Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Bloggers Blog Party - July 2013

From the end of May up until the end of June, I participated in my friend and fellow blogger Stephanie's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party. At the end of my final post for the party, I mentioned that I was considering continuing with the party at a monthly pace; here is my "July" post:

Wednesday, 3rd July: Mum was annoyed to discover that this pizza half of our dinner for that evening had gone mouldy; she hates wasting food. This is the first time that pizza has gone mouldy in our house.

Thursday, 11th July: I spotted this iPhone 5 case when out on my walk that afternoon. This is the second time I've found the remains of an Apple product in this town! I can assure you that it's not mine, though: I don't litter.

Friday, 19th July: On this morning, my brother spotted this young pigeon on a fence post. The pigeon remained on the post after I had finished photographing it.

Monday, 22nd July: This was an ant nest at the back of our house; it has since been exterminated. The lizards we used to get in Southern Oregon would have loved these flying ants pictured here: the ants would have been an excellent source of food for them.

Monday, 29th July: This sloped dark cloud appeared on this recent Monday evening; the cloud was originally straight and flat across the sky. It unleashed a massive downpour not long after this photograph was taken.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

"Big When I Was Little" - Eliza Doolittle

"Big When I Was Little" by Eliza Doolittle is a song that I currently hear every day on the two radio stations I listen to; the song was officially released in the United Kingdom in the past couple of days:

I have written about Doolittle before: one of my earliest posts was to write about her 2010 hit single "Pack Up"; "Pack Up" is also among the first songs I ever heard when I returned to the United Kingdom. As such, I'm pleased to hear another song of hers on the radio; I love her voice and her fun music.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The toad

Late last night, my brother spotted this toad on the concrete at the back of our house:

This is most definitely a toad: toads have dry, bumpy skin and they crawl whereas frogs have moist, smooth skin and they hop. This toad allowed me to photograph it; it didn't seem to be in any hurry to get away from me and my brother.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

1945 Empire State Building plane crash

Today is the 68th anniversary of when a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in New York City. Unlike the attacks of September 11th 2001, this plane crash was entirely accidental: the plane's pilot, Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith, Jr., had been flying from Bedford Army Air Field to La Guardia Airport; however, when Smith came in range of La Guardia, he asked for a weather report in Newark and opted to land there. Smith was advised that there was zero visibility, but he continued regardless; when he flew over Manhattan, the fog disoriented him, causing him to make an incorrect turn near the Chrysler Building.

That wrong turn led him, his plane and his crew into the Empire State Building; the aircraft struck the 79th floor on the north side of the skyscraper. While the overall structural integrity of the Empire State Building remained intact, the crash killed 14 people, including Smith and his two other crewmen, and started a fire that took well over half an hour to extinguish; the fire was the highest in the city's history until September 11th, 2001, but retains the record of being the highest building fire to be controlled. Despite the deaths and the damage inflicted upon the Empire State Building, the tower was open again two days later; the cost of the repairs was around $1,000,000, which is estimated at $13,000,000 by today's standards.

Betty Lou Oliver was the other notable person of the day. She had been working on the 80th floor when the building was struck; she received burns but she survived. When rescue units arrived at her location, they decided to send her back down the building via an elevator; however, the crash had weakened the cable, and when the doors closed the elevator fell. Oliver was fortunate a second time, as rapid compression of air in the shaft slowed the elevator's descent and the thousand feet of elevator cable that had fallen to the bottom cushioned the landing. To this day, Oliver holds the record for the highest-survived elevator fall.

Sadly, the accident is often overshadowed by 9/11; worse yet, it's cited by some conspiracy theorists attempting to rationalize their opinions about 9/11. They often argue that, because the Empire State Building, a structure from the early 1930s, survived a plane crash, then the World Trade Center towers should easily have survived, too. They forget that the Empire State Building was hit by a small and slow aircraft compared to the jets that hit the Twin Towers; the Twin Towers also had a radically different structural design to the Empire State Building. Beyond planes crashing into skyscrapers in New York City, the two incidents are hardly comparable. Even today, I read an informative article about the accident, but I mistakely read the comments section, which was brimming with trolling.

