Wednesday, January 31, 2007
So the fact that I am somewhat taken aback by realizing that this is the last day of January must mean that January was a busy month for me. And looking at my calendar, I see it has been!
The New Year came in with a bang… Literally! I had a great time in Molesey over at Phil and Lucy's New Year's Eve party. The first couple weeks of the month I was living in Tolworth taking care of a friend's house and dog whilst they were out of town. The end of the month, I have been living with Saga out in West Molesey watching the house for some friends who are on vacation.
Of course, work has been busy. We've had one successful release and are busy working on another. And there are always things happening that need to be taken care of. Change happens. It's all in the daily routine.
Plans for next month: I have planned a long weekend for my birthday. I want to do some bumming around either in Europe or here in the UK. I haven't decided yet. Keep watching this space… I'll let you know what I decide!
I hope that wherever you are today, your January has been great!
Don Bergquist - 31 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I wonder if they have fog days in the UK like we'd have a snow day in the US. Hmmm…
I hope wherever you are today, you're safe, warm and dry!
Don Bergquist - 30 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sadly, it's time to head back to work. It has been a very relaxing weekend! But it is time to head back to the office.
I hope wherever you are, you have had a lovely weekend!
Don Bergquist - 29 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I went out with my cameras this morning and walked over to the Hampton Court Palace. I had seen a few things in bloom that I thought would be a good over the week while riding along and wanted to head out with my cameras to get them in digital format.
The first thing I came across was a holly bush in berry. Hollies grow all over this area and look so lovely. They are also incredibly prickly and hard to move out of your way when trying to get a picture of a specific bunch of berries with the greenery. I love the look of Holly! It is so Christmas-y. Why? I don't know. It is not even in berry in December in this part of the world.
Then, right at the train station, the used car dealer had balloons out for the cars that they were hawking. I got these against the sky. They looked so festive with the sun shining on them and the pure azure sky behind them. There were only a couple cars that had balloons on them but this bunch was the one that had the fewest things in the background.
At the top of this article is a link to the rest of the pictures that I took this morning.
A bit later on, I came across some ivy that was growing along the side of the road. The ivy was almost (but not completely) obscuring the fence it was growing on. (Ivy seems to be like London's Kudzu; it is ubiquitous and grows no matter how badly you treat it!) The leaves (because it was still pretty early in the day) were covered in the morning dew. Finding one perfect leaf with a nice sheen of dew on it was a bit time consuming. Some of the ones I found were not lit properly, some looked great and were lit right but were obscured by the leaves around it. I finally found this one.
This afternoon, some friends called and asked if I wanted to go to one of the local pubs for a beer. I think I will be headed out for a while and having a quick one with my friends and then get home to Saga.
I hope wherever you are, you're having a great weekend!
Don Bergquist - 28 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I love these relaxing weekends!
I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you have a chance to relax and take it easy!
Don Bergquist - 27 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Friday, January 26, 2007
I was updating a status report that mentioned a three-dimensional logo that fades off into the distance that is new to the system and didn't feel like writing-out "Dimensional" so used the common, vulgar, version of that phrase.
"D" was the answer I got.
"Yes." I responded. "'Dee'. Is it 'D-E' or 'D-E-E'? Word doesn’t seem to recognize either of them."
"It's just 'D' came the answer. What are you talking about?" Came the bewildered response from more than one of my British colleagues.
"The name of the letter is 'Dee'." I explained. "I just cannot remember how to spell it." I later realized that Dee, being the name of the letter D is only in Word's dictionary as the proper noun and so must be capitalized. (Capitalised to my British readers.)
A discussion ensued wherein I learned two things:
1) The names of the letters are not in "common" usage over here
- and -
2) Apparently, over here (according to one colleague) the phrase common usage means the same as "ubiquitous" does in the states.
I would not call something that is not common ubiquitous, but certainly things needn't be ubiquitous to be common! Some people (And to be fair, it is not unique to the person who did it to me at the office yesterday, I get this fairly regularly over here!) do not seem to understand that just being English, doesn't make you the end-all-be-all expert on the English language!
There is, in fact a whole wide world full of lots of other countries on the other side of the water that surrounds you who speak English. None of them speak it exactly as you do within your borders. Just because something isn't exactly the way you think it should be, doesn't mean you can immediately dismiss it as "American" which you seem to use as an synonym for "Wrong"!
Believe it or don’t! Just because you don't know something, doesn't mean it's wrong! Just because you've neve heard something doesn't mean it is not in "Common Usage."
Now, I know you're probably thinking to yourself right now: "Hey! Don, isn't that the pot calling the grass dope?" And you have a valid point. I can be stubborn and argumentative at times. At times, I am also wrong. But I admit it when I am and I admit it more often than I am given credit for.
