Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer is Here!

Well, summer is finally here. I know you are thinking that its July, nearly August, so I must be a bit slow. The thing is when you work with teenagers and have a middle-school aged stepchild, summer is defined by when school is out.

I can honestly say that English summer totally sucks. The past 24 hours my friends and I have been trying to arrange one weekend over the "summer" when we can go camping together. Here is the problem, instead of three luxurious months off like American kids, British kids get six weeks and actually for some students this year its only 5 1/2 weeks. When you sit down and look at it, it fills up incredibly quickly.

Leeimi finished school on Friday so we we are planning to do lots with her over her 6 weeks off. First of all Jason and I booked a holiday to Blackpool with her, our first family vacation together and something I'm really excited about.

Let me pause for a moment because Max just let out a fart so smelly that he must need to go outside and do his business and exiting the premises for a few minutes should allow me some time to breathe and air out the flat.

Back, I hate interrupting my writing. I tend to over-think things when its not "stream of consciousness" and I'm never happy with any writing of mine that is over-thought. Back to planning out my six week summer.

First of all, during the six weeks holidays Red Dreams is really ramping up its programs while the kids are off school. I am getting involved in a show choir. We aren't quite sure yet how many kids we will get interested, but we are hoping with the success of Glee it will attract lots of kids and we will have a good sized show choir. I'm really looking forward to it, although it is a bigger time commitment, another three hours a week on Thursdays for the next six weeks. Other than that, here is my summer schedule so far.

Next weekend: relax before the madness

August 6-11: The Tall Ships come to Hartlepool! This will be both an amazing experience and a headache at the same time. I'm trying to stay positive but the idea of tens of thousands of people swarming my "front yard" for 4 days makes me panic a little bit.

August 13-15: Blackpool! Not sure what attractions/events we're going to go to yet, but we've got the hotel booked and I'm researching some stuff to do. Blackpool is like a seaside resort with a big amusement park as well, think Cedar Point and Atlantic City rolled into one.

August 21-22: Red Dreams Pitch Invasion, this is Red Dreams' own musical festival. I'd love to attend if I can, especially since I've been helping one of my students plan her acoustic set for the past few weeks. They have been my favorite lessons, she comes in with her guitar and we brainstorm ideas for her set and she tries things out and cares what I think.

For now that is all I have planned, but there is quite a bit of stuff I want to cram in between it all, including *hopefully* a camping trip.

This past week has been interesting to say the least. Last week while I was watching a favorite show of mine, Question Time on BBC One, they mentioned that the following week they would be in Hartlepool. Question Time is a town hall style political debate show, they travel around the country and each week in a different city/town they assemble a different panel of 5 politicians that come on and the audience made of local people gets the opportunity to set the questions and challenge the politicians. Its a great show and I love it so I decided to apply to be in the audience in Hartlepool and was invited to come be a part of it. The experience turned into much more than I had expected, and my brief appearance (in front of a national audience of millions of people) became one of the highlights of the show (this is what people tell me, I'm not tooting my own horn here).

I'm writing more about it later this week in my Anglotopia post so be sure to check it out on Wednesday and get the full story.

As for this blog, I've had a few ideas about it. One idea is to dedicate more time to it (oh joy!) I'm thinking every other Sunday is a good target. Sunday nights are probably the slowest for me so I think that will work. I'm also toying with the idea of making the move over to Word Press. I use Word Press for my posting on Anglotopia and I love it, and I'm especially getting sick of all the Spam comments here on Blogger. Word Press does a better job of filtering this stuff out. I think I get about two messages a day to approve comments, and they are all gibberish in Chinese characters and its really getting on my nerves and makes me think much less of Google and Blogger in general that it doesn't have the capabilities to filter out these blatantly Spammy comments. Unless of course my blog has become wildly popular in China and my Chinese fans are writing back to me in their native tongue. Doubtful, so I'm going to chalk it up to a giant Google fail. Sorry Google, I'm sure you're crying your eyes out over this and wiping your tears with $100 bills.

I'll let you know if I'm going to go the Word Press direction, but it does seem like something I would do doesn't it. I mean, I did switch to a Mac and an iPhone, so it would only make sense that Google should go the way of the PC.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hello Again!

Wow, its been a long time since I have posted. Sorry, I've cut down on all of my blogging over the past month. I've reduced my Anglotopia posts to every other week and this blog kind of when I have something to say. I keep myself pretty busy, with about 15-20 hours a week at the radio station and about 10 hours a week at Red Dreams. Yes I know that still doesn't add up to a full time job, but its all spread out over the week so along with choir practice on Monday and Tuesday it ends up that the only evening I have free is Wednesday and the only morning I have free is Sunday. It's nice to stay busy!

The big news to share is that yesterday I passed my Life in the UK test! I had to pass the test in order to  apply for permanent settlement. It is similar to the test immigrants to the US have to take to become a citizen, and the test is the same for both settlement and citizenship. The test required lots of studying on a wide range of information from census statistics to the UK government and also culture and religion. It was only 24 questions and after weeks of studying it took me less than 10 minutes to complete the test. Now that I'm done I just need to fill out the application, pay the fee and send in all the necessary documents and wait for my visa to arrive, this one with no expiration date!