Monthly Archives: March, 2014

The start of the season

Yes folks, the baseball season proper gets under way again tonight, hard to believe its been 5 months, but…

Fine, I know, there has been the usual weeks of pre season play already, and in fact, 2 proper games down under in Australia, but the real stuff starts here. Now, in most sports, it would start with a massive shout, and last years champions playing on National TV, at home, with all the medal ceremonies, but this is baseball!

So yes, we start about as far from Fenway Park as we can get in baseball terms, in San Diego! And even in their first round of matches, Boston are away! Why, because the schedule for 2014 was drawn up about 2-3 months before this season started! Ah well, I suspect that first game in Boston, when it happens will be quite something.

Unlike that first game in Seattle, when I am confident that the Mariners will look as ordinary as ever, ah well…

Sadly enough, this will be the first year in quite a while that I will have no baseball related fun this year. One year, I missed on a game, but went to the Hall of Fame instead. I would have got both, but for a massive American Airlines delay in the flight to Seattle, but…Last year, I didnt get an MLB game, but I saw a game at 1 level down, in Rochester, the coldest day I have ever spent watching the game, the temperature was in the low 40’s! It was actually a double header, for the price of one, but I was so cold, I gave up after the first match! Ironically, the visiting team, the Red Sox, albeit the Pawtucket version!

In theory, there are games in Kansas City, the weekend I’m due to Kansas, but only the Saturday and Sunday, so not going to happen! And by November, the season will be over! Thankfully I should get a decent fix, care of ESPN to keep me going at least.

You want tips, from me…! Oh fine

Division winners
AL East Boston Red Sox
Central Kansas City Royals (heart, more likely Detroit Tigers)
West Oakland A’s

Wild Cards Detroit (or Kansas) and LA Angels

League winners Oakland

NL East Washington Nationals
Central St Louis Cardinals
West San Francisco Giants

Wild Cards Pittsburgh Pirates and LA Dodgers

League winners St Louis Cardinals

World Series, lets go for Oakland, before the Coliseum falls apart completely!

Yes, you can laugh at me in October, I’m sure.

The video, well some will catch to the connection of the artist’s name to me, but most wont. I thought she was from Seattle, but apparently from the state next door.

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Not the planned blog!

An extra blog here tonight, a tribute to Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, who passed away tonight, at the age of 95

the thoughts of a wannabee robot

Well, I had a few words of wisdom lined up for you tonight, but having just read the news, you might, or might not get to read them later.

Back in the mid 1980’s (yes, I really am that old), the first TV coverage of American Football reached the UK, and I got hooked. Originally, we got a highlight package, about a week behind, but that quickly turned into live coverage of a match each week, as Channel 4 cottoned on to the fact that they might have hit the jackpot here. But that was it, back in those pre internet days, we were lucky to discover any other scores before the following weekend. But I, along with many others was hooked.

Funnily enough, for me, I had once listened on the radio to part of a game, way back in the 70’s, I caught up with American Forces radio…

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From the sublime, to the ridiculous.

You can say many things about cricket, but a crazy sport is rarely one of them. So fine, all the so called razzmatazz of T20 cricket is designed for show, but even so, generally the game happens, and life goes on.

On Friday, Ireland played Holland in such a match, one of the most staggering games I’ve seen. Earlier in the day, Zimbabwe had unsurprisingly beaten the UAE quite comfortably, and had overtaken Ireland in the table, on net run rate, the decider if teams were tied at the end of the group stage. So basically it came down to (so people thought) that if Ireland won, they went through. If Holland won, it was pretty certain that Zimbabwe would go through, but…

Holland won the toss, and put Ireland into bat, so they knew quite literally what they had to do to qualify. Ireland batted pretty well, amassing a very decent score of 189, in their 20 overs. So now, Holland knew what they had to do. If they won the game, within 14 overs, and 2 balls, then they would qualify. Fine, but that means they have to score at 13.25 runs per over to do it, seemingly not all that likely, if Ireland kept their heads, and bowled well. Any Holland win beyond that point, Zimbabwe went through, and any other result, Ireland would.

