Thursday, November 30, 2006

Still Running

Today my schedule includes Dentist and Allergist appointments. (I can vaguely remember a time when I could predict that I would be at home long enough not to have to schedule all my medical appointments in a single week!)

I have finished most of the stuff I need to for me... I have a couple things I still need to finish for Saga. This is really starting to get stressful. I am seeing this huge wall rushing at me. I want to get everything done. I need to get it done before I head out to the UK on Tuesday. I will be so damn glad to see Saga in Heathrow this time next week.

Tat one thought keeps me going! I don't see the list of things that I have left to do getting any shorter. I just see this deadline approaching like an on-coming bus. It reminds me of something a comedian (sorry, I can't remember who) who had the observation:

"Those people who go to the beach and hold-up a sea shell to their ear and say stupid things like 'I can hear the ocean.' what are they thinking? No shit! It's ten feet that way! What, do you walk into the street, pick-up a hubcap and hold it to your ear? 'Hey! I can hear a bus!' [Whomp!]"

Well, I had better get to it! I have only today and Monday to get things finished and there is so much more left to do!

I hope wherever you are today, you will have a great (stress-free) day!

Don Bergquist - 30 November 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Paperwork Hell

Today I have been in paperwork hell!

I have been working on catching-up on the email that I have fallen behind on while being on holiday, and working on getting Saga's paperwork all put together. I cannot believe how much there is to do before I can get Saga to the UK!

What massive hurdles to jump. I am so glad that I have help. Even so, this is a gargantuan task. To continue my mythology references of the other day, I'm beginning to think that cleaning the Augean Stables would have been less of a task than this.

Oh, and to top it all off, my week here has become one day shorter! I have been summonsed to serve Jury Duty on Friday.

Arrgh! Oh, and have I mentioned the snow? It started spitting snow yesterday at around noon. By sundown it was really coming down. At eight, when I went to take out the garbage, there was about five inches of snow on my deck.

This morning, I looked out and decided that I would never be able to get out. Good thing I got most of my errands run yesterday. I'll be glad when this melts off tomorrow.

Wherever you are, I hope that the stumbling blocks in your way are small enough to be easily navigated!

Don Bergquist - 29 November 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Gotta Run!

I have two doctor appointments today: Ophthalmologist and General Practitioner

After that I have got a number of things on my to-do list. I can't even stop to think this morning!

I hope wherever you are today, you have a schedule a bit more relaxed than mine!

Don Bergquist - 28 November 2006 - Lakewood, Florida

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flying Home

Here I sit, in the departure lounge of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) waiting for my flight home to Denver. There is a free wireless network here in the lounge, or at least they claim there is. My PCs say that they can see it, but the signal is too weak for me to actually connect to it.

It has already been a busy day! I got up and dressed fairly early and got a bite of breakfast. Over my second cup of coffee, I started-up my PC and checked my email. I've already gotten some work done on getting the paperwork together so that I can send Saga to the UK.

That is beginning to look like it will be a bear of a task... Sisyphus, I think I can commiserate.

Well, we'll be boarding soon, I should really re-pack my PC so that I can get home.

I hope that wherever you are, your day is going well!

Don Bergquist - 27 November 2006 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Idiots, Alligator Alley and Tackiness

This afternoon Mary, Saga and I drove back to her house in Weston. The trip was fairly uneventful, the traffic was heavy and one idiot kept passing us, getting in the slower lane and dropping back. Eventually, he'd try and get back in front of us only to get back in the slow lane and drop back again. We had no idea what this was all about.

But the prize for the stupidest, bonehead move of the afternoon goes to the driver of the Winnebago ("caravan" to my UK readers) who, upon entering Alligator Alley (that stretch of I-75 between Hollywood and Naples) decided that they had to get immediately (without delay, cutting off all the faster traffic) into the passing lane, doing 45 miles-per-hour. He very nearly had our car in the back bedroom of the mobile home!

All idiots aside, it was a nice drive. We got a bit of a downpour driving across the alley. It wasn't much of a storm, but there was some good lightning. We arrived in Weston around eight. My nephew's neighbors have been busy for the past few days. I do not believe that I have seen so many tacky Christmas displays in the space of one block before. My god! These are half-million dollar homes!

Not since I first visited Graceland (Elvis's residence south of Memphis, TN) have I seen such graphic proof that money cannot buy taste!

Tomorrow I fly home to Lakewood. The Weather channel tells me that it is cold, but nice out. I hope the flight is good.

I hope wherever you are today, you've had a great day!

Don Bergquist - 26 November 2006 - Weston, Florida

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Arts Festival

This morning Mary, Corey, Sarah and I all went to the Arts Festival in Ybor City.

I enjoy getting out and seeing the stuff that people do. Even if I am not interested in the medium it is interesting to see what people are offering. There are things at these events that often leave me wondering why anyone would think it was art.

Wads of paper at one stand... what's up with that? I mean, sure, they were pretty colors, but were they art?

There was one stall that was selling something that my friends and I made years ago. We thought they were best used for disk bags for Frisbee Golf. Today, someone is selling them as purses. The items? Simple! Take a pair of jeans cut the legs off making them into shorts, sew the leg openings closed, and use strips from the cut-off legs for a shoulder-strap. The "artists" selling these, have updated them with buttons, glitter glue and a zipper closure.

There were lots of jewelry stalls, and a couple food stalls.

We had a pleasant morning wandering the stalls and then returned home to play a few more hands of cribbage before my niece had to leave for Gainesville.

I hope wherever you are today, you've had a pleasant day with family.

Don Bergquist - 25 November 2006 - Apollo Beach, Florida

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday Shopping

In that I am about to head back to the UK, I decided a while back that I wanted to have my own PC there so that I don't need to write my blog entries all on my PDA. There is nothing wrong with doing it on my PDA, but it is a bit slower than having a full-sized PC and it also means that I still have to add pictures to my posts after I have uploaded them.

