Friday, 28 December 2007
This is Lester and as you can see is an adorable puppy. Before you question my sanity and remind me that a dog is not just for Christmas, I will explain. Lester is currently being puppy walked by a family. When he is a year old he will be trained to be a guide dog and paired with a blind person to help them get around. At the moment Lester is around 6 months old and will be living with a volunteer family who will train him along strict guidelines to intirduce him to as many sites and sounds as possible. When I was little we puppy walked a dog called Choat that went on to become a guide dog and started with another called Dandy. It is a nice scheme where you get a new puppy, kepp them for a year and then you get a brand new puppy. I then repaid Mum and Nick's kindness by winning the traditonal game of Monopoly rather too easily to derive too much enjoyment from it.
Friday, 21 December 2007
Also, do Orange sell many phones in the Catholic parts of Northern Ireland.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Friday, 7 December 2007
Sunday, 2 December 2007
1. The teacher and the teddy bear incident is irritating me as nobody comes out of the affair very well. The teacher should have known better, the Sudanese government over-reacted (do they seriously expect the fall of Islam to be caused by 50 year old teachers from Liverpool, religious fanatics are portrayed badly as people who over react, Sudanese democracy comes out looking bad as only government supported demonstrations are allowed, British government look bad for trying to mess with another countries justice system and my school's RE teaching looks shaky as few of the children understand why calling a bear Mohammed might be offensive to some (imagine if I called my classroom teddy bear Hitler or Jesus). The only person that comes out of it well is the Sudanese prison service.
2. Labours funding crisis is irritating as although they have done wrong they are taking heavy criticism from the Conservatives. The problem is that at least Labour are trying to be transparent whereas the Conservatives take a lot of money from patrons clubs. So I could set up a club, take money from lots of people, donate it to the Conservatives in the name of my club and no-one is the wiser. Labour did wrong but the Tories have no moral ground from which to cast their stones.
3. The last two weeks of term are always the most difficult so why do management schedule two parents evenings in the last two weeks. There is no rush to report back to parents especially in Yr 8 as we are only about half way through the year.
4. In the last two weeks there have been draws for the Euro 2008 football competition and qualifying for World Cup 2010. The whole system is hugely complicated, over elaborate and seems geared to support the big teams and I would love it just to be random. Put all the names in the hat and draw it at random. Lets see what happens.
5 About this time two years ago all the talk amongst my friends was of Lisa and Scott's wedding preparations. When they got married last October it all stopped. Now it is back with Kat and Andy. I can cope with the location/ dress/ flowers/ cake stand talk and it helps when the men in the group tend to head for sport as topics of conversation. The irritation comes from a sense of feeling a bit left out as my friends marry and try for families. Is this a sign of getting old!!
6. Weather. Stop being warm and damp and start being cold, clear and snowy.
Friday, 30 November 2007
Saturday, 24 November 2007
Last weekend I spent looking after Scott and Lisa's cats as they were at a wedding which was cool. They are rescue cats and wary of new people especially men but sat just outside of arms reach and watched me. Then they lost interest and started playing with a toy and they were pouncing on each other. Lisa was trying to talk me into getting a cat and I agreed I would get one but it would live at her house, be looked after by her etc. Scott on the other hand was less impressed by the idea however. Also at last the dreadful Kate Garroway got voted of Strictly Come Dancing. Think of all the excellent performances you never saw as she kept mucking up instead.
Tuesday was a parents evening for Yr7 and Yr10 students in my form and was also a colossal waste of time. I had a number of appointments around 3.30 and then one at 5.30 so I was hanging around for about two hours so I could say nice things to a parent who I am in phone contact with every other week. They also travelled 15 miles for a 5 minute appointment which goes against the Ecoschool initiative that the school is running. The big gap did give me an opportunity to put together an application for a job teaching in the US. The British Schools of America have schools in Boston, Washington, Chicago, Houston and Charlotte, The letter was a masterpiece of jargonism and teacher speak and I have to thank Lisa and Richard for their proof reading and suggestions. I think it should get me an interview but as they are small schools they may not need a geographer.
