July 29, 2007

Tourists in London

Every weekend we are tourists in London. I'm sure you can live your entire life in this city and never see it all. Today we visited Primrose Hill with the most amazing views of London and then continued on to Abbey Road.
Here's Stephen with the beautiful views of the city. Next the famous Abbey Road crosswalk used by the Beatles in their album of the same name. These are just a few miles from our flat.

July 27, 2007

Explaining Matzoh Meal

My mom recently compiled a family cookbook on the internet that she then printed to order. It took her about two years and the final product is pretty amazing. The book is probably 200+ pages and each recipe was submitted by a family member. Alongside recipes are family photos and my mother's personal notes about who people are in the historic images and how the recipe relates. The project turned into an interesting family tree of sorts.

Last weekend my mother-in-law, who lives in Scotland, was showing me which recipes she wanted to try. Her challenge was understanding some of the ingredients. Some were easy to translate, for instance Crisco would be vegetable lard in the UK. But the harder ones were explaining Jewish ingredients such as Matzoh Meal.
Amy: It's Matzoh made into a meal.

Mum: Oh, yes, aye.

Amy: You know, crumbled up or actually made back into dust.

Mum: Oh, yes, and Matzoh is...?

Amy: Well, it's that bread that the Jews took out of Egypt, the one that didn't rise and they baked it in the sun, that flat bread.

Mum: Oh, yes, aye.

Amy: Breadcrumbs will work.

Mum: We have those.

Then I tried to explain gefilte fish and how it was like the haggis of Jewish food but not nearly as good. Poor Mum, she was going to try and make it but I think she's now deterred. I didn't have the heart to explain that the carp has to swim in your bathtub before you kill it. Of course now she knows from reading this post.

Naturist vs. Nudist

Now that I have your attention here's a funny story. My work associate was having a phone chat with one of our vendors who mentioned that she is about to go on holiday. Being polite he asked if she was going anywhere interesting. Her response, "In fact, I'm a Naturist and will be at a festival."

OK. What the heck is a Naturist? According to The Naturist Society website Naturists believe, "Everyone's first moments are without clothes, and The Naturist Society believes nudity is still the natural and best way to be."

Well, how does that differ from a Nudist? Ah, the joy of Google, simply type in Naturist versus Nudist and you land on Nudist/Naturist Terminology.

"Essentially synonymous, the terms Naturist/Naturism were originally created as an alternative to Nudist/Nudism in the attempt to dispel negative connotations associated with Nudism. Naturism tends to imply more environmental awareness, free beach values, and recreational nudity, while Nudism tends to be focused more around resorts and living nude full time."

Oh yes, very subtle differences here. Seems to be commerce and recreation that separate the nude from the naked.

As you can imagine this discussion brought much debate to our office and chuckles as well as we imagined her working on our project, at her home office, in the nude.

July 25, 2007

New Orleans Replay in England

Watching TV coverage of flooded communities in England and listening to the stories of displaced people is like a replay of New Orleans. As when we were in Houston, the natural disaster is distanced from our London home but still feels too close for comfort.

Since moving here many American friends have asked me if England is always rainy. Up until about six weeks ago my answer was, "no, it is beautiful, warm and sunny." We had summer in April. Now that has all changed. The weather is unseasonably rainy and cold in contrast to last summer which was hot and muggy in London.

Is this global warming or a natural cycle? Weather reporters say that there were floods like this forty and sixty years ago. Is it that housing keeps getting built on flood zones, too close to flowing water? Is it over farming of the land, raising the water table and making it impossible for the ground to soak up any more water? Is it because rivers are damned, diverted or clogged? I suppose a combination of these factors.

No need to worry about our flat as we are on the first floor - which is really the second floor in American English terms.

July 23, 2007

Setting the Scene

A reflection on the leadership think tank...

Title: 10 Animated People
Players: 10 arst and culture management professionals from around the country (one from London). Some are consultants, a couple are administrators and several run management service programs. This is a mix of emerging, midcareer and seasoned professionals.