It would also be nice to be able to play a computer game or scan the internet at home without having to schlep the work laptop home. So I (reluctantly) joined the masses celebrating that tradition of the American public: Black Friday Shopping.

It was not a spur of the moment decision, I had done some research online on pricing. But there was nothing too good there. I did get a pretty good deal on a new laptop at Best Buy, but it further confirmed that I hate shopping and even more, I hate shopping at Christmas time!

It was a mob scene. I was up at 04:45 to go to the store and my brother-in-law and I left around 06:00; glad that we hadn't left at 05:00 when the store actually opened, we made it to the store when the line to get in was only fifty-yards-long. It only took a few minutes to get in and inside it was a mob scene. I made a bee-line to the computer department, tried to get the attention of a staff-member, and upon finding-out that the one that was on-sale was sold-out, I picked another that was still a pretty good deal.

The entire transaction took less than thirty-minutes. I was lucky enough to get into a line with only one other person ahead of me. The only noteworthy event was the salesperson chasing me down as I was trying to navigate the weird traffic pattern that they had set-up to handle the clouds. On my way to the register, the salesman came over to me and called:

"Excuse me, sir. You can't walk around with that until you have paid for it." Understand, now... I have been gone from the computer department less than a couple minutes and was making constant and fairly rapid progress toward the check-out stands.

I looked at him incredulously, looked at the stanchion maze that they had set-up, looked at the registers (ten feet away but across the empty queues) and said "I'm not allowed to carry it to the till myself?"

He gave me a kind of sheepish look and said "Oh, yeah! I guess we've messed-up the traffic patter. Sorry." And then he moved off.

Even though the enter venture took me less than an hour, it was not something I want to repeat! I HATE shopping at Christmas time! That done; I was able to go home and start playing with it. My family will be heading-out some time today and hopefully, I'll get some time to play cribbage before they do!

I hope that wherever you are, the unpleasant things you had to do today were at least over quickly!

Don Bergquist - 24 November 2006 - Apollo Beach, Florida

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving with the Bergquists

The day was a riot! In every sense of the word!

My family, being my family, got up early (for some of us, this means before noon!) and converged on Mary's place. While the turkeys were cooking, we had time for numerous rounds of cribbage, and to swim in the pool.

This is what I miss about Thanksgiving in Florida. Being able to go to the beach or the pool while the turkey is roasting! It is in the blood! That and being dragged by Dad to see Miami Hurricanes (or some other college team) play football whilst mom whipped-up the feast.

Mary really outdid herself with the menu for the day. Knowing the food orgy that was to follow, we snacked for lunch on Crab Rangoons, the last of the selection of cheeses that I had had brought back with me from the UK, and other light tidbits. (Pickeled Herring! An absolute must!)

While my siblings and I wrangled the range, my nieces worked on the table setting. The table had an anniversary theme since it is both my parents 25th, and Mary and Corey's anniversary as well this week. The sounds and the smells were vintage Bergquist Thanksgiving!

The clanking of pots and pans (and almost constant dish washing) in the kitchen was joined by punctuated choruses of "Who wants to play cards?" and "When do we eat?" and "Can I help?" and "Stir that, it'll burn!"

My siblings and I all cooked and preped the food while the young-uns helped get the table set. (And/or stayed out of underfoot...)

The table was laid out with my grandmother's china (that my sister has added-on to since she inherited it) and my brother-in-law's silver. The food, which was a collaborative effort was plentiful.

The organization of the dishes was a collaborative effort as well, Helen and Allyn went out to the patio and polished the silver while Mary, Elizabeth, and Sara washed and dried the china. It was truly a production line effort.

Mary's Menu

Soup Course
Lobster Bisque

Salad Course
Bacon and Pecan Vinaigrette Salad

Main Dish and Sides
Roast Turkey
Stuffing (savory bread with sausage and mushrooms)
Mashed Red Potatoes topped with Mushrooms and Rosemary
Steamed Broccoli
Cranberry/Spice sauce mold
Candied Yams

And of course Dessert
Banana Cream Pie
Key Lime Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Peppermint Icebox Cake

...and it was lovely!

We all pitched-in on the clean-up and then later-on, over coffee, we had a lovely white-cake to celebrate Dad and Flo's Silver Anniversary.

It was absolutely lovely! But, to put this in a way that my friends back in the UK would understand, I'm knackered! Completely and utterly knackered! I wish I had a pint and a place to put-up my feet. Failing that, I think I am going to finish my coffee and go into bed.

I hope wherever you are, you've had an excellent day with friends and family.

Don Bergquist - 23 November 2006 - Apollo Beach, Florida

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alma Mater

I got the chance yesterday to visit the University of Central Florida for the first time in years. I had planned on visiting the campus bookstore on this trip anyway because I wanted to get a new UCF sweatshirt. I want something warm and casual to wear around the house... My old UCF sweatshirt, being purchased back in the '90s, the last time I was on campus, is getting a bit threadbare.

The fact that an old friend from college started emailing me a month ago didn’t enter into my desire to visit the campus. Really!

I spent yesterday afternoon having lunch and then touring the newer parts of the campus with her and seeing the sights. Wow! How much the campus has changed! When I started in the early '80s, the campus had perhaps a dozen buildings on it and housing for about 400 students on campus. I cannot guess how many students can be housed there now. But I am informed as of this fall's enrolment figures, it is the largest university in Florida.

Looking at it in Google Earth later on, I cannot believe how the campus has grown! I guess I can, I have to; I've seen it!

Today, I am starting to help Mary with the cooking chores. Tomorrow is the big Thanksgiving feast with all the Bergquists at the same table for the first time in years. There is a lot of cooking to do! It is at times like this when I am reminded of the line Gene Wilder (as Willie Wonka) speaks in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "So much time, so little to do. No! Wait a minute. Strike that; reverse it."