Wednesday was the football and the poor result that eliminates England from the European Championship before they even get to the final section. This seems to happen every 15 years or so and caused a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Everyone looks for something to blame and the role of foreign players in the Premier League seems to be the favourite excuse currently but I think if the English players are good enough they will be in the top teams. There are also plenty of good young players coming through. I think the issue is more the number of games that are played and the subsequent number of injuries. The team was missing all of its first choice defenders (Neville, Terry, Ferdinand and Cole) as well as the best two attackers (Rooney and Owen). There are also a number of back up players not available. So I think that there needs to be a reduction in the number of teams in the league to help. The only country in Europe that has the same sized league is Spain and they perpetually underachieve as well. The league won't suffer in quality much as the bottom two teams are usually rubbish. Less league teams means less gate money so the team owners will never go for it but we can but hope. The only good thing is they may bring back the Home Nations Championship where England, Wales, Scotland, Northen Ireland and the Republic of Ireland all play each other. Some of the Croatian players said they were put at ease by the singer of the National Anthem who sang 'Mila kura si planina' rather than 'Mila kuda si planina' and as I think you know this is 'My dear, my penis is a mountain'and not 'You know my dear how we love your mountains'.
At the same time Luton became thew worst run team in the league. The previous chairman and board made illegal payments to agents attracting players to Luton except they got relegated so the players they attracted weren't of a sufficiently good standard. Financial impropriety can lead to relegation which Luton may escape as they have already gone down. They risked the future of the club for a total of £160 000, about two weeks wages for a top player in the Premier League. With the chairman standing down the club had no financial backing and went into receivership. This costs us 10 points and puts us bottom of the league. At least the squad are strong enough to get us out of the relegation zone (starting with a win today). Lets hope adversity pulls the team together and not split it apart.
Then on Friday I caused myself an issue thanks to doing the right thing again. A student brought in a copy of Jordan's autobiography (well we are encouraging reading; next we will try and improve the quality of what they are reading) complete with pictures of her nude modelling days. I confiscated the book and she gets into a right strop and was disruptive and irritating. No doubt I will have her parents on the phone unable to see the bigger picture, defending their child to the hilt despite the fact she was in the wrong. I explained to her it was not suitable for a school environment and I would post it home but somehow this is not acceptable and this puts me in the wrong.
Also on Friday the student from UEA was observed by the UEA tutor. She did herself proud and it was a good lesson but she was nervous and went through all of her activities really quickly and got to the end of the plan with about 15 minutes to go. Credit to her she was able to keep it going but I imagine those were the longest 15 minutes of her life as she is running the class with one half of her brain whilst thinking up new activities with the other half.
Last night was the Humanities curry which was very tasty followed by some bar billiards. Tomorrow, korfball to look forward to.
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Sunday, 11 November 2007
The second division of the current league is rapidly descending into farce. Norwich City have played 5 league games and I believe that players form higher team have played down in four of these matches. In the first match a player currently playing at Highbury in the National League was playing in the Second Division and in the most recent game against Stingers 2 the two first team players contributed 8 goals of the 10 scored. It feels that the rule is being broken deliberately and I rarely see anyone playing up from their third team
I realise this is not against the rules but certainly against the spirit of the rules and especailly when the players that are playing down are the best in the club as occurred when Dan played for Stingers 2. The current situation is very disheartening for new players and is reducing my enjoyment of playing and having played for 10 years I am know seriously considering whether to continue.
I propose the following rules for inclusion next season
Players can only play down if there are less than 6 players (the minimum need for a legal match)
2 players can play down but cannot score
the number of players playing down is reduced to 1
written evidence of why players cannot play is submitted and a real injury has to occur before subs are allowed on.
I hope that issue is raised at your next meeting and the current farce is ended.
Hope to hear from you soon
Guy Mortimer Norwich City 3
Sunday, 4 November 2007
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Monday, 29 October 2007
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Off to start my preparation as ITV gave gone for a 10 minute build up so I have some rugby on tape to watch.
Thursday, 18 October 2007
The only downside was the way that the support act was treated by the crowd. We were quite near the back and the amount and level of conversation around us was so loud it drowned out the amplified singer. Okay he is not who you came to see but you have paid your money and he was a talented singer and songwriter so have some respect and listen to him or leave the auditorium or go into one of the other bars to chat. A colleague I saw there said she had come to see the support but spent the whole time chatting only to whoop with joy at the end of each song.
Friday, 12 October 2007
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Well somehow England managed to beat Australia in one of the best, most dynamic and spectacular forward performances that you will ever see. Mel (Aussie), Scott and Aaron (English) came over and we had 80 minutes of shouting, obscenities, applause and beer culminating with Mel bursting into tears and having a nap on the sofa. The following match between New Zealand and France was equally exciting and I am pleased to see that the New Zealand didn't win as there is a kind of arrogance in their play and attitude towards rugby. Fiji v South Africa was good as well and only an excellent piece of cheating finally securing the victory for South Africa. Rugby is a game where you cheat as much as possible up until the referee catches you.
