Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Book Report - Making History

This week's reading selection is Making History by Stephen Fry

About the Author:

Stephen Fry is a British Author, comedian, actor, and director. His other books include: The Liar, The Hippopotamus, and The Stars' Tennis Balls. His television credits include The Black Adder, and Jeeves and Wooster.

About the book:

The plot is straight-forward enough. A doctoral candidate at Cambridge is attempting to get his dissertation, which concerns the early life of Adolph Hitler, accepted so that he can get on with the next part of his life; the high-excitement of professorship at St. Matthew's College, Cambridge. That is until his life takes a tragic turn that begins when his girlfriend leaves him.

The plot involves time travel and changing history. The novel is divided into two books the first concerning "real" history and the second concerning and alternative history in which Hitler had never been born. Although the subject matter is a bit dark, the book (thus far) is well written and treated in a wonderfully humorous manner that has given me many a chuckle this far.

At the mid-point of the book I would recommend it.

Don Bergquist - 31-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Monday, August 29, 2005

Book Report (A New Feature)

This week, I have decided to start a new feature on my blog; a feature I am calling "Book Report."

Now that I am riding the bus to work I have a lot more time to read. At least I have more time that I am not doing anything else that enables me to spend more time reading. I think that these book reports will be a nice way for me to review the books that I am reading and to allow you to get to know something of my literary taste. (...or lack thereof as the case may be.)

Yes, I am doing my civic duty to keep petroleum usage down - I have been taking the bus since I got back from London the last time... before t hit three-dollars-a-gallon to top-up the tank. It is not so much the cost of gas, my car doesn't burn that much anyway, but it is a relief not having to drive into town every day.

So, every Wednesday I plan to present you with a book report on the reading material I have chosen for the bus that week. I have selected a new book and will report on in on Wednesday. Last week, I completed Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. I really enjoyed it but, then I had read it before a long time ago.

It is a very though provoking novel. The novel discusses topics of belief, behavior and custom. Valentine Michael Smith is the only survivor of the first manned mission to Mars. He is the son of the captain of the ship and the wife of the ship's doctor. When all the adults in the crew die of unknown causes, Smith is adopted by the Martians. Twenty-six years later he is discovered by the crew of the second manned mission to Mars.

The novel concerns itself with Smith's integration to the Human society which he has never know he was a part of.

I hope you will enjoy these reports and that it encourages you to read some of the books I have shared with you. If you'd care to comment on my reading selections, please either comment the entries (to share your thoughts with others) or click the email link to send me your feedback.

Don Bergquist - 29-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Day Dawning

Blues Traveler Makes the following observation:

Some day an answer will find us
Quite a long shot, but anyway
I think the past, the past is behind us
Be real confusing if not, but anyway
I put all my hope in tomorrow
It's gonna be great, I can tell but anyway
I see a new, a new day a dawning
I like to sleep late, oh well, but anyway

I have always liked that song and the fact that I have a morning shot (yes, another one!) on my page this week is what made me think of it.

There were a number of new starts this week. I started taking Saga to the dog wash instead of the groomer. Saga doesn't like the groomer and I am not sure that I like sending her there. With my torn ACL, kneeling at the edge of the tub doesn't really work either. So we went to the Dog Wash on Saturday.

The Dog Wash is an enclosed room inside a local pet store that has perhaps half a dozen elevated tubs and grooming tables. For a small fee, the user can bring in their dog, wash, dry, and groom them. They provide the shampoo, the conditioner, the towels, and the driers and brushes. It is pretty cool.

Other than that, I took a morning hike. It is getting cool enough in the morning and decided that I like walking in the mornings before sunrise again. I am going to make time in my schedule to do so. It had kind-of fallen off when I started working with the UK office and started checking email at 04:30 each morning. I am now going to work later so I can resume my morning hikes with Saga.

That's about it for this week. Perhaps there will be more new starts soon! If so, I'll write about them here later. But anyway...

I hope you have a great day!