Holland went off like their tails were on fire, and in a sense they were. The thing is, it kept coming off, and the ball kept sailing over the boundary, many times without bouncing, for 6’s. I watched it, though it wasnt long before my hands were over my eyes, peering through, watching a road crash for Ireland.

Yes, as is known, Holland actually got there with 3 balls to spare, scoring at nearly 14 runs an over!

So fine, that was the sublime, then came the ridiculous. Having qualified in this amazing fashion, they lined up in the main stage against Sri Lanka, this time batting first. It didnt take long for the wickets to fall, 3 having gone in scoring just 1 run! Thankfully, the pain didnt last too long, they were all out for 39, by far the lowest score ever in a 20 over international. Sri Lanka knocked off the runs in about 5 overs!

I know, different class of bowling attack, and possibly a bit of ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ in that having beaten Ireland, they had nothing left! I have a horrible feeling, their next game on Thursday, against South Africa could be more of the same! Would Ireland have done much better? Who knows, but I feel we wouldnt have subsided quite as horribly as that. Snag is, it leaves those watching associate cricket teams for the first time with a big stick to beat us down with. Ah well…

The video, an almost moment for Holland, shall we say. Eurovision 1974, a lot of people remember the winners, yes, that was the year Abba won! This finished a very respectable 3rd

I feel pretty?

Something that has developed in the last few days, is a strange desire, by women, to post a ‘selfie’ of themselves, and at the same time make a donation to Cancer Research. No, the donation to Cancer Research is fine, I’ve more than once donated to Breast Cancer causes myself. No, the strange, possibly amazing thing, is the number of women posting pictures of themselves, without a scrap of make-up!

The funny thing was, when I first saw it, I assumed it was a Cancer Research originated campaign, but apparently it wasnt! I discovered it when I found pictures of a few female friends, on Facebook, issuing challenges to friends to do the same thing, post a selfie of themselves, without a drop of make-up.

Me, I’m awful in the sense of putting on make-up, I just dont do it. I probably should, but with my busy life, and a slight tremor in my hands, I’ve decided its a challenge not worth taking on. Maybe if I’d been using make-up since teen years (as a natural girl would have done), then maybe I’d be so good at it, that the tremor wouldnt matter, and the time would be made. But because its only a more recent thing, I dont tend to get involved. But for most women, the idea of a picture of them, without make-up…lol

The next thing for me, is the whole ‘selfie’ thing, something that seems to have developed out of the whole mobile phone development thing, so that its not only a phone, its a glorified camera too. Alright, many nowadays are also mini computers, but as someone who avoids the mobile phone like the plague, none of that concerns me. I know, I know, but I’m old, humour me!

Anyway, despite the lack of a mobile phone (payment to CR is by a text message, hard without a mobile!), I found something akin to a selfie, a picture taken by Nicole on Christmas Day, this is it

necklace close up

I know, scary, isnt it?

And yes, though I used a modern method (the internet) to make a donation to CR, it wasnt a text message, as per others.

Then a new element of craziness has set in, men have joined in! No, not posting a picture of themselves without make-up obviously, just the opposite! Still, if this brings in money for Cancer Research, it has to be a good thing?

Ah well, I wonder, or is that fear what the next trend will be?

The video, I couldnt resist

Though whether I do, in that picture, a matter of opinion! Strictly, if you have a mobile phone, and most people do, the instructions are

To donate to Cancer Research UK, text BEAT to 70099 and donate £3

If you are that very rare soul like me, the website address is http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us

As long as that picture didnt scare you off, of course!

Modern town centres, for richer, for poorer?

When I was young, and yes, that is a long time ago, town centres were anything but uniform. In fact the main high streets through the 3 parts of the Medway Towns that I knew well, were full of delightful independent stores, only occasionally interspersed by the odd national name, like Boots, and Woolworths. Indeed, as a record buying teenager, the real delights were the independent record shops in Strood, and Chatham, where it was always possible to get records outside of the top 30, and would also carry a good back catalogue of both albums, and more importantly singles, still available to buy.

