Spot the American - Spot the Brit

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

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While visiting big cities that get a lot of tourists, Wayne and I are always playing a game we call - Spot the American or Spot the Brit - we do this in large crowds to give each other a giggle when we see someone that just screams American or British - i.e. A very large man with a big beer belly sporting an athletic-type jacket with big letters on the back saying something like USA or HOOTERS (in case you haven't guessed - American) or a very thin girl wearing a tiny skirt, ugg boots and sleeveless jacket in very cold temperatures (that would be the Brit). I'm sure I've offended people on both sides of the pond just now, but at least I don't play favorites... It's not always so obvious or poking fun either - we sometimes see people walking toward us and place our bets - American British, European etc etc and then listen close to them talking as we walk by them to see if we were right. I guess it's something you take notice of when you find yourself visiting different countries.
We also find ourselves trying to place accents of the people around us at restaurants or trains etc etc. The other day, our waiters at a cafe were Canadian, but didn't sound anything like any Canadian I have ever known. I wanted to ask them what part they were from, but didn't want to pry considering they didn't tell us they were Canadian - we over-heard them talking to someone else about it. It's funny how we can assume things that we really don't know much about...
While in the states, people often mistake Wayne for being Australian - why? I blame this on the movie industry. They always give English people posh accents that sound nothing like any English person I've ever come across in real life. This leaves Americans thinking that everyone in England speaks like the queen and Hugh Grant - totally not the case!
Here, people often think I am Canadian. I'm not sure why considering I have a pretty good Jersey/NY sounding accent - or at least I did. The thing is lately I'm hearing myself sound more and more English when I speak. It's that inflection in my voice that I didn't have before - the one Madonna is accused of having. It's really odd when I hear it and it makes me want to run back to Jersey and spend some time with my friends and family so i can get my accent back. I don't want to lose it. I like it. Maybe I should rent some Sopranos DVDs and play it every time I need to hear a good thick Jersey accent to try to balance it all out. It can't be helped though. Accents stick to you. I've known people to join the army and come back with a southern accent. This was a strange phenomenon that I didn't understand until now when I hear myself saying things like rubbish and duvet apposed to trash and comforter. I dread to think what I'll sound like in ten years time...



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My Weekend...

Monday, February 27, 2006

I had a really good weekend. It started out Friday; we went out to dinner with Dougie. We went into town and couldn't get a table at our restaurant of choice for an hour and decided to book the table and go to a pub for a drink while we waited - bad idea. It was a bad idea for a few reasons - 1) Wayne was driving, which meant he couldn't drink (never fun when the rest of your party is drinking). 2) Doug already had a few drinks before we picked him up (quite common for Doug to do). 3) I didn't have a great week and needed a couple of drinks myself...
Needless to say Doug and I got a bit intoxicated (well Doug was a little more than a bit intoxicated, but that's what happens when you get a head start before even leaving the house). You know I'm a bit drunk when I'm running down the street holding hands with Dougie and giggling like a child (wearing high heels no less) to go see a fight down the street. I'm usually the one pulling Doug away from seeing the fight...
At dinner we started conversation with the table next to us and before long, we were all rolling with laughter. I love how alcohol can make conversation so real. People just speak their mind so freely and the result is often refreshing and quite entertaining. There was a couple at the table that have been trying to have a baby for the last year and they told us all about their efforts. This included the husband giving the details of his trip to donate a 'sample' at the clinic! I laughed sitting in that restaurant more than I had in a really long time.
After dinner, we went to a club that was next door and met up with the group that ate next to us. We probably should have went home after dinner, but didn't (much to Wayne's disappointment). I had one more drink than I should have and Doug had a few more than that. The end result was a very late start for all of us the next day. Wayne and I didn't leave for London until nearly 2:00 and Doug called to tell us he didn't get to work until 11:00AM (when he was supposed to be there at 6:00).
Saturday night, Wayne & I went to a play in London and then to dinner. The play was called Resurrection Blues and starred Matthew Modine & Neve Campbell (as well as some lesser known actors). It was really quite poor and my neck is still killing me from trying to see over the people in front of me (one of the many down sides to being short)! The highlight of my experience at the theatre was seeing a British celebrity walk past me outside the theatre as he was leaving (Steven Fry - not known by Americans, but very famous on this side of the world).
The rest of the night was really lovely. We had a fabulous meal at a Thai restaurant called Thai Silk. It was probably the best Thai food that we've ever had and then went back to the hotel.
We stayed at the Thistle Tower on the River Themes. We had a nice room that had a view of the river as well as The Tower of London. Before turning in for the night, we went out and took some pictures of Tower Bridge lit up. I'm hoping they came out really well and will post them soon.
Sunday, we went for a tour of the Tower. I've been there before, but have never been inside. I got to see the Crown Jewels which made it well worth it. I do suggest doing this tour in the warmer months though because it was really cold and there are very few parts of the castle that are heated. It's not for anyone who finds cold weather unpleasant (as I do). Wayne and I have decided that next year, we're going back to Jamaica for our anniversary and for my birthday, we'll be better off in Spain rather than Paris. The cold didn't ruin either trip, but I must admit that it would have been much nicer if it had been warmer - Live and learn. All in all it was a lovely, much needed good time!



