LOS ANGELES - Those who know me know that I am an inconvertible Anglophile - or more broadly, a Britanophile, which includes my affection for Scotland and Wales as well. I love things British. My car is British. My wardrobe, to a good extent, is British. I even love the food in London - I think British food has shaken its prevailing perception as indigestible and become quite wonderful. I try to get to Britain for holidays as often as I can. I love things British.
Only a month since I was last there on holiday, I was back in England again in February. This quick return was prompted by a most welcome invitation by convention organizer Anne Lindup to attend the Starfleet Ball in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. What a happy combination this was - a Star Trek convention in England! And what a symbolically appropriate place Bournemouth was, because it could be said that it was in this English seaside town, that our high tech world got its start. The very first wireless exchange took place from Bournemouth between the inventor, Guglielmo Marconi talking to physicist Lord Kelvin on the Isle of Wight in 1898. A bit more than a century later, Star Trek fans, armed with their 21st century wireless communication device -- the cell phone -- gathered in Bournemouth for a weekend of celebration, talks and fantasizing about the science wonders yet to come. The only damper to a super weekend was that I had caught an awful cold with a nagging cough that just wouldn't quit. I felt miserable.
It was my luck that Marina Sirtis was also a guest at the convention. She is an uncanny healer. She told me at the hotel of her secret curative - what she called "Dr. Footlights." "Get in front of the warm light of the footlights," she said, "and that miserable feeling will disappear. You'll be cured." She was so right. The minute I stepped before those bright lights to be embraced by the thunderous welcome of the fans, that wretched feeling miraculously faded. I was functional again. It was great to be with long-time fans that had now become friends. I enjoyed the talks and especially - the highlight of the convention - the Starfleet Ball itself. Everyone was dressed to celebrate. There were people clad as Starfleet officers, alien ambassadors, and other imaginative beings. The men in drag looked "divine" but rather conventionally 20th century. Only my rude coughing interrupted occasionally to remind me that I was sick. But the combination of the Starfleet Ball and "Dr. Footlights" made for a potent curative tonic.
After the convention, I went on into London for a week of theater. It was like reliving history to see the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore" at the Savoy Theater. This theater and Gilbert and Sullivan are inextricably linked in theater history. Richard D'Oyly Carte, presenter of Gilbert and Sullivan's works, built the Savoy Theater in 1881 to present his productions of their operettas. I myself also have a personal history with "H.M.S. Pinafore." I had played the Captain of the Pinafore in college, a fact known by some. Thus, I was sternly cautioned to restrain myself from singing along with the performers. I did as ordered - but I manage to sing along mentally. It was a nostalgic evening of familiar tunes performed sparklingly - both on stage as well as in my mind.
It was a week of eclectic theater going that ranged from classic American comedy, "Arsenic and Old Lace," starring Michael Richards from the TV series, "Seinfeld," to an autobiographical musical by Boy George titled, "Taboo," to Shakespeare's "Tempest" with a towering performance by Derek Jacobi as Prospero. I even included an evening at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden with Verdi's "Falstaff." A very special evening was a hilarious American comedy, "Triple Espresso," produced by my friend Dennis Babcock. He had designated one night "George Takei Night at Triple Espresso" and all my friends were admitted at half price. It was wonderful to share an evening of theater together with long-time friends as well as new fans. Freda and Colin Boydell, dedicated editors of my fan club newsletter, who live down in Cornwall at the very southwestern tip of England, astounded me with their fantastic support. They took a bus all the way into London just to see the show with us and then went back right after a post theater drink in the theater bar with us to make that same long journey back to Cornwall through the night. They had made a similar trip all the way up to Edinburgh, Scotland, when I was performing there in a play titled "Undertow." They are wonderful, devoted friends and I very much appreciate their support.
The week was capped by the opportunity to attend the Olivier Awards Show at the Lyceum Theater. This is the award show named for the great actor Sir Laurence Olivier to recognize outstanding achievements in British theater. One of the many presenters was the royalty of theater herself, Dame Judi Dench. In her inimitable way, she was, at once, elegant and natural. After the show, we visited the nearby St. Paul's Church in Covent Garden, traditionally known as the "actors' church." That reputation was certainly proved true when we spotted Judi Dench come in alone and quietly slip into a pew. She prayed calmly and undisturbed. We left silently. It was a rare and touching moment.