Don Bergquist - 28-August-2005 - Lakewood, CO

Monday, August 22, 2005

My Time of the Day

My time of day is the dark time,
A couple of deals before dawn,
When the street belongs to the cop,
And the janitor with the mop,
And the grocery-clerks are all gone.
When the smell of the rain-washed pavement,
Comes up clean and fresh and cold.
And the street lamp light,
Fills the gutter with gold,
That's my time of day-
My time of day

Okay, it is from the musical "Guys and Dolls" but it is still appropriate. I love the early morning. This morning, as I was walking Saga in the park across the street, the sun was just about to crest the horizon, there was a thin layer of valley fog blanketing the park. The temperatures were mild, but not really cold; you can tell that fall is on its way!

I love this time of the year! The sun comes up enough to enjoy having breakfast in the garden and it is cool enough to enjoy lingering over my coffee but it is not yet cold enough to make the coffee cool too quickly.

Saga is doing well. She keeps me neat and tidy. Especially in the area directly under the dining table. She makes sure that nothing has been dropped that is even remotely edible.

I am doing well. My knee is on the mend. I am back to all normal activities with the only lingering after-effect of my torn ACL being that if I sit too long my knee is stiff and needs to be stretched and babied for the first few steps. I try and get-up and walk around regularly while I am at the office.

I guess that is it for now. I hope that your morning is pleasant and the rest of your day is too!

Don Bergquist - 22-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Don, The Animal

It is just about midnight on Wednesday night and I am just returning home from a party. I hadn't known there was a party nor had I planned on attending a party, it was just fortuitous that I happened into it. My neighbor, Chuck, sent two of his minions by earlier and coerced me into attending the party.

I'm not really sure which to discuss first, the coercion, or why I was partying with people half my age until midnight on a school night... No! Let's try the moniker as a starting point.

About two years ago, my neighbors at the time were Andy and the two Jakes. (Sounds like a band almost.) I was sitting at home one afternoon, reading out on my deck on a temperate late winter afternoon when one of the Jakes (I never did have last names, so I just thought of them as the two Jakes, or if I needed to specify one or the other, it was either the little Jake, or the big Jake in reference to one's diminutive stature and the other's tall stature.) was dumping a box of empty beer bottles in the trash. He came over and introduced himself to me, my deck being within the line of sight of the trash bins.

"Hi!" he said, coming up to but respecting the fence line, "I'm your neighbor, Jake, and we're having a St. Patrick's day party next week. Please feel free to come." So I did. It was a pretty good party. There was a corned-beef brisket, and lots of snacks and beer. It was not until much later I was to discover that they were all (just barely) legal to drink! Andy, whose parents own the townhouse that backs onto mine, and the two Jakes throw a heck of a party! We were doing keg stands and shots until the wee hours. The next afternoon when I got home from work, little Jake saw me coming back from the mailbox with my mail. He was looking a bit green around the gills. "Didn't go to work, eh?" he said.

I said that I had, that I was just getting home and he asked me if I had come home early because I was still hung-over. "Eh?" I said, "Oh, no. I am at the office every morning by 06:00 so I am usually home around three."

"You must have had a horribly unproductive day." He concluded, obviously nursing a hangover himself.

"Nope." I assured him, "I was raring to go when I walked into the office at 05:45 and worked straight through. Why?"

"You're an Animal!" he concluded and by the time the next party came around, all these kids, half my age, were calling me "Don, the Animal."

This evening, as I was sitting reading, I heard a yell for outside, it was one of the guys from next door. They told me that they were having an eighties party and needed Don the Animal to make it complete. So I came upstairs, put on a couple layered polo shirts, put on my blazer and pushed the sleeves up to the elbows, added a pair of khakis and some shares and headed off to the party. It was a bit unnerving to be the only person there wearing something that they had actually owned in the eighties!

It was a fun party though, this one person was wearing a parachute suit and looked like Michael Jackson. But as I pointed-out, when Thriller was made, Michael Jackson was still black! There was a passable Ozzie Osborne, and a couple pretty good Cindie Laupers. I was, however, the only person there who had been aware of what was going on in the eighties. When I mentioned that I had been the age of the oldest person in the room when I graduated from college in 1984, they all bought me a beer and the party was well, and truly, under way!

