Thursday, November 30, 2006

Polonium 210

Andrew Sullivan had a link to this blog about the poisoning of Litvinenko on his website. The whole sequence of events surrounding the poisoning of Litvinenko and Polonium 210 is a bit scary. Brad DeLong explores the possibilities.

One of the more disturbing segments:

"The point is, someone with access to fresh Polonium 210 (read: less than a year old, hot from the reactor) decided to use it to bump off an enemy."

London - 29 Jan 06

29 January 2006, Sunday

The London Dungeon was a waste of ₤5. Wow! It was a museum that tried to scare me, it failed, and it also failed to teach me that much as well. For dinner a group of us went to La Porchetta on Muswell Hill. I don’t know if I like that place very much.

I had a 50 minute conversation with Kate last night…Awesome! She sounded great. Afterward I watched some of Mars Attacks! Then I went to bed. It was one of those movies that a previous student had left in my room.

The Chinese New Year celebration in London was today. There was sort of a lame parade followed by a walk through a very crowded China Town. I left the pack and went to the Imperial War Museum. It was amazing. I by far spent the majority of my time in the Holocaust exhibit. I read nearly everything on the walls and like always it was so hard to fathom the cruelty of humans, and it is impossible to imagine the suffering of the Jews. I always get so pissed off at 20th century Germans when I think of the Holocaust, or when I am presented with information about it.

The organ recital at St. Paul’s tonight left me speechless. I definitely enjoyed it more than the Abbey. They seat you right under the dome and the organ blasts away. The ceiling of the dome is something to spend hours looking at. Incredible!

There are some good looking women in London, but regardless of someone else’s good looks, the highlight, and a great end to everyday, is looking at my picture of Kate when I get back to Muswell Hill. I brought my favorite picture of her. It was taken at the Grand Lux in Chicago on Michigan Avenue. She is the definition of beauty. Shock is still an overwhelming feeling in my soul when I am reminded that she is my girlfriend, and that she loves me.

Okay. The design and layout of most of London is quite ridiculous. It shows no plan, purpose, or usefulness. The only square blocks in all of London, and there aren’t that many, are called squares, and they are designated park space. Funny. You can’t even give directions in blocks as a specific distance because there are no two blocks in London that are the same width.

Tomorrow is a tour of the British Museum with Bob. I also have a few errands to run and some homework…surprising, I know.

One last thing, this is no exaggeration, Central Presbyterian Church could fit under the dome of St. Paul’s and not touch any surface of St. Paul’s except the floor. Central’s bell tower wouldn’t even come close to entering into the arc of the dome.

I was shocked at how crappy the London Dungeon was. This attraction makes it into every London guidebook. I don’t know why. There was a huge line for it. Luckily, since I went in a group we skipped it. I have a quick story about this place though. The employees at the dungeon are in character the whole time. They sometimes sort of break character to talk to someone directly in the audience. When we were led to a room in the dungeon, which was set up as a court room, some people from the audience were “forced” to take the stand. The guy playing judge would ask, “What country are you from?” “Why are you in the UK?” He would then read to them the court’s charge against them. He would then follow the charge up with a verdict. Well, there was a German up there first, and then a Brit, and then a third took the stand.

“And where are you from?” The judge asked.
“The US.”
“GUILTY as charged.” It was great.

The organ at St. Paul’s has over 7,000 pipes. I was a regular on Sunday evenings. Later on in the semester they started seating guests in the choir stalls for the recitals. The organ is right above the choir stalls so you got an earful. If you ever are in London on a Sunday evening, do it.

The Imperial War Museum and nearly all museums and galleries in London have no admission price. Patrons are encouraged to donate, but everything is free. There used to be a charge for most of them. London dropped the entry fees and attendance doubled. If that is what it takes to get the masses to art, exhibits, and museums, I am all for this policy being brought to the US.

The Chinese New Year parade had a bunch of white girls in it. It was weird.

Bob led a lot of tours throughout the semester. You didn’t have to go on them. You didn’t have to go on any of the daytrips either, but I went on all of them. The man is a genius. I am convinced he knows absolutely everything about London and most there is to know about the surrounding countryside. Stud.

Both of the pictures are of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A day after...

I arrived in London, a City lawyer was stabbed and died just yards from his home in northwest London. This murder dominated the headlines for my first days in the UK. His killers, aged 19 and 18, were sentenced to life at the Old Bailey today.

In tomorrow's Guardian there is an impact statement from the victim's fiancee. It is devastatingly sad, but I read it anyway, and am amazed at the ability of those that have suffered the unimaginable to move on through such an experience. You can read at your own discretion, but I wouldn't have put this up here if I didn't think it was worth reading. Go here.

London - 28 Jan 06

28 January 06

This has been my longest gap (3 days) between entries. I apologize to myself, when in the future; I will read this and ponder the things that slipped my mind in those three days that will never be recorded in here. They may never be remembered.

All righty…Wednesday night was the AIFS welcome party at the Old Explorer off of the Oxford Circus station. It was entertaining and the price of beer wasn’t that bad, but what was even better, free food. My group didn’t win a British trivia game, we finished second. I took off relatively early to call Kate and to get some sleep before my first full workday at MOM’s Books.

MOM’s Books is an intriguing place. First, there are no men in this publishing house, okay so maybe there are a few, but none in the room I work in. Second, MOM’s publishes books on Churchill to books for children to hot and horny sex cheques. Third, everyone I work with is young. I did some spreadsheet work, technical stuff, filing, and research for a book they are putting together. I regret to say the research wasn’t for a new volume of sex cheques.

