05 Jul

Walking

Since moving to the UK, we have been walking so much more than we used to back home in San Diego. We don’t have a car here, and we really don’t need one at all. We walk or take public transportation wherever we go. I love it.

When we move back to the States my dream is to be able to live within walking distance of a main part of town for our shopping. Sadly, things aren’t as planned as well in the States as every city now is predicated upon roads and freeways for cars, but I’m hoping that we can figure something out.

When Tiana and I visited California back in March-April, I realized that there were a few times that we took cars to places that were easily within a mile or so of walking. I was appalled at myself that we didn’t just walk to these places and back. It really would not have taken that much longer, and we would have saved on gas, money, and gained exercise: a win-win.

Well, I’m off to walk to the high road in Beeston to get some toothpaste and read at a coffee shop for the rest of the afternoon.

06 Jun

Rainy Sunday Long Overdue Update

What it looks like outside right now

It’s a very rainy Sunday here in Nottingham, England. (It is raining in the picture above, but you can’t see it.) We haven’t updated here in quite some time. I have occasionally blogged over at my blog, and Tiana has had the more interesting occasional updates on her blog as well. We just haven’t really thought to update this one, where it would make more sense to update people on what we’re up to. Enough apologies for now.

Much has happened since we’ve moved to Nottingham. Tiana has secured a very good job at Framework, “a homelessness charity providing housing, support, training, care and resettlement services,” which is based in Nottingham. I have been plugging away at my PhD research. I haven’t produced any chapters yet (that will happen in the 2010-11 year!), but I have been steadily churning out bits of writing for my superviser as well as for three different conferences I attended and presented at in the months of March – May of 2010.

Assuming the position.

In August 2009 we moved to a different part of Nottingham called Beeston. It is much closer to the University–about a 20-minute walk. As a result, I have done much more walking on a weekly basis, to and from campus, as well as walking with Tiana on a regular basis into the ‘high road’ area of Beeston to do shopping in the various charity shops, grocery shopping, and making visits to the coffee shops to get reading done.

Stef & Jeremy's wedding! Great kiss, amazing dress! Fantastic friends!

In addition to making a visit to the States in March-April to witness the marriage of our friends Stef & Jeremy (pictured above), we have also had an exciting time welcoming many of our friends and family who have visited us. In March, Tiana’s brother Stephen and his wife Shannon, Jenn Tracy, and my colleague Jeff Olsen Biebighauser at various overlapping stages; in April shortly after arriving back from the States (and narrowly missing the annoyance of the Icelandic volcano!), our friends Gwen and Davy stopped by; and in May, Stef and Jeremy came and visited us as part of their honeymooning to Europe. It is always welcome to visit our respective homes in California (San Diego, Merced, and Concord) but it is also refreshing to have a bit of ‘home’ come visit us as well.

It is always nice to spend time together in the evenings. Before, when I was working on my MA, I was also working full time, so we had very little time to ourselves. But now I just read and think hard all day long, and then when Tiana gets home, we tend to watch a lot of television shows–at this point still mostly American fare like The Wire, LOST, Firefly, Freaks & Geeks, Fringe, FlashForward, Parks and Recreation, and we’ve also just started Treme. We’ve completed or caught up to all the above shows except for Parks & Rec and Treme.

One day when Tiana came home from work I had made her an 'Afternoon Tea' dinner -- she loved it!

Two fun ‘outdoor-sy’ things happened for us in our back garden (what they call back yards here). The first is that we got a six-foot fence installed on the left side of our property. We have some neighbours who are often rather unruly, and we were desiring some privacy to better enjoy our garden. We asked our letting agency if they could communicate with the landlord to install one, and they agreed! So that all went in for free, which is basically a miracle if one is familiar with the do-nothing-at-all attitude of most letting agencies here. The second cool thing that very much excited Tiana was that we got a little fire-pit for our back garden, so that we can roast s’mores. Shortly after my 30th birthday while Stef & Jeremy were still visiting, we had a small gathering of Tiana’s friends and co-workers and had a nice time enjoying the warm England weather.

Enjoying our new fire-pit.

