Saturday, March 26, 2005

Cadbury World

I took Mary's mom and dad to Cadbury World today. They had a good time and brought back mucho chocolato. I had to work on my sermon for Easter tomorrow and Mary and Helen were still ill. For supper we had a delightful meal at a nearby pan-Asian/Indian restaurant oddly named "Martin's Place". One of the owners was our waiter, and when he deduced that Dr. Robinson was an MD he was sure to get plenty of free medical advice. He got some advice on high-protein foods from Mary, too. I sat and smiled. He did give us some free coffee and offered to personally deliver food to our home sometime if we just call and place an order.

This reminds me that I forgot to post about our delectable dinner on Wednesday night only a few blocks from our house. I took the in-laws to Casa Italia for the best outside-of-Italy Italian food I've ever had. Props to my friend Lewis for the suggesting it.

Our preacher just called up and reminded me that "daylight savings time" begins tonight. I wasn't aware that they had such a thing over here and, further, I wouldn't have anticipated it a week before our American one. We'll see if the change affects church attendance.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Save the Wales

My in-laws and I went to Wolverhampton and over into Welshpool (Wales) yesterday afternoon. We went to Wolverhampton to get a copy of an old family marriage certificate, which the family actually already has. When we discovered that we could not get a photocopy, just a handwritten one, we thought our trip was in vain UNTIL we saw St. Peter's Church on the oldest piece of land in Wolverhampton (since the formation of the community). The church was built in 1425 on land given by the patroness Wulfruna (picture of her statue here) in 994 A.D. The Wolver part of Wolverhampton comes from her name. One of the wonderful things about being here is that one can stumble upon history like this. Almost every region has a church/building/monument/story like this that goes back hundreds, nay thousands, of years.

Welshpool was not disappointing either. The drive into Wales was georgeous. The weather was pleasant, and the landscape picturesque -- picture the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee x 2 with lush green pastures and neat fence rows (and no briars, weeds, or kudzu!). Because of the slow growth of greenery there, pastures look almost manicured. We stopped at the visitor center in Welshpool and found bookd for sale listing burials and baptisms. While we didn't find reference to Dr. Robinson's ancestor, Mary Waring (Warren when she married in England), we did find several Warings listed who were almostly certainly her kin. We bought one of the books and then drove to nearby Powis Castle, which we viewed only from the outside but were impressed by. The farm there has sheep (ewe's had numbers spray painted on their sides and their lambs had the corresponding numbers painted on them, too!) and tiny native deer.

The entire trip took about 7 hours, which was 30 minutes longer than it should have taken except for the fact that I got us lost a couple of times... even did a good re-enactiment of the famous European vacation scene... "Look kids, big ben, parliament."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Mary went with her dad this morning and came back with Muesli cereal... another reason not to take Willie Robinson with you when you shop. I took the (O')Robinsons to the city centre today, specifically to the Bullring. Mary had to stay home with Helen who has yet to shake her cold. Breaks my heart to hear her cough. I pray she gets better soon... and I will not rest well until she does. On the upside, its nice to literally have a doctor in the house. The highlight of the afternoon for me was a traditional English tea time near the canalside with my in-laws.

Mary, her dad and I went out to eat at Old House at Home. We tried Balti for the first time... good... very "Indian".... but certainly worth another go. We concluded our evening with coffee and deep discussion. I don't know what the ladies were talking about, but the men were discussing whether the Western Classics (including Greek and Roman) should be taught in American public schools; Dr. Robinson being for, me being against. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have had those things, but, practically, I don't think they are as important as many claim. Oddly, I think BK would have been on Dr. R's side because he bemoans (as often I do) how lacking his K-12 education was. I think the majority of people who care about that stuff are hyper-educated, like we three (and it is supposed to be "we", not "us"). Needless to say, the point is moot because it ain't gonna happen.

Now for rapid fire:

1) Anytime anyone has nice things to say about me in a blog, I have to give props and 15 bonus points on an essay grade. But Jon, remember that, in America, its not Lew's name that is used to refer to the water closet...

2) What do I say about our dinner with the 5 Koreans and an Irishmen? The boys, 12 and 10, were bored but polite. The parents, Cha (my student) and Yaeshin, were extremely complementary of us and America. Their two-year-old, Esther, was a doll. Rodney, another student, is an experienced missionary with an understanding of America and and great sense of humor and a lovely Irish twang. They all seemed to like the chili, except for the boys who opted for the pizza (of course).

3) Nice to see comments from J-Dog and Fat Gorilla. Finally found a way rouse y'all, huh?

4) For Jenny P., to listen to UA games go to and click on listen live.

5) Its Cadbury Museum tomorrow along with pick-up-the-rental-car-time tomorrow afternoon. Oh,the sheer bliss it will be to change gears with no difficulty, to achieve 60+ mph, to have at least some confidence that we will reach desired destinations. Cars are great... gas is bad.

6) In honor or our coming to MTSU soon, they decided to have Bill Cosby come. Y'all shouldn't have.

7) One last pointless rave. We need a decent plural "you" in English. We used to have one -- "ye" -- a la King James Version. That form died, but now we are one of the few modern languages without a plural second-person noun. As conservatives debate whether or not to translate biblical passages as "Brethren" (archaic), "Brothers" (literal but too specific) and "Brothers and sisters" (too much "filling in the gaps"), a strange thing is happening to modern English -- "you guys" is becoming the informal plural "you". This is no good. First of all, it uses the masculine to refer to a mixed gender crowd (which is the opposite of the rest of the English evolution). Second, we Southerners already have a perfectly suitable form -- "y'all", or "yall" for convenience. It suffices. And many of us have a dislike for the yankee "you guys" even though it is more and more common in the South. I became convinced of our need to resist when I noticed many Brits using this phrase!! Now that is too much American TV!! So, let us put away our silly games and agree upon a proper term. I think we can do that, don't y'all?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Greeks bearing Gifts

The Robinsons arrived today at around 10 am with many goodies... including Mountain Dew. Mary's dad accompanied me to Queen's College and had a look around Edgbaston while I worked for a couple of hours. We walked all the way home (approx. 3 miles), got some fish and chips near our house, and proceeded to consume more grease than should be legal. We plan to have some fun at the city centre tomorrow. Will blog it...

Taught my last "Gospel of John" class today... feel like I know enough about it now to teach it.

I forgot to blog on American sports logos last Thursday. Over the past 2 1/2 months, I have seen 396 New York Yankees caps/shirts (not Yankees fans mind you, just folks who know the NY stands for New York and like it), one Atlanta Braves cap, and a University of Tennessee T-shirt. The UT shirt was worn by a Queen's College student, a woman studying to become an Anglican vicar. I asked her if she liked UT, and she said that she loved Memphis, and the States in general, having returned from a 1-month stay in November. This surprised me mostly because she appeared to be a lesbian. Now, I'll admit that she never said as much, but she seemed to hint at it, and she "looked the part" (though this is certainly debatable). But she made it clear that she'd prefer to live in the States. Could it be because American Anglicans (Episcopalians) allow homosexual clergy while the Church of England does not? I have no idea and admit that I am speculating in ignorance. But, if I am right, her love of Tennessee is particularly ironic.

Now to less controversial issues... I'm now third in my NCAA "pick 'em" pool. I am optimistic on my chances of winning. I picked 10 of the sweet 16. The number one slot is occupied by one C. Smith, who picked 11 of the sweet 16. No. 2 is going downhill slowly, so I'll probably be contending soon. BK has a decent shot according to his potential points remaining, but he only picked 8 of the sweet 16.

J-Dog criticized by pick against UAB. Now that they have finally succumbed, let me lay out 5 reasons to always pick against the Blazers.
1) The UAB football program exists to suck a couple of decent in-state players away from AU and UA, thus diminishing the title hopes of either. For example, I don't doubt that UAB had one defensive back good enough to replace Will Herring. This DB would have had more sense than to bite on the fake reverses UT used to keep the SEC championship game interesting. With its blow out win, AU would have made a decent argument for playing USC.

2) Their fan base is 278 people... oh wait, 277... one just died.

3) One of the 10 lamest mascots in college sports. Its a dragon, not a blazer. This is a blazer.

4) I got a parking ticket from campus police, which I ignored.

5) My favorite Birmingham football team is Aston Villa.