Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Unexpected disappointment

We watched "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey" on DVD last night. Unfortunately I was very disappointed. Its been many years since I read the book but I simply don't recall it being as "childlike" a tale as was presented in this movie. At times I felt as though I was watching a Shrek movie or a pantomime. In addition to that, it seemed so loooooong. Endless in fact. The movie was 169 minutes long ; thats probably longer than it took me to read the book.

The dwarfs were annoying and frankly, I didn't much care whether they found their homeland or got eaten by an Ork. Probably the latter was preferable.

The best part by far was the fairly short scene featuring Gollum - excellent animation/acting/facial expressions. A character that was both scary and pathetic simultaneously. But I also felt that the power of the Ring was not made obvious - the focus seemed more on its ability to make Bilbo invisible.

 It transpired this was only part 1. The director/producer obviously was confident enough to think that we would love this movie so much that we would return to watch the sequel when it comes out at the end of 2013. I would not be so sure...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Important US holidays

A list of the main US holidays:

1. Alka Seltzer day (Jan 1st)

2. Chocolate Heart day (Feb 14th)

3. Corned Beef and Cabbage day (April 17th)

4. Chocolate Egg day (third Sunday in the lunar month)

5. Shopping day (final Monday of May)

6. Burgers and Wings Day (4th July)

7. Grilling Day (first Monday in September)

8. Candy day (October 31st)

9. Turkey & Apple Pie (4th Thursday in November)

10. Shopping Day (day after the 4th Thursday in November)

11. Beef/Ham/Pork/Turkey Day (December 25th)

12. Shopping day (December 26th)

Just sayin'...

Get that Friday feeling

Today is Good Friday, which is observed by Christians on the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day Christians commemorate the suffering, and death on the cross of Jesus Christ. Based on that, I wonder why its called "Good" Friday? There are various theories about it really being "God Friday" or the fact that it lead to the resurrection which, apparently, was good. 

I happen to think that every Friday is good. There is something about a Friday evening that is so satisfying. I love that first half an hour when you get in from work and collapse on the sofa with a cup of tea or a glass of wine (or both). The knowledge that you have 2 days where you won't be rocket-propelled into consciousness at 6AM by the alarm clock. Knowing that you have time to read, or snooze or watch the Weather Channel. That "Friday feeling" almost makes it worth working 5 days a week.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An extra hour of daylight

I love having the extra hour of light in the evenings. In the US, our clocks went forward a couple of weeks ago and although its been light enough to go out for a walk after work, its been freezing with too much snow on the ground. Tonight was the first evening where I actually felt in the mood for a walk, and the weather was conducive to it also, being close to 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). It was very enjoyable and makes me think that Spring must be around the corner (keeping my fingers crossed).

British TV Shows

I have to admit, I do not watch much TV. But what I do watch usually comes from the UK. Obviously my one staple program is Coronation Street - I don't miss an episode. But I do try to keep up with the various series on UK television. I loved Downton Abbey and am looking forward to the new series. I also enjoyed Sherlock, Episodes and Ripper Street. The latest series that has my attention is Broadchurch on ITV. I watched Episode 3 last night.

I'm not a big David Tennant fan. He's a bit manic looking for my taste. But he's reasonably good in Broadchurch. This show started off very strongly, with the unexplained death of a local boy. But its starting to drag and last nights episode was somewhat tedious. We are being introduced to lots of suspicious looking people from the village who could've committed the crime. But its obvious to me that the person who did this is someone you'd least expect. I believe Ellie (the policewoman) is significant in the plot, as is her family. They have played down the character of Ellie's husband until last nights episode, and its obvious her son has something to hide. So my great powers of deduction have decided that Ellie's husband is involved somewhere, and her son is covering up what he knows to protect his see if I'm not right :)

A very strange series that became a must-watch for us was the Green Wing. It was the weirdest show and we couldn't decide if we liked it, but by the end of the first series we were addicted. What a disappointment the second series was! So poor in fact that we never bothered to watch all episodes. A real shame.

