Monthly Archives: August 2012

Wanted: Parachute

I walked along the back of the hospital where two men in overalls were hiding an exhaustive list of graffiti with fresh paint and rollers.

+=+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+
+===+== Some say the world will end in fire, =+===+===+ It’s raining men!===+===+
+=+= Some say in ice.===+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+== Hallelujah! =+
+===+===+= From what I’ve tasted of desire, +===+== =+= It’s raining men!===+===+
+=+===+===+== I think neither would be nice.=+===+===+= Amen!==+===+===+
+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+====+===+===+===+===+===+===+===+ Continue reading

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They

One of the more interesting entities of the English language is They. “Why are there no raspberry granola bars?” “Oh, They stopped making them.” “I heard the northern lights are dipping down to our latitude tonight.” “I thought They said tomorrow.” “They found a cure for Malaria.” “They say it’s better to be smart than beautiful, but They don’t know me.” 

…Maybe it isn’t even that interesting or that big of a deal, but I don’t care what They say.

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Tuesday, 7th

We had to go through security again because I don’t know why. It takes an hour to get through, and so they started boarding at 8:55 even though the flight is scheduled for 10:30. Some girl was leaning against the glass wall to outside, but it was actually a door, and she tripped the alarm. I was loud, but nothing happened, someone just came and turned it off. You can trip a freaking alarm in an airport and everyone’s cool, but god forbid if you have some change in your pocket we’re going to search you.

I’m in the middle seat again, and oh look, threes seats to my left: baby. This one was of the screaming variety. It thinks everything belongs to it “Mine! Mine, mine, MINE!” Babies are selfish. Probably the worst part of the flight though, is that 2.5 hours into it we were still on the ground. There was a discrepancy with how much fuel was added to the plane and how much it said was added, so they wanted to make sure we wouldn’t crash somewhere over Greenland or something silly like that. The baby is screaming. I put my earphones in. For some reason only when I’m on a plane and listening to music with these particular headphones the treble comes out much more than usual and for some reason I can hear the back-up guitar/keyboard tracks that I’ve never heard before on the same songs I’ve listened to over a hundred times. It’s funny how you can know something so well for so long but still not know everything about it. I don’t know if that analogy could be any more transparent.

After two hours of checking the fuel levels manually, all they had to do was top it off for how much they burnt keeping the A/C and the advertisements on, and then we’d be on our way. They have TV screens to distract their customer and keep them in a bland and happy stasis, but they don’t turn them on ‘til after takeoff. Once we finally started rolling, the flight attendant said “We will show you a beef safety presentation…” she must have been hungry too after 2 hours on the ground. The baby is screaming. When food started coming out the vegetarians got served first without explanation. The flight attendants were really sassy during this flight, and seemed impatient. We were watching movies with headphones in because the baby was screaming, so I wasn’t paying attention to the aisle and didn’t hear him meekly whisper without repeating, “would you like something to drink?” I looked across the aisle and the other passengers had drinks, and the flight attendant guy was looking right at me and rolling his little cart away. I gave him a look like “what the hell, aren’t you serving drinks?” and he replied, “I asked you , but you guys were watching your shows, and I’m just they guy with the cart, so…” “Sorry, I didn’t see—I didn’t hear you.” “Well yeah. I mean, I asked, but you guys didn’t hear me.” “What?” “I asked but you didn’t hear me.” “Well, sorry, I didn’t even know you were there.” (I was waiting for him to offer, ‘would you like a drink now that we are all on the same page here?’ but he kept running in circles as if I just missed out on my one shot to get a precious refreshment and I did something wrong.) so I asked explicitly, “Could I get a coke and a water?” he seemed so pissed off, like he didn’t sign up for this or something. The next lady that came by for drinks a few hours later asked dad if he’d want anything to drink, and he was watching a movie, but by the time I tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention the lady already moved on. She didn’t even offer me a drink, or even look at me, even though I was staring straight at her. We got our drinks again, but it’s just kind of funny. I have to be on edge. The flight attendants are all acting like they’re in some big rush to get their work done so they can get off early, but I don’t know where they’d go. Even the trash collectors just crusied down the aisle from back to front, so by the time you see them they’re already passed you; you’d need ninja reflexes just to throw your drink away that you never got in the first place. The flight was actually quite nice despite being 12 hours. I’m just bored, so I’m picking nits. The baby is asleep. The weather in Seattle is 65 and over cast; perfect. The pilots always say whether the weather has good visibility or not, which really only matters if you’re flying a plane at the time, and none of the passengers ever are, so no one gives a care.

