Ever So Slightly Delirious

Why does everybody sound so English?

Need…sleep…

currently playing: The Flaming Lips - Race for the Prize

Leaving On A Jet Plane II

Goodbye, Chapel Hill. See you all again in October…

currently playing: Dexy's Midnight Runners - Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)

If These Words Sound Corny, Switch It Off

It's almost time to leave. I think it's only fair to say a few words about the people I've been living with this past year. The popular perception of Americans back in Europe is not particularly positive; they're all supposed to be arrogant, fat, slow-witted flag-wavers who hardly ever leave their borders. For college kids, well, they're all frat boys and sorority girls who spend all their nights binge drinking.

There's nothing like that here; it has been an honour and a privilege to be around the members of UNITAS for the last eight months. They've been kind and friendly, even after I spent the first semester locked in my room. There's Sona, a graduate student who has been to most of the countries in the Far East; he never gave up on me, was always been wiling to help at a moment's notice, and has been the best neighbour I could possibly ask for. Kavita is going to be such a wonderful teacher; she's full of life, boundless enthusiasm, and she has been practicing reading stories aloud to anybody on the hall who can't move fast enough to escape. Paul will have deep and probing conversations about the meaning of existence at five in the morning, asking the questions that we never dare to say out loud. Parthe has often got up as early as I did, so I applaud the gentlemanly conduct we indulged in, leading to only one occasion when we left our rooms at the exact moment for a shower. I could go on for a long time, but I'll finish with Laura. I don't think I've met anybody quite so dedicated to the causes that she believes in. This doesn't mean that she's a mindless zealot, though; like all good journalists, she's interested in the truth than being caught up in partisan spin. On top of that, she's funny, keenly intelligent, and a supporter of Liverpool. I suppose I can overlook that last one. As I said, it has been an honour to be with them; my regret is that I didn't do it sooner.

(For anybody who's wondering, Rishi is French. Otherwise he'd be up there as well. One of the greatest friends I've had the pleasure of making)

The city itself is full of friendly people, always ready to stop and pass the time of day, with a public transport system that easily outstrips anything in a comparatively sized British town. No, it's not perfect. But what is? If you look hard enough, you probably will find racists, narrow-minded people, and so on, but is that really any different from home? Where 142 voters in my home town honestly thought that a National Front member should represent their views in the local council? No, it's not perfect, but neither are we.

My biggest fear is that I will lose contact with these people. I hope that I will know them for the rest of my life — that we shall always remain close, even if the physical distance between us is vast.

On that note, I turn sideways to the sun, and in a moment I am gone.

currently playing: New Order - World

Safe And Reasonably Well

This is probably old news to a bunch of you, but it looks as if Raed survived Operation Iraqi Freedom…

currently playing: R.E.M. - Country Feedback

The American Experience

It turns out that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I'm deferring to the Americans for these last few days — just keep thinking 'jam' lest the language infection gets to you too) isn't quite as disgusting as it sounds. It's rather nice, actually; the jelly (no, I'm sorry, I'm now having visions of a jelly sandwich, wobbling all over the place. I may not have totally lost my roots, it seems) prevents the peanut butter from sticking to the roof of your mouth as well as providing a sweet contrast to the slightly bitter butter.

Um, yes. Do I think about these things too much?

It all started on Sunday night, when Laura was shocked to discover that I had only then ordered my first take-out pizza. Further questioning revealed that there's many American things that I haven't experienced, and she vowed to make sure I didn't go home without doing some of them. Hence the sandwich and the braiding of styrofoam packing (that one might not be a American tradition. Just in case you decide to turn up for the braiding).

Two days left. Staying happy until the end…

currently playing: Idlewild - American English

Axis of Opportunity

ABB is an engineering firm that helped to build North Korea's nuclear reactors. The ones that they're using to make warheads for their ballistic missiles. The contract was signed in early 2000. One little interesting detail: Donald Rumsfeld was on the board of directors.

Enemy Combatant! Send him to Camp X-Ray!

Living In Silence

I've just sold my speakers. This means I can no longer listen to music at obscene volume levels. Curses. All I have is the impressive-for-a-laptop-but-not-exactly-great speakers on the iBook.

Hang on, this means I can't watch Buffy, Angel, or The Daily Show this week, doesn't it? Curses++.

As you might have noticed, updates are going to be on the small side this week. Lots of things to do, not much time to write. Of course, after next week, I'll have all the time in the world…*sigh*

I have a cheque from the IRS! They're paying my excess baggage charges. Hah! Just to rub it in, I'll be filing for another refund next year as well. I don't trust them with my money…

currently playing: The Beat - Save It For Later

Sun Is Shining

Only staying long enough to say this: you have no idea how messy a cake fight can get at 3am…

currently playing: Hole - Celebrity Skin

Formulating Insane Plans

I'm a danger to myself and my bank balance. Stop me before it's too late!

currently playing: Slumber-Party - I'm An Example

A Helpful Washing Guide for Britons

To celebrate the final washing of the year, this establishment has put together a comprehensive tour of the facilities that Britons may encounter when visiting the colony for an extended period.

Your first encounter with an American washing machine will be a disconcerting experience. Unlike in Her Majesty's Empire, wherein the drum is mounted on a vertical axis, allowing your garments to spin up and down freely, the colonial machine appears to be mounted horizontally. Clothes will then, therefore, spin to the outward extreme of the drum, and tend to stay there in a wet crumpled heap after the alloted washing time has elapsed

Empirical testing seems to suggest that the Imperial method provides a better wash, but this research could be compromised by the next difference that we urge Britons to observe.

It has come to our attention that American detergents do not clean as throughly as the fine products you find at your local corner shop. Again, more testing is required, but three different brands failed to clean lightly soiled fabric in one cycle. This state of affairs seems to be acknowledged by the companies of the New World, who suggest adding more of their product to produce a cleaner wash. This publication urges caution at this advice, especially when using detergent in tablet form. On occasion, the washing machine will fail to utilise enough water to dissolve all the tablets, leaving your clothes with a disturbing layer of hardened soap.

Finally, we must make a note about tumble dryers. These abound in the Americas; the time-honoured tradition of the humble clothes-line appears to have died out in these lands. Our advice is to experiment with a selection of different dryers before settling on one to use for the rest of your time abroad. Although they may appear identical, certain machines seem to be better at their task than others, so experimentation is vital.

We hope that you will be able to put this humble guide to some utility. In closing, we would like to remind the reader that exposure to different cultures is all part of the travelling experience, and to bear this in mind when extracting a soap-encrusted trouser leg from the washing machine.

currently playing: PJ Harvey - Down By The Water