Monday, April 16, 2007

£1 = $2 ?!

As of tonight, £1 is worth $1.99. Tomorrow it could reach $2 for the first time in many years. The BBC has the latest:

Pound touches 14 year dollar high

The pound has hit a 14-year high of $1.9938 against the dollar, with many experts believing it will rise above $2 in the next few days.

Sterling has been rising against the dollar as the UK's economic performance contrasts with fears of a US slowdown.

The trend has been good news for British visitors to the US but has made life more difficult for exporters.

The pound was last equal to $2 in 1992, the year the UK was forced to leave the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

Unfortunately, it's not great news for non-resident aliens like us, drawing a US salary and wanting to travel regularly to the UK.

Update (Tuesday, 13.47): UK pound goes through $2 barrier for the first time since 1992.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mark's and My Birthdays

My Birthday

This year, my birthday was a fairly low key affair. Mark and I went out for lunch (Red Lobster). In the evening we all went out for ice cream (Marble Slab Creamery). I had cheesecake ice cream with cookie dough in a waffle cone (they make the waffle cones fresh on site). To circumvent a large proportion of the guilt that is normally associated with such indulgences so that we could all the more enjoy the treat, we gave the children a proper dinner, but Mark and I made the ice cream the dinner and ate nothing else that evening (although we did round the evening off nicely with some whiskey/sambuca).

Mark's Birthday

Birthday BalloonsMark's birthday was the big 40 and was a bit more eventful because the good ol' USCIS picked that day for our biometrics appointment in Charlotte.

For those who are not in the know -- once the USCIS have acknowledged receipt of one's greencard application, one has to travel to one's nearest USCIS office (which in our case is in Charlotte, which is about a three hour drive) to have fingerprints and photographs taken. Mark opens his presents on a grassy bankOur appointment time was 9am, so rather than having to leave home at 6am to get there in time, we drove down the night before. We arrived for our appointment on time, but had to wait a couple of hours to be seen. The actual fingerprinting and photographing took a total of about 10 minutes.

Click here to watch the videoAfter that, we sat on a grass bank so that Mark could open his presents. Then we went to the South Park Mall for some good old fashioned shop therapy before the three hour drive home. The video shows us having a little bit of fun in one of the department stores.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

H1B Quota Filled in Just Three Days!

The USCIS started accepting applications for H1B visas for the 2008 fiscal year on the 1st of April 2007. On the 3rd of April the USCIS announced that they had enough applications to reach the congressionally mandated cap of 65,000. They had received over 133,000 applications in the first three days. This means that on the first three days of accepting applications they had received more than double the number of applications than there are visas.

When I think about the likelihood of my being able to get an H1B, the term "snowflake's chance in hell" springs to mind.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Doctor and Martha

The intensive Freema Agyeman charm offensive has paid off as far as I'm concerned. She's been everywhere -- from breakfast TV to Blue Peter. And now, after the first episode has aired, we happily welcome her with open arms as The Doctor's new assistant. Long live Russell T. Davies.

As far as Billie Piper is concerned -- we've downloaded Mansfield Park and will be watching it with Mark's parents when they come to visit in about a week (they were on holiday when it aired in the UK).