Sunday

I have moved .

Kinuk has a new home and is now being powered by Movable Type. Reading Room is staying right where it is. There is much work still to be done on Kinuk, but I'll get there eventually. Please update all your links, bookmarks and blogrolls. See you over there!

Wednesday

Kapuscinski, Part III*

I have finally finished Ryszard Kapuscinski's Lapidaria. The book took a while to read because it was so very interesting and intense. I've managed to gather up a large number of quotes, so I will post them from time to time so not to bore you. His reflections on literature, politics, poverty and history are fascinating. I hope you'll enjoy the quotes (when I find the time to post them).

*Part I and II are to be found earlier, untitled, but the archives are on the fritz again, so I can't point to them.

Is it Friday yet?

Today was a day that I don't want to repeat for a long time to come. The Internet at school wasn't working and I needed it for various projects. Then, the telephones went weird for a while, so I couldn't ring to find out about train tickets for groups. Next Friday, I am taking 48 students and 4 other staff members to Cambridge for Activities' Day. So, when I finally did get through to the railway of our region, what did I find out? They may not have the facilities to take us. So, politely, I ask if it's possible for them to attach another carriage for the 53 of us. She says that they don't have any extra carriages.

Have I mentioned before how much I love the rail service in this country?

Finally, after much begging and pleading she agrees to sell me the tickets but also tells me that we will probably have to stand. Fine. I am so looking forward to a Friday where 48 kids and 5 staff have to stand for nearly an hour on a packed train. I just hope it's a nice day and not rainy.

Afternoon arrives and the kids in the library (where I do my lunch duty on Wednesday) are mental. And how. Books getting shoved off. Kids running around chucking things at each other. I ask them to leave, they sneak back in. Walking through the detectors with books under their shirts, so that the sensors go off. Kids going out through the emergency exit. I was knackered and ready to call it a day by 1:50 when the duty finished.

Lesson five was a nightmare and my lovely, but noisy year 9s decided that today was going to be hell day and would not stop talking. At all. Lesson six was painful, but only midly so because I showed the kids a video they've already watched. Nothing annoys kids more than watching the same science video twice. This from a group of people who ask me the same question at least three times within a 50-minute period.

Then, I come home to a harsh note from the painters, who are painting the window frames and doors telling me off for shutting my windows. How silly of me to shut my windows. I mean, how dare I close my windows and not get burgled. I've been such a fool.

To top it all off I've come home to find that the house we've not yet bought needs a bit of drainage replaced and the plumber/drainage specialist needs credit card details asap.

I should have stayed in bed this morning and not gone out of the house.

Monday

Those who can, teach

That's the tagline of an advert for the TTA. Five months ago I would have laughed at that tagline. The advert annoyed me and I switched the channels if it came on the telly. Five months ago I was ready to quit teaching, never look back, pack up my OHT sheets and stacks of diagrams and leave the profession.

A few things have changed in five months.

One of my year 11s (currently on study leave) came to see me today to give me a card. A thank you card. It was a wonderful gesture that nearly brought me to tears. Kids don't usually say Thanks to their teachers and nobody expects thanks. So, a little gesture like that means the world to a secondary school teacher.

The last five months have been fruitful. I've made steady, but slow progress with a few students who used to give me trouble. I say used to because they don't really anymore. I've managed to build relationships with them and we've moved forward. They're responsive and they even help out to keep some of the others quiet. It's progress that I wasn't expecting. From October to February, I felt like I was banging my head against the wall. Nothing was working. The kids were loud, disruptive, rude, uninterested and disconnected. The winter was long and dark and miserable. I felt exhausted and hopeless and I knew that there must be a better job out there for me. Any progress made was diminished by another catastrophy. It was crap.

When we came back from Poland in February, we knew that we had to stay in the UK for at least another year. And, almost at the same time, I began to see progress. I don't know what happened, whether it was my perseverance paying off or the kids getting tired of their games, but things began improving. Yes, it's not perfect and there are kids still misbehaving and disconnecting. The exam results for yr. 10 were crap, but they always are. The yr. 11s didn't want to revise, but who can blame them. I didn't want to revise either. But somehow, it all felt better.