I hope wherever you are today, your day is filled with pleasant anticipation of things to come and memories of what has been!

Don Bergquist - 22 November 2006 - Apollo Beach, Florida

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Anniversary Musings

It is 05:00 in St Petersburg, 10:00 in London. I am awake though, nobody else in the house is. I have heard stirrings from Fritz but, though we chatted briefly earlier, he has drifted off again. I decided that since I am still operating on Greenwich Mean Time, it was time for me to get-up and write a blog entry.

Today is the twenty-first of November. By my calculation, two years ago (right about now, as a matter of fact) I was landing at Gatwick International Airport in the UK for the first time. My first blog entry was dated 21 November 2004. So much has changed over the past two years.

I’ve been spending more and longer times in the UK of late and it looks as if it is possible that I may be asked to move there on a more permanent basis. I am of two minds on that one. I have a made some really good friends in the UK and have really a really good time being in the UK.

But I also have some really good friends (not to mention my family, to whom I am very close) back here in the states. Well, as my friend and one time mentor Ruth (Dr. Roose!) used to say: “I’ll just have to jump off that bridge when I come to it.”

I haven’t been (and may never be) offered the option of moving to the UK, but it is interesting to consider how it may play-out were it to happen.

There have been so many interesting things to report over the past two years here in the annals of my weblog and I hope that everyone is enjoying reading it as much as I am enjoying writing them. It has been two good years. I hope that there will be many more. And if they are not in the UK, they will be somewhere. If you’re enjoying my blog, please post a comment or send me an email at the appropriate link below.

Well, the house is stirring. I need to spend some time with my friends while I can. Have a great day!

I hope that wherever you are today you have a great day and have some milestone to celebrate.

Don Bergquist - 21 November 2006 - St. Petersburg, Florida USA

Monday, November 20, 2006

South Florida

The flight was good! We got into Detroit a bit late and then my flight to Ft. Lauderdale was also late, but all in all, the day was a good one.

She had a quick meeting this morning and then we headed across the Alligator Alley to Apollo Beach. They have signs pointing-out that there are scenic views of the Everglades from Alligator Alley. It was a good drive and Mary and I had a couple hours together to chat and make plans for the upcoming holiday.

Perhaps I am jaded, but I think the views of the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp were far better back when the alley was a two-lane ribbon of blacktop with no breakdown lanes and only the two pull-outs for the entire 120 mile stretch. Sure, it was a dangerous and often closed road, but the Everglades look far healthier back then.

(Though I may have applied the filter of nostalgia a bit heavy and am remembering it a s being nicer than it was.)

Tonight I had dinner with my best friend and am spending the night here so that tomorrow I can head over to the University of Central Florida (my alma mater) for a quick visit. The evening was nice. We had Chinese, and then a few Gin and Tonics. We had a great chat and caught-up. The kids have gone off to bed and I’m the only one up so I suppose I will log off and get some sleep myself now.

I hope wherever you are today; you’ve had an excellent day with family and friends.

Don Bergquist - 20 November 2006 - St. Petersburg, Florida USA

Sunday, November 19, 2006


It has been a great morning. I am looking forward to having a good day. The pub re-opened last night and it is wonderful! The beer is as good as I remembered it and the company is good. The big surprise move is that the pub is now non-smoking. I think I can deal with that… We’ll have to see how it goes.

I got home from the pub around midnight this morning and parked my bike under the stairs. My bags had been packed and in the kitchen since before I headed out to the pub last night and so this morning I had nothing to do but have a bite of breakfast and wait for the car.

On the way to the airport the driver and I had a good discussion on the political issues that are in the news in the UK. The drive went by pretty quickly and clearance through security was no problem at all. I had plenty of time to read whilst awaiting the boarding of my flight.

There were a few people who, apparently thought that they deserved to be upgraded to first class for their troubles today so they spent an inordinate amount of time arguing with the flight staff about why there were not seated in first class. The flight was delayed as four different people (all at least claiming to be employees of the airline) argued their cases for why they should get to sit up front. Whatever!

Anyway, we are now underway and have been so for nearly three hours. We’re somewhere off the coast of Greenland (or perhaps it is Iceland) and I’ve finished the book I brought with me so now it is either get my “Emergency Back-up Book” out of my carry-on or start watching movies. But I tell you, the choices do no look too appealing!

I hope that wherever you are today, you have choices that appeal to you.

Don Bergquist - 19 November 2006 - Somewhere near Iceland (or Greenland), Northwest Airlines Flight 31 Bound for Detroit

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Last Day This Trip

Being the last day in the UK this trip I've got a number of things to do on my list.

Luckily, the weather here today is lovely! After three days of rain (from the drizzles that make riding miserable that fell all day Wednesday to the outright downpour that prevented me from even wanting to leave the house yesterday) the weather is absolutely lovely! The temperatures today are supposed to hit seventy. The sun is out and the winds have died down to the light breeze.

I've spent the morning packing my cases and doing a few things around the house while waiting for the delivery van from Sainsbury's to deliver the cleaning products for the house. I have to mow the back garden and take a bike ride today. I am hoping that the pub will actually open today so that I can have one last Tanglefoot this trip. Oh, and spend some time with my mates.

I was by the pub last night on my way to the pub we have been frequenting during the King's Arms refurb. The owners were moving furniture in a pouring rain to get the pub ready to open today. I think I may try and be there at opening hour (noon) to see if I can be the first to get in the "new and improved" King's Arms.

Tomorrow morning I leave for the airport early and will be traveling all day. By this time Monday I'll be in South Florida.

I hope that wherever you are today you have a moment to enjoy the pleasures you cherish.

Don Bergquist - 18 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my Cousin, Grainne

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Office, Like Home

The trips over here are getting longer and the visits back to the states less frequent, but I am not at all sure that I have a problem with this. I really love it over here. Sure, I miss my family and friends back home, and wish that my office had air conditioning or at least good ventilation...