After the workday (work traditionally ends at 5:30 in the UK), we all went out for a pint because we fancied it, yes we did. We went to a pub called The Oak in Clapham, South London. The Oak was smoke filled by the end of the night…disgusting. I drank a Stella and a broadside, my first warm beer, but room temperature isn’t warm.

Today has been a long day. I didn’t sleep for too long before I had to wake for a trip to Stratford. The Shakespearian history was much more interesting to me than an analysis of his literature. There were many low doorways in Stratford that I should have crawled through. We saw all that we could in a few hours: Shakespeare’s house, Holy Trinity Church – where he was baptized and buried, and Anne Hathaway’s cottage. I took another load of pictures. I did snap a shot of the church knocker because it is from the 15th or 16th Century. Back then when someone was caught in the act they could book it to the church and grab the knocker. If they managed to do this before the authorities caught them they were granted 40 days housing and dining with the church. The church staff would, during those 40 days, try to bargain with the law enforcement for a deal.

Didn’t do much tonight. I am excited to sleep in tomorrow. It’s 1 am here and 6 pm back home.

MOM’s Books proved to be an avenue into British culture and life that I cherished. I made some good friends and I was sad to leave them. The workers there were the nicest people that treated me as a regular employee. Another bonus, as hard as I would try, I couldn’t get one of them to allow me to buy my own drink or a drink for them. I spent a number of nights in pubs with them and I cherish them still. I celebrated my 23rd birthday with employees of MOM’s Books at Clapham North. They bought me pint after pint. They even sang happy birthday to me.

I included a couple of links in this blog to a picture of the Old Explorer and a picture of Holy Trinity Church upon-Avon.

St. Paul's in the Blitz

"Daily Mail photographer, Herbert Mason, took this photograph from the roof of the Daily Mail offices in Fleet Street. An image of the front page of the Daily Mail for Tuesday 31 December 1940 is available from the Museum of London, captioned "War's Greatest Picture"."

- Wikipedia

London - 24 Jan 06

24 January 2006

Today was the day I saw Patrick Stewart. I was at MOM’s Books a little early so I went into a Sainsbury’s to get some gum. I was walking out of the store and glanced up at the man walking in. I did a double take. It was Patrick Stewart. He had a hat on and the collar popped on a leather jacket. I asked the people at MOM’s Books what was up with that and apparently there is a rehearsal stage nearby. Crazy.

Anyway, at work I helped with some research for a book on senior moments. I found some pretty funny jokes about growing old and whatnot. I am due back on Thursday at 9:30 am and I will be doing something different this time. It will take a couple of weeks to see if I am really going to enjoy this.

The Tube was very packed today on the way home from work because of the Arsenal game. It was insane.

Tomorrow is the welcome reception at a pub for all the AIFS students. That should be alright. In the morning I am taking a tour of the Abbey for a religious studies course. It will cost ₤10 though!

I just called Kate and left a message on her phone about seeing Stewart. I had to tell somebody other than writing it in this journal.

Oh! I got a haircut at Mr. Toppers tonight. ₤6 with a ₤1 tip. That is a good deal. That is less than $14 back home. The hair looks pretty good too.

I didn’t say anything to Patrick Stewart. He looked a little nervous when he looked at me, like he had been caught. After I thought about it some more I was really glad I didn’t say, “Hey, aren’t you Professor X?” I bet he enjoys not being seen.

When heading into town on the Piccadilly line I would get on Finsbury Park. The next closest stop is Arsenal. So, heading home that day was the tightest Tube ride I ever experienced. I was unintentionally touching many strangers.

The Abbey only cost ₤6, but that is still ten dollars and I took the tour twice. The Abbey is an amazing building with enough history to fill volumes. King Edward I, the mean English king in Braveheart, actually has one of the prime coffin sites around the coffin of Edward the Confessor. King Edward I’s coffin is plain and ugly compared to the rest of them because he didn’t want an ornate one before England conquered Scotland. His desire was to have his coffin moved to Scotland and decorated there. England never conquered Scotland. Mel Gibson fought off the English hordes and Robert the Bruce beat some English arse. So, poor old Edward had to rot away in the Abbey instead.

The hair was much too short after the cut, but I couldn’t complain. A haircut for roughly $12 in the city of London was a downright miracle. Mr. Toppers on Tottenham Court Road in Bloomsbury, check it out sometime.

Monday, November 27, 2006

London - 23 Jan 06

23 January 2006

I got the blog thing figured out today. It is going to work quite nicely. The blog is After my one class this morning I had a lot of time online to read emails, and time enough to write a blog.

Afterwards I wasted ₤2.40 on a sandwich at Subway that barely put a dent in my hunger. Not to worry, my roommate and I came back and cooked spaghetti. To feed both of us a mountain of spaghetti cost less than ₤2. You can’t complain about that. It was awkward cooking in someone else’s kitchen though. I had to stop by a Boots tonight to pick up shampoo and q-tips. I wanted to clean the ears.

I have to confess to being homesick tonight for absolutely anything familiar, but especially Kate, friends, or my parents. I am glad this is not a full length semester. Twelve weeks is pretty long. I really don’t know how Guy did it at UW. I am very thankful he did though. I feel like crying, but I cannot cry. I feel like laughing, but even if I could it wouldn’t be genuine. I have experienced the first of some homesickness that I suspect will not be the last. British TV sucks. I can’t remember if I put that down in here yet. Ha! I did write that at the end of yesterday’s entry. Oh well, a second time makes it more dramatic.