You also had butchers, greengrocers, hairdressers and the like, which were not national chains, mainly no more than 2 or 3 shops maximum. It was fun shopping, because no 2 towns, or cities weren’t identical shopping centres. Therefore a visit to a new town, would introduce you to new delights, but…

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it did. National brands jumped into towns, firstly through supermarkets, and gradually most of the small food stores got pushed out, because these mass buyers could get discounts that smaller shops couldnt dream about. Music megastores opened, and pushed out the people who really cared about music, not just the profits they could make. As for clothing…! Slowly but surely, town centres became more and more alike, until, well, you cant really tell them apart!

Nowadays, it seems that completely controlling the high streets is not enough for many brands, they have to have ‘shopping centres’ everywhere in town too. In many cases, major names will have a branch in town, and in the shopping centre in the larger cities, just in case one person might pass them by! In smaller towns, its why so many high streets are filled with betting offices, charity shops, pound shops, and pawnbroker/cash loan places, everything else is in the shopping centre!

Thankfully, some smaller towns and cities have tried to resist this event, though in the end, they all seem to be got, to some degree or other. But in the end…the great serpent of ‘shopping heaven’ seems to win through.

Lets take Wakefield as an example, where I went this afternoon. The heart of the town isnt entirely gone, though a big gash through the heart seems to be on its way. A few years ago, a little shopping centre, called ‘The Ridings’ opened up in town. Its a mix of national names (Primark, WH Smith, and the like), and little local shops, so fits in quite well.

Unfortunately, the big developers saw this, and started to build ‘Trinity Walk’. To say its soulless, and full of national brands would be putting it mildly! Fine, its avoidable, and on the whole, I did, and focussed on the little shops, the charity shops, and the wonderful market for my purchases.

The thing is, Trinity Walk decided in its wisdom that it needed to expand more, and put a cinema complex where the market currently is. So that will be gone within months, and no alternative site offered, its more opposition out of the way. Today, as I was heading on the home stretch to the bus station, I noticed one thing, a whole stretch of shops, just around the back from Trinity Walk had suddenly all emptied. Including unfortunately, my favourite charity shop for vintage stuff in town. A lot of these shops had signs up, with one message in common, the lease has ended, and they’ve had to move out, no offer of the chance of staying on. It doesnt really take a genius to work out who’s to blame, does it, seeing they own all the land leading up to that area, Trinity Walk!

Maybe they dont realise, if they shut down all the popular little shops, they may kill off the opposition to them, but, far less people will come to town, if their favourite stores are no longer there! I know, as an option, Wakefield drops down the list for me after today, and I suspect I wont be the only one.

I know, I know, US cities are even worse, on the whole! Not only do they not have downtown shops, they are all parked out in ‘Malls’ miles from town, many of which are hard to reach, if like me, you dont drive! So, I’m not saying they’re any better, just…

And then you hear news reports that retailers are ‘concerned’ because people arent going on to ‘High Street’s’ buying things! Its such a soulless experience, its hardly surprising!

Right, rant over. The video, the song sums up for me the attitude of the big shopping centres, to the rest of the town shopping. Please, special plea, wherever possible, support the smaller shops, and avoid the greedy cartels, thanks

The luck of the Irish

Rather an apt title for St Patrick’s Day, don’t you think?

Even more apt, after today’s cricket match in Bangladesh, I might add. The 20 over World Cup actually started yesterday, with 2 pretty comprehensive wins for Bangladesh, and Nepal. But cometh today, and cometh ‘Ireland’s Call’ as the men in green started their campaign, with what looked a tricky game, against Zimbabwe. Not guaranteed to be, per se, but likely to be the group decider, first match up!

Ireland win toss, put Zimbabwe in, and they proceed quickly to 56, after the 6 over power play. Not good, but wicket looks decent, so…spinners slow things down through the middle, but then Zimbabwe score quickly again at the end, and total 163 in their 20 overs. Certainly a good score, if not unbeatable, on a fairly small ground.

To say Stirling and Porterfield start off in style, would be putting it mildly, they scored 61 in that 6 over spell! Even when Porterfield goes, it should all be fine. Even when Stirling is out, Joyce and Poynter seem to be leading Ireland to a comfortable win, but…the collapse sets in! Even so, 12 to win off the last 17 balls, 7 off the last 2 overs, and even 4 off the last, shouldn’t be a problem. But it nearly was, only a scrambled bye, off the last ball won us the game.

