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Where Do I Hand In My Blogging Card?

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I don’t want you to judge me too harshly, but I honestly cannot believe that I went into blogging hibernation for as long as I have. Not sure what to blame it on because naturally I want to make excuses for myself: it’s human nature to find a thousand and one reasons as to why something that happened wasn’t actually the fault of the individual.   So, here’s my list as to why I haven’t blogged:

  • Getting distracted by the 2nd stage of my Green Card process (still haven’t received my renewal yet…*gulp*).
  • Planning and executing a truly magnificent trip to the UK, in fact my first trip since I got upgraded from Miss to Mrs.
  • Discovering Instagram.  Seriously, this has been a life suck (JaxRedCoat in case you want to do a little stalking).  I never knew that there were so many photos of puppies doing ridiculously cute things in the world.
  • Being moved from my role on a Wireless Help Desk to a sales/appointment setting role.  It’s been a bit of an adjustment but a ridiculous amount of fun.

Ok, I’m all out of excuses…if I think of any more I’ll let you know.  At least I didn’t let a whole year go by without a post.  That’s something, right?

Here’s a picture of some puppy eyes to sweeten my apology.

Puppy eyes

All Hail Queen Lobster

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There is a lingering stereotype of the British, portraying us as sun-mad plebians who, at the first hint of weekend summer sunshine, strip our clothes off and expose our under-exercised, wobbly, tone-free glowing white flesh to the great eye in the sky.  This then results in the inevitable mass casualty list of sun burn victims who drag themselve into work and congratulate each other on an sun-filled weekend of indulgence and express jealous Ooohs and Aaahs over the colour change from white to red.

Although I have a coffee-coloured Asian Mum, my Dad is a freckly, uncooked chicken-white cultural blend of European countries that don’t boast excessive summers, and therefore although my Brother is a naturally caramel hued creature who tans fabulously with little effort, my default skin tone is pale.  However, thanks to my inherited Asian DNA I have discovered that if I tan carefully and steadily I too can enjoy a lovely olive-brown skin tone without too much effort.

I have readily mocked the British relationship with the sun – that mindless stripping-off that we do when the suns rays beat down, the mass migrations to the coast, the brutal courting of the suns rays that we go through – and you’d think that I would in turn be less of a novice when it’s my turn to baste myself.

However, you’d be surprised.  Exactly 2-weekends ago today The Hublet and I decided to take ourselves to the beach to make the most of the long awaited Florida sunshine after what has been a surprisingly long, cloudy, wet winter.  We went to the store and loaded up on beach chairs, towels, a dorky foam board to goof around on, and even went out of our way to pack a bottle of sun lotion.

We headed away from Jacksonville and bimbled down towards St. Augustine, choosing a far less crowded beach on which to unveil our winter-white virgin flesh for the first time.  We arrived at the beach and were so keen to maximise our tanning potential that we made the decision to not slather ourselves in sun lotion.

Why.  Why did we make this amateur mistake?  Was it my British DNA betraying me?  Was the sun sending nefarious rays to my brain and messing with my common sense center?

We spent 3-hours at the beach: 3 glorious hours of paddling and splashing and reading books and shaming ourselves on the foamie board under the judgmental glare of serious surfers.  After 3-hours of blissful abandon we decided to head back to Jacksonville and, upon returning to the truck, were happy to see that we had both definitely caught the sun.Lil Lobster

Oh boy had we.

Over the next few hours our sun-kissed glow rapidly began to turn into taut, painful, red flesh.

I couldn’t walk properly by nightfall and we both gingerly eased ourselves into bed, thankful that our backs had not caught the wrath of the sun in the same way that our fronts had, allowing us to at least sleep on one part of our bodies that wasn’t turning into lava.

I won’t go into further details as The Mothership has already given me a massive ear bashing over the phone, everyone at work had their, “You shouldn’t have done that, you should have done (insert obvious statement here that, to someone with pure unburned skin is so easy to offer) instead…” moment, and I just know that all of you guys will be tutting to yourselves as you read this post.

Suffice to say, PLAY SAFE IN THE SUN KIDS.  Make sure you slather up with lotion before you go out as, with sun burn, prevention is infinitely preferred to cure.

2-weeks later I’m still a little leper, however I’m happy to say that underneath the peeling skin I have definitely changed colour and can swear that beneath the children-scaring layers is a hint of olive.

