Friday, October 31, 2003

We have been nicked while grocery shopping. After picking up a few bits we came out to put the bags in the boot and I saw that a yob took a flat tip screw driver to pry the BMW emblem off the car. Our car is ten years old, so I can not figure why they would want it, other than hang it off their gold chain that is around their neck. A gentleman, who was parked next to us, told us how somebody stole the hub caps off his Ford Fiesta, and they were worth 40 pounds each. Welcome to England where crime is climbing.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Do you want to know much money you are making and how expensive your locale is in relation to the rest of the world? Warning, this is a big .pdf file but well worth reading.
Part of living here in England is visiting High Street in small towns. Each town or village has a High Street where all the merchants sell their wares. The ones around my village are ok, but definitely lower middle class. Nothing of high fashion, designer labels or high tech stores, just a few stores that are part of a chain (card shops, a bookstore with a slim selection, consumer electronics, chemist/pharmacist), major banks, a food shop and a few government subsidized charity shops selling second hand clothes. People will bemoan the decline of high street, Great Britain, but they will go to the big, specialty box shops that spring up on the edge of the major cities or patronize the city center malls, for better deals and customer service. In a way it is just like America with the decline of the main street versus Wal-Mart, Circuit City and others.

Some people at eBay need to get a life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Excellent after action review (AAR) of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) PowerPoint slides or html version.

A honest AAR of the intel side of OIF.

Seat: I have never heard of Seat Automobiles of Spain, until I moved to England. I had the pleasure of driving a Seat twice. The first time, I rented an Ibiza at Frankfurt Airport and drove it on the autobahn to Heidelberg. It was a solid car at 90 mhp; I even passed a Mercedes! It had a well laid out dash and the engine was peppy. The second time in Ireland I drove a diesel Leon. It was roomy for it size, it had decent storage and held the twisty roads. I give Seat a thumb up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Fellow Blogger and US expat Robert Tumminello cheered me up when he wrote: “Red Sox fans everywhere, take heart.” I did stay up and watched game 6 of the World Series on channel five at 2:30 am and I was thinking if Florida can do it, the Red Sox could do it next season. Improve the bullpen and we can win it!

Over the past weekend we had some friends from Ireland visit. Saturday we went to Nottingham Castle for the Robin Hood Pageant. It was pretty good, with jousting knights and Robin Hood fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham for hand Maid Marian. There were some people who reenacted what it was like to live in the medieval times. King Richard was holding court in his tent and you could strike your own coin with all the different craft people. Also we had a few pints at the “Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem” pub. It was pretty interesting place that was built in 1189 and part of it is a cave.

Sunday we went back up to Sherwood Forest to see the Major Tree and there was a gentleman who showed you how to use an English long bow. I tried it and after a few shots I was hitting the center of the target, but I know it is a bit harder than the movies make it look.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Sorry for not blogging lately. I was in Heildleburg, Germany last weekend, Manchester, England auditing a contractor Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and yesterday in High Wycombe at the head shed for a meeting with the boss.

While in Germany, I met my new boss, the G-3, seems to be a good guy. While in the Operations Center, a one star general came in to see what is happening. We have a TV on the wall blasting CNN; he looked at it and chuckled “humorous disinformation.” I think he is in the intelligence loop with that comment.

Also I was driving on the autobahn in a 1.2 liter Opel (GM) Corsa. I did get that tin can up to 95 mph.

Here is an article on the difference between us and the French.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Pumpkin Girl update. She is getting bigger and smarter. She knows how to turn the TV on with the correct remote and flip the cable box to her favorite channel CBBC. Balamorry and Tweenies are her favorite shows. Pumpkin loves to help out. She can unload the dishwasher and even helps washing dishes. She will drag her step stool across the kitchen floor to the sink, climb up, grab a rag and start washing the dishes. If we could teach her to rinse them off it would be great. Also she is going to music class at the Beeston Community Center. She knows how to dance and even sings the “Wheels on the bus and the ittys bittys spider” songs. I usually take her to the playground after work a few times a week and she loves the swings and slide. Also she gives me the thumbs up and yells WHOAAH or Airborne after jumping off the swing. Guess who taught her that? Soon we will be sending her to pre-school. Time flies and my little girl is growing up.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Here is the difference between the services.
Greetings from Schwetzingen, Germany. I just showed up to my new unit and the first thing that I get to do is a urine analysis test for drugs. No worry, I will fail that test. As Robin Williams said “drugs are for those who have too much money.” Now I am almost finished in processing. It is busy right now and I have a physical fitness test tomorrow. Yeah! Time to bang out those push ups, sit-ups and run two miles. If I do all right, I will reward myself with a liter of dunkel with a plate of spargel and tafelspitz.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Sorry for not blogging lately. I will be in Germany for the next few days serving with the US Army. I will tell you what it is like to drive on the autobahn.

Here is a scholarly study of why soldiers fight.

Deftones. Ok I admit it, I like heavy metal music. I saw the Deftones while they stopped in Nottingham on their European tour. It was a great show with crowd surfing, loud music and beer. They played a two-hour set and even played some cuts off their first CD. It was nice to take the bus into the city and have a great time. I even bought a tour T-shirt! Now I can look like cool while hanging out at the Broadmarsh Centre. I don’t think so.

Friday, October 10, 2003

One of my favorite authors, William Gibson, used to run a blog, but he stated on his last post, that blogging takes him away from actual writing. I can relate to that, because I have a few items I thought of writing about. I hope his next novel is more interesting his last one.
Since the EU has its own anthem, flag, military and money; will the EU start fielding sport teams for the football World Cup, the Olympics and other sporting championships? Will this mean the end of national teams? When I ask my British friends about the getting rid of the pound, most are against it and some are resigned that the Euro will be used sometime down the road. But when I ask about getting rid of the English national football team for an EU team, everybody is dead set against it. If Brussels is to form a Pan Europe or an All Europe team, how long do think Brussels will stand before the fans riot and torch it? So the yobs and punters might put a dent into the EU dream.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

One of the main digital tools used in Iraq. More over here.
This baby can coordinate fires from any source (Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force) and service a target. Service in a Howard Stern way.

Most of the time it is American TV networks are recycling or Americanizing ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire" is first to come to mind) the formats and premises of TV shows that were developed in the UK and Europe. But now The Sopranos are being redone as "The Family" on ITV1. It is pretty good. The pacing is more deliberate and the soundtrack is not as hip as the Sopranos, but overall it is an entertaining crime drama.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I had to do this. I emailed David Adesnik of Oxblog, who is a Yankee fan, that the Red Sox are going to win. This is the year or I will be joining the rest of Red Sox nation at the Tobin Bridge, waiting to jump off, like every other year.
Tax police and Big Brother. While Wifey driving down the A1(M) to Cambridge we went under a flyover using British terminology or overpass in American lingo that I though was big speed trap with four radar guns. I was wrong. They were cameras that read your license plate, sent a digital image of it over to the Ministry of Transportation and Inland Revenue (the British version of the IRS), checked their databases and thought that we did not pay our Value Added Tax on our new car that we had for three days. That was done in 30 to 60 seconds. Right after we passed the cameras, we were pulled over by a police officer on a motor cycle who told us to follow him for a routine “safety check.”

Routine my ass. As we pulled up to this massive and improvised security check point off the side of the road, there was a converted double decker bus turned into a police station and holding pen, dozens of police, different types of government security types and a few goons in full battle rattle (bullet proof vests and HK MP-5 machine pistols) for muscle.

The police were polite and said we did not pay our taxes, so we pulled out all our paper wok to prove that we just did. Then they asked us for our driver license. I ready to tell him to toss off, do you have probable cause or a warrant? With Wifey and Pumpkin Girl in the car, I figure it would be more prudent to hand over my drivers license with my US government paper work and get clear of this mess. After that we were interviewed my some officer with the standard questions: who are you, how long are you here for, where did you buy this car, and blah, blah, blah?

So this is the face of the future? I can’t wait for it to show up in America. Also does the police in Britain wonder why people don’t trust them when they do the dirty work for the taxman, when they should be arresting criminals? The ones who did this and this should be tops on their list.

The Red Sox defeated the Oakland A’s! Now it is the Yankees turn! Time for a world series!

Monday, October 06, 2003

Here is an article on the best ways (Swiss) and worst (British) ways to run a railroad.
Opening a checking account. One of the first things that we attempted to do after moving into our new house in Nottingham was trying to open a checking account. We went to five banks with our passports, original copy of our lease, paperwork from my employer saying that I am employee and 800 pounds of cash in hand. You think that would be enough? The short answer is NO. Abby Bank said we would have to be residents of Britain for a year. The lady Lloyds was a bit frosty and said they would not take us. HSBC and Halifax said they needed extra paperwork.

Jane at Natwest sat down with us to explain and apologize for the complexity and insanity of the British banking regulations. So guess who got our checking account with great customer service? Natwest Bank. It seems the British law states that our bank in America has to send through the regular mail, not email or fax, a letter stating that we are good customers with no debt and of high character. This makes sure that we are not drug dealers laundering money. They had to verify our accounts in the US and this took two weeks and a few more meetings. It moved quickly because our bank in the states Fedex’ed all the paperwork. The manager at the Natwest now greets me as Mister and asks me if I would want a cup of tea or coffee. Now that is service!

Sunday, October 05, 2003

It might sound like religion, but when the fate of the nation and the lives of the soldiers who defend it, it is based on doctrine. These are the gurus who develop doctrine. If you want to read all of it you can find it here at the General Dennis J. Reimer Training and Doctrine Digital Library. Since the high intensity fighting is over in Iraq and now it is low intensity operations and nation building, the one real deciding factors is now logistics. This is how logistics is being done.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Here is the Belgravia Dispatch another blog by another American expat from Britain. It is pretty good and check it out.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Yellow before red. One thing that America could copy from the British is their traffic light system. While waiting for the red light to change to green, a yellow light will come on while the red light is on. This will tell everybody to let off the brakes and everybody will be able to move from a stop quicker. Gas is saved and one or two more cars can make it through the green light. But it might have one drawback on long straight roads. I remember what a sixteen year old with a 1972 Chevy Camaro with a 327 cubic inch motor would use that light set up for drag racing, naw…., that would never happen. Maybe with one of those maxed out Mitsubishi eclipses would do that.
This past weekend we went to Sherwood Forest and hung out with Robin Hood and his merry men. Well…we saw the tree that he hid in. It was fun to walk around on the trails that Robin Hood may have used. The Visitor Center was informative and they even had a play ground for Pumpkin Girl!

Here is the way that the US Army and the rest of the military will be fighting. Will the rest of our allies be able to keep up with us? I think the British, Israelis, and Japanese will, but not on the scale or speed that we will be operating. On small scale or long term operations there might be a few other nations can join in the party, but not many. That is why a few countries and non-state organizations are putting on their thinking caps and trying to figure out ways to counter our methods and equipment. Will they be successful? I am not sure, because the three letter organizations are getting back into the game in a big way to cover the areas and ways that the army can not offically conduct. No more analyzing problems, time to solve them.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Tell us how you feel about the French, Ralph?

I just received this in the email in basket:

We're looking for 2-3 MAJ and 1 LTC. The background preference is
Combat arms, although a MI person is helpful. They should have good
Computers skills especially MS Office. The tour would start mid-NOV until the 101st Division returns (MAR/APR 04) but the tour could last up to 1 year.
The CDR mention a need for junior enlisted (E-4 and below) with a
Background of combat arms or signal. Duties would be RTO work and staff support.
Again, we support the G-3 Division so that's where we'll be. I hear
That it's not a very glamorous job; staff work, no days off, desert environment, hostiles nearby, everyday much the same.