The events that transpired on July 28th, 1945, in New York City mustn't be forgotten; they might not have been as deadly or as destructive as 9/11, but they were a tragedy, all the same.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

The friend zone redux

Two months ago, I wrote a piece on why I think the friend zone doesn't exist. I discovered the article Nice Guy Syndrome And The Friend Zone by Alisse Desrosiers; in particular, I agree with and would like to share the following paragraph from her piece, as it mostly sums up what I wrote about in my post:

"The Friend Zone is a bullshit, misogynistic, make-believe land Nice Guys have come up with to demonize women for not wanting to date them. They use it as an excuse to ignore the fact that there are Actual Reasons behind their decision to not pursue a relationship or have sex with this guy. You know, like not being physically attracted to them. Or not being able to connect with them. Or seeing through their crap and realizing that the only reason these guys are even friends with them in the first place is so they can get laid."

Not being attracted to someone and/or not being able to/not wanting to form a romantic connection with them are completely valid reasons for not dating a certain person; it happens to men and it happens to women. There is no "zone".

As for "Nice Guys", I am working on an article about them; I put it aside in favour of my article about the friend zone but I do intend to finish the piece and post it. Finally, I'd like to clarify that while I don't usually include profanity in my blog, I wasn't going to change any of Desrosiers' words when I posted the extract from her article; it would have been insulting to her and it's a fairly trivial concern when compared to the topic.

Friday, 26 July 2013

The keyring

I was looking through some of my belongings this evening and saw this:

It's my Dish Network keyring. Dish Network was my family's satellite TV provider in Oregon for a few years until we decided to stop watching television and pay for satellite Internet instead (we got sick of dial-up). I've had this keyring for over ten years and I obtained the light from a Christmas cracker a few years ago.

An odd item to write about, definitely, but it's one I'm fond of; keyrings/fobs are often fun.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Another pinkish sunset

There have been a few fires around our way in the past couple of days; while the fires are nasally unpleasant and contribute to pollution, they also help produce some pretty sunsets:

I can assure you that they are meant to be pictures of the sunset, not of the streetlight! The streetlight was merely in the way, not the object of the photographs.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The clouds

The weather produced some fantastic cloud formations today:

I took this picture in the morning; it was shot out of one of our house's upper windows, but I aimed the camera at such an angle to give the appearance of actually being "in the sky" with the clouds. Do you think I pulled it off?

This was in the afternoon; I took this image on one of the bridges over the railroad. I love the fluffy clouds mixed with the deep blue sky.

I also took a few pictures of the evening clouds but the images were blurred, which I was deeply disappointed about.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A slug

I don't usually post close-up pictures of slimy creatures, but my brother recently took this fine shot of a slug:

He made this capture with his phone; it's a good image, as you can see how black and shiny the slug is. My brother was pleased with the pictures he took of this slug; I hope that no one is too creeped out by it!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Android Easter egg

If you own an Android phone running version Gingerbread (2.3) or above, there is an Easter egg present in the software. If you go into your phone's settings, select "About phone", scroll down to "Android version", and then press multiple times on the version number, the Easter egg will appear, although what egg appears depends on which version you have.

On Gingerbread, the phone comes up with a zombie scene; on Honeycomb (3.0), a bee appears, which will display a bee sound in a text box if you press it; on Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), the Android robot appears dressed in an ice cream sandwich and if you long-press him, an abundance of robots dressed in ice cream sandwiches will swim across the screen. Finally, on Jelly Bean (4.1), a jelly bean will appear in the middle of screen; long-pressing the bean will replace it with smaller beans, which can be flicked off the screen.

I love Easter eggs in software and it's neat that there is at least one in Android. To my knowledge, this works on any Android phone provided it's version 2.3/Gingerbread or above; I am not aware of any restrictions by region or carrier.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

My "Recipes": Andrew's Pesto, Egg and Cheese Tortilla Wrap

It's been ages since the My "Recipes" series ended. Over a year and a half later, I have a new recipe to post: Andrew's Pesto, Egg and Cheese Tortilla Wrap; I came up with it at yesterday's lunch. The ingredients are:

1 tortilla wrap
1 hard-boiled egg
2 teaspoons of pesto
2 tablespoons of grated/shredded cheese
 a microwave

On the tortilla, cut the hard-boiled egg into four or five slices and then cut those slices into quarters. Then add the pesto, mix it in with the egg pieces and then add the cheese, mixing it in, too. Wrap the tortilla up and then cook it in the microwave for a minute and a half. The result should be a delicious, easy-to-make wrap.

