Monday, November 29, 2004

Operator Error

The audacity of this place. We hear all kinds of BS about keeping the house clean, safe, etc. But, when it comes to providing the services we PAY for, they can't even do that right. We all thought, all along, that when the internet went out it was BT (British Telecom)'s fault. Not so. Instead, they just aren't doing their job of administrating the network and it's a quick and easy fix when it goes down. Unbelievable.

Tonight, they had a "hall meeting" at 8 pm so that the "Warden" could lecture all of the residents about the rules. Fortunately, I had class, although I could have made it back on time. Instead, I went to the library to "study" (i.e. run into the Real Deal). I did get some work done. Although, I wasn't that focused. She was. Her thesis is due in just over a week and she's really grinding to finish. She'll get it done, but it's a high stress time for her.

Here's a funny joke: Real World thought it would be a good idea if we got a flat together. After I stopped laughing hysterically, I disabused her (nicely) of that idea. Now she's angry with me because she thinks it's personal. Well, it is personal, but I didn't tell her that. See, when you're dealing with complete emotional and mental instability on this level, no amount of reason is sufficient. You can be 100% right and you still get mean text messages. I've already started disassociating myself from her...

Self evidently funny:

Menu at a cafeteria the other day: Hot Spotted Dick.

Class was blissfully short today. We blazed through the material and then had the presentation part. RW got to finish her's on Multi-National Corporations. I almost gutted myself with my pen.

I did manage to get some work done at the library. I'm trying my best to finish these papers by the weekend. That may be optimistic, but I want to be done for two reasons:

1. I want to focus on the exam.
2. I want to be able to go out with RD after she's done with her thesis.

I'd say those are fine motivations. At any rate, I've killed enough of my battery on this and there are clearly better things to do (like check yesterday's football and basketball scores!).

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Back in Action

The internet is out at the house (again), so I haven't been able to post.

Thanksgiving was a decent sort of celebration. I worked all day and then went to my friend Dave's house. He had a 22 pound turkey that was more like a small pig than anything. There were a bunch of youngins there though. Dave dates a 20 year old Bulgarian and all of her friends are 19 or 20, as you might imagine. I don't really like hanging out with them much. Been there, done that. But, all in all, it was good to hang out with a bunch of Americans and stuff our faces. After I got home, I went next door to chat with my British neighbor. He was fascinated about Thanksgiving, so I gave him the rundown.

Friday I didn't do much at all. After work, I went back to sleep. I was exhausted. I was going to go out with the Real Deal on Friday night, but she postponed till Saturday and we talked on the phone for an hour instead. Yesterday, I got up early and spent most of the day working on my papers (with the Real Deal who's working on her thesis). At about six, we went out to a pub and met up with her roomate. It was a great, great night. Her roomate is a very bad drunk, but it didn't matter. We were so focused on each other that we barely noticed (leading her roomate to say many inappropriate things).

Today I'm back at school hoping to not only accomplish a good bit on my papers, but also run into the RD. She should be here at some point. I have a ton of work to do as the quarter is quickly winding down, but I'm confident. It's just about putting the time in.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I can see!

Finally, only 3.5 weeks later, I have new glasses. I'm definitely writing a letter to the managemant on this one. I still don't have my free 2nd pair and there was no excuse. I like my new spectacles however, they are very different from my old style.

Yesterday was another glaring example of absurdity, re: Real World. We got our papers back and she did poorly. She was pissed. Instead of listening to the prof, she argued with him and got super angry. Mind you, this is the same woman that spent about 3 hours on said paper (I spent 30) and acted like she didn't care a week ago. Ok, so we have a break in the middle of class. She comes out and heads straight for the pub downstairs (it was 5 pm and it just opened). As is traditional, I went to the pub as well. After 15 minutes or so, I turned to go back up to class. I don't miss class, ever. (Well, maybe once I did.) RW says, "I'm not going back." She still pissed. I come back 2 hours later and now she's really pissed - the British version that is. Completely hammered. I hung out there with some of my buddies (she was a distant background noise that I must say, I was quite adept at ignoring all night). Of course, RW gets super horny when she gets drunk, and being the ho that she is, that means that she tries to get on any guys in the area. Fortunately, I've been able to deter her with foul language, scathing comments, and general standoffishness. Well, my gay friend Mark was not so fortunate. She was not simply all over him, she was touching him in inappropriate places.

