Archive for March, 2009

Day 3:
Today was a big day. We met compatriots at The Stonemason’s Arms (4.8 mi) then to the Wilton Arms (1.7 mi) for the LFGSS’s 2nd Birthday party, a lackluster affair due to weather and poor turnout. A short stop in Chinatown for dinner (terrible!!!) then over to Stockwell (approx. 6 mi) for the evening’s festivities.

Gammagoochie! was a success, at least in the respect that a lot of people showed up. We have to increase the number next time and get people out who the organizers don’t know. The Jooks of Kent and The Nuns (all-girl cover band of The Monks) play Saturday, May 2nd, that’s a show I’m really looking forward to. Each of the three organizers took turns spinning soul music, with a little rock & roll thrown in for good measure. The shows are at The Grosvenor, in Stockwell, a 10 mile ride from Ealing.

Mileage Total: 20.5 mi

Day 4:
Ealing to Hackney (with side trip to Stoke Newington), the Polo BBQ event. I was dead tired from the previous day but determined to make it and enjoy myself. I did, albeit I was a tad spacey. We thought we’d end up taking the Underground partway back but b/c of restrictions on taking bicycles into the deep tunnels, we just rode back (20 mi). KNA-ckered!

Mileage Total, four days: approximately 50 miles.

I’m feeling much more comfortable on this setup, surprisingly so, though I do get caught out on occasion taking my foot out of the wrong pedal cage and of course the light changes and I end up looking like an idiot b/c I can’t get the pedal around fast enough to take off without falling off. Haven’t fallen yet. Am on a bad gear ratio, making my knees hurts, and need to change that, ASAP. Before any more long rides. I’m giving myself today off.

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Project: Ride a Fixed Gear Bike
Objective: Get it together and become comfortable riding fixed gear or give it up and switch back to freewheel.
Time Frame: 30 days

I am giving myself thirty days from yesterday to acclimatize myself to riding fixed gear without throwing the bike off the overpass near our apartment. If, in that time, I don’t get over being locked into movement, increased fear over unforeseen road events, toe strike and (potentially) haven’t learned how to skid stop I’m giving it up and having those freewheel Campy Record hubs built onto the Mavic Open Pro rims I have. Oh, and I must ride a little bit every day.

Day One:
I don’t consider the short test ride we did the day we put the bike together to be Day One, so it is officially last night, when we rode to West Drinks at The Crabtree. Going there I was quite nervous, we went at a slower clip than normal and I didn’t talk much. The boyfriend said he could tell I was nervous, usually he can hear me swearing like a sailor behind him. Being in motion is fine, aside from the added fear over not being able to stop using my legs should something unexpected happen on the road. It’s the stopping and the starting that are a bit odd. On the way back I was much more comfortable, riding at normal speed with the other guys, climbing hills happily and enjoying myself. We even were shown a new way back that shaved about 10 minutes off the route!

Day Two:
Short jaunt to our terrible LBS (local bike shop) to purchase black bar tape that I was assured they had when I called to check on it. After a slightly dorky moment getting off the curb when I had to make a right turn and forgot about the traffic direction thing I was off to Ealing Broadway. When I got to the shop they didn’t have what I wanted. I might have complained but it wasn’t really a big deal and it got me out on the bike.

When I got back, we had a visit from a fellow forumunger getting a massage from the boyfriend; he made us espresso, properly (I’d been burning the coffee and he showed us how to use the cafetiere the right way), and I am now whacked out on caffeine and listening to a friend’s getting ready to go out mix, titled You’ve Got to Look Good to Feel Good. Dancey stuff that will be greatly enjoyed by another friend, I’ll have to pass it on.

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Last night I went on my third social ride with the London Fixed Gear Single Speed forum, the Bridges Ride, where the goal is to do all the major bridges in London. I think it was around 22.5 miles and I heard it was quite a bit faster than the last one, probably due to tailwind (as one person suggested) and a significant decrease in attendance. We started out on the west side of London, at Kew Bridge, and ended up at Tower Bridge. I love these giant rides for the views they tend to afford of London – much more than I’d ever do by myself on any given ride. But there is also something absolutely amazing about riding with a large group of other people. Even when you’re not talking to anyone you feel a part of something, there’s this big bubble of other people around you that’s fantastic.

We went over to Brick Lane, had some salt beef “beigels” (wonky British spelling of bagel), then went to Shoreditch and crashed out at our lovely friend’s lovely apartment. The next morning we all got up, had leftover salt beef bagels, leftover beer, then went out for coffee. Then we wended our way around the Brick Lane area handing out fliers for Gammagoochie!, a garage rock/punk/honky tonk night that the boyfriend is involved with. I looked for new plimsolls, considering mine have a hole in the bottom of one, failed, and met a guy to pickup the Campagnolo Record hubset I won in an eBay auction. After heading over to The Victoria and having lunch with O & K and chitty chatting with a friend of theirs, we rode approximately 12 miles home and will now watch an episode or three of Rome.