Audience: 7 staff members and 3 graduate school students called summer scholars. These are just observers who took a pledge to not speak during the 12 hours of conversation.

Location: Meeting room in a Washington DC corporate office. Six tables are formed into a square with giant board room chairs around them.

Props: Flip charts, colored markers and bottles of water.

Objective: To determine what it means to be a leaders in arts and culture management.

Rules: Play nice, listen, be non-judgemental, follow the facilitator.

Curtain opens to reveal eighteen people sitting around a table, each in a different posture, some having side conversations and two women standing near flip charts attempting to guide the conversation.

To discover what we discussed visit my other blog http://www.careergoals.blogspot.com/.

Back in London

I finally made it back to London after another marathon flight on Zoom. This time around we couldn't enjoy Bermuda as it was dark out and we didn't leave the plane. However, I did manage to get 7 hours of sleep even if I kept dreaming that I was sitting in a meeting complaining about my rear-end hurting. Woke up and sure enough, my rear-end was hurting.

iPhone Post Explained

My brother-in -law Mandeep let me use his iPod. So amazing. The resolution is like looking at a computer screen. I was able to reach my blog and post a title but it couldn't read the flash for the body of the post. That will be in the next iPhone generation.

July 20, 2007

blogging from iPhone-but i can only do a title

Victoria Beckham and Cultural Literacy

If you head over to my other blog Career Goals: Take the Lead you can read updates about the leadership think tank in which I am participating. Yesterday we had an extended conversation about Cultural Literacy which is a new term to me and seems quite buzzy. I couldn't fully embrace the conversation.

Later in the evening I was able to catch the show Victoria Beckham Coming to America. Now I get it. Over in the UK she is considered fascinating but trashy. She never smiles, has three children but is skinny as a pencil and is married to the world's hottest man (second to Stephen) David Beckham. Her move to the US is considered a desperate publicity move.

However, watching her show I can see that she does smile, seems to have a great sense of British humour and is struggling to understand America. In return, Americans are embracing her and I'm sure that the UK is none to happy about that.

Her first month in LA is highlighted on the show. Despite her ample plastic surgery, outrageous clothes and heals so high that she can't actually walk, she is NOTHING in comparison to the wives of LA. She seems downright subtle compared to them. She doesn't take herself too seriously as illustrated by her continuous side-comments. Even after the show ended I continued to giggle out loud about her comment after throwing the first pitch at a Dodgers game, "I thought my silicon would come out my armpit."

July 19, 2007

Put, Put Putting to DC

So much for zooming to DC. It took me 15 hours to get here from London. We went via Bermuda and because the airline JUST started flying to Bermuda and NY we apparently had to follow the land route. What the heck is the land route from London to Bermuda. It took is 8 hours and 40 minutes. Plus, there was an unhappy baby crying for about 80% of the flight.

Bermuda was beautiful. We actually were taken off the plane and asked to wait in the lounge area giving us time to catch some rays in the enclosed courtyard. The sky is so blue, the breeze lovely, the water blue and green, palm trees swaying. To think it is only 600 miles from the East Coast of the US. Paradise found.

July 17, 2007

Zooming to DC

Heading off to DC for three days to participate in the Americans for the Arts leadership think tank. I spend as much time travelling as I do in the actual meetings. Flying Wednesday, meeting Thursday and Friday, flying Saturday, return to London Sunday.

In between I am managing to see my siblings, their significant others and my folks. How's that for efficiency? Hopefully I'll be able to visit Teaism, my favorite DC tea/food shop.

Also trying a new airlines - Zoom. They just started their London/NY service and seem to have upgraded me for a portion of the flight. We stop over in Bermuda which, frankly, is the highlight for me. Let's hope we don't get lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Hopefully I can get off the plain and check out the airport shops.

July 16, 2007

How fast can you type?

I found this interesting website http://www.typeonline.co.uk/typingspeed.php? that offers a free typing test. How many words can you type per minute? I remember my mom saying she could type 90+ words or something crazy - which explains all the emails I get from her ;-).
I got up to 77 on my work computer and just scored 82 on this laptop. More relaxed at home? More user-friendly keyboard? Better test paragraph? Try it for yourself.

July 15, 2007

The Yoga Zone

Today I hosted a private yoga class at our flat. Each Saturday my neighbour Laia and I attend a fantastic yoga class at the Portchester Centre (Portchester in London as opposed to Portchester, NY). We've been on a quest to find a class for Sundays that was just as good. One of the substitute teachers at the Portchester offers in-home classes, so we took her up on the offer.

Practicing at your flat and hosting guests it becomes clear that all the good habits you learn in a class are harder to maintain at home. My breathing was constricted and I kept worrying about space. But Tanja, our teacher, reminded us to dance with our breath and half way through the class I was able to get into the yoga zone.

An added benefit is that the class brought us closer together as neighbours. Three of us from this building and another American woman from down the street. We all have some kind of connection - Madalyn lived in Oakland, Laia worked in Texas and Victoria is from New York now working in not for profit arts. She shares a wedding anniversary with Tanja. Welcome to the Yoga Zone.

Photo not of us...yet.

July 11, 2007

Meet the Authors

Check out this website I discovered which has video clips of your favorite authors talking briefly about their books. www.meettheauthor.co.uk.

Here's a clip of Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence talking about his superb book The New Leaders http://www.meettheauthor.co.uk/bookbites/284.html. I'm on the last few pages. Inspirational.

My friend Kevin Smokler has also just launched a new website called www.booktour.com. Here's what he says about it...

"BookTour.com is a free service that connects authors with audiences who would like to have authors come and speak to them. As such, it also enables book lovers to track when their favorite author is coming to their town and never suffer the "I saw my favorite author was here three days ago when I read about it in the newspaper" fate again."

Kevin recommended that I start this blog and even came up with the name.

London becomes familiar...and exotic again

Leaving work today it was the first day that I wasn't instantly swept away in the action of Kings Cross. Instead I exited our building and was still thinking about work, on the tube, work, the walk home, didn't see the architecture, coming around the corner to the flat, just noticed the usual piles of dog pooh along the sidewalk.

I've evolved through several adjustment phases living in London.

Tourist phase
Getting to know my neighbourhood phase
Trying out different tube lines phase
Finding a job phase
Figuring out how people act at work phase
Making friends phase
--End of culture shock phase--
Hanging out at home and being OK with that phase
and now... I just live in a city and travel to work each day phase

There are benefits to this phase in that I'm no longer on the arching learning curve. I've hit the peak and can now relax and enjoy the ride. And no need to worry about finding new challenges as work provides that now. Director, resigned, Head of Finance, resigned, Policy Director, resigned. Actually, maybe the changes at work are distracting me from life in London?

Next phase - Finding life-work balance phase.

Oh, wait, I did have a living in Britain highlight this morning. A gentleman called from Wales to purchase our Gypsy and Traveller Law book. I actually spoke to a Gypsy/Traveller. His mailing address was really quite extraordinary as the words are in Welsh. He translated it for me and each address line meant something beautiful such as white mountain, flowing river. He was interested in my accent while I thought he was far more exotic.

Here's a cool site that will translate a website into any language. I've translated my site www.artsmanagementconsulting.com into Welsh and Arts Management Consulting is Celfau Reolaeth Yn Ymgynghori and this blog is 'r Kweskin Adroddiad.

Back into the American in London phase

July 8, 2007

Happy 100 Frida

6 July 2007 was the 100th anniversary of artist Frida Kahlo's birth. Happy Birthday Frida!

I feel an attachment to her because of all the work I did on loaning her painting to Mexico City, and getting a behind-the-scenes tour of her home. She's a person I would love to have met. Our guest bedroom in London is filled with little reminders of Frida and my trip to Mexico City.

