Friday, December 24, 2004

Done. Finished. Completed. Over.

The packing and moving, that is.

Yesterday was my last day in Roanoke. I'll be at my parents' until I fly out on the 29th.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Moving Karma

When you Google the term karma, you get this definition:

kar·ma    ()

  1. Hinduism & Buddhism. The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's

  2. Fate; destiny.

  3. Informal. A distinctive aura, atmosphere, or feeling: There's bad karma around the house today.

[Sanskrit, deed, action that has consequences, karma. See kwer- in Indo-European Roots.]

One site describes karma this way:
In Buddhist teaching, the law of karma, says only this: `for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful.'

Ok. But to really rack up the karma points, you come spend a couple of hours on a Sunday lugging someone's heavy boxes of books and other stuff and take it all to a storage unit.

Thanks, Lewis and Chris!!

Good advice

I received this email today from a friend of mine...
Keep this in mind through all trepidations, desperations, celebrations, exultations, and little old Scots ladies with cats.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Evidently, she's seen me travel - I've got the skidding sideways, used up, worn out and screaming parts down. Now I just need some chocolate and champagne!

Document Status Update

Work Permit
Entry Clearance Visa

Still Waiting for:
FBI fingerprint check

England or Bust!

Thus said the cake last night at Roanoke's No Shame Theatre.

Thanks to everyone there, particularly Simon @kins (in the Santa suit) for a great, memorable final No Shame...for a while anyway. It's been a wonderful past few months. And I'll post those pictures soon...

On a related note, John Bryant and I performed my short piece, "Christmas at the Photo Lab", at last night's No Shame.

Based on a true experience (actually, just about word-for-word from an actual customer), I played myself, the uber-helpful photo lab guy. John played the part of the somewhat clueless customer.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I guess I need to find a new plan for New Year's

From the BBC:

"Police in England and Wales will be handing out £80 fines to people caught fighting, urinating or being sick in the street, the government has warned."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

What have I gotten myself into?

Two weeks from today, I board an aircraft bound for the land in which not only does a man willingly dip his willy into a steaming cup of tea, but there is an insurance company willing to insure that man's willy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Gifts for the Budget Traveler

Someone has come up with a list of the Top 5 Budget Travel Gifts. Sounds nice. Unfortunately, I'm not very likely to receive a budget cruise anytime soon.

In the "under $15" category is a laminated pocket map. I have to say, one of the most useful things I acquired in London was a detailed street map, albeit non-laminated. Katrina, our tour guide, bought it for me when she found out that the adults planned to split up and take groups of kids around the city. It came in very handy when we had to hop off the tube several stops early and detour around millions of people in central London.

I would add to the list things like a Leatherman Micra, a good flashlight, and duct tape. A small stash of ziplock bags comes in handy, too. I've heard that a sink stopper comes in handy. I've never had to use one, but I've still got one, just in case. And a must have one of those. The selection of a journal, however, is a very personal thing. But you still should have one.

Of course, if you're dying to spend $159, you could always buy a poor traveler an Entry Clearance Visa to the UK.

Still Another Thing to Worry About

The BBC reports that tube drivers on the Piccadilly line are to strike on Christmas Eve and on January 5 in a disagreement over the demotion of a driver.

Hmmm....the Piccadilly Line? The one that runs from Heathrow Airport to Kings Cross Station?

Yes, that's the one.

Helpful Hint #1

The next time you're in the store and you think to yourself, "Do I really need that really cool 'insert item here'?" the answer is no.

If you have to ask, you don't need it.

Current Score: Roanoke 1, Stevenage 1

Round 1 - Weather forcast

This week in Roanoke: sunny, mostly sunny, partly couldy

This week in Stevenage: showers, AM showers, showers/wind, PM showers, showers

Score for Round 1: Roanoke 1, Stevenage 0

Round 2 - Current Temperature

Current temperature in Roanoke: 28°, feels like 17°

Current temperature in Stevenage: 48°, feels like 48°

Score for Round 2: Roanoke 0, Stevenage 1

Total Score to Date: Roanoke 1, Stevenage 1

Monday, December 13, 2004

How Not To Lose Your Passport

As sent to me by Ginny Harrod, a recognized expert at not losing her passport...a fact she gleefully reminded me approximately every five minutes between Dulles and Heathrow...which was fine...except she was seated ten rows ahead of me...on the opposite side of the plane.

Ok. Here's the steps for keeping your passport and not losing it.

