Subscribe: From NC to UK
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade C rated
Language: English
back  bit  cold  day  don  good  home  kind  make  people  point  ray  stuff  thing  things  time  water  work   
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: From NC to UK

From NC to UK

Various updates, sometimes with pictures, about how things are going in the UK for Jen Parker and Ray Cook

Last Build Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:38:15 +0000


Sun, 17 Jan 2010 19:04:00 +0000

Egypt is... Wow...

Cairo is a cacophony of noise and sound and sights. Traffic is just amazing. There are lines for 3 lanes of traffic, yet you will see 5 rows of cars across... It's loud and the tourist sites are overwhelming with the hawkers but at the same time, it's beautiful. Poverty and wealth are crammed in next to one another. And the history... It's just beyond words. I WILL post pictures as soon as I can. But it probably won't be until I get back.

This IS the best birthday present possible.

Fri, 18 Dec 2009 17:11:00 +0000

So - I guess I did kind of not remember to keep this up after all... :-/

I've been back to see my family and back here to the UK again. It was really good to see the folks and I went to see Marcee too. I got to watch Auburn lose and NC State win in the Thanksgiving rivalry games. Got to see my brother and his family, up from Huntsville. I bought a bunch of stuff and just kind of relaxed. So, it was good.

Now... It's snowing here in Greenhithe. And I am on call this weekend AND on Christmas weekend... It's two weekends in a row because I thought it was preferable than being on call the day after the team's Christmas party.

I am liking my StudioXPS that I'd ordered and picked up back home, but I keep getting confused about where the " and @ should be. :-) (For those unfamiliar with the opposite... A UK Keyboard has the " above the 2 key, and a £ above the 3, US has @ above 2 and # above 3...

And I have decided that Win 7 doesn't exactly suck. But I want to right click on a folder and Search. I want to change to a theme that gives me the same damned toolbar that has ALWAYS been there. I want to do a couple other things that I can't do, but I can't remember what they are. Thank you cygwin for 1.7 so I can do a "find ./ -name blah" and/or a "grep -irl blah *".

Oh, well.... I will update again when I can...

Sat, 14 Nov 2009 10:07:00 +0000

So – I was awakened this morning by a 105 pound German Shepherd who has developed a fear of thunder and/or lightening... C'mon!! She spent most of her life, her formative years, in NC, where we have thunderstorms how often? The poor thing was so freaked out. Then it only got worse, we had a couple of lightening strikes nearby, then it started to hail. Then started actually trying to climb into the bed. Ray finally got her to calm down, and once the storm passed, she relaxed, sort of... High strung giant dogs can be not fun.

I tried to get a picture of the hail and stuff...
From Assorted UK Stuff

It's a bit difficult to make out, but if you look in the gutter at the slushie type ice, then on the ground near the dead flower pot... Not giant hail, golf ball sized hail or anything, but enough to be annoying.

Other interesting things...
We don't have grits here, but I do either 1) bring them back with me when I visit or 2) ask Mom and Dad to include them in care packages. So, I have grits. But grits require bacon, at least for me. And British bacon is not exactly... bacon. It's more like country ham but a bit less salt. It's not a bad food. But it's not bacon, either. So a couple weeks ago, we were in Sainsbury's because our ASDA was closed for renovations, and I discovered Oscar Mayer bacon! Actually shipped from Madison, WI to here via Spain, it seems, but still... It was real American bacon. Yum! Then eggs, and I had a perfect breakfast last Sunday. A friend from here who had an American girl friend at one point, who had made him southern biscuits lamented that I couldn't make those as well. I suppose I need to learn, as mine become these hard lumps of... ick.

Anyway I need to end this so we can get going – We have to go to the mall... We've got a couple of presents left... I've got something for Dad, but need to get something for Mom too...

Tue, 03 Nov 2009 08:10:00 +0000

Quick note: My "lesson of the day" from yesterday.

Ok - I make it sound like I learn something cool and worth commenting on every day... :-/

Anyway... So, I was plying my L3 team lead who is French with cookies in hopes of cheering him up. At the same time, we have our colleagues (never co-workers for some reason) from Romania here (thus the reason I'd made the cookies to start with). When one of the Romanians looked up and realised it was Vince, he started speaking to him in what sounded like pretty good French. (Alan, of course, turns to me and jokes, "What was that? Are they slagging us off?" which is even funnier as my French is worse than Alan's could possibly be.) Then Vince proceeds to explain that legionnaires, after 10 years of service to the Roman army, were given land. Norman Roman soldiers were given land in Romania. Thus, the Romanian language is actually a Latin language instead of the Slovak tongue you'd expect. And more so, it's closer to French than say, Italian or Spanish.

