Tag Archives: Culture

Does hailing cabs make you fabulous?

Before I moved to London I couldn’t wait until the day I was a big city gal, whimsically hailing cabs with a casually glorious semi-smile on my face. I’d toss my shopping bags in the back and be on my fabulous way.

I woke up this morning and felt a deep pain in the place my pocket normally resides. I realized I’d wasted yet another £30 ($50) on a cab ride home from the city because I was too stupid to leave 15 minutes earlier to catch the last train and too (I don’t even know the word – smart?) to take the night bus home.

Thirty pounds doesn’t sound like so much, but I’ve developed a habit of easily convincing myself it’s worth the money to not have to take the bus, tube, whatever. “Oh, it’s only £10. Oh, it’s only £20.”

Two months later it’s nearly £200 spent because my stupid hand won’t stop sticking itself out in the street and stopping cabs.

And instead of looking like this:

I looked like this:

So, no, taking cabs does not make you fabulous. It makes you another drunk idiot with less money than you had before. And the fabulous shopping bag? Just an empty, crumpled up, in-case-I-puke shopping bag.

Some people waste money on smoking. Some people waste money on compulsive shopping. I waste money on cabs, and I think cab addiction should be hailed as a serious medical affliction in the same regard as other addictions.

I kinda feel like Annie on Bridesmaids, “Help me I’m poor.”

By the way – if you’re up for cat jokes, cute cat pictures, and discovering the makings of a crazy cat lady, check out my sister’s blog, Furry Little Cousins. It’s great!


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Parents on Facebook: Friend or Don’t Friend?

A blogger I follow wrote about how she only recently added her parents on Facebook, despite living 4,000 miles away from them. I couldn’t believe it! But then I started thinking about it, and I wouldn’t want most people’s parents as my friends on Facebook or real life if they were my parents.

I guess I got lucky. My parents are cool, and many of my friends are also friends with them.

See, look how cool they are in action, making me dinner, placing it on the table in front of me, etc.

Sometimes I think maybe they’re not cool. Maybe it’s just that I’m so boring and dorky I have nothing questionable floating about in the Facebook sphere to cause concern, and that’s why I can’t see any problem being friends with them. Even if I did engage in nefarious activities, would I be broadcasting them on Facebook anyway? No.

I don’t like how everything has to be “cool.”  Why can’t we just live life, instead of having to say snotty stuff like, “Oh, I can’t be on Facebook now that my grandparents are on it.” I mean, if you don’t want to be on Facebook, fine. But it annoys me when people act like they’re too cool for school. Or grandmas.

Again, maybe this is because I was blessed with a cool grandma, but so what? Grandma watches South Park, says bad words, and plays evil tricks on me like when we went fishing and she tossed a worm in my ear and slapped a big wet fish on my bare back. She’s not on Facebook, but if she did join she’d be way cooler than the tool sheds who’d leave because of her.

Here’s the chart I saw on this gal’s blog. Still kinda funny!

I guess my point is, if your parents suck at life and you’d rather not be reminded of them, fine. Don’t add them. But if you’re not adding them out of some commitment to being cool, you’re not cool. Add them.


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I want to blame the British, but it could be karma.

Let’s start by talking about how I got trapped in my bedroom this weekend.

The wonderfully constructed, cheap plastic door handle fell off this indestructible metal box with a dead bolt and latch, leaving me absolutely no way to get out of my room until someone could open the door from the outside.  Jumping out the window isn’t an option because our back yard is completely sealed off by a big brick wall which I couldn’t get over, so if I didn’t have my phone in the room with me I’d have been trapped from 10 am until about 2 in the morning.

I have many problems with the way the British construct doors because most of them have never heard of the door knob, and if there is a knob it’s a total PoS as demonstrated above.

For example, take a look at my front door.