At 1130, they finally kick us out and we all walk back to the tube. RW decides she's not going on the tube because she "wants some chicken". Then she starts insisting that I go with her. Now, if we're talking about a cute girl that I genuinely like, then I'm having me some KFC. So, obviously, I told her firmly that I was not having chicken, I was going home, and that she should too. She opted for the chicken.

Today, she calls me on her way to work (she was late, I was already at work) and tells me she never made it home. I'm like, well, this story just gets better and better. Apparently, she met a guy on the street who had two cute dogs and that's all it took. Tu Pac had a little rhyme in there somewhere...(Girl take it easy, you gotta tease me, if you wanna please me...)

Apparently, the house I live in is run by a Nazi. I must preface this statement by explaining that the house is riddled with warnings and notices suggesting that making noise is worse than eating a child, among other things. Plus, there's an evil south asian fuck who is the "night watchman" at this particular Pendulum, er, prison (little Foucault joke for all y'all playing at home). Now, I don't like to throw in race normally, but it's important in this case because this particular evil fuck gets away with being an evil fuck BECAUSE of his race. The management explains that he's like that because of his culture (which must be the culture of total assholishness). So, we basically have a modern style Animal Farm going on here with the jolly fat Brit who plays "good cop" and the evil south asian fuck who plays "bad cop".

As an example, in the computer room, which is where I am now, there are 4 different "no food or drink" signs and 6 signs stating that there must be quiet at all times. At most, 8 people could sit in this room at once, which basically means that we all have 2.2 or so signs to ourselves when at capacity, rightn now it's 3.3 signs apiece.

ANYWAY, on Monday, every resident received a letter berating us for being incompentent clowns that can't keep the place clean, leave out dishes, and make too much noise. Discipline and Punish suggests that you have to have enforcement, and sure enough, at the bottom of the note it says that one person has already been kicked out and that management won't hesitate to kick more people out. To me, I think this would be a blessing, but for some, that would ruin them. Yes, this is what's it's come to: there are people here that have to scrape knee and play the game here because the assholes that run this place quite literally control their future here in London. Needless to say, I'm looking for a new place to live.

Of course, I realized today, that I played a direct role in setting up the latest crisis. Apparently, I left a pan out on the stove on Sunday night. I plead that it was not my fault because the girl I was waiting to hear from called me in the middle of my cleaning session and I was clearly unfocused after getting off the phone with her. HOWEVER, I had no idea that I had done such a thing until tonight when I went to retrieve my frying pan so that I could cook my salmon. Guess what? No frying pan. Yep, that's right, evil fuckers that run the house threw it away! Now, it's not that big of a deal. It was a dented piece of shit that someone gave me for free. But that's not the point. The point is, that you don't have to throw people's shit out.

I also have it on VERY good authority that the ONLY person that has complained about the noise is the evil south asian fuck (and I have seen him berate someone before, which I think I mentioned). So, if you add it up, you have 40ish people paying rent to live in a place, but the system is dominated by one particular nasty fuckstick who not only has golden ears, but also can't stand a smidgeon of mess on an occassion basis. Charming.

(Sorry for all the cursing, Mom.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

“It’s all fun and games until someone gets shanked”

A friend of mine said this in jest one time and I always thought it had a nice ring. Has nothing to do with today’s entry though…

Yesterday was a four star (****) day. I got up to a big cup of coffee and some Danish, always nice to treat yourself right on a Monday. After spending some time doing leisurely work on this paper, I went off to school. Class was thoughtfully shortened because the professor had to (mercifully) interrupt Real World’s presentation as he was suddenly quite ill and had to leave (draw your own conclusions about that one).

