Thursday, January 26, 2006


Oh yeah, I forgot. I finally have my address for ya'll. I'm not sure exactly where the lines are supposed to start over, but this is exactly how it is on the paper in our kitchen, so this is how it's going up:

Joe Hofbauer
Room MO11
Flat 2
Block M
James College
James Way
University of York
York YO10 5NA

I'm told that you should write ENGLAND in all caps (just like that) somewhere at the bottom of the front side of the envelope. Do that, too. I like care-packages, but I suggest you avoid such items as milk, butter, cheese (obviously), and large animals; it's kind of a long trip. Aside from that, I think you should be good. So now I'll go away expecting a massive influx of packages in my mailbox in the next week or so. (Also keep in mind that it's outrageously expensive to send pretty much anything other than an empty envelope over here, but don't let that deter you!) Aight, later.
Boy, it's been a little while, huh? Yeah, I'd love to say that that's because I've been out doing crazy exciting things and haven't had a chance to update about all of it. But sadly it's mostly because not much has happened. We did go to town last weekend, which was fun, and that's what most of those pictures are from. It was a really good time. Myself and six other Americans met at about 9:30 in the morning and then walked into town and first saw Clifford's Tower, which is in a few of the pictures I have posted. That is the largest part of the remainder of the castle which was just to the West (i think) of it now. It was what is called a Mote(pronounced mott)-and-Bailey castle, so there was a big courtyard thing that was walled and huge and there were lots of rooms and tons of stuff there, that was kinda in front of the tower, and then the tower itself was most of the castle proper, if you will. There would probably have been a moat between the tower and the courtyard area(with a draw-bridge), and they would both probably have been up on hills, like the tower is. Clifford's Tower is also where, in the early 12th Century, I think, all/most of the known Jews in the North of England were somewhat forced into and when they saw that the situation was dire, they set fire to the wood (which I think would have been all on the inside of the tower, as well as the roof) and comitted a mass suicide. Not a whole lot of fun, that part of it.

Then we wandered around for a while waiting to meet up with a few other people and headed over to this bar called the "Roman Baths" or something like that, cause when they went to expand it a few years back (when it had a different name) they found a Roman Bath-house underneath it! (Roman street level is several meters - yards - below current street level, just because of sediment and whatnot) So we went down there after lunch and toured it. Apparently York was the northernmost point of the entirety of the Roman military machine. This is as far as it gets, and I think they said that under the North corner of the walls (which are still standing) is actually exaclty where the old Roman walls went to, and that's technically the northernmost tip. That's kinda cool.

Finally we went to the Minster, which is that giant church in the pictures. The Minster is pretty much the most mammoth building I've ever seen. It's giant. They have little diagrams that show an overhead view of the city around the Minster and it takes up several blocks (or it would, if the towns around here had any sort of 'block' rather than just winding streets that have no pattern). It is also built on top of a building that the Roman soldiers would have used. It would have been pretty much the center for the military and it was also where anything official would have happened. In fact, it is where Constantine (you might know him from the name of the city Constantinople, now Istanbul, as well as for legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire and then for making it the official religion of the Empire a little later (i think)) was crowned Caesar. He was with his dad visiting the outpost during his rounds when his dad died and he was immediately crowned by the army. Kind of a big deal. The current Minster took over (wait for it) two hundred and fifty years to build. TWO HUNDRED FIFTY! That means that it took longer to build the Minster than the United States has existed! WHAT???!!! I know, crazy. Just crazy. Just sit and think about that for a while, and then continue reading.

On Saturday night, then, four of us were sitting around playing video games, being board when we decided to go up to flat 6 and, since only one of the girls that lives up there was here at the time, newspaper the whole corridor. It was pretty cool and it took about 3 and a half hours for four of us to do. I've got some pictures, but my camera battery died, so we'll have to wait until I charge it up to see them. Then on Sunday when the girls came back, a bunch of us went up and climbed through the paper into Katy's (the girl who was here this weekend) room and then resealed the newpaper to listen to their responses. It was pretty entertaining, just a bunch of laughing and screaming and "this is so crazy, how did they do this??" and stuff like that. Good times. Remember, these folks are freshmen, so I've got to help get them started off right with college life. Know that I'm doing my best.

Ok, well that's about all I've got. Notice, Ang, that I did throw a couple of paragraphs in there, though it's pretty clear that even within the paragraphs it's fairly stream-of-consciousness. In any case, I like stream-of-consciousness. It's fun. :) Well, I hope you all enjoyed the news. I'll try to do something exciting next week (or remember if I did anything exciting before, and then just claim that it happened more recently). Later ya'll.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Just in case anyone was wondering...

