Friday, March 30, 2012

In which I rant about accents

So if you follow me on Twitter, you may know some of this already. But I discovered this morning that it's really hard to write differing pronunciations of "France". So, at the request of Eileen, (and for Gina's benefit because she was the one I was trying to explain it to) here's a video. In which I sing stuff from Les Miserables. And impersonate American accents. And generally make a fool of myself.

YOU'RE WELCOME. (Also, thank you Youtube for another spectacularly flattering screenshot...) I apologise in advance for my weird facial expressions. I have no idea what was going on there...

Oh, and here's the awesome video I was talking about in the video. God, it's like Inception, but with Youtube...

Random sort-of subject change: Who's excited about the Les Miserables movie that's coming out at Christmas time??

K xx

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ancient History, Volume VI

All week, I've been thinking "I really must remember to take a photo for the 30 Day Photography Challenge. Now, where's my camer...oh. Right." *SIGH* (If you have no idea what I'm talking about go here) So in place of that, you get the next instalment of me travelling around the place a millionty years ago, meeting completely insane people. Because apparently THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I TRAVEL.

Anyway, when I last left off, Megan and I were boarding a bus from Washington DC to Philadelphia. Public service announcement: Do not catch buses in America. Sure, it might only cost you $20, but you will be surrounded by crazy people. There was a woman on the bus whose hair bore a striking resemblance to a Christmas tree. And there was a guy who took phone call on speaker phone for the entire duration of the trip. Somehow, I managed to fall asleep and I woke up when we stopped in Delaware. That weirded me out, because my geography of the tiny American states is not that great, and I thought Delaware was up near Massachusetts and that we'd missed Philly completely. #FAIL

We hadn't. We eventually arrived in Philly, and caught a taxi to our hotel, which turned out to be something like three blocks from the bus station. (Thanks a lot, Taxi Driver from 2006, for not telling us that we could have walked there in five minutes. One of these days, I'm going to find a TARDIS, come back to 2006, and kick you in the shin. #fairwarning)

Somehow, we ended up staying a reasonably swanky hotel for like $100 a night. Wheeeeeeee!! We did all the usual history nerd Philadelphia things.
Independence Hall

The Liberty Bell

Congress Hall

And Benjamin Franklin's grave. That one we walked to, and then discovered upon arrival that you had to pay $3 to get into the cemetery. And for some reason, we decided that $3 was way too much to spend on something like that, so we shoved our cameras through the fence to take photos, and then left. I don't remember if we flicked a penny at him or not. It seems a little disrespectful, so hopefully not!

Then Archaeology Nerd Kirsti appeared, and insisted that we walk half way across Philadelphia to go to the University of Pennsylvania Archaeology Museum. Do not attempt this. According to Google Maps, it's about three miles. And it's quite an...industrial...walk. I'm still kind of surprised we weren't run over by a semi-trailer...

Once we eventually found it, the museum itself was pretty cool. There was all manner of Egyptian stuff:

And this crystal ball doohicky. I still don't know what it is:

Aaaaaaand that's pretty much all we did in Philly. According to my travel diary, we went all out for dinner on both nights - Panda Express at the food court of a nearby shopping mall. SO. CLASSY. I have no idea why we didn't go to the art museum like normal tourists. Or why we didn't try to find slightly more appetising food. I'm sorry, Philly. I'm sure you have more to offer than Panda Express!!

The following morning, we boarded a bus for New York. And arrived five minutes ahead of schedule, meaning we didn't get to see the end of some horse movie called Dreamer starring Dakota Fanning. It still pisses me off that I don't know what happened. But the movie was pretty terrible, so I'm not about to borrow it and find out!

Upon arrival at Port Authority (yet another reason not to take the bus in America - bus stations are really NOT the best first impression of cities!), we walked a millionty blocks across town to our hotel. Where I got into the lift with my pack on and then realised that I couldn't turn around without giving Megan concussion. And when we arrived at our room (which was over $200 a night), we discovered that the entire thing was basically the size of Megan's closet in Tennessee. If you took more than two steps from the door, you'd trip over the bed and fall out the window onto the footpath five storeys down.

So we abandoned our luggage in the hotel room, and headed out in search of food. And to avoid going back to our hotel, we went to the Empire State Building, which was only a few blocks away.
From the door of the hotel

Ever so slightly blurry night time shot from the top

Next up, the rest of New York, including a small fire, and some very memorable quotes from passersby.

