Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sixteen Percent

Years ago, there was an episode of Nova, the science show in PBS, titled Its About Time. The program discussed all the interesting thoughts in the study of what time is, how it is perceived, and what the possibility is that time travel may be possible.

One of the segments, the one discussing the perception of time, talked about how different people perceive the passage of time differently. You know the effect I am talking about. Two people sitting in an office both are "working." Well, one is working, the other is watching the clock. The one who is busy looks up and says "Well, will you look at the time! It's five o'clock already! Time Flies!"

Meanwhile, the one who has been willing the clock to jump to 17:00 since lunch time finds himself thinking "At Last! I cannot believe how incredibly long this day has been!"

The program explained that the affect is actually an artifact of the amount of time one spends in considering the passage of time. The more you think about it, the slower it happens. The busier you are, the faster time seems to pass because you have less time to think about how slow it is passing. (Or something to that effect!)

I mention this because when I picked-up my Palm Pilot this morning to check my mail before coming to the office, I noticed that it was already 28-February! Where is this year getting off to? The year is already 16% over!

If the theory that Its About Time offered is accurate, then this year definitely offers corroborative evidence. I have been so busy with my travel and work schedule that I have had no real time to consider the actual passage of the time; consequently, time has been flying.

Here's to the two months complete and the ten ahead! I hope that wherever you are, your year is going well and passing quickly enough to be comfortable!

Don Bergquist - 28-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, February 27, 2006

Like I Never Left

We arrived late yesterday and then there was a hassle trying to get through Customs. They think I am coming here too often to be considered a visitor and suggested that the next time I come over I may be required to get a work visa. By the time I got to the house in Thames Ditton it was already noon.

I quickly unpacked and put my room in order. Putting the things I brought for my friends into my messenger bag so I could bring it to the pub with me, I lay down for a quick nap. Around 16:00 I got up and headed out for a bike ride.

I should have headed into Surbiton and done some grocery shopping but I was more eager to head out and see if the parks are blooming yet. (They aren't - but seem close.) I rode for about an hour and then returned home to grab my bag and take the stuff I bought in the US for my friends to them at the pub.

It was a welcome homecoming! We sat by the big fireplace and exchanged stories and toasts until about 21:00 and then I headed home to crash and burn. The bed felt really good last night when I finally got into it and turned-out the lights I was already asleep!

Today I resume working on my project work here in Thames Ditton. I cannot wait to see if I have stuff to test! I guess I had best pack my PC and get into the office.

I hope wherever you are today you have a great time!

Don Bergquist - 27-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Midnight Musings

One of the things I may have mentioned at one time or another on my blog is that I am not, generally speaking, the sort of person who can sleep on an airplane. I have, occasionally been able to when sitting in first class (or business class - when headed to London) but even sitting up front is no guarantee.

I have no idea why this is. It can't be the noise, the red-eye to London is dead quiet once the meal service has been done and the lights have been dimmed. I have noise canceling headphones (What a wonderful invention!!!) that get rid of most of the ambient cabin noise and I've tried sleeping pills on some of these flights in the past.

I mention this because it is about midnight (in the eastern time zone where my flight left from) and I am sitting here, tired, but unable to sleep. I've finished the book that I brought with me for the early part of the flight and will probably get up and walk to the back galley and stretch my legs in a minute.

I've played a couple crossword puzzles on my PDA and will probably watch a movie a little later on. Three hours down, five to go. Have I mentioned that I really don't enjoy this part of the whole "Travel Experience"?

My seat-mate is sleeping fitfully. He keeps snoring himself almost away and then turns this-way-and-that to get more comfortable and falls asleep again. Lucky guy! Well, it's time for a stretch.

I hope wherever this evening finds you you are well!

Don Bergquist - 26-February-2006 - Northwest Airlines Flight 32 Somewhere over the North Atlantic

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Waiting... (The Remake)

If she hasn't figured it out yet, she will shortly. My bags are packed and stacked inside the door, the shuttle will pick me up shortly. This is another day of travel (by which I mean waiting) ahead of me. I am waiting already. The shuttle is late!

The shuttle service almost always starts at my place (when I am riding them) because I live so far to the west and south of the airport. I know that there are people who would offer me a ride to the airport to save me the long ride in the shuttle, but I can't ask them to take the time out of their mornings to make sure that I am where I need to be. I was chatting with my neighbor who offered, but it just wasn't necessary. Now, if the shuttle is any later than it is right now, I may go next door to see if I can beg that ride off him!

Well, at least I am leaving the cold and snow behind me. It has been lovely this week, but the weather forecasts are calling for an arctic blast next week with the chance of snow early in the week. I guess I am headed back to London just in time.

I hope wherever you are today your outlook is warm and sunny!

Don Bergquist - 25-February-2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mean Daddy

When my siblings and I were young, there were many times that the decisions that our parents made were seen (by us) to be arbitrary, capricious, and unfair. These were often received by my siblings and me with the plaintive question: "But, why?!?!"

To which, the invariable response from my father was "Because I am a mean daddy!"

As I have grown older (and my father has gotten smarter - funny how that works - but that is another story that I will have to post some day!) I have grown to appreciate that "I'm A Mean Daddy" really translated into English as "Because I love you and sometimes I have to make you do things you don't want to." I am certain that saying "I'm a mean daddy" was not easy, nor was whatever it was he was trying to get us to do that we didn't want to do.

I'm sure of this because today, I realized what a mean daddy I am.

Okay, I don't have any children (per se) but I have Saga. Yesterday was the day that I had set-aside to do things for Saga before I headed back to London for my next trip. We did all the things we had to do (but that I knew she'd hate) in one big go this morning to get it over with. First it was off to the vet to catch-her-up on her her inoculations. Then it was off to the dog wash to have her get all prety-fied. Last evening I clipped her nails. All the while as she was fighting and whining, I heard my dad saying in my head "...Because I am mean daddy!"

Yeah, right! I'm glad I had a mean daddy rather than one who could care less! Thanks, Dad!

As for Saga, I'm sure she will get over it. Probably about the time she realizes that I am gone on another business trip and won't be back for a while she'll realize how lucky she is to have a mean daddy!

I hope wherever you are today you have the opportunity to appreciate the "mean" people in your life!

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

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oh, Yes! They Know!

If you have ever wondered if you pets can read your mind, let me settle your quandary. Yes. They can! Saga can, I am convinced that she knows that I am going away again in a couple days for another eight weeks in the UK.

