What things cost: London vs. NYC

Random thoughts...

2295657691_7b5e15b1f8 Mr. Crab is heading back to Iraq in April. This will be my NINTH tour of duty in Iraq since 2003. I'll post more details about it later and try to blog from my trip.  Mrs. Crab will be coming with me! Well, part of the way anyway, to Istanbul, Turkey, before we go our separate ways.

Random stuff about life in the UK that I keep meaning to post but keep forgetting:

--When we watch British television, we often have the captions feature turned on because, quite frankly, some Brits are really REALLY hard to understand (especially on The EastEnders!). But the folks who write the closed-captions for American films that appear on British television seem to have ZERO concept of American slang. Sometimes American slang is "translated" into an equivalent British slang but the translation is so off-the-mark that it loses all meaning.  For example, last night we were watching "Shaun of the Dead". It's a British film, and in case you haven't seen it, it's bloody brilliant!!  Anyway, one of the characters in the film routinely uses the phrase, " 'Sup Niggas!'"  The caption was translated as "What's up Knickers!" As you may know, "knickers" is British slang for women's underwear. WTF!  Other times, the perplexed captioner will simply skip over the entire American phrase as if it were never uttered, so you'll hear and see the actor speaking but nothing will appear in the captions. I had a bunch of other examples, all of which I've since forgotten.

--No, we did not feel the UK earthquake yesterday.

--On Wednesday, we are closing on refinancing the mortgage on our little house back in Virginia. Refinancing from abroad has been an absolute hellish experience that has now dragged on for almost two months. Most of it has been the result of downright horrible communication from our lenders (ahem, BOA) who are simply oblivious to life outside the United States. The biggest headache has been getting documents signed for the bank. Several documents need to be notarized with an official seal, and the ONLY feasible way to get this done in the UK is to physically travel to the U.S. Embassy in London and shell out $20 USD per page. And to do this, you must make an appointment at least a week in advance. AND the Embassy's "American Services" office is only open Tuesday-Friday, 10am-12:30pm. No, I'm not making that up; they only work 2.5 hours a day. I tell all this to the genius at the bank back in Virginia, but he doesn't get it.  They FedEx the documents to us the NIGHT BEFORE we are due to be at the embassy. Needless to say, they did not arrive on time. We got a second closing date, and again the bank failed to get the information to us in a timely order. The bank dude was like, "So why can't you just go down the street to a U.S. military base and get them signed? (There are no US bases in London)."  Or my favorite, "It's only 2pm, why cant you go to the embassy right now?" (it was 7pm London time).  Now we finally have a THIRD set of closing documents in our hands, an appointment at the U.S. Embassy next week, Mrs. Crab had to take the day off work and we're ready to go. Now we just have to hope the fools at the bank keep their side of the bargain.

--We have a new "local"!  Every self-respecting man, woman and teenager in the UK has a local, by which I mean a local pub.  For the first two years living in London, our local was the Islington Tap. It was mainly out of convenience because it was the closest pub within walking distance of our old flat. The Tap was a fun gastropub with great food, friendly bar staff, good beer and a fun Sunday night quiz night (many pubs in the UK have Quiz Night trivia contest; patrons pay about £1 to play, answer questions on a sheet of paper and winner takes the pot).  Unfortunately, the Tap has gone DOWNHILL in recent months. Most of the friendly staff have long departed. The beer and food prices keep rising. The staff and customer service keep falling. When our favorite manager left, we knew it was time to move on.  So for the past three months we've been trying out new pubs until we "felt the love."  We are now happy to announce that our new local is the Camden Head in Angel Islington. It's a very traditional pub with a huge outdoor garden and tucked away within the historic cobblestoned Camden Passage antiques market. So now you know where to find us.