July 5th, 2002

Books

(no subject)



So, I'm not in Scotland. After hasty considerations, I decided
to stay in and sleep in today. I need to catch up on sleep, and on
reading for class, the issue of laundry is creeping upon me,and I
haven't much money right now (a bit more is
on the way), so the two nights in Edinburgh would have about busted
me. Having finally gotten up, and gotten a shower, I go in search
of food. Hopefully Colin has a hot dog and some crisps for me.



interludeI set out for Roehampton's High Street (High Street in a bit like
American Main Street) to get some crisps (potato chips are crisps,
french fries are chips) and some milk from the local convenience
store. Habibs are only subtly different here. This one sells
everything from cat litter to toliet paper, including lottery
tickets and spirituous liquors (beer and wine, too). He also offers
internet access on a few computers for 1 GBP an hour, which I
haven't tried yet, as for the moment I have found a place to jack
in. I set out in just my shirt and slacks, sucking on a lolly I found
in my luggage (Mom), carrying my book bag
(literal: It's from Waldenbooks) and leaving the coat here. So, of
course it rained. It was little more than a steady light rain, and
the most precipitation I have yet witnessed here, but I was a bit
damp after the walk to R---. After dripping outside for a bit, I
went inside, noting that the Post Office was already closed. I
puttered around, picking up a large bag of crisps (It was 1.19 GBP
for a bag of 10 little sacks, compare to 35 pence apiece for those
sacks in the automat downstairs) a half gallon of milk and a ham and
cheese wrap (think Hot Pockets ™ ). I wondered about for a
bit, but having found no nuts at all, and declining to buy or hire a
video (couldn't play it anyway, look for "region encoding DVD" on
Google for the bad news) I grabbed a Hershey bar (C&C), paid and
left. The first pack of Dortitos were gone before I left the
awning, and the wrap was done moments after I sat in the kitchenette
on the hall. I am a bit drier now, and less thirsty after three
small cups of milk, but the chocolate has yet to alleviate the
headache or the general low-level fatigue from yesterday</>'s walking.



adric, roehampton.ac.uk, 17:38 & 18:57, 5 july 2002
song: james, laid
Books

(no subject)



On Thursday we visited Blenheim ("blenham" oe even blenam) Palace, home of the Duke of Marlbourgh and birthplace of Sir
Winston Churchill. This was an official fieldtrip for the Mr.
Churchill's Britain class. They had a nice little exhibition of WC's
papers and pictures and such, including a loop tape of excerpts from his
most famous speeches. I got a couple pictures of the exterior
and bought the official picture book for it's shots of the interior
and grounds. Due to the professor's predilection towards scenic
walks (He hikes as a hobby.) we ended taking two longish, but merry,
strolls around the palace grounds. The countryside is quite lovely and
sported some fantastic ancient trees, one of which hopefully I will have
a picture to show. There was also a small but well kept up temple
to Diana, which was apparently the site of WC's proposal of marriage
to his wife Clementine. I am more a follower of Athena than
Diana, in part because of Neal Stephenson's cypherpunk novel

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<html>

<p>On Thursday we visited Blenheim ("blenham" oe even blenam) <a
href="">Palace</a>, home of the Duke of Marlbourgh and birthplace of Sir
Winston Churchill. This was an official fieldtrip for the Mr.
Churchill's Britain class. They had a nice little exhibition of WC's
papers and pictures and such, including a loop tape of excerpts from his
most famous speeches. I got a couple pictures of the exterior
and bought the official picture book for it's shots of the interior
and grounds. Due to the professor's predilection towards scenic
walks (He hikes as a hobby.) we ended taking two longish, but merry,
strolls around the palace grounds. The countryside is quite lovely and
sported some fantastic ancient trees, one of which hopefully I will have
a picture to show. There was also a small but well kept up temple
to Diana, which was apparently the site of WC's proposal of marriage
to his wife Clementine. I am more a follower of Athena than
Diana, in part because of Neal Stephenson's cypherpunk novel<a
href="http://www.cryptonomicon.com"">Cryptonomicon</a> (keyword
<em>metis</em> ), and the temple was attractive (if a bit austere),
but disapointingly looked unused. None of my classmates seemed to
react to the lack of offerings or, well, anything. I suppose the
temple to be cerimonial, but it didn't appear to have hosted any
ceremonies lately. Maybe they just cleaned up after themselves.</p>

<p>I picked up a couple of discount books in the Blenheim Palace
gift shop. I was unable to tun down 5 GBP for an 8 GBP biography of
Tolkein (although I was alarmed that the professor didn't know about the
Inkblots), and I picked up an offical-looking Jubilee coffee table book
for Dad.</p>

adric, roehampton.ac.uk, 19:11 5 July 2002
song: <a href="29june2002.html">Salisbury</a> Hill, covered by Sarah
McLachlan
</html>
Books

Money



In which I resist the urge no longer, and pen an extended screed on
the subject of finance...



The exchange rate sucks!



More clearly, the value of British money in comparision to U.S. money
is quite pronounced. Earlier this week, I cashed $100 worth of AmEx
traveller's cheques at an AmEx office and received 63 GBP and some
60 p of small change. Again, that's:



100USA = 63UK

The result is that things that seem inexpensive here are priced about
right compared to home (Atlant@), things that seem reasonable are by
local standards at home, a little steep here, and the expensive things,
such as in the tourist traps, are obscenely expensive. Here are some
more examples to help support the point that prices seem reasonable here
as long as (much like the stern admonition given you by language
teachers) you don't translate:



ItemGBPlocal
value
USDwell?
RSC cap5.25seems cheap8.82fluke?
The Economist2.80okay4.70ouch
hot dog (Colin)1.50seems cheap2.52stadium
Blenheim water1.25um, er2.10theft
print a page of A40.06seems okay0.10ouch
a Coke (newstand)1.00seems okay1.68stadium
busfare to ASDA0.70seems okay1.18ow, for a 30 min walk
sacklunch3.00seems okay5.04a lot for a kid's lunch


The money itself is different, of course. The bills are slightly larger and are
printed in many colours. Each includes a portrait of HRH, and a figure
of historical significance (this 10 GBP note has Charles Dickens and a scene from
Pickwick Papers). The notes are quite pretty just to look at and have at least
as many anti-counterfeit features as U.S. currency (I suspect they have more.) So, the
bills are lovely. It's the coins that are troublesome, mostly as there are so many of
them. The denominations I have had are 20 (bill), 10 (bill), 5 (bill), 2 (coin), 1
(coin), and then 50,20,10,5,2, and 1 (all coins). The coins seem mostly to get smaller
as they get more valuable, but that theory quickly breaks down with application. Here
they are in order of size, largest first: 2 P, 50 p, 2 p, 10 p, 1 P, 20 p, 1 p, 5 p.
The pound is quite the same size as the 20 p, although much thicker and rounder. The 2
pound coins are quite nice, having two colors of metal (one as a ring around the other).
The tu'pence and the halfpound are each about 1 inch in diameter, although the 50p is
septoganal (7 sided ?! ) and the tupence round. I'll measure a two pounder when next I
get one.



adric, roehampton.ac.uk, 20:15 , 5 July 2002


music: Floyd (duh)