Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Passion Première

Mark set off for London today. I drove him to the airport (RDU) and dropped him off at lunch time (about 1:30pm). From there he flies to Charlotte, then on to Gatwick. In London, he will just about have time to have lunch with an old friend, go to his hotel and freshen up, attend the Première of The Passion (a BBC/HBO mini-series that he's the historical consultant for) and get a night's sleep before getting back on a plane and returning home by Friday evening. The girls and I are going to pick him up.

I haven't watched it from beginning to end, but what I have seen has been really quite good. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I don't think that I'm revealing too much if I say that it has what can be described as a rather Harry-Potter-esque ending ;-).

You can read about Mark's madcap flyby visit to London in his blog.
You can read about The Passion at its BBC website (Mark's article).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Primary Top Trumps

Although we can't vote, we've been following the various Caucuses and Primaries the best we can. It's been quite educational as we have to keep googling/asking people to explain various aspects of US politics to us.

At the moment, it seems that McCain is now the runaway favourite for the Republicans. Huckabee (who apparently has a degree or some other qualification in "Miracles") is trailing behind. Even though he now can't win even with a clean sweep from now on, he's sticking with it. He probably reckons that McCain is so old that he could croak or have a major health scare that would put Huckabee in the lead. Paul is just wasting his money (unless he's waiting for McCain and Huckabee to kick the bucket).

On the Democrat side, although they seemed neck-and-neck on Super (Shrove) Tuesday, Obama seems to be taking the lead against Clinton, who at one stage had to supplement her campaign funds with $5 million of her own money. I don't think there's that much between them on the policy front, but Obama seems to be more charismatic. Obama's main cards seem to be the "I'm the embodiment of the American dream" card and the "I'll be the first black president" card. Clinton has the "I've been campaigning for improvements in health care etc. for years now and would really relish the opportunity to get something done" and the "first female president" cards.

But, which are the trump cards?

At present, it seems that Obama's effervescence and having risen up through the ranks from an non-privileged background have the edge. However, unless one of them starts to streak ahead, the decision for who is to be the Democratic Presidential candidate may have to go to the super-delegates.

Let me leave you with these YouTubes. The first is a Will-i-am video that puts some of Obama's words to music. The second is a minute and a half spoof of the first video that puts some of McCain's words to music. I first came across the latter video on Here's the Thing.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

GreenCard Update

Mark and I now have our greencards, but Emily and Lauren's birth certificates are not acceptable to the USCIS because they don't have their parents' names on them. We've got until the end of this month to produce adequate certificates, so I've had to order some especially from the UK's General Register Office at £26 (about $50) each (including p&p). Here's Mark's account.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Last Sunday was SuperBowl Sunday -- the day of the 42nd NFL Championship game (sort of the American equivalent to the FA Cup Final). For the first time ever, we were invited to a friend's house for a "SuperBowl Party". This involved watching the game, whilst eating chilli and tacos (very nice) and huge quantities of crisps (chips). The game was New England Patriots vs. New York Giants. Our hosts were supporting the Patriots, so, by default, we were too.

I dare say that the game was quite a good introduction to American football because it was very close. The title was up for grabs until the last minute or so. It was rather funny at the end when there was one second left on the clock and the field was flooded with reporters, photographers, fans etc..., but the officials were adamant that that the final second needed to be played before the Giants could be awarded the title. Great fun. Another highlight was when one of the players had to run off the pitch within a given time otherwise ... actually, even though our hosts explained it at the time, I really can't remember why he had to run off the pitch and find myself wondering whether I understood it in the first place. Anyway, it was questionable whether he'd managed it, so they had to refer to camera shots to determine the outcome. It was such a close call that there was even discussion about what the the rules had to say about if his foot had left the ground but was still over the pitch and whether or not this constituted having managed to leave the pitch. I think the upshot is that he just about made it.

Our team didn't win, but you can't have everything.

Groundhog Day

On Saturday, Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. This mau well be true up in Pennsylvania, but down here in NC, it's sunny, warm and very dry as we weather through the worst drought in 118 years. The photo of our reservoir shows how low the water levels are. Now that it's winter, we get the odd mild sprinkling of rain, but it's not nearly enough to replenish the supplies.

Map of Drought in North Carolina
The Drought in NC
Falls Lake, Raleigh during the drought
Our Local Reservoir