That is about it for now. I can still be found on Twitter, where I usually update a few times a week. I have stopped reading about 99% of the blogs I used to read, mainly because of time constraints and lack of interest. It really does suck up a lot of pointless time (depending upon what one reads). On the plus side I feel like I have gained a lot of that time in the reading and especially the writing I have been turning in to my superviser since January, about one or two papers a month. It feels really good to some some real material with which to work.

One last thing before I forget. My superviser’s long-awaited book on Darwin and evolution will be coming out in a few months. We have an announcement for it up here. I am sure I will post about it again once it is released!

21 Aug

Update from Nottingham

From: http://tiana.tianaanderic.com

We’ve landed!

After 12 hours of flying and 2 hours of train rides, we made it to Nottingham safely! Flights were great – no hassles – slept a good amount. We really had a great first day in the UK. Here is the play-by-play (sorry it took me so long!):

We decided to fly into Manchester since it is much closer but the downside was that we did not get the added benefit of transport provided by the University when one flies into London. Granted, the trains were easy enough to figure out and were at a fair price but OH MY, our luggage proved to be a burden! We had two large suitcases, two medium size, two carry-on roller bags, AND backpacks! Initially, we were stoked because there were carts from station to station. But then there weren’t. And we wanted to say swears but didn’t.

We took a taxi from the train station in Nottingham straight to the letting agency to sign the lease and pick up keys. When we arrived, we decided to leave our stuff in the taxi; a decision I was not so fond of but didn’t have much choice. We sat down and began looking over documents. Oddly (or not?), the letting agents assumed we would sign the lease without even viewing the flat. When I brought this to their attention, they didn’t really blink an eye. I felt annoyed. Here I was in a strange dungeon of an office with my luggage sitting out front with a stranger in a new country and I was being asked to sign a lease for an apartment that I hadn’t even seen??!! We decided to just go for it; sign the 6 month lease and get to our apartment. Thankfully, the taxi driver was kind enough to wait without driving off with our luggage. We were off to 85 Forest Road West!

No sooner than stepping out of the taxi, Anthony (Eric’s friend who attends the University and lives only two doors down with his wife Hayley) was right there asking if we needed help with our luggage! We hauled it up and got the “tour” from one of the letting agents (apparently thanks to me for putting up a fuss). To all of our surprise there was NO furniture to be seen (yes, we were told it was furnished)! Then while giving us directions on how to use the hot water and such, found out the water was not working properly. The agent assured us the plumber was on the way and that the furniture would be delivered shortly. Anthony kindly accompanied us through this whole process and at times even made calls to ensure everything was being addressed as promised (something we need to get used to, apparently).

The apartment is nice – and big! It has lots of big windows letting the sunlight in…the front bay window looks out over a huge tree :) The apartment has vaulted ceilings and in the living room there is ornate molding across the top of the ceiling!! I will admit it smells funny though. Anthony says they all do because of the dampness.

While we waited, Anthony kindly invited us to his place and offered to make lunch. Yummy pasta. It was nice hanging out there for a bit, sitting around on their couches after hauling bags around for two hours. They have a very scary cat though and she gets scarier when you are scared of her. Yikes!

Mike (another of Eric’s friends from the Theology dept at UofN) was at Anthony’s staying with them for a bit since he was boarding a train to Scotland the next morning (today) to begin his new PhD program in Scotland! He was excited to finally meet Eric and had a huge bag of kitchen stuff to get us started! We had a great time chatting with them, waiting around for our beds until I noticed a large truck out the front window! It was our beds and couches!! Mission accomplished. We set off to put them together.

