The End

I woke up at stupid o’clock this morning.  We’ve been back in the UK for four days and my body clock hasn’t quite adjusted.  Mrs G, however, is fast asleep and making her asthmatic hamster noises.  I’m sure I’ll come right soon.

The last four months has been a wonderful experience for which I am very grateful. The people are the thing I will miss most about our time in the US.  Mrs G and I made some great friends who we hope will come and stay with us some day.  Preferably not all at the same time as that could get a little crowded.   We’re hoping that we might manage to squeeze a return trip in next year.

I will also miss the food.  Who knew that peanut butter and pumpkin were so versatile?  Individually that is.  Never did find a pumpkin and peanut butter delicacy.  I’ll also miss the beer, especially as I gave up on the booze during our last two weeks there.  While my mind felt as young as the twenty-somethings I was spending time with my body took great delight in reminding me that I turn 40 next month.

At the end of my last entry I suggested that Mrs G and I might endure another meal out.  We did.  We graced The Red Lion in Stockbridge with our presence and dined on Bambi chops.  Delicious!  I had a pumpkin crème brulee for dessert which was absolutely divine.

While driving back to New Haven from Massachusetts we saw one of the most amazing sights.  The area had been hit with ice storms the previous day.  As far as the eye could see it looked like the trees were made of ice.  It was a clear, sunny day and the light reflecting off the branches made us feel like we were driving through an enchanted forest.

Our last few days in New Haven were fairly busy as we made an effort to catch up with as many people as possible before leaving.

On the Wednesday Rebekah, Ellen and Mrs G arranged a Tea Party with an open invite to all at Yale Divinity School.  There were scones with jam and freshly made clotted cream (courtesy of Rebekah), cakes, tea and cucumber sandwiches galore.  Suitably bombastic music was played: God Save The Queen, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, and so forth and Rebekah knighted a few folk in Her Majesty’s name.  With a spoon.

On our penultimate day Alex, Jess and Marissa took us to Five Guys to experience the ultimate in American burgers.  This happened to be the day that the snow came to New Haven.  Over half a foot of it in a very short space of time.  It took us a looooong time to travel a short distance.  And when we got there it was closed.  So we turned back and went to Archie Moore’s instead where I had the same meal as on my first visit there: Grilled Pastrami Reuben.  We were joined by Almuth, Althea, Kate (and brother), Katelyn, Lani, Lauren, Stephen and Suzanna and had a very pleasant few hours eating and drinking.

We said our final goodbyes to Marissa and Suzanna the following morning and Stephen drove us to the train station.  We got to Newark Liberty International Airport with plenty of time to spare and the flight took off on time.

We arrived back in the UK around 6:30am and were met by my best mate Colin who we had managed to trick into picking us up at sparrow fart on Sunday morning.  We knew we were back in the UK as one of the first signs that greeted us in the airport gave detailed instructions of what to do if you wished to make a complaint.  The drive home took less than an hour and the first thing we did was to drink copious quantities of tea – proper English tea!

It was good to be away and it’s good to be home.

Tin or Aluminum

I’m sitting in a coffee shop called Fuel in Main Street, Great Barrington, The Berkshires, Massachusetts, enjoying a cup of Chai Tea Latte with honey while fighting off the greatest bout of Man Flu known to … er … Man.  I hasten to add (for any of my politically correct readers) that by Man I am in fact referring to those of the male gender.

Mrs G and I travelled up to The Berkshires yesterday in our “economy” hire car.  “Economy” turned out to mean a vehicle the size a small house.  The car has no hand-break and the indicators, wipers and beam are all on the same stick.  Took a bit of getting used to but it was a pretty straightforward two-hour journey through the pouring rain.

We’re here as part of our 10th wedding anniversary celebrations.  It’s quite a mind-blowing thought that I have been married to this wonderful woman for a quarter of my life.  We spent our Honeymoon in New England ten years ago: a few days in Boston followed by a few days in Jackson, New Hampshire.  While I struggle through my rising fever to keep y’all up to date Mrs G is celebrating by doing what she does best: shopping.