But like Cinderella's coach, I will be turning into a pumpkin at midnight so I headed home a few minutes ago, got ready for bed and decided to make a rare late night blog entry. I love the fact that I am popular with people half my age! It is not as if they are inviting me to keep me from complaining, of the four units in this building, I am NEVER the one who complains. The two people on the ends do. One far more than the other, mind you. So I have to conclude that they just like partying with me. Ah! I now understand the aphorisms that my advisor in college used to throw at me - the ones that I swore I would never use. Yes, college is one of the best times of your life, but then, what part of your life isn't?

Live up, everyone! I hope today is the best of your life and if it isn't, do something to make it so!

Don Bergquist - 17-September-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Weather Report (of a sort...)

The recent rains have been very kind to my garden!

My Morning Glories are just bursting to take over everything in sight. The aspen tree just beyond the fence was sheathed in a layer of Morning Glories when I returned from the United Kingdom. I had to do a quick pruning of the Morning Glories to stop them from becoming the Colorado equivalent of kudzu.

This morning, after walking the dog, packing my lunch, and chatting briefly with my neighbor, Lynn about what a mooch Saga is, I noticed how lovely the green of the grass and the lush vines were. I grabbed my camera and took some pictures of the Morning Glories and the Columbine on my way to the bus stop.

This afternoon they are calling for more thunder storms and warm high temperatures. I am sure that the jungle will explode with growth this afternoon and evening.

I hope that your environment is conducive to your growth wherever you are today!

Don Bergquist - 16-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Monday, August 15, 2005

Happy Birthday, Denis!

This morning's greetings are going out to by big brother, Denis!

Happy Birthday, Denis!

Whether or not you know it brother, I have always looked-up to you. You may have been a bit of a pain when we were kids, always knowing everything, always being the one in the right place at the right time and all, it was daunting living in your shadow. The only thing that made it a bit easier to take was that we were both living in Mary's shadow and that made things a bit easier to take!

This old picture of you on the wing of Uncle Speed's plane is one that always brings a smile to my face... it shows that even then you were bound to flight high. (...or had you already been up at the time this picture was taken?)

I guess the only thing I had over you when we were growing up is that I never got carsick. I always loved vacations and could ride in the back to the station wagon for days without complaint. Of course, I didn't read nearly as much as you did back then so who know? Maybe that made the difference!

Well, here's to you, Denis!

Happy Birthday!

Don Bergquist - 15-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sunday at Home

It rained all day yesterday. I stayed in and read all day. It was wonderful.

I guess that there is not much more to say. I have some "getting back to home" chores to do today and will probably spend most of the day doing laundry and getting ready for going back to the office tomorrow.

I hope your day is pleasant and productive.

Don Bergquist - 14-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rainy Saturday

I should not be surprised about the amount of time it takes to get over Jet Lag.

I was supposed to be going to a bar with a friend last night. His neighbor is in a band that is playing at a local bar that has music on the weekends. However, when he called, I was completely out of it. I was so fast asleep that I think I may have incorporated the sound of the telephone ringing into my dreams.

I did sleep in this morning, however. I was able to stay in bed until just after six when Saga decided it was time to wake-up Daddy. I do not know why she thought this would be such a good idea. She wanted to go out, but it was miserable when we got outside!

Apparently, we had some thunderstorms last night. This morning there was nearly an inch in my rain gauge. (This on top of the nearly five inches I found there when I returned on Thursday. - Lynn said that the rain had all come in the past few days.) The morning news is calling for drizzle all day. I have already made my run to the grocery store, the temperatures hovering around sixty make it a perfect day to get under the covers and watch TV and read all day. I certainly do not want to spend a lot of time out there so inside it is.

I hoe you are warm and cozy wherever today finds you!

Don Bergquist - 13-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Friday, August 12, 2005

Travel Delays (Part III)


How wonderful!

The flight was delayed out of O'Hare yesterday because of weather. I was supposed to be home by 13:00 but I was not headed to get my luggage at the baggage claim until after 14:00.

Mercifully, I was one of only five people (besides the driver) on the shuttle. One was going to the convention center, three were going to the Hyatt downtown, and then there was me. By 15:30 I was home. I took a shower, had a bite to eat, and then played with the dog. It was a wasted attempt to try to get back on this time zone, but it was worth the effort.

Unfortunately, it was this morning that I discovered that I had lost power at some point during my absence and all my clocks were wrong. I discovered this when I logged-on and started checking my email. My counterpoint in the UK wanted to know if I was unable to sleep. When I sent back an IM asking why he asked he pointed out that it wasn't even 09:00 back in the UK, which meant that it was before 02:00 here! Oops!

