Friday, June 30, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again!

I have got to clean-out my storage room when I get home!

Here in Thames Ditton, it is so easy to ride my bike. I keep it under the front stairs and it is a simple matter of just pulling it out of its cove, putting on the correct protective gear, and going. Of course, there is also the fact that it is nearly compulsory that I ride my bike daily here that helps get me get out and riding.

At home, it is just so easy to drive everywhere. Here, not having a car, it isn't. I could ride my bike to the store at home like I do here, but then, when it gets cold and snowy, I am pretty sure, that practice would end.

One of the reasons I do not ride more often at home is that my storage room is a mess! I have been cramming things in there (the shelves are all full) and haphazardly tossing things that need storing in there in the false hope that they will magically store themselves out of the way so that I can still get to my bicycle. So far, that plan hasn't been too fruitful!

It does feel good to get riding again. I am averaging about twenty miles of bike riding a day and feeling great! I have even discovered a couple little-used roads (quite back roads leading to footpaths) that I can take and not have to worry too much about the cars!

I hope that wherever you are today, you too get the chance to get out there and move! It feels so good!

Don Bergquist - 30 June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Righteous Indignation

For the last couple years, while I have been coming to the United Kingdom, there has been one phrase that I keep hearing in one form or another directed at my person. That phrase is: "You talk strangely." It may not always be phrased that way. It is sometimes as innocuous as a strange askance look when I a word.

Some times it is as good natured and humorous as having words that I pronounce "strangely" parodied back to me with my accent exaggerated to an extreme. ("Cheddar" is one that I get a lot.) It is sometimes as offensive as having someone protest that Americans cannot speak English and I should learn that the language was invented here in the UK and that I should speak the way they do.

This last one is the most humorous as the language was not "invented" in the UK. While it may have been cobbled together from a base of the German with bits and pieces stolen from practically every other language on the planet here in the British Isles, but (and I am sorry to inform the language snobs who keep insisting that the UK invented English) English predates the formation of the United Kingdom by a good many years!

It is in this spirit of good natured mirth brought about by my strange pronunciation that gave me one of the best laughs I have had in quite a while over here. The occasion of my amusement was last night at The Ferry tavern just up the road from my home in Thames Ditton. I went in there with a coworker that was in-town for some meetings today and so he stayed over night at The Villa.

We had a couple beers after dinner at the tavern and it was just our luck that the pub had a live musician last night as the featured entertainer. In all honesty, the guy was pretty good! He did some pretty faithful renditions of some great old songs. I can fault neither his interpretation or his execution of most of the songs he chose. It was, in fact, not until his encore that I found anything at all humorous in his performance.

His choice of encore, however made me snicker. Let me just say, if you have never heard someone with a northern English accent sing Lynyrd Skynyrd, you have no idea of what you are missing! It occurred to me that of all the people in the pub, it was likely that I was the only one who had ever actually been to Alabama! At the conclusion of his song, I mentioned to him that while his performance was excellent, it did afford me an opportunity to use a line that had so often been used on me!

"The way you say that," I said affecting my best Alabama accent "it just ain't right! Y'all just cain't sing that song convincingly." In response to his questions, I informed him that, although the city may have the same spelling as the one here in the UK, the state capital of Birmingham actually pronounces all the letters in Alabama instead of swallowing half of them as is done when it is pronounced over here.

I hope that today something gives you reason for mirth!

Don Bergquist - 29 June 2006 - (Still Chuckling!) Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sweet Home Alabama
by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

In Birmingham they love the governor
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you
Here I come Alabama

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they've been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you?

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

Sweet home Alabama
Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue
And the governor's true
Sweet Home Alabama
Lordy Lord, I'm coming home to you

Yea, yea Montgomery's got the answer

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tempting Fate

There are times that you want to tempt fate. Then there are times you just want to put on your sleeveless white tee-shirt, smack fate around a bit, and yell at fate: "get in the truck, bitch!"

This later is more descriptive of my actions yesterday. After my phenomenal luck with the airlines at the start of my trip, I figured that it was time to see if luck holds and extends into the realm of healthcare. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The remainder of the flight was excellent (my seat neighbor not withstanding, the flight was good); we arrived at the airport ahead of schedule. There was still a plane at our gate and it had to move before we could deplane, but we were in early. Being that I was sitting right at the bulkhead door, I was the first off the plane when the seal was broken.

There was no crowd ahead of me when I ht immigrations so I was cleared through Passport Control and then through Customs in less than half-an-hour. My car service was waiting when exited duty-free and the traffic on the motorway was zipping along with no sign of trouble.

After a quick shower, I headed into the office and got caught-up on my email and spent a couple hours on tasks that had to be done at the office and then headed home for a nap. Feeling refreshed and ready to face the day, or the night, by this time, I got my bike out and hit the trail to the pub. So, how is this tempting fate? Well, I took the long route (through the park) with the expressed intent of testing my new allergy medications. Time will tell if fate will be kind. For right now, I am sitting in the King's Arms, sipping a Tanglegfoot and feeling fine.

I hope today fate is kind to you, no matter how you treat her!

Don Bergquist - 28 June 2006 - Hampton Court, Middlesex, UK

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What luck!

After a lovely weekend, a wonderful time spent with my friends and my dog, and a lovely morning in which I had coffee with friends and discussed plans for the day, I am having the kind of day where everything is going well!

My day began early, real early! For reasons I still haven't been able to suss-out, I was awake at 02:00. I quit trying to get back to sleep around 03:30. Saga and I went out for our walk and took some pictures. Well, Saga and I walked, but only I took pictures. When ever I lend her the cameras, she takes nothing but pictures of other dogs butts.

