Monday, 29 December 2008
Santa was good to me this year. He brought me the most awesome adventure! Steve (my brother-in-law) and I each had an envelope. Apparently Dad'd had to tell Lois about it, so she didn't get to open the present. Inside the envelopes were 2 pieces of paper that had been cut up into puzzles, then mixed together. So Steve and I spent 5 or so minutes figuring out what the photo in the puzzle was. It was someone snowmobiling in front of Old Faithful. So I guessed, 'We're going snowmobiling through Yellowstone?' And my folks said, 'Yes!' Oooooh boy! I was excited!! My folks live about 2 hours from the Montana side of Yellowstone. Unfortunately, the snowmobiling only leaves from West Yellowstone, which is the other side. A 5 hour drvie away. So as soon as we could get cleaned up and ready, we jumped in Jeeves (the Jeep) and headed out.
The drive over was kind of fun. We saw hundreds of dear and antelope grazing on the field stubble. We saw a few buffalo, too. And loads of hawks, and even one bald eagle. But when it got dark, we realised we were driving into a storm. It took us quite a bit longer to drive what ought to have been the last hour. It was snowing pretty hard. But that was ok, because it meant we'd have fresh snow for the morning's adventure. And they definitely had plenty of snow in West Yellowstone when we arrived. (Our 'parking space' at the hotel. When I jumped out of Jeeves, I was thigh deep in snow.)
Turns out, they'd not had any snow, all winter, then all the sudden last week, wham -- 26 inches in one night. But it'd been so cold (20 F was the high when we were there, and it hit 0 F just as we were leaving to go back to Billings, with a low of -13 F. That's -7 C to -13 C and the low was -25 C. Cold.) that the snow was too dry to compact. So when the park services would come through with the grooming machines on the trails, the snow wouldn't compact down. That meant that when the big 'Snowcoaches' (vans with snowmobile treads for wheels) came through, they tore up the trails, leaving big gullies and hashed snow behind. Made for hard work keeping things on the straight and narrow. But it was seriously good fun. We started out around 9.00 am (we arrived to the shop at 8.00, but it takes a while to get suited up) and got back just a bit before 5.00 pm. So, it's quite a long day. You go out to Old Faithful (30 miles from West Yellowstone), watch the eruption, have lunch, and come back to West Yellowstone. I know that doesn't sound like much, but along the way you stop and see hot springs, geysers, mud pots and hopefully a few animals. We didn't see as many animals as we'd hoped to, but it was still fun! And exhausting. By the time we got back to West Yellowstone, we were shattered. The cold is so draining. Poor Lois said she'd never really been warm enough the whole day. The rest of us had been fine, up until the last hour, or so. Dad was warm the whole time. Lois was really suffering on the last hour. We popped her in the front seat of Jeeves and turned on the seat heater and the regular heat full blast. Even still, it wasn't 'til we were most of the way home that she (well, all of us, really) finally actually warmed up. But it was worth the cold. At one point as we were zooming along the snow I remember thinking, 'Thank Goodness Mom and Dad moved away from Mississippi.' It isn't that there's nothing to do in Mississippi, because there's loads. But the problem is, it's either too hot, or not warm enough to enjoy most of it! And, of course, I like snow. I know. The rest of the world thinks I'm absolutely insane. But I do. I like shoveling it. I like driving in it. I like playing in it. I like looking at it. I like snow. And I'd really missed it since moving to England and my folks moving to Mississippi. But now that they're back North, I'll get to play in it again! Yeay!!
We got home around 10.00 pm, which was really pretty quick. We'd had to go kind of carefully the first half, because all that snow had turned to ice on the roads. But we still made it in a little under 5 hours. We were really glad to get home and out of the Jeep, though! And especially glad to get into bed. It was a really long, tiring day. But so much fun. This is one of the highlights of my life!
Monday, 22 December 2008
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
. . . Of course, that might have had something to do with the insane hours that I was keeping up till I flew out.
My friend kindly offered his flat in London as a jump-off point for the airport Monday morning. He said we (I was traveling with Sara, the American student at Essex) could come in and stay the night on his sofa, and he'd help us get on the train/coach to our respective airports. So we said yes. Of course, the real reason he wanted us (well, me) to come in was because there's a monthly Blues night in London that happened to be the night before we flew off. So we said yes, and had an absolute ball dancing the Blues. Blues is a type of Swing Dance, really slow. It's all about smooth, careful movements, punctuated by quick, sharp steps. Really fun. Got 5 months worth of dancing with my friends done in one night! But it meant we didn't get to bed til sometime after 3 in the morning. And that was after 20 minutes of sleep the night before. I must seriously be insane. Fortunately, I didn't have to be up til 8.30. Yeay. "Sleeping in". But it was such a fabulous night of dancing. I'm really glad I didn't miss it.
