Thursday, 31 March 2011

Which desperate housewife are you....?

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and to celebrate this, I decided to do a post just for the ladies today.


Hopefully, you’ve watched Desperate Housewives at least once, or heard about it. If you haven’t, here’s the link to the website, so you can get a quick summary and even watch a few clips from past episodes. Desperate Housewives is an American TV comedy drama, which follows the lives of a group of women as they work through domestic struggles and family life, whilst living in a posh, suburban neighbourhood. Here's the wikipedia link as well.

Now that you’ve been brought up to speed, my question is which Desperate Housewife are you?

From L-R - Renee, Bree, Gabby, Susan, Lynette
Photo Courtesy ABC.com
Bree – Mother of 2. Ultimate perfectionist. Very proper. Perfect wife. Model homemaker. Superb chef. Astute businesswoman.
Quote of note:- "Let's see. I'm getting a divorce, I lost my business and I'm sitting here trying to remember why I quit drinking. I've had better Mondays."

Gabby – Mother of 2. Ambitious. Sexy. Former runway model. Happily married. Very fashionable.
Quote of note:- "Carlos, if you get this worked up now, you'll have no place to go when the bill for the platinum card comes in."

Susan – Mother  of 2. Sweet, beautiful girl-next-door. A bit clumsy. Good heart. Neighbourhood’s perfect couple. Pretty outspoken when pushed.
Quote of note:- "We’re not poor. We’re just lower middle class"

Lynette – Mother of 5. Tough, savvy business woman. Over-achiever. Struggles to find the perfect balance between marriage, motherhood, and career. Cancer survivor. Big heart. Not perfect.
Quote of note:- "I'm a little busy right now. I've got five kids and a useless houseguest."  

Renee –Sexy, sophisticated, beautiful, outspoken and single.
Quote of note:- "Of course you can trust me. I’m beautiful"

I think I am a Lynette. Whilst I’m not quite in her ‘over-achieving, savvy, business woman’ league, I do admire and respect her parenting style a lot. I’m sure it’s pretty chaotic in the Scavo household with 5 children, but there is some method to her madness, which her children will thank her for later. She loves them fiercely, but she also knows where to draw the line between being a doormat to her family and being a loving and concerned parent. Don’t we all need to find that balance?

I know I am not a Bree (don’t think I really want to be that perfect!), and I’m certainly not a Gabby (I wish I was as fashionable as she is though, she’s lovely) . I also know I am not as scatterbrained as Susan (although I also find some parallels in the down-to-earth manner she deals with issues) and I’m definitely, definitely not a Renee (such a frenemy!)!

My final word on parenting style is a phrase I use a lot around my house ‘If there’s no blood and you’re still breathing, you’ll be fine!’.

So, which housewife are you?

References :- abc.com; wikipedia.com 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

O Hayfever, why do you torture me so?






My nostrils are blocked up
All the way up to Timbuktu!
The sniffling doesn’t stop
I keep saying ‘Atishoo’

I know I should be happy
Afterall, springtime is here
But I feel so crappy
And wish the flowers weren’t here!


The constant sneezing,
Itchy, dry and tingly eyes
The tension in my head is squeezing
My brain cells to the skies


I just can’t get enough sleep
Cos I toss and turn all night in bed
Everyone needs a good night’s sleep
But not with such pressure in the head


Count yourself very lucky
If you never have to worry about Hayfever,
Go ahead, be happy-go-lucky
Cos you don’t have to take an allergy reliever!

O Hayfever, why do you torture me so?
Am I your friend or foe?
All I want is a good night’s rest
It would take quite a load off my chest!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Take some time out

The harried pace of today’s society tends to look down on those who live life at a much slower, relaxed pace. They’re not ambitious. They’re too laid back. Surely, they could strive more....


In the mad rush that we call life, we need to step back periodically and create some 'me time'. Almost like stepping out of your life, to watch your life...You’ll be surprised at what you see...

Everyone needs 'me time'. Why? Because this is your time to regroup and recharge your energy. Your time to do whatever floats your boat, without having to worry about day-to-day chores. Your time to stand back, assess your life, measure your personal goals, aspirations and achievements and see if you’re still on track. And if you’re not on track, then this is the perfect time to plan what your next move should be, in peace and solitude.


'Me time' has to be scheduled, planned for and enjoyed. Treat it as seriously as you would a Doctor’s appointment or a very important business meeting that you cannot afford to miss.

'Me time' doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, the simpler, the better. You can go to the movies, go to the gym, schedule a day spa treatment, visit a coffee shop (several!), go shopping, go for a long walk – anything. Just make sure you spend it doing exactly what you want to do – pamper yourself fully!

The frequency and duration of 'me time' really depends on how quickly you get burnt out , and how practical scheduling that 'me time' will be (will you need to make arrangements for your children etc). Try not to make it too often, otherwise 'me time' loses its value and your family will probably scream ‘Neglect!’. Stick with the scheduled times (this way, everyone realises its importance to you). Avoid using the time for general household errands.

Once you start having your regular scheduled 'me time' sessions, you begin to look forward to it and you’ll be surprised how rejuvenated and refreshed you feel afterwards.

Monday, 28 March 2011

What a great weekend...or maybe not?

Don't you just love the weekends?


Friday evenings come with plans on how to make this weekend the best one yet – relaxing, cycling, walking, running, tidying up indoors, gardening, family outing, movies (Do feel free to plug in your ideal weekend pastime).

