Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On this date

On this date 100 years ago, May 31, 1911, the RMS Titanic was launched.

Coincidentally, also on May 31, the last survivor of the Titanic disaster died. (Millvina Dean, 2009.)

Believe it or don't item:

Millvina's brother Bertram, also a Titanic survivor, died at age 81 in 1992, on 15 April -- 80 years to the day that the Titanic struck the iceberg.


You can read her story here if you want.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Getting the expat quiz behind us...

I wanted to leave the quiz from yesterday up another day, but the incredible response keeps crashing my ISP's server, so I'd better put a stop to this. Sigh.

I did get two responses from actual expats, although neither was an expat living in the USA. And only one tried to even answer the questions. Well, he didn't actually TRY. Double sigh.

1. 1776. July 4, 1776
2. Los Angeles
3. Russia, Mexico, Canada
4. This is getting old and will be retired. The capital of Florida is pronounced Talla-HASS-ee.
5. New Mexico (#47) and Arizona (#48)
6. New Orleans
7. Abraham Lincoln
8. Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley)
9. San Antonio
10. Never

1781 was an important year. It was the year Great Britain agreed we could be independent (much more important than 1776, I think.) 1787 was important too: The year we got out present constitution. And of course, 1993. The year RM was born.

Bog off. And I mean that only in the best way possible.

Update: Bugger this for a game of soldiers.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Quiz for British expats living in the USA

Some of these questions are fairly easy, some too easy.

You are on your honor to answer these from your head without Googling.

1. What year did the U.S. declare itself independent from Great Britain?

2. What is the second largest city in the U.S.?

3. Name the three countries that share a geographical border with the U.S.

4. Is the capital city of Florida pronounced MY ami or MEE ami?

5. Alaska and Hawaii are the two most recent additions to the USA (in 1959.) Before that, the two most recent additions entered together in 1912. Can you name those two?

6. What is the largest port in the U.S.?

7. Who was the President of the U.S. during the War Between the States?

8. What is the name of the highest mountain in the U.S.?

9. In what city is the Alamo located?

Answers in next post

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I think here we only need to have a saloon...

I have been informed that having a cathedral is what makes a city a city in the UK. Or at least in England. I didn't know that. So Grimsby is a town. Heh. Godless bunch that they are. :)

And I note with Sherlock Holmes-like sharpness that Leeds has at least two main one-way streets. Nothing escapes me.

But then, Grimsby is today primarily an Amish enclave, I think. Having driven out the Vikings long ago.

Now there was an interesting war. I must blog about that one day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

2011 Run for the Roses

Horse racing has been popular in the British Isles since... well, since there have been horses, but racing has been organized there since at least the Middle Ages.

In the 1680s, someone got the bright idea of breeding large English mares with the fast and agile Arabian stallions. The result was the Thoroughbred breed of today, used almost exclusively for racing.

The word thoroughbred is a word often used to denote something, usually a horse, of high quality. However. technically, Thoroughbred is an actual breed of horse.

All Thoroughbred horses on the face of the earth today trace their lineage back to only three British stallions (brought from the Middle East): Byerley Turk (1680s); Darley Arabian (1704); and Godolphin Arabian (1729.) A descendent of one of these three horses will win the Kentucky Derby today.

With the late scratch of Uncle Mo, the favorite will probably be Dialed In. My pick is a medium long shot (probably 10-1) by the name of Midnight Interlude. He only has 4 races under his belt, and lost the first two. And... no horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby in the last 128 years who didn't race at all as a 2-year-old, but long shots sometimes come in, right? Or maybe not. None of the horses in the field have ever done a mile and a quarter before, but this big boy will eat it up. I say.

As usual, the field is huge - so maybe the favorites will be blocked out of it. You never can tell. I don't particularly like horse races which start 20 horses. Midnight Interlude has drawn the number 15 slot, which has produced only 3 Derby winners over the years. He can do it. Think positive.

Fun fact: The British mispronounce the word derby. :)

Princes Margaret liked to attend the Kentucky Derby. The queen herself attended in 2007.

