Friday, May 1, 2009

London Blitzed...

...or, how I managed to gain weight on British food.

Just got back last night from a week in London. We went last year in March but in 5 days never got to see enough. There's lots more to see and do and we'll be back. And they actually speak English there, sort of, so navigating that aspect of traveling abroad is one thing off the table. And after last year's horrible dollar to pound 2 for 1 deal, the drop in the pound to about $1.50 made things much more reasonable.

And the food really was good and the beer was even cold - sometimes. We finished the week with a fish 'n chips dinner at Rock 'n Sole Plaice in the West End. (Our young Albanian waiter was not easy to understand, but he thinks it will be the next in place to go in a few years.) Despite miles of walking every day, I am a blimp. We didn't realize the London marathon was taking place on Sunday, the biggest marathon in the world. But as crazy gardeners and with rain expected the next few days, we opted for Kew Gardens on a beautiful day. But if I thought I could lose some blimpiness just by watching, I would have been there.

A rainy Monday was spent indoors, first at the Imperial War Museum and then at the Tate Britain. The Holocaust exhibit at the War Museum is spectacular. I almost hate to go there, but the films of Nazi propaganda and how effective they were in developing those tools, with the big lie as a major operative, I was reminded of certain things back home, like the BloomKlein mayoral control blitz. But I won't go there – for now.

A day trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury on a beautiful day, was fabulous. No one seems to know what Stonehenge was really all about. I think they were used to hold straw polls for school Community Education Councils.*

We loved the Oyster card for transit and The Tube puts NYC transit to shame. We used it many times a day and never waited more than 2-3 minutes for a train and even late in the evening, on the fringes of the city, the longest wait was 5 minutes. There's lots more to talk about, but that's for another time and another blog.

And yes, we caught another Zombies concert like we did in London last March and in NYC in July. One of their most famous songs, She's Not There, was clearly written with Randi Weingarten in mind. I discovered the original lyrics in a dusty Zombie archive in the British Museum.

Well, no one told me about her
The way she lied [about the 2005 contract]

Well, no one told me about her

How many people [ATRs, in the rubber room, and in Washington DC] cried

Well, it’s too late to say you’re sorry [for agreeing to merit pay, longer days and year, potty duty, etc.]

How would I know, why should I care [hell, I'm retired]

Please don’t bother trying to find her

She’s not there [and we don't mean physically]....

We'll post later about Randi missing in action in Washington DC as reported by Washington Teacher Candi Peterson. NYC Educator has a guest column today by Peterson, who closes with:

While it pains me to post negative information about my union local, I am more pained about the inaction from the American Federation of Teachers especially given that our parent organization has a contract with us. Several members of the Washington Teachers’ Union recently appealed to AFT President Randi Weingarten for assistance in getting our general vice president back to work representing teachers. Several members even recommended that mediation was necessary in a series of emails. Randi did report that while she did inquire about what was happening with Saunders leave of absence, presently she is preoccupied dealing with cases involving the swine flu virus.

Let's see now, there are exactly how many cases in NYC involving swine flu? Randi is probably working on a cure.

While in England, I never got to check out our anti-testing colleagues in Britain Chanting teachers welcome vote to boycott primary tests

I had a loaner Blackberry from Verizon so I could keep up with email but the Morgan Hotel (great location with reasonable price near the British Museum) computer barely crawled, so I couldn't do any updating on the blog. And there was so much to update. My inbox is loaded and the only way to get all of it out is to post the materials on Norms Notes over the next few days and put up links on Ed Notes.

Off to the gym to try to get less blimpy.

Some NYC School Officials Are NOT Happy Campers

Nearly one-third of “grassroots” organizations for mayoral control received no-bid contracts

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