Saturday, 26 September 2009

Marouane Fellaini's magnificent barnet

Everton just beat Portsmouth 1-0. Although Marouane Fellaini's hair only played a minor role in the victory, I think it is something to build a squad around. Jo is getting in on the act, although with less conviction (perhaps appropriate for a late second half substitute). I fear that it may be too late for Tim Howard, who had an excellent game. Who was the last top-flight footballer to play in a wig? Is it legal to do so? Something to think about...
It is a great start to a Saturday to roll out of bed into the lounge downstairs and watch the footie on ESPN2. Mel didn't feel the need to join me, but she did pretend to care about the result when I came back up.
Incidentally, on this showing Portsmouth do not seem as lost a cause as their points total suggests. Everton are now rightly back in the top half of the table after six games and a shaky start.
Off to the farmers' market now... I wonder if the signs risk an apostrophe?

Friday, 25 September 2009

1 quart = 2 pints...

... but are they UK or US pints? Hmmm. And is there a UK and US quart? Who knows?
I am now settling down to blog with a gin and tonic in front of me, listening to this morning's Chris Moyles show in Radio 1. Last night we went down to Annapolis to meet Harvey, Wendy's boxer puppy. He is 4 and a half months old and very cute. Wendy drove us down (she works in Baltimore), we stayed over after a yummy meal at the Chart House, and then Wendy dropped us at home on her way to work in the morning. I forgot my phone and camera, so I stole a picture off Wendy's facebook.
While there, we went to the doggy park which was very interesting. It seemed to me slightly unfair only to have a small fenced off bit of an enormous park where dogs could run free, but it was incredible. It was just like a play group for dogs though; Harvey knew all the other dogs and ran round saying hello to them all when he arrived, and then proceeded to play with the other dogs. Thinking that dogs are pack animals, I suppose it isn't that surprising, but it was very interesting.
On Wednesday night, Kristi came over (officially the fourth person to eat in our apartment) and we can Thai red curry, then sat out on the balcony watching the view and playing Perudo. The Domino Sugar sign came on at 7.45. We are wondering whether this is light-triggered or timed, or what. Only time (or google) will tell.
We have both taken up a free one-month membership at the MAC gym, a block north of the apartment. It is really very nice, and we both went at different times today.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Mobile Phone mis-move

So I am now officially over the comment thing. The majority of replies asssured me that 1) facebook doesn't seem to log my notes as well as Mel's and 2) most people we know only keep in contact with Mel to be polite and that up to 85% of all our friends prefer me. Which is not that important when you're in a happy, sharing relationship like we are.
Back to the point. Before leaving the UK (in the very last week in fact), I went through the following thought process. 1) My phone is broken and quite soon I'll need a new one. 2) America is a little retarded for phones and all their phones are either a bit rubbish or iPhone/Blackberry expensive. 3) I can get a pretty cool Sony Walkman phone that has a radio/camera/mp3 player/internet access for 60 quid, so I'll do that and take it with me.
It is a great phone and let's me take pictures like this. I say photos like this because this photo was taken on our camera. But my phone takes photos like this (the astute amongst you may remark 'only if you point it at stuff like that'). But here is the rub, and where I was right to doubt america's mobile phone pedigree (their cell phone pedigree is just as bad), but wrong in my assumptions. My phone won't connect to the internet. It can, it could, it should, but it won't. I went to the AT&T store (whose GoPhone pay-as-you-go package I have) and they looked at my phone said they didn't do that phone, so maybe I should try looking at the internet. I avoided amusing but ultimately pointless replies to the effect that that was why I was there. I did go to the internet (remembering that other internet access was available) and the much-more-helpful Sony website, downloaded the correct settings for AT&T US internet, and ... still no connection. It pretends to connect, but no information flows forth. I went back to the store and asked them why this would be. They didn't know. I offered them the potential explanation that maybe the GoPhone package doesn't allow internet access and they agreed. Hmph.
I then went to the Verizon Wireless store. Their pay-as-you-go package also fails to give internet access. I am still looking...
I can see that this isn't a big issue. I lived fine before I realised that my old phone connnected to the internet (in the garden of the Pen & Wig, Cardiff, on teh wrong side of some beers), and I can again. BUT I like being able to check my email even more frequently and check football scores anywhere. Which is why I want to find someone to hook my phone up to the internet without getting a $50-a-month contract. Because for that money, I could do all sorts of things. Some of them legal in the state of Maryland.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Pathetic Facebook blog feedback envy