My dogs are barkin’! But it’s only to the good, I feel the same as I did the last time I rode, this time I rode more and faster

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(Sung to the tune of a particular Van Halen song)

Got the headset in the mail about 30 mins ago and I’m so excited because last night, just before we left for West Drinks at The Crabtree (which looks different, is that b/c we only see it at night or b/c it’s not blue but possibly burgundy now?), I won the auction for these bike items which are EXACTLY what I needed for my bike. Well, we’re hoping that all the parts in there fit my bike but the most important parts should. Anything that I don’t need can be sold, thereby lowering the final purchase price.

The dude with the bike bits lives in Eastbourne and preferred pickup but would post everything for £20. For about £25 I could go out to Eastbourne, visit the sea, poke around, pick up my bits & go home. That is, if there’s anything in Eastbourne worth looking at. Turns out the guy works in Central London and has offered to save me postage by bringing them in next Tuesday! Estoy contenta! I’m relatively certain that by Thursday of next week my bike will be put together and I can show it around the other bike nerds at West Drinks. Whee!

I tried to make pancakes this morning but they were really just flat little cakes. That’s what happens when you accidentally read the ingredient measurement from one line down when adding the sugar (note to self: 2T sugar does not in any way shape or form approximate 130g of sugar). I can’t even eat them, they’re way too sweet. Que pena!

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It pays to ask specific questions when filling out official British paperwork. “But how will I know what questions to ask?” you may ask, and unfortunately the answer is, “Through trial and error.” Never submit important paperwork until you have pored over every sentence and probably made about 5 or 6 calls to the relevant parties. At least in my case there is a hotline to call in order to have questions about the registration process answered.

Question: I am requesting an application to register as a social worker trained and qualified outside of the UK. Please send an application to the following address.
Answer: Overseas qualified straight forward applications take approximately 16 weeks to complete. Fees for those that qualified overseas, and who do not hold a Letter of Verification, is £155. If you hold a Letter of Verification the fee is £30. You can pay by cheque, or direct debit if you have a UK bank account. If not, you will need to get a cashiers cheque, or bank draft drawn in sterling for the required amount, and send that to us with your application form.

Question: Please let me know how to obtain a Letter of Verification, is that in regards to having attained a degree from a qualified institution or regarding the 130 days of supervised work experience or both?
Answer: Letters of Verification are no longer issued, they were phased out in October 2003 and were replaced by the new registration equivalency procedure.

Question: I received an email a week ago telling me that fees for registration were £30 with a Letter of Verification and £155 without. What is the new fee schedule?
Answer: If you do not have a letter of verification then the International application fee is £155 UK Sterling.

Question: I’m really confused now, I’m getting very conflicting emails. One said I need a Letter of Verification, when I asked how to obtain one I was told they were phased out in 2003 and now I’m getting another email saying without a LoV the fee is £155. Have they been phased out or not?
Answer: I have forwarded your email onto the International team who will respond shortly.
No answer received but I have finally come to understand that prior to October 1, 2003 Letters of Verification were issued and may still be used in the application process if the applicant both possesses one and it is necessary for them to submit it.

Question: A) Page 8 of the application asks for more detailed information about my qualification. Where it says “what were the entry requirements for your course” does “course” mean my entire 4 year bachelor degree process or just the last two years, which we call a “major” in the States, which were my social work classes? B) Does my previous employer have to be the one to endorse it, since I am in the UK and worried about lag time in case my paperwork is lost in transit and I have to start over again by requesting copies of transcripts, etc?
Answer: Please find attached the Country Assessment Guidance for USA which states that you only need to complete questions 1-9 of Part A of Section 2 (Your social work qualification), therefore you do not need to complete page 8.
No mention of Part B of my question.

Question: I am in the UK now, do I have to have my previous employer endorse the paperwork if they are in the US?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Am I allowed to have a notary public (a petty official who is able to verify the provenance of…any paperwork?) certify copies of my paperwork so that it won’t delay the registration process on the off chance that they are lost in transit?
Answer: No, your endorser must see the original copies of any and all papers you are required to submit.

Question: Wait, I’ve just noticed that my endorser must be able to vouch for my suitability as a social worker. She won’t have any idea of that. What do I do? The application doesn’t mention this possibility.
Answer: Well, then you must have a second endorser.

Question: How may I get that paperwork?
Answer: I’ll email it to you right now, what is your email address?

Any emails you send, save them, no matter if you think you have gotten the answer you required and no longer need it because farther down the line you may find that you DO need to know more about what you have previously asked.

To whit: I must fill out much less of the application than originally thought, bonus, but then must send the entire packet first to New York, which includes a SASE and instructions to send it to Minnesota. Certain parts of it will then be signed by a second endorser who will also find a SASE in the bunch in order that it might be returned to me in the UK. Wait. Dangit. I can’t put postage on anything, it will be British postage, which is useless in the US. *tears hair out* AAAARGH!!!!

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Words, Sexy Words

I love it when I discover new variants of fancy words I already know that describe things that can be said less fancily. The way this word hisses as you say it is really quite sexy. V words (victuals, voluptuous, virtuous, vespers) used to be my favorite, though I can see in them the seed of what now gets me going, the sibilance of the S sound. Maybe it was the combination of the two I liked so much.

Word of the Day
March 12

\uh-SEE-dee-uh\ noun

: apathy, boredom

Example Sentence
A restaurant reviewer in SF Weekly once described a brunch as “a stupefyingly lavish buffet spread that will do nothing to erase your acedia.”

Did you know?
“Acedia” comes from a combination of the negative prefix “a-” and the Greek noun “kēdos,” meaning “care, concern, or grief.” (The Greek word “akēdeia” became “acedia” in Late Latin, and that spelling was retained in English.) “Acedia” initially referred specifically to the “deadly sin” of sloth. It first appeared in print in English in 1607 describing ceremonies which could induce this sin in ministers and pastors, but that sense is now rare. “Acedia” now tends to be used more generally to simply imply a lack of interest or caring, although it sometimes still carries overtones of laziness.

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Last night was a surprisingly booze-filled outing to Westies (drinks get-together for those on the London Fixed Gear Single Speed Forum who live in/near West London). Madness, really, by the end of the night I found myself wrestling with someone in the pub! I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was really mad b/c without taking off my earrings, or bracelet, or having a little padding on the floor, I couldn’t go all out.

These past two weeks have been better for me than being in Madrid, I can go out and actually speak to people and though it’s a different culture it’s not quite as different as Spain. The boyfriend is out of school from Thursday to Sunday, we ride our bikes a lot, talk a lot, mess around on the internet and clean house. I’m still trying to wade through the application to register as a social worker trained and qualified outside of the UK. It’s an amazing process. After however many weeks it takes me to gather all the necessary paperwork, fill it out, etc., once I send it in it will be four months before I receive my registration. Only then may I apply for jobs. And if I have the information correct, once I find an agency that is able to sponsor me, I am not guaranteed sponsorship but if I am, they have to submit the paperwork 2 months before start of employ and I must leave the country for no less than 6 weeks. *sigh* It is ridiculous to have so much red tape surrounding a field for which they’re desperate to find more workers.

And since I’m here on a tourist visa I might possibly have to leave the country before I find work, in which case I’ll have to come back, find work and then leave again. I think. But I am trying to do everything by the book so as not to jeopardize my chances of receiving the proper papers and legal standing here.

I’ve purchased a new (used) bicycle frame, we’re going to build it up in the coming weeks. It’s a Joe Waugh and I’ve decided to repaint her and call her Evelyn. I’ve found the original Evelyn’s signature online and plan to have a decal made of it to put on the top tube just at the juncture with the seat tube. It came in the mail this morning at the ungodly hour of 8:15 and we’ve been up ever since, despite tying one on last night. I feel a disco nap is in order so we may be prepared for the housewarming party tonight but since I’m sitting here with a cup of coffeerocket fuel I doubt that will happen.

Can’t wait to see the mix of people we amass tonight, there are people from the forum, some of the boyfriend’s classmates, O & K, and our female roommate’s friends. There will be tacos, guac, salsa, indian rice (brought by an attendee, made by her mom), and other bits and bobs. Our lovely attendees will be bringing booze, so except for the Drambuie the boyfriend mistook for some sort of whiskey, we aren’t contributing much of anything in that area.

The painting of the bedroom is mostly done, it’s a rich robin’s egg blue, there are just a few more places I missed when filling holes in the wall; will do those soon then paint them over.

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I’m not sure about the future of this blog. Who even reads it? I know a few people do but now the focus has changed and I don’t know if there’s a point to it.

I’ve left Spain and am in London, painting rooms in the new apartment, trying to fill out the form to register as a social worker trained and qualified outside the UK, and stressing out. It’s going to be a long time before I can work here and I’m not really interested in being out of work for 7 months. I might not even be able to volunteer!

Anyway, should I continue to write this blog if I’m not talking about living in Spain and learning Spanish? I’ll be back in Spanish classes as soon as possible, but still.

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