Monthly Archives: December, 2013

2013 in review

As promised, the WordPress review of the years activity

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A look back at 2013

The personal version at least. When WordPress issue the yearly stats for this site, I will post the details here, as before, for anyone that cares?

Yes, I know, a couple of days early, but if you saw my shifts for the next couple of days, you’d know why!

I suppose the main thing that has happened this year that surprised me, is that I’m now an ebook author, and have received actual royalties for my stories. Alright, so I currently only have 4 story releases (the 5th early in the New Year), and have only sold 34 books, but if you’d told me at the start of the year that I would have made any money by it, I would have laughed at you! But its been fun, I must say.

This year has seen 3 big trips away from home, one to Belfast for a couple of days cricket (involving a lot of rain, and some cricket) so that I could see Trent Johnston play one more time, before retirement. The other 2, unsurprisingly to the US, the R’s of Rochester, and Richmond. With no disrespect to Kate, or Richmond, the Rochester trip was the special one. The chance to see where Louise Brooks lived for many years at the end of her life, and more importantly still, to pay my respects at her graveside were precious. More on her in the look forward to 2014 on New Years Day, shall we say? 😉

Oh, and the other surprise event, I went to a pop concert! That had been quite a while, I promise you. Yes, I got to see OMD live in Leeds, a sort of full circle seeing that I saw them in concert in 1982, in London as well. I almost saw the Beach Boys in Richmond too, but discovered it too late to sort it all out for me and Kate. Yes, alright, about 3 hours before the concert in fact, far too little notice!

Sports wise, beyond the cricket, I had the coldest game of Baseball I ever hope to have, back in Rochester, in April. I think the official temperature was 43, but I dread to think what it felt like, given the wind chill factor too. I was glad to get a hot coffee (or 2) afterwards, in a valiant attempt to get warm again.

Beyond that, pretty much work, and putting up with Trans Pennine Express, and their awful service took up plenty of time. No comment on either.

The video, well, its not a song tonight. My best selling book (so far) is one called ‘No Place Like Nome’, based loosely around the 2009 Iditarod race, just over half my sales in fact. So the video, well, its Nome, in February 2009, the month before the race the story is about. At one point, they put up the chute, before taking it down again, but dont blink, or you’ll miss it!

Happy New Year to all my readers, see you in 2014

Boop, boop a doo!

Well, I’ll warn you now, if you’re looking for 500 words of wisdom, wait for the next blog. A bit like a Trans Pennine Express train, it will arrive, err, sometime soon! I could jokingly say that today, and tomorrow are the only days in the year that their trains aren’t late, and thats because there arent any! On the other hand, if you want a picture of ‘the dress’ and a couple of other shots from today, you’re in the right place!

So getting started, at long last, here is a picture of that delicious pink, flapper style dress, complete with bared knees.

flapper dress 2

Next, a picture of a wonderful present, a necklace that is absolutely gorgeous, and fits in with the look

necklace close up

Yes, as you might quickly spot, this was taken before I changed, and I’m wearing a ‘most expensive’ grey/silver dress, which is lovely to look at, and equally nice to wear. I’m kidding about the cost, its one of my charity shop specials, and did not cost a fortune! A full length shot of it next

full length grey dress

My thanks to Nicole Woodhouse for taking the photos for me.

And seriously, thats it, holidays over, back to work tomorrow morning! I still havent made the final call, tempted to wear a dress to work, possibly the grey/silver one here, though I would have to wear a top underneath, to fit in with dress regulations re bare shoulders. I do have a couple of other dresses I might wear, the blue one being the favourite, as its the warmest one I’ve got. Equally, I might just go for blouse and skirt, I’ll make the final call on that later, or in the morning. Heels for definite, either way.

Handy, isnt it, having a taxi to and from work lol, I can be a little rebel, wont have far to walk outside!

What else can I say, a wonderful day, a wonderful meal at lunchtime about sums it up.