That day was the only time I went to Subway in the UK. I don’t go to it here because it is awful. I don’t know why I thought it might be any different across the pond.

It is tempting to edit out pointless reports about what I bought at Boots, but the mundane tasks can’t always be forgotten. I wanted to remember what a Boots was, and maybe writing it down was necessary for that to happen.

My homesickness didn’t get any worse. The first two weeks were probably the hardest over there. It took some time to get used to everything, because everything was different. But really, from the day I got to London I started falling in love with the UK, and when it was time to leave I never wanted to. I wanted to see my girlfriend, friends, and family. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take 7 million Londoners home with me.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

London - 22 Jan 06

22 January 2006

Notes I scribbled down in a McDonalds off of Trafalgar Square…New diet: take a two week trip to London and don’t spend any more money on food here than you would back home in the States. This would guarantee a weight loss of 10 lbs. As an American in the UK I am happy every once in a while to see a familiar menu, even if it is at McDonalds, but they are everywhere here and I find that to be sad. Starbucks and McDonalds seem to be the largest contemporary American contribution to the UK. I would definitely be willing to sacrifice this little slice of Americana if the British didn’t like it, and I have a hunch that a sizable group of them do not enjoy the plentitude of golden arches in their city.

Also, British people never talk amongst themselves. You can ask me to just live with that and tell me that is the way it is, but that doesn’t change it from being a silly way to go about one’s day. They are so obsessed with privacy. Privacy, privacy, and privacy!

Today I took a stroll through the National Gallery. The place is huge. I did quickly see all the highlight paintings. I also walked down to Parliament to take some pictures. The organ recital at the Abbey was awesome. It was at 5:45 and there is a service immediately afterwards. I will go to it some Sunday in the future.

Americans are absolutely spoiled with television and I had no idea really. British TV sucks. I like the news, but other than that the only thing that is going to get me watching is a familiar movie from the U.S. of A.

I lost some weight once I got to the UK. I don’t know where I lost it from because I wasn’t a portly 6’9”, but I lost it. Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and KFC don’t seem to be the largest contemporary American contribution to London, they are. The same day I wrote this in my journal I stopped into a Waterstone’s and scanned the bestseller rack. A book titled, Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: The Encyclopedia of Everyday Annoyances, caught my eye. One of the first annoyances I read about was the plethora of McDonalds in the UK.

I made a gross stereotype in this entry. British people do talk amongst themselves. It is Londoners that don’t talk to strangers. If you even say hi, nod your head, or give a hint of a smile Londoners think you are a nutter. They are somewhat justified in their phobia because there are many mad people in London, but it makes for one cold ride on the bus or Tube.

From now on when I write about the “Abbey”, I mean Westminster Abbey.

I ended up loving British TV. There are some good shows on. I enjoyed Top Gear, any televised football rivalry, and a lot of Channel 4 documentaries. When you buy a TV in the UK you pay a licensing fee to the BBC. Thus, there are no commercials on the BBC. That was nice. There are two incredibly popular British soaps. Someone told me you either grow up watching Coronation Street or EastEnders in Britain. I didn’t catch any Coronation Street, but I did watch EastEnders a few times. I never watched it enough to know what the hell was going on. It is a soap, so I never got into it. I didn’t mean to imply that I enjoy American television by pointing out that we are spoiled by it. I meant to say that American television does have one thing going for it, variety, something of which I didn’t have while I was over there because I had four channels on this small, ghetto TV in my room. It was all good though, I didn’t go to the UK to watch TV.

Friday, November 24, 2006

London - 21 Jan 06 # 2

21 January 06

Later on the same day… After I wrote earlier I got up and walked a bit further toward Kensington Palace and came to Long Pond. I called Mom and Dad from the pond. We had a good conversation. I walked by Harrods and went in for a little bit. The place is ridiculous. Many shops, products, people, much money, and slow walkers…I didn’t last long. There are countless Ferraris, Bentleys, Rolls’, and other expensive cars in Kensington.

I headed back to Leicester Square for more falafel and a slice of pizza. I was tired of walking so I took the Piccadilly home from Leicester. I stopped off at Tesco and picked up milk, Pringles, an ice cream bar, and a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch. I hope to go to Westminster Abbey at 5 tomorrow for the organ recital. Prior to that I might run if it is not too cold, but it’s supposed to be. On another note, a whale that swam up the Thames died today after an attempted rescue. Bummer.

A conversation with Kate was a great end to the day. It’s sad to report that Angus (a dog) has cancer and he will only live a couple more months. I am sad for Kate’s family because they love their dogs. Angus is a part of the family in a way, and certainly part of their daily entertainment.
I have been trying to write while watching A Knight’s Tale. It has proved to be distracting and has made my writing for this entry quite craptacular. I give my apologies to myself and other people who might read this in the future. This is my ninth night bedding down in Muswell Hill. It feels like more than that. I will spend many more here before finding myself back home in Longmont.

It was too cold the day after this entry to run. I only ran once while I was in London. I did so much walking and climbed so many flights of stairs that I stayed in good shape while I was there.

When I spoke with my parents from Hyde Park I remember pacing around, bringing in my surroundings, and not quite believing that I was there, in front of Kensington Palace, chatting with the ‘rents in Colorado. Our capability to connect is astonishing.

Everyone I spoke to in the US around this day knew about that whale that swam up the Thames. Kate asked me why I didn’t go down to see it. I didn’t want to join the pity party, plus I could watch on CNN.

London - 21 Jan 06

21 January 06 - I wrote the following on the 20th, but didn't get it into the journal until the 21st. January 20, 2006, on the way to Bath. Green fields. Much different than back home. The sun is out and this place looks different. Farms are not too far away from the city. Another uncomfortable bus, but I manage to sleep most of the time. Bath is one of those quintessential British cities that you might only see in a movie. Every building has to be made out of Bath stone, a white stone that looks marvelous in the sun. The Roman baths are old, over 1000 years old if I am right. It is unbelievable to walk on those same paths the Romans did.
The Bath Abbey was finished in 1499. I paid ₤3 to have a look inside. It was well worth it. I still think the practice of burying people under the church floor is a little odd. I find it distracting, or would find it that way if I were worshipping there. I took many pictures of the abbey. Napped more on the way back. Managed a good hour of sleep.

Planes were stacked up like stairs coming out of Heathrow and a dark London. Duck and Dive for drinks last night. Slept until 12 and find myself on a bench in Hyde Park writing now with one good hour of sunlight left. I look forward to more light and a little warmer weather in the coming months. Going to walk for a bit more now.

Bath was one of the prettiest places I saw during my time abroad. Pictures don’t do it justice, but I included some anyway. Someone told me that part of The Libertine was shot in Bath, but I haven’t seen that movie.

I looked for a way around paying the ₤3 to get into the Bath Abbey. There is a sign right after you go through the front door that says the payment isn’t mandatory, but I would have just felt horrible walking past the nice old man by the collection tray. It really
was worth it though. The months never got warmer really. The media reported a lot on the late spring. At least by the time I left there were many more hours of daylight.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

London - 19 Jan 06

19 January 2006

It might happen on occasion that I will get home too late on a night to write anything coherent in my journal for that day. Such was the case on the night of the 18th. It was a long day of classes topped off with a pantomime of Aladdin, starring Sir Ian McKellen as the Widow Twanky, at the Old Vic. It was a surreal experience, seeing such a great actor on stage just a few feet away from me. At one point, McKellen broke from Twanky's voice into his Gandalf voice to say, “One ring to rule them all.” Later on in the pantomime an actor held up George Bush’s underpants. Widow Twanky said, “That is so Tony Blair can hear what President Bush is saying.” This was in reference to the flap in the rear of George Bush’s underpants. That line might have received the biggest gasps and laughs of the night.

Today involved an awkward run through at my publishing internship. I think I met about thirty people. I start Tuesday and I don’t know what the heck I will be doing. I also set up a new blog specifically for this trip. I am calling it the Piccadilly Line, in honor of the Underground line that I use most. Lastly, I saw A Comedy of Errors at the Novello Theatre near the Strand, but on Aldwych I believe. Tomorrow is a day trip to Bath. It will be fun.

I speak with Kate every other day. There is so much to fit into a shorter in length, but much costlier conversation. I miss her and oddly enough I feel like she is quite close, and not in the middle of the country on the other side of the Atlantic.

I forgot to mention that on the first Saturday here, during the bus tour, I saw a 10 block long line for one opening in the next Harry Potter movie. Doubtful it is that all those young girls had any acting experience at all. My eyes are shutting down.

I didn’t write as consistently as I would have liked to, however, I did catch the highlights and details about what I did almost everyday I was overseas. I would see Ian McKellen in another play in April. He is good onscreen, but much more impressive on the stage.

I don’t know why I felt Kate was so close. I think I spent a lot of the time daydreaming about the sights Kate and I would get to see together when she got there. She is always in my thoughts, but the amount of time and energy I spent thinking about her seemed to increase with the miles that separated us.

The Harry Potter line, gosh, I wish you could have seen it. It was ten blocks long, but it also went down and up every alley or side street that intersected the main avenue the line was on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

London - 17 Jan 06

17 January 2006

Class was over again at 12:15 today. I wrote emails for a while and then ventured off by myself. It was an enjoyable journey. I took the Tube south to St. Paul’s and walked around the exterior of it. I went inside a portion of it, but I didn’t want to pay the pounds to go in until Kate gets here. I bet I might break down and do that earlier. We will see. From what I could see the inside of the cathedral is going to be amazing. On the way out I noticed a quote on the door in large writing. It read, “This is none other than the house of God, this is the Gate of Heaven.” I thought that really added to the magnificence of the church. Being inside it and around it you feel as though its sheer size and detail attracts even the eyes of Heaven. It feels very holy.

I then walked down Fleet Street and took adjoining streets to get to Leicester Square. I tried out a Burger King there. It was all right, but I prefer the random local places.

A red carpet outside the Empire caught my eye, plus the hundreds of people lined on either side. I asked around and found out it was 50 Cent’s movie premiere. I hung around for about 45 minutes and then he rolled up in a Bentley. I got a couple shots of the guy. I am not a huge fan, but I just wanted to have that experience. It was memorable enough. By then it was closing in on 8 and it had been a long day so I took the journey home. I really did enjoy walking through London by myself. It was refreshing and relieving. An air of independence and freedom was abounding.

I did see the inside of St. Paul’s Cathedral many times before Kate arrived in March. However, I reserved paying the ₤8 for the official tour until Kate was there. The quote on the door to the cathedral strikes me as an arrogant statement to put on a church door. No church is closer to the gate of heaven than any other church, but you know, Sir Christopher Wren may have wanted me to feel I was closer to heaven when I walked through those doors and stared at the ceiling for hours. Mission accomplished, sir. I haven’t been in a more beautiful house of God.

