Saturday, 30 November 2013

Birthday 2013

My 23rd birthday took place this past month. It was quiet for the most part, given that it rained for a significant portion of the day; here are three pictures:

This is my cake, a homemade chocolate cake; my brother and I used our breadmaker to make the cake the day before my birthday. It looks delicious but in this state it wasn't yet ready to eat. The above picture was taken a few minutes before this happened:

The icing! The cake's icing was made from cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla and a bar of melted cooking chocolate. It is the best homemade icing that I've eaten to date. Honestly, it tasted amazing.

Do you remember Run Off? (Posts here and here.) My brother and I played a game of it; it had been months since we'd last played it and I wanted to have a go for my birthday. My brother won; his states are yellow and mine are purple. To say that this sort of electoral alignment is unlikely in an actual American election is an understatement! Coincidentally, the result here (272-266, my brother's victory) is the same as the one for the game mentioned in the second linked post at the start of this paragraph.

It was hardly an exciting birthday but I was happy with it. I don't have any complaints.

Note: the above image is not originally mine, but rather, is a modified version of Licensing is listed on that page.

Friday, 29 November 2013

"Hung Up" - Madonna

This is "Hung Up" by Madonna:

"Hung Up" was the first single released from Madonna's tenth studio album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, which came out in 2005. "Hung Up" was also the first Madonna song that I ever liked and I received Confessions on a Dance Floor eight years ago today. It's definitely among my favorite albums; several of its tracks were played on the Open House Party on KIFS (107.5 Kiss FM), which I thought was great.

If you watch the video instead of just listen to the song, it might be considered mildly explicit by some but it's not offensive and certainly not worse than other videos out there. It mostly consists of people dancing.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

So what am I thankful for in 2013? Well, just like last year, I'm thankful for my immediate family and my relatives, for my friends, my good health and that I live in a good home. Not really much change there, as they're all reasonable things to be thankful for every year.

I am also thankful this year for a specific friend of mine. I can't go into too much detail as to not violate their privacy, but I am thankful that this person is still alive. They underwent a massively traumatic experience this year and were lucky to survive it. I've never met this person face-to-face, given their residence thousands of miles away from me, but we've been close friends online for well over two years; to say that I would have been extremely upset if anything had happened to them is an understatement. As such, I am thankful that they are still living and breathing on this Earth. I truly value our friendship.

I hope that you have all been enjoying time with your families and friends. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

"Reached the end" advert

This popped into my head today; I'm not sure what caused me to think of it:

It's a 2002 television commercial for DirecTV's DSL Internet; I remember seeing this advert during its run. The notion of somebody reaching the "end" of the Internet was funny back in 2002 but now, given the Internet's size and how widespread high-speed access is, it seems ridiculous!

Again, I'm really not sure why I thought of it. I was glad that it didn't take me long to find it. At any rate, it's a bit of humor.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Writing about belongings

I've written several posts about some of my belongings. It recently occurred to me that such posts could be seen as boasting or seeking some sort of validation. I'd like to give my assurances that this is not the case.

I only write about certain possessions of mine because, for the most part, they are objects I've owned for years and I wanted to share a little about my history. They are also merely something else to write about; the whole point of my blog is to write and share some of my experiences. My "[object] with a hat" posts, which do fall under the belongings category, are only done for a little bit of humour, nothing more.

While I doubt that anyone thought that I had any other reason(s) for writing about some of my belongings beyond what I stated above, I wanted to clarify anyway. If people seem to appreciate them, I'll keep posting!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Iran deal

Given that I've commented about Iran on a few occasions, it seems fair that I should comment on the interim deal. What do I think about it?

As I am sure it's obvious, I am pleased. Iran will significantly scale back its nuclear programme and allow more thorough inspections in exchange for some sanctions relief. Granted, this is only an interim deal and it will not end the dispute, but it will enormously contribute towards a peaceful resolution.