My neighbors and I had a lovely chat over our coffee and then I went back to my place to run final checks before I had to leave. My limo service arrived and, after loading my bags, the driver climbed in and called the dispatcher on his radio to tell them that there was one person in the van and he was headed to the airport. What luck! There is usually a vanload that has to be picked-up after I am already in the van.

As I was checking in, the woman at the counter printed-out my baggage claim tags and didn't even look at the fact that BOTH my bags were over the fifty-pound limit. What really surprised me, though, was that she put "Priority" stickers in the luggage tags as she was sticking them onto the bags. This is usually only done to first class luggage.

As she handed over my boarding passes, the reason she had done this became clear. She had seated me in First Class from Denver to Detroit! The flight was lovely! I kept thinking to myself "this cannot last."

Too true. I am now sitting here completely unable to sleep. We are somewhere off Iceland and I have had not a wink of sleep all night and won't if the guy next to me doesn't quit trying to strike-up a conversation. The moment I quit trying to work, he takes this as a sign that it is now time to bond a life-long friendship.

Reading a book doesn't seem to work, telling the guy that I want to read or to sleep doesn't seem to work. It is now well after midnight and I am still awake. The guy next to me has not quit trying to engage me in conversation since the plane left the gate. Why is it that some people seem to think that by buying a ticket and being sit next to me on a plane, we will have some innate connection that needs to be nurtured? I mean, I have nothing against making new friends and have no problem with chatting politely with someone who happens to be seated next to me on a plane, but at some point, especially if I keep opening a book and saying things like: “this is a really good book I’m trying to read…” one would think that I could get some private, quiet time to myself. But No!

So here I am, sitting wide awake, somewhere over the north Atlantic. I guess it goes to show me, never state the obvious. When things are going well, there is no need to point out that it will not last; everybody already knows it to be the case.

I hope wherever you are, you have had a great night's sleep.

Don Bergquist - 27 June 2006 - Northwest Flight32, Somewhere off the coast of Iceland

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Good Day to Travel

A lovely morning is breaking in Lakewood, Colorado!

I have finished my packing, my house is all in order for me to turn it over to my friends who watch Saga in my absence, Saga is all washed and dried and happy. Well, that last is not necessarily true. Saga is not happy. First off, Daddy gave her a bath, which she hates, second off, the cases are out in the living room so she is pretty sure that Daddy is leaving again.

But it is a lovely morning!

I woke-up well before my alarm went off at 04:00. So I lay in bed and read until about 05:00. Then, I slipped on some shorts, an aloha shirt, and a pair of sandals and walked down to the park with Saga. The sun is just cresting the horizon as we reach the lake and stopped to breath in the beauty of the day.

The rest of my day will be nowhere near as serene! Later this morning, I begin my travels back to Gatwick. My limo service will be picking me up in a few hours and then I am off to Denver International. From there I fly to Detroit to catch my connection to Gatwick.

Ah! Well, at least right now it is peaceful. I am sitting in my office, sipping my cup of coffee and watching Saga snooze in the easy chair.

I hope that wherever you are today you are having a peaceful day!

Don Bergquist - 26th June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, June 25, 2006


The weather was lovely yesterday (well, most of it!)

I did make it up to Mount Sanitas yesterday! The temperatures were warm and lovely, the breeze was enough to cool you as you climbed. Yes, the day was perfect! Until I was about a hundred yards from the car. Then the sky clouded, the wind kicked up and it started to rain.

Before I was back to the car it was spitting pea-sized hailstones. I got in the car and drove towards home. But, as I was making my way south along Colorado 93 through Boulder, the hailstones had grown to the size of golf-balls. I took refuge in a building that was on stilts with barking below to wait out the storm.

forty-Five Minutes later I was on my way again; the storm abated. There was water everywhere! The trees had had their leaves knocked off them and there were branches in the road. In places, the road was under a couple inches of ice pellets! At every intersection, the water was rushing across the road as if rivers had suddenly formed.

By the time I got home, I discovered that the storm had left a couple inches of ice pellets all over my garden. There was an inch of rain in the gauge. My neighbors said it had rained here for thirty minutes. Ah! Springtime in the Rockies!

I hope wherever you are today, the weather is a bit less drastic!

Don Bergquist - 25th June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mt. Sanitas

What a gorgeous day!

Today I have so much to do that I shouldn't be sitting out here in the hammock chair with my PDA and my coffee, writing in my blog. But the skies are so blue, the sun feels so good on my feet, the coffee tastes so lovely! The temperature is a bit chilly, the mercury only rising to 50-degrees, but the afternoon is supposed to be glorious.

I have my last load of laundry in the machine. I have my cases out and ready to pack. This afternoon I need to do some shopping for my friends back in the UK; I have a list of things to get that are either cheaper or completely unavailable over there. But right now, I am content to sit here, write, and watch Saga napping I the patch of sun that hits the front step at this time of the morning.

One thing I have not had the chance to do this week (which I must rectify this afternoon) is make a trek up into the mountains. I am not sure that I am up to full-fledged bouldering again; my torn ACL has been giving me no problems, I just am not sure I want to take any chances with it right now. Perhaps a trip up to Mount Sanitas this afternoon would be in order. I haven't climbed Sanitas in a year-or-so.