I make the walk from St. Paul’s to Leicester Square sound short, but it is almost half the width of central London. The pictures of 50 turned out to be awful. I deleted them.

I had never felt so free until I went to London. Obligations were minimal. The city is vast and limitless. Freedom and independence continued to be strong themes throughout the semester.

London - 16 Jan 06

16 January 2006

I had my first class today with a professor named Andrew. He is truly obsessed with Shakespeare. Wow! We will get to see five plays through the course of the semester for this class. I was up for over three hours last night because of jet lag. I have been exhausted all day and I have caught a bit of a cold. Aside from that, and being fairly hungry all day long, it was a pleasant afternoon and evening.

A group of us went to Piccadilly Circus after classes. It’s a bright and noisy intersection where four or five streets meet. It’s London’s Times Square. Spoke with Kate today for just of twenty minutes and it cost ₤5. That is a lot. I have tried my best to stay up today, but it’s 8:30 and I am going fast. One last thing… I had a falafel and cruised around Piccadilly while I was eating. I thought of Guy and enjoyed my own company in this busy and rushed life.

Piccadilly Circus isn’t like Times Square, but it is the closest thing to it in London. That ₤5 conversation cost me $8.75. Kate and I would later agree to talk every other day on a new cell phone that cost 5 pence a minute. That is cheap! And, well, having falafel made me think of Guy, even though the falafel was rather cheap and not the best.

Monday, November 20, 2006

London - 15 - 1 - 06

15 January 2006

Slept in this morning. It was wonderful. Keith wanted to go to Westminster so we all went. We came out of a tube station (Westminster) right next to Parliament. We walked by Westminster Abbey and then over to Buckingham Palace. It was a good walk, certainly one I will enjoy more when I am by myself. Almost went to the free organ recital at St. Paul’s, but I will go another time. Every Sunday night at 5 pm. That is so cool. I need to go. I walk everywhere thinking about what it is going to be like when Kate is beside me. That week will be the best one I have here. The lack of sun isn’t getting to me. If anything about this place ends up bothering me I bet it will be the cost of things, or the downright lack of open space.

It has been three days and I can imitate parts of the British accent decently. I don’t know if I will catch on myself, but every once in a while I can hear myself wanting to say something differently. That doesn’t bother me. I just spoke with Kate and it was lovely. It had been a couple of days, but felt much longer. Tomorrow I get to experience the Tube at rush hour, which I here is significantly different than the Tube at any other time of the week. I am not looking forward to the rush, but I am familiar with the system so that is good. Actually, I am a little familiar with it.

I wonder if I look American to the British. I am pretty sure I do because they all look so European to me. I want to know if when they hear me talk, just a little bit, if they know I am from the US? When I am not wearing my flashy Nikes I think I can pass for British by at least the eye.

The scale of the buildings in central London is absolutely amazing. You would think buildings with such intricate details couldn’t be built on such a grand scale, but they can; London is proof. Parliament, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s are all great examples.

You will notice that these entries aren't edited. My writing is often poor in a journal like this. I often write incomplete sentences (first sentence of this entry). I wrote quickly, I scribbled, I spewed anything that came to me onto the paper. The goal was to record, and record I did.

Walks around London were always better when I was alone. And alone I was, most of the time. I am pretty sure that a lot of people in the program thought I was an antisocial loser, but I just wanted to go where I wanted to go, I wanted to see what I came for, and if that meant no one else was coming along I was fine with that.

I think I write a lot about getting to St. Paul’s to hear the organ, but I didn’t get there soon enough. It took me a couple of weeks to catch the Sunday night organ recital, but once I did I was a regular.

“The lack of sun” I talk about is the noticeable change in daylight time. I had never lived that far north before.

Some of these earlier journal entries became embarrassing to read even before I left London. Exhibit A: It has been three days and I can imitate parts of the British accent decently. I couldn’t. I can’t. I mean, I can add “Cheers!” to my repertoire in an attempt to sound local, but please. No point forcing it. Exhibit B: I wonder if I look American to the British. Of course I looked American to the British; it was my first week there. As I spent more time in London I acquired some Londoner habits and mannerisms, but I need only wear some ugly article of clothing to let every Londoner know that Americans aren’t as tuned into fashion trends as Londoners are. I didn’t wear my Nikes that much.


I have spent the past two nights reading my journal from London. I haven't read it through since I finished it in April. Reading it has been so enjoyable, probably because I am reading about my experiences. I don't know if what I wrote will be interesting to any of you, but there is a small part of me that thinks some might enjoy it, the same part that loves reading about your experiences. Here it is, the first entry from London, and an immediate reaction after typing it in Word, which was a good thing to do because I don't have a copy of this writing until now. This might become a daily occurence.

14 January 2006

Day two in London was spent at the University of London Union (ULU they call it) in the morning. Following some repetitive meetings we were given an hour for lunch. I ate at a sandwich place on Tottenham Court Road with Adam and Keith, my roommates at the Forbes' house at 23 Etheldene Avenue, Muswell Hill. The sandwich I got was quite the improvement on Jenny’s Restaurant, which is home to my first UK dining experience, which I may also add, was horrendous.