There is no point setting resolutions without checking on them as the vice principal told the students in assembly today so in my bit to hopefully be more accountable here I go.
A. Be more organised and try to implement the one touch approach to paperwork (read it and deal with it one touch) Not bad, have cleared most of the paperwork as I got it but this needs to continue.
B. Try and mark work more promptly and remember to give it back. Better than it was last year but could be better still. The key will be when it is dark getting close to Christmas
C. Try and find a new job for Sept 2008 in a different country. the favourite at the moment is Canada after really enjoying the trip to North America in the summer Written to the universities to get all the paper work I need about the details of my courses.
D. Go and gym or swim four times a week Not quite but averaging around twice a week as well as korfball training and one match so far.
E. Score at least 75% of all the penalties I take in matches 1 from 1 so far but a miss would make it 50%
F. Improve my long shooting. Been surprisingly good. Rolling the ball of the end of my fingers seems to help.
G. Wear more shirts to social events On all occasions I have done this and have bought a few more to wear.
H. Be prepared to be more forceful in large group to put a point across and not just enjoy listening. Not really been in a place where this may happen
I. Undertake a new hobby of some description No
I am going to London for a one hour meeting with QCA (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) to talk about the Pilot Geography course I have been running for the last couple of years. It should be interesting as the course currently operates a system where all of the Yr11 work forms a portfolio of evidence and is worth 33% of the mark with the exam at the end of Yr10 (33%) and more traditional coursework in Yr10 (33%). With the removal of coursework from GCSE Geography about to occur I think it would be a mistake to have just an exam and hopefully the force of arguments will help push this new format.
4. American Sport
In the near future there will be an American Football at Wembley and I fully understand the ides to help spread the sports popularity and increase the fan base but there are two issues.
Firstly NFL Europe has just closed down. This was the best way to promote interest and allowed a route for good European players to act as role models and maybe break into the professional ranks. It also acted as a good breeding ground for second string American players to get some experience of playing time.
The second issue is that they have had the same idea for an ice hockey and basketball games but there are already professional ice hockey and basketball leagues in the UK. We can hope that these games don't take spectators from UK teams but promotes interest and increases the number of people playing.
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Anyway there is a touch of excitement and apprehension. After all we might be brilliant. Check out our progress at http://www.norfolkkorfball.co.uk/. I am in Norwich City 3.
Thursday, 27 September 2007
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Also the whole of the Georgian team Paliko Jimsheladze, Otar Barkalaia, Meko Kvirikashvili, Bessik Khamashuridze, Irakli Machkhaneli, George Shkinini, George Elizbarashvili, Otar Eloshvili, Makho Urjukashvili, Irakli Guiorgadze, David Katcharava, Rezo Guigauri, Irakli Abusseridze, Bidzina Samkharadze. Goderdzi Shvelidze, Avtandil Kopaliani, Mamuka Magrakvelidze, David Khinchaguishvili, David Zirakashvili, Akvsent Guiorgadze, Ilia Zedguinidze, Victor Didebulidze, Mamuka Gorgodze, Levan Datunashvili, Guia Labadze, Besso Udessiani, Rati Urushadze, George Chkhaidze, Zviad Maissuradze and Ilia Maissuradze. I mean I can't stop laughing at the commentators attempts with this selection of names
(PS I like cut and paste)
Monday, 10 September 2007
"There are two types of hard drive, those that are broken and those that are about to break"
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
While everyone arrives there is some shooting at the post as a kind of unofficial warm up and the action of shooting is so unusual and uses muscles that are not normally exercised that your arms get tired really quickly. After a bit of fitness work and some words of motivation we divide up to practice skills and Marian takes all the new people and tries to show them the basic. You realise that half will never come back and the other half will return regularly. After the skills work the groups are divided into teams and we play some games. If you are against a new person you try to take it easy so you don't scare them off and if you are against an under thirteen you try not to squash them. In a couple of weeks playing hard will be the norm. There is a small subsection of the under thirteens that have been the biggest/ strongest and fastest at their age group and are a bit cocky. Against those you play hard, intercept passes and block them from the post just to remind them this is the big league now and try to ensure that they play in the team and not the superstar as they used to be.
Good to see that the pattern was followed again this year.