She has been incredibly clingy all week. She follows me into every room I go into and never strays from my side for long. I know that you may think she is just living off the trauma of my being gone so long, but I think that she really knows that I am about to leave again.

If she has not actually read my mind, then she has noticed that I didn't put away my case as I normally do when I get home. It is still sitting in the living room and is being re-filled with clothing as they come out of the washing machine. She's either psychic or very observant.

This morning, she showed me that she doesn't want me to go by waking me up at three. I have no idea what the deal was, but she came tearing up to bed and pounced on me! She jumped into the empty space to my right, crawled over the pillows at the head of the bed (stepping on my face in the process), and finally nudging herself under the quilts and snuggled into the crook of my arm. Perhaps she was dreaming that I was gone and needed to reassure herself that I was still there.

I am going to miss her when I go back to the United Kingdom next week. Nobody is that excited to see me when I show-up at home in Thames Ditton.

I hope wherever you are, you have someone who is excited to see you!

Don Bergquist - 23-February-2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not Much To Report Today

It has been a busy week thus far, but nothing of note to make mention of. This week was to make sure I had a chance to get some of the stuff that I needed to get done taken care of. As great as the internet is at making it possible for me to maintain my personal affairs from practically anywhere, there are just those things that require physical presence.

It is hump day. I hope I will be wrapping things up and getting things done so that I can relax and spend the last day here with Saga. I think she has figured-out that I am not staying.

I hope wherever you are, you are having a productive day!

Don Bergquist - 22-February-2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Old Habits...

It's not only the old habits that die hard. Yesterday on the way into the office I stopped off at Seven-Eleven for a cup of coffee. Without thinking (it was only five AM after all), I reached into my pocket, retrieved my wallet, and seeing I had insufficient coinage to buy the coffee, handed the guy the smallest bill I had. The guy looked at the fiver and asked if I was trying to be funny or something. I retrieved the five-pound note, got the other wallet out of my briefcase in the car, and handed over a five-dollar-bill.

Last night, on my way home from the Home Owner's association meeting I made a left out of the parking lot of the church where we have the meeting and almost immediately remembered to drive on the right. (In truth, I wondered why they had put the road signage on the wrong side of the road first.)

I guess I am saying that you can get used to almost anything. Things you enjoy, you get used to more quickly. I enjoy being in London, so I have grown accustomed to saying "cheers" to people instead of "thank you." Someone asked if I got homesick. I did. You bet! But it was mostly for the people and the ones I love back here (SAGA!!!) and very little for the place. You can get used to anything if you are in good company, and the friends I have made in London have made my acclimatization go pretty smoothly. (No comments to the contrary are necessary! You can read back entries on this blog if you want contraindicative evidence.)

I hope wherever you are you are surrounded by people who make your day go a little more smoothly!

Don Bergquist - 21-February-2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Editor's Note:
This entry was originally a political screed talking about how contradictory the president's trip to photo-ops all across the country to promote the conservation of fuel is. Don was quite correct. If the president wanted to promote fuel conservation he could have stayed at home and set an example, but that would have been logical.

Oh, he also made some astute points about how it should be no surprise that the president attempted to appoint a crony to head-up the maritime oversight board who just happens to be connected (as in a former CEO) to the company from the Dubai company that he has suggested would be a good company to make sure that no dangerous stuff comes across our borders through our ports.

This, not being a primarily political blog by nature, the editorial staff felt these comments were out of place.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Being Nice

I am sitting in a coach class seat sipping on a glass of white wine about half-way through my last flight of the day. I have now been at the mercy of this airline for something approaching sixteen hours. But, this is what I do. I've learned over the years that it never pays to be nasty but being nice... "...more flies with honey..." as the old saying goes. The glass of wine, my second, is one of those flies.

It all started back in the boarding process. Someone who obviously does not subscribe to this idea walked on the plane in the later part of the loading procedure with her three cases, and started trying to shove them into the overhead bins. For those of you not familiar with air travel, it is customarily accepted that you may bring two pieces of luggage with you, one brief case and one carry on, or one carry on and one purse, when you board the plane. On flights that are not extremely full, you can usually bring on a third, but you will almost never see anyone try it on such as packed flight as this. When you do have two, one should go under the seat in front of you, the other in the overhead bin.

So this woman, having conscripted a helper to get her bags (yes, all three of them) into the already near-capacity overhead bins. She just shoved people's stuff around to get her own in and left her bag hanging two inches out of the bin so that it couldn't possibly close. It was at this point that the vinegar/honey decision had to be taken and she chose unwisely.

The flight attendant came along to assist and asked if she could help with finding alternative stowage for the woman's baggage. "I'm dealing with it. It has to stay with me." The woman replied tartly. "It's in the bin."

"I'm sorry," the flight attendant responded, "it cannot stay there. That bin has to be able to close."

"Just where do you want me to put it?" retorted the woman crossly.

At this point the original flight attendant started backing off, obviously irritated. As one of her collages came to her aid, she said under her breath, but loud enough for me to overhear (I believe it was intended to be heard by her colleague alone.) "She asked me where I wanted her to put it!"

"That's a loaded question." her colleague whispered back.

I smiled quietly to myself and read my book through the remainder of the boarding process. That was an hour-and-a-half or-so-ago. A short while ago, perhaps ten minutes after the beverage and snack service, I went back to use the loo and to stretch my legs. The first of the two flight attendants was there. While waiting for one of the personals to become available, I was chatting with the flight attendant. (Those of you who have read my columns before realize that this is something I do often.) During the conversation I complimented her on her restraint.

"You showed amazing restraint in not explaining, in great details, you answer to that woman's question." I said. Receiving a shocked look in response. "The woman with the bag problem back in <>Airport Name Omitted<> who asked you where you wanted her to put it." I explained.

"You heard that?" She asked."Oh, god! Do you think she heard it?"

"No! I was sitting right below you while you and your colleague exchanged your comments. I wasn't eves dropping, but that woman was so unspeakably rude. I just thought that you should know that you, in my humble opinion, handled it right."

She was relieved to hear that their comments probably didn't go much further and that probably nobody else was able to hear them. We chatted a bit more, about travel, where her itinerary took her tomorrow, where mine had taken me, and about my travels earlier in the day. She and I were discussing how hard it is to deal with the public some times when I said that she has a hard job and she handled it more professionally than some of her colleagues. I mentioned the guy in my flight back to the states from London when I asked for a glass of water and a glass of wine with my dinner.

