Argh! I can’t believe how much time has passed, and how busy we’ve been, since I last found time to sit down and blog! This is going to be the Cliff’s Notes version of July.
- Alex finished his business trip to Vancouver, and spent a few days hanging out in Seattle and Portland. He thought that both cities were dirtier than he remembered from his last trip, but perhaps his standards have been altered after living in the UK.
- I went to a talk at the Design Musum here in London to hear Wim Crouwel, a really famous Dutch designer, speak about his life and work. My favorite quote from the evening, which I wrote down, was when Crouwel said “I am a formalist and a modernist who battles with the aesthetic.”
- I spent a Saturday at the V&A for a “study day” to learn about the impacts of Japanese art and culture on late 19th-century Britain. It was a really intense day, and rather more academic than I had been hoping for. In the future, I’ll look for activities at the V&A that have a studio component, rather than just straight lectures.
- Our friends Sarah & Drew came from Washington DC for a lightning quick stop in London, on the way to a 2-week tour through Italy. We took them down to Winchester for the day on Saturday (because Drew is from Winchester, VA) and then spent Sunday wandered around the V&A and the Natural History Museum. And we had some amazing crepes in South Kensington.
- Alex had his interview with the London Olympics 2012 volunteer selection committee. He’s probably going to be on the transportation team (surprise surprise!)
- I took a class in British Sign Language at the local library near my work. Now I can say “good morning”, “good afternoon”, and the ever-so-important “would you like a cup of tea?”. It’s pretty frustrating that BSL is completely different from ASL – they are considered totally separate languages.
- We spent last Saturday on a day trip up to Oxford, where we saw the exteriors of a bunch of fancy colleges, and got soaking wet in the rain. It was a little frustrating, because most of the colleges are closed to tourists, or they allow you in with a charge – which really seems to highlight the exclusivity and class-snobbery of the whole place.
- I got my hair cut, which was desperately needed. I no longer look like a wooly mammoth.
- I’ve been crazy busy at work, migrating the company over to a new editing software. It’s been a big challenge, but I’ve been learning a lot about management and stuff. Which will hopefully be important for me, sometime in the future.
- We saw The Big Lebowski at the BFI (British Film Institute) last night, as a special treat for Alex. It was nice seeing on the big screen, and since we weren’t drinking White Russians the whole time, I actually managed to stay awake for the entire movie (a never-before-accomplished feat).
- Today we’re in a mad dash of cleaning, because my mom arrives on Tuesday! Yay! We have a fully packed schedule of events while she’s here, including a long weekend in Cornwall and a royal day out at Buckingham Palace.
I promise I will try to be better about blogging … hope you all are having a good weekend, and not melting if you happen to be in the States
When I was 15 I went on a trip to Europe with my dad, part of which was spent on a coach tour through Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, and Austria. That sounds like a lot of fun, and it was, except there were many hours on the coach that were spent on non-interesting freeways rather than the scenic mountain passes you imagine. Consequently I was desperate for something to read, and at one of the hotels we were staying at I found a copy of Clan of the Cave Bear in the library. So I started reading one evening, and the next morning when we left … well, I stole it. Yikes! Now, in my defense, it probably wasn’t a major crime because it was in a B&B library, and I think those tend to be fluid — have one, leave one; need one, take one — at least I hope. If I could remember when and where it happened I would send them a replacement copy!
Anyway, the whole upshot of my criminal act was an introduction to Jean M. Auel, who wrote the Clan of the Cave Bear and several other books in the Earth’s Children series. Now, I know it’s not exactly high-literature … but overall I really like these books! I don’t necessarily read them for the brilliant turn of phrase, but rather as a lively ethnographic exploration. They take place during the last Ice Age, when Cro-Magnon man and Neanderthal man both existed across Europe. I find the anthropological implications really interesting, even if the main character is a bit of super-woman who can do no wrong. (There are also a lot of sexy bits, which is always fun.)
Last night Alex and I went to see Jean M. Auel speak at the Natural History Museum here in London. She was in conversation with Museum palaeoanthropologist, Professor Chris Stringer. They have a long history (going back to 1984) of exchanging ideas and information about paleolithic peoples, and I was really fascinated to hear about the research that Auel foes while writing. She takes great pride in making sure her science is accurate, and as such she enjoys a certain sense of respect from the scientific community. I think so many writers, particularly in science fiction, just bend the rules of science and fact whenever it suits them. But I respect the fact that Auel tries her best to get it right, without sacrificing any artistic freedoms. I also really enjoyed listing to Chris Stinger. In my next life I want to be a palaeoanthropologist!
I did ask a question at the end of the evening. I wondered whether there were any great scientific advancements since her first book was published (many years ago) that she wishes she had been able to incorporate into her texts. For example, they recently discovered a skull in the Cheddar Gorge region here in England that was obviously carved out and shaped as a drinking vessel. They suspect it was used for ceremonial purposes, but they don’t know the truth. Unfortunately the author took the safe life and said that her books were perfect as-is, and she wouldn’t change a thing.
After the event, the audience had the opportunity to pre-purchase her new (and final) book in the series, The Land of Painted Caves. Since it’s not actually on the shelves until the end of March, Auel was signing a book plate that you could then stick in your copy once it’s available. I decided not to go for it, since I don’t actually own any of her other books. But the whole series is definitely on my list for “someday I’d like to own all of them, in a really nice collector edition”.