Mount Sanitas, so I am told, is named after the hospital that used to be right next to it. The hospital was a Sanitarium. I have often asked why they would have named the mountain so late in the game, I mean, obviously the hospital was not always there. Did someone say "Hey! This would be a good place to put the insane asylum?" the moment they founded Boulder and then they started construction immediately? Then, a few years later they said: "Hey, look! There's a mountain right smack-dab next to out Sanitarium. Let's call it something in honor of the hospital! Mount Loonie!"

All kidding aside, Sanitas is a wonderful hike. I have been heading up to Sanitas for years now. The scenery from the top is lovely! The Rockies off to the west, Boulder to the east, Denver rising in the distance to the southeast. I remember once a couple years ago, I had just gotten my new car, I was climbing Sanitas with a friend. I was about a half a mile from the parking area when we rounded a corner and the parking area came into view. There was my new car, there were people standing near it (by their vehicles) talking. Wondering the range on the transmitter, I pushed the button on my key to lock the doors and saw the lights flash telling me that it had done its job. I then called over my friend and said "watch this." I then hit the button twice. This causes the horn to blow. The group jumped (apparerntly thinking there was someone in the car), looked in the car, and then returned to their chat. My friend and I carried on up the mountain.

There are parts of it that are pretty rough, others that are quite simple to walk. (Or if you are a completely fit Boulderite, simple to run!) Every weekend, you'll see trail runners out there. And since boulder has voice command laws (as long as your dog is in your voice command, he or she needn't be on a leash) there are always dogs there as well.

I do not think that I will bring Saga. Last time I was there a huge dog (I have no idea what it was... Perhaps it was a great Dane mixed with something it was hip-high on me!) gave Saga such a fight that she slipped her leash and ran off. It took me ten minutes to get her to calm down and come back to me.

Yes, I do believe a hike will be in order today. But first I've got stuff to do, so I had best get my butt out of this chair and get to work. Shame, though. It is such a lovely morning...

Don Bergquist - 24 June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, June 23, 2006

Back to the UK

This trip to the US is drawing to a close and soon I will be back in the United Kingdom.

It has been a whirlwind but beneficial trip to the us. I have one day in the office left to get through followed by one weekend to live it up here in the mountains. Then, on Monday morning, the car service comes to get me for my flight back to Gatwick.

The interesting thing is that I seem to be getting good at this continent hopping. When I returned to the US this time, I experienced practically no Jet Lag. After flying all day Sunday to get home, I spent Sunday evening unpacking my cases, getting everything queued to go through the laundry and did a couple loads. I didn't go to sleep that evening before ten. Each evening since I have been up until a normal time and gotten up in the mornings about the time I would be getting up normally.

I hope this does not mean that on Tuesday when I get back to the UK I will, for the first time since I have been traveling there, experience Jet Lag going over there! That would be a bummer!

I hope that wherever you are, you have a wonderful day and a weekend to look forward to.

Don Bergquist - 23rd June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my niece, Elizabeth!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

In Memorial

It is a sad day in Broadcasting and in South Florida. Bob Weaver has passed away. For those of you old enough to remember him, Bob will always be known as “Weaver the Weatherman.” Mr. Weaver was one of the first commercial meteorologists in the United States.

His career spanned over five decades starting in 1949 on WTVJ in Miami. Bob used to bring a note of humor into his nightly weathercasts when the situation gave him the opportunity to. Every evening at five minutes ‘til six the voice over on channel four would come on and announce that it was “Five-Fifty-Five and time for Weaver the Weatherman.” According to the broadcasting trivia I learned from my Broadcasting classes in college, Bob was the first regularly scheduled weathercast in the US.

I personally remember Bob Weaver for his practice of standing behind a large glass map of the US and writing in the weather systems as he did the weathercast. Years later I recreated this effect for a project some of my classmates and I had to do for a broadcasting production class in college. I was given the weathercast to do in our practice newscast.

For weeks I practiced to recognize the states of the US when displayed backward. I practiced writing legibly backward (a feat I can barely accomplish when writing forward these days) and I rehearsed my weathercast so that I could say a state and recognize it when it was displayed to me backward. I also had to remember when I was showing motion to reverse the directions in my head. East would be to my left, not my right.

The big day came and I aced it! I remembered that Florida was on the lower left of the map as I saw it. I remembered that Minnesota had its concave side to the left rather than the right when standing behind the big glass map. Our newscast was scored by our professor and he came into the studio to congratulate us on our performance. Dr. Morgan’s first question to me was: “Where’s the mirror?”

I blinked and looked at him uncomprehendingly. “What? What Mirror?” I asked.

“You were imitating Bob Weaver, right?” he asked. “You know the mirror you shot the weathercast through.”

“What mirror?” I repeated confused.

“How did you get the writing to look right?” asked Dr. Morgan “When you were writing on the glass, how did you make the camera see it right?”

“I wrote backward.” I replied “I assumed that was how it was done because if I wrote so that I could see it correctly it would be a mirror image from the other side of the glass where the camera is… oh. Oh!”

“Didn’t you know that Bob was left-handed?” My professor asked?

“No.” I responded. “That would have made things a whole lot easier!”

It had truly never occurred to me that Bob had been standing behind a map that, to him, appeared to be correct; wrote on it with letters that also appeared correct to him and was being shot through a mirror so that it looked correct to the camera (and therefore to the audience) as well. Dopey me! Now I know. I learned something that day.

I present this in tribute and in memory of Bob Weaver, a broadcasting pioneer who will be missed. My sincere condolences to the loved ones he leaves behind.

Don Bergquist - 22nd June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Attention To Detail

As a software tester, I have to pay attention to the smallest details. If the spec says that the toolbar should include a blue button labeled Red and the bar contains a red button that is labeled Blue there is a problem and the test fails. This attention to detail has not always been a talent I have had.

