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

Dr. Pepper: Anti-Personnel Device

WARNING: Contents under pressure. Cap may blow off causing eye or other serious injury.

You know, I'm not certain I want the drink anymore…

currently playing: Blur - Song 2

Consider This A Warning, Phlebas

It’s only fair to warn you that this blog is likely to become increasingly maudlin over the next few days. In some respects, it would have been easier to leave in December; now that I’ve got to know people, it’s going to be a jarring experience. I’ll probably never see many of these people again. I’m trying to scrounge as many IM accounts as I can, and then there’s the top secret Insane October Plan, but many of the UNITAS group are graduating this year, scattering all across the globe like fireflies in the night.

Today's job was to try and get rid of the junk I've managed to pick up over the year. Lots of receipts, tax guides, cardboard boxes, and lecture notes all fed to the hungry recycling bins. That leaves me with a VCR, a microwave and a fridge to find homes for before next Friday…

currently playing: The Beat - Tears Of A Clown

Live From The Pit

I love to say that the lack of an update yesterday was due to not being able to squeeze it in among the hectic events of the day. I’d love to say that, really. The truth is more mundane: I didn’t have anything to write about. Still don’t, really, but now I can write about why I didn’t write yesterday. Aha!

There's nothing quite like sitting outside in the sun, talking with friends on IM, buying music from the fabulous new Apple Store, and wondering what I'm going to do next. Which reminds me that I should start looking into buying that wireless router for back home.

Back to writing my goodbye letters now. It’s turning out to be quite difficult. I spent five hours working on two yesterday (not spending all five hours on them, but writing a little, wondering what to say next, ripping it up and starting again, going off and doing something else for a while…), which seems like an extraordinary amount of time for two one-page letters which aren’t exactly mind-blowing. I’ve now finished Rishi’s, Laura’s and Sona’s, so just Kavi and Shafaq to go now. But I think I’ll have some lunch right now, as I’ve just realised that I haven’t eaten food since yesterday morning…

currently playing: James Taylor - Fire and Rain