Following lunch we were given a three hour tour of London and I learned a tremendous amount about the city. Our guide knew everything about London. It is about 11 pm and it has been a very long day since I have only been here two days. I will write more later when I am not falling asleep. I don’t know what I will be doing tomorrow, but I would like to go to a free organ recital at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Not long after I wrote this I too began to call the University of London Union the ULU. Tottenham Court Road became a daily destination for me. I was eating, browsing, or using the Goodge Street Tube station whenever I was on that street. My UK dining experiences remained disappointments for a while because I was being so stingy with my money. I regularly wound up at McDonalds, or found cheap falafel somewhere downtown. The falafel wasn’t that bad either. You can never rule out anything having its own entry on Wikipedia. Here is the Goodge Street Tube station entry. I just learned that the station “is one of eight London Underground stations which has a deep-level air-raid shelter underneath it. It was from Goodge Street station in 1944 that General Eisenhower broadcast the announcement of D-Day.” - Wikipedia

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I don't know how much I will be blogging this weekend because it is Kate's last weekend before she goes to Green River until January. And, a lot of you will be home for Thanksgiving break taking up my time. I am pretty excited about that. Chris and Aaron are always missed, but they will be especially this next week.

Kate and I are going to a matinee of Casino Royale and going to the new wing of the Denver Art Museum tomorrow. I really can't wait to see Daniel Craig do the things Bond usually does, although better.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Poem for the Day

Do not go gentle into that good night
by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears,
I pray.Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Bronze Sculptures

This little known city north of here, called Loveland, is the bronze sculpture capital of the world. I took a tour of the foundry that is the largest bronze foundry in the world. It was a lot of fun to see how many people are involved in making one sculpture, but the highlight was Rocky.

Yes, the Rocky Balboa statue featured in the movies and now in Philadelphia was made in Loveland. They made another one for San Diego. They have made a third and it was in the warehouse today. I stood by it. It was great. Good story.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Minutemen v. Mexicans

One of my favorite Guardian writers, Gary Younge, recently traveled the length of the US-Mexican border to get a small taste of culture, people, and conflict. I am interested, and feel obligated, to spend time learning about the parts of this world where my friends are working, living, etc. The tension of the border is shouting at me through this article. I can't quite imagine living on it like Aaron is right now. Anyway, these are some interesting and depressing segments of the article.

Younge begins the article by writing about two brothers who lived north of the Rio Grande in 1840. He gives a brief history lesson on the Mexican-American war and ends it with this nearly always forgotten fact: "The Gavito brothers didn't cross the border; the border crossed them."

He points out a number of ironies. "On any one day some young Americans will cross the border so they can legally drink alcohol and some Mexicans will die of thirst trying to cross it illegally so they can work."

Younge includes a quote from Josiah Heyman, an anthropology professor at UTEP, "They're [the US] burning billions of dollars to catch a guy who wants to mow somebody's lawn."

And I leave you with this, by far the most disturbing paragraphs in the article:

Quasimodo is a Minuteman in Columbus, New Mexico. A few days earlier I had spoken to Carmen Mercer, the groups vice president ... She delivered an ear-splitting tirade against the entire American political establishment for failing the country on immigration, then rang me later to say she had forgotten to mention the diseases and drugs Mexicans are bringing into the country ... He [Quasimodo, a gun-toting 70 year-old] also has a deep fear of Mexican immigrants, the more so since the occasion he went to an abandoned house in town. "I looked around and there were 12 guys just 10 feet away looking at me," he says meaningfully.

"Did they attack you?" I ask.

"No," he says.

"Did they look as if they might attack you?"


"Has an illegal immigrant ever attacked you?"

"No. But they could have had my fanny if they wanted it."

So now he carries a .38 pistol with him wherever he goes. "I couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with it, but it makes a noise and I hope that's all it ever needs to do."

Unfortunately, I cannot link you to the whole article. But I think you can tell where Younge is going with this. These Minutemen, like Quasimodo, are not the same brave, young, Minutemen from the colonies. They only wish they could go down in history as heroes like the originals did. And, the threat this time isn't a ruling, and often ruthless, overseas monarchy and their military. For all of us reading about the Minutemen and watching them on the news, it is obvious what this is, an adult version of the popular childhood game, Cowboys and Indians, only the guns aren't plastic this time.

Borat on The Today Show

"WaWaWeWa" - Borat


I rely too much on having "good" blog ideas. If I don’t have them, like tonight, I may not write anything, thus not meeting the 500-words-a-day quota that I set for myself back in June.

I save every 500 word minimum piece to a specific folder. I opened that folder today and read some entries from the beginning in June to the most recent ones in November and October. The feelings and events I have recorded since then are priceless. There are a couple entries I wrote when I was so pissed off that I would be embarrassed to put them on here. No joke, I read through one this morning and the first sentence shocked me. I wrote that? Why was I so pissed off? I read a little more and instantly remembered the reason for this rant of complaints and expletives. When I got to the end I leaned back in my chair and told myself, “That is awesome.” Not awesome that I was so pissed off that day, but so awesome that I have captured such raw emotion.