Yesterday’s blog entry for example contains an error that very few observant readers have pointed out. While the story of the bear eating Schatzie specifies that Schatzie was a bitch, the pictured daschund is a male. This was not, however, a mistake. It was a direct segue to this entry.

You see, when I was a child, we always had daschunds. I remember three of them. There were two black ones and a brown one in-between. They were, by design, all named Schatzie. You see, Mom thought that it would be less traumatic (or perhaps she was just thinking that we wouldn’t notice one of them had died) if they all had the same name. So when one of them went off to that great beyond, she’d get a new one and name it Schatzie.

This worked better than she had expected. Not only did the change occasionally escape notice, it stayed out of my express notice. I know, you’re thinking that nobody could fall for that. But I did! IT worked so well that I failed to realize that one of the brown Schatzies and at least one of the black ones had been males!

At least is saved my parents from using the “Schatzie has gone off to live on a farm.” euphemism for death. That line would never have worked in the long term anyway. They tried it with the first of the Schatzies to fall along the way. When we all asked why Schatzie wasn’t at the farm when we went to visit my uncle on the Bergquist homestead dairy farm in Minnesota, I think they realized that this was not a euphemism that would work in the long run.

We (I) may have been unobservant, but we weren’t dumb! So, the came up with the “name every dog Schatzie” strategy. What can I say, it worked!

I hope that you fail to notice the sad things that happen, or at least quickly forget them and have a great day today wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 21st June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Happy Birthday to my big sister, Mary!

Mary, what can I say? You've done so much for me over the years! (Not to mention all the horrid things you have done to me over the years!) But of course, I am sure that particular charge is a two-way street. And today, I plan to prove it!

There is the matter of the time that a bear ate Schatzie!

It was on a cool and foggy morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains where my family was camping one summer. Dad, Denis, and I were down at the bath house shaving. (Well, I say that we were shaving, in truth, Dad was shaving. Denis and I had been given empty safety razors - just the case, no blade - and a can of shaving cream. We were going wild smearing the lather all over our faces and trying to imitate daddy as we scraped the white foam off our faces. But I digress.)

All of the sudden, a plaintiff wail was heard through the windows of the bath house. "Daddy!" The voice was that of my sister. Dad ran to the door of the bath house and saw Mary standing on the step sobbing. "Daddy! A bear ate Schatzie!" She was in tears.

Now, normally, seeing my sister in tears (or any of the various cousins that I had seen cry for that matter) would have sent me into gales of laughter. But this was no laughing matter! My sister had just informed us that our beloved Daschund was no more. Or rather she was, but was soon to be bear poop! Denis and I (as I recall) started bawling as well.

Somehow, Dad got the three of us quieted down long enough for Mary to impart her tale. It seemed that Mary had heard strange noises outside the camper while she was sleeping; grunting and the rattle of the dog's tags. Later, she had gotten up and, seeing that Dad, Denis and I were gone, she had decided to go to sit by the fire until we returned. When she did, she noticed that the dog was no longer tied to the tongue of the camper trailer ash she had been last night when we all went to bed. She went to investigate and discovered that the leash and collar were still there, but there were signs of a scuffle, the leaves and pine needles had all be brushed clear of the area. The dog was gone. No sign of her remained.

The four of us returned to the campsite to investigate, and the scene was as Mary had described. Looking in the trailer to see that Mom and Chip were still asleep, we set off as a group to look for Schatzie.

For the next hour, we searched the campground, we went down all the trails, we asked the few campers we saw up at that early morning hour. Nobody had seen our beloved Schatzie. When it appeared that all was lost, Daddy explained that she had probably just gone hunting and that she would be back soon enough. We, glumly, returned to camp to tell Mom and Chip what had happened.

Daddy stepped into the camper first and burst out laughing. The three of us followed and saw what was so funny. There was a strange movement coming from Chip's sleeping bag. The dog was repositioning herself to get more comfortable; only the tip of her nose sticking out the top of the bag as she lay there between my baby brother and my mom.

Chip had, apparently, gotten cold in the early morning hours and since he didn't know how to work the hook on the leash or unbuckle her collar, he had simply slipped the collar over her head. The ruckus as he had tried to free her had caused the noise and the clearing of the ground under the trailer. Ever since, she had been blithely snoozing cradled in my baby brother's arms.

I hope that wherever you are today, you are safe, cozy, warm, and haven't been eaten by a bear.

Don Bergquist - 20th June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, June 19, 2006


There are those days when everything just goes right!

My car arrived a few minutes early yesterday morning. Which is a good thing because I had already finished with everything I needed to do back in Thames Ditton and was waiting for him to arrive.

The drive to the airport was completely uneventful and the driver and I had a very pleasant chat as we wended our way cross-country from Thames Ditton to Gatwick. It was a lovely day and, though rain was predicted, the skies remained clear, the roads good and there was surprisingly little traffic.

Even the usual hassle of getting through Gatwick was no problem. My airline checking counter had no line whatsoever. I walked up, was immediately met by both the greeters who took turns asking the security question (I think they were bored) had my passport checked and proceeded directly to one of the four empty checking desks. Check-In completed, I wended my way through the crowds waiting at other airline counters and made my way through the security screening point. (Which again was no big deal.)

The only negative thing that happened yesterday was the failure of the handle on my rolling computer case to extend. I had to carry my case, but then I bought a rack at one of the duty-free stores and that was solved too. I had a leisurely breakfast at the restaurant in the main terminal then made my way down to the gate. Boarding began shortly thereafter and was finished pretty quickly.

