Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The News

So, before I begin this week's rant/whine/observation, I must start by saying that I have a news anchor friend who is both lovely and professional on air.  I enjoyed watching her on the news when we lived in the same town and I'm sure that I would still enjoy watching her at her new station.  She was always herself when reading the news, but still managed to be professional at the same time - which to me, is the perfect combination.  Plus, she is hot and wears fabulous clothes :)  You know who you are KKF!  However...

American news programs drive me NUTS.  As in throw things, and scream at the TV nuts.  I can hardly bring myself to watch the news over here!  Most local programs look like they were filmed in the 70's, complete with grainy pictures and bad outfits.  The American national icon of news, Barbara Walters, is never shown without 'fuzz' - they make her all blurry and golden looking.  It hurts my eyes just trying to focus on her!  Why do they do this?  Don't get me started on the Fox Clones - they're all so highly made up and you really can't tell them apart. Were they cloned especially to work on Fox News?  

The Permanently Fuzzy Barbara

The other channels are not much better.  Robin Meade for example.  Perky, pretty, and a very nice person I'm sure, but OMG, her dramatic facial expressions and chummy banter are wooden and embarassing.  Stop!!  I'm not going to go into the politics of the main news channels here - we all know who is right wing, who is left wing and all that goes with it.  But what makes me scream the loudest is when Fox News constantly proclaims itself to be "fair and balanced".  It's as fair and balanced as I'm tall and big boobed.  If you don't know me, believe me, I'm anything but. 

Thankfully, we do get BBC America news.  It's a haven of peace, tranquility and normalcy for me.  No judging expressions when reading news stories (Megyn Kelly on Fox News is the queen of dramatic faces) and no dramatic pauses between words when the story is something that the newsreader disagrees with (Megyn Kelly again).  I know the BBC has come under a lot of criticism for its news programs back home recently, but I miss the BBC news immensely.  They read the stories plain, simple, impartial and without embellishment.  Isn't that how the news should be read?  I miss the deadpan Moira Stuart and her like (I know, she doesn't work for the BBC any more).  Serious with a bit of polite banter at the end.  Perfect!

The lovely Moira :)

At home, we have half an hour of world and national news, followed by half an hour of local news.  Simple, no drama.  The weather isn't drawn out like it is on the local channels here.  At the beginning of the hour of local news, they tell you that they will tell you (confused?) what's coming up weather-wise in 10 minutes.  At the 10 minute point, they tease you with a small piece of weather information and then announce that they will tell you more in a further 10 minutes.  This continues all the way through the program.  All I want to see is the bloody weather forecast!!!!!  Want some international news?  Forget it.  The international news is usually the shortest part of most programs.

Anyway, so ends my wee rant about the American news.   I guess I'm getting old because when I was younger, I hated watching the news.  But shouldn't news be just that, NEWS?  Not judging, drama and criticism?  So today, I leave you with a cute video of some random puppy - this is actually normal on news channels here.  To fill in gaps?  Who knows.  I just know that I don't watch the news to see cute animals!!!!  Have a good week peeps!

Monday, January 19, 2015

First World Problems

Eating out is one of my favorite things to do, mostly because I'm not exactly Martha Stewart in the kitchen.  One thing that always surprises me here in America though, is that even in some of the fancier restaurants, you are mostly expected to use the same cutlery for each course.  When I finish my appetizer, I always put my knife and fork together, vertically on the plate for the server to take away before the next course is served.  So I really hate when they pick up these utensils and place them back on the table when removing the plate, either that, or they gesture for you to do so.  Yuck!!!  Why can't I have clean cutlery for my next course without having to ask for it specially?  I personally think it's pretty gross to have your used cutlery sitting on the table between courses, I don't remember this happening in the UK!

One thing I have become used to, however, is the practice of being given your bill promptly - sometimes before you've even finished eating.  I hated this when we first moved here, but I guess some things are easier to get used to than others.  Nowadays, if I don't get the bill promptly, I start looking for the waiter and get all twitchy.  If we ever move back to the UK, I wonder if I'd find it difficult getting back to having to ask for the bill again.  Ah, first world problems...!

The High School in our neighborhood has a massive parking lot which is always full of cars belonging to students and teachers.  It got me wondering what happens at lunch time.  Do hundreds of students get in their cars to go out for lunch?  That would be total chaos!  In Scotland, we have an hour for lunch.  You can opt to stay in school and eat, or you can leave to go and have your lunch elsewhere - at home, the local chippy, or wherever you like.  We would walk down the High Street and grab a tomato soup and iced bun from the bakery before walking slowly back up to school.   Even when we lived in Glasgow where the school was a lot bigger, we would leave school and walk downtown for lunch.  You're not allowed to do so here, lunch must be eaten in the cafeteria and either brought from home or purchased there.  I don't know if students here even have a full hour for lunch, but I'm glad I experienced being able to leave school in the middle of the day for a wee break. 

It would appear that they have changed the chocolate used for Cadbury's Creme Eggs in the UK.  There has been a major outcry and no bleedin' wonder!  Sorry America, but I always describe your chocolate as being dumbed down.  It just doesn't compare with the creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate we get back home.  Don't get me wrong, it does fine and I have been known to eat copious quantities on occasion, but it just isn't as good as British chocolate - especially the legendary Cadbury's Dairy Milk.  Cadbury's was bought by Kraft however, and they have decided to change the chocolate used in the British eggs to a standard Cadbury's chocolate.  I'm sure it will be good, but for goodness sake, why change something that isn't broken?!  And as if that's not bad enough, they've also reduced the number of eggs sold in multi-packs, without reducing the price!  Sort it out Cadbury's/Kraft.  The Creme Egg is an icon and should remain the same.  Imagine if they changed the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup over here?  Outrage would ensue!  Yep, another first world problem!