I don't have any pictures, mainly because I wasn't expecting my lunch to be both simple and tasty enough to warrant sharing!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

"Ayshalak" - Elissa

When reading my friend and fellow blogger Jessica's blog earlier today, I saw that she had briefly mentioned the Lebanese singer Elissa, a performer of Arabic pop music. I've known about Elissa for year, as I came across her Wikipedia article in 2007; I re-discovered her a few years later either by randomly browsing YouTube one day or being linked to her when looking up the music of Israeli pop singer Dana International. Even though I can't understand Elissa's lyrics, I do like her voice and her music; I have her 2002 album, Ayshalak.

This is "Ayshalak" from Ayshalak:

I have Ayshalak because that was the Elissa album available on Amazon UK; I received it at Easter. Ayshalak is the first album I own that isn't sung in English; before owning a copy of Ayshalak, the only albums that I owned with significant amounts of another language to English were a couple of Shakira's, which contained Spanish tracks.

I'm quite pleased that Jessica mentioned Elissa; it's good to know another person who knows about her!

Friday, 19 July 2013

On e-book readers

I used to be opposed to e-book readers, as I had fallen into the trap of thinking that e-readers "didn't provide the same experience as reading a real book" and that they were "insulting to real books". I didn't think I'd ever have a use for an e-reader and continued to oppose them when I received one for Christmas a couple of years ago.

In the past year, my stance slowly softened; then, a few months ago, my Dad starting using an e-reader and loved it: it gave him the opportunity to read books more frequently again (many of our actual books are still packed away). Mum liked Dad's e-reader and she received one for her birthday. This encouraged me to take a new look at my e-reader.

I haven't been using it long, but I have to say that I do love my e-reader: I, too, can read books more often again and I like how the device's screen doesn't tire my eyes. It's wonderful to be able to read books again, even if it's on an e-reader; thanks to its portability and storage, I can take hundreds of books with me whenever I travel (same with my Dad). I really do love it.

I can honestly say that I like e-readers now; does it really matter if we read a book on paper or on a screen? Provided that people are reading, whatever method they choose to read should be irrelevant. My only regret is that I wish I had used my e-reader much earlier.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The customer on a phone

Around two weeks ago, a checkout worker at a Sainsbury's (one of the UK's largest supermarket companies) denied service to a customer until said customer ended her phone call:

Sainsbury's apologised to the customer, who has since said that she will shop at a rival supermarket from now on; Sainsbury's itself welcomes debate over the issue. I agree with the checkout worker and I don't think that Sainsbury's should have apologised: the shopper was the one in the wrong in this situation.

There are several reasons why I think this: for one, there is no reason to be talking on a phone in a supermarket unless you're asking someone if there are any groceries that you need to pick up. Secondly, a shopper on the phone at the checkout delays the queue. Thirdly, it's pure rudeness: checkout workers are people, too, and there is no reason to ignore them; when you're paying for your shopping, the person operating the checkout should be your focus of attention, not somebody who is irrelevant to the situation.

The second article said that Sainsbury's are quietly supporting their employee. I hope that this is still the case: the checkout worker was justified in their actions, and phone usage at the checkout should be discouraged.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The heat

While I am pleased about the summer weather, especially after the extended winter, the current high temperatures do bother me. Well, perhaps not so much the heat itself as how we can deal with it: the vast majority of houses in the United Kingdom do not have air conditioning; additionally, most of them are not fitted with any window screens, either. The latter is especially annoying because I have to keep my windows closed most of them time as to not let in insects and spiders, of which I've already had to evict several.