Cool, huh?

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 21:33:00 +0000

OK - So it's been ages since I've bothered to do a blog... April. Quite a bit has happened since then.We went back to the US for a week to refinance our house (woohoo! We saved 1.5% AND went from a 30 year to a 15 year, cutting about 7 years off and saving a ton of cash.) This was well worth the airfare and pet sitting fees.We went to Norway at the start of July, and did some kayaking and hiking. We visited Bergen and spent 3 days paddling the fjords and hiking about. This should have been peaceful, but of course...Then, my sister died at the end of July. This was really hard on everyone, especially my folks. I came home for that as well. It was a nightmare trip trying to get emergency travel back home. American Airlines were a bunch of dicks about this as well, and it really rather upset me. If you can't offer bereavement fares, then why demand that I get funeral home info and everything else and tell me it's going to still be $2000 a person? Luckily, our company let us use the company travel agency. Sure, we still had to pay for it, but it was a third of the price that we would have paid to anyone else.Anyway, a while after that, we went to the Cornish coast, and I have some lovely pictures. It was nice to be away, but even then, the same stressors of our everyday lives intrude. They never stop intruding.I've done a bit of mountain biking, went to Dirt Divas (which I would highly recommend to any women in the UK who want to hone their bike handling skills). Also, I went on a weekend mountain bike trip with Ray in the Lakes District, but only did a single day because I am in shit shape. Really, all it did was make me feel worse about what I don't feel capable of doing.I am working a hellish number of hours, and if I didn't have such a wonderful boss, I would probably walk right about now... The tension between various groups is unbelievable. The worst is dealing with my old team, and my old boss who is a second line manager now. She's still trying to make my life hell, but I have a good management team looking out for me. Among other things, she brought up a bit from when I was leaving her team, planning the move here. My "team lead" at that point had lied to her about a conversation that we'd had. When my manager at the time confronted me about it, I gave the only response I could, "You've already made your decision as to whom you will believe. You will believe her regardless, so there isn't any point in even attempting to defend myself." Or something along those lines. Really - My old manager was trying to get rid of me for whatever reasons she had. She was not going to believe me, no matter what, and confronting the person wouldn't have made a difference either. I have no evidence that I was telling the truth, or that the other person lied. At the time, I figured, "I am done with this, why bother fighting when I can't win." Though, it has always left me wondering what else she lied to our manager about regarding me, and in light of the fact that this has resurfaced, I have to wonder if I should have fought harder...Anyway, the short of it is that every single part of my life has been stressful, to one extent or another over the last few months, but that's life, right?On the positive side, I got a promotion, and the UK part of the company has decided to lift the pay freeze, so we will get pay raises this year, back dated to June (not a huge amount, a manager from another team has said - only 1-2% - but still, better than nothing, right?), and I will get a raise for my promotion, which will get back dated to July. And, the great thing about the UK is that, for some strange reason, band 8s and above get cars. I don't need a car, so, I will take the cash opt instead, and that also gets back dated to my promotion in July. So, yay - I feel less poor.I am looking forward to Thanksgiving because I am coming home to see my folks for 2 weeks. Mike and Norma and the kids will be there. Because of Sharon, Mom and Dad[...]

Mon, 13 Apr 2009 20:28:00 +0000

Really, this is a perfectly valid point...

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 10:15:00 +0000

So, both Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays here in the UK. At least for work it is, and I know that ASDA will be closed on Sunday, and probably Monday.... I don't care - I really just need a chance to relax a bit.

Anyway... You know what drives me nuts here in the UK? Mixer taps. Or rather, the fact that having a single faucet dispensing both hot and cold water at the same time is so rare that there has to be a special name for it... And it's poorly named because when you have a "mixer tap", as in the kitchen, you don't actually get "mixed" hot and cold water to get warm water - you get a stream of water that is hot on one side and cold on the other. The only time back home I can remember coming across someone's sink which had 2 faucets, one for hot water and one for cold, was my ex-boyfriend's Mom who lived in a really old house in Carrboro. I mean, built in like the 40's or 50's kind of old. But in the UK, this house we are living in is newer than my house back home. YET... The bathrooms have a hot water tap and a cold water tap. I don't understand how it could be THAT difficult to put in a normal type of Moen faucet that lets hot and cold water come out at the same time and be WARM water. There has to be something that I am missing... It can't be as simple as "it's always been this way, why change it".

Anyway... Going to fight my way through ASDA to stock up for this weekend.