Here are some links to various commemorations and celebration events.

1. National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago
2. Mark Vallen's Art for Change blog
3. Article about international celebrations reported in the Arizona Republic 4. Mexico’s Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) is exhibiting the largest body of Kahlo’s artworks ever to be put on public display anywhere in the world. Opening June 13th, 2007 and running until August 19th, 2007.
5. Review of the exhibition in today's New York Times - Beyond the Myth - Art Endures

Mexico City is one of my most favorite places on earth. I recommend visiting Museo de Frida Kahlo and you will fall in love with Frida as I have.

July 7, 2007

Just Another Busy Saturday in London

London is an amazing place filled with countless activities. Check out a few of the ginormous events that were going on yesterday in the Capital.
British Grand Prix (outside of London)

Stephen and I watched the Tour de France at the event's promo center called the People's Village in Hyde Park near the Serpentine lake. It was perfect weather - sunny, cool - perfect setting - on the grass alongside the route - perfect viewing - giant tv screen. In fact, I was able to take a lovely two hour nap. When I awoke my first reaction was, "wow, look at all these people watching tv in our living room." Amazing how I could siesta amongst thousands of people clapping, helicopters chopping and a giant tv blaring.

Being into freebies the best part was the sponsor parade officially called the Publicity Caravan, which preceded the riders. The parade of 100 cars felt like a strange France pop invasion. Most of the sponsors are French focused using bullhorns to yell out "buy our products" but in French and of course they are only available in France. All the bystanders looked a bit amused as these vehicles zoomed past us with girls waving, pop music blaring and give-aways flying. Nothing like a scramble between small children, adults and grandparents to get a free sticker.

July 5, 2007

Top 10 Secret Indulgences

Here are my formerly-secret top 10 indulgences.

1. Being the first to use a new sponge.
2. Being the first to use a freshly cleaned bathroom.
3. Having someone insist on treating you to dinner.
4. White cake with white icing (not so secret).
5. Decaf chai soy latte.
6. Chili fries with cheese.
7. Moussaka, moussaka, moussaka.
8. Smelling the roses.
9. Saying hello to neighborhood cats.
10. Smelling fresh ground coffee.

Clearly I'm hungry.

July 3, 2007

Scottish Hats

How about these looks?

Saint Giles Cathedral Vibrates

Along Edinburgh's Royal Mile sits St. Giles Cathedral, home to the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland's chivalric company of knights headed by the Queen. Sounds like something out of The DaVinci Code but these are all knights of the modern era and Queen Elizabeth II.
During our visit the organ was being played - filling the Cathedral with sound and vibration. The music was modern and the pipe organ is too. There was a passage under the instrument that allowed you to feel the music as it was played - literally made you vibrate.
The light was beautiful as it streamed through the stained glass windows (between rain storms) as you can see in this portrait of Stephen.

New Lanark for a New Millennium

There is a world heritage sight in Scotland called New Lanark which was setup in the late 1800s as an idealised community for cotton mill workers. The founder, Robert Owen - here's what their website states about Owen:

Many ideas expressed by Robert Owen (1771-1858) remain amazingly relevant and topical today. The international cultural influence of his campaign for a better and fairer society is one of the criteria by which New Lanark was assessed by UNESCO as being worthy of World Heritage Status.

Robert Owen often talked of the new Millennium; a time, he hoped, when society would be greatly improved. When he opened the Institute for the Formation of Character on New Year’s Day 1816, he gave an Address to the Inhabitants of New Lanark, in which he outlined his hopes for the Millennium, his plans, and his notion that education was the means of achieving a better and fairer society.

Stephen was tripping out on happy talk as you can see from his New Millennium orange outfit.

It is a beautiful location nestled in near an Ithaca-like gorge nestled in a lush valley between Glasgow and Edinburgh.