K xx

Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Monday: The Hunger Games

On Saturday afternoon, I FIIIIIIIIIINALLY got to see The Hunger Games [insert Kermit flail of excitement]. I was insanely excited about it, and was thrilled that Must Be Thrifty and her boyfriend, Cheap Geek, came along for the ride despite the fact that neither of them had read the book, and had very little idea what to expect.

Anyway, the fact that I finally got to see The Hunger Games means that Movie Monday is going to be a little bit different this week. Because I have a LOT of thoughts and I need to put them somewhere!

In case you haven't seen it yet, I'm going to put the rest after a jump break, because it's going to get spoiler-y up in here. But if you've already seen it, read on, and let me know what YOU thought about it! :) (If you haven't seen it, go and do so, then come back and tell me what you thought. I WANT TO KNOW!!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Well, shit.

So last night was...interesting. I left for ballet class as usual at 5.30pm. My parents were already out. They ended up changing their plans because it was freezing cold in Melbourne yesterday, and came to pick me up from ballet at 8.00pm. Because we were all starving, we went out for dinner at the local Thai restaurant.

This may all seem completely inane and boring, but it's sort of totally relevant, I promise. Anyway, so we got home from the Thai restaurant at about 9.30pm. I unlocked the door from the garage into the house and was met by a gust of cold wind. My immediate thought was "Um, WTF??", which was immediately followed by "Wait, why is the back door open??" When I turned the lights on in the back porch, it became immediately apparent that the back door had been jimmied open, that the lock on the kitchen window had then been broken, and that our house had been burgled. Oh, and they then found the spare keys and went out the front door, leaving the keys in the lock. HOW THOUGHTFUL.

(Incidentally? I just checked Wikipedia for the difference between 'burglary' and 'robbery'. Apparently 'robbery' involves actually taking something from the victim by force, whereas burglary is breaking into a house when the people aren't home. You're welcome for that little dose of education!!)

I have a theory that we were burgled by hipsters. Because they really didn't take very much. They must have been horribly disappointed that they went to as much effort as they did, because to be perfectly honest, we have pretty shitty electronics. Both our TVs are old school CRT models. They didn't take any of the jewellery or Dad's car. And apparently four year old Toshiba laptops aren't worth stealing (THANK GOD. As much as I complain about my laptop being crappy, I'm so relieved it's not gone).

Things that *are* worth stealing?
- My mum's brand new school issue Macbook Air.
- An iPod Touch.
- My SLR.
- My zoom lens.

They left the kit lens sitting on the bench in the kitchen. I'm not sure whether the mould of my teeth scared them off, or if (being hipsters, as per my theory) they went "AHAHAHA, $100 crappy kit lens? No thank you!".

Oh, and they also took $27 in cash. And possibly my old Olympus point-and-shoot camera because I can't find it anywhere. Although I don't know why they'd have taken that. It's six years old, and scratched as hell because I dropped it a bunch of times.

The police came round last night and took a bunch of photos and did some fingerprinting, but not surprisingly, the burglars wore gloves.

So all we can do now is get the back door repaired, and hope the insurance company process things quickly.

Oh, and to the burglar who went through my backpack looking for stuff? I hope you enjoyed all the snotty, cold-germ-ridden tissues that I forgot to empty out after my class on Thursday night!!

K xx
PS. I woke up this morning with a pounding headache courtesy of my dental splint. $700 well spent...

Friday, March 23, 2012

If teeth weird you out, click away now

I think I mentioned to you guys a few weeks ago that I had a dentist appointment. Or perhaps I just whined about it on Twitter. Either way, I was informed at said dental appointment that I needed to have a splint made to stop me from grinding my teeth in my sleep.

That meant another dental appointment several days later to have impressions taken. Which is how I can tell you that dental impression material tastes like Satan's butthole (and no, they didn't have flavoured stuff available - apparently it doesn't hold the impression as well. WEIRD). Today, I had to go back and spend an hour in the chair having the splint fitted.

First of all, if you have to get an anti-teeth-grinding splint? Wear crappy clothes to get it done. You'll end up covered in little plastic shavings from where they file bits off to make it fit your bite properly. Also, you will end up with a mouthful of little plastic shavings, which have a texture very reminiscent of sand. Next, they might have to use some kind of acrylic to build up the underside of it to fit your bite. Said acrylic will smell like burning and make you think that you're going to die when they put the splint in your mouth covered in the stuff.

