June 26, 2003

Why Swim in a Suit?

In Brit-speak, a swimming suit is a swimming costume. They say cosi for short (pronounced 'cause + e'). My cosi doesn't remember what water looks like because it's been tucked away in the bottom drawer all year. I'm going to have trouble come August. Supposed to swim in the Royal Docks for the London Triathlon (gulp).

June 24, 2003

Punk Rock Aerobics

Last night Claudia and I rocked the Garage (pronounced like 'marriage' with a 'G' instead of an 'M' in Brit-speak). Well, it was late afternoon really. We did a Punk Rock Aerobics class held in a thrasher-type night club in Highbury. I'm just a wannabe punkrocker. I only recognized two of the tunes; Beat on the Brat and Autobahn. And Kraftwerk is a synth band, not punk at all. Surely something from The Clash or Generation X could have been squeezed into the play list. Even though I didn't know the songs, I did some hardcore pogoing. While there was plenty of space on the dance floor to do our skank and air guitar moves, the class was well attended. There were even 5 guys participating, though they were downing beers at the bar just before class, probably to get their courage up. If it comes your way, give it a try. Afterward, you'll have that "punching bag relief" kind of high and your ringing ears will make you feel like you're 18 stepping out of a really loud rock concert.

June 20, 2003

Stockholm Marathon

I finished my third marathon last Saturday. It was in Stockholm where the streets are clean, the air is fresh and the locals speak better English than most Americans. I actually got a bit excited speaking to another runner at the marathon pasta feed because he made a few grammatical errors and paused a couple times to find the right vocabulary. "Hey", thought I, "Not all Swedes speak perfect English." I eventually discovered he was from a small island off of Finland. He's probably also fluent in Russian, Estonian, Hungarian and Polish.

We went to the Vasa museum. It's a war ship built in 1628 that sank on her maiden voyage as all of Stockholm watched. The ship was well preserved in the mud and the water of the Baltic. A shipwreck expert spent many years looking for the sunken ship and discovered the Vasa's location in the 1950's. After much underwater preparation, the ship was raised
to the surface in 1961. A spledid museum was specially constructed for the ship in central Stockholm. I spent hours in there reading about the history and looking at the ship from all angles.

June 05, 2003

Bus Culture

Riding home on the #29 tonight I am struck by the vast variety of people, especially from a socio-cultural comparison perspective. When I get on, the bus is packed; people standing in the corridor and in the stairwell. A few stops down the line, I'm inching my way toward the back to make room for other people waiting to get on when I notice two seats without passengers in them. One is occupied by a backpack, presumably belonging to the eminem wannabe sitting in the seat next to it with his legs spread wide giving off a loud, "Don't sit next to me" message. I promptly go to the seat and ask politely if I may sit in it. Now comfortably seated, I have a straight across view of the other passengerless seat. On it is a closed brown paper bag apparently abandonded by its owner.

More people getting on the bus, not many getting off. Strangers pressed up against each other, armpits in people's faces, workers anxious to get to the pub and have a pint with their mates after a long day. People click their tounge and sigh in disgust at the crowded conditions, yet no one takes the seat occupied by the little brown bag of rubbish. Why doesn't someone just put the bag on the floor, have a seat and make some room for others?

I see an Asian couple whince every time someone trying to get on the bus says, "Can you move down in there?" The couple make themselves as thin as possible and slip past the others standing in the corridor. The boy spots the passengerless seat, points it out to the girl. A couple of quick words to each other, a nod of the head and the girl swiftly picks up the bag moves into the seat. "Good for her" I think. Then I watch in amazement. She doesn't toss the bag on the floor but holds it lightly between her index finger and thumb at a slight distance from her body. I imagine she didn't want to be inconsiderate by throwing it on the bus floor. How refreshing! It's so rare to see in this litter-ridden city.

I'm listening to Just Can't Get Enough by Depeche Mode. Can't someone help to hip me?