Antonia in America, March-May 2008

February 17, 2011

This blog is closed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antonia @ 2:45 pm

As is fairly obvious, this blog has been closed. All future Eisenhower-related information will go onto the Eisenhower Europe website. I hope people coming to this blog in search of information about the Eisenhower Fellowship will see what a valuable experience it was for me, and take advantage!

May 20, 2008

The come-down

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antonia @ 6:13 pm

So, here we are. Back home. Seems weird! Life has gone on and I’ve been off having this amazing experience and things just aren’t as they were.

I’ve been doing some follow-up – linking to people via LinkedIn, adding photos to my facebook page, doing the invites for the yahoogroup that we hope to use to stay in touch. The other blog has a report about the last few days, which were great, but so emotional. And now that I’m home I have so much to do for the move. But I still think so much about all that we did and saw in the US, and I know things will never be quite the same again…

 

May 12, 2008

The end of the road!

Filed under: New York, Philadelphia — Antonia @ 2:17 am

Well, here we are back together again in Philadelphia. I arrived from New York today on the train, with Omar and Chak Hee and apart from the taxi driver from Penn Station having NO IDEA where he was going and somehow blaming us for that, it was fine. We got here early afternoon and of course the rooms weren’t ready and the restaurant was closed, so it was room service in Chak Hee’s room! Later in the afternoon we got all our bags and boxes that we’ve been sending, so I now have a room piled up with stuff and no idea how it’s all going to get into my cases!

The reception on Thursday night was fun, though I couldn’t stay very long. Avenue Q was totally brilliant, absolutely outrageous and immense fun! I can only recommend it to anyone (as long as you don’t mind full-on puppet sex scenes!!)

After a lovely couple of days, and in fact pretty OK weather throughout the whole trip, my luck had to run out and it did so spectacularly on Friday. It poured. and poured. and poured. If any New Yorkers ever criticise the weather in Brussels or London, I swear I will remove their livers with a spoon. I had great meetings (you know where to look for information on those), but turned up to the second one soaked to the skin, looking like a drowned rat and ready to burst into tears.

In the evening I went out with Omar and Chak Hee for a very nice meal on the Upper East Side, but VERY VERY VERY VERY expensive. I’m not even going to tell you how much because you’ll be shocked. Still, it was quite fun to live the high-life, even if it was for a night. Afterwards we went to a bar and danced quite a lot, which was really fun. We reckon that people thought we were some weird multi-racial threesome, with Omar as the son of the Sultan of Brunei!

Yesterday I went off to do some of those little New York chores (Crate and Barrel, picking up Dermalogica products) and walked so much I felt totally knackered, so slobbed out (and had a wee siesta) during the afternoon. I headed out for dinner, my initial idea being the Oyster Bar at the Grand Central Station. But after waiting 10 minutes to even get a menu and 10 more without any prospect of getting my order taken, I stalked out in high dudgeon and headed over to K-town for more Korean. Cos I was on my own I couldn’t get Bulgogi and what a stroke of luck that was, because I had one of the lovely pancake-cum-omelette things they do which was FABULOUS. Something to ask for next time Moray goes to Seoul! Anyway, I walked back to the hotel afterwards, a necessity to help me digest! And then before you know it, off to sleep, up this morning, packed again and heading off, for the second-to-last time. And next time will be to go HOME!!!!

As you may know if you read the other blog, I am going to have to give all my electronics back tomorrow, so this is the end of the blog from the US. Thanks for all the comments and interest, I hope you enjoyed these little electronic postcards. It helped me here to know that people back home were following what I was doing, so I’m very grateful. And very very very very much looking forward to seeing you all again very soon!

May 8, 2008

Happy birthday Dominic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antonia @ 9:05 pm

Well here I am in the Mecca for all 30-something single women who love shopping and restaurants – New York City!! I had a great lunch meeting yesterday and then after that headed back to Manhattan. I got off the Path and walked over to Gramercy Park, where I was supposed to meet Lucy Colback, but she called to postpone to today as she had a lot of clearing up to do at work. Couldn’t face walking the 20 blocks back to the hotel so got the subway. I had a siesta (woohoo!) then met up with Chak Hee to head out for Korean food. K-town is amazing – I’ve found an amazing wee hole in the wall place that makes fresh kimbabs! was a very happy lady.

My meeting was cancelled today so I had a day off – double woohoo! I started off meeting Lucy Colback from school – this trip has been great for getting back in touch with Mayfield girls! Was great to catch up with her and lucky too as she leaves today! Then I headed down to Wall Street to pick up tickets for a show tonight – Chak Hee and I are going to see Avenue Q. I had lunch down there and then went to a yarn shop called Purl and bought some lovely yarn for a one-skein project to do these last few days – I miss knitting! Talked to Dom on his birthday, and agreed to go and help him move the first weekend I’m in London – he gets the keys to his house the day I move to London. And hopefully I’ll have signed my contract by then, if we can get all the mortgage documemts sorted when I get back.