Summer Season = 1, Me = 0

FYI When Applying For A Job Via Email

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Read everything that I send you.  Seriously, put your phone on mute, put out the cat so that it can’t distract you with some determined leg weaving and take the time to sit down with a cup of coffee and read through every little thing that either involves the job that you applied for or that I have sent you directly.

This is because when you apply for an anonymous role based on an admittedly vague job spec that is designed to be nothing more than the baited hook with which I reel you in, I then send you an email from my work account with my company auto signature below my sign off listing our website, promotional video links and giving you a little more info on who we are and what we do.

After you respond positively to this little titbit of information and indicate your interest in pursuing further and I then email again including a PDF attachment of the actual job spec in all its gloriously detailed entirety with a big-ass company logo at the top of the page.My face when...

This is not the point at which you email me asking what the company name is.

This is because you have now forced me to assume that not only were you dropped at birth, but were also football-punted across the room by a nurse who wanted to pursue a sports career until they got railroaded by a leg injury and now spends their days receiving football-sized bundles of life into the world.

Your Mum may cut the crusts off your sandwiches before she hands the plate to you and you may think that the internet is nothing but your source of porn and Facebook, however if you are applying for a job with a company that will not micro-manage you to the extent that you clearly need and that will require you to engage the sorely unused grey cells and *gasp* think for yourself without first being able to check what your friends say you should do, then asking me to give you more info when all the answers are simply a hyperlink away displays a shockingly scary lack of initiative and therefore I wish you all the best in your continued career at *insert fast food chain here*.

Guns Shows Are Actually Fun

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The Hublet and I felt it was time for me to experience my first gun show, and with the recent kerfuffle and fear of the will they/won’t they potential ban on assault weapons, we had a wealth of shows to choose from as there seem to be a mother load of them popping up all over the place to pander to individuals having knee-jerk reactions and panic-buying everything they can get their hands on.Coming home from the Gun Show

As it turned out, Jacksonville is playing host to a number of shows this year, so yesterday The Hublet and I went to the Cliffhanger gun show at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center in Downtown Jax.

It was an unexpectedly enjoyable day out.  The first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t just rows and rows of rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and handguns; there were a large volume of collectors and hobbyists who had tables set up, displaying a wide range of war-related paraphernalia, from medals and badges to photos and postcards, with enough antique jewellery and animal horn accessories to keep anyone busy browsing for a couple of hours.  At the back of the exhibition hall were a few lovingly restored army vehicles from the 1930′s and 1960′s on display, and there were table after table loaded down with weapons of all times, from sabres and bayonets to the more modern stun guns and assault rifles.

There was a really nice feeling of community, with lots of, “Hey Frank, haven’t seen you in a while,” and, “Well sir, I don’t know the answer to that, let me grab my friend from the stall over yonder.”  People seemed interested in helping visitors, imparting knowledge, chatting and investing time.

As a British visitor I felt warmly welcomed by some of the collectors, with almost all of them wanting to chat and show off the British pieces from their collections, and I experienced a huge amount of, “You see this gun here?  This was used by some of your folks in World War I.  Pick it up, no no, go ahead, pick it up, now feel its weight…you feel it?  Imagine jumping out of a plane holding that thing.  That’s what some of your boys did.”

The place was filled with a huge variety of people either browsing or doing some serious shopping, and in between all the weapon displays were a lot of stalls selling accessories for hunters and shooters, as well as a lot of survival gear, an insane amount of jerky products and self defence weapons like pepper spray and stun guns.

I had an absolutely wonderful time and walked my little socks off going up and down the rows, and we found that each time we repeated our circuit of the exhibition hall we discovered something new, from a previously unseen case of medals to a collection of war-themed books and new stall owners more than happy to chat to us.

So with my first gun show out of the way I’m slowly but surely I’m easing myself into the American way of life.  However I’m not quite ready to snuggle up to a rifle at night.

The Diary Of Anne Schmank

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I’ve spent a few minutes catching up on the utterly stellar content provided by some of the truly talented bloggers that I’m fortunate enough to follow, and came across ‘The mistakes I have made’ posted by Julia Golding onto the blog Girls Heart Books., dealing with the subject of, “Have you ever read a book and noticed a major mistake, something like the hero’s eye colour changing mid way or a historical fact being wrong…?

