Tuesday, August 09, 2005

In Which Our Heroine Gets Tagged

My turn, apparently.......
Three Things You Like About Yourself
My deep brown eyes
My totally bitchin hair
My crackin bust

Three Things You Don't Like About Yourself
Have you ever tried to shop for female formal wear when you are 6'4"?
The fact that I am apparently shrinking
My baby toes. You know, the ones on the end.

Three Things That Scare You
Anyone touching the back of my neck

Three of Your Everyday Essentials
Something to Read
Rowing\Biking\Walking (Preferably all three!)

Three Things You are Wearing Right Now
Black clam diggers
Blue V neck T-Shirt from M&S
Toenail polish (Deep Red)

Three of Your Favorite Bands or Musical Artists
Crowded House

Three Things You Want in A Relationship
A Lot of Great Sex

Two Truths and A Lie
I have an FBI File.
I ran off with the lead singer of a band on my 21st birthday to tour with him for three weeks.
I make the best cup of coffee you've ever had.
Anyone who knows me knows which is the lie!

Three Physical Things that Turn You On
I default to Sarah , Emma and Steve on this one. The always tease me about my type!
Public School Boy looks. (English Public School, not American. Doesn't have to have gone there, just look like they did.)

Three of your Favorite Hobbies
There are so many more!

Three things You Really Want to Do Right Now
Pat my cat Lexi
Cook a three course dinner for six people and wow them. I haven't had the chance to do that for a while.

Three Careers You'd Consider
Law Professor
Naval Architect
Neural Network Engineer

Three Places You Want to go on Vacation
Trekking in Nepal
The Gambia
New Zealand

Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die
Let the people who should know, know that I love them (They don't generally.)
Knit myself a totally incredible sweater.
Clean my room.

Comments, please. I would love to know what you think.
In Which Our Heroine Plays The Numbers Game
Today, children, for the not so mathematically inclined, the lecture will be all about numbers. But fret not, this is not a particularly mathematical lecture, it just involves numbers of two types. The numbers of my bank acccount, and the numbers of test cricket. Despite that phrase, there will not be an examination involved.

It is quite spectacular in this day and age what it takes to open up a bank account in this country. Somehow, a passport as proof of identity just isn't enough any more. I went down my first week at Kat's place and tried to open an account. In addition to my passport, they needed some kind of lease or bill or whatever sent to me to confirm my residence. Since I didn't have any of these, they had to take a letter from Kats as a "reference". After stating she had known me for 18 years and been a customer of theirs for 20, they sent off my form to be reviewed. I have yet to hear back, despite a few phone calls. You have to realise, this is for an incredibly basic account. No overdraft, not even a cheque book, and not a debit card facility. Basically, I would have one card with which I could deposit money in and take it out at cashpoints. Which, frankly, was fine until I didn't have it.

Here in England, standard practice is to deposit your earnings right in your account. Saves the hassle of cashing cheques, etc. This is partly because it is actually pretty hard to chash a cheque here without depositing it into your account - you can't just endorse and turn up to have it cashed without a letter from the person writing the cheque in the first place. So my last employer would run to the bank two days in a row, and then pay me out of petty cash. This led to me walking around every week with four hundred pounds in my wallet, terrified I would get mugged or lose the thing on the way home. And then it led to me saving money by literally stuffing it in my Dutch copy of "Miffy at the Zoo" figuring no thief would ever look in there. Oh, I am so clever it just pains me.

But now, after two months of effort, it turns out that really all it is about is who you know. And this time I know my new temp agency, who have an arrangement with their local Barclays. It took 24 hours and a copy of my passport, and now I have all the bells and whistles, except an overdraft as I don't want one. And given the problems I have had with my bank and identity theft in the States, I think i may well keep this one forever and a day. This also means the temp agency can now deposit my earnings directly into my account. Whee.

My friend Deborah, who understands me well enough to buy me a mug with a Shipping Forecast map on it, spent a little time in the midst of this process having to read some bizzarre fundamentalist website that explained how the cards and numbers, etc are all the tools of the Devil, and that how by having this account and my cards (which should arrive on Friday) I am now Doomed with lots of extra oooos to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. So long as the Lake of Fire has yummy cabana boys, I'll be fine. Apparently, I am meant to be spending eternity suffering, not fooling around with Raoul the towel boy, but if I settle for a Raoul over a Sven for all eternity, it just might might be classifed as suffering. Either way, I plan to be buried with my life jacket. And my survival suit, if I can help it.

The other bit of numerology in my life at the moment is the Ashes. The Ashes are a bienniel cricket tournament between Australia and England, and date way back. Long ago (1882), but not that far away (The Oval, which is here in South London), when they had the first of these series, they burnt the bails and put it in a little teensy weensy trophy. You should see this thing. Very Un-American as it is just much too small. And from this stems a rivalry that honestly puts Red Sox v. Yankees to shame. Check out the Wikipedia entry on The Ashes for more detail on that one. Basically, there are five matches, and each one can last up to five days. There are breaks for lunch and tea, because this is England. If you are really dedicated, you watch the cricket with the sound turned off on the telly and the radio commentary. And if you don't know what you are watching, it can be a little hard to follow since both teams wear the same colour uniforms. White, white, white. With white accents. But if you have a basic knowledge, and lots of enthusiasm (I got hooked on cricket when I was in college) like I do, then one of the most exciting games ever finished on Sunday. I had nothing else to do but watch it even though it was a lovely day outside as I have sprained my back. There should be some kind of exciting story to that, to do with rowing, or mountaineering or biking or wild sexual positions, but there isn't. I just slept funny and then carried a bunch of heavy luggage and there you go, sprained back. Ow. And of course, when people see me limping around, they ask me "Did you do that rowing?" I want to say yes, and just can't. Hoping to work Monday, which I did, and having biked 20 miles on Saturday (which I thoroughly enjoyed, but was stupid to do with a sprained back) I spent Sunday completely horizontal and resting, and enjoying the fact that where i am currently housesitting (the cause of the luggage moving) had two cats, and a really big tv.In the closest test match ever, England won by two runs. 587-585. Yes, that was really the score. And yes, with that many runs being scored, it was still a fascinating game. A bit like ultimate baseball. Just not balls and strikes, but rather the intricacies of the leg before wicket rule, which I understand, but won't bore you with here. Lots of mental calculations going on.

Then came the last bit of numbers: what time to leave to get to Exeter. I have been offered an interview for a permanent, move to England forever job by a firm who does not currently have an opening, but anticipates one in the near future and considers my resume so interesting that they want to meet with me and discuss it going forward. After years of relations and boyfriends (what is it with boyfriends? A recent one who hadn't even graduated college seemed to think I was mad for getting so overeducated (which meant, of course, not spending time with him so I could go to class and get my LLM), and one prior to that just could not stop holding me up to his ex-girlfriend who worked in my field. By all accounts except his, she was neither good nor well regarded, and yet I was never going to be allocated one legal brain cell in comparison to this woman. Sometimes, you just learn to look the other way, and they learn not to bring it up.) wringing their hands about why I was getting all these degrees and why didn't I just get a real job (which was not for lack of trying), it is literally setting me aglow that someone wants to talk to me because my resume is so great. I knew all these honors would be worth more than just wallpapering my wall. I may not get a job out of this, but it is inspiring me to apply to more places just to see what happens. And that kind of self confident glow is worth more than anything else I have out of this trip so far.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

In Which Our Heroine Reviews Another Book
As some of you know, I review legal books from time to time for the Bi-Monthly Review of Law Books. This is a sweet deal for me, in that I get free books that I pick to read (I have to get them approved first) and then I have to actually read them and digest whether or not they are any good. Generally, by the time I want to read them, they have been through enough editing, etc that they are actually worth reading. I might not like it, but they still might be worth reading.

This also makes me one of the few people in the world who reads 1, 000 pages treatises on legal topics from cover to cover. Treatises are not designed to be interesting, but rather authoritative and comprehensive. Consequently, I tend to read my books in pairs. One treatise type thing, which will make me the Clifford Claven of the IP law set (last go around 2,000 pages on Intellectual Property Crime, this time 1,500 on International Domain Name Law), and a more popular culture type book to read a bit more like a novel. These can be quite enjoyable.

Not this time. This time Bozo here picked Pat Choate's "Hot Property". I now feel on a vengeful mission from God not to let people read this book. It is just that bad. It is not just that I disagree with Choate's politics. That was always going to be a given, but I figured he might have something worth saying. I was very wrong on that front.

This then presented an interesting challenge. How can something that is so woeful that by the fourth page of the introduction you know you're going to have trouble not mumbling under your breath constantly while you are reading it have a review written about it that is more constructive than "This sucks rocks. Purchase at your peril."? This actually provides the impetus for finishing it. I had to actually compile why it was so bad. I had to sum up the bad research, the blindly unanalysed "America is number one" stance (we might be, but not by just saying it. You've got to back that assertion up!), and the fact that the man doesn't know what he is talking about and put it into words. Turns out that if you have to read the book, putting it into words is better than any therapy you might ever have to do for reading it. If only they had told us this when we had to write Book Reports in school!
Thankfully, I have done well enough to a) be put as the lead review this edition, and b) get asked to edit the others. Huzzah for me!


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

In Which Our Heroine Catches Up on the Backlog
The one good thing about being unemployed is that it gives you time to finally catch up on email and things. The last bit of work there was totally mad insane, with just enough room to breathe and not much else. Until the previously noted festivities that accompanied my leaving. Never mind.......

When we last left our heroine (that's me, by the way), I was soliciting advice as to what to wear to an 80s party. This was harder than it looked as it had to not just be part of the 80s, but ALSO had to meet the following criteria.
1) It should mostly come from clothes I had, which wasn't much.
2) It couldn't cost me a fortune to get decked out, as it was just the one night.
3) It couldn't draw too much attention on the Tube while travelling to Nicki's for the pre-party.

This was starting to look like an impossible challenge, until my friend Andrew stepped up to the mark thinking in a more lateral direction. "A Happy Monday" he suggested, or "Prefab Sprout". No one, not even Andrew could figure out waht this later would look like, but it did seem a good idea, and with a bit of brainstorming in that kind of direction led to dressing all in black, having a bag full of candles at my side, a very northern black flat cap (no whippet), and tucking a black Kohl eye liner pencil in my bag so I could smudge up my face when I arrived at Nicki's.

I was a miner's strike power cut.

This worked amazingly well. I doled out candles to lots of people, and everyone got nostalgic about how harsh those days had been. Jam sandwiches were a popular food. I, of course, don't remember them at all as it was before I got here, but my friend Mark had been telling me how incredibly harsh it was in those days if you lived up North. I, of course, would have been on the side of the miners. You can't other wise be a leftie, or have gone to university in a mining town and be otherwise.and I am "guilty" on both counts.

The party was fun. First was the pre-party which was scarily like being back in high school. Madonna tunes blaring, net fingerless gloves, puffy ponytails on the side of the head and pouts. Oh yes, I do remember it just like it was last week. Even more fun is the fearlessness that happens when tall girls get together. I like to dance, but I need to be a bit drunk as I am self concious of being so much bigger than everyone else. But when you get three girls over six feet together all with the same thought pattern, welllllllll, there was a lot of jumping up and down, hands in the air like you just don't care going on, as how can they be staring at you if there are three of you?

Especially if you spent too much time before arriving drinking absinthe. I do like the stuff, but it is a) very strong, and b) an excuse for drunk people to set things on fire, as you dip your spoonful of sugar in the absinthe to soak it, then light the sugar on fire to caramelise it. When that is done, you drop it in the absinthe to mix the caramelised sugar in, and then down in one go. If you have a room full of people doing the same thing, a candle is ever handy......see? Practical as well, those candles.

As per the usual, I didn't realise I was being chatted up by some bloke until far too late in the game. I was, however, impressed at the depth of my discussion on obviousness in US patent law while drunk at 2 in the morning on the boat club balcony. Geek or dork are the words you are currently looking for. I must have looked quite good that evening as in addition to that incident, I had to extricate myself from the rumour that I used to date Richard Hartman. I have never. I have only met the lad twice, and that is because he is my best friend's brother. He just also used to row at the club next door. As if that wasn't enough, the cab driver on the way home asked me out. I said no on the grounds he keeps unsocialble hours, but had a good laugh when the lights went on as I got home and he said "what did you do to your face?" I explained. He thought it was a good costume as well.

The next day was mostly spent recovering. It was a very good party.

This last week has been spent rejoicing in last weekend. First off, we won the quiz again at the RAC, thus giving me two more bottles of wine. Frankly, that is like winning a pie eating contest and winning a pie. I really am not a big drinker and am off the stuff for a while as I have just had too much of late. I think these bottles could linger a while. I love the quiz itself more than the wine. Mostly because it allows me to show the odd things that I do not know how I know. We only won by a point, but I came up with the key ones no one else knew. Then again, I do not know how I knew that Charlotte Church's new album is "Tissues and Issues" as I have literally never heard the girl sing. Ever. This is what I mean. Of course it is also the same reason I am great at Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit.

Saturday was looking at flats and a BBQ to celebrate Kat's new fence, complete with ribbon cutting. As this was an English BBQ, it was held in the rain and this was not considered unusual. And Sunday I finally got my bike, a very shiny blue thing that almost immediately got labelled George from "and I will love him and squeeze him and call him George" as I was so incredibly happy to have a bike again. No helmet, but as I was getting a helmet the next day I didn├Ąt think it would be a problem until I got back to London (I was in Cambridge) and the Thameslink home had gone for the night. I couldn't take my bike on the Tube, and had to get to Victoria somehow. I had lights, but no helmet, was dressed all in black, it was raining, and I also didn't have a map. I did have a good sense of direction ("I think it is that way") but I was scared out of my tree, as I knew I couldn't be seen and that I had to work hard to remember which lane to turn into (they drive on the opposite side of the road and all that.). I made it though, and it was rather fun. I wiggled my way to Trafalgar Square, and then asked a cab driver who happened to have his passenger window open where to go. Such terribly English directions: "go through that arch, and when you get to Buckingham Palace, take a left and then your first right." Loved it, didn't die, and then made it to Victoria as the gates opened for the last train home. Whee!

PS I now have a helmet.