Apparently the last few days have been 80+, so I guess I’ve dragged the weather with me again. We chased the midday sun all the way home, having left at 1:30 and touched down at 2 at home sweet home. We just beat rush hour back to the house, and I sat and watched the Eagle’s play over the water, then passed out. And that, I suppose, is where the trip ends.

 

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Monday, 6th

We had the whole day to kill because our flight leaves at 9pm with an 11 hour layover in Amsterdam. I guess we weren’t really paying attention to the whole am/pm thing when booking tickets. We had to check out and leave our bags in luggage starage at the hotel, but then headed out to a starbucks to start the day. It was just like our first day where we were on the internet at starbucks looking for stuff to do, except now we had energy. It’s nice how things come full circle. We didn’t have enough time for Stonehenge, which was a bummer, but we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is huge and ornate, and has one of the biggest domes I’ve ever seen, but it’s 15 lbs. to enter, so we saw what we could from the door and called it good. Walking around you see these red post boxes for the royal mail service. There’s two slots for mail that’s either “stamped” or “franked,” as in having either been stamped, or having received the services of a man named Frank.

There’s also a shoe place that measures your foot and makes awesome shoes that custom fit to your feet. We tracked it down and looked at it. It was shoes, and we left. We got gelato and chilled in Green Park on the grass. There’s a guy going around collecting payment of 1 pound an hour to use the lawn chairs, so screw that; grass is fine. We talked about how sports are a necessary part of civilization in that you need something to reach for, or at least something to distract us from wanting to kill each other. You need goals. Not everyone will have an impact of the world, and that’s a tough thought to deal with, so sports are a way to take our minds off life, and distress. That’s why people say “It’s just a game” when someone starts to take sports too seriously and gets really stressed out, because sports really don’t matter—the concept of sports matters—but the individual events themselves really don’t. We need sports and hobbies to give our minds time ti unwind, otherwise if all we did was work 24/7, we’d go crazy. Churchill always made time to play cards or relax at night to keep a sound mind; it was written into his schedule. The same thing applies to our civilization. We need sports so that we don’t go crazy as a whole. We need weekends, dinner and a movie, or any random activity that distracts us from work. Also, since we as people don’t want to be bored, and instead strive for perfection, we use sports as an avenue for discovery of the limits of the human body. We are running faster, swimming farther, jumping higher every year. We are breaking world records like it’s something that’s supposed to happen. We learn about how to eat right, exercise more efficiently, and put mind over matter. In sports anything is possible. A long jumper can jump 28 feet because he thinks he can jump 40. This applies to anything. We think we can live on Mars, so we put a man on the moon to test it out, and we gained so much progress as a civilization. So many modern things we use today are made because of competition and the desire to stretch the limits. A Nintendo 64 has enough brain power to run the Apollo 11 mission. Think about that… I’m getting a little side tracked, and this is turning into an editorial titled “Sports and Space,” and now my butt’s wet. I should’ve gotten a lawn chair.

Basically we lugged our luggage to the airport and got on a plane for a 45 minutes flight to Amsterdam, in the opposite direction of home. I just sat there for the whole flight because there wasn’t much time anyways. It was KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. When they switched back and forth from Dutch to English a few words sounded funny, and some phrasings/rules seemed a bit off. “Thank you for your corporation.” I forgot the others, but there was one rule in the safety video where if there is to be an evacuation you aren’t allowed to take any of your belongings with you… because of course amoungst all the chaos and frantic disorder, the flight attendants will stop what they’re doing and go out of their way to make sure you drop your bags. At the Amsterdam airport it was 11:00pm, and a ghost town. We thought we’d have no place to eat, so we thought about sleep. We’d heard there are “sleeping pods” so we looked for—oh, there they are. It was called “Yotel,” and they had little tiny rooms that resembled something you might find aboard the Star Trek Ship. The beds start upright, like a couch, and then slide out and flatten out. We’re in the Netherlands, so the beds are bigger, which is nice. The rooms had buttons on the side of the bed which would control the lights to different settings. If you pressed the sun it got light. If you pressed the computer it would get dim. If you pressed the book it gave you a reading light. If you pressed zzz it turned them all off. And if you pressed the heart a low fuchsia lighting would throb and sultry music would play. Well, that last part wasn’t true, but there was a soft trim of fuchsia lighting; however that doesn’t detract from it certainly being pictionary’s finest hour. Although there was some soft repetitive thumping from one room over. It’s one of those instances you’re not quite sure what you’re hearing, but you don’t know if anyone else hears it, so you don’t say anything, but then they’re hearing the same thing and don’t say anything because they don’t want to be the one that hears it first, and neither do you, so you both just ignore it even though you know perfectly what it is. They must have purchased the 4 hour stay option. Anyways, one of the walls was one giant mirror in order to make the 10×10 room seem bigger. I’ve seen this trick before, and it works every time; the only drawback with this one is that in front of the mirror wall is a large panel of glass, and between that is the sink, the toilet, and the shower; and there’s two of us. There haven’t been many awkward situation on this trip, just a few big ones, so let’s just skip through the night and get to tomorrow.