We managed to get a couple of days in Boston recently.  We stayed at The Bertram Inn and our room had a wonderful four-poster bed which was the size of our entire bedroom back in the UK.  A full breakfast was provided and I took great delight in making my own spicy pumpkin waffles (generously dosed with maple syrup).

We ate out at Jae’s Café and Grill both nights as it was just down the road from the Inn.  Jae’s provides authentic and cutting edge pan-asian cuisine that delights the senses (according to its website).  I have to admit that the food was most excellent.  I had Duck with Plum Sauce the first night and Hot Stone Bibim Bab with Beef the second.  The Bibim Bab was my first sampling of Korean food and proved to be a splendid choice.

Boston was much as we remembered and it was nice to just bimble about.  Ten years ago we went to the Cheers Bar, the outside of which was filmed for the exterior shots of the TV show.  Inside was completely different.  A new (additional) Cheers Bar has now been built by Quincy Market which is meant to recreate the TV bar on the inside.  In as much as this bar has a rectangular serving area in the middle and the TV bar had a rectangular serving area in the middle, they’re identical.  Other than that, not so much.  Or, in fact, not at all.

So now we’re in a different part of the State, staying in The Inn at Stockbridge (of Norman Rockwell fame).  We had a lovely meal last night at The Morgan House: New England Clam Chowder to start followed by Filet Mignon for me and Braised Pot Roast for Mrs G.  We may force ourselves to dine in style this evening.

Odds ‘n’ sods

Here, for your amusement and edification, are a few snippets that I’ve come up with to help me pass the time while I’m on the train to Boston (rated on a scale from 1 to 5 Gs):

The Big Apple

We went to New York for the Halloween Parade.  It was nice to visit places we’d only seen in the movies: Central Park; Madison Square Garden; Times Square; Broadway; Tiffany’s; 5th Avenue; Macy’s and stuff.  There were lots of yellow cabs.  We were served by someone dressed as a pimp when we went for a meal.  The parade was a bit of a let down and Mrs G nearly got crushed to death in the crowd.  I give it a rating of 2 Gs.

Corridor Party

We got back to our apartment block one evening and bumped into a few individuals we know.  Before you can say “that would be an ecumenical matter” there’s a pumpkin on Marissa’s abandoned desk (which may have been put there by me (the pumpkin that is, not the desk)) and we’re sitting around in the hall, shooting the breeze and drinking herbal tea.  Dane (of the famous “do the Dane” dance moves) produced a large bottle of whiskey which we drank from plastic cups.  One of our neighbours politely asked us if we’d mind being a little quieter (some of the people were laughing a bit too loudly – not me, obviously) and we happily complied.  A lovely impromptu time was had by all.  4 Gs.

Tailgating and football

The Yale vs Princeton match was my first (and so far only) live American Football match.  It took place on the wettest day of our visit.  Mrs G stayed home.  The folks I went with parked in a large grassy area around 11:00 and we stood under umbrellas drinking beer.  Other people had set up tarpaulins with barbecues.  The match started at 12:00 and we got in around 12:15.  Yale kicked Princeton’s arse 14 to nothing.  I missed both touchdowns (once due to beer drinking and once due to hotdog and giant soft bagel eating).  4 Gs.

Beer and Wings

Those of you privileged enough to be one of my friends on Facebook may have noticed that I regularly mention going to Archie Moore’s for Beer and Wings.  This has now become a regular Sunday evening fixture.  Around 6:30 to 7:00 we wander down and take over the large table in the back bar.  Some folk order Buffalo wings (bleuch) whereas those of us with more discerning palates have the barbecue sauce wings.  Fries and beer are also consumed in ridiculously large quantities (although not to the point of obesity and passing out I hasten to add).  There are usually at least eight of us there and sometimes the waitresses will join us if we’re still about when their shifts finish.  5 Gs.