I’m off to the Commission delegation’s annual reception tonight before the show. I contacted Fernando Valenzuela, who is head of delegation here, and he invited me. Should be a laugh!

Only a few days left now. Amazing to think and I just can’t wait to get home – I miss everyone so much. Not that I haven’t had a great time, but eventually it’s time to go home, especially when there’s so much to do when you get there! 

May 5, 2008

Had a grape time (b’dum tish)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antonia @ 10:23 pm

As if to disprove the point I made to Paul in the last post!! Anyway, the bad pun is because this post is about my weekend in Napa. I hired a car in SF on Friday and have to admit I was thinking to myself, what am I doing? I’m in SF with a free weekend – why am I heading somewhere else??!! But I’m really glad I did, because I had a lovely weekend. It started with a gorgeous drive – once over the Golden Gate Brisge (eek!) I headed up the coast road to Point Reyes – a totally gorgeous drive, then across to Petaluma and down to Napa. The B&B, Beazley House, was lovely. My room was small but comfortable and the house had a sitting room with cookie jar and sherry decanter! They also hosted a wine-tasting, which was great, as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go out and do any tasting as I was driving. Had a really nice Cabernet Franc from the Peju winery. Then I headed down to the American Centre for Food, Wine and the Arts (COPIA) for their Friday flick, which was a documentary about Frank Gehry, directed by Sydney Pollack. Gehry is designing a winery building in Napa, and the owners were there to talk about their experience and show a short film about it. A great evening, really different. Gehry is amazing and it was fascinating to get an insight into how he works – literally with cardboard and scissors at the early stages! They also showed a trailer for a film I will look out for, called Gypsy Caravan and about Gypsy music across the world.

The next day I took some stuff to UPS and pottered around, then left to go and meet Jackie and Omar for lunch. I decided to stop at the Napa Premium Outlet Village on the way, but it’s kind of hidden from the road so went sailing by and out into the country. Along a beautiful road which unfortunately ended in a dead end (contrary to what was on the map!) So I turned round and on the way back found the Outlet! One trip to Gap later, I headed up Highway 29 for lunch. People told me about how many of wineries are along Highway 29 and it makes it sound really soul-less and commercial, but it wasn’t like that. The “highway” is like an A-road in the UK and the places all seemed very nice.

We had a lovely lunch at a place called Mustards, then Jackie and Omar headed off to a winery and I went to…the Jelly Belly factory!!! VERY EXCITING! We toured the factory (not operational of course as it was the weekend, but interesting nonetheless) and even better, bought stuff in the store – much cheaper than usual purchase of Jelly Bellies! Unfortunate side effect is that I’ve been eating too many of them since!

I decided to find a non-freeway drive back, but once again my map told me a road was there that wasn ‘t, so I had to do the main road thing. But I did work out how to get the GPS to avoid motorways, which was very useful the next day. That evening I went to a place called Uva and had a very nice meal sat a tthe bar, with two very different and very nice California wines and a sweet sparkling dessert wine from Italy.

The next day I was off, after the lovely Beazley House breakfast. I had decided to take a longer route avoiding motorways and I’m so glad I did, as it took me through all these little California towns, the sort of places that John Hughes films are set in! It also took me through the streets of San Francisco, which had its little frantic moments, but I arrived safe and sound at the airport for my flight to Philadelphia. After about  5 hours flight, I was back in Philadelphia! Kind of nice to come into somewhere that seems familiar, a pre-feeling for next Saturday! I’m so looking forward to going home!

May 1, 2008

I’m in love!

Filed under: San Francisco — Antonia @ 2:01 am

Sorry, not some great gossip, just the result of my first afternoon in San Francisco! I arrived this morning from Seattle with Omar and then headed out for the first meeting, which was with the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. That was down towards South Beach (and the Giants stadium) so it all felt very much like NY down that way, certainly nothing like the San Francisco from films and so on. The meeting finished just before 5 and as I was walking back to the hotel I thought, why don’t I head up to Russian Hill now, because I wanted to see Macondray Lane, which was used as Barbary Lane in the TV adaptation of Tales of the City. I wikipediad it and found out roughly where it was, and as luck would have it, it was on the cable car route. So I jumped on a cable car to head over there. Well that was fun in itself – the guys who work on the cable cars are really fun and it’s as close to a rollercoaster as I’m prepared to get! Then I got off at Union Street and walked around to find Macondray Lane. It was just like the SF of my imagination and dreams, and of course, the one you see on films and TV!. And then Macondray Lane itself was lovely. I wandered around the neighbourhood a while, including the most crooked road in the world, then headed back into town on another roller coaster, sorry, cable car. Now am back at the hotel trying to get my breath back (the hills are VERTIGINOUS!). I really hope I get a chance to come back some time in the not too distant future. Anyone know of any good jobs going??!!