In the air, I rode a cross the Atlantic with a delightful little girl named Lilly and her Gran. Poor little thing, it was her first trip and she was a bit upset about leaving her parents, but when she started telling me all about how she was going to her cousins' house in California and how she would be staying a couple weeks, she started to get more animated. She had a card game that she had brought with her that she and her Gran had tried to figure out. I helped them with the directions and then we played a few games. The flight passed pretty quickly.

There was a bit of a hassle trying to get through the immigrations line at Minneapolis (in that it seemed to take forever to get our luggage back) but once cleared and luggage dropped at the checking, I walked directly to my gate, as the boarding was being called.

The flight home was also uneventful. I sat next to a nice lady from the other side of town who is a surgical nurse and was concerned about the sniffling I was having, but once I showed her the prescription allergy pills that I had forgotten to take on schedule because I had been flying so long that day, she relaxed. Taking one, made my symptoms clear almost immediately.

Even the baggage claim was amazing. I just knew that the baggage was not going to make it because of the brief time I had between the time I cleared Customs and the time my flight took off. But as I was thinking about checking with the baggage claim person the bags popped off the conveyer. Even the van ride back was no big hassle. There were nine people on the van but six of them were dropped at the first stop so I was at home in just over an hour.

Of course, the best part of the entire day was the pure, unadulterated elation that Saga displayed when she saw daddy on the front porch. It was so heart-warming to see her that I sat on the porch petting her for about an hour before I ever took the cases into the house. Later, we went on a little drive down to Sonic where she got one of her favorites: Tater Tots with Cheese!

I hope that wherever you are today, you have a day that just falls together this easily!

Don Bergquist - 19th June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

Father's Day greetings to my Dad and to all dads out there reading this! As a matter of fact, everyone in this picture is, by now a parent. Everyone but me.

Dad, I wish I weren't spending the entire day on an airplane (or waiting for cars, planes, etc.) and could be there to celebrate you and the wonderful job you have done as a father. You know, though, that I wish I could and I hope that for today, that is enough!

You enter my thoughts every day and every day something you taught me gets used. I am who I am largely because of your tutelage. Just yesterday, I was telling some friends something about how railroads worked. Something I had knowledge of only because you took me to your office at the FEC occasionally when I was a kid. Thanks!

I hope that everyone wherever they are today gives thanks to their father for everything he has done for them. (Go, stop reading this and thank your father for something. Now!)

Don Bergquist - 18th June 2008 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lovely Saturday!

It is my last day in the UK this trip. And I could not have asked for a better day too! The weather is gorgeous! The temperatures are fine and the pollen is not quite as extreme as it has been. It is a great day to get out and do things!

Last night after work, I met-up with some friends at a pub over in Hampton Court to watch the Netherlands football team beat the Ivory Coast team in the world cup elimination games. I actually showed-up about fifteen minutes before the end of the game. It was poor planning on my part. I had hoped to show-up fifteen minutes after the end of the game.

It was a late night at the pub last night and I rode home around 01:00. This morning, I got out the bike and took a ride, finished my packing, and was in the process of cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast when one of my colleagues (who is inhabiting the house next week) arrived.

After a nap this afternoon, I am headed over to Molesey for a barbecue that my friends, Angie and Terry, are having today. Tomorrow I take off in the morning and head home. I cannot wait to see Saga again!

I hope your weekend is as pleasant, wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 17th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, June 16, 2006

Last day in the office this trip

As Willy Wonka says a few times in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "So much time, so little to do. Er, wait a minute. Strike that! Reverse it!" This week has flown by and I have gotten far less done at the office than I had hoped to.

On Sunday, I'm headed home. I am looking forward to seeing Saga! I will be home for only a week, but it will be good to see my dog and sleep in my bed for a change!

I guess I had best get it into gear and do what I can before I head back.

I hope that wherever you are this morning is dawning on a day of possibilities for you!

Don Bergquist - 16th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Aunt Diane!

Thursday, June 15, 2006



1) An abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances, such as pollens, foods, or microorganisms. Common indications of allergy may include sneezing, itching, and skin rashes.

2) Informal. An adverse sentiment; antipathy: an allergy to cocktail parties.

pl. al·ler·gies

[German Allergie : Greek allos, other; see allo- + Greek ergon, action; see werg- in Indo-European Roots.]


1) Epiphany

a) A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.

b) January 6, on which this feast is traditionally observed.

2) A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.

3) epiphany

a) A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
b) A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier).

pl. e·piph·a·nies

[Middle English epiphanie, from Old French, from Late Latin epiphania, from Greek epiphaneia, manifestation, from epiphainesthai, to appear : epi-, forth; see epi- + phainein, phan-, to show; see bh-1 in Indo-European Roots.]


The comprehension or perception of what is causing one's hay fever by means of a sudden intuitive realization.

[allergy + epiphany, coined by Don Bergquist 15th June 2006]


I had something on an epiphany last night! I was chatting with a couple mates of mine down at the local and they said that I looked as if my hay fever was clearing-up. I agreed and surmised that the factor in play was the recent two days of rain. They asked if I had any idea why my allergies were so much worse here than back home. It suddenly struck me.

Originally, I started to say that, no, I had no idea. And then I changed my statement I realized that yes, I did have a clue. As a matter of fact I may just have sussed it out! Sure, my allergies are bad back home but nowhere near this bad. But then, my exposure to pollens and mould spores at home is probably pretty much lower there than here as well. Think about it!

Have you ever been over here? If you have then you probably know the answer as well!