Seriously guys, I’m 56, my heart isn’t up to tense finishes like that any more! But a win is a win, so…hopefully the next 2 matches are easier than that!

The video, well its not an Irish lass, its an Aussie, but it sums up the end result today

Oh, and the Harlow hairstyle, it will have to wait a week, sadly, as the hairdresser isn’t well, and has had to delay things. Still, staying with the flapper, bob look, hardly a pain, lets face it!

Pretty in pink?

Yes, happy birthday to me, and all that! Along with all the ‘regular’ birthday presents today (thanks, guys), I got a pair of very special treats, one deliberate, one by sheer luck. But both I love.

Firstly, this morning when I signed into Facebook, I found this new addition to the Colorised Hollywood collection (yes, the US spelling, its a US artist)

jean harlow coloured

which I thought was beautiful, and might take some matching, even if the guy didnt mean it as an actual present for me. But tonight, a wonderful friend named ‘Kris’ posted this up for me as well

jean harlow coloured 2

So I’m in Jean Harlow double heaven tonight, its fair to say! Hopefully after Tuesday’s hair makeover, I’ll look even more like her myself!

The other big news of the day, and the clue might be in the title, is that when we went out to dinner tonight, I wore the pink flapper dress in public. Yes, I wore matching hose, its too cold for bare legs, even if my knees could be shown off in general public, which they shouldn’t be! And seriously, that dress is above the knees, far too short for a 56 year old! But it was lovely wearing it out again, I must say.

So yes, to the video. Its (probably) my favourite group, and the song is from the movie, Pretty In Pink.

And so as one year ends

Hopefully a new one begins tomorrow! Yes, as of midnight officially, and about 2.30 in the afternoon literally, I will be a year older, reaching the grand old age of 56. Not so long ago, that would have left me 4 years away from a Senior Citizens bus pass, but given they are changing all the rules, due to everyone living longer, it would seem its going to be 9 years now before I get one! Phew?

Yes, 56 years ago tomorrow, in a hospital, a baby was born, who grew up to be me! One change of name later, one change of gender later (at least, but more on that shortly), and I’m still going strong…of sorts! Two crocked knees, one less than perfect wrist, but despite all that, I’m still standing, and no, that isnt the video! 😛 Something far more silly, from my formative years, for that tonight.

Why do I say at least one gender change? Well, its because, around the time I was born, there were several thousand (at least) hermaphrodite babies born, with both sets of genitals. Yes, the drugs given to pregnant women back then were a delight, as one of the ones that followed soon after was Thalidomide, and we all know the consequences of that! Allegedly, doctors, with or without the guidance of parents (though I would imagine the latter) selected which gender the baby should remain, with all the consequences attached.

Now, I have no evidence I was one of those babies, the hospital I was born at was demolished in the mid 1960’s, so even if there are any records, they could be anywhere, besides which, it was probably all covered up anyway, as it was less of an obvious physical issue than Thalidomide victims would be. But, it seems a fair chance, especially given the undeveloped womb I have. But hey, I’ve survived it all this far, and hopefully will a few more years yet.

From a different perspective, something else ended today, the international career of an Irish rugby player, Brian O’Driscoll. What’s more, it ended in the perfect way, with Ireland winning the 6 Nations championship, though they did their best to throw it away, thats for sure! And a new event starts tomorrow, the 20 over cricket World Cup, with Ireland’s first game on Monday, a most apt date. Hopefully events of the same day, 7 years ago can be repeated. Funny, that started a few days earlier, against Zimbabwe, with a tie, and thats the team we are playing on Monday.

Oh, and for the one of you that might be wondering, that Cheltenham competition at work? Guess what, there were 4 prizes, and I came 5th! Ah well…

My birthday treat to myself, a few days break from work, not back now until next Saturday. 3 days off, 2 days holiday, and the fact they give you a day off for your birthday, add up to a 6 day break, even if my birthday break is only on Wednesday, due to the complications of Cheltenham! If nothing else, I should have a new hairstyle by the time I go back to work! And no, no decision made on the dress for tomorrow night yet, either.

So, as a 55 year old, I leave you with a very silly video, care of those wonderful Muppets. This song (not their version) was a hit when I was a teenager, ah well…

I’ll see you again, at 56!