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London Bound...

Friday, February 24, 2006

I woke up this morning, ready to write one entry, but am having to write an entirely different one. I was shocked when I found my in-box flooded with emails regarding yesterday's events on the expat forum and saw on this morning's report that this blog had 181 hits yesterday. Not only that, but even though I stated there would be no comments accepted on this topic (mainly because I'd already been treated quite badly and know how cliquey the forum can be), I had to delete at least 10 of them this morning. I deleted the comments and the emails without reading them (although, judging from the subject lines of what I saw - I thank you all for your support). I deleted them because I promised my husband I would let it go and I didn't want anything that was said in those comments or emails to start it up again. No, I don't like being accused of being dishonest and yes, I still think all of their behavior was unprofessional, but I'm letting it go.
My husband and I are going into London for the weekend to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and I'm not going to let a few strangers do anything that might effect our trip. I'm sad that I won't have the forum as a resource to meet other American expats and I'm sorry that my account was deleted before I got to contact the people I wanted to, but I'm letting it go, and I think that if I can, everyone that has responded or gotten involved should as well.
This is a personal blog and to be completely honest, I don't like seeing 181 people have seen it in one day. It may be public, but it's still quite personal to me. I never wanted a huge number of hits on this blog. I liked it a whole lot better when I got 50 hits a day(max). I'm really hoping when I get back from London things will be back to normal.



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Unprofessional behavior!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I just went on to the American Expats forum I belong to that I mentioned yesterday and I can't believe what I saw...
As I mentioned yesterday, there was a post left about my blog on the site. A really nice post that actually made my day. Today, I went to see the activity of that post and saw a response left by the girl that runs the site, claiming that me and the girl that left it the post, share the same IP address! Stating and I quote - " Why are you posting using the ***** account and your own account? The ip addresses are the same" She didn't ask if I was posting with two different accounts she asked why I was - accusing me of being dishonest in a very public forum.
1st of all - unless my husband left the post, which I highly doubt - it's just NOT true! 2nd - I'm a tech and used to be a network administrator! I know how the forums work, and would never do such a thing knowing full well I'd be found out! Not to mention that it's not in my nature to pat myself on the back or to be so deceitful!
What I can't believe is that this girl would be so horribly unprofessional! Here are the facts - either she didn't like something about the post and became malicious (not a real stretch of the imagination when talking about women) or my husband did leave the post as a way to make me feel good about what I'm trying to accomplish (which I HIGHLY doubt, but I'll discuss it with him tonight). What ever the case, it's highly unprofessional for her to post such a thing on a public forum insinuating that it was ME who left the post! If she suspected me of anything she could have contacted me privately to get the facts. I'm just shocked by this behavior from someone who is making money from this site! Yes, I PAID for my membership to that forum! I'm disgusted! I joined that forum to connect with people in the same situation as me. I joined it to try and meet people not be slandered and upset!


Comments on this topic are now closed and will not be accepted - good or bad - I have had enough for one day.
Thank you.



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Dinner party guests wanted...

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Having Doug for dinner last night was really nice. Dinner turned out really well. Even though it's Dougie and he wouldn't care if we had TV dinners, paper plates and plastic forks - he just likes being around us. We had a good laugh and we're always good with the banter and teasing - like siblings trying to out-do each other.
I enjoy being the hostess. I really like cooking for people and all the rest that goes with having company. I wish we had more friends, because I'm coming to realize that I'd be the type to have dinner parties. Parties where I'd cook a really good meal, light a bunch of candles, set the table really nice and invite a small group of couples where we could sit around with a few nice bottles of wine, laughter and good conversation. I was never in a place in my life before where I could do that. Now all we need are some friends.
Wayne didn't always live in this part of England. He moved here with his ex and never made any friends to speak of besides Doug. All his friends are back where he grew up and at our age - where do you make new friends? I don't work and he's an independent contractor that doesn't go to an office; so it's not possible for us to make friends with co-workers (which is how I've done it in recent years). Maybe I can take out a personal ad - Dinner party guests wanted. Must be intelligent, out going and witty...



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Dinner party guests wanted...

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Having Doug for dinner last night was really nice. Dinner turned out really well. Even though it's Dougie and he wouldn't care if we had TV dinners, paper plates and plastic forks - he just likes being around us. We had a good laugh and we're always good with the banter and teasing - like siblings trying to out-do each other.
I enjoy being the hostess. I really like cooking for people and all the rest that goes with having company. I wish we had more friends, because I'm coming to realize that I'd be the type to have dinner parties. Parties where I'd cook a really good meal, light a bunch of candles, set the table really nice and invite a small group of couples where we could sit around with a few nice bottles of wine, laughter and good conversation. I was never in a place in my life before where I could do that. Now all we need are some friends.
Wayne didn't always live in this part of England. He moved here with his ex and never made any friends to speak of besides Doug. All his friends are back where he grew up and at our age - where do you make new friends? I don't work and he's an independent contractor that doesn't go to an office; so it's not possible for us to make friends with co-workers (which is how I've done it in recent years). Maybe I can take out a personal ad - Dinner party guests wanted. Must be intelligent, out going and witty...



