Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cultural differences.

From Sunday's New York Times.

"To be an ugly tourist is to miss the fundamental truth in Mr. Martin’s statement. “It is to have an overall lack of understanding that there is such a thing as cultural difference,” wrote Prof. Inga Treitler, the secretary for the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, in an e-mail message."

Food for thought for those of us moving to another culture.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reasons to move to England.

I think the coffee machine is about to die and I cant be bothered to spend $30 on a new one. looks like it's coffee to go from now on.

Frau Random Doubt just got her UK visa.


That's right!

His Majesty St Tony of Blair just sealed the deal and has offically invited the missus to go and live in the green and pleasant land.

Offical like.

By the way it took less than a week for all the visa stuff to be worked out.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

This just in...

Gordon Brown is be the next Prime Minister.


That's a shock.

Conversations in a deli.

I live in the heart of a fiercely Italian American neigborhood. Perhaps the last great blue collar Italian neighborhood this close to Manhattan. Every day you see the old guys hanging out on the stoops with their cigars and their hand gestures.

Last night I pop into the deli to buy some milk and beer. As ususal I have a quick chat with the deli guy who just happens to be a Chelsea fan. It goes a little like this.

Deli Guy " So you gonna be a Chelsea fan on Saturday?"

He's referring to this weekend's FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Man Utd.
This game has little interest for me, I'll dvr it and watch it Sunday night. Cockney billionaires versus Northern scum billionaires. I spose I'll support Chelsea then.

Me " Yeah, I guess. You guys put us out this year so that counts for something and you know I hate Man Utd, unless they're playing Italians or something".

I'm referring to Utd's recent defeat in the Champions league semis against Milan. Almost all Englishemen will support Utd against a foreign foe.

At this a point cigar chewing lottery guy picks up his ears and joins in our conversation.

CCLG "And what the fuck is wrong with Italians? What you got against Italians?"

Guess you had to be there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007



The one time (well OK, perhaps the tenth or eleventh but we're talking five years)I use the maintenance elevator because I'm exhausted from the five flights of stairs.

Whose standing right in the hallway as I jimmy open the door on my floor?

My Boss!

Third Grade writing.

There was once a mad scientist who wanted to make a robot. He worked and worked and he made a robot. He programmed it to do house cleaning. It did house cleaning pretty good.

One day the robot was really tired of working for the mad scientist so the robot went mad. The robot invaded the city with lightning swords, machine guns, blaster rifles and more. Eventually the robot killed everyone so he went to the lab and made more robots.

The robots invaded the earth and even you, Mr. Mondale unfortunately died. One of the robots made a blaster hose and accidentally killed several of the robots. And the first robot grabbed the blaster hose from the other robot and shot him.

The first robot was the only one left so he went on and invaded Venus. Earth and Venus clashed together and formed Venearth. Venearth was so much more awesome than the Earth. He made a city and robots ruled the galaxy.

By the blonde kid who loves Star Wars.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yet another blog.

Following the demise of Blighty Blog and all that peace stuff in Ulster I thought I'd link to a real life Irish blog.

I give you!

The arse end of Ireland.

really bad sailing mistakes. (group writing project).

Did you like the one about the idiot who got stuck on a sticky log at the start of a really big sailing race in front of hundreds of people?

Did you?

Well my friends you can liven up your Monday morning by reading more!
The Obi Wan Kenobi of sailing blogging Tillerman has linked to all the stories contributed from around the sailing blogosphere.


Friday, May 11, 2007






Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tony's gone.(well, going)

You don't need me to tell you the news but I can't let him go quietly.It's really the biggest non story of the year but the changing of the guard is always interesting to a political junkie like myself. Perhaps all the more fascinating when it's done without an election or tanks on the streets.
Check out the Guardian's gallery of today's events.
I'll probably get around to my thoughts about Blair during the next 6 weeks. he actually leaves office on June 27th.
For the full story check today's Guardian.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Happy uplifting Aussie music

Dammit if it aint a Go Betweens kind of a day!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Light airs suck.