1. Hold it very tightly. Do not let go of it. EVER. You may notice some discoloration in your fingers. That is to reassure you that you are doing a REALLY good job of keeping track of your passport.

2. Show it to your travel leader approximately every 5 minutes. If you don't have a travel leader, make a friend in the guy sitting next to you. If he's rather obese and has two seats for himself, and you're afraid he might eat you, turn to the granny on your other side. She can't hear you, but it's good moral support.

3. Continue steps 1 and 2, until you get to the turnstone thingys where they ask to see your passport. At this time, let the nice lady at customs pry it out of your fingers. When she gives it back, put it deep into a bag that you are carrying, find your travel leader and give it to him, or continue to hold onto it until you get home. As long as it's not out of your hands, you'll never lose it. I promise. If you do, I'm sure you can get another one somewhere. There will just be TWO of you after that. But no worries...They'll catch that person soon enough.


I told a few people today about a place we stayed last time I was in England.

It's Harlaxton College, the British Campus of the University of Evansvillem and it's amazing.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Oh, For Pete's Sake...

Just how does one manage to accumulate so much stuff, anyway?

Yet another thing to worry about

This BBC News story says that "commuters face the biggest shake-up in rail services for four decades as new timetables and franchises are introduced across the UK on Sunday."


Friday, December 10, 2004


Here are some links to information about Stevenage:

Stevenage Borough Council

Stevenage Local Life Homepage

Stevenage Webvert Site


Here's what's been going on this week:

  • Plane reservations have been made.

  • Storage space has been rented.

  • Utilities have been contacted.

  • Doctors and dentists have been contacted.

  • My work permit has been approved.

  • My entry clearance visa has been applied for.

  • My route from Heathrow to Stevenage has been planned.

  • Some additional boxes have been packed.

  • An offshore bank account has been applied for.

  • A new set of "I'm moving" cards has been printed.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Here's the school

Here's an aerial view of Collenswood School.

One more thing to worry about

Evidently, at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, it was standard procedure to train explosive-sniffing dogs by actually planting real explosives in a random passenger's luggage.

It all worked well until they lost that random suitcase.

Yes, that method of training has now been banned in Paris. But what if other places still use that method?

I can just see me arriving in London with that random suitcase and trying to explain it all. "No, honest officer, I truly have no idea where that came from."

Sunday, December 05, 2004


This afternoon, I went to see Seussical the Musical at Mill Mountain Theatre.

It combines more than twenty Dr. Seuss books into one spectacle for the eyes and ears. (Gak...)

It was fun. And as far as musicals go, very good. Of course, all musicals are a little far fetched. ("Golly, the corn is as high as an elephant's eye! Let's all spontaneously sing!" Wait, when I was growing up, we were known to break into song....)

But when you combine the already far-fetched world of Dr. Seuss, it's probably natural for everyone to break into song.


Today has been a fairly slow day for spam email. So far, only 34 managed to get past my ISP. But the oness that got past offered me a number of things:

  • Two offering software - including one offering "Any soft very cheap" and one offering "CHEAPP SOftware"

  • Six offering some type of loan

  • Sixteen offering some type of electronic item - a hovercraft, a homo sapien robot, a Sony Vaio laptop, a widescreen TV, things like that

  • Five offering free cash or some kind of high paying job.

  • One letting me "Make Gourmet Italian Brew"

  • Only one for personalized Christmas ornaments (today was a very slow day for that one)

  • One for "Scientific nutrition you actually see working every day"

  • Two for various sexual aids - one with the subject "love life: use some excitement; third leg enhancer" and one with the subject "making the fantastic love with your partner" - this last one ended with the line "While over used the. Used boys few than give near would mother."

It's a shame I delete all these emails. I suppose one day I could really use a third leg enhancer while I'm making the fantastic love with my partner.

Greetings for the New Year

I don't care what people say about Castro, the people at Radio Havana are putting me to shame. I'm still working on last year's Christmas cards but RHC's New Year's Greetings arrived almost a month ago.

Sending out these cards took a lot of time. We're talking a typed envelope, not a label.

The front has a nice island themed picture.

The inside is signed by hand, probably by Lourdes López, Head of the Correspondence Department.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

From the web

Some web sites:

Inflight internet - Singapore Airlines is adding high-speed inflight Internet access on some of its flights.

Overseas Expat Life - Real posts from real expats.

Astronaut Rescue Drill - To help prepare for a return to shuttle operations, NASA conducted a launch emergency drill on Wednesday. Check out the photos.