Monday, 3 September 2007
1. Be more organised and try to implement the one touch approach to paperwork (read it and deal with it one touch)
2. Try and mark work more promptly and remember to give it back.
3. Try and find a new job for Sept 2008 in a different country. the favourite at the moment is Canada after really enjoying the trip to North America in the summer.
1. Go and gym or swim four times a week
2. Score at least 75% of all the penalties I take in matches.
3. Improve my long shooting.
1. Wear more shirts to social events
2. Be prepared to be more forceful in large group to put a point across and not just enjoy listening
3. Undertake a new hobby of some description
Happy New Year
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Thursday, 30 August 2007
1. Emu - A people arriving at a Walmart for work found an emu in the car park which she corralled. Not sure that I would get that close to emu as they can kick and peck.
2. Olde fashioned baseball - one of the rules is that the umpire can ask a member of the public of good standard in the community what the decision is if he didn't see them.
3. Sat-Nav - it reminds me of the journey where a man wanted to go from Liverpool to Southampton without using motorways so it suggested he went through Ireland and France to get there.
There have also been a couple of stories that have irritated or provoked strong feelings.
1. Lee Hughes - Lee Hughes was a footballer who caused a death through drink driving and was imprisoned. He served the sentence and has been released and a number of people are up in arms that he is resuming his career. While I do not condone what he did (and he appeared very remorseful on TV) he has paid back his debt to society (although in mine opinion it should have been longer) he is of far more use to society if he has a job, paying tax and acting as warning to others who might be on the same situation. It is not a cushy role as every away fan will remind him of what he has done and it has also cost him around £900 000 a year in wages as his is now playing for Oldham and not West Brom.
2. Camilla - The fact that Diana's sons invited her to the memorial service means that they would like her to be there. The fact that she declined to divert attention is sensible but a lot of Diana's "friends" appeared aghast that she was invited. Sorry it is not your job to be irritated. It might be difficult to accept but maybe Princes William and Harry can see the effect that Camilla has on Prince Charles happiness, maybe they like her. It would appear that there are far more complex emotions involved than love or hate.
3. Prison strike It is dangerous to ignore the no-strike part of your contract as it sets a precedent where the government might ignore parts of your contract like the bit where they pay you.
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
On Sunday they showed a match from Serie A and the following applies. 1 If you score one goal this is a time to attack not to become defensive. 2. if the opposition have a player sent off then quick passing will expose their numerical disadvantage 3. If you have a player sent off then by being only defensive will cost you. 4. If you score an equaliser you might be able to get a winner rather to stop attacking a team who aren't attacking you. Entertainment this game was not and all my prejudices against Italian football were met.
Monday, 27 August 2007
In the news at the moment are the fires in Greece threatening Olympia. A couple of years ago I got to travel there and while earthquakes have reduced the actual buildings to a series of piles of rocks the sense of history and the museum that goes with it were very impressive and I hope the treasures can be saved. It is made worse by the fact that the fires appear to have been arson.
Friday, 24 August 2007
In Geography the exam is in Yr10 and the Yr11 is putting together a portfolio of work. As long as I accurately assess the portfolio, as I have done for the previous three years. after a lengthy calculation I can work out which grade there work is.
In Leisure and Tourism the exam is at Christmas in Yr11 so the same idea applies. It does take the fun and pressure out of the day however which is slightly disappointing.
The absence of Scott, Lisa and Mel to go to Athena's wedding/ party in Cyprus combined with Aaron, Clare and Tim all being away at the same time has left me with lots of time to myself. The poor weather has excluded things I usually do like going to the coast and even just sitting in the park and reading the paper. This has meant having to come up with some rules to help my sanity. Having at least two decent conversations every day. This has meant collaring people and talking at them such as having an indepth discussion with the Amnesty International person in the street on the change in abortion stance their organisation has adopted. I also have to try something new everyday (today which was sushi which is okay but nothing special), go for a walk somewhere and try not to spend too much. The ability to Internet shop is especially tempting.
The laptop issue is just typical of the support we can expect. I am being to suspect that the people who are there to support the staff are often more help than they are worth. So by taking in all the laptops they were to be PAT tested, have the virus software updated and any problems fixed. Instead it still won't connect to the Internet or the data projector, there is no sticker to say it was PAT tested and there is now a password on it which I don't know so can't logon. The technicians are now on holiday until the first day of term.
The electricity company didn't send a bill, then sent a final demand. I then paid the bill promptly and the other day had a message saying I had 7 days before the debt collectors arrived. After a short phone call I got an apology when they looked in the records and found it had been paid.
