Saturday, October 26, 2013

not the droid i was looking for

Poor grammar aside, last year I bought an Android phone. A nice shiny Samsung. Great screen, good battery life, and widgets. Oh, I did enjoy the widgets! It was a good phone, and a good operating system.

Unfortunately, there is still one major flaw with Android devices.. they don't talk to Apple stuff nicely. I couldn't back up my phone to my computer, and the online backup with Samsung was awful. I was able to get an app that allowed me to sync my contacts, and some of my music. The old DRM-protected stuff was a no-go.  Apparently the only workaround to get a Droid to talk to Mac is buying lots of apps, downloading various systems, etc. Everyone seems to know that the kies software never really works on a Mac.. why?! Apple has iTunes for Windows, letting PC users backup their phone stuff.. but Android phone devs still can't get there. Maybe other brands are better? Not worth finding out.

So.. upgrade time and I am back to the iPhone. It talks to my computer. It plays all my music. I will miss the widgets, but now I don't have to worry about losing my data. :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bouncing Back

It has been a rough year. I have had a lot on my mind, but most of it wasn't suitable for publication! I made it through, however. My divorce finally went through, and I got a decent settlement. Not a lot, but enough to fill the savings account back up, fill the oil tank and maybe get myself a few treats. I also have a full time job that pays better than most entry jobs.

I thought the job and the end of the divorce would be it, that I would bounce back. The truth is that I am still adjusting. I find myself tired a lot, still getting used to a new routine that involves early mornings instead of late nights. I haven't yet made it back to jujitsu, either.

Bouncing!? Nope.. I'm climbing back. Slow, but steady. I'll get there..back to my old activities. It is going to just take time. I have a new life in front of me, which is fantastic. I just have to remind myself that it is okay to take my time.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays

So, usually I have a rant around this time of year. This year's is a bit different.  Hanukkah is over and my menorah has been de-waxed and put away. The chocolate coins have been eaten, and I am heading down to a friend's house for the Christmas period.

I have watched people get ready for the holidays via twitter and facebook and, to be brutally honest, I have no idea why most people bother from year to year. The stress is amazing. Panic over present-buying, grocery shopping, and being forced to spend time with certain family members.  Some of it is light-hearted, such as the annual battle over Brussels Sprouts. I love the little beggars, but won't be seeing them this year as my friends hate them! But some of the stress seems so pointless. I have witnessed a grown woman in tears over stocking fillers for her adult children... Seriously.

So, boys and girls... have fun. Yep. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it! Ok, so cooking a feast might be a bit stressful, but if you take zero pleasure from it get help or don't do it. At its core, Christmas is a religious holiday (hello... mass for Christ), and all of the presents and trappings aren't really the point. So.. decorate if it makes you happy. Go mad with the wrapping paper if you have fun. Or just don't. Do what makes the day special for you. Don't feel obliged to do anything that you actually don't want to do!  This is supposed to be a festive season. Make it one for you.

Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Merry Festivus. And any other wintery-time holiday you celebrate.

Save some mulled wine for me!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Food, Glorious Food!

As an American, one of the few things I really miss here in NI is particular foods. Like real Mexican.. and proper barbecue. BBQ is NOT chucking some burgers and sausages on a backyard grill. I'm talking real smoked meats, so tender they fall off the bone. Meat, meat, and meat. So imagine my amazement, and slight trepidation, when I heard of a BBQ joint opening up in Belfast!

Called Bubbacue, this little gem is tucked away on Callener Street, next to M&S. Inside is nothing special. A window shows you tables where meat is being chopped and sides are being dished up by fresh-faced teens in skinny jeans and t-shirts. You order at the register, and grab your drink, a pickle (take a pickle, people!!) and a Budweiser can with a number. Take a seat at a table covered in red and white check, and drool over the 4 bottles of sauces. Yes, folks, this is a sauce-your-own place! Being sick of turkey, I went straight for the pulled pork. Now, I could have had just a sandwich (served with skinny fries), but I went whole-hog (sorry!) and got the platter.. complete with cornbread, slaw, a pickle and 2 sides. I opted for the fries and beans. And of course a mason jar of half-sweet iced tea.

My order came pretty quick, served up on an enameled metal tray lined with paper. A mess of chopped pulled pork and all my goodies. The slaw was good.. not mayonnaise-laden, but lacking in a bit of punch. The skinny fries came skin-on and not over-salted. Yum!! Beans.. swimming with bits of onion in a delightfully spicy sauce.. not that gloomy stuff you get out of a can!  The cornbread was, dammit, better than my own! And the meat.. oh man! I of course tried all the sauces. You have your standard smokey BBQ, a tangy Kansas City-inspired sauce, a sweeter Memphis-inspired one, and a kick-your-butt mustardy Carolina sauce. Only thing lacking was a proper hard cord North Carolina vinegary sauce, but I am not sure Belfast is quite ready for that. They were all good, and I ended up slathering my pork in a combo of the Carolina and Memphis-style sauces.  Topped it off with a crunchy pickle speak (not quite kosher dill, but close!), and my iced tea. Zero room left for dessert, but there is always next time.

So.. an ocean away from good barbecue I am no longer! Merely a train ride and a short walk. There is only one downside... Bubbacue is a pop-up. They are only open for 3 months!

If you're in Belfast, get your butts down to Bubbacue. But get there early (they open at noon), as the meat-hungry denizens of the city clean the place out of meat in a couple of hours!

I'd put up a picture, but I was too busy eating...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

As an American in Northern Ireland, I always try to make a Thanksgiving meal for myself and some friends.. if I am not back home with my family! This year I am doing the same, but under slightly different circumstances. I don't mean to whine or complain, but a few months ago my husband of 8 years asked for a divorce. He had been away with work for a while, and now is in England.. and he decided not to come home, just sent an email. Shortly thereafter I lost access to the joint bank account, and a month later he cancelled my rent payments. My life turned upside down in a very short period of time. Now I wait to see if the benefits office will help, while I look for full-time work... meanwhile eating through my savings in order to pay the bills, and trying to figure out what I really want to do with my life now that I am starting over.

Sure, things are hard. But I have a roof over my head. I have family, although they are far away, who care. I have friends who bring me cake on my birthday and send me LEGO. I have the ever-goofy Loki. I have my health (well..and the NHS!!).

I look around me and most of my UK pals are gearing up for Christmas. The TV is full of commercials encouraging us to part with our money for presents (and apparently a hair dryer is a good gift!). And although there is a lot of Black Friday stuff back home, Thanksgiving is not about that. It has always been a day spent with family and friends. Food and football. Descending into that tryptophan-enduced coma after eating just one more helping of turkey. So, amidst the uncertainty of my own personal life, I am thankful I have enough to feed my friends and enjoy their company.
So enjoy your family, your friends. Eat turkey and pie. And remember what is truly important.

Happy Thanksgiving!