But on the whole it is great!

What is the reason for me waxing nostalgic this morning? Well I am about to head into the office for what will be the last time of this trip. I've been here since mid-August and it is time for me to head home. When I come back in December I'll be here for seven months. This place is starting to feel a bit like "Home."

If pressed, I'd still have to say that "Home" is Colorado... it is, after all the only place I own property and despite a steady accumulation of stuff, most of my belongings are there. But my office here has almost all the necessities. I have my family calendar, my pictures of Saga Roo, it's almost home.

Speaking of which, being it is my last day in this trip and I have a number of things to do I had best wrap-up this homage to home and get my butt into the office. Six O'clock seems to come really early over here! (Perhaps it is because at this time of year the sun doesn't rise until nearly 07:30. Who can say?)

I hope wherever you are today, thoughts of home carry you through the day!

Don Bergquist - 17 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Short Entry Today

Not a lot of time to write this morning!

The boiler needed to be restarted again this morning. I am just about resigned to the fact that I will have to make my first trip every morning to go down to the basement and start the boiler before taking a shower.

Anyway, after starting the boiler and getting ready for work the television sucked me in. There was really no news that was all that riveting, but by the time I realized the passage of time, a half-hour had passed and I was out of time to write. I have to dash off to the office in a few... oh well, it's raining out anyway and I really don't feel like taking a long ride this morning on the way in.

I hope wherever you are this morning you are able to do whatever the mood moves you to do.

Don Bergquist - 16 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Notes to Self:

It is not often that I use my blog as a bulletin board for posting reminders to myself but today is different. I have so much to do over the next few days that I have decided that this is as good a place as any.

When you spend as much time away from your home as I do, you learn to arrange your life in easily portable units. My tax information, for example (which I have to remember when I get back home to Lakewood) is all neatly organized in easy to carry expanda-file-folders.

My financial records are all stored on a memory chip and backed-up weekly to a second chip and to a secure hard drive. (Oh! I have to make an extra copy to stick in my wallet before I take off! - you know, just in case...)

Then there are the tricks about getting the best seating. You check your seat assignment on the airline website and see that you have a nice clearance around you. (I've got a couple days to do this. I checked back when it first came available but I had best put this on my list as well.)

The hard part about this travel is that I have a "home" on both ends of the trip and I have slowly, but surely, acquired over the year more here than I could possibly carry back on a single trip so the smart thing to do would be for me to cull the wardrobe on this end to just what I think I will need for the next six months and take as much back as I can that I don't think I will need.

(Ooh! I can use the extra space in the luggage coming back to carry stuff that is consumable back here in a couple weeks. That stuff I can't get over here like the shampoo I like, or Triscuits, or Oreos.)

You also find yourself making lots of lists. The list I am working on for this morning has grown to the maximum size I am comfortable with so I guess I had best get my butt into the office and start working on it.

I hope wherever you are today, there is time on your agenda to take time for yourself! Stop and smell the roses! (Yeah... I need to do that too!)

Don Bergquist - 15 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

An Enigma

I am certainly not the only one who has questions about this!

This past weekend as my boss and I were out and about in London, we passed this sign outside a salon in Surbiton. I have no idea what the heck it is meant to convey to the person "in-the-know" but the image it conjures up in my mind was outrageously humorous.

What kind of person wants their hair done my a small ring-tailed nocturnal mammal who's chief notable talent up to this point seems to be playing thieves and other shady characters in Saturday Morning Cartoons? It must have some other meaning in English, though what that might be, I am at a loss to say.

Perhaps they give you hair extensions that are banded in black and gray?

I hope wherever you are today, you don't look like you've had your hair done by a raccoon! (...unless, for some reason, you like that look!)

Don Bergquist - 14 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday, Monday

Another Monday... Ah!

There are so many things to do this week. As the Willy Wonka character was wont to say in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "So much time, so little to do! Wait a minute. Strike that, reverse it."

There is so much to do over the next couple weeks. For those of you not yet in the know, my project has been extended. I discovered last week that I am to be returning to the UK for another seven-month stint. That means that before I leave here this weekend, I have to be ready to hit the ground running back home. I have a week of vacation with my family in Florida and then have a week to get myself ready for a seven-month stay in London.

Now, you may not think this is that big a deal, but consider: Not only do I have to get laundry, packing, and logistical considerations taken care of, but I also have to get things that don't immediately spring to mind in November taken care of.

Take taxes. Before I wrote that, how many of you readers considered that I would need to gather my 2006 tax records for the next trip? As I will be here on 15 April 2007, I'll need to file my taxes from the UK. Thank heavens for the internet. I think back on all those trips I took when I was younger, back before the wide-spread availability of financial services via the internet. Can you remember a day when you actually had to be physically present at a bank or other location with some regularity?

The advent of internet banking and electronic bill payment has been a boon to travelers. It enables me to do my job! Then there is electronic filing of taxes. I haven't filed on paper in years. I was electronically filling the first year it became available.

But will all of that, there are some things that still require a physical presence at a specific location. The week I am back in Denver, for instance, I have to see my doctor, dentist, ophthalmologist, and allergist. Unfortunately, I cannot do all these things via the internet... yet.

Top that with doing what I can to get my Christmas mailing and presents bought, wrapped, and shipped and I have a full week scheduled back in Denver. (...and don't forget, I need to work while I am home too!)

It will be a busy three weeks; wrap-up this trip, family commitments, preparation for my next trip... whew! I have a busy three weeks coming up!

I hope wherever you are today, you will have a good day, regardless of how busy it may be for you personally!

Don Bergquist - 13 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Autumn in the Back Garden

What a gorgeous day!

After staying out with my friends at the pub until nearly midnight, I was roused from sleep for reasons unknown at an unusually early hour. I've been up since six and cannot fathom why I am not tired. I'm sure I'll be paying for this early morning tonight.