500 words all came about because I wasn’t writing enough. Book after book on writing tells you to write, write, write, and read, read, read. In June, something hit me. I am never going to make it if I don’t start writing more. I was already a regular reader, but I didn’t write more than three times a week. Now, if I go a day without getting something on this blog, or in that folder on my computer, I feel like I am going to never become a good writer, which is ridiculous, but that is what goes through my head. I have a safe, healthy addiction to this now and I am not going to stop. There are days that I wonder about what it must be like to be a published author. There are days that I feel like abandoning this dream of mine: to have my words make someone feel good to be alive, for my words to have a soul, for something I write to outlive me. And there are days that I think this pursuit is so selfish and it is all about me. On days that I hear from you about something you read and liked I feel pretty damn good about pursuing this. I write alone, you read alone, but what makes it really worth it is when I know my words have given you company.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On being 81 inches tall

Bryce notices stares from employees who are amazed at his height. It makes him feel uncomfortable. He would like to turn around and catch those watchful eyes. Their gaze of awe would quickly turn to surprise and astonishment. They have been caught before. Peripheral vision and excellent hearing have helped Bryce catch many of these gawkers. Those people let there physical and audible expressions of astonishment leak out too soon. In the corner of his vision Bryce sees a head turn, two beady eyes, and a cupped mouth. If Bryce doesn’t see this, he hears what comes from the shielded mouth: “He is so tall” or “Look at how tall he is” or “He is a giant”.

When Bryce hears these things he keeps on walking, working, and doing whatever he is doing, but that doesn’t stop him from asking himself, “How has being tall affected him?” He realizes that he will never know if he would have been any different if all those eyes, comments, and ridiculously bad tall jokes weren’t there. Every stranger becomes a comedian when they see Bryce.

Returning to Bryce’s place of employment we see that he is definitely not at home behind the counter. Countertops, buttons, lids, and ingredients are all placed at a level for people a foot shorter than him. We think this has to be a very tough adjustment for Bryce. Bryce knows people think this about him when he is in a confined area, but they don’t realize that years of spaces, such as the area behind the counter, have made a rut in his lifestyle. Bryce has to constantly conform to cars, planes, seats, and a great many more things that are designed for the smaller man. Early enough in life Bryce knew that if he didn’t make himself impermeable to the effects of the smaller place he would suffer greatly. He sees the uncomfortable concoction as a mere obstacle on the path to living a joyful life as a very tall person. And since his legs are so long he can, if he decides to, step right over that obstacle and keep on walking.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I finished writing about the books on my bookshelf and got so bored with the last shelf that it looks like this on paper: Webster's New College Dictionary - Will in the World - In Cold Blood - Goodfellas - The Diary of Samuel Pepys - The Elements of Style - Peace Like a River - Blue Like Jazz - Bird by Bird - The Great Divorce - and more...

I come up with a lot of bad ideas. I sat there on my couch with my weighty pen in hand scribbling down the names of the last books on my shelf as quickly as possible so it could all be over.

During the exercise, or whatever you are supposed to call this, I noticed that I haven't forgotten much from the books I have read, but I remember most where I read each book, where I bought it, and where I was when I finished it. This is why: because finishing a book, regardless of whether I loved it or not, will always be one of the best feelings for me.

The Lord of the Rings - Read and finished while on vacation in Manhattan Beach, CA (August '02).

The Hobbit - Christmas present - '01 - Finished at a hotel in St. George, Utah, that week.

Ghost Soldiers - Read and finished during a recruiting trip to Cal State Bakersfield (July '01).

The Broker - Bought it at DIA and started it on the flight to London, but didn't finish it until February.

Tribulation Force - Never finished. It was crap.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Ted Haggard’s admissions to sexual immorality and a part of his life “that is so repulsive and dark” that he has “been warring against it all of” his life have recently shed light into a part of his life that, up until two weeks ago, only a couple people knew about.

An incident like this, however awful or good, exposes many different approaches to sexuality within the church. I want to address one approach tonight: the approach that Haggard is a diseased and corrupted Christian who has made the "choice" to be homosexual, and it is now up to Haggard and friends to make him straight again.

That is a nice idea and all, but just if, along the way, Haggard comes out as a homosexual, it is paramount that that close circle of friends, and others among his community, don't treat his sexual orientation as a disease.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rumsfeld Highlights

It was too easy.

Running down the bookshelf

On the top shelf rests giant bear bookends that Kate gave to me for graduation. They feel full of lead, but they are full of potential, the potential to hold upright work after work of literature. I like that. They are pressing some books together as I write this.

The American Short Story Anthology and Bill Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words are the partially read books on this shelf. Also, there are four books up there that I have read. They are: notes from a small island, Rising From the Plains, Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight, and Slaughterhouse-Five. The unread book in the press is Cider House Rules. The last things held upright by the heavy bears are a thick collection of The Guardian Weekly. Sadly, my last issue will be delivered in two weeks and I will have to rely on the net to get my fix.

It is fun for me to visit parts of my room, house, life, and memory that I have neglected to think about because I have been there before, or in this case, because I have read those books before, or just haven’t got around to them. Until I visit those places, objects, and memories I scoff at the thought because I don't think they have anything to offer. So, I continue through the list.

Two Longmont High School yearbooks rest on the shelf below the bookends. Both haven’t been cracked open in a long time. Next to those yearbooks is a Fort Collins High School yearbook from 1999. It is solid purple. And next to those, three junior high yearbooks from Boltz. These books just haven’t made it to the basement yet.

Next, a Zondervan Bible cover with their classic tree logo and their now, I believe, retired slogan, “Rooted in Faith”. The Bible is a “youth” Bible. The ending is the same and so is the punch line.

Moving on, next is a Campbell’s soup cookbook that someone gave me for high school graduation. It was a nice thought, but the book was long forgotten by my senior year at UW when I had to finally cook my own meals.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I can't stop...

This site is amazing: CNN Election Results

Break the vote down anyway you want to.

