this morning! Obviously, I'm not yet over the jetlag from the Singapore trip, having just gotten home last Saturday.


Thursday, 21 February 2008

"Right Back Where We Started From" - Maxine Nightingale, 1976

I'm still writing from Singapore, where things are going well. But I must admit that my feet and my voice are starting to show the wear & tear of the three days of courses so far this week.

But tonight, since I'm sure a lot of you would like to get an update on how John is doing, why not read John's latest blog post for nobody can describe his accomplishment yesterday better than he can!

John, I am SO PROUD OF YOU!!!


Tuesday, 19 February 2008

"Strange Brew" - Cream, 1967

I always make some interesting discoveries while in Singapore. The label on the bottles of water provided by the hotel in the training room is one of the stranger finds here, though. Take a look for yourself...

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

I've been looking and looking for the Tardis...but no luck so far.

(This post is ESPECIALLY for John and Gavin, by the way!)


Monday, 18 February 2008

"Go East" - Pink, 2006

I'm back in Singapore. I arrived about 2 hours later than expected last night, after a series of delays at Heathrow on Friday night. I'm running two classes (2 days each) here this time. Because I don't begin working until tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, I've had a day to get some extra sleep and do a little snooping around the area where I'm staying.

This time, I'm staying at Traders Hotel in Singapore. I've stayed here once before, a few years ago, but I don't know the area right around this hotel as well as I do the immediate vicinity of the Singapore Marriott.

First, let me show you two photos taken from the window in my hotel room. I can't see much "Singapore"...this time, I have a more interior pool-side view. Click on any of the photos for a full-sized image.

I wandered over to the Tanglin Mall (connected to the hotel) for awhile this afternoon. I went to get some exercise but also because I stupidly forgot to bring a contact lens case with me. Don't know how I missed that one, but I guess it's always something.

Here's a shot of the interior of the mall. It's very pretty. But the shops in it are definitely geared to the expat and tourist communities, not locals.

In the mall, the name of one of the shops caught my eye. It's home-furnishings store. But given that it's patronized by a lot of foreign residents of Singapore, I couldn't help but laugh at the sentiment being suggested here...

Me, too, by the way.

I'll try to post again at least once more while I'm here.


Friday, 15 February 2008

"(Everybody Likes) My Mother" - Stan Breckenridge, 1999

(First off, I have to admit that I'm cheating a bit -- although this post is dated the 15th of February, I'm actually writing it on Monday the 18th while in Singapore. I ran out of time last Friday to write it on the actual day. I feel pretty sure you'll all excuse me, right?)

Today, the 15th of February 2008, would have been my mother's 87th birthday, had she lived beyond 2001. She died not long after her 80th birthday, after falling and breaking her hip a year earlier.

I like the song I found as the title of this entry. I never met anyone who didn't like my mother. She was a gracious, charming woman. Sadly, she was also self-conciously shy. But over the years, she learned to overcome that a bit. She was a "lady" in the true sense of the word. I miss her very much.

I tried to find a nice digital image of Mother to post. I couldn't easily find one. So, even though the quality is only fair, I photographed a couple of nice framed photos to post here.

(Click on either photo for a full-sized version.)
From left to right, this is my mother, my grandmother Mattie (we all called her Nanny...she died in 1995), and Aunt Blanche (mother's sister). Of all of the photos I've taken during my life, this is one of my all-time favorites. It was taken on my parents' patio in Houston, some time around 1980 (I think)!

And this photo, taken by my friend Clara, is of my mother and me back in 1999. This one was taken at my mother's apartment in Houston, at a retirement community called The Terrace.

Happy Birthday, Montie...and rest in peace.


Thursday, 14 February 2008

"My Funny Valentine" (from "Babes in Arms") - 1937

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody...

...but especially to my John. I love you more and more every day, baby!


Tuesday, 12 February 2008

"Little Mac" - Patrick Yandall, 2005

Today was the birthday of my beloved Westie, Mac, who died in 2001. He was born in 1985. So I was just thinking that he would have been 23 today, had he lived. Sadly, dogs just don't live that long.

I miss him every day.

Although Mac can never be replaced, John and I are planning to get a Westie puppy late this year or in 2009. I just can't live without a doggie much longer, and John feels the same. He and Mac had quite a close relationship, too, even though they only saw each other a couple of times a year.