With this great weekend planned ahead, you decide to make a quick stop at the pub for a drink or two. (I could have sworn I saw so-and-so from work through the glass doors). Besides, what better way to start what could potentially be the best weekend ever, than by having a few drinks with some of the work crowd?

Fast-forward that and you end up leaving the pub at about 11:30pm. You’re completely drunk (I don’t know it, by the way, I just think that people are whispering and now I need to speak louder to be heard!) and unsure of how to get to the train station. You manage to get to the train station, find your train ticket (what are the odds of that, in my current drunken state!), head to the platform and wait for your train.

You get off at your stop (I still don’t know how that happened!), start walking home and manage to get into your flat (I really need to get someone to look at the lock. It took me over 20 minutes to get the key in).

The rest of the night is spent shuttling between your bed – with your pillows tightly pulled over your head blocking out all light, and the bathroom – bringing up whatever is left of the chicken wrap you had for lunch (wait a second, was that really the last meal I had?). You have a splitting headache and you hate any form of light!

You finally come to life on Saturday at about 3pm. Still groggy, painfully hungry and looking very unkempt. You’re still wearing your work clothes, by the way. And you know there’s no way to get your clothes to the drycleaners in time for work on Monday morning. Bugger! You rush into the bath and take a long shower, come out and take some painkillers for the headache, put some clothes on and head out to the shops to get something to wear to work on Monday.

You get to the shops at 5:15pm. (I live outside London by the way. The shops on my High Street close at 6pm and do not open on Sunday). The shop assistants are not really impressed with you turning up so close to the end of the day, looking so dishevelled. You catch a glimpse of yourself in the shop mirror and understand the reason for the glaring looks (I thought I ironed that sweater. And what is that yellow stain on the left thigh of my trousers?? How did I miss that?)

You head straight to the clothing section and pick out an outfit. The selection sucks but beggars can’t be choosers. You head out the door and right back to your flat (I can’t believe I just spent £145 on clothes I know I will never wear again!). On the way, you realise you haven’t eaten all day (save for that piece of dry toast I had with the painkillers just before I left the house). You stop by the local Chinese takeaway, get yourself some rice (nothing too oily for now). You sit in front of your TV at home eating your rice and watching BBC1 and thinking, ‘Where has my weekend gone????’.

It’s an early night for you and you wake up refreshed on Sunday. (What’s that dripping noise?) You look into the bathroom and realise that you never fully shut off the shower after you rushed out yesterday. Now there’s a leak in the bathroom and you know you’ll never get a plumber out on a Sunday without spending a fortune. You try to fix it, but no success. You call for a plumber and they come in (2 hours later!) and fix the problem - £75 callout fee and £40 for labour. (Ouch!)

It’s now 6pm on Sunday evening and you look outside. It’s getting dark and just starting to drizzle. Frankly, you are in no mood to go out. You go into the kitchen and make yourself a bowl of pot noodles. The last one. (I completely forgot I needed to go grocery shopping this weekend. Seriously, do the expiry dates matter on pot noodles?) Where did your weekend go?

(So much for the grand plans of Friday night....Imagine how different it would all have been, if I’d never looked through the glass doors and seen so-and-so from work?! But then again – where’s the fun in life????)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

This too shall pass....

I found this YouTube video by Yolanda Adams.
The song is titled 'This Too Shall Pass' from her Day-by-Day album.
The song title has always been one of my personal 'life' phrases, alongside 'Too Blessed to be Stressed', 'Life's too short' and my all-time favorite 'Let it go!'.

Sometimes, life leaves us feeling so overwhelmed and we are left bereft. There is that feeling of hopelessness about the situation especially when we cannot see a solution in sight. We try to blame someone, something, just to help us cope with the helplessness and despair. Sometimes, desperation leads us to consider options, which we normally would not have even glanced at.

This is where it becomes necessary to have a strong faith. The most important thing to remember is that 'This too shall pass'. It might not happen immediately, but do believe, it will! According to the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus - Change is the only constant. After the rain comes the sun, after day - night and so on...

I do hope the inspirational words of the song, are a blessing to you today, in spite of whatever you might be facing.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

To the Bride and Groom...

Take away love and our earth is a tomb. Robert Browning (1812 – 1889)


I cry a lot at weddings. I even cry during weddings on TV shows...

There’s just something so moving about a young woman walking up the aisle on the arm of her father / male relative to be given away to her husband. The prayers, the recital of the wedding vows, the exchange of rings, the first kiss as man and wife in front of the congregation – the entire service is very spiritual.

The knowledge, that from this point onwards, they (bride and groom) are embarking on a journey of a lifetime together – dreaming their own dreams, making their own decisions and planning their own future.

It is such an emotional ceremony for me that I always end up crying. No matter how much I try, my emotions always get the better of me.

I was at a wedding last weekend.

The bride was resplendent in her white dress, the groom - very handsome and dashing. Their bright smiles lit up the room. It was obvious to all present that they were in love. Love was truly in the air.

The wedding guests were quite an upscale bunch as well. Not that you could tell by their modest and polite behaviour. You had to look closely at the quality of the outfits that were worn, the jewellery that was adorning the necks/wrists/ears/fingers of the ladies, the general polished manner in which the guests carried themselves, to figure this out.

When the bride and groom danced into the room, it was evident that they were dancing for each other. Their own private waltz. Though there were over a hundred guests there, both appeared to be in their own world. Blissfully in synch.

