Friday, 30 May 2008

"Who Can It Be Now?" - Men at Work, 1982

This morning's walk from the bus stop into the office, here in Oxford, wasn't a normal one. There were police vans and other vehicles on standby throughout the area. And I saw a large number of Buddist monks...both male and female. (My two favorite scenes were the three female monks chatting away while drinking their take-away Starbucks and the handicapped female monk, in her wheelchair, being dragged down the street by a prissy little freshly-groomed Yorkshire terrier on a leash. I would have loved to have gotten photos of them for Lord Celery's readers, but it would have been too invasive to have done so.)

Somebody interesting must be in town, I thought.

Of course. I heard on the news last night that the Dalai Lama is in Oxford.

I'll keep a lookout for him today. But somehow I don't think I'll spot him in Marks & Spencer, my only planned destination at lunchtime.


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

"Nothing Like You" - Miles Davis, 1967

While listening to Nicky and Shelagh this morning, as I got ready for work, they mentioned that it's Kylie Minogue's 40th birthday today.

Now my American readers may or may not know who the Australian actress and singer is. I certainly didn't know much at all about her before moving to England. She's so popular here that you don't even have to use her last name for people to know who you mean.

Kylie is one of those "celebs" that I just don't get. (Would I understand better if I was a guy, perhaps?) To me, she's in a similar league as Mariah Carey...and you know what I think of her already.

That being said, let me get back to the reason for the post.

During "Breakfast" on 5 Live, Nicky said something about how he wondered if other people sharing the 28th of May as their birthday share personalities, characteristics, etc. with Kylie. I said, rather loudly, something like "Good Lord, I hope not!"...immediately thinking that I don't know anybody else born today anyway.

But I DO! Of course I do! It took 2 or 3 minutes to hit me. It's my oldest niece's birthday today -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Melissa -- and I can say, with great authority, that you're nothing like Kylie! And be proud that you aren't, in the humble opinions of your aunt and uncle in England!

And Melissa is a lot younger than Kylie, too.

(Aunt) Janet

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

"Ready For Some Good News" - Essra Mohawk, 2006

After two of our three days of long weekend were a washout (high winds and rain) in the south of England, I'd like refocus on the positive by mentioning two really good pieces of news from the past few days.

First is Lewis Hamilton's win in Monte Carlo on Sunday. Well done, Lewis! And what an entertaining race to watch, such a beautiful part of the world.

And the second was the landing of NASA's Phoenix mission to Mars. As somebody who grew up glued to books about rockets and space exploration, dreaming about someday being the first psychologist on a space station (so how did I end up trading oil....?), I am so excited about this next step in exploration of another planet, and I await more photos and information from the Phoenix!

There are so many awful stories being reported in the news at the moment -- China Burma, Middle East conflict, high fuel prices, mortgage defaults, youth crime, etc. -- so in my own head, I'm really fighting to focus my attention on all the good stuff.


Sunday, 25 May 2008

"We Have No Friends" - Brownie McGhee, 1991

Referring to the title of this article, I guess that's not completely true -- there's always Ireland, and this year there was San Marino as well.

What am I talking about? This year's Eurovision Song Contest.
The UK's Eurovision entry this year was the very-capable Andy Abraham. His song, while not a potential #1 on the charts, was much better than any UK entry in the past few years. Yet Andy was at the bottom of the tables when the voting ended. He didn't even get more points that the absolutely dreadful off-key performance of a group of four overly-made-up German women.

Why? Because nobody who participates in Eurovision likes Britain.

And who won? The Russians. Were they that good? Not in my opinion. Their performance even included a blond male ice skater maneuvering dizzily around the lead singer during the second half of the song. So why did they win? Because all of their European neighbors want to be their "friend". Yeah, right.

If you're interested, you can actually see all of the entries from a link on the BBC's special section for Eurovision.

It seems I've gone from residency in a country that nobody likes to one which nobody in Europe likes. Not such a good move in retrospect, huh?

So if John and I were thinking about a holiday to a sunny clime this year, I think we might spend our vacation funds in a country which at least gave Andy 6 points.

Where is San Marino anyway?

[UPDATE on Tuesday the 27th: On their news site, the BBC have posted an article called "Britain's New Best Friend" about San Marino and their six Eurovision votes given to the UK Saturday night. Give it a read. Thanks, John, for finding this article for me.]


Friday, 23 May 2008

"Under Pressure" - Queen and David Bowie, 1981

My first career was as an oil trader. It's been responsible for financial security in the future (well, we hope anyway...), a lot of wonderful friends all around the world, and -- although indirectly -- for my meeting and marrying John. My final day as an oil trader was on the 28th of June 2002. Now I teach other people about oil trading, hedging, how a refinery works, etc., etc.

I have both great memories and terrible memories of my trading days. Students often ask me if I miss it. I honestly can say that I don't as much as I thought I would. I miss being so incredibly connected to what's going on the world; John will tell you that I'm still a news junkie. I miss constant communications with trader friends. I miss the excitement of my former job, but only those times when I analyzed situations correctly and made money for the company as a result. Those times that I goofed up -- or just got unlucky -- are very forgettable. Some are more than forgettable. Some are the source of today's nightmares and stress-dreams.

All of this has been prompted by something I bumped into on the BBC's website yesterday afternoon. Of course coverage of the rapidly-rising price of oil is all over the news right now. So in reading an article here at work, I bumped into a BBC piece from last month called "What is it like being an oil trader?". It's not a bad article, really. It's a pretty good description of what I used to do with my days...apart from the fact that I tended to use phone calls much more than IMs to communicate with other traders.

So if oil trading was career number one and teaching about oil and oil trading is career number two, I'm wondering what I'm planning to do with myself next...when I've finally grown up.

