Monday, March 30, 2009

Admitting to a hiatus

Well, it's official: my life has become so much about the pending arrival of Baby McDaid that, right now, I don't have anything meaningful to say on this non-baby-related blog. Given that my life is going to revolve around my son or daughter in significant ways for several weeks yet to come, I think it's time to succumb to the conclusion that this blog should be considered on hiatus for a while.

I still plan to keep both blogs up-and-running in the long term and like the idea of separating baby updates from personal opinions and the sharing of fun, non-baby stuff, but right now there isn't a lot of room in my day for the latter. Even when there is, my hands are so sore, there's rarely the physical ability to write two separate yet equally interesting blog posts each day.

So, thanks for keeping track of me here. I promise to be back soon with more of my grumblings about life and plans for future vacations...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturday, March 07, 2009

It's confirmed: Sacramento is officially a snooze

Today I had lunch with my three au pairs. If you missed it before, I'm currently a volunteer for an organization called EurAupair and I act as liaison between foreign girl and American family. I have a French girl, a Danish girl, and a German girl currently under my charge.

The poor girls are BORED STIFF. As if Sacramento wasn't already a black hole of excitement for the average late-teen/20-something, the constant rain of late has put a block on the area's only saving graces - bike and hiking trails. Fortunately today was sunny and mid-sixties but their moods did not match.

I began the lunch meeting with a cheerful "I bet you guys are glad it's not raining any more so you can get out and about!" to which I received a "And do what?" So I named things like biking along the American River Parkway, hiking in the foothills, and kayaking on the river. Turns out they're not keen on the whole active/outdoorsy thing. They like to play soccer (which, of course, most of the world does, except for Americans) visit interesting cities and towns with historical landmarks (umm... wrong side of the country for that), or head to the beach (does Folsom Lake shoreline count????)

Someone really needed to prepare these girls for the reality of Northern California. All of California is NOT created equal and the state is actually quite diverse both in weather and topography. Say "California" to a European and immediately images of fame, glamor, excitement around every corner, sunshine, and beaches come to mind. Unfortunately, this is Sacramento and, aside from the sunshine (which is, unfortunately, accompanied by tortuorous temperatures between June and September and disappears in December through February) this place has very little to offer of the stereotypical California experience. To make it worse, they're all under 21, so they can't even drink themselves into an oblivion that at least enables them to imagine they might be somewhere more interesting. (For a European teenager who has probably been drinking in bars since mid-teens, the U.S. legal drinking age comes as quite a surprise... I remember... distinctly!)

Everything requires a car ride as public transportation is a joke. And even then, where would you go? Downtown? Haha... yes, that place in the "center"... center of what, I haven't yet figure out. Once you've been there, you've been there. Only desparation leads you back. Going further afield there are really only 3 other places worth going on a day trip - Tahoe, Napa, and San Francisco. Tahoe skiing is too expensive, Napa is all about wine or spas (and again they're under the legal drinking age), and San Francisco is just about their only "haven". Honestly, that's mostly it between here and Los Angeles. Yes, you've got the beautiful coastline north and south of SF but it's more than a day's drive and the good places are too expensive for a European student on a tight budget.

Don't get me wrong, I don't HATE my life here. Quite the contrary: I like having seasons, I like having family nearby, I've got lots of good friends here, a nice house (that I would probably still be working my ass off to afford back in the OC), I do have the money to ski (when my body is in a condition to do it), and I can afford to head-out to those swanky Napa spas and beach spots (again, when I'm not 8 months pregnant.) But make no mistake - if I was a 19 year old European girl, I would be bored to tears. In fact, if my first foray into American/Californian life at age 19 would have been Sacramento, I think it's safe to say that I probably would now be living somewhere in Chelsea, London.

I feel sorry for these poor girls, who just want to meet some people and have some fun to distract them from their homesickness and who are so desperate to be served-up at least some of their California dreams. I'll have to see if I can dig-up any low-cost, teen-like excitement going on in the general vicinity via the internet... wish me luck, it could be like trying to find National Treasure!