Two Words: Air Conditioning!

At home, we are barely ever outside. (Well, I’m not.) I move from my air conditioned house to my air conditioned car. I drive to the station where I catch an air conditioned train to downtown and then enter my air conditioned office. Granted, not all that air conditioning actually cools the air sufficient for a comfort level I’d like, but every air conditioner I have ever seen does some kind of filtering of the air! The allergens in the outside air are reduced once you enter air conditioning.

By contrast, there is practically no air conditioning here in the UK. (Well, none that I have been exposed to.) I live in an unconditioned house (or hotel - if I am in the Lion Gate), ride a bicycle almost anywhere I want to go, meet with friends in the unconditioned air of the local public house, dine on patios, and shop in stores with large open windows and fans to move the air; the cooled but unconditioned air!

As a matter of fact, since I have hit upon this as a contributing factor, I have been trying to think of just when the last time I was in Air Conditioning was. Although, I do occasionally take a car service if I am going somewhere that is not on a bus line and that is a long-haul, and when I do take the bus, some of them are air conditioned, I can not say for certainty that I have been in either of these on this trip. Thinking back, even the emergency room had its doors open to the cool breezes of the outside air. I believe the examining rooms may have been air conditioned because I do remember walking through an air lock (double swinging doors with big rubber gaskets on the edges and thresholds) but I am not sure.

I believe it may have been air conditioned in the movie theatre. A friend of mine and I went to a movie a couple weeks ago. That may have been the last time I was in air conditioning!

Anyway, just thought I’d share.

All problems have a solution. I hope that wherever you are today you have an epiphany.

Don Bergquist - 15th June 2006 - Tames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my friend, Sara

Happy Birthday to my friend, Karl

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

...and then the rains came...

My allergies are in control today.

Nor only am I still taking all the medications that the doctor here recommended, I have also had help from mother nature. It rained a good part of yesterday! The air has a fresh, clean and just a bit crisp quality to it!

If this is the price I have to pay to be relatively allergy free, bring on the rain!

I hope wherever you are, you get a brief respite from the things that bother you!

Don Bergquist - 14th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Someone Else' Sunrise

The other day in my blog I was bemoaning the fact that Sunrise here in the summertime is so dang early that there was no way I would be able to see one and definitely no way for me to be up (and making good cognitively active decisions) early enough to get out and do sunrise photography.

So, here is a shot I took from the top floor of my house last night of someone else' sunrise! I'm thinking perhaps Kuala Lumpur or somewhere on that side of the globe it must be sunrise about the time it is sunset in Thames Ditton.

I was in bed last evening (about a quarter-to-ten) and noticed that the light in the room had changed. I looked out the window and saw that there was a lovely sunset going on and so I decided to make tracks to grab my camera and head to the top of the house. This picture was taken from a westward facing window at the top level of the house.

I hope that wherever you are (even if it is not Kuala Lumpur) you have had a great day today. (and if it is Kuala Lumpur, that you're having a lovely day tomorrow!)

Don Bergquist - 13th June 2006 - Thames Ditton Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, June 12, 2006

Vacation Mode

All it takes is the proximity of a vacation to make a normally efficient and productive worker into an un-focused, lethargic one. I'm not actually going to be going on vacation any time soon; it is a month away, but the prospect of it is still making me just burst with lethargy. Or is it the fact that I will soon be headed Home to see Saga?

Yes! That's it. As much as I love it here in the UK, it will never be Home as long as I cannot have my dog here with me. It has been too long since I have seen my little one! I know that when I get home she will be there and will be so happy to see here daddy that she will be bouncing off the walls.

That's good. I only get to see her for a week, but it will be a welcome visit! Once I have completed my short trip back to Colorado, I will be back here in the UK for a month. Then I really can enter Vacation Mode! My parents will be joining me over here for a week of sightseeing while I am still over here. That will be fun!

I'm busy trying to put together things for us to do that we will all enjoy. Travels all over the area, side-trips to Scotland, who knows. Anything is possible.

I hope that wherever you are today is a great day full of anticipation of good things to come!

Don Bergquist - 12th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Quiet Day at Home

After spending most of the day yesterday asleep, I think I will spend the bulk of today on the couch. I did not feel like stirring yesterday, today I think I will take some time to recuperate.

I went out when the shoppes opened to get some groceries, and I think that it was enough activity for the morning. Today, I believe, I will just take it easy. It is Nature Sunday on UKTV so I think I with watch the shows on how Europe came to be what it is today. I have already watched one on the geological origins of Europe, the forming of the land as Africa and Europe collided. Next I will be looking at the Ice Age and how it shaped the land further. Later today there are shows on the impact of man. It looks interesting. But not interesting enough to completely rule out a nap on the couch today!

I feel much better today. The allergy reactions are almost gone. The pollen index has fallen back into the moderate range. Rain is predicted for Tuesday! Perhaps that will give the air a good washing!

I hope where you are today, you can take time for yourself.

Don Bergquist - 11th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Back with a Vengeance

No entry today.

I am feeling completely whipped by my allergies. I am going back to bed. If I feel better this afternoon, I will write another entry.

I hope wherever you are you do not have to suffer allergies!

Don Bergquist - 10th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lotions and Potions

Well, that was an adventure!

After sitting in silent suffering for the first couple hours at the office yesterday, I decided to bite the bullet and just find my way to see a doctor. When talking to the emergency medical service that my company offers to travelers, the on-call doctor suggested that I go to the Teddington Memorial Hospital and see a physician to get something for my allergies.