You're a Gorilla!

Highly social and group-oriented, you like hanging out with the same
people constantly. You have either black or gray hair and spend a good deal of time
grooming it or getting others to groom it for you. Sleep is a big part of your daily
routine and you like to either make very loud noise or no noise at all. You have
more skills with language than most, however. One of your absolute favorite drinks
is hot cocoa.

Take the Animal Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Hey folks, I got some pictures set up, so go check them out. I'm tired now and I don't want to be on the computer anymore right now so just go to Paste that in, and enter the email address:
password: joespics

Have fun. More later.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Yesterday we had our first discussion group for my class. Discussion groups are fantastic! It's probably just because I am infatuated with the pretense of academia, but to sit around with about 8 or 9 other people all of whom actually care - to some extent - about what you're talking about and have read at least a little about it and just talk for an hour. That's a good time. I'm such a geek, but I still like it. It only proved to further my dislike for the way we do things in the good 'ol U. S. of A. I need to figure out how they do University funding around here, cause if that's the only reason we don't get to have discussion groups at U of I and we could be doing it better I'll probably be a little angry. Although to be fair I saw a headline in an online paper from here that said that a university somewhere in England, I don't know where, was cutting it's HISTORY program. I mean TOTALLY cutting it. Like it's not gonna offer history degrees anymore because they don't have the budget for it. That may just be the saddest thing I've ever read. I was dumbfounded. Speechless - and we know that's rare. So clearly they have their problems here, too. Oh well. At least I get to have one discussion group (maybe two, who knows about next term) in my entire college career. I think this weekend one or two (or maybe a lot more, but you never really know) of the guys from M block and I are going to wander into town and just walk around. I'll probably be able to convince them to go with me and do a bunch of touristy stuff around here. I think it would be fun. And a few of them have expressed a bit of a desire to do that, too anyway. In any case, I think I'm going to go do some laundry. I'll talk at ya later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I had my first class today. The class I'm taking is called Luther and the Age of Reform. It seems like it will be a pretty entertaining subject. The class is set up as a "seminar" which means that there are about 15 of us, probably not more than that. We sit in a sort of conference-room setup, all in a square facing each other. The prof is pretty cool and seems like he'll be entertaining enough. The reading list is pretty intense, though, and could actually take up quite a bit of my time. Who do these people think they are?? I am really excited, honestly, to try this style of school - with one class to focus all my efforts on instead of 4 or 5 to think about. It seems like this is a much more efficient way to do school than the way we do back home. We'll see. The reading for each week is actually less than what I normally have back home, so I think the research for papers may actually be worth doing! It's going to be crazy to have time to put into papers so that, in my opinion at least, they might be worth reading at the end! Weird. Anyway, all in all things are going well. I might write more tomorrow as I have no classes and will probably get bored with reading after a while. For now, peace.

Saturday, January 14, 2006



yes folks, that is indeed worthy of its own post.

(that's, i'm not even mad, that's amazing!)