And a photo:

The Expedition 7 Launch Vehicle

Weekly Stats

Currently reading: Night Fall by Nelson Demille - to review for The Roanoke Times.

Movies viewed this week: 0

TV shows watched this week: 0

Books read this week: 3

Number of rolls of film taken this week: 1

Number of rolls wedding pictures printed this week: Lost count at 12

Number of spam emails received so far today: 46

Number of non-list emails received so far today: 2

Number of personalized emails from Radio Havana received this week: 1
Question I'm asked the most: Are you ready for England?

Answer to most asked question: (while trying not to laugh) Not hardly

Next event: to see Seussical the Musical tomorrow

Next trip: to my parents' house at Christmas

Number of boxes packed this week: Lost count at 12

Most surprising moment:
The people at the Roanoke City tax office were able to quickly help me the first time I was there.

Number of times I put off cleaning out my car: Lost count at 127

Number of hours until it absolutely must be cleaned out: 24

Blog I took this idea from:
written road blog

Boxes, boxes, boxes

Lotsa boxes.

Too many boxes.

Waaaay too many boxes.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The seventh level of hell involves pushing the pound sign to continue

How come things always seem to be more complicated than you think they should be? I tried to order some prescription refills today. After accessing the "Automated Service," which was actually fairly pleasant - all voice recognition with no button pushing, I was told that I couldn't order the refills. So I had to wait to talk to a human. Which then required a call to the doctor - to leave a message. They called back - and left a message - to say the doctor was out today and they would try to take care of it tomorrow.

Now, if it were really an automated system, it would have done all that for me!

Then, I had to call and check on a dental claim (just a cleaning, all routine) from August. When I called in October, I was told it never got there and I had to fax it right then. Today, I ws first told it never got there again. Then I was told it was in Processing but hadn't been entered yet but I was welcome to keep calling every couple of days or so. Of course, all this was after calling the number on my insurance card marked "For Dental Claims, call..." and getting transferred three times.

Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, but the customer service rep I finally talked to gave me the real number to call for my dental claims!

Now call me silly, but shouldn't that number have been the one printed on the cards?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

One great comic

The Roanoke Times used ot have Foxtrot and then it stopped for some reason. Now, I get it emailed everyday from Here's today's:

Ahhh....math humor!

Ultra-low expectations

Colin Fahey found out that trying to incorrectly answer each question on the SAT was almost as stressful as trying to score well.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Cutting the ties, not those ties.

I'm talking about those things that bind you to a place - like newspaper subscriptions and gym memberships, both of which I cancelled yesterday. I also told the Roanoke Times book page editor I was moving and couldn't review any more books.

Somehow those seem more personal than cancelling the telephone and electricity.

Of course, I haven't done those yet.

From a friend...

Rebekah Rigg from Voices of Youth sent these song lyrics to me today:

Leaving, On A Jet Plane

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go, I'm standing here outside your door,
I hate to wake you up to say good-bye.
But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn, the taxi's waiting He's blowing his horn.
Already I'm so lonesome I could die.
So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you'll wait for me, hold me like you'll never let me go.
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go.

There's so many times I've let you down, so many times I've played around,
I tell you now they don't mean a thing.
Every place I go I'll think of you, every song I sing I'll sing for you,
when I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring.
So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you'll wait for me, hold me like you'll never let me go.
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go.

Now the time has come to leave you, one more time let me kiss you,
then close your eyes, I'll be on my way.
Dream about the days to come when I won't have to leave alone,
about the times I won't have to say:
kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you'll wait for me, hold me like you'll never let me go.
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go.
I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I
hate to go.



See here and here.

Offshore Bank Accounts

Gee, I guess I've finally hit the big time. Today I got an email from the teacher placement company telling me I needed to apply for a UK bank account with Lloyds. Finally, I can get that offshore bank account!

Of course, when I get there, it won't be offshore anymore...

Random things on the web

Between the email lists I'm on and the web sites I keep tabs on with My Yahoo, I've come across a few interesting things today.

First, you think having your car stuck at the end of the driveway is bad? Try having your airplane stuck at the end of the runway.

In March, 2003, this C-5 Galaxy airplane got stuck at the end of the runway in Norfolk, Virginia, and couldn't turn around. It stayed there, nose over the interstate for more than 16 hours while a special tow bar was trucked in from Delaware. And it's true...honest.

Second, perhaps I need something like this to travel Europe.

With over $1.2 million worth of equipment, this bike will keep you online while you camp out in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, if the teaching thing doesn't work out, I can always get my qualification in wheel clamping.