Posted on Monday, February 14th, 2005
One obvious thing that gets you more or less as soon as you arrive here is wildlife. People talk about snakes not as abstract entities carefully explained by David Attenborough (or ripped out of trees to Steve Irwin’s shouts of “crikey! looka this bloightah!”), but as everyday threats you need to beware of through the summer.
And even in the relative calm of early February, there are obvious striking differences between Californian fauna and the relatively tame stuff we get in Britain.
Posted on Sunday, February 13th, 2005
I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen the meme which passed around a while ago – an unbroadcastable Channel 4 promotion. It follows the pattern of some other promos the channel was running at the time, with many of its leading stars saying brief snippets on a particular topic.
Anyway, the verboten one was, perhaps predictably, on the subject of stars’ favourite swearwords. There’s a copy here if you haven’t seen it, although potential viewers should be advised that it contains a great deal of filthy language (really, a lot. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Oh, and it’s in Shockwave Flash, so you’ll need that particular plugin in your browser.
Technical niceties aside, I came across this again the other day, and am surprised to say that certain segments of it caused me a particularly strong pang of homesickness.
There’s probably something deeply wrong about that, really: one of the things I associate most with home is language that would make your elderly relatives turn bluer than the air…
…it’s a little more complicated than that though, so (as so often) bear with me.
Posted on Saturday, February 12th, 2005
I’m frustrated in an unexpected way by a lack of internet connectivity in my apartment at the moment.
In short, the fact is that I can’t do a lot of the programming I’d like to do without an internet connection.
This isn’t because it suddenly prevents me from firing up a text editor and bashing out the code which is flitting around in my subconscious; far from it.
But without the internet I have no access to any of the code libraries I might want to install to support my applications, and I also have no way of testing the pieces of code which need to communicate with other machines elsewhere out there on the network.
Posted on Thursday, February 10th, 2005
America is Big, with a definite capital ‘B’. Although this observation will serve perfectly for this year’s entry to the “stating the bleeding obvious” awards, it does have a broader purpose, so stick with me.
The UK, by comparison, is vanishingly small (there’s my backup award entry). What this means in practice is that when someone generalises about “the British” or “in Britain”, they’re rarely far wide of the mark, even if their specific experience is confined to, say, London. Sure, the Scottish and the Welsh might complain a bit, but like all Brits, they just love complaining.
Posted on Friday, February 4th, 2005
One thing I’m determined to avoid as much as possible here is the modulation of my accent. I’d hate to end up with a mid-atlantic drawl which comes from no place in particular. Besides, most Americans really do seem to think Britishness, and the accent in particular, is cool, so it’s an advantage worth hanging onto.
That having been said, even the most stalwart Brit must make some concessions as soon as they arrive here, if they wish to be understood. Of those concessions (inclduing “cell” in place of “mobile”, for example), two in particular stand out.
Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2005
…except, of course, it’s not a “flat”. A “flat” is what you get if you drive over some big pointy nails. “Flat” is what you become if you walk under a Chevy Suburban. “Flat” is how Ikea furniture comes packed. “Flat” is how a weak joke sounds if you wear it too thin.
It is, at any rate, not a place where Americans live.
No, when I set out looking for a home, I was definitely “apartment hunting”, whatever my British vocabulary might think.
Finding a rented apartment in the Bay Area is actually ludicrously easy, and needn’t involve a single wide-grinned, grandmother-selling Real Estate Agent. The key here is the “apartment communities” which seem to be a mandatory feature of every other intersection across the whole of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain view, Palo Alto and (I’m sure) every other town roundabout.