Just this afternoon in some slack time at the office, I admitted that I was wrong when, working the daily communal crossword puzzle. The clue given was "was sleepy". The available spaces were " _ _ _ _ S _ D " when "drowsed" was offered as a suggestion, I pooh-poohed it saying that we needed an adjective not a verb. I had never heard of "drowse" being used as an adjective. I have heard of it only as a verb.
"I was tired so I drowsed on the sofa until the cab came." My familiarity is that the adjective associated with that verb is "drowsy." As in: "I was drowsy so I decided to take a room at the Bates Motel rather than drive any further that night."
When "drowsed" fit in the puzzle and no other word I could think of would, I admitted I was wrong. I said that this was a usage of the word with which I was previously unavailable.
Wherever you are today, I hope that you have the ability to admit whatever mistakes you make and I hope that you further have the patience to deal with those who refuse to. (I wish I had this ability more often!)
Don Bergquist - 26 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Mom had one of the best, most positive outlooks on life I have ever come across. For all of mom's faults, I remember he always having the view that today was the best day to be alive. The view of life that you should "live in the now" was her view. And this was long before the new age element seized this concept as their own.
Perhaps I am looking at mom through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, but mom seemed to be happy and enjoying life much more often that not. Sure, she occasionally had to punish my siblings and me. (Admittedly me more than my siblings…) She had a Joie de Vie that is enviable.
In this picture, Mom is Dancing with Toby the Robot, a popular character on the local television scene in the seventies.
Mom made an impression on everyone she ever met. (For good or not, you had to remember her!) This picture was taken in the early seventies some time. Back in 2000 I was on a consulting trip to Miami. On that trip, to Channel Seven, I met with Charlie Folds. The creator of Toby the Robot and the man behind (or rather within) the creation of a robot from a bucket, a trash can, some oven mitts, some dryer venting and ten dollars of parts from Radio Shack.
Charlie and I had never officially met before; at least I had never met him as Charlie Folds. We talked briefly of my memories of Toby the Robot when I was a child and of his role on Wayne Chandler and the Sunday Funnies (the show that Toby The Robot co-hosted). When we touched on the St. Kevin's Church Carnival, where I had met Toby in the seventies, he said that he remembered St. Kevin's for three reasons.
1) One of the ladies came up to him and asked if "Toby" needed a beverage to cool himself off. When Toby Beeped "Yes, he was thirsty" he was handed a plastic cup and a straw. He had thought that the cup would contain water or juice of some kind. The fact was that one of the church ladies had handed him a glass of Mrs. Mendoza's Sangria!
2) He remembered after the show being given a wonder Italian sausage sandwich. (Mrs. Riccinni used to make these every year on a huge outdoor grill; larger than the dining room table at our home.)
3) The woman who had run the carnival was a warm and outgoing person who made sure that he and Wayne were met and cared for from the time they arrived to the time they left. He liked her and remembered her even dancing with her at the carnival. Working with her had been a wonder.
Now, Charlie had no reason to know that she was my mom! (Not unless he had an amazing memory and remembered the name "Bergquist" after nearly thirty years and somehow made the connection to the consultant who had been introduced as being from Memphis.) But the fact that he remembered her was homage to mom and to the fact that nobody who knew her ever forgot her!
So, mom; Happy birthday! Thanks for the memories.
I hope wherever you are today, you have pleasant thoughts of those you love!
Don Bergquist - 25 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I tossed back the duvet and noticed that the room was bracingly cold. So I dashed over to the window. The reason for the strangeness of the light was immediately apparent. It was snowing outside! It wasn't quite the crest of the moon on the new-fallen snow… The light from the streetlamp was reflecting on the frosting of snow in the back garden that was making it seem brighter outside.
I ran to grab my camera. How often do you get to see snow on palmettos after all? Damn and blast! My batteries were dead for BOTH the cameras I had at home and the spare camera battery for my compact camera was at the office in the charger! That is the problem with technology! It requires power!
Oh well! Too bad that winter here will last about six hours! The snow is due to be gone by the time I am home for lunch, the batteries at home for the camera will not be charged by then. I did snap this picture of the street in front of the office when I got in and got the charged battery from the office. The snow is not as thick as it looks, there was possibly an inch of frosting on the streets when I rode in, but that is enough to make Londoners uncomfortable.
They look on snow almost as warily as the people who live in Memphis. I remember when living there even the mention of snow meant that the Seesel's shelves would be denuded of Milk, bread and toilet paper. (Though what you can make with bread, milk and toilet paper is a wonder!) The traffic is light outside. I expect that absenteeism in London offices this morning will be relatively high!
I hope wherever you are, the weather is being kind to you!
Don Bergquist - 24 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
The snowfall was about two centimeters (about 2/3 of an inch) according to the official reckoning of the weather bureau. I would say that was about right. The deepest snow I saw was about an inch but there was more like a half-inch layer over the back garden at the villa.
