Saturday, February 26, 2005

To Stratford... almost

As I blogged yesterday, I surprised Mary this morning by suggesting that we go to Stratford-Upon-Avon. We debated whether to drive the roughly 60 mile roundtrip or to take the train. We decided to drive to the Snow Hill train station and park the car and take the train. I used the internet to find out what time the train left for Stratford. We drove to the station and parked without much trouble. We arrived with about 8 minutes to spare, or so I thought. The train left at 11:27 and I thought it was going to be 11:37. The next one wasn't arriving for another hour. Not loving thought of waiting for an hour with a baby in tow, we decided just to look around and shop in the city center. Its nice, and busy like you'd expect in a major city. We spent a couple of hours walking and window-shopping, grabbed a bite to eat, and came back home. Not the historical day we'd planned, but fun nonetheless. And, though it is raining, it has not snowed today. There is alot in the forecast. Tuesday looks like a potential day for real accumulation.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Make it 5

Yes, that's right. We've had snow for 5 days straight. Today it was on and off again, and too warm to stick. Snow was not in the forecast, so I don't know what it thought it was doing. Yesterday I sloshed around in the wet stuff for a little over 8 miles. After 5 more miles today, it is tempting to complain. Riding in 35 degree weather while getting soaked and muddy is not what I had in mind when I remarked that I hoped to see lots of snow in England, but the kid in me still loves to see the white stuff (even if it doesn't get me out of school or work).

If the weather improves tomorrow, I hope to surprise Mary with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. So shhhhhhhh!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Just my style

As promised, a pic of the snow from this morning (in the Warley Woods near our house... woods means park) and pics of my hermeneutics class here and here. Two guys were missing, presumably because of the weather.

And I came across this today and almost laughed myself into next Arbor Day. I can't seem to find the citation, but will give credit when I do. Actually, it is 2 posts; one telling America that they are once again British territory, and the other America telling Britain it is now the 51st state (even though its obvious they were both written by Brit

Brits to the Americans

Dear US Citizens,

In the light of your failure to elect a human as President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.

Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up revocation; in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up aluminium. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour', skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters.

2. You will end your love affair with the letter 'Z'(pronounced 'zed' not zee') and the suffix ize will be replaced by the suffix' ise'. You will learn that the suffix 'burgh is pronounced 'burra' e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation.

3. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up vocabulary. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as like and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up interspersed;. There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won't have to use bad language as often. There is no such thing as US English;. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted totake account of the reinstated letter 'u' . You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to Cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents - Scottish dramas such as Taggart will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is Devon. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become shires; e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as Men Behaving Badly or Red Dwarf will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can't cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen;, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American football;. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American football; is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays American football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is adifficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host An event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world Beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called rounders which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous inpublic than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2th will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called Indecisive Day

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren't even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. From December 1st the UK will harmonise petrol (or Gasoline as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon - get used to it).

13. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns or lawyers. The fact that you need so many lawyers shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

14. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

15. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation

Americans to the Brits

An even funnier one....Suggestion: Before reading this one, better to read the previous post "Brits to Americans" first...

The Supreme Court of Florida has instructed me to post the followingto ensure strict balance in these turbulent times.


To the imperialist British colonizers,

In the light of your indecision over joining a common European Currency, your dissatisfaction with the European Union, your bickering with European Governments and the fact that you already almost speak our language and refuse to speak any other European languages, you are to be annexed as a State of America.Your state code will be GB. Zip codes will be assigned to replace your old postal districts. The state capital will be Stratford-upon-Avon which is a lot prettier than London. Princess Diana will be declared a saint. You have already assimilated so much American culture that you are unlikely to notice the transition.

To aid in the assimilation, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. Look up "aluminum" in any good American Dictionary. Check the spelling and pronunciation guide. We discovered it, we named it, you are mispronouncing it. Learn to live with it. You are, of course welcome to your idiosyncratic and illogical place-names such as Edinburgh, if you wanted it pronounced 'Eddinburra' you have spelled it that way in the first place. And as for Lye-cester... You will quit using words such as "fortnight". The correct term is "a two week period". You will learn words such as "credenza", "intern" and "chad".

2. There is no such thing as "UK English". UK English is the relic of a defunct colonialist power which attempted to impose British English linguistic superiority on a nation which has a higher number of English speakers.

3. Your film-makers should learn to distinguish the American and Canadian accents. American accents are not limited to redneck drawls or New York accents. Mainland Americans have more than enough accents to cope with in our own country, so all British dramas will now bear subtitles, especially those made in impenetrable dialects such as Scottish, Scouse or Geordie. To make life easier for mainland America, all British films and TV programs must use American vocabulary and accents; Scotch characters will wear plaid, Irish characters will have shamrocks on them, Welsh characters will not be used since we don't have Welsh Americans, and English characters will wear bowler hats and pinstripes.

4. The British film industry will no longer portray all Americans as cowboys, rednecks, trailer trash or Beverly Hills billionaires. Hollywood will continue to use "Mockney" and "Posh" British accents as this makes it easier for viewers to identify which characters are British. You can have Hugh Grant back. He's a lousy actor and we don't want him either. All British films will be made in Hollywood where the weather and scenery are better. Your film industry is already unable to make a halfway-decent film which doesn't contain a American in the starring role. All American characters should be 'good guys'.

5. You will learn your new national anthem "The Star Spangled Banner". It shall be sung every morning at kindergarten, high school, university and your places of work. Your Union Flag will be hung up any way we wish so stop whining about it being upside down. If there was meant to be a right way up you should have made it simpler. All Union flags will be replaced by the Stars and Stripes over a 12 month period of time.

6. You should stop playing soccer and rugby. There is no need to have two games, one of which is confusingly like Football and one of which is called football but patently isn't real football. If it doesn't require 45 pounds of padding, it isn't football. You should also stop playing cricket. Americans can't understand the rules. If you insist on playing this game which is only played by former British colonies, you will introduce a simplified scoring system, timeouts, colored strips and cheerleaders to make it more interesting. Any match which takes longer than 90 minutes will be declared a draw.

7. In films, as in real life, we decide who the bad guys are. The bad guys are those guys who don't do as we tell them. They are also the guys who attract the biggest audiences into movie theaters. You will cease using the word "cinema". They are "movie theaters". The snippets of forthcoming films are not "trailers" they are "teasers".

8. November 5th is no longer a day for fireworks. July 4th is the appropriate fireworks festival. If you want a big fireworks party on November 5th, we will help you to blow up your Houses of Parliament. You won't be needing them any longer; Disneyland London will be situated there. Hunting with packs of dogs is also banned. Instead, you will go hunting with a pick-up truck, some six-packs of beer, two coonhounds and enough guns and ammo to equip a private militia. There is also no such activity as "caravanning". It is properly called "camping". The thing boy scouts do with tents and bedrolls is called "tenting".

9. Roundabouts will be banned. What is the point of turning left in order to turn right? They are confusing to Americans and are death traps. You will start driving on the right with immediate effect. Most of the world drives on the right already. You will be allowed to turn right on a red light if safe to do so though you must check local county legislation as this is not permitted in all areas.

10. All inter-personal communications between family members, even if resident in the same house, must be through a lawyer. It is compulsory to sue somebody at least once per year - be inventive. It is compulsory to have therapy three times each week and to recover false memories of your childhood which allow you to sue your parents and/or your therapist. Therapy will take the place of speaking to family members. You will be given compulsory courses on how to become dysfunctional. Name your children with surnames or after interesting medical conditions.

11. You will not have guns. In the eyes of Mainland Americans you are wayward children. Children are not permitted to play with firearms unless they have a legitimate reason to do so, i.e. they plan to gun down the entire population of a small town (self-defense) or slaughter every living creature within a mile radius (hunting).

12. We'll tell you who killed JFK when you apologize for "Teletubbies".

Thank you for your time. You can now return to watching bad Australian soap operas.

PS: Regarding WW2: You're Welcome.

Thank you for your co-operation. You will be assimilated.

Make it 4

Woke up this morning to about an inch and a half to two inches of snow. In fact, it has been snowing all day. The trouble is that is it about 35 degrees now, so it is all melting and everything is wet, wet, wet. I'll have pics when I can blog from home (including pics of the students in my hermeneutics class).

I'm going to call a mechanic named Max in a little while, who has been referred to me as honest, cheap, and good (my three requirements... not necessarily in that order) to see if he thinks my car can be fixed for less than £100. My first estimate was £120 plus parts, which is hard to justify for a £170 vehicle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

3 days in a row

Today was our third day of snow in a row. Monday, as I posted earlier, saw a dusting. Tuesday morning was the best, with about an inch on the ground when we woke up. We tried to video it but somehow managed not to. Today saw yet more snow, with about half an inch or so on the ground when we awoke. It snowed pretty much all day, sometimes intensely, but the temperature was a few degrees above freezing so it didn't manage to stick. I'm hopeful for more tomorrow. Wait... let me take a peek outside to see if there is any... there appears to be a quarter inch or so on cars and bushes, but none on the roads. Apparently much of Europe felt this storm. I'll be sure to post more pics if more snow comes because I know that many in the Southeastern part of the U.S. are in the middle of quit a warm snap and have to experience winter vicariously through us or the news.

We're in the second half of my first term both as teacher and student. In many ways its going too fast. But in many others I want to be back home. Not that we have one, per se, but I still long for N Alabama and/or Middle Tennessee. I will not, however, wish our time here away simply because it will be an experience we will never be able to duplicate.

What is definitely going too fast is the clock tonight... its almost 10:30 and I haven't event typed up my outline for my hermeneutics class tomorrow - subject matter Social-Scientific Criticism and Hermenetics and Culture. I found a good lecture outline on the latter here.

Monday, February 21, 2005


It has finally come today. I stopped mentioning when the weatherman (uh... person) predicted snow here because thus far he'd been wrong and I'd been disappointed. The last I saw the snow was to come yesterday, but it waited until today. When I was riding my bike home it was snowing... but the kind of snow I'd never seen before. Kind of like little snow pellets. But it was not sleet. It was too light for that. It was something in between. I would call it "slow", but since that word is already taken, it was "sneet". The sneet came down hard for a few minutes, but eventually dissipated. And I was hoping to build a Sneetman or two.

It wasn't until a little after 5pm tonight that Mary looked out and saw the huge flakes. It is the second hardest snow I've ever been in (the hardest being during a drive through Virginia in March of 2000).

I took pictures. And you get the double pleasure of seeing the snow and MY PIECE OF JUNK CAR! Enjoy (pic #2).

Sunday, February 20, 2005

19% of all downloads

As you know, I like to sometimes get a little philosophical about the British-American relationship, which I will do after I mention 2 things:

1) Capes was right. Mary had her b'day. The trip to Italy counted as my gift. That, and the taxi we took home from the airport instead of riding the train/bus.

2) BK pointed out ties between the Italian town we visited, Aosta, and Valdosta, Georgia. It seems that former governor of Georgia, George Troup, had a plantation named after the Aosta valley in Italy (Val d'Aosta). But my attempts to find out WHY Troup picked that name were fruitless. This, by the way shows a couple of things: i) How great the internet is, 2) How much better it could be if publishers would allow their old books on the internet for free. The answer to why Troup chose the name is undoubtedly tucked away in some book in a library in Georgia, a book that has been read by three people and hasn't been checked out in 15 years. More libraries need to follow Google's cue. And, yes, that would make my research alot easier.

3) Now to the philosophical part. I chose the title of this post as it is because it shows the percentage of all illegally downloaded American TV shows in England. That's right, the English love our TV programs. Number two is not much of a surprise either... Australia. It seems our fellow English speakers can't wait a week to see the newest episode of 24 or CSI, so they download them immediately after they become available on the internet. The fact that the programs are better quality than most of the stuff they have in their countries, and the fact that they are in English is certainly the primary factor for their success. But there is something deeper underlying this trend.

Critics speak of American hegemony, and it exists in many ways. But the truth is that most of the influence of America on culture is soft hegemony... people in other countries like what they see and hear and adopt it. Unfortunately, often times they choose the worse parts of American culture (but thats the stuff of a future post). When I came to England, I did have fears of anti-Americanism, and as I posted before, I have certainly heard some. But, in general, the Brits (and Aussies for that matter) see themselves as more like America than any Western European country. That is a sweeping statement, but the longer I am here the more I believe it. As a result, much of American culture is simply swallowed here. No doubt in the past it went the other way around.

My fears that the Iraq war would make us a target for some undue comments (because we are Americans) were way off. It didn't occur to most Brits to hate America because of the war. Maybe they hate the Bush administration (this is no nearly as prevalent here as I'd imagined, either), but hating America would be unnatural. Sales in McDonald's and Gap weren't affected after the war started (as I've heard that they were in other European countries). In fact, I asked a British friend to name his top 5 favorite movies the other day, and they were all American. And the funny thing is, he'd never even thought about it. He just liked the movies. There are definitely exceptions to this kind of thinking here, but I think it is typical.

In summary, Britain is NOT little America, but she, on the whole, really likes her sister across the ocean. Smarter people than I have said these kinds of things, by the way.