It's assumed that the soldier's CDR will release them from their unit
in the 94th (or wherever) and assigned them to us. It's only a month to screen so sooner is better in recommending soldiers. SRP would start
early NOV.

End of Email Message.

If I were single when the US Army crossed into Iraq this year, well I would have been crossing the LD (line of departure) in boots, but fate has it that I am now in England. When I was an infantry company commander during the first Gulf War, my unit was preparing to round out the 101st. We expecting to march up to Baghdad after liberating Kuwait. You know what happened and I remember that my RTO/driver said we would be back to clean up that mess. I am not sure what happened to him, but I think he should be going for First Sergeant.

I think we are winning.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

My man the Tuna made the London Times.

Celtic is marching!

Asti over at Intellectual Dilettante is a fellow American expat blogger here in the United Kingdom. Drop on in see the world through the eyes of an Intellectual Dilettante.

Thank you Robert! Now I am being highly recommend by the enlightened publisher of the blog: Expat Yank. Now I am now trying to start a web ring of blogs of expats in England.
We went to London for a weekend recently. It was interesting to say. We got a good deal on the Midland Mainline Train from Nottingham and with return to London for 52 Pounds, first class, for two adults and child. The ride down was pretty good, with one stop in Leicester. You even get a free newspaper with coffee or tea.

We got a deal on a three star hotel with last minute dot com for 118 pounds next to Hyde Park. The only thing about our room was it was in the basement right over the Underground circle line heading in to Paddington Station. So every 10 minutes the rumbling of a train was under our bed. We asked the hotel management to move us to another room, but were told they could not do so until the next day.

The next day we went to Hyde Park. I have never been there and I thought that it would be like Central Park in NYC with more green grass, but the grass was left to grow wild and without being watered. This is how it must have been back in the during the 1700s. One nice thing about Hyde Park was that you could rent deck chair for one pound that is around the pond.

After chasing duck and pigeons we took a tour of Kensington Palace. It was pretty interesting to see how the royalty used to live. One thing that struck me that the King had the nicer rooms compared to the Queen. In the basement there was an exhibit on the dresses of Princess Diana.

Later that day we met some friends who flew in from the US and we went over to Buckingham Palace for a tour. The tour was great. I saw the White House in Washington DC, but compared to Buckingham Palace it a bit small and plain. You receive a small MP3 player so you can walk around and listen to a Price Charles and others explain the wonders of Buckingham.

After the tour we walked to Giraffe in Marylebone for dinner and meet some friends from Ireland who are living in London. The food was good and dinner was REAL exciting since there was a fire on the top floor of the building next to us. Three fire engines showed up, but we did not have to leave the restaurant. Pumpkin Girl was fascinated with the hoses and firemen talking with walkie talkies.

That weekend in London was warm and sunny. We changed rooms to the third floor, but hotel had no air conditioning, so we slept with the windows open. This night was interesting to say the least. First, the room next to us cranked up the TV and left the room with their room key it. They left at 11:00 pm, so we heard Graham Norton at full blast. We called management and after banging on the door for a few minutes they opened the door and turned the TV off.

Later that night we were awakened by the buzzing of two of London's police helicopters flying at rooftop level with searchlights blazing. They shinned the lights in our room and went up and down the alleyway behind the hotel for a few minutes.

Last, someone was trying to get the whole neighborhood in the mood by blasting Natalie and Nat King Cole singing "Unforgettable."

Sunday we meet our friends under the Waterloo Bridge because the Lord Mayor of London was holding a festival on the banks of the Thames River. We just walked around and did some people watching. We walked by the Tate Museum of Modern Art. Outside of the Tate was a big inflatable object of "modern art." It looked like a big, black bouncy castle. We were planning to have lunch at the Tate, but the food was too expensive. You were paying for the view of the North Bank of the Thames and having the bragging rights of eating in the Tate.

We went to a pizzeria next to the Globe Theater, after that, we took the tube back to our hotel and back on the train to Nottingham.

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