Student A, chair thrower and "I'm not fucking doing this shit"-er is now asking questions, contributing to lessons, telling Student B and C to "shut up, Miss is talking". He still can't spell photosynthesis, but at least he seems to know that it needs light and water and carbon dioxide. Progress. Student D, the leader of "I'm not doing this, I don't understand, I don't want to read, I'm too thick, this is too hard" after a minute of face-to-face chats and patient explanations spends the rest of the lessons merrily doing the work set. Student E, Miss "I'm too busy checking my make-up", finished the coursework before anyone else and is beginning to pick her pen up and actually writes down some notes. It's amazing.

I wonder what they're up to.

I'm not naive. Next year isn't going to be any easier. But I guess if I persevere, I can get somewhere. If I treat them like human beings and offer tonnes and mountains of positive encouragement it might just work(even if it's just Hey, well done! You wrote the date down and the title correctly! Keep going, you're doing well!).

I guess I'll do this again next year. It's not so bad. Besides, the holidays are amazing.

Friday

I want to take pretty pictures of you

I want a digital camera. I have wanted one for a year now and some of the marking money will be earmarked to buy one (the rest is going towards the wedding). I know I want 2 Megapixels and up and I want optical zoom as well. I'd like a camera with flash (indoor photos and nightime ones, too) and with rechargeable batteries. But I don't know what model to decide on. I can't really afford to spend more than a couple hundred pounds, which I know doesn't buy much.

I'm doing some research on it, but I still don't know which one to get. Any suggestions?

Wednesday

No, I am not an outside person

Ally's comment about loving the outside made me think that I'm not really much of an outside person. When we lived together, Ally would spend every possible moment outside. She had a lovely lawn chair with feet supports and she spend hours in that chair sunning herself. At first, she spend her time on the balcony over the front of the house. But, eventually, the nosey landlady (who lived downstairs...I know, I know, never again will I live with a landlord/lady in the same building) got on her last nerves. So, she moved to the back of the house, to the large, grassy hill with lots of trees. For hours and hours she'd sit there reading, listening to music and relaxing in the sun.

My approach to the sun is a bit more cautious. Being fair-skinned and freckled, I've had a peely nose more than once in my life. As a child, I did spend large amounts of time outside because that's just what children should do. When I got older (and possibly when we moved to Canada), outside wasn't a place I wanted to be in. As Ally sunned herself, I stayed indoors usually only opening the doors to yell something to her one in a while. I would sit in front of my laptop (later stolen, but that's another story) and the television, listening to music while surfing, playing games (which I don't do anymore really) and writing emails.

When I did venture outside, it was usually close to the house and with my laptop firmly planted in my lap. Extension cords and all. If not attached to my laptop (hey, other people in the house wanted to write emails, too), I would read.

I was thinking about that last night before I fell asleep and I wondered just why many of my family and friends prefer to be outside. When I visit my parents back in Canada in the summer, they spend hours every evening outside. It's a struggle to get me outside to sit in the backyard. I'd rather be curled up on the sofa reading or in front of the computer. I just don't like it as much.

Is it odd?

Tuesday

Busy marking

The title says just what it should. I'm busy marking. Yesterday I found myself quite cranky at the thought of the third day of non-blogging, so this morning I'll try to get it out of my system.

