Category Archives: America

The Pacific Ocean, LA traffic, and something magic

Alright, fine, its getting towards the sad end of the break, the last few days. How do I know that? Well, for the first time in a few weeks, I had to really think about what I needed from the supermarket up the hill, and not get more than I really need. Most things I’ve managed to work fairly well, though the peanut butter is going to run out 1 day early, and I wont quite use up all the sugar, or the last part of the loaf bought today, but done pretty well. I’m planning a nice last lunch out in Hollywood for Tuesday, instead of cooking for myself, mind. Why lunch? Simple, I will need to pack as much as possible on Tuesday evening (being picked up at 7.45 am Wednesday), and besides which, just after 5 pm, the 1 game of the World Series I will get to see live. Game 2, I will be in mid flight, and the rest will happen in the middle of the night, UK time. Only wish I could see more, but unless someone is crazy enough to give $2,000 dollars to me in the next day or so, not going to happen. But seeing Kansas City get this far, has been pretty special, all the same.

The other reason I know its the end? I’ve started doing the trips I was leaving until now, to say goodbye to a few places, and “friends”. The first of those happened at the end of last week, the return to Pacific Palisades. Its funny, when I went there in April, it was by sheer accident, this time it was deliberate. Its a lovely little place, which as the name suggests, sits very close to the Pacific Ocean. So after lunch, and a last look around the community, I headed down the canyon towards the Pacific Ocean. I walked down the beach, to the ocean, and said my goodbyes. I mean, I will see it again, when we take off from the airport on Wednesday, and its quite possible I will see it again, in San Francisco, or Seattle, but from here, in lovely LA, by the water, that was it, almost certainly forever! As far as I can see, thats it, though 1 Facebook friend tells me I will return, in 6 months, but I cant see it myself.

Alright, after that. the journey back here. It should be just over an hour (70 mins or so) to Hollywood from there, but…it took 2 and a half hours! I assume there was an incident on the freeway, but we crawled, or simply sat still until we reached back to the junction with the 405 freeway. I did hear a couple of sirens, so I assume it was that. Let me just say at this point, that the bus seats on the Metro buses win no prizes for comfort, or design. So my back stiffened up beautifully, and getting home from town was fun. As was clambering into the bed that night! Better by next morning, but that evening…ouch!

Yesterday evening, I had the chance to go somewhere different, The Magic Castle. To go in there, you either have to be a member, or a guest of a member, and I was fortunate enough to be the latter. OK, as with so much travel this trip, things didnt go smoothly. The taxi was fine, and then we hit a traffic jam on Franklin Avenue. So he went down to Hollywood Boulevard to avoid it, just as bad. So down to Sunset Boulevard, then all the way up to my destination, but it meant a $12 taxi fare ended up at $18! Oh, and of course, my friend got stuck in the same jam, but texted me what to do on arrival, and all was fine.

The evening itself was wonderful, I had wonderful company (thanks Eden, and Phylis), and was wonderfully entertained by both them, and a string of magicians. One especially took my heart (though not in that sense, I think?), but they were all great. Phylis ran me home afterwards, and I got in about 1.15 am, a time I have no idea when I last saw before bed! Oh, and this morning was the latest I’ve got up in my stay, about 8.15! No surprise, I guess? Still, Wednesday (when I guess I’m going to have to be up by 6, or soon after) is going to come as a culture shock!

Right, 2 full days, and 2 special trips to do. Tomorrow is off to Glendale, and Forest Lawns by bus, to say my final farewell to Jean Harlow. Yes, I know, she’s not going to answer me or anything (unless her “ghost” turns up, who is seemingly very chatty, then all bets would be off!) but its something I really want to do, just spend some time with her, one last time. Hopefully its as easy to get close as it was in April.

Then Tuesday, one last farewell trip to the delight that is Hollywood Boulevard. A little bit of souvenir shopping, a nice lunch (which I wish could be Musso & Frank, but I really cant afford it. Silly, its only because I included it in a story, but…), and then say farewell again, at Jean’s star on the strip, and to her’s, and a couple of other people’s hands, and footprints at the Chinese Theatre. Then 1 last nice ice cream at Hollywood & Highland centre, then with, I’m sure a few tears, say goodbye to Hollywood for the last time, as I head back here, to pack, and watch baseball!

Then, Wednesday morning, the long trek home. At least I will see that wonderful Hollywood sign, one last time, as the shuttle pulls out on to Beachwood before I leave.

I have got a few possible jobs to follow up on, from before I left, and I’ve applied for a couple more in the last few days, telling the people concerned that I wont be back before the 29th! Hopefully they noticed!

I’m sure there will be one last posting from LA, assuming Tuesday doesnt prove more problematical than expected, packing wise, and the like. So, if I dont…

Right, lastly, the video. Lets go back to last night for that.

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Born on the 4th of July?

Well, given what an America lover I am, what did you expect today?

Happy birthday, USA, and all that.