Friday, January 13, 2006

talk talk talk

Tonight was fun. We didn't do a whole lot, tried to go out but that was short lived just cause we were all kinda tired, so we came back here and watched dvds of the British show Spooks about the agency MI-5, sort of like the FBI for these guys. It's a surprisingly good show, too. But before all that was the interesting part. A few of us decided to make spaghetti bolonese (sp?) for dinner, which is to say that they asked if I would like some and I and two other guys mostly watched a girl cook it for us and then we all ate together. Good times. But while we were eating some of the folks from M Block that we hang out with came in and sat with us (pretty common around here, everybody just kinda congregates in whatever kitchen has a few people in it and we hang out there). After some small talk we started talking about some of the impressions and surprises regarding the Brits and States. I have no idea how that all got started, but soon enough we were talking about things like different accents in different places and perceptions of each others' countries. Then this girl from France who's pretty cool, but I can't for the life of me try to spell her name, came in. She's not doing a thing like me, she's here long term. I think she has travelled quite a bit, and she speaks like four different languages (not like any of the other French people I've met so far, but who's counting). She sat down and joined the conversation and then they (mostly she, but not totally) started asking me about the various major issues in America, being the war, the president, and gun control. A lot about the war and the president. One or two of the guys kept joking that I had the weight of the country on my shoulders with this "interrogation" but I was pretty ok with it. I know what I think and why I think it, and I'm not really shy about talking - as most of you know - so I had a good time with it. I think overall it was a pretty good time. I felt pretty good at the end of it, anyway, and I think for the most part we all kind of agreed...I think. It seems like some of them were not ok with anyone going into Iraq at all, for whatever reason, but actually I think the crowd was pretty split on that one. Most of us, but not all, agreed that the U.N. is inconsequencial, which kinda surprised me. Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I enjoyed my first conversation with real people about my views and others' views of the States from a more in-depth level and I don't think I offended too many people too badly. Of course, there is that quote I love so much that I can't ever remember word-for-word but it's something like: "If I have offended you it is only because I dare not, even in the interest of winning you, offend my God. And if I have not offended you, I have not spoken of my God." Not that the international policy of the U.S. is my God, but the point is that mildly offending people is not my main concern. Honesty is worth more than the fear of offense. I'll let you all know if they decide tomorrow to blackball me. I'm not losing sleep over it.
For those of you wondering, yes, I will eventually be attending classes, but that won't start until next Tuesday. And those of you back at U of I might want to look away from the screen and scroll past my class schedule which will be as follows: Tuesday 1:15-3:15; Thursday 2:15-3:15. This semester should be rough with all THREE hours of class that I have. But I'm sure I'll make it through, don't you worry. I mentioned last time that we won the bar quiz, and I feel like I should tell you at least a little about the celebration that followed the next day. Since we won a 50 pound bar tab at some pub in town, we decided we should go in the next evening (Wednesday) to take care of it. You don't want things like that to go bad, you know. So it then became apparent (to some) that we ought to dress up like pirates when we went into town. Some of the folks in M Block went so far as to go to town early and buy pirate-y costumes and such. One guy made a treasure map that led the way (somewhat abstractly) to the bar - they stained it with tea bags so that it looked old and stuff, these guys are pretty witty. So we spent the better part of Wednesday night trapsing around the town of York dressed up as pirates - all 15 or 20 of us - and getting all kinds of comments from people we met. It may be worth mentioning that all, or most, of the people in M block are first year students, which kind of explains their craziness. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep up, to be honest, so stories like this may end up being a bit less common in the near future. We'll see.

While we were out the other night, someone was saying something about America, I'm not sure exactly what anymore, but it seemed like something about how great it was or something along those lines, but what they were excited about seemed to me to be not so great. So I went ahead and told them that in quite a few ways, America sucks. Sure, it's got its positive characteristics, and they may very well overshadow the negative (the jury's still out on that one, I think), but the negatives are certainly there. I think there were about four or five guys in on this conversation and I remember they all just looked at me in shock. Then they all were just like, "no, I love America. It's great. Sure, there are some idiots there, but they're everywhere. And aside from them, I think it's a fine place." So that made me feel a little better about where I come from. Turns out maybe only it's only the French that hate us so much. And I don't like cheese, as so many of you know, so I really have almost no need for France. It was a good evening, all in all.

Last night we stayed in and some of the girls made pancakes, really more like crapes, not the pancakes of America. They were pretty tasty, though. Then we proceeded to play games on the Nintendo gamecube (they have a gamecube and an x-box in the kitchen, we spend a fair amount of time in there). I'm interested if anyone back home has heard about this game they found recently, it's called Wario Ware or something like that. It is hands-down the strangest game I've ever seen. I can't even describe it, it's so bizarre. Most of the time I just sit and think about the outrageous amount of narcotics that absolutely had to go into the making of this game. So let me know if anyone knows about it, cause you should. It's fantastic.

Another thing I think is worthy of comment is the fact that all my thoughts are in a british accent. Ok, to clarify a little, I usually just have this running commentary going on in my head, like I'm talking to myself but without the insanity that accompanies that. Kinda like JD in Scrubs with the narration. I do that. Does anybody else? I hope so. Anyway, since I've been here and everyone around me talks with an accent, my thoughts are all in that accent. It's strange. Same thing when I read. All with the accent. Anyway...

