Monday, February 25, 2008

New line of family tree

After gleaning a bit of seemingly insignificant information from my father last night on the phone I found a whole new section of my family tree! This branch reaches back to a man named Charles Harrison born in England around 1815. I'll be adding some good information based on records effortlessly dug up including an 1880 Census record and a 1910 one. My mom, late step grandmother, and many others have helped uncover my roots. I plan to learn whatever else I can about them and document them.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Toledo downtown... reminiscing


Toledo downtown... reminiscing

What a depressing list of of businesses closing or leaving downtown Toledo. Obviously not a comprehensive list, whats your favorite thing that has disappeared? Mine has to be that Socrates ice cream shop on St Clair. I will always fondly remember the intimate live music venues upstairs at Divas. Oh, and those grinders from Ballacino's across the street!! I remember long club nights and concerts at the Bijou / Asylum / whatever other names it took. Its kind of funny that my wife of 11 years was there one night the same night as I, but we didn't meet and didn't know each other then. I was upstairs with my ears bleeding from Urge Overkill and she was downstairs with all the tearful poetic types with October Project.

The area was at one time an enjoyable place for me to work and hang out. With the two way traffic introduction it got more congested in the mornings and afternoons. In my opinion the number of menacing transients it was constantly rising (especially in and around main branch library). I wonder what it will be like when I come back in 18months?

Ann Arbor sounds better and better all the time...sure they have their share of transients and congestion but they also have the businesses and people to make it worth while!

Today we went back to Chester, shopping and eating a bit in town center. If I were to settle in the northwest of England, that would probably be the town. When I read about towns like Waterville and Toledo being among the best places to live, I cannot even laugh because it hurts to fathom such a thing.

movies rated

Last King of Scotland - Great movie, great story, great acting. Some pretty horrific scenes near the end, not for the squeemish! A young Scotish med school grad goes to Uganda in the 1970's during Amin's coup and period of civil unrest. He naively gets mixed up in affairs that are way over his head. Trouble ensues. 8*

Interstate 60 - Recommended by a colleague, very straightforward story of an american genie granting a wish to an high school graduate. He is character is tempted and tested at every turn of the road trip. Really a simple movie with not great acting or screen play, but a fun story for easy watching. I love the town of Morelaw where everyone is a lawyer, in the background you see an ambulance drive by with a mob frantically chasing it. 6*

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Format wars are over?

It sounds that way, at least for this generation of hi def. I've been noticing more announcements of this type from Gizmodo over the past few months. It sounds like Toshiba will officially announce and pull out support for HD-DVD.

Blueray has won, which I think is bad for most people due to the more expensive production costs and more proprietary nature. I for one, am not looking forward to more years of confusing region encoding woes. But at least