Catch Ya Later, Don

I feel like I have been blogging too much about politics on here. I apologize. I always wanted this blog to be about anything and not one thing over the other. It has been hard to contain my thoughts about the recent election and the results. There is so much more to write about; this is one huge reason I am glad the race is over.

Though happy with the results of the election, I can't expect America's global standing to jump up a few notches, I can't expect the war in Iraq to end tomorrow, and I can't expect that this party's global perspective will ease the swell of Islamofascism. All that aside, if Rumsfeld getting the boot is all that happens from this Democratic trouncing, it was well worth it.

I hope that I write about something different tomorrow. I leave you with The Guardian's brilliant leader from tomorrow's paper:

The departure of the disastrous Mr Rumsfeld has come at least three years too late. But it shows that Mr Bush has finally been forced to face the reality of the Iraq disaster for which his defence secretary bears so much responsibility. As the smoke rose over the Pentagon on 9/11, Mr Rumsfeld was already writing a memo that wrongly pointed the finger at Saddam Hussein. He more than anyone beat the drum for the long-held neoconservative obsession with invading Iraq. It was he who insisted, over the advice of all his senior generals, that the invasion required only a third of the forces that the military said they needed. He more than anyone else is the architect of America's humiliations in Iraq. It was truly an outrage that he remained in office for so long. - The Guardian, Thursday, November 9, 2006.

Wednesday's Papers

The cover of Wednesday's Independent paper uses harsh words, but it is clear, there needs to be change. I am glad Americans voted.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Judgment Day...again

If I were not working tomorrow night I would plant myself on the couch and watch election coverage all day long. This election is one of the most important of our time, and certainly the most important midterm election this country has had in recent years. At times it feels much more intense than 2004, maybe because political opinions have had another two years to fester.

My excitement rests in the unknown outcome of the election. I want to know right now, right this minute, how the rest of the country is going to vote. I don't want to wait until Thursday or later to find out the results either. I hope that isn't the case.

I am pretty giddy for another night of The Daily Show's Midterm Midtacular.

Interesting, a dong is actually a unit of currency.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Heaven and Hell

Disturbing to say the least...

Here is my list, but it doesn't really matter

My family is doing something different this year for our Christmas gifts. Each person in the immediate family has to list eight broad or specific ideas about what they want. For example, here is my list:

1. Something British
2. Something to read weekly
3. Something to watch
4. Something that is a challenge
5. Something that makes me laugh, but still something I would use
6. Something that inspires
7. A currency I’ll like
8. Something to use outdoors

Although I may have had a specific gift in mind when I wrote “something to use outdoors” I may not get that, and that is one of the many things I like about this idea. I think it will bring more creativity and love into gift giving than buying gifts from a list like this:

1. Kitchen aid mixer
2. Frame
3. Stereo
4. A Compassion Child—in the flesh
5. Lamp
6. Bike

Either way I write the list I feel awfully selfish and guilty when someone asks me to provide for them a list of things I want. I feel like as a Christian I am selling out to the machine that really fuels this holiday—consumerism. I feel this way every Christmas, but come the 24th of December I don’t care if there is anything for me under that tree. I have all I need around me: a family that I love, a family that loves me, a wonderful fianc√©e, the best circle of friends that I will ever know, and the happiness that only Jesus can give me. And in the morning, while giving a smile, tears of joy, or laughter to those that I share this life with, I know an inestimably small portion of the joy Jesus feels everyday we serve Him and that alone is enough.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Borat v. Harry Smith

Do you want the US to lose this war?

I am sick of the Republicans asking anyone, who is against the war in Iraq, if “they want the United States to lose the war?” This country has become so polarized and encamped on their respective sides that attacks like this from the right, and others from the left have become commonplace. Now being against the war is considered by many to be synonymous with being unpatriotic and anti-American. Those that believe this couldn’t be further from the truth. I know those that are against the war have just as much love and support for this country and its troops than those that put two “Support Our Troops” magnets on each car they own and still hold the opinion that the US is headed in the right direction in Iraq.

Returning to that question: Do you want the United States to lose the war? This question wrongly assumes there is a possibility of a different outcome. The winning outcome dissipated a long time ago. Some think that it did as soon as we started rolling toward Baghdad, and for others it is different. And still, some think we are winning the war, or they gallantly say we will win this war. I don’t even know what winning this war would mean? We are fighting a people, a culture, a way of life that isn’t going to be defeated, and neither are they going to win. If our enemy had bases, uniforms, and faced off directly with Americans in battle this war would have been over in April of 2003.

As the war continues the world seems to forget about Saddam Hussein and his awful dictatorship. I am sure the world wouldn’t have a problem with dethroning Saddam if his Iraq was as infiltrated by the media as it is today. Before the war we didn’t see much footage of Iraq. People tend to assume things are okay in the countries they don’t hear about on the news. Doubtful it is that people assumed things were okay in Iraq, but the bloodshed wasn’t broadcast every day back then as it is now. Iraq is in the headlines everyday. The country is in a civil war. The media doesn’t call it exactly that, because it isn’t full blown civil war, but it still is civil war. Things were bad before we got there, but the problem is, things are just as bad three and a half years on with no improvement in site. The US can stay in Iraq and keep doing what there doing for years to come, or it can pull out and drop Iraq into a blender of hate, and religious and racial infighting. From those two fates, which one is synonymous with “winning the war”?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This just in...

I started uploading some pieces of mine on this website and have apparently gained some more readers. I am pretty freaking stoked. It is just a small website, but I have to start somewhere.