Petty it might be, but I can't help but feel aggrieved. I have been writing a blog now for over a week. I won't lie, the idea of a blog appeals - speaking at great length about my day should come easy, and believing people would care even easier, but is actually slightly difficult to get round to. But I do it. Not only that but I worked out how to get Facebook to link to the blog (not technically true - I actually just found a webpage posted by someone who had, which is similar but less impressive, or more, depending on you views on the effort/results thing).
So here's my gripe. Yes, about to get there now. Out of kindness, I also set Mel's facebook up to link to the blog too. Because we are married and because most of the things we do, we do together. But what I don't get, and what really gets me going, is that people add facebook comments to the postings on Mels' account, not mine. They 'like' the post on her acccount, not the identical one on mine. They leave comments likewise. It's not that I don't love the interaction; it's just that I object to it being directed at Mel. Who doesn't write this blog. Did I mention yet that I do. Not Mel. Just to be clear.
OK. I'm done now. Today is a great day in Baltimore - all sunny and stuff. Plus our bed arrives within the hour. Hurrah.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Happy Birthday to Me(l)

Today is Mel's birthday. We have had a very relaxing time walking around the harbour. We started off with cards (thanks to everyone) and webcamming home, then a great breakfast of pancakes (Mel) and scrambled eggs (Richard) at the Blue Moon Cafe. We then walked right around the waterfront promenade to Canton in lovely sunshine and found the library down there to get out reading books. After walking back, we had scrabble and G+T's on the terrace, then checked the mailbox to find an extra delivery of cards! We are just getting ready to go downstairs to eat at Cinghiale, the italian restaurant that has been recommended by two different people. Here's hoping for a good meal worth missing lunch for!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Cake and Running

Mel met up with Kristi for tea this afternoon, and Kristi gave up an ENORMOUS box of her fantastic pastries, which normally get sent to posh hotels in DC.So we had tea and pastries and scrabble when i got back from work. There were enough calories in there to persuade me (not Mel - that would be very unlikely) to go for a run.I went 1.9 miles without stopping according to the USATF website (to be truthful they can't ratify whether or not I stopped) which is a personal record (at least in a long time). Maybe I will do a run with Catherine some time!

Science Time

This is a brain - and the yellow bits seem to be involved in moving the eyes from side to side. If I told you any more than that, then I'd have to kill you.

Baltimore Roads

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Baltimore's roads are not the best. Not the best in the US, and probably wouldn't be the best in Mexico either. At the risk of adding fuel to Manus's fire by giving his views airtime, I am posting the Baltimore solution to all manner of road problems: stick a metal sheet on it. There's a new hole in the road? Stick a metal sheet on it. You just dug a hole and are going on vacation for a month? Stick a metal sheet on it. You want to make the roads better and aren't quite sure where to start? Sprinkle traffic cones at random around the city, add metal sheets to taste, and hope the people of Baltimore will riseup in exasperation and fix the roads themselves...Enough of that. I have been cycling to work in some gorgeous weather. You can go round hte harbour from our apartment to Fells Point and then straight up Broadway, past a conveniently sited bike shop, ice cream shop and adult cinema. (joking). Ivana is lending Mel her bike so she is coming up to the hospital today to pick up her wheels.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Washington DC for dinner