As I was wishing her a good flight and said that I would be returning to my seat and my book. She brought back-up that last point again and asked if I ever did get the wine. "Yeah, but every time I asked for anything he made it sound like I was asking him to run errands or something for me."

A few minutes later, she brought me my first glass of wine from the open bottle in First Class. My row-mates were asleep so no explanation was made. It was quite a nice chardonnay. A couple minutes ago, she walked by and explained that the bottle was opened because one person in First Class had wanted white and the bottle would be counted as spoilage if it was served. So why not?

When I agreed to a second glass, she walked off and got it. I am pretty certain that the "Where do you want me to put it woman." didn't get this kind of service. I hope she got mostly ice when her drink was served. But I am sure my new acquaintance's with this airline is too professional to have done anything like that. I am pretty sure if a third glass is offered, I will turn it down. It will be twenty-one hours on the road today before I get to bed and I have yet to sleep since I left London.

The announcement that I just heard places us somewhere near Lincoln, Nebraska. I guess I will close this off for now, get back to my book and post this when I get home.

I hope that wherever you are today, you have an opportunity to be nice to someone.

Don Bergquist - 20-February-2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, United States

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Okay, so there was a slight factual error yesterday in my blog. Yesterday, when I said that the part of the trip I cannot stand is the last full day in a place, I'll admit that I was not being entirely up-front.

This is the part of the trip that I really hate! My bags are packed and by the kitchen door. I've reconfirmed my reservations, checked to make sure that what I am taking is secure and ready to go and what I am leaving behind is organized and put away and now I wait.

Those of you who do not travel for a living probably do not realize this but business travel is not all restaurants and sight-seeing. There is a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for cabs, busses, cars, planes, and trains. Anyone who knows me, I am not a patient person. I hate to wait. But today will be mostly waiting.

I'm waiting for my car to come and collect me for the drive to Gatwick. Where I will wait for the sign to announce that I may check-in for my flight. After which I will go to the concourse and wait for the announcement that I can proceed to the departure lounge and (wait for it!) there I will wait for the plane to board. After boarding I will wait for take-off. Upon landing, I'll have to wait to collect my stuff and go to Immigrations and passport control where I will wait to announce that I have nothing to declare, wait for my baggage, wait to check-it in for my domestic flight, wait for that flight, and then wait for my flight to Denver.

The last time I will wait on this trip will be about ten-thirty tonight (about twenty-hours from now) when I wait for the shuttle to take me home. I should get home some time shortly after eleven tonight. (Denver Time) It is currently three in the morning over there.

I cannot wait! I'm looking forward to seeing Saga.

I hope that wherever you are today, you have something worth waiting for!

Don Bergquist - 19-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my friend, Chip!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Last Day in the UK/Celebration Mach II

Well, it is my last day of this trip. The weather has been wonderful, it has been great being here for the last eight weeks. I will miss my friends and my pub when I head back to the states tomorrow morning. This is the part of the trip that I really could do without.

I want to see my dog, my friends back in the states, and my home again, but I am leaving behind my new friends, my second (or third, fourth - depends on how you want to count it) home and, of course, my pub.

I love the pub culture here. I wish someone would come-up with one in my area. Pubs are not bars, as we know them in the states, they are social meeting places with beer.

Last night I went out clubbing with a friend here in London and was out until about three this morning. A friend of mine found out that it had been my birthday and wanted to celebrate with me. It was fun! We went to a couple different places. One was this fantastic dance club with lasers, fog, and a really good DJ. Needless to say, I slept in 'til nearly seven thirty this morning!

I hope wherever you are, you have something to celebrate today!

Don Bergquist - 18-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Cousin Stephanie!

Friday, February 17, 2006


Make new friends but keep the old
One is silver; the other gold.

I cannot think of the last time I had such a blast on my birthday! I thoroughly enjoyed last evening. When trying to think of how to put this, I decided that I couldn’t really say that there was no place that I’d have rather been. I probably could come up with something, but it would certainly be difficult to top last night! I know that I have said this before, and I will say it again. I have some really good friends here in the United Kingdom!
Mom's girl scout troop used to sing the song above about new and old friends. I wish some of my old friends could have been here and could meet my new friends.

My evening started about 17:00 when I left the office. The plan was that we would all meet-up at the King’s Arms to have a pint-or-two before heading into Esher to have a curry. In preparation for going out, I left the bike at home yesterday after my lunchtime ride. I headed out of the office and set out along Summer Road toward Hampton Court. I was not twenty feet from the front door of the office when Kevin pulled over and gave me a lift to the pub. (It was my first ride in a London Police Car. I suggested that had he been a couple minutes earlier he could have certainly caused a stir at the office by calling in at the reception desk and asking for me.)

Well, this was a good start! I took a quick walk into The Wilderness, with a few unexpected minutes to kill before the pub opened, I decided to check and see if the bulbs were yet in bloom. They are trying but they just aren’t ready to pop up yet. I returned to the pub about 17:25 just as the barman was opening the doors. Paulo hadn’t quite finished all the set-up before opening, but he had seen me walk past and didn’t want me to wait out in the cold so he opened early. He wished me a happy birthday and then ran down to the cellar to do something.

Everyone started showing up around 18:00 and it was wonderful. Terry and Angie gave me some very nice looking beers and a framed print of an old map of the area. (I’ll be scanning it and putting it on the blog at some point.) It is a really cool map! It shows the area almost as if I had pulled it from Google Earth and selected the part of London I am most familiar with. The area covered by the map is from The Portsmouth Road on the south, Teddington on the north, King’s Hill on the east and East Molesey on the west.

A few toasts and present opening behind, Paulo and Carl (the owner of the pub) came down with a lit cake. I blew-out the candles and thanked Terry, Angie and Kevin. They then informed me that the cake was Carl’s idea… they’d had nothing to do with it! How cool is that? (When is the last time that the owner of a business you patronize spontaneously bought you a birthday cake? - And people wonder why I love it here!)

The car came and collected us soon thereafter and we were off to Esher for Curry. The restaurant was a cool little place on the main street. The atmosphere was wonderful and the food was excellent. We all ordered starters and offered each other taste. Mine was a kind-of stuffed dumpling (like a pot sticker) and was served with a yellow chili sauce. It was yummy! I also tried their grilled prawns (also excellent) and their sauteed chicken livers (also yummy!). All the curries were great! The conversation was good, the company was excellent. The evening seemed to fly by!