No, I’ve never been in the US on this day, maybe some day I will, but while I’m working, taking time off in July is a bit more challenging than many times in the year, so it might have to wait a while. Lets face it, every other year, it coincides with some soccer tournament or the other, which would limit chances even more!

But yes, Thanksgiving is a lot more precious to me, and that I’m looking forward to being the right side of the pond for, later this year.

I think its fair to say that we have no idea what that date in 1776 was like. We can do reconstructions, but mentally, we can have no idea how the US residents of those days felt about the occasion back then, apart from being delighted to be freed from Great Britain. Equally, if any of them could see the US of today, could they ever believe what they saw? Of course not, lets face it, if you’d told me back in the 70’s, or 80’s what the world would be like today, I’d have laughed at you, and I mean the 1970’s!

Hard to believe, 10 weeks tomorrow, I will be there!

Oh, the video, yes, the obvious one, Jimmy Cagney at his best, as a dancer. A touch of Rooney, and Garland too, just for good measure.

Born on the 4th of July

No, not me, nor the film, this is about a certain country across the Atlantic from me. Yes, the USA is 236 years old today, in terms of independence from the UK¬†at least. Seems kind of ironic now, given the relative size, and strengths of both countries, isnt it? Alright, I’ll resist the old 51st state joke…just! ūüėČ And yes, I’m hoping that all my American readers are having a wonderful day today.

Its interesting to consider, if my Irish ancestors had gone left, instead of right just over 100 years ago,¬†well I might be celebrating today as well! But thats history, nothing I could control, so…I’m here in England instead! Could it have been Kansas? Well I doubt it very much, but you can never tell lol!

No, I’ve never been in the US for todays celebrations, or for Thanksgiving, but maybe sometime in the future I will. Snag is, while working, July isnt a good time to be taking holidays as far as work is concerned. And November is a little late in the year, unless you choose your destination carefully lol! Besides which, I see these as family celebrations, so I would feel like I was butting in to some degree if I did. I know one wonderful man who will say otherwise if he sees that comment though.

I’m not certain if summer has finally arrived, temperatures are finally heading into the high 60’s, and its even stopped raining, though probably not for long, this summer!¬†Forecast for the weekend would certainly suggest it wont last long!

The music, what could be more apt than this today? Brought to you from the icon that is Fenway Park, on the day it turned 100. Just enjoy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97YIzMiz_TY&feature=related

Everything changes

Its funny how things change, isnt it? If you think it through, as I did today, when I did the whole name, and gender change thing at work (well in the sense of becoming a Ms at least, if not the physical change), everyone in my department, and to a lesser degree, at work, had known me as a man. Well, maybe thats pushing it, I’d certainly gone with an androgyne look from day 1 at this place, but that was making it official, that I was now a woman.

But of course, since then, people have come, people have gone, and I suspect there is now a decent percentage in our office department at least, who have never known me as anything but a woman. Indeed, there is now an ever growing percentage of those who have never known me without cleavage! I suspect it will never reach a point where no one knew the old me, but I guess as time moves on, that percentage will drop ever more.

Occasionally I will still hear Steve, or he, but its pretty rare nowadays, and is generally followed by an embarrassed look from whoever said it. I’m not the militant type about it (unlike so many), so unless its someone I can tease, a glare, and a smile¬†will usually suffice. But agreed, its those who’ve known me all the time, so…and they’re learning lol!

Mind, I have to get used to things as well. Yes, I was using ladies public toilets in Seattle just fine, but the Americans seem more open minded on such matters, well in most of the country at least, I’m not sure about the ‘Deep South’ all the same. Though to be honest, the matter has simply arisen less over here, I have less need to use public toilets, as most of my needs outside the home, are met at work, where I use the unisex ones anyway.

But last week, I went to the cricket at Headingley, and needed a ‘break’ while there. Yes, used the ladies, twice in fact, no problem at all. But yes, there is still this weird moment as I enter the ladies, and I think what I’m doing, after all these years, but I’m getting used to it. Of course, it might be easier done with a full cleavage, but dont quote me on that.

But no, I’m sticking to trousers, for now at least when out, though maybe one day it will be a skirt or a dress, who knows? But I’ll forego the high heels a lot longer than that lol!

The music, well the title seems sort of apt somehow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzHIxigdlgQ&ob=av2n

Ticket To Ride

One thing I’ve noticed on my trips to North America, is that generally the¬†transit (bus/metro)¬†fares are all the same. Both Boston and Toronto (Minneapolis was, I think?)¬†were this year, and I know Seattle and San Francisco do, though some routes into and out of the city do have 2 zones at least. Inner Seattle has free fares during the day though, a real surprise nowadays, I assume they still do. Personally I like the idea, you know what the fare is going to be, no arguments.

Over here however, nearly all bus routes have fares related to the length of journey made, though I’m not sure if London doesnt use the fixed fare method now? I would love to say this leads to all sorts of hilarity, except for the fact that much of the time I find what I have to report more as frustrating.