Bank holiday weekend this weekend so it must be rain
Saturday, 18 August 2007
England 62 Wales 5
England 15 France 21
Scotland 31 Ireland 21
Japan 69 Asia Barbarians 6
Ireland played Bayonne of France
You need to pick an opportunity where you are going to learn something about the form your players are in. If a player plays well for South Africa against Namibia what does this tell you?
You need to pick a team that will compete as otherwise you put yourself under a lot of pressure. Wales picked a second team against England and got hammered. This means that the match against Argentina is almost a must win but it is a friendly. The players are under pressure in a warm up match!
You need a team who don't want to lose their own players. One of the players for Bayonne broke the cheekbone of Brian O'Driscoll by punching him, putting him out of some of the early matches in the World Cup. The player who threw the punch might well get banned but they are not in the World Cup and might have improved France's chances greatly.
You need to be able to compete, although not necessarily win, without giving away any tactics that you want to use in the world Cup. All the coaches have video technology and will break down your set plays, lines of running in the backs and which players are doing which jobs so you need to practice but not give away all your secret weapons.
The following matches are on in the next couple of weeks sparking all kinds of debate and a litany of injuries to factor in to the debate about who will win the World Cup.
Canada v Portugal
Italy v Japan
Wales v Argentina
France v England
Ireland v Italy
Scotland v South Africa
Wales v France
Firstly jet lag appears to be working backwards. I thought that I would be tired when it was night in the US (roughly 4am to 3pm BST) but instead I am tired in the afternoon and wide awake at midnight (10am to 7pm Central Mountain Time).
Secondly my throat is sore and nose runny (maybe the aeroplane recycling the air and bugs).
Thirdly I have an upset stomach which is very odd as I usually have cast iron digestion. Mel said that this is a side effect of jetlag but I am not sure how this works.
Anyway not looking for sympathy just reporting the facts.
Thursday, 16 August 2007
At AS all was as expected all two student have achieved 300 out of 300. This does not mean that they got full marks but got a high enough percentage to be awarded full points. 480 is an A grade after two years work so they are getting close after one.
It has been interesting to see that a lot of the media attention has been about what to do if you do not get the grades you want. This maybe that the rise in passes was not that great. A couple of years ago we got real good at finding the students how weren't going to pass and suggest that continuing was not a great idea. The other big story is that the percentage of students getting A grade is rising but they never realise the actual number of students as this is probably not a story. Students are realising that getting E grades is not very good and with more modules in January most students leave rather than finishing the course. Thus the percentage of students getting an A goes up as the number of people getting E's and U's goes down. Only the actual number of people passing the exam would reveal this.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
The trip was amazing and that was mainly due to the fantastic people who were prepared to put up with me, answer my questions, show me their traditions and welcome me into their homes and way of life. Thank you does not really seem enough but your welcome and help was fully appreciated.
Sarah asked me what the best part of the trip was and I couldn't answer because the trip was so varied that no one point stood out more than any other but I thought I would share a few things not already covered.
Funniest moment - well two really both at the Kansas City baseball match. The first occurred when a ball was hit in the stand two or three rows away from us. Most people were on their feet trying to catch except one lady who remained seated. The ball with unerring accuracy picked out her neighbours glass of beer with the ball sitting in the bottom of the glass and the beer like an alcoholic tidal wave reared up and splashed the poor lady from head to toe. The second occurred when the Kansas City mascot was using an CO2 style gun to shoot promotional hot dogs into the stand. He/she/ it thought it would fire one on to the top tier in the stand only to shot it in into a concrete cross beam 6 feet above his head squashing the hot dog flat.
Most embarrassing moment - getting on the subway train in New York to find it empty. As the doors closed I realised it was at the end of the line and going to the depot. In my haste I had got on the train on the wrong side of the platform. Luckily it went back into service 10 minutes later and let me get off.
Worst decision - deciding to walk from the station to the hotel in Philadelphia in 90 degree heat. It felt like three miles uphill.
Guy the mini-celebrity. At the camp meeting service the pastor asked who had travelled the furthest and yes it was me by about 5800 miles. At the end a succession of people introduced themselves and told me their England story which made me feel very welcome and then the pastor in charge told me all about his Doctor Who fascination and the TARDIS door key ring.
Biggest disappointment - American football game. A let down after all the effort that we went to.
