Lots of pictures. I hope this doesn't stagger your download connection.

Doug and Lynne, Walking
Doug and Lynne, in walking gear.

As Billy Connolly says, "There's no such thing as bad weather. Only the wrong clothes." In England, if you change your plans because the weather is bad, you'll never do anything. So walking requires waterproof boots, pants you don't mind getting muddy, rain gear, and protection from the cold.

Our models here are Lynne and Doug. Lynne is my aunt, and enough like my mom that staying with them felt almost like home. Usually they look much more elegant and even a bit posh, but I caught them while we were out walking one day!

Con and Clare
Con and Clare

I hadn't seen Con for an even decade, since Lynne and her boys came over to visit us in Ringgold, and us kids spent Christmas down in the basement listening to (now old-school) DC Talk and playing (now old-school) Lucas Arts adventure games like Loom and Zak McKraken. Clare is Con's bride of just over a year, and they are the most perfect couple you can imagine. We got along famously from the start, and I was sad to say goodbye and board the train. Their surprise parting gift of an 80's Hits CD was perfect. (Incidentally, one of my goals for this year is to practice up a repertoire of cheesy 80's hits on the piano, since they always seem to go over so well!)

Phil and Helen
Phil and Helen

And here's the other twin, with his significant other, Helen. I didn't get to spend much time with them, since they were headed off to New York for the New Year, but Helen seemed very nice too. Perhaps I'll get to see them here in London before I flit off to Croatia.

Lynne and Oll, cooking
Lynne and Oll, cooking

And finally, Oll. Shown with Lynne, in her posh kitchen (all Doug's work, except for the floor - he's amazing), cooking Christmas dinner. I didn't realize turkey is traditional for Christmas in England - what do you know? Actually, I didn't realize that England is trying to turn slowly into the 51st state of the USA. It's creepy. Of course they're still very English and all, but the influence from America is surprisingly strong. Maybe I'll put up a top ten interesting observations about England. Anyway, back to Oll. He's finishing up his masters, and then off on his "gap year", travelling (literally) around the world.

Oll and Zellyn, playing chess
Oll and Zellyn, playing chess

Finally, I guess I should include a picture of myself. Here's a shot taken by Lynne of Oll and I playing chess, along with some Christmas cheer. (Note the poshness)

Well, that's all for now. Have a happy New Year!


Merry Christmas!

cloudy sky
Cloudy Sky, Wakefield.

I'll post more pictures as I get a chance. I had an absolutely wonderful Christmas visiting with my aunt and cousins and various friends and family in Wakefield. Right now I need to catch the train and buy some staples at Tesco so I can eat tonight!
I miss all of you back in the States.


Sun two days in a row!

Docklands and Millenium Dome
The view from in front of my block of flats - Docklands and the Millenium Dome

I had to take this picture on the way over to the tube today. Today was the second day in a row we've been able to see the sky and the sun. That hasn't happened since last Monday when I arrived!

Tuesday night, our London office had their Christmas party. It was amazingly lavish, compared with the shoestring budget affair the week before in Atlanta. Dinner in a large ballroom, a band, dancing... unfortunately, I only knew about three or four people, so I left after it got loud. Yesterday we got word that more of our friends in the States got laid off. It's not even surprising anymore. Just the usual scramble to email and IM and check who got hit, and who didn't, then business as usual.

I'm looking forward to Saturday, when I'll get to see my cousins and aunt for the first time in six years. Actually, I haven't seen Con in about nine years, since he was in South Africa when I was last in England. Sweet.

Trent got done with his final presentation on Tuesday. Now he just has to figure out what he's going to do next. I think he's staying in Toronto. I would too!


"Weak and wobbly people"

Field for the British Isles - Antony Gormley
Field for the British Isles - Antony Gormley
(Image found on jimcromwell.mcmail.com)

Thousands and thousands of little clay figures, filling the floor of a large room from wall to wall, all looking up at you. Each one is unique - a different shape, a different personality. Patches of different colours alternate like cloud shadows, and along the back wall, the heights undulate like trees across gentle hills. Every now and then, a particularly tall figure sticks out from those around it. And all are gazing at you. The ones at your feet are looking almost straight up. For some reason, it's very solemn, almost serious, and leaves you grinning from ear to ear just thinking about it as you walk away.

The phrase at the top of this entry is from a prayer at Holy Trinity Brompton by the vicar, Sandy Millar, at the evening service I went to after the museum. "Lord, we're sorry for being such weak and wobbly people." That's certainly how I feel often. And I wonder how God feels, looking out from his doorway at an endless field of weak and wobbly figures made out of clay, stretching from his feet out to the far horizons, staring up at him, watching, waiting. I suppose he knows both sides, since he stood on the floor gazing up too, once.

