Archive for October, 2004
I have tasted Junior Mints, and I deem them to be good.
I have not yet tasted Pumpkin Pie, but it doesn’t really sound too appetizing. Perhaps I will be proved wrong.
On a completely unrelated note, did you ever wish you had an anonymous blog so you could vent with impunity? I do. But it didn’t occur to me when I first started blogging, and there seems little point starting one up now. Read into that what you will.
Entering the United States was not quite the terrible ordeal I was anticipating, but still seemed a little too…officious and militaristic. Having been picked up at Windsor (Canada) train station by Srah and her family at about 11.30pm, we happily drove off to the US border thinking that an American family and one English citizen might not lead to any heavy-handed melodrama from the border guards.
We were wrong.
There was some kind of Sergeant Major type, unnecessarily bawling out orders. We all had to get out of the car (including the member of our party who has recently undergone knee-replacement surgery and has difficulty walking), and were frogmarched off to spent twenty minutes filling in forms and treated like a suspected criminal. I didn’t get fingerprinted or photographed, though. I know they do that to British citizens (and most other people too) at the major airports. Perhaps it hasn’t filtered through to land borders yet.
I knew not to crack any funny (or unfunny) jokes about being Osama Bin Laden’s second cousin twice removed, as customs officers don’t have much of a sense of humour. But I couldn’t help but express surprise at the fact that among the questions to which you’re supposed to say “no”, they still asked “Were you in any way involved in Nazi war crimes?”. That question just seems a little past its use-by-date to me.
I had to go over to the kiosk and pay $6 for the right to have a little card stapled into my passport (this is the Visa Waiver System – you need to pay for an official document to be attached to your passport giving you the temporary right to be in the country. In what way does this differ from a visa?). There was a portrait picture of pResident Shrub next to the counter, and but for the lack of a magic marker and at least some kind of good sense, I might have defaced it.
Anyway – more to come about Chicago, Amtrak trains and other delights a bit later.
I’m writing to you from Chicago! Never thought I’d come here, to be honest with you – the streets are like chasms, the food portions are enormous (but very nice), everything is similar, but with those little differences (cue Vincent Vega monologue from the opposite perspective).
Went to the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology today, where myself and Srah were able to make a spoof movie trailer, which you can watch here, should you so desire. More blogging to come in a couple of days.
Will be surrounded by American accents for three weeks. It’ll seem like being in a film! And with a bit of luck, there’ll be a regime change while I’m there.
I shall have to resist the temptation of copying Gilbert Harding (or was it Oscar Wilde?) when filling in the immigration form, and not answer “Sole purpose of visit” to the question “Is it your intention to overthrow the Government of the United States by force?”.
Anyway. Like when I went to Tenerife last year, I shall sent a postcard to anybody who wants one, with the usual caveat that I must already be vaguely aware of your existence (you’ve commented here before, or I visit your blog sometimes, etc). Requests from people completely unknown to me will be summarily ignored. Send me your address via e-mail (email@example.com), and you’ll eventually receive a postcard.
Who said that? (the title of this post, I mean)
Eek. A fair amount of work to Wednesday and Thursday, although not an outrageous amount. I will have time to sleep, too. Three fair-sized jobs and a few piddling little ones. The three main ones are fairly diverse (all French into English):
1) A university study into social issues linked to coastal fishing communities (more interesting than it sounds, honest)
2) The whole website of a minor Belgian TV light entertainment channel (with the emphasis on light - cast your mind back to Noel’s House Party, and you’ll get the idea)
3) An in-house newsletter for a pan-African bank
Going down south on Friday for an early morning check-in on Saturday to go to Yankland, via Canada. Haven’t packed yet. Will probably pack on Friday morning.
Somehow, I also have to fit in time for taking my car to the garage and uploading lots of tunes onto my lovely new mp3 player.
Two new tracks do Brasil for your enjoyment:
Does anyone know if I need some kind of power transformer to plug my laptop and mobile phone charger through when I’m in the States? I’ve just discovered they have a rather wimpy 110V current, rather than our manly 240V.
The Dictionary: what hi-tech salespeople say and what they mean by it
- New: Different color from previous design.
- All new: Parts not interchangable with previous design.
- Unmatched: Almost as good as the competition.
- Designed simplicity: Manufacturer’s cost cut to the bone.
- Foolproof operation: No provision for adjustments.
- Advanced design: The advertising agency doesn’t understand it.
- Field-tested: Manufacturer lacks test equipment.
- High accuracy: Unit on which all parts fit.
- Direct sales only: Factory had big argument with distributor.
- Years of development: We finally got one that works.
- Revolutionary: It’s different from our competitors.
- Breakthrough: We finally figured out a way to sell it.
- Improved: Didn’t work the first time.
- Futuristic: No other reason why it looks the way it does.
- Distinctive: A different shape and color than the others.
- Re-designed: Previous faults corrected, we hope.
- Performance proven: Will operate through the warranty period.
- Meets all standards: Ours, not yours.
- Broadcast quality: Gives a picture and produces noise.
- High reliability: We made it work long enough to ship it.
- New generation: Old design failed, maybe this one will work.
- Customer service across the country: You can return it from most airports.
- Unprecedented performance: Nothing we ever had before worked this way.
- Built to precision tolerances: We finally got it to fit together.
- Microprocessor controlled: Does things we can’t explain.
There is a new music blogroll in the right-hand column. These are all mp3 blogs, run by people who want to highlight music beyond the mainstream. Take a look through them and discover great artists you’ve never heard of!
A second-hand submarine sold to Canada by the UK, which had been cannibalised to make the three previous submarines sold to Canada seaworthy, caught fire in the Atlantic not far from Ireland.
A vessel completely surrounded by water…caught fire.
Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it? *wipes patriotic tear from eye*
13 September 2001: “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” – George Dubya Bush
13 March 2002: “I don’t know where he is. I, ah [laugh] I repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.” – George Dubya Bush
flaneur AT flanerie.co.uk
- Pavel and I by Dan Vyleta
- Clear Waters Rising: A Mountain Walk Across Europe by Nicholas Crane
- Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
- Age of Extremes : The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991 by E.J. Hobsbawm
- Das Reich: The March of the 2nd Panzer Division Through France, 1944 by Max Hastings
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein
The Quincunx: The Inheritance of John Huffam by Charles Palliser
- The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
- Paperweight by Stephen Fry
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
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