Next Day>>

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Sunday, 5th

Finally, the singles final. The moment we’ve all been waiting for, but first I had to get my extra ticket to Chris, who was meeting me outside the ticket office at noon. We got going late and got to the arena at 12:45. I was trying to text but there’s no service in da chube, so I was kinda freakin’ out when I got there and he was nowhere in sight. AFterall I was 45 minutes late and he probably gave up. I waited there, and mistakenly had let my dad take the phone inside the venue with him. There’s a strict, “No one can re-enter the venue policy, so it kind of turned into a game at that point; If I go in Chris can’t see the matches, but if I stay out I don’t see them either. The match starts in 10 minutes and Chris could be either inside or outside. I figured I’d wait ‘til 12:15 and then go in if he wasn’t there; I just wouldn’t be able to give him the ticket. While I waited I thought about the weather because I opened and closed my umbrella 4 times in that span of time. I thought about the crazy lady this morning with a cockney accent and pajamas, yelling at the bobbies who were holding an assorted bag of medicine up to another sketchy character, “Idiots! oll—idiots! I foind it ‘ilarious!” I thought about how I got a raging sore throat overnight, and a runny nose, and wondered how I’m supposed to blow my nose when there’s no garbage cans anywhere. Why did people have to bomb the tube? I thought about how yesterday during the great sports exodus once on the tube a girl and her boyfriend got on after me, and there wan’t much room, so I had to grab the rail behind the guy’s head so we were face to face with his girlfriend uncomfortably squished between us. Probably the most awkward situation I’ve been in, especially because they were both facing me. It was either that or fall down when the train started moving. I thought about how I wanted some water and burger kind was the closest thing last night, and some guy asked me for the time. I didn’t have a phone, watch, anything. “what do you mean you don’t have the time?” “I don’t have it.” “You must have the fucking time.” “Well you don’t have it either, so… take it easy.” I think he thought I thought he was sketchy, so I wasn’t going to ‘give’ him anything, so he got all pissy. “I can’t believe you don’t have the—there. (he looks at the clock) ten ‘til twelve; geez.” I thought about how this city is one of the oldest in the world, ie: most experienced, but it still has its drawbacks. I thought about how I learned that the moats around castles were a big toilet, and that’s why they were so effective. The whole town would just drop trou and shit in the moat, and no one wants to swim through poop water no matter how badly they want your town. I thought of how I was ready to go home even though I’ve had a lot of fun. I thought of a lot of things to distract me from the fact that I was missing this singles match. I asked a man with a watch, “Do you have the time?” “quarter past.” I could see it was 12:18. I waited 2 minutes and went it. The score was 17-12 lee Chong Wei was up. There were a lot of Malaysian flags waving, and they weren’t just waving for Lee Chong Wei, they were waving for the world. Mike Evans, the man we met at USA House, said we should start cheering ABC! ABC! “Anyone But China!” It was a valid point. It’s always China against the world, and China’s winning 3-0 right now, but they’ll win the doubles easy, so this match is our only chance—“ours” as in “the word’s.” If you haven’t watched this match, a rematch of the Beijing finals, you need to watch it from start to finish. It’s probably one of the best men’s singles matches ever played. They were throwing their entire existence into every point, and when Lin Dan won the final point he ran off the court in pure excitement and joy toward where we were sitting, and fell down in tears of joy with his coaches close behind. You always see those guys win and stay so composed, like it’s just their job, but this was the happiest I’ve ever seen anyone after a sports match of any sort, and it was awesome; but as happy as Lin Dan was, was how devastated Lee Chong Wei was. All he could do was sit on the floor and do his best to hold himself together. He just sat there and breathed, staring blankly out at the last four years, at second place, at nothing. His coaches stood over him, not picking him up, not consoling him—what could they say? That was the image of defeat, and it was sad. Just before this my phone was ringing during match point. Chris was almost here. There was no one working at the ticket office to make leaving the ticket possible for pick-up, so I went towards the exit and found a lady who said she could hand him the ticket if he came ‘round the back, but if I stepped past the threshold of the door I couldn’t be let in, because somehow stepping foot outside makes me a dangerous man. She wasn’t kidding either. A man in front of me made that mistake and took a step outside, turned around, and wasn’t let back in. It’s a bit over the top, but whatever. I was able to make the transfer and we got back to out seats right as the medal ceremony started. Lee Chong Wei was crying as the Chinese flag was raised and the anthem played. Watching badminton, you get to know the Chinese anthem pretty well. There were tow American guys, older, about 60 or so, sitting to the right of us. The one guy apparently runs Koch Industries, which manufactures parts and equipment and instruments for chemical engineering stuff or something. Apparently this guy’s like a rock star in the chem E world, so dad just had to turn to me and whisper “This guy runs Coke Industries.” Unfortunately “Koch” sounds just like “Coke,” so I thought he ran CocaCola and wanted to make some crack about Pepse stepping on their coat tails. Thankfully I didn’t. Apparently if you donate $300,000 or more to the USOC they’ll give you a pass to all the events. He flew his own jet to London. The doubles wasn’t much. Cai and Fu dominated like they have been for the last 4 years. The crowd wasn’t even rooting for the Danes that hard. We left right after the last point. China got 5 gold medals in badminton. Ugh. It was expected, but still disappointing.