The pictures at the link above (click the title of this article) are the pictures I took out the window of my office at around 06:30 of Summer Road at Thames Ditton. The snow was still falling at that time.
The pictures taken later (at lunch time, once I had charged some camera batteries) in the back garden at The Villa an be seen on my Shutterfly photo sharing site. At the following URL:
I hope that wherever you are today, your day is beautiful.
Don Bergquist - 24 January 2004 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Monday night around one, I was awakened by her barking. This is highly unlike Saga. She seldom barks at night but Monday she was barking to beat the band. I went downstairs to console her but she was not to be quieted. I went upstairs to the lounge and looked outside to see what, if anything was setting her off. I could see nothing. I opened the door and stepped out onto the back stoop and looked at the garden. Still I saw nothing that could even conceivably interest her.
At about this time, Saga realized that I had opened the back door and came tearing out it; skidding into the door jam on the slick oak floors as she tried (not entirely successfully) to navigate the lounge at high speed. She darted past me and into the planting by the door. There was a brief scuffle and then a fox darted out from under the palmetto and diagonally across the lawn. Saga was hot on his tail.
A brief scuffle occurred at the pergola in the back of the garden, but this was mostly Saga failing to stop before crashing into a bush at the back of the arbor. The fox had, by this time, scaled the wall and made it into the safety of the neighbor's yard. Reluctantly, Saga returned to the house but she insisted on staring out the back door for the next five minutes, growling.
Last night, I think she was going after that damn fox again as she started barking. I had to pick her up and carry her to the lounge, shushing her as I went until she calmed down. It occurred to me on Monday that perhaps letting her out of the house when I didn’t know what it was could have been a bad idea. In Colorado, it would more likely have been a skunk, raccoon, or bear.
It had better not happen again tonight or I am going to just invest in a dog house and leave her outside to keep the yard fox-free so that she doesn't have to bark to let me know they are back!
I hope wherever you are today you've had a good night's sleep!
Don Bergquist - 23 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Monday, January 22, 2007
Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity and has for any length of time has heard me talk of The Wilderness. It is the patch of gardens to the north of Hampton Court Palace that has huge lawns that have been naturalized with crocuses, daffodils and snowdrops. The lawns blaze in the spring with loads of gold, purple, white and yellow flowers. The show last week had a story of how visitors to Washington DC have been alarmed by the blooming of the cherry blossoms along the estuary. They are a couple months early.
What brought the show to mind was my walk through the wilderness. There are patches of yellow in The Wilderness already! Granted, we had crocuses bloom late this past summer, and we have had a very warm winter thus far, but is this a fluke or a sign of global warming? What is a person to believe?
Obviously, we're supposed to believe that this has nothing to do with global warming. Neither does the fact that the plum trees in my street are in bloom (in January!) or the blooming cherry trees along the river walk. This cannot be a function of Global Warming because as President Bush (the wanker in chief of the US) keeps telling us… there is no scientific evidence that Global Warming is real. And for him to say it so many times, it must be true. After all, we were welcomed as heroes back in the two-week long war to oust Saddam Hussein, and finding all those WMDs was Mission Accomplished! Thank God we could fight it on the cheap and pay for the entire action from the profits of selling Iraqi Oil for them. (And of course, this was not a war about oil! It was all because Saddam Hussein attacked us on 11 September 2001!)
See, saying things repeatedly does make them true!
I hope that wherever you are today, the weather is clement and the skies are clear! (Unless it is winter and supposed to be cold and miserable, then I hope it is snowing like hell!)
Don Bergquist - 22 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Sunday, January 21, 2007
There were also, unfortunately, a number of moments that made me glare over the back of my chair at the little girl repeatedly kicking the back of my chair! There were five of them to be exact.
The little girl, wearing her mud boots, was kicking my chair with enough force to make the impact audible to a person two seats away who kept looking at me every time the noise started. The first few times I stared at the little girl and then looked down at her boots which she was kicking my chair with. The woman next to her, her mother I was later to learn, looked at me apologetically each time I looked back but said nothing.
The fifth time this happened, I turned and said "Excuse me, would mind not kicking the back of my chair please?"
This time, the mother finally took action. The kicking stopped and I was able to enjoy the last half-hour of the movie uninterrupted. At the conclusion of the movie, as I was gathering my trash and getting my jacket on, the little girl's mother leaned over the road to me and said rather tartly "You had no reason to speak to my daughter. She certainly didn't deserve to be spoken in that manner by you! Had I known that it bothered you, I would have told her to stop. You owe her an apology."
"Yeah! Whatever!" or words to that affect was the only response I offered!