Later in the afternoon Anthony offered to show us the tram route that took us to Asda where we could pick up cleaning supplies and some of the basics (note: Asda is owned by Wal Mart but Anthony assured us they have better practices here?..). The stores are crazy! People just kinda navigate their own way around the store with no semblance of order and it feels really chaotic. There weren’t even that many people in the store! We grabbed what we needed and were outta there :)

We then showered for the first time in a LONG time (yes, the water was now working) and got ready before walking down to a favourite local pub that Mike and Anthony raved about. Jeff (yes, another of Eric’s friends….thank goodness for blog networks, eh?!) and his wife Meghan were meeting us all there for some drinks and dinner. I wasn’t looking forward to it simply because I was so tired – and Eric was too. This would be a good way to keep us awake though, so we can begin to acclamate to the time change. I’m glad we went because it was real fun! The guys were great and funny and I enjoyed meeting Meghan! Her and I got to talk a bit about job hunting (she’s also looking for social work type jobs) and possible hang-out time while our husbands attend the Rome conference for five days the beginning of September. Jeff and Meghan just got married this summer – he just finished his first year of PhD work here at UofN and she moved here to be with him for the remainder (they are both from the states as well). Before we all left, Jeff and Meghan invited us over for dinner at their place this week and Meghan is going to show me to the Ikea and other shopping for STUFF!

All in all, it was a wonderful day! Knowing people here has made a huge difference, I think. It feels so much more manageable to have people point you in the right direction and even accompany you on your first ventures out. Huge thanks to Anthony for that.

Today has been much less exciting (for me anyway). I slept in while Eric got up and walked the 3 miles to campus to meet with a guy about the conference materials that need to be printed (don’t worry, in the future he’ll take the bus but wanted to get a feel for the city a bit on foot).

The rest of my day included welcoming the final delivery of furnishings for our flat (two coffee tables, two night stands, two dressers and two wardrobes — note: we have NO closets. No storage. Time for me to get my creativity on!); cleaning the entire kitchen top to bottom and washing all of the dishes handed down to us; putting the guest room bed together; making a large list of items to buy; walking with Eric down to a Chinese restaurant for dinner (neither of us really had lunch today); going to an international market for some groceries; and finally, making our first pot of loose-leaf tea in our new kettle while eating some chocolate and writing this post.

There you have it.

Eric is going to upload pictures of our apartment. Of course it’s empty save our bedroom where the vacuum bags of clothes have blown up :) You can consider them the “before” pictures.

Alright, its midnight here so we must get to bed! Love to all! Miss you!

13 Jun

Packing on a Friday night

It’s 9pm on a Friday night and Tiana and I are winding down from an evening of packing things up. Our place is a pretty crazy mess. We are moving into our friend Stef’s house a month and a half before we actually leave for England to save a little bit on rent and get our deposit back early.

The little things that take up the bulk of our small apartment are DVDs, books, and crafty stuff. I’ve already sorted out my DVDs into ones to sell (already sold some) and ones to keep. My books are in three piles: 1) Ones to sell/thrift store, 2) Ones to store for 3 years, 3) ones to take with us to Nottingham. By far, the 2nd pile is the largest, making its way into multiple storage bins. Well actually, there is a 4th pile call the recycle bin where some really awful books (that shall go unnamed) may actually find their way into toilet paper one day. This vaporous pile is actually extremely small, thankfully.

Early this week, my unconditional offer from the University of Nottingham arrived! This means I can start working on my UK Visa application (which I already have, and it’s a really long form to fill out). Also, Tiana’s new passport came in the mail yesterday, so we’re basically ready to proceed with all the official paperwork stuff.

And lastly, two weeks ago we bought our one-way plane tickets to England! We are flying into Manchester on BMI airlines and taking a train the rest of the way into Nottingham.

We are still working on finding an apartment, though. And Tiana will have to find a job. So, there are still a few big things to work out.

18 May

Hyatt Hotel Stay

Tiana and I are currently chilling at the Hyatt Hotel & Resort in Mission Bay, San Diego. Yes, we’re staying in a hotel in our own town. But, we’re not paying! We graciously received a gift from Tiana’s work (Catholic Charities) along with a bunch of her co-workers who are also staying here.

It’s a pretty sweet place, right on the water. It’s so sweet, apparently, that they sometimes forget to only book one room per group, and so last night while we were eating dinner on our balcony, another couple came into the room! It was a bit awkward, yeah. We told them to go back to the front desk and get another room, and I called the front desk to let them know. We could have been playing a totally scandalous game of Settlers of Catan and they could have walked in on us!

