Archive for March, 2009

Yesterday afternoon I video-called my brother and niece.

I was sitting on my couch with my webcam (oh-er) and skype-ing with my brother and Natalie who were thousands of miles away in Boston. 

It was amazing.  It was unbelievable.  And it was free.

The most amazing thing of all? 

My niece likes to play peek-a-boo.

I was so happy to have seen her and talked to her that I smiled for about an hour.

Until I remembered that she’s thousands of miles away – and then I got very sad.

But, nevermind that.  She’s amazing and she’s adorable and she played peek-a-boo with me over the ocean.  It was fantastic.

So my task is to get every one of my friends Stateside to get one of these webcams (oh-er) and we’ll video call each other and totally rock out.



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a as in cat

Land Engineering.


lænd Ÿ en-juhneer-ing


In case you didn’t catch that – or are unfamiliar with phonetic symbols, the æ in lænd means that the “a” in land should be pronounced like the “a” in cat.


And the bold letters in engineering mean the stress of the word should fall on the third syllable. 


Why am I writing a post about this?  Because at work at the moment I am chasing up sub-contractors insurances which are about to expire so I am spending a lot of my mornings calling companies, explaining who I am and where I am calling from, and requesting updated insurance information from them.


The conversation usually goes something like this:


“Hi there, my name is Allison and I am calling from Land Engineering. We have you on our approved sub-contractors database…” etc.


And the next question is “Sorry, you’re calling from Lynn Engineering? I’ve never heard of Lynn Engineering!”, or “Lend Engineering?”


So I asked Katie, who I work beside, whether I was pronouncing Land Engineering wrong.  And the answer is? YES.


Now it is a big talking point at the office. Is it my “L”?  Is it the way I pronounce the “a”?  Or is my “nd” too soft?  Whichever way they decide they know for certain that I am not saying it correctly.


So I am trying to pronounce it correctly from now on.  We’ll have to have a daily workshop, I think.


Either that or I’ll have to get a job somewhere else…




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chasing cars

So far in the UK I haven’t had that much luck with cars.  Back in Ohio I had the best of luck.  My mother was nice enough to buy me my dream car (1996 Ford Ranger splash in YELLOW!!!!!) and that car served me very, very well.  Here?  Not so much.

For the first two years I was without car.  I lived in Glasgow, though, so didn’t have a need for one.  When I moved in with S, though, a car was a must.  So I gathered all my savings and splashed out £1,200 on a 1998 Ford Fiesta in crimson.  Now, the first problem with the Fiesta was that it was made entirely out of rust.  No joke.  The second problem was that it was a manual transmission car desperately trying to be automatic.  It stalled all the time, which is odd for an automatic. Sometimes when you tried to accelerate the brakes went instead – not that useful when trying to pull out at a junction.  Any time I switched from Drive to Reverse or vice versa the call would stall and then take its time coming back to life.  I lived in fear that it would breakdown. 

I only had that car for a year when, after spending £300 to get it to pas its MOT I sold it for £800.  Not bad for a terrifying car, if I do say so myself.

Then I had great luck, actually.  We found a car for £1,200 which was two years younger than the Fiesta and not completely made of rust.  This purchase was a 2000 Renault Megane in dark blue.  I really liked this car.  It was nothing to look at, but it was reliable.  It could have done with new tires and new brake pads, but there was nothing drastic that needed to be done.  Until three weeks ago when the water pump failed and threw the timing belt causing all 16 valves to basically explode.  It would have cost between £800 and £1,200 pounds for the first fix (not counting the second fix to repair any still-leaking  hoses, etc) and the car was probably only worth about £600.  So it went to the car graveyard. They gave me £60 pounds for it which was nice, except it cost me £40 for the guys to see what had gone wrong.  So I handed them the keys to my car and I got £20 out of it, all told.

So then I had no car.  I’ve been relying on my husband and  kind people from my work to ferry me to and from. The days when S is at work and I can use his car are few and far between but they are lovely.

I was faced with a dilemma.  What kind of car to buy?  We’ve always wanted to get my truck imported but after some lengthy research we figured out it would not be economical.  We thought about getting a terribly affordable piece of junk.  A car under £500 that I could run into the ground and not be sad about it; but I have had as much as I can handle of not being sure whether the car will make the journey or not.  So we decided to go all in and buy me a new car.

A brand new car.

As of Saturday I am the proud owner of a 2009 Toyota Aygo plus in metallic carbon quartz (grey).  I’m leasing it for three years with the option to buy it at the end of the contract for a lot less then you would be able to buy any other 3 year old car.  S and I were very strict.  We made them throw in everything possible for free.  We got the metallic paint for free, the iPodconnector thingy for free, the floor mats for free and a full tank of petrol thrown in.  Plus we made them lower their monthly payments by £17 a month.

All in all I think we did really well.  Now I just need to get my car.  I am very excited.  It isn’t the flashiest car – it only has a top speed of 95mph, but it gets 62 miles to the gallon in the city, apparently, and it’s very, very cute.

Plus, if my job here doesn’t work out I can always volunteer to drive my Aygo in a football match on Top Gear.

Pictures when I get it.



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It was amazing!!  We had such a great time.  Honestly, it was awesome.

The flights were on time and everything ran to plan.  We went up the Eiffel Tower and the view was unbelievable.  We saw the Arc de Triumph and The Louvre and The Cathedral of Notre Dame.  We had dinner at a cafe and I drank hot chocolate from La Maison du Chocolat which was, by far, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had!  There were Parisian (although not as many as you would think) and there was tourism going on the whole day!

There was even an incident involving a baguette and salted butter. 

It was fantastic.  I wish we could go more often. 

Would you like to see some pictures?



Arc de Triumph


Eiffel Tower


Notre Dame


the view

Ah – c’est la vie!!



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