As much as I am an Anglophile, I am an even prouder Californian and more specifically, an Angeleno. I am a native of Los Angeles and I love my hometown. I love its dynamism, its diversity, and our incomparable climate. My English cold quickly disappeared once I got home. The welcoming sunshine was glorious. But, therein lies our drawback as well. Los Angeles is built on land that is a semi-arid desert. The one essential that makes the existence of this great metropolis, the second city of America, possible is water brought in from afar. On the last weekend of the month, I went on a journey that gave me a deeper appreciation for what we take for granted - a glass of water.
A colleague on a board on which I sit, Phil Pace, is the chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides the water for our sun parched metropolitan area. Phil invited me, together with a busload of dignitaries, on a weekend tour of the Colorado River Aqueduct system, which supplies a large portion of the water for southern California. It was an awe-inspiring experience.
We traveled all day across the southern California desert to Lake Havasu straddling the California-Arizona border. Created by Parker Dam on the Colorado River, the lake was pristine and turquoise blue. The calm water lake had transformed the red, mud-roiled water of the Colorado River. Indeed, the name of the lake, Havasu, is the Navaho Indian word for "blue water." This vast body of water is one of three sources of life for southern Californians. That night, we stayed at the lodge in a small nearby camp for the maintenance workers.
The next morning, we were taken to a great concrete building by the dam that housed the pump station. We had explained to us that the water of the lake was pumped up by the sheer might of the centrifugal force created by the row of giant impellers before us. The water was pushed up the rugged mountainside through massive pipes to a high altitude reservoir at Copper Basin. We were then driven up a winding mountain road to that facility. The reservoir was a vast basin but the water level was at about half capacity. We were visiting the aqueduct system at an historic moment. A massive inspection and repair work on the aqueduct - something that had not been done in five decades - was taking place at a cost of $8.2 million. The aqueduct and the reservoir system had been shut down and drained. Yet, the people served by the system were oblivious of this program because a new reserve reservoir, Diamond Valley Lake, was being tapped to supplement the system. It was from this high mountain reservoir at Copper Basin that the water flowed down by gravity through the aqueduct system to make its two hundred and forty-two-mile journey across desert and through mountain tunnels to serve eighteen million people from Ventura to San Diego in southern California. Our bus followed the concrete aqueduct all day across the desert. A monumental engineering achievement along the water's trek is the thirteen-mile long tunnel blasted through the San Jacinto Mountain Range, the third tallest mountain in the state, to maintain the water's flow. Our bus skirted that daunting climb up the San Jacinto range. We arrived back in Los Angeles tired but profoundly appreciative of the colossal human effort and ingenuity that make possible the shower we all looked forward to as well as the drink of ice-cold water that we so took for granted. I am today, both a proud and deeply grateful Angeleno.
Raise your hands--who had an emo phase in the 2000s? I know I did, as did a lot of people around me. All of us heard “It's just a phase" from our parents at some point, but when you're a kid, life as we know it seems so permanent.
Of course, most of the time, it was “just a phase". And looking back, those phases are regrettable, to say the least. Here are some prime examples of that.
What was your biggest/most regrettable "It's not a phase, mom. It's my life." that, in fact, turned out to be just a phase and not your life?
The enthusiasm of a young person can lead to some unexpected changes that parents are just not ready for.
I was VERY into The Transformers when I was a wee lad in the 1980s. One day, I decided to change my name to the name of my favorite Autobot. My name was lame, and I wanted an awesome Transformer name. And I was VERY insistent that my parents only call me by my new name. Calling me by my 'old' name would cause a big fat tantrum on my part.
So for the better part of a week, my poor parents had to call me Wheeljack.
Very 2008.Ariana Grande Shrug GIFGiphy
My cat-ear phase. I wore cat ears every single day. Everywhere. I had like 20 pairs of them. Now everyone thinks I'm a furry.
I find that very cute and wouldn't have thought you'd be furry. Even if you'd had cat mittens. I think my suspicions would have started if you moved a bit like a cat, displayed catlike grooming habits or got a cat mask.
Not gonna lie, that car sounds cool.
I went to a car show once as a teen, and the only newer car there was some chick's PT cruiser. It was hot glittery pink, and at the time I was obsessed. I insisted that one day I would have a hot pink car, with pink seats, pink dash, pink carpets, etc. I was pretty heavily goth at the time, so my parents just rolled their eyes.
These phases can often lead to some very strange fashion choices.
When I was a teenager (early 00s), I was waiting for my mother to pick me up and was wearing one of those sh!tty sports wristwatches. It was itching me so I took it off for a second, but then she arrived and because I was struggling to get it back on my wrist, I looped it around the equally sh!tty chain I had around my neck in a rush to get out the door.