The video, well, the song is actually from the 30’s, but sums up things so wonderfully

And so, Happy Christmas

Yes, the big day has almost arrived, indeed for some of course, it already has by now. So I’ll take this chance now to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

I know, I know, a lot of the original meaning of Christmas has long since been lost, but thats not a recent thing, though it may have got to be more of the case in recent times. I’ve enjoyed today off, trying to catch up on a few things, some successfully, some not so, yet. But there is still this evening, so…

It will be a fairly quiet affair here tomorrow, I suspect, but that suits me fine. I would say I’ll put on a nice dress for the occasion, but to be honest, as I’ve got one on now, that is likely to be the case anyway! What I might do, for the odd reader who cares, is to wear the dinner dress, and talk either Nicole, or Dave into taking a photo, so you can at least see what it looked like. If you’re good, I’ll wear leggings, if not, I’ll inflict my knees on you lol! But yes, I know, I promised one, and havent provided as yet, so…

Presents, well, I know two. One, the bottle of booze from work, so that was hardly going to come as a surprise to me, lets face it. I also know I’ve got a Louise Brooks biography (the Barry Paris one), as someone asked me what I wanted, and I told him! Beyond that, not a clue, though Nicole tells me that there are one or two ‘out of left field’, so they should be interesting to discover.

For those with children, its a more special occasion, and I’m sure it was for me, all those years ago when I was young! For me, its another nice day off at least, before the lunacy of work on Boxing Day. No, dont ask!

So, as I say, to all my readers, old and new, have a wonderful day tomorrow, and I hope you have fun.

The video, yes, one or two clues posted, I guess?

Funny, war isnt over, its just the locations that change!

Lets make some money

Its funny how some things change, and not all of them gender related either.

When I was working in the betting shops, from 1983 until 2001, I used to gamble a little bit. Nothing serious, a couple of pounds a day, just for a bit of fun, with relative success, though I probably lost more often than I won, in all honesty. Then again, when I started at Blue Square in 2003, in the call centre, I again went back to gambling a ‘few pennies’ here and there, as again I was watching racing when I was working, so…

In neither case, did I gamble at all when not working, which sort of shows why I was doing it. Then we moved up here in 2005, and I changed jobs, and industry, and I stopped gambling, apart from the Grand National at least. Even when I went back to William Hill, I didnt go back to gambling, beyond the Grand National at least. I dont know, I’d just lost interest, I guess?

But there is more to this story than horses…

Back in the 90’s, bookmakers started to expand the markets they bet on. Nothing as crazy as the number of markets they do today online, but more than they used to. Hey, my early days, we quite literally only bet on Horses, Dogs and UK Football, and that was it! Whereas now…So yes, back then, the compilers didnt have much clue on other sports. So if you were shrewd (and I wasnt bad at NFL), it wasnt hard to make a few pennies on their errors, and I did.

Nowadays, generally there is so much coverage of world wide sports, that its pretty hard to work that trick any more. There are still one or two things though, for me, the obvious one being college sports! Seriously, during the ‘March madness’ NCAA basketball tournament earlier this year, I had to tell the compilers 3 times of things they’d got wrong. No, not the prices, though believe me, they did!

For those who follow the American Football, college style, you know the Bowl season started last night. For those who dont, well, it did anyway. Thursday or Friday, I got asked at work if there were any ‘errors’ on the weekend NFL games, so I took a look. What took my eye was a college game, the game in Boise between San Diego State, and Buffalo last night. Total points, only 51.5 over/under, you have to be joking! No, they werent, a rival firm had the mark at 50.5! So anyway, I couldnt resist, had a little bet to win £10, just to back up my words around the office.

The score you ask? 49-24, was in the money halfway through the 3rd quarter! 🙂 So tomorrow night, a visit to the bookies to collect my winnings. Quite handy really, the seams on my ankle boots (I’ve had them ages) have just gone, so I can get a new pair, on Corals, in the New Year. Well, £10 of the cost at least! If I can find some in a charity shop, I can get a pair, and change! 🙂

One of these days, compilers will learn about college sports, until then, lets hope they keep making mistakes like that one! The video, slightly apt, I guess?