After class, RW and The Truth (she needs a nickname even though I don’t think she’s been in the blog before and probably won’t be back since she’s only here for a semester and that’s over in a few weeks) went to the Uni pub and had a pint. RW expressed that she thought I was being cold to her at which point I was virtually speechless…for all of two seconds. I had merely told her I didn’t like her new hair style. I know, never tell a woman that, but, that’s how we do it and you have to understand the background. RW changes her hair every few days. Just Friday she had virtually no hair and Monday she shows up with a full head of weave down to her shoulders that looked horrid. So, I expressed that to her (nicely).

To really understand this, I have to explain a little about RW. She basically looks like Eddie Murphy’s father-in-law in Coming to America. You know – MacDonald’s, not McDonald’s. Right. Ok, imagine she walks in with a bagful of weave on her head shaped to look like Shaft’s hair/headdress in Mars Attacks. So, imagine my chagrin when I see the unholy union of Coming to America and Mars Attacks unveiled before my very eyes. As terrified as I was thinking that the apocalypse was just around the corner, I thought telling her “it wasn’t my style” was good form.

I also privately have to confess that I wasn’t saying after class because I was attempting to hold in the maniacal mirth that was ready to burst through my lips throughout class because she has the unique capacity to say the dumbest shit. At any rate, we patched things up and that was that. The things they can do with a weave these days…

Some may read this and think I’m being overly harsh about this particular individual, and maybe I am. But remember, she is my friend, we do enjoy hanging out at times, and sometimes you just need to vent, and who better to vent to than an anonymous group of casual readers on the internet? That being said, she’s not disgusting to look at, some people do find her attractive. She’s not stupid, but she does has a penchant to say dumb shit and she has a never-cease-to-amaze capacity to simply not know things that she should know. So, when I describe RW, remember, I’m trying not to judge. It’s an internal monologue that I share because I have to or risk implosion.

Anyway, I was supposed to meet this girl (she needs a nickname but the only one I can think of right now is inappropriate) for dinner but I had taken too long and she ate without me. No worries, I’m the sort of guy to adapt on the fly and I found her in the library. We hung out for an hour and half or so and I’m going to see her again tomorrow night. She’s the Real Deal (hmmm).

That left me in a tremendously good mood so I tubed home to a late dinner of delicious leftovers. After that I went next door to my neighbors and watched some TV with them and had a beer. I pretty much have a standing invite to go over to their place all the time and they’re always there. It’s become a three times a week thing, and why not? They’re cool guys, they genuinely like hanging out and chatting it up and I enjoy the change of pace from pure insanity (RW) to British subtlety. Even if I don’t go over there, I do often go out on my balcony just to say hi. I like being the neighborly sort.

Finally I headed to bed at midnight, which is where I am now because I decided to finish up this Tom Clancy novel called The Teeth of the Tiger, a truly horrid book that I have half a mind to toss into the Thames, but probably won’t because I’m the sensible sort. After finishing the book, I attempted to sleep but have failed miserably so far. It’s now 330 in the morning and I’m wide awake.

All in all, a great day, one in which you can’t ask for much more. Well, a little sunlight might be nice, but there’s always tomorrow.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Catch up to this...

I haven't been able to blog the last couple of days because I've been intensely busy and the one time I did get on, blogspot was down for maintenance. Now, I've got to recap:

After I turned in my work on Tuesday, I ended up getting a bit intoxicated. Shocker, right? Once again, I hung out with my neighbors. But I didn't attempt to keep up with them. That's just a recipe for disaster. Wednesday at work was boring as hell, but Thursday and Friday were exceedingly busy. I ended up staying almost until 2 on Friday to get some things done, even though I only billed until 1 (because I'm only allowed to work 20 hours). Speaking of visa restrictions, Real World has been working like 30 hours a week, in clear violation of her visa. When I informed her that there is a deportation and a 10 year ban on re-entry for violating the conditions, she shrugged it off. As the Brits would say, she's not the sensible type.

Last night, I met up with Real World at a pub with some of her work mates. Same bunch as last week. Mind you, I had only had 3 hours of sleep the night before because I was up reading this book that I just couldn't put down, so I was a bit strung out. One of her friends who took her home the week before jumped me and said quote, "you are an asshole" for not ensuring she got home safe. I was taken aback by it a bit because I'm not used to being called an asshole, especially from people I hardly know or hardly know me. Instead of telling her off (like I feel like I should have), I simply expressed that we had nothing to talk about and that we had a difference of opinion about the whole thing. That was clearly unsatisfactory by her - she wanted to have it out. But I refused. I don't know her, I don't like what I know, and I'm not interested in getting into a snit with a reactionary Aussie who annoyed the hell out of me when I first met her anyway.