That's all I've got so far, hopefully it's at least mildly entertaining. If it is, feel free to let me know how great I am. If it's not, keep it to yourself, nobody likes a nay-sayer. Later folks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Ok, so remember how I said yesterday (i think i said something about it) that we were going to do some weird quiz thing last night? Well, we did. We all trecked over to Derwent, somewhere across campus, I don't really know where because most of out walking around is done at night, not terribly helpful but whatever. So we went and it was a "bar quiz," essentially just a quiz game in a bar (you may remember from before that all the different colleges on campus have bars except James, where I live). They ask random pop-culture questions and weird semi-trivial-pursuit-questions and then you write down your team's answer on a paper and at the end you switch with a different team and grade the papers. The whole way there the kids were talking about how they never win, it's just fun to go to. And then, WE WON! It was very exciting. I mean come on, we won the bar quiz. So now we're really pumped about the quiz at Goodricke on Sunday. Apparently, we hate Goodricke - but I'm not totally sure why yet. So it would be a lot of fun to beat them. For winning we got a bunch of stuff: pizza, two (why two?) pints of some common beer around here, a bottle of horrible wine, a 24 pack of something kinda like smirnoff black or one of those drinks, and a £50 tab at a local pub in town. It seems like a lot of alcohol, but when we got back to M Block all the people we normally hang out with (on our flat and the flats above us) came down and ate and drank with us, so really we all pretty much had one drink and one piece of pizza each. But it was fun nonetheless! Today I'm going to venture into town, I think by myself just cause I'm too lazy to find someone who might want to go along and I'm kinda in a hurry, to take care of some random business. I'm sure it will be a learning experience. I might have internet by tonight, if all goes well today. No promises, but it's a distinct possibility. I really hope it happens, cause these lab computers are trash. Rubbish, if you will. Or even, dare I say, pants. That's right, I said it. (they have weird sayings over here, i'm pretty sure I don't get a lot of them) Well, that's all the excitement for now. Take care everybody. Oh, and for Jimmy, they do have Aldi over here and it is indeed still a very ghetto store, but it's probably one of the only ones I'll shop at while I'm here. HOORAY FOR ALDI!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ok, so this is pretty much the first time I've had internet since I got to York. I'm not sure why I just said "pretty much" becuae in point of fact it is the first time. But anyway, I don't even have it in my room yet, that's still an ordeal in the works, so I have to use this shady computer lab and let me tell you, there's not a dell in sight. Or a mac, for that matter, before you creepy mac-people get all excited. I'll give you all a quick (yeah right, who am I kidding?) run down of what's gone on since I got here.

On Sunday night, I got to the university around 6:30 or so and got into my room by about 6:45. York is set up in what they call colleges, which are essentially just areas of the campus. I'm in James college, which is one of the few if not the only one without its own pub. Kind of a downer, but I'm sure we'll deal with it. It's also kinda removed from campus a little bit, but not as much as some of the others. In fact, it's only about a five minute walk from where the History Department is, so it could be a lot worse. So within James college, there are several buildings of "dorms" if you will. They're separated inside by flats (floors), each of which has its own kitchen and in James, each room has its own bathroom. Lucky me. I was met at the door by two kids, John and Jenny, who saw me coming and let me in, showed me my room and invited me to the kitchen where everyone was. I dropped my stuff and went in to find about 10 people standing around; immediately someone said, very loudly, "everyone, this is joe." And then they all turned and looked at me...silence... I still don't know who it was that said that, but I should find them and thank them for that awkwardness. But everyone turned out to be very nice, even though I immediately forgot their names. I left then and tried to figure out how to make the internet work in my room. This is an ongoing process, as I mentioned earlier, so that first night was not terribly effective. When I got back I was pretty tired, so I just went to bed. The rest of the flat proceeded to play hide-and-seek outside, which was pretty entertaining for me to watch from my window as I fell asleep.
Then yesterday I met with the other U of I'ers here and we ran some errands and then walked to Aldi to get cheap food. I was surprised to find that the walk to Aldi passes through the pasture behind out barn back home (the "bottom ground", for you Quakers and siblings out there) - be sure to watch out for the, seriously, and then a perfectly randomly placed army base as well. It's a pretty scenic trip, I assure you. It all takes about 20 minutes or so. After walking all over the world and buying groceries, I got back to M-block (the building in James where I live) and was promptly invited out with the flat for half-off italian somewhere downtown York and then the possibility of a pub on the way back for the aforementioned John and Jenny's birthdays. I accepted and we (all 20 of us) had a pretty fun evening in which I asked them a lot of probably very stupid questions about conversational english here and things like that and then exposed them to my best southern drawl and the farmer walk (ang, you know what I'm talking about here). I think tonight we're going to go to some inter-collegiate quiz night thing in which different colleges are pitted against each other in a quiz game while, of course, downing as many cans of - you guessed it - whipped cream as they can. Yeah, sounds...interesting. Oh, and Clay, turns out "Bob's your uncle!" is a pretty common phrase here that means good job, and the guys told me that I would probably hear it a lot more often if they could only get a little more beer into themselves. We'll see what happens there.