The 137th running of the Kentucky Derby will unfold at Churchill Downs late this afternoon. Distance: mile and a quarter. Track record: 1:59.40 (Secretariat in 1973.) Weather: 60% chance of thunderstorms. Lady's hats: second to none in outlandishness, not even second to the royal wedding.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If you're wondering where he disappeared to after the wedding, he's over here.

"She loves me... she loves me NOT! She loves me..."

Resuming his public duties, the Prince of Wales visited a small urban farm in Washington D.C. Tuesday, which grows produce for low-income residents.

Some of the photos that accompany this post did not have adequate captions, so I was forced to make a few captions up, based on what I felt was going on in the picture. This captioning was done at considerable time and effort on my part, so I hope you appreciate it.

Farm Executive Diretor Pertula George, left, shares a smile with the Prince of Wales.
Ok, perhaps the word "left" isn't needed.

The farm sits on the baseball diamond of a razed elementary school in a low-income community near Howard University. Volunteers from the community (probably not congressmen) work the farm and receive fruit and vegetables in return. This is not to be confused with Michelle's vegetable garden on the lawn at the White House.

"Please hold these flowers for me while I plant a tree."

"Just hold 'em while I plant the fricken tree!"

The Prince of Wales plants a tree

An enthusiastic gardner himself, and a longtime supporter of sustainable agriculture, the prince showed interest in the farm's drip irrigation system and spent some time with some of the youngsters who are volunteers. At one point, he picked up a piece of spinach and popped it into his mouth. At least I think it was spinach.

Some youthful 4-H ers destroy some fruit for the prince's amusement. They are from simple farming stock who live in a cave under Capitol Hill, and were unsure how to properly entertain royalty.

"Take that, munchkin."

Prince Charles didn't make a speech on the windy, muggy day, but did mingle with the crowd a bit and shake some hands.

"No. Over here. He's just my bodyguard."

Prince Charles mingles fearlessly with the rush hour crowd. I sure as hell wouldn't.

The mayor of the District of Columbia, Vincent Gray, did give a speech, though. Of course. He greeted Charles and described the prince as a "visionary" on environmental issues who was bringing well-deserved attention to the work done on the little farm. A quick LexisNexis search reveals this was the first time that particular word has been used to describe His Royal Highness.

Prince Charles also visited the U.S. Supreme court not far away. No, I'm not sure why. His mother visited the court in 1951 before she became queen. I wouldn't look at that as some sort of omen, though. My guess is that it probably just has clean rest rooms.

"So you're a Supreme Court Justice, Eh? How boring is that! Say... are these hitching posts?"

"So... the loo is up there by those big marble columns?"

The Prince of Wales (left) leaves the U.S. Supreme Court building, accompanied by Justice Breyer. Or one of them. It's not justice Thomas. I don't know who the lady on the right is. Maybe the interpreter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Windsor Gothic

In a totally unexpected move which reportedly shocked even the royal household, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced today that they would be moving out of London and taking up residence in a modest cottage in a rural area between Grimsby and Wee Grimsby as of this coming Friday.

The couple admitted the cottage was definitely a "fixer-upper" and will require a bit of a lifestyle adjustment from Clarence House, but vowed to have it looking like new before summer is over.

"You won't recognize the place after we've splashed a new coat of white paint on it," beamed the new bride. "My husband is no stranger to hard work," she added.

Speaking of work, when we asked what they intended to live on, they seemed unsure at the moment. Though an experienced military pilot, the prince admitted he had turned up nothing requiring bombing or strafing skills in the Greater Grimsby area. In fact, it appeared Grimsby didn't have much of a military at all, to speak of.

The bride has peripheral experience in the party supply business, and they are now looking at shop space with that in mind, until something else comes along. We wish them all the best and admire their pluck.

The newlyweds do have an automobile, however. "It isn't exactly ours, the young Duke admitted with a wink and a nudge, "but we are optimistic they won't miss it."


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