We saw the Churchill War Memorial after. Churchill was an interesting guy. All the helpers that were still alive describe in this one video that working for him was similar to working for Dr. House. Well, they didn’t make that comparison—I did—but that’s what they were describing. Churchill had his own gimmicks for sloughing off incompetency, and there was a whole museum devoted to showing how witty and smart and awesome he was. He ran the whole war from underground. There was a 6 foot thick reinforced steel/concrete slab above the whole thing, but they knew one bomb could take out the whole thing. It was more for peace of mind than anything. It’s remarkable, though. After the war there was no need for the bunker, so they just left, and then rooms were just left as they are. Churchill always had a cigar, but actually inhaled it infrequently. If someone brought up a bad idea Churchill would pretend to be deaf so the guy would have to repeat his dumb idea so the whole room could hear and his confidence could vanish. He was running a war, but he and the rest of the Brits still had time for style. Suit, hat, cigar, and entitlement; he wore all these things proudly. Even the pigeons here are entitled. I woulda stepped on one earlier had I not stopped quickly. It was walking directly across my path, and usually these silly animals see you and turn tail, but something was fowl with this one, and it just kept on bobbing its little birdbrain head with its chin held high and kept on going. I wanted to punt the little pecker across the footway. I was happy when one tried to walk in front of me one day and then slipped and fell on its little pigeon ass. Heh heh… anyways—They watch House in the UK, so it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that they love Chruchill, or do I have it backwards? Either way, he’s a cool guy, and I’m just discovering this now because I don’t read books. Even amidst the daily bombings Churchill understood the importance of recreation. He always ended the night with a card game or a movie. I believe the queen at the time said “Keep calm and carry on,” which has become an internet meme now. It seems after the war Churchill spent a lot of his time coming up with good quotes. When you first walk into the museum it says on a wall, “We are all worms, but I believe I am a glow worm.”

We were tired of walking so me and Chris walked to a pub to watch the fastest man in the world. They’re really fast. Bolt won again, but the world got faster.