The very idea! Do parents not feel that it is their job to control their children over here? Is this a universal problem? It has, after all, been quite a while since I have been to a movie theatre. Perhaps this is the norm. I am supposed to sit and allow the little girl behind me spoil the movie… I think not! The mother is as much to blame as the little girl. More so! "If she had known it bothered me… I almost told the wench to buy me a ticket to her next movie and I'd sit behind her kicking her chair. If she had known? If she had known? What a transparent way of trying to shift blame for her brat's misbehavior to my failure to point it out to her! The very idea!
I hope that wherever you are today, you'll have the chance to see this film, it is excellent! I hope also you have the chance to see it in an environment conducive to enjoying it!
Don Bergquist - 21 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I was irate when watching the news this morning to see the announcer on BBC deride someone who made a comment about there being too much coverage of Big Brother. The viewer had made the comment that there was too much made of the row over the racist comments made on the "reality" show. The viewer asked why there was so much coverage. The announcer said: "Well, you're talking about it!"
It incenses me that the announcer would equate spending hours a day repeating the clip of this stupid wench going off on a young cultured woman and spewing venomous epithets at her. I won't waste column time in this repeating the stories of the incident, (anyone interested in sinking to the lowest possible entertainment value can find coverage of the incident all over the internet, which sometimes is known to pander to semi-literate idiots) suffice it to say that the incident was not terribly noteworthy. It did not merit the coverage it got.
The viewer who asked that the news be more news-worthy, was merely pointing-out that there were other, more important things that the station could be giving coverage to instead of wasting the air-time on a stupid, racist wench insulting a person who must have know what she was in for when she signed-up for the show. The viewer simply asked what was newsworthy of the incident. Perhaps mention once would have been enough, but it is unlikely that this was even warranted. The terse and snide response that they were talking about it because the viewer was talking about it was beyond the pall.
Oh well, I guess there can be stupid, pompous people in every profession.
I hope that wherever you are today, you do not come up against or worse yet propagate this kind of stupidity!
Don Bergquist - 20 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Friday, January 19, 2007
By some reports, the weather yesterday would be categorized by the Saffir-Simpson scale as a category three hurricane. We had it all yesterday, sustained winds (at times) approaching 100 MPH, gusting to speeds in excess of 110 MPH. Rain varying from a light rain to a driving downpour.
Of course, these were linear winds, not cyclonic and the rain was incidental. Around lunchtime the rain ended but the winds persisted. The damage was similar to a hurricane as well.
There are trees and limbs down all over the village. The news is showing pictures of tiles and whole roofs that have been ripped off by the winds. Thousands of homes throughout the country are without power. Walls were blown over, train and road travel were interrupted. The M1 was closed because a lorry (a semi to those of us from The States) was tipped over while driving down the road.
I went for a bike ride at lunch (not realizing that the winds were as bad as they were). Having been through a hurricane (or a dozen) in my time, I soon realized that this had been a bad idea! But I had to run a couple errands and so, off I went. Even just heading to and from the house at lunchtime was a chore! Pictures on the news show people blown around as they walked down the streets in London; the weather turning the steel, stone and glass canyons of The City into wind tunnels.
The EuroStar between Paris and London was cancelled and a container ship in the channel was capsized by the winds. And it wasn't just London! All over Western Europe the picture was the same. Trains delayed or cancelled, airports closed, buildings and plants damaged or destroyed.
Today, they are calling for calmer winds, but I don't know! I awoke to the sound of wind howling down my chiminey. As I sit here at 05:00, I can still hear the winds screaming through the arbor in the back garden. I guess I should go get a shower and face the day!
I hope wherever you are, your day is filled with calm, blue skies!
Don Bergquist - 19 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I am wondering if the recent drop in water usage here will have the same affect it had in Denver. Denver has been in the midst of a drought for the past few years and in the summer of 2005 the water authority in Denver (who, incidentally had left a fireplug open in the area out by the airport for the past three years so as to prevent the water in the system that far out on the periphery from growing stagnant) imposed mandatory restrictions on water usage. The bans worked. The water utilization in Denver and the metro area including the surrounding counties dropped sufficiently to keep the reservoirs from drying out completely and the city was saved! The problem is that then, they (the water board) petitioned the city councils for the areas affected by the drought for a rate increase claiming that the drop in water usage was driving them into bankruptcy. You can’t win for losing some times!
But back to the weather here! Last night I was riding my bike into Surbiton to catch a train into Central London. The evening was mild and in the dying sun of the later afternoon (16:30), I noticed something in the park as I rode by that I had to stop and check-out… Yes! I was right! There are daffodils sprouting in the park. Some are up to a foot tall and are in bud! With the crocuses blooming this past summer and the daffodils coming up in the middle of the winter, what next? Swallows in Capistrano all year round?