Taking advantage of the rental car, we drove over to Patty and Rich's after church (visiting the Gallery church in Harbor East) and had a nice catch-up and came away with a table and chairs on loan! In the afternoon, I watched the second half of the Ravens game (a win) in the lounge at the apartment building. After a 2-1 loss to Fulham, my enthusiasm for following the football at home this year needs some bolstering.
We then drove down to DC to Justin and Irina's new apartment (which is gorgeous) for dinner. Tessa Mattholie was also passing through for a wedding, so we had a lovely eveningn together. Justin cooked a Hawaiian feast of slow-cooked pork that was delicioso. Alix, who was born just before we left last time, is now pretty big, but was being very shy for most of the evening, until bedtime arrived. It was a tired drive home to be back for work today.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Star-spangled Banner

The american national anthem celebrates a sea battle in Baltimore harbor during the 1812 war during which the British/Canadians burnt down the White House, but were turned away from Baltimore. This weekend they are celebrating the events at Fort McHenry, and put on a great firework show to mark our first weekend in the apartment. From the garden balcony, you can also see the Domino Sugar sign, which is enormous - about the size of a basketball court.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Saturday Saturday Saturday

After a quite presentable lie-in (getting up after 7!), we went off to the farmer's market on Aliceanna St, just in front of our building. We bought: apples, peaches, aubergines (purple and white), courgettes, beans and onions. Not a bad start to a day of determined support for the American economy. From there we went to the local Hertx (on Pratt St, 5 min walk from here) and picked up a car for the weekend). We then went out to a mall to pick up the second wave of things on Mel's 'essential immediately' list!While there, I found further evidence for the existence of the 'buffalo chicken' in this stylised artists impression from a restaurant largely devoted to the animal.None of the extensive shopping list came close to the excitement induced in Mel by the early arrival of her birthday kettle (Thank you Eddens senior). DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME... In blatant contravention of Parr rules on such matters, Mel decided that this was one present that simply couldn't wait for her birthday.

Friday, 11 September 2009

First week done

After the excitement of American GM-hybrid cuisine, we felt in need of some good old-fashioned English food. So Mel's cooking up a curry. Yum. Wendy T is coming over for dinner, so I hope she likes english food.

While I am on the subject, I just found a photo from last night and I think you can just about make out Michael Phelps's reflection in one of the glasses. Maybe.

Strange new hybrid solves world food shortage

After work today we (Mel joined for drinks not work) went to Red Star for drinks and had a very delicious Buffalo Chicken pizza. I can only imagine that the Buffalo chicken yields significantly more meat than the regular chicken, but it seems that nothing is lost in taste (obviously, since chicken tastes of very little). I think that a Buffalo chicken will look something like this picture. The astute among you will realise that this is not a buffalo chicken, but a puffalo (see Animal magazine game on Facebook).While working our way through our pizza, I was delighted to spot Olympian legend and Baltimore native Michael Phelps. I was going to say something uncalled-for about MP being the Peter Crouch of swimming, but then fizzled out at the thought that Carlos Tevez would be more appropriate, in spite of his stature. I am pleased to report that Mr Phelps wears clothes in public, and that we were too scared/considerate to take his photo there and then. So I stole one off the internet: as it happens.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

New Day, New Breakfast

There is only one piece of news that matters from Wednesday and that is England's whooping of Croatia. 5-1. I managed to find a website that streamed the ITV coverage straight into my office, so that was great. I didn't even have to ignore poor american commentary. I am still not sure whether I think Heskey or Defoe should start - I think Capello will give Defoe and Rooney a good stretch together in the next game to see what happens.
Mel's day consisted mainly of trying to unpack cases and walking to Safeway, I think. Yuck.
On this view of our building you can see the main rooftop balcony (to the left) and the side bit to the right. We had a cracking dinner of steak (barbequed in the garden), cornbread and sweetcorn, and then went for a walk along the waterfront to Fell's Point. There were loads of joggers out and generally a lot of people out and about in the street, so that has to be a good thing. In other food news, Jim Pekar brought a bunch of figs in from his tree at home and they are delicioso. Yum yum.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Moved in

Today we moved into our new apartment. I went off to work in the morning to do some paperwork (highlight: new badge) while Mel did some sorting at the hotel and got our insurance and utilities worked out. At 12 we went to sign the lease and get keys, then back to the hotel to pick up bags. One of the bellboys dropped our ikea wine glasses from on top, but he replaced with hotel ones, so I am sure we got an upgrade.