  • Thanks to all those who commented on my screen door...well, not my screen door since I don't have one. I like to read your comments, so feel free to leave some.
  • On Saturday I went to the standardisation meeting in London. The trains were running smoothly and I arrived on time, which is a success. On my way to the centre, I stopped by a newsagent and picked up Friday's edition of the Gazeta Wyborcza, which made me very happy. I love reading Gazeta online, but there is something special about being able to read the actual paper. I read all of the sections, including economy and finance. The day went smoothly and we finished earlier than expected, which is a good thing.
  • On Saturday and Sunday, we had guests: N's friend Dan and his girlfriend Sue. We had a lovely time with them, even though Sue broke our toilet and I then made it worse. It's always good to see Dan and his girlfriend is very nice, as well, so good times were had by all.
  • I've not read my favourite blogs and sites since Friday. Slightly worried about what I'm missing. I'll try to catch up this weekend.
  • Overheard on Have I Got News For You:
    Q: Do you think they'll find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq?
    A: Yes, because the US are sending in their own weapons' inspectors.
    Unfortunately, this was the last episode of HIGNFY this season. I will miss it and can't wait until it starts up again.
  • Tonight, on BBC2, What the World Thinks of America, a show made especially for me. I will be tuning in, marking be dammned.
  • I suppose you all want an update on my marking, eh? No? Well, here it is anyhow: have marked about 200 papers out of the 1300 alocated to me. Yes, there is more to be done.
  • And lastly, I am having very vivid dreams lately and all of them are set in either Poland or Japan. The dreams are really clear and really bright and I find myself walking down the streets and going into the places that I used to do when I lived there. It just increases my desire to go back there again. I've not been in Poland since February and it feels like forever. I've not been in Japan since 1999 and that is forever. I did open my Japanese textbook on Friday and found it shocking. Shocking just how much I've forgotten. I mean, I had troubles with the numbers above (and sometimes below) 20! It was very humbling. I will get stuck into Japanese as soon as I'm done with marking.

Friday

Screen door

When I was a little girl, I used to imagine what America must be like. When I listened to many of the adults around me, they spoke of America as if it was the land of dreams where everything was possible. The scenes in my mind were composed of bits that I saw in films and on television. They won't mean much to you, but I think of them sometimes.

The one thing that is everpresent across the North American continent was never found in my imaginations: the screen door.

The screen door can be found on pretty much every house in every town and city in Canada and in the US. They don't have screen doors in the UK and they surely don't have them in Poland or Japan.

The screen door is a wonderful invention. In the winter, they form an extra barrier between you and the outside (in Canada, bloody freezing weather). In the summer, they are a Godsend. You can lock them from the inside, open the inner door and have fresh summer air in the house. It's like letting the outside in without going outside. The top part of the screen door is a fine mesh screen and this keeps out mozzies, flies, bees and other flying buggies wanting to get inside. The bottom part can be made of wood, metal, pvc or glass. If you have a back door as well as a front one, you can open both inner doors, lock the storm doors and let the air move quietly through your house. This is especially lovely in the evening, with its warm, fresh air.

There are times like today, when it is warm and sunny and I wish I had a screen door. That way, I could smell the summer, sunny day while enjoying the comforts of the inside.

P.S. Canadian and US windows also have screens in them. They do a fine job of keeping out the mosquitoes and I wonder why the screen window has not caught on in the UK or across Europe.

Canada's making progress

In a landmark decision, Ontario's highest court Tuesday upheld a lower court decision to legally allow same-sex marriages.

"The existing common law definition of marriage violates the couple's equality rights on the basis of sexual orientation under (the charter)," read the 61-page decision.

Source: CBC News.

In a poll I read earlier this week (and cannot find a the moment), the majority of Canadians across the country suppor the legalisation of gay marriages. The only provinces where the majority felt otherwise were Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The Canadian government must now decide whether to formally legalise gay marriages across the country, which it's not eager to do.

Thursday

Jason of X-tra Rant made an excellent post last night. He ran through the "achievements" of George W. Bush. A highlight:

The Environment: To Bush a "Clear Skies" act means loosening environmental regulations. Solving our dependence on Middle Eastern Oil doesn't mean pushing with all our might for alternative fuels - it means drilling for a little bit of oil in a beautiful Alaskan wilderness. Keeping our national parks beautiful means opening places like Yellowstone up to more and more automobile and snowmobile traffic. To Bush, the American environment should be like that of Texas - bad and unregulated.
You must read the whole thing. It's very good.

I've gotten stuck into the marking. I've got to mark 743 exam papers, but they're Biology only, so it should be alright. I've got a standardisation meeting this weekend, where we'll tweak the marking scheme and when I come back I'll get marking in earnest. I found an interesting answer last night to a question on lungs:
Q: What is the function of mucus in the lungs?
A: To help you go on and on and on and on and to never, ever give up.

That's a lot to expect out of gobby, slimy stuff! smilie

Best marking music so far? Justin Timberlake (oh, how I've resisted, but cannot do no more. Plus, it makes me hip with all the kids at school. So sue me.), Nelly, Myslovitz (polish band), REM, Badly Drawn Boy, Coldplay and general Polish music to which I grew up.