I headed back to bed and slept 'til a more reasonable 04:30 and then resumed catching-up on my email. It was a busy day today. I had not imagined it would be so, but in the two days it took to get back from London over two hundred emails had accumulated and I spent more than six hours on the phone in conference calls and catch-up meetings back here. It is now just after 16:00 and in the evening news playing over my left shoulder, I hear an interesting tidbit.

The CBS affiliate here is reporting that more than five hundred flights on British Airways have been cancelled since Friday and that the reason for the cancellations is that the BA catering company fired the four hundred workers that went on strike on Wednesday. Apparently, early Wednesday afternoon the BA Baggage Handlers went on strike in sympathy for the caterers. They just showed pictures of terminal four at Heathrow with people camping out in the departure lounges. I really missed the bullet there! They predict the strike to last another day and then there will be the hassle of trying to recover. I had an empty seat beside me on Wednesday. I bet there will not be an empty seat on that flight again until some time next week!

Well, I have a couple things to do and then I have to walk the dog. Things are returning to normal and I probably will be back on my time zone by the end of the weekend.

I hope that you are having a normal day wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 12-August-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Travel Delays (Part II)

Well, that was interesting!

The flight actually left about 14:20. The person behind the check-in desk when I got to the front of the queue was apparently tired of giving the same answer repeatedly. "Go to O'Hare, you'll either make your connection or British Airways will book you the next flight from Chicago to your destination. There is nothing we can do for you on this end." With checked luggage, they cannot change your routing on an international flight.

Makes sense, I guess.

So, we left. As we were taxing, I overheard the flight staff make comment that there were very few BA planes behind us in the Queue for takeoff. It was true. I didn't see any. The reason for this was made plain shortly after take-off. The pilot mentioned to us (while giving his little talk about the number of miles per hour we'd be flying at the altitude, etc.) that the reason for our delayed departure from Heathrow was a labor dispute at the catering company that British Airways uses out of Heathrow. We were, apparently the last flight to leave Heathrow with meals on-board.

We had a relatively smooth flight and it was a good day for flying. I read my second book that I had brought with me and watched a movie. When we landed at Chicago, I had half an hour to clear customs, claim my luggage and make my original connection. It wasn't going to happen!

The flight staff told all of us with connections to see the gate agent at the top of the jet way. She was there, trying to placate an irate passenger who was ahead of me when I approached. It did not bode well that I was there on her board with my name misspelled and a big yellow highlight marking over the date 11-August. And I was right. There were no additional flights yesterday.

It took me over an hour and a half just to get my luggage, so my day ended here, in Chicago, Illinois last night. They made me surrender my baggage (as it was checked baggage) before going to the hotel that the put me up in last night. So, although I had a chance to shower, sleep in a bed, and have a fresh start this morning, I had to travel back to the airport this morning what I left the Lion Gate wearing yesterday.

So, hear I sit. I am tired (I didn’t sleep well, the hotel was right under an active runway), I am ready for this trip to be over, I want to see Saga. I just want to be home!

I guess I will pack-up, head to the Starbucks, get a coffee and read my book while waiting for the plane.

I hope your day is going well!

Don Bergquist - 11-August-2oo5 - O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Travel Delays

The tannoy has just announced another change to the gate that the people on the flight to New York will be using. I have lost count; mostly because I have spent most of the past few hours walking the concourse or sitting and reading my book. I finished the book that I was reading about half an hour ago and since they have said that my flight will not be moving any time soon, I have decided to do some work.

They haven't said exactly what the problem is, but I am sure it is something stupid. The plane was supposed to leave at 12:50 but since it is now 12:45, I am pretty sure we will not make that. Apparently, some problem with the catering is delaying the flight to New York. They announced this on the tannoy just now and the group around just snickered. I guess I have nothing to complain about, though. I am getting to leave London just before the big heat wave strikes, I will be arriving in Denver just as the heat wave they have been having seems to be breaking and I will be home tonight with my dog by my side. Well, that is unless we are delayed much longer. I have only two hours to change planes at O'Hare.

