Archive Page 5

Taking Responsibility: BP’s Oil Spill

While I appreciate BP’s CEO admitting that the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is his company’s fault, I couldn’t help feeling that I share some of the blame.

I buy gas (not from BP stations since the April 20th explosion, but still…) and, as it turns out, I am a BP shareholder.

When I looked today at a breakdown of my kids’ savings accounts in the UK, I noticed that BP is the top held share in both funds.

I didn’t pick the shares — the Child Trust Fund administrator did — but I didn’t protest when I saw the statement. My kids are too young to ask probing questions about why we support big polluters with their college funds, but that day might come soon.

Maybe it is time for us to switch to alternative fuels, and to diversify the kids’ savings into ethically sound companies.

In the meantime, if we make it to a Gulf of Mexico beach this summer, we will be sure to bring the tar remover.

Driving and Texting Ban in Georgia

I’m glad that Georgia lawmakers are banning texting while driving, but wish they would consider putting driving while making handheld phone calls on the banned list, too. The worst driving I’ve seen here is invariably done by someone who’s holding their phone, chatting away with just one hand (or no hands!) on their steering wheel.

At least it’s a step in the right direction…

Screen on the Green, plus firearms

I have been wanting to go to ‘Screen on the Green,’ the outdoor movie series in Piedmont Park, but hope that the gun-toting audience members can keep their firearms to themselves next time.

I can understand bringing a picnic; maybe a bottle of wine. But why a firearm? If you had a gun with you, for some reason — maybe you forgot to take it out of your holster after your weekly target practice — why would you need to shoot at your fellow film watchers?

If we attend the next screening, I will have to make sure to dress the kids in bullet proof vests.

Sarah Ferguson’s Mess

In light of the News of the World sting, exposing Sarah Ferguson’s selling access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, I have discovered two ardent camps of Fergie friends and foes.

There seem to be opposing views about the Duchess on York on either side of the Atlantic. My British in-laws think that she has consistently tarnished the Royal Family’s good name, whereas my American brother thinks that the royals shoved her aside after her divorce from Prince Andrew.

Maybe a little bit of both is true: she lives in a wing of a royal residence, but doesn’t get to attend royal events. Her title helped her win the lucrative Weight Watchers spokesperson gig, but might prevent her from doing much else…

…beyond hoodwinking businessmen into giving her money to arrange meetings with her ex-husband.

My only question is whether Prince Andrew was as ignorant about the scheme as they claim.

Britain’s New Prime Minister

I am glad that the UK has a new Prime Minister, even though I did not help to elect him. And I’m impressed at how jovial the two former campaign rivals seem to be, so soon after chiding each other during election debates.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg actually seemed to be pals in their press conference earlier today.

But I am perplexed by just how similar they look. At least they seem to be aware of that; I admire their choice of bold, opposing colored ties, to enable a potentially confused electorate to tell them apart. Let’s hope they keep it up.

Election Day in the UK

For the first time, I am not participating in an election in which I am eligible to vote. I blame the ash cloud. And of course, it’s an historic British election that I was jubilantly excited to vote in, as only die-hard voters are.

After years of casting my ballot in every American election that came up, from local to federal, electing judges, district councillors, and other posts that wouldn’t draw most voters to the polls, I miss the one that people around the world are talking about.

I have always been an election enthusiast, so I am greatly bothered to be sitting on the sidelines of this one. It’s the closest election in more than 30 years, and certainly the most interesting one in my two-year-long lifetime as a British citizen.

My postal ballot never arrived. That is most likely the fault of the havoc wreaked on the mail service by the Icelandic ash cloud last month. Maybe it’s time to put the ballots online. That measure would get my vote.

Following in Obama’s Footsteps to Asheville

Just five days after the First Family left Asheville, we drove to the charming North Carolina town. While we missed out on the Blue Ridge Mountain hike that the Obamas apparently took, we managed to walk the town’s hilly streets, admire the mountain view, and watch an impressive game of hacky sack in Pritchard Park.

It felt like a small slice of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury — and not just because of the footbag kicking game. Young people lounging in the park, strumming guitars and chatting, give the city a laid-back feel. Art studios dappled throughout Asheville showcase paintings, jewelry and other offerings from local artists.

I do not believe that any Asheville micro breweries decided to brew a beer in our honor, as one did to mark the President’s visit. But my husband did enjoy his taste of a local beer. Our waitress looked downright thrilled when he ordered an Asheville, rather than imported, drink (and boy was it strong).

Thanks to the early May sunshine and wide sidewalks, we were able to walk from one end of town to the other. We bought treats from the Marble Slab Creamery, which served massive, made-to-order tubs of homemade ice cream.

The small, independent restaurants were a welcome departure from the chains we tend to frequent. Locally grown, organic food seemed to be the pride of these places. I liked the Fried Green Tomato Napoleon at the Early Girl Eatery, a cheery diner tucked down a narrow side street.

While we didn’t stay at the posh Grove Park Inn, where the Obamas stayed, we did stop by. We asked the host standing guard outside the famed Sunset Terrace, where the Obamas are said to have dined, if we could sit and drink coffee with our two toddlers.

He responded that he would like to invite us to sit inside instead, in a dark and empty area. It would appear that toddlers are not encouraged admire the breathtaking mountain view from the Sunset Terrace.

But youngsters seem to be welcome almost everywhere else in Asheville. When we visited the highly recommended brunch spot, Tupelo Honey Cafe, the waitresses and patrons laughed and smiled as our kids threw crayons and raisins. I loved the goat cheese grits that came along with the special omelet. And of course, I bought a jar of Tupelo Honey as a souvenir.

We realized that Asheville is a lovely town, filled with friendly people, charming local restaurants, shops, and art studios. It is certainly worth a visit if you’re in the South, and if you’re the President, it is worth flying to from DC.

Especially if you get a beer named after you.