Btw, before y'all start emailin' me askin' what the mucus actually does: helps exchange of gases (gases--oxygen and carbon dioxide-- dissolve in the mucus and this facilitates their exchange) and catches bacteria and prevents them from entering the bloodstream through the lungs.

I knew you'd all want to know that!

Wednesday

House news, house news.

They've accepted our offer on the house.* Yipee!

*Subject to contract, surveyor's report and many other magical factors. This is our third offer accepted on the third house of our dreams. So, I'm still reluctant to celebrate. It's not over 'till the keys are in my hands. But, otherwise, HURRAH!

Pam, of Pam's Blog fame, posted a link to So You Want To Learn Japanese . This is a hillarious piece, especially to those who've tried to learn Japanese before. And it made me think about my progress in the area of learning Japanese.

There is none.

I last opened my Japanese textbook well before Christmas. I always have the best intentions and I want to learn Japanese, but I just don't do anything about it. I'll wax romantically about learning Japanese and how lucky those who speak it are, but I will not do very much to actually learn it. Worse, the longer I leave it, the more I forget and the worse my Japanese actually gets.

This seems to follow the linguistical pattern of yours truly. At one point in my life, I was fluent in German. What happened? We left Germany and I forgot my German. In university, I studied French. I was able to read poems and write essays on their meaning, imagery, symbolism and other poetic terms. What happened? Left uni, went to Japan, forgot most of my French. So far, the only two languages I've been able to hang onto in any degree are English and Polish, probably because I use both quite often.

I should really put more effort into re-learning both German and French, instead of worrying about Japanese, a language I was never, ever even close to being fluent in. But German and French should be easy to re-learn, Japanese is a bit of a challenge. Plus, I'd just be so thrilled if I could read kanji and actually understand what they say.

Maybe this weekend I'll crack open that textbook. Just maybe.

Tuesday

I'm currently reading Ryszard Kapuscinski's Lapidaria, which is a collection of his thoughts spanning a couple of decades. Origninally released in 3 volumes, this book combines them. I've already written about Kapuscinski before. I still think he's fantastic, but it is harder to read Lapidaria than Imperium probably because it's in Polish and it's really quite a thought-provoking set of notes. I have to think about what he's written, instead of just going along with the text for a ride. So, as I find interesting thoughts, I'm noting down the page number on which it's located. 105 pages into the book and I've already got quite a collection.

There is no worse combination than a weapon, stupidity and fear. You can expect only the worst then.
Because of the time scale of his notes, Kapuscinski talks a lot about life in totalitarian states, mirroring, I suppose, the life of the average citizen under Communism.
They know that the weakened man, the man exhausted by battles with thousands of oppositions, living in a state of never-sated-needs and never-fulfilled-wishes is an easy target for manipulation and obedience. For the battle for survival is, most of all, an activity terribly time-consuming, absorbing and exhausting. Create these anti-conditons and you'll guarantee your rule for a hundred years.
He concentrates on following an ideology to the very end, all the way towards fanaticism. He discusses the lack of change in totalitarian countries:
The basic goal for authoritatian systems is to stop the time (because the passing of time brings change).
He talks about the differences between the East and the West; the fact that capitalism drives the prosperity of the West, the fact that London is cleaner than Warsaw. He discusses emmigration of the Pole and wonders if the children of those emmigrants will ever visit home. He lists the qualities of people deep within mass culture. He finds the reasons for the differences between East and West:
The West: he who makes laws has the authority. The East: he who breaks the laws has the authority.
The book is not for everyone, but I am enjoying it, as much as one can enjoy such a book. I'm looking forward to his observations on the fall of Communism, the (re)birth of democracy and capitalism, the change and what it's brought him.

My dear Readers, I hope I haven't lost you in a frenzy of EUness (providing somebody else besides my mother and a few friends read this). This post will be 100% EU free. No preservatives, no additives. Batteries not included.

I won't be blogging so much in the near future as I've signed up to do some GCSE exam marking and a big batch arrived today, with more to follow in the next few days. So, I'll be getting that red pen out and going at it.

