Monday, January 31, 2011

Too much snow!

A couple of pictures of the snow.  The first one is a view looking up towards our house, showing the banks of snow at the end of the driveway. You can just see our mailbox peeking out through the snow mound. The second is us snow-shoeing this past weekend. Note that, although the trail makes the snow look like its only a foot deep, this is actually just the top layer of compacted snow and there is a couple of feet underneath us - we actually walked across the top of a brook without being aware of it, it just looked like the continuation of the trail. Forecast is another 5 inches tomorrow, 6-12 inches Wednesday. Gulp!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ladies Night Out

Went to Bistro Limoncello in Northborough last night with some friends. This restaurant has been open for a couple of years, and has obviously been doing well because they have just expanded, doubling their previous  size. The decor is very warm and inviting. There is a small bar near the door but unfortunately it was swamped by people sitting eating at the bar, which was not an encouragement to sit and have a drink while waiting for the table. A lounge bar area would be a good addition.  Apparently that area is being changed in the next couple of weeks so we shall see if it improves.

The staff are extremely friendly and the owner makes sure his presence is known. I have to say, he did have something of the "Tony Soprano" about him.

The atmosphere was great, the company was wonderful, my biggest complaint was the quality of the food. Very average. One of our group had a medium rare steak that was still chewing the cud. It took ages before the waiter came back to our table so it could be taken away and cooked. I had salmon. I have never been to a restaurant that could mess up salmon but this one did. It was so overcooked it had the texture of an overdone pork chop and was drier than a popcorn fart. Not good. I suppose I could've complained but ultimately, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, I feel that if I complain then I spoil the atmosphere of the evening. But truthfully the food was more than disappointing.

So in summary, Bistro Limoncello has all the makings of a great night out, the setting, the decor, the atmosphere, the friendly staff. All they need now is a chef that can actually cook...

Dashing through the snow

Today we tried snow-shoeing for the first time. The Mass Audobon site in Worcester organized a "family snow shoeing" trek, so we thought this would be a good chance to try it. The snow shoe is an interesting contraption. They have moved on from the tennis racket days and are made of metal and about 25 inches long and maybe 10 inches wide. The idea is simply that they disperse your weight over a bigger area so you do not sink in the snow as much. They also have grips underneath that help when walking up or down hill. It was actually a lot of fun and we soon got the hang of it. It was quite peaceful trudging through the snow and listening to it crunch underfoot. And no more strenuous than walking really.This is definitely more my style than skiing. Better go see if the stores have any snow shoes left.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trouble with technology?

Good sketch from the BBC, starring Ronnie Corbett, the remaining half of the Two Ronnies, a very funny duo from years ago.

"My Blackberrys not working"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Travolta - aging gracefully

John Travolta was gorgeous when he was younger in his Saturday Night Fever and Grease days, and he is still wonderfully handsome now. He is fortunate to have aged so well.

Grease is the word

Watched Grease last night with Emma.  I think I last saw this movie when it first came out in 1978, when I was a teenager. I remember it being THE movie to go see and I saw it more than once.

The movie has become a classic and I can see why. The music, mostly written by Barry Gibb, is very catchy and we both really enjoyed it. Its a PG rating  - there was a lot of dialog that I hoped would go over Emma's head! The main entertainment in this movie is the songs and the dances. The rock n' roll era is a perfect opportunity to bring in some exciting moves and it really was foot-tapping stuff. Very enjoyable, my favorite song being the title track itself.

Hiding a multitude of sins

Just spent the afternoon painting the walls of a bedroom. What a satisfying task! All those scuff marks, crayon marks, scratches and other blemishes covered over with one brush stroke. If only we had something similar for life (although some people would need an awful lot of paint....).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Corrie Nation - I think I get it!

Last year I posted a blog entry about the Facebook application called Corrie Nation and how I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to be doing. Well, a few months later here I am at level 13 (out of 20 I think) with a "Street" that is full of houses, shops, businesses and people. How did I do it? I know you are dying to know...Here's a few tips on playing the game.

