new year's eve

it's just after seven in the evening and i'm sitting in a friend's living room in denmark. the new year will trundle along in a few lazy hours and the fireworks will continue well into the morning here in arhus. the living room is quiet and dinner will be served shortly. i suppose the time has come perhaps to take stock of the last twelve months, for they have been eventful.

i sold the best bike i've ever had; lived with morgan; drank with morgan; got a tattoo; turned 22 in the best of company; worked at a shoe store with matt hatch; rode in whistler twice with shane & spencer; got a new road bike; played frisbee at boulevard park with ang, joel and ashley; spent too much money at old town but made unforgettable connections; made a secret getaway to the oregon coast; thought i was having a heart attack; got to celebrate a year with somebody; watched a good friend get married; finished my thesis; watched my best friend grow from one person to someone completely different in a year; realized credit debt is not good but nearly unavoidable; played in seattle; strengthened connections with those whom i love and missed dearly those who i don't ever see; imploded and watched others implode; taught myself that positivity is the best way; supported and got support; learned that some people didn't get the memo about assault and that education should be the first priority; met kurt halsey; watched my love leave on a train only to spend christmas with her; went to england; studied medieval history where it happened; saw sigur ros in london; found my favourite pub in the world; studied the tube; made lasting friends abroad; traveled north france; visited denmark; made plans; changed plans; watched the united states make a choice that delighted the world; contracted; relaxed; learned to deal, learned to deal, learned to deal.

i'm missing some things in that list but i don't really care. there was one valuable lesson to come out of 2008: letting myself love. love friends, love a girl, love the world for whatever it has to offer (even if what it has to offer is nothing but hardships at times). my friends mean more to me than anything in the world and that realization is the most amazing part of the year.

drab palace
happy new year.


[edit] i would like to try and describe århus while she bends and twists, shaking from the explosions of massive non-state sponsored fireworks displays. this is the city during new year's celebrations. streets fill with the sulfur stench of lit powders and spent fuses, the yellow vapor lamps barely penetrating the thick odious cloud that wavers about with the little breeze that makes downtown. it's 23:50.

mom, abby, steffan and myself stood surrounded by small buildings that were just enough to block our view of the surrounding skyline - we were in some square in the city center. across the rooftops and chimneys the occasional flash of light penetrated the darkness and drowned out the stars on this -4c night. the frosty grass was loud underfoot but, come 00:00 2009, the crunch was drowned out. the madness that ensued for the next 45 minutes can only be described as an air raid from 1940 without the craters and flattened buildings. the body count and fires remained just as high, however. across the skyline, all we could see were flashes of incredibly bright light followed immediately by cracks and booms. my guts rattled and if i had a metal plate in my head i might just have had an aneurysm. searchlights stabbed through the smoke and night. there were screams coming from every direction as people seemed to flee the chaos, yelling and drinking and carousing their way into debauchery. windows rattled and the mass of sirened vehicles blazing through the streets gave the distinct impression that the nazis had just began shelling central london again. the smoke coated everything and you couldn't just smell it, you could taste it, the foul rank clinging to every surface that didn't have frost on it. homemade fireworks were causing rubbish bins to reach a state of explosive instability on a regular basis. cars full of youths and elders alike roared by. the bolder drivers passed the fire engines from time to time, attempting to avoid the rockets in the streets by dodging and swerving, marking serpentine tracks in the sulfur and frost that had settled on the street. they were the fleeing remnants of a people stuck in a place they didn't want to be with no choice but to give their damnedest to work together to get out. this is the last chopper out of 'nam! i imagined taxi drivers yelling to their dawdling fares standing drunk and confused on the sidewalk, half deaf from the shelling and crackling and screaming and pandemonium coursing through the streets like heroin through the veins of someone taking their first stab. champagne bottles exploded against buildings and sidewalks. people dressed for balls and galas joined in with the frenzy. everybody on the streets seemed lost but not a single one seemed to care. no one dashed for the bomb shelters and there wasn't a single prophet urging us to repent - if there was we could never have heard him.

århus exploded tonight. instead of sitting on a hill, watching some choreographed fireworks show i was part of it. i walked through the smoke, felt the caustic taste rest on my palate. everybody was a part of it. the state organized no event so the people filled the vacuum. there was no sense of finalé, just the relentless pounding and drumming of illegal german fireworks announcing our presence as the human race and greeting the new year with open arms, look at us! look at what we can do! we can build bridges and construct buildings taller than mountains! we can dig tunnels and create massive transportation networks that whisk people across miles in minutes! we can logically theorize on the origins of the universe and deduce the motion of all celestial bodies to three simple laws! we can cure polio and make corn healthier and easier to grow! we can do all of these things and more and we do everyday of every year since we first learned how to cause a spark! but tonight is the first of january and we'd just as soon get drunk, laugh, shout, be attracted to one another, have sex, eat food, play games and make colourful fire in the sky! god it's great to be alive and human. pics n' things!


canary wharf

angela and i went ice skating at canary wharf and neither of us fell down. tonight is christmas eve and on our balcony we have a bottle of sparkling wine.

london is lit up like a christmas tree. beautiful...

regent street, london
regent street

-e pics n' things!


fallout 3

i don't game often. i really don't. just when i've had a really stressful day or if beto or kristan are around the apartment and fancy a match on Fifa '08. but when i game. i game. hard.

today i picked up a copy of fallout 3. once again, fallout 3.

i'm 20 minutes in and 10 years old and i can't wait to let you know how this fascinating game ends.

[edit] i want a ps3 of my own.

-e pics n' things!



pack yer bags. m. ward at the showbox friday, march 6.