Tomorrow, N and I are off to register our intent to get married at the local Registry Office. It's exciting, in a bureaucratic way. We've been asked to bring every piece of ID we have on hand. I guess they just want to make sure we are who we say we are. The pleasure will cost us £60, but we'll get a sleep in as our reward.

We have not yet heard anything from the owners of the house we want about our offer. N thinks they must be on holidays. I don't know what to think, but continue to hope quietly that they'll accept our offer (not the other guy's).

Overheard at school today: "No, I'm not going there anymore. All people do there is drink, smoke and get high. I'm bored of that" Bored already at 14. Bit of a worry.

Monday

My hometown supported the entry into the European Union fully. The turn-out was 64% and, of those who voted, 87% voted for Yes.

More information on Poland joining the EU:

Thank sweet God in heaven, Poland just voted to join the European Union!
said Maciej Cieglowski in his blog, Idle Words.

Thank God, indeed. I'm still in a sate of shock and surprise. Watching the news broadcast over the Internet from last night made me cry. Tears of joy.

I must have driven N crazy this weekend: I'd sit at the computer surfing for news of the referendum and once in a while I'd let out a shout or a yell. He knows what I'm like, but my single-mindedness would have tried an angel's patience. Poor N.

The final results are: a turn out of 58.85%, with 77% voting for YES. It's done now. Bravo, Poland! Bravo, Poles!

O, Radosci, iskro bogow,
kwiecie elizejskich pol,
Swieta, na tym swietym progu
staje nasz natchniony chor.
Jasnosc twoja wszystko zacmi,
zlaczy, co rozdzielil los,
wszyscy ludzie beda bracmi
tam, gdzie twoj przemowi glos.

Sunday

Jedziemy do Europy/We're going to EuropeAccording to Gazeta, 58.8% voted! 81.7.% of those who voted, did so for YES.

Europe, here we come!

It's so fantastic that I'm speechless.

Saturday

Bugger, bugger, bugger. Bloody hell.

After the first day of voting only 17.61% voted. Bugger.

Fuck. Come on, Poles! Vote, bloody hell!

The local paper explained the reason for Terry Jones' presence here. He's doing a documentary on life in medieval times. He was filmed in several locations and will talk about a riot that happened here during those times. Interesting.

In case you wondered, I'm not thinking about the referendum. Not at all. Not one bit.

Whilst out and about today we went to the market. There are two market days in this town and they are the busiest days of the week. Parking is non-existent and there's a heap of people in town.

I love the market and I always remember going to the market with my Mum when I was younger. The hussle and bussle and the usual wooden tables. Piles of fruit and vegetables next to stalls selling cheeses, meats, books, clothes, toys, flowers, mini-doughnuts, you name it. Market traders are interesting. They yell for a living, as Eddie Izzard said. And they yell interesting things. Today, walking by, after having bought a half pound of cherries (cherry season again! Hurrah!), I heard a market trader bellow: "Lovely cherries! Delicious cherries! Have a taste of my cherries, love!". How cheeky. And there's the usual: four pounds bananas for two pounds, two caullies (cauliflower) for a pound, etc. The fruit is mostly good. I have bought a pineapple of two off the market that were questionable, but for most part, they're great.

As well as the cherries, peas, cauliflower and onions, we bought a basket of locally grown strawberries and their smell is now filling the kitchen. They smell absolutely lovely and I cannot wait devour them with some cream. N said, "But they're not Polish strawberries!...doesn't matter, they smell just as well.

Well, we did it. We put in another offer (number 3). We put in their asking price (considerably cheaper than the last house's) and the real estate agent acted (to me) like the other guy didn't. Hopefully, the house is ours and we can begin moving, sorting out the central heating (what is it about the houses and no central heating?), etc. We're trying not to get our hopes up. We'll know sometime this week.

Friday

Some house news for you: this week we've looked at about 5 houses. It's been hard to keep everything straight in my head and I asked N about features that the houses had/didn't have/may have had. We found one that we like a lot but, unfortunately, somebody else does as well. He's already put in an offer, and we will do so on Monday. So, we're about to enter into a Bidding War. I'm not getting too excited about it simply because we may not get it in the end and I don't want to be miserable about losing yet another house, even though I know I will be when it happens.