Who says that there is nothing to this Global Warming thing? Oh, yeah! The wanker in charge of my country says so! Oh! At least he has finally (grudgingly) admitted that the polar bear may be an endangered species because its habitat is being diminished.
Oh, and speaking of the polar bear, there was a piece on BBC recently telling how Polar Bears were close to the body mass limit for viable carnivorous species. The piece talked of how the physical size of the animal had doomed it from the start as its habit cannot support a large enough food supply to support anything more than a limited number of the species at a time. I gathered that the point of the story was that it was lucky they had survived as long as they have.
I hope that wherever you are today you are surviving well by mastering your environment!
Don Bergquist - 18 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Things are going well, Saga is sleeping all curled-up in the vestibule as I sit here writing this. The rain has abated for now and so I had best hop on the bike and get to work.
I hope that wherever you are today, you'll have a great day (even if it is busy)!
Don Bergquist - 17 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
This morning I was late getting to the office because Saga decided it was better to play outside in the back garden than to come in when Daddy called. I have no idea what so enthralled her out there, but I called from the door to the Dining Room (where she has been given the vestibule to call her own) and she never showed at the top of the stairs. I then made my way up to the lounge and looked out and there she was. She was in the back corner of the garden staring at something in the hedges.
What it was, I have no clue. She kept staring at and ignoring me as I called. So, out I went to round her up and get her inside. It was here that she decided that it was a good idea to play tag with me. She dodged and refused to be rounded-up and brought inside. She even refused to fall for the rattling of the snack bag. I finally got her in when it started to rain a bit heavier. Grrr! It reminded me of the first time I was asked to put Inka (Saga's dame) out while my roommate, Kelly, was at work. Inka went out and then refused to come back in!
Dogs! Gotta love 'em!
I hope wherever you are today you have had an entertaining morning!
Don Bergquist - 16 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Monday, January 15, 2007
Unlike Saturday, which was cold and drizzly all day, Sunday was absolutely lovely!
Saga and I got out and took to the park in Long Ditton. It is the first time I have taken Saga to the park in my neighborhood and she loved it! She now owns the Long Ditton Park, as she peed on everything there. (That is how dogs acquire property, you know!
In the park, Saga showed that she is getting used to the idea that there are other dogs around that she has to deal with. The park had a number of people walking their dogs in it (many of them off-lead) and they all wanted to come-up and meet the new dog in the village. Saga was excellent! She came immediately back to me and pressed herself against my leg to make sure that Daddy was protected. There was no chance that any of these dogs who bark funny were going to harm her Daddy!
After our walk, I had a friend over for dinner. I made a crock pot full of chili and brown rice. By sundown the weather had already started to change to the heavy overcast and occasional sprinkling rain that is expected all day. But it really doesn’t matter. I have a bunch of work that I have piling-up on my desk. So I guess I had best get to the office and start in on it.
I hope wherever you are today, you've had a great weekend and you have had a great weekend and can start your week on a positive note!
Don Bergquist - 15 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Saga and I are going out to the park! It is a lovely, sunny day and the walk will do us good! Today is going to be a short entry. It is far too lovely to be cooped-up inside at the computer!
I hope that wherever you are today, the weather is lovely!
Don Bergquist - 14 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Saturday, January 13, 2007
It has been a good time, but it has been rainy, cold and windy for the entire time that they have been away. Elaine and her family will be returning today so I have ridden back to Thames Ditton from Tolworth for the last time (for the time being…) This morning, I woke-up, dealt with Daisy and made sure that the house looked good for their return and then mounted my bike for the ride home. I arranged my trip to take my past Sainsbury's on the way home as it was nearly 08:00 when I left. But the rain started falling shortly after I got into the grocery store. It was pouring by the time I got out. So, instead of the ride I was going to take, through Kingston and Bushy Park, I headed straight home.
It has been raining all morning, on and off now. So I have decided to take a nice, quiet weekend at home, reading.
I hope that you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend wherever you are this weekend!
Don Bergquist - 13 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Friday, January 12, 2007
The car park that the Bike Shed is located in slopes downhill toward the river. The Bike Shed is located at the bottom of the lot just near the Thames. Generally, I downshift so as to put my bike in a low gear to allow me to more easily exit the car park.
Leaving last night I went to gain some momentum climbing the hill to exit the car park. My mistake was to stand-up in the stirrups to get more power. There, leaning over the handle bars to maximize the down-thrust, I suffered the upset. My derailleur skipped a cog and downshifted. The sudden release of all resistance (even though it was only for a moment) caused me to topple over forward; over the handle bars, through just over 180 degrees of arc to land on my shoulder. Luckily, the years of theatre taught me rules for not getting hurt when falling. I tucked, rolled and turned it into a pratfall.
Rolling to a supine position, my first thought was: "God! I'm glad nobody has a window at this level!" I brushed myself off and looked around the car park. I was alone in the gathering gloom of the evening. I congratulated myself on the fact that nobody ever need know about my fall.
This morning, there is no evidence of my tumble but a small patch of road rash on my elbow and a sore shoulder. I need never suffer the humiliation of people knowing that I can't ride a bicycle and stay on!
Of course, now I have told the whole world; at least that small percentage of the world who read English and have any desire to ever read my blog. It's too bad I do not have any video to post. I am sure it would have looked humorous. Perhaps there is footage: I have heard that there are enough Closed Circuit Television camera in the UK to catch the average pedestrian over 300 times a day!
I hope that wherever you are today, there is no camera there to catch your embarrassing moments! (And always wear your bicycle helmet!)
Don Bergquist - 12 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Thursday, January 11, 2007
At Ye Olde Swann there is underwater dining available this week. The recent rains along the Thames have swollen the river until the tables on their riverside dock are underwater. This picture was taken after the waters had already started to subside. At the highest point, the water on the dock was up to the seats on the picnic tables.
I was not kidding when I said that it has been raining - a lot! Frankly, all this rain is for the birds. (Ducks and swans mostly…)
And of course, weather being mutable, today it has changed again and it is windy. There are gale-force winds blowing with gusts of up to seventy miles-per-hour. Ironically, the icons on the weather forecasting section of the BBC website show the icon for showers today and the icon for windy tomorrow!
I hope wherever you are today, your weather blows you a way, figuratively - not literally!
Don Bergquist - 11 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
So, if you ask a person "How are you today?" and their answer is "Great!" the only thing you can really tell is that they heard your question and that they are currently either feeling "great" or that they are disinclined to complain to you about how their day is going.
On the other hand, when I am chatting with someone and they ask me how my mom is, it tells me that they either do not know me very well or do not care for me enough to have remembered when I told them that my mother was killed in a traffic accident nearly thirty years ago.
I bring-up this whole psychobabble mess because of a recent conversation that I had in a shoppe here in the area. I was in the next town down the Thames from my home, (the ancient and royal borough of) Kingston Upon Thames. My bicycle needed some repair work and new tires so I had walked it down to Kingston to have it serviced at a bike shop that was open late on Friday afternoons.
Normally, I would have taken it to the bike shoppe in the next village south of me, Paul Cycles in Long Ditton. I love this shoppe! It reminds me of the bike shop my Uncle Gene used to run in Waite Park, Minnesota when I was a kid. The shoppe is a confusion of bikes in all colors, sizes and styles, crammed into a converted villa on a side street. Paul always greets me with surprise and asks how I am, how is Saga, how is my trip going.
Paul has built this relationship with me over the past year because he has serviced my bicycles since I was first lent one by my friends in Molesey. He told me the first time that I had it serviced that investing in a good newer bike would be a better investment if I was going to be using the bike extensively than putting a lot of money into the upkeep of the old bike I was lent. (The "loaner" bike was a good bike, but not up to constant and extensive use. I do not herein mean to cast aspersions on the bike, the loan of the bike, or the friends who lent it to me! It was a wonderful gesture and I was and am extremely grateful to my friends for their kind gesture.)
The point is that every time my trip got extended and I ended-up in Paul's shoppe for more parts, accessories or service, he showed his interest by asking "How long this time?" or "Why are you not just moved here?" He showed me thereby that he at least was interested enough in me as a client and a person to remember that I was here on what was supposed to be a short trip that kept being extended. The only reason I would not have taken my bike to Paul this time is that Paul always takes the first three weeks of the year off to go to visit his family in Thailand. If I could have waited, I would have, but I needed my bike serviced. I shredded my tire on Christmas week.
This brings me back to the point of my story. In the shoppe in Kingston, (we'll withhold the name of the shoppe to protect it…) I was asked a question that was so dumb that it showed that they were more interested in my wallet than in me. That's fine! They're there, after all to make money, but a little interest in the customer is, perhaps, a good thing, guys!
The question came about as I was adding things to my basket while they were mounting my new tires and tubes on the bike. Apart from the tires and tubes, I wanted to get a set of tire irons and a spare tube (so I could change my own flat the next time I had one), I also mentioned that I needed a bottle of Bike wash because my bike gets really caked with mud and goop as I am riding the tow path along the Thames. He said that he rode the tow path himself and we chatted briefly about the trials and tribulations of riding around the area.
When I picked-up a bottle of chain lube (they had two, neither was a brand I with which I was familiar) and asked for his opinion of them. As I stood there, the water still dripping off my rain suit, the larger drops hitting the window audibly, the recent conversation of the mud in the streets still echoing in the building, the fice-litre bottle of bike wash for mud and road grime clearly visible in my basket, he asked me one of those questions that show he was not really a party to any of these things. At least, he wasn’t mentally a part of it!