And then (although I'm not sure if this applies to ALL dentists or just mine), they'll present you with the cast of your teeth. WHAT THE HELL DO I DO WITH THIS, PEOPLE??????????

I mean, seriously. Jorah suggested painting it and using it to hold jewellery or gum. Any other brilliant suggestions?? (Also? Witness the total lack of points on my canine teeth. *This* is why I need the splint.)

Finally, you'll have to pay for your splint. Because nothing says a session at the dentist like a $700 bill! O.o
Not made of gold, despite what I assumed based on the cost.

And that, kids, ends my public service announcement about why you shouldn't grind your teeth.

K xx

[Disclaimer: my dentist and the other staff are awesome. I have no problems with their work, or the fact that the splint will save me a lot of jaw pain/lack of teeth into the future. I just wanted to whinge about being poor and get suggestions on what to do with my plaster teeth!]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reading habits

I decided recently that I don't blog nearly enough about books any more. So when Gina posted this earlier today, I figured I'd steal it play along!

If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?

Like Gina, I think this is the hardest question on the list. That said, I'd quite like to hang out in the Discworld for a while!!  

Do you read in noisy or quiet places?

Both. I read on the tram on my way into uni, which is usually pretty noisy. But I also read before I go to bed, which is quiet. 

What was the first book you ever read?

I have absolutely no idea, I was four and it was from the library! The first book I loved, however, was Robert Munsch's The Paperbag Princess. Because it's totally badass.

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?


Favorite Author?

I have to pick one? That's unpossible! Let's instead go with a shortlist: 

- Terry Pratchett
- Charles Dickens
- Jane Austen
- Kelley Armstrong
- Gail Carriger
- JK Rowling
- Bill Bryson

Do reviews influence your choices of reads?

Reviews in the newspaper and magazines? Probably not. Reviews from people I'm friends with on Goodreads? If it's something that sounds interesting and their review is positive, yes. Based on some of the utter bollocks I've read recently, I should really start paying more attention to the ratings things have been given on Goodreads!

Fiction or Non-fiction?

A combination of both. Probably like 85% fiction, 15% non-fiction. Obviously, it's higher during semester because I have to read a lot of academic non-fiction. But the stuff I read by choice is probably 15% non-fiction. Mostly history stuff. 

Have you ever met your favorite author?

I don't really have one favourite author, as you can see from the short list! But I *HAVE* met Bill Bryson, Kelley Armstrong and Terry Pratchett, so I guess that's a yes! 

Audio books or Paperback?

Paperback. Books = paper. None of this audio or e-book nonsense for me, thank you very much!  Today in class, we had to use reference books to look up a whole lot of stuff. A bunch of people in the class were all "UGH. Why can't we just Google it??" I, on the other hand, was all "I GET TO USE A DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS? BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!" #nerd

Classic or Modern Novels?

A combination of both. Since I've started going to the library again, it's more modern than classic. But when I'm reading my own stuff, it's probably 60% modern, 40% classics.  

Book groups or Solitary Reading?

Solitary reading. OHMYGOD, solitary reading. I'm not a huge fan of discussing books that I read for fun. That seems far too much like homework to me. Plus, I'd rather read what I want to read when I want to read it, rather than having to read what's required by the list!

If you could invite three dead authors to a dinner for four, whom would you invite?

Well, obviously Charles Dickens and Jane Austen are pretty high on the list. As for the third, maybe Elizabeth Gaskell so I could ask her how Wives and Daughters was supposed to end? Wait, I changed my mind. I want to invite Oscar Wilde, because obviously he would be hilarious and brilliant. I basically picture him as the nineteenth-century version of Stephen Fry. (I can't work out if that's insulting to one or both of them. Thoughts??)

So, what are your reading habits?
K xx

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bits and pieces

So I realised as I was writing my Movie Monday post yesterday that it's been a while since I gave you guys a general life update THING, because I've been distracted by writing about my past travels and posting pretty pictures that I took last year. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I didn't have anything to say that warranted an entire post. So here - have a pile of little bits of nonsense!!