So, being up and having nothing much else to do, I did a bit of housework. The dishwasher needed to be started, there was a bit of general tidying that always can stand to be done, and of course, with the laundry machines we have (that take four hours to wash a load and then leave it to be hung-wet to dry) there is never enough time to do laundry.

Around 07:30 I decided it was time for me to take a ride. I went along my normal twenty-mile route that takes me through New Malden, Kingston, Hampton Hill and East Molesey. The weather this morning is a bit chilly, but it is a good day to ride. I couldn't suss-out why there was so much traffic this morning this early. Sure, Sunday is the day that people go to church around here as well, but the church traffic in my area tends to be later on Sunday.

So, a bout 10 I had a light breakfast and sat with my second cup of coffee in the garden enjoying the color. I have to say, there are some interesting things you can do with a small area. Now, if this were my garden, there are some more interesting things I'd do with it; perhaps a gazebo down near the bottom of the garden and maybe a water feature would nice. And the pergola is nice, but there should be grapes or some vine of some kind growing on it.

But at least the owner has done a goof job with the variety of the foliage; there is an interesting mixture of colors and textures. I had to grab my camera and share the morning in the garden with you.

I have no idea what I am going to do for the rest of the day, but I am pretty certain it will not involve sitting around the house! There are few enough lovely days in London in the fall.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are having a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - 12 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Memorial Day in London

My boss and I went into Central London today.

I had a couple errands I wanted to run in London before I headed home for this trip. The problem is that I sort-of forgot that today was Armistice Day. There were big doings in town today that the had the affect of making the traffic, never good in the first place, horrid!

Of course, being on foot, it was only the fact that the streets being closed meant that the sidewalks (or as they call it - the pavement) were also closed. There were massive celebrations in town today. New Zealand has built a war memorial in Hyde Park which was being commemorated. How interesting and different they treat Memorial Day here... they seem to see it as more than an excuse for furniture sales. Hmmm...

Martin and I walked around Green Park, Hyde Park and St. James Park; finally making our way up Westminster Street to the rail station to make our train back out to Thames Ditton. It was a nice walk and a nice afternoon. The skies threatened, but never delivered rain.

On our way through St. James Park, I noticed the London Eye. It's RED! I've always seen it lit-up blue... I had to take a few pictures. Which was not easy since I had brought only my small FujiFilm camera... I had no tripod so a number of the pictures I took are a bit shaky.

Tonight I have been invited over to my friend, Kevin's house for spaghetti with the gang. Later, I'm sure we'll be headed to the pub. Ah! No rest of the wicked. I guess I had best get ready to ride over to Molesey. It looks like it will rain... but then that isn't news.

I hope wherever you are today, you've had a great day!

Don Bergquist - 11 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, November 10, 2006

Quiet Friday

Not much to say today. It is a bit of a quiet start to the day but with the load I am sure is piling-up on my desk back in the office; I know that it will change soon enough. Oh well, it is Friday and projections are that we will be having a lovely weekend.

(Yes, I have learned something about listening to the weatherman over here... I do not, for a moment, believe that it will be a lovely weekend. But I'm going to pretend I do! "I'm not an optimist, but I play one on television...")

I guess I had best get into the office and see what havoc I can wreak.

Wherever you are today, I hope your Friday is the end of a successful week and the start of a relaxing weekend!

Don Bergquist - 10 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happiness at the Harris House

I have no idea how this is playing back at home, but over here the news that Donald Rumsfeld has resigned is being greeted with great glee! Gads! Great gobs of giddiness are greeting the news of the git's departure.

Okay enough alliteration. Perhaps nobody here has the correct perspective to appreciate the full meaning of this news. They cannot seem to understand that the president has a history of backing people regardless of their complete unfitness to actually do the job. (Anyone remember Harriet Meyers?)

He continues to ignore the facts that the people he posted into key positions on the sole qualification that they are his friends. ("You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie!")

There is the theory surfacing in the UK that the removal of Rumsfeld was in title only. It is being proposed that Don will now be around in an advisory position to advise his replacement on how to mismanage the war.

All I can say that this is the unknown that we cannot know. And we know that it isn't known. We cannot know when we will know it if it still unknown, but even in that unknowingness, we know we don't care!

There was great rejoicing in The Villa last night as the news that there was a change in leadership in both houses and that the president has gotten another political black eye! What a wanker! Oh well. Let's hope with some checks and balances in place on the president's assumption that is omnipotent we will have some reason restored to our government.

I hope wherever you are today, you know, you care, you know that you care and that you care that you know!

Don Bergquist - 09 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Foggy Morning

My ride this morning was a but wet. Not rain, FOG; cut it with a knife fog! Thick as pea soup fog. Can't see the... oh you get the idea! "So, what?" You may ask... the probability is pretty good that you're going to get fog in the fall in London...

Well, there's nothing else really happening. It is six AM. I'm listening to NPR via the internet to see what is going on in the US but since there seems to be nothing of note going on, NPR is covering the elections.

Oh, that's right! Yesterday was an election. If the coverage I am hearing is at all accurate, things are looking pretty foggy in the states as well. The phrase "too close to call" has been bandied about quite a bit.

I can't be sitting here all morning. I have to eventually get to work. So I guess I will leave it to the overnight commentators.

Wherever you are, I hope that you have a great day!

Don Bergquist - 08 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

Oh, my god (pick one, any one...)! What a fun day today will be back home if the news from abroad is any indication!

The BBC has been covering the election and the amount of preparation both sides are already making for any challenges to the outcome extensively. This is an important election and everyone needs to get involved. Quit reading this and go vote.

You know, the phrase I just used gives me pause for thought. "This is an important election." What does that mean? They're all important! It is the apathy on the part of the voter that allows wankers like we have running the administration into office.