We returned to the King’s Arms for another round before calling it a night and ran into Paul and Bev who had brought the dogs (as always) so I got to play with the dogs for a bit. The evening ended with a very pleasant surprise. On my way to the loo, I saw the barman and his friend chatting in the third bar. Paulo introduced me to his friend who also wished me a happy birthday and seemed completely sincere when he told me that I looked nothing like I was in my mid-forties.

He asked me to join him and chat a bit; Paulo had to get back to tending the bar, so I grabbed my beer and we chatted for a while.

As I said, a wonderful way to spend one’s birthday!

I hope that wherever you are, you had an excellent day yesterday and have a better one today!

Don Bergquist - 17-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Happy Birthday to...

I think I will go and have a beer at the pub! What am I saying? Of course I am going to go get a beer today! It's my birthday!

At 08:18 AM eastern standard time, 16-February-1962 the world changed. Possibly not much. Some probably think nor for the better, but let's not waste time on them. At that time, I decided to grace you with my presence.

I know that there are those of you who wish I would just go away, but like the last group referenced, you're not the subject of this either.

I want to thank my mother that she went through all that pain and suffering for my benefit; just so that I could be here today. And that is not to mention that on top of all that, she also went through nine months of pregnancy and hours of labor!

Thanks to all who have helped me become what I am today. (Some say "a pain in the ass". But for the last time, they're not worth discussing!) I hope the next forty-four years are as filled with wonderful (and sometimes painful) memories as the first forty-four have been.

Tonight I have plans to meet some friends for dinner. We're going over to Esher to have Nepalese food. (This will be another first for me.) I guess that will be what I write about tomorrow.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have something to celebrate!

Don Bergquist - 16-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Editor's Note:

The editor wishes to make it known that the actual age of Mr. Bergquist is 28 (when calculated in base 13). Please think of him as 28. It would make him grin. And we all want that, don't we?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Rains Have Returned to London

The mornings have been wet for the last couple days. Luckily, the days turn-out beautifully. It appears that the rain seems to want to start right after sunset and then drizzle lightly until just after sunrise. I am cool with this! It is only half a mile to the office and with just a light drizzle, the bike ride is not too bad.

I have taken to riding the circuit around the river at lunch time and then again when I get out for the day. It is a pleasant ride. If I don't stop in at the pub when I ride, I can generally make it in about a half-hour. Unfortunately, since the barge walk is not paved, I cannot ride it while it is wet so I have to ride along the A308 and not along the river over in Middlesex.

Oh, I have noticed an interesting weather phenomenon. It seems no matter which side of the river I am on I am riding with a head-wind for the past few days. It is almost like some kind of linear hurricane. When I am riding into Kingston on the South of the river, the wind is coming out of the east. When I am riding into Hampton Court along the A308 the wind comes at me out of the west. And as I am going through the village of Molesey the wind comes directly up the A309 from the south.

Well, I hope wherever you are today, the wind is at your back.

Don Bergquist - 15-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

The Measure Was Defeated!

The good people of Telluride have voted down the plans to destroy the Valley!

Thanks to everyone who voted "No" on this measure!

Happy Birthday to my nephew, Andrew!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Telluride Voters: Please vote "NO" today!

Photo Credit: Michael Mowery
From Mike's Blog posting of 13-February-2006

(I wouldn't normally post someone else' photographs to my blog, but my friend Michael took this and I believe it shows an asset of Colorado's that must be preserved.)

Michael's blog posting of yesterday makes some very important statements about the destruction of treasured wilderness lands. Please, I encourage you to go to Michael's blog and follow some of the links that he has there.

In short, there is a referendum before the voters of Telluride, Colorado today as to whether they are going to allow development of multi-million-dollar condominiums in this lovely, pristine valley floor. I may be a recent transplant to Colorado, but it is exactly assets like this that brought me here and that I would want to see were I a visitor. It is important that we preserve places like this.

If the voters of Telluride allow this lovely area to be destroyed, it will be criminal!

I implore you, please, if you can vote no today on this issue, please do. If you cannot, please talk to anyone you know who can! It is not possible to put the eggs back into the shell once they have been smashed. Please help save Colorado!

I hope that wherever you are today, you'll take a stand for something you believe in!

(Stepping off the soapbox now...)

Don Bergquist - 14-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

The Eagles
(From "Hotel California")
The Last Resort

By Don Henley

She came from Providence,
the one in Rhode Island
Where the old world shadows hang
heavy in the air
She packed her hopes and dreams
like a refugee
Just as her father came across the sea

She heard about a place people were smilin'
They spoke about the red man's way,
and how they loved the land
And they came from everywhere
to the Great Divide
Seeking a place to stand
or a place to hide

Down in the crowded bars,
out for a good time,
Can't wait to tell you all,
what it's like up there
And they called it paradise
I don't know why
Somebody laid the mountains low
while the town got high

Then the chilly winds blew down
Across the desert
through the canyons of the coast, to
the Malibu
Where the pretty people play,
hungry for power
to light their neon way
and give them things to do

Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught 'em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought them
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea

You can leave it all behind
and sail to Lahaina
just like the missionaries did, so many years ago
They even brought a neon sign:"Jesus is coming"
Brought the white man's burden down
Brought the white man's reign

Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
'Cause there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here

We satifsy our endless needs and
justify our bloody deeds,
in the name of destiny and in the name
of God

And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
Stand up and sing about
What it's like up there
They call it paradise
I don't know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye

Happy Birthday to my friend, Kelly!

(When are we going to get more pictures of the kid?)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Birthday Party!

My friend Terry's Mum, Mavis, had a birthday party yesterday at the King's Arms.

Terry invited me to join the celebration. And what a celebration it was. The place was packed! I had intended to get out early. Since the party was supposed to be from 15:00 - 20:00, I figured I would get a nice early departure in, just to prove I could do it, and get a good night's sleep last night.

You know what they say about plans and intentions. Suffice it to say that I did not get out early last night. One thing led to another, the conversation and the beer were both good so I was there until nearly 23:00.

I was so tired this morning! A bike ride at lunch time has helped me to get my second wind, though, so I think this afternoon will go much smoother!