Language issues - in a coffee shop I thought I had ordered two coffees but ended up with three. Must be the accent! Secondly was asked if I wanted pickle in a sandwich. I said yes expecting Branston but got a dill pickle.
Strangest apology- Someone apologised for the American Revolution and becoming an independant nation. Interesting to see what would have happened if there had been no Revolution (didn't do Canada, Australia or New Zealand any harm after all).
On a similar topic most vilified man - George III who during my travels was described as evil, tyrannical and cruel. I am not sure that taxation without representation is any of those and with causalities about even at 50,000 for both sides he is hardly a tyrant. It could be noted that Washington DC (and other areas) currently has taxation without representation!
Weirdest thing - Sales Tax. In the UK Sales Tax (VAT) is in the price that the shop put on the goods. Could you please do this so I can get the correct money ready in advance and not hold up the entire line will I try and sort the dimes, nickels and quarters. Being in 8 states didn't help this either as they are all have different rates.
Most over-rated food: Philly cheese steak - cheese on a steak, its ok but not as amazing as they would have you believe. Hoagies, such intriguing but it is a large sandwich on a baguette roll.
Sarah also asked what I was most looking froward to when I returned home and I struggled to come up with an answer. Usually it is home cooking or sleeping in your own bed etc. but I have had times on my own, in a pair and as part of a family. I have eaten out and also had home cooked delicacies (biscuits and gravy most noticeably), the hotel rooms have ranged from dismal to superb with much more comfortable beds than my own. Access to the Internet has meant I have been able to keep up with the UK news and sport (Go Luton Town:2 wins from 2 games.) I saw my family just before I left so had caught up on all the gossip and plans. I had seen a wide variety of scenery from the coast in New York to the rolling mountains of central Missouri. The one missing ingredient has been my friends but with a lot of them away on holiday I am not sure if they are in Norwich. This lead me to think about what I really like about England. If you asked an American which is the best country in the world most by reflex would say the US but I would ask in what context do you mean best. The UK has it good points and it has its faults. I think the answer it is that I know how it works, what the law in a certain circumstance is, what my rights are and what it all means so that I am totally at ease in situations. Being abroad requires constant thought to achieve your goals and targets whether though language, custom or religion differences whereas being at home does not require the same level of thought (in New York it took me a while to realise that I could use the yellow pages in the room to find what I was looking for; in England that would be the first place I would look). And of course the beer in England is a lot better. Maybe I need to go away more often to help me appreciate that fate.
Results day tomorrow for my A Level kiddies. I will let you know how they get on.
It is only the start however and there are two areas which can be improved. Firstly there are many sprinklers and hoses for watering plants which is fine but you need to use them at dusk not in the middle of the day. This means the water does not evaporate but sinks into the soil and is available for the plant roots. It also stops minerals such as calcium being dragged to the surface through capillary action making the soil less fertile.
Secondly the use of polystyrene/ Styrofoam especially in restaurants. In one sit down restaurant the meal was on a polystyrene plate with a plastic cover. It might keep your ice cubes colder than cardboard for a longer period but you are increasing the US reliance on overseas oil which has political as well as economic outcomes and increases landfill.
The baseball was much better than I expected. I had read up on it but did not fully grasp the rules or the statistics surrounding it. It is a lot like watching cricket in that there is a natural flow to the game and while there are frequent breaks none of them are too long or extended. The only issue I had was that a new pitcher would warm up in the bullpen but then also need to warm up on the mound. Why not fully warm up in the bullpen and not stop the flow of the game?The best match we saw was not at the top MLB level but at the next level done (AAA). The game was attended by about 3000 people so it was not busy, the weather was gorgeous but not too hot, for $10 we got seats 5 rows from the front behind the dugout (and could have got closer) so it was good value. The quality was good and there was the same thrill when there was a hit mixed with the fear it was coming straight for you. The stadium had a down at heel but welcoming feel and you could hear the individual comments from the crowd. There was a particularly funny keep him in, take him out, keep him out, take him in routine when the opposing manager was on the mound considering a pitching change. I also think that all outfielders should not be allowed gloves as it makes outfield catches too routine.
The rodeo I have already commented on and the basketball was okay.
Overall be prepared to be marketed at, this could be for individual feats (10 strikeouts and you get a free burger from...), races on the big screen (if the animated boot beats all the other shoes in the race then get 10% of at ...), give aways (todays free T-shirt comes from...) and through sponsorship (the big screen is brought to you by ...). This is partly the fans fault as if they did not participate and buy products the companies would not get the money and not continue to sponsorship. I will continue to boycott sponsors who create poor adverts.
Be prepared to be organised. There are around 90 home games in a season on all days of the week. You are unlikely to get the same fans going to each game so they need to be organised. Due to the distances involved there are rarely many away fans so there is no need to be out chant the home fans. Organising includes telling you when to clap your hands, shout, cheer etc. Having been to many football and rugby games where the fans organise themselves it felt a bit strange.
Hear the National Anthem get murdered. Apart from Kansas City where a 13 year girl outsang everyone else nearly all the attempts to sing the US National Anthem did an effective job of forgetting the words or murdering the tune. I am not sure that Americans need to be reminded what country they are in but could we have a taped singer to protect the eardrums (At the end of the Simpson's movie they sing the Marseilles instead).
Have your concentration broken. There are wandering food vendors, people going to get food, Mexican waves, beachballs in the crowd and interviews over the tannoy. In one baseball game the person sat next to me arrived in the third inning, was getting food in the 6th inning and left after 8. Not sure why he came to the ballpark but watching baseball did not seem to be the reason. Sometimes there are so many distractions that even I forget that there was a game of sport in progress.
In conclusion if you are in the US go and see a rodeo or AAA baseball for the best entertainment and value for money.
Sunday, 12 August 2007
One of the most obvious things especially when the State Fair is in town is the number of pickup trucks which come in every shape and size. It took me a while to figure out what there wasn't there and that was white vans. This also leads to a loss of a whole socio-economic group the white van man as the Sun newspaper points out winning the vote of White Van Man is key to winning the general election and being able to form the government.
The only issues that I have are that indicators can be red and on the back of cars at night they don't stand out and junctions are generally labelled well when you get to them and are easy to use of you know where you are going but not so well labelled as you approach multi lane junctions (intersections) that you are unfamiliar with.
Currently in Nashville, Tennessee and flying to New York tomorrow. I still can't believe Sarah let me talk her in to some of these journeys. I knew that places were far apart but I was naive in just how far apart they were. When I suggested going to a baseball game I did not realise there was also a total of three hours of driving involved. Going to Nashville also was further away than I thought. Yesterday we drove for about 500 miles and although we saw no traffic jams it still took 9 hours. If someone was coming to visit me and suggested a 9 hour drive for a two day visit I would kindly point out it was a 9 hour drive away and that there were a lot of other places to visit.
Again have managed to secure a lovely hotel with pool for a cheap price. I advise you to use expedia to book hotel rooms as they just keep producing top deals.
Saturday, 11 August 2007
The first one that we saw was deciding on Miss Missouri State Fair. In the part we saw each contestant had to explain how a particular topic affected them and agriculture in general whilst wearing a sparkly ballgown. The topic surprised me a little for instance how does BSE affect you and agricultural. The answer ranged for the obviously learnt, plain wrong and surprisingly good. Sarah accurately predicted the winner and she ended up as the overall winner as well. Maybe the decision to wear a bright yellow dress helped as most of the others were in red.
The second was pig racing which was really fun and well done. The couple that run it played along to the stereotype so well it had you wondering if it was real or not. With pigs running such as Lindsay Loham the gags and humour were great and audience participation was encouraged well.
The third was similar to a dressage event except that you would have multiple riders and horses in the ring simultaneously. Sadly in some classes there was only one rider making it look a bit like a dying art. It was interesting to try and pick a winner as the horse walked, trotted and cantered passed and I was usually wrong. Luckily as reported earlier in the blog there was no-one in a class on there own who came second or third.
The final one was a rodeo which was really good. The pace between events usually flowed well and the action did not stop. There was bronco and bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, wagon racing and barrel riding (a race around a course of barrels). There was obviously a lot of skill, strength, balance and bravery required especially for the bull riding which looks mad especially as if you come off quickly there are a steel gates to one side and an angry bull to the other. The wagon racing looked like it was going to be good until one of the competitors tried the equivalent of a hand brake turn and one of the wheels fell off thus ending the race. My favourite was the barrel riding as it was fast and exciting and as times were around 15 seconds it gave you a chance to get into it a bit more whereas wrestling a steer in 5 seconds is a superb piece of rodeo skill it does not give you time to get into it before it is over.
Overall the day was really fun and exciting and I now need to go to the Norfolk Show to compare the experience.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Both Sarah and I have arrived safely at her parents close to Sedalia after a long drive. I did not realise it was quite as far as it was and the route that we took circled in and out of the Ozark hills stopping off to see some of the sites such as Elephant Rocks and Johnson Shut-ins. The area is gorgeous and reminded me of a large version of Southern Scotland around Loch Katrin with its wooded slopes, rolling hills and streams and creeks. This was in contrast with the area around Advance which reminded me of Norfolk with flat, agricultural lands and small rural communities. In the end we were on the road from around 8am to 5pm and I felt guilty about asking Sarah to do the amount of driving that we did, I think she became moulded to the shape of the seat. It wouldn't be so bad but we have a longer drive to Nashville on Saturday. I will have to contribute but I am worried about my reactions as this might put us in more danger.
Today I have seen the areas around where Sarah grew up such as her school replete with year book photo and church which is interesting, as well as seeing Sarah with her family. Whenever families get together people seem to revert to their role in the complex family unit. I know that I do. Seeing the way Sarah interacts with her parents and brother and the extent to which they can wind each other up shows they have strong bonds.
That is all for now. The baseball in Kansas City and the Missouri State fair are coming up in the next few days before heading to Nashville.
Monday, 6 August 2007
Sunday, 5 August 2007
I might also have left a couple of door openers disappointed as I just said thank you. Someone also offered to carry my bag but having lugged it around airports and metro stations I wasn't going to pay someone to take it to the lift for me.
Before I came to DC I had read about it being the murder capital of the US and having talked to Marianne (Sarah's cousins wife) who live in DC and she had said that it was difficult to pick a safe area as one block can be safe and the next to it wouldn't be. This was highlighted because between the hotel (on a renovated block) and the metro station there was a derelict block with some buildings boarded up and some being pulled down. Generally in the places I have visited the central areas have undergone gentrification (which is where old houses are renovated, turned into apartments/condominiums and sold for extortionate prices to raise the class of an area and drive away crime) and also have a high police presence so feel safe and I have no problems.
The hotel in Washington was amazing. It mainly deals with business men and people at weekends as the convention centre is one block away but as there were no conventions and it was not a busy weekend so I got a $325 a night room for around $75. It was three rooms with a lounge, room and bathroom. I fell on my feet there. Thank you Expedia.
The only bad thing about the visit to DC was trying to visit the Capitol where both halves of Congress sit. You get a ticket with a time on it and I got mine saying 10am.At 9.50 there was a security alert as someone from a previous tour left a bag unattended and the tours where suspended but the did not stop giving out tickets. After about an hour at 11am the alert was over and there were about ready to start and they made everyone line up with the people with the early tickets at the back. So I would have faced another hour of standing in line in 90 degree heat. I had already had to go back to the hotel once as you are not allowed to take in bottles or creams so the prospect of no water, suncream and standing in line for a second hour made me leave and I went and sat in the Botanical Garden nearby which is a very pleasant and educational place.
Strange things about Washington DC
1. The pedestrian crossings have a count down on them so you know how long it will before the stop light comes up.
2. The bank I went into had a airlock type door where only one person can enter at a time.
3. National Airport is so close that when you are in the monuments remembering past American presidents there is almost the perpetual sound of low flying aircraft.
3. Neo classical pillar deign is used on almost all of the major buildings including White House, Capital building and both Lincoln and Jefferson Monuments. This also extends to the first and second bank in Philadelphia.
4. There is no J street as the j script looked to much like an I (but the I didn't look to much like a 1 or the 0 like a 0??)
5. You can see the change in stone colour on the Washington Monument where they changed during the long gap in its construction.
6. The centre of Washington is over a canal that was originally designed to take the president by barge from the white house to the Capitol
7. The light in the National Archives where they store the American Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and Magna Carta is 2 footcandles. That is the same as being one foot from 2 candles. Normal sunlight is 110 footcandles. I mean I can use imperial of metric but footcandles. Please!
Am now in Advance and went to church to see Sarah preach on the topic of greed and how living a more simple live would allow us to give to those less fortunate than ourselves which for some one in the middle of a three week vacation (holiday) hit a bit of a chord.
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
All alcohol supplies have to be made from the State Government so it is one of the largest alcohol purchasers in the world. It also takes about three months to order something that they don't stock.
Cars don't have front number (licence) plates so I keep thinking they are new.
A lot of the streets are named after trees usually the species that grew there which is incongruous now that it is all buildings.
Off to Washington DC today staying at the Morrison Clark Hotel, hopefully it will live up to Philadelphia. Not sure what the Internet availability will be like but having a free Internet connection in the room has been very useful .