Wed, 01 Apr 2009 18:13:00 +0000

I doubt that anyone has failed to hear by now that the G20 Summit is in London. It's one thing to peacefully protest, shout stupid slogans and regurgitated drivel, pretend to be self righteous, etc... (Because embracing expensive modern technology is anti-capitalist? Using a nylon tent – you do know that nylon is made from petroleum products? – in your fight against “big oil” is somehow ok?) But, then, people have to prove that they are nothing but idiots, spoiling for a fight, following mob rule... This poor moron can't even get the “Wunch of Bankers” joke right...

I AM a capitalist. I am not ashamed in the slightest of the fact that I enjoy my creature comforts. I miss my M5. I miss my real sized house. I miss the free cash I had when I lived in a country with a reasonable tax rate. I like stuff. I like techno-gadgets. I like being a capitalist. I will not apologize for it.

Do I have the slightest sympathy for the people who CHOSE to live the lives that they do? I am talking about those people who chose to be bike messengers or chose to be starving artists... If you have made a decision to do as little as you can, to rebel against everything and seek to destroy things that people have ACTUALLY WORKED HARD to achieve because you feel some injustice that has been done to by... who? The guy across from you on the train? Someone who worked harder than you? The government? Your parents? Some random god? Grow up. Get a fucking job. CONTRIBUTE to society! Stop whining and do something CONSTRUCTIVE!!!

Yes, I know people make bad choices. Yes, I know that bad things happen to good people. Yes, I know that life is unfair to a lot people. GET OVER IT. I've been through a lot of shit in my life. I made bad decisions, and good ones. Everyone has. Now, what you do at that point... THAT is what defines you as a person. Besides, these aren't the people I am complaining about...

Ok... End of my rant... I have nothing positive to say at this point. I don't understand the mindset. I can't understand it. And I am done trying.

Sun, 29 Mar 2009 17:06:00 +0000

OK - I know - I am horrible at keeping my blog up to date!

Anyway... Things are going pretty well. I am doing swimming lessons at the Dartford Council pool. This is the equivalent of the city pools in Fayetteville... So. Yuk. And the place isn't wonderfully maintained, so, like this past week the boiler wasn't working, so the pool was cold and there was no hot water for showers. But, on the other hand, the lessons are cheap enough and, being a kayaker, I really need to be a better swimmer. I've only had 2 of the 10 lessons so far, but, its already helped immensely. For one thing, I can actually get my head under water to swim. Hopefully, I will actually be able to get really good at this eventually.

The dogs and stuff... Dingo attacked Emma AGAIN... This time, Ray had just gone to drop me off at the train station in the morning. Just 15 minutes or so... And yet... So, we are getting a dog behavioralist in to work with her. They will evaluate them and see what we can do. As it is now, we keep them in different rooms every time we leave at all now. Or one of them goes in the car with us. We don't even let them in the back yard together and alone. But, rather than wait for the day when Dingo really does serious damage to Emma, we figured that maybe these folks can help us with her. It's odd, but Dingo is getting along fine with Abbie, and with Ed.

So, tomorrow is 7 years of being married to Ray... Wow.

Ummm. Not much else to say.

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 09:57:00 +0000

I am... ok

Not perfect, not terrible, but ok.

So, we got back to the UK ok. It was a bit problematic getting home, but we did. Then, Sunday morning, we went to A&E and after a few hours, I got the cast off and got an appointment with the "fracture clinic". (Nothing is broken, I am still confused about this!) But, then, Sunday afternoon, it started snowing. And it kept snowing. And Monday, there was a ton of it! And because they were so unable to cope with the snow, it seemed a good idea not to venture out to the hospital Monday morning. I had to reschedule the appointment, and the best the could do is the next Monday, a full week away, which is tomorrow. So, I will see how things are tomorrow, but honestly - I don't think it's that big of a deal. I am getting around ok, and it's not like I haven't torn up my knees before.

Hopefully, today, we can go to the Tri show at Sandown Park. It should be cool. And it would be nice to get out of the house.

That's about it for here... Oh- Except that I really want this mug:
CAD - Starbucks mug design @

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 01:05:00 +0000

Can't sleep... Again

So, we finally fly back home later today. It would have been a fun trip if I hadn't screwed up my knee. I've decided that Sunday, I am just going to the A&E and getting them to look at it along with the x-rays and medical report from Bulgaria. I am hoping that they will tell me it was all a misdiagnosis, and I don't have to wear any kind of cast. Even if it wasn't, and I have to wear something to immobilize the knee, I would hope that NHS is modern enough to have AirCasts so I can take the stupid thing off every now and then.

The worst part of the entire thing has been trying to get BUPA travel insurance to handle what they were supposed to handle. I have to have a “fit to fly” certificate and in order to get that, the docs have to either have payment in full or a guarantee of payment from the travel insurance company. Which makes sense. But, BUPA took forever to get anything done, and since I didn't get the fit-to-fly paperwork until last night, they didn't start processing it until this morning. I have called at least a dozen times, back to the UK, to talk to these idiots. And I get stupidity like, “It looks like they couldn't verify your insurance” (3 days after I first called them, and they never called me back to get more info so that they could) and “Oh, we will have this sorted in time for you to fly back in 2 days time.” No, you idiot, I fly out tomorrow. Because it took so long to get this straightened out, they couldn't book my extra seats on the Monarch flight I was supposed to be on. Instead, I have to EasyJet. Ok, maybe I am being petty, but it means no free meal. It means paying £1.50 for a 250ml Pepsi! Though Ray (despite currently snoring quite loudly) had to make the smart ass comment when he heard, “Hey, at least EasyJet paints the engines that bright orange, so when it falls off, they know who to return it to.” And this particular flight apparently never runs on time.

I hope the pups are doing well. We haven't heard from the pet sitters, but the cell signal doesn't always seem to work here.

Well, it's 3AM here in Pamporovo. I guess I will go back to tossing and turning.

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 08:22:00 +0000

Ok, so first time skiing. We got this really cool, very cheap trip from Crystal Ski, to here in Pamprovo, Bulgaria. It seemed like a good idea – it's mostly inclusive... the flights out and back, 6 days of beginner ski school, equipment rental, lift tickets, both breakfast and dinner, and a room with private shower and wc. Well – I know that I am not like Ray. Ray picks things up physically the way I pick things up intellectually. After the first day, I felt rather frustrated and kind of like I wasn't going to be able to get the hang of this... Of course, being me, I will not just quit and give up. Not only because I've already paid for this, but also because I can't just stop. It's just not me. I keep going until it's really stupid. And, once again, I've paid for it. I realized that I wasn't doing well, and I wanted to get private tuition. However, I dithered about the timing, and decided to see how I was doing at the end of the second day before actually doing it. Maybe that was my mistake. So... We are going down an easy slope – the one with the little pull lift at the bottom to get you back up – and one leg went one way, the other in the other direction, I went down, and I knew immediately that my knee was not well, and that I wouldn't be doing anything else for the rest of the day. It's not a big deal, I have crap knees, and I know that. So, ice, ibuprofen, and I should be good to go the next day. Except that the ski instructor really wanted me to see a doctor. So I did. I have a torn ligament and, of course, to limit my movement, my leg is now in a full, plaster, 10-ton cast. They don't have air casts like back home. Ok, it's not the most modern country. But they don't even have the resin casts? Ugh... This sucks. Really really really really sucks. I sent Ray out to ski today because at least he can have some fun. He really was managing to get the hang of it, so that's cool. I just hope he doesn't break something. That would make it very very difficult to get home. As it is, BUPA travel insurance is having to get me 3 seats on the plane so that I can keep my leg elevated. You aren't allowed to fly in a full leg cast otherwise, supposedly. Plus, the doc has to give me a “Fit for Travel” certificate or something. Oh, well. At least I tried. Now, going to go back to reading and being bored...

Mon, 19 Jan 2009 20:05:00 +0000

I know that I am a social retard. I know that I am so awkward, that I don't typically manage to get along very well in social situations. I am fairly cold and distant in groups. I don't tend to like people, I don't tend to trust people, and I don't make friends very often and I don't usually care that I have very, very few people that I am willing to call "friend". (There are 2 people, in the entire country of the UK whom I currently deem a friend, not counting Ray.) However, if I have reached out, and decided to that someone is a friend, then I guess I tend to be fairly blind and naïve about things surrounding them. OK - I know it's stupid, to let anyone get to me. The thing is, only someone I bothered to care about, only someone that I counted as a friend could get to me. She's so petty and stupid. It's all well and good for me to be arrogant, detached and cold about everything - I am the bigger person, I am in the right, I am more intelligent, I've never tried to screw her over, I have not lied to her... But she sat there making her snide little comments last Wednesday, all passive aggressive and condescending, with whomever was around, multiple times, feeling somehow superior, in her own way, and I sat there aloof and distant and pretending to not to hear, pretending to ignore her because it was beneath me... Yet small and petty and stupid and useless as she is, she has other idiots just like her for company, and all I have my arrogance, and that's it. I am all alone. And it just sucks. I am now really glad she is finally leaving after more than a year of saying she would, but its really screwed up to try to hurt someone's feelings. OK - to actually, purposely hurt my feelings is really completely screwed up and for what reason? And for the record – yes, you are a liar. Look, I don't even lie to cover my own ass. Do you think I would risk my good name, my integrity at WORK for your sake? Or anyone's sake? Realize though, while I will never lie FOR you, I would, for the sake of friendship, however, avoid pointing out to anyone else that you were lying – I would withhold the truth unless directly asked for it, and we all know how rarely that happens. Part of this frustration is that work is not just a job. It's my way of providing for my life, my future. I bust my ass, I work as hard as I do, I am driven to succeed because this is not just some temporary job. It's my career, and I don't need someone else who does see it as just something to do for now, just something to make enough money to get drunk, to screw that up for me. You can say whatever you want about being a free spirit and wanting to live for NOW! But what happens when you are old? Do you really think that everything will just happen to work out? I plan for my future. Just because you are too stupid, too lazy, too whatever, to do the same, why do you hold me in contempt? Enjoy your life – that is cool. If you don't want to think beyond the next time you get drunk, that is your business, and I honestly don't begrudge you anything for that. (Yeah, I might think you are an idiot, but, as long as it doesn't impact me, I have no problem with people doing whatever they choose.) However, don't screw up my career, with your contemptuous arrogance that anything as big as the corporation we work for is beneath you because it's soulless or some stupidity like that. Your belief that you are entitled to screw over the company for everything you can just because it screwed you over is some vague imaginary way? Yeah, it's a load of crap. It is completely and utterly bullshit that you have told yourself to make YOU feel better about being who and what you are. Why do you work where you do? It's because you[...]

Sun, 11 Jan 2009 09:25:00 +0000

My brain just won't shut down. I am having the most awful time sleeping again… The result is that I overanalyse things. "I should have done that," or "That was stupid" kind of thoughts percolate through my head all night. (After I get bored factoring the time on the alarm clock. Look! I am not the only person in the world who does it!) The worst one right now is from when I got sick this last time. By the time we got home from the boat party, I was in an indescribable amount of pain, and, of course, running a fever. Finally, after taking some Tylenol and ibuprofen, for the pain and the fever, the last thought before falling asleep, was "I wish I'd kissed him." It keeps playing through my head – was it a moment of absolutely clarity, some secret understanding that I was denying to myself, or was it a fevered, nonsensical thought? It would be ok if I could just sleep and not be bombarded with random thoughts playing through my head, but… I am to the point that I am just zombie-like. I am so tired that very little is making sense. And, unlike Ray, I never get up and do anything – I just lay there, tossing and turning. I am always worried that if I do get up and do something, I won't ever go to sleep. At least in bed, I should be able to get myself into some kind of state resembling sleep. Eventually, I drift off, then wake up, then drift off… I am trying to get more exercise, riding on the trainer, and running on the treadmill and some yoga stuff, but that has yet to make me sleep any more than normal either. On the bright side – I am at my lowest weight in years, and I have even had to buy a new coat as my old one swallowed me whole. My should-be-skin-tight lycra Sugoi cycling shorts are too big for the first time since I bought them.

Fri, 09 Jan 2009 21:08:00 +0000

I don't necessarily mean to be lawful good. A guy I work with always says, "Chaotic good is more fun," but, it's too ingrained in me to be anything other. There are those folks who scam and scrape their way through life… I can think of too many that I know personally, in various ways, and they all annoy the crap out of me. I become less and less tolerant of these folks, the vast majority of the world, every single day.

I feel more and more strongly that I am only entitled to what I earn, thus WHY should you be entitled to more? Why should you get to sit on your perfectly healthy backside and take my tax money to watch day time television? (Yes, I am perpetuating a stereotype here, but I am actually related to one who fulfills the stereotype completely.) Or why should someone else be allowed to hold a job making as much as, or more than, I do, and yet, not do a quarter of the work I do? (And, yeah, I've learned not to ask that question out loud as it would make your manager look bad enough to decide you are not someone she wants working for her.)

So, the net result is that I always end up doing what is right because it's what is fair. I won't not buy a train ticket, just because I am pissed off at the fare increases, because, even if there are other people who don't pay, that isn't justification for me not to pay.

And there are people who lie like they breathe. You never know if they are telling the truth, even if there is no reason for them to lie...

And, then, the other day at work, we were discussing the arduous task of moving house. This guy had moved, but just down the street, so he didn't anticipate needing to get any equipment to help him move… He tried to steal a shopping cart, but in the UK, most are equipped with some kind of device to keep the carts from disappearing. So, he got to a certain point in trying to leave the perimeter of the store, and a strong magnet caused a brake to come down, and the cart could no longer be used. He didn't realize that would happen, and was baffled when it did. Of course, I started explaining that it was magnetic, etc, and a co-worker jumped in to clarify "You should have lifted it up over the line." I realized that they both thought I knew about this because I made a habit of stealing shopping trolleys, instead of what really happened: I saw the signs at Tesco, and I wanted to know what the method was they were using to actually stop the cart from working past a certain point, so I googled the brand name. (Not that they would actually acknowledge my explanation. I guess it makes them feel justified to believe that I was stealing shopping carts in my spare time.)

Look. These are people who work with me. They make as much money as I do, maybe more. These are SINGLE people who are only supporting themselves, not a husband, 3 dogs and a cat. (We try desperately to keep all of Ray's earnings in the US, so we live almost entirely off my paltry UK salary.) They should have tons of cash to spare to rent a trolley to move. It's easier to cheat and do what is wrong rather than the alternative, which I would have chosen.

And the worst part is: I am vaguely bitter and pissed off about this. Not enough to actually even argue futilely with them about why it's wrong. (They don't care. They don't believe it hurts anything.) But it's still there - that niggling little annoyance.

Wed, 07 Jan 2009 16:26:00 +0000

Installing SuSE on my vm system… So, I decided to write this to kill some time.

I got a credit card "offer" in the mail yesterday from Capital One, UK. They "offered" a 34.9% interest rate!! Omigod! I know that, being fairly new to this country, I don't exactly have real credit rating. They apparently don't have caps here as they have an option for a card that charges 59.99%. (Because that .01% is going to make a world of difference.) I would say, "How can anyone be so stupid to apply for one of these cards?" But I already know the answer.

Speaking of which… I had this awful dream the other night – It was one of those where you wake up, and you are trying to do whatever it was you were doing in the dream. In this case, I was yelling at Sharon. I had spoke to my parents earlier in the day, and Mom had said something like "Sharon is going to make us her chicken salad." So, in the dream, Sharon had poisoned them so they would die, and she would get their insurance money. Of course, when I tell Ray this upon waking, his only comment was that, considering her hygiene, she really wouldn't have to resort to poison. Just feeding them may put them both in the hospital with some disease.

So – The weather. It sucks. It is cold. Like, really cold. We've had some snow last few days. And the cul-de-sac where we live is basically just a frozen sheet of ice. Everyone keeps telling me that they can't remember it ever being so cold here…

Oh, well. My install still isn't done, but, I have some other stuff I can get done.

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 21:55:00 +0000

So... Assorted news thingies. I HAVE to make comments.

I am watching the France 24 news about Israel's invasion of Gaza... I have to say – I really cannot say Israel is wrong. They were attacked, they have to take action to protect their people... Its terrible that they have had to use ground troops and are fighting in this fashion, but it is justified.

The other thing is the financial situation in the US. And yeah, Obama is basically rehashing the New Deal. A co-worker claims that this is Keynesian and I should disagree with it because I agree with Smith's economic view of things. I really have to say that I rather resent that. I hate labels. Does it matter which camp the views fall into? If it gets the country moving again economically... Social Darwanism isn't something I necessarily disagree with (I won't say that I AGREE with it 100% either) but, let's be honest, it won't actually make our economy suddenly start working. Be reasonable about it! I am not going to espouse views that aren't economically feasible at this point. Ideals only work in an ideal world. You could say that just because Henry Ford was a racist, that his ideas should all be ignored. You have to pick and choose the best parts of the varying ideas and theories that exist to make something coherent and useful.

Though, one good thing about the economic downturn is that everything is on sale. Zaavi is going into Administration, which is bankruptcy here. So, we picked up a bunch of movies pretty cheap. Like, we got all of the Monty Python stuff – the movies, the series, the Hollywood Bowl, literally EVERYTHING – for £30. Plus other stuff.

Anyway – I am going to bed now. I've not been sleeping very well, and I have to work tomorrow, so... 'Night.

Fri, 26 Dec 2008 23:08:00 +0000

So, we caught up on Torchwood season 2. You know, science fiction is one thing. I think I've complained about this before, and now I remember why I didn't watch it while it was on... Jeez. It doesn't take a lot for accuracy. Or just believability. Come on!. Dr Who is for kids, so the details of how a nuclear power plant works isn't really relevant. But Torchwood is for adults. Look - You don't have to be detailed. If you don't have perfectly accurate, it can be black box. But don't just make random crap up for the sake of drama. People cannot be that stupid! It's not possible for an adult to believe the crap they made up. It's ALMOST as bad as “Up and to the left”. GAHHHH! I guess it's just a question of how much disbelief you expect me to suspend...

Thu, 25 Dec 2008 20:06:00 +0000

So, at least I am feeling a bit better today. We didn't do much – just sat around and caught up on Torchwood episodes. We were going to go to Tracey's for Christmas Lunch, but, I didn't want to get anyone sick. Instead, Ray had to cook dinner. We had ham and mashed potatoes and sprouts, but Ray forgot to put the sprouts on, so it was just ham and mashed potatoes. :-) And a Reeses Whipps Candy Bar that Mom sent for dessert.

And Ray got me the coolest thing! A DeLonghi espresso machine! Yay!!

And well, that's about it. Happy Sundry Holidays.

Wed, 24 Dec 2008 12:17:00 +0000

So... Christmas Eve, if you celebrate that kind of thing. And if you do: Merry Christmas!Long time, no post, I know... Same story as usual: I was really busy. Things have been hectic at work for me. I had a ton of administrivia to work on beyond my normal stuff. That's what kills you. We've also had a bunch of work things going on. We had a paintball thingy on the 9th at some place in Canary Wharf. That was actually a lot of fun – I ended up really bruised, but it was great. Then, we had the big party, organized by dev, at Dogget's Coat and Badge again this year. We got the entire 4th floor to ourselves and a really big bar tab, and a number of folks from my team showed up. As I get older, I realize that, for me, drinking is kind of silly. I rarely ever drink now – I guess its been since we stopped hanging out with the Anderson bros – but the few times I have, it has occurred to me: I metabolize alcohol rather quickly. So, since it was pretty much an open bar, I had 4 of these Kopparberg Pear Ciders. (Have to provide a link because this is really my favorite alcoholic beverage EVER!!) Now, considering that I don't typically drink, thus have low tolerance, and that I have lost a considerable amount of weight over the last year or so, I really should have been completely drunk. A lot worse off than I was, at least. I reached a point of “Hey, I am buzzed, but I still need to be able to make my way home without falling over,” so, I drank a couple pints of water. Within another hour, I was half way sober. So, I had a final and 5th cider before leaving. The next morning, I woke up, perfectly normal, as usual, with no hangover. It was cool, since I wasn't actually paying for the alcohol, but, I am still not sure of the point. Anyway...Then, just us L2 folks had our own party on a boat, again, just like last year. And it was fun this year too, though after that is when I started getting sick. Since Ray rode his bike out to Southbank, after we got off the boat, we had to return to collect his gear. As we started heading off, I realized I was feeling a bit crappy, kind of tired. We get to the station, and between Ray's need for organizing his gear in a specific way, and my slowness because I wasn't feeling quite well, we'd missed the train and, had to wait nearly another hour for the last train. By that point, I started shivering, with the chills. Yeah, I knew then I was getting sick. An interminable train ride later, complete with a shoving match between a couple where the woman was trying to leave the abusive boyfriend, and we get to Greenhithe for me to discover that someone had messed with my bike. They broke my front light, taking the actual front part of it off. They tried to steal the seat, but couldn't that all the way off, either. They also let air out of one of my tires. Why? Just because the kids here are little shits with nothing better to do with their time. If they'd stolen something, it would have pissed me off, but at least theft has a goal. Random destruction of a bike just because it was there... Granted – this is the bike Ray got off Ebay for me for £40 because we assumed it had a chance of being stolen or damaged when I took it to the station, but still... So, it took us another 20 minutes of getting things together to get the hell out of there. By the time we got home, every joint in my body, every muscle, everything hurt in an indescribably painful fashion. Yeah – gotta love the flu. Since then, I've pretty much stayed in bed, running a fev[...]

Sun, 30 Nov 2008 10:38:00 +0000

We went to see “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”. It was quintessential Kevin Smith. It was funny and bawdy and offensive and wonderful. It was rated 18 here, which means that it is not a porno (which is 18-R and can only be sold in a licensed sex shop), but you must be 18 or older to attend. (And I am sure that they are as fastidious at stopping kids under 18 from entering a movie as they are about keeping under 18's from buying alcohol.) Anyway – I loved the movie! It made me laugh my ass off. Especially hearing MC Chris in there. Woo!

It's been a couple of weeks now, using my Dell with Ubuntu. I am still mostly happy about it. The only complaint, and this holds true with all laptops, except ThinkPads... I can't deal with the damned touch pad thingy. I always use the TrackPoint, and never learned how to type avoiding the touch pad. I am typing along and suddenly, I am at the start of a line or in a different window... Really, that annoys me. But, hey, really, it isn't bad otherwise. I even moved all of my financial stuff over here. I was doing everything in Excel, but OpenOffice has very nicely converted everything and it works great. I had some trouble talking to Dad in Skype, but honestly, I was having the exact same problem when I was running Skype on my Vista 64 system. It may be Dad's Skype that is wonky. But once I got the sound setup correctly - I had to actually enable the mic port in the OS – it worked great! I could see Dad's video, and I could see my own video. I will play around and see if we can get this working better.

Anyway... I am going to run now. It's a dreary, Sunday morning, but we need to get some stuff done around here.

