Coverage of the Democratic Party Convention has been virtually wall-to-wall over here in the past few days. All aspects of the convention seem to be covered, including a small piece on CNN about the blog media’s role in the event. CNN also covered the occasional piece on the Republicans proving they can be sycophantic to everyone in US politics, no matter what the party.
At 8:30pm last night, prime time for American TV, the major event for 5 of the main TV channels was Vice Presidential candidate nominee John Edwards’ speech. It’s hard to imagine a conference speech from Charles Kennedy or Michael Howard getting so much attention even, let alone their assistants or at primetime. As expected for such a speech it was pretty broad brush, a rousing speech heavy on emotion, light on policy. But there was enough in there for people to disagree, some think it was a good speech, some felt it was tough on the war, some felt it laid out the gifts that the Americans can expect from the Kerry administration should they vote for it.
But, lightweight that I am, I watched for 2 minutes, then turned over to WB and watched Smallville.
Well I’m finally in Denver.
I had to set out at 7:30am yesterday morning to be at Manchester Airport in time to check-in. I was given a ten minute warning when the Taxi driver rang from Headingley to confirm my address. And ten minutes later… he still hadn’t arrived. Absolutely appalling navigation. Eventually we were on our way and after tailbacks caused an accident on the M60 near the Co-op Pyramid, we arrived at the check-in desk. Luckily there was still a long queue to get checked in. Unluckily this didn’t give us much time to get breakfast.
The flight, after some delay, took off just after mid-day, only to have the in-flight entertainment system give up with a loud bump and an alarm sound. After flying on for a bit, the captain decided to err on the side of caution and took us back to Manchester, where we were met by three fire engines.
We had a bit more time to look round the shops while the engineers inspected the systems and decided if the plane was safe. Eventually it was decided we could go, minus the in-flight entertainment, and we took off again a little after 4pm, now running 5 hours late.
I have to say something about BMI, the standard of service was much better than on the US airlines I am used to. Maybe they were trying to make up for the delay and lack of in-flight entertainment I don’t know. With the lack of music and video to distract me for 8 hours of flying, I managed to get through two thirds of Life of Pi. Luckily I have a few books with me with a view to Bookcrossing those I finish.
We finally arrived in Chicago after midnight UK time, so we were already tired. Immigration and Customs went surprisingly smoothly, and we were told we would be put on Flight UA959 to Denver, and we would receive our boarding cards at the gate. Chicago O’Haire airport is a vast sprawling place with 5 terminals, and is not well loved by anyone I know. We eventually made our way to the gate to find the gate for flight 959 was not yet open but there was someone on duty on the gate for flight UA263. After enquiring as to what would happen with our luggage we were assured everything was fine. The flight to Denver was uneventful, the Air-traffic control channel lulling me to sleep for half of it. And when we arrived- guess what- yes, our luggage was an hour and a half behind us.
Still we were given meal vouchers to spend during our wait, even though the only place open to spend them in was a Dominos Pizza concession.
After picking up the hire car we arrived at our hotel at half midnight, over 24 hours after I’d left home. I’m going to be so tired and grumpy later.
A relaxed weekend spent with friends from a good crossection of SAGGA members, some children of SAGGA members, plus one or two GaSCiT staff. We had a fair few boats out including a GP14, a couple of Picos, a Lark, Granville’s Firefly and Claire’s Mirror-Mirracle. Oh and Jessica the large cabined sailing dinghy. We also had a few canoes out and Claire W and Charlotte P had a go at honing their windsurfing skills.
Saturday was overcast, so we started late, but I got to go out twice, once in the Mirracle, and once in a Pico. The sun came out later so everyone ventured outside to read and watch the children and the boats.
In the evening it was improvised barbeque time as the old fixed barbeque had been taken out with the hut. Then a campfire around which there was chat and gossip about life and the state of the Associations.
The next day was wet, but I managed to get out and canoe for about an hour. Most people stayed inside and talked. Lunch was a lamb casserole, and then it was time for everyone to go out in the drizzle to bring the boats in.
So a nice social weekend with some boats. Well done to Gill and Roger for organising, I will be back next year.
OK it nearly fitted.
Anyway tonight after work I shall be heading off to Staffordshire for the SAGGA Water activities weekend. A relaxed weekend spent rowing, sailing, canoing, and lazing about on the side reading.
Catch you on Sunday.
Well work can’t change their minds yet again and change my dates, my period of cover for the project starts next week, and I’ve got the tickets, the dollars, and the tri-band mobile phone all ready for my flight.
I shouldn’t be excited after working here so long, but I’ve not been away on business since this time last year.
Blogging will be sporadic over the next week, but probably less sporadic than most people’s anyway :-).
Last night was spent at Bramhope doing service on the camp site. Mostly this consisted of cutting down and buring excess vegetation, while removing the excess ash causing a 0.5 metre high mound in the centre of the camp fire circle. Quite difficult to do both at once, but both things needed doing and we managed to achieve a fair amount between the 5 of us on site that evening.
John has got wind of SAGGA. In particular our week long summer service camps. He’s keen on having SAGGA to stay one summer, but unfortunately this may not be for a few years as we are at Rhydd Covert this year, Moorhouse in Dounty Durham next year, and we are trying to go to Sweeden the year after. North West are trying to get us to go to Giants Seat near Middleton in greater Manchester North, and we will also be looking to do a southern camp. Still I will try and put our case forward to the appropriate people.
I was astounded to hear on the radio on the way home from work about my UKIP MEP’s comments on employing women of child bearing age. I was going to write up my reaction to this, but Nick Barlow’s said it all already, plus more besides.
So pop over there.
Went out to the cinema last night with Blacksheep Explorers to seek Shrek II. Excellent film, fantastic artwork and animation, great soundtrack, and very funny too. Contrary to what many seem to be saying, most of us thought it was even better than the original.
Over the hills in Tameside some people are not happy. In Audenshaw, where my parents live, many residents were so fed up with the council intent on paving over any green space available in the name of development, that the entire ward turned Lib Dem. Unfortunately this is just 3 Lib Dems, with hardly more Tories against almost an entire council of Labour councilors.
As per national instructions of a few years ago Tameside council has been streamlined to a cabinet with several local assemblies. Audenshaw has been lumped together with Denton to form the Denton and Audenshaw district assembly. And according to my father’s experience things have got a bit childish.
Denton is, in terms of council wards at least, three times larger than Audenshaw. Denton is represented by 9 Labour councilors, Audenshaw by 3 Lib Dems. The mentality of the Labour councilors is such that they will automatically vote against anything that the Lib Dem councilors support, no matter how sensible. If there is any issue relating solely to Audenshaw, the Elected representatives for Audenshaw are outnumbered, and so the affairs of Audenshaw are in the hands of the electorate of Denton.
It seems that the Labour councilors of Denton are trying to punish the residents of Audenshaw for having the temerity of voting for a party other than Labour.