Differences (Gs N/A)

We buy milk by the gallon and full fat has a red top.  Beer only displays the alcohol percentage if it differs from the norm (5.2%).  When driving you can turn right on a red light unless a sign advises otherwise.  All education (regardless of level) is referred to as “School”.  Nobody checks signatures on credit cards.  Staff on trains are pleasant and helpful.  Free wireless internet connections are readily available.  Patting your wife’s fanny in public will not get you arrested.

Is this the real life?

We’re currently cruising at 35,000 feet and leaving behind glorious sunshine and blue skies as we head back to New Haven where the temperature is just below freezing.  Yay.  It has been rather splendid to get away from the hard slog for a few days though and to spend some time in America’s plastic heartland.

We visited Disney World on Thursday and took in two of the four theme parks: Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios.  As a highly sophisticated and well cultured traveller I have of course been to Disney previously (three or four times in California and once in Florida).

One of my great disappointments in life was that I never got to go on Space Mountain (a high speed, twisty-turny, up and downy ride in the dark).  The first few times I went to The Magic Kingdom as a child my parents informed me that the ride was closed.  As I waited in the queue this time, it occurred to me that it was quite a coincidence that it had been closed every time we visited.  I suspect I may have been lied to and that Ma and Pa were just too scared to go on it.  To be fair, I suspect the old dears probably wouldn’t have had the heart for it.

Hmm.  Just realised that I am now older than my parents were the first couple of times we visited Disney.  Bugger it.  That means I’m now an old dear!

This was Mrs G’s first trip to Disney so Space Mountain seemed a fitting first ride to introduce her to the park’s delights.  She screamed like a girl from the moment we sat down and our space buggy took us zooming through the universe.  As she is a girl and found the ride scary I suppose that’s fair enough.

After that we wandered through the various lands and went on several somewhat less buttock-clenching rides: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin; Pirates of the Caribbean; Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; Country Bear Jamboree (after which we stop at Pecos Bill Café for bacon double cheese-burgers); The Haunted Mansion and finished with a sedate trip on It’s A Small World.  We then hopped on the monorail, took a bus to Disney Hollywood Studios and met Rebekah (who had been wandering around The Animal Kingdom molesting Mickey Mouse).

Disney Hollywood Studios (which I’m sure was MGM Studios when I last visited 17 years ago) was superb.  We started with Star Tours – the ultimate Star Wars thrill ride and then moved onto Lights, Motors, Action!™ Stunt Show.  The driving skill on display was breathtakingly good.  Fast vehicles, shooting and big explosions helped to ease the pain of having been away from my beloved Xbox 360 for so long.

Next stop: The Hollywood Tower Hotel.  This ride is like taking part in an episode of The Twilight Zone set in a 1917 hotel.  It starts out quite creepy in a cheesy sort of a way and then builds to the most terrifying ride I have ever been on.  Seriously.  Mrs G was clinging onto me, Rebekah was holding hands with Mrs G, everyone was screaming and laughing hysterically as the elevator we were in plummeted and soared at sickening speeds.  Pant-wettingly scary as Rebekah described it.  It was brilliant!

Following this we visited the Indiana Jones Stunt show which was not as exciting as the first stunt show.  However, hearing the Indy Theme tune blaring while watching a live Indy dodge spikes, outrun rolling boulders, fight generic middle-eastern turbaned baddies of indeterminate origin and get manly with a large bald moustachioed Nazi was rather splendid none-the-less.  It was something of a shame to me that the Nazi was shot rather than having his head mutilated by the propellers of the plane that was spinning around on the set but I suppose you can’t have everything.

After this we headed to Mickey’s fantasy light show thing, or Fantasmic! to use its official title.  This was a show loosely based on Fantasia (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) featuring various Disney characters.  Live action mixed with animation (cleverly projected onto screens made of water), music and pyrotechnics combined to make a captivating sensory experience.

Rebekah and I then dragged a protesting Mrs G back to the Hollywood Tower Hotel for another thrill before heading back to the villa.  Having experienced it once we convinced her it wouldn’t be as frightening the second time around.  How wrong we were!  Rebekah and Mrs G made more noise than the small children whose parents had decided it would be a good idea to bring them along.  That may have been because some of the children had gone into a shock induced coma and were unable to breathe.