We're seeing one more house on the weekend. So, options do exist.

Polska Goscinnosc/Polish HospitalityGazeta Wyborcza has an unusual feature today. It consists of 30 cartoons showing the associations or generalisations people have with the different countries of the future EU. There are some which translate well, and some which don't.

Here are the ones that translate: Italian temperament, Swiss watches, German efficiency, Luxemburg radio, Romanian Dracula, Portugese porto, Norwegian salmon, Spanish fly, Greek nose, Polish hospitality, Danish prince, Belgian chocolate.

There are some that I just don't understand: the Czech mistake, the Bulgarian footprint and the Hungarian post.

Yesterday, the Gazeta had a fascinating feature. It was a futuristic look at Poland in 2009 outside the EU. It was quite a humorous look at Poland in 2009, but it was meant to serve as a warning. Do the Poles want Andrzej Lepper as their Prime Minister? Do the Poles want to be seeking lucrative employment (child-minding, cleaning and construction work) in Lithuania? Do the Poles want clear cutting in the Bialowierza Forest Reseve?

Gazeta Wyborcza has never hidden their passion for Europe, democracy and westernisation. Never has this been as clear as this week, when they've gone into a feverish pitch to try and encourage the Poles to vote.

I just hope they're successful.

Wednesday

The President of Belarus (or Belarussia, as I always call it) Aleksandr Lukaszenka has warned today that if the US relocate their armed forces close to the Belorus' borders (especially in Poland), would be "unwise", as it would put the armed forces within his country's "striking distance". "The potential shifting of the US forces would be treated as a threat" to their security, he said. Lukaszenka, who dissolved parliament in 1996 and has not called for an election since his own in 1994, said that he would have to "react appropriately" to the US' relocation. Source (pl).

An appropriate reaction would be to for him to shut up and bring back democracy to his country.

Reuters reports:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman says his panel will decide whether to hold hearings on complaints that the Bush administration exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq after it has reviewed the relevant secret documents.
Forget that, say I.

Just impeach him.

Tuesday

More on the referendum from Gazeta Wyborcza (as transcribed by me).

CBOS (Centrum Badania Opinii Spolecznej) polled (no pun intended) 1264 Poles between May 9 and 12 on their intention to vote in the referendum. These are the results:
64% said that they would definitely vote
12% said that they didn't know yet
3% would probably not vote
6% would definitely not vote

How would they vote?
74% Yes
15% No
11% Undecided

Why won't they vote? CBOS found the following reasons:

  • they are unsure of the effects of joining the union.
  • they don't like or support the European Union
  • they don't vote normally, and won't this time either
  • they don't believe that their single vote can make a difference
  • some of those questioned are abstaining as a method of protest against the current government and any other political elite which has lost their trust

98% of those who were polled and had a university education would vote, while only 69% of those who had "basic" education would vote.

Source

"I never vote in any election," Mr. Widmanski said, voicing a cynicism present in Poland — and indeed in other post-Communist societies — that political scientists and journalists attribute to a generalized distrust of the political class.
...
"Why should I vote?" he added. "To vote or not vote — they'll do what they want."
Source

Poland is voting this weekend on their entry into the EU. What is causing a lot of worry, not only for the pro-EU politicians in Poland, but also for Tony Blair and other western leaders is that less than 50 percent will turn out to vote. The majority of the people polled said that they would vote yes. But how many will actually turn out is anybody's guess.

Seeking to drum up support, politicians, Church leaders, businessmen and students have leapt into the campaign, largely seeking to convince a suspicious rural community of the benefits of EU membership.
Source

Even the Pope got in on the act in supporting Poland's entry and the Catholic Church has also been supportive of it. On Sunday, those who go to church, should expect a sermon filled with pro-EU statements, encouraging Poles to vote.

Will they, though? The predominant train of thought in Poland is that politicians are all cut from the same cloth: they all line their coffers with state money, they are corrupt and their needs come before the needs of the country. So, they can't be bothered to vote. To them, the politicians will do exactly what they want, regardless of which side of the spectrum they sit.