It’s a great topic, covering the matter of being deeply engrossed in your chosen book for that day/week, and suddenly – like a slap to the face – getting hit by the thought that, “Hang aOblivious Mum: Internet Browser History mo’, surely that can’t be right,” and being unable to concentrate, finding yourself furiously flipping back through the book until you find the offending item and realising that yes, both author and proof-reader have made an epic booboo.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most observant of people, and know that I’m going to make a completely useless Mum from a detective point of view as I lack the skill that my own sweet MotherShip has of walking into a room and within 2 seconds being able to do a 180° sweep of the surroundings and immediately pinpoint an object of wrongdoing.  My kids are going to be rolling joints and snorting lines of coke, with naked girlfriends/boyfriends writhing on the bed, as I obliviously stand in their doorway, wrapped in my floral apron and saying, “Come on darlings, meatloaf’s ready, hurry down.”

Therefore I get lost in a good book, completely absorbed, caught up in the story and, at particularly tense moments, have been guilty of flipping ahead a few paragraphs to ensure that the hero lives and with relief still my beating heart.

However, one mistake has stayed with me for over 15-years and is the foundation for my utter suspicion of the authenticity of a certain book widely circulated in British schools (or at least was in my day – oh sweet mother, I can’t believe I actually used the phrase ‘in my day’.  That’s it, it’s bingo nights, purple rinses and carrying around a coin purse from here on out) as part of the curriculum reading material.

The Diary of Anne Frank.  Renowned as the translation of a Dutch-language diary that bears tribute to the horrors of the Holocaust, it is a book that is both horrific and funny, capturing the personality of a young girl and her family evading Nazi German persecution, living in a secret area hidden by a bookcase.

This simple red and checked book begins on June 12th 1942 and ends on August 1st 1944, covering the 2-years and one month that Anne and her family were in hiding, and is filled with the bitter sweet irony of the reader , due to the story being so widely-known, being aware all along that there is no happy ending, no knight in shining armour, no surprise escape.

Due to the closeness of her and her family’s confinement with other individuals and families, the relationships formed are at times intense.

Anne eventually develops romantic feelings for the only eligible person confined with her, one Peter van Daan that she refers to as ‘Petel’..

My issue with this book is due to a handful of paragraphs:
1)   “I was helping him, and we soon wound up sitting across from each other at his table, Peter on the chair and me on the divan.  It gave me a wonderful feeling when I looked into his dark blue eyes and saw how  bashful my unexpected visit had made him.”

2)   “Peter was the ideal boy: tall, good-looking and slender, with a serious, quiet and intelligent face. He had dark hair, beautiful brown eyes, ruddy cheeks and a nicely pointed nose.

3)   “Peter’s eyes suddenly met mine, and I stared for a long time into those velvety brown eyes…I woke up, still feeling his cheek against mine and his brown eyes staring deep into my heart, so deep that he could read how much I’d loved him and how much I still do.

I know that we can argue all day about the Dutch word for blue being blauw and the Dutch word for brown being bruin, two similar words that could have been mistranslated in error, and yet reading that book as a young teenage girl having to deal with a mother-load of hormones, I was hit by the certainty that no one so incredibly in love could get the eye colour of their object of affection so ridiculously wrong.Teen love

That feeling of wrongness stayed with me for the rest of my life and, despite the truly tragic story that The Diary of a Young Girl/The Diary of Anne Frank tells and which has touched so many lives, young and old, I have forever been unable to shake off my suspicions.  If someone can get such a small yet vital detail wrong, then what else could be wrong?  If a love-struck love girl would remember the colour of her confined beloved’s eyes, then who wrote her Diary?

Star Wars Episode VII To Be Directed By J.J. Abrams

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Blast it, just when I managed to get over the shame of weeing myself with joy the first time around when it was announced that Disney recently brought Lucasfilm, now we have an update that a Director has been found, and it’s none other than J.J. Abrams, and once more I find myself reaching for the Depend again.

After the makeover he gave Star Trek back in 2009, and his involvement in films like Super 8, Cloverfield, Armageddon (which I loved, so shuttit), Mission Impossible 3, and TV shows like Alias, Fringe and Lost, he has slowly but surely earned his production chops and made the transition from bite-sized episodes to full-length films, managing to excite and entertain along the way.  Could he become the Spielberg of future generations?  Time will tell.