This alone is worth a visit to the British Museum. I'll probably go back once before I leave London to see it again. (Sorry for the non-original image, but no photos were allowed in the exhibit.)


Liverpool Station
Liverpool Station

Damn. It's 7:10pm on Friday night, and I'm just leaving work. And I'll be working tomorrow.

Oh well, this was the price to pay for having them fly me to England. Next Saturday I'll be visiting Aunt Lynn and my cousins in Wakefield...


The Royal Exchange at night
The Royal Exchange

Our office is next to the Royal Bank of Scotland branch, between the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England. So when someone parks their car on a double yellow line right outside our door, and then goes off for a couple of hours, it causes problems. When the owner returned to his car, the police had broken both triangular rear windows, forced the trunk open, investigated with robots, and shut down the entire financial district for a couple of hours.

We all wound up down in the building's basement, which is apparently very safe, and quite spacious. I bumped into my friend Anandha, whom I met in the Boston office a couple of years ago. One of his more enterprising teammates rustled up a couple of dozen Stella Artois which happened to be lying about in a fridge in the basement, and we settled down to swap stories and catch up. Somehow, we managed to endure the wait until the all-clear was given.

The really intriguing thing is that the guy who parked his car there was furious with the police for damaging it. I'm guessing he can't be held liable for the cost of shutting down England's economy for two hours - probably he'll just have to pay 100 pounds or so for parking illegally on a double line. Which in my opinion is probably worth the price of the answer he'll be able to give when asked, "So, what did you do today?"


Last night I went bowling with a group of folks from HTB Church at Queensway. It was the end-of-year bash for what they call their "pastorate" - which is made up of 3 or 4 small groups - and they were kind enough to invite me. I had a good time, although my final score was dismal! I'm looking forward to going to HTB on Sunday evening. Apparently the 5pm service is the cool one...

In other news - either my jacket from REI is something special, or Londoners are wimps. Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about how terribly cold it is. Sure, it's cold, but not that bad. Then again, it hasn't started raining yet...



My body is still trying to figure out what's going on. It feels like today started sometime yesterday, and I've eaten the normal regular meals, except there have been five of them so far instead of three. I've talked with our team in India, and chatted with friends in the US, across three timezones and something like 10½ hours time difference!

The weather was gorgeous today, although I haven't been out much. The cab ride from Victoria Station took me past Buckingham Palace, a couple of asian tour groups, along the Thames for a while, past that big wheel thing, and countless double-decker buses, London cabs, and red telephone booths. London is pretty much just as I remembered it.

Sorry - no pictures yet. Soon, I promise!


would delicate language still the ache?

Who knows what fridge magnet poetry ever means? Mostly it's just for the evocative sounding words. And sometimes by shuffling magnets you can figure out what you're feeling. This is almost three years old. I just saw it again the other day. I had to rescue "delicate" from another poem - I'm not sure whether one of my roommates or some passing friend wrote this one:

delirious ly delicate
as a shadow y goddess
she rain ed like storm s mist
after winter was over

It's coming up on three years since the date our marriage was supposed to happen, and I've been thinking about it quite a bit. Not least of all because it feels like the three years are finally coming to a close - I can feel spring coming!


Okay, so I found out today that I'm going to London for a couple of weeks for work. Then, instead of flying back home for Christmas, I'm going to visit Aunt Lynn, and my cousins, whom I have not seen since 1996! Then, instead of coming back home before my trip to Chris and Andreja's wedding in January, I'm going to stay on the project in London. Crazy. I guess I need to buy a digital camera! Maybe this weblog will actually become interesting...

From To Date Leave Arrive Via
Atlanta London 8 Dec (Sunday) 8:35pm 9:30am Paris
London Zagreb 17 Jan (Friday) 7:30am 2:05pm  
Zagreb Sarajevo 18 or 19 Jan ? ? Bus
Sarajevo Zagreb 29 Jan ? ? Bus
Zagreb London 30 Jan (Thursday) 9:15am 2:35pm Paris
London Atlanta 31 Jan (Friday) 11:10am 3:40pm  


Last night, I watched Chungking Express. 4½ stars. Although there isn't much of a story, the film is full of images, statements, and moments that will stay in your thoughts long after the movie is over.

I know it's just my ignorance, but I have a picture of old films as heavy-handed and over-acted, and expect Asian films to be farcical, full of kung-fu moves and wirework, or alien to my western way of thinking. Most of the last dozen movies I've watched have been either old or foreign (or both), and almost all of them have been deft, subtle, and altogether fabulous.

It's funny, even when you know your preconceptions are silly, they stick with you. A good remedial course of film-watching is in order.