On that note, I'm off for a brew.  I'm craving a Creme Egg now, so it's probably just as well that there are none in the house.  Happy eating y'all!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thoughts on moving so far...

Thankfully I'm used to moving every couple of years from our time in the military.  It's actually enjoyable for me to declutter and dejunk the house.  Seattle is going to be a lot more expensive than here, and our new house will be half the size of our Tennessee McMansion, so Goodwill and the dump have had several visits already on my quest to have a minimal amount of 'stuff'.  Our family of 5 fit into a 3 bedroom apartment when we lived in Korea, we managed fine and it was actually very liberating living in a smaller space than we were used to.  Less crap means less cleaning and less stuff to tidy up which is never a bad thing!

Some places we've lived, it took several months before we truly settled.  It was different here.  It was so easy to settle down, get in a routine, make friends and get on with life.  It could have been so much worse - this was the first place we lived when the husband retired from the military, so it was definitely a leap into the unknown, but it was totally painless, mostly thanks to the lovely people of Murfreesboro!  

Seattle is a huge distance from here.  Huge, as in it might as well be an international move (we've done a few of those too!)  Plus, seeing as I'm not from America, it might as well be an international move because it will be very different from Middle Tennessee!  So far in the US, we've lived in North Dakota (yes, it was freezing in the winter, but the people were lovely), South Dakota (one of my favorite places in the world), and Virginia (not one of my favorite places in the world) and here in Tennessee.  The Pacific North West will be a complete change of scenery and pace from Murfreesboro for sure.

We were really worried about how the kids would react to moving, so we made them a power point presentation about Seattle (which most of you have probably already seen on Facebook), talking about beautiful scenery, wildlife, crab legs and camping in teepees!  They watched it, were silent for a few seconds and then started screaming with excitement.  Now the hard thing will be to live up to the hype we created!

Things are happening very quickly.  The realtor has already taken the photos and put the "Coming Soon" sign up in the yard, the house has been inspected, the moving company have been to see how much crap we have and we've told pretty much everybody we know that we are moving.  I'm not really looking forward to the day that the house goes on the market because it's not fun trying to hide all evidence of family life - 3 kids and a dog, at a moment's notice to make the house look good for showings.  It's also going to be heartbreaking saying "see you later" to all of our friends here, but I'm not going to think about that until the day comes.  And anyway, I do believe it will be "see you later" and not "goodbye"!

A lot of people can't believe we're still moving around after leaving the military, but we're not ready  just yet to put down roots anywhere and we're fortunate that the husband's job has many opportunities for us in different locations.  It's an adventure and we're very lucky we get to still do this in the civilian world.  Without going into too much detail, it's been a lot easier to move as a civilian so far.   Way less paperwork and chasing around after signatures!

So for now, we're house hunting in and around Seattle, trying to suss out good schools, karate clubs, soccer clubs and all that you need to know when you move with young children.  I'd be lying if I said I haven't been looking at all the Hot Yoga studios for myself too :)  We actually don't have too much time before we leave, so it's all a bit of a whirlwind, but I'm hopeful it will all turn out fine.  I'll keep you posted!  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bits and Bobs

Wow, it sure has been a while since I blogged.  Happy New Year y'all!   Although I really must stop saying y'all because WE'RE MOVING TO SEATTLE IN MARCH!!!!  What words will I pick up there?  Happy New Year dude?  Happy New Year man?  Who knows, but I'm excited to find out.  The next few weeks will probably be pretty busy, but it's not like we haven't moved before so it'll all work out fine.  It's been interesting receiving different reactions to our news.  Most of our friends are excited for our new adventure, but I've actually had a few people react in horror and tell me how awful it is!  We have loved living here for sure, and have made many wonderful friends that we will be sad to leave, but we feel pretty lucky that we have this opportunity to move to the North West and live near the mountains and ocean again.  

We had a lovely holiday with my parents who came over for Christmas and New Year.  Lots of food and drink was consumed, and many walks taken to walk off the aforementioned calories.   We visited Nashville, Franklin and went to the movies. My "lucky" Mum had the experience of seeing people shopping in their pajamas at 3pm in Walmart, an experience not to be missed I tell you! 

Speaking of Walmart, I had yet another adventure in their parking lot.  There I was, innocently packing away the weekly grocery haul when some bloke came up and asked if that was a German flag on the front of my van.  I explained that it was actually a Scottish flag, but I guess he didn't believe me.  I then  had to listen to him talking nonsense about flags of the world while I hastily chucked the dog food in as fast as I could, before jumping in my van and driving off at top speed.  I really must check the van to see if there is actually some kind of sign on there that attracts weirdos...

Driving here at night really freaks me out.  There are no cat's eyes on the roads AT ALL!  Is it the same all over America or is this just a Tennessee phenomenon?  Please enlighten me!  It's so hard to see where the road is in the dark, especially when it's raining, so I drive like an old lady peering over my steering wheel trying to see the edge of the road.  You need to see the edge of the road here because sometimes it's a sheer drop, I kid you not!  Cat's eyes America, google them, and more importantly, put them on the bloody roads!

So that's all I've got for y'all you dudes this week.  I'm off to swot up on Seattle and the surrounding area and do a wee bit of house hunting while I'm at it.   All whilst listening to some Nirvana, Pearl Jam etc, trying to get a feel for the Pacific North West.  Ha, stereotyping at its finest...!  Till next time!