Next Day>>

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Saturday, 4th

Today’s the women’s finals. It ended up being China’s #2 against Japan’s #1 team. Japan had a couple game points in the second game, but China’s just too good. The #3 Chinese woman beat Wang Yihan in 3 good games. It was a brutal match, but Yihan works a lot harder in her footwork, and doesn’t have as strong of a counter attack as the other girl had. Saina played for the bronze, and got it, but only because Wang Xin injured herself pretty badly. Despite being injured she still put the game away in one shot, but after the first rally of the next game she crumpled in a heap of defeat and couldn’t walk. The gym was full of Chinese, but everyone else, including a lot of Indians, were cheering for Saina. I wanted China to lose, but I hate to see it in that fashion; that just sucks. The podiums are getting more diverse now though, and it’s cool. The countires who’ve medeled are China, India, Denmark, Japan, and Russia, with Malaysia and possibly Korea with a chance to finish on the podium as well. Speaking of podiums; for the ceremony they lowered the podium from the ceiling, but not in a ‘razzle-dazzle’ sort of way. They just thought the ceiling is where it’d be most out of the way, but apparently overlooked that it takes 5 minutes to lower the thing down using their impossibly slow motor. For some reason after the first medal ceremony they hoisted the podium back up to the ceiling, and then had to bring it back down later; it’s not like it was in the way or anything. So because the podium takes forever to descend to the ground, we figured we’d skip out on hearing the Chinese national anthem again and left, only to get caught up in a crowd of 50,000 plus leaving Wembley Stadium. There were cops on horses just standing at certain places in a line. The horses really funneled the people down and slowed things up, and apparently they’re good for crowd control, but they shat all over the pavement. We eventually made it back to the USA house again where we got to eat awesome food and rub elbows with the athletes. There was a guy there with the last name Fosbury. Google it. The Brits had a good day for medals and won about 4 or 5 golds or something like that. I think the US did too. All the athletes and even the non-athletes look like models. Not much really happened though besides just eating awesome food and being absorbed in the whole Olympic experience… nbd. There was a band. The USA house was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. If you ever, ever go to the Olympics, you need to find a way into the USA house, or ever any other country’s house. It’s amazing.

Going back to the room I felt rather parched, and upon experiencing such a feeling of parchment, I stopped at ye olde Burger King for a cup of water cause it was the only thing open at that hour.

Next Day>>

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Friday, 3rd

The day started with the breakfast of champions again; a McDonald’s breakfast bagel and starbucks internet. We were meeting at the USA House a 10:30 to see if it was something we’d want to come back to or not. Oh… My… God. It started out slow, but man, was this place awesome. Our fearless leader of the USAB was nice enough to give us day passes. We had plans for the day to go out and see some stuff, but ended up literally staying there the entire day. I got there first at 10:40 or so and walked in. There were TV’s everywhere upstairs and downstairs with everything on, couches, American outlet to charge your American stuff (insert grunt of happiness), gourmet desserts and food, an endless bar, and a deck with an upper level—and everything was unlimited, and free. Just one little desert thing would cost about $5 at some fancy pants restaurant, and I probably ate about a $100 worth of desserts. I think I had about 7 little crème brule mini dish things. At about 11:30 the others showed up and were amazed as I was. I told them “this si definitely a place we want to come back to.” Which was the purpose of this ‘introductory’ visit. We ended up staying there until 11pm. I went souvenir shopping and grabbed a few shirts to look at them, and then folded them back and stood there thinking what I should get, but the price tags said “don’t bother.” The coolest jacked there was $450, and a t-shirt was $60. Like, just a normal t-shirt. People started asking me “do you have this in medium?” and “where’s the men’s and women’s section?” I haven’t shaved in two days and am wearing pants and a blue shirt, which apparently makes me look like I know what the hell I’m doing. Even on the walk over some guy asked me where Barclays is, and I said “it’s on this road, just two more blocks and on the right.” I would’ve been more British of me to not actually know where it was, but give him directions nonetheless, but somehow I did actually know what I was talking about… weird. I though about actually pretending to work for the souvey shop for a bit, but quickly abandoned the idea and ate some more dessert. I think there’s about a 3-5 year difference with/out facial hairage. I guess it’s just part of my “Hair-itage.” It’s a pun, get it? Am I funny yet? No? fine, then we’ll just keep slogging through this overly wordy and droll account of nothingness in the midst of something-ness. Atheletes started to trickle in, and once you get to talking with those around you, you quickly realize that about 90% of the people in the room are Olympians; it’s like a family business. “I was on the ’92 Team.” “I was ’88. Do you have any kids competing?” “Not in this one. My daughter’s a skier.” “Oh, really? Skiing? My daughter’s a rower. Well you’ll have fun in Sochi in two years.” “Yeah, I wish water skiing was an Olympic sport, then she could do that here, too.” “Yeah, it’s probably for the best they don’t allow mechanized sports.” I learned something. They played American music from iconic American artists like Johnny Cash, JayZ, and Beyonce, and various pop rubbish you hear over the waves. The walls were lined with pictures of USA athletes; rhythmic gymnastics, archery, pingpong, taekwondo and other smaller sports.