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English winter weather...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

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Yesterday, someone left a really nice post about this blog on an American Expat forum I belong to (the forum is http://www.americanexpats.co.uk if you're interested - it's a really good forum with truck loads of information). They said all kinds of nice things about this blog and now I feel the need to be clever, thoughtful or informative. Truth be told, I'm not feeling very clever today. The weather here has been rainy and cold for nearly two weeks now and it's not really good for me, my arthritis or my mood. Fatigue seems to be taking over today.
Doug (Wayne's best mate and my only friend in England) is coming over for dinner tonight. I don't know how that happened. It was like one of those moments that you see on 50s sitcoms - Honey, I'm bringing a friend home for dinner tonight (unfortunately, I can't just wiggle my nose or nod my head and have dinner ready).... Before he gets here, I have to cook a pasta meal (complete with homemade tomato sauce), clean the house and try to get some work done (I treat my web design training as a full time job). It's after 11:30 already. The morning has gotten away from me and I don't really feel like doing any of it. The couch, the faux fur throw and DVD player are calling me. I'd love nothing more right now than to curl up with my cats under the warm throw and spend the day watching movies, but I need to fight it and get to work. Maybe tomorrow I will feel like being clever...



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$$/

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

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We're going to London for the weekend to celebrate our first weeding anniversary. It's not Jamaica (where we were married & planned to go back again this year, but it wasn't in the cards), but I love London, so despite the English winter weather it should be wonderful.
I booked the hotel and theatre tickets last night. The exchange rate is a tricky thing when you move to another country (especially when it doesn't work in your favor), but with time you can learn to work it to your advantage. I still have my US bank account that we mainly use for travelling (as well as a few odds and ends here - I like to use my own money for some things since I don't work). I have learned a thing or two that I'll pass on to other US Expats living in Europe where the exchange rate can really hit you hard (at one restaurant in Paris I paid $8.00 for a coke!)...
I use a lot online services. When ever possible, I use US sites. That way I don't get hit with the exchange rate when using US dollars to pay for the services (or just take advantage of the savings when paying with

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I'm a lucky girl...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

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I am so lucky to have Wayne and the relationship we have. He listens to me - even when I'm being silly and worrying over situations that shouldn't matter as much as they do. I'm like that though. Things matter to me that don't seem to matter to other people, but Wayne just gets that about me, so he's always patient when I'm suddenly crying over something that wouldn't necessarily bother the average person. He says it's because my hearts too big and I just can't help it.
Some might describe me as the fiery type, but I used to be a lot worse. I used to be a force to be reckoned with. As I get older, the more cool-headed I become. Since Wayne and I have been together (Dec of 2003), he's only seen me really lose it three times. I'm still fiery and very emotional, but by no means am I like I once was. I do have to admit that there are still certain situations (and people) that can make me lose my composure though.
My husband is a calming influence. A lot of times, when my feelings are hurt, my first response is to get angry, lash out and think later. In the past this has gotten me into trouble and I've been left feeling horrible over something I said and never meant. Luckily because Wayne and I are so close, if he's around I usually go to him before acting. Unfortunately for him - it's usually to cry or carry on (depending on what the situation is and whether or not it's my mother that has hurt my feelings). Somehow, he's become my buffer. He always tells me, 'You have to learn to walk away from a situation before you act.' One of these days, he won't have to tell me and maybe it won't involve me crying to him before I do.
Just last night, I was upset over something and when I told him what it was, he said the wisest, most thoughtful thing that helped more than he probably knows. He always finds just the right thing to say to make it feel better and after a short bout of pouting, I usually do (okay so there might be a bit of shouting and crying before I pout about it).
I don't envy him for having to put up with me and my emotional ways, but I do love him for it. I know I'm too fiery for a lot of men, probably because most men are just as easily fired up, but not my husband - he can calm me down with just one look and a knowing wink. I'm a lucky lucky girl.



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I slept till noon today

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Couldn't believe it when I woke up and saw the clock - 12:05?? I can't remember the last time I slept past 10 (which is a rarity), never mind noon! All of the people that have to get up with an alarm everyday probably hate me right now - sorry.
I used to be an insomniac. I don't think I slept more than 2 - 3 hours a night from around1991 - When I met Wayne. The first time we spent the night together, I slept like a baby and I've had very few sleepless nights since. Lately, I haven't been lying awake at night, but I have had a lot on my mind and it was taking longer and longer to get to sleep.
There have been a lot of things on my mind - I'm feeling somewhat homesick. I say 'somewhat' because it's mostly just my friends I miss. Nicole (my best friend) more than anyone and I don't know when we'll be able to make it back next. I also have a bunch of family issues on my mind as well, along with various other things that are associated with living here (things I won't get into). But that hasn't been all...
Wayne has known something wasn't right with me. I kept saying, 'I just don't know what it is; I just feel unbalanced'. We'd talk about what it was and it helped a lot, but I really couldn't get to the root of what was wrong. How do you get to the root of it, when it's been the past that's been bothering you more than anything? We can't change the past. I think it was listening to that damned radio station that I wrote about over the weekend. It's amazing how music can be such a powerful thing. I've had all my past relationships floating around in my head. Good, bad and indifferent describes it the best - 'Good' being my first love, 'bad' being Roger (the one that I refer to as the bad ex throughout my blog) and 'indifferent' would be my ex husband (My high school sweetheart is mixed in there somewhere, but I don't think about him all that much). There has been one person in particular that's had me off balance. Yesterday, something happened that put everything back in it's place and judging by how I slept last night, I'm feeling much better. Sure I still have the same stuff on my mind, but now I just have a bit more peace of mind.