Will I be losing sleep over this? Possibly. I worry that less than the required percentage will vote. I worry that out of all the countries entering EU next year, mine will be the one who'll do it the difficult and odd and embarrassing way.

The individualism of the Pole cannot be underestimated. When the authorities say, "Do this", he will usually do the exact opposite.

I saw this on the news earlier and thought it was amazing:

Electricity reaches last village in Britain

CWM BREFI (Reuters) - The 19th century has finally caught up with the Welsh mountain community of Cwm Brefi today as it became the last village in Britain to connect to the electricity network.

From Reuters .

On our way back from viewing a house, we spotted an elderly gentleman setting up to be filmed. The camera crew consisted of about 4 men and this man, with white, windblown hair was getting ready. As we got closer, I realised that it was Terry Jones of Monty Python! Terry Jones! From Monty Python!

Wow.

Monday

A tribute to Winnipeg

1. First you must learn to pronounce the city name. It is WIN-A-PEG, not VIN-A-PEG and it does not matter how people pronounce it in other places.

2. Winnipeg has its own version of traffic rules. Never forget that downtown Winnipeg is composed in large part of one way streets. The only way to get out of the center of town is to turn around and start over when you reach the river.

3. All directions start with, "Go down Portage."

4. Portage has no beginning and no end.

5. The 8:00 a.m. rush hour is from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. The 5:00 PM rush hour is from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

6. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you cannot be from Winnipeg.

7. Lagimodiere Blvd can only be pronounced by a native Winnipegger, so do not attempt the phonetic pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you.

8. Bingo, Bugs and Perogies are a way of life. Deal with it.

9. Construction on the Winnipeg streets in summer is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment.

10. Many bizarre sights can be explained simply by uttering the phrase, "Oh, we're in Transcona."

11. Construction crews aren't doing their jobs unless they close down all lanes except one during rush hour.

12. If someone actually has their turn signal on, it was probably left on at the factory where the car was made.

13. Buying a Winnipeg street map is a waste of money since the termination or continuation of any street is entirely at the discretion of the Works Department of the City.

14. Asking directions will help you get acquainted with the numerous recent residents. It will not be any help at all for finding the address you seek.

15. Never honk your horn at another car in traffic. The bumper sticker that reads,"Keep honking, I'm reloading." is considered a fair warning.

16. Exit and entry ramps on the Perimeter are just the recommended way of entering and exiting, feel free to exit at any grassy point you wish.

Lifted directly from Bene Diction Blogs On . So very true, it makes me homesick.

This is addictive. You'll need Flash to view it. I can't stop playing with it.

"We are too busy to find weapons of mass destruction", says Blair.

Sunday

Spike is joining the cast of Angel next season. The question now becomes: how will he do it? After all, Spike died in the last episode of Buffy.

Ain't It Cool News have a theory (Spoiler). In an interview with TVGuide, Joss commented on Spike's arrival in Angelverse:

The trick is how to bring him back without losing the integrity of what he did... the sacrifice. If it's just, "Hey, I'm back!" then that whole moment at the end of Buffy is kind of lame now. Like Buffy returning from the dead, it's going to be something that we're going to have to earn and play the ramifications of, possibly without making it so depressing.

I'm sure it'll be interesting to watch, regardless of how they bring him back. But I hope it'll be easier on him than when Buffy was brought back the second time.

Jonathan Ross had Radiohead on his show on Friday night. They performed two songs: one from the new album (forgot which one) and Fake Plastic Trees from The Bends (my fave). Beautiful performances.

During the "on the couch" banter, Jonathan tried to convince Radiohead that they should write a Eurovision song for next year. The banter went something like this (excuse any mistakes):

JR:You could do a summery, happy, pop song
Thom Yorke: Oh, we've got loads of those.

The new album Hail To The Thief comes out on June 9th.

Spotted in the TV guide for yesterday:

Afghanistan: Here's One We Invaded Earlier
George W Bush and Tony Blair promised to build a free and secure Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Peter Oborne, political editor of The Spectator, travels to Afghanistan to discover whether they have fulfilled their pledge to the Afghan people.

For a long, but interesting answer to that, read Unreconstructed. Via Craig's Booknotes. It looks like Afghanistan has a long and difficult road ahead.