The pool here is totally rad and has a really cool family atmosphere with waterslides and such. Speaking of, Tiana and I are going to meet our friend Lilian and her family by the pool for some more hangout time.

Hurray for updating our blog!

15 May

Big Updated: Thesis and News

Last Friday, I passed my MA thesis defense! My thesis title is “Contradiction, Paradox, and Irony: Philosophical and Theological Stances of Hegel and Kierkegaard.” For Geoff and Myles who asked, there it is.

John Wright was my adviser, and my two readers were Dr. Rob Thompson and Chris Simpson (my ‘external’ reader at LCCS). The defense went rather well, and it was oddly a lot of fun. My committee asked some great critical questions, and they tell me I handled them well. Turns out they are passing the thesis “with distinction,” which I’m extremely humbled about, as apparently I didn’t think this was even an option.

I know many have already asked to read the thesis, but I may have forgotten a few names. If you’re still interested, please leave me a comment below and I’ll e-mail it your direction (just put your e-mail address in the e-mail box, no need to put it in the comment itself–I’ll see it). The thesis is around 110 pages double-spaced, ~41,000 words. I’d love to hear your thoughts, further questions and criticism.

The evening after the defense, we had a small, casual graduation reception. The purpose of this particular reception was to allow our parents to meet the professors in the department. I introduced my parents to all the professors and it was a really pleasant time, enjoying finger foods and the like. As time was getting short with my parents needing to help my sister Jenna move out of her dorm, we had just enough time to introduce my parents to one remaining prof, Dr. Rob Thompson — one of my thesis readers. With apologies to Dr. Rob Thompson, Hegel, Schelling, and most of all my parents, the conversation ended with something that very much sounded like this:

My Dad: I have to commute a total of 3 hours every work day. It really puts a strain on my back. Of course Janet here only —

My Mom (Janet): Yeah, I only have to commute about 6 miles to work!

Dr. Thompson: When I was in Nampa, Idaho [at NNU] I would get annoyed if it took me longer than 5 minutes to get to work.

Me: Wow, yeah, it takes me 25-30 minutes to get to work in the mornings.

Dr. Thompson: The delays were almost always caused by a cow in the road. There’s another cow in the road this time–it was always a cow.

Dad: That happens a lot where we live too, and it gets incredibly dangerous. Not too long ago a whole heard of Blank Angus got out and were on the road — and you couldn’t see them!

Me: Whoa! That’s like the “black ice” of cows!

Them: [laughter]

Me again: Even better, it’s like “the night in which all cows are black!!!”

Them: [crickets]

Graduation the day after the defense was really cool. Apparently, graduating makes people forget awful philosophy jokes. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really think much about graduation until I was actually there. I was so focused on just getting the thesis done, and then trying to not focus on much at all in the week and a half of relaxation before the defense, that I kind of forgot that graduation is a big deal. That, and the PLNU campus turns into a crazy zoo. They have split the graduation up in to one graduate graduation and two undergraduate graduations, so it smooths things over a bit regarding the zoo factor. I must admit that it was nice to feel young at graduation: most of the people were slightly older than me, if not twice my age who were graduating. Aside from a friend of mine who is 65 years old in the MA theology program (and he has the energy and heart of a 20-year-old!), most of the students in our program are about 3 years younger than me, at least.

After graduation, Tiana threw a graduation party for me at our good friend Ester’s house. It was a totally awesome time of relaxation and conversation with good friends and family. In addition to my parents and sister, Tiana’s mom, sister Shalina, brother Stephen, and sister-in-law Shannon where all there as well. I was really thankful for being surrounded with good, loving people.

Okay, now rewind a couple days to Thursday morning, the day before my thesis defense. It was already a roller coaster of a week. I wake up, check my e-mail and decide to check out this page (I’d been hitting the refresh button on it all week). My name is printed on that page on the bottom, which means… It’s official: I GOT THE OVERSEAS RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP!!! This means that the funding for my PhD tuition is basically paid in full! (technically it’s for a year of funding but it ‘renews’ each year upon ‘satisfactory progress’ or something like that). I was pretty emotional and immediately called Tiana who was still on her way to work to let her know the good news. She was super happy and relieved — we were not planning on taking out more loans on top of the undergraduate loans that we are still paying off. And then I called John Wright, who was also incredibly stoked. So, the next day I went into my thesis defense with the semester-long weight of worrying about the ORS lifted off my shoulders.