Wherever you are this fine day, I hope you are able to spend some time with your family and friends!

Don Bergquist - 13-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Brighton Was A Scream!

The drive was pleasant enough. My housemates (well, mot of them) and I left for Hampton Court to meet with one other co-worker and have a quick pint in the Kings' Arms before taking off. (Mine was the Diet Coke because I was the designated driver. We made good time with only one flub in the drive, being that I got on the M25 headed west instead of east. Once that was sorted out (at the next junction) we were headed in the correct direction and the journey passed without incident.

Well, I say that it passed without incident. The peanut gallery in the back seat kept saying that I was going too fast but I got us there in one piece and did not get any speeding tickets along the way, so I guess I did okay.

Once there, I headed immediately for the Crazy Mouse. I love this ride. It is good enough the I went twice! Too bad I couldn't get any of my coworkers to join me. Oh well. At least I could get Martin to use my camera to take some pictures of me riding the roller coaster.

After spending an hour-or-so playing carnival games, riding the roller coasters and taking pictures, we headed into town to see what if anything there was to see.

There was a bit of shopping, but everything there is so expensive that there was nothing anyone wanted to buy. We then set-off in search of a bite to eat. Every public house we entered, however, was completely packed to standing-room only. After trying about five, we decided to head up the coast on a drive and then in-land to Lewes to see the Lewes Castle. If we saw something that struck our fancy for dinner, we'd stop and eat.

The drive was nice and scenic! I love that part of this country. The water, the cliffs, the beaches, the rolling hills. It is just lovely.

We arrived in Lewes in good time and by dint of following the signs, were almost entirely unlucky in finding the actual castle. We passed it twice and had to double back to try and find it. (Okay, yes! We finally asked someone.)

When one of us spotted the sign showing the way to the actual castle (right below a sign marking the road as being a dead end) I turned into the lane and headed up. I was beginning to doubt that I was still on a road as we drove through the portico of the castle, but the pavement still had appropriate road markings on it and there were "no parking" signs at the end of the road so I guess we were on a valid thoroughfare.

After walking around the castle a bit (and I do mean "around" it. It was either closed or the entrance was so well obscured that none of us spotted it) we set-off in search of sustenance. We all were incredibly unadventurous having the cheeseburger and chips offered by the local pub.

The drive back was equally uneventful. (Except that I kept killing the car by hitting third when I wanted first. I am having trouble getting used to shifting with my left hand!) but we went dropped Martin at his hotel. I then returned my housemates and the car to the house, got my bike, and headed down to the pub. After all that driving (with no beer) I was ready for a pint or three.

I hope that wherever you are today you've had fun!

Don Bergquist - 12-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I am off to Brighton this afternoon

My co-workers and I have plans to head off to Brighton this afternoon. We're also hoping to get to Lewes Castle.

I have just returned from a run into town for a few groceries. I am trying to not buy too much because I am leaving for the states next weekend and do not want to leave anything that will perish before I get back.

I guess I should get ready to go. We're meeting-up with one of our number over at the Liongate and heading south.

Details and pictures tomorrow.

I hope wherever you are today you have plans to enjoy yourself.

Don Bergquist - 11-Februrary-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, February 10, 2006

...Speakin' It Since I was a Kid...

Some of my former coworkers (the BIAS Install and Consulting Team) gave me the nickname of Webster. They did so because it seemed to them that I was never at a loss for a word to use. The name was first applied in Albuquerque while on an install. We were sitting in a restaurant having dinner when someone was trying to think of what the name for an object (I forget what it was) that we were looking at. I though about half a second and then named the item.

"You're a regular Daniel Webster." Quipped one of the people on my team. (And I know what you are thinking - If you know me, that is - you're thinking that I immediately jumped on the comment and pointed out that Daniel Webster Congressman and they were trying to name Noah Webster, the lexicographer. But I didn't; I let it pass.)

Well, the "Webster" part stuck. I occasionally want to scream "Read a book!" at the people who accuse me of talking above their heads. I have no delusion that I am any outstanding intellect. I have an adequate intelligence, an interest in learning, and a desire to find out new things. It sometimes surprises me at the words I use that get questioned. This is one of the reasons I love coming over to this side of the Atlantic. They use the language! It's eerie. It is almost as if they invented it or something. (Though we all know it was the Germans who can claim the credit for that one.)

I think of this because of two things that happened yesterday. One was that in the Mental Floss quiz there was a question about coins: the "Tails side of the coin is called the "reverse" by numismatists; what do they call the "heads" side? Your choices are a) the Averse, b) the Inverse, c) the Obverse or d) the Transverse

Chatting in the pub last night I mentioned the question because it is really easy to suss out if you know what all these words mean. They looked at me as if to indicate that there was no reason that this should be a question. Another friend of mine, who came to the UK to learn English, asked me to explain. So I explained that "averse" means to have feelings against. "I would not be averse to having another ale."

"Inverse" means to progress in reverse order "If you have traveled to the pub from home, you can get back home by traveling the directions that brought you here in inversely."

"Obverse" means to be facing the observer. "While stage sets may look like brick and mortar on the obverse side, the reverse looks like canvas stretched over a wooden frame."

"Traverse" means to pass over, through, or across. "To traverse the Chunnel, one must board a train."

While explaining this, the person to whom was originally talking said that for an American, I spoke English pretty well. To which I responded with Dad's eloquent response: "I should, I've been speaking it since I was a kid!"

I hope wherever you are today, you are learning something new!

Don Bergquist - 10-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Gastronomic Goofs

I have long said that if there is, in fact, an after-life and I meet my mother there I am so dead. Were I not deceased already she'd kill me. This is why I never thought this moment would come. How could I have predicted it? I guess I owe my mother an apology. So here goes: Mom, I'm sorry. I should have never cast aspersions on your cooking.

It seems that an abomination of the annual Thanksgiving feast at the Bergquist household was not an invention of Mother's imagination. Before I go further in my daily diatribe, let me explain to my readers what I am talking about. Mother used to make the best Thanksgiving dinners. They were truly feasts. There was, of course, the turkey with sausage stuffing. She did the turkey in a greased brown paper grocery bag. I still do this... it is the best was I have ever found to assure that the turkey turns out juicy and tasty. There was a relish tray with olives, pickles, and deviled eggs. She also served sweet potatoes - all the fixings.