This is the first major deal between the West and Iran since 1979. I think it is a welcome change from threats (from both sides) and sanctions. I'd like this deal to be among first major barriers broken in the path towards normalising relations between Iran and the United States, and Iran's and its relations with other nations.

It is natural for people to be cautious about the deal, but I'd like to see effort put into ensuring it is successful in the coming months rather than concede now by assuming it's going to fail. The fact the deal even exists is evidence of how far the situation has positively progressed; all parties involved just need to be patient and follow it through.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The golf balls

A very long time ago, I used to collect golf balls:

Back when my family and I lived in California, there was a park that we walked to most Sundays. This park was popular with golfers, who would play their games but never pick up after themselves. My brother and I would pick up all the balls we found and bring them home; we amassed a golf ball collection while cleaning the park of what was technically "litter".

The two golf balls in the above picture are the only ones I have left; however, neither of them came from the park. I received them from a neighbor in Oregon. Other than them, I do not collect golf balls anymore; don't get me wrong, golf balls are neat, but I no longer have any need to collect them.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Smell of cooking food

This evening, the house was filled with the aroma of pizzas cooking in the oven. Cooking pizza has, in my opinion, a delicious smell to it; this odour will remain in the house hours after the pizzas themselves have been eaten. It'll be gone by the morning but I'll most likely still be able to sniff traces of the smell before I go to bed.

My opinion of the smell of pizza cooking, however, is a stark contrast to what I think about the smell of eggs boiling. I like boiled eggs but I dislike the odour that permeates the building while they are boiling; it is not at all appetising to me and I don't like that the smell lasts almost as long as that generated by pizza. I'm not really sure how to describe the smell...bland yet unpleasant?

These are only two examples; I'd provide more but none are coming to mind at this moment. What foods do you like or dislike the smell of while they cook?

Friday, 22 November 2013

"Graduation (Friends Forever)" - Vitamin C

I love this song:

It's "Graduation (Friends Forever)"; it's by Vitamin C and it's the third single from her self-titled debut album. The song was released in 2000 but the earliest I recall hearing it was either in 2005 or 2006 on the Open House Party.

Unfortunately, at present Vitamin C is almost a one-hit wonder. I say "almost" because the single "The Itch" from her second album, More, was successful in Australia, performed fairly well in New Zealand and peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Still, I hope we'll see the return of Vitamin C one day; she shouldn't have to be confined to being a very early 2000s hit, even if her single has the distinction of being the theme song for graduating high school students across the globe.

The last time I heard "Graduation (Friends Forever)" on the radio was on the Open House Party during one of my family's final weeks in the United States. I was surprised to learn that I hadn't written about the song until now.

Thursday, 21 November 2013


I don't like the motion pads that are native to laptops, but they are sufficient when I don't have another mouse available. The type of mouse I use is a trackball; it looks similar to this:

I really like my trackball mouse; I've been using trackball mice for several years now. I prefer them to regular mice for two reasons: 1. It's easier to direct the cursor with the ball rather than by having to move the whole device; I've never liked regular mice because of that. 2. Since trackballs are larger than regular mice, they do not cause cramp in my hands.

The main problem with the trackballs is that they are more expensive than regular mice, which isn't surprising. In addition, sometimes dirt gets inside the area where the ball rests and blocks the ball's movement, but this can be rectified by removing the ball and gently removing any detritus. Besides these two issues, trackballs are excellent.

If you are looking for a new mouse and have a little bit of money to spare, I recommend a trackball (not just the one in the link above; there are different makers).

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The phone call (2)

Back in September, I expressed my feelings of delight that President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had spoken to each other over the telephone. It was the first direct conversation between an American president and an Iranian president since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Last night, I was pleased to read that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, recently spoke to Mr. Rouhani:

Mr. Cameron is the first British prime minister to call an Iranian president in over ten years. They agreed to improve relations between the two nations and they discussed Iran's nuclear programme. It might not seem like much but it's a huge improvement compared to threats and grandstanding.

