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!