It is amazing that with the amount of travel I have done in the past fifteen years I have been delayed as little as I have. There was one time I had to stay in Minnesota over night because of a delay that caused me to miss my connection. ...and there was one cancellation that caused my direct flight from Michigan to Denver to be diverted to Minneapolis for the night. Other than that, I cannot really think of anything that has caused me issue on the road. Knock wood!

Update: they are now saying that we should leave at 13:50. Hmmm. I guess I had best go to the desk and see if I can get a re-routing. I will never make it through customs, claim my bags, re-check them and get to a plane in one hour at O'Hare! So for now, I guess I will sign-off and talk to the gate agent.

I hope your day is progressing according to schedule

Don Bergquist - 10-August-2005 - Heathrow Airport, London, United Kingdom

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Last Full Day in the UK

It is my final full day of this trip and there is so much I need to still do while I am here. It is unlikely that I will get much time to write this morning at the office so I have to jot down a few quick notes to everyone on my PDA whilst I am walking into the office this morning. It is a lovely day here in Surry (the Borough I walk through on my way to the office) I am enjoying a lovely cool morning and the day could not be more perfect.

There is talk that this may be my last business trip here. If that is the case, it is going to be really sad. I know that I will be back here again; if not on a professional mode, then at least in a social one. I have met some wonderful people here, had a great time working with my team out here and really am hoping that I will be back in the fall for the next phase of this project. If not, though, it has been a great time and a good team to work with.

As to the group of mates I hang-out with at the pub, they are a great group of people too and it will be to tip back a few pints with them that any future social trips here will be made. I guess you could replicate the pub in the states, but it is the people at the pub that make it the special place it is.

Well, I guess this is getting maudlin and the crossing gates have just lifted so I can continue the walk into the office. (Yes, I was stuck at the Summer Crossing waiting for the 06:24 from Hampton Court to Waterloo - calling at Thames Ditton, Surbiton, Berrylands , New Malden, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, Earlsfield, Clapham Junction and Vauxhall) and now that the train has passed I can get back on with the walk in.

I hope that your day is going well!

Don Bergquist - 09-August-2005 - Thames Ditton, United Kingdom

Monday, August 08, 2005

Another Weather Report

Current Nearest Observations
60 Degrees
Relative Humidity (%): 61
Pressure (mB): 1021, Falling
Visibility: Excellent

In the nearly eight months that I have been coming here there has not been a day more perfect than yesterday visiting the Hampton Court Palace and touring the gardens. My friends who work at the palace have been suggesting the gardens tour for months but the weather has never actually cooperated. Yesterday, however, the temperatures were, well - temperate! The sky was nearly clear (good lighting) with only enough clouds to give the sky photographic interest. The humidity, while more humid than I am used to in Denver, was low enough to be comfortable. There were no winds to speak of so it was the perfect day for touring and photographing the gardens.

My friends at the palace were correct, it is a must-see tour! There is a lot of history to the tour, you see things that most people visiting the palace do not get a chance to see. If you are lucky, then you'll get Gillian as your tour guide. Gillian is the keeper of the great vine. (or at least one of them...) The great vine is a single grape vine that covers an entire arbor that is bigger than most greenhouses I have ever seen. It is apparently the oldest and largest grape vine in the UK.

My morning stared after a bit of a lie-in. I stayed abed until well after 08:00 am. It was not that it was a late night; it was just that it was a lazy morning. I had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room and lingered over the morning paper and a third cup of coffee. I then set out for Kingston to do some shopping. (Yes, the Ancient and Royal Village of Kingston upon Thames!) I had a few things that I needed to pick-up and some things that I need for the remaining few days here.

I have no idea what this building is, but I love its shape and the gilded statue of Queen Victoria on the fa├žade. I took some shots of the building while crossing the village between the places I needed to go and am pleased on the way they came out. This is why I almost always carry a camera with me!

That afternoon, I headed to the palace and toured some of the Grace and Favor apartments in the upper reaches of the palace. There is a display there on the tenants of these Grace and Favor Apartments that were once the only residents of the palace. It is an interesting exhibit and shows not only how the residents of the apartments lived, but how their servants also lived.

After the tour, I headed to the pub for a couple pints and a bite of dinner. I met up with Bev and Paul and had a pleasant evening chatting. What a lovely day! A perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.