WHO ON EARTH thought, “You know what – we could put a door knob here and some dead bolts people could twist from the inside, but let’s not. Let’s put a sharp metal ring that people can slide their fingers through to pull open the door, and let’s make it so you can only lock the dead bolt with a key, that way people can potentially be trapped in the house if there is a fire and they can’t find their keys.”

Here is my door knob that so cleverly doubles as a hook for the chain:


And here is the outside of the front door, with the little pull handle so close to the key hole that it’s very difficult to turn the key without twisting your hand in an awkward position or getting your finger pinched.

But back to me being trapped. My friend Clay loved the fact that I got trapped in my room because a joke I played on him one time caused him to actually have to jump out of a second floor window. His room mate and I took a screwdriver and dismantled his door knob one night because … well, for no reason. It was funny, but Clay didn’t think so. Then his door wouldn’t shut properly and got stuck a few months later. He was trapped, and his phone was in the living room so he had to jump out the window.


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Pub Quiz by the Leaky Cauldron

Last night a handful of people from my office went to the Southwark Tavern near London Bridge/Borough Market for a pub quiz. Team name? Conquiztadors.

Want to know another fun fact? The Southwark Tavern is dangerously close to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter. Naturally the whole time I was imagining I was sitting in the Leaky Cauldron on Diagon Alley. Who wouldn’t?

The quiz took place down in the cellar, where all the tables were reserved for us quiz takers. Each person pays a pound, and the winning team gets the entire pot.

Fellow conquiztadors.

I didn’t know many answers. I did, however, answer correctly to the question: What do Americans call bum bags? Fanny packs! Brits think this is funny because fanny doesn’t mean the same thing over here …

Sadly we didn’t win, or get last or second to last place. If you get second to last you win a bottle of wine! Last place got some nasty looking candies. The first place team got to split £54 of winnings.

Perhaps next time the conquiztadors will prevail.


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I’m going to quiz night just like The Office!

I’ve been waiting for this moment. People at my work have decided to get together tomorrow evening to attend one of our local pub quiz nights.

So far working in a British office has been a major disappointment in terms of expectations The Office gave me. All of my managers are reasonable characters who don’t wear heels, no one eats scotch eggs, and no one has put my stapler in Jell-O and thrown it out the window. In fact, I don’t even have a stapler and we work in a basement with windows that don’t actually open, so it would be quite a toss considering it would need to shatter glass. A messy prank indeed.

Will there be fierce competition tomorrow night like The Office? Will I get my shoes thrown over the pub roof?

I don’t know the answers to these questions yet. In fact, I don’t know the answers to many trivia questions so I don’t think this will be a successful quiz for me. I’ll report back tomorrow.

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A lovely English pub lunch

Every English person has a local pub it seems, so we were excited when we finally found ours a few weeks ago. The Wimbledon area is generally very nice so we are lucky to have a good selection of quality pubs around, but The Wandle (named after the local river) in Earlsfield tops them all. The food is wonderful, the pub is beautiful and has a nice garden out back with plenty of flowers, tables and a BBQ for the weekends, and you don’t have to worry about any rowdy clientele spilling beer on you because they got too excited about a potential football goal.

Essentially, this place is as close to perfect as a pub can get so naturally we came here for a big meal on our 2nd anniversary.

Because it was so nice we decided to sit out back in the garden.

Adrian was having a hard time with the 80 degree heat. I felt bad for him, but I said now he knows how terrible I feel when the weather is cold! Cold weather is so painful for me because I have poor circulation in my hands and feet, so I never complain about being too hot.

The giant flying ants came out of nowhere this weekend, so although it wasn’t fun to be attacked by them it was amusing to watch other people be attacked.

I especially love how they print new food menus for the day. I went with the Sunday veggie roast, which was a cashew and mushroom wellington, and Adrian had a burger with stilton and bacon.

I must say I’m not generally a fan of cheeses like stilton, but this was exceptional. I kept stealing bits of cheese the fell off his burger!

Mine came with a giant Yorkshire pudding. The cashew and mushroom wellington was set on top of squash and fresh green green beans. On the side was cauliflower with what I think was a gorgonzola light cheese sauce. The gravy was excellent as well because it was also really light. I don’t know if gravy can be described as refreshing, but it was. Even though it was a hot day I polished my plate!

I know I should have gotten better pictures, but I really couldn’t wait to eat this.

After the meal we went inside to cool off a bit.

I loved the old suitcase table they had at the corner couch by the antique chairs.

Then it was off to Strawberry Hill!


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What’s all this hot yoga sweating de-tox crap about?

For a while now I’ve been hearing about people sitting in saunas or doing hot yoga to “sweat out the toxins” in their bodies. Hot yoga seems to be yet another notch healthy lifestyle bloggers have carved into their holy health sticks, so I did a little research to find out what exactly it is.

Basically you do yoga in a room that’s really hot (between 30 and 50 C or 85 to 122 F according to Wikipedia).

It makes sense that yoga would be easier when your muscles are warm, but the de-tox part seemed fishy. According to this piece in the LA Times, it is crap. The article says you hardly release any toxins through sweat, and in fact it can be more damaging to your health because it will put unnecessary strain on your kidneys and liver if you don’t drink enough water to make up for what’s lost through excess sweat in the session. My favorite part is when they essentially said you release far more toxins by pooping and peeing – because that’s what they’re for – then you ever would through sweating.

Don’t get me wrong – I love healthy lifestyle blogs and read them almost exclusively. I just feel that many of them become a bit holier-than-thou and lose grasp of reality. Honestly, how many pictures of a bowl of oatmeal can you take? That’s my other problem with healthy lifestyle blogs. They can’t get enough of their oatmeal. Each new healthy topping is “OMG A NEW BOWL OF OATMEAL EXCEPT THIS TIME I PUT CHIA SEEDS IN IT IN ADDITION TO FLAX, BERRIES AND ALMOND BUTTER!! IF ONLY GOD COULD SEE ME NOW! I’M SO HEALTHY!!”

Who knows, maybe the experts are wrong and you de-tox to the max by sweating with your foot behind your head in a hot room. Until it’s proven, though, I’d say a better bet would be to take a dump. It’s free, and you’ll save yourself an hour.


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On location: The Royal Wedding eve!

People started camping out Wednesday for Friday’s Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton so I went into the city today to see how crazy things are.  It was every bit as exciting and crazy as you’d expect!

Westminster Abbey, where they’ll marry.

Detail above the door.

I saw TV crews from every major news channel you could imagine. Even the Philadelphia news had a crew!

Her shirt says “BACK AGAIN” and has a picture of her and her friends at the wedding of Charles and Diana.

I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but I’ve always found Buckingham Palace fairly unremarkable compared with other buildings in London, and especially with other palaces and castles. The surrounding St. James’ park, however, is gorgeous.

Unfortunately I can’t go tomorrow because I’ll be at work, although I do work close enough that I could risk the crowds and head over …


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Easter Sunday abroad

Easter Sunday went down in history like every other holiday has for the past three years of living in England – Skype with the family while I eat a non-traditional meal by myself. At thanksgiving it was canned spinach and something else, and this weekend it was twice-baked southwestern sweet potatoes. No chocolate bunnies or peeps. 😦

And here are snapshots of my grandma with her colored eggs and chocolate angel food peepcake she makes every year.

Oh, were you thinking I was going to talk about all the fun ways in which English people celebrate Easter? Sorry, I think it’s the same. Except coloring Easter eggs is a lot harder because all of the eggs are brown. We managed last year, but they ended up getting a little immature and maybe obscene. (But then again, we were coloring eggs so I think it’s OK to be immature.)

Also, us Brits (real ones and immigrants like me)  got Friday AND Monday off work for the Easter holiday, so I guess that’s cool.

There’s also another four-day weekend next weekend. Friday is for The Royal Wedding, and Monday is one of the random “bank” holidays England sometimes has.  You’re jealous, aren’t you? You’re jealous of my Easter eggs, and you’re jealous of all my holidays. 23 days plus all national holidays! It makes up a tiny bit for spending all my holidays on Skype.

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I’ll miss pub lunches when I leave England!

Pubs are always welcoming places.

Especially when it’s sunny out and they have a rooftop bar/restaurant area! Here’s an Englishman I documented:

Obviously, the best part is the food. Meet pie platter, a platter with two chicken and leek pies and two steak pies, plus some hearty “chips.”

This doesn’t exactly fit in with my healthy eating kick, but I can’t imagine a world in which I’m able to resist a good pie. Honestly. Look at this thing:

English people like to say “ta” or “ta very much” (in this case “ta v much”) and oddly “ta muchly,” which I try to ignore because it’s the kind of word that could easily irritate me.

Typically you’d have a Sunday roast, but I don’t currently have pictures of our latest roast. Blame my mom. They are on her camera and she went back to the US without downloading them!


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The other side of the iconic British phone booth

The British phone booth. It’s cute, it’s iconic, it’s a standard tourist photo-op. 

But what happens when you actually go up to one and take a good look?

In London you’ll probably find seedy sex ads plastered all over the interior walls, and if you are brave enough to open the door you’ll get a nice strong whiff of someone’s decaying urine.

Mmmmmm …. peeee.

The Brazillian transexual phonebooth picture is one of the first shots I took with my new camera. I decided to go out in London on a Saturday night to try to capture some of the excitement of the city once the sun goes down. Unfortunately I didn’t get very far because that was during the time my wrist was freaking out and I was worried I was going to have a T-rex arm.

These are the fountains in Trafalgar Square, one of my favorite places to take pictures of because it always looks so moody during the day and you can see a little Big Ben in the distance.

I hope to get out in the city with my new camera soon! If you missed my pictures of the holy-crap-this-is-amazing place they call Venice, click here.


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Amazing, beautiful, wonderful Venice in a few words (and a ton of pictures!)

I just got back from Venice and all I can say is there is a reason it’s a major tourist destination. It was amazing. And filled with Americans. So many Americans, in fact, that I’ve taken to calling it the “51st state.”

It was so weird! I’ve visited quite a few European cities and never seen anything like it. I really felt like I was back home, walking around in a movie set of some picture-perfect, postcard town. I couldn’t stop singing Dean Martin songs in my head the entire time! I know, I know.

My mom and I drank lots of Bellinis, a cocktail invented in Venice that’s made of Prosecco (sparkling wine) and fresh peach juice, and ate lots of Italian food. Naturally I’ll have to write another post focused on the food and our beautiful accommodation.

Another interesting thing is that there are no cars in the main part of the city so you have to either walk or take water taxis. They actually have the taxi sign, and it’s so cute.

I’ll keep the written narration to a minimum, because there really is no describing Venice. We mostly walked around and took pictures of the canals, beautiful buildings and gondolas. Almost all of the pictures were taken with my new Nikon D5000. I LOVE it!!

Doge’s Palace

The above and below pictures were taken in San Marco in the main starting point for tourists.

All of the Gondoliers wore traditional black and white shirts and hats.

The gondolas all looked like this, with the same forked ends on the boat.

The view from the tower where Galileo used to fiddle with his telescope.

Monster sized seagulls were rampant around the islands. They dwarfed the pigeons and were the biggest gulls I’ve ever seen.

I got a fantastic deal (steal) on Expedia for the Venice Hilton, and I tell you what (said in Hank Hill voice). Wow. Since it was across the water they provided a free water taxi to San Marco. I can’t recommend this hotel enough.

Below is the Rialto bridge, the oldest bridge in Venice. I actually didn’t like it very much because although it’s March it was packed with tourists and crappy souvenir  shops. It was much better to walk through the city and see all the uncrowded, small bridges over the many canals.

My mom eating her chocolate gelato in San Marco by the famous basilica.

Our last pizza. We weren’t sure it was going to be good because it was close to tourist central, but it was excellent and it even had fresh basil which I adore.

I couldn’t get over how cool this is. It’s got to be the coolest gas station in the world.

So good.

Sure, if you want to go ahead and compliment me on how freakin’ awesome my 70s camera strap is, go ahead. When I got my new camera last month my dad gave me his strap that he had for his Nikon back in the day. Way back in the day. Obviously it was really sunny. I could barely open my eyes for this pic!

The view of the mountains from my seat in the rear of the airplane back to England. Perfect end to the trip!


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Welcome to the future: pre-peeled, packaged bananas

When I saw this picture on Facebook I assumed it was Photoshopped. I actually went and conducted a little research on the Internet and found out that no, it’s not a joke. It’s happening.

Sam Biddle on Gizmodo.com writes:

“If… if only there were some sort of container for a banana. Something that would protect the fruit inside, be easy to open, and a cinch to throw away. Oh wait, right.”


Image credit Del Monte


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My stupid false dichotomy.

Hi, remember me?

I haven’t been blogging lately because I’ve been focusing to the max on learning HTML and CSS. I figured if I was on the Internet I should be studying. I also cut out Twitter. I couldn’t cut out Facebook (impossible) but I cut my miscellaneous Internet usage by about 75% and turned it into studying. I like percentages.

The point is, I’m almost back to being a blogger. I just wanted to let my tens of fans know that I’ll be back soon. I also had some quick thoughts I wanted to share but I didn’t know where to write them, so I think a Dear Diary post would help best.

Dear Diary,

I have a problem with perfection. I accidentally made a dumb mistake at work today, as any normal person does, but this kind of thing deeply upsets me to the point where it ruins my day, and possibly my weekend or next week.

I feel like if you aren’t going to work with excellence in mind, don’t bother. It’s either be the best you can be, or take it easy and skate through life. Mediocrity sucks, and here’s why.

If you go to work every day trying your very best and striving for excellence you’ll be rewarded. You know you are achieving the greatest and in my experience hard work always pays off. If you do the bare minimum you have the benefit of having an easy life, with little to no levels of stress. But to go to work and do an average job? That absolutely doesn’t make sense to me. You aren’t going to get rewarded because all the people who are working hard will be rewarded. You aren’t going to have low stress because you’ll be working in an average manner. So, what are you trying for?

I don’t even know when I started thinking like this. I just sort of arrived at this conclusion and I’d like to unarrive.

When I found out about my error at work today my first thought was, “What’s the point now? My goal of 2011 record of perfection is tarnished in month two. Month two!” That’s dumb, and I know that. So why does it upset me so much? It’s not like I’d quit trying anyway, so why is that thought even there?

When other people in life (not just at work, this is a general thing) find out they have made a mistake it’s like water off a duck’s back. I don’t even care if that’s an overused expression. I like it because I love imagining little water droplets rolling down a duck’s back. I never get tired of it.

(Image Source)

I’m worried that if I start accepting mistakes more will come. And more. And more. Before I know it I’ll be average, and once I realize I’m not doing either well or poorly, I’ll sink down into the poor category. That’s why I always expect the best, from myself and from other people.

If you can be bothered, let me know what your expectations are so I can know if I’m normal or just a plain freak.

Oh yeah, and to make matters worse, I kind of have a couple friends now. That sucks because I can no longer make jokes and wild complaints about how nobody on the entire continent of Europe wants to hang out with me.*

Yours truly,

Debbie D.

*I am actually glad to have friends.


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Where’s Waldo in Paris?

Nowhere, because he doesn’t exist in Paris. His evil twin, Charlie, is the one who hides in Paris.

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