I don't want the winter weather to return just yet, of's summer, after all; for now, more breezes like the ones that were present this evening would be welcome; the day itself was a scorcher, but the evening was cool and pleasant because of the breezes.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The hot air balloons

On Sunday evening, there were a few hot air balloons flying over our neighbourhood and landing in a nearby field; both my camera and my phone were both on charge but my brother's camera was available and he took this photograph:

It's a red balloon; there was also a blue balloon flying over but by the time by brother had his camera that particular balloon was already out of sight. Then, last evening:

My brother photographed this blue, purple and white balloon, this time using my camera.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The surprising flag

I went out for a walk yesterday, going on one of my usual routes, and saw this:

I have easily seen the flag of the Confederate States of America more times in the United Kingdom than I ever did in the United States; this is the third, possibly fourth, time that I have seen it here. It's bizarre! I only recall seeing one Confederate flag while my family and I lived in the United States...and bear in mind we lived there for over fourteen years.

I do wonder if the people who fly this flag here in the UK actually know what it represents, or if they fly it because they merely like its appearance.

As for this picture, my brother took it this morning with my main camera; I didn't have my camera on me yesterday when I went for my walk.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The "pond" in summer

Remember the "pond" that I don't think is really a pond? I have posted pictures of it here in a liquid state and when it's been a small skating rink. Now, in the middle of July, this is what it looks like in the summer:

Other than a couple of puddles, the heat has nearly dried the pond out. I am sorry about the lower quality of these pictures; my phone's camera struggled somewhat in the low light.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

"Moves Like an Owl" - an Owl City / Maroon 5 mashup by Sjoersje

I'm in a good mood tonight, and I wanted to post a link to a positive-sounding song. I discovered this excellent mashup by Sjoersje; it's Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera's "Moves Like Jagger" combined with Owl City's "Take It All Away":

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love mashups, especially when they're made well; I love this particular mashup and it's improved in that I enjoy the music of the artists whose songs have been mashed up.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Foxton Locks 2013

My family and I visited Foxton Locks today. I didn't take as many pictures as I did last year but I ensured I had a few for another post:

This is an area of the grounds up by the Foxton Inclined Plan; it was taken from the same observation deck that I mentioned in the previous post.

A shot of some yellow water-lillies; in addition to the lillies, this section of the river was filled with fish.

The plaque read as "Pats Bridge" (no apparent apostrophe); however, I think the bridge is named "Pat's Bridge" and not "Pats Bridge".

My brother and I walked north on the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal; this was the furthest point we reached in our walk before we headed back to the locks. We had a pleasant afternoon at Foxton Locks.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The "Thankful Villages"

Two days ago, my family and I visited the village of East Carlton, located here in Northamptonshire, to visit the East Carlton Country Park. When we returned home later that day, I did a little research about the place and learnt that it is one of England and Wales' "Thankful Villages".

What is a Thankful Village? Well, the Thankful Villages (also known as "Blessed Villages") are the 51 places in the United Kingdom whose military personnel at the time survived World War I; 14 of those villages then became known as "doubly thankful" when all their soldiers also survived World War II. Unfortunately, there are no places in Northern Ireland or Scotland that hold these titles, and East Carlton is not among the 14 doubly thankful locations.

I'm not sure which is more remarkable, while at the same time deeply saddening and horrifying: that there were a few places in the UK that managed to escape tragedy from the world wars or that nearly every place in the UK did receive at least one fatality from those wars. Either way, it's a reminder that conflicts such as the world wars should not happen again and that we should continue working towards a peaceful planet.

Perhaps what surprised me more that day was telling Mum and Dad that we had visited a Thankful Village: neither had heard of the term before I told them. They're highly knowledgeable about British history and I assumed that this was something they were well-familiar with.