So for now, that's all that's going on. I hope things are well there, and remember, Bob's your uncle.


p.s. thanks for all the happy comments and emails, they're much appreciated.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Hello from Britain! Did you all know that back in the day, when the Brits with all the rest of Europe (mostly) was active in the slave trade, they wouldn't allow slaves onto the island because they actually claimed that the air in Britain was so special that no one could be enslaved and breath it? They said that as soon as said slaves breathed the air they would have to become free. Yeah, tell that to the surfs harvesting filth (Monty Python, anyone?). Anyway, on to only slightly less boring information. My flights were ok. We only pulled out of Chicago about a half-hour or forty minutes late, so I guess that's fun. I'm not sure exactly why it took that long, but they kept saying something about baggage loading and air traffic. Whatever. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep because there was some turbulance (sp?) and whenever that would happen and I would instictively think about us having hit a bump or something (having usually just finished forgetting that I was in an outrageously heavy peace of metal some 40,000 feet above the ocean) I would remember that if we hit a bump, we die. Then I'd be awake again. But fear not! I had the splendid company of Mark Wahlberg in 4 Brothers to keep me company. And then it was parts of Little Manhattan, In her Shoes, and it seems like there was another, but I can't really remember anymore. I didn't get a whole lot of reading done, much as I tried, just because I have a hard time concentrating when I'm on my way to a place I've never been before with no real known way to contact anyone, including those people I plan to meet upon arrival. Call me crazy. So that was fun. The little puddle-jumper we took from German to England was a real treat, too. I honestly wondered for a while if the pilot was just willing it to keep moving. But it did, and that's what's important. I pity the poor schmucks that flew on it next, cause I'm not sure it was up to the task beyond one or two more trips. When I got to London of course I immediately looked for a coffee shop in the airport. Actually, I did that even before I tried to contact Andy and Colleen (the friends with whom I'm staying while in London). That shouldn't really surprise anyone. Anyway, while I was trying to get some coffee I asked a nice young lady if she knew any place I could get online in the airport, she said she wasn't sure. Then we both stood there for maybe another 3-5 minutes before she asked me if I was waiting to get some coffee (she wasn't behind the counter, she was like a busser or something). I replied that I was, and she told me that I might want to go to the start of the line, not the place where you pick up your drink. I wished I could claim that I had just gotten into England and it was my first time out of the States, but I couldn't convince myself that she would believe we don't have beginnings and ends to lines in the States, so I just smiled and thanked her for the help. Then I went to Andy's and hung out with them last night and slept for a long time. Today I went downtown to get a train ticket to York for Sunday because all I could find online that was affordable was a trip that would have taken something like 14 hours. A little much for a trip of roughly 150 miles. I had a lot of success downtown and it was really fun, I even used one of those cool red phone booths just cause I thought it would be fun and I had Andy's number. Getting home was a bit rough, though. Andy told me directions to the bus stop, but I messed them up without knowing it on the way into town, so when I got back trying to find the house was a trip. I walked up and down the street I thought it was on a solid 4 or 5 towns for about 40 minutes before I walked back down to the High Street (what they call the main street in the borough - suburb - with all the shops and whatnot) to find a phone. All turned out alright in the end. It was a solid day, and Colleen even made cookies! Tomorrow we're going to head downtown again to do some sightseeing, which should be fun. Sorry this is so stinking long, for those of you who made it this far. Feel free to vent your frustrations in the comments. ;) Peace.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Beginnings

So this is the medium from which I will be communicating with most of my friends for the next six months or so. True to form, I think I'll just go ahead and start off by telling everyone who doesn't know yet about this new program I've found recently online called Skype ( IT ROCKS! It is an online phone system that's totally free and really easy to use and is of incredible sound quality. It is pretty much the best sounding phone call I've ever had. You all should get it. It rocks. So...anyway.... I think I'll just go ahead and talk a little about what's coming up. So right now it's Monday evening. (I just want everyone to know how hard it was for me to say that just now, cause all day I've thought it was Tuesday, and yesterday I thought it was Monday, so it's been a rough few days) Tomorrow I've got to finish up on some preparations and whatnot and do all my packing and then, of course, watch Scrubs. Then on Wednesday the Quakers (my parents, for those of you who aren't familiar) and I will venture up to Chi-town and I'll hop on a plane and sit restlessly for roughly 9 or so hours until I land in Frankfurt Germany. Then I'll chill for about 2 hours and fly for about an hour to London. I'll get there around 8:05 (you like that? I say "around," implying an abstraction, but then I said 8:05, which is pretty precise. I'm witty like that). Hopefully, when I get through customs and get my baggage and whatnot Andy will be there to help me find my way through the crazy metropolis that is London. It'll be pretty exciting, I'm sure. I really am just looking forward to being over there and getting things moving. The past few days have been pretty freakin' stressful just constantly trying to make sure that I haven't forgotten anything and that I'm getting all my stuff together and all that good stuff. It'll be nice just to be able to take a breath. Anyway, I think that this post pretty effectively displays my inability to really function and think clearly. It's getting pretty long and pointless, so I'm gonna call it quits. Peace out, ya'll.