Well, that was a new one on me

Well yes, I was doing a bit of form filling earlier today, and came to that perennial question on every form, that of your gender. Normally, you get two choices, dont you, male or female? Some places will add a prefer not to say nowadays, presumably a sign of PC-ness? I must admit, even when I get that option, nowadays, I always click female anyway.

Beyond the passport office (definite, until I get ‘something’ removed), and the tax office (who I thought still had me as male, but my last piece of correspondence suggested otherwise), I’m officially designated as female everywhere nowadays, so no problem on that front. Maybe, given what I mention next, I might have the answer to why?

But this form had 2 additional options, for which I’m not sure if its a good, or a bad thing. Yes, some might have guessed this, as its me mentioning it, they were transgendered male, and transgendered female. So fine, I clicked on the latter, at least its strictly correct, if push ever comes to shove. But what I’m wondering, is why? I mean, lets be fair, if you’ve had all the ops, done all the hormones etc, all records mark you the same as a natural born of your gender. If you haven’t, like me, then maybe its fair, but…

If this was a job application, is this an instant thing that counts against you? Because if it is, then strictly its an item of discrimination under current rules, against trans people surely? And why, in other matters, should it concern anyone if you are a trans female, or a natural one? Of course, as with all things, proving that any refusal is because you are trans, is like looking for a needle in a very giant haystack.

No, this wasnt a tax form, or even a government one, but does it mean that transgendered female (presumably for us pre-op folk) is now regarded as an official gender? It would explain the last tax office missive (details of date changes for women to claim pensions, if you must know), I guess, if they are using it for me? Or maybe they’ve just decided I’m officially female, and forgot to tell me! Now all I need is the Passport office to back down, and if anyone from there is reading, transgendered FEMALE would get my approval as my gender, and I’ve cracked it lol.

If I get any feedback on this, from the forms source, I’ll let you know. If I do, it will show that Transgendered Female is at least seen as a positive status, I guess. But if I don’t…hmm?

The video, it bears absolutely no relevance to the blog, just a brilliant Christmas song, nothing more

Thanks for the memories

Well, unless anyone has convinced him to stay on until March, for one last stand, today marked the end of one of the most legendary careers in Irish cricket. Yes, today was the last day that David Trent Johnston (better known simply as Trent, or even TJ) played international cricket for Ireland, bring to an end an illustrious career, both in standard white, and of course the famous green clothing.

As I said, thanks for the memories, there are so many.

Its funny though, before March 2007, if someone had pointed him out to me, or even more amazingly, introduced him to me, I would have asked who? Because, lets face it, like so many Irish cricket fans, they only really came flashing into the headlights of fame back then, in the West Indies.

But it wasnt the famous game against Pakistan when I saw him play, I had seen him a few days before, when Ireland had the temerity to force a tie with Zimbabwe. Yes, a few of that team, including Trent, had ‘interesting’ Irish accents, it must be said. In his case, hardly surprising, seeing he was born in New South Wales, Australia.

Even after that, I wasnt holding any major expectations, even on St Patrick’s Day, when Ireland played their next match, that now famous one against Pakistan. And guess who hit the winning runs, the captain that day, Trent Johnston. Despite going on to lose to the hosts, the 2 previous results ensured that Ireland moved on to the next stage, and that next win over a test nation, over Bangladesh.

Legend has it, that only one of the squad had bought enough clothing and things for the extended stay, no prizes for working out who! True or not, I have no idea, but I could believe it.

From there on in, a casual fan of Irish cricket (like many thousands of others) became a much keener fan. In a sense, sadly, when Ireland played cricket in the English domestic limited overs tournament, they rarely did well. But for a good reason, at least half the full strength side (even back then) were playing in the same tournament for their counties. But Trent led the team to a few memorable victories, all the same.