-e pics n' things!


for your visceral pleasure

powdered sugar bomb
powdered sugar bomb'd
-e pics n' things!


first snow

the sky, in hull, sparkles for the first time in months. snow frosts everything.

hwy 141
hwy 141

the first snow is an important marker during the year for me. there's never anything such as the first "nice day of spring" or the first "rainy day of fall". the first snow holds a special place atop the pantheon of memorable days. it's baffling to me how the cold fluff imprints itself on our imaginations as something worth assigning memory to, how it can shimmer on the coldest mornings or make people run around laughing and screaming with joy. what's the magic that it holds? how can it possibly mean so much to everybody across the world? what makes something so miserably cold, and in most cases completely impractical and inconvenient, worth anything?

for me it's trout lake, my hometown the size of a peanut to washington's football stadium. every winter i look forward to the first snow because no matter where i am and how charming the surroundings are they always take me home. i am always inclined to think about freezing toes and sled runs that would mom and dad nervous. the clearcut behind ben's house and ill-fated attempts to build forts. iced over ponds that break under the weight of skis and ski boots resulting in premature trips back to the warm confines of the paxson home.

ben & spencer
ben & spencer, 2005

i don't believe that i default on these memories every time it snows because of some simple maudlin nostalgia. i think the trigger is something deeper, something in my upbringing, my blood. something to do with the fact that i've only experienced two "dry" christmas' in all my life and one was in california. something to do with the fact that we got so much snow in 1996 that the town flooded and the vending machine at the local gas station was torn up and carried down the raging rapids that was once an irrigation ditch. something to do with the fact that i've shoveled snow four or five deep.

i miss the winter in washington, i think. this is a beautiful season and even bellingham held onto a bit of that magic for me whereas north england seems content to wallow in a sort of grey sadness. there are christmas "decorations" on the street and i have lights up in my room but there is an element of shine that is missing here.

despite the obvious lack of snow to romp around in with mates, of course.

-e pics n' things!


IT vs. idiots, round 1

courtesy angela s.

take some time out of your day to enjoy this little nugget of IT-comic brutality. if you've ever used, or seen, a computer you just might find some humour in this.

sod it, i need to start my paper for australian history.

pics n' things!

helmsley castle

my medieval yorkshire class visited helmsley castle in, surprise, helmsley today. it was almost a two hour drive on a massive coach via windy and sadistic little country roads. wonderful countryside - from what i could see, anyways. it was a great deal foggy limiting vision to no more than a hundred feet or so for the entire day we were out. fotos:

spooky ass mist & south curtain wall.

guard house
main guardhouse.

main keep south wall
south wall of main keep. the gentleman on the soapbox is dr. john walker, one of the best professors i've ever had. he makes tea for us in the middle of our seminars.

cairns, or the remaining bit from the auxiliary chapel.

helmsley town

-e pics n' things!


spiderman 3

spiderman 3 is a phenomenal, heaping, coiled pile of steaming shit. raimi tries with the evil dead-esque camera motions and lighting but all he's able to do properly is keep bruce campbell around for the french waiter.

-e pics n' things!


on a lighter note

if you at all value small british cars getting turned into stretch limos...

-e pics n' things!

thought for food.

this following has nothing to do with the books. psyche.

it has recently been occurring to me that i will be going home in just over two months. this is strange. when i first arrived here and told people i was to be in hull for only a semester i would preface the statement with "unfortunately". the idea not being that i didn't want to return to bellingham and the US but rather that i wanted as much time abroad as i could get. but now it's as if i am feeling more prepared to go home and finish uni at WWU. sure it saddens me that i won't get to fly to france for £5 after the 3rd of february. but it also saddens me to be away from the people i love.

over the past few weeks i have spent a great deal of time on my own, wandering northern europe, sodding about, attending concerts, missing flights and generally making a worthless slouch of myself. i have spent more time on metros and undergrounds than i have in front of books or computers and as a result i have taken more pictures than will fit on my laptop. aside from visiting friends for an evening in paris i have spent the last two+ weeks figuring this area out for myself. i have seen notre dame, the eiffel tower, the french countryside via auto tour, big ben, the tower bridge, hyde park, parliament and train-toured all of england. the experiences have been, in an overused word, unforgettable.

but this is selfish. i have found that, over the long term, this type of living isn't sustainable. depsite my best attempts to prove to the world that i don't need anybody i have only shown myself that for days at a time i am content to not speak to anybody. the difference between not having anyone you love close to you and not doing a great deal of speaking to those people has become shatteringly clear. the time i went out and spent on my own was enlightening and i would never dare replace it with any other experience but at the same time i cannot help but miss those who i love. angela, joel, ben, spencer, morgan, mom & dad, brothers...there are countless people in the US that i find myself thinking about daily. it doesn't matter where i am but inevitably the thought crosses my mind that boy, they might really like this place.... i want everybody i know to be able to visit me. i want everybody i know to be able to see everything i see.

so in the end i simply find myself thinking of my family. my friends in bellingham. my friends in olympia that i don't speak to anymore. my friends in bellingham that i don't speak to anymore. the people i don't speak to anymore wherever they are. when i return to bellingham i want to rekindle what i've lost with some. i want to make new friends and meet new people. i want to see new things in the united states, things i never thought i would want to see. and i want friends to share these experiences with me.

life is good. but it's hardly worth mentioning if you don't have people you love.

-e pics n' things!


in which our hero get his head exploded for a second time

sigur ros. it must be embarassing to open for these guys unless, of course, you're icelandic. over the last seven years the quintet has been opened, mainly, by two groups of icelandic musicians: first was amina, the irresistable group of women that included one who was rather resourceful with a saw and others that could turn zippo lighters and door latches into beautiful little trinkets of melody. they warmed up the audience with curious rhythms and counterrhythms punctuated by adorable clinks and plunks from bells, keyboards and violins. it was as if you had opened up a child's jewlery box and instead of finding a spinning ballerina inside you discovered a world of colours and light. they warmed up the audience the first time i saw sigur ros in 2006 at the arlene schnitzer in portland.

tonight was a little bit of a different story. the alexandra palace is a venue perfectly suited for sigur ros and any acts you might think proper enough to open for them. this is evidenced in the very title of the establishment (read: palace) and tonight was almost no exception. let's start with the band's name: "for a quiet reflection" or "for a moment's consideration" or something along those lines. okay, moving on. how about the band's image: four skinny white guys bent over standard instruments, somehow shrouding themselves in light. hmm, still not really seperating themselves from anything much here. well i guess that leaves the sound, hardly the most important aspect of a live show (sarcasm, etc.): oh, wait, they stole the pedal boards from one of austin's most prestigious musical groups. if you know me you know that explosions in the sky is and has been standard go-to material for me when i'm not quite sure how i'm feeling. it's always there and has acheived "comfort-music" status. so when these four guys started swinging over their guitars and jabbing their feet at pedals and delays and violin-effects and tube-screamers and overdriveXXX9000extreemes i began feeling a little nostalgic over material i hadn't listened to in a while. and, like most prog-rock/post-rock the 11 minute tracks begin getting lost in themselves. i always find it interesting that i know that there are songs i like by these bands but i can never remember the melodies and distinguish them from other tracks from even the same album until i hear it. and that's how this opener felt: like a nice road trip that is plesant enough, engaging and all, but when you get back home you can't remember where you visted.