The great experiment is going awry. What has happened to us as a people? We're abdicating the power that so many paid so dearly for! Abraham Lincoln must be rolling in his grave. Is this what we fought the revolutionary war, the civil war, and all those other wars for? So that 10% of the population can rule by apathetic assent?

We've replaced the monarchy by the plutocracy of the extremists. The extremists are the only ones who seem to garner enough interest in the process to accomplish anything. Let me just say: If you cannot be bothered to express your opinion at the polls then you deserve whatever happens to you! When your civil rights are taken away by the people who want to impose on you their belief structure, remember: you chose to remain mute. You allowed this to happen!

Abraham Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, commemorating the national soldier's cemetery expressed home that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall never perish. Unfortunately, the American public repeatedly proves that this concept is no longer important in their lives. They allow extremists from both sides to obfuscate and bloviate at them and claim to be giving them the truth and then they, secure that someone else will do their duty, sit there and watch their rights being usurped.

Please! Get off your keister and do something! Make it possible to keep alive the government that was bought at such a dear cost. Say those two most important of words today: "I voted." It's not even important who you vote for! Just get out and vote. Expressing your opinion any other day is fine and good, TODAY it makes a difference! I'm abroad and I voted today! My absentee ballot was posted from the UK back to Lakewood a couple weeks ago.

I hope that wherever you are today, you'll take a moment to honor those who have gone before and vote!

Don Bergquist - 07 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
19 November 1863
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Monday, November 06, 2006

Flying Home: A Wrap-up

Gosh! This past weekend was so action packed, there was too much to write when I was traveling so let me try and catch all the loose-ends from the weekend this morning. When trying to put things into some sort of order there are a number of ways I could organize my thoughts. Chronologically, topically, geographically all spring to mind. But as a bit of a rebel, I think I will try randomly.

When I returned home yesterday, I had to spend more time getting from Heathrow to Kingston than I had spent flying from Copenhagen to London. Sunday traffic was murder. I was, however treated to a rolling dialogue of who was doing who from the little teeny-boppers from the seat across the aisle from me. The boarded the bus at Hatton Cross and got off some time after I did.

The people of Copenhagen were very friendly. I got approached a number of times as I was walking around the area of the hotel and asked if I wanted various things done to me. As Hall and Oates put it in their song, Family Man, “She made it perfectly clear that she was mine for the night.” This is one thing that has made an impression on me; the openness with which ‘the world’s oldest profession’ is handled. I mean sure, it happens in the states, but except in a couple places it is illegal and even in those places, it isn’t so in your face.

The area of the city I was in was definitely not a good part of town. There were kids shooting-up in the square near the hotel and drug deals being done on the steps of the church. It was a bit like staying in some of the areas of New York that I have found myself in at the wrong parts of the day.

While waiting for my table the other night in the Vinkælar, I was sitting at the bar. Something happened to me that I have never had happen. (I suppose in retrospect that this could have been a ploy by a professional, but it was still pretty flattering.) As I sat there nursing a Gin and Tonic, this lovely woman came up to me and started playing with my hair. (The travel had been wearing on my gel and so it was no longer bound into a tail but was down on my shoulders.) She said something to me in Dansk and when I failed to respond appropriately, she switched to English. “Your hair is lovely.” She said with a trace of an accent. “I was sure it was a wig but it is real. This is your hair!” We chatted for a while and then someone I took to be her boyfriend (?), husband (?), pimp (?) came up and they exchanged a few words in Dansk and left; me and my hair forgotten.

Favors for friends aside, I should have done research before I did my stop at the duty free in Amsterdam. I stopped to get a carton of cigarettes (at about 20% of the price they cost here in the UK) on my way through the duty free between flights. Unfortunately, this few minutes caused me to miss the flight that was scheduled to go out before my flight. Actually, I hadn’t known there was one before mine... I knew I had two hours between my inbound and my connection so I stopped to get the Marlboros. When I checked the monitors to see where the 10:20 to Heathrow went out, I saw that there was an 08:20 as well. I ran to the gate to see if I could make it and just missed them closing the gate and the plane. That two minutes would have saved me two hours in the airport. Oh well.

Back in London, I sent text messages to my friends informing them of my arrival and was, via the same means, summonsed to see them last evening at the Albion. We exchanged stories of the road and rounds of good British ale! Ah! It’s good to be home.

On the ride home from the pub, I was treated to glimpses of the Guy Fawkes Day fireworks. Had I not been up at 03:00 local time yesterday morning to try and make my flight home, I would have gone to the fireworks with my friends but after a long day of travel, I was completely knackered so I just went home and headed upstairs to bed.

This morning, I am back in the swing. I got up before the sun and am sitting in the kitchen enjoying my second cup of coffee and my cereal with yogurt. I’ll be leaving for the office soon to get some work done. It is going to be a long week with a big, looming deadline at the end of it. Good thing I have had a relaxing (if somewhat busy) weekend!

I hope wherever you are, your week is starting off well!

Don Bergquist - 06 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, November 05, 2006


A comedian (possibly Garrison Keeler) once said that you could tell that Minnesota was settled by Scandinavians. Who else would leave somewhere that is cold and depressing, leave it behind, travel at great personal hazard half way around the globe to the new world, and then settle in a place every bit as cold and miserable as the one they had left behind.

I can see the argument. Yesterday’s early sunset, this morning’s late sunrise, the cold, the rain... it can see it. But I can see other similarities as well. There is, for instance, the tendency to be outgoing and friendly.

Last night, walking around the city sightseeing, I got a little lost. I stopped a well-dressed woman to ask directions... (I’d been approached by a number of people who had made their profession obvious to me and so intentionally looked for someone who looked up-scale... more on that later.) On almost any big city street in the US, should I try that my approach would have been regarded as a possible attack and would have aroused suspicion of my motives. This woman, however, even though she spoke little English, did her best to assist me. She did help me find my way to the hotel and I was truly grateful.