 - Some basics - the idea of the game is to build up your "Street" so that it is filled with houses, buildings, trees and Coronation Street characters. You do this by buying things. To buy things either click on the basket in the lower right of the screen, or click on the Kabin.
 - You use Corrie Gold (CG) to buy things with. Once you have bought an item, exit the Kabin then look in your "tray" at the bottom of the screen. Your items will now be there. Drag them onto the street to 'activate' them. Some items are extremely difficult to drag and drop, presumably because this is still a Beta version of the game. The pigeons and the tandem are particularly difficult but you can do it if you try out different spots on the board to drop them.
 - Your 'experience level' (XP) indicates what items you are eligible to purchase and in some cases, how much they will cost you. Some things stay a constant price, but some such as Characters increase in price as you go up the levels so you should probably buy a few while they are cheap.
  - When you first start playing the game at the lower XP levels its more difficult to make CG. You can do it in a few ways:
1. Collect newspapers, put out fires when presented with this option.
2. Get full marks on the Rovers Return quiz
3. As soon as you can, buy the Rovers Return to build up your CG supplies. Restock it with the fruit machine for 2 CG, and in 2 minutes time a CG symbol will be displayed above the Rovers. Clicking on this will give you 5 CG, i.e. you've made 3 CG in 2 minutes. With 5CG you can buy pigeons, and after an hour the pigeon will give you back 25CG. Do this twice and you have 50CG and can buy a character.
 -  Once you own a character they periodically "get bored" and need a task to do. This is indicated by a red outline, a big arrow pointing to their head, and a miserable expression on their face! When this happens click on the character, answer the question correctly and you will get 10 CG. This is good when you are starting up but, quick frankly, a pain in the butt when you are at the higher levels (see later).
 - Be careful with buying Pets - if you are not around to redeem the CG after the specified time, they will disappear back to the Kabin and you will have wasted money. Buildings don't seem to do this.
 -  Keep buying and redeeming items until you have enough money to buy more buildings. You don't need to keep any CG - you have to spend it to make it.
 -  every time you buy things you also earn experience points (XP). When you get enough XPs you go up a level. At each level there are more things available to buy, giving you more ways of making money.
 -  Tip - Buy the tree, this gives you 100 CG every hour and does not expire. The gift that just keeps on giving! Other similar items are the postbox, the flowers, Maxine's bench, the bus shelter etc.
 - There are many vehicles with a redemption time of 2 hours. Buy everything that expires in 2 hours, then 2 hours later claim them all in one go. Big Bucks for very little effort!!

 -  I have yet to see any benefit in buying the houses, apart from the satisfaction of building up your street. I cannot see how you get CG from them and they cost a fortune (10000 CG and up!).
 -  I have managed to lose a pet (Eccles) - I dragged him to a place somewhere behind a building and I can't seem to get him back. If I could only rotate the playing board I may be able to find him. Oh well....
 - When you start playing the game its fun to buy characters. However I would caution about buying too many. They only give you 10 CG a couple of time a day, you have to answer questions to get the CG. Its the same set of 3 questions over and over so it gets really boring. And its just not worth it to go through 4 clicks per character just to get 10 CG. I have about 20 characters and believe me, 80 clicks just to get 200 CG is not worth it. Better to buy the tree and get 100 CG per hour for 1 click!
- You can rotate some of the buildings. I don't know what purpose that serves.
- I've had trouble adding neighbors - I acquired one early on and don't know what I'm expected to do with them! Maybe it will become clear later on.

Well thats just about all I know. This is enough to get you started if you haven't played before. Go on! You know you want to!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January Blizzard

It would be an understatement to say we had a bit of snow today. I am not sure I have ever seen a bigger snowfall. It started last night and at 3:30pm is still going strong. About 2 feet has fallen so far, it took the 4 of us around 2 hours to clear the driveway, with the snow-blower frequently getting blocked up and freezing over. The cats don't quite know what to make of it all -  we put a footstool by the patio door so they could see out over the mound of snow on the deck. The lump on the deck in the first photo is the snow on top of a table on the deck.

The state has issued frequent requests for people not to travel unless its essential, so they can get on with their snow removal on the major roads. Thousands of homes have lost power, thankfully we are not one of them. I don't mind one big snowfall per year. and I'm hoping that this is it now. I'm convinced that Summer must be just around the corner...if I could only peek around that 20ft mound of snow I may be able to see it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Robert!

Happy 14th Birthday to my son Robert, seen here back right. Have fun in your field trip today!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

All is quiet on New Years Day

Started the year well with a bracing walk around the neighborhood. It is incredibly quiet with only 3 cars passing me in 50 minutes. U2 couldn't have got it more right.

Happy New Year!

Here's to a Happy 2011!