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!