Friday, August 31, 2007
Tony Parker and Eva Longoria.
We´re in Alicante, Spain, and the hotel next to us is housing a bunch of basketball players for a European tournament. On Wednesday, we watched a bunch of the Spain players leave the hotel amid crowds of fans. That day, Spain played France, and Spain won.
(I bet you´re thinking that my command of Spanish must be amazing if I learned all that. There were two giant buses outside that hotel with "EuroBasket2007" painted on the side, and one had a big sign in the windshield that said "España" and the other said "Francia." Not hard to figure out.)
Thursday, I glanced at the local paper and was able to figure out that Spain won, and saw that Tony Parker was playing for France.
Fastforward past our leisurely breakfast, our 7 hours on the beach, and our 3 hour stroll around Alicante which included tapas for dinner in a gorgeous courtyard. We were heading back to our hotel, and I glanced up at that neighboring hotel. There was Eva, and she was looking at Tony chatting with someone. Tony turned, took Eva´s hand, and they started heading straight by us. I, speechless and grinning like an idiot, snapped a picture, and JT managed "good luck this season!"
I have 2 minutes left on this computer, so have to cut short. Unbelievable picture to come. (That´s a joke. My camera was on night mode; it´s one big blur.)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
A United player celebrates his last-minute goal
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Trip report: Copenhagen, Denmark
Thursday, August 23, 2007
We ate ... what?
This particular plate came with a pile of buttered rye bread. So, I ate the herring on on buttered rye bread. Sooo delicious. My favorite was the one with the white onions and dill.
I got another herring sampler on our last day in Copenhagen. Before the herring arrived, JT and I were enjoying two Carlsbergs, another Danish delicacy, and picking at the breadbasket. JT cracked open what one would assume was butter, spread it on a roll, and took a bite. I noticed him wrinkle his nose, put down the roll, and pick up the container of "butter."
"Do you know what this is?" he asked, handing the container to me. It was greyish white, greasy, and the texture of butter. It tasted funny -- not bad, but not very good, either. I had no idea what it could be -- and come in a container with bread.
Shortly after, the waiter brought my herring. "You know what to do?" he asked. "Aside from eat it?" I asked. He pointed at one of the pieces. "This one, you eat with this sauce. This one, you eat plain. This one, you break the raw egg yolk on top," he said, pointing to the three pieces of herring.
He continued: "You eat it on the bread. Take the bread, spread on the butter, or ... this (pointing to the mystery container) --" I stopped him. "What is that?" I asked. "I don't know the word in English," he said. "It's ... it's ... if you eat too much it makes you very fat." He grabbed his gut to illustrate.
We looked at the container again.
Lard, in fact. Apparently, you spread lard on your rye bread, top it with a piece of pickled fish, and enjoy.
I ate my herring plain, sans raw egg yolk and gratuitous fat.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
What's did Ice-T just say?
About 70% were in English with Danish subtitles, while the rest were dubbed in Danish. Oddly, I saw some Simpsons episodes dubbed, others subtitled.
Then there was the Danish version of Survivor.
For those not familiar with the Danish language, it's tough to learn. One Dane at my meeting said Danish and Dutch are "diseases of the throat"!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Things we're now used to:
-paying extra for a sandwich or coffee if it's for "eat in" versus "take away"
-calling "carry out" "take away"
-pulling a giant cord to turn the light on in the bathroom because some electrical code prohibits switches within a certain number of feet of a sink/tub/shower (no electrical outlets either)
-most shops (including the mall we live next to) close between 5 and 6
-not having a car
-the newspapers -- plentiful, and more than a person can read in a day and still do one's job
-plentiful British quiz shows (not that we understand everything, mind you ...)
Things we're still not used to:
-the %^&*ing washing machine/dryer (worthy of a separate post at some point)
-having 1 choice for salsa, and it's in the tiniest jar you've ever seen
-no grape jam/jelly in all of Europe
-figuring out the right time to say "cheers" (it's roughly the equivalent of "thanks", but whenever I use it I get strange looks)
-eggs aren't refrigerated (but they say on the box, "refrigerate after purchase" - ?)
The next 6 months have the potential to be difficult as we descend into winter. However, we've been warned. With all the quiz shows and newspapers, maybe we'll just stay in for the worst months.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Ham hock and pea salad
Cold ox tongue with baby beets
Hot kiln smoked salmon and cucumber salad
Roast chicken salad with liver stuffing
I'm only tempted by the ham hock and salmon ones. Then again, I could just eat ham or smoked salmon. Mmm.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Worth more than 600 sheep
Last Sunday, as KT sped off on her bike to her 4th day at the Folk Festival, I made the decision to have my own solo adventure, a long bike ride to Anglesey Abbey, a former priory turned country house that had been donated to the National Trust a few decades ago. We had just got our National Trust membership cards so visiting was free and some exercise on a beautiful sunny day seemed just the prescription after all the food and drink at the festival the day before. It was a pleasant, largely traffic-free trip of slightly over an hour to the house thanks to one of the National Cycle Network trails. The house was impressive--I sped through it because I know KT will want to do a real tour--and well worth the 600 sheep it reportedly cost. But the 98 acre grounds were amazing, especially on such a nice day.
There was a working flour mill, several formal gardens (rose, dahlia and herbaceous--you gardeners know this better than I) and just tons of space to stroll or sit and have a picnic. I and KT will definitely return (Here's an album more pictures, including a placard showing all the flowers/herbs in one of the gardens. I was using my phone to take pictures but the text is still readable for the gardeners out there if you zoom in). On the way home, I dared to take a side road to a small village and paid for it by coming upon several steep (for Cambridge) hills that exhausted me--I also was going into the wind. So of course I had to stop at the riverside pub in the village to have a pint of beer and regain my strength before gliding home. All told, I think I covered just under 20 miles on the bike. That's not quite the London-Cambridge 50 mile trek but it's a start.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Do they have cricket player trading cards?
At least the day was sunny and warm and the beer was cold and American (someone surprisingly brought Sam Adams).
Yes, the long-anticipated cricket match between my magazine and The Hated Rival (THR) finally happened on Monday. No, I and my colleagues did not pull a stunning upset. We lost 155-96, which is reasonably respectable although THR took it easy on us after a while.
I'll do my best to explain cricket terminology and rules, but the essential thing to understand is each batter gets 1 out and normally keeps batting until they get out. So it's disaster if a batter gets out after a few pitches (bowls is the proper term) and some batters can score 100+ or even 200+ runs. (We had a rule where a batter "retired" once they reached 50 runs--speeds the game and makes sure most people bat). My magazine took the field first and we actually had only 3 guys from the magazine--the rest were friends of Andrew, the head of out office. Plus we had Andrew's son and another player's son, both under 10 I believe!
The cricket field is like a baseball field but with a single running lane in the middle of the field. A batter stands at the "plate"--the place where 3 poles stand up straight and two other poles rest on the 3. These are the wickets (the 3 poles) and the stumps. The pitcher (bowler) throws the ball trying to hit the wickets and knock the stumps off, making an out. The batter must defend the wickets so much of cricket is simply blocking the ball until there's a bad pitch that you can hit hard. Remember if the wickets are hit the batter is done for the day. If the batter does hit the ball, he can choose to run where the bowler pitched from--and a runner at that spot must also run to the home plate. Either the batter or runner can be gotten out if a field throws and hits the wickets at either end. Confused yet?
Well, THR started off with 2 great batters and quickly pile up 70-80 runs before we started to slow them down. Since getting 10 outs, which means a game is over, can take a long time we set a limit on the number of pitches/bowls. By the time, THR ended, it had 155 runs. Many people find cricket boring and I can see why--I perhaps touched the ball in the field maybe 8 times in 2 hours. I almost threw out a runner but the umpire said he was safe. I also made a sad debut as a bowler. Some bowl fast, over 80mph, and some are slow bowlers but make the ball hop and twist--did I forget to mention one throws the ball over hand without bending the elbow and usually bounces the ball once before it reaches the batter. It's an awkward windmilling motion that one does not pick up quickly. In any case, they finally let me pitch after the 8 year old boy did and I'm embarrassed to say he was so much better than I. I didn't get any outs but THR scored few runs while I pitched because I was so wild--it's not easy to throw without bending the elbow!
Here I am trying to bowl--notice the young boy in the field. He was so much better than I!
After the THR batted it was time for tea--well, beer, cake and sandwiches, but it was still oddd to take such a social break in the middle of the game. Suitably refreshed, our side started to get ready to bat, whcih meant putting on padded gloves and leg protectors and a "box"--a cup. The cricket ball is harder than a baseball and it can bowled very fast. One does not want to get hit in the family jewels without some protection. I also put on my Red Wings jersey for good look--one player on THR commented it was "quite a loud top".
Andrew was the first to bat--oh my, it was tragic. THR has some very good, very fast bowlers and on the first pitch, Andrew swung, missed, and watched helplessly as the stumps were smashed off his wickets. He was out with any runs on the first bowl, an embarrassment known as a Golden Duck. He walked off the field so slowly and disgusted. Even sadder, KT just happened to snap a photo at the right moment to capture the event.
Andrew realizes he has a Golden Duck
That set the tone. Nature's first bowler smashed 3 wickets (outs) in his first 6 pitches and those were our best batters. We stopped the bleeding slowly and began to score runs as Nature brought in other bowlers but the outs lept building up. Finally, it was my turn. Our runner got caught so I came on as a runner, not as a batter (both offensive players carry bats because if you run between wickets you might end up at the batting wicket). Right away, our batter smashed the ball through the infield and we were both off running. We both ran to the opposite wicket and back, scoring 2 runs, and I yelled "Hold" to indicate we should stop running--the outfield had gotten to the ball. But the batter thought we could score another run so he kept running and ended up at the same wicket as me. Once I realized that, I had to run to the opposite wicket, but the ball beat me easily and I was out--WITHOUT even getting to bat once. It was even sadder than Andrew--and is known as a Diamond Duck. I trudged off the field in shame as KT looked around asking what happened!
The remaining batters fought valiantly as Andrew and I fumed on the sidelines and drank beer--but we eventually reached out pitch limit and were short by 60 runs. Oh well, Andrew just asked me yesterday if I wanted to play in another match next month. Maybe I'll get to bat thus time!
More cricket pictures here.
Scientific journals measure their influence by a measuremnt called impact factor. When my publication's cricket defeat seemed inevitable, we changed the scorebaord to reflect the 2007 impact factors for each team--we win 31-26!