With all this good stuff on the table, there was one thing that we all looked askance at hoping each year that it would be the last for the annual offering. But like the swallows to Capistrano, the Glorified Rice always found its way back to the table.

Being a good ten months until Thanksgiving you way wonder what brings this to mind. Well, even if you aren't I am planning on telling you. The other night my housemates and I were talking about comfort foods and what our mothers made for us when we were young. When I admitted that they only things that sprang to mind that I liked that mom made where Potato Chip Hot Dish, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Thanksgiving dinner, we got onto the subject of Turkey Day. That lead us to what dishes were traditional in our families which led directly to Glorified Rice.

Here's the reason I owe mom an apology: when I said Glorified Rice (suppressing as best as possible a shudder of revulsion) one of my house mates said Oh, yum! I love Glorified Rice. Incredulous to the last I asked if she was sure that she had heard me correctly. But, yes... she had! This is the first time I have ever met anyone who knew what this dish was (outside my family) and the first time (bar-none) that I had met anyone that actually professed to like it!

I then discovered the horrible truth: Mom was taking shortcuts. I guess it was to be expected and understood. Mom was not a willing or enthusiastic cook. She could certainly do so, but she did not enjoy it at all.

Now a note to my family: Guys, this stuff doesn't sounds half bad! First off, it is not made with Minute Rice or Kool whip! From the description I got the other evening, it is a sort of a rice pudding. It should be steamed with the whipping cream and then have the pineapple folded into it and chilled. The recipe that I was given was nothing but long grain rice, cream, sugar, pineapple and a few maraschino cherries added to the mixture for color at the last minute.

To everyone else: Mom's recipe called for making Minute Rice without the salt and then mixing it with flaked coconut, fruit cocktail, walnuts, miniature marshmallows and Kool Whip. I think that I might like the other recipe. This one, no thanks! Dopey me! All this time, I had more-or-less assumed that Mom had made-up the recipe to torture us at Thanksgiving Dinner. Now I see that it was one that she was just taking short cuts on.

I hope wherever you are today, your day is filled with pleasant memories!

Don Bergquist - 09-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Carrot and Stick

In old cartoons you will often see a mule that is being enticed into pulling a cart by dangling a carrot in front of its face hanging from a stick. I have to admit that the pub is my carrot that gets me to ride every evening. I have been riding ever evening after work.

With few exceptions, I get on my bicycle, head east into Kingston, cross the Thames, then west into Hampton Court where I look in on the King's Arms to see if there is anyone I know in there. (And there usually is.) So I will hop off and spend a few minutes chatting with my friends and then it is back across the river through East Molesey and back through Thames Ditton to home. It is about an hour ride.

Because a carrot made of beer is not good for the diet, I have been exchanging a Diet Coke or a glass of seltzer with lemon for the usual Tanglefoot. The entire route as I do it is about ten miles. I need to expand it so I think that next week instead of going along the A308 (Hampton Court Road) I'll turn left at the bridge and go along the Barge Walk (ride along the rive) and increase the length to almost fifteen miles.

What would be ideal would be if I could somehow arrange it so that the pub got just a little further away from my place each time I went there. That way the exercise I got would increase constantly. Heck! If the pub and the house I live in were at opposite ends of the road that Mom grew-up on, eventually it would twenty miles from the house to the pub one way; up hill both ways and there would be snow drifts the size of the Miami Cathedral in the middle of summer to content with on my way. How fit would I be then!?!

I hope the world is providing you with a carrot you can actually grasp wherever you are today!

Don Bergquist - 08-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Road Rage

Oh goody, another American import for me to deal with over here!

Yesterday morning I had to run some errands. One of my housemates was not feeling well so I ran out to the Chemists in the village for some flu medication. The Chemist's shop in Thames Ditton is located just where the high street ends at the round-about. I had left the chemists and was on my way back along the back road to my place when some total wanker cut me off. (I was on my bicycle staying in the bike lane when this happened.)

This tosser comes revving his engine and pulls into the bike lane and screeches to a halt diagonally across the bike lane about a yard in front of me. Luckily, there was a drive entrance there so I was able to apply the brakes and swerve onto the sidewalk. Having cleared the rectum, I went to the next drive and returned to the bike lane. Up until this point I could have dismissed this incident as a bad timing thing. I had apparently been where the guy needed to be and there was nothing personal involved. What happened next dispelled any belief that I may have had along those lines.

About twenty feet further down the road someone was parked across the bike lane so I swerved into the traffic lane to round the parked car. As I was doing it this scrotum comes up on my right and tries to trap me behind the parked car. He brought his left-front bumper to within about a foot of the parked car and again skidded to a stop. Had I tried to stop I would have surly have gone over the handlebars with the inertia. What could I do? I lifted both feet to a level above his front bumper and shot the area between the cars.

At this, the jackass throws it back in gear and pulls into the right-hand lane to go around me again. (Remember, this is London and the right-hand lane is where the on-coming traffic is!) I neatly threaded myself back to the travel lane and started pedaling as fast as I could manage. There was a main street coming up and I wanted to get this schmuck where if he wanted to run me off the road he'd have to do it with other vehicular traffic around.

I shot through the roundabout and headed left toward Portsmouth road. This arse pulls up along side me and yells something completely incomprehensible out the window. He then left rubber heading the wrong direction up the one-way approach to the round-about from the other road.

Coasting to a stop to see which way the idiot was going to turn onto the Portsmouth road, I caught my breath. I was relieved to see that he was turning to the west along the road so that I needn't worry about meeting him again.

I never have understood road rage to that level. I mean, sure, London has some pretty narrow streets and some times the bike lane is the only open space for a vehicle to drive, but who the hell actually believes that they can improve things by running down a cyclist? I mean come on! The damage the bike would do to the car would be more of a bother than any satisfaction of getting the guy on the bike to yield the entire street to you.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are safe and secure. AND CALM!

Don Bergquist - 07-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, February 06, 2006

Spread your Wings!

What a wonderful weekend!

It was a wonderful, sunny weekend and the weather had just a bit of a nip in it. Saturday, after heading home from the Liongate, I decided to go for a ride. I went all over the area. It was nice to have no destination in mind. Just me, my bicycle, and my map. (Just in case...)

I returned home around five o'clock and made some quick snack, showered, dressed for the night and went down to the pub. Around eight o'clock I was trying to decide if I was hungry or not. I thought about grabbing a curry, but decided that I was not hungry so instead I took a train into Vauxhall to go to a dance club I had heard of.