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Just to prove a point....

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
This entry is to prove a point to my husband which will make absolutely no sense to anyone else...
My high school sweetheart was a terrible cheat and an awful boyfriend (Sorry T.... if you ever read this - Wayne says I think you're a saint ... I don't, but love you anyway).
My ex husband was a great guy and a wonderful friend while we were together (my husband also says I never have anything good to say about him).
Roger is a sorry Fuck - I just felt like saying that.
I don't want to leave anyone out so - hmmm... M is one of my all time favorite people & one of the funniest guys I've ever met. I love that he cracks him self up more than anyone. I can just see him laughing at his own jokes... and the thought of it makes me laugh.
Hi Palmer. You're not an ex, but I thought I'd give you a honorable mention anyway...
So there Wayne! Tongue Out and I will not come down stairs in the middle of the night and change it!!

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Smoking Ban in England!!

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Parliament finally approved the smoking ban for England yesterday. I am really thrilled about this (Although, it won't take effect until mid 2007. Things take far too long in this country)! One of the things I hate about going out is the smoked filled pubs and clubs. The last time we went to a club (to celebrate my one year smoke free), as soon as we walked into the place, we were choking on the smoke. It was just awful. Not to mention that when I drink, I sometimes feel the craving to smoke. When the ban takes effect, I won't have to worry about such things and I think it's great! NJ also went smoke free last month so when I go back to visit, restaurants out there will be smoke free as well! woo-hoo! To read more about it click here.



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Valentine's Day Update...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

UPDATE: Smiley Shell Wayne brought me home flowers today. Maybe Valentine's Day isn't so bad after all. Yesterday, I told him the story below to fill him in on why I'm so bah-humbug over the day. So today, even though he dosen't believe in the holiday - he still did a thoughtful & very sweet thing for me! He's the best husband I've ever had (okay, so he's only the 2nd (and last) - but he's still the best)! Rolly 2



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Why I hate Valentines Day - By Erren H...

For the last few weeks, every time I see a commercial on TV for Valentine's Day, I huff or make some sort of sound of discontent. Wayne asked me every time - 'What is your problem with Valentine's Day??' I would just shrug it off and move on from the question leaving it unanswered. Wayne is not a fan of the holiday. He thinks it should be done away with altogether, so he's never pushed the issue.
Last week, I made a halfhearted attempt at making reservations for a Valentine's Day dinner. I called a few places, and was told each time that they would have a set Valentine's Day menu and it would be so much per head. It felt like a bad school dance and I envisioned tacky hearts and flowers decorating the restaurants. I just couldn't bring myself to book a table. I was really annoyed by this because I really wanted to make a change and actually do something for Valentine's Day, but the bottom line is - I hate the damned holiday and after much reflection, here's why...
I met my ex-husband when I was 20 years old. Up until then, Valentine's days in the past were tainted by one boyfriend that was a cheat and another that was absent from them because he left for the service very early into our 2 year, long distance relationship. So When I met my ex-husband, I had high hopes for a change, but soon found out that he hated the holiday and saw no need to conform and spend money on a day that was just like any other (much like Wayne feels about it) .
While we were together - every year, I'd see all the other girls I worked with getting their flowers, candy and romantic dinners, but I never got even a card. The more I made a fuss about it - the more defiant he got and it was a source of contempt between us every year for our entire relationship that spanned nearly a decade.
I have tried to blame my hatred for the holiday on him and his stubborn ways, but that's not all there is to it - early into our relationship, there was one Valentine's day that was much more painful than any other and it had nothing to do with him (not really anyway).
I was working in a department store at the local mall. Throughout my workday, all of the girls I worked with got their flowers delivered to them and candy and balloons and all of the other shiny red and pink tacky stuff you would expect. As always, my ex didn't get me anything. All day, I was really bothered by this and when the girl I was sharing my shift with got a dozen long stemmed roses delivered - I left in a huff to go on my dinner break and that's when it happened...
I turned a corner, and there he was - The love of my life (no, not my ex-husband, but the man that came before him. The man I'd been in love with from the moment I met him. The man that broke my heart when he married another woman). There he was, walking through the mall carrying a large teddy bear and big bunch of shiny balloons that said things like 'I love you' on them (all intended for his wife & mother of his baby). It was crushing. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't because he was headed towards me and I couldn't let him see me cry. My heart sank as he got closer. He spotted me and was visibly startled. As he passed, he looked at me with that apologetic look I'd seen so many times before - with big sad eyes and narrowed lips and I wonder what went through is mind at that very moment because he looked as if it broke his heart too...
I'm sure I went and cried it off somewhere, hiding in a corner with a pack of cigarettes until I had to go back to work. I'm sure the argument between my ex-husband and I was particularly bad that year and I'm sure it's a day that will stay with me and it's why I have always hated Valentines Day. I guess there are some things that we just don't forget.

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Feedback please...

Monday, February 13, 2006

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I've been making a load of adjusment to my site It's still a work in progress (I need to add the roll-overs to the links, I plan to add some flash enhancements and the photo gallery is far from done etc etc), but I think I'm going to stick to the new basic look of the site (although I can't swear I won't change my mind). I have tested it on my PC & the laptop with Firefox and IE, but can't test all screen sizes or browsers. I'd love some feedback (my husband is completely unfazed and is no help in that dept). Constructive criticism is good as well (I can take it Smiles I swear). The point is that I'd like some feedback on the look and feel of the site thus far. Since I'm teaching myself, it's not like I have a teacher to help me out with that sort of thing, so the visitors of the site is all I have (yes, that means you). So if you wouldn't mind taking a quick minute check out the site and comment, I'd really appreciate it.
Thanks
Come on, tech boys - ie: Roy, Mr Palmer, Jorge, Mike... and what ever happened to Mr Scott?? Hamburglar?? Gray Haired Man?? Where oh where did you go? ho-hum...



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Blizzard Blankets NY Metro Area...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

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NBC New York reports 'Blizzard Blankets NY Metro Area' There's nearly 2 feet of snow back home and it's still falling. There is a part of me that's feeling quite lucky to be missing the storm, but another part of me is kinda sad.
I won't miss trying to get my car out of snow that's so high, you can't even open the door or the other fun stuff involved with blizzards. But there is so much about it I'm missing right now. I'm missing watching it come down. There is something so peaceful about falling snow with it's silent beauty. I'll also miss being stuck inside waiting for it to pass. There's something about being stuck inside because of a snow storm that just feels nice - cuddling up on the couch to watch a movie, making homemade chicken soup or hot chocolate with marshmallows. I don't know. I just always loved that side of it.
What's sad is that wish I could be there to see my nephews playing in it. Jared is 5 now and old enough to really get into it. I wish with all my heart I could see it. Maybe my brother can take some home movies for me...



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It's all coming back to me now...

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When I started listening to my radio station from back home, I didn't count on the effect it would have on me. They say that music is the soundtrack of our lives. Indeed it is. It's amazing how when listening to a song, you can actually rewind and re-play moments of your life as if they just happened yesterday, and how sometimes without warning - you're just hurled back in time to a moment you've long forgotten.
This morning when I put on the station, I was inundated with memories when I heard 'It's all coming back to me now' by Celine Dion (she's not exactly my first choice in music these days). As much as I can't stand the her, when I heard it - I couldn't help but stop what I was doing because I had a flood of memories rushing through my mind. I could even remember a conversation that was had while the song was playing.
Just now, Under the Bridge by The Red Hot Chili Peppers was just playing (what radio station plays both Celie Dion and the Red Hot Chili Peppers anyway??) It took me back in time to 1992, when I first met my ex husband. It reminded me of us driving in his car holding hands and I could almost feel the hope I had that maybe this time I wouldn't get hurt. For the first time in years, I realized that my ex husband and I did have a time that was beautiful between us (somewhere along the way, I've forgotten that part of our relationship).
There have also been other songs that have taken me back to moments I'd rather not revisit ever again. Moments that were ugly and fearful with Roger (the bad ex). When I hear these songs, I hate him with everything that I am. I've never hated anyone before. When I hear these songs, I try to listen to them so I can face it head on, but most of the time, I take off the headphones and quickly chase the memories from my mind.
When your living in another country, there aren't a lot of songs that come on the radio which take you back in time. BBC Radio One has been sort of like a musical fresh start for me - a clean slate. Depending on how you look at it, it it's either a good thing or sort of an empty one. There are things about the past I'd like to forget; if they were handing out pills for it, I'd be one of the first in line. But there are also a lot of things I don't want to forget. Some things just define us - good, bad or indifferent - our history makes us who we are. Listening to this radio station has been like a refresher course on my life's history. Even though it's nice to have a clean slate (which is what Wayne has been for me in so many ways), it's also really nice to re-visit my life thus far.



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If you love movies and an intellectual opinion...

Friday, February 10, 2006

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On Fridays, there is a talk Radio show in the UK on BBC 5 Live that discusses movies. It's hosted by Simon Mayo and features a film critic Mark Kermode. Mark is great to listen to if you love movies and enjoy an intellectual opinion. I don't always agree with Mark's reviews, but I enjoy the show all the same. Mark loves movies (as do I) and it shows. He has rants that you just have to love which get better and better the more fired up he gets about something (and I love the fact that his vocabulary level gets higher and higher along with his blood pressure). He's opinionated and self righteous (as most highly intelligent people are), he's witty, he's well informed and has an arrogance that's likable because he can always back-up opinions. I like that because even if you don't agree, you can still respect him for being able to give you a really good reason why he feels that way.
They put a podcast online after every week's show and the website is loaded with all kinds of good stuff about his show and reviews (including an A - Z listing of his reviews).
WARNING: Occasionally, as with all movie reviewers, Mark gives something away about a movie that you would rather he didn't. I'm telling you this in advance so you don't blame me if he ruins a film for you.
Happy
That being said -he's well worth checking out...