Later it turned into a big party. Some rowers walked in. Holy shit. Huge people. Rowers are huge amazon women with gigantic back muscles. Before we knew who those people from our country were with gold medals around their necks, we tried to guess their sport by the body type and build. There’s so much skill and whatnot involved in all the sports, but it ultimately comes down to who’s bigger in a lot of sports. Susan grabbed one to take a picture and told me and dad to hop in. I feel so small next to this giant woman, however I’m very motivated to train hard after seeing all of these medalists. It got crowded later where someone would sidestep by you and there medal would bump against your shoulder. This is a crazy awesome atmosphere. They had little presentations for/by the coaches from/to the athletes. Rowing first, then later the silver medal archery team. We met a shooter. It was cool to hear him talk about how he has to work to pay for practice and life in general, well, not really cool per se, but It was fun to talk with a fellow minor sport, even though shooting is about 5 times more popular in the US than badminton in terms of competition. He’s a bartender in Colorado Springs. In my mind I pictured some guy breaking in and trying to rob the place, and this guy shoots the gun out of his hand. I saw the little gymnast who got silver or bronze at Beijing; the one they always pointed the camera at. She’s super small. Our fearless leader was able to get us passes for tomorrow, too, at the expense of one of our badminton tickets.

Out fearless leader of the USAB showed up with his friend, Mike, who explained how our fearless leader had the easiest life ever. Worked for the military at the airforce base. Wanted to get an advanced degree so he didn’t have to go to war. The love advanced degrees, but it was in recreation. They still let him do it. After that his job was aide to the head of something, on US soil, escorting the top official’s 18 year old daughter to football games and getting paid with his 6 year pay salary that he had only worked 2 years for. Apparently he was on the record as having served for four extra years, so he got a bump in pay. From there he got a job as head of westpoint recreation department and got medals and shit like the guys who kill people, or maybe gave them out, I couldn’t quite hear. It’s loud. From there something bad happened, and as it was described, “he fell flat on his ass into a bed of roses called chief executive officer of usa badminton.” Mike Rolled his eyes and laughed. They’ve known each other all their lives.

I went to sleep in the night time. I know, right? Thrilling narrative.

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Thursday, 2nd

I turned off the alarm when I should’ve pressed snooze. That’s the one disadvantage with turning up the A/C and having warm blankets; you want to sleep and be warn, but you don’t want to step into the cold. I was having some dream where I was laughing, but then I snapped out of it, jumped out of bed, and ran to the nearest tube station. I barely got to the badminton by nine-ish, and the first matches had just started. At least I got a good little half mile jaunt in running from the train to the venue. I haven’t exercised all trip, and now I’m wondering how you would exercise around here because I have no idea how you fit a gym in this city. All the men’s doubles were on. First it was China v. China, which was good because China lost, and then Malaysia beat Thailand. Long story short, the doubles was absolutely amazing, even thought it was just four matches and then the session was over. They must be making a fortune on ticket sales. We estimated they’re making about $13 million in ticket sales on badminton alone. I’d like to know the real number is. We walked down Picadilly street for the first time, which has little alley way off shorts from the street which have red carpets and 4 kinds of shops; jewelry, bags, shoes, and watches. I don’t know how those places stay in business, because for one; there was no one there buying, and two; there were literally 10-15 of each type of store side by side. We wondered what the one security guard would do if we all started running down the alley after saying “I got the goods.” British popo are unarmed. We stopped for lunch/breakfast and a French looking place with awesome looking pastries in the window. The others ordered Eggs Benedict, and I ordered a ham and cheese omelet because I have yet had breakfast/we all hadn’t. The French native waitress brought out three eggs benedict, and I was confused and checked with her that I ordered a ham and cheese omelet. I said, “Iordered a ham and cheese omelet,” and she smiled and nodded, saying “yes, okay. I will change this,” or something like that, and took my plate back. I’ve noticed a pattern with the people here in that they are very stubborn; and it’s not so good. No one will ever say “I don’t know.” The British are a proud people, and that does not help them. The first instance we got was in asking directions for places about a week ago. Most people give good friendly adcive, but when they don’t know, they still smile and point and give it their best shot, which has sent us in the wrong direction a few times because they acted like they know what they were talking about. You have to ask direct questions to make sure you aren’t being pleasantly dismissed. The best run-in was when dad asked a guy, “Do you know what street this is?” “Yes, sir.” (pause) “great… could you tell me what street this is?” “I don’t know what street this is.” He replied with a smile. It was a city worker, too, where his job is to help guide and direct traffic. You think he’d at least know by now. So then the French waitress brought me back my new grilled cheese sand—“Excuse me, um, I didn’t order a grilled cheese sandwich. (it was one thin slice of cheese between bread) I had a ham and cheese omelet; ham and cheese omelet… with eggs.” She looked confused, like she had not nodded and smiled before and said “I will have that ready for you” …twice. Another guy swooped in to change out the plate and rescue the situation. I felt bad. I’m pretty sure I didn’t slur my speech or anything, but I just don’t think she was listening that hard. Anyways, it was a good omelet, and ended up being free (score!).