  • I'm dying of the plague sick and prone to hyperbole at the moment (URGH), and am coughing up a lung on a regular basis as a result. Apparently I sound like a seal when I cough. Awesome... Last night, I was coughing basically non-stop, so I went upstairs to check the basket of medicinal stuff for cough syrup. But all we had was a bottle of paediatric Dimetapp that's about six months past its use by date. I seriously contemplated drinking half the bottle anyway...
  • I don't remember what I used to do for fun before Nikki moved to Australia and bought a mobile phone with the most hilarious predictive text/autocorrect function of all time. According to her phone, Spooks = Spoolp. Rocket science = pocket science. TARDIS = VASEIS. Stuttered = puttuesed. Tins = Thor. Soon = smoo. Flummoxed = flunonyed. 'Roast in the sun' = 'smart in the run'. Plate = slave. Needless to say, it's endlessly entertaining. (And if you know Nikki and I at all, you won't be surprised that our conversations include references to Spooks and the TARDIS!)
  • I've handed in my first uni assignment, and am therefore having panic attacks about whether or not I did the right thing (it was a reflective thing, hence the stressing). Other than the stressing, uni's going well. Although the timetable is kicking my arse. 
  • I've been watching far too much Dawson's Creek for my own good. It makes me feel better about my life, because at least there isn't readily available film footage of me wearing outfits like this:
You're welcome for the bonus Pacey. Also, source.
  • When we were putting together a photo slideshow for my grandmother's funeral a few weeks ago, we needed to burn all the photos to a CD to take to the funeral home. Mum asked me to get one out of the top of a cupboard in the study. When I opened the cupboard, and reached for a CD, she suddenly said "DON'T KNOCK THAT BOX!!" in a really anxious voice. I was all "Um, okay. Why??" "*mumble mumble mumble*" "What?" "Because that's Domino's ashes..." Apparently when the parentals picked up his ashes all those months ago, they didn't want to upset me by discussing what to do with them. So they shoved him in the top of a cupboard with the blank CDs. It's kind of hilarious... (HI MUM!!)
  • I caught up with my BFF Kat, who was in town for her sister's wedding last weekend. There was much drinking of coffee and eating of tiny cupcakes and marvelling over the fact that skinny ties are back in fashion #WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
  • I saw a man wearing a shirt that had a BUILT IN TIE. It started out as grosgrain ribbon around the collar, and then gradually the ribbon wasn't sewn to the front of the shirt any more, and became a tie. It was horrifying.
  • I finally got around to getting my student card, and can now get discount movie tickets until 2014. SCORE! Shame I look like a shiny escaped mental patient in the picture...
What's new with you guys?
K xx

Monday, March 19, 2012

Movie Mondays: Rat Race

A millionty years ago (okay, it was 2001. Whatever), we went on a family holiday to Sydney. On one particular day, it did nothing but pour with rain. So we escaped to the (tiny) local cinema for something to do, and today's offering was the only thing showing. And so it was that we sat in a cinema with about 12 seats, watching a movie on a screen the size of a beach towel and laughing until we cried.
Reasons why Rat Race is awesome:
1. The cast. It's absolutely perfect.
2. The entire premise of insanely rich people betting on stupid stuff, like which flavour of chocolate will come up next in a box.
3. Kathy Bates as the crazy squirrel lady.
4. The bus full of Lucy Ricardo fans (in costume!) on their way to an I Love Lucy convention.
Sadly, this was the best photo I could find. Also, source.
5. Seth Green.
6. It reminds me about the existence of Smash Mouth.
7. Jon Lovitz's character making his daughter poop out the window of the car because they can't afford the time it would take to stop.
8. Rowan Atkinson. The man is a genius.
9. The opening credits.
10. The Barbie Museum and stealing Hitler's touring car.
11. Whoopi Goldberg's hilarious outfit.
12. The scene where the conman brothers try to pull down the airport's radar tower. Using "In the Hall of the Mountain King" as the soundtrack at that point is perfect.
13. John Cleese's ridiculous teeth. Actually, John Cleese full stop.
14. The scene where the kids are jumping on the beds and they collide, knocking themselves out.
15. Dean Cain as Amy Smart's cheating boyfriend.
16. The scene where the bus fills up with foam and all the Lucys are "wah"-ing.
17. Cuba Gooding Jr. stealing the bus driver's clothes by pretending that his wife is having a baby and he needs various items of clothing to catch various things. He needs the bus driver's hat to catch his fictional wife's vagina. Bahahahahahaha. (I'm sorry, but how could I not use that gif??)
18. The dog running off with the transplant heart.
19. The hot air balloon chase.
20. The scene where the Lucys try to change the tyre on the bus and everything goes horribly wrong.
21. Cuba Gooding Jr. breakdancing at the Smash Mouth concert.
22. Siphoning petrol from a police car and telling the cop that the sound is because that Breckin Meyer drank too much coffee...