To say that I was probably the oldest person in the place would not be any exaggeration. I would have to say that the average age of the clientele was probably about twelve. Okay, there I am exaggerating. It was more like sixteen. But the music was good (if a bit on the loud side) and the drinks were only slightly watered. One girl asked me to dance. She reminded me of the famous "Jeannie" of the limerick fame:

This voluptuous young woman named Jeannie
Wore this outrageously small bikini
Two strips; thin as air
One here and one there
And there was nothing but Jeannie betweeenie

Her costume was essentially a pair of fish-net hose a skirt that could not have been more than four inches wide and a skimpy little nothing of a top. I guess that I am showing my age here, but the first though that came to mind when I saw her was: "It's a bit cold to wear that out on a night like this. She'll catch her death!"

I returned to the house some time after midnight and went to bed after checking my email.

To steal a line from my favorite book (The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul): "You wouldn't say that I slept the sleep of the just. Unless by that you meant that I was 'just asleep.'" But I did sleep well.

Sunday morning, I awoke around six thirty and did not hear anyone in the house stirring so I decided to stay abed. It was truly nice. I stayed in bed until nearly eight o'clock just reading and thinking about nothing; no cares, no worries! Ah, Bliss!

When I finally did drag myself out of bed, I showered and dressed and headed downstairs to discover that my housemates had been extremely quite when getting up that morning. (Either that, or I had so lost myself in the book that I just didn't notice the house beginning to stir.

After a quick cup of coffee, we went to the store to do our shopping and then I made a quick breakfast and grabbed my camera gear. I wanted to head over to Middlesex and try some wildlife photography. I always want to improve my skills and the attempt to shoot moving subjects is good at trying to get your speed and skills up.

As you will see in the Shutterfly album at the above link, I still have some practice to do. I do not really worry too much about the failures. We learn from failure as well as success.

I also have an old friend, Ian Scott, who is a professional photographer. I once bemoaned the fact to him that I took so few "Good" pictures. Ian told me something that I have always remembered. He asked me why I thought he went through so much film. He said that he expects to get two, possible three passable shots per roll and perhaps one "good" shot per roll.

I guess if a professional accepts such a low percentage of good shots, I have no room for complaint. I guess that is one good thing to be said about digital photography, I am no longer burning film, paying to have it processed, etc. It is, after all, much cheaper to practice.

I hope that wherever you were this weekend, you had the opportunity to spread your wings and try something new!

Don Bergquist - 06-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Missing Saga

I once took a class on public speaking that included the assignment to talk about the love of your life. Being a bit of a frustrated comedian, I talked about the love of my life (at the time).

She and I went everywhere together! It was truly love at first site. I saw here and had to have her. She and I just fit together and I knew that we were the match.

Then she left me. Some guy stole her away and I was crushed. Even though I got her back, it was never the same. So when it came time to trade her in on my new car, I was ready to do so. - Oh, you didn't know I was talking about my car, right? It was a 1980 Chrysler Le Barron convertible.

I think if I had to give that speech again, I'd talk about the bitch I live with. She loves me and I love her. It is the one thing about traveling that really makes me wonder if I really want to be traveling as much as I am.

I miss Saga so much when I am on the road.

Don't get me wrong, I would not want to miss-out on the adventures I have had over here or the friends I have made, but I certainly do miss her.

I miss her getting so excited when I come home from work. Number 8 Cholmley Villas is nice, but it is dark and cold when I get home. It does not have the excitement of never knowing whether Saga will be sitting just inside the door, staring out the bedroom window and come bounding down the stairs, or be sitting on the comfy chair staring out the living room window barking at me.

This weekend I would have loved taking Saga to the park. She would love running around in the park, trying to herd the livestock there. (Probably illegal, but I am pretty sure that she would not concern herself with that.)

I am loving my time in London, but...

I hope that wherever you find yourself today, you are with the ones who love you and the ones you love!

Don Bergquist - 04-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Animal in London

Last night, The Animal went Inter-Continental!

My neighbors back in Lakewood gave me the nickname "The Animal" after their St. Patrick's day party. Apparently they were impressed with my ability to store away beer. Okay, I guess I should mention here that my neighbors are a bunch of college kids half my age.

There is no trick to drinking people under the table really; it just takes a bit of practice. And Practice I did last night! As usual for a weekend, I went to the pub. One of the barmen suggested that we head into Kingston to another pub for a change so we did.

There was a tonne (note the British spelling) of people there. It was packed! There is not much to tell about the Druid's Head, but it was fun. Oh, yes! And some woman flirted with me on my way back to the table from the loo.

I was crossing the main upstairs bar area when I decided that it was a bit warm so I peeled off my jacket and was carrying it back to the table. As it hit the mid-point, a woman reached-out and put her hand on my arm. So what could I do? I stopped.

She never said a word. She just started walking her fingers up my arm. [She couldn't think she knows me. Could she?] She then rested her hand on my shoulder. "I'll give you about a year to move that hand." I said. I would have flirted back, but the guy whose lap she was sitting on didn’t look like he was enjoying it as much what she and I were. I smiled at the table and continued my trek back to my friends.

After a few beers with that lot, I headed back to the King's Arms. They had to work this morning and wanted to get back home.

The usual crowd was still there when I returned. We chatted of this and that over a few more beers. We played the "What song would be your theme if you were on a sitcom?" game until about midnight when the publican kicked us out. He wanted to close-up and go to bed.

The hotelier from the Liongate Inn was one of the people at the tables and he didn't want to end the party yet. So the party repaired to the hotel across the street. At the bar in the Liongate, the hotelier poured Leffes for everyone. The party was still going strong at three this morning when everyone seemed to recognize the time more-or-less simultaneously.

It's good to have friends who are well connected. At three this morning I really didn't feel like facing the sub-zero temps for the long ride home so I took a room for the night at the Liongate.

This morning, I got up, had the Full English Breakfast and rode home. I have no idea what I am going to do today, but I think it may involve going into London.

I hope you are having a great weekend wherever you are.

Don Bergquist - 04-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, February 03, 2006


Dad tells a story about a deposition he gave once. It is a pretty long and involved story concerning how the lawyer deposing him kept paraphrasing him so that what the lawyer was saying no longer had the same meaning as what Dad was saying. The culmination of the story occurs when the lawyer, in a desperate attempt to put Dad in his place and get him to quit "correcting" what the lawyer was saying, asked Dad to state for the record what qualified him as an expert on the English language.