Since then, he’s led the country on a few occasions, though the main role passed on to William Porterfield, in good time, a fine leader himself. And more recently, Kevin O’Brien has taken over from him, when the county players arent around.

Strictly, I havent been introduced directly to Trent, but I’ve sat (or stood) next to him at Belfast a few times. The most recent being this years trip to Belfast, for the Australia A game, when he was literally stood about 2 yards from me, if not less. But no, I’m not a big one for just talking to people I really dont know, so just sat and looked. It probably would have been fine, but…I know… In fact, the main reason I went to Belfast this year was to see Trent play one last time, and I’m glad I did it.

In the recent qualifiers for next years T20 World Cup, Trent played outstandingly, with the bat, as much as the ball, and Ireland comfortably won the competition. Today marked the end of the last stand, the Inter Continental Cup Final (the multi day tournament for non test playing nations) when Ireland again beat Afghanistan. The only sad point, Trent suffered an Achilles injury yesterday, and spent today in the commentary box, not on the field. I’m sure thats not how he wanted it to end, but sadly the body said otherwise.

The nice touch, the trophy presentation afterwards. Normally the captain would go up and collect it, but on this occasion, oh no. Up went Trent Johnston to collect it, quite a fitting moment, handled wonderfully by William Porterfield.

So as I said at the start, Trent, thanks for so many wonderful memories, we will all miss you so much.

The video, something far older than both of us

PS and apology. Mr P, I know you prefer to be called Will, or Porty, but please allow for the fact I’m writing this for people who wouldnt know who I was talking about otherwise.

At the close of the cricketing year, I would also like to thank Roy Torrens, Robin Walsh, Barry Chambers and Ian Callender for their wonderful hospitality earlier this year in Belfast. I would also mention the man from Cricinfo, but I cant remember his name, so this is as good as it gets.

Now I know the end of 2013 is near

Why, because today almost certainly marked my last venture out shopping for things this year. And yes, unsurprisingly, it was to Wakefield, rapidly becoming my favourite shopping spot. Well fine, it already is, but…

No, I cant guarantee it will be my last, but it looks a safe bet, and given where I work, I should know these things. My days off for the rest of the year are Tuesday and Sunday next week (former is beauty treatment day, latter is last Sunday before Christmas), then Christmas Eve (no way am I going shopping anywhere then!), Christmas Day (pretty obvious), and the Sunday after, when I will be on my own (and public transport is awful anyway). After that, well the next day off is New Years Day, and there are no buses then, and besides which it will be 2014 by then! So, as I say, good bet that today was it.

Surprisingly, 2 weeks before the big day, Wakefield wasnt overly crowded. I know, its midweek, but…To be honest, given all my purchases today (apart from my coffee and cake) were from charity shops, I havent helped the retailers much myself!

Most of it was practical stuff, 4 tops, and 1 skirt, which will all get used for work, and things. Well fine, the skirt to work is only a maybe bet, but…I should do really, they seem to be better for the circulation in my legs than trousers, but its just…I know, I know! Err, one of those tops, no, fails the work test. But…let me explain,

At work, we have a rule that all tops should cover the shoulders completely. Fine, understandable, though some choose to ignore it, and get away with it, but anyway…I try to be a good girl lol! One of the things I love about Wakefield is the quality of clothing options in the charity shops there, some really nice stuff, at very good prices. One especially, the Wakefield Hospice shop, is the creme de la creme. Seriously, I saw a gorgeous silver dress there today, must have cost a fortune new, for £15. Thankfully it was a size 12, with a zip at the back, so no way would I have got into it, because otherwise…drool…

But sneakily, they also, in a size 14, had a top that looked quite literally as if it had arrived direct from the 1920’s. It hadnt, its good a ‘made in Asia, somewhere’ tag in it, so clearly it hadnt, but…Snag, its got nothing more than 2 thin(ish) straps over the shoulders, so I cannot wear it to work. And to be honest, in that sense, whats the point in buying it, even at £4.50? Even though its perfect for a Flapper…? So I talked myself out of it, left it in the shop, even though I regretted doing so.

Fine, I walked round the corner, and after about 5 minutes, changed my mind, and went back and bought it! No idea when, or where I wear it, but, its mine! I know, I know, silly thing to do, but I would have regretted it for ever more if I hadnt.

But anyway, famous last words and all that, it should be the last silly buy of 2013! Stop laughing now!

The video, not the last Christmas one of the year, of that I’m sure. I’d forgotten about this little gem until You Tube reminded me!

Stayed another night

At the Holiday Inn Express at Leeds on Thursday, but lets face it, its not a hotel review you’re looking for, is it? No, its the events surrounding why I was staying there that you want to hear about.

So, the preparations. Well, yes, the dress fitted fine, as expected, though the world would have been grateful for the fact I wore leggings underneath it, to both cover up, and protect my knees. Yes, it was cold, and they wouldnt have enjoyed the trauma of having that inflicted on them. Nothing to say about the scary sight of my knees anyway lol!

Then came the fun bit, putting on the wig. Which in fact worked, and didnt look too bad at all. Bit of a fight hiding all the blonde hair underneath, but in the end, I just about won the battle. Then I made the fatal mistake, I tried to put the headband on, over the top of it, oh dear! Not sure if it was the amount of hair (natural and otherwise) that I was trying to get it over, or simply the ‘jewel’ getting caught, but it wouldnt work as a combo. And then, giving up on that, I then couldnt get the wig to sit right again, aargh! So, finally I gave up on the wig, put on the headband, and went blonde.

The venue, well, unlike last year, everyone could see I was going with the flapper look at least, so one up there at least. The meal, didnt think it was up to last years standard, but still better than the previous place we used to go to! On the whole though, the night was pretty good, with the highlight entertainment being one workmate who quite literally bought Santa to the meal. He had told me in advance that his outfit was appropriate, he wasnt joking!

The hotel wouldnt in all honesty get a high rating from me. Bit like the meal, not as good as I remembered it last year. Added to which, I requested an alarm call that never happened, but luckily I was awake before then anyway.

So, all in all, I’m glad I went, even if it wasnt as good as last year. Will I repeat next year, assuming I’m still there? Probably, if only to see what someone wears then!

Sorry, no picture yet, I will try and get one done here tomorrow, so you can see the dress. But until then, you will have to stay another day with this video. No, not the Christmas version, I prefer the original in all honesty.

Football players are wimps!

So, yes, fine, I know, you want to hear about Thursday night, but you’ll have to be patient, as something far more entertaining is happening.

OK, unless you’re an NFL fan, or you live in the Philadelphia area, you may not get it, so let me explain. Over here, it used to be the running joke that 2 spots of rain, and cricket would come grinding to a halt, at a professional level at least. Not quite sure if that was strictly accurate, but pretty close to it, all the same. Things have changed nowadays at least, though when it gets bad enough, they still come off the pitch.

Football (soccer for my North American readers) does at least tend to be played in the rain, though pretty often it doesnt take too much before the pitch gets waterlogged. As for the arrival of a flake of snow, well, thats it!

Tonight, on Sky Sports, they are showing the match from Philadelphia, and to say its snowing, would be a mild understatement, its an absolute blizzard there. But have they called off the match, or even delayed it? Hey, no! They play on. But yes, before you ask, its not really been the best game to watch, pretty much the opposite in fact. One score in the first half, wouldnt be surprised if thats not it for scoring in all honesty!

Oh, and in Green Bay, they are playing, and the current temperature is 11F (minus 12 for Brit’s).

So please, the next time they say soccer players are brave, playing in ‘whatever’ conditions, dont believe them, they have it easy!

The video, something apt for Philly