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From the Planet Money blog:

"I was at our credit union the other day and one of the employees (I think the manager) told us a story that reflects these hard economic times. He said that in San Francisco there is a bank that saw a huge increase in the amount of coins coming in. Apparently, people were breaking their piggy banks and raiding their coin bottles to turn in at the bank. In fact, the volume got so large that the bank had to bring in truck trailers to put the coins."


Even More Exciting than a Dyson Airblade

Photo: Kelsey and British comedian Jon Richardson

On Saturday, Kelsey exceeded her Dyson Airblade excitement tenfold, and achieved her number one goal for her time in England by meeting and having her picture taken with her favorite comedian, Jon Richardson. Jon does stand up gigs all over England and has a weekly radio show Sunday mornings on BBC6. Kelsey attended one of Jon's gigs in London Saturday night with a friend, and ran into the notoriously shy comedian as he was exiting the theater after the show.

Out of the fridge...

... and into the freezer.

In December, Kelsey needed a rescue mission to get her out of the "worst in 30 years" snow storm in the Portland area, and now she's in the middle of the worst blizzard they've seen in London in eighteen years. It's either very bad luck, or she's started to create her own weather patterns.

Do Over!

“Are you ready to take the oath?” Roberts asked.
“I am, and we’re going to do it very slowly,” Obama replied.

Here's your piece of trivia for the day: Two presidents — Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur — have retaken the oath after mistakes were made the first time around.

Whole New World

I was afraid I was going to have to miss the inauguration ceremonies due to work, but when I got to the room where we were meeting, I was happy to see that the TV was on. We got to watch the swearing in and the speech (I managed not to cry in front of my coworkers) and then we started our meeting half an hour late.

If I were President Obama I'd be a bit miffed at Chief Justice Roberts. The oath is only 35 words and he bungled it three times! Who put this guy in charge of the Supreme Court?
... oh yeah.

The rest of the day was pretty amazing.

When I got home I had an e-mail from Kelsey. It said, in part:

"Watching the inauguration [in London] was amazing. [LAMDA] set up some TVs (one in the Boardroom and one in the Common room) and they stopped classes at 4:30pm for anyone that wanted to watch it. Most of the non-Americans left after Obama's speech, but the rest stayed until the national anthem. It was great, because we were all sitting around this table watching the TV and when the National Anthem started, one young woman (who was American, but looked of I'm guessing Indian decent) stood up from the floor where she was sitting, turned to us all and said "Stand up. We're all Americans" and then most of the people in the room started singing at the top of their voice. I didn't, mostly because if I opened my mouth I probably would have completely lost it and started blubbering (my eyes were already watering as it was)."

Arnold the Barbarian

I know it was a big news day, what with the Attorney General Confirmation Hearing, Bush's Farewell Address [>cough< embarrassingly out of touch with reality >cough<], and the world's most perfectly choreographed plane crash... but am I the only one who noticed that Arnie threw a "Conan the Barbarian" reference into the middle of his State of the State speech?

Excerpt: "It is not that California is ungovernable; it is that for too long we have been split by ideology. Conan's sword could not have cleaved our political system in two as cleanly as our own political parties have done."

He knows Conan isn't real... right?

Kelsey's travel adventures continue...

Kelsey had a lovely weekend with her high school friend Kate, doing some sightseeing in Durham and York, and attending a holiday pantomime. My thanks to Kate and her grandparents for being such helpful and gracious hosts!

Unfortunately, the friend with whom Kelsey is supposed to be staying starting Sunday night has not yet sent her the address of the place where she is to stay. This is a problem. A big problem. A problem that might have one wondering if one will still be calling that person "friend" in the future.

Rather than wander the streets of London like a Dickensian waif, Kelsey has booked a room at a lovely Georgian-style hotel near Victoria Station where we stayed on our two previous trips to London. This being the off-season, the price is quite reasonable, and the hotel is conveniently located just three tube stops from LAMDA. This does not reduce the stress of being more or less abandoned (for the second time!) and left homeless in a city of more than 7 million souls, but it will allow the endurance of such stress to occur with a modicum of comfort and style.
You can record the date as January 9, 2009 -- that's the first time that the economic downturn hit me squarely in the pocketbook.

One of the school districts we work with has been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis in their area. They were expecting to have to make mid-year cuts of approximately $8 million, but now that the New Year has dawned and the state fiscal situation has not improved, it looks like they will have to make immediate cuts of $20 million and are in serious danger of not making payroll in February.

Given that ugly reality, the district has just informed the group that I work with that it is suspending all contracts until further notice. The news was unexpected, since in December we had all been assured by the state of California that the funding for our program was guaranteed through June 30, 2009. The money is technically still there... it has just been temporarily "reallocated" by the district to pay teacher salaries. You can hardly blame them.

For each of our team members the decision means an immediate loss of 3 to 10 days of work per month. Luckily, for me it was only 3 days this month, plus travel and mileage reimbursement. I can still squeeze by, as long as this isn't just the first of several dominoes.

- - - - - - - - - -

*The "Buzz Out Loud" podcasts rock.

Kelsey's in England!

Kelsey flew out yesterday and has arrived safely in England.

She sent an e-mail message that said in part: I just wanted to let you know that I arrived (a few hours ago) safe and sound at Kate's grandparents' house. Everything went fine. It was a bit stressful lugging around the heavy bags, but I learned that chivalry is apparently not dead, because several times as I was approaching staircases with my heavy bag, some kind gentleman would offer to assist me with them (or one that pointed out an elevator that I could use instead).

This won't make any sense to most of you, but a major trip highlight so far was the Dyson Airblade in the ladies room at the San Francisco International Airport (photo above), and an Xcelerator at Heathrow. Kelsey returns to London on Sunday in time for her program orientation on Monday at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts). She will be attending acting classes there through April.

2008 Is Almost Over

I promised that I would post photos of my new buffet once the replacement door arrived. I was a bit surprised when I was assembling the 40+ pieces and found that it had come with two left doors and no right door. (It was also missing a drawer bottom.) The dining room is finally complete, except for some much needed wall art. I'm trying to decide whether to buy something nice or drag out the old acrylics and paint my own.

Below is a photo of the best gift I got for Christmas this year (other than having all the kids at home), an excellent little Craftsman style mantle clock (far right) from Paul & Micah. They picked it up while at the Huntington Library and Museum in Pasadena where there was a Greene & Greene exhibit in honor of the centennial of the Gamble House. The clock is fabulous and goes perfectly with my living room decor. (That's my mom and dad's wedding photo on the left.)



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March 2009


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