There are fares related to distances, based on what they call fare stops, as opposed to the inbetween bus stops. At these points, fares change, should be simple? But no! There are some who think that just because they are getting on the bus one stop before the fare break, that they can ‘barter’ the fare down accordingly. Hey, some think that at any point, they seemingly should get the next fare down anyway. Most of these, to put it diplomatically, are the ones with Indian¬†sub continent (and neighbouring countries) ancestry, though there are one or two others. As far as I know, mainly because in the end they seem to slam down extra coins, they dont win, but that doesnt stop them trying again next time seemingly! Fares are fixed, just pay them!

I guess I get frustrated with them because 99% of my bus journeys either relate to getting into town to go to work, or getting home after a day at work, and I really dont want unnecessary delays!

Saturday, I also got ‘entertainment’ on the train, thankfully they dont stop the train while the conductor checks tickets lol. This woman (yes, you’ve guessed her origin) got most angry when the conductor wouldnt accept her expired (by¬†3 days apparently) Metro card could no longer be used to make journeys, and¬†the whole¬†carriage got to know it! He politely explained that she would have to buy a new one now, but she wasnt keen on that idea! She eventually paid out for a return ticket for that day, but she wouldnt have won any prizes for charm in doing so.

So, to anyone reading this, you know what your bus/train fare is, just pay it, dont try and get a lower fare, its not going to happen, and all you do is annoy fellow passengers. And as ‘The Hulk’ used to say, “You wont like me if I get angry!” lol!

The song, suitably apt for this rant I guess? One of my favourite groups, one of their early records, a cover version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsgj4xcxXyA

Cricket in the USA

Yes, it does exist there, though in a pretty limited way, mainly played by immigrants from the West Indies and South East Asia, not so much the natives. And though they are far from the worst playing nation in the world, they dont have the likes of Ireland, Scotland, Holland and Afghanistan quaking, let alone the 10 big test playing nations lol!

Strangely though, the trick question is, who were the  participants in the first international cricket match? All those who said England and Ireland, or England and the Aussies, wrong! Anyone shrewd enough to say Canada and the USA, correct! So why didnt they become mighty cricketing powers, well, I think the rise of baseball might have played a part!

So why am I posting on such matters today, you’re probably asking? Well I read an article this morning about starting a 20¬†over premier league in the US in the near future, backed by New Zealand Cricket board. And the comment said it all, why¬†wont it probably work with the American’s, its not baseball! Even more so as presumably the seasons would need to coincide, and lets face it, ask a New Englander, are you going to go and watch a cricket¬†game between players you might not have heard of, or¬†mainly not heard of, or are you going to go and watch the Red Sox?¬†Hmm…

The other main snag, unless you concentrate on one region of the US, is distance. Its OK playing one day here in Taunton (Somerset), the next in Southampton (Hampshire) but playing in New York, or Miami one day, then 2 days later in Seattle or San Francisco, not so easy, is it? And without national outlets, would the game ever attract a national audience, pretty doubtful I guess.

Me, I’d love to see cricket take off in a big way in¬†the US, I would like to¬†think that would force the ICC to open up the game at a higher level far more, and might therefore¬†indirectly aid Ireland too. Trouble is, unless the ‘locals’ can¬†take an interest in the¬†game, as well as Expats, its not likely to happen.¬†And given there will be baseball on at the same time as a cricket season…ah well, I suspect.

be interesting to see the idea come to fruition though. For any interested, the link is

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203914304576630182732328972.html

Letter From America

Yes, this really is, from my suite I’m staying in here in Boston for the week. And yes, there were only 2 songs that came to mind for this blog, Simon and Garfunkel lost out, no prizes for working out which song. So if you want to go and find it…

But in all honesty, it could only come a distant second to this song, which if its based around the Scottish clearances, rather than the major Irish one, well I dont begrudge the Proclaimers that in the slightest. Yes, the Irish potato famine is about to raise its unruly head here lol!

I know, I was born in England, and all that. Doesnt stop me hating the English for what happened to all those poor¬†Irish people 150 years ago, or slightly more. Equally I dont claim great historical knowledge of the events, only what I’ve read in various places, and seen monuments to in the West of Ireland especially. Its hard, at this distance in time to know just how badly the English treated the¬†Irish at the time, but generally reports state it varies from very badly to horrifically!

Did I lkose any relatives in that time, either to famine, or the mass emigration in those awful ships to North America, no idea. But I suspect I must have done, and indeed but for a quirk of fate, I might be an American writing this, and not understand cricket in the slightest! Instead somewhere around the start of the 20th century, both of my ancestral families came to England.

I guess hating the English for what happened then is a bit harsh, life and times were very different, and so were attitudes, but all the same… There is Irish songs about the treatment of native folk by the English, but none provoke the same feelings for me as the Proclaimers song about the Clearances in their country.

So therefore, supporting the Celtic statement of English hard handedness in the past, I present

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-OzdiaJZkw