Archive for December, 2007

English Food – a bad ‘wrap’?

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007


For a country with just 6% of the population owning passports the US has a surprisingly well developed negative opinion of English food. We’re here in Southport England, our previous home-town before moving to the US, enjoying the wonderful comfort and unique company of family and friends, but also catching-up on the fine foods and the best of beers we’ve missed. No tortilla or flour wraps here, the wholesome and flavourful foods served in pubs now equals that of many English restaurants and is simply a treat for us. Meats, pies, with correctly cooked vegetable and tasty potatoes are the usual fare, and come at very affordable prices. Matched with unsurpassed beers including Old Peculier [sic] and Old Speckled Hen served pulled by hand and at cellar temperatures – not chilled -make the whole experience such a pleasure for us.

Fish and chips at The Swan is a must-do for us, and I made two visits on this brief trip. Melt-in-the-mouth cod, mushy pea’s and chips – all freshly cooked and served piping hot accompanied by buttered white bread and a generous pot of tea…..just wonderful.

I suppose it’s what your used to, the foods of your childhood that breeds the biases that results in our lingering taste for the familiar, badly missed when we can’t get them. And that leads to us being more critical of the ‘local’ foods available to us, and that become substitutes. There isn’t much American food that I dislike. But it’s all still a substitute, until our next visit home.

So Just Who Are they Talking With?

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

NY Cab

Cab rides in New York City are a combination of high adventures and nightmares but are a required pastime to get about the city with luggage, briefcases that are heavier that most toolboxes or when you just can’t face the subway anymore. The 13,000-some cabs themselves are, for the most part, the same – Medallion taxis, Ford Crown Victoria’s, painted yellow etc. But the drivers are each very different and make – or break – a reasonable trip with their attitude and temperament, be it up or down. I’ve experienced both, and everything in-between, but overall positive.

No matter what the nationality, the time of day or night, road and traffic conditions, most NY cab drivers are on the cell (mobile) phone continuously. Wireless ear-pieces, flashing blue, connect them throughout the entire trip…. to who? Who are they talking with? There’s no ‘office’ dispatching them to addresses about the city. That’s unnecessary here when there are always more clients than taxi’s and hailing cabs street-side is the norm. So who are they talking with, and about what? And who’s paying? It’s as intriguing (and fun) as is trying to guess the ethnicity and/or language in use, the range is astounding and represents the fascinating diversity of the city itself.

The next time I get a ‘nice’ driver I may pluck up the courage to ask. I’ll make sure I’m about to leave the cab and am in a crowded area. You never know. And I may not like the answer!

Not Just Yet

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

There it was. Right on the screen. I hadn’t expected it. It was a jolt I didn’t need. Dan’s name and his cell phone number, ready for me to call him. Dan, a good friend, fellow pilot, fellow sporting clays shooter, was killed just two weeks ago while piloting his aircraft here in Delaware. A tragic accident and devastating loss to his very young family, his friends, his colleagues and to the clients of his specialised software products – just about to be released in the new year after years of development and of which he was very proud.

And here’s the dilemma. When is it ok to delete Dan’s phone number from my contact list, or to remove his address from my email list? Despite the jolt of seeing his name scroll up on the car phone display it was good that I thought of him again. We’d conversed by email a week or so before the accident. Shall we go shooting this weekend? Yes, lets. We had to cancel, my fault, and we didn’t meet. Damn.

So, I’ll keep his name out-there some more. I don’t mind being prompted into remembering him as fondly as I do. I’m not ready for that minor act of removal or distancing. Not just yet.

Miss you Dan.

Dan and I in the Beech Duke

Only Outlaws Will Have Commas

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Gun laws are always contentiously debated. A recent NYT article by Adam Freedman sheds new light (for me at least) on the issue, going back all the way to the oft-quoted Constitution and which shows that the use and subsequent interpretation of English and, more importantly in this case, punctuation and the use of capitals can have. The Constitution states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Note the commas and the lack of capitalisation of ‘people’, both used by the two factions debating gun laws to further their argument and cause, for and against. Taking away the commas helps I think but, as the intriguing article points out, could lead to only outlaws having them!

If only we had access to The Framers to ask them what they intended when they penned (quilled?) the Constitution, and to be able to ask if they would change it now based on the current dispiriting and too-often deadly circumstances endured here.

Thanksgiving Dinner – with relatives!

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

It took the transfer of cous’ Graham F and family from Germany to Greenville South Carolina for us to enjoy the American tradition of visiting and eating with family over Thanksgiving. We flew down in the Cirrus in just 3 hrs (a 12-hour drive was avoided!). An IFR flight but very smooth and uneventful, and were met at the airport by Graham, Ricarda and Oliver. The next two days passed too quickly, enjoying strolls in warm temperatures, the children looked over the aircraft, but mostly just relaxing in good company. The excellent food prepared by Barbara included the traditional Turkey but also delicious German Stollen Bread and other European delicacies.

We reminisced over family matters past and present, catching-up on more recent happenings, here, in the UK and in Germany. We discussed the intricacies of languages and marveled at the children’s ability to thrive amongst it all. Oliver in particular, with just three months in the US and at just 6 years old, had learned very good English and was keen to exercise it with Lynne and I. Very impressive.

The return flight, with the aid of a tail-wind and speed-over-the-ground of 222 mph at 11,000 feet, was just 2.2 hrs. It was a challenging cross-wind landing at the home airport New Garden and took two attempts, but was safety done. Nice to be met at the airport by Neil, who’d flown home for a weekend with his chums

A great break for us, challenging and enjoyable flying, and wonderful to see Graham and the family, and to fulfill another American tradition – Thanksgiving Dinner on the road!

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