Of course, nothing ever goes completely according to plan. I had to dash through the Detroit, Michigan airport. Customs took absolute ages. And the baggage didn't come for yonks. I was exhausted and had a headache, and was literally running through the airport in my socks! And then, when I got to the Minneapolis, Minnesota airport, I had time to get food, but I didn't have any money! I had absolutely 0 USDolars! So, that meant by the time I got to Billings, Montana (10.30 pm) I was starving. And still had a headache. And it was freezing. And as far as my body knew, it was 6.30 in the morning! Yeah, the 3rd all nighter in one week! Glutton for punishment, I guess. Oh, and Mom and Dad got confused. They thought my flight didn't come in till 11.30. So I got to the airport, collected my bags... and still no one there. I waited around a while, and no one showed. Now, I don't have any money (remember?), and my UK mobile phone was not able to get a signal, so I didn't have any way of calling. I tried calling collect, but the phone was doing something weird. Mom'd answer and then it would disconnect. So I finally went around to the car rental desks and talked to the staff at Hertz, and begged to be allowed to use their phone. Since it was local, they said fine. So I called, and Mom's like . . . What are you doing here? I'm like, umm... Waiting? So they came and collected me, and I finally got to go home. But it was COLD waiting for them! -18 F! Yep. That's cold. I walked outside and nearly coughed up a lung. The poor lungs said, 'Aaaah! What is this?!? Get it out!' It's cold.
Anyway, I'm at my folks. My suitcase arrived with me, for a change. And I'm doing a bit of recovery from the term. It's nice. Really nice.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
I'd love to say, 'Off to bed, now'. . . but I'm not. Going to do some more cleaning/tidying. *sigh*
Monday, 8 December 2008
Sunday, 7 December 2008
Friday, 5 December 2008
Here's the video of the lighting. The man speaking is the Mayor of Oslo. (Sorry the video is sideways. I forgot that if you turn the camera, it takes the video sideways. Ooops.)
Sunday, 30 November 2008
- I'm not teaching at multiple Universities. Only one. Only one. (Forgive me for that Cosby misquote.) Not having to deal with several Unies, and only having to travel to one is much easier. Even if I have to re-learn all the protocols and red tape.
- No PhD requirements! I'm not responsible for getting anything done on my PhD whilst I'm in the States. Yeay! Trying to teach a full term and do a full time PhD has been killer.
- No Church Calling. Well, I don't think, any way. I'm only going to be there for a couple of months. I guess they could give me a calling, but I don't really think they will. And if they do, it won't be 1st Counselor in the Young Women's. Don't get me wrong. I love my girls. And I've never been so happy as I have been working with them. But all 3 of those at the same time is pretty overwhelming. When I get back to the UK I expect to get a calling again. Maybe even quite a labour intensive one, but I won't be teaching at two Unis! I refuse!!!
Sunday, 23 November 2008
But that, as impressive as it is, isn't the reason it's a day for the History Books. The BBC actually got the weather prediction right! They predicted lots of snow for Sunday way back on Friday! I'm in shock. Generally speaking, if the weathermen say 'sun', I bring an umbrella.
Another kind of funny side note. In Sunday School we were talking about the signs of the times, including an increase in disasters, weather out of season and severe weather. Someone in the class said, 'Yeah, just look at today's snow.' Ummm..... It's November. Late November. Snow accumulation of 2 inches does not count as a disaster. It isn't even severe weather, and a bit of snow in November certainly isn't out of season.... England is clearly not at all used to snow. Which is silly, considering they're roughly on the same latitude (London: 51.32 N) as Germany (Berlin: 52.30 N) and Russia (Moscow: 55.45 N)!
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
My back bumper did an amazing job. No injuries. No paint chipped, nor even a crack. No damage at all. But it still was not a happy sound! Not a fun way to end my eveing.
Monday, 3 November 2008
There's a lovely American uni student who's in my Ward (church congregation) attending Essex. She's only here for one term, which is just not long enough! So, after several chats about places she wanted to visit, or types of places she wanted to visit, I said I'd take her to Leeds Castle (which is near Maidstone, Kent... not Leeds, Yorkshire!), Dover Castle and Stonehenge this weekend.