After wrapping-up a few loose ends at the office, I hopped my bicycle and found my way over the hospital. It is an old, red brick building that sits back a bit from the road. A feeling of foreboding should have come over me in that the facade of the hospital was the type one is most likely (in the states, at least) to see in a horror film. In these films, this building would be seen only in a medium-wide shot taken on a cold and rainy day with lightening breaking over it.

The main entry hall was dark and it made me wonder what horrible things might be taking place in other parts of the building. (Nurse, give him more electricity he will live! Live! LIVE!!!) Once through to the reception area for the walk-in clinic, however, it took on a totally different atmosphere. It was, if not actually pleasant, at least brighter.

The feeling of foreboding, which ebbed when I walked into the room, returned when I noticed that there were lots of people sitting around reading old magazines and looking generally bored with it all. I checked in and was asked to join the disinterested throng. Three hours later, my name was called.

I explained to the woman, who introduced herself only as "a nurse" what the problem was. I was told I would have to wait for "the doctor" as there was nothing she could do for me. I returned to the waiting room and waited for my name to be called a second time.

The doctor then proceeded to ask me all the same questions the nurse had previously. The nearest I can gather, the nurse' only job was to actually relieve (no matter how minimally) the boredom of the wait by giving me the false hope that I would be out of there before noon.

All was not in vein however! (Actually none of it was in vein! I was given two pills, an eye drop, and a nasal spray to take. This morning I am feeling a bit better... I'm just waiting for all these things to reach their full potential.

I hope wherever you are today, you are having an excitingly productive day!

Don Bergquist - 09th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, June 08, 2006

No Entry Today

My allergies are killing me today! I did not sleep well because I kept waking-up with sneezing fits. I am going to try and see a doctor today to see if there is anything he or she can recommend to deal with these damned allergies!

I hope wherever you are today, your head and your air is clear!

Don Bergquist - 08th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

It's A Good Thing I'm Not Really Allergic To Anything!

I had to curtail my pub time last night!

My allergies were acting up so badly that I could not stop rubbing my eyes. My nose was completely stopped and I was sneezing every few seconds. Apparently, I am having a reaction to the grasses that are currently blooming.

A few years ago, when I moved to Denver and started having allergies big time, I went to an allergist to be tested for allergies. According to that doctor, I am mildly allergic to grass pollens, mould spores, cat dander and some trees. Nothing serious, nothing sufficient to get the reactions I was reporting at the time. Certainly no serious allergies.

Saying this didn't lessen the symptoms I was experiencing. All I can say is that it is a good thing I am not really allergic to anything! If I were I would be in real agony. As it is, I am popping antihistamines right-and-left. Well, perhaps it will start raining again soon and wash some of this pollen out of the air. (I know, you're thinking I am never happy; it's either raining or I am suffering from hay fever! That's just how I am. But I would rather be damp and at the pub than at home suffering allergies!)

I hope wherever you are today you are free from any symptoms, even those to things to which you aren't really that sensitive!

Don Bergquist - 07th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom


Tuesday, June 06, 2006



n. Slang

An old person, especially an eccentric old man.

This weekend at the Poyntz, the football was on the telly and there was a loud and rowdy crowd watching the game. (If you have never been in a pub to watch the crowd watching footy on a lovely Saturday afternoon, you have no idea what you're missing. It is an interesting place to watch people! But I digress...)

At one point, I needed to brave the crowd to make my way to the loo. As I was trying to press through the fans gathered in front of the big screen, I was met by a wall of people that seemed impassable. Suddenly, a guy that I had just passed yells "Oi! Make way, geezer coming through."

Now, I will admit that I am older than most of the guys who were watching the game, but not I'm that old! I turned and looked back and said "What?" but his attention was back on the game.

When I returned to the table, I mentioned the incident. Good news all! If someone calls you a geezer here, it is actually a compliment! I mean, heck. I see geezers all the time in Miami... They wear black socks with their sandals.

Nope! Not here! That is not what it means here. Apparently, here it is a complimentary term used to signify a man. As in "he's a right geezer" which means he's a nice man. Or as they would say in Minnesota "a regular guy!"

So, to all of you wherever you are today, I hope someone calls you a geezer! (Unless you're a bird!)

Don Bergquist - 06th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, June 05, 2006

In the Interest of Fairness

This weekend, I was accused of complaining "repeatedly" in my blog that I could never live here in the UK. I must say that I was immediately defensive and went immediately to the "I never did!" posture.

Having run the search engine looking for the phrase "live here" against this blog I find that I have used that phrase in exactly five articles. Three of which were written whilst in the UK, two of which were actually discussing whether I could live here or not. Both of those were written back in December 2004, my first trip to the UK. (Personal Aside to the person who said that I had never said that I could never live here - you were correct, I did... But you did take me out of context.)

I Find that in mid-December of that year, I was bemoaning the exorbitant cost of living over here and saying that at these prices, I could never live over here. (Meaning that I could never afford to live here, not that I have no interest therein.) The truth of it is, I could very easily see myself living here if I could but afford it!

I enjoy my getting off to the pub for an evening with friends, I enjoy riding my bike along the old streets and through the wonderful areas of the city. I have some very good friends here and generally enjoy my visits. I could live here. I just couldn't afford it! This, I believe, corrects the error on my part and clears-up any confusion on this point.

I hope that wherever you are today you are free of confusion!

Don Bergquist - 05th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

(Oh... And I have now used that phrase in six articles on this blog... For future reference.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Another Lovely Day!

The weather today is almost as perfect as it was yesterday!