We checked out a museum which displayed some USA guy’s collection of 18th-19th century French Impressionist art, but didn’t get tickets to see the full exhibit; just the free parts. On the way out I’d finish a drink, and for about the tenth time this trip I’d had lots of trash cans around, finished the drink, and then had no trash cans around; quite frustrating. The British take a very preventative approach to keeping trash/garbage/litter/rubbish down in the city—there are no garbage cans. I mean, there’s a few, but way less than you’d want. It’s like people have learned that there are no garbage cans around, so they don’t take any waste with them onto the streets because they won’t be able to throw it away.

Buckingham Place. USA house. Expensive. Grey and orange. Downstairs cheap. Badminton. India is going to be good. Chen jin went down. Would love to see chen long get knocked out next. Peter gade’s last game. Most interesting thing of the night was lind dan’s tattoos. Cross and words. CANADA! “that’s my sister!” there will be spells of sunshine and a scashing of rain. That’s what the pessimistic weather man said before I fell asleep. Spells of sunshine… spells of shunsine. Must have said that same phrase about 10 times, like it was a technical term.

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Wednesday, August 1st

It is August. I started my day with a couple McDonalds bagels and a chocolate frap at starbucks. I’m so healthy it’s sick (isn’t that the slang these days?). I met up with the crew inside Wembley Arena for badminton at 12:30. We got to see a really good mixed game where the Polish team fought off two match points from china’s second team, get a match point of their own, but then lose. Wop wop wop. They went from being up 16-12 to being down 16-18. Both teams were really nervous, but it’s amazing what you can do when you see the cliff and someone starts to push you. We got to see Lee Chong Wei play too, and he was on fire. He was playing Simon Santoso, and after the first 11 Santoso looked like he was out of ideas, and not soon after he was out of the tournament.

We walked along the sort of ‘boardwalk’ area of London along the river and took the Eye (the ferries wheel). Wow; what a view. London isn’t really a tall city, and it’s very flat, so you could see for miles and miles. It was extrodinry. You could see the Palace from there, but the most interesting building for me was the HM Treasury Building, which is big, stone and square on the outside, but has a giant circular cut-out on the inside. Hmm, something’s odd at the “HM” building, hmm?? Big Ben looks awesome across the water. We tried to take pictures where the postcards take pictures. When the eye completes a revolution (about 20-30 minutes. it looked like 1 fps linear velocity give or take) and drops you back off, it lets go a bucketful of water, or the equivalent of, back into the river. When you first step in you notice the AC is blasted and it’s quite chilly. This is probably so the claustrophobic people who got pressured into getting shoved in a glass capsule and hung 400 feet over the horizon don’t pass out. When you go through a very relaxed version of security, they ask you if you have any sharp objects, but don’t ask if you have a fear of small enclosed spaces hoisted hundreds of feet over water. We took the tube to the “edgy” part of town, as described by a local. It wasn’t any more or less nice, really, but there were a lot more black people here than before, and now I’m just thinking that person was racist. I was told the London Riots started in this part of town. We found a niche little bar that apparently was written about in the New York Times. Being hip I think is all about making being pooor look like a cool thing to do. The bar was a bookshelf with books in it, the tables were old desks, and the silverware container was a can for peppers or something; and none of this stuff was new, they were all old tables and bookshelves and cans of stuff. We wanted food but it was 7:30 and the kitchen was closed. In fact the bar and the entire block shut down at 8. I don’t know how they can make any money with those hours. In America you’d go out of business closing a bar at 8. On the tube I noticed British people all sort of have the same kind of nose that is kind of round on the end, like a ball, but this old old guy doing Sudoku had hair on his nose; like, like actual grey whiskers—more like bristles. It was so weird. I guess when you get old your hair gets bored and stops growing on your head, and instead finds other places to sprout. I had a drink at the bar and was testing my balance to compare how I felt vs. how I act after one drink. My balance is fine, but I needed to make sure I wasn’t seeing things either. My eyes are slower. We got dinner and shared 3 pitchers of some sort of fruity wine drink. I felt slow; like visually slow, but felt no change in mood or balance after 3 drinks. Whatever. I still don’t get the whole alcohol thing. Water’s better.