Sun, 23 Nov 2008 08:20:00 +0000

Oooh! Cool! It's snowing and my gmail BusStop thingy shows a snowman... hehehe

Sat, 22 Nov 2008 21:46:00 +0000

I need to update my blog a lot more often...

So, I got really upset with the HP 2133 Mini Note... Quite simply, I wanted to get an activation code for SLED... I could not get it from HP. I argued, I yelled, I gave up. I took the laptop back to Curry's. They typically don't take back anything if it's been opened. I guess there is too much fraud. But – They called HP, and they were trying to talk to the tech support guys about it to see if HP would take it back... The manager is talking to them, and they are communicating, right up to the point he says “It's a 2133 Mini Note”. Suddenly, the guy at HP couldn't hear him at all and hung up on him. So, the manager of Curry's got pissed off and just decided to give us an exchange. So, I said “Screw it” and I got a Dell Inspiron 1318. It was preloaded with Windows, AND it came with handy preload CDs and everything, so if you toast your load, you don't have to beg for reload CDs or anything, you already have them. However, I have now wiped it and loaded Ubuntu on here. And it ROCKS! There were no problems, or gotchas. I just loaded it, and poof! Everything just worked! So, I am very happy with it. It works great! It isn't quite as small as I wanted, but, you know what, that is ok. It is a very cool laptop and I am quite happy with it! (And I am using it right now.)

So, we went to Leeds Castle today. It was really interesting... Ok, well, it was pretty interesting. The grounds were pretty. And there were tons of ducks. And geese. And swans. Ray suggests that I actually start figuring out what kind of birds I am taking pictures of, so instead of being “a goose that isn't a Canadian goose”, I can actually be a bit more specific.

Ray is currently watching “The Truth Behind the Moon Landings”... I am really surprised at the idiocy these folks spout forth. I am beginning to understand though – These folks want to feel special, like “I know something no one else knows!” How stupid people can be.

Anyway... Gonna go now...

Fri, 31 Oct 2008 00:30:00 +0000

Yay! I get to go home. Or at least, back to the UK. Really, Rome is a beautiful place - but the constant protests and demonstrations the entire time I've been here... Besides, I miss my pups, and Ray and stuff. Since we've moved, I've been away more than I've been home.

I am actually writing a blog now cause, well, I am awake. Its after 0130, and I can't get to sleep. I had a nasty headache earlier, so I took headache stuff and laid down, hoping it would go away. It did, but now I can't sleep. Oh, well.

I just realized that I don't have a lot to say at the moment. There's a ton of stuff going through my head, but it's a bit disorganized up there, and more than I want to share. :-)

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 11:20:00 +0000

So, here I am... Still in Rome. I am waiting for stuff to finish, and can't actually do ANYTHING until then...

I was asked to stay another week. It was cheaper for me to stay here over the weekend, in the hotel, getting my per diem, and having my laundry done (~£300 all together) rather than flying back, which would require me to take a taxi back to Heathrow on Monday morning (>£500). Plus – Even if I was somewhere with nothing to see or do, I would rather stay through the weekend because travelling back is more stress than it's worth. I would lose half a day Friday afternoon to leave and catch my plane, and half a day Monday morning, because of travelling in. Plus, to catch that Monday morning plane, I have to be book a taxi at 0430, which means I have to be up at like 0300 so I can do all of the normal morning activities required for me to get ready for work. My crit sit manager thought it odd that I shouldn't want to come home to see Ray for the weekend. But, really, it's far less relaxing and far more stressful for me to travel back. So, no.

But, it was sort of a valid point, so I checked and it was only like £250 to fly Ray out here. So, I did. Now, I still got to spend the weekend with Ray, Emma got to spend the weekend with dachsies at the pet sitter's house and I got to not be stressed out. It worked out for the best.

Among other things, we saw the Coliseum and the Palatine with Augustus' house. It was really neat. I have a ton of pictures. In fact, I filled up mu 4GB card with them. As usual – I will upload them eventually. Which so far has meant "never"... But, seriously, I really will this time.

It was a bit crap earlier in the week... I've been fighting something off for the last month or so. I get better, I get worse. I take sudafed and tylenol and get a little better. A couple of days later, I get a bit worse. Hopefully, I am actually over it now.

Last night was an absolute mess, though. It rained and poured like I've only seen back home. Warm rain, in buckets. Like we get from tropical storms. I got hit by a wave of water, which soaked through my jeans. I was wearing a rain coat, but I was still drenched to the bone. But its gorgeous and sunny today, so yay. Even though, I don't really get to enjoy it.

Anyway, I think we will go off to lunch while waiting for this stuff to finish doing what its doing...