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Weigh in...

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I did a weigh-in and measurement update today to track my diet results. Since my last update, I lost 2 lbs (which isn't worth reporting), 2.5 inches in my waist, 1.5 inches in my hips, and GAINED an inch in my chest. It's a bit curious how I can GAIN an inch in my chest, although my husband is doing the measuring and I am topless when he does it. We all know how men lose their sense of concentration when the breasts are out. Either that or I'm getting the dream diet results and losing weight without losing a bra size - I'd say the bare breasts are just distracting my husband.
Roll
I'm not going to question it too much though because I'm wearing jeans right now that 2 weeks ago, I had to change because Wayne told me and I quote 'You're not thin enough for those jeans yet' It may sound harsh, but he was just looking out for me, knowing I wouldn't want to go out wearing something that didn't look good one me. This time when he saw me wearing the same thing he said - 'hey, pretty girl'
I'm really pleased with these results considering I went off my diet the day before my birthday when Dougie took me out for a birthday Thai meal (one of my favorite UK things to eat) and didn't start it again until this past Monday. While in France, I didn't do too bad if you don't count the chocolate cresaunt (wow was that good) and the crepe I had for lunch on the last day. It wasn't until we got back that I did the hormonal eating - 1 snickers bar, a half a cake in one sitting (two days in a row - it was a very small weight watchers cake, but I don't think you're meant to eat 1/2 of it at one time), Two separate Indian meals (one of my other favorite UK meals) and an order of fish and Chips (yet another UK favorite). This was spread out over about 8 days and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. Dieting constantly really sucks and I deserved to eat what I wanted for a while and am quite proud of myself for going back on my diet when I said I would. The only down side is that I know my results would be even better if I didn't cheat at all.



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Team America

Thursday, February 9, 2006

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I'm sitting here trying to work. I have my headphones on watching a Photoshop training video on the PC. I stop it from time to time to try what they are teaching on the lessons. Wayne is watching the movie 'Team America' as per my request because I never cared to ever see it (probably because I have always hated South Park and was forced to watch it every week when I was with my ex-husband who was a fan).
I can't help but hear bits and pieces of the movie and I'm finding myself conflicted. Part of me wants to laugh at it, but at the same time the other part of me (the part that is an American living outside the country and feels the need to defend my country's bad behavior) wants to be offended and annoyed by it. The side of me that wants to laugh is winning.
What's strange is that I'm well informed enough to get the jokes. A few years ago, I wouldn't have gotten the political part of it. I would have found the movie moronic instead of oddly clever (in a moronic kind of way). Now, I not only get it, but I find it funny. Although, as an American, I also find it embarrassing.
It's kind of like the fact that they show Jerry Springer here. I hate it and feel that the American government should ban such shows from ever being aired in other countries, so that international viewers don't ever assume that the average American is anything like the guests on that show. Maybe I should write my former congressman =)
I guess i should get back to work...



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Spam Comments

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

I'm sorry to say that I had to add a commenter authentication service to my blog. I was getting a load of junk comments every day and I just don't have the time or patience to deal with such nuisances.
From now on, to comment you will have to log-in. To do so you'll have to register with Typekey which is a free service and not connected to my site in any way. They are the service that MovableType has chosen for their weblogs. When you comment, the only thing that I will see is the display name that you choose at registration so you will still have the option to be anonymous if you so choose (I'll leave a comment below to give an example). Also, since they don't give the option to display your email address - if you want me to have it, you will have to add it to your comment.
Thanks Guys
Smiles



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Radio from back home!

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Since moving here, I have really missed listening to music from back home and the entertainment culture of the US. I feel cut off in a way. I go back and I don't recognize music on the radio, faces on TV or know about big news stories that are in the papers. The only American news station we get here is the fair and balanced spin of FOX News and I can only stomch it in small doses (what I wouldn't give for MSNBC or US CNN). I still want to feel like an American. It's who I am - no matter where I live. Being here, is really like another world sometimes. I hate not knowing all of the current events and I miss a lot of American TV and news channels, but the lack of American radio has been a significant void (although I don't miss the commercials AT ALL).
We get a great deal of American music here, but there's a lot they don't play. People that have never lived outside their home country can't really relate to this, but imagine what it would be like to turn on the radio and not recognize one song you hear. No singing along in the car, no DJs that have become a part of your daily life - just unfamiliar voices and music. That's what it was like when I first arrived.
I have come to really like BBC Radio1 but I still miss music from back home and listening to the NY DJs (Scott and Todd on PLJ in the morning really tickle me and here, I HATE Chris Moyles on Radio1). I have checked and re-checked since my move to see if they put my favorite station online and today - I finally got it! I'm listening to it right now! OK, so they're playing Cher - I'll try not to hold it against them! Oh no! I hope my taste in music hasn't changed too much! Wayne always did tell me I had dodgy taste in music when we lived in NJ...



