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September 2006

Global Warming ROCKS!

Ok, ok. It's politically-incorrect to joke about global warming. But how else to react when it's frackin 85 degrees in London in late September!?!?!  That was the high temperature yesterday after London received a rare Carribean warm front -- the remnants of Hurricane Gordon.  And what's the temperature in Washington DC today? 65? Muhahaha.

With the warm weather, we've spent practically every non-working hour outside, enjoying the London festival season (photo above from the Thames River Festival), outdoor sidewalk cafes and pubs, and grilling steaks on our poor-man's Weber Grill knock off from Woolworth's.  But it hasn't all been fun and games.  I've finished my first assignment for a major travel guide book company and am now writing several articles for a magazine that pays crap but the topic is right up my alley: sci-fi.  And, yes, the rumors are true: I'm heading back to Baghdad on Thanksgiving. Woop-tee-doo. Meanwhile, Pineapple Princess is diving into a new school year and trying to get her paperwork together to receive her British teaching qualifications.

After a month living out of carboard boxes and suitcases, we've finally managed to settle into our new nest. Check out the pictures below. We're all ready for overseas visitors!


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Mayor's Thames Festival, London

Mayor's Thames Festival, London
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

Everyone raves about London's Notting Hill Festival, but my favorite event in London will always be the two-day Mayor's Thames Festival, held every September on the South Bank between the Tower Bridge and London Eye. This year's event was smaller than last year due to construction, but still fun! Click on the Flickr icon to see more photos from yesterday.

9/11 - Five Years Later

From Ceasbo:

32508055_f28f5bf5e0_b The image is still burned in my mind: a giant fireball and a black column of smoke billowing from the Pentagon.  The absolute silence, followed by thousands of screaming people running from the world's largest office building. Five years ago this morning, I was standing in the parking lot of the Pentagon just as American Airlines Flight #77 crashed into the building, killing 59 passengers on the plane at 125 people in the Pentagon.  Less than a month later, I was aboard the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier when the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan.

Strangely, my memories of Afghanistan are cloudy, but the sight, sounds and smells of the Pentagon burning is as clear as if it happened today.

39547211_925259684d Like many people, my life and career was drastically changed on 9.11.01.  I've been to Afghanistan (4 times) and Iraq (6 times), and returned home in one piece each time.  Many have not been so fortunate.  The death toll of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached 2,998 (breakdown: 2,896 in Iraq; 331 in Afghanistan),  surpassing the 2,973 total killed on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

Was it worth it and has it made a difference? Only history will be the true judge.

Blog lazy

It's been a while since I've posted anything here, mainly because of all the technical problems I've been having with my BRAND NEW MACBOOK 2.0 Ghz.  The laptop is barely 3 weeks old but already my battery died on me and the hardrive was mysteriously eating up disk space to the point where the 60 gig drive was nearly filled.  So I trotted down to the giant Apple store on Regent Street in London. They quickly diagnosed my problems (defective battery and my Mac-illteracy, respectively). Got a new battery today so I'm blogging here directly from the Apple store, which ROCKS. Live music, free wifi, free workshops. It is the mecca of Macintosh!

Meanwhile in another issue, we no longer have Internet access at our flat. We've been, um, er, hijacking somebody's wifi signal (it's their stupid fault for not password protecting their network!).  Sadly, that neighbor moved out this week and the network disappeared with them.  Our local government of Islington Borough offers free wifi access for our entire street from Angel to Highbury Islington tube stations, known as the "Technology Mile."  Unfortunately, the network sucks. It's overloaded and frequently crashes. Worse yet, the network is censored so it won't allow you to access certain websites. It's not  like I'm trying to access porn -- but the network also screens out "bad" words. Yesterday it wouldn't let me access CNN because of a front page story about a BREAST cancer study.  Idiots.

Our flat is finally coming along. We made a trip to Ikea last week and we are now happy to report that we have a COUCH, dresser and coffee table. Woo hoo!  Now i just need a cheap desk because right now my office is the living room floor.

In a bit of good news, Pineapple Princess WON a local raffle!  The prize: a composting wormery worth $200 !  Basically it's like a worm farm filled with earthworms and they break down kitchen waste like fruit and veg scraps and turn it into earthworms for Princess' garden.  It's sitting on our terrace but the worms have not yet arrived in the mail.  The raffle was part of the Islington Green festival last weekend, an eco festival encouraging peopel to be more environmentally friendly in their everyday lives, including a display of electric cars and other stuff that we can actually buy here.  Too bad GM axed  the Insight, the only electric car ever sold in the US.

Since our return to Britain, we've noticed two major differences between the US and the UK. First: we couldn' believe how many fricken FAT people there are in the US, especially at the beach. Maybe I never noticed it before but now that we're in London, where everyone is stick-thin, it's obvious.  The second thing is how UNPATRIOTIC Britain is.  Part of the Islington festival included the unveiling of a new veterans memorial at the park across from our flat.  But at the festival, there was not a single veteran in sight, at least not in uniform.  When you go to a veterans event in the US, there is always a military color guard, often playing patriotic music while hoisting the American flag, often a number of elderly veterans in attendance standing at attention in their old uniforms.  But at the ceremony to unveil the Islington war memorial (which looks like a cock ring, but thats another story), there was not even a Union Jack flag on the new flagpole! To this day, it's still empty!  No veterans, no patriotic songs. Just a few words by the Mayor of Islington and a bunch of clowns on stilts.  Go figure.  But on the bright side, none of the clowns were fat. But they still scared me.