They also have the penchant for building things in the middle of their roads that I thought was solely a Minnesota thing. In the town my dad lives in there used to be a statue of a Viking (three stories tall!) called “Big Ole” that stood at one end of the main street through town. Nobody seemed to have the least problem with there being a huge concrete statue in the middle of a state highway. Here in Copenhagen, I came across the same idea... this memorial was in the middle of a six-lane roadway... what it is all about, I have no idea. (I speak no Danish.)

The restaurant yesterday was wonderful! I had a spiced herring and egg starter with a gin and tonic. Then for the main I had a stuffed filet of fish (I didn’t recognize the name of the fish on the menu and the waitress spoke no English. To steal a line from Dave Barry in The Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need by Dave Barry: There are actually areas of the world where they do not understand English unless you speak it very loud... ) it was a wonderful dish, it was a filet stuffed with shrimp and topped with caviar and a sauce that may have been a mornay. It was quite nice. For after, I had a lovely Danish cheese tray. I was then presented the bill for 225. Of course, being this was Kroners, it was about £20 or $38. Quite a nice bill after such a wonderful meal.

This morning, sitting in the lounge, I had a lovely chat with a couple that were sitting (still up from the night before) and drinking in the lounge. She was from Oslo; he was from Raines Park - a suburb of London not far from where I live in Thames Ditton. It was a lovely conversation.

I am now sitting here in the Copenhagen airport and waiting for the plane. I have enjoyed my visit and will have to do this again.

I hope wherever you are today you’re enjoying yourself.

Don Bergquist - 05 November 2006 - Copenhagen, Denmark

PS: Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


In the second of my jet-set trips to earn enough frequent flier miles to boost me to Gold Premier status, I decided to visit Copenhagen this weekend. The price of the tickets was incredibly reasonable. I got the round trip from London for about $80.00.

So last night, I made an early night of it with my mates down at the pub and hit the sack early. This morning, was supposed to be an early morning for me. And early it was! I had my alarm set for 04:00 and was out the door shortly before 05:00. I cycled through the bitterly cold November fog to reach the bus stop at the Bentall’s Center in Kingston. Here I caught the bus to Heathrow.

Those of you who have ready the Harry Potter novels can probably remember the chapter in the third book where Harry takes “The Night Bus.” They can be every bit as bizarre as Rowling paints them. For instance, in the back of the bus this morning was an inebriated gentleman who alternatively was singing “Jerusalem” and yelling at me “Hey! You’re an American! We don’t allow no Americans on this bus! No Americans on the bus! Get off!” after which he’d return to “And did those feet, in ancient times, walk upon England’s green and pleasant land?” This continued until he departed the bus at Hampton Hill.

The flight was good into Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. I had a couple hours to change planes and as the weather was clear and bright (as opposed to the last time I went through Schiphol) I was able to see an interesting feature of the airport. This is a feature that used to be a common element of the airports in the US but that I haven’t seen since the seventies... Perhaps you can spot it in this picture.

That’s right! Right there at the top of the main concourse there is an outside observation deck for overlooking the planes as they take-off, land, taxi, and dock at the gates. I vaguely remember the one at Miami International that ran the entire length of the main concourse... but I also remember when it went away. This was in the seventies, about the same time that the first magnetometers started being used to discourage skyjacking. How nice to see that they still exist somewhere!

The flight to Copenhagen was also uneventful. I had a nice chat with the flight staff as they were boarding the plain. The boarding process got interrupted for some reason we were never told about and I sat on the plane chatting with the flight attendants. It was a nice chat, they were all based there in Amsterdam and were making an overnight to Copenhagen.

We arrived at the scheduled time but it was pouring when we landed. I took the train into central Copenhagen and walked three blocks to the hotel. By the time it stopped raining, it was cold, wet, and the light was just flat wrong for taking any pictures. Still, it was early enough for me to take-in a museum and a walk around the city.

I may be wrong, but I’ve always heard what a lovely city Copenhagen is... It’s really a bit depressing how untrue that seems to be. Granted, it is the beginning of winter, and the small area of the city that I have seen are possibly not representative.

The Little Mermaid was not as impressive as it appears in the postcards. (I didn’t really expect the statue of liberty, but I also didn’t expect that I would be looking down at it. It is much smaller than its pictures make it look.

Don’t get me wrong, overall, I am enjoying the visit! It is an interesting town and the people I have met are all friendly. Oh, but here is a tip: Denmark is in the EU but, like the UK is not on the Euro! They still use the Kroner! Who knew?!

But that is okay... Finally, I get to benefit from a favorable exchange rate. I took 500 Kroner out at an ATM and spent almost a quarter of it on site-seeing today. Looking at the menu of the Vinkælar (Dansk for “Wine Cellar”) I will probably spend about a third of it on dinner tonight... but since the exchange rate means that one Kroner is about seventeen cents, the entire weekend will probably cost about two-thirds of the $87 dollars that I drew-out of the bank!

Right now, I’m back at the hotel... the rain has returned and I was trying to keep out of the worst of it. The sun set around 16:45 and it is getting dark. Now that the rain has stopped, I think I’m going to walk around the city now that it is dark and see how it has changed. It will be an adventure.

I hope wherever you are today you have adventures you can tell your friends about!

Don Bergquist - 04 November 2006 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Friday, November 03, 2006

What, Am I Crazy?

Tomorrow I start another whirlwind jet-set trip!

I found some great prices on tickets to Copenhagen, Denmark. As Amsterdam (last weekend) is the furthest east I have ever been, it goes without saying I have never been to Denmark. But that will change tomorrow.

I have an 08:30 flight from Heathrow Airport. This means I need to leave the villa tomorrow morning by 05:15 to make my way to Kingston. The trains will not be running early enough for me to take the train in so I am taking a bus.