Back at the ranch we finished the evening in a similar manner to the previous night: a moderate amount of drink to soothe our shaken nerves and the American TV version of Life on Mars.

Friday we spent a lazy day lounging around the pool and napping.  We went for a Thai meal in the evening to a place called Thai Thani where I had the most wonderful Duck Curry.

After a lazy start to Saturday Mrs G and I headed off to the Universal theme parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) leaving Rebekah behind to do some “work”.

We weren’t as taken with Universal as Disney.  My memories of the place were much better than the real (for want of a better word) thing.  We went on Terminator 2 – 3D; E.T. Adventure; Jaws; Disaster; The Cat in The Hat and Poseidon’s Fury before leaving the park just before closing at 7:00 pm.

Once back, Rebekah set off for supplies and when she returned we had pizza, beer and wine while watching a classic film full of social commentary and an in-depth analysis of the American education and legal establishments: Legally Blond.

Rebekah and Mrs G then decided to engage in some serious theological reflection.  In the pool.  In rubber rings.  With wine.  And, frankly, with very little in the way of clothing.  Er, I mean very little in the way of theological reflection.  Sorry about that.

Then it was time for bed, time for waking up, time for packing, time for heading to the airport and time for getting on the plane.  We’re now approaching our destination.  Our cold, palm-treeless destination.


Oh well, at least Sunday night is Beer and Wings night at Archie Moore’s.

Time for a break

I finally had enough!  After months of slaving away dusting, polishing, vacuuming, washing and the like (while Mrs G swans around attending classes, writing essays and the like) I felt it was high time I had a holiday!

On Wednesday the lovely, bubbly Jenny Miller picked us up just after 6:00 am and took us to Bradley International Airport where we leisurely boarded a plane and set off for Florida. A mere 2.5 hours later we touched down at Orlando International Airport to be greeted by blue skies, sunshine and palm trees.  Could be a rough few days I thought.

Rebekah had travelled ahead a couple of days earlier and came to pick us up in the hire car.  Sadly the sat nav she was using took her into some road works, into the airport and then out of the airport again.  She did eventually manage to get to us and we were soon on the way to Kissimmee, with me driving.

Having driven on the wrong (right) side of the road in Greece (where the concept of rules of the road appears not to have reached) I was fairly calm about driving in The States.  We’d purchased a sat nav of our own and the delightful Irish lady directed us to our villa with a minimum of fuss and bother.

And what a villa!  It’s built to comfortably hold eight so with just three of us here it seems practically palatial!!  After spending some time running excitedly around the whole place I cracked open a beer and relaxed with a spot of internet browsing followed by a wee nap.

After napping Mrs G and I decided to do a little shopping and search out a steak at one of the multitude of eating spots located on the 192.

First stop, Wal Mart!  We bought a few food items, beer, wine, jeans for me ($16.50) and sweat pants ($5.00).  As ethical consumers we probably shouldn’t go near the place but at those prices who gives a toss about ethics!!

After that we hunted down our steak.  A giant billboard announcing Ponderosa Steakhouse that we noticed as soon as we left Wal Mart was clearly a sign from above so we headed there immediately.

Unlike any other eating establishment we’ve ever been to we had to order our food before being shown to a table.  There was a handy guide showing photographs of what colo(u)r your slab of meat would look like depending on how you wanted it cooked.  I opted for my usual medium rare while Mrs G went for medium.  We also chose the skewered shrimps option.

After ordering and paying we were shown to a booth.  Having expected to discover a wonderful slice of Americana it was somewhat disconcerting to notice that the walls were covered with football (soccer) scarves from English clubs with a smattering of Scottish, Welsh, Irish and European teams also represented.

Our meal included an all you can pile on your plate buffet so we started by helping ourselves to the various salad items as well as noodles, pizza, meatballs and enough other assorted items with which one could feed an impoverished Third World nation for three months.