I hope your weekend was pleasant and your week is successful!

Don Bergquist - 08-August-2005 - Thames Ditton, United Kingdom

Sunday, August 07, 2005

After the Beer Festival

My self showered and changed into clean clothing and no longer smelling like a little girl's semi-digested lunch, I headed over to The Kings Arms. There I spent a couple pleasant hours chatting with Paul and Bev and petting the dogs. Ginger, who was abused as a puppy before he lucked into getting taken in by Paul and Bev, doesn't really like strangers (and really doesn't like men) but seems to have developed a trust and even a fondness for me over the past eight months.

Perhaps, though, it was just all those dog biscuits I have given him.

Later in the evening, the contingent from the Lion Gate Hotel returned from the British Beer Festival. Trevor, Lucy, Terry, and Angie had gone earlier in the week. Kevin had offered me a ticket, but since it ran from noon to five, I had to demure. I could not take the time off work.

After the Beer Festival

I have no idea what the hats were all about, except festivals, no matter what the presumprive reason for holding the festival, always seem to offer a variety of silly hats for people to purchase. This one was, obviously, no exception.

They were all in good spirits and apparently no worse for the wear (the people, not the hats) and we chatted for a while before I made good on my origianal plan and headed off to the hotel and to bed.

This morning, I have had a lovely lie-in, and a leisurely breakfast. It being my last weekend this trip, I think I will finish-up a little paperwork I have, go into Kingston (or as they would have you know "the Ancient and Royal Village of Kingston upon Thames." and do a little shopping, and then perhaps spend some time in the palace. Tomorrow and Tuesday are bound to be hectic days.

I hope your day today goes well!

Don Bergquist - 07-August-2005 - Hampton Court, United Kingdom

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Center of the World

Every visitor to the royal observatory in London is required by law to take a picture of themselves standing astride the prime meridian. When you go, I suggest that you go early so you can avoid the packs of Japanese tourists (all dressed in business attire) who all want to stand in the identical pose with the identical expression of complete disinterest as their pictures are stepped with identical digital cameras.

Even though it is apparently a mandate that everyone have the "Straddling the Line shot," I wanted mine to be a little more creative. The shadowed line you see running vertically throughout the center of the picture (it passes just to my left) is the prime meridian etched in the window of the observatory. This line continues in stainless steel and neon to the sundial you see behind me and thence (presumably) all the way to the north pole.
At the Prime Meridian

The only other person I say even making an attempt at originality was a woman from an eastern locale. (At a guess I would pick Sri Lanka or somewhere near there. Her accent was similar to that of a coworker of mine who is from there.) I watched in interest as she tried to get her shot un-staged) with the tourists who were taking the "Astride the Line" shots.

After a bit of a frustrating time with several near misses, she just went and conscripted a couple strangers, (I know they were strangers because the groups that the conscripts were from looked on with something like mingled suspicion and interest) put them where she needed them, and took her shot. It was great! I was tempted to imitate it for myself but decided that I would never knowingly steal someone else' idea so I will just have to describe it to you.

She crouched on the line and took her shot from behind and through the spread legs of a person straddling the line as the second conscript crouched on the line taking a shot of the person's feet. The composure was in portrait. The finished shot showed the line, centered in the bottom disappearing under the photographer who was backed by the general hubbub of the area with the sundial rising behind her all framed in the acute triangle created by the subject's legs. It was really quite good when I saw it I liked it.

It was a lovely day for visiting the park. I think, however, that my best find may be a leaf. I am not sure what made it catch my attention, but on the way out of the park there was this one nearly perfect oak leaf that had fallen. Its veins were just turning yellow and the way it was laying against the gray of the walk pulled my focus. After taking a shot of it in situ, I moved it to the grass to get a couple other shots. I was pleased with the way it turned out. Take a look for yourself at the link above.

There also you will find a picture that I snapped of a guy who was apparently also happy to be in the park today. He was doing handstands on the lawn so I snapped a shot of him. On my way out of the park, two things happened of note. The first was a chance to be able to make spontaneous humor. The second was not funny.