There was a comedian present, who kept the guests doubled over with laughter. The guests in attendance were not first generation Americans, so naturally lots of immigration jokes were thrown out. His jokes hit home and the guests could relate to all his innuendos.

Food and drink was plentiful and there was more than enough for everyone. The caterers were very well organised and made sure everyone was well attended to. There was lots of dancing afterwards and we generally had a great time.

Why have I written about this wedding? Not sure why, but I’m a sucker for love.
Here’s wishing the newlyweds all the best for the future.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Double Entendres....

...Not so much of a sexual nature, but definitely lots of ambiguity in the play with words in this clip. It is just a reflection of how times have changed. (You might need to be just a wee bit of a techie buff to appreciate the humour). That being said, I do hope you all enjoy it. 

BBC Clip from Youtube

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Statistics (Part 2)

A fortnight ago, I put a post up on Statistics.


My goal is to reach 1.97 billion people worldwide (or slightly less, if you exclude non-English speakers, who are unable to read my invaluable blog, due to language restrictions!) someday....

So far, according to my blog stats, I’ve got readers in every continent, except South America. Not bad for a month's work, I'll say. I'm now in the process of setting up Google Analytics so I can analyse the sources of the traffic properly (it would help to know what attracted them in the first instance). I’ve also got a few signed up followers too, so it really can't be all bad.

I have therefore decided to do some research to find out the most effective way of increasing blog readership.

A lot has been written on this topic on the Internet – some, pure commonsense, some absolutely useless, and the rest, the result of detailed analysis and/or extrapolation from available facts and figures.

I’m going to try them myself and keep everyone updated on how effective they are – what works and what doesn’t. I’ll start the list with stuff I can control.

Content – the personal stuff (however intriguing I might personally find it) might be appealing to some, but definitely not everyone. I read somewhere that Personal Blogs are the least successful type of blog. That’s disheartening because this is exactly what I am passionate about - writing about random events in my daily life.
So the challenge, will be to find topics about occurrences in my daily life as a Globetrotter that could appeal to anyone, anywhere.

Follow other bloggers – I heard this is a very good way of getting your blog read. So, I’m going to surf the Internet and find other established blogs that share the same values like I do and follow them. Hopefully, their readers will find my blog interesting enough to follow, too.The Blogosphere has a lot of prolific and gifted writers, knowledgable on various topics. I just have to find the ones that I can truly identify with. The Outspoken Introvert. is one blog I discovered in this way. You should visit - you'll see why I became a follower!

Spread the word – This seems to be a recurring theme across most bloggers. (Thanks, Wordsmythe for that piece of advice. Hint: another blog you need to visit.) I’m happy to say, I'm now spreading the word and hoping that everyone else is too. If you find this (or any of the other posts in this Blog) interesting, do tell someone.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Weight loss, weight gain....

Weight loss, weight gain
Can you believe my weight’s up again?
You cannot say I do not try enough
But this is one struggle, I’m getting tired of


It’s so easy to pile on the pounds
The fried food, the burgers, the delicious doughnut rounds
It takes a lot of willpower to say no to good cuisine
So here's what I do, less ‘white’ and more ‘green’.

I try to eat right and make the right choices
All my flavour comes from organic food and natural spices
The salt is out, because of water retention
Yet all I see on the scales are numbers rising, what tension!

Just a week ago, I lost 6 pounds
When I was told, my joy knew no bounds,
But it’s got to be back, how do I know?
I feel so bloated and all my bulges are on show!

My tops are tighter, my shorts a lot more snug
Every single item of clothing, clinging like a bear hug
My skinny jeans, are no longer that,
They fit me like leggings and make me look fat!

But I’m not quite ready to buy into the latest fads
Cos I think most of those fads, are made up for the ads
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out to criticise
But logic tells me, weight can be controlled with exercise!

So off I go again, trainers on my feet
Heading out the door, ignoring the heat
If it’s the last thing I do, I will climb that hill
And then come back home to massage my sore and achy heels!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

It's Springtime

Spring is here! Yesterday, 21st March was the official start of Spring.

Spring is associated with brisk showers, milder weather, more sunshine, flowers budding – some already blooming, birds chirping like they have just discovered their voices after the winter hiatus.

Going by the weather reports across America, it does appear the West Coast is transitioning into spring nicely, with the reported mild weather as well as the necessary rain showers spring is known for. It seems the Southern states have skipped spring and decided to rush straight into summer. The days are getting hotter and just that little bit more humid. In the North East corridor, it’s a different story as they are still holding on dearly to winter, with snow storms still occurring and the wintry weather persisting.

All around the world though, it does seem like everything is thawing out, making room for Spring, a time of new beginnings.

You know it is spring when you are out and about. More people jogging and trying to get in shape post-winter. On the other hand, there are the hayfever sufferers like myself, sniffling and sneezing non-stop. It really is such a shame to be so congested when the weather is so beautiful outside. I notice the restaurant menus have also changed. Stodgy soups have now been replaced with light salads and soups. Heavily loaded paninis and wraps now replaced with light baguettes.

You know it is spring when you go to the Garden Shop. Lines and lines of brightly coloured potted plants, each one begging you to take them home. It’s very tempting to buy the whole aisle. I did that once and felt like a murderer when all the plants died, one after the other. These days, I get professionals in to do the job. It costs a bit more but saves me the heartache of seeing plants die in their prime, due to my ineptness!

You know it is spring when you step out into the High Street. Dark grey suits and black winter coats are being traded for brighter fabrics. The heavy chunky sweaters and covered boots of winter have now been replaced by light cardis, floaty skirts and open toed sandals. Little girls dresses abound in sweet pastel colours. Even the men adjust for spring, by swapping wool turtle neck sweaters for cute v-necked Argyle vests.

Spring is here! And I’m off to get myself some nice open toe sandals!

Monday, 21 March 2011

How do you define happiness?

'Happiness is a state of activity'...Aristotle

What is happiness to you?

According to Dictionary.com

hap•pi•ness –noun
1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

Synonyms
pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction.

Antonyms
1. misery.

We’re all created differently and therefore have varying personal thresholds for defining happiness, usually dependent on one’s personal circumstances at the time. The things that make me happy here in America today, might not be the same things that make someone in, say, Australia, Russia, Nigeria or China happy.

I personally believe that the state of HAPPINESS is always evolving in individuals. Tabloids and drug companies constantly try to create this fantasy, where happiness is a ‘must-have’. If you do not have 'happiness', then there’s something wrong with you and you need 'fix' it, usually resulting in long hours in therapy and/or the prolonged use of medication. But I ask, is it really possible to be constantly, consistently happy all the time? I do not think so.

At this point in my life today, here are some of the things that define happiness for me
- Being able to spend a lazy afternoon with my family, doing absolutely nothing
- A warm house, with warm food on a cold, rainy and blustery day
- Spending time with friends/family and having a really good laugh
- Getting on the scales and discovering that I’ve lost a few pounds
- Getting recognition for the work I do
- Finding a $20 note I had forgotten about, tucked away in my purse

When I was younger, I had a completely different list, and who knows, things might be different tomorrow. But this list here defines where I am today.

So I wonder...what makes you happy....today.....?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

One day at a time....

Still on the country theme....

This is a song by Wanda Jackson, one of America's first major female country and rockabilly singers, famous in 1950's and 1960's. Like I said in yesterday's post, I'm not a die-hard country fan, but you've got to admit that, country music can attimes be extremely soothing.

The lyrics of this song, which are pasted below, are always relevant and applicable. Not just in our spiritual journey with God, but also with most things in life.  So for today, I'm going to take the writing of this blog, just as the song says - one day at a time!

'Lord, Just give me the strength to do everyday, what I have to do!'

Here are the lyrics and the Youtube video! Have a great Sunday!

One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus
(http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/w/wanda_jackson/)



I'm only human, I'm just a woman
Help me believe in what I could be
And all that I am
Show me the stairway, I have to climb
Lord for my sake, teach me to take
One day at a time

chorus:
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That's all I'm asking from you
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do
Yesterdays gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time

Do you remember, when you walked among men
Well Jesus you know if you're looking below
It's worse now, than then
Cheating and stealing, violence and crime
So for my sake, teach me to take
One day at a time

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Texas hospitality at the Rodeo

So, we went to the Rodeo last night.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has been going on all month (it ends on Sunday) and we finally got round to going as a family today. It wasn’t really about the country music, if I’m honest and we got there too late to see any of the livestock shows or the bull fighting anyway. I think it was more for the simple pleasure of a ‘family outing’.

I tend to shy away from huge concerts or events that I have to drive to, because of the chaos that usually starts from the parking lot. A lot of event organisers skip this ‘minute’ issue, forgetting that the entire event experience starts from when you arrive there. If you are already frazzled by the time you park your car, how are you expected to relax to enjoy the event?!

I recall our experience last December at the Toyota Centre, whilst at a Houston Rockets game. We spent close to 45 minutes in traffic, just waiting to get into the parking lot. The second half had already started by the time we got seated!

I was expecting more of same at the Rodeo, but was delightfully surprised. The parking at Reliant Stadium was very well organised, with clear and visible directions on where to go. They even had free shuttles to take us from the Parking Lot to the Venue.

We had tickets to see Alan Jackson (an American Country Singer), but by the time we meandered through the food stands (have you ever tasted the huge Texas smoked turkey drumsticks or the gigantic corndogs), the fair rides (The rest of the family went on some really dangerous looking, twisty rides, but I only did the Big Ferris Wheel), the Texas truck displays, the bright fairground lights – it was already late and we had to leave. We never actually saw Alan Jackson, except on the TV screens outside.

Leaving the venue was also well organised. Each parking lot had its own exit, where the free coaches were waiting to take you back. The staff were friendly and polite - ready and willing to offer assistance. I wonder if this is standard Texas hospitality.

So, did we have a good time? Oh yes, we certainly did. Will we go again? Most definitely.
Next time, maybe, we’ll even get to see the concert and a bullfight....

Friday, 18 March 2011

What's your car to you?

Image (concept, design, drawing, delivery) using MS Paint - Melz2Belz

What’s your car to you?

- A home
- A necessary convenience
- An inconvenience
- A luxury
- A status symbol
- A trashcan
- A treasure

I feel you can tell a lot about people from the way they treat their cars.

My car is a home – I’m not necessarily homeless, I just live my life and run my business from it. I have pimped my car up to the max, to ensure it is ‘fully loaded’ and equipped with all I need!

My car is a necessary convenience – Ideally I would love to do without a car (to save the planet), but that’s not practical for my lifestyle, and therefore I need the car.

My car is an inconvenience – I spend more time and money than I should, keeping my car on the road. I’d sell it in a heartbeat, but who would want to buy it?

My car is a luxury – I don’t need a car and I really can’t afford one, but on rare occasions – weekends and for special events – I do need transportation.

My car is a status symbol – I have a very expensive car, which I can’t afford, but I need to keep it because it tells everyone that I’m doing really well.

My car is a trashcan – Because I am so busy, I am too lazy to throw stuff away in a proper trashcan. It does mean that I can never give anyone a comfortable ride, without doing a quick clean up first.

My car is a treasure – I love my car and I love what it says about me. I keep it clean, and have it checked often. I’m not fanatical about my car, but I certainly love driving it around town.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Seamus, my Leprechaun lover

Hey Seamus,
Aren’t you famous?
Today is your day,
It’s St Patrick’s day!

I was out walking and got you a shamrock
Didn’t think you’d want the 4 leaf clover, not even for luck
The entire world does see you as a grumpy, old leprechaun
But with the Claddagh Ring on my finger, my heart sings a different song

You know, it's never been about your treasure
Being with you is all about the pleasure
I’ve been praying for this, each night on the Cross
The time we spend together as lovers, should not be a loss...

Top of the morning to you, as I sit on your lap
Do play me a song on your Celtic harp
And when this is over , let’s get drunk on some Guinness!
A ‘bitter’sweet way, to seal our future Happiness!


Image courtesy Microsoft.com

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

My top 7 ways of keeping in touch...

As a Globetrotting Executive, I am fortunate (very fortunate) to visit a lot of places and sometimes even get to live in some of those places for extended periods of time. This is indeed a big deal to me, because never in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be doing this today.

Arriving a new location is always a mixed bag of emotions for me. Happiness at arriving the new location -  a new beginning, lots to explore, lots to do, people to meet etc. But on the other hand, my entire being is filled with sadness - missing the people we left behind at the last location - the friendships we formed, the fun we had.

The bigger problem comes though, with trying to keep in touch with the people you no longer see regularly. Not too long ago, all we had for communication and keeping in touch was the telephone and hand written letters in the post. Gradually, email crept in and the techno savvy people quickly jumped on this as a means of staying in touch. (A majority still relied on the telephone and the mailman, just because...)
Today, there are boundless options. Thank you, Mr Technology, for providing the world with so many different ways to communicate.

These are my most popular choices for keeping in touch






Telephone – I use this for long conversations, too juicy to be typed up in an email. Conversations requiring instant feedback. (For my long distance calls I use a online service offered by a company called Peezy.com. You sign up online and access the reduced calling rate via a special number. Top ups are online, and so saves you having to rush out to a shop to look for phone cards, in case of emergencies. I have also heard that Vonage is good, but I’ve never tried it.)

SMS Text Messaging – I find this really handy if I need to send a short quick message to someone and I’m expecting a quick response in return (Most cell phone providers offer this on their calling plans)

BB Messenger – This is free for any Blackberry to Blackberry texting. I have to say, this was the one criteria on which my decision to buy a Blackberry was made.

Email – I use this for semi-formal conversations, or for things I might need to refer back to at a later date. (There are lots of providers on the Internet, many of them free. AOL, Google, MSN, Yahoo)

Facebook – This is so much fun. In one place, I get to send messages to my friends, get to see pictures of them and it really feels like they are present. I keep this quite personal and would never connect with total strangers or casual work acquaintances. Also double-check all the security settings, to ensure your safety and privacy is not compromised.

Linkedin – This is for my professional networking. I keep this serious and generally only use it to communicate with those I have met through work/career.

Skype – This is also free (Skype to Skype), and I use this when the telephone is just not enough and I need to get a visual of the person I’m speaking to. Depending on where you are calling and the quality of the infrastructure, using Skype can often be a challenge (dropped lines, loss of image, voice and image not in sync etc), but when it works well, it’s a steal.

(I don't tweet, so it's not one of my top choices)
So how do you keep in touch as you trot the world?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Boundarylessness

I spent over an hour yesterday switching my Apple ID from UK to US, all because we wanted to buy some songs from iTunes. This was the final piece in the puzzle for completing our transition to the US.

This should normally be a simple, straightforward activity. After all, isn’t most technology boundaryless - laptops, desktops, printers, ipods, ipads?

We had a couple of ipods when we lived in the UK. We bought songs from the iTunes store and downloaded these with ease. Just before our move, we even wisely pre-loaded the account with some money, just to guarantee access to things we need until we settle.

We recently exhausted our UK account balance with Apple (we were down to 57p) and decided to top up in the US. We bought the iTunes giftcard in Bestbuy and headed happily home. Fairly simple task, we assumed. We’ve done this loads of times before.

It wasn’t that easy.

The first problem – because of the balance of 57p in the UK, we couldn’t switch the account over to the US. We needed to exhaust the 57p first. The cheapest song on iTunes was 59p, so we needed to load an extra 2p to exhaust the UK account, before we could transfer. This orchestrated a frantic search in the house for a UK credit card, so we could load the required 2p (All the UK cards hadn’t been used since we arrived here 6 months ago).

The second problem – finding a UK credit card that hadn’t expired! This was a tough one, but we eventually found a card that we could use. Deciding what to buy was also tricky, bearing in mind that we all have different tastes. We ended up going for something by Black Eyed Peas and thus cleared the UK account. (The track we bought was 99p, so we did end up spending a bit more than our 2p goal)

The third problem – converting the account to the US region. Oddly enough, this proved to be most exasperating part of the process. Not sure why. I ended up typing in details for 3 different bank cards (16 digits to be typed each time!), before one was finally accepted. Success! 

We eagerly logged onto the account to shop. Our transition to living in America was complete! We live here now, we shop here! (I had to do a similar ‘transfer’ for our Dell computers, so I could keep the warrantees valid, but that’s another story)

My simple question is – how hard would it be to include a currency converter module in the underlying Apple script, that knows where I am and converts my balance to the currency of my current location – provided I answer all the security questions correctly?

Somehow the guys at Visa have managed to make Visa universal, because you can shop wherever the Visa sign is seen, regardless of where your account is held.....so maybe the same logic could be used....just maybe...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Blogger's block already????

A POEM ABOUT "BLOGGER'S BLOCK"
I’d been signed off for a month, you see
I blessed the Doctor for setting me free
From the carpool line, the cooking, the cleaning
Bed rest, he said. My head was spinning!

Initially, it was such a great idea
I promised myself I’d blog each day here
But alas, I’m all out of steam
And, now it seems like a crazy dream

I never realised how much hard work it is
To write a new essay each day, that is..
I thought it’d be easy ‘cos I do speak English
But I found out so quickly, I was absolute rubbish!

It is a skill, so do not be fooled
To do this right, you need to be schooled
O dear inspiration, wherefore art thou?
Pray, do not desert me just now

So until I find something else to educate
(All this, I guess, while I recuperate)
I’m just going to sit here and keep thinking up
These really annoying rhyming poems, and not stop!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Power of Prayer....

I BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PRAYER
I do believe in the power of prayer
What better way to communicate with the Father
It’s God’s proven way of talking to Him
Do it with meaning, not just on a whim!

In a quiet room, on bended knees
It’s quite easy to do this with ease
Open up and talk to your Creator
You must remember, he’s also your Saviour

Prayer is indeed such a powerful tool
Having this outlet doesn't make you a fool
Unfailing said, on each blessed day
Prayer's the best way to start and end the day!

I'll end today's post with a song that never fails to lift me spiritually. Everytime I listen to this song or sing it, I am immediately pulled into the ultimate Praise and Worship realm, where I begin to appreciate (yet again!) just how great our Creator is!

Carrie Underwood does a wonderful rendition of 'How Great Thou Art'. Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Basketball season is over, or is it....

We’ve just finished Basket Ball season for my kids. Being new to town, our involvement in the entire exercise helped immensely in my discovery of my neighbourhood, as we went from one game to another.
I got to know all the schools within a 10 mile radius and how to get there.


I met with several equally determined parents, who gave up their Saturday mornings (and oftentimes weekday evenings) to ensure that they were always present to cheer their kids on. Our coaches were excellent - they made sure that it was not just about competition and winning, but also learning the rudiments of the game and how best to excel in the game, how best to excel in life generally.

We rejoiced at the end of the season because we thought Saturdays and weeknights now belonged to us, parents. We rejoiced too early....

It’s Track and Field season now and it appears this is going to be even more brutal. It’s 8am starts on the Saturdays when we have Track Meets.
I am thrilled for children (mine inclusive) that they have an outlet outside of the classroom to socialise and do something different. (Thank you - Parents, Coaches, Schools and Organisations in all you do to give kids memorable childhood experiences).
I guess I’m just a grumpy parent who wishes I could get to spend more time in the house that I pay for.

After a long and busy work week (I work from home, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too loudly...but hey, I’m still speaking for the hordes of working parents out there who have to endure this), you would think that the weekend should be yours to enjoy as you please.

But when you factor children into this (or any) equation, it’s a completely different story...

Friday, 11 March 2011

Devastation in Japan

Image courtesy msnbc.com

There’s devastation in the world today
Because of an earthquake, faraway
I was having breakfast, and eating my toast
When I heard about happenings, in Japan’s East Coast
Hundreds of homes have been swept away
Entire neighbourhoods turned into seaway
People are missing - cars, ships, boats and trains
Fear, chaos and confusion is all that remains

There’s devastation in the world today
One of the most shocking earthquakes occurred today
Oh dear Mother Earth, why do you rage so
Taking villages and cities, as the waters flow?
Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Samoa
Do you remember the one in 2004?
The Earthquake triggers and then comes the Tsunamis
Wreaking havoc and destruction, through all the cities


There’s devastation in the world today
Did you hear the news or are you locked away?
To offer assistance, you don’t need to be present
There are ways we can help, which will be heaven-sent
Prayers. Donations. Helping hands if you can
But do try and do something. Help the people of Japan
There’s devastation in the world today
What would you do, if it was coming your way?

 
If you are interested in making a donation, I'd recommend going to any of the leading News sites (bbc.co.uk, cnn.com, msnbc.com to name a few) and follow the links on the story to see how you can help. Thank you.

Spring break - what are you doing?

It’s that time of the year again.

I hyperventilate, my speech becomes slurred, I’m gasping for air and I am totally lost for words.

What triggers off this reaction? It's certainly not hay fever or anything that straightforward. It's the dreaded question – ‘What are you doing for xxxx?’
Substitute xxxx with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Summer Holidays, any holiday!
In this case, it’s Spring Break.

Spring Break is next week for us and I still haven’t got an exotic location or activity lined up for my family. Everyone seems to have it all sorted out – flying to Europe, skiing in Colorado, road trip around Texas, intensive music/arts/sports camps for their child prodigies – name it – they’re probably doing it.

I have trained my antenna to pick up when this question is likely to come up in a conversation.

Cluster of parents
Parent 1 – Hey!
Perent 2 – Hello. Long time no see!
Parent 3 – ‘Hi. What a lovely day today’
Parent 2 – ‘I know. Isn’t it amazing how time flies? I haven’t seen you all in ages’
Parent 3 – ‘So true. I can’t believe it’s Spring break already and the kids break up on Friday.’
**** This is my cue to start walking away slowly, because the next question is always the one that triggers off my reactions
Parent 1 – ‘So what are you doing for the holidays?

As predicted. Thankfully, I am a few yards separated from them, talking on my phone or texting (it doesn’t really matter who I’m talking to or what I’m doing, so long as I look busy and I am not interrupted!)

Now I’m not sure if this is just playground etiquette and if they’re really interested in what I have lined up for the holiday week. But my allergic reaction is playing up too badly for me to be rational about this. Are they even listening to my answer? Or are they just being nice?

I guess there’s always an easy way to find out. I’ve decided that the next time I’m asked the dreaded question.

‘So what are you doing for the holidays?’

This is going to be my standard answer

Clear throat before speaking to ensure you’ve got the attention of your listeners ‘Actually we’re going skiing in Colorado for a day, and then hiking in Africa for 2 days, after which we’ll be surfing in Australia for another 2 days, before a quick stop in Europe for some shopping and then finally arrive back home on Sunday, just in time for school on Monday!’

I think that should get everyone’s attention! (or not!). With my luck, I would probably get some criticism for packing too many activities into one week!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Statistics....

There are
• 7 continents on Planet Earth
• 195 countries in the world
• over 6 billion people on earth
• over 2 million people in my city alone.

Does that make you feel small yet?

But here’s another angle.

According to Pingdom, there are

• Approximately 1.97 billion – Internet users worldwide (June 2010).
• Approximately 255 million websites (Dec 2010)
• Approximately 152 million blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).

Do you see where I’m going with this yet?

I’m a blogger (albeit a very, new blogger). This means, my blog is one of the 152 million blogs out there.

I also know that there are 1.97 billion Internet users worldwide. This means, there are potentially 1.97 billion people out there who could be reading my blog (ok, maybe less, because not everyone speaks English)!

So far, I’m not doing too badly, if I go by the stats I’m getting. (the light green and dark green areas are where my readers are)



This is why my next pressing task is – how do I increase readership? How do I reach the 1.97 billion people worldwide?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

My blackberry died today....

My Blackberry died today
Oh dear, what can I say?
I feel I’m trapped in a dark room,
Like a corpse in a cold dark tomb

My Blackberry died today
What a way to start the day
The new day, the new week
It hurts so much, I can barely speak!

My Blackberry died today
A truly sad day, if I may
It's sad to see, how addicted I’ve grown,
To that bit of black plastic I own!

My Blackberry died today
I’ve lost everything, I say
My contacts, my texts, my pictures, my friends
Is this where my life ends?

My Blackberry died today
"So what", I hear myself say
“I’m footloose and fancy free
And won’t be controlled by thee”

My blackberry died today
And deep down, I say Hooray
It’s peaceful now – I’m having so much fun
You see, the constant ringing is gone....

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

It's Mardi Gras

It’s Mardi Gras, It’s Fat Tuesday, It’s Pancake Day, It’s the Feast before the Fast!!!!


Having lived in New Orleans for 4 years and enjoyed 4 lovely Mardi Gras seasons, I would give anything to be in that location at this time. The ambience, the music, the food, the parades, the floats, the blast of colour!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a huge never ending street party and the whole town is agog with excitement and joie de vivre. It starts about 2 weeks before the actual Mardi Gras day and ends promptly at midnight on Mardi Gras.

It is the celebration of the day before Ash Wednesday, where everyone celebrates the eve of the beginning of Lent with dancing, feasting and merriment.

I thought I’d do a poem for this one...

As I sit here in the Quarter
Watching with my daughter
I see the colourful floats go past
On the Feast before the Fast

Mardi Gras is once a year
It doesn’t matter what you wear
Just come on out and join the crowd
It’s ok to be really loud!

Laissez les Bon Temps roullez
That’s what the Natives always say
Sitting in downtown New Orleans
Eating red beans, rice and collard greens

It’s Pancake Day
And come what may
I’ll eat to my heart’s delight
While dancing in the evening light

Purple Green and Gold
The Mardi Gras colours of old
It’s midnight now – time to clean up
And all before the sun comes up!

Photos courtesy Microsoft.com

Monday, 7 March 2011

I've seen the future and it works....

My daughter got back from school and showed me this YouTube clip which had been shown to them in class. It's Corning's vision of the future with glass at the heart of it.

Watching this just made me realise how far we have evolved, as humans, since the beginning of creation. Did the cavemen who huddled together with brown sticks and brown stones, lighting fires to keep warm, EVER imagine that the world would get to this level of sophistication???


Just how have we evolved though?

We encounter glass in so many different ways in our daily lives.
  • Entertainment - We eat with glass plates and drink from glass cups.
  • Furniture - We furnish our house with glass – tables, refrigerator, stoves, ovens
  • Illumination - We illuminate our house with glass chandeliers and glass bulbs.
  • Engineering - We drive cars that have a glass accessories and parts – mirrors, lights.
  • Lifestyle - We decorate our houses with glass ornaments.
  • Fashion - We wear glass as ornaments or glasses.
This video however takes glass beyond the basic uses that we know and transforms this usage through unique, ingenious creativity, with the clever use of communication, technology and explosive ‘thinking-outside-the-box’, into Corning's vision of the future.

Every counter top now performed multiple roles and data was being transmitted with ease (with the cellphone at the core of all that communication)
  • From telephone to countertop, so the kids could speak to Grandma
  • From telephone to office desk, so the designs could be imported
  • From busstop to telephone, so traffic data could be uploaded and taken away
One thing I couldn’t get past, was the clean and smooth lines in the video. Is that how squeaky clean the future is going to be? The ease and speed with which the data is being transferred is also remarkable. How fast is the speed of the network that will carry all this data, so seamlessly? I’d die to see what their data centre looks like to be able to carry and maintain all that information.

 I'd love to be around to see Corning's vision of the future (surely, it can't be that far away).....wouldn’t you?



Sunday, 6 March 2011

Lent

Before I go ahead to discuss Lent, I thought I should post one of the best renditions of ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’ that I have ever heard! I found it on YouTube. Epic! His name is Bryan Wilson and he was part of the Mississippi Children's Choir. I do hope he is still singing today. What a voice!


Now let’s talk about Lent.

This Sunday is the last Sunday before the season of Lent starts.

Lent is the 40 day period in the Christian Calendar leading up to Easter Sunday. It starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. It is usually a period of prayer, fasting, sober reflection, spiritual growth, repentance and renewal. The culmination of the spiritual renewal usually occurs on Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ, 3 days after His death on Good Friday.
Fasting has multiple benefits – spiritual, physical, mental even and is typically accompanied by prayer. There are several references in the Bible that use the 2 words in sequence (Nehemiah 1:4, Psalms 35:13, Daniel 9:3)

Admittedly, we all need food to survive, but the simple act of going on a fast, is affirmation that we are denying ourselves to worldly things (e.g. food) in order to open ourselves up to meditate fully on the Word of God and discover His purpose for us on earth.

A friend once put it lightly that God has planned our lives so well, that He’s even devised a way to make us lose some weight (post the indulgences and excesses of Christmas and pre the onslaught of Summer), by adding Lent to the Christian calendar. A very simple interpretation I’ll say, but who knows the mind of God? Who knows?.... One thing we do know is that He wants the best for us, and if that entails enforcing a period of fasting and prayer to get us where He wants us to be, so be it!

Fasting approaches
  • Some people chose to do a complete fast for the period of Lent, where they abstain from all food and drink during the course of the day and then end the fast each evening, first with prayer and then a meal.
  • Some people only abstain from all food during the day, but not liquids (like water, tea, coffee).
  • Others simply identify a specific item that they have a great affinity for (food, alcohol, cigarettes, tv etc) and abstain from that item for the 40 day period. This is their own way of denying themselves of an item that they could be ‘addicted’ to, as a way of gaining an upper hand, releasing them to offer themselves fully to God in prayer and supplication.
The Bible provides guidance on how best to fast in Matthew 6:16
And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get

Simply put, your fasting is between you and God. No gain in walking around looking hungry and morose!

Caution:- If you do decide to fast for the first time this year, please check with your physician before you commence.



Saturday, 5 March 2011

Do you watch TV?

I watch TV.

There, said it!

Some people choose not to watch TV because they say it’s a complete waste of time and there’s nothing to be learnt from it. I truly can’t say I blame them, if we go by the deluge of Reality TV shows that are constantly being aired. Pray tell, WHAT is so intriguing about watching people make complete fools of themselves?

Some admit to not watching, but just need the noise from the TV as background noise. These people could easily substitute the TV for the Radio, because it’s just the noise that they seek.

Some people admit to watching TV but say they only watch the news.

Some people admit to watching TV, but only on the weekend.

Some watch all the time.

I watch TV, but my style is rather unconventional.

I love watching comedies, but really struggle to watch anything continuously for more than 30 minutes. (Not sure why, but I think deep down, I feel guilty that I am not doing something more fulfilling and rewarding within that time). This way of thinking therefore limits me to 30 minute episodes of comedies. I don’t feel guilty and I get to laugh. Laughter is key to me and how I live my life.( I read somewhere that the average person laughs about 13 times a day. How so? My friends and I far exceed that number each day, every day!). I also watch Game shows because they challenge your mind, in the wierdest way possible. Yes, it’s trivia but still a brain workout!

I do not enjoy watching crime / detective programmes (Law and Order, CSI sorry). Surely the news provides enough of that in true living colour? I also do not enjoy watching sports and I have absolutely no interest in documentaries about past wars, history of the world etc.

I never sit to watch TV, just like that. I must multitask while watching TV – do the dishes, fold the laundry, pay the bills or read a magazine (yes, it is possible to watch TV and read a magazine). I admire those who can fully relax in front of the TV and do nothing else but watch the box. Impressive, but that’s not my style.

So, do you watch TV? What do you watch? How do you watch?

Friday, 4 March 2011

Ending the week with a poem...

I’M FEELING MUCH BETTER...
I'm feeling much better
A whole lot wetter
Because I took a shower,
I had so much power




I'm getting much stronger
It's not much longer
Before I can step out
In the park and shout!


I made a meal
But not oatmeal
Something nice
That wasn't rice





It tasted just right
It was nice and light
It wasn't too heavy
And certainly not stodgy



There's a new purpose to my life
I'm not just a mother and wife
I'm learning to be a writer
And getting to be so much wiser!


Photos courtesy Microsoft.com and author's personal drawing
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