Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eyjafjallajokull plans on keeping me in London

My flight from Heathrow to Newark was on the 17th of April.  Unfortunately, this Icelandic volcano decided that instead it wanted to erupt on the 14th and emit a huge cloud of volcanic ash and subsequently ground ALL flights from the UK.  So, here I am.  Crashing in my friend's dorm room for the fifth night in a row and praying that tomorrow the third time really is a charm.  After having my flight initially rescheduled for today at 6:30pm and then cancelled (again) I'm booked on a flight at the same time tomorrow, the 21st.  Only 4 days after I was supposed to leave initially, so better than most I guess.  Reports of new eruptions keep popping up, and I really have no idea when the airspace is actually going to be opened.  They were going to open up Scotland this morning but that plan was put on hold when the new ash cloud rolled in.

Supposedly Gordon Brown is deploying ships to retrieve stranded Brits abroad (though not yet from the US, guess it's too far?) and if he decides to extend those ships to the US I really consider hopping aboard.  So far, I have heard no news about what the US is doing to get citizens home from abroad... I guess they're very limited, seeing as anything they attempted to do would take a significant amount of time to reach the UK in the first place.  But still.  THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING. 

Hopefully, I get home soon.  Everyone cross their fingers.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bidding farewell to London...

I'm well aware I've been absolutely terrible about updating this... I think I always knew I would be, but held out hope that somehow I could bring myself to be on my game and on my computer.  But alas, I haven't posted anything of note in about a month and a half, so all I can possibly tell you know is that my time here was PHENOMENAL, and save a more detailed description for when I have maybe 3 hours to sit and type it all out.  Suffice to say, I'm packing up my life here and moving out of my London flat, a surreal experience, really.  I'm going to miss this city, but all I really want now is to be HOME.

First, though, I'm spending the next two weeks going to Cardiff, then Norway, and then Paris for a little bit.  Should be an adventure!  I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pigeon Obesity: An Ethnosocioeconomic Tragedy

By Bhumi Purohit and Rebecca Schaefer

Merely decades ago, these majestic winged creatures roamed the skies, loyally and arduously seeking out wounded homo sapiens in the horrendous times of World War I and World War II. When they weren’t receiving the Dicken Medal for their bravery and service to society, these noble mortals dedicated themselves to postal service. Today, however, they have been reduced to mere ‘rats of the sky’ and are resigned to an everlasting search to satiate their never-ending hunger.

“These pigeons are just barmy, mate. I’m minding my own business, roasting my nuts, but the bloody rockers swarm me and my nuts all day long,” said Alistair Milliband, expert peanut roaster who runs his cart business near Millennium Bridge. Milliband is referring to the gray rock pigeons, commonly and controversially known as rockers, for both their color and their supposed lack of intelligence.

Pigeon expert Yevgeni Missengre attributed the rockers’ percieved dim-wittedness to their social falling after World War II, when their class and status was deemed overly-noble by the more powerful white-headed pigeons. The whiteys – a commonly used name for the white-headed species in the scientific community – have often been called the ‘popular rats’ of the sky, an observation attributed to their dashing good looks and their twiggy nests atop high canopies.

“After World War II, whiteys demoralized rockers using slangs like ‘oom’ and ‘uk uuk,’ so much so that rockers were only allowed to serve society via eating,” said Missengre. “Once loyal, hard-working, and at the top of their game, today, the rockers only use those qualities to find anything and everything to put in their beaks.”

Mallard necrophilia expert Don Carrier, who is also well-versed on pigeons, recently found 89.72% of rockers to be “mortally obese.” Carrier said the current state of rockers is due to decades of prejudice.

“It’s an ethnosocioeconomic tragedy,” said Carrier. “Their story must be told.”

However, Bono Presley, leader of the gray rock pigeons, said his species is still strong and more dedicated than ever, regardless of the focus of their dedication.

“WHOO uuk oom uk,” Presley commented.

Photo: Pigeons take a brief break from hunting for sustenance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Long time, no blog