Wishing all my UK and UK readers a great 3-day weekend...


Thursday, 22 May 2008

"(It's So) Easy to Slip" - Little Feat, 1972

I'll bet John Terry doesn't even know that song by Lowell George. But, sadly, it applies to what happened to him in Moscow last night.

For those of you know would like to read about Manchester United's victory over Chelsea last night, I'm linking the coverage from the BBC. Personally, I've seen and heard enough.

My Texan friend Bill will be happy to hear that his favorite Man U player, Ryan Giggs, is quite a hero in Manchester today. John and I wonder if last night's victory might trigger Giggs' retirement. We'll see.

Anyway, it wasn't the best ending to John's birthday -- which was otherwise a very good one. If a Chelsea victory would have been the icing on John's birthday cake, then I'm afraid (to paraphrase fellow Okie Jimmy Webb) that someone left John's cake out in the Russian rain.


PS (at 11:30am): As you'll see to the right, the creative jokesters are already hard at work over here...

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

"Birthday" - Beatles, 1968

Happy Birthday to my sweetie!

I won't embarrass you by telling the world which birthday this is for you. Let's just say that you're definitely old enough to remember the title song when it was originally released!

I hope that Chelsea give you the ultimate birthday present in Moscow tonight. (But I won't hold my breath...)

I love you, you know!


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

"Fly Like an Eagle" - Steve Miller Band, 1976

Thanks to an insert from one of the many CDs I brought home from our trip to the States, I've managed to liven up (a little) a very dull corner of the little office I share with Gavin...

We're waiting to find other fans of the Conchords here at work. So far, nobody has even noticed the addition to our wall. Sigh.


Monday, 19 May 2008

"Listen to the Music" - Doobie Brothers, 1972

I am so proud of John this evening! He's doing something tonight that will definitely prove to him that he's getting back to normal (after his complicated neck surgery, last January).

Go see his blog posting today about the Ting Tings, a band he "discovered" early this year while watching an episode of Jools Holland's TV show on the BBC.

It's just not like John to have such an immediate positive reaction to a song, as he did to the Ting Tings' "That's Not My Name". And I totally agreed...finding that I soundtrack that particular song all the time.

So he's off to see them at Oxford's Carling Academy tonight. No, I'm not joining him. I just don't feel well enough to go. Using the other ticket is my officemate Gavin, a guy who loves live music and knows the venue very well. I'm sure they'll really enjoy the gig.

Go see the Ting Tings on MySpace, and try to see them in person somewhere near you if you can. And their first CD has just been released today.

DEFINITELY our "band of the year" least so far!

Late addition: When looking on the NPR website for a particular podcast a few minutes ago, I discovered a great article about the Ting Tings there. As our favorite Den Bosch waiter would say, "Check it out!"


PS I should finally be able to go back to work tomorrow. It appears I picked up yet another nasty bug last week. (Guess I need another vacation....)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

"Picture Book" - Kinks, 1968

My lovely husband writes so much better than I do. So I'm going to refer to his blog entry for his description of our recent trip to the States.

Also in John's entry are links to all of his digital photos from the trip. Mine can be found on my own Smugmug pages, which I've linked into this sentence.

Sorry for my short entry -- I'm still not feeling very well this evening.


Saturday, 17 May 2008

"People" - Barbra Streisand, 1964 AND "Waggy Tail Dog" - Earl King, 1990

I had hoped to write more about our trip back to the States over the course of this past week, but I've been a little under the weather. As I'm feeling better this evening, and while John and I both assemble and post our trip photos to Smugmug, I thought I'd share with my readers the faces of the people (and the six doggies) we were so happy to spend time with while in the US.

Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized version.

New Mexico: Judge Boyle, who married us 2-1/2 years ago. This was taken in her office in the Otero County Courthouse, with photos of the couples she's married on the office wall behind us!

New Mexico: John and Aunt Blanche (on the front porch of my cousin Don's house)

New Mexico: L to R, Jane (holding Mitzi), my cousin Weldon (Jane's husband), John and me...after eating some of New Mexico's best green-chile cheeseburgers.

New Mexico: Teddy, Aunt Blanche's dog

New Mexico: Lady, my cousin Don's dog (who was staying at Aunt Blanche's house)

New Mexico: Aunt Blanche (R) with her friend Vange, in Aunt Blanche's kitchen

New Mexico: My brother Larry with his girlfriend Marcella

Texas: With my friend Krista. Isn't it cool that we blink simultaneously?

Texas: One of my all-time favorite families -- William, Brian, Melanie & Lee. (And there's a new baby due in October!)

Texas: And Winston completes the family above. (I'm convinced that Winston is my Mac reincarnated, by the way.)

Texas: My dear friend Claudia with one of her Westies. I think it's Emma????

Texas: Claudia's two Westies, Adelaide (R) and Emma.

Texas: Claudia, with grandchildren Anna Claire and Regan and daughter-in-law Amy.

Texas: Claudia's son Jay, with a model of his airplane, posing in his and Amy's new home.

But as much as I loved being around those we love, THIS is the guy whose company I enjoy the most! This is a self-portrait, taken at the Tunnel Vista on Highway 82, in New Mexico.

John and I will let everybody know when we've posted all of the vacation photos online.


Tuesday, 13 May 2008

"Back in the Saddle" - Aerosmith, 1976

We're back!

John and I got home from Heathrow about 4pm Sunday. We had a fabulous trip, but I'll have to wait until I have more time (and am less jetlagged) before writing more...and posting photos.

So, more to come! And I need to get caught up on all of my own regular blog reading, too...beginning with John's new entry from this morning and all of Gavin's entries over the past 2+ weeks.