My mom asked me about it in the car, and I told her this was my new style and I planned to wear it like that every day. She rolled her eyes.
I wore that watch on a chain around my neck every single day for 3 years or so. There are even professional family photos where I'm wearing it because I refused to take it off.
One day, the chain broke and I lost the watch. I was in high school at that point anyway and it was a major lady repellent, so... phase over.
Not everyone can be Eminem.slim shady eminem GIFGiphy
Baggy pants, being a rapper someday and being a professional skater.
When I was about 14 and Eminem was starting to blow up I bought myself a keyboard with a synthesizer. It cost like $200 which was all the money I had saved up. It finally came (this was way before amazon prime and such) and I tried rapping.
My sister told me "you're effing horrible" and I gave up right then and there.
This should be a sin.
I used to button the top buttons of polo shirts.
I must say, this is probably the worst one I've read.
Looking back at our regrettable choices, all we can do is cringe.
An optimistic look at bad tattoos.check me out season 3 GIF by PortlandiaGiphy
Being a tattooer. Regrettable because of those poor people who have my awful doodles on their bodies.
Take heart! My favorite tattoo is the one I drunkenly got my buddy to do in his living room one year during March Madness! It's dumb and frankly mediocre? But such a good story and has such good associations I smile every time I see it.
My friend and I decided we were going to open a bar in Jamaica with exotic snakes in glass cages in the walls at each booth. We convinced ourselves it would be amazing for at least two years in college. It was going to be called Fredro's.
My entire family made fun of me for it. Once we got out of college, we realized it was not feasible and joined the office grind. We're also two white guys with no ties to Jamaica.
Talk about cringey.
I wore a top hat with an anime pin on it for around a year. Met one of my current best friends while wearing it, idk how he could bear to speak to me after that.
My weirdest phase was probably when I insisted on wearing knee-high rainbow socks to school every day. But honestly, I don't regret it. I rocked those socks, and I wish I still have a pair.
To all the people out there cringing over their past selves, remember that you were just a kid, and to be easy on yourselves. After all, we've all been there
It should not take much for a consumer to be satisfied with the products they purchase.
Yet, too often, manufacturers who oversell their products fail to deliver what is promised and are inevitably left with angry customers who want their money back.
Whether the merchandise was defective or ridiculously overpriced, strangers online shared some of their worst purchases when Redditor BooksMcGee asked:
"What is the worst product you ever paid money for?"
Short Life Span
"This NERF gun that's supposed to shoot tennis balls for your dog. I bought it cause I thought you could load 3 at a time and shoot them far, but it's just one and it's super loud and the gun broke after like 4 shots (reading reviews later, this was a common issue)."
"There were these toys called squiggles when I was a kid and the commercials made it seem like the toy was alive. It looked like you would get this crazy little fuzzy worms as pets that would follow you around an so sick tricks and listen to your every command. It was really just a piece of fluffy string tied to another piece of string with googly eyes on it. People may say that it was supposed to be a magic trick but they should also explain that to a 5 year old who really wanted a pet."
"Not their fault, but I paid $70 for a Yugioh card hours before it was limited to one copy. Probably dropped to $20 by the end of the day."
These purchases were bad for your bum.
"A bicycle that literally fell apart before I made it out of the parking lot."
Not Worth Sitting On
"Joybird brand couch. Was so terrible, we returned it. Still hard to believe, we returned a freaking couch."
Going Nowhere Fast
"A 2000 VW Beetle (used)."
"Biggest piece of sh*t that literally had to have just about everything replaced before 100k miles and would still break down every time you left the driveway to the point where the tow-truck driver knew us on a first-name basis."
"An Oldsmobile Achieva from one of those buy here pay here places. I should have known better, but I was young and thought I was getting a good deal. I had the thing for about 5 months, I drove it for maybe 3 weeks. The rest of the time it was either in the shop, or in my driveway waiting until pay day so I could afford to fix whatever broke on it this week. Eventually told the dealer just take it, I'm not paying for it any more. He said nope, and I will make sure your credit is ruined. I said well you sold me a lemon, do you really want to go this route? He came and took it. Never reported anything to credit. I heard he got sued by several other people who sold sh**ty cars too and eventually went out of business."
"Always amazes me when I see them driving around still, I can only assume there's enthusiasts who just love repairing horribly designed cars."
These Redditors were not convinced what they ingested was edible.
"A box of plain Cheerios. Thought they were honey nut, poured a bowl, was very disappointed."
"If I wanted to taste cardboard, I'd just eat the box."
