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I actually made a quick Remembrance Day post over on another blog, when it was actually Nov. 11, and it didn’t even occur to me to do so here until now. I’m always late to the party anyway.

Whatever the case, Remembrance Day as such is much more noticeable over here–we didn’t get a day off school for Veterans’ Day or anything, but I saw dozens of people wearing those stylized little poppies and wish I’d gotten one. WWI was the first truly modern war, but it was also a horrific waste of an entire generation of young men that really only accomplished a couple things–shuffling some territory around and setting the stage for WWII. But none of that means the soldiers who fought in it should be forgotten. It’s nice to see that over here, at least, they’re remembered as a little more than an excuse for a day off work.

mp3: God Is an Astronaut – Remembrance Day (buy)
mp3: Coldplay – Prospekt’s March / Poppyfields (buy)
mp3: Vienna Teng – Antebellum (buy)

Wow, I’m really doing bad at keeping up with this. I’m not really going to try catching up because I haven’t been making this blog a daily thing anyway, but there are a number of things I’ve been meaning to talk about and haven’t, and those still deserve their own posts. For this one, I’m going to talk about music. Or possibly for the next several, because I ramble like whoa and probably will want about one post per gig. Continue Reading »

Yeah, I swear, I really am going to write a substantive update on here soon, in large part because I’ve now gone to yet another gig (unplanned until the day before, in fact) and want to post music. Lots of it. Also because I’ve been doing things and going places and want to talk about it (I’ve seen Cambridge now, for instance).

However, that is not this day. I had hopes of being asleep twenty minutes from now, except I’m not packed yet so that won’t happen. What am I packing for, you ask? Well, tomorrow I leave for a weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland, with the UEA International Student Society. Should be good (also I’ll be adding another country to my list, finally, putting me up to three foreign countries visited). Of course it won’t help that we’re supposed to meet the bus at 7:30 a.m. and we don’t get to Edinburgh until, let’s see, 5:30 p.m. Which is like ten hours. Which is a really long bus ride. So I’m actually taking my laptop and will have internet there, and in theory I’ll be able to get some writing done on the bus. Assuming I’m awake, which I won’t be if I don’t get my gear together now, get some crap printed, and get going.

Also, on the subject of my not updating often enough: if anyone really is annoyed about that, I’d encourage you to add my other travel blog to your feed reader (Google Reader is a good one), because that I actually do update every day, more or less.

mp3: Butterfly Boucher – Another White Dash (buy)

To the five people who are actually reading this, I am really very sorry I’ve been so long without updates, partly because there’s stuff I want to talk about, really for real, and partly because…well, it’s just not cool for someone to stop blogging when people are actually reading it. Which I think they might be. I would say I’ve been slacking off because I’ve been busy and that’s kind of true, I was gone to Great Yarmouth again all weekend and have been out and about doing various things on and off and I have two papers due Thursday and stuff. Also crap’s been going down back home which has been distracting, to say the least.

But actually the main reason is that I have new blog. Because I needed another one on which to sporadically update and eventually abandon, right? Well, this one’s different: it’s a legit paid blogging site. This isn’t one of those things where you earn a few pennies through Google AdSense based on how many people read your entries; today.com pays you $1.00 per entry per day. You can only have one paid entry per day, but the entries can be as short as 100 words, which takes like…five minutes, tops. Better yet, they have a system by which companies put out calls for brief (300 words, generally) articles for which they’ll pay about $5, and so far I’ve sold two of those. Five bucks for a 300-word article that probably took me 15 minutes to write? Pretty nice. Not exactly publishing since my name’s not on it, but still, the money’s not bad.

Thanks to the short entry requirements and also the obvious incentive, I’ve been updating it daily–it pretty much functions as a short-entry companion to this blog, as indicated by the fact that, you know, they have the same name and look almost identical. For once I’m actually writing brief entries, too, since I have a reason to do so. I’m not abandoning this blog by any means–I still have plenty to talk about–but I’m also writing short daily entries on my today.com blog on specific aspects of British culture and that sort of thing, so if you want to see more regular updates, add that blog to your feed reader or whatever. (And if you go to my actual blog there when I do update, I’ll get paid for your pageviews, which is always good. Even better is if you use my referral link to sign up yourself, and then you will also get money for almost no writing and it will all be fab.)

Entries of a more topical nature coming soon, I promise.

mp3: Relient K – Pressing On (buy)

One of my flatmates is leaving today–the one I mentioned in my last entry. I wasn’t clear on this when I first talked to him about it, but his chemo schedule means he won’t be going to school here anymore, at least for sure not this semester.

I…don’t really know what to think about this. I don’t know him especially well–don’t know any of my flatmates especially well, I suppose–but I like him, and…it would be weird enough if it wasn’t cancer causing it. I don’t think cancer’s ever come this close to me before, which I suppose just shows how blessed I’ve been.