Anyway, to honor Mac's birthday today, I'd like to post the following photo:

These are dear friends in Houston -- Winston (the dog) and his human brothers Lee and William. I miss them (and their mom and dad) a lot, and I haven't gotten to see any of them for over a year.

Winston, I believe, is my Mac reincarnated.

Here's the story. Melanie & Brian moved into one of the apartments across from where I lived in Houston during some of the last weeks of Mac's life. I didn't meet them when they first moved in. But only a few days after I had to have Mac put to sleep, I went to the mailboxes to get my mail; and what should I see but a pretty young woman with a teeny little Westie puppy! I just burst into tears, which has never been the best way to meet a new neighbor. Anyway, over the weeks and months which followed, I got very close to Melanie and her husband Brian, and Winston became part of my extended family, too. And he was -- and still is -- a 2/3rd's size version of my Mac! It's just uncanny how much he's like Mac.

Melanie just posted the photo of Winston (who is now 6) and his two human brothers today. I just had to give it some wider viewing!

And I couldn't help but think of Mac.


Monday, 11 February 2008

"Don't Rain on My Parade" (from "Funny Girl") - Barbra Streisand, 1964

The breakfast show on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning once again gave me a huge laugh.

There was a lot of coverage this morning of last night's Grammy awards...especially all of the prizes given to London's Amy Winehouse. But when it came to a discussion about Herbie Hancock's winning CD "River: The Joni Letters", the BBC reporter (who had probably been up all night, to be fair) told the audience that the CD was a tribute to "Joannie Rivers"! His funny mistake was quickly corrected by Nicky and Shelagh in the London studio, amidst a lot of giggles.

Oh yes, my favorite Joni Mitchell track will always be "Can We Talk?"!


Sunday, 10 February 2008

"Across the Universe" - Beatles, 1969

Here's a huge thank you to my brother-in-law for the heads up (no pun intended, either) that the combination of the International Space Station and the shuttle Atlantis can currently be seen in orbit over Britain just after 6:30pm UK time. John went outside to see it last night...taking great care not to tilt his neck back too far, of course. And tonight, I went outside with him.

What an amazing thing to see an object roughly 200 miles above the earth! And how incredibly fast it comes over and then disappears into the shadows, once it's no longer illuminated by the sun!

I remember once, on a clear night, seeing a shuttle on its own passing above while I still lived in Houston. But this was much larger and brighter. How I wish we had a telescope!

If you'd like to see when you might have a chance to see the combination of the two spacecraft for yourself, there are two websites which will help:

NASA's "ISS Sightings" section at
"Heavens Above" at

It's an experience not to be missed!

Thanks again, Paul!


Saturday, 9 February 2008

"Take a Look Inside" - Folk Implosion, 1994

I consider myself "tagged" for Bag Tag after reading Kris' post on her blog. (Kris is one of the newest blogs I regularly read. She's another American expat in Oxfordshire, and she's newly-arrived here -- along with her husband -- from Utah.)

So Kris, here are the contents of my handbag (I'm having to get used to not calling it my "purse", as we Americans tend to call them) just as I brought it home with me from work last night...

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

And for Kris' readers, who were really intrigued with British keys ("dungeon keys"), here's a magnified view of my own house keys.

So here's a challenge -- I'd like to Bag Tag my own female readers (if they haven't already done this...and if you have, just send me a link). And how about a Pocket Tag for the pockets of my male readers? That could be really fun, too!


Friday, 8 February 2008

"Hurts So Bad" - Little Anthony and the Imperials, 1965

Without music, I don't know how I could exist. Music is a big part of my soul. But sometimes, music can cause pain. I mean physical pain.

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.

There's new song out by Kylie Minogue (yuck...!), and it's playing on the radio in the UK with frightening frequency. It's called "Wow". The synthesized sound during the "wow wow wow wow" part of the song actually makes my brain hurt! It's incredibly distressing. I have to turn the sound right down any time it plays or I actually feel pain.

That doesn't happen to me very often, luckily.

But I remember my father having an interesting reaction to the theme to the film "Chariots of Fire" back in the 80s. He said that the sound of the popular Vangelis record made him feel disoriented -- queasy -- uneasy. It didn't have a negative effect on me at all, but at least I can understand that kind of reaction to music.