By speaking to the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Rouhani has achieved more for improving Iran's international relations in three months than his predecessor did in eight years. I did not expect him to magically fix everything overnight but so far he has kept his campaign promise to mend ties with other nations and work with them.

I'd also like to add that Israel, which considers Iran to be its primary enemy, has expressed its concerns about any deal between Iran and the West; I think that Israel is very much welcome to have concerns but I also think that any deal that emerges stands to benefit Israel as much as it does Iran. After all, the average Israeli doesn't want war any more than the average Iranian, Briton or American does. It would be great if, once a deal finally does come to light, relations between those two countries can begin to heal. I think we'd all like that outcome.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The purple house

Would you live in this house or one like it?

I was told about this house in the past couple of days. Even though purple is my favourite colour, when the house was described to me I was expecting the interior to be a hideous and eye-hurting shade of purple rather than one that's remarkably soft on a person's vision. Well, it appears that way in the pictures to me, anyway. I quite like it.

If you could live in a house with the same or similar paintwork as the one above, either in purple or another colour, would you? Imagine that resale value isn't a concern, too (although the purple house might be okay in that respect).

Monday, 18 November 2013

Fan with a hat

Okay, yes, I know they're silly but...another hat post!

This is my bedroom fan wearing my Jubilee hat. The hat is not the only item that my fan is wearing: can you spot a left over Christmas decoration from last year?

Sunday, 17 November 2013

"Everybody in Love" - JLS

This is "Everybody in Love" by British band JLS:

This is the first song of theirs that I ever heard. It was released in the United States in early 2010 but I recall hearing it in late-2009 on the Open House Party. I really liked the song and looked forward to hearing more of JLS on the radio once we had moved to the United Kingdom.

Today, they released their final single, "Billion Lights". Back in April, JLS announced that they would split up once their last tour, The Greatest Hits Tour, has concluded. Still, there is always the possibility that this split will only be temporary and that they'll be back together again one day. We'll just have to see.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The replacement

When my computer was having its "issues" two weeks ago, another device went haywire at the time: Dad's phone.

One evening, his phone inexplicably failed on him. When Dad turned it on, it flashed its usual introduction screen; however, when it arrived at the lock screen the display went black, only showing the time. He attempted rebooting the phone and removing its battery but they had no effect. Some research into the problem suggested that he contact his provider for help.

Dad contacted his phone provider over a week ago; they asked him to send it to them to evaluate whether it needed repairing or replacing. He did just that and we did not hear anything more from them, which was to be expected. Then, just this morning, the mailman delivered a package. This packaged contained a replacement phone, as the previous one was irreparable.

Dad and I spent an hour this morning setting his new phone up with the same settings as the one he had before. They're both the same model, of course, so we didn't have to learn how to use a different phone.

I'm glad that Dad was able to replace his phone and receive the replacement in a timely manner. It's a shame that the old one had a defect that caused it to fail, inconveniencing Dad in the process; this new device should be okay.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Orange orb and droplets

This is a surprisingly well-shot picture of mine; at least in my opinion it is, anyway:

It's a zoomed view of one of my house's front windows, taken at night from the inside looking out. I took this image sometime during the past few weeks and forgot about it; I found it tonight and thought it would be worth posting. The raindrops on the window are quite clear, as is the outside trellis, but what I really like is the streetlamp off to the left. It almost looks like the sun!

What do you think? Opinions are welcome, as always!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Last Briton from the 19th century

Grace Jones, the last remaining Briton born in the 19th century, has died:

Jones died in hospital today, following a fall she sustained a few weeks ago. According to her local Member of Parliament, Simon Hughes, her body had been deteriorating but he said that her "memory and intellect were undimmed."

Jones worked as a seamstress, both during and after World War II, and remained in that profession until her retirement, which was around fifty years ago. She outlived all of her family and friends, and regarded her neighbours as her family.

