Thursday, September 23, 2004

Everyone's Blogging It

Two of my Oxfam America colleagues, Kenny Rae and Nathaniel Raymond, are in Afghanistan right now. They will be in the country from September 15th through the 25th. Afghanistan's first general election is on October 9th.

They are part of Oxfam Dispatches, a new feature on the recently relaunched Oxfam America Web site. This is a blog that allows you to travel along with Oxfam staff working on humanitarian and development projects on the ground in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Nathaniel, our Oxfam Communications Adviser for Humanitarian Response, is an excellent raconteur. He entertained my friends with his stories when he acted as MC for my "light roast" at my 40th birthday party. His writing on Afghanistan is evocative and amusing, particularly when he recounts leaving his toothbrush at home.

Kenny Rae, our Oxfam America Program Officer for Afghanistan, appears to be actually doing the work that Nathaniel chronicles. His desk is just outside my office at Oxfam. At work, I'm often fielding questions that he shouts over to me in his unmistakable Scottish dialect.

Read about Nate and Kenny's adventures here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Snapshots From Britain

It's easy to take your home town for granted. Although I grew up in London, there are many sights I never visited until I returned as a tourist.

It wasn't until last year that I found out that the Albert Memorial is a ostentatious carbuncle that defiles Hyde Park. And it wasn't until last week that I found Kew Gardens to be a fascinating mixture of grand old Victorian hot houses, modern botanical exhibits, and relaxing garden walks.

Last week was also my first full week with both Ann and my future mother-in-law, Lillian. Even though Lillian is somewhat of an anglophile, this was her first trip to England. Ann and I introduced her to both my parents and Britain's national cuisine: Indian food. We also brought her to the London theater for the Reduced Shakespeare's Company's hilarious comedy "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)."

On the Tuesday evening, my parents hosted an engagement party for me and Ann. An interesting assortment of old and new friends came. For the first time in over 20 years, I met Nigel Burgan, an old friend of mine from Archbishop Tenison's Grammar School. He was as ebullient as ever and in complete contrast to my other old school friend there, the sardonic Chris Green. Present also were Rachel Goldwyn, an old Burma ally, and Rebecca and Derry Korbet-Wootton, both fellow bloggers.

Visiting Parliament Square on Wednesday night, we all found ourselves on the outskirts of a confrontation between the Metropolitan Police and pro-hunting demonstrators staging a sit-down in the street. We were unaware at the time that, just earlier in the day, pro-hunting supporters successfully stormed a debate on the floor of the House In Commons in an extraordinary breach of Parliamentary security. We ended up having a nice chat with hunt supporters without revealing that Ann and I are anti-hunting and virtually vegetarian. We left as the police linked arms and pushed everyone out of Parliament Square.

Before the Shakespeare on Saturday night, we met up with Carol Naylor, my old friend and fellow blogger. As an engagement present, Carol downloaded the picture I posted to my blog of me and Ann after my marriage proposal, cleaned it up in Photoshop, and placed in a frame. It now stands proudly on our mantelpiece at home.

Staying at a hotel in Shoreditch brought home to me how much London has changed. By day, this old working class district is now a hive of art studios, ethnic restaurants and web companies. By night, it is a teeming crowd of trendy bars and night clubs.

London has greatly changed in the 20 years since I left. After I moved to America in 1985, I found Britain to be by contrast so much more cramped and parochial. But London has changed very much for the better. The food is better and the city continues to modernize itself well. I could see myself happily living in London again if circumstances demanded it.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Photos From the Proposal

Here are three pictures from the day I proposed to Ann. Enjoy!

Here is Ann ringing "Morning Has Broken" on the bells of Arlington Street Church. At this point, she's completely unaware that I'm about to propose to her.

Here's Ann wearing the ring after she said yes. At this point, I think she's probably still stunned that I managed to lure her all the way up the church spire without her realizing that it was a total set-up.

This is a bit blurry. This is still in the church spire. Since we were alone, we tried to take a picture of the two of us. However, holding your camera at arm's length while snapping a picture of yourself is still a bad way of taking a photo. Of course, that's not going to stop us from showing this picture for the rest of our lifetimes to anything that moves.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Gov. Jeb Bush Urges Democrats to Flee Florida

"Go to 'Safe States' to Avoid Hurricane " Urges Governor

AB News: Today, Governor Jeb Bush urged an unusual evacuation of sections of Florida in advance of Hurricane Frances hitting the state.

Bush specifically urged "the poor, minorities, single women - you know - the vulnerable" to leave Florida and head for what he termed "safe states."

Questioned by an AB reporter as to what he meant by "safe states," the governor replied: "I'm thinking of Vermont, Massachusetts and New York: states where these fleeing Democrats can mix with their own kind and not upset the electoral coll.... Um. I mean, not strain social services."

Governor Bush recommends that these voters leave Florida immediately for their safety. "Leave now. Don't wait to pack unnecessary items such as books, stereos and absentee ballots," advised the governor.

"I'll tell you when it is safe for you to return," stated the governor. "Hurricane season normally drops off some time after the first week of November," he added.

© AB: Associated Bull News 2004. All Rights Reserved.

Gov. Jeb Bush: "Believe me. For your own safety, stay out of Florida for a few months."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Stray Thoughts on the RNC

The Bush twins must be closet Democrats. That would explain why they continually embarrass their father in public. It would also be the reason why they lamely smirked and giggled as they introduced their parents in primetime.

The contrast between the sloppy Bush spawn and the composed Kerry daughters is stark. Barbara Bush (junior) gave us the line: "We had a hamster but, let's just say, he didn't make it." You'd have to be pickled or high to find that even remotely funny.

As for Zell Miller, as he stuck his knife in the back of John Kerry, he stated: "I'll die a Democrat." Why wait, Zell?

I'm having a few friends over tomorrow for a "Mock Dubya's Acceptance Speech" get-together. One friend thought this was a particularly good idea because she didn't want to have to watch the speech without support from friends. We will have a "pants-on-fire" Bush doll to spank and plenty of leftover wine to drink.

I'm sure this is what my conservative friends think I do every day. Why disappoint people?