Walking away from the observatory, the woman directly in front of me was telling her compatriot how she liked to intentionally get in front of people and stop when she saw that they had cameras. About ten steps later she bent down to adjust her shoe strap, realized she was in the middle of the traffic and offered a sheepish apology. I assured her that I had more-or-less just assumed that she had done it because I had a camera. There was a smattering of chuckles, she started to blush, and then we all returned to our mutual anonymity.

The second thing was decidedly not pleasant and has colored the rest of my afternoon. A little girl, playing with her brother (some kind of game that involved them running around about a central point, hands joined and then walking away in random directions), vomited on me. Nice, eh? Did she, her brother or her watching parents as much as offer an apology? No! The mother called-out to her daughter "Penelope, come away from that man!" Uh-huh.

But I guess that this had good and bad points to it as well. On the bad point, I reeked until I got back to the hotel and had a shower. (My clothing is currently soaking in the tub!) On the good side, even if people did cast disparaging glances my way on the way home, I got a seat to myself on the tube and on the train back to Hampton Court.

Well, I guess that is it for now. I'm off to the pub for dinner and then to bed early tonight.

I hope your day was pleasant and vomit free where-ever your day was!

Don Bergquist - 06-August-2005 - Hampton Court, United kingdom

Friday, August 05, 2005

Why bother to make plans?

Some times I wonder why I bother to make plans.

As you may remember, the plan was that last night I was going to leave the office, return to the hotel, grab a pint and a bite to eat at the pub and hit the sack early.

I met-up with Terry and Angie on the road home to the pub and ended-up staying considerately longer than I had intended. We had a few pints, chatted, shared some Dutch chocolates that Robert and Anouk had brought back from their trip to The Netherlands this weekend, and generally had a good and relaxing time.

When my friends from the palace showed-up later, we had a pint and we played Jenga for a while. I was much better at it last night than I was last weekend. Of the three games we played last night I only lost one... last weekend the count, I believe, was that I lost five out of the seven we played!

Anyway, Trevor tossed us out of the pub at closing time and so I was not in bed until well after eleven. I did, however, get up this morning well before six, take my early morning stroll to the office and get arrived shortly after six o'clock. I had a number of things I had to accomplish today. It is just now after six o'clock this evening and I am sitting in my hotel (I'm just back) and I accomplished all but about a third of what I needed to do.

I would have probably finished it all but for the fact that our network was down all morning! So much for coming in early! I plan to now, close this PC, go to the pub to meet a friend and we are headed out for curry. (oops, there I go making plans again!)

I hope your day was smooth sailing and according to plan.

Don Bergquist - 05-August-2005 - Hampton Court, United Kingdom

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Nope! Nothing to Report.

It has been a busy day today. I got in around 07:00 and have been going at it all day. The faster I go, the behinder I get.

I think I am going to go home, uh - mean to the hotel, slip off to the pub for an hour-or-so, have a bite of dinner, and go to bed early. Perhaps it will be a better day tomorrow.

I hope you have all the time for everything you need to do today!

Don Bergquist - 04-August-2005 - Thames Ditton, United Kingdom

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


- or -

"Well, Isn't That Special"

For a change of pace today, I will be writing a piece that that contains nothing that implies I feel superior to someone, British stereotypes, mention of pubs or drinking, talk of the sightseeing I had done, mentions of the river Thames, references back to my own blog, smug little definitions of words, descriptions of how I had been insulted by someone, talk of gambling or swearing.

I know, you may be thinking that I can't possibly do this, but I am pretty sure I can. (I'd have to be pretty lame to not be able to write something outside my comfort zone. Only a moron or someone completely set in their ways would have any kind of problem doing so!)

Actually, I have to say that the impetus of this column was a brief argument I was having with a bull-headed Brit last night. I had stopped in at The Kings Arms for a quick pint and was discussing the trip I had taken around Oxfordshire this past weekend with some friends of mine. During the conversation I pulled out my PDA to show them the pictures I had taken of the swans sleeping on the water as I walked along the Thames on my way to work yesterday.

So anyway, my friend and I were discussing how I had written that the swans could use the weirs along the river as alarm clocks and how I had originally thought that the weirs were dams and how I had later discovered that although they do not use the words interchangeably here, they could... they mean the same thing. When this person barges into our conversation and tells me that Americans are so corrupting the language that they should not call what I speak "English!" Well!