The screenwriters are collaborating, the consultants are on board, and this long-awaited Star Wars continuation is on its way!

My only concern is the long-standing rivalry between Trekkies and Star Wars fan boys suffering due to the fact that the same man is going to be involved in both revivals.

Virgins Beware, It’s A Unicorn Lair

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Thank you North Korea for bringing joy to my life.  When ideas are hard to come by and the old grey matter fails me, never fear, North Korea is here.

North Korean state media has posted a story online announcing the glorious news that archeologists from the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of SocKorean Central News Agency announcemential Sciences have discovered the lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong.

King Tongmyong was credited with founding the Koguryo Kingdom in Korea that lasted from 277 BC to 668 AD, although quite where the unicorn riding came into things I’m unsure.  The lair was discovered near a place ‘historically’ (by North Korean standards) associated with being a relief stop/fodder layover for the King and his unicorn(s).

The world has had to deal with a number of odd claims leaking out from North Korea, but even this one has left people scratching their heads.  What on earth do they hope to achieve?  Is it to make themselves seem more special?  Because they’re honestly already considered pretty window-licking special by the majority of the world.  Is it to subdue and smoosh the resistance of an already repressed and squished people?  Because discovering a unicorn lair North Korea Unicorn lair signisn’t going to put any more food onto an already meager table.

Is it just me or does this ancient unicorn lair sign look pretty new, fabulous and laser cut?  Doesn’t it also look like a fake scene prop from an original Star Trek or Power Rangers set?

It’s odd that some evil dictators spur the world into action and make all the self-proclaimed saviours hell bent on bringing relief and freedom to an oppressed people, however North Korea remain almost a comedic homage to how dictatorships are run, with occasionally releasing Kim Kardashian-esque attempts at courting media attention like announcing the discovery of an ancient unicorn lair, or building up an epic collection of weapons in various degrees of scary and threatening to unleash nuclear fury on the world, but then accepting much-needed aid from other countries in return for keeping the peace.

Isn’t this a bit like having an aggressive, hyperactive child running around Aunt Bessies’ house in a fury, threatening to smash up her collection of porcelain cats and clowns, and then giving the child more sugar and E-numbers in exchange for being good and sitting quietly for a few more minutes (until their next mental outburst)?

I can’t decide where to categorize this unicorn lair claim amongst an already impressive list of North Korean stories, so I leave it to you to decide where to personally rank it:

  • Contrary to factual records documenting his birth in Siberia in 1941, official NK releases state he was born in log cabin in 1942 at his Father’s guerrilla base on Mt. Paektu (NK’s highest mountain), an event accompanied by a bright star in the sky, the appearance of a double rainbow (fabulous!) and the season immediately changing from winter to spring.
  • Despite over half of his population starving, he hired staff specifically to ensure that each grain of rice entering the palace kitchen is exactly the same size and plumpness.  Due to his godlike sense of self, nothing imperfect should pass his lips.
  • When Kim Jong II decided to stop smoking, he banned smoking for the whole of NK – which no doubt was cheerfully received, with cigarettes being one of the few pleasures in a country dominated by poverty and suffering.
  • Regardless of the grim situation going on outside his palace window, KJ II loves Hennessy cognac so much that in 1993 and 1994 he was their single biggest customer in the whole entire world.
  • According to NK media, KJ II is the most prominent statesman on the planet, and during his birthday people everywhere celebrate by throwing festivals and playing films.
  • Kim Jong II invented the hamburger.  Yes, this man born in 1941/1942 came up with the much beloved fast food snack that has official recognition dating back to the 1890′s.  Despite banning all American food imports into NK, KJ II invented a sandwich that he called “the double bread with meat” to provide a better quality of food for NK students.
  • Kim Jong II is the most amazing golfer ever to grace the earth with his presence.  During his first ever attempt at golfing, he miraculously shot 38 under par on a standard 18-hole golf course, including a mind-blowing total of 11 holes in one!  Unfortunately, the Guinness Book of Records were not around to record this feat, and KJ II immediately retired from the golfing world in order to not depress us mortals any further.

I simply can’t pick a favourite, they’re all so wonderful!

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