Plus, the following quotes:
- "I do NOT want to work at HOME DEPOT!!!"
- "Look, a drifter! Let's kill him."
- Regarding the missing transplant heart: "I think I found it!" "No, that's a caramel apple."
- "I think we just killed him!" "You can't kill him, he's like a cockroach."
- "You girls want to buy a squirrel? They make cracker jack pets!"
- "Oh good, a scam! We'll do it!"
- "It's true, you could break your neck. But that's a risk I'm willing to take."
- After his children collide while jumping on the beds: "Oooh, that's gotta hurt. Honey! Kids need you! [runs off]"
- "Is a race, is a race! I'm winning, I'm winning!"
- "I can do anything I like, I'm eccentric!"
- "I'm not giving up. And neither are you. And neither am I!"
- "Where the hell is the airport??????" [plane lands behind them]
- "A SECRET publicity stunt?"
- "We came in a rocket car."
- "So, what's wrong with her?" "Who?" "Your sister. You said it was serious." "Oh, yeah. Shark bite." "Shark bite??" "Yeah..." "And they took her to Silver City [New Mexico]?" "Yeah, they have a really good...shark bite unit there..."
- "Oooh, little cockdoggies!" "They're called cocktail weinies..."

Have you guys seen it? Do you love it as much as I do? Or do you think it's kind of stupid? I'll understand if you do, I promise!
K xx

Sunday, March 18, 2012

30 Days of Photography - Day 16

Oh, hey. Y'all thought I forgot about this again, didn't you? Yeah, I don't blame you - it's been nearly 2 months since I posted day 15 #umWHOOPS

Anyway, last night there were fireworks going on at a park down the road, so I figured I'd head down there with my camera and my tripod and see what I could come up with. You know what's not fun? Spending 10 minutes setting up your camera and tripod and getting everything perfect, only to find that you've pointed your camera in totally the wrong direction. And for some reason, turning the entire tripod around seemed to make much more sense at the time than turning the camera. DO NOT BE LIKE ME.

Still, I managed to get some decent shots (and a lot of really terrible ones). So here's day 16 - long exposure:

I'll try and do better than once every two months from here on in!

K xx

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Diddle dee dee, potatoes

Happy St. Patrick's Day, kids! Hope you're all getting your drink on (if you so desire) and generally enjoying eating food that's been dyed abnormal colours. If you have no idea what the title of this post relates to, check out this video.

Aaaah, Danny Bhoy. I could watch that clip a hundred times and it would still be hilarious. (And yes, I know it's horribly stereotypical. And no, I don't think Irish people actually say "Diddle dee dee, potatoes". Just go with it, 'kay?)

Anyway, over the past few days I kept thinking that I should bake something for St. Patrick's Day. A quick search of Pinterest revealed the following options:
1. Green velvet cake.
2. Guinness cake.
3. Any number of things requiring mint chocolate chips, which are only available in North America.
4. Whisky flavoured stuff.
5. Baileys flavoured stuff.

The third one was out automatically, because of the mint chocolate chip issue. 2, 4 and 5 were out because of BLURGH. And 1 was out because anything that calls itself food and requires an entire BOTTLE of food colouring to make should not exist.

So I kept ending up back at square one. But then I woke up this morning with an epiphany - IRISH CIDER.  Which led me to Googling "cider cupcakes", and I'm pretty sure most of the recipes probably means the American definition of cider (i.e. non-alcoholic), considering they required you to use 3 cups of cider and reduce it. Proper cider is WAY too expensive for that kind of activity, thank you!

Anyway, here's what you'll need for the cupcakes:
Proper Irish cider and everything.

Start by putting 2 teaspoons of baking powder in a bowl:

Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon:

1/2 a teaspoon of salt:

And 1 2/3 cups of plain flour (I used gluten free):

Mix it all together and put it to one side.

Put 125g of softened unsalted butter into a bowl:

Add 2/3 cup of caster sugar, and cream it together:

Then add two eggs, one at a time, and beat in between additions:

Add in about a third of the flour mixture, and mix it in with the beater on low:

Then add in 1/2 cup of cider. The mixture will look REALLY vile when you've added it. Kind of like porridge:
Mmmmm, cider

It's kind of...congealed looking.

Repeat with another third of the flour, another 1/2 cup of cider, and finally the last of the flour.

Scoop it into a muffin tin filled with cupcake liners, and bake at 180 degrees (350 Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine took a little longer, because they're gluten free, and that seems to be the way of things!)

When you take them out of the muffin tin, the bottom of the cupcakes will seem puffy and you'll freak out that there's a layer of uncooked batter in there. Don't be alarmed. They ARE actually cooked. It's just that the combination of the baking powder and the carbonated cider makes them a little...gassy. (TOTALLY makes them seem appetising, right??)

Let them cool, and then ice them as you see fit. I kludged together a cream cheese frosting using 75g unsalted butter, 125g cream cheese, 2 cups icing sugar, and 2 tablespoons cider.

But when I iced the cupcakes, they looked kind of boring.

So I mixed up a thick paste out of icing sugar and water, and added a blob of gel food colouring:
Wheeee, neon!

And piped shamrocks onto the top!

They're pretty delicious, guys. Although I think next time, I'd add 3/4 cup of diced apple to the cake batter to give it that little extra something.

So there you go - St. Patrick's Day cupcakes! What are you doing for St. Patrick's Day?

K xx

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ancient History, Volume V

In early 2006, I was told that my job was being made permanent, but that I wasn't eligible to apply for it because I wasn't already a permanent employee *head explodes* So I went "Screw this, I'm leaving on my terms on a date of my choosing" and booked a plane ticket to the US to see Megan. (And yet, two months after I got back, I ended up back at the same company doing basically the same work. Go figure...)

By this point, Megan was living in Tennessee. My first travel diary entry after arriving includes the genius sentence "Tennessee is quite different to Nebraska." OH MY GOD, REALLY?????? Thanks so much for clarifying that, 23 year old me. One of the most exciting parts of this trip was that I bought my very first digital camera, which means I don't have to search through photo albums and scan stuff. WHEEEE!!!

Ahem. So. We spent a couple of weeks in Tennessee, pottering about and hanging out with people, and almost going to private parties for Dierks Bentley in Nashville. We also went to a bar where this happened:
Megan's housemate: What beers do you have?
Waitress: Oh, a whole bunch!!

Yup. That was about as helpful as she could manage... After those first few weeks, we packed up all our stuff and got on a plane to Washington DC. Our first port of call was the Library of Congress, because Megan was in the middle of her Masters and needed to do research for her thesis.

If you ever get the chance to go to the Library of Congress, TAKE IT. It's gorgeous. And their collection is astonishingly brilliant. </library nerd spiel>

We also visited the Capitol Building (well, the outside at least), where the annual Law Enforcement Officers' Torch Race was happening. There were a LOT of law enforcement officers wearing tiny shorts there. Also on the list of sites were a bunch of Smithsonians, including the National Gallery of Art, the Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum. Back in those days, prior to the Great Washington Earthquake of 2011, you could walk right up to the Washington Monument.

Fascinating, no? We also went to the National Archives where I attempted to take photos of the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and Constitution without the flash. Clearly, I wasn't very good at the whole holding-the-camera-still part...
You can totally read that, right??

You could also get much closer to the White House in 2006 than you could in 2011. See?

We also wandered around all the memorials. Unlike my trip last year, the Reflecting Pool actually had water in it, which was quite exciting. While walking around the Tidal Basin, we saw quite possibly the most unexpected thing I've ever seen in America: PEOPLE PLAYING CRICKET.

Good luck with converting America from baseball, embassy types...

We also had quite the exciting Sunday, which featured TWO churches and a zoo. Did you know there were dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden? I sure as hell didn't. But according to this mosaic on the roof of the National Basilica of something or other, there were. I circled it for you:

Having spent a millionty years at Anglican schools, I felt far more at home in the National Cathedral, where 99% of the decoration was courtesy of stained glass windows. One of which contains space rock:

And the zoo featured a baby panda playing with its own feet. Squeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

And finally, we headed across to Arlington National Cemetery, where we saw all the expected sights and where Megan had to remind me that singing the Adelaide Crows theme song whenever I heard the Marines' Hymn playing was probably not a good idea (same tune, VERY different words)... Despite my inadvertent faux pas, the Iwo Jima Memorial was totally worth seeing (as was the rest of Arlington, really!):

So that was Washington. And as this is already stupidly long, I'm going to divide this trip into instalments. Next up, things get far more interesting when we catch a BUS to Philadelphia. Yeah.........

K xx
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