The good part is that (if all goes according to plan) I arrive in the early afternoon and have a lot of time to see the sights before I head back to the hotel for a nap. The bad part is I have to be up every bit as early on Sunday because I have a 06:30 flight back. Why so early? Well... that is how I got the great prices on the tickets!

I hope wherever you are this weekend you have something to write home about!

Don Bergquist - 03 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, November 02, 2006

If You Don’t Like The Weather...

There is a saying here: “If you don’t like the weather in London, wait five minutes, it will change.” What a deep and profound aphorism! It gives me pause for thought, however, that everywhere I have ever lived... they have had the same saying. It kind of struck me as strange when I moved to Memphis, Tennessee and was treated to the local wisdom: “If you don’t like the weather here in London, wait five minutes, it will change.” What an extraordinary thing to say! (Practically everywhere else I have ever lived, they have substituted the name of the local city for London in that sentence: “If you don’t like the weather in [say your city name here], wait five minutes, it will change.”

And change it does! The weather is mutable, almost everywhere... okay, even in the desert the weather changes! In the eight weeks I lived in Phoenix, I learned that desert weather really changes.

“If you don’t like the weather in Phoenix, wait five minutes, it will change.” Yeah! Right! But it did! It went from “Hot and Sunny” to “Sunny and Hot,” then it went on to “Frigging Hot and Ridiculously Sunny.” Later in the day, the hot and sunny weather changed to hot and slightly overcast weather. Even later in the day, after I had recovered from the stupor that the heat of the day put me into, it became dark and hot. But that was after sundown. And then it changed (around midnight) to pleasant and dark.

The point is, weather changes. Take today, for instance. It is a lovely day here in Thames Ditton this morning. When I got-up this morning and got my bike out of the shed, it was about 34 degrees and absolutely clear skies! Sure, it isn’t raining, but it is cold as a well-digger’s tush! Riding in this morning, I decided it was time to hit REI when I get home to make sure I have a mask and a toque and a ski-mask to keep warm on the ride in. Perhaps a pair of gloves as well. According to the BBC, it is going to be a biting, bitter, cold winter. So if, and I have no actual knowledge that this is the case, I am coming back for the next few months, I’ll want to make sure I have some more protective gear for the winter.

Now, those of you who think I am being a wussy about this, (I’m thinking about people who live in places where it gets really cold. - I’m talking to you Minnesota!) please remember... one of two things is true there. Either you leave you nice, warm houses, enter a nice warm car, drive to your nice warm office building and spend perhaps five minutes outside all day; or you have the proper clothing for being outside.

Traveling here at short stints, I have the clothing that is right for the period predominantly in for any trip. Since that would be summer for this trip, I have a few pieces of warm clothing, but not a lot. With the baggage restrictions, it is not as if I can move my entire wardrobe here. (Which is fine because, not only do I not have room to store it, I have been losing enough weight that it would soon not fit me anyway.)

I guess I should quit complaining about the cold and look for the bright side. At least the pollen counts are low in winter! Besides, this weather too will change. Soon I will have rain, or heat to complain about. Oh well, there are people who have real problems, I suppose I should shut up and enjoy life. After all, I’ve been living in London for most of the last year! How cool is that?!?

I hope that wherever you are today, you have a bright side you can look at.

Don Bergquist - 02 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Editor’s Note:

REI (mentioned above) stands for Recreational Equipment Incorporated and is one of my favorite stores. They have such wonderful sporting clothing and equipment. The main store in Downtown Denver is at the sight of the old Forney Transportation Museum and has a three-storey-tall climbing wall. The branch out near my place in Lakewood has the friendliest staff who are always ready to help decide what I want to spend my money on next!

Visit them online at:

Happy Birthday to my Cousin, Michael

Happy Birthday to my Uncle, Richard

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Signs of Home

Occasionally, I have written in my blog about how much the area around here reminds me of Florida. Via a strange series of connections, that was hammered home recently with a vengeance. Recently, not only did the plant life remind me of Florida, but so did the clothing that I saw in the park. It was particularly nice and sunny on the weekend and I was riding through Bushy Park is I am wont to do when the weather is nice. As I was riding the path through the eastern meadow where the oaks and willows really make it look like the pastures around Wildwood or Ocala, my mind played a trick on me.

Had I really just seen what I thought I had? I doubled back by taking a side path around a small copse and there it was, unmistakable this time, a tee-shirt from my alma mater! It certainly looked like it fit into the surrounding and I had to remind myself that I was a few thousand miles from home. Nope, there was no mistaking that Pegasus logo. It definitely was...

“UCF?” I asked indicating his shirt.

“Excuse me?” He said looking a bit puzzled.

Yeah, I guess I had been a bit too economical with the language of my question. “Excuse me,” I corrected my earlier question. “is that a UCF Tee-Shirt?”

He paused a moment looking confused, I pressed on. “I’m sorry, it’s just that I am a graduate of the University of Central Florida and I could have sworn that symbol is the logo for UCF. It looks like the Pegasus the university adopted just before I went there.”

“Ah!” he replied immediately looking less confused. “Yes, it is! My wife and I vacation in Central Florida every winter and I bough this at one of your school’s football games that our friends there took us to.”

“Oh! Wow! I knew that I recognized that logo! I’m sorry to have bothered you, but I have been living over here about a year now, and it just amazes me to keep being reminded of home.” I said. “I mean, look at this... this park in places, reminds me of home!”

“You should see the tropical glen over in the woodlands garden if you want to get really homesick for Florida.” He said.

“I’ve seen it! That little stream running through it reminds me of Juniper Creek!”

We chatted briefly and then parted. “Sorry to have interrupted you walk,” I said as we parted “I just had to say hi when I saw the UCF Tee. Thanks for saying Hi!” It was a chance meeting and I am glad that I had it... it is always good to think of home.

I hope wherever your travels take you today, you’re never so far that you don’t have thoughts of home!

Don Bergquist - 01 November 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK