Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Trip Tidbits

I was on holiday the last three weeks, which is why this hasn't been updated in a little while. Sadly, I return to university shortly and I will be quite busy, especially during first term, and that will also mean this little blog won't be updated as often as it was during the summer. I'll still try to pop in now and again, but the problem is once I start I have trouble stopping, and I don't have the time/desire to do it every day. I also might be able to squeeze in a couple of entries before I leave.

Nevertheless, here are a few short points, mostly vacation-related, to tide people over.

- While in England I encountered what is probably the best slogan for a food product ever. The product Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes has the slogan, “It’s ludicrously tasty.” That is the only time I can recall in my life where a slogan and the slogan alone has made me purchase a product. And you know what? It is very tasty, but ludicrously tasty might be an overstatement.

- England has some great other food, as well. Just to name a few: Coco Pops, Jaffa Cakes, Milky Buttons and Prawn Cocktail flavoured chips. These foods might no be quite as tasty if I had access to them everyday, but I find them all delectable when I often go 12 months between samples. However, like most places it seems, fast food is worse in England, as McDonalds and Subway didn’t taste as good as they did in Canada. Also, I had what maybe the worst eat-out meal of my life in a restaurant in the Lake District.

- Also, Pepsi Max is available in abundance over there, but it is impossible to find in Canada. Why is that? It tastes identical to regular Pepsi (well, much closer than Diet Pepsi does) and it’s sugar-free. I’m not really conscious of that usually, but my dentist’s recent bitch-fest was still fresh in my mind, so I did notice it. Also, smoothies are also found much more often in England than they are here.

- We went to one Premiership match and saw a 2-2 tie between Aston Villa and Bolton. Four goals in the first twelve minutes is pretty impressive, even if the match lagged somewhat after that. Jay Jay Okocha was only used as a substitute, which I found very odd. My dad went to a second game and saw a 3-2 game, so he got 9 goals in 2 soccer games, which is quite good.

- We also saw a fair amount of the Ashes series cricket on television. A very knowledgeable friend of mine called the second and third test matches of the series amongst the top five international cricket games of all time. We didn’t see the second, but we saw the third while in England. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a baptism by fire on my end, as I could understand the match was exciting and tense and extraordinary, but I certainly don’t think I appreciated in the same way my dad or my uncles did. If you’re curious, he says the other two matches that definitely belong on the list are the 1960 Australia vs. West Indies match and the incredible Original Ashes test of 1882, which is number one. If you’re curious, this guy is a baseball buddy and a very smart guy.

- If you want an indication of how dull the vacation could be at parts, and also of how much driving around was involved, I completed twelve books over the 17-day trip. While they weren’t particularly difficult reads, there was a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and only one of them belonged to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

- I don’t think I’m prudish by any means, but I can’t say I quite approve of the culture surrounding English teenagers. Put another way, it’s another reason I’m glad my parents moved to Canada and if I have kids, I intend to raise them here. Unless I’m too far removed from my teenage years and I have forgotten what we were like, English teens are much more sexual and rebellious than North American youth. I know their teen pregnancy rates are much higher, but you can sense the sexualisation of their “tweens” as you walk around and frankly, thinking about it in connection to my little sister made me a little uncomfortable. It’s not like completely removed from here, but it’s definitely worse. There was an article in one of the papers that I read early in the trip that said, and I’m quoting from memory so I might be mistaken but I doubt it, that said that half of English kids between the ages of 11 and 15 had been drunk before. When I was 14 I was concerned with the Jays continuing mediocrity, with video games, with school, with getting to second base, with seeing movies and with improving my skating, not with getting drunk and having sex. However, I think that exercise only proves why I should never be used as the barometer of what normal people do.

- I was very surprised at how all the papers continued to defend the English police force and the officers involved in the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting despite the overwhelming evidence that they acted recklessly and inappropriately and shot an innocent man. Article after article defended their conduct and expressed sympathy for Menezes, but said that his death was a tragedy that was the mistake of a good system. People who campaigned for the police to be held responsible were labeled as radicals and seemingly irrelevant news about their roles in anti-Iraq war groups were often brought up and they were portrayed as radical leftists intent on furthering their own fame. Maybe this attitude isn’t prominent in all papers, but it was in both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph and the Times also defended the police officers, but didn’t go as far in discrediting those involved on behalf of Menezes.

- On the plus side I only have three days remaining at work. On the downside, if the last two days are any indication, these days will pass incredibly slowly. However, I will take that downside any day of the week. I had a horrible day there today, and I don’t want to relive it so there is no retelling, at this point anyway.

- I just realised that, at most, I will attend five more Blue Jays games this year. I knew the baseball season was slowly coming to a close, but this illustrates how little of it is left (yes, 30+ games is little). While the Jays recent slump has been disappointing, I certainly don't want them to stop playing. I also have to be happy with the season in its entirety. The next month will be very interesting, as there are some good pennant races going on, and the Yankees are in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in years.

- This article is probably only hilarious if you follow baseball, but I think it is one of the most accurate and complete list of analogies I’ve ever seen. Besides referring to the Boston Red Sox as beloved by all, anyway.