Tiana and I decided to wait until our parents arrived in San Diego before telling them. Now that they know and are super excited for us, they are all incredibly eager to visit us in Robin Hood country. So now, what remains is trying to figure out all the details on how exactly we can get over there so that they have somebody to visit. We’ve already received some extremely helpful tips from a couple of students already in the program (thanks Anthony and Aaron!). And, Tiana also found this incredible resource which, although that guy attends Durham University, should still apply pretty well to the UK in general.

By September 22, I will begin my PhD studies in theology at the University of Nottingham to study under Conor Cunningham. We hope to move to Nottingham a month ahead of that time to find a place to live and do some job hunting for Tiana. There will not be any employment restrictions placed upon on her from my student visa–the only restrictions will be on me. I will most likely continue doing work for The Centre of Theology and Philosophy, and perhaps some assorted side projects for some extra scratch, but my full-time computer programmer days are coming to an end. There’s a bunch of other details of the move to work out, of course, but this post has gone on long enough, and I’m sure we’ll figure those things out in due time.

Thanks to everybody for all the encouragement and conversations along the way. Special thanks to my wife Tiana for her encouragement, laughter, for reminding me what is really important, and most of all her love. She’s a keeper.

I honestly have no idea how we ended up in this position to be able to move to Nottingham for PhD work, but we are really very thankful for everything.

25 Oct

Update from Tiana about the Fires in San Diego

Hello family and friends!

Well, I imagine most of you have heard by now that San Diego is experiencing another firestorm, only this time, its kinda worse. “The four major fires ripping across San Diego County have burned nearly 300,000 acres and destroyed or damaged 1,250 homes and 100 businesses since Sunday. More than 500,000 people have been told to evacuate…” but I wanted to let you know that Eric and I are not included in that evacuation request. We are safe although we’re keeping a close eye on what’s going on by going online every couple hours. If you zoom in a few notches on this fire map, http://www.signonsandiego.com/firemap/, we are pretty much closest to “North Park” or where the 8 and 15 collide, so that gives you an idea.

Both Eric and I have coworkers who have been effected – half of my coworkers have people staying with them…my boss alone has 11 of her family members evacuated into her home! There are thousands of people here in SD to keep in your prayers…

Point Loma Nazarene University, where Eric works and also attends a Master’s program, has closed down classes and most business offices for the week. My Catholic Charities office is actually only 4 blocks or so from a Witch fire evacuation area (in Mira Mesa/Miramar) but we’ve been told to go into work both yesterday and today (go figure! 😉 The air quality is poor and gives us headaches so we stay indoors with the AC on. My agency, Catholic Charities, plans to coordinate with the Salvation Army and Red Cross to provide assistance. They have prepared for many of us in the days/weeks to come, to volunteer as case managers for those who have been displaced and are applying for FEMA money.

Fortunately, San Diego seems to be doing and incredible job of responding to the disaster…at this point, there are tons of volunteers (probably partly because so many are not able to go in to work and want to donate their extra time), more food and donations than can be accepted, and lots of entertainment at the evacuation sites to keep everyone preoccupied.

If you would like more local SD information you can go here – they’re always updating the front page http://www.signonsandiego.com/

So, that is a brief update in case you had wondered. I received a call from my mom tonight saying people are wondering how Eric and I are doing out here in San Diego so I didn’t want anyone worrying. Thanks so much for thinking of us, really. Please pray for the many many people who are suffering and are tortured with the unknowns… for the firefighters who are feeling fatigued and have not slept since Sunday…

I hope this email finds all of YOU well. I miss you lots and hope to see you soon. I know the timing is bad for this one but seriously, if you’re ever in San Diego, let us know!! We’d love to see you!!

peace and love,
tiana
(and Eric…who also greets you hello and says, “we’re ok” 😉