So, Friday, after I finished teaching my class, I picked her up and we ran down to Leeds Castle. It has the most amazing Maze, ever. We played in the grounds, then got lost in the maze, and only left when they kicked us out at closing. Then we drove a bit further South, to Dover.
We stayed overnight in a town near Dover, called Margate. We had a lovely little hostess who took great care of us. She sent us to this amazing Indian food place, the Indian Princess. It was truly fantastic. They took our coats, then gave us glasses of Chardonnay (which we passed along to the gentlemen at the next table) and a couple of bites of an appetizer. Then we ordered an appetizer and our main meals. They were all marvelous. After the main dish, they brought over these interesting little slushy/sorbet things to clean our palates. They were ever so slightly peachy . . . and had pop-rocks on the top! Sounds bazaar, but was actually fantastic. We finished off with these amazing sweets. I had an ever so slightly rose flavoured vanilla creme brulee. Truly great stuff.
Saturday morning we headed up to Dover Castle, which is one of my favourite paces in the whole of the UK. It has so much fun history. There are the Medieval Tunnels, the Castle built by Henry II (1180's), Napoleonic War Era Tunnels, and Secret WWII Tunnels. Loads of great stuff. Only thing was.... it POURED the whole day. We looked like drowned rats. We were so wet, we kept the windows fogged the whole way home!
Sunday morning we went to church as usual. I have too many responsibilities to skive off very many weeks in a row. And I had to teach the Young Women lesson. So we drove home Saturday night, stayed at mine, went to church Sunday, and then went off to the SouthWest. We stayed over night at this wonderful little B&B. The couple was very sweet and attentive. They took great care of us, and brought our breakfast to our room (there was a lovely breakfast nook in the corner) this morning.
After our wonderful 'Full English Breakfast', we scooted over to Stonehenge. Now, Stonehenge is cool, but it's not something you really need to spend hours looking at. So we took a photo, and headed North. We ended up at Stratford-upon-Avon (you have to specify which one you are talking about. There are several.) So, we stopped off at Shakespeare's Birthplace (which was 'restored' in the 19th Century.... so it's not necessarily particularly accurate!) Then we went over to Anne Hathaway's house (his wife). But neither of those things took too long, so we zipped over to Warwick Castle, only 10 miles away. It's owned by the Madam Tussauds Company, so the displays are truly amazing.
When they finally kicked us out, we jumped back in the car and came home. It's been a long, fun weekend, but it's time to pay the piper. It's going to be a long week!
Friday, 24 October 2008
Therefore, anyone looking to hear from me is going to be disapointed until at least Monday. But, as I'm not coming home til after dancing Monday night, there's probably not going to much of a chance for me to do anything until Tuesday. And even then, I'm probably not going to be too coherent until sometime Tuesday afternoon . . . or maybe even Wednesday! Enjoy your weekend!
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Sunday, 5 October 2008
I sent a letter of complaint (allong with the proof that they had unjustly inflicted a £50 penalty fee) requesting that they improve their staff training, appologise to me, and pay me the £50 that they tried to extract from me. (I don't really expect to receive the £50, but it gives me room to bargon with to get the postage I had to pay to send the proof of having been wrongly accused via registard post. £10.50! For the cheap rate!!)
Sunday, 28 September 2008
I know several of you pass by the blog on occasion. Just letting you know, you've still got a special piece of my heart.
Saturday, 27 September 2008
- Buying local
- Recycling paper, glass, aluminum and food/garden scraps
- Sending things to charity shops, not the tip
- Walking to town instead of driving
- Keeping my thermostat a little lower and using a jumper to keep warm
- Using eco-friendly detergents
- Not using my dryer (as much)
- Compact florescent light bulbs everywhere
There are definitely other areas I can improve, and that's something I'm going to continue to work on. However, I'm pleased with the steps I've taken so far. And yesterday, I took another step: I bought a bike! I'm going to be commuting into London every Monday. The train station is only a mile away, and I hate to drive down. It seems silly to pay to park all day, when it's only a mile. And on top of that, I feel guilty driving less than 2 miles. But, I simply have too much to get done to spend loads of time walking places. So - the bike is to help me gain back some of the commute time, whilst not giving up the ecologically minded transport. And on top of that? I'll get a few minutes of exercise in, every time I use it! And boy do I need that. I went out today on my maiden voyage (I was trying to remember the last time I used a bike. I think it was when I broke my hand. That was some 10 years ago!) and discovered that the hill I live on is not nearly as gentle as I always thought it was! I nearly died getting back up it. Good thing I have a couple days to recover before I have to attempt it again.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
The rules are: pick 7 blogs you stock that you'd like to send a bit of love to. So my 7 picks (oh this is hard) are:
- Coila's It's My Life
- Heather's Litter of Leaves (these two -- Coi's and Heather's -- are what started me blogging)
- Miss Meg's Cupcake Chowder (LOVE LOVE LOVE the quirky nature of her topics!)