The top person's sailing blog Proper Course has offered up a challenge for any bloggers who have ever set foot (on the middle of the foredeck please) in a boat.

1. Write a post on your blog about the worst mistake or most embarrassing moment you had while sailing. It could be while racing or cruising or day-sailing. It might be funny or disastrous. If you have pictures or video we'd love to see them. The idea is for us to create a collection of our sailing screw-ups that will serve as terrible warnings to fellow sailors, especially beginners. After all, the best way to learn is from other people's mistakes.

It's a beautiful May afternoon, I really should be working but what better than open up the vaults and retrieve one of my most hideously embarrassing sailing moments? I should add that I have plenty of sailing memories that have caused pain; some even caused real physical damage to boat or limb but none perhaps caused such a very public amount of embarrassment.

In the County of Norfolk in the UK there is an annual event hosted by Horning Sailing club. The Three Rivers Race is an endurance event with a 24-hour time limit.

I had entered the race for the second time as a helm (having also completed the race with my dad in the eighties) but had yet to complete the course. My crew (and the motivation behind entering this brutal and most ungentlemanly event) had bailed at the last moment thus forcing me to search for a new one. I happened upon the most marvelous Harris, an old school chum, neighbor and sailor of experience and pluck. He brought enthusiasm, knowledge of the treacherous waters and cheese and pickle sandwiches.

The start of the race is difficult even in perfect conditions. Horning Sailing club generally does a top rate job of staggering the different classes of boats along a stretch of the River Bure so that the faster dinghies can nip off out of the way of the slower boats and sailing cruisers that follow on throughout an hour or two of starts. This particular year the air was rarified. This was all very well during the tacking to and fro prior to the start, slightly uncomfortable during the final moments as the Wayfarers slipped back and forth within the narrow confines of the river. Even in stronger winds it's a bit of a bugger sailing in narrow rivers, I've done most of my sailing on Hickling Broad or out on the wider reaches of the River Thurne where there's plenty of room to make mistakes. I am distinctly uncomfortable on the itsy bitsy bits of the Bure with all its trees and buildings and crowds of onlookers enjoying their pints and pub lunches and the start of the sailing event of the year.

We set ourselves up for the start and the old girl was feeling good, getting a nice windward position wasn't as hard as we'd thought, the race is so long that the immediacy of getting the very best start is somewhat forsaken as everyone would generally rather just get away and over the line, in some ways it's a bit like the start of a marathon, lots of shuffling and most people are just trying not to trip over each other. We get an OK start and slip gently downriver away from the melee behind us and into our adventure.

We must have gone about 6o yards down the river past the start line when we stopped. The reason was fairly simple, we'd lost the wind, become calmed by some trees or slightly large bushes. We drifted gently toward the bank and did what we could to retain any momentum that might possibly just perhaps carry us around the bend into some air. Both of us were and are reasonably experienced Broads sailors so our fate was not yet sealed. Add to this Harris's insatiable enthusiasm that countered my furrowed brow and exhaustive queries about the wind. We were shortly confounded by the arrival up our aft of a fleet of large sailing cruisers. These boats, many of traditional design are in possession of much bigger sail area, taller masts, better-dressed crews and a bigger wine cellar than us mere Wayfarer types. They also take up a lot more of the river and are slightly scary. We were faced with a choice, a very immediate choice that requires some quick thinking and some action right now.

We could either take our chances where we were, get nudged and butted by the oncoming fleet and possibly damaged but hold our course or we could maneuver slightly out of their way and allow them to pass. Their taller rigs would allow them to catch what wind may be drifting over the treetops and push them down river. The Wayfarer is probably closer to 40 years old than I’d care to ask and as with any lady of breeding one doesn't enquire. I just didn’t fancy our chances of getting carved up by bowsprits and the upper middle classes. We rolled gently closer over to the riverbank and decided that for the time being we would just see what would happen, we'd not worry about actively pursuing any wind until the behemoths have passed us by. Shouldn’t take long, the cruisers are always the final couple of starts so in about 20 minutes we should be on our way. The plan worked quite nicely, it was a gorgeous day (no bloody wind but hey?) The cruisers passed and the river cleared and it’s time to pump us off the bank where we had gently nestled and seek glory. We got ready to go, hauled in some mainsheet, rearranged the tiller and we’re off!