"What conditions do you normally ride in?" he asked in a completely serious manner.
I cocked my head to the side.
"Do you normally ride in wet or dry conditions?" He continued, seeing my confusion.
I looked over my shoulder at the rain outside the window, the water dripping off my hair onto the floor. With complete incredulity I responded "I live in Thames Ditton. I ride in Surrey! It's Winter!"
"Oh! Right." He said realizing (I hope) how stupid a question it was. He then added, sheepishly, "You'll want this one for wet and muddy conditions."
To be fair, I have a strange accent. He may have assumed that I had come all the way to the United Kingdom, to London, and found my way to Kingston to then find his shoppe, buy bicycle tires for my bike at twice what they would have cost me in the US just to head back to the states immediately. Or perhaps he was just not paying attention. Either way, it was an interesting conversation.
I hope wherever you are today, you have interesting conversations with those around you!
Don Bergquist - 10 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I'm waiting for the coffee to brew am writing this while waiting for it.
We're under some big, pendulous, looming deadlines and I have been working pretty long hours. I am looking forward to the weekend already! Oh, well… perhaps things will go just perfectly today at the office and the day will fly by!
Ah! I hear Saga entering through the kitchen… I had best go check on the coffee, eat breakfast, and get into the office.
I hope that wherever you are today, you have a great day!
Don Bergquist - 09 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Monday, January 08, 2007
Riding to and fro during the cold and rainy weather over the preceding week allowed weakened my immune deferences so that I was more prone to catch the cold that has been going around the office (and the village for that matter) and so, when exposed, I caught it on New Year's Eve. I have been suffering through it with the help of cold medicine and Olbas Oil.
This weekend I was supposed to be going into Central London for a weekend of sightseeing and pub crawling with a friend who came into town. Unfortunately, for him, luckily for me, he had a cold while flying over and ended-up with an inner-ear infection. So, he opted out of the weekend in favor of a future weekend. I took the opportunity to spend the weekend in bed, getting over the cold.
Good move, I am feeling much better this morning and am ready to face the week with vim, vigor! Of course, I am facing a lot of work under tight deadlines this week, so it will be a good think I rested-up this weekend!
I hope that wherever you did this weekend, it has prepared you for a great week ahead!
Don Bergquist - 08 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Sunday, January 07, 2007
I hope wherever you are this weekend, you have the opportunity to spend the time on yourself!
Don Bergquist - 07 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Saturday, January 06, 2007
A couple years ago, I was working from home when a colleague of mine called me at home and asked me a question that had been asked by a local radio station as part of their holiday trivia contest.
"'Quick: Why Twelve Days of Christmas?'" she asked the moment I had answered and identified myself.
Without pause for thought, I responded: "It's twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany."
"What?" She asked perplexed.
"Sorry." I explained. "It's just my Catholic upbringing. The Feast of Epiphany is a holiday commemorating the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem. It marks the ending of the Christmas Season on the Catholic calendar. At least, that is how I remember it from my Catechism classes."
"Don," she protested. "I was brought-up Catholic. I don't remember this stuff!"
"Er, Uh! Good head for trivia." I responded.
So, there it is; this, being the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, It is time to take down the tree at The Villa and to put away all the green and gold. The Yule Blog ends today. The normal blog returns tomorrow.
I hope you have enjoyed following my adventures of the first Christmas I have spent abroad. If so, drop me a line or post a comment and let me know. If not…
Wherever you are today, I hope you're having an excellent day!
Don Bergquist - 06 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Friday, January 05, 2007
There are a number of people at the office that have the same cold. I guess I must have weakened my system with all the bicycle riding in the cold, wind and rain. (It can't possibly be all the partying over the holidays, now could it! Alcohol kills germs!) I succumbed to the cold either on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. A friend said I sounded a bit horse at the New Year's Eve party, but I assumed that was because I had second-handed about a pack of cigarettes that evening!
It is strange, most of the time I feel just fine. But periodically, a fit of coughing comes over me. Then I get to feeling fine again. Sometimes I take a cough lozenge other times, it just goes away. Then later, the sniffles and congestion come back! It is a truly strange cold. I guess I should really spend some time in bed and try and get over it, but who has the time?
I how wherever you are today you're feeling well!
Don Bergquist - 05 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Thursday, January 04, 2007
The winds have returned. According to the weather last night, the storm system that dropped Denver to its knees about a week ago has finally hit us here in London. The main affect has been the wind, but there was a fair bit of rain as the storm front passed. Yesterday at lunch I noticed that the tables on the dock on the river-front of Ye Olde Swann were up to their seats in water. The flood surge passed quickly and the top of the dock is dry again.