I talked to Real World about it later and expressed that if she had issues with it, that's something I would be happy to discuss, but that it was none of her friends business - it was between Real World and me. She didn't have much of an opinion either way (how could she - she doesn't remember anything), but I did tell her that if she was in that situation again, I would make sure she got home safe. I'm trying to be a nice guy (as hard as that can be for someone who has cared only about himself for the last 18 months).

At any rate, we ended up going to a club/bar called Jaguar Shoes in Shoreditch. We actually thought it was a shoe store because it doesn't look like much from the outside. It was ok inside though. Hanging with Real World is like draping Kryptonite around your neck though. You never get to meet any girls, she'll start hitting on you the moment she passes a certain drunken threshold, and you'll spend most of the night trying to pawn her off on whoever is around. She's just a hanger on, so to speak. Like today, she texted me to see if I wanted to go to Oxford street and a movie. I told her last night that I wasn't going to do that. She's the type that can't be content to do things on her own - she always has to have someone with her.

Enough about Real World.

I tried the Starbucks Gingerbread latte. Highly overrated and overpriced. Don't get it.

Speaking of meeting girls, I'm spent on the clubbing scene. I still like to go dancing, but I don't think I'll ever meet the type of girl I'm interested in there. It's not because those types don't go - they do. It's that even if you were lucky enough to find a girl who is your type, you could never hear what she was saying, she would always think you just want one thing, and she would be extremely wary of you. It's impossible to establish any type of connection with anyone in that environment.

Which leaves school and work as the best place to meet nice girls. Only problem is, work has zero single girls (ok - one but she has a name that will never work) and school has been a dud mostly. I've met tons of younger women at school, but that's not what I'm looking for. The only woman I've met at school that is the right type and that i've established a connection with, is either only interested in friendship or is not willing to engage in anything because she might be leaving the country for good in a month. That's depressing. Timing has never been kind to me.

They say London is the easiest city in the world to hook up in, but what about the guy that isn't just looking to hook up? Where are all the Bridget Jones'? If there is truly a legion of attractive, late 20's, single women in this city (this world), then why is it so difficult to meet them? I have answers to all of these questions, but none of them are satisfying. As Morpheus said, "It's the question that drives us."

At any rate, I'm still pretty positive about things all round. I have plenty of fun here, I work pretty hard, and I'm moving toward goals that I think are right for me. Things do fall in place every now and then. Some things have a tendency to happen when you least expect them as well. Of course, when I see plenty of average blokes with nice looking girlfriends, I do wonder - what did they do that I'm not doing? Or is it all random? I mean, does it really have anything to do with who you are, how you approach women, etc? So many people have stories about how they met their significant other at work or at school and that it was just happenstance. I'd like to think there is more to it than that. If it's all so random, then I feel like I'm making an effort that is completely futile. And, i think I'll leave it at that for now.

Monday, November 15, 2004

This is why I love feedback...

Seriously - I feel much better about the Real World thing. Thanks for the comment. I can't just ditch her as a friend because I literally see her five days a week and in moderate doses she can be fun. She's in both of my classes and she works one block from where I do. That being said, I have to keep her in perspective. Yesterday she sent me a bunch of texts saying that I was bad mouthing her behind her back (don't think I did). Today she was all smiles and acted like it didn't happen. Note to self: Real World is crazy.

Let's see, the last couple days I've basically been working on this damnable paper. See, I had it in me to actually study something I wasn't familiar with. I could have chosen something simple like the China-Taiwan crisis of 1996 (when China "tested" missiles over Taiwan during their elections - the US deployed the 7th Fleet from Japan to deter any military action). Instead, I chose the seriously complicated IMF bailout of South Korea in 1997. I thought it would be interesting (and it is), but I didn't realize that for someone with zero economics training, I would basically have to learn simple economics before I could begin to comprehend the current-account deficit, floating currencies, etc. Now, after spending about 30 hours on this paper, I'm almost done with it and I have a grasp of the material. So maybe it wasn't a bad thing to learn something. Still, part of me wishes I had copped out and gone with an easy case.

I'm actually in a damn good mood about the whole thing. Who knows what grade I'll get (this professor is just totally unpredictable in that regard), but I know I gave A level effort and I think that should show in the end.

Tonight I'm finishing up this paper to some serious hip hop music. I told a friend earlier today that my plan was to blare some hip hop and write my paper and she was shocked. I know, I know. I don't fit the mold. But even beyond that, she said she can only write in absolute quiet. My philosophy is that writing is about rhythm and tempo, just like music. If your prose doesn't have it, it doesn't matter how accurate or precise your arguments are - you'll just end up boring the hell out of the reader. Thus, hip hop. I find Xzibit, Outkast, and the Nappy Roots to be particularly effective.

Re: Date - Nothing significant to report. I'm crazy about her, but she might be leaving the country for good at the end of December and is understandably reluctant to engage in any "entanglements" if that actually happens. So, I'll keep talking to her and seeing her when I can and we'll see what happens. Timing issues haven't traditionally been that favorable for me, but eventually, I figure things have to fall my way. Either way, it is very cool to actually meet a woman that I actually dig (and that is single, unmarried, and straight). Restores a little faith in the system, I suppose.

Re: Lesbian - Never mentioned her on the blog because it wasn't worth it. But I met a friend of a friend at a pub and she seemed nice (and cute) and I was sort of interested until I found out that she was gay. At least she had the curtesy to inform me of such a factor 10 minutes into the conversation.

I've started the next phase of my personal improvement plan: eating right. For quite some time I've been a scavenger who makes the occassional balanced meal. I'm tired of eating like that and I don't like what greasy, cheap eats do to me. So, I've been cooking up nice healthy meals of fish, salad, and fresh veggies. Today's menu was a red pepper, salad, and salmon pan-fried with garlic, basil, lemon, and olive oil. Quite delicious.

See, I have this philosophy about life. If you feel good about yourself, if you work to improve your life, it shows to the people that matter - most importantly yourself. Life has a way of beating down your confidence over the years, so you have to treat yourself right each and every day. Western civilization is governed by unhealthy choices, however. Thus, Bridgett Jones consumes carton after carton of ice cream when her love life is distraught. To me, that's the exact wrong strategy. Things aren't going right for you? Start with yourself and your ass will follow...I mean, wait, isn't that an En Vogue lyric? Whatever, I clearly can't have a single thought without some irreverance entering the picture.

My point is, and I'll only preach for a few more lines, is that life is a series of progressions. Bad things happen to good people. It's a fact of life. But how you respond to bad things is just as, if not more, important than the bad things themselves. It only takes a few small successes to snowball to big things.

That's right, bitch. I'm an optimist.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Catching Up

Don't have a lot of time right now, but I will give a brief synapsis of the last couple days.

Thursday, I worked all day. It was pretty busy. When I got home I decided to cook something nice, so I had a lovely garlic-basil salmon that I fried on the stove. It was delicious. I did some work on my paper Thursday night, but I find it very difficult to do school work on the days I work full time.

Friday I had a half day, so after work I came home and did about four hours of research on my paper. Then I had to meet up with Real World and some of her work friends at a pub. They were decent folk. Real World ended up getting so drunk that by the time we reached the restaurant (730), she passed out with her head face down on the table. When we left at 930, she had regained her composure enough to suggest that she would like to go home (no shit). Three of the girls there (after asking if I was going to take her home - which the clear answer was "hell no", but I will call her a cab) insisted on taking her all the way home.

I suppose that was best, but I was conflicted by that. Real World is my friend, so if she's in trouble, the responsibility falls to me, not some people that she just met. But, I felt that she was together enough that she could get home on her own. So I didn't want to ruin my night if it wasn't entirely necessary. Maybe I should have been more helpful. I'm still not sure. The whole thing was really irritating because I felt like there was this expectation that because I know her, that I should pay for a 20 pound cab ride all the way up to Northwest London just to ensure that she gets home safely. I simply don't know her that well - we're not close enough friends. Maybe I'm being selfish. Or maybe I just think everyone overreacted.

At any rate, after they left to take her home, the rest of us went to this club and saw this band play. They were quite good. I'm a bit fatigued by the club scene though. To give you an indication of how worthless it is, I was talking to this really cute French girl last night when it became evident that: A. She didn't speak English, and B. Neither one of us could hear a word that the other was saying. I did get her name, though.

Today I spent most of the day working on my paper. It's coming along smoothly. I haven't actually written much, but I feel very good about the progress. I think I'll pull it off.

Tonight I actually have a date with a very nice American girl that I met at school. We're just going for coffee, but I'm hopeful. I know her a little bit and she's definitely my type, so we'll see. You don't really go to a foreign country to meet an American girl, but then again, you can't really plan those things. Of course, knowing my luck, she'll either ditch me onto the friend train, turn out to be practically engaged, or simply be a lesbian. That pretty much sums up my experiences with all the women I've met here so far. Such is life. Still, I'm hopeful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Observations from the Front

So I had work today. Another blase kind of day. Work just isn't much fun. I'm well schooled in the Temp Rules, though, so I was able to stretch 4 hours worth of work over an 8 hour time frame. I also had my first opportunity to use Westlaw. I found it to be much like Lexis-Nexis. Of course, we were searching for a needle in a haystack that ultimately could not be found because either A. it does not exist or B. it's a fucking needle in a haystack. That being said, here are my observations from the day (I had to keep busy somehow):

1. Just once I want to say very loudly, at the top of my lungs even, to the guy next to me on the tube, in my best Jeffrey Lebowski voice: "DID YOU REMEMBER TO WEAR DEODERANT TODAY, SIR?"

2. The Daily Mail is little more than a rag to wipe your ass with. Today's headline: "New Evidence Proves: Single Life Has Nothing to Offer"

3. In the states they call them "hangovers". Over here they call them "mornings".

4. If Real World asks one more time, "Are you working tomorrow?" I might just go postal. How hard is it to remember: Wednesday, Thursday, and half day Friday. I am fatigued by explaining it to her on a daily basis.

5. Something you can't say to a German when they're eying your dinner quite eagerly: "Would you like a bite? You're eying my food like Germany eyed Poland."

6. I have the utmost, fundamental disrespect for The Missing Link. There's just something about naive ass fools who think their ramped up idealism (that is so detached from reality to be uneducated and crassly ignorant) is justified that bothers me to no end. Yesterday's comment from this particular braintrust: "When Fidel Castro dies, America is just going to invade and take over Cuba." Another day, another dinner conversation with someone who thinks they know something when they're too ignorant to realize they could never understand.

Is that too harsh? I don't care if it is. To me, she represents the worst that Europe (and the US too) has to offer: the type of person that has just enough knowledge to be able to talk about something, but is completely ignorant below the surface of the subject material, and is always judging the United States. Criticism of the US is fine and good, but don't just bash us for bashing sake. Check your silly willy ideology at the door and we'll have a discussion. Otherwise I'm going to scoff at you and treat you like the simpleton you are. There. I feel better now.

7. Sometimes I get tired of talking to people who are not native english speakers or have not been speaking english for long. I think it's just the continual process of making jokes and then having to spend 5 minutes explaining the joke, at which point, they may or may not get. That's why I love the Brits. Wonderful sense of humor, more proper english than us Yanks, and I've found them to be quick as a whip. Note to self: hang out with more Brits.

8. Hobbits get high -

A. They eat like 11 meals a day, a clear sign of the munchies.
B. They smoke constantly.
C. They never leave home and those that do are oddballs.
D. They care little for hygiene/grooming.
E. Merry and Pippen are clearly half-wits that seem just a little too giddy to be normal.
F. Saruman tells Gandalf in Fellowship: "Your love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind".

Add it all up and it's clear: Hobbiton is one stoner hippy community, which is why Gandalf loves hanging out there. He's a great stoner who just can't seem to stop smoking the South Farthing's best.

It's also my theory that the hobbits remain short because all that herb slows their development, stunts their growth.

9. I finally did it - I ran off a string of 10 consecutive good hair days. I can't tell you how much this means to me.

10. Who gets the pound if I had a sip?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Where to begin..

Ok, the internet is finally restored...four days later. Customer service is obviously not the British strong suit.

Concluding last week's tale -

So I hung out with my neighbor again on Thursday night. He's a good guy, but he drinks too damn much and by the transitive property of social drinking, that means I drank too damn much again. But I made it through work ok and then took a nap. Friday night there was a meet and greet for the new Webster students. I had a great time - met some new people, hung with old people, just straight up fun. I went out to a club after and danced for awhile in Brixton (hip hop, dodgy scene). It was fun, but I was spent early. Got home around 230 or so.

Saturday, it was my friend Fabian's birthday. He's Columbian and if there's one thing I know about Columbian's, it's never desert them on their birthday (I made that up of course). It was also Guy Fawkes Night, which is a lot like the American Independence Day, so there were fireworks everywhere. We ended up at a pub in Chelsea and had a good time. Right before closing, my Columbian friend Luis bought two full pitchers of beer to top off the night. Totally crazy. About 5 of us had 20 minutes to drink two pitchers. Somehow we made it.

After the pub closed, we went back to their flat and stayed up drinking until 6 in the morning. I'm officially in detox mode right now. No more booze for me for awhile! I just can't deal. On top of that, I'm a little bit unhealthy right now (head cold/ear issues), but I think I'm getting better. More than anything I'm really tired and I'm getting more rest. I just can't sustain the pace at which these people drink. Not in my chemistry, I suppose.

Today I had class, but I didn't do much else. I had to give a presentation on Sanctions Good/Bad, and it went off well. I have a paper due next week in my other class, so I really have to put my nose to the grindstone this week. No more partying for awhile.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


The internet has been out in the house for a couple days, so I have not been able to post. The following is Thursday's post. I'll update the rest of the week below.

As I was enjoying my lunchtime constitutional today, I saw a truck outside an office building that made me chuckle for many reasons. This is, in a nutshell, an example of crass American humor about something that the Brits probably never think twice about. On the side of the truck it said:

"Porn Dunwoody ERS"

That, to me, is self-evidently humorous. Not only does it use Porn within 2 syllables of "wood", but the ERS stood for something like "Emergency Relief Support". In other words, emergency porn. I'll have my attorney file the appropriate papers so that I can start this business when I return to the US.

Other things I noticed:

- At 1pm, the pubs are packed and everyone is getting sauced.
- Businesspeople here really do dress quite poshly, and I'm not complaining. My own personal posh rating is exploding, which, of course, means that I'm half-way to my goal of becoming a posh, yet dodgy bloke. (Actually, I may already be fairly dodgy...)
- I simply love the way people talk here. It's a never ending string of expressions that are unfamiliar, yet entirely entertaining. I only wish I could remember more of them.
- Things are not to be fixed over here, they're to be "sorted out".

Work is extremely dull so far, and I have a feeling it's going to stay that way. The people here don't chat as much as I would prefer, so I haven't gotten to really know anyone at work. Not only that, it doesn't appear that they do much in the way of the happy hour, so post work socialization is not really a factor. Of course, I'm the new, part-timer, so maybe things will open up a bit. Still, all in all, good to be working and making some cash.

I still have yet to get my new spectacles and it's driving me nuts. Where is a lens crafters when you need one? Not only does it cost twice as much, but it takes 14 times as long.

At any rate, I have to tell my election week story now. I haven't mentioned this before, but somewhere between August and now I happened to meet my neighbor. He's a british fellow, 40ish, very nice. He doesn't live in my student house, his flat is just adjacent to mine and we have balconies. At any rate, on election night, he rapped on my window when I came home and invited me over to watch the results with him and his Irish friend. I was planning to watch the results anyway, so I immediately agreed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm at a loss...

Ok - this is my 2nd attempt to post. I lost the first one, which is too bad, because I don't know if I can repeat it accurately. But here goes.