I got up early and did a few things around the house and then grabbed a camera and headed out on my bike. These swans live in the Leg of Mutton pond in Bushy Park.

There are just a few clouds in the sky, but the air is pleasant and the roads are good! I got up early this morning and went for a nice long bike ride. After a couple hours, I ended-up back at home and decided it was time to get some things done. So I did my grocery shopping, and started a load of laundry. I am now sitting here gazing out the back garden doors at the lovely light of the afternoon.

What the heck am I doing writing in doors? I should be out there!

Enough of this. I'm going for another bike ride. I think I'll go into Norbiton.

I hope wherever you are today, it is as lovely as it is here!

Don Bergquist - 04th June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Molesey Carnival

All-in-all, it was a spectacular day! Excellent weather, a sky of purest azure!

I got up late this morning. Really late! I didn't pop out of bed until nearly seven-thirty! After a bit of a slouch around the house, I got a cup of coffee and checked my email. At about ten I headed out for the day which promised to be a big one.

Apparently, the Molesey Carnival is often held in weather that is, shall we say, "less than ideal?" My friend, Terry, tells the story of the year he was on a float at the carnival for one of the local pubs. The float depicted Noah's Ark and, as is fitting for such a theme, the rain was of biblical proportions. (And no, I checked... The Ark, having been built on a lori was not, alas, sea-worthy!)

But this morning was as lovely a day as one could wish for. My first stop, after a nice ride around was Beauchamp (pronounced "BEACH em") Road for a traditional English Breakfast. Terry and Angie went all-out! There was fresh baked bread, sausages, mushrooms, the whole lot!

ADVENTURE ALERT: Back in one of my early blog entries in December 2004, I said that I might even have to try black pudding while I was here. For those of you who think that was an empty threat, Ha! I had black pudding! I have to admit it was not bad. I am not crazy about the texture, but the taste is not bad at all.

After breakfast, we headed off to the Poyntz Arms in Molesey on the High Street for the carnival. The parade was a blast. Local groups all got got up floats and there were clowns and everything!

The interesting thing about the Molesey Carnival that occurs to an outsider watching it is that these Molesey-ians are a hale and hearty lot! We have parades in the states, loads of 'em! Heck, Dad and Flo live in a town of 97 people and even Kensington has a parade. But unlike we wimpy citizens of the backward United States, these brave souls don't close the streets along the parade route!

Molesey Carnival runs along an open thoroughfare! The floats and marching bands are vying for space on the road with London Transit, official vehicles and hoi polloi! (Jokingly, I pointed at a bus as it passed the parade and referred to it as the most imaginative float in the parade. A few of the passengers waived as they passed... Even they were in the spirit!)

I wondered if there would be scantily clad Brazilian Babes (Like Carnival in Rio) and soon discovered that there were, after a fashion. Well he wasn't Brazilian or a babe, but he was scantily clad. The parade was brought to a conclusion with the local constabulary. This biker (and the people on the 411 bus were caught-up behind the parade. Oh well, I hope they had nowhere they needed to be immediately!

After the parade, we retreated into the Poyntz for another pint and camaraderie. What a lovely day!

Around 14:30 I decided I could take no more of this excitement and headed home for a nap. It was a welcome break. Tonight I am headed back into the fray! I've had my nap and a shower. It is time to get on the bike and head over to The King's Arms for a pint or two among friends.

What a great day!

Oh, and have I said "what a great day?"

I hope that wherever you are today, your day is excellent!

Don Bergquist - 03rd June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, June 02, 2006

Good Weather Weekend!

The Five-Day Forecast for Thames Ditton
(From the BBC)

Looks like an excellent weekend is on its way!

Good thing too! The Molesey Regatta and Village Fair are this weekend! I have big plans. My friends have invited me over to brunch followed by a meander over to the river to watch the regatta and a stroll back to the green for the fair.

Plenty of good weather means plenty of time to also enjoy plenty of the local color. By "color" here, I (of course) mean "Beer!" It should be an excellent weekend to get out and enjoy the day!

I hope that whatever your weekend plans are, you have an excellent weekend to enjoy them!

Don Bergquist - 02nd June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Editor's Note:

Correction: Regatta occurs in July. Tomorrow's event is the Molesey Carnival only. (Oh, and the breakfast!)


Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Realist's View of London

Optimist (OP tah mist)
1) One who usually expects a favorable outcome.
2) A believer in philosophical optimism.

Pessimist (PES ah mist)
1) One who usually expects an unfavorable outcome.
2) A believer in philosophical pessimism.

Realist (REE ah list)
1) One who is inclined to literal truth and pragmatism.
2) A practitioner of artistic or philosophic realism.

Practically speaking, an optimist sees the glass as being half full; a pessimist sees the glass as being half empty; the realist knows that it doesn’t matter how much is left in the glasses the other two are going to stiff him with the bar bill!

I bring this up because I have recently decided that the time had come for me to be a realist. As an optimist, I used to think how good it would feel when I was out riding my bike. As a pessimist I know that it will be windy, cold, or raining at some time during my ride. I now realize, as a realist, that both are true and that every driver in London was aiming for me once I hit the road. It is wonderful being able to get out there and ride, but I really prefer places that are closed to cars.

Some tosser came by me today on my way to work (and although he had a clear view of the empty road ahead, tried to squeeze me off the road when he came past me. I have no idea why the drivers here do not seem to understand that the line painted to their left divides their lane from the bike lane. As long as I am on my side and they are on their side everyone should be happy.

Oh well… that is my rant for the day! I hope you have a safe and pleasant day today!

Don Bergquist - 01st June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom