Wow, this is my 555th post. That's fairly impressive. I did post a lot more in the old days, though. At some point over the past 6 years I grew up and had less time for internet stuff. :)
It's weird really, I always seem to have less time for internet stuff but I haven't blogged for three weeks and I can't think what I've done in all that time!
We finally painted the fireplace in the back bedroom, so now all we have to do is touch up the wall where it was damaged during the fireplace painting! Masking tape apparently removes paint from walls. Also I did get some 'granite' on the wall whilst painting. Painting is hard.
We've been playing a bit on the PS3, pretty good fun! Probably the game that's had the most play time is Motorstorm
, though I've played Heavenly Sword
a bit. And Rob was playing Drake's Fortune
today, which he got for his birthday. We have lots of games, most of the decent ones you can get. Fun fun fun! And now it looks like Blu-ray may win the hi-def format war, so bonus points to the PS3. Woo!
I've been watching Fullmetal Alchemist
on Anime Central
and enjoying it. Unfortunately I've been taping (well, recording onto a hard drive, old habits die hard) lots and haven't watched many, I'm creating a backlog, aargh...
This month has been Rob's birthday and Holly the Hamster's. Apparently one human year is twenty five hamster years, so Rob is still slightly older than Holly. An interesting (!!) fact.
Even more interesting is this: hamster for president
! Wow. I can't believe I just found that. Having vaguely heard about all the silly arguments and things going on with Mrs Clinton etc maybe a hamster really is the best choice. Though they wouldn't live long enough to serve a full term, would they?
I have also thought a bit about Heath Ledger, who I did admire as an actor, though I haven't seen many of his films. I thought he was amazing in The Brothers Grimm
, and anyone who works with Terry Gilliam (especially more than once) has to be good. I wonder what will happen with this film
now? I was looking forward to The Dark Knight
, too, which will be a different experience now Heath Ledger's dead.
Anyway, I should probably go and sleep, getting late. I can't stay up as late as I used to!
I meant to blog about our trip to America (Ali
, me and Rob) but I've been back a while now and I still haven't managed to blog! D'oh! But here I am. I suppose I could mention a few things about it...
I have to admit I didn't really like the trip all that much. I found the 'countryside' around Hanover, Pennsylvania, a bit boring. Most of the land seemed to be covered in weird housing developments that looked like golf courses, gigantic roads or shopping malls with the same few sorts of shops in them (and there were a lot of shopping malls). The shopping mall thing was weird because they all seemed so quiet compared to shops here. We saw a thing on TV about how busy the shops were and their film clip only showed 2 or 3 customers, which is odd. Are shops generally that quiet in America? I doubt they'd stay open here for long if they were that quiet.
Anyway, the land that wasn't covered with those things was taken up with big fields, which is something we don't have a lot of in the UK. That's mainly because our fields are the result of enclosure awards a few hundred years ago and some of them still reflect medieval land use. There are some large post-war fields (the result of agricultural 'improvement'), but still plenty of smaller ones. I presume that there were smaller fields at some point in America's history (perhaps the Amish fields, which were smaller, are more like they all used to be). But, personally, I find big fields a bit boring. So all in all I didn't like the countryside much. I also wonder about the planning regulations. In the UK you're not allowed to build houses in the countryside, but that's probably because we don't have much countryside. Are you allowed to build wherever you like in the USA? Interesting.
From a heritage point of view, it was also interesting to see the 'old' buildings. Anything Victorian or older was some sort of heritage building. You could get conservation people in to revamp your 120 year old house. Obviously they don't have so many older houses in the USA, but it was still weird - perhaps weirder because I live in a Victorian terrace and there are so many Victorian buildings around in Leicester. At work we're often dealing with things like Victorian factories or chapels and trying to get archaeological work done on them before they're knocked down or altered (building recording type work). I presume in the US people are more likely to care about Victorian structures than people do here.
So what did I like about America? I liked going to Washington DC and walking around the National Mall. That was my favourite thing. I liked walking around the Codorus State Park in the snow - very picturesque. Baltimore Harbour was pretty good, the Aquarium was worth visiting. And the things we did in Amish County - Kitchen Kettle Village
and the Strasburg railroad (including museum) were fun. I suppose I liked quite a few activities we did, I just felt uncomfortable a lot of the time. I don't know if it's because everything's fairly similar to England but, at the same time, unsettlingly different.
What didn't I like? I didn't like that the 'seasonal vegetable' was broccoli. Where are all the other vegetables? I didn't like that so many things were fried or came with cheese on them. I didn't like that you can't get many soft drinks (you can't get carbonated lemonade, you can't get things like J20 fruit juices, thankfully I didn't mind the taste of Mountain Dew). I didn't like that every food place you went to seemed to be based around steak and seafood, whatever sort of restaurant it was (even the Japanese one was 'steak and shrimp', and the Mexican restaurant we went to didn't have chili!). I didn't like that people can make right turns when the lights are red (which is when as a pedestrian you're supposed to cross the road). I found the waitress service a bit odd, for various reasons. I didn't like that you had to give America all your fingerprints on both hands and your photo before they'd let you in the country - in fact all the staff in the airport were a lot scarier than the ones on the UK side.
I could go on but it seems like I'm being overly negative. America is, after all, a different country. These things are what makes it American. So who am I to criticise? People thought I was odd when I returned, since I kept being a bit negative, but the only reason I went was because Ali's parents were paying for our flight and we were staying at their house - it was basically a virtually free holiday! So I would have been stupid not to go. And it was an interesting experience.
The other thing that has just happened is, of course, Christmas. I received quite a few excellent presents, including all the Michael Palin travel books (which I had been seriously hinting about for some time). Hooray! And with our Christmas money (and the hope of a bonus at Rob's work), we went and bought a PS3 and a 32" HD TV. The PS3 is really good, much better than the xbox. I can't believe how much nicer it is, there are all sorts of design features that are very neat. It's weird that xbox has been doing so much better over here (though not in Japan). Perhaps now they're cheaper they'll start doing better.
The only problem now is that all the normal TV channels look a bit rubbish on our HD TV. HD Sky costs a bit and there aren't many channels yet, so I guess we'll be waiting a bit before we get it. Have to rent some blu-ray films to make full use of the screen!
That's not a bad sized blog really, is it? I shall go now. If you want to see some pictures of my holiday in America they are here