A New Year, A New Start (Coming Soon)

Howdy folks,
So we’ve been back from the UK for a week now and I am already counting down the days until summer! I thought the nosebleeds due to the dry air were bad enough (after using my hands to stem the flow while hurrying to the bathroom, I now know what I’d look like if I feasted straight from the flesh of a warm animal corpse. Haunting, I tell you, very haunting…also sort of badass), but then we drove home and were greeted by snow, freezing temperatures and horrible road conditions. Thanks Minnesota for that lovely welcome, we missed you too. Yep, after almost three weeks of a moderate English winter where the worst we experienced was a few blustery days that caused us to entertain the idea of wearing a second layer, we really needed that reality check the first day back in the US. The worst part is that the weather we have now isn’t even that bad. Oh the joys of living in the north.
*sigh*
Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year! Although the celebratory closing of 2016 was rather uneventful for us (sadly I was too ill and too miserable to go anywhere), we had a wonderful time visiting my homeland.  Seeing family and old friends after over two years was awesome. Although we didn’t explore as much as we perhaps could have, Vanna and I did what we set out to do – visit as many people as possible. And on top of that, we did have a fantastic experience in Edinburgh near the end of our trip too. Saying goodbye again wasn’t much fun, of course, and the flight home was fairly arduous (not to mention the horribly abrupt return to work and responsibilities)…but it was all worth it. I don’t regret a single moment. Except for my decision not to bring more food with us. I do regret buying only the two boxes of wine gums. They did not last long at all.
Other than that, it was a truly great holiday. BUT, as much as I would like to tell you about everything we did, there isn’t actually that much to share other than our aforementioned trip to the Scottish capital, so I’ll spare you the details (what really can I say? We went and saw my family, ate British food, watched British TV and went to a few places that I’ve already blogged about before, such as Seaham and Hardwick Hall. Interesting to us, but to you? Not so much). Regarding Edinburgh, however that story will be uploaded soon; I’m still waiting on the pictures (Vanna went overboard) but I should be posting sometime within the next week. Our day in Edinburgh was the tourist/blog highlight to the trip, so please come back for that.
Beyond that, both Vanna and I are really focused on getting back to normal life. Her studies are going well, my work is fine (actually attended our Christmas party last night) and I’m slowly finding a balance to my waking hours. I mentioned in my last post about my goals for the future, including a minimum monthly post on the blog, and I still intend to achieve that goal. It probably wont result in the blog reaching the dizzying heights it had back when I had the freedom to post almost daily, but I think it will benefit me, and if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s doing things that benefit me.
And on that wonderful note, I’ll end this post. Only a quick announcement I know, but I have three weeks of no Xboxing to catch up with. And there will be pictures and more coming soon, so I reckon I can get away with a 600 word catch up.
All the best guys,
Alex

Just Let Me Blow Away The Cobwebs…

Howdy folks,

Well…it has been a long time since this blog was active, hasn’t it? I don’t even want to check when I last published something. I know it was after I purchased my tickets to the UK, and that was a long time ago now; after all, I’ve been working for what seems like years and my trip was planned shortly after I was employed at the lab. Yeah…it’s been a long time.

Anyway, I apologize for that. Despite the lack of activity on this site, the blog isn’t officially dead. It’s just that between work, sleep and Gears of War 4, I haven’t had the time or energy to do anything else. This past month has been especially exhausting because we’ve been working at least an hour overtime every day. Urgh. Busy doesn’t cover it. I blame the holidays. Thanks, Thanksgiving, for being a turkey paradise. You’re the reason I don’t get home until nine o’clock. Grr.

Oh well. On the plus side, despite my hectic schedule, things are going to change for the blog in the future. Or at least I’m hoping they will. Coming up fast is my aforementioned trip to the UK, which is less than a week away now, and wow, I can’t believe that it’s going to happen, I’m practically on the plane and it still hasn’t sunk in yet.

Ahem. Well, in addition to giving me the glorious opportunity to see my family for the first time in 2 ½ years, it’s also good news for the blog as both Vanna and I intend to take a lot of pictures! Most of our plans are TBD, but there is a trip to Edinburgh which we’re both excited for, so that should result in some fantastic pictures.

That’s only a short-term solution, however. Going forward, I have a goal for 2017 (New Year’s resolutions and all that), to write something for the blog at least once a month. I’m not sure what I’ll write about, but I want it to be something that takes more than a few minutes to write (i.e. not this post), something which will spark my creativity. After all, part of my reasoning for taking a hiatus from the blog was because I wanted to spend my free time working on my book. Well, that isn’t exactly working, so why don’t I change it up? Maybe blogging will become a catalyst to my writing. It can’t hurt, can it? And I miss writing about all of my complaints, like I used to in the old days (you know, pre-marriage, because now everything is perfect).

So yeah. Let’s see how that goes. I’ll uh, speak to you again soon…hopefully from the UK!

Alex

A New Countdown Begins…

After months of waiting and planning, I can finally confirm my biggest news of the year – Vanna and I will be heading back to England this Christmas!

Very, very excited to be sharing this news, as I’m sure you can imagine! This will be the first time I’ve seen my family since I left the UK in July 2014. It’s been a long time, and even though it is only going to be for a few weeks, I can’t wait to visit friends and family, see my favourite sights and eat my favourite foods…it’s going to be awesome.

No concrete plans beyond the flights have been made yet, but if you shift your attention to the right, you can at least track the countdown to our arrival in the UK. 113 days until the flight, 114 until we land in Newcastle. We’re practically only a few weeks away!

Anyway, once I have more details on what we hope to do, I’ll provide a follow up post with dates etc. Until then, have a great weekend everybody! I’ll be working Saturday through Monday which sucks, but hey, more money in the bank is always a good thing. Need to save up for the trip, after all.

Bye for now,

Alex

 

 

 

My New Lab Coat Life

So after a two month hiatus, I have jumped back onto the working life treadmill (thanks for that phrase dad), and already I’m sick of it. Seriously it’s just…

Nah, it’s fine. I do admit going from having all the free time in the world to ‘here, have a few hours before you crash into a coma sleep’ has been an adjustment, but otherwise it’s been good. Next week (tomorrow; urgh, where did the weekend go?!) will be my fourth at Marshfield Food Safety, and it’s going well. It’s a completely different job to what I’ve done in the past, which I wouldn’t say is a bad thing. I’m not entirely sure what I can say about the job, but essentially we complete a variety of tests to ensure our client’s products are up to standard. It’s busy but I enjoy it.  Science has always interested me, so I enjoy learning more about the biology/chemistry side of food safety.

I also get to wear a lab coat everyday which is cool. Between that, the purple gloves and the safety glasses, I’m like a bona fide scientist. I even act like a scientist, what with my pipetting, plate counting, and, uh…other sciency things that I do. And my job title is Lab Analyst, so yeah, I’m all about the science.

Admittedly it might not be as glamorous as I’m portraying it, but it’s a good job. There is a lot of standing around mind, which wouldn’t be so bad if the benches were designed for tall people, but that’s probably still better for my posture than being slouched in an office chair, staring at a computer screen for eight hours.

I currently work 2nd shift, which is 11:00 to 19:30 (often goes beyond that, but thankfully I have only had to stay until 20:30 once). It isn’t too bad – I’m not a morning person so I love the lie ins – but I still need to find a balance to my leisure time. Currently I eat, play Gears for a bit and then watch Supernatural. I like doing that, but I really should find time for my book. Maybe if I only watch 2 episodes of Supernatural…hmm.

Anyway, what else can I say? Well, everyone has been very nice to me so far and there seems to be a lot of flexibility, which will be important later this year(big news coming up, just waiting for confirmation). Only disadvantage is that I work every third weekend, meaning I’ll might miss Chelsea play if they have a later kick off. Other than that though, I’m very grateful for this opportunity. It’s a paying job and it’s a paying job I like. Yay for me, right?

Guess that’s it for now. There will be more updates coming up soon though. Our 2nd year anniversary is on Tuesday, and later this month Vanna starts college. Both momentous occasions that signify to me that the good things in life for us are only just beginning.  It doesn’t end there though, as in September we have a Trivium gig and a paintballing weekend marked in the calendar. And then there is the big news I mentioned earlier, which is in some ways far bigger than anything else in this paragraph. I can’t wait!

Alex

 

 

 

Catnip Craziness

So we keep the catnip supplies in the locked cupboard of the dry sink. However, while we were distracted by the apocalyptic thrills of Deep Impact, Anya PICKED the lock and snatched the catnip bag. Not sure what happened next, but when we finally got up to see what was going on (we were suspicious that our animals were being too quiet), we found catnip all over the kitchen floor. Anya was gorging on one bag while Frankie was rolling around another bag.  Come on, kitties. Can we not leave you alone for two minutes?

After cleaning up as much as we could, we then grabbed the camera, because if they are going to be little poops who destroy everything they touch, they can at least be entertaining little poops who destroy everything they touch. Feel free to skip through the video below; it is over eight minutes long and I appreciate not everybody finds our cats as cute as we do (we’re a bit like those obnoxious parents showing everybody we meet pictures of our newborns). But if you are interested in seeing our cats roll around and fight, this is for you. Enjoy!

Alex

P.S. first week of work was succesful. I’ll talk more about it next weekend, providing everything continues to goes well.

The Day I Set Fire To The Microwave…

I blame GQ magazine for the fire. A few years ago I had a yearly subscription to GQ because the boy Vanna used to care for was offering various magazine deals to raise funds for school. I actually wanted a gaming or football magazine, but as they weren’t available, I went for GQ instead.  I vaguely remembered reading a copy once, and it was cheap, so why not? Maybe I’d enjoy them.