Take The Money and Run!

No, seriously, that title is very tongue in cheek, unless my tipping skills take a turn for the miraculous over the next few days at least. Yes, that time of year has crept around again, the Cheltenham festival starts tomorrow. And at work, there is a meeting long tipping contest, for all the shrewdies, and the one or two like me, with little clue, to take our chance on winning a few pounds. Or most likely in my case, lose ten pounds! But given its the only gambling I will do all week…

But it helps to break up the insanity of the week, checking your selections in the vain hope that they might be running well, only to find they’re still running 15 minutes later, or fell at the first fence! Well, for what its worth, I’ve already done tomorrows picks, so I will apologise to those trainers in advance for ruining their chances! As long as no one expects me to show as much interest when the World Cup football starts, all will be fine!

The only advantage for me this year, with Cheltenham, is that the overtime this week will get paid at the end of April, just in time for my holiday in May! Even more so, as I did a little bit last week, and have some more in 2 weeks time, which will help pay some of the expenses at least! Might have some prize winnings too, though the term ‘pigs might fly’ comes to mind on that!

My favourite race, the cross country race, but I always was a strange soul, in more senses than one!

The video, well, its definitely in the title tonight!

In other news, which may amuse some, I’ve decided to accept my very nice fate, and accept I’m a Jean Harlow lookalike. Hey, I could do an awful lot worse in life, lets face it. So I’ve decided (for now at least) to stay blonde, and go for a 30’s style look with my hair, which given my fringe (or lack of it) might not be a bad thing. I will still (probably) wear a flapper style dress to my birthday dinner on Sunday, but given my hair, and my eyebrows arent being ‘rearranged’ until Tuesday, that should be fine. Well, I’ll wear it if the weather stays like this at least, they are both too short if it turns cold again! In which case, given my finger nails are now gun metal in colour, I might wear the grey dress, seen at Christmas, or I might wear a nice black one, from, err, a Wakefield charity shop!

So, I’ll let you decide, is this me, or is this Miss Harlow, hmm?

Jean Harlow

Mind, I’m led to believe that we are so similar (or will be when my hair is restyled) that telling the difference is tricky. Ah well, I can dream…

City to City

As some on here at least know, my regular commute is from my current home town, Huddersfield, to the place I work, Leeds. Today, I was fortunate enough to be finishing early, because of a sporting event tonight. Rugby league, the proper rugby, as we Yorkshire folk would call it, has a super league match between those 2 cities, and I should imagine the early evening trains, as well as being full of commuters, were full of rugby fans too.

No, I dont have any real problems with either (well, if commuters dont allow me to get a seat lol, but otherwise…) but the trains are overcrowded enough, thanks to Trans Pennine Express’s incompetence, without even more people trying to force their way on to the trains.

City to city, in this case, should take just under 20 minutes. I say, should, because we’re talking TPE here, and their timekeeping is about as good as their provision of carriages for passengers! To be honest, apart from the trains betweem them, the 2 stations have little in common. Huddersfield’s station is still pretty much the original look, which makes it well over 150 years old. The internal offices are a bit more modern, but the building has a generally old fashioned look. Oh, and despite have platforms numbered up to 8, there are only 6, no platform 3, or 7. I presume both disappeared with the mass line closures of the 60’s, but dont quote me on that!

Leeds station, is very modern, less than 20 years old, and it shows! It does its job, but in terms of atmosphere, there’s only one winner! At least Leeds actually has platforms all the way from 1 to 17 lol!

Shopping wise, Leeds has never grown on me, over all the years of my life, not just since I moved back up here. Probably just a personal thing, I guess? Huddersfield is nicer, but as regular readers know, Wakefield is my favourite around here.

Yes, as some might point out, both places are also in the same division in football, but as I dont care for that sport, lets leave it there! 😛

No prizes for which team I want to win tonight, though neither are of course the team I support, thats Keighley! But, one is my home town, so…

2 videos for the price of one tonight, so take your pick. The first is the genius who wrote this song, and sang it originally, but is clearly mimed

This is the Proclaimers live, from the Gerry Rafferty tribute concert

Yes, Huddersfield to Leeds, isnt 400 miles, more like 15, but who’s counting?