Reading between the lines

So, I had an interesting chat in the car on the way to Cranfield (where the aircraft is based) about newspapers. It seems I will need to think more carefully about the newspaper I'm seen carrying around. Usually I carry a paper in a prominent place to 'look educated and "in touch" with the world's recent events', then just read the sports (or sport) section, and finally recycle it at the end of the day.

In the US, it was pretty simple picking a newspaper, at least in Fort Collins. The choices for daily's were the Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News, plus the Coloradoan, if you count the local paper. If you were in a starbucks you could read the New York Times, but that was pretty much it. In Britain, there are about 10 national papers available from every corner store (known as 'newsagents'). Each is associated with some type of political leaning, and cultural standing. I need help deciding which one to read on a regular basis, so please have a look at this list (in no particular order) and let me know what you think:

1. The Times
Politcal leaning: right-of-center (aka Joe Lieberman, Arnold Sch-something-eger)
Cultural level: pass the stilton
Pros: It gets points for its somewhat cocky 'we don't need no city in our name' flaghead, but then I quickly realized that all of these papers don't have city, or even countries, in their titles. What I used to think was what England was all about.
Cons: Owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. Tabloid layout.

2. The Daily Telegraph
Political leaning: right
Cultural level: Just the right amount for the voters
Pros: Still published as a broadsheet. Firm convictions...
Cons: ...that exactly follow the Conservative Party platform

3. The Daily Mail
Political leaning: right of right
Cultural level: mind your own damn business, you bloody foreigner
Pros: Not made out of puppy skin?
Cons: owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp, anti-immigrant, The Daily Telegraph with balls

4. The Sun
Political leaning: right
Cultural level:
Naked woman pictured on page three of every issue, supposed to have the best football (soccer) coverage of all the national dailys, in depth literary criticism of post-modern dielectic novels and free-form expressive poetry (hint: one of these three is not really true)
Did I mention the naked women?

The Guardian
Political leaning:
Cultural level:
meusli, sandals, natural medicine, a furrowed, concerned brow
An obvious choice for an academic studying air pollution, climate change...if only I didn't like so many violent video games and hate so many different types of people.
Cons: Falling in-line with the classic stereotype.

6. The Independent
Politial leaning: left
Cultural level:
The world is broken beyond all hope. Let's go have a coffee and talk about it.
Youngest of the dailys, cutting-edge, trendy pick, claims to be above the fray. 'Powerful' journalism exposing the evils of the world.
It is already grey enough in this country without needing to read about it being even worse in the headlines.

7. The Financial Times
Political leaning:
economically liberal, who cares about the rest
Cultural level:
+4 1/8, -4005%, FTSE = -34
Pros: I'd look rich
Cons: I wouldn't be. It is pink.

Let me know what you think, or if I have forgetten any of them. Happy reading.

At last, no more suitcases

After a quick trip to Berkeley, California to attend a conference on carbonaceous aerosols and visit Landon and Robyn (+ a special visit from Laura), I am finally sleeping in my own bed. The bed in the new flat is not great, but it is mine for the next six months (at least), so it is still special.

Overall I am very pleased with the flat. Its location is fantastic, minutes from both the town centre and my office, not to mention the fantastic Indian restaurant across the street. I've posted some pictures on facebook for those of you interested in checking them out.

The best thing about finalizing the flat lease is having an address. My first load of groceries is being delivered (for free) tonight between 7-8 pm. I'm interested to see how this turns out. I've also signed up for broadband (internet), and subscribed to The Economist, rekindling an old love affair. Water, gas, electricity, and council tax bills are all to follow. Very fun.

Work is going well. My office computer is great, and now has fully functional versions of IGOR and IDL on it, meaning the only limitation to my work is coffee. Also played my first game of after work, 5-a-side football (indoors). It was quite intense, but very fun. I intend to hone up my skills, particularly my ball control and bow staff skills, in order to dominate at some point in the near future.

Banking on breakfast

Cold status: recovering
Bank status: grrrrrrr

Well, nine days in and I almost have a bank account. After my seventh trip to the bank I am told that they should finally have the information they need to open my account. They currently have my passport information, a letter from the university stating my job contract length and salary, a letter from my bank in the United States, bank statements, a letter from the university giving my temporary/permanent address, and my application. You'd think all they would need was the money, but security laws passed in this country make opening a new account much more difficult than that.

I've made more progress on the apartment search, having made an offer and applied for a rental contract for a 1-bedroom place called Princess house on Princess street. This link may still work, but no promises. I looked at about a half dozen apartments, and decided that this was my best option. It is located right between the university and the city centre, so I should be able to get about anywhere on foot. With any luck, my application for tenancy will go through without a hitch (it would be the first time that's happened since moving here). Anyway, Amy can now rest easy. Unfortunately, i won't be able to move in until after I get back from California on the 18th.

I have been struggling a bit with breakfast. In the absence of having my own kitchen, I've been purchasing muffins and other breakfast foods, such as the 'breakfast sandwiches' seen here:

I am looking forward to being able to make my own breakfasts again once I have a place, as this is getting a little old. Not that they are bad, but a little variety would be nice. I also am struggling to find places that serve drip coffee, rather than Americanos (dilluted espresso). Again, coffee maker may be the first purchase I make.

Some good news related to food: local grocery stores in this country will deliver your food to you at a specified time for a small, but reasonable, fee. This is great for me, because it means I won't have to lug a bunch of groceries halfway across town to stock up my pantry (or larder).

The first week has gone as well as could be hoped, I suppose. I really wanted the bank stuff to be taken care of by this point, as I still have to get all my university payroll work done, but can't until the account is opened. That said, by the time I get back from California that should all be done, the computer ordered for me should have arrived, and with any luck my apartment will be waiting for me to move in. I've been able to get going on my work, mostly stuff carrying over from Colorado, thanks to my laptop. I've installed IGOR, a data analysis program that is favored by the Aerosol Mass Spectrometer community, and so far I really like it. That said, I haven't really tried to do anything with it. We'll see how it goes.

banking my time

So, after nearly four days in Manchester I've accomplished the following:

1. I have keys to an office.
2. I had fish and chips.
3. I caught a cold.

It has been a productive time. I am still without an apartment, though I expect that situation to change soon. I am still without a bank account, though I also expect that situation to change soon. It seems that in this country, having money does not entitle one to a bank account. More aggravating is that I'd actually be better off as an international student without a job. That's right. I would have an easier time getting a bank account if I wasn't making any money. Go figure.

Friday was a nice day in Manchester, as you can see in this nice picture I took of one of the older campus buildings.

Saturday I transported my things to a friend's flat that is also near the city center. This is my base of operations until I move in to another apartment, and it is quite a nice place. After settling in I visited two potential apartments, which were nice, but a bit small. I think that will be something I'll have to get used to. I am going to look at some more apartments before making my decision. Fortunately, there is a large selection to choose from, because of all the recent construction that has been happening in the area. The housing slump has come at a perfect time for me, and I've heard that vacancy rates are very high in most of these new (and old) blocks of flats.

Today, however, I haven't really done much besides make a few plots and generally 'potter' about and feel rather under the weather. Tomorrow should be a full day, with a group meeting, a meeting with the bank manager, an appointment to pick up my staff security card (essentially my gateway to everything else concerning the university) and then several apartment showings in the afternoon.

Heading for greyer pastures

Well, somehow I've made it to England. After months of anticipation/dread, the day(s) has/have finally arrived.

Actually, it's not much of a mystery how I got here:

The flight was quite pleasant. Nice entertainment options and prety good food. According to the inflight magazine, Anchorman is considered a 'classic'. Not bad, San Diego.

After we landed, I took a taxi in to the hotel where I am staying for my first two nights here, called 'The Palace'. Quite a nice building. It originally housed offices for some kind of 'assurance' company (my guess is this is similar to an insurance company). The room is very nice and very modern, in stark contrast to the architecture of the building.

I can't tell you how much I love the painting/photograph of the flower above the bed.

Today has turned out as I expected, a mix of recovering from the jet lag and trying to get a few things taken care of. I couldn't get any job paperwork processed because I don't offiically 'start' until tomorrow. Amy will be happy to know I have an appointment to look at a few apartments Saturday. We'll see how they look. My visit to the bank was less successful. To open an account you need a) proof of identity, and b) proof of address. To get an address (read flat) you need a bank account. Fortunately it looks like the latter requirement is not as strict, so I hope to have a flat picked out within the week, obtain my proof of address, and get permission to give someone else my money. I also took a nap.

I miss Laura already, but we were able to get the Skype set up and working through the hotel internet, so at least we've got that. Actually, that's a lot. The Apollo astronauts couldn't even see their wives.

Anyway, it's 8 pm local time, and I'm starting to fade. I promise future blogs will have a bit more humor and creativity in them.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it was overcast today.

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About Me - Laura McMeeking

I'm an American expat living in the UK. I'm an education researcher by day and a writer by night. I started writing YA fiction in June 2009 after completing my PhD. After having written loads of technical papers, I found I needed an outlet for my creativity. I found that in writing. One day, we were driving to Scotland, and I had this idea of a girl and guy being chased by strangely dressed men through the forest. That turned into my first novel, which I'm still writing.

Once I decided to start writing, I joined the Absolute Write Water Cooler. It was one of the best (and FREE!) decisions I've made. I've met so many wonderful people through that forum, and I even found my crit partner there!

In my spare time, I read books (lots of them!). I also play video games with my husband--well, maybe he plays, and I watch. When we have time, money, and good weather, I like to go out to the English and/or Scottish countrysides and putter around. The scenery is amazing and always seems to inspire me in some way.

I took over this blog (my husband actually started it) with no format in mind. I just write what I feel like when I feel like it. There are writing posts, ranting posts, and even thankful posts.