As it happens, I only read 3 of the 12 magazines sent to me (turns out they are mostly about men’s fashion and grooming; two things I have no interest in whatsoever) but I did take one piece of advice. It was from an article on…something. Doesn’t matter; the helpful suggestion, however, was regarding dish sponges. Apparently they aren’t very hygienic, and you shouldn’t use them more than once. But if you aren’t a rich bachelor with money to spare (GQ’s target audience; again, not exactly me) and prefer to hold onto your sponges for more than ten minutes, they recommend you microwave them after each wash. It prolongs their life expectancy, you see.

So, for the past couple of years, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I wash the dishes and then bung the sponge in the microwave for two minutes. Sponge steam doesn’t smell too great, but at least I felt better about doing the dishes. Thanks to GQ, I was no longer a dirty commoner with a dirty sponge.  Totally worth the $24 subscription!

Cut to last week; there I am, doing the dishes like a good husband while Vanna is at work. I finish, chuck the sponge in the microwave and hit the button. I then start sweeping, because I’m a really good husband, while I wait for the magical purifying process to finish. But the regulation two minutes pass and the microwave is still going. Unfortunately I’m watching a particularly enticing episode of Border Control: Australia’s Front Line (the guy had drugs hidden on his body, I’m sure it) and don’t realize what I’ve done…until it was too late.

The smell got me first. A foul, acrid smokiness. Then I think, ‘did I hit the wrong button on the microwave?’ so I stop sweeping and head back into the kitchen. The answer? Yes, yes I bloody well did hit the wrong button on the microwave. The sponge is on fire and there is smoke everywhere. I yank open the microwave door and, uh, panic.

I don’t like fires, you see. I have no pyromania tendencies. I’ve never had a obssession with fire, or had to be warned to avoid flames. I’ve always known fire = bad. Heck, I don’t even use matches. I sit away from campfires. In fact, since an incident in my childhood when the trees bordering our property were set on fire (nothing to do with me, I hastily add), I’ve always had nightmares of my house burning down. So I can’t say I’m accustomed to dealing with open flames. This is probably why my first instinct, after a suitable injection of panic, was to blow on the sponge, like I was a 6 year old with a birthday cake and a wish to make.  Unsurprisingly, this did not put the fire out.

Thankfully my second instinct was more logical. Ignoring the fire extinguisher in our apartment (I refuse to be that guy), I grabbed an old hand towel (I wasn’t going to use a nice one, was I?), soaked it in water and then threw it onto the sponge. Boom, fire out, problem solved, I’m a hero!

Sadly, not everything turned out perfectly. I wasn’t able to save the sponge; I had to throw the charred remains in the trash after one use, making me the exact person I hated to be.  And despite our best efforts, the microwave is stained. It still works, of course, but it seems the memories of my error will forever be engrained onto my favourite kitchen appliance. Every war has its casualties, I suppose.

Oh, and remember how I said smoky sponges don’t smell too great? Well it turns out burning sponges smell even worse. It took DAYS for that stench to clear. This isn’t a big apartment, folks, so it wasn’t like I could avoid it either. Granted, it was better than the residual puppy pee smell that seems to linger in the entryway, but that isn’t really saying much. Seriously, don’t burn sponges. You’ll regret it.

But we’re okay now, at least. The microwave still smells, but I’m confident a few months of zapping my leftovers will fix that. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this experience, one I think is worth repeating: folks, whatever you do, don’t read GQ.

All the best,

Alex

Oh, and before I go, I have news!

I have a job! Starting Monday 25th, I’m going to be a lab analyst for Marshfield Food Safety! It’s going to be very different from everything I’ve done so far, but I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next update.

 

 

A Very Subdued 4th of July…

Happy Independence Day America! Speaking as a Brit, I’m not sure you made the right decision (it isn’t too late to come back!) but you’ve stuck to it, so fair enough.

Unlike all the other 4th of Julys I’ve spent in America, this one is going to be spent doing…nothing at all. No special t-shirts, no parades, no food indulgence; just me, my Xbox, and the cats. Where’s Vanna? Well unfortunately she had to work this weekend, which is why this year’s holiday is such a non-event. Had she been available we may have gone up north and celebrated the day with family. But she’s not, so we’re not. Lame, right?

But hey, don’t let my boredom stop you from having a fun time! Oh no. Despite our residual feelings of bitterness, Frankie,

(currently sleeping)

Anya,

(also sleeping)

And I all hope you have a great day, even if you aren’t American and it is just an ordinary Monday.

Until next time.

Alex

P.S. Speaking of cats, no escapes since my last post. The catio has been kiboshed for now as it isn’t stable enough for a roof, and without it, Frankie keeps jumping out. We’ve accepted Anya will remain an outdoors cat, at least for now. Once it gets closer to winter, however, we’ll have to really work on catifying the apartment so they can be stimulated whilst staying indoors. Urgh. Effort.

 

An expression of my love for gaming and writing