He’s a college kid. Just a freshman, as far as I know. This kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen.

mp3: Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson & Sigur Rós – Pictures and Memory (buy)

Scene from our communal kitchen this morning: I’m washing up my one reusable bowl, glass, and silverware set. My fork and spoon are sitting in the bowl while I’m washing the glass, but they’re right next to me. Flatmate wanders in to get breakfast (It’s 12:30, mind, but we’re both in our pajamas, so I sure wasn’t judging) and chats with me briefly as he grabs a spoon to wash off, while I’m occupied with drying one of my dishes. I turn back to the counter to wash up something else, and the spoon is NOT THERE. My fork is all by its lonesome in the bowl. I check my food locker, look all over the counters, check under the dishes in the sink, etc. Not there.

So I finish washing up my dishes and put them away, and sneak a look over at my flatmate, who surely couldn’t have taken my spoon because it was pretty obvious it was mine and also I wasn’t paying that little attention, was I? Yeah, he’s totally using my spoon.

Me: …

Of course I didn’t say anything, in part because I found out last night that he’s going to London for quite a while for a round of chemo, which sucks beyond the telling of it, but I was just kind of like o_O. I mean…it’s one thing to use other people’s stuff if you ask, or to snitch food that’s on the table because if it’s left out it’s fair game, but somebody’s spoon? That, come to think of it, I probably hadn’t even cleaned before he grabbed it?

Ah, the joys of communal living. That doesn’t get into the crap left out on the countertops and tables, such that I never want to set anything down anywhere or it’ll pick up sticky food residue–even on the table, which…I mean, you people do use plates, right? Stuff stays clean for about an hour after the housekeeper goes over it two days a week. The bathrooms aren’t bad except people keep leaving their shampoo and stuff on the little rack in the shower, and you think it would be fairly obvious that you shouldn’t leave stuff there permanently because then others can’t use it while they’re actually in the shower (i.e., when it’s needed) without moving your stuff, but whatever.

mp3: Sarah Slean – Weight (buy)

Well, I’ve now been to a couple more British towns–Great Yarmouth on the coast, and Mountfitchet near London, to be specific. I’ve done no actual driving in England, thank God, because it’s disorienting enough for me to drive on the left side of the road and sit on the left side of the car, but I can’t even imagine having to deal with figuring out right-hand turns and those horrible roundabouts. My dad’s a good driver and he’s needed a lot of practice to get even halfway decent here. For me it would pretty much be like relearning how to drive all over again, and I wasn’t that keen on driving when I started in the first place (I didn’t get my license until I was 17, I think). Also British drivers are CRAZY. Not as bad as Turkish drivers by a long shot, but they are crazy, even on narrow streets made narrower by cars parked along one side, essentially turning it into a single-lane road, except people are still driving both ways in it.

For some reason, too, seeing all these European cars is making me homesick in a way that many other things here just haven’t. I mean, the weakness of the dollar is driving me crazy, and while it’s not a bad thing I’m intensely aware of the fact that my accent marks me as not British the second I open my mouth, but none of that has made me actually homesick for America. All this driving…well, maybe it’s just that I want to be on a real vacation, which is to say, probably somewhere in the U.S. and definitely not while I’m in school. It’s not a vacation if you’re still taking classes and worrying about reading and papers. I suppose that could be it. Still, I had a pretty good pang of homesickness every time I saw a type of car that looked more like what I’m used to, and I started getting sick of all the little European cars. There’s no logical reason for that, of course–things I’m familiar with aren’t better simply because I’m familiar with them–but there you go. Weird things make me homesick and I’m apparently more passionately devoted to minutia of my own country than I ever would’ve suspected. That or it’s just that people inherently like being surrounded by what’s familiar to them, especially in everyday things like road signs and cars. Something new and different is nice–as long as it isn’t too fundamentally new and different. Then it throws a wrench in your brain and it’s almost as traumatic as a worldview shift: “Hey, their license plates look funny and they don’t drive like we do and…that works for them? Weird.”

Which is to say, this semester will probably be educational in a lot more ways than just whatever I learn in my modules.

Anyway, yeah, lots of driving. Lots of English countryside. It’s…different from U.S. countryside and I’m not completely sure how. In some ways the fields in England look pretty much just like fields in the Midwest, except they just don’t. They’re generally smaller and a bit more uneven, and in some way I can’t really explain, they look like they’ve been fields longer. And they have, of course, it’s just very strange to realize that they look it. The other strange thing is looking around at the countryside and realizing that none of it is truly wild. That’s true of the Midwest too, of course, but I suppose I’m more used to other places where a good portion of it is wilderness or something similar that has looked pretty much that way for the last few millennia, barring really catastrophic geologic events. That’s not true here. I doubt there’s a single square mile of this island that hasn’t been touched significantly by man. That’s what happens when Western civilization inhabits a place for a long time, I guess.

You know, I really do have more to talk about, but I’ve got other things I need to do too, like this thesis proposal that I should’ve done months ago…and right now I just can’t be bothered. :p

mp3: Loreena McKennitt – The Mummers’ Dance (buy)

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