The fields are bright yellow between green hedgerows, beneath a blue sky. It’s the driest April on record here in East Anglia, with less than 10% of the usual rainfall. The yellow rapeseed pollen (the plant is used to make canola oil) has lingered in the summer air, a haze on the horizon, a tickle in the throat.
I’m curled over a book chapter that I’m trying to finish, jumping out for the occasional meeting. It’s been a slow week: the Brits are winding up an 11-day holiday, stretching from Easter through the Royal Wedding through one of the inexplicable Bank Holidays. Everyone has taken advantage of the string of events to leave for a week or more – lawyers, accountants, angel investors, and professors have all stopped posted holiday greetings through early May.
The resulting quiet has been good for reading (super sad true love story), learning (pivot tables), writing (my nonfiction book chapter, which will take on fictional elements soon just to get it done), and cooking (egg-white omelets).
I’ve taken a passing interest in trying to figure out what “Cultural Complexity” means.
I’ve been less successful at exercise, shopping, banking, and programming, but those activities always tend to suffer when weather gets hot.
I’m trying (again) to make sense of Twitter. Maybe it’s in who I follow. I had a great ideas to follow my Facebook friends, but Twitter is unable to find them automagically. Strange gap in the connected world: I’ve started writing my inner circle to find out their usernames. I’m drhamptn.
I’ve started getting really lame e-mails from Obama’s campaign staff trying to recruit me as an organizer for 2012.
Finally, my British friends have told me that the usual American habit of stepping into an introduction is way too intimate for local tastes. We’ve always been taught to step forward, smile, make eye contact, shake hands, repeat the name, project warmth, and make a bit of small talk when meeting someone. Use the title in first instance, then first names afterwards. It’s partly social positioning and partly a memory trick to help cement the contact. But the British feel it’s way too familiar and embracing – I’ve only just met you and you already presume we have a connection?
And I, in turn, am put off by the habit of lining up business cards in front of you after the traditional exchange. As I talk, I can see you scrutinizing the title, degree, company for clues about my credibility, background, and affiliations. Pushing it away with a fingernail to signal that the meeting is over, then leaving it behind on the table as you leave is also bad form.
‘back to the book chapter…