I am getting quite the workout riding anywhere these days, however, as it seems gale force winds are blowing into my face regardless of where I am riding and in which direction! It is a special treat to ride with Saga's trailer which acts like a sail! Oh well, it is sure to be an exciting time whenever one takes to the roads in London!
I hope wherever you are today, the wind is at your back and you're pedaling towards home!
Don Bergquist - 04 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Funny how easy it is to keep ones resolutions when one has no choice in the matter. But can it really be called holding to ones resolve when one's actions are impressed upon them? I have put on my ten-miles per day for the New Year!
Of course, most of that has been just getting to and from Elaine's to care for her place and her dog. Oh well. I have been making it into the office at nearly the time I usually would. I've been showing-up at 06:30 instead of 06:00 but still that is not bad.
This morning, I was able to spend a little extra time with Saga as I had live batteries in my mobile and so had an alarm clock. I am now sitting in the lounge at The Villa and am getting this posted before taking off for the office. They are calling for rain this afternoon.
Oh well, it is winter in England, what can I expect. I hope that wherever you are today, nothing can dampen your spirits.
Don Bergquist - 03 January 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
My liver is going to thank me that the party season is over. This will, by needs be short. I have been watching the house and dog of a friend of mine for a few days this weekend and for the first couple weeks of the New Year; I'll be heading over here each evening after feeding and playing a bit with Saga and then doing the same for Daisy.
Each morning, I'll be getting-up early, taking care of Daisy, heading back to The Villa in Thames Ditton, showering and getting ready for work and then heading into the office. I hope to be able to do all this and get into the office around the time I would normally have been in anyway.
Tolworth is just one village over. (From Thames Ditton, I just have to cross Long Ditton and I am in Tolworth.) So really, it just forces me to ride an extra four miles each morning and evening. Which, since it is one of my resolutions anyway to ride my bike more, is not a bad thing.
But as I failed to wake-up because my mobile is dead this morning (the battery ran dead last night some time) and it also serves as my alarm clock, I'd best wrap this up and get back to the office.
I hope wherever you are today, you are starting the New Year off on the right foot!
Don Bergquist - 02 January 2007 - Tolworth, Surrey, UK
Monday, January 01, 2007
At 19:30 last night I was sitting at the kitchen counter working on some paperwork I had allowed to stack-up over the holidays. I had a cab reserved for 20:15. The party was to start at 20:00 so I figured that if I left here about fifteen minutes after it started, arrived late by about half-an-hour, I would not be the first one but would be there early enough that if Lucy and Phil needed anything done at the last minute (run for ice, whatever) I was there to help.
Three bottles of red wine sat in the carrier on the counter, three bottles of white sat cooling in the 'fridge and a couple bottles of Champaign (or as they refer to it here: "Fizz") cooling with them. So when the cab arrived nearly half an hour early, I was still doing paperwork and grabbed my coat and headed out with him. I was two blocks from the house when I remembered the mobile phone (which I almost immediately discovered was in my pocket after-all). We were in the street that my friends live in when I remembered the wine! I was empty-handed when I rang the bell at 20:00.
The food was excellent! Lucy arranged for Phil to make a Boeuf Bourguignon. (We kidded Lucy all night about how wonderful the stew was. It is a joke because Lucy admits that she is no cook!) There was also a huge roast turkey and a ham. The trimmings were all there as well! Terry and Angie had helped by making sprouts and mashed potatoes.
There was food and wine a plenty. There were an assortment of beers and there was fizz! At midnight, we all went out the back garden (those of us who fit into the garden) or into the solarium and watched the fireworks being lit off. It was a really good party.
I feel honored to have made such good friends here in London. I really enjoy the time I get to spend with them. But this week and next I am watching a dog for a friend of mine so I called for a cab to collect me at 02:00. (The mini-cab service here is excellent and reasonably priced as compared to the London Black cabs that everyone thinks of when you say "London Taxi" to almost anyone back in the states.) But last night being New Year's Eve and having a bit of a brisk business, I had to wait until nearly 03:00 for the cab to arrive.
I took a short nap to refresh myself, fed Saga, played with her for a while so that she knew I still loved her and was riding to Elaine's in Tolworth to look after Daisy by 06:00.
Around lunchtime, I returned to The Villa to collect Saga and her trailer and ride down to the pub. My gang was to collect at The King's Arms around 14:00. Not surprisingly, it was closer to 15:30 when the party reconvened at the big table between the bar and the radiator. Stories of last night's debauchery were swapped. (Not that there was any debauchery, mind you!)
It has been a long day! Saga and I headed home around 18:00 and I was back in Tolworth an hour later. I'm writing this before I go to bed. It's time for a long winter's nap. What a wonderful way to start the New Year!
I hope wherever you are, your year ended, and the new one began in the company of your friends and family.
Don Bergquist - 01 January 2007 - Tolworth, Surrey, UK