Eventually our steak and shrimps arrived and they were done exactly as we had asked.  The quality was far superior to what you’d expect to receive at a drunken Englishman’s barbecue and after helping ourselves to the all you can eat dessert we made our way back to the villa content that we had made the world a better place.

We rounded off our evening with a drink or two while watching trashy American reality TV.

Yes we can

Congratulations President Elect Obama.

Good job America!

Mory’s and The Whiffenpoofs

From the outside it’s a fairly unassuming white wooden-panelled building with nothing to indicate what lies within.

Stepping through the door is like stepping back through time: the walls are dark wood adorned with black and white photographs of athletes; oars hang from the walls and ceilings; the plain tables have initials and symbols carved randomly across them.  Even the dim yellow lighting seems to belong to another time and place.

306 York Street is the current location of Mory’s whose origins lay in an alehouse on Wooster Street run by Mr and Mrs Moriarty in the 1860s.  Who knew that America actually has some history?!

Mory’s is a private club which wouldn’t seem out of place in Oxbridge.  Formerly membership was restricted to men.  Women were allowed on the premises but had to sit upstairs hidden away from the men-folk.  Following Yale’s enrolment of women to the university (in 1969) it was only a matter of time till the gender barrier was broken.  As you might expect, there was initially much opposition to allowing women to become full members.  The local government threatened to remove Mory’s liquor licence if women were not given full membership.  Unsurprisingly, this quashed any opposition and from 1972 all Yalie genders have been able to enjoy being in the club.

There were a group of twelve of us (all women except me) who went for a meal.  The food was okay but it was worth paying purely for the atmosphere.

Which brings me nicely to the Whiffenpoofs.  Incidentally, I believe that the “poof” bit is pronounced as in “poof - the magician made the homosexual disappear”.  The Whiffenpoofs were founded in 1909 and took their name from  “Little Nemo”, an operatic Broadway show which was based on a comic strip that ran in the New York Herald.

A Whiffenpoof, as best I can tell, is a type of imaginary fish.  The Whiffenpoofs are an a cappella  group of 14 Yale seniors (all male) who traditionally sing at Mory’s Temple Bar (to use its more formal name) on Monday evenings (in addition to touring the world).

During the course of the evening they performed a number of songs for the delight of the diners.  And they were good.  Very, very good.  These young men, dressed in ties and blazers, had the ladies swooning.  Too good looking for their own good if you ask me.  Bastards.  Anyway…

They have some interesting rituals which involve them drinking from cups (as in sporting trophies) filled with differing blends of champagne, rum, beer and liqueurs into which a large block of ice is placed to keep the concoctions cool.  These trophies are in fact bigger than Mrs G’s head (see photo above).

Most of the people we were with left fairly early but Mrs G, Rebekah and I wandered out back to join the Whiffenpoofs while they smoked and finished off their cups.  We were treated to some more singing and were asked to help them finish off the four cups.  We, of course, obliged.  Rebekah obliged quite a lot actually and made giggly girlie noises while being serenaded.

Sadly, the evening had to come to an end so we made our way back to our apartments having had a thoroughly pleasant time.

A Tale of Two Polities

As some of you may be aware, the somewhat insignificant matter of the US Presidential race is currently underway.  It has been interesting to observe proceedings without the filter of the British media.  The flipside, of course, is that we’ve had to look through the filter of the American media.

We first experienced American coverage of major political events when we were over here ten years ago while the country was in the grip of the Bill Clinton impeachment process.  Comparing Clinton with the current Bush Administration, I now have a much deeper understanding of how American politics works.  Apparently blow jobs warrant the possibility of removal from office but shafting your own country and much of the rest of the world doesn’t really matter so much.

The week following our arrival was the Democratic Convention at which Barack Obama officially accepted his party’s nomination for president.  His speech was given on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech (at which time Obama was two years old).  From The Dreamer to The Dream in such a comparatively short space of time is truly amazing.