Oh hey, it's been a while.
I have trouble remembering what I do, really, with all of my time. I feel like I have a decent amount of free time, and I'm nowhere near as idle as I can be (just ask my roomie at school, or my parents haha) yet I never feel like I have anything exciting to say.
I guess I didn't do anything last Sunday after my last post, and the school/work week is less than exciting. Except I noticed for the first time last week that my Tube to work goes past a golf course every morning, and it reminds me of my Dad and brothers. :)
Work has been the same, classes are typical. This past Thursday I stayed with my good friend from Goucher, Perry, again and subsequently went clubbing, again. Sensing a pattern here? Hmm... we'll see how that goes, haha. I can't say it wasn't fun! The weekend after that was pretty much a wash, we had a paper due on Monday for one of our classes that no one had started yet, so that had most of the weekend dedicated to it. Bhumi, our friend Kelsey and I did walk around on Saturday night to try and find a nice pub to just spend a little time in, and we ended up outside the 3 Tuns at LSE talking to the bouncer (whose name was Sasha) for about half an hour. We didn't even want to go in, we just asked him how much the cover was (£5, ick) and suddenly we were embroiled in a debate about why people from the States give everything strange names. Really I think no matter what we had named things, he still would have thought his was better, haha.
Oh! Sunday I played volleyball! I had e-mailed the captains of both the mixed and the all-girls teams, but only the mixed responded to let me know that I could 'try out' on Sunday night, because they practice then from 7-9pm. I was nervous, because I haven't had to actually try out for a team since high school, but what ended up happening was that I went, only 6 other people came, and we just played 4 on 3 the entire time! The balls themselves were TERRIBLE, my arms still feel bruised, but it was still nice to be on the court playing. I certainly didn't prove myself an all-star, but I'll definitely be back next weekend.
Monday night I got to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which is a Tennessee Williams play that is supposed to be amazing. I thought it was very good; I had no idea what it was about going in (and I'm not gonna tell you now) and it certainly wasn't what I expected. The acting was outstanding, though. Perhaps the best part- we bought £10 tickets the same day (it's a special deal for same-day ticket purchase earlier in the day) and when we showed up at night, they looked at our tickets at the door and ushered us over to the ticket booth to be upgraded! We were in maybe the 12th row, right on the floor. They were excellent seats- for only £10! I do love a good deal.
Now, well, now I'm at work. Schweeeet. I have to go back through all of my spreadsheets because I'd been using the 2007/08 expenses for my data, but the 08/09 were just updated, meaning I get to do them allllll over again. Then I get to go through this: http://www1.sky.com/news/expenses.pdf which is Sir Thomas Legg's expenses report that was just published last week. It details the repayments that MPs are expected to make- though it doesn't include all 647.
I should go do that now... okay, that's all for now!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Take note!

The After Skool Klub is a place wherein you must go in a group larger than two, and having imbibed a SIGNIFICANT amount of alcohol beforehand. If you have not accomplished either of those things, make friends with the half Brazilian and half Italian girl in front of you on line who can give you discount coupons to get in and introduce you to all of her friends whose names you can't pronounce- oh, except for Anna.

Then try to avoid, as I failed to do, getting slapped on the butt by an incredibly drunk, skinny, bald man as he makes some weird sort of mating call at you while you walk. It is a slightly disturbing experience.

But for serious, there was a nice walk along the Thames before going to the 'Klub' that reinforced to me that London is absolutely beautiful at night, the London Eye a circle of lights and Parliament and Big Ben boasting their own pretty illumination.

Back again!

I'm falling into the daily routine of life here, classes on Monday for 2 hours (total, hallelujah) and then Tuesday through Thursday I head off to Sky News. As much as I do love my job, the commute can be annoying. I have to be into work by nine, and it's about an 1:15 minute commute. So I wake up at nine, walk to the Central Line at Chancery Lane, transfer to the Piccadilly Line at Holborn and sit, or stand, for about 40 minutes until I hit Osterley. Then I catch the Sky News shuttle from Osterley Station (or the Harrods shuttle) and I'm home free! Basically what it boils down to is that if I make it to the Piccadilly by 8, I'll get to work on time provided I don't miss the shuttle at the station. The commute actually reminds me a lot of what I did this summer (though I'm going city to suburbs now, instead of vice versa) but it's free! Thank god for unlimited Oyster Cards from Zones 1-4.

But anyway, nothing particularly exciting has gone on since I last typed- I went out Thursday night to the LSE pub and then a quaint pub called The Old Red Lion for a few drinks with Bhumi (flatmate) and Eric (a fellow Gopher).
Friday during the day Bhumi and I went down to SoHo and tried this vegan lunch buffet. Though Bhumi wasn't completely enamoured with the calibre of food, I stuffed my face. Walking was difficult, especially the getting out of the chair to do so part. Friday night very relaxed, we wrote cover letters and searched for internships to apply to.

This morning we headed out to the infamous Burough Market, which was kind of cool but kind of expensive. It's pretty easy to get to, right by the London Bridge Underground Station off the Northern Line. I bought epic bread pudding and some artichoke hearts, and Bhumi bought a bunch of fresh produce for relatively cheap. We decided to mix it up a little bit and take the bus home, which may not have been the best idea because we were nearly frozen by the time it got to us! However, it was pretty cool to sit on the top of a double decker bus for the first time. But take note- make sure you hold on when going up and down the stairs. I almost killed myself when the bus started moving as I was going up the steps!
The ride almost ended in catastrophe, too, when we got off the bus, I looked down, and I realized that I had. no. purse. Cue freak out. I looked up to see the bus driving away, briefly shrieked "I left my purse!" and took off running. Luckily for me, the bus driver had to stop at a red light just down the road. I did the frantic knocking on the bus door and miming what a purse looked like and he graciously let me onto the bus, drove another block, and dropped me off again. All the while Bhumi was dying of laughter on the sidewalk.

Anyway! Tonight we're heading off to the Afterschool Club (at least that's the plan right now) so we'll see how that goes...the goal is to meet Brits, hopefully! :D

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More than a fortnight has gone by...

Wowww, I should have started this as soon as I got here but hey, I'm a procrastinator to the core. It's been over 2 weeks and I'm finally settling in to life in London!

I got here on the 9th, after my first solo, not to mention first international, flight! The flight was fine, except for the very nice but very pregnant woman next to me who needed to pee quite often. I just watched a lot of Dexter and How I Met Your Mother, which is quite a good way to pass time. It was freeeeeezing when I got here, my ride from the airport (this awesome Brit named Stuart who works with my mother) told me it had been snowing for about three weeks and London was a wee bit panicky about how to deal with all of it. It was funny, because all I saw was about 2 inches of snow built up. Reminded me of Maryland, really, where Goucher panics at the prospect of precipitation.

My first week was a huge orientation, moving into our flat and getting to know the area around us- how we would get to the LSE and to Westminster. Of course it's taken me much longer to figure out where I'm going, as those of you who know of my direction-handicapped escapades can fully understand.
So! Brief recap of the first week, because writing all of the last two would take forevah.
In no particular order, we took a bus tour of London wherein we were forced occasionally to get out of our nice warm bus and look at buildings and bridges while being whipped in the face by biting wind. The point of the tour was to give us a better idea of where everything was in London and do a brief fly-by of all the really important sites and where they are (but of course I was still as lost as when we started and had no idea how to get back to anything).
Then there was the tour of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, which was an amazing experience simply because of the history contained there. Being in rooms where monarchs have stood and where the history of a country has been decided is pretty heady. We went to the Parliamentary Archives the next day (or was it the day after?) and THAT was awesome. We were allowed to touch scrolls that were centuries old- without gloves! Just touching things that Henry the VIII had signed, no big deal.
I'm sure we did more that week, let's see.... saw a musical called Blood Brothers, it's the longest running show in Britain apparently, and it was actually much better than I thought it would be! I had the music from it stuck in my head for pretty much the rest of the next week.
What else... had a few classes, listened to a few speakers, yadda yadda. Going into the second week, did lots of touristy stuff, like walking across the Millennium Bridge and then down the Thames River, and then walking back across the River over the Tower Bridge (which I definitely always thought was London Bridge).

So! We started our internships last week, and I'm working at Sky News! It's BBC's biggest competitor, and a really great resume builder. I'm on the General Election News Team, which is doing all of the research building up to the Election that Gordon Brown is expected to call by early June. The research I did my first week (which has been modified for the second) was to find every single candidate for every single constituency, what the incumbent MP's expenses were for the last year, the potential swing needed for the next closest party to win the seat, etc. There are almost 700 constituencies, and usually about 4 candidates, including the incumbent MP. So in 3 days, I got to constituencies starting with the letter C. Thankfully, we've narrowed it down to the about 250 constituencies that are going to be discussed (most likely) on actual Election night, which has significantly cut down on the tedium. If only the Conservative Party's website had worked today, I would have finished (potentially) up to the beginning of the Fs! Tomorrow! Onward and upward!

But back to this weekend- Friday I got to see the lovely Perry Shusterman, which I have been looking forward to since I saw here a week ago when she had just flown in. I spent the night with her at the University of Westminster, only 3 stops away on the Tube! She got me out of my shell and I went with her and her friends to this not-so-aptly named club, Mother. Despite the strange name, it was a lot of fun and I met some really cool people.

My most recent touristy thing also occured this weekend, we went to Platform 9 3/4! Went twice, actually, but the second time I took better photos, haha. See?

Post-Platform two of my flatmates and I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, or V&A for short, and wandered around. Bhumi (one of my flatmates) and I found this area where you can try on various costumes from plays and subsequently had wayyyyy too much fun playing dress up as if we had reverted to 5!

Last night Bhumi, our flatmate Marissa and I ended up in Stratford at the Theatre Royal for free stand-up comedy, which was a nice little adventure. :) Two of the comedians were quite funny, one I could just manage to sit through and the last... well, we left early. But still! It was good to get out of the flat and see the parts of London that aren't in the guidebook.

All right, that was really rambling and random and not at all comprehensive, but I think I'm done for now, haha. Thank god, right? If anyone is still reading this I'll be significantly impressed. More updates soon! Possibly ones with more pictures, oh dear.