There are very, very few people left from the 19th century, with the last of the World War I veterans having died in the past year. The oldest verified living person is Misao Okawa of Japan, who will be 116 next March.

To think that when I was born, the youngest of the 19th century people alive at that time were older than ninety. I'm honoured that some of those people are still around today.

Grace Adelaide Jones 
7 December 1899 – 14 November 2013

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Vandalism with traffic cones

I came across this article today, which highlighted a bizarre form of vandalism that I'd never heard of before: putting traffic cones on statues.

While I do not condone nor encourage this behaviour, I would prefer that vandals only "decorate" statues with traffic cones rather than destroy them; I hate it when people purposely damage statues. It's needlessly destructive and wastes other people's time and money to make repairs.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Height of the One World Trade Center

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which is an international organization dealing with matters related to tall buildings, has officially declared One World Trade Center in New York City the tallest building in the United States. The height from the ground to the roof of the top floor is 1,368 feet but when including the spire, which the council has done, it brings it to 1,776 — the year the United States declared independence from Britain.

One World Trade Center surpassed the height of the Empire State Building in April 2012, topped out in August of that year and the last part of the spire was installed in May of this year. It takes the title of tallest building in the United States away from the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago, which had held this record since its completion in 1973.

I am satisfied with this decision. One World Trade Center is a magnificent building and a worthy successor to the original World Trade Center; it's a shame that the loss of life couldn't be replaced just as easily. The city has come a long way since the events of September 11, 2001; it's great that it once again has a building with the title of the tallest in America.

Monday, 11 November 2013

"Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey

I think that most people are familiar with this song, but I'll post it anyway; it's "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey:

I love this track. It's one of those songs that can really help lift you out of a sour mood. I think that this is the 2009 version of the song; the track found at this link sounds different to the aforementioned version, which is what I'm most familiar with.

This song also holds special significance for me because it was one of the songs I listened to during my family's flight from the United States to the United Kingdom. The Open House Party on KIFS (107.5 FM) had also been playing the song in the weeks up to our flight.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Captain Janeway's comments on coffee

As a humorous follow-up to both my post about giving coffee to children and to some discussions I had with fellow coffee-drinkers, I'd like to link to this video I found of a couple of relevant Star Trek: Voyager clips:

Yes, Captain Janeway is fictional, but her reactions — and description of coffee — aren't exaggerated: I know a few people who "need" their morning coffee before they have to deal with the day's problems. They're quite grouchy and difficult to reason with unless they get their cup of Joe.

Of course, one should be mindful not to drink too much coffee; Captain Janeway has some words for that, as well:

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Jar with a hat

Time for another "hat" post.

It's the penny jar, wearing my Jubilee hat. While the penny jar is stored in my room, the coins it stores aren't mine; we use it to keep all the 1 pence and 2 pence coins that we collect. We've had various penny jars over the years.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Coffee and children

About a week ago, I listened to a segment on the radio about a father who took his son into a coffee shop. Naturally, the dad had a coffee; then, his child asked if he could have a coffee, too. This supposedly attracted stares and mutterings from many of the other customers and the dad was mortified, lost for words.

This attracted a debate on the radio station and its website about whether or not children should be allowed to have coffee. I was surprised by how many people stated that they would not give their children coffee; after all, I've been drinking coffee since before I became a teenager and never considered any parent(s) being opposed to letting their kids have coffee.

Coffee is not alcohol, so there are no legal ramifications to be concerned about. That being said, coffee does contain caffeine, which can cause hyperactivity in children, although on that note, any parent who objects to their children having coffee should also refuse them sodas and sugary drinks, given that they are far more unhealthful. If anyone is concerned about kids having coffee, perhaps teaching them to consume it in moderation is in order, as with any food or drink.

Finally, returning to the aforementioned incident in the first paragraph, if the dad was bothered about his son having coffee, he shouldn't have been in a coffee shop in the first place. In addition, as coffee isn't an age restricted drink, nobody had any business staring at the father and his son as though they were engaging in some sort of socially unacceptable behaviour.

What about you? How do you feel about children drinking coffee?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

"Spotlight" - Jennifer Hudson

This is "Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson, taken from her self-titled debut album:

I love this song. It was popular in the United States and the United Kingdom in 2008 and part of 2009: Heart played the song a few nights ago. I was delighted to hear Hudson again; she has such a beautiful voice. I was pleased to read that her second album, which was released in 2011, peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Using my computer again

My computer was returned to me today and it's been running well. None of the problems that were affecting it over the past weekend are present anymore. Assuming it holds, I'll begin installing additional programs and copying my data back to it this weekend.

Unless it messes up again, this is the last post about my computer's recent troubles. I decided to use a different title this rather than merely change the bracketed number again! Back to regular posts tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Computer issues (4)

All being well, I should be back in full control of my computer again tomorrow; it has been stable all day and my most relevant programs have all been re-installed (not the old antivirus). I'm pleased that the problem appears to have been caused by a piece of software, rather than from any hardware failing.

I'm sorry for the fourth post in a row about my laptop's problems; I haven't really though much about blogging over the past few days. I'm looking forward to using my own computer again!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Computer issues (3)

While I don't want to celebrate too early, my computer might be okay. The issues have appeared every time an installation of a certain piece of software: the antivirus scanner. I've had a different antivirus on my computer to the other computers in the house and every time this software has been installed the problems showed up immediately after.

Coincidence? What about when this problem began the other day? Well, it's possible that the software's most recent update caused it. Today, my brother install the antivirus that's on his computer and so far my laptop has been fine; the most stable it's been since the 1st, in fact. Still, we'll see how it goes after a few days; at any rate, I'd rather it be that a piece of software that caused the problem than my hard drive's better to have to re-install everything than buy new equipment!

In the meantime, I've been using Dad's laptop rather than my brother's. It's a faster device than my computer but I'd like mine to pull through.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Computer issues (2)

The problems with my computer persist; we're still not sure what its exact problem is, although the hard drive is still the leading contender, for a major scandisk found multiple bad sectors on it. Unfortunately, this did not fix the issues, nor did reformatting the entire system; we'll try again tomorrow.

I'm still writing from my brother's computer, so my access and time online are both limited, hence why I haven't approved any comments nor responded to any e-mails. I will catch up soon.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Computer issues

I've been offline for much of the day, as my computer has been having "issues". My brother, father and I currently think that its hard drive is failing; if this is the case, the hard drive is replaceable but it would mean that it would be a few days before I'm back on my computer again. I'm writing this from my brother's laptop and I can't spend too much time on it; I'm hoping I won't have to borrow his computer for too long.

I recently wrote about backing up files. This is one of those occasions when I'm glad I back my computer up!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Bloggers Blog Party - October 2013

My October 2013 pictures for the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party; this post only has four images:

Thursday, 10th October: I found these coins hidden in the same place where I keep my Sacagawea dollar. The coin at the top is an Oregon quarter, the middle coins are British (two pennies and 20 pence) and I think the bottom coin is Japanese (I'm not sure, to be honest). Ironically, when I first obtained the British coins several years ago, I considered them to be foreign currency; now, I spend these, although I intend to keep these particular coins.

Wednesday, 9th October: A bag of jelly babies. My brother bought a few of these when we all came down with a cold; jelly babies help to soothe sore throats, even though they're not actually supposed to be medicinal.

Tuesday, 15th October: The tiny battery on the left is a 28L 6v Duracell lithium battery. I was intrigued by the small Duracell, as I don't ever recall seeing one until that day. I had to take a picture of the 28L being compared to an AA and a D.

Wednesday, 23rd October: Dad found this horse chestnut, more commonly known as a buckeye or a conker. He said that it's not uncommon to find them at this time of year; since I took this picture, he found another!

I did not take any worthwhile pictures from Monday, October 28th to Thursday, October 31st, hence why there are only four in this post.