I don't even know how to feel about this election. Headlines here say things like "Americans Decide" - they should say "Americans divide". I, and millions of other Americans across the globe, are extremely disheartened today. I don't know how else to put it. This election was supposed to signal a change - a move away from the politics of division and arrogance in favor of reason and thoughtfulness. Instead, we now have four more years of a radical, christian conservative majority that feeds off bigotry, hatred, and division. I seriously don't even want to return to the US anymore. That's how powerfully this has effected me. Instead of celebrating a day of victory, I was forced to explain, again and again, what happened and why to people from all over the world who just can't understand why Americans would chose to stick with a President that has ruined our reputation around the world as well as engaged in extremely risky and poorly thought out policies on every front. I feel like it's Christmas and Santa Claus never came.

A few comments from friends and family that have emailed me with their own hopeless expressions of disheartenment:

"Our country is a discrace."
"I don't even want to talk about it."
"Prepare for the assault."
"America is more conservative than we want it to be."

I feel like I finally understand what Red Sox nation felt when they blew the 7th game of the ALCS to the Yankees last season or when that ball rolled through Buckner's legs in 86. I went to bed thinking that it was a V for Kerry. He had won Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New Hampshire at that point - all states he had to win (that were all close) if he wanted to win the whole enchilada (mmm, enchiladas). I woke up this morning extremely sleep deprived and slightly hungover and I had a horrible feeling about the election. Sure enough, it was over. The rest of the day was a formality. This feels like the Sports Guys' Stomach Punch level of defeat.

Maximus said, "There was a dream that was Rome...and this is not it. This is not it."

That's how I feel about American right now.

This is not it.

More later when I'm more coherent.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

First of all, I did err in my explanation of the Redskins factor yesterday. It's not a Democrat/Republican thing - it's an incumbent/challenger thing. My mistake.

The weather has turned foul again, lots of cold rain. In fact, the other day when it was sunny and nice out looking, it actually turned out to be decently cold. I never did get to the park.

Yesterday I had class. It was very long an tiring. Or, I was just very tired from the weekend. So I didn't do much last night and went to bed early. They're doing construction in the house here, so apparently 9 AM is the time to sand and otherwise make a ruckuss. Fortunately, I had been sleeping for a long time. I feel quite rested today, which is good. I have class today and I'm going to school early to get my study on. Tomorrow I go back to work.

Today is election day. I encourage all those who are able to vote to get to the polls. This looks to be the tightest election in history (including Florida 00). I feel confident that Kerry can pull off the win, but it's close. I read some interesting things about the polls earlier today. Two major polls (Gallup and one other) have disclosed how they see the "undecided" break as well as what percentage of new voters they think will actually vote. See, the polling system is not an art, nor a science. Someone has to make decisions about how many people actually vote - broken down by category (new voters, young people, old people, etc). Both of these major polls has the "new voter" turn out at 7%, which is about 6% too low. In fact, they have new voter turnout trending downward from 2000, something that just flatly ignores the trend in this election to get out the vote. Why does this matter? Because both polls concluded that new voters are splitting for Kerry between 2:1 and 3:1.

The other factor, the "undecideds", was broken by the most unscientific means possible - they split the 4-6% evenly between the two candidates. The historical record (referred to as the incumbent effect or 'incumbent disadvantage') suggests that undecideds break for the challenger at about 3:1, so I don't know how the people at Gallup or elsewhere can justify their numbers.

The point is, of course, that polling in the US is incredibly inaccurate (Gallup predicted that Bush would beat Gore in the popular vote 52-48% in 2000) and that there is great need for reform. My question is, how much does polling effect the electorate? There were arguments made in 00 that announcing results in Florida early depressed turnout in the panhandle because they thought the race was won by Gore. That may have cost Gore the election. (He lost by 527ish votes, the GOP dominated panhandle turned out, the Democrats there didn't - he pretty much lost the Presidency because of media reports saying he won Florida.)

At any rate, today looks to be a fascinating day in American politics, one that I can only hope results in John Kerry seizing the day. (Of course, when Bush consolidates his power with the military, rounds up all those uppity democrats and declares a police state to preserve his hold on power - well, I'll be laughing at you all from across the pond!)

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