Once into the apartment (finally after maintenance had fixed the door lock), we went down to WholeFoods to pick up some food to make dinner and had pasta and wine on the living room floor. We sat outside overlooking the bay and played scrabble before an early night.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Labor Day

As luck would have it, we have moved after the August Bank Holiday at home and before Labor Day, the US equivalent, so I had this MOnday off work. Our wonderful friend Ivana drove us to the mall and we picked up some essentials. We had a very kind leaving gift from home group and stragglers (I hope you know who you were) and we spent our JC
Penney voucher (bought by very thoughtful people through the wonderful interweb) on a NICE frying pack and an indispensible bottle opener. We will toast you often.

And what exactly are the other essentials we bought? 32 coat hangers; a cutlery drawer tidy; 12 IKEA glasses; a drainer; 30 dice to play Perudo with; a pillow and a temporary futon mattress. Now we are back at the hotel for a little relaxation before the daily quandry of 'do we really need to go out for dinner or shall we just sleep?'. Mel is reading an article about a racing car that runs on carrots.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Sunday Breakfast

Yum yum. Breakfast in the sunshine at Panera Bread in the Inner Harbour. Just off to church, then lunch with Jonathan and Courtney.

This morning we set up our internet connection for the apartment, which will be installed Thursday. Until then, I will have internet at work and Mel will have it in common areas of the apartments.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Apartment Found

After walking a LONG way, we finally found an apartment and even better, we move in on Tuesday. Now all we need is a bed or something like it. The apartment is a nice little one bed with a den to house visiting parents/friends/bad wives. Mel is extremely excited that there is a Haagen Dazs over the street and a sushi place round the corner. I think this could get expensive!

On another front, I think England-Croatia isn't going to be on tv here, so I'll have to 'watch' it by hammering refresh on the BBC website. I'm hoping Capello will start Defoe and Rooney up front.

Mel's Leaving Headphones

Thanks to the generosity of Mel's school and her dad (not her husband) she was able to spend mucho dinero on some headphones that make stuff quieter. She thinks they're great.

Day I

I suppose I had to do something to fill the time between waking up (5.30 today, better than 3 yesterday) and going out. I started to write an email then couldn't decide who to put in the To: field. So a blog it is. I have no doubt that this will peter out pretty quickly, but hopefully it will serve a purpose to let everyone know how we are getting on. Plus I will

If you you live in Baltimore, this isn't for you, it's about you, so walk away ;-)

Yesterday was a good day. I got up and went into work, managing to sneak in on my old ID card. I made coffee at the Kirby Center before anyone else was in and also managed to find the Park building (where I thought my new office was), the 3rd floor (someone else pressed that button and I decided to go with it), and Peter's (my boss) and my offices (locked - still before 7.30). When I got back to the Kirby Center Candace was in and a ufn morning of being pleased to see people began.

Meanwhile, Mel was out and about getting us sim cards for our phones (mel: 410-949-4086 and me -4087), and looking at apartments. Independently we both stumped for sushi for lunch, and I left work at 3ish to go look at 2 apartments, one in each of the buildings we lived in before. One was quite nice but had stairs that we're not sure our bed would fit up (I suppose the Cardiff solution of sawing stuff off til it did won't wash in rented housing), and the other was a bit further from work (and restaurants and stuff) than I would like. So today will be another big apartment-hunting day...