One of the more unusual shows we watch is on BBC Alba - BBC Scotland. On a Sunday night is a show just titled Alba, and each week it covers 1 year of history in Scotland during the seventies. Its narrated in Scottish (celtic?) but most of the people speaking on news reports are speaking English. All the events of the decade are backed up by music of the time. Its interesting to watch news "reels" on the Cod War, various utility service strikes and politicians such as Ted Heath and Maggie Thatcher coming into power. Its amazing how much I remember, especially towards the end of the seventies (I must be REALLY old!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seventeen years

Happy 17th Wedding Anniversary to my darling husband and thanks for all the good wishes from across the pond

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bottoms up!

Just back from an orthopedic massage appointment at a new place not far from home OrthoMed Massage Clinic. I've been pummeled, rolled and kneaded like a loaf of Hovis for the past hour. Don't know if it will ease my back pain or the sciatica that runs down my left leg, but at least my left buttock had a good workout. I was told to use ice this you suppose she meant in a vodka and tonic? Thats what I was planning to do anyway. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Indigenous wildlife

Last week I saw a beaver, complete with flat paddle tail,  a coyote and a family of wild turkeys. Was I in the local zoo? No, I was driving to work. Admittedly the coyote was dead in the middle of the road but still, it was unusual to see all that wildlife.

Of course it would be even more unusual had I been driving in Wales. I used to assume that the Northeastern states of the US were geographically similar to the UK and would be home to the same species of animal. Yet the reality is that the indigenous population is quite different.   No hedgehogs in the US; no chipmunks in the UK, for example.

However I should add,  although we don't have that common UK species, the "soccer hooligan", we do have something equally as offensive called the "Walmart shopper". Here's some lovely specimens going about their daily business.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stop! Cease! No more!

Another 6-8 inches of snow expected tonight and tomorrow. Its the middle of March for goodness sake! Enough already!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Psychedelic cake

Emmas latest cake baking experiment. Looks good, tastes good

Close up view..symmetrical too!

St Patricks Day?! - Pah!

Somebody told me last week that in America, St Patricks day is the day when everyone is Irish, or if they are not, they wish they were. Of course I disagreed with this and after this years Rugby Six Nations championship, I can tell you that I am most definitely Welsh!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

HomeGoods - somewhat unique

What a wonderful store HomeGoods is! Its the place to buy unusual stuff for your home, at pretty reasonable prices. Ornaments, small one-off pieces of furniture, bedding, housewares etc. You can always find a unique chest or chair, but today they excelled themselves with a 7ft high by 4ft wide by 8ft long (approx!) decorated wooden elephant. Hmm, now which room would I put that in?

A normal Saturday

Its a very normal Saturday today. I'm listening to Sunshine Radio Hereford (the wonders of Internet radio), taking it easy recovering from a bad cold which has kept me in bed for the past 2 days. Tony has watched the Ireland/Italy match (Rugby 6 Nations to the uninitiated), and is looking forward to the England/Wales decider later on today. Again, the technological wonders of the internet enable us to watch British TV shows, either in real time or on iPlayer. Emma is playing soccer in Auburn - she has 2 games in a row today.

Later I will take Rob to his piano lesson and spend a peaceful half an hour drinking hot chocolate in my favorite coffee house (Black Diamond Coffee) across the street while I wait for him. I expect later I will be able to squeeze in a bit of shopping therapy to help in my recovery!

A short interlude

Its been so long since I wrote a blog entry that Google have changed the interface. I hope I can work it out and this comes out OK.

What inspired me to start this up again?  My cousins wife actually. Their son is undergoing a bone marrow transplant to treat a disease called 'CGD' (Chronic Gramalomatus Disorder), which is a genetic blood disease. CGD means that his immune system doesn't work properly. The cure is to undergo a bone marrow transplant, and it turned out that his older brother was a perfect match. So my cousin has his two sons in University College Hospital in London. His wife decided to start a blog to document their progress which meant everybody could get the latest status, without them being overwhelmed with emails, phonecalls etc. 

It made me realize how much good there can be in blogging, especially when you have friends and family that are some distance away. Its not just a vehicle for commenting on the latest TV shows, fashions, people or for venting about lifes frustrations. It has become an important communication media in the 21st century.

Having said that, do I have something life-changing to blog about. The answer is No, and I don't expect I will either! Hopefully nothing as traumatic as my cousin anyway! I will attempt to document the mundane as per usual, and if you find something of interest then all well and good. And if you don't, theres always the BBC News website instead.