Except we’re not.

We were stuck. We were stuck hard and we were stuck fast and we were not going anywhere. Allow me to stress that we were not stuck in reeds or on a mud bank or with rigging in the branches nearby or due to lack of wind or by a stray fishing line or anything that we could possibly fathom but we were stuck. An act of god sprung to mind. The centreboard was raised and lowered, as was the rudder fin. Several times. Nothing. We rocked the hull gently from side to side, from bow to stern. Gently, oh so ever so gently, we weren’t going anywhere. The indoutable Harris even considered getting into the water to investigate what thing it is that is blocking our progress. Nothing.

Of course this is embarrassing. This is the start of the Three Rivers Race. The start of the Three Rivers Race and we were sitting 60 feet from the start line directly across from the back lawn of the Swan inn at Horning which is full of pleasure seekers and sailing spectators.
There is one gentleman who watched carefully from the opposite bank. A gently graying figure with a slight stoop, a veteran of this race who had completed it many times with a variety of able crews and more than once in this very boat. My dad is watching us with a quiet mixture of pity, shame and embarrassment. Later I did ask him what was going through his head but either I’ve blanked it from my memory or he never told me. I would guess it’s along the lines of “But it always seems to happen to you”.

Eventually a couple of nice old gentlemen in a beautiful wooden motor launch (with a case of wine in the back) came over to lend a hand. By this time we had both bailed out of the boat and were moored on the bank looking at the mast, the hull, each other, the viewing public, the little baby Jesus. We were eventually rocked off whatever it was that had us in its grip. The motor launch ever so gently tugged us this way as we pulled in alternate directions. Even with all this technical support and varied expertise it still took half an hour to get us free. And when we are freed? A six foot long log about 8 inches in diameter popped up from under us, covered in sweet smelling river mud and weed. We had somehow managed to become jammed against this kraken, which, once it had us in its grasp simply refused to let us go.

We had of course accepted assistance from outside sources. Unless we sailed back over the start line and start again we faced disqualification from the race. We could have done that, the start line was only 60 yards away, the river was now clear and the race committee accommodating but we retired. The moment had passed and the lure of a cold beer after such a farce was too strong. We have not been beaten by gear failure, by strong winds or by the kind of incompetence sometimes bought on by either or both of those two combined. This was not a high paced embarrassment but a slow inexorable slide into a very sticky submerged log. We had been on full public display and even made a line on the back page of Monday’s Eastern Daily Press. We had been defeated by a gentle summer’s afternoon, zero wind and an uneasy drifting sensation. I say ‘we’ I should say ‘I’. Harris remained and remains to this day one of life's natural enthusiasts

My lessons from this experience? There are a few.

Prevail. Don’t worry about the bigger boats you’ve got every right to be there and it doesn’t really matter if you take a few knocks.

Light airs suck.

If you’re going to get stuck on a submerged log try not to do it in front of a crowded riverside pub.

Sunday, Sunday.

The 'block'.

Excellent next door neighbor grilling up on the fire escape.

It's been one of those brilliantly half arsed weekends.
The type of weekend where instead of taking 10 minutes to empty the dishwasher you place dirty dishes in the sink, remove clean items from the dishwasher as you need them and just work around the problem rather than make any attempt at finding a solution.
I sense this may be spring fever. This may also be the moving disease, the 'why bother with the here and now' mentality. We leave Brooklyn in less than two months, we leave the USA in under three. It's really beginning to sink in that we will be leaving.Our apartment has been leased to two bright young things who popped round on Saturday morning. The excitement reached the next stage last week when we actually booked our flight and London car hire for the journey back to Norfolk.
And didn't I tell you the weather would be delightful?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

10 Years of My Little Tony.

This Steve Bell retrospective sums it all up quite nicely.

For the slightly more interactive amongst you.