April 30, 2008

The circus

Filed under: Seattle — Antonia @ 8:54 pm

No, not my trip. Not even the US presidential election. I genuinely went to the circus last night – Cirque de Soleil, actually and it was totally wonderful! It’s all acrobatics, dance and music, all very commedia dell’arte. Fantastic from a technical point of view, in the way they put up and take down the various apparatus and move people across the stage. Also from an acrobatic point of view, especially the trapeze-style acts. I’ve been pretty cultural here, one way or another, with theatre in Philly, a few films here and there and I hope to get to a show or two when I’m in New York. And some lovely meals have been had along the way, including a great pile of crab and oysters at the Oceanaire last night. The fall of the dollar is helping me to enjoy it as well!!

You will not believe the film I saw last night…

Filed under: Seattle — Antonia @ 12:38 am

Have you heard about a film called Expelled – Intelligence not allowed? We went to see it last night. Oh. My. God. As I keep saying, if I was an O-level teacher and one of my students gave me an essay so flimsily argued, making such outrageous claims and so inconsistent, I would fail him. And of course, the thing is that people who agree with the film will say that this is proof that what the film says is right.

Basically, it was about the arguments within the science community about the investigation of intelligent design, saying that all those scientists who even dare to question “darwinism” are hounded out of their jobs. Further it implies (and then pretty much says) that all evolutionary biologists are opposed to religion. Some of its more “noteworthy” elements:

the film-makers never once define what is meant by intelligent design. At one point they mock those who designate it as “life is so complicated, it must have been designed by God”, without saying why that is not accurate.

It uses evolution and darwinism interchangeably, and doesn’t give any room for the theory to have advanced since Darwin’s time, which it clearly has.

It subtly (at the beginning) and then blatantly equates belief in evolution with dictatorship, flashing images of Stalin etc early on in the film and having a sequence in the middle where they state that Darwinism was an influence on Nazism, filming in Dachau.

The proponents of evolutionary biology interviewed are people like Richard Dawkins, with very strong atheist views. Not one interview with someone who reconciles their belief in a higher being with their belief in evolution (and I know there are thousands of those).

It was a shoddy, sensationalistic piece of film-making, and perhaps I should leave it at that. But the problem is that it is going to be taken and used by people to advance an agenda. And those people are either not going to appreciate or not going to care that this film is a bad argument for their ideas. I’m not opposed to a discussion of evolution, the consideration of new avenues – that’s the core of the scientific method – postulate, examine, experiment, develop. But I don’t see how this film helps anyone. Also, if we talk about freedom to think what you want in America, there are many more areas where scientists face restrictions than impose them, in my view.

April 29, 2008

What’s all this about it raining in Seattle?

Filed under: Seattle — Antonia @ 12:58 am

I thought it rained here alot?! We’ve had gorgeous weather – OK, a few drops last night and this morning, but most of the time it has been gorgeous. Yesterday I went for breakfast with Tiffany, Omar and Iyad, who then all went off to a Baptist church. I abstained, preferring to honour the god Mamon – yes, I went shopping. Seattle is a fabulous destination for shopping, with lots of little boutique style, individual shops, which is so refreshing after so many areas I’ve visited that just look exactly the same, with the same shops and places to eat. On the eating front as  well this is an amazing place, you could eat out for lunch and dinner for a year and never go to the same place twice! Even the food court at the top of one of the shopping centres has so many stands, it took me about 20 minutes to decide what to eat. And only 2 of those were chains. I guess what I’m saying is that Seattle has a lot of character. On the off-side, though, it has rubbish taxis – we were stranded for almost an hour because they didn’t turn up and kept fobbing us off. Off out for dinner tonight, possibly at one of the places recommended by Jenny Juo, then maybe going to see a film.  With Tiffany’s arrival on Saturday I got the blue sheets till the end of the trip and it does get quieter, thank goodness. I’ve found out that I’m not allowed to turn in the last assignment for the OU late, so I’m going to have to get a wiggle on to get through the stuff. I hope I can pull it together, because it would be a real shame to lose momentum at the end, when the course has gone so well until now.

Talking of which, I should get back to it!!!

April 27, 2008

Seattle rocks!

Filed under: Seattle — Antonia @ 12:47 am

So, Seattle, finally! It’s a lot like Auckland actually and we’ve had a gorgeous day today so it’s been great. Last night I hit the town with Annie, a friend of Phil’s. We had a drink in a nice bar and then headed to another place where we saw two bands – both great, very funky and groovy. Top night, but a bit of a fuzzy head this morning (ok, I had a stinking hangover!!). Today I met Jenny Juo, who was at Mayfield with me. We had a lovely day – she took me out to Alki Beach, where you get lovely views of the city and the Olympic Mountains, plus all the islands. Then we went back to her house and I met her husband and 2 boys. It was lovely to be in a house!! They have a neighbourhood beach down on the lake – it’s a bit like the concept of a park in a London Square, an area where the residents can go. Must be great for the two boys to have that space to play down by the water, especially in the summer. Seattle seems to have a lot going on – the problem is going to be working out what the priorities are in the few days we’re here!

Am going to hit the shops a little tomorrow I think. And then happy hour at Eliot’s Oyster Bar – 50c per oyster!

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