- Mithi's Creative Journey (This woman has talent streaming out of her fingertips, toes, ears . . . everything!)
- Mark's Roaming Cavetroll (not exactly a blog, but might as well be!)
- Melissa's Snyder Family (Oh by the way, I'm having log in issues. Can you resend me an invite, to my google account? Thanks!)
- Hyrum's Hyacynth Mills
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Monday, 22 September 2008
The class arrived. Some 18 of them. Filled the (very small) room. I've been told there will be some 10 more by next Monday. That means? I'm going to need a bigger classroom!
I have a 2 hour block. The problem is? The first day of class, there isn't much to say. However, I managed to spend an hour telling them my name, what my area of research is, where I'm from, what the class will cover, that they'll have a midterm, a final, and a group project. Oh . . . and that they have to memorize all 50 states. No, really. Yes, that's what I said. Because I said so. Yes, it counts towards your grade. No, it's not a joke. It's only 50 names! Shut up now, or I'll make you memorize all the capitals -- and match them up with their State!
I'm really looking forward to next week when we can start talking about the meat of the subject! :D
Thursday, 18 September 2008
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Sunday, 14 September 2008
The other day I was thinking about my mission, and how it's actually quite a brave thing we do, in this day and age. We go around, knocking on random strangers doors. They don't know us. We don't know them. Then . . . we actually walk into their homes!! We have no idea what kind of person this is. It could be some crazy needlepoint hording cat killer. And yet, it happens every day! And nearly 100% of the time, there's no problem. (Of course, those people are doing a brave thing by inviting two random strangers in off the street, too. But as I'm on the invitee not inviter list, obviously the dangers of going into a random stranger's house were those which jumped out at me first.) Well . . . here's a story of when a visit didn't go quite as planned. It's not a missionary visit, it's an Elders Quarum visit. (For those of you who don't know, the Elder's Quarum is the men's association for our church. This story is about two men from my church going to visit a family who'd stopped coming to church. Finding out if they needed anything, and inviting them to come back to church.)
The Mormons Meet the Metro Narcotics Unit
By Daryl Zadok Budd, Clearfield , Utah
The Elders Quorum President and I were visiting some lost souls, when they were found by the long arm of the law. As we were preparing to say the closing prayer at the conclusion of our visit we heard someone pounding on the door and yelling, 'It's the police! Open the door!' I thought, 'Oh, that old joke.' Then there was more pounding, 'It's the police! We have a search warrant!' Before this lady's boyfriend made it to the door to open it the police opened the door for him. Into the house stormed ten police officers dressed from head to toe in black body armor.
Each gentleman had a submachine gun. When I saw the door burst open, read the word POLICE across the first officers Kevlar vest and saw the large gun that he had I thought, 'This is going to make a great story.' The Officer only got to 'Get on the...' and I was face down on the carpet with my hands above my head in full view. 'Get down on the ground!' The friendly officer again shouted at the President. The only trouble the President had was that the room was very small and had a coffee table in the center of it. There was no available space remaining on the floor, as the rest of us had already 'hit the deck.' There was no room left in the Inn , if you know what I mean.
The Elders Quorum President, therefore, made the mistake of standing up from where he was sitting on the couch and trying to explain who we were. The kind officers did not seem to like this action and one very large officer stepped toward the President who then found himself looking directly into the muzzle of the gun with a bright light shining in his eyes. As the officer placed his finger over the trigger and shouted, 'I said get on the ground!!' the president decided to do so. As there was nowhere else to go, he laid on top of me, his first councilor. I never thought I would need to 'support the President' like that I assure you. I really felt the 'weight of my calling.' We were instructed not to move or speak which was difficult to say the least as I had eaten a little too much for supper and the President is not exactly a small man. After a time the President whispered, 'Are you O.K. down there?' I didn't dare answer. But a few seconds later the humor of the whole situation hit me full force and I started laughing, silently mind you, which made my body shake and the President being on top of me was well aware that I was laughing and thought, 'What in the world could he possibly be laughing at?'
