In celebration of my first day back at Chapel Hill...I walked to Carrboro. There's nothing quite like settling back into a routine. And, yes, Bonnie, the shop is still has the howitzer on sale.
It hasn't changed too much, although I've only been away five months, so I wouldn't expect it to look vastly different. A few shops have come and gone, half the university appears to be undergoing renovation, and Carmichael is still hidden behind road works.
I've been bumping into a few people around campus. It was quite fun walking through Sitterson Hall, going past people I taught last year, and seeing the slightly confused looks on their faces. I had quick word with Janet Jones, the Graduate Student Services Manager, who gave me a lot of help and advice last year, for which I'm extremely grateful. Then I ran into Sona (almost literally, as I was doing my "off in a little dreamworld all of my own" walk through the campus), and had lunch with him. Haven't managed to meet up with Kavita yet, but I imagine it won't be too long.
This may be protesting a little too much, but I want it on the record: my knowing that Britney Spears has a new record out in the next few months is simply a result of reading the music press. I do not endorse Ms. Spears or her products.
Right, off back to the Pit to see if any scary religious guys will be turning up this afternoon…
Then, things got silly.
You see, the directions I had in my mind weren't the same directions that existed in reality. So I spent two hours wandering around the wrong part of Chapel Hill. Thankfully, my time in the Boy Scouts (okay, six weeks in Cubs, and I didn't get any badges) guided me back to the town centre (read: I doubled back on myself, looking for the tall buildings), and I finally managed to find someone who knew where Raleigh Street was (which took some doing. All I'll say is that if you want to rob the Town Hall, the security guards may have trouble remembering what street your getaway car took), and, two hours later, finally reached my destination. Dripping, no, flooding with sweat. Oh, the hilarity.
Anyway, Gatwick. As depressing as ever. It looks shiny, and you can easily be deceived by the brand new, sparkling duty-free section. As you go out to the gates, however, walls are replaced by temporary wooden panels (which have been there for over a year now) and plastic buckets to catch the water leaking in from the roof. We know how to show people a good time in Britain, naturally.
The security was as laughable as ever; a quick flash of my passport, and a short pat-down after I set off the metal detectors (one day, I shall learn to buy shoes that contain nothing metallic whatsoever). On arrival at RDU, I imagine we will be subject to a search regime that stops just short of the strip-search (hmm. Perhaps I should be less blasé about that. Tempting fate and everything), that'll last for about an hour.
An observation after spending far too long looking at the backs of albums in Virgin while waiting for my flight to be called: all the backs say "this label copy is protected by copyright". Are they seriously trying to say that listing the contents of an album is copyright infringement? If I tell you that the first track on the Dexy's greatest hits album is Geno, will the BPI take me to court? I have similar problems with the FA declaring that it owns football results. Madness!
The plane is strangely empty. Most of the centre seats are empty, so I've taken over an aisle; MP3 player on one side, book and notepad on the other. Is that business class feels like? Is that you John Wayne? Is this me?
Yes, I know that it's become cheap fodder for poor observational comedians, but after travelling to the USA for almost ten years now, the question still remains: has anybody, ever, answered yes to question C. on the I-94W Visa Waiver form? I've half a mind to write to the INS to inquire. "Dear sir, thank you for your email. The INS welcomes the chance to shed light on its internal activities, and we can inform you that 432 people have said that they have committed crimes of genocide and/or were involved in the running of Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. We still chuckle a little at their stupidity. Have a nice day."
Hmm. My batter says 83% charged. I don't trust it. Any time now it could —
I'll see some of you in a day's time, and others in three weeks. Bye!
Three! More! Days!
In other news, Priest has returned to the web, after the Summer of Hell™. While I'm naturally disappointed with the cancellation of The Crew (as well as Marvel's handling of the promotion), I'm intrigued as to what Tom Breevort has offered him as a replacement. Considering that Priest was considering quitting the industry before talking to him, it's got to be a high profile title. My current bet? The Avengers. I know that Chuck Austen is about to take over the reins on that, but he's writing half of Marvel's output at the moment (or so it seems), so it wouldn't be inconceivably for Priest to slip after a short Austen-penned arc. However, I've just noticed the title on Priest's weblog entry is "Impossible Man", which points towards Fantastic Four. Either way, it'll be a great, possibly final, test of the Priest Curse: surely even he can't get one of the original 1960s Marvel comics cancelled.