Thursday, January 27, 2005

Still waiting...

Just got a call from Mary telling me that our debit cards still haven't arrived, which means no internet at home at least until February. Its enough to make a man blog.

I've noticed another peculiar inconsistency that makes for some irony. In America, we send "mail". In the UK, its "post". We both take our mail/post to the "Post Office" (so it would seem that the Brits are right, but wait) ... in America, the "mail" is delivered by the U.S. "Post"al Service, whereas in the UK the "post" is delivered by, drumroll please........... Royal "Mail". So in the US the Post delivers the mail and in the UK the Mail delivers the post.

And, for those interested, go with the Safeway 19 pence cola... its much better than Sainesbury's.

Mary and I plan on going somewhere in the Birmingham area tomorrow and having some fun. But what to do when you have no vehicle and a 7-month old baby? We'll see...

And did you see the story earlier this month on Stanley and his boys?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


For some reason, yesterday's post appeared 4 times in my blog. Capes pointed it out, and I deleted the other 3. I hope this doesn't become a problem.

We still haven't received our debit cards. Sigh. More waiting for the internet at home. Sigh.

I was happy to learn (as those from County will be) that the expression where one states a day of the week followed by the word "week" is still alive and well here. For example: Today John Hull told me to put something in his appointment book on Friday week. I stopped him and made sure I understood. I did. My heart was warmed because his was and is the convention in Lawrence County and pretty much all over the rural south. I'm not sure about other places. Its so much better than "next Friday" because that phrase can be ambiguous. So long live "(Insert Day Here) Week"!

I was also excited to find out that the absolute cheapest cola in the world, found at Safeway's in the UK, is diet, i.e. no calories. Those who know me well know that I drink lots of diet "cokes" (lower-case "c"). Its the Bettabuy brand at Safeway, and it costs 19 pence for 2 liters (The Brits say 19p for 2 litres). Even with the skewed exhange rate, that's about 35 cents for a 2 liter. Its not the best tasting but that never stopped me before. The big supermarket here, Sainsbury's also has a 19p cola which I have yet to try.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Coldest Day Yet

Its cold here, but not quite as cold as it is in N Al and Mid Tenn. They got down into the teens on Sunday night (or so I'm told).

It snowed quite a bit here on Saturday, but was not cold enough to stick. In fact, it is very rare for snow to accumulate to depths over an inch here. It appears that England's island status keeps it climate mild, chilly but mild. I'm going to be real mad if they have snow in Moulton before we get snow here.

We expect our debit cars to arrive today, which will allow us to sign up for internet service at home. Let's hope...

I discovered today that a ubiquitous brand of car here, Vauxhall, is actually owned by GM. Chalk another one up to the yanks. What is annoying is that they don't sell many of the models in the States. My friend John Moxon gave me a ride to the Uni today from BCC and we rode in his Vauxhall. I can't recall the exact model, but it is smaller than a minivan (and better looking), and it gets 35MPG! And it has 3 rows and a high roof. Mary so wants a vehicle with 3 rows whenever we get rid of the Maxima. I wish this Vauxhall model were available in America.

I had an interesting conversation about the English alphabet with my students today. I was curious to know if they learned the song "A,B,C, D... Y and Z, now I've said...". They did know it. Some of them learned it as "Y and Zed" and others "Y and Z". The most interesting thing is that the kids learn the phonemes of the letters in order over here before they get the letter names in order. So they know "Ahh, Buh, Ceh..." in order. My student Jon noticed the difference having grown up watching Sesame Street.

We also discussed the word "toboggan" and its usage. I asked them if they knew the word, and they said it referred to a "sleigh", or sled. I told them that, in the South, it has the meaning of a stretchy winter cap. I happened to have one in my coat, so I showed them, and they laughed. I can't find anything on the origin of this Southern peculiarity, but I did find this humorous article which I've pasted below:

Please don't put a sled on your head
Consider the following e-mail of interest that I received this week:
"Dear Bob,
As a transplanted, retired Yankee (moved from Michigan in 1999) I really enjoy reading your column. I enjoy living in Asheboro and enjoy Southern terminology and accent. However, how in the world did the South ever come up with toboggan as a hat or cap? There is only one definition of toboggan and it is a long, narrow runner-less sled. I would love to hear an explanation of this?" The e-mail was from Richard Najera, who I talked to on the phone later and who turned out to be a really swell guy.
* * *
First, I checked to see if there was any recent scientific data on why we Southerners call a certain kind of cap a "toboggan." I couldn't find any - scientific data, that is - although maybe I can get a research grant to study it. Anyway, just as Richard Najera suggested, the only definition I could find for "toboggan" is "a long flat-bottomed light sled made, usually, of thin boards curved up at one end with, usually, handrails at the sides." Which doesn't sound much like a hat. But which also doesn't stop local folks from telling their kids to "put on your toboggan before you go 'cause it's really cold outside."
* * *
While we're looking into that, let's first address a sorta related subject. Which is that, when we are out riding a toboggan (sled), we do indeed usually wear a hat. A cold weather knit cap, in fact.
Which, as we've already established, is not really a toboggan. Even if we call it that. So, what is that little hat called, then? One answer came from a Canadian acquaintance of mine who tells me that such little knit caps do, indeed, have a name. At least in French, they do. A cold weather knit hat usually worn while out on a toboggan is a toque. Yes, a toque. Which, in English, I guess, would be pronounced "tuke."
* * *
Which gets me absolutely no closer to why we Southerners think a toboggan is a hat. Well ... probably not ... but maybe there is this one thing that might explain it. Perhaps the toboggan/hat quandary is my fault. Or at least I'm to blame for getting it started. Because I do seem to remember one winter back in 1958 when I was age 12 and with a bunch of local kids, who one snowy day, went sledding over on the Worth Street hill. Which is really steep. And, of course, we Southern (as opposed to Northern) kids don't know beans about riding sleds (i.e., toboggans.) So most of us crashed our sleds well before making it to the bottom of the Worth Street hill. Including me.
* * *
Yes, I seem to remember taking a really bad spill that day. And ending up in a crumpled heap. Up to my ears in a snow bank on the side of Worth Street. With my sled on top of my head. And, come to think of it, I do seem to recall at least one passerby pointing my way exclaiming, "Nice toboggan!" He was complimenting my sled, of course. Problem was, I thought he was talking about my toque.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

I got better

I am getting back into the swing or regularly blogging. Just got back from church. This time it was 1 hour to get there, 1 hour to get back. We have to change buses once, but probably almost half that time is spent waiting for buses. But anything is better than last week's 2 hour marathon getting there. In other news:

It turns out that Tim. B is both a Brit and a Kiwi (and a welcome reader, of course). He might have to set me straight on a few things.

I was excited to find out that I will actually be able to watch at least one of the NFL playoff games from today. It scheduled to come on here after midnight on Tuesday (which is, technically, Wednesday), but I don't know if it will be the NFC or AFC championship. I am planning to stay up.

Having mentioned the word "schedule", its interesting to note that I've heard alot of Brits say it like "shedule", whereas us yanks prefer "skedule". My gut feeling is that THEY are saying it wrong. Of course, the German word for English is Englisch and its sounds pretty much like English. I think that the Brits (at least the ones I've heard) are at least inconsistent because they don't pronounce the word scheme as "sheme", but like we do -- "skeme". A quick check at confirms 2 things. 1) The Brits do say "shedule" and 2) the word originally come from the Greek "skidha". Here's what it says:

Meaning from Merriam Webster - sched·ule - Pronunciation: 'ske-jül especially British 'she-dyül Function: noun1 a : a list or statement of supplementary details appended to another document b : a formal list, table, catalog, or inventory2 : a plan that indicates the time and sequence of each element —schedule transitive verb

Etymology from American Heritage - [Middle English sedule, slip of parchment or paper, note, from Old French cedule, from Late Latin schedula, diminutive of scheda, variant of Latin scida, papyrus strip, from Greek skhida, skhed; perhaps akin to skhizein, to split. See schizo-.]

See for yourself.

I also suprise myself by the small amount of attention I've given the inauguration. I didn't see it on TV though it was on over here. I was at work. It amazes me that I spent so much mental energy anguishing over the election and now I barely even keep up with American politics. Probably a good thing.