Although blacks have ostensibly been able to vote for quite some time, The Civil Rights Act outlawing racial segregation was only passed in 1964 and The National Voting Rights Act aimed at combating disenfranchisement in 1965.

One of Mrs G’s lecturers tells the story of how her Grandmother had to learn to read under a barrel.  To vote in South Carolina in those days you had to be able to read.  There were some whites who would disrupt black households if they saw lights on after a certain time because lights meant learnin’ and that just had to be stopped.  The only way blacks could learn to read without fear of interruption (or worse) was to hide under a barrel with a light.

So, as I say, From Martin Luther King Jr. to Barack Obama in such a comparatively short space of time is truly amazing

As I listened to Obama give his acceptance speech I had a feeling of pride well up within my chest.  I wanted to put on some Stars and Stripes underwear, sing The Star Spangled Banner and salute the American Flag while eating momma’s home-made pumpkin pie.  Gimme a Green Card!  I wanna be an American!!!!

Colin Powell, Republican and former Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, recently gave his endorsement to Barack Obama.  Among other things he said:

"I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the [Republican] Party say... such things as 'Well, you know that Mr Obama is a Muslim'.

"Well the correct answer is, 'He's not a Muslim, he's a Christian, he's always been a Christian'.  But the really right answer is, "What if he is?'  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?  The answer is 'No', that's not America."


Then, the next week, it was the Republican Convention at which John “Coffin Dodger” McCain accepted his party’s nomination and we were introduced to his Vice Presidential choice: Sarah “Moose Wrasslin” Palin.

Oh my.  What a contrast.  

As the week wore on the politics of fear loomed larger and larger.  This quote sums up the unease I felt while listening to the various speakers:

"Of course people don't want war.  But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought back to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger."  

No, that’s not a quote from the Republican Convention.  It’s from Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials.

I shall say no more in this vein for fear of falling further foul of Godwin’s Law.

At this point it would be too easy to descend into mockery (like pointing out that Sarah Palin feels she is qualified to handle international diplomacy because she can see Russia from her house) so I shall instead try to end on a more positive note.

On November the 4th America will choose its next President (as long as there are no problems with the voting procedure that is.  Heh.  Like that could happen in The World’s Greatest Democracy)!

There is a quiet confidence in most of the Americans that I speak to.  The polls (which historically have been pretty accurate this close to Election Day) indicate that Barack Obama will be the 44th President of The United States of America.  I hope they’re right.

I’ll let Barack Hussein Obama have the last word with two of my favourite quotes of his:

“You know, my faith is one that admits some doubt.”


"Who is Barack Obama?  Contrary to the rumours you have heard, I was not born in a manger.  I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the Planet Earth.  Many of you know that I got my name, Barack, from my father.  What you may not know is Barack is actually Swahili for 'That One.'  And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I'd ever run for president.  If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility.  Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome."

Serious Business

First off, an apology.  A number of my loyal legion of fans have expressed concern at the lack of updates to my blog.  While I can appreciate the distress this has caused some of you I would like to make it quite clear that it is in fact all Mrs G’s fault.

She has had me working under a very strict chore regime.  Just this morning, for instance, I have had to clean the bathroom, spray and polish the apartment, do the laundry (clothes currently in dryer – no doubt SWMBO will expect me to iron them today as well), make a cup of tea and make a pot of coffee.  And it’s only just turned 10 o’clock!

When I’m not being run into the ground in this manner she decides that she should get priority on the laptop for the trivial business of writing essays and such like.  Fortunately she has a very busy schedule today so I’ve decided to make the most of the opportunity and share some more ramblings.

Having purchased an American Xbox 360 not so long ago I have been able to indulge in a spot of gaming when Mrs G deigns to allow me some free time.  That I have repeatedly saved the universe from complete destruction several times has had absolutely no bearing on the lack of blog updates I can assure you.

I had to use my amazing hacking skills to get my 360 connected to Xbox Live but I can now game and chat with my online friends whenever I like.  It’s as though I never left the UK.