"A burnt frozen pizza at the air and space museum cafe in DC. I Don't wish that experience on anyone. There are some amazing restaurants in DC, don't settle."
The following electronics just gave off a bad charge.
"Asus Transformer Pad TF700"
"This was one of those early 'high end' Android tablets that was grossly underpowered, and it showed. Thing was slow as sh!t in no time flat. Rookie mistake investing into shiny new tech while they were still working all the bugs out. Think I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $350-400 for it..."
"macbook pro 2018 13" touchbar. 2 years old and dead (battery). they're asking $300-$400 to change the battery. malfunctioning keyboard with double presses and missing presses. that's a lot of money for bad design."
"Past winter my old room heater broke down and I had to buy a new one. Went to a store nearby and somehow got convinced to buy a very costly heating device.. It's also my fault, since there were some sligthly cheaper options around, but nope. I wanted the expensive one thinking it will make my small room a volcano with little to no effort/cost (that's also what the seller told me). Long story short the device wasn't doing ANYTHING. No significant temperature changes, too much space, a weird noise, and was doubling my previous device in utility cost. I still gloom over those 80 euros.."
Some of my disappointing purchases was clothing, but only because I purchased them online. Unless they are a brand I'm familiar with, I'm usually fine with buying new jeans off of their websites.
But when it comes to graphic tees only available on specialty shops, an M-size shirt is not necessarily the same size as those found in other reputable stores.
I bought a medium sized T-shirt from a boutique store online because I loved the look of the design. But when it arrived, the supposed medium fit me like an XL.
At least I gained a fierce cleaning rag from this impulsive purchase.
We all know the job interview butterflies.
We sit outside the office or wait for the phone call and our foot taps at rapid speed. We run through some rehearsed answers, but worry that they'll ask a slew of things we never even considered. We try not to sweat too much.
Often, it turns out alright. We may not get the job, but we're respectable, give solid answers, and learn a lot about the place we're trying to get hired.
Other times, however, all of our far-fetched worries seem to come to life.
Curious to hear just how bad an interview can go, Redditor UIGrimsen asked:
"What was your worst job interview?"
Plenty of people had some truly bizarre stories to share. Part of these train wrecks were bad luck, and part were the insane antics of the people giving the interview.
But for us, they're simply hilarious.
"I applied for a job in a Planetarium, the interview was conducted in a big dome."
"Problem was, another part of the Planetarium staff was doing fire alarm tests during the interview. The dome amplified the sound so much, it was deafening. The interview staff acted like nothing was going on. We had to shout so we could hear each other."
"My mom raises chickens … and during COVID one of them got sick (not COVID). She had it inside to feed water hourly to try to nurse it back to life. My mom has to run an errand so I'm in charge of this chicken for the afternoon."
"I was on a phone screening with a candidate for a position in my office and this chicken starts having a seizure and dies on the middle of this phone call. I look over and it's laying almost like it was crucified."
"The candidate heard the commotion and asked if everything was ok … Which I relied 'yeah, the chicken just died.' "
"She withdrew her application the next morning."
"1.) I walked in as the HR lady farted"
"2.) it was a small office with no windows"
"3.) I asked her questions about their employee retention rate that she couldn't answer"
"4.) the fart stayed the duration of the interview"
"5.) I hope the fart got the job, because I didn't want it"
A Very Instructive Moment
"Applied to work at a vet clinic. Veterinarian did the interview while spaying a cat, apparently one of the cleanest and quickest surgeries they do. I fainted."
"Was not offered the job (after I woke up)."
Others shared moments when their excitement was deflated instantly. They encountered such closed-minded interviewers that there was almost no need for discussion.
That Bus Perk
"As an interviewee It was when I applied to a job as a Junior programmer and in 5 minutes the guys goes 'look, I'll be honest, there is no job, you can get an internship, no pay, we offer the bus pass' "
Plains, Trains, and Automobiles Later...
"I took vacation days to interview, bought my own plane ticket, and paid for my own hotel. First thing the interviewer said was, 'I have no intention of hiring you. This is just a courtesy because I knew your brother.' I had 8 more hours left in my interview day. It was painful."
"They ended up offering me the position many weeks down the road because they couldn't fill the position. I politely declined and got a very passive aggressively worded survey to fill out explaining why I passed."
There's a Right Answer??
"Wanted to work at H&M, got interviewed by the worst person ever."
"One question was and I am legit not lying, 'What is your favorite color and why?' "
"I answered 'baby blue because it's calming and not too harsh to the eyes.' My interviewer then said Oooh, sorry! Red is what we were looking for. And then proceeded to show me the exit."
Last, some shared the times they arrived for the interview excited and enthusiastic, but quickly learned how out of their league the position was.
These interviews looked more like brutal interrogations from the FBI than job interviews.
All the Principals
"Fresh out of college, I was looking for my first teaching job. I applied at a small district for an elementary school position."
"I walked in, expecting the principal and a few teachers. Instead I had the superintendent of the district, some high-level admin, and every single elementary school principal in the district. Probably 15 people in all. They peppered me with questions for 45 minutes."
"I had zero experience, just my student teaching. I did not get the job."
Shove Your Masters
"Finished up a masters degree in physics. Got a phone interview and was was told it would be an introductory chat. Was confronted with a technical interview panel (over the phone) of 6 PhDs, 4 of which had graduated from the research group I had just left. We walked through my research project in about 10 minutes."
"Then the pain began... felt like I'd only learned kindergarten physics."
An Extremely Intimidating Position
"Got an interview for a job as a floor manager at a gigantic steel foundry. I have some background in metallurgy so I thought it'd fit. It paid $90k and I was qualified resume-wise. I got there, turned out it was a group interview with three other applicants, to hear the pitch."
"If something messes up, the company loses $100,000 (some shockingly high amount, I don't remember if it was exactly 100k) per hour and it's your sole responsibility to fix it. They said you'd have to be on call 24/7 to handle anything that comes up."
"I got to the solo part out of curiosity and the interviewer they put me with said something to the effect of 'I know this job sounds bad, but actually it's even worse.' I was desperate for a job because I didn't land one straight out of college, but I was glad not to hear back from them after the interview..."
Here's hoping you don't have a job interview scheduled and this just amplified your anxiety 1000%. The nice thing to remember is that these horror stories are few and far between.
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Believe it or not, Canadians don't live in igloos or freeze to death all year round. If you go to Germany, it's highly unlikely that every German you meet will be cold and uninviting. Hop over to the United Kingdom and you're not going to run into tons of people with terrible teeth and bad hygeine.
These are called stereotypes, my friends, and it's best you leave them at the door. People were more than willing to strike down some stereotypes about the countries they know and love after Redditor HelloThere577 asked the online community,
"What are some false stereotypes about your country?"
"When most folks envision Scotland, they think of kilts, whisky, bagpipes, and red hair.
All of those things exist (and are common) here.
People might also imagine verdant hillsides, rocky bluffs, and skies that randomly switch between clear and cloudy.
Once again, that's completely accurate.
However, one stereotype which has absolutely no foundation, in reality, is the assumption that Scotsmen are constantly hunting haggis. In fact, haggis-hunting only takes place in February (which is the season for deosil haggis) and May (which is the season for widdershins haggis). For the rest of the year, the haggis is more or less left alone."
"I am originally from Portugal and moved to the United States. Around 80% of the people that I have met thought Portugal was either in South America, owned by Brazil, or a part of Spain. When I first came here it made me really sad."
"If the wildlife hurts or kills you in Australia, it's generally because you are f***** stupid. You are 10000 times more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident in Australia than by anything in nature."
This is likely very true, but knowing me, I'd probably be easy pickings for one of those huntsman spiders.
"That we end every sentence with "eh" and drink maple syrup by the gallon and have moose and igloos in our backyards."
You mean... you don't?
Just kidding. Canada is lovely––visit sometime. It's a lovely place.
The United States
"That we always have a shotgun at the ready. A shotgun is a home gun where a pistol is your everyday gun. Your revolver is your dress gun, for special occasions. Then of course your assault rifle is for when you're kicking back and cracking open a cold one with the boys."
"Anything related to The Sound of Music."
Probably gets annoying afer a short while. Great movie, though. Still dreaming about a trip to Salzburg.
"A lot of Americans seem to think we're inbred because we're an island. This is dumb, because it's a very big island (10th biggest in the world), and it's not isolated, we've been invaded, invading, and trading with the mainland for thousands of years."
"That we are car thieves. Crime was widespread in Poland in the 90s but today crime (including theft) rate in Poland is low."
"We do gesticulate a lot, but we definitely don't yell like crazy."
It seems Italian Americans are the ones who could learn a thing or two about being more reserved.
"Iceland. We're not some utopian Disneyland filled with quirky superstitious people that all believe in elves."
Remember: The world is an enormous place filled with people from all walks of life, and they don't take too kindly too stereotypes. Expand your horizons by having conversations with as many people as possible. You'd be surprised how quickly your preconceived notions will vanish.
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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