Archive for January, 2009

No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else

Friday, January 23rd, 2009


Brian Becker just sent this article to me.  I must say, my coworkers and I had a really good laugh reading it!  (I stole the picture above from the article)

Speaking of work – it is my last day at the University of Nottingham!  It has been a good day with everyone… they’ll hold a special place breaking me into the UK workforce.  Funny bunch they are.

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Obama’s Harmony of Intellect and Intuition

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

prayer breakfast

Bono’s open letter to the 44th President:

Mr. President, Barack,

Every room I have ever been in with you was a much easier room for your presence.

It’s rare to meet a person like you, where intellect and intuition make such a perfect rhyme.

Your intuition tells you that the well-being of the American people, spiritually as well as physically, is connected with America’s role in the world.  I know you know that the prosperity of your fellow Americans, though hard fought, is less fulfilling knowing there is so much more that can be done to alleviate poverty and suffering in the developing world.  You know that less than 1 percent of government income as a contribution from the world’s richest economy to the world’s poorest is not a fair tithe — even in times like these — which is why you have promised to double foreign assistance.  As with our own personal sojourn, so it is with country and community -– we discover who we are in service to others.

I know your intellect — fashioned in the halls of Harvard and on the floor of the United States Senate — has weighed up the evidence on how effective American tax dollars are, when converted into smart, targeted, focused aid.  Putting children into school where they can think freely of freedom.  Giving farmers on the parched land seed varieties that double the size of their crop yields.  Giving mothers 20 cent immunizations to protect their newborns from the deadly viruses that they pass on through childbirth.  I know your intellect has taken in the data and seen the analysis on the transformative power of effective aid in places where the United States flag is currently not one smiled at.  I know you know how much cheaper it is to make friends of potential enemies than to defend yourself at a later date.  I know you know all this stuff.

My prayer for you is that your instinct and intellect stay in harmony in the difficult months and triumphant years ahead.

Bono is lead singer of U2 and co-founder of The ONE Campaign

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16 random things, facts, habits, or goals about me.

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

1. I wish that I loved (or valued?) reading so much that I would do it every chance I got… rather than allow life, involvements and what-have-you take priority pretty much every time.

2. When my fingers are dry and I am folding towels, I’ll often lick my fingers before I touch them because the feel of dry cotton towels gives me the same sensation as fingernails on a chalkboard. (I’m not the only one! Shalina…)

3. I would love love love to make peace with my complexity but in the end – when it really comes down to it – I clearly never seem to.

4. I would like to get a Masters degree but in which field, I am not so sure. Peace Studies has always been an interest, especially since my trip to Rwanda in 1999. However, it’s looking like Social Work makes the most sense. If we ever make it back to San Diego, I would really enjoy the Non-Profit Management degree at USD. The most fulfilling moments in my career (next to working directly with clients) have been learning the program well enough to identify trends which lead to the development (and implementation!!) of new strategies to reach benchmarks and more importantly, clients. Although it can be maddening, I sorta like the tension between playing the funding “game” while remaining mindful of the clients and their real needs.

5. One of my horrible inconsistencies is that I despise objectification of women and violence (a lot.) yet really like listening to rap and hip hop. Whaa?? I mean, I don’t really own any of it beyond a couple of mix CD’s…when I had a car though; I’d listen to NPR in the morning and the hip hop stations from then on. And when we’d all go dancing?? Love it. Looooooove it.

6. I like directness. Just tell me like it is and I’ll do the same. It may not be enjoyable to hear (especially if it is a criticism) but in the end, we’ll both learn more without wasted energy.

7. I want to travel more and am in the best place to do it.

8. I’m sortof messy in the kitchen. When I cook, I dirty every pan, leave everything sitting out – the works. I like to enjoy my meal before rushing off to clean up! So sue me! The bad part (which gets Eric annoyed sometimes) is when I forget about stuff I’ve left out for a long time, even overnight. What a waste.

9. I secretly like the tiny fridges here that look like they belong in a dorm room closet. It makes sense considering most food I’ve purchased here in the UK is made with fewer preservatives…so, you buy just enough of it to ensure you can eat it all before it spoils. Another reason is because you can actually see what’s in there! …we’ve been much better at eating leftovers since we arrived.

10. The one person who has truly felt like my sister other than my real sister is Liliane.

11. I love browsing through decorating magazines. My dream would be to own my own quaint bed and breakfast somewhere decorated with antique furniture and serve breakfast from an eclectic array of china. And, to show the kind of hospitality that makes people feel totally comfortable, like it is their home as well.

12. I like to sing. Harmonizing is my favorite…the challenge of blending so well you can hardly be heard except for the solid compliment it gives the person singing melody. I started singing with my parents when we would pass through hundreds of churches as missionaries raising support. I sang specials at church with my girlfriends. Sang in choir and ALS in high school. Worship team….even competed at district and regional levels with the Nazbos. This all sounds great and all but I don’t read music or anything, just by ear (although Eric has offered to teach me!). I had been a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir in San Diego before I left and I’m on the hunt for a gospel choir here in Nottingham. I suppose that is one of my goals!

13. I sortof like eccentric people. The way they are so unapologetically themselves and seem unmoved by people’s judgment…even better, maybe they are even unaware of it? YES, they are weird but they are so special…

14. I cannot wait for LOST to start up again!!!! I’m really hoping we can download or stream it somehow from here. I would die if I knew everyone else could watch it and we couldn’t!!

15. I wish I had thick hair rather than fine and thin – especially when I’m bored with it (like now). That way I could do something interesting and fun with it rather than something half-hearted, hate it, and just grow it out again.

16. I’m pretty sure the Focolare have it right.

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Mum’s holiday

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

So…December was not only a first for mince pies, and putting Christmas pressies under our own tree, it was also a first for DRIVING IN THE UK! …on the left side of the road and sitting on the right side of the car no less. About a week before my mom arrived on 25 December, we learned there was NO public transport running from Manchester to Nottingham on Christmas day! Who knew?? After searching around online for some sort of alternative we decided the best option was to hire a car. It made us a bit nervous but we did just that and at the excellent suggestion of Vicki Moore, we got a GPS to help us get around (we’re in love with that thing!!). Eric made all the arrangements, picked up the car and did an amazing job of driving. In fact, it was so convenient and helpful to have a car, my mom decided to get one for the last 5 days of her visit. We are really glad she did.

In thinking about the last 10 days with mom, I’ve listed the things that stood out to me as some of my favourites.  But first, pictures…


  • My mom and her continual excitement about everything. Even when we simply stayed home for a couple of the days, she was content to chat, work on a puzzle, nap from time to time …a true vacation. For her, this was a chance to have quality time with Eric and I, relax and take a break from her busy job/life back home, see the countryside, drink as much tea as possible, and visit a real thatched-roof English-style house. And that she did – and then some. It was a joy to have her visit and she is greatly missed around here.
  • Sitting down at the table together for our Christmas meal.
  • Warwick Castle. Wow. Pictures will say it all. Hayley was able to join us for this trip as well. Its pretty incredible walking into a medieval structure with so much history that is still intact. They did a really good job of bringing it alive as you walked through…scenes were set up with important figures and descriptions, fabricated smells to give you an idea of what it would have been like to walk through the lower parts of the castle where the hired hands worked …and they even had staff members dressed in full costume who would tell stories or sit and grind up the dried herbs with a mortar and pestle. I must say, it was very interesting and the views from the towers were gorgeous looking out over the green and grey landscape with fog hovering slightly over the land.
  • Afternoon Tea at The Walk.  My friend Hannah has mentioned this particular tea house a few times before and I decided it might just be the perfect place to take my mom on her last day. I made a reservation for 3. We got dressed up and ventured out on the tram. The shop was really cute – kindof modern but had an eclectic feel to it. Our waitress was super friendly and terribly excited to learn that my mom was from the San Francisco Bay Area – her favourite city after her home town, Edinburgh, Scotland. They had a great time chatting it up.
  • Me and my mom’s venture out into Nottingham City Centre to visit the Lace Centre (Notts is famous for their machine made lace), Nottingham Castle and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (the oldest Inn in England and built into the caves, which are all over Nottingham) where we met up with Eric for dinner and drinks.
  • My beautiful tea pot, cup, and saucer from Eric, which we’ve continued to make really good use out of since then.  Just what I wanted, and the really nice card he gave me was an added treat.
  • Driving in and around Stratford-upon-AvonShakespeare Country – totally enchanted. We toured Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (Shakespeare’s wife) and passed by Shakespeare’s birthplace in the city centre…there seemed to be a lot of older medieval buildings in this village…like you could spend all day going from one to the next admiring their structure and learn about their history. I’d really like to return with Eric and maybe stay at a little B&B one of these days. Hard to believe its only 1.5 hours from us.

One thing we didn’t get to do was visit the Cotswold district. We planned to drive to Bourton-on-the-Water (a village built along canals) but it was just too cold and overcast to do so and enjoy it (would have been mostly outdoors)…my mom’s friend who lives in Southern England says it’s a must-see with all of the houses built out of the lighter “honey” coloured Cotswold stone.

One of the great things about the break from work and being with my mom was a renewed sense of excitement about traveling and getting a sense that there’s more out there within… and beyond Nottingham. Sure, we could hop on a commuter flight to Paris (which we MUST do one of these days) but there’s also sooooo much to see here in England.

Eric and I had a wonderful Christmas. Between the thoughtful gifts family sent with mom and skyping with the Lee clan around the table as they finished up their Christmas meal and then head off to the living room to see Phaedra open her presents…I really felt like we were able to enjoy the holiday with family – more than I had anticipated anyway ;)

Happy New Year to all!

Warwick Castle Panorama

Warwick Castle Panorama

Note: Sorry for all the hyperlinks! I wanted to include them in case you were interested in learning more about the various things I mentioned beyond just seeing some photos.

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