Thursday 29 September 2011

New Toy!

So, I just spent a gargantuan amount of money on a new toy - a new bike to replace my disaster-prone old bike, which I am now going to sell. It's a Cannondale Bad Boy R SLX, which, besides having a really cool name, is actually a super zippy and fun bike. Robin, who also has a (now 3 year old) Cannondale, is salivating, and I can't wait to take it out on a long ride this weekend. Now-just need to clean up old bike, put it on E-Bay, and see how much money I can get out of it (as well as hope that this new bike isn't quite such a Calamity-Jane-Mobile as that which it replaces). Fingers crossed!

Sunday 25 September 2011


So, I went to the supermarket today, and noticed that they were selling rabbit in the meat aisle. Apparently it's bunny season. I thought, hey, why not, so brought home 300g of rabbit (about 1.5 lbs or so). Now I haven't the foggiest idea how to cook up rabbit, but, conveniently, this was already diced up into chunks, so I thought chunks means stir fry! Good God did it stink! I have this Jamaican spice thingie that says it's good on all meat, so I figured, hey, it's meat, so load it up (I wonder why I don't have a Michelin star?). Cooked some veggies to go with it. Finished cooking it and had a taste. Bleh! Quick, spaghetti sauce to the rescue! Safe to say, the bunnies of Great Britain will not be in any danger from me. Oh yeah, I also crunched down on a BB. I wonder if that's good luck or something? Fortunately, I still have all my teeth.

Anyway, I spent this weekend going from bike store to bike store, looking at bikes. What a pain in the behind that is. I've been to twelve stores so far and have yet to actually try a bike, though I'm going to a store tomorrow over lunch that, hopefully, has something that I want! I've had my current bike for 3 1/2 years. In that time I've broken three frames, and have replaced every single part on that bike (save for the cranks, the handlebars and the front derailleur) numerous times. The bike has just attracted bad luck. The latest thing to go wrong, and the final straw, came after I took my bike in b/c the back wheel was going all wonky. Turned out it had cracked in numerous places, which it shouldn't have done, given that it was less than a year old. So, the bike store said they would replace it under warranty. So far so good. However, the one they were supposed to get was back ordered until October, so they got something "just as good". Yeah. I pick up my bike, hoping to not be back there for a while (I am there very frequently), and two miles from the store, there is an almighty bang and my back tire blows right off the rim. Well, as it turns out, in red letters on the side of the rim, it says that the maximum pressure is 60psi. My tires are 120psi. Houston, we have a problem. I didn't read the rim when I left the bike store, as one assumes that they notice these sorts of things. That's it. It is time for a new bike - time to hit the fall sales and quit pouring money into this bike! They are going to be oh so pleased to see me again in the morning.

Last weekend, David and I went off to Brussels for the weekend, both to get out of London, and to see my friend Alex. We got up at the crap of dawn on Saturday (515) to get the train over there, and spent the next two days wandering about. Got back on the Sunday night. It was a nice time, and Brussels is actually a very interesting, and very beautiful city, but OMG I was so tired the whole thing seems a little bit like a blur, and I spent the entire time totally and completely lost. Ah, the stuff that memories are made of (or not, as it might be). And - the Sunday we were there was "car-free Sunday". In the entire city of Brussels (which is not a small city), the only motor powered vehicles allowed were busses, emergency vehicles, taxis and certain cars with permits. It was great! (Only happens once per year, apparently). I wish they would do that here, but my God, the police they would need to get that to work in London!

Pics tomorrow - it's too late now and I have to go make my lunch for tomorrow!

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Yeah, I'm afraid it's autumn...

The trees have that sort of end of summer strained look - like they really aren't entirely sure what to do - perhaps they've stayed around at the party too long? It's getting noticeably darker every day (this happens very quickly at 52 degrees north), the nights are getting a bit nippy and the quality of light is changing. Winter light here is very, well, very high in contrast, as the sun is so low, and there seems to be a particular sun angle where this suddenly starts to happen - it no longer looks summery. This is just now starting to happen. It's easy to forget that while it never actually gets very cold here (as attested to by the numerous palms and eucalyptus), winter is, actually, pretty long - just about as long as Minnesota. David came downstairs a few minutes ago in his big fluffy bathrobe and socks and said it might be time to think about getting a better thermostat, as it's just about time to put the radiators on. Sigh. Funny thing - the work radiators, as with, it seems, most of the official buildings, are turned on on a particular date, regardless of the weather. The result of this is that there are many days where the radiators are on, the air conditioners are on and the windows are open. Now that's government efficiency for you!

David's birthday was on the 11th - we went for pub dinner, which was very nice. We all managed to entirely avoid all the 911 festivities. While I would agree that is good and proper to have some sort of memorial service, I find just about every single that has happened as a result of that awful day entirely revolting and didn't want any part in any official hoopla. Anyway - deep breath...

Not much else exciting. Gotta get my rear wheel re-trued - it's getting all wonky again - like so many other things having to do with my rear. ;-)

The view of London this evening...

