Archive for June, 2007

Movies on a rainy day

June 30th, 2007
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A colleague of mine noted the other day that Brits are famous for talking about the weather a lot, because, well, “all we have is bad weather”. I am clearly assimilating, then, since I feel compelled to start this entry with an observation that it seemed as if the entire June was one endless rain…
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Chronicles, Movies

Cold in summer and getting locked out

June 26th, 2007

Who would’ve thought that we’d need to turn on the heat with summer in full swing?

Well, ok, we did not exactly need it, but Natasha felt chilly in the house and rightly figured that the date on the calendar should not be used as a general guidance of which season it is… Small wonder, with cool temperatures for the last few days, the high barely piercing 10ºC on Monday, it did not feel like end of June at all. Balmy Chicago of a few days ago feels like another planet to me now…

So much for global warming!

Actually, my friend Dima pointed me to a Canadian article that scientifically argues for onset of global cooling. As smart as I want to appear to my readers, I cannot make out whether the science mentioned therein is legit. On the other hand, the Gore movie, I heard, is very powerful. Whom to believe?

Completely unrelated, but rather funny, is the fact that Natasha and Kimmy managed to lock themselves out of the house today and then ingenuously found a way back in.

One of our door locks is of self-locking variety. The handle on the lock can be turned just so to prevent it from engaging, but I figure that a forceful bang can overcome that. So, the first thing that I did upon moving in last October was to make an extra key and hide it outside. With another turn-key lock, the house is well-secured when we are away, and I figured that the danger of finding myself locked out upon taking out the garbage was worth the exercise.

Inexplicably, a few weeks ago we found the key gone. I don’t have a clue who would have taken it and why, – I suppose a neighbor’s cat discovered itself a shiny toy, – but it’s no longer where I hid it. Not unexpectedly, we have not made another copy yet…

Anyway, a gardener comes for his bi-weekly visit today. Our car is blocking the entry to the driveway, so he asks Natasha to pull in a bit more. Natasha takes the car keys, tells Kimmy to stay inside, turns the door lock handle just so, and proceeds to move the car. Kimmy has other ideas – such as to directly observe what is going on. And, being a conscientious girl, she knows to lock the house door after herself when there is no one left inside…

Yep, you get the picture!

Natasha is upset, Kimmy is crestfallen, there is no key. The gardener offers to use his ladder to try to get inside through a second-floor window…

And then Kimmy draws attention to the fact that she can push her little arm through the mail slot. A plan is immediately formed. The gardener supplies a screwdriver, Natasha holds the mail slot cover open, Kimmy inserts her arm in, hooks the lock handle from inside and pushes it to the open position…

I have no idea how in the hell that worked!!! But Kimmy called me at work and breathlessly described how she had saved Mommy and herself…

It merits noticing that Natasha had the car keys in her hand. One simple solution would be to drive to my office (less than 20 minutes with no traffic) and get my set of keys from me. But ingenuity won!

Becky, meanwhile, was singing with her school choir. Actually, there was a concert earlier in the day, which Natasha attended. It was a grand performance, according to her.

Upon reading this post of Jason Bennion, whose blog I started perusing via the links in my former boss Brian’s blog, I went to Blogthings to check out what type of writer I should be.

Can’t say that I am impressed. There are only five questions to answer, and I have a feeling that one single question – What reaction do you like to get from people? – which I answered Laughter – singularly determined the outcome.

Anyway, here is the stock verdict that I got.


You Should Be a Joke Writer

You’re totally hilarious, and you can find the humor in any situation.
Whether you’re spouting off zingers, comebacks, or jokes about life…
You usually can keep a crowd laughing, and you have plenty of material.
You have the makings of a great comedian – or comedic writer.


You can try on your own what type of writer you should be.

I wish I had plenty of material…

Children, Chronicles, Idle Amusements

Taste of London

June 24th, 2007
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Resuming our London-based activities, we went to the Taste of London festival on Saturday.
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Chronicles, London Album

Greetings, cakes and road crossings

June 22nd, 2007
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Do you know the most common form of greeting an acquaintance in England? It’s Are you alright?
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That's England, Who's Hungry?

Quick follow-up to previous post

June 21st, 2007
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Riding in a limo from Heathrow this morning, I had a rather strange feeling of being back home. It was most likely a function of spending a few nights in a hotel coupled with anticipation of getting to sleep in my own – or, at least, familiar and warm, – bed. But it was also a clear symptom of an established residence – home is what you come back to after having been away…
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Short notes after a brief US trip

June 20th, 2007

My short business trip to Chicago is coming to an end. Seeing my parents and my brother’s family was a bonus; going to a baseball game with co-workers gave me a necessary jolt of American culture; further socializing with said co-workers was mostly fun; otherwise, I could have probably stayed home.
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European living

Corporate benefits and other random occurrences

June 14th, 2007
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No sooner did I mention in my previous post that I had never personally encountered a manned police speed checkpoint, that I came upon one on my morning school run.
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Chronicles, That's England

English driver license

June 12th, 2007
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After promising it on several occasions, I am carrying on with my expatriate experience series of articles. The first entry dealt with relocation package specifics. This post is about UK driver licensing.
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Auto trivia

Back from Brugge

June 10th, 2007
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Our official travel program for the foreseeable future is completed with our return from a weekend trip to Brugge.
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Where we've been

Feeling awfully secure…

June 7th, 2007

I have ranted on several occasions in the past about British approach to customer service. While the problems that I described before – particularly, incessant handovers from one department to another, with attendant need to go through “security questions” and the description of the issue at hand again and again, – still exist, I am starting to realize that my view of the American approach may have been inexplicably tinted in rosy undertones.
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Rethinking top cities

June 4th, 2007
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We perused our Amsterdam pictures and practically threw our camera away in disgust. The pictures come out unfathomably noisy. Even – or, rather, especially – the ones taken under more or less perfect lighting conditions. Natasha will work her magic and probably rescue enough to put together an album (in a couple of weeks), but this is completely unacceptable. We will be looking to replace this stupid camera with another one in short order.
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Travel Editorial

Licensed to kill… or watch, at least

June 4th, 2007

It may come as a surprise to many, but in England, a person cannot watch TV unless (s)he is licensed to do so.
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That's England

Back from Amsterdam

June 2nd, 2007
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We are back from our trip to Amsterdam, and I am happy to report that it was another resounding success.

We have not been to Amsterdam before, and the city duly impressed us. It is certainly unique, having been built on the expansive network of man-made canals. It is certainly vibrant. It is also peaceful. It certainly has this quality that only a few cities of the world possess of drawing a visitor in and making him or her want to stay longer and come back again and again.

The canal-side architecture is a marvel, especially along the three major canals built in 17th century. Amsterdam does not offer any monumental architecture as many other Old World capitals do, but instead impresses with ingenuity, variety and palette of its residential buildings and warehouses. The occasionally crazy bicycle traffic, contrasted with tranquility of the water transport passage, fascinates the person who is not used to either. And if experiencing life of the city by walking its streets is not enough for you to feel culturally satisfied, you can find a number of great museums as well.

We are somewhat amazed at the fact that we managed to execute practically our plan-maximum for the trip. With our two kids, I must point out. Not only did we visit every museum on our list except one, but we also tried a variety of activities, such as joining a bike tour, renting bikes and riding around the city on our own, taking a river cruise, and pedaling around the canals on a water-bike. The latter – twice. We also tripped to the miniature Dutch village Madurodam in The Hague, to the full-size windmill village Zaanse Schans, to atmospheric Delft and to lively Utrecht.

We did not do much of the “forbidden” stuff. First of all, again, kids. Secondly, for a reason that I call old age, neither Natasha nor I hold any desire to experiment with marijuana or magic mushrooms or the like. We don’t believe that we are missing anything by never having tried, but if we are, well, so be it. As to the Red Light District, we went for a stroll one night after putting kids to bed, and came away a bit underwhelmed. Sex shops and shows hold no interest to us. Scantily clad girls in their windows were slightly amusing, but there were enough unattractive (by my personal definition, of course) or visibly bored ones to put a damper on any window-shopping. And the throngs of inebriated, horny and hooting males (I conservatively estimate a 1:15 proportion of women among the revellers) is, while obvious in such a place, not a very pleasant company.

Maybe if I went alone – and after having downed a few beers – I’d feel different. Or, maybe, I am just too happily married to appreciate this stuff (the audience should go O-o-o-o-oh at this point :p).

Anyway, we are back now, with only one major trip remaining on the schedule before our voyage home in August.

During our time away, I managed to get even older by a year. To all who called and emailed with their congratulations, my heartfelt thanks. I love you too, guys!

You can read our Amsterdam notes in the Travelog.

Where we've been