I consider it an honour to have visited East Carlton; I would like to visit it again. I have respect for this village and the others that share in its corner of history.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Purple thistles

I photographed these purple thistles a couple of afternoons ago:

My brother reckons that there has been a decline in the amount of these purple thistles this year, which is a shame if that is the case. The plants remind me of the teazels we had in Oregon, although those are native to Europe and are considered an invasive species in the United States

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Skylar Grey's second album, "Don't Look Down"

On May 23rd, 2006, Skylar Grey (then Holly Brook) released her first album, Like Blood Like Honey. During that year, she became known from her featured appearance in the hit song "Where'd You Go" by Fort Minor. For a few years after the departure of "Where'd You Go" from the pop charts, her only appearances on radio were in the occasional repeat of the song; then, in 2010, she re-emerged under her "Skylar Grey" persona as a featured artist on a few songs. In late 2011, she released the single "Invisible"

At long last, after over seven years, Grey has released her second album: Don't Look Down. I was delighted in the final quarter of 2012 to finally obtain a copy of Like Blood Like Honey and now I can genuinely look forward to having her second album. I wrote back in May that July 9th was the release date, although I was concerned that the date would be pushed back again. For some reason, "Invisible" isn't included on the album but I can live with that.

As of this writing, Don't Look Down is available here on Amazon UK as an import; while I want the album, I will wait a spell longer to see if a full release will happen here or if a deluxe edition will materialize. For now, I'm just overjoyed that Grey has a second album out! A part of me thought that a follow-up to Like Blood Like Honey would never come to be but I didn't give up hope!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Bee in Coventry

Dad, my brother and I were all in Coventry yesterday afternoon. Dad and my brother took several pictures while we were all there; one picture was this:

A bee, or rather, a bumblebee, as my brother reckoned it was. It's probably the only bee that has ever "posed" for a picture rather than fly away! My brother obtained three pictures of this bee.

I like how "Bee in Coventry" rhymes, too.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The moth on the light

I photographed this moth on my bedroom's lamp shade last night:

It was somewhat of a delight for this moth to take up temporary residence in my room (I don't mind moths); however, before I went to bed, I carefully trapped the moth in a glass, as to not harm the creature, to let it outside. I attempted to let it outside but it decided it was more comfortable inside the glass; I left the glass near an open window and the moth flew outside sometime during the night.

If you glance at the first two pictures or look at them out of the corners of your eyes, the moth looks more like a bat than a moth.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Sheep and goats?

I took this picture this afternoon of some field animals; some of them are obviously sheep but I wasn't sure if a couple of the others were goats or shaved sheep:

Today was also our hottest day this year yet; the temperature surpassed 80 Fahrenheit and it's currently that hot in the house, even this late in the evening. I had an ice cream this afternoon, too; it seemed appropriate!

Friday, 5 July 2013

The red poppies

I photographed these red poppies this afternoon:

I was astounded to see such an abundance of red poppies; I had never seen so many at once before! These two pictures were taken with my phone, which is why the poppies appear less a little more orange than red.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

"Say You'll Be There" - Spice Girls

For today's post, this is the song "Say You'll Be There" by the Spice Girls; it is the second single from their debut album, Spice:

When I was around six/seven-years-old, I was into the Spice Girls, although it wasn't for their music (it wasn't until I was listening to the Open House Party nearly a decade later that I heard a Spice Girls song in its entirety); my favourite Spice Girl was always Baby Spice, whom I can now hear nearly every week because she is an afternoon presenter on the Heart radio network on Saturdays! I'm more familiar with the Spice Girls' debut single, "Wannabe", but since I've been listening to Heart I've heard "Say You'll Be There".

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Eight British coins

As promised, a full shot of the eight coins:

From left: a penny, two pence, five pence, ten pence, twenty pence, fifty pence, a pound and two pounds. As also promised, this picture is of the reverse ("tails") side of each coin. I have plenty of coins, including a few foreign types plus several American coins and even a dollar (although that last one is not a coin!).

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Two more British coins

As promised in my final Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party post, here is an image of the two coin types I didn't have pictured:

A two pence coin and a fifty pence coin, respectively. I rarely use pennies and two pence coins because they go in a penny jar; however, I often use fifty pence coins. I'll double-check to ensure I have all coin types from the previous picture and this one: I want to post a photograph of the reverse sides.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The blackspot yellow rose

The blackspot-afflicted rose I covered twice during the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party has blossomed even further:

I'm pleased that the rose is blossoming despite the blackspot; the flower has a pleasant scent, which is almost as strong as the smell of a red rose.