Saturday 10 September 2011

Dolly Rocks

Thirty years ago, in the back seat of the carpool car, on the way to third grade, I first heard "9 to 5". I had absolutely no idea what the song was about (in the same way that I thought "Let's get Physical" was about PE class). Not too sure why that song stuck so much, but it's always been one of my absolute favorite songs. I used to wake David up with the song in the morning (as loud as I could play it, of course), and, over the years, I've pretty much never heard a Dolly Parton song I didn't like. Last year, David and went to Dollywood, which, I have to say, was fabulous.

So, Thursday night we all finally went to a Dolly concert - my first ever. In fact, it was only the second concert of any sort I've ever been to. That woman - 65 years old - really knows how to put on a show. Not only can she get out there and belt it out, but my God, is there an instrument she can't play? Piano, dulcimer, harp, saxaphone, recorder, harmonica, guitar and banjo. We sat way up in the nosebleed section of the O2 Arena (the former Millenium Dome) - not even the cheap section either - $135 each, approximately, and we shared binoculars (though there were very large screens to watch as well). Anyway - yeah - I very much recommend a Dolly concert.

The funny thing is here, where there isn't really any sort of cowboy culture, I had no idea what to expect in the audience. I was not disappointed by the number of gay men - lots and lots and lots of them. It was mostly middle aged, slightly frumpy women though. Lots of married couples, lots of oldies. Not so many kids. And wow - talk about a good place to play "Spot the Ethnic Minority" - you've never seen such a bunch of white folks gathered in such a multi-ethnic city! Oh yeah - lots of pink and white fluffy cowboy hats, a few people in full-on Dolly outfits, and one guy in bad Dolly drag, singing "Jolene" in the Tube stop. It was fantastic.

Even lusher - it's amazing what spreading a bunch of chicken shit on flowers will do!

The view from Box Hill, about 25 miles south of London.

The O2 - where we saw Dolly.

Development along the Thames.

Yes, really - Dolly Parton is down there in all that light. I'm sure her aura overwhelmed my lens... ;-)

A bit of the Dolly crowd, after the concert...

Sunday 4 September 2011

Sunday Sunday!

So, Robin and David are blobbed out in front of the TV, watching French rugby. Now, I can understand watching rugby from purely aesthetic purposes - any sport where beefy men run around and grab each other's heinies is just fine with me (though, to be honest, I have no ideas about the rules, save for having to pass backwards, which is why they run while looking backwards, which I would find very difficult). Anyway though, Robin is actually cheering them on, getting involved in the sport. Eh? Was ist das feigned heterosexuality? I'm shocked and appalled, and not sure such filth should be allowed in this house.

Anyway, it's grey and shitty out today, which has inspired a lot of lethargy and inaction.

BTW, the French announcer keeps saying 'touche', which I find very funny.

So, I didn't get the job - 'lack of experience' - which is kind of funny, given that I thought the whole point of this job was to offer someone experience. I think it may have more to do with me arguing with members of this person's team, way back when he had a different role, but I can never prove that. So yeah, I'm disappointed and upset, but I've been working on a plan to really increase my GIS skills over the next short while, which I think might be more in my interest.

Went for a nice 61 mile bike ride yesterday - big loop. I find few things as therapeutic as a nice bike ride. Neither David nor Robin really understand that, which is fine - I'm more than happy to be out peddling my ass around on my own. (Hmm).

Funny things I've seen in the past two days:

1. Kid riding his bike through heavy London traffic while sitting backwards on the seat. (That is both very clver and very stupid - I certainly couldn't do it though).
2. Guy yesterday, clad in white lycra (eek!), roped onto two car tires, which he was pulling up a hill behind him. Either I was witnessing some sort of fun new religious rite, or he's a cross country skier. Note to self not to do that though.

Right - I've had enough 'touche' for the moment - think it's time to go shower and get on with my day. Yippy skippy!

Thursday 1 September 2011

Put on my purple suede shoes?

Well, I had my interview today. I managed not to pee on anyone’s shoes or shout loud obscenities, so I suppose that’s pretty good. Local government interviews are always long. First there was an hour long ‘technical test’, which was mostly about how much I could regurgitate from PRINCE2 or ITIL, with a few random techie questions thrown in just for fun. I was then given a presentation topic and an hour to prepare. Topic was about project managing an IT systems change in the Environmental Health department. I got to write stuff up on large pieces of paper with permanent markers. After an hour of doing that in a small, poorly ventilated room, I’m very surprised I had any brain cells left. Finally – presentation and fifty minutes of being grilled by two people. At least it wasn’t a panel interview, nor did the process take the entire day like the last time I did this. Apparently, it’s between me and one other person – I think we are both probably about equally qualified to do it, so we’ll see. Should know tomorrow. And despite my generally grumpy comments yesterday about not being interested, I am actually interested – I like studying processes behind things, and think I could probably apply that to an organization, as well as the natural environment. Plus, it would be an experience.

I actually had a new version last night of my barefoot dream (usually involving running around in a city with no shoes, and trying to get somewhere entirely random on public transport). Last night someone offered me a pair of purply/brown, suede Nikes (don’t question – it’s my dream). I asked them if they were actually running shoes, and they said that yes, they were. I decided that I would accept them, even though they looked odd, as I could see how they would get me to where I was going. Maybe that was prophetic? I suppose I’ll see!