After they got done handcuffing the two closest to us they were ready for us. 'Stand up and keep your hands above your head!' We arose and the officers searched us for weapons. The heroic officers did a much more extensive search of the President's person due to his earlier, 'Non-compliance' 'Who are you?!' asked the large officer who had gently persuaded the President to get down on the floor. 'We are the Elders Quorum Presidency from a local Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,' replied* the President in one breath.
The officers looked at each other and their weapons lowered a little bit. 'Do you have any church I.D.?' One officer asked. They gave us back our wallets and we showed them our Temple Recommends and Drivers licenses. Big smiles came onto their faces and they soon escorted us out to our car, wished us a good night and allowed us to drive away with a great story to tell.
I knew that my Temple Recommend could help me get into the Lord's house but I never dreamed it could help me avoid going to the 'Big house.' This time the lost sheep that we were hoping to bring back to the fold sadly ended up going to a different pen.
Daryl Zadok Budd
*Can I just note in passing -- It's a really good thing that this (supposedly) took place in Utah where the statement 'We're the Elders Quorum Presidency from the local Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' actually makes sense? Try that in most other places in the world and you would first have to explain that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same group as the Mormons, that we're not actually a devil worshiping cult and that we are Christian (Hello??? Anyone note the name????). Then you'd have to explain what the 'Elders Quorum' is, and how that gives you a reason for being in this person's home!
Monday, 8 September 2008
Fortunately the email contained a clue as to where this was all coming from. The head of the Sociolinguistics Scheme here at Essex, Dave Britain, had put my name forward as being a good person to ask. Now, you have to understand. This is the second time I've had a nearly unbelievable job offer arrive, fully formed, into my inbox. How is it possible? Most people don't get to teach at more than one University during their PhD. And here I've been offered 3?!? So, I emailed back saying I was very flattered that I was being asked, but I needed to find out what my teaching schedule at Essex was, and speak with my advisor, as well. So this morning, I rang Rebecca (my advisor). Filled her in on my offer. She was thrilled about the opportunity. Then I went and spoke to my boss (for my teaching position at the Uni) who told me that I'll be teaching Wednesday/Thursday this term, thus leaving me free to my own devices on Monday. So I went back to Rebecca's office to discuss it a bit further. End result: I decided to accept the offer. I reiterate: I must be insane.
So, my schedule this term: Mondays -- Two hour lecture at QM, probably an office hour there. Tuesdays -- LOTS OF RESEARCH ON MY PhD!! and then Young Women's in the evenings. Wednesday -- more research on my PhD and attend the lecture for my Essex class. Thursday -- 2 classes of Essex classes, Data Session (Research Group) with Rebecca, Essex Office Hour. Friday -- back to research for my PhD. Oh -- and in there somewhere I'll have to prepare 3 classes of teaching. Plus my church responsibilities. Ha ha ha. I'm reminded of a song: Who Needs Sleep? That's so my theme song for this next 3 months.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Friday, 5 September 2008
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Then I hit university. And just in time for the Swing Revival! I took ballroom classes, and loved them, but my heart belonged to the Lindy Hop! It's the child of the Charleston and Swing Music, originating in the Savoy Ballroom, in Harlem, NYC in 1929. By the 1940's it was hugely popular, and the American Service Men brought it over to Europe during the Second World War. It's this style Swing Dance that I do.
Only, I haven't been doing it! When I was at BYU it was easy. They have a swing club where I learned and danced multiple times/week by my last year. When I lived in London, I still danced at least once/week. And in Sheffield, it was a little less frequent, but still every couple weeks. Since moving to Colchester, though, I've been hard pressed to do much of anything. There's no club out here, so I have to travel, which is expensive. It also means I get home late, and most of the good dance nights are week nights! So I don't go very often. In fact, I got a new pair of dance shoes for Christmas (I was bruising my toe nails in the old pair!) and by the last week in August, I hadn't used them once!
No more!!!! I refuse to live like this. I went dancing on Friday. It was fabulous. Really great venue. Small group, but very friendly. I was dancing the whole night. So much, in fact, that half way through my 6th back-to-back dance I had to beg to stop. I couldn't breathe. And I'm going again next Friday. I'm also going to start attending the Cambridge dances on Monday nights. It's about the same distance, but I can drive there, so I'm in no danger of missing my last train home and don't have to stress.
So, the upshot: My life 'don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!' See you on the dance floor!