Tag Archives: London

Transatlantic Musings: Accents, England and Unexpected Perspective

Blogging Gameface

It seems I’ve finally found some time to do some blogging on my trip to London… and that’s during my flight back from London.  Funny how that works out.  Actually, I probably did have time a few others points in the trip, but the jetlag decided to open up a full case (and not just a six-pack) of whup-ass on me by the time evening rolled around each day.  I was able to stumble through some Twitter and Facebook posting and that was the extent of my… *ahem*… intelligent discussion and contribution to the social dialogue of the planet.  Go me.

So here at 36,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, I find a few moments of respite to think back on my trip while my Boeing 777 chariot whisks me along back to the U.S of A.  What keen, penetrating insights have the gods unveiled to me during this sojourn to the land of tea, crumpets, cricket and tiny cars?  Sit back, relax with a nice cup of Earl Grey and let the magic unfold, my friends.

YOU are the one with the funny accent. As an American, it’s always great to get out of the country and spend a bit of time letting your ear adjust to the accents of people from other countries.  The work conference I was at had people from England, France, South Africa, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Slovenia and I’m sure other countries that are now completing slipping my mind.  Usually if you go to a foreign land, you can adjust generally to the accents of the people within a day or so because it will be a (generally) uniform set of accents.  This conference was different in that I was with accents, sentence pacing and colloquialisms from a wide range of places.  I never got the chance to let my ear settle in with a single accent… and, quite frankly, I enjoyed that.   It also makes you realize that most of the people at the conference likely looked at me and my other American colleagues as the ones with the funny accents.

I love the fact that international travel (or even domestic travel to different areas of the country) forces a little extra open-mindedness on me.  Perspective, people… its good for the soul.

England is a place of dramatic, yet understated, surprises.  If that’s even possible. Due to its rather cozy size, but incredibly rich history, I’ve always found England to be the kind of place where you can suddenly happen upon really cool stuff.  OK, I was hoping to come up with a more creative, inspired and dramatic word than “stuff”, but honestly, isn’t stuff a perfectly good word too?

Anyway, I digress, yet again.  So last night I went out to dinner in… umm… truth be told, I have no idea what town it was.  I think it was actually technically parts of London.  I sometimes think of London like Boston – lots of different areas that are considered part of the greater city, but you’ve never quite sure when you are in the city proper.  As we head out to dinner and get out of cab, BOOM!  Right there looming behind the restaurant was Windsor Castle.  Like THE Windsor Castle.  Home of the Queen and such.  It just struck me a bit how we just happened upon it in almost the same manner you would seemingly run across a Starbucks in the States… just with more royalty, less condescending baristas and less completely useless drink size names (Venti?  Really?  I mean… that’s what we’re going with?  I think I’m asking for a Venti Gulp the next time I hit up 7-11).  Unless they put a Starbucks in Windsor Castle… which would blow my mind.

That being said, it’s that kind of unexpected moments of “Wow” that I love about England.  You get it in New York City as well, actually.  You are just randomly walking down a street, look up and BOOM!  World famous landmark right there in front of you.  It’s a little humbling and can make you feel a little bit small, but I never find it to happen to me in a bad way – it tends to be more of a way to appreciate what you encounter a little more deeply.  For instance, it’s a bit hard to be too self-involved when you have moments like this happen and Lord knows I really need moments like that.  Hell, I think we all do.

When I’m on the shelf, I am TOTALLY on the shelf. Before I left on this trip, I had decided I was putting myself on the shelf to stop all lifting and exercising while allowing the anti-inflammatory steroids I’ve been taking to do their job and to let my neck heal.  I wrote about all of that right here.  The only exercises I’ve really been doing are neck retractions and a lot of focus on having dramatically better posture.  The combination of the steroids, rest and the exercises are really doing an excellent job of making my neck feel just so much better.  Happy Kev.  But there is a dramatically ugly side of this break period and it’s not the first time I’ve noticed it when I’ve been on an off-week or break.  See, when I put myself on the shelf, I go at it full tilt.  How so?  Well, let’s just say that when I’m not lifting, pushing my Prowler, swinging the sledgehammer and all of the other magical tomfoolery that is part of my training arsenal, I’m also eating a ton crappier than I normally would.  A logical person might think, “Well geez, Kev… just because you’re not training doesn’t mean you should let ALL good health habits go to waste.”  To that logical person I say, “Technically true… but here’s the thing… bite me, hoser.”  And yes, I just channeled my inner Mackenzie Brothers there, so take off, eh.

I have a good enough sense of self-awareness to know the truth said that said logical (and totally wet blanket) person speaks, but it doesn’t change the fact that I seem to go full on or full off.  It’s what one of my favorite authors on training and powerlifting, Dave Tate from EliteFTS, describes as “Blast” and “Dust”.  He approaches a lot of things in his life with the notion that he is either going to do it with complete gusto and passion or not at all.  I can well appreciate that fact since I tend to be the same way.  I am shooting for a better middle ground with some balance, but I am mostly wired in an all-or-nothing mindset for many things.

Thankfully, I am going to be going back at it on the bright tomorrow morning as I get back to eating right and totally rocking the Prowler for some fun.  Parking lots of Connecticut, beware… I got some steel with your name all over it.  And anyone who wants to join me is totally welcome… just remember… this is not a spectator sport.  You show up, you push.

So those are some of the thoughts I noticed in one of my favorite countries besides my own – jolly old England.  Thank you, Britannia, for the time to grow a bit, stretch my mind a little bit more and gain a little better insight into myself and the world through which I travel.  May I put it to good use every day.

Memorial Day 2010 – Reflections, Thoughts and A Swift Kick in the Rear

Today is a doubly reflective sort of day for me.  First and foremost, it’s Memorial Day and secondly, I’m getting ready to travel to London on a red-eye out of JFK tonight for a work conference all week.  Memorial Day makes me reflect for what are, I think, fairly obvious reasons and travel always makes me reflect because I know I will be encountering new places, peoples and experiences.

In thinking of Memorial Day, it can be a lot of different things.  It’s a day of rest (well… at least it should be) and BBQs and taking a few minutes to think about the ultimate sacrifice that over a million Americans have made to protect freedoms that most of us just flat out take for granted.  That last part almost sounds cliched, but it probably sounds that way because sometimes the things that are just so obvious tend to get slapped with that kind of unfair tag.  But honestly… how often do any of us think about that?  I mean genuinely and honestly stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that people have died so that you can I can live a fairly uneventful life where we get to raise our kids, go to work, enjoy our weekends and be who we want to be without a lot heck of a lot of interference.

I took a look at the source of all knowledge… Wikipedia, obviously… and found this entry on total U.S. combat casualties over the course of our country’s history.  It’s sobering stuff to look at, especially when you see the Civil War estimates that the war claimed the lives of 2% of the entire population of the country – 625,000 people with close to 600 dying every day.  If that doesn’t give you a moment to pause, then there’s nothing a whole lot I can do to help you at that point.  Just take a moment… even just a quiet 30 seconds… to appreciate the gift of the freedom you enjoy if you live here in the United States.  We are very, very far from perfect, but you would be hard-pressed to find a place much better.  I believe that with all my heart and want our country to stay that way.

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But I also had a slightly less lofty moment of reflection today that had less to do with our freedoms as a people and more to do with what Memorial Day has meant for me personally the last few years.  As a baseball coach, Memorial Day was the day every team, club, organization and such in the town I coach would get out and march.  It’s complete mayhem, but also a lot of fun… except I’m not there this year.  Rather, I am in the midst of doing a bunch of last second packing, e-mail checking and planning before leaving on my trip to London and so I missed the parade this AM for the first time in 4 or 5 years… and I hate that fact almost more than I can say.

There was really no good reason, excuse or explanation for my not being there.  Yes, I really am pulling a whole bunch of things together right now to prepare for my trip… but seriously?  That couldn’t have been done Saturday?  Or yesterday?  And this frustrates me to absolutely no end because that parade is now a bit of tradition and I’m missing it for just no good reason at all.

And all this for one simple and unassailable reason: I just need to do a better job of getting my act together.  Period.  Oh sure, I could go into a very grand and verbose post about how I am a classic introvert who recharges my batteries with alone and quiet time or that I have been very busy with work and blah blah blah.  Those things would have been both true statements… but also really and truly piss-poor excuses.

So in some ways, the fact that I do a better job of reflecting when I travel is probably a good thing so I can reflect myself into fixing my little red wagon and not missing out on things that are most important to me in life… because that often ends up being the end result.

But fear not… this is not a post about wallowing in self-pity and whinging over what has gone before.  I can only take that in myself for about 5-10 minutes before I find it annoying, so Lord knows none of you should have to soak up any of that a second longer.

Because on this day of memorial and day of reflection… I am putting myself back on track with 2 things more important than any little silly gripe I may have:

1) That when people have given their lives so you have the luxury of blogging at home with your feet on the table, it’s best to take that solid shot of perspective with a quiet nod of sincere thanks; and

2) That as long as there are nephews in the world who get a kick out of walking in parades (and hitting bodybuilder poses while waiting for them to start), then there is some real good in the world to make you smile.

And a smile is spreading across my face right now.  Happy Memorial Day 2010, everyone.