sigur ros played for two hours. they ripped my chest open, removed every organ, polished them and carefully replaced each, bit by bit, rearranging here and there so as to make me a more efficiantly functioning human being. there was a giant waterfall, fans blowing fake snow and finally, in an orgasm of light, sound and gutwrenching kick drum from "Gobbledigook", confetti was blown out into the palace in the fashion one would expect from a ticket tape parade. it looked like we had just won the war all over again.

more to come. my internet time is up. too much time ranting on the opener and not on sigur ros.

-e pics n' things!


nantes & beyond: days 2, 3 & 4

day 2:

i just had to make sure i was at john lennon airport in liverpool for my flight at 7:05am. had i not slept until 6:30, i probably would have made it. to the cabbie's credit he had me there in 15 minutes but, despite his best attempts, it was still 30 minutes too late. they were no longer taking check-ins at 6:50 and from the parking area outside i watched my flight, and for just a short moment my dignity, leave without me. after catching my breath and getting past the idea of "just not going and grabbing the first bus back to hull" i rearranged my flight to beauvais and alamo was able to comply and adjust my car rental from nantes to the new location. this, however, resulted in me not getting the citroen c1 like i was originally promised but instead the citroen berlingo. this frumpy little thing with a rattler of a 1.6 HDI diesel engine would take me across 700km in less than 48 hours with zero complaints. the five speed only required a half-tank of diesel for the trip and that included getting hopelessly lost on the peripherique exterieur in paris. (i was initially distraught at the sights of the vehicle but by the time i was dropping it off at the ferry port in calais today i found myself wondering what the tariffs were for importing one to the US.)

so after much difficulty i made it to jimmy's flat in paris and, i have to say, the most nervewracking experience i've ever encountered was the massive roundabout at the north end of avenue de la place d'italie. there are no markings and it's wider than two city streets. the french, apparently, would rather just play super mario kart than drive real cars like real people. but the cars weren't the most frightening aspect of the ordeal - the scooter drivers have less respect for their wellbeing than most unwitting junebugs that get caught in the grills of semi trucks on desert roads. i almost hit three in my four passes around the roundabout. i felt precisely like clark griswold in national lampoon's european vacation when he can't turn right.

jimmy and his friend dan welcomed me at 3:30 and straightaway i was heading off towards the notre-dame with dan. we caught the metro to the cathedral and then attempted a walk to the eiffel tower before we were caught in a vengeful downpour - even the seine seemed to pull at its seams before the rain was finished. we ducked into a totally parisian cafe and had little espressos and french onion soup before trekking back out, in between torrents, and grabbing the metro to the tower. the eiffel tower is fucking cool, i don't care how much of a tourist/non-parisian object it is. unfortunately i can't post any photos (i have a shitload) but since my new laptop is on the way i will be able to veryvery soon.

jimmy met up with us at 9:30 and we drank two bottles of wine in great little park in montmartre, a real version of the better parts of disneyland. a note on the wine: surprise! even the cheap wine in paris is good!

day 3:

we met up with ciara at jimmy's boss's for a great parisian lunch repleat with beautiful leg of lamb, breads, cheese, rose, butter-like beans and soup. afterwards i left for calais (but not before receiving a parisian parking ticket! super good use of €35!!!!!!11). this day was pretty uneventful really. lots of driving across the french countryside north to the port city.

day 4: (today)

today has been fast. after catching the ferry across to dover i have been on the go, stopping only for 30 minutes in camden town to unpack my bag at the smart camden hostel. i have walked through the camden markets and all around piccadilly circus and leicester square. tomorrow i plan on visiting some of the more classic tourist spots such as the london eye, big ben, harrods and...

shit my internet time is up.

-e pics n' things!


nantes & beyond: day 1

today was, in a sense, kind of a wreck. all i had to do was get from hull to liverpool and it took all day. which is weak. but, again, in a sense, totally okay. here's why:

my train out of hull departed on time and all was going along swimmingly until 30 minutes into the trip. before we were half way to manchester, where i had a connection bus to liverpool, the train encountered mysterious "technical difficulties amounting to a major mechanical issue". you know, not to make any of the passengers too uncomfortable. we were hustled off the train at some godforsaken rock in the middle of the hedgerows and we're told that our connector train to Leeds is on platform 3. i only see one platform. there is more oxygen on mars than there were platforms at Kingston upon Whereverthefuck. but we get on this tiny two-car shuttle thingy that takes us to leeds where we're to wait for a connection to manchester. in leeds we switch trains again and i get to man city at 4:00, 15 minutes after my connection bus left.

(upon a brief but american complaint i get a train ticket to liverpool for the price of my missed bus connection. which is nice. i didn't even raise my voice - just mention that you've been vaguely inconvenienced to the english and they're cut to ribbons.)

so i am now in liverpool at the nightingale lodge, a very cool old building outside of the city center. i have three other roommates, one of whom i have met: julie from belgium. we are probably going to a pub downtown for food and a couple pints.

tomorrow morning i fly out of John Lennon Airport at 7am for nantes. in nantes i will pick up a rental car and drive to paris where i am meeting up with jimmy and ciara from western. jimmy has, graciously enough, offered his couch/floor/bathtub for me to sleep on/in tomorrow night. the morning of the 12th i am heading north to basse normandie.

i'm taking many pictures and collecting many postcards.

forward ho!

