Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm Back

One twenty-six hour day through airports involving TWO pat-down searches (apparently I look suspicious. Or random. Who knows?). One not too bad case of jet-lag (I woke up at six this morning and knew I wasn't getting back to sleep). A lot of laundry to do. And I want breakfast.

Also, watch this space for a comparison of English and American Skittles. (The English ones they've made fruit-flavoured instead of color-flavoured!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Public Transit

I'm very conflicted. I miss my car terribly when I have to go do things like get my dinner; yesterday it took me an hour and a half to walk to the store, buy the groceries, and walk back. I could have taken a bus, but I wasn't sure which one and I hate asking directions. (This process was no doubt slowed down by the fact that I walked straight from the tube stop, and so had a whole bunch of books over my shoulder). On the other hand, I kind of like my morning and evening commute. I'm sure the novelty would wear off eventually, but since I'm going to the library from 10-7, the trains aren't crowded, and it's kind of soothing. It does take two hours of my day . . .

The one thing I don't like is that all the shops close between 6 and 8. Don't people need to do grocery shopping at midnight like normal people? Also, what's up with pubs stopping food service at 6:30? Of course it just means that I have to drink my supper on the nights that I don't get away from the library soon enough to shop.

As a sad reflection on the times and growing older, on my first trip abroad, I ordered a Tennants and thought it was enormous. I've included a picture with a salt shaker for scale. They aren't that big at all. I am sad to discover that my memories of pints of beer taller than a horse are simply fabrications of my memory -- it's sort of like going back to one's elementary school.

Monday, July 14, 2008


So this is embarrassing. I'm sitting in the rare books room of the British Library with the point of my journey in front of me (it's really cute! It's about the size of my hand and has really small type). I've been transcribing for the past couple of hours, and I just realized that I had been dozing and hallucinating, and then finally just plain asleep. In the reading room of the British Library. In the special section you have to sit in when you're looking at super-special old books. Asleep. There are enough people here that look next to death that I'm not sure anyone noticed, but it is embarrassing.

Luckily, I didn't drool. I'm trying to do something not quite so mind-numbing in hopes that I will wake up, but I think what I'm going to have to do is take the book back and have them hold it for me, and go and have some caffeine. Because, come to think of it, I haven't had anything caffeinated yet today, so that might be part of my problem. Hopefully that's it and I'm back soon, all bouncy and full of energy. Or drugged to the gills and needlessly perky. Or something.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So here is the egregious swan. There it is, floating along with its cygnet, living happily. But within its breast beats the breast of a vicious, nasty bird. I haven't forgiven it yet.

But I have clearly learned to use my camera to post pictures to the net. It's not that I didn't know how, but rather that I had left the cable in London. But as I'm back in London and enjoying a day of relative quiet before going back to the library fun, I thought I'd stick up a picture of the offender. Who, it might be noted, brings its children with it on criminal activity. And didn't share the food with it, so my opinion of its parenting skills took a nosedive. But as any Scottish poet will tell you, the birds are very nasty. Just ask John Damien, the flying abbot of Tungland, whose launch pad I saw in Stirling as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I want a scriptorium

The National Library of Scotland is the coolest place ever. They have these pleasant rooms with long tables with plugs for laptops, and when you want a book, you have to go and fill in a request form and then they go into their secret underground lair and bring it up for you. And deliver it to your place at the long table. When you leave, they frisk you. They won't let you have pens in the library. I spent all yesterday there, and will spend all day today and tomorrow there. It makes me feel like a real scholar.

And on a plus side, they have no swans.

Oh, and an update? Even though it was 50 degrees when I was walking all over Stirling, I am sunburned. I went on the coldest, wettest vacation I could find, but still I am burned.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

stupid swan

I was attacked by a swan today. A vicious, cracker-eating swan. I'll try tomorrow to post a picture of it (it was quite friendly until it tried to eat my book and then me).

Also, I walked around a very nice Loch and then climbed the hill to the penis-shaped Wallace monument, and then climbed the 236 stairs up to the top of that.

And then realized I'd left my camera in the car park.

So my legs are tired and I have no pictures of the best view I've seen in my life. Poop.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Internet Deprivation

Do you know that England doesn't have internet? I just spend a week without it, and it hurt my soul. 5 days of that week were on a university campus without internet access. All email had to be done from two common computers which were slow and had a line stretching back.

Good Things About This Week:

1. I got to see the last half of the Chester Mystery Cycle performed at Chester Cathedral. It was a bit like a really well done kids nativity play until they brought on a real donkey for Palm Sunday (which was SO CUTE. I want a donkey), and then the play of the Antichrist was all German -- weird music, Margaret Thatcher, the Antichrist was a crucified clown. It rocked.

2. The conference was interesting (I met people who like what I like)! And it looks like I'm going to get my paper published.

3. Trains are soothing.

Bad Things About This Week

1. Took tube from Heathrow to far reaches of North London at rush hour with all luggage. Ick.

2. London was hot.

3. Not enough sleep to go 'round.

4. Yesterday, we realized that the nice ticket lady had not mentioned that we had to SWITCH TRAIN STATIONS TO MAKE A CONNECTION, so we had a frantic taxi ride with all our luggage. And a rugby match had just finished, so the streets are swarmed.

So that's the news. I'll try to post a picture of the hybrid banana/sheep that is the new mascot for Liverpool.