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My cats are driving me to drink!

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We didn't go to bed last night until about 1AM and I doubt I was asleep until 2. This morning, starting around 6:30, Alfie started crying at the bedroom door (and I mean crying) It's as if the little bastard knows he's annoying me and if he hits the right pitch and volume, I'm bound to get up and give him a cuddle.
At 8:30, I gave up on trying to get back to sleep and got up and dressed. When I opened the door, Alfie and Luka were both sitting outside the door waiting as they always are. Can I point out that they are cats not dogs! Cats are supposed to be independent animals that snub you until they want to be loved not behaving as if they are thinking - all I want is for you to be there for me to love and entertain me 24 hours a day or I'll scream at your fucking door until you do what I want!
I came downstairs and they both scrambled by me on the way down like always (as if my death would be more entertaining than anything, so why not send me flying). I sat on the couch to say hello and give them their much sort after cuddles, but they weren't interested. Sure they purred and got their hugs, but 30 seconds in - they were done - The little bastards.
I came over and turned on the computer, sat down and started my morning routine; which is to really wander around aimlessly until I wake up enough to have some real direction (this is what happens when you give up coffee after 20 years of starting your morning with it).
Someone posted a new blog for my list, so I popped over to it to see what was happening in their side of the world. As I sat here minding my own business - Alfie and Luka chased each other like little maniacs both doing random things to get my attention. I sometimes think they have a competition to see who will be the one to make me lose it.
Alfie chased Luka not passed me, but over me. Luka chased Alfie over every bit of furniture in the room. Alfie knocked a very large paining off the wall (which is usually what sends me over the edge, but not this time) I tried to re-hang it, but it fell more than twice so I threw it in the closet for Wayne to take care of later. Then it was Luka's turn. Before he did it, I swear he winked at his brother. He took a flying leap onto the desk next to me (that was piled in an organized mess of random papers notebooks, and software) and promptly fell to the floor taking everything that was there with him. I finally lost it and made some sound that sent them both running and cleaned up the mess.
The most infuriating thing is that now, they seem satisfied. Luka is lounging on the cat climbing thing we have in here and Alfie is on the couch. They both appear to be normal cats now that they drove me over the edge. They know that until tomorrow, the fun is over - the little fuckers.
I stand corrected - Alfie is eating a candle on the sideboard and Luka has decided to try and try to climb the curtains. They have plotted against me. Here we go again. Why is it I love them like I do?



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Mail Call...

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

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I just got the most wonderful letter in the mail from my best friend's 8 year old daughter, asking me for advice. This little girl is really special to me. She's the very first child that I have ever loved. She was born a few years before my 1st nephew and since her Mom is my oldest and best friend in the world, she's like a niece to me. She was there to see us off when we moved out here and that night, she slept with my picture under her pillow (although I'm not supposed to know about that).
I send her postcards from every place I visit and she thinks it's the coolest thing that I live in England. She took my letters and pictures to school for show and tell! Do you believe it?? I was someones show and tell! Bounce
This letter made me feel so special and at the same time, feel a bit pressured to come through with the right advise! I mean this is huge. What do you tell an eight year old about being teased in school? It's training for parenthood! Luckily, I think I'll be okay since she's being teased for being short and I have plenty of experience there (being no taller than 5' 2 since the age of 12)! Smiles



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Paris - Part 2

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After Notre Dame, we worked our way around the city, mostly on foot, but on the subway as well (wow did my feet hurt by the end of the day!). We marked all kinds of things in the guidebook that we wanted to see, but I was waiting for one thing - The Eiffel Tower. When Wayne told me we were going to Paris, one of the first things I asked was - Can we see the Eiffel Tower from our room?? He quickly informed me that they charge 3x the regular amount for such things and this time the answer would have to be no. Not that it mattered to me much at all.
As we made our way across the city, I took photograph after photograph of random things. I found the city to be just amazing and it took until the next morning for it to feel real. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was actually in Paris. It looked more like a movie with scenes of this place I'd seen on screen a million times before, but would never see for myself because that's just not my life. it's someone else's life - the kind you see in movies.
After walking a while, we took the subway to get to a building we saw in the guidebook and wanted to see for ourselves. As we walked up to street level from the station, Wayne said, 'Are you ready, we'll be able to see it from the street'. My breath got caught in my throat with anticipation, but when we reached the top, it wasn't there. Wayne looked around and said he must have read the map wrong. Then he turned me around and it was there behind the buildings. There it was in all it's glory - the Eiffel Tower! I screeched with delight and hugged Wayne trying to keep from jumping up and down and looking like a silly American tourist - but I fear it was probably too late for that!
We made our way to the building we were looking for and down every street, I looked for the tower and with every glimpse, like a child seeing their favorite toy in a store window, I'd make some sound of excitement. We found the building, took a bunch of pictures and made our way to the tower. I must of taken 50 pictures of it before we even got close to it.
On my first trip to London, when I saw Big Ben for the first time, I fell in love. I took photos of it from the first peek of it over buildings (blocks and blocks away) you can see the time on the clock spanning over an our and about 60 pictures. To this day, every time I see Big Ben I get excited. I just love it, but I have to admit that the Eiffel Tower is just amazing and out-does Big Ben. I told Wayne, 'I feel like I'm cheating on ol' Big Ben.' he laughed and I said, 'At least it will always be my first love. You don't forget your first' My love affair with Paris, much to my surprise - out-shined London.
Like with big Ben, I dragged Wayne back at night to see it lit-up (this time it was about 30 degrees colder, but it had to be done). We took a different route and walked along the water. The Tower at night took my breath away. Walking along the water with Wayne and looking up at the tower on my birthday, was one of those perfect moments that you just know you'll never forget. I have to admit, it got the best of me and I cried. I realized at that moment that I had everything I ever wanted and more than I could have dreamed of. I was overcome with emotion and couldn't help but cry.
I think it made it all worth while for Wayne. It was really cold, he had the flu, was up since before 4AM and walked mile after mile around Paris for hours on end (putting up with the language barrier and some pretty rude French people along the way). I told him he did a really good thing, but I think he already knew that.



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Paris (part 1)

Saturday, February 4, 2006

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While we we riding the subway on our last day in Paris, I said to Wayne - I don't know how I'll write about this without making it too long and boring. The key to blogging is not boring readers. he suggested I break it up into several entries throughout the week and I'm taking his advice...
To make our train on the Eurostar to Paris at 6:30AM, we had to get up at 3:45 in the morning. I wasn't sleeping anyway; like a kid at Christmas, I hadn't really slept well since he told me we were going. We got up at the right time, but still manged to miss our train (which I'm sure Wayne would tell you was my fault) . We caught the next one and were in Paris by 10:30 (Paris time).
We got off the train and headed for the subway so we can drop the luggage at the hotel. On our way to the subway station, Wayne mistakenly walked me right up to Notre Dame (trying to surprise me with it later). when I saw it, I got very excited and started to skip down the street and Wayne instantly scolded 'no skipping' (knowing I looked like a crazy American tourist). I just can't help myself. I get very excited by such things and become a real child.
After we dropped off the luggage our long morning became a very long day. We walked all over Paris (jumping on subway trains along the way). We started by going into a small cafe' for breakfast (because the menu in the window had English translations under each item). It wasn't the best start because they didn't take too kindly to my asking for a non-smoking table when we walked in (foolish American) and then our very friendly waiter (being sarcastic) didn't speak English. I very quickly became aware of why Wayne didn't like to travel to France.
After breakfast, we went directly to Notre dame. It's quite the spectacle. It's beautiful and It's huge - much bigger than pictures could ever do justice. We took the audio tour, but I didn't really pay attention to it because it was more religious than historical and I didn't need a refresher course on my catholic school education. So, I walked around and snapped picture after picture, knowing full well in the back of my mind that without a tripod, I didn't really have a chance in hell of any coming out (and I was right). I just couldn't help myself. It was beautiful and surreal. I was inside Notre Dame!
Check back soon for Paris part 2...



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Really Frustrated

I'm feeling really frustrated today with the web design. I just can't seem to get things to be the way I want them to be. I can get things done, but I just know I'm not doing them right. It's as if I find a work-around for everything I do. Like yesterday, I figured out how to do a photo album http://www.pond-hopper.com/Gallery/Gallery.html (which I was proud of accomplishing in one day - with the flu no less and my 1st attempt at anything flash), but when I published it and looked at it on the laptop (14" screen compared to my 19" on the PC), it didn't look at all like I wanted it to and I don't know how to fix it. I'm not a programmer; I can't read code (not nearly enough anyway) and yet, I keep finding myself looking at line after line to try and fix things and 1/2 the time, I find that I just spin my wheels until I want to throw the damed computer out the window!
I'm just plain frustrated. I want to be proud of what I've been able to teach myself, but I can't help but know that it's not done the way it's really supposed to be. The bottom line is that I really don't know what I'm doing and it feels (as my mother would say) - half assed. I don't know. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself again, but I can't help it. What's the point of doing something if it's not being done right?



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Back from Paris & suffering with the flu - Again

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

We got back last night from our trip to Paris. I'm exhausted, but can't complain because it was a wonderful trip. It was the best birthday I have ever had - just surreal.
I dropped the film off a little while ago and will be picking it up later, but I'm not sure if I'll post any today because I'm not feeling well. I had the flu for nearly three weeks in early January. I gave it to Wayne and he's had it the last week or so and now, has given it back to me. The good news is, it didn't really set in full force until this morning, so I was fine for Paris. I can't say the same for my my poor husband. He struggled with it while we were there (although he got through the worst of it earlier in the week). It didn't hold him back though. He put on a brave face and suffered through for me without ever complaining
Anyway, I'll write all about our trip and post some photos later today or tomorrow (depending on how I feel). If I don't post by the end of the day tomorrow then you'll know that I'm down with the flu.
I'm going to make myself some homemade chicken soup. maybe it will help...



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