-e pics n' things!


the coming weeks

a few brief things and then on to business:

-school is going well. reading week is next week and it will be time for me to start constructing the papers that i have due for three classes. i am looking forward to working on them and getting them out of the way because it's taken all of my will power to keep my brain in hull when europe is so close.
-looks like mom is going to visit at the end of december. the plan so far is that she'll be here for a week and we'll get to spend the new year in denmark with a family friend.
-my computer is still broken (like it's getting any better on its own) and i haven't come up with a solution. the ideal situation is the one where i bite the bullet and take some of my educational loan monies and apply them towards the new macbook. i really do need to get this fixed because it has seriously disrupted my lines of direct communication with some very important people.
-still haven't seen quantum of solace.
-hsbc still hasn't given me my money. thx.

but in more immediate news, the next two weeks are going to be very eventful.

this week i will be travelling nearly non-stop taking time to sleep in assorted hostels in england, france and possibly belgium. my five day trip will take me through manchester, liverpool (exotic, i know), nantes, paris, carentan, caen, rouen, calais, bruges, dover and london. it's nearly not enough time to go all of these places and it's certainly not enough time to acutally absorb paris or london. truly absorbing these larger cities, however, isn't necessarily the point. it's the smaller cities, countrysides and coastlines i'm really trying to focus on and lodging, as usual, will take a backseat. i have two nights in france where i have no hostels reserved so far and i am considering just sleeping in the car-for-hire that i have reserved at nantes airport. my trip will end with an overnight in london and a train back to hull late on the 14th. i'm kicking myself for not having a decent camera. d'oh.

when i get home i'll have to do laundry quickly (because we don't have a dryer, just an iron. fucking student housing) as i will be heading back out on another three day trip exclusively to london. this is the one that i'm absolutely quaking with excitement over because here i will be seeing sigur ros on the 20th. i have paid a little more attention to the accomodations for this trip and i booked a hostel in piccadilly circus, 30 seconds from the piccadilly tube stop. it will be noisy and i'm not anticipating a great deal of sleep. this doesn't bother me due to my frighteningly skimpy hours of rest during the last week.

after the london trip i leave for edinburgh. actually, i will go straight from my arrival back in hull via train to a coach on campus departing for the scottish city. good thing i'm used to wearing the same clothes for a week at a time.

the winter is settling in nicely here and the leaves have all turned to a sticky paste on the sidewalks. nothing on the ground isn't coated with tree detritus and my runny nose insists that i'd rather be spending my time sick than healthy.

-e pics n' things!


looking forward

well done, sir. well done. i feel a strange sense of pride right now. i am proud of the people back home who have allowed something like this to happen and i feel strong being abroad right now.

they've passed us the ball. let's not drop it.

-e pics n' things!


dark streets late at night in malta are as unfriendly as a murderer

it's late a few nights ago. the streets are dark and wet. no cars. i'm walking a friend home.

me: wow, it sure is dark tonight.
maltesian: in malta we have a saying...
me: oh?
maltesian: yeah. "it's so dark you could kill somebody and bury the body."
me: ah. this must be one of those clever multiple-meaning phrases, huh?

-e pics n' things!



be a cool kid and check it out if you haven't already. poladroid.


thanks for the link, ang. pics n' things!


loves it

i'm in my room, upstairs from the main living area in our flat. i'm quietly minding my own business and reading about mesoamerican commerical relationships in the chaco canyon, as you do, when, blaring from the downstairs hi fi comes the baywatch theme. beto, flat as always, sings along while cooking something. i know he's cooking because i can smell curry. it's always curry. good curry, though. not the shitty stuff.

baywatch and curry. 

thank you, mexico.

pics n' things!


two things

a) the US is missing kabob shops. jesustits, even after a dozen visits these things are amazing.

b) i had a friend who's wonderful curly hair was lit on fire tonight after leaving a club.

pics n' things!


not shot or stabbed but weightless

turns out that during the past week there has been one of the largest fairs in the uk happening near KC Stadium here in town. Hull Fair, as it is aptly titled, is a massive sprawling travelling carnival with all of the accountrements that come standard to a life that only a five year old would think glamerous.

though there were plans to go today, the last day of the fair, an election celebration led a group of friends and officials from the International Students Association and myself to take one of the late buses down to the fairgrounds. beto, my roommate, ran for the position of representing the Americas on the ISA Decision Committee and won. we slouched about at the Sanctuary on campus and waited with the other runners and existing officials waiting for the results and by 8:00 everybody had a couple drinks. about ten or twelve of us finally decided that going to the fair might be a good idea.

earlier in the day mentioned to a friend that i was planning on checking out the fair and his response was "ah, that's a good way to get shot and stabbed at the same time." (i had an acid-like-flashback to nick swardson's stabbing routine) i still can't quite figure out if chris was kidding.

kristan and i rode this scary thing first. when you got up to the top, assuming the swiveling seats you sit in weren't whipping about and pitching you upside down, there was an amazing view of hull, the fair, KC and the Humber Bridge. really cool, actually. and then the arms threw you back down towards the platform and it felt as if no amount of restraint was going to keep you from simply melting out through the safety harness. it also creaked the whole time. nice.

then we went on one of those tower freefall contraptions. cleverly titled Big Ben, this tower was the shortest "ride" of the fair but also the most frightening. four sides of seats are rigged to a giant hydraulic press in the center of the tower which pulls the chair platform upwards at slightly more than unnerving speeds. once the chairs are loaded at the bottom there is an indeterminate amount of time before the platform is slung up and, once at the top, one has to wait and wait and wait before freefalling back down. i tried holding onto the metal handles on the ride up but my hands slipped off - the handles were covered, conveniently, in some sort of grease. so for the drop i didn't hold onto anything and this is the closest thing to that feeling you get when you're bungee jumping. there's a moment when after reaching the apex of the parabola on the return trip up you're weightless. this is one of the eeriest feelings i've ever had, it just sinks into your gut and you realize that you will be dead in just a few seconds.

yeah, except this was a carnival ride so i trusted it less than a couple canadien guys rigging naked-me up to a big bouncy rope on a bridge 200 feet up spanning a thin canyon in february.


pics n' things!



the banks in england, for now, seem stable. my holder, HSBC, appears to have a solid foothold in the quickly crumbling mountainside that is the financial world. the other two major banks in england, and greater europe, Lloyd's TSB and Barclay's, also look to be in the relative clear. the latter bank, Barclay's, sponsors the UK's Premier League so their insurance policy is, in a way, the millions of fanatics who religiously attend matches with easy preference over such things as weddings, funerals and job interviews. (fun fact: Hull's F.C. just made it into the Premier League this year as a total dark horse competitor. go Hull City!)

but i digress.

HSBC has been a decent bank so far. none of the large banks in the UK charge ATM fees, i.e. there are no withdrawl fees on a Lloyd's TSB atm if you are withdrawing from a Barclay's account. each major bank has a wide ranging fleet of branches and teller machines across not just the west half of the country (think about it, wells fargo) but across the whole of europe. their staff is helpful and HSBC offers a solid checking/savings for students with their Passport program (the only drawback being a £6 monthly fee for the first 12 months). and with the oversight of the Bank of England, inflation is kept low due to preset interest rates. these are all good things.

but. a bummer occurs. i deposited my US loan checks to, you know, pay for school and live and stuff, only to discover that it takes HSBC up to ten weeks to pay them into a checking account. this means that i will have my monies over half way through my stay. hmm. something doesn't add up. so i went into the local branch this morning to talk with a representative, the same nice woman who helped me set up my checking account in the first place. she informed me that there are actually two ways that banks can cash these foreign checks: negotiation and another that i can't remember. the short of the yarn is that the teller who i initially deposited the checks to assumed that i would rather wait for ten weeks as oppossed to wait about two days for the negotiation method. i wasn't even informed about the option. the only difference between the two methods is that with negotiation your account is credited the amount and once the check clears (usually within three to five days), the money is yours. with the other method the check actually gets sent to your home bank for confirmation, to pakistan for target practice and then finally buried in soft peet for three months and recycled as firelighters (R.I.P.) before getting deposited in your account. so, if you're at least 10% sure you have the money in your account, it's worth the negotiation route.

one check is still waiting for deposit via the long method and one check was deposited by negotiation this morning. this will actually be good, spreading the money out over a longer period of time with the bulk coming in the latter half of my term here, when i'll need it the most.

other than this little hang up i have had relatively few problems still. classes are humming along and i am rather enjoying two, War & Memory in 20th Century Australia and Medieval Yorkshire: from the Norman Conquest to the Wars of the Roses, while the third is a little tedious, America: from Colony to Republic. with the latter i was looking forward to getting an English account of colonial history after being imbibed with the US version for the last 22 years. so as luck would have it, and it usually does, my little plan backfired and i have a canadien who studied in the US as my professor. all classes will end with a final essay. i have encountered a great deal of interest among professors who find out what i was studying last spring as there doesn't seem to be a great deal of russian history available here (i.e. none).

i keep forgetting to mention that the director of the international office gave me his Hull University Faculty tie when i asked where i could purchase one. i thought that was neat.

on a somber note, not many people here have seen or know about the big lebowski. as a result they seem to miss the importance of a good white russian.

-e pics n' things!



so i have officially changed my return flight from 25 december to 3 february. i have the same flight times but it's a month later. i approached the international office coordinator here again and she gave me the same answer, under no circumstances am i going to be able to take my exams early in order to return to the states in time to apply for winter quarter at western. if this wasn't going to work for me i should not have applied for study abroad.

*shudders with something resembling but not exactly quite like rage*

i'm not upset about being in europe for an extended period of time. i'm upset that the people who were to be helping me here at hull have been, well, not. i have heard conflicting reports from several sources, including my professors here who have told me that students have taken their exams early, on whether or not i would be able to return home before the official examination period.
i need to be less upset about these things. and i am. three months ago this would've sent me through the roof with panic and a white hot fit of anger. in fact, it did send me through the roof. but now, after all the shit that it has taken to get here, i just don't have the energy to hassle with them. instead i have to approach the situation with the most positive manner i can.

it's a pretty fortunate deal, if you were to think about it. other than hemorrhaging massive amounts of money and losing school time in bellingham, i will end up with a free month from school. in europe. that's cool. plus i will be able to be in either paris, london or munich for christmas and the new year, one of my original ideas for the holidays. also, mom will be able to have time to fly out during her christmas break to visit and see some of the country.

so really, i need to stop pissing and moaning because it's not often one gets the opportunity to take a rescheduled flight and apply the situation to the rest of their life. this is one of those adult moments where you have make the choice between a life constantly unsatisfied and a life where flexibility becomes a quality, not a chore. it's time to make the choice and just, i don't know, be happy for fuck's sake. necessity is the mother of invention and it is necessary for me to stop being so hard to please.

months ago i wrote up some pages on problems i have with perspective and my internal debate which argues that people, in a sense, don't have it and how that really pisses me off. so, here is a perfect example of my hypocrisy. treat this like a smaller event, a rescheduling and a remarking of the calender, and step away from it. step away from the preconception that this is turning the whole journey on its head because it isn't. my flight home is the last thing i do so why would it ruin this?

pretty slapdash but i don't feel like i should explain it. people wouldn't read this anymore if i did.

here are some pictures if you just scrolled past my monologue:

rock out
a mexican and an american play backup for "hotel california". rock the fuck out.

old town
york, old town.

pics n' things!


nuts & bolts (in progress)

nantes to calais.
kings cross to camden inn.

still in progress and for my own reference.

pics n' things!



the cost of a new ticket home because of hull's unwillingness to negotiate will be something like $4000 $500! thanks guys! awesome!

the university of hull loves international students!


[edit] okay, i just had to get that out. it probably won't be that bad. *winces*
pics n' things!



on sunday a group of us took a little trip out to scarborough, about 70k north of hull. yes, i believe it is scarborough as in scarborough fair. as in simon and garfunkle. or some shit.


gardens & stairs below grand hotel
stairs and gardens.

southern coast, village, marina
scarborough southern beach, village & marina. their waterfront really reminded me of beaches from the northwest (think seaside, for those of you who know).

southern wall & south field
busted ass cribs.

northern coast
northern coast.

regina victoria statue
pretty ass building & regina victoria statue.

pics n' things!

first day

classes officially decided to start today. after two weeks of slouching about and generally making a poor example of myself it appeared that it was actually time to do something productive. here's my schedule:

War & Memory in 20th Century Australia. 2:15pm to 3:05pm.
America: From Colonies to Republic. 3:15 to 4:05.

America. 10:15 to 11:05.

America. 9:15 to 10:05.
Medival Yorkshire: From the Norman Conquests to the Wars of the Roses. 1:15 to 3:05.
War & Memory. 3:15 to 4:05.

yeah, i know it looks slack but damn do i love having finished with my thesis work last spring. i'm taking a full load, despite the apparent thinness of the timetable, but just barely. i had all of these modules today and they all seem interesting with the only possible exception being Colonial History. it may be a rehash of a course i had taken at WWU but i'm still going to try and get credit for it. but it could be redeemed by a possibly fresh view on our colonial history - to hear a UK professor's take might be interesting.

two trips around england and europa planned so far:
-sigur ros in london during 19, 20 & 21 nov. (!!!!)
-three days in nantes and the normandy coast during 11, 12 & 13 nov. (no classes)

funny bad translation of the day! an italian to me, asking after bad words, "cunt! is not that the lady of the cock?" i'm sorry, i couldn't resist posting that.

pics n' things!


interrupted lives

not only have i been maintaining homespunyarns to convey my life in england and abroad but i also intend on pointing out interesting bits of news that occur. being so close to some of the educational points of organizations like Western Men Against Violence this news seemed particularly important.

clubgoers in Hull drugged.

the sugar mill is a very popular night club in the hull city center - most of the returning students have suggested it to myself and other international students or freshers as a hell of a place to go with mates. hmm.

for the sake of cross-referencing:


the local police here in Hull have been handing these interesting little pieces of
self-protection out during all of International Students week and during all of Freshers Week. i'd love to see these getting handed out, or at least available at the WOC throughout the year, at Western Washington University.

pics n' things!


fuck. let's hear it for £5 flights from liverpool to nantes! i'll pay ten US dollars to fly anywhere (with the strong exceptions being anywhere in the midwest, deep south, and the south eastern seaboard - erm, most of the States, i guess), let alone a destination i've been waiting to visit for quite sometime.

dear faa/corporate demigods/america,

get your shit together or go to jail.

pics n' things!


the immediate area

a walk about hull's campus
my street, cottingham road. campus is farther on (west).

newland park ave
my alleyway off of cottingham, newland park ave.

a walk about hull's campus
main lawn, front entrance: east.

a walk about hull's campus
main lawn, front entrance: west.

a walk about hull's campus
main walk, north.

pics n' things!

a quick note on oddness

i'm at my favourite pub yesterday, Ye Old White Harte, having a pint and doing some writing. the main room is a warm, old and quiet place populated mainly by those who appear to be locals, older folks and businessmen in suits taking extended lunches. it's windy and cloudy outside, brisk as fall sets in on the yorkshire coast. i take my place next to one of two crackling fireplaces in the Harte, the one closer to the bar. friendly conversation floats lazily around the old wood and seeps like smoke over pints of Deuchars and London Pride. there is a handcarved Theakston brewing sign that has been in the same place since the 1881 remodel of the building and most of the furniture is from even earlier eras.

it's not easy to find, the pub. one must wind through Hull's old town streets, as narrow as one would think before passing by a small covered alleyway. there is a steel gate that sits open at all times but one has to think that all of these buildings were built up and up and around, the architects occassionally forgetting about the gathering place. i feel safe here, comfortable that this is, physically and mentally, almost as isolated as i could be.

until i hear a brash greeting from across the room. it sounds like the type of man who, when you see him coming, you look busy. when he talks to you he is either chewing gum, wearing sunglasses inside or jangling keys or change loudly in his pocket as though to provide an irritating percussion accompaniment to some spoken word performance from hell. speaking loudly with his wife by his side, a 50-something american man strikes up conversation with an englishman regarding the upcoming presidential election. the victim asks who he is going to vote for and, proudly, he announces that McCain is the only vote for himself. and it's not because Obama is black.

thank god, i say to myself, because that would just be rude. my own sarcasm makes my blood boil and i have the instinctive urge to burn the place down so this conversation doesn't go any farther. so no more damage can be done. i see two gentleman at the bar turn their shoulders away from the direction of the conversation and take sore sips at half-pints of Guinness. i want to apologize but i say nothing. the american man showers the pub with his opinions, occassionally asking his wife if she agrees with him. yes, quite is her response most of the time. i shudder. he proclaims that they're from indiana, a red state in the middle of the "liberal fortress".

fortress? what is this, a cowboy comic?

instead of speaking up and inflaming the situation, i let the man keep talking and asking his wife to agree with him. i let him keep thinking that he was the only american in the room. i let him do this. no, i just couldn't say anything. i felt the need to protect this place from such displays. for my own good, don't ruin this for me, asshole. this is my pub. and then i realized i was thinking exactly what he must be thinking.

pics n' things!


a few photos

here are a couple photos i snapped yesterday. a couple of us international students, who have been here for a week, got together and had a picnic and a day down in city center. tres bien!

apparently there is a massive wind turbine in hull.
myself and danielle, the other student from WWU

hull city center - martime museum
this is in hull city center. the beautiful pale building behind everybody is the maritime museum. continue past the museum on the right and you'll eventually walk into old town and towards the white harte.
from left: eliza (italy), eleonora (italy), beto (mexico & my roommate), amanda (malta) and georgia (italy)

the new flat
on the steps of the new flat.

cheers. more to come.

-e pics n' things!


White Harte

To elaborate.

i am experiencing a not so strange sense of displacement, like water pushed out of a puddle by a large rock. i don't feel as though i would be any drops taking part in the violent splash but rather more like a ripple across the surface that touches the other bank and soaks into the dirt, blending peacefully back into its surroundings. the drops in the violent splash are friends i've known to jump head first into a country without knowing much of its language. they didn't travel to study through a school but instead to study through their own means, to perform their own cultural surgery. sometimes they were thrown out of their puddle and landed with both feet on the ground and sometimes the sutures from the surgery were never healed right and the trip came off quite wrong. i am not a drop, but a ripple. smooth and gliding across the surface waiting to come in contact with something solid so as to gain a foothold. i am waiting, in a sense, for the feeling that i belong to this community - waiting to blend into the surroundings.

i am, also, violently aware that these feeling are completely natural.

additionally, i can't find a cup of coffee to save my life. shops are more than happy to brew me an americano (leading to many cups of undesired and just-quite-exactly-not-satisfying bean squeezings). but finding a cup of damned drip coffee is impossible. i feel like moses, here. the difference being that i haven't found a cup of coffee worth waiting 40 years for. that's the only difference. between me and moses. in this circumstance. right. lots of similarities.

but i digress.

keeping in mind that i wish to feel more connected to this community, yesterday danielle and i went downtown to the city center. after grabbing bangers & mash for lunch at an awfully modern sidewalk cafe we decided to pay another visit to the white harte. dissapointed in my first trip to the pub, i felt a return to glean more first hand history would be prudent (and by "dissapointed" i mean "it was so great i wanted to go back"). the waitress recognized me and poured me another deuchars without my saying so. beautiful, i think. the taps are perfect - they're real taps. two massive, firm, smooth pulls are required to fill the pints and when the foam settles the nozzle is put just below the head and a small top-off pull is taken. it sounds silly but you can tell attention has been paid. the young woman asked if we were new to the area. i said that yes i was, a student at the Uni, actually. a history major, even. she inquires if we have had the tour of the building and, like the fucking idiot that i am i say no, but i did a report on this bar before coming (i neglected to elaborate making me look like a 10th grader). but that would be rather fantastic.

after two pints we were approached by an older gentleman, perhaps in his 50s, in a nice suit and tie wearing a wool topcoat. would you like to have a poke about the place? so this wonderful man shows us around and explains that events set in motion in the White Harte began the english civil war. he goes on to show the room that the parlimentarians were in when the decision was made to raise the gates of the town and not let the king in. it turns out the man lived at the bar for a year and works for Hull City Council. wow. i got some community right here for you, my brain sez to itself, how you like them fucking apples, sherburne?

so we drink. and chat. and drink. and chat. and smoke cheap castella cigars. 8 hours later i find that his name is patrick o'malley and, on top of his duties for the City Council, manages the Harte. his friends buy shots and before i know it danielle and i are surrounded by james, tony, craig, alan and others, raucous jolly friends of patrick's buying rounds and discussing world affairs. patrick and i get into a protracted discussion about world war ii and he was very interested in my 499 thesis from last spring regarding wartime Soviet propaganda.

at midnight danielle and i get a cab back to our respective flats and so ends one of the most beautiful evenings i have had in as long as i can remember. a cool, clammy evening in the smallest, most lush beer garden that is crammed across the smallest alley i've seen from one of the most historically important venues in north england. smoke floating up, though the tree branches, mixing and playing with the dense fog setting in. ahh. england.

i feel like my ripple is absorbing into the damp banks. (take that out of context and you have yourself some kind of strange ass sentence.)

also, what kind of "prepare'd" traveller wanders and stumbles across an ocean and forgets his usb cable? damn you apes!


patrick o'malley's four steps to perfect beer:
1. cellar temp of 50℉
2. clean lines from the keg or cask
3. the pour - leave the glass to settle happily after two or two.5 pulls and put the tip just in and top off the beer.
4. a good brew - not in your hands
pics n' things!
too many hours at ye olde white harte.


pics n' things!


funny stuff.

i was wrong. england is, indeed, a third world country. i am finally connected to the internets in my flat. but. it's dial-up. these are flats owned by the university as a part of their international and grad student housing offerings.

dude. dial-up. seriously. my flickr is absolutely hating life. i haven't heard a dial-tone since 1932. that, for the record, is before the modern computer was put into use.

we went for a walk around downtown hull today but, being a horrible tourist, i was caught off guard before the tour and neglected to bring my camera! but, being a great tourist, as we were walking about with our student-leaders i was keeping my eye out for decent shopping. there are a lot of clothing stores here in hull. this isn't any different than the US (we even have an H&M in our town centre [eeeee!]) but it feels especially strange when you can walk from Burton Suit and Men's Fashion labels to the King's Ale House (more on this to come shortly) to the Holy Trinity Church, england's largest catholic church. the latter is a beautiful building with as many flying buttresses and spires as one would expect from a chapel built in the 1200s. but, back to the matter at hand, for as many superficially appealing clothing retailers, they all have product that is somewhere between American Eagle, H&M and Urban Outfitters. i.e. the denim is soulcrushingly pre-distressed and sold in horrid light washes. the shoes, sweaters, scarfs and selected t-shirts are pretty cool, however. that's alright, though, i hold hope for cool stuff in York.

i finally ticked off a big "to-do-before-i-die" today, though. after the 30 minute tour we were all unleashed to go our seperate ways. i made my way to Hull Old Towne and enjoyed a couple pints of Deuchars IPA (3.8%) at www.yeoldewhiteharte.co.uk/">Ye Olde White Harte, a pub i've had my eye on for quite some time. it's rumoured to be one of the oldest in the UK, therefore probably one of the oldest in the world. it is a great little place, dark, low and sans pretense. accessed through an unassuming alley shoehorned in between a giant HSBC and other more modern businesses. it's a wonderfully quiet place with a lovely little beer garden and old ass stained glass windows.

following this i enjoyed lunch at the King's Ale House across from the Trinity Church. as recommended by tradition, my brother Tim and a strangely insatiable appetite for the terminally unhealthy, ordered the pub's fish and chips. for 4.95 i ended up receiving a plate that resembled a hub cap (in sheer size) piled high with homemade chips, hot mashed peas, lettuce & cucumber and, i am shitting you not!, a whole deep fried fish.


ah, i think to myself, there must be some mistake. the cook must take things very literal or something. when they saw "fish and chips" it had not occurred that fish might be plural and not, indeed, an entire fish. but no, my cod had been pulled fresh from the fryer and placed on my large smooth, white, porcelain hub cap for my enjoyment. enjoy, indeed.

also. i have a sink the size of a large watermelon in my room. and a little mirror above it. it's way cuter than it sounds.

you'll think i'm an ass and a lier. but guinness is best from english taps.


ps. my dial-up just hung up on me because "The Other Side is not Responding." after several failed attempts a notice came up with the helpful note that "Authentication Failed". i've had the internet in my room, officially, for about 40 minutes. fuck England.

pps. i didn't mean that last bit.

ppps. here’s a funny ass picture morgan sent to me. i will not bother with the image’s background as I am plenty sleepy but instead i leave it to you to interpret the many levels of composition along with the play of the light and shadow on the emotions of the protagonist’s anguished look that underlies the greater message of suffering in any given place in the world. in short, take a look at what bigfoot must look like when we’re not filming him (crude alert. follow link in photo for "large" one. har!):

bigfoot pics n' things!


damp n' shit.

this marks a special occassion. i am making my first blog post from england. this means that i have just spent my first day in england. just because it was the sorriest excuse for a "day" that i could possibly have mustered, it still counts.

flight time: 13 total hours, ~10,000 miles. my current calculations show that i haven't had more than 5 total hours of sleep in the last 36. put some interesting jet lag, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, dehydration, and two stiff pints of guinness upon landing (i promised two peoples i would drink honorary english pints) on top of that and you get the witch's brew that is my brain right now.

today, other than the long ass flight times, has been a little interesting. there was only one "hitch" and that was i didn't have a housing assignment the second i rolled into the university of hull's international office to check in. for 15 minutes i was homeless with a bike box and two large checked bags. for 30 minutes after that i was going to be in temporary housing that was going to be so temporary that it would've made sense to just sleep in my clothes. for 10 minutes after that i was in regular temporary housing with a couple guys from australia and, finally, the housing office found that i had indeed(!) filled out my housing application in june. i am now in my permanent digs for the next 4 to 5 months and it's a little bigger than the dorm i had my first year at evergreen. the room is quite a bit wider and, fortunately, fully furnished. the verdict is still out on the merit of the mattress, sheets and pillow they've supplied me. yikes.

i have yet to tell somebody that "we saved your ass in world war II" but i also haven't been exposed to the types of people whom might find the humour in such a tasteless comment.

a few observations:
-shops on street level and flats on the second level. all stores are small and have apartments above them and they exist in block long chunks of brick and mortar resulting in a really strange uniqueness despite the total homogeneity of the streetfronts.
-the dutch and the english seem to be plenty friendly. i have not run into the "ugly american" stereotype except for when i brought it up in conversation.
-one should know when to let dead horses lay.
-you could plug a washer or dryer into any standard wall outlet here, apparently.
-hull appears, so far, to be a rusted-out-but-rebuilding centre of industry in the middle of mudflat river plains and hedgerow countryside (to the north, beautiful).
-despite non-smoking signs to the nth degree placed on Airbus A330 intercontinental planes, they have friendly little ashtrays in the bathrooms. really, this is psycho and drove me kind of crackers. they're so all about not smoking on the fucking aircraft that you start believing that maybe they're pumping pure ether into the cabin rather than oxygen and if somebody so much as farted the explosion might shift earth's orbit 3 feet to the left. they even tell you, outloud to your face during flight prep, to not smoke in the fucking bathroom or so help them god they will throw your smokes out the door and toss you into the spinning turbine and then not send a hey-we're-super-cereal-sorry-about-that-little-mishap-check to your next of kin just to make a point.
-there are a lot of get-food-fast type shops. they all sell pizza, burgers, kebabs, falafel, and meat pies and are all "______'s Continental Takeaway". yeah, nothing quite so continental as a bunch of foods that america butchered and then pretended to have primogeniture on.

morgan asked if i had been asked, so far, to explain the US. i have not been asked to explain the actions of the states or the country as a concept rather than god's lazily planned experiment. the closest i have come to this was a briefly discussing the election with a nice gentleman from holland on the flight from amsterdam to humberside. i couldn't decipher him because he was very thoughful but was on a work trip for Total oil company.

okay, enough. sleep tonight and tomorrow begins five days of orientation. i'm holding my breath hoping it's more than icebreaker games.

big ups to spencer for driving me in to seattle at ungodly hours of the morning.



photos to come, folks. we'll head out on a little walking tour of kingston upon hull soon.
pics n' things!


airport stop #1

though they are presented as friendly hubs of commerce and travel, airports are liars.

they are intended for the terminally wishful.
they are, alternatively, mainly utilized by the type of person who stands on the wrong side of the moving sidewalk.

hopeless, in other words.
amuzing, in yet other other words.

i'm in seattle and waiting for my 12:50 flight to amsterdam.


pics n' things!



no, really, thanks god. i wanted strep before hopping on a 12 hr flight abroad.

what up, penicillin?

pics n' things!



last week i invested in a new road bike through discover bicycles, my shop in hood river, oregon. the 2009 Giant TCR Alliance is half-carbon, half-aluminum, half-inexpensive and all fast. with a longer top tube than any other road bike i've owned or ridden it stretches the shoulders way out over the front. it makes even the slowest rider, me, feel like the most aggressive.

Giant TCR Alliance

i'm taking this bike to england next monday and, hopefully, i'll have some decent riding tales to post. also, assuming england isn't a third world country with shit wi-fi, i'll be posting more consistently.

here's to leaving in 6 days.

pics n' things!



say hello to pluto, my jailbroken ipod touch.

pluto & formiga

pics n' things!



find the new addition

yes, so there is a new addition. i'm a fan and you can be too if you choose. if not, that's cool too.


pics n' things!


a sad farewell

so long, glory.

we had some good times, didn't we?

yeah, we did.

now that i've gone and whored you off, i'll shed a tear, help myself to a beer and get back to studying for finals.


pics n' things!



dear astrophysicists with a bone to pick with god,



-elliott pics n' things!


nappy d.


there aren't enough hot topic stores in the world to make me change my mind: i still think this is one of the most endearing movies ever made.


pics n' things!


happy new year. now here's a scenario.

here it is:

you're burned out, exhausted by most things. the problem is that you know you have this strange sort of energy still inside - it has never really gone away and, to be totally honest, hasn't even been misdirected. it just needs something to happen...like an explosion or a well timed event. it just...it just...needs out.

you have one year to turn it around. where will you be january 1st, 2009?

-e pics n' things!