Another example -- John describes the sound of Donald Fagen's voice as being an irritant to him like the sound of a fingernail scraping on a blackboard. That made my skin crawl, just typing the words fingernail and blackboard in the same sentence. (As an aside, one of the great mysteries of my life is how I could fall so madly in love with a man who really can't stand one of my all-time favorite bands -- Steely Dan! But that'll be the topic for another blog entry one of these days.)

And according to my parents, when I was little, I would burst into tears any time the song "Ebb Tide" played on the radio or TV. I must admit that I still find that song disturbing.

Do any of you have any examples of musical pain to give back to me?


Thursday, 7 February 2008

"Eye in the Sky" - Alan Parsons Project, 1982

When I was last in London, a few weeks ago, I thought I saw a CBS "eye" (like the one here) on a billboard. But I figured I had misinterpreted the image, since I saw it from a moving taxi.

But yesterday evening, as I was leaving Oxford on my park & ride bus, I spotted another one -- this time on the back of a bus, and I managed to get a (bad) photo of it.

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

After a little "Googling", I discovered that what I thought of as simply a TV network also has an advertising division, and yes indeed they are in the UK as well. I just didn't know this at all.

I'll bet my blogger friend at Finding Blanche did, though!


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

"Londoners" - Echohead, 2003

This evening, something happened that illustrates that these 5+ years living in the UK have changed my perception of the world.

Let me explain: John and I were watching a football "friendly" on TV between England and Switzerland, being played at the new Wembley Stadium in London.

Here's a shot of our TV screen during the match...

ENG stands, of course, for England. And SWI stands for Switzerland. But that's not how my brain read the three characters. I realized that I was interpreting the SWI as SW1 -- the beginning of one of the London postcodes...and a very prestigous one at that.

Here's a map of SW1...

Yes, I guess I've been hanging around London a bit too much in the past few years!


"(Open Up the) Red Box" - Simply Red, 1985

John found this very interesting article -- "Who Uses Phone Boxes" -- on the BBC's website this morning. As he said to me, the article is made even more interesting because it's about red telephone boxes in Oxford. I walk by many of those mentioned going between the bus stop (in the northern part of the city centre) and the office (on the south edge of the city centre).

I asked John if he wanted to write a blog item himself, linking to the article. But he kindly offered it to me instead.

They are such an iconic symbol of Britain, aren't they?

Even our village (some people call it a town...I'm not sure which is correct) has a vintage red phone box in the market square. You can see it in the photo below, if you look closely, to the right of the building in the center-ish foreground of the shot. There's a white van parked right next to the box.

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


Tuesday, 5 February 2008

"Really Big Time" - Fireballs, 1959-1964

Today is "Super Tuesday" in the USA.

It's also "Fat Tuesday" in areas which celebrate Mardi Gras -- like New Orleans & Mobile.

So, I was just thinking that this is, therefore, "Super Fat Tuesday".

You can therefore eat the highest-calorie, highest-level-of-fat dinner you can find...without any guilt whatsoever!


Monday, 4 February 2008

"Cracked World View" - Wisely, 2002

I bumped into this while looking for a world map for a work project. If it has a copyright on it, I'll probably be arrested by the web police for using it without permission...but what the heck. It made me laugh anyway! Click on the image to get the full effect.


Friday, 1 February 2008

"Name That Tune" - Reno Jones, 2000

This morning, on my way to work, my iPod Nano shuffled through 10 of the songs within a playlist I created called (very imaginatively) "Favorites". And I had an idea...somewhat inspired by a contest called "PopMaster" that BBC Radio 2 runs every weekday morning on Ken Bruce's show.

I'm going to give you either a phrase or a full sentence from the lyrics of each of the 10 songs I listened to this morning. Can any of you identify any of them? I'll warn you that a few of them might be a bit tricky!

Song #1: "...a lady suffragette."

Song #2: "You let my love fly free."

Song #3: "You cannot hold a lover that is gone."

Song #4: "It doesn't matter where you've been as long as it was deep."

Song #5: "...and I won't be a fool no more."

Song #6: "In fact, it's cold as hell."

Song #7: "...when the sidewalks are safe for the little guy."

Song #8: "But when it comes to being happy, we are."

Song #9: "I was spreading my life too thin."

Song #10: "The cars below my street take me away piece by piece."

Let me know if you have any ideas!