As I mentioned to the friend of mine that this could be blogger fodder, he challenged me to let it go and bet me that I could not write a blog entry that contains nothing that implies I feel superior to someone, British stereotypes, mention of pubs or drinking, talk of the sightseeing I had done, mentions of the river Thames, references back to my own blog, smug little definitions of words, descriptions of how I had been insulted by someone, talk of gambling or swearing.

Oh sod it all to hell... I guess I lose.

I hope you have more success on the things you try to do today!

Don Bergquist - 03-August-2005 - Thames Ditton, United Kingdom

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sleeping Swans and Those Dam/Weirs

I've heard of people who sleepwalk, and I have been told that I talk in my sleep. I've even said that I could drive across the country to Dad and Flo's place in my sleep. I have never thought of trying to swim in my sleep.

I guess I had known that some aquatic fowl slept on the water; this being safer than sleeping on the banks of the river and falling prey to cats or other predators but I cannot remember when I have seen it before. Or, at least I cannot remember making note of having seen it. This morning, however, cool and bright after the recent rains, there were dozens of swans sleeping along the Thames. They were pretty spread-out so I could not get pictures of large numbers of them; they looked like trash floating on the river from a distance. It was not 'til I was about to enter the path along the Thames that I realized that they were sleeping swans.

But the sight of all those sleeping birds gave me pause for thought. Presumably, they are being carried downstream by the flow of the river. I wonder if they use the weirs as alarm clocks. When they bump into the top of a weir I assume it would wake them up. They could then paddle up stream a few feet if they want to use the snooze alarm. If they miss the weir somehow, I guess they may flow all the way down to London. That would be embarrassing! "What? Damn! The Tower Bridge, I've overslept!"

On the subject of "weirs," until this weekend I would have just said "dam" because that was what I assumed those dam structures were. Fortunate for me, I was corrected by the locals. They are called "weirs" by the locals. I had heard of weirs before but never really had used the word as I was not familiar with what, exactly they were. I looked-up the term for clarification:


1: a low dam built across a stream to raise its level or divert its flow
2: a fence or wattle built across a stream to catch or retain fish

[Middle English were, from Old English wer. Probably of Indo-European Roots.]

(Interestingly, "Weir" is also the name of a town in Kansas, Mississippi, and Texas... presumably one town named "Weir" in each state not one town that is in all three simultaneously... but I digress.)

But wait, so, a "weir" is a "dam?" Huh... So then, what is a "dam?"


1. A barrier constructed across a waterway to control the flow or raise the level of water.
2. A body of water controlled by such a barrier.
3. A barrier against the passage of liquid or loose material, as a rubber sheet used in dentistry to isolate one or more teeth from the rest of the mouth.
4. An obstruction; a hindrance.

tr.v. dammed, dam·ming, dams
1. To hold back or confine by means of a dam.
2. To close up; obstruct: He tried to dam his grief.

Synonym: hinder

[Middle English]

It goes on to say that dam is also an archaic way of referring to the female parent of a four-legged animal or to the mother of a person. But that is not important right now.
Damn! You mean I was right? Hmmm... no! This cannot possibly be right! Do you mean to say that I have some proficiency in the language? (Well, to paraphrase my father...) Hell, I've only been speaking since I was a kid!

Say it ain't so! It does make me feel just the slightest bit superior but I will try not to gloat!

I hope you have some chance to feel satisfied with yourself today!

Don Bergquist - 02-August-2005 - Thames Ditton, United Kingdom

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Next Big Thing

Just to set the record straight, as I expect this will be the next big thing… I was there when this started.

My friend, Kevin – the sergeant from the London Metropolitan Police Force – was explaining to us that there is a push inside the department of late to be more cognizant of the feelings of the people of London. They are being more politically correct, if you prefer.

For instance, they are now referring to the people who are suspected of being the terrorists who bombed the tube a few weeks back as “Members of the Bombing Community.” We all had a good chuckle over then and then Angie asked the question that I am sure will catch on.

“Does that mean the people who failed to successfully deploy their bombs last week are ‘Explosively Challenged’?”

When you hear this line come back to you, remember… it started here!

I hope you have a great day!

Don Bergquist – 01-August-2005 – Thames Ditton, United Kingdom