It’s actually getting cold in New Haven now.  It can still be mild during the day but short sleeves in the evening are now a no-no.  We’re planning a trip to New York sometime in the very near future to stock up on winter woollies.  And to do a bit of sightseeing.

Other trips we’re currently looking at include Vermont, Florida and Boston.  Each trip will of course be the subject of an in-depth blog entry.  We spent part of our honeymoon in Boston ten years ago (December ‘98) and are hoping we’ll be able to go again somewhere around the time of our anniversary.

“Enough of all this” I hear you cry.  “We want to hear about important things”.  Of course you do dear readers, so without further ado let me satisfy your urgent need to learn of significant matters.

Cereal.  After the Apple Jacks ran out we took the advice of a number of our American friends and went with Cinnamon Toast Crunch (a very crunchy cereal made of toasted cinnamon squares) and Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch (balls of crunchy peanut butter tasting stuff).

Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch is possibly the greatest cereal ever created.  Seriously.  How could something containing Niacinamide, Thiamin Mononitrate and Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (among other things) not be fabulous?

Once we finished those I bought a box of Newman’s Own Sweet Enough which is flakes with bits of strawberries.  Kind of like Special K.  While this may not seem terribly exciting compared to other cereals I’ve mentioned I bought it the week following the legendary actor’s death.  It seemed a fitting tribute (much easier than eating 50 boiled eggs in any event).

We’re currently nearing the end of our Maple Pecan Crunch (you can probably work that one out) and Reese’s Puffs (Hershey’s Cocoa & Reese’s Peanut Butter Sweet and Crunchy Corn Puffs).

I hope you are as excited as I am about what comes next!!

Must dash for now, Mrs G’s just got home and I need to look busy.

Season of Mists

For most of the time that we’ve been here the weather has been fabulous.  We’ve had a couple of days rain recently though and there’s occasionally a bit of a chill in the air.  However, it’s still warm enough that I usually wander around in a short-sleeved top, even during the evenings.  Some of the greens are starting to turn to yellow, pumpkins are sitting on steps and Mrs G is shopping for warm clothes.  Fall is here.

We’ve pretty much settled into a rhythm now.  Mrs G has her timetable for studies and has graciously given me a timetable of household duties although I somehow still seem to need reminding to do the vacuuming.

I’m sitting in on (or auditing as it’s referred to) one of Mrs G’s classes - Godly Scepticism: Ecclesiastes and Its Reception in Early Christian Tradition.  For those of you not familiar with Ecclesiastes (also known as Qoheleth) this Hebrew phrase will give you a feel for what it’s about:

הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים אָמַר קֹהֶלֶת, הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים הַכֹּל הָבֶל

I hope that’s clear.

It roughly translates as "Hebel, hebel says the teacher, all is hebel.”  Hebel (pronounce hevel) is variously translated as meaningless or vanity (in the old sense of the word).  A better translation (arguably) would be absurd (in the sense used by Camus).

I hope that’s clear.

The class meets twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays) from 1:30 till 3:00 as in taken by (the rather excellent) Professor Carolyn Sharp who has a particular interest in the area of irony.

For someone who spends a lot of his thought time bimbling about (or perhaps bumbling as the spell-check has helpfully suggested) in the Holy Idea Trinity of Non-Theism, Agnosticism and Atheism it’s refreshing to engage with a biblical book that engages with injustice, meaninglessness and general existential angst.  That it advocates having and enjoying a drink is a bonus!

The other major bonus is that I don’t actually have to do any work.  I just do the reading, turn up and once in a while make a comment.  I do act as a sounding board for Mrs G though and I proof-read her assignments.  It’s a great chance to practice passive-aggression if she’s annoyed or upset me.  I take out my giant red marker pen and gleefully highlight any errors in her papers.

I leave you today with this thought taken out of context from Ecclesiastes Chapter 2, Verse 24:

a wild ass at home in the wilderness,
in her heat sniffing the wind!
Who can restrain her lust?

Oops.  Sorry.  That’s from Jeremiah, Chapter 2, Verse 24.

The Ecclesiastes quote is:

There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil.