Saturday, January 30, 2010

When she was good she was very, very good

My grandmother (age 95 this coming May) had to go into hospital a couple of weeks ago to get checked out after a suspected stroke. She arrived at the hospital around 1pm, 1 and a half hours later she was seen by a nurse who asked a few questions and did a few cursory checks, 6 hours later (yes, I did say six hours) she was seen by a doctor. She was kept in overnight, sleeping on a hospital trolley because there were no beds available. That's the great British National Health service for you, at its worst. To present a somewhat balanced view however, that same National Health service has provided her with twice-daily homehelp, rails up the stairs and other adjustments to her home to enable her to continue to live there, all free of charge.

Last week in Massachusetts, Scott Brown got voted in as Senator, to replace the deceased Ted Kennedy. Scott Brown is a Republican, and is against a National Health Service (NHS) for America. I am undecided but I do know that if an NHS is going to be introduced, then it is vital that a few nay-sayers are around to cause the Obama machine to stop and think before rushing in. When the NHS is operating well it is excellent. But, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would say about the little girl with the curl, "When she was bad she was Horrid!" .

We're going to Oirland, so we are

We've booked ourselves a mini-vacation in June, we are going to Ireland for a week. Its been about 30 years since I went with my parents, and I don't remember much about it apart from what I see on photographs. We are staying in the village of Adare, which is in South West of Ireland, about 20 minutes south of Limerick. Its known as Ireland's prettiest village, with thatched cottages, arts and craft stores, monasteries and ruins. We are looking forward to doing some walking, horseback riding and general relaxing during our stay. Oh, and we might partake of a pint or two of Guinness of course. Here's a couple of Irish jokes to get in the mood:

An Englishman, a Frenchman and an Irishman were in a pub talking about their children.
'My son was born on St George's Day, 'remarked the Englishman, 'So we obviously decided to call him George.'
'That's a real coincidence, 'observed the Frenchman, 'My daughter was born on Valentine's Day, so we decided to call her Valentine.'
'That's really incredible, 'drawled the Irishman, 'Exactly the same thing happened with my son Pancake.'

Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, Father, me dog is dead. Could ya' be saying' A mass for the poor creature?'
Father Patrick replied, 'I'm afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there's no tellin' what they believe. Maybe they'll do something for the creature.'
Muldoon said, 'I'll go right away Father. Do ya' think €*5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?'
Father Patrick exclaimed, 'Sweet Mary and Joseph. Why didn't ya tell me the dog was Catholic?'

Its fun to stay at the ......

Spent a few hours at the local YMCA in Westborough today. Its not a bad facility, with a big swimming pool, gym, basketball courts, and running track. Emma practiced her basketball skills on the court with her friend, while Robert and Tony were in the gym. Afterward, the girls went in the pool. The thing that annoys me about this place is that it has a bunch of rules associated with the pool, but it does not enforce them. For example, there are 5 changing facilities, one for adult females, one for adult males, one for girls accompanied by an adult female, one for boys accompanied by an adult male and finally one for families (typically when a dad takes his daughters or a mom takes her sons). This is a good idea, but frequently when I take Emma into the girls changing room, there are groups of teenage girls in there causing havoc with no adult in sight. Its really annoying. Another rule that's frequently broken is swimming attire. It states clearly that regular swimsuits must be worn, but you often see both kids and adults in the pool wearing shorts and t-shirts. Some look as though they have just come up from the gym, Ew!.
Then there's the women who don't tie back their thick, long, hair and it ends up floating around the pool or on the floor of the shower stalls. Not to mention the people who play in the lap swimming lanes generally getting in the way.

I don't mind rules, in fact I welcome them. But if you have them, please enforce them to make it a more pleasant experience for the majority.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Boost you don't want

The new and improved Bejeweled Blitz is rigged! During the game, certain jewels that are destroyed are coins. When you have enough coins you can purchase 'Boosts' for use during subsequent games. These Boosts do various things such as shuffle all the jewels on the board, destroy all the special gems, give you a multiplier gem at the start of the game etc. However it seems to me that the game has been "rigged" so that you cannot make much good use of them. For example,whenever I buy a Boost to switch the gems round on the board, the game gives me some really good jewels and matches so I don't need to use the button. You can't save it for another game, it is a case of "use it or lose it". When I have bought a Boost to get a multiplier gem at the start of the game, my jewel matches all seem to be at the opposite side of the board from the multiplier, so I can't actually destroy it. And when I get the Boost that allows me to destroy all the special gems on the board, the gems are set up such that I can never seem to make a run of 4, so I never get any special gems. Am I just imagining this? I don't think so. What a swiz!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands

I've been reading an interesting book called "Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands - How to do business in sixty countries". It tells you about the different business cultures in countries of the world, negotiating techniques, protocol etc. Did you know that:

- in Hong Kong, members of the same sex may hold hands to signify friendship but members of the opposite sex may not
- you should never show the bottom of your foot to an Arab, this is considered offensive
- You should not give a Chinese businessman a clock as a gift, this signifies funerals
- in India, touching a communal dish with your hands will cause your fellow diners to avoid it
- in France, don't mistake a high pitched voice and excited gestures for anger; they usually just mean great interest in the subject
- in Thailand always give up your seat on a bus or train to a monk who is standing
- in Japan, sniffing, snorting and spitting in public is considered acceptable

and of course, I had to check out England...

- the English apologize often, even for small inconveniences
- Don't make jokes about the Royal Family
- The English enjoy talking about animals
- The British do not look at the other person when they talk
- Men should not wear striped ties, the British "regimentals" are striped and yours may look like an imitation.

Err, right-o

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not ready for prime time

The countdown for the new Bejeweled Blitz has been, well, counting down all week and finally it arrived today. With some snazzy new features, special Boost buttons that you can buy, money jewels to help you collect cash, and probably more. I played my first game and scored 176K, not bad I thought. At that point the game hung, with one of those polite "Ooops!" type error messages (as if being cute would make me less annoyed). It them wiped my score back to zero, and then I could not connect for the rest of the evening. Looks like the server gave up the ghost and died. A classic case of being too quick to release the new version of the software without sufficient testing and Quality control.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Microsoft: You've got questions, we've got dancing paperclips...

I've been having some problems with my computer recently, in particular, using Facebook on Internet Explorer. When I tried to bring up Facebook, the homepage appeared, closely followed by a pop-up error stating that Internet Explorer could not find, at which point it killed the browser. Not good.

So I decided it was about time I ran Windows Update and at the same time upgrade to Internet Explorer 8. Took hours, requiring the help of my husband and multiple restarts.

So here I am on my up to date, worm-free, bug-free, spam-free, cleaner than clean computer. I have to say this new version of Internet Explorer must be really smart and running loads of stuff for me in the background. I know this because IT RUNS SLOWER THAN A HERD OF TURTLES STAMPEDING THROUGH PEANUT BUTTER!!! Damn you Bill Gates!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The best laid plans

Last October I bought tickets for myself and my daughter Emma to go to the local theater to see "The music of Abba" - performed by an Abba tribute band. Emma was so looking forward to it - she's been counting down the weeks, then the days. At last, the day has arrived - today is the day! She had her outfit all planned out. She went to school all excited about this evening.

Unfortunately she started throwing up this afternoon - looks like some sort of stomach bug. This concert is a one-off, only on this evening. Talk about bad timing. I thinks its known as "sod's law". She is so upset. All I can say is "Mamma mia"......

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Ava!

Happy 2nd birthday to my niece Ava, doesn't time fly! I'm sure her father ( is busy trying to work out how all her new toys work!

Hopefully we will meet up sometime in 2010.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Robert!

Happy 13th Birthday to my son Robert. A teenager at last; now my problems will start! Enjoy your day - looking forward to the Fuji Steakhouse!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nearly broke one!!

Ooops! Nearly broke one of my New Years resolutions today. I'd better go get a bar of Cadbury's to eat before the end of the day! Never let it be said that keeping resolutions was easy ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm resolute

It's that time of year when we make New Year's resolutions. I'm a few days late this year - usually by this time I've broken them but I am determined not to this year. Here's my list:

1. Don't lose too much weight
2. Don't spend more than 7 hours per week in the gym
3. Only eat chocolate once per day
4. Don't yell at the kids (unless considered necessary - parental discretion allowed)
5. Don't play Bejeweled Blitz for more than 2 hours at a time
6. Find something complimentary to say about someone at least once a day (note, compliments about oneself are allowed)
7. Find something positive to say about work at least once a week (note: "Makes me appreciate the weekend" is allowed)
8. Only watch Coronation Street 3 times a week ;-)
9. Don't buy any "Chicken soup" books
10. Don't make resolutions that you cannot keep

All done and dusted

Well its all over for another year. Christmas trees are stripped of baubles, and all decorations are boxed up and put away in the attic until next year. Its a lot of work for a fortnight. Now all thats ahead is 3 months of winter....maybe we'd better plan a couple of trips away to give us something to look forward to.

Hook, line and sinker

On the way back from the Cape we stopped off at Patriot Place, an outdoor mall. We paid an interesting visit to the Bass Pro Shops. Bass Pro Shops is "a sporting and outdoor goods store,best known for a large selection of hunting, fishing, camping, boating and other outdoor gear and features 142,000 square feet of retail and entertainment". There is a "stream" through the middle of the store dropping into an aquarium tank containing fish and turtles, various stuffed bears, beavers, etc displayed in their "natural" habitat, whales dangling from the ceiling, a mini shooting range to try out your target practice...all in all not your typical store.

They also stock outdoor clothing and rustic furnishing, all available in green camoflage print or containing shooting scenes. Thank goodness I don't fish - I would be majorly stressed just trying to pick a rod from the hundreds on display. If you can't find what you want here, then it just does not exist. I'm sure I saw some of the characters from "Deliverance" in the store....Where you goin' city boah?

Under the boardwalk, down by the sea

Took a bracing walk along the boardwalk to the beach at Sandwich on New Years day to shake off the cobwebs. Amazingly what was a boardwalk stretched over mudflats on New Years Eve had become a boardwalk surrounded by water by New Years day. In fact it had become submerged at one end. Must be all that snow melting...

Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy 2010 to all!