Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Aaah, spring

When our chilly winter finally broke, we were ever so grateful to say hello to spring. And even though the days may not always be quite as warm as we'd like, we're happy to see spring. It means we're out on our bikes,

and the flowers are blooming (photo at Regents Park, London),

and it means pitchers of Pimms have appeared in the pubs.

Since 1993, spring has meant Texas Aggie Muster for me, and I attended the London A&M Muster this year to honor my dear grad school classmate, who died in September of breast cancer.

We'll remember this spring as the Other Time the skies were silent, this time due to a volcano.

I always love spring. The colors, the crisp air, the ... I don't know, newness of it all. Our original 3-year work permits expired in February. You know what? We got new ones. Because for all its history, England is still all new to us.

Monday, April 12, 2010

You Know You're British If...

The Association of British Science Writers recently announced new journalism awards, which sounded like good news until I saw I wasn’t eligible according to the initial guidelines—only British and Irish writers need apply. I protested a bit and ABSW has apparently made me eligible with the clarification that “British and Irish journalists may be either nationals, permanent residents or with the right to live and work here, but must have been working here for at least six months at the time of making their entry to the awards.”

More amusing, my whinge (British for “whine”) prompted a discussion among U.K. science writers of how to test for British-ness. A few samples:

--do you put a “Z” in realise? (Brits do)

-- Brits should also be able to remain in an orderly queue, hold a conversation about the weather, and act surprised when it snows as if it never happens…

-- ...before drinking a gallon of alcopops and laying waste to Ibiza (Translation: Alcopops are fruity/soda-like alcoholic drinks and Ibiza is a Spanish island in the Med known for its clubs and parties attended by non-natives)

--do you swear in English at the cashier in a foreign supermarket about the fact that they won’t give you plastic bags (like the French, and for environmental reasons).

And my favourite (notice my spell-check approved this British spelling!) answer:
All nationally ambiguous entrants will be presented with a social situation of unfeasible awkwardness. If they stare at their feet, shuffle uncomfortably, clear their throats and generally make every possible effort to ignore what's going on like a true British citizen, they can enter [the award competition]. If they comment on what's going on in any way, they're excluded.