(discussed how people back home probably went to Europe and saw how many monuments there were and said we needed more art, and now it’s a law that you need art in public spaces or something.) (stupid)

On the tube someone said to me, “Seattle?” “yes, where are you from?” “Same.” “Nice.” I was wearing my UW shirt again. I asked him what he was here to see, and when I mentioned badminton he seemed uninterested. I figured he wasn’t looking for a conversation, but too bad buddy; it’s time to educate the public! I shared my thoughts on the 8 women’s doubles players being disqualified from the Olympics for trying to finish 2nd in their round robins, and some other passengers were intrigued, but I had to get off, and at the end of the day, badminton is just a silly sport.

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Tuesday, 31st

I woke up at 10:30 even thought I went to bed at mindnight. I don’t know if that means I’m getting better or worse at sleep. We went and saw Westminster Abbey. Dad and Susan were both tired and running completely on flickers of adrenaline, which was fun to watch, but I could see their crash was imminent. The train was reaching the end of the tracks, but not slowing down. The Abbey was massive and brilliant. This was another place where you weren’t allowed to take pictures, but I saw the sign just after I snapped a quick one; or at least that’s my story. You get a little audio guide and map to help you appreciate everything, from the hundreds of years of heritage buried on site, the stone work, the stories, and the fact that it’s still a church; there was a service going on while we were in there. The ceiling in one of the wings is so intricate it was declared a wonder of the world as soon as it was finished. Every king and queen of England that ever lived is buried there. There are giant granite slabs on the floor to mark where they are buried underneath, but so many feet have traversed the ancient stone that some of the engravings have been worn smooth and nameless over time. One of the tombs is of some royal baby who died as a baby, so they made a baby statue in his honor. His mother is buried adjacent, staring longingly at the son she barely had for all eternity. A bunch of famous writers, scientists, and composers are buried here as well. “I guess if you’re and English writer, this is the goal.” I said, looking down at the dozens of dead poets. “Yeah,” said dad “That’s the goal.” I glanced around. “Kinda grim though.” A few of the names I can recall as of this instant are Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Handel, Elgar, Vaughn Williams, Darwin, Newton, and a bunch of other 18th-19th century writers.

After the Abbey we tried to find a place to rest our feet and watch the Olympics. We ventured into a fish n chips house, but they only had my dearly behated “dressage” on, which is equestrian, which is horses, which is stupid in my opinion. Horses are not an Olympic sport. I’m sorry if you’re a horse, but you don’t belong in a human competition. I understand having to take your racket bag with you to the Olympics, but having to charter your horse around with you? Ooph. Save us all the trouble. I must be feeling a bit snide today. I’m quite hungry. In the morning for breakfast the same thing was on as well. Horses all day every day. However a kind lady asked if we wanted to watch American sport, and I said “Anything, really.” And she told us where a sports pub was, and when we walked in there was badminton on six TV’s. We got to see Kevin Cordon beat the home town Rajiv Ouseph 21-19 in the third. Probably the most intense game of the tournament so far. Huaiwen texted dad around 4 because she had an extra ticket for tonight’s matches. Long story short, everyone else was kinda pooped, so I headed over to the weightlifting place where Huaiwen was. We got to catch up more on a long tube ride. We talked about moving and starti new lives and such. It was fun. When we got off she went through the special people entrance to the arena and I walked around to the plebian entrance. The seat was in the back corner all the way back against the wall. Not great seats, but there were some great matches. China vs. Taiwan in doubles and mixed, Zweibler and Ukraine, but probably the weirdest thing was the fans booing the woman’s doubles games because both sides of the net were intentionally trying to lose. I walked in late so I didn’t really catch on too quick. They should’ve had the two strongest pairs play each other 1st or2nd, and then this problem goes away. I didn’t even know why everyone was boing until I saw it on the news where players were trying to lose to avoid playing china first round. I have the room to myself now. I have that new song by Neontrees stuck in my head. I went to sleep.

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