From Yorkshire To Virginia

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Stuffed...and regretting it

So tonight Kim had another one of her mystery shopper engagements, at a nearby Cheesecake Factory. We'd never dined there before, so we decided to make a night of it. Between the 3 of us we had 3 different entrees, two of which were merely passable, and one of which was blech (and this was after a 40 minute wait from ordering the food). Figuring that we had to at least try the cheesecake (well ok it was a requirement for doing the job, hard work I know!), we ordered some. Not particularly great. I'm not a big cheesecake fan myself, but even so I can acknowledge a decent slice. Now if I'd had it at a regular place I would have said that it was ok, but given that it's in the name of the store I expected a little bit more. We also found out that they don't even make them onsite, they're all made in California and shipped out around the country...

Anyway, tonight was the first time I'd been in Clarendon since I'd worked out of the old Bell Atlantic building at Courthouse (Arlington). The place certainly has changed a lot. There's a new market square, lots of new shops, etc. Gwyneth was entranced by the fountains...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's not easy being green...

So we had a 'daddy-daughter' day today. We went to the zoo in the morning, followed by the national history museum and the natural history museum. At the national history museum we ran into a celebrity, here's a picture of Gwyneth and 'the band' :)

Gwyneth and the Monkey through the years...

4-2/3 years old

almost 4 years old3 years old

2-1/2 years old

Friday, May 26, 2006

A new programmer at Verizon?

For some reason my phone has ow started displaying the text "Hello World", which is usually the first message that someone sends when they're learning a language...

Eurovision song contest

For those who don't know, the Eurovision song contest is an 'American idol' style show contested by most European countries. Each country submits one 'act' to the show, and the televised final is seen by millions with the scores being doled out by each country "Belgique null point". The show is usually absolutely awful, with dire songs, but it sometimes throws out a winner. In the 70's a little band from Sweden that you may have heard of won it - ABBA. This year the competition was turned on it's head and a metal band from Finland called Lordi won it with their song "Hard Rock Hallelujah", they look like nice ambassadors for European music ;)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Google Advertising Professional

With Kim & Gwyneth out of state, I decided to have a really wild and fun weekend and study for the Google Adwords Professional exam... Well after reviewing almost 9 hours of interactive sessions covering everything you didn't want to know about Google Adwords... I took the test and passed with flying colo(u)rs (even if I say so myself) :)

(it's hard to read, but you can click on it for the details)

Now you have a target to beat Sara :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Who Linked?

Interested in seeing who links to your site, and showing it off to the world? Well now you can. Take a look on the lower left hand side of my site to see the top 5 linkers to this site (courtesy of

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More for the menagerie

Yep, we added 5 new animals today. Well, they're only short term residents. Gwyneth saw that one of her friends had a butterfly kit, so she wanted one too. We ordered them on Friday, thinking that they'd arrive in 2-4 weeks, instead they arrived in the mail today, so they'll probably be in their coccoons when Gwyneth gets back from Florida (the instructions say that they'll start spinning them in 7-10 days). Then she'll have up to 5 butterflies that will have a life expectancy of 2-4 weeks. I told her on the phone that they'd arrived, and she was so excited...

Monday, May 15, 2006

MBA update

I just got the grades back for my first non-technical MBA classes. I was concerned about them because grades for both were backloaded into the exams, and I wasn't sure exactly how I was doing. Back in these type of classes in undergrad I felt I was doing fine, only to be disappointed by the grades at the end of the year. Now, I'm happy :)

CRN Subject Course Course Title Campus Final Grade
15995 MGT 5314 Organization Behavior National Capital Region A
16199 MGT 5984 SS:Leadership and Negotiation National Capital Region A

Sunday, May 14, 2006

R.I.P. Vinny

I took Kim and Gwyneth to the aiport this morning, and was then left in sole charge of all of our animals... I've been home for 2 hours and already have one fatality... When we were getting ready this morning Kim mentioned that it was so early that even Vinny (the rabbit) was still sleeping. Well, I just went into the bathroom, and saw that he is indeed sleeping, only he's not going to wake up. The poor guy, at least the surgery he had made his last few months better, even if it cost us a lot of money. Now instead of working like I was supposed to, I'm going to spend some time digging a hole in the garden...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The big game

So today was the FA cup final, the single biggest domestic football (soccer) game in England every year. This year it was contested between Liverpool and West Ham United. After the first 20 minutes it was a great game, ending in a 3-3 tie, with Liverpool finally winning on penalties. Did I watch it? No. I instead attended a much better game - Under 4's team 2 V team 8. Gwyneth scored 5 goals, a couple from narrow angles. The really great thing though was that she was playing on the advanced kids pitch instead of her usual shy kids pitch. She got knocked down a few times, and unlike last week, she actually got back up and challenged for the ball. I was and am so proud of her :)

Gwyneth and Kim head to Florida for 10 days starting tomorrow, so it's going to be quiet and most likely rather busy around here...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The future of parking?

At some new Volkswagen showroom in Wolfsburg Germany they have an automated delivery system for new cars. Each car is stored in a cubby, and when sold the robot arm climbs up and brings it down to the door. The large cubby structure takes up less room than a regular storage facility, and by all accounts works rather well, even if it does look like the designers watched the Matrix too many times...

I can't help wondering, if this works out well for them, and it's financially viable, this may lead to a whole new genre of parking garages... going to the supermarket? Pop your car on the robot arm and off you go... Of course it'll probably be fought tooth and nail by the valet parking lobby...

(ye s I know retrieval times would probably make this to be so unfeasible it wouldn't be funny)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Google Trends

A new toy, enter any keywords on Google Trends, and compare search activity (as long as the terms meet some unspecified minimum search volume threshold) I ran a couple to show as examples. Interesting results on both of them. The first one is a comparison of my 2 sports teams, the underachieving Hull City and the underachieving Philadelphia Flyers... The win goes to the Tigers (although to be fair to the Flyers, they were on strike along with the rest of the NHL for the 2004-2005 season)

Next I did a TV network comparison. Auntie takes the win...

Edit: Bah, Ben beat me to posting on this one...

World Cup preview

On the bbc webpage you can enter your predictions for every game in World Cup 2006. My predictions are here. As you can see I have an all South American final, with England somehow making it past Germany to make the semi's. Realistic? Probably not. My shocker for the tournament? Italy not making it past the group stage, and the Ukraine making it to the semi's.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Locally branding a global brand (or vague mumblings about chocolate bars)

I believe it was Danny Sullivan that talked recently about seeing McDonald ads in the US "Supporting the US Olympic team", and McDonald ads in the UK "Supporting the British Olympic team". It looks like US company Mars is going that way with their new 'Believe' campaign, where they've even renamed the Mars Bar in the UK to the 'Believe' bar for the duration of the world cup, with the premise of the campaign being their support of the England team in Germany. Curiously enough I'm not seeing any mars products over here in the US supporting Sven's lads...

As an ex-pat, I've always wondered why the UK Mars Bar is the US Milky Way, and the UK Milky Way is the US 3 Musketeers, although apparently the US Mars Bar has now been renamed "Snickers Almond" (with the Snickers bar in the UK formerly known as the Marathon bar, renamed in '92 to match the rest of Europe). Strange, well at least I've found a shop nearby that sells Maltesers & Yorkie bars :)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Animal Magic

Well, here's the latest update on the critters, for those that have asked for it... Vinny the rabbit now has a full body of fur, and is eating well, despite him having no front teeth. India had the stitches taken out of her inner eyelid on Friday, and is currently hesitantly opening her injured eye. Katie has been switched to the more expensive brand of insulin, but is still a pain in the backside, constantly crying for food. The rest are doing fine...

If you have to ASK...

I've been reading about the new commercials for about 4 days now. The wife and I were watching "Saturday Night Live" when the new ASK commercial came on. I've got to say that I didn't really get it. The commercial involved an ASK executive with a fairly strong Greek accent - Apostolos Gerasoulis - talking about how librarians love ASK, so if they like it everyone else should. As for my wife's thoughts about the commercial... she couldn't understand a word he said (yet she can understand me!)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

To blog or not to blog

I know I've not been writing much for the last week, but things have been busy (part of it reading the 20 or so blogs that I follow for work & fun). In fact I saw an interesting stat on one of them, 45% of blogs go silent after 3 months... Since I've been doing this for ~ 5 months I'm one of the 55% :)