Friday, March 06, 2009

They're cooooooooooming!

M&D May 08 111

Today was Mum and Dad's interview at the U.S. Embassy in London for their visa to move to the United States.

It's been 13 months since we originally applied for them to move out here and, from stories we read online and from friends, we were pretty convinced that we were looking at an 18-24 month process. Maybe people have decided to stay put because of the economy because today they were officially approved and will have their paperwork to immigrate on Monday.

This means that, when they get on that plane in April to meet their grandchild, and get their stamps from immigration, they will officially be U.S. residents!

Wow! Woohoo!

Irony of ironies, of course, their house in England still hasn't completely closed sale and they just moved into a furnished apartment last weekend. Had we of known how quickly this was all going to come to pass, they probably would not have needed to move last weekend at all. Oh well. If we had anticipated a sooner timeline and they'd stayed put, they could have been out on the street without a home before the visa came through.

Me, Joss and baby are very excited to have Nanny and Grandad around to watch baby grow up and, of course, to babysit. Hahaha!

Monday, March 02, 2009

It never ceases to amaze me...

... that people continue to fall for emails like this. I mean, I get so many of them that they must be working at least once in a while for these senders or they wouldn't continue to write them and send them in the first place.

There is indeed a Fidelity Investments International in Hildenborough, Kent but just typing in "Fidelity Investments International" into Google immediately brings up the search suggestion "Fidelity Investments International scam."

There are so many things wrong with this email that I barely know where to start:

  1. It's by email. Who realistically believes that financial windfalls or money-making opportunities appear in your personal email inbox?
  2. I have no dealings with FII.
  3. It's not even personally addressed to me.
  4. Anything that says that someone "...secretly extracted..." something should be an instant red flag.
  5. It's full of financial jargon that even I don't understand (ok, I'm no financial guru but still) - for instance, what average gal or guy knows what "Excess Maximum Return Capital Profit" actually IS? (If it's even something that exists at all.)
  6. Incredibly obvious Red Flag #2: "Do not contact my office number or email, all correspondence must be on this private box." Read as: "Don't try to call the real FII by email or phone because they'll have no idea who I am or what you're talking about."
  7. Tagging onto #5, incredibly obvious Red Flag #3: It's from an untraceable, free gmail 'personal' email address. What reputable person would do business this way?
  8. It's completely non-sensical. Even I don't understand exactly what Mr. William Moore wants me to do (aside from give him confirmation that mine is a real email address and provide him with my personal phone# -- NOT) OR what I'm supposed to get out of it exactly.

Fidelity Investments International
Oakhill house,130 Tonbridge,
Kent TN119DZ,
United Kingdom.

I am Mr.William Moore,
The Fund Manager of Fidelity Investment
International.The World Largest
Fund Management Company with over £1.2Trillion Capital
Investment Fund.
Neverthless, as The Fidelity Fund Manager, I handle
all our Investor's Direct Capital Funds and secretly
extracted 1.2% Excess Maximum Return Capital Profit
(EMRCP) per annum on each of the Investor's Marginal
Capital Fund.As an expert,I have made over £5, 745,
000 from the Investor's EMRCP and hereby looking
for someone who will stand
as an Investor to receive the fund as Annual
Investment Proceeds from
Fidelity Marginal Capital Fund.
All confirmable documents to back up the
claims will be made available to you prior to your
acceptance.Meanwhile,I have worked out the modalities
and technincalities whereby the funds can be claimed
in any of our 6 Clearing Houses without any
hitches.Our sharing ratio will be 50-50. If you are
interested, you should send your direct phone number so
we could discuss more on phone as regard to the
transaction, N:B; Do not contact my office number or
email, all correspondence must be on this private box. Sincerely.

William Moore
Endeavor to reply through my personal E- mail.
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