"Well, hell!" Dad responded, "I've been speaking it since I was a kid!"

(Dad tells it better - sorry dad, I had to use one of your stories!)

I have to remind myself from time to time that the language I hear every day in the streets and the office here in London is, after all, the language that, as Dad so eloquently put it: Well hell! I have been speaking since I was a kid!

Aside from the words that I have grown to understand and use in daily conversation, there are also the enigmas of the language that keep striking me from time to time. "Cheers" is one of these words. As near as I can suss out "cheers" is the British equivalent of the Hawaiian word "aloha." It is, apparently an all-purpose word and one must infer its meaning from the context.

If you are in the post office and someone holds the door so that you can make it in with your armload of packages (Imagine that, they do that kind of thing here. Really! I've seen it!!) and you want to express thanks, you say "Cheers." In this context, it means "thanks."

At the train station on your way into the office you are approached by a stranger asking if they can have that section of the paper you just set aside. You relinquish it and they say "Cheers" unless you're reading one of the seedier tabloids, it definitely means "Thank you" here. If you are reading the Sun, it more likely means "Page three girl, here I come!"

You enter the office and pass a workmate on the way to your desk. "Cheers" is the greeting he gives as you pass. It probably does not mean "thanks" here, but "hello."

On departing for the evening, you wish the guy in the next office a pleasant evening and an easy commute home. Here is a trick one. You have to listen to the tone in his voice when he says "Cheers." If the tone is upbeat and cheerful, the meaning is probably something like: "yeah, you have a pleasant evening too!" If, on the other hand, he looks annoyed or morose and sounds sarcastic or down beaten, then you can bet that the intended meaning is more like: "Get lost, arsehole, I have just learned that due to engineering works on the Jubilee Line I will not get home until well after ten tonight!"

A the pub that evening, someone lifts a glass of Tanglefoot in your direction and says "Cheers." More likely as not it translates here as "Drink up buddy, I'm off to the loo but then it is your round to buy!"

As you may have gathered, a salutation so varied in its application is likely to have a varied set of responses! You, as the foreigner, are on thin ice here. You have to pick the correct response to the word right if you don't want to look like a complete twit.

To the man who held-open the door, you can either say a cheery "Thanks" or you can stare at him in complete and utter shock that someone went out of their way to help a stranger. (I'd go for the first!)

At the train station, your response should probably be "ta!" which means something like "You're welcome." (And not "good bye" as I had thought.) Unless you note that he immediately turns to page three... In that case, just sit there and hope he goes away.

At the office, a simple "good morning" will suffice.

At quitting time, you have to play it safe. If it looks like there might be engineering works, you could offer alternatives - but as this does not seem to sit well with the locals, a simple wave of the hand as if you had missed the fact that he will be sitting on the train for the next four hours is probably your best bet!

At the pub, there is no question. You simply respond "Cheers," get the barman's attention and reach for your wallet!

I hope that wherever you are, you are learning something new today!

Don Bergquist - 03-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Going Native

It was okay when it was just remembering to look to the right (instead of the left) when stepping off the curb. That can be excused as the purist of self preservation. Riding my bike on the left lane of the roadway is another of the little concessions that I have made to living over here in the United Kingdom. But there are other quirks in my thoughts and in my speech that are beginning to make me wonder.

I have found of late that words and concepts I have never had in my head before had started manifesting themselves. Words that never before were anything but comical colloquialisms from stories like Mary Poppins have found their way into my everyday vocabulary. Oh, God! I'm going native!

These two blokes were acting somewhat yobishly at the pub the other night. "Bloke" is one of those words that I would have never thought I would find myself using in every day conversation and until recently, had you said that sentence to me, I would have had to suss it out that you meant these two guys were being rowdy at the bar. But, I guess that is what happens when the publican comes around with the tally for the ales.

It's more than the language, however, I can deal with having a back garden (instead of a backyard) and going to the Night Market to get something I need after the local newsagent closes for the evening. It is a way of behaving.

I think I accidentally offended the local greengrocer when I first started coming over here. I walked in, selected a couple grapefruit from the display and started looking to see if he had any nice looking apples. "I'll do that for you, sir." Came a voice from behind me.

"I can manage." I replied and reached for an apple. The greengrocer did an end-run around me and with a practiced flick of the wrist opened a bag to hold the apple that he had selected for me. "I'll do that for you." He repeated a bit more forcefully. In talking to friends over here, it was explained to me that you do not help yourself at the greengrocers, they are protecting their fruit and want to keep the yobs from squeezing the fruit and ruining it. I guess this makes sense, but I have always (and probably will always) selected my own produce and do not wish to relinquish this process.

It is even simpler and more invasive than that. The other day I actually arranged to meet someone at "half seven." I was not sure as recently as two weeks ago, I still had to ask to make sure that I understood what that actually meant. So we met at seven thirty and had our proper British pint and then headed off our separate ways. This is like a total immersion course in English.

I hope that you have a great day wherever it happens to be today!

Don Bergquist - 02-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An Early Spring in the Wilderness

In my continuing search for signs of spring, I went to Hampton Court Palace with my cameras. The Wilderness, the informal gardens to the north of the palace, have had all their lawns underplanted with bulbs for daffodils, crocuses, and snowdrops. In the spring they quite literally explode with colors, blues, whites, pinks, purples and Yellows. It is quite remarkable! I was glad to see that there are some of the signs that it will be a spectacular Spring in The Wilderness this year!

The trees have started to blossom, the crocuses are starting to show their heads, there are a few small patches of snowdrops. Yes, it will probably be a colorful Spring.

This is what I need. It has been pretty cold here in Surrey for the past few days. The worst part, however, is the wet. With the return of the work week, the weather has turned wet again.

I can deal with the cold and the wet, as long as we get the spectacular weekends we have had for the last couple weeks. It does seem colder and more miserable when it is cold and wet together. When I was in New Mexico, the catch-phrase used to be "But it is a dry heat..."Meaning, sure - the temperatures are hovering around 120-degrees, but at least it is not muggy! Here it is just the opposite, when it is cold, it is also damp and so one is left feeling the cold through the layers.

I guess this is why people here are always looking forward to the coming of Spring.

Wherever you are today I hope that there are signs of Spring to brighten your day!

Don Bergquist - 01-February-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom