Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Cheerio Incident

Helen, ponderous before eating cheerios
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Easier said than done
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Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Birthday QE5

I wasn't able to be here for Charles and Camilla's big day, but yesterday was the 79th Queen's birthday. Here is a news story listing some of her best quotes. Of course, my favorite was:
"We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time and the manner of yielding what is impossible to keep."

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And, when monkeys are seriously considered for police work, we can safely say that the prophecies in the "Planet of the Apes" have begun to come true.

And my sleep schedule is really messed up.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The tale of JT

My brother-in-law, Jim, received the following letter from Mary and me yesterday just before we left.

This is the story of JT (Jim’s Toothbrush)
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One morning JT awoke in a strange and disturbing place.
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His day seemed to be getting better after a quick trip to the toilet
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Until the family baby put him in a secret hiding place
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He made a quick dash outside but...
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he was attacked by some slimy critters
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He tried on a disguise
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but it turned out to be a bad idea...
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a very bad idea...
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a very, very bad idea...
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Because he understood that he was powerless against such beasts, he decided to make friends by rubbing their undersides… among other places.
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Thankfully, he was able to return to his normal home and continue his normal life the next morning.

Okay, Okay.... we used a lookalike toothbrush. But imagine how he felt when he first read this, postdated April 18th, time for him to have used his toothbrush for 2 days.

Oh yes, and I'm blogging this from England. More later

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Top 10

We're tying up all the loose ends before we leave. It was nice to see that my university's theology dept. made the top 10 in Britain -- probably because of the quality of its international graduate students.

UPDATE: I fixed the link to the right page... but Dan Majerle is impressive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Before we leave...

I need to satisfy some of the peeps.

First of all, to my doctoral supervisor, the most influential scholar I know, the unabashed ABBA fan-- my math was correct. Petrol here is 29p per litre. As little as two years ago it was more like 22p per litre. Just one of the many reasons we Americans have way too many cars.

And to mollify Capes, I include two pictures of Helen from her afternoon nap yesterday afternoon. I had to do some monkeying with the brightness and such so it is not too high quality. Notice the leg lodged between the rails:

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Look for pics of the prank on Thursday.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

I've decided to hit the blogging again two days before we return to our little abode at Clifford Rd, Bearwood, Smethwick, B67 5HJ, UK. We've had a great time visiting with family and friends all over Tennessee and Alabama. I'll do a quick roundup and then offer some of my faux wisdom.

We've been to Moulton on three seperate occasions. Once for a simple overnight family visit, another for the First Annual Chicken and Egg Festival (I hear they had over 10,000 people!) and worship time with my home congregation, and once to finalize the income tax forms. Mary came apart from me this past weekend to attend a friend's graduation ceremony. Yeah Beka!

I've been to Murfreesboro, our future place of residence, quite a few times. Last Saturday the student center had its Annual Fund Raising Roast Beef Dinner. Around 250 were in attendance and we raised over $15,000 after paying expenses! It was great to see old friends from Winchester there. Mary, Helen and I were introduced again at the dinner, and then again on Sunday morning at our new church, the North Boulevard Church of Christ. I've never been part of such a huge church.... around 1500 people on Sunday mornings!!... and it will take some adjusting to get used to the fact that I'll probably never know every member there. Tonight we three will return to Murfreesboro for a cookout devo on campus designed to welcome us into town. People here are being really good to us. And, in all honesty, we've had similar experiences in Auburn, Winchester, and Moulton. I know lots of ministers who've had bad partings from their former churches... we're extremely thankful to God for the relationships he's given us over the past 8 years we've been in ministry.

We've been to church with Mary's folks on several occasions here in Columbia at the West 7th St Church. They are "in between" preachers so we've heard lessons from various members and visitors. BTW, they've hired a guy from Cullman, Alabama. Is it just me or are these Tennessee churches increasingly dependent on the Yellowhammer State for decent spiritual guidance?

What I've spent my time here doing: resting, reading, brushing up on Greek vocabulary, running, fishing, driving two-lane roads, playing with Helen, watching Napoleon Dynamite with Mary's dad and brother, and catching up on our two favorite TV shows which my dad so kindly Tivo'd for us, Alias and Lost. We're about halfway through March on the shows.

Now on to "ask your friendly know-it-all". I've got put in a blurb about gas... I mean petrol... prices here. The night we landed in Nashville I noticed that the typical price for a gallon of gas was $2.17 per gallon. When we went to Moulton two days later we filled up for $2.03 a gallon. Prices went up 6-10 cents over the next two weeks, but have since gone down to 4 cents in most places because of the sliding price of oil. FWIW, I remember filling up for 78 cents a gallon outside of Atlanta in my early college years (1994 I think). Rather than offer the typical moaning about the high prices, I'll offer three strains of thought on the subject.

1) When we left the UK, most gas was around 82 pence per liter. There are 3.8 liters in an American gallon, so that comes to 3 pounds 12 pence per Am. gallon. To compare prices, we can use the current exchange rate of around $1.90 per pound, which placed UK gas prices at $5.92 per gallon. However, exchange rates don't allows reflect purchasing power, so it might be lest to use $1.50 per pound, the average rate in the 1990's and early 2000's. That comes to $4.68 per gallon. We saw comparable prices in Italy, too. And for my British friends, to give you an idea of American gas prices, we pay roughly 29 pence per liter... ask your grandparents what it was like when they paid those prices.

2) As much as I hate to admit it, the best chance of the U.S. ever becoming less reliant on foreign oil markets (and fossil fuels altogether) is for the energy which we get from them to become so expensive that we seriously seek other fuel sources. The government can encourage this but cannot make us change our habits. Which leads to...

3) I have to admit that higher prices hasn't caused a noticeable change in the way we consume gas. Here's my list of ways to save at least 10% on your gas consumption right now:

  • slow down - I've been driving slower lately and can tell the difference... but I can't say that most drivers around me aren't still putting the pedal to the metal
  • turn the A/C down or off... you probably don't need it as much as a you think
  • buy a lower grade gas... with all respect to certain respected family members, I've never been able to tell a difference in gas mileage between the grades. And spare me the argument that the more expensive stuff is better for the car long-term... my 1991 Accord has 237k miles and has never sniffed anything about 87 grade
  • don't go into the gas station and buy anything... my average tank must cost less now than it did a year ago because I won't let myself go in and pay over $1 for a coke or some other overpriced bit of refreshment. Now I either take it with me or do without.
  • coast down the hills if you have a 5 speed
  • if you have a truck, let the tailgate down
  • next time, look up the gas mileage info on a car before you buy it... the Stricklands will do so before we ever make a car purchase again. FWIW, our 3 vehicles get an average of about 26 mpg. Accord gets 28, pickup 27, and Maxima 25. Ours are much uglier than the pictures!

You're probably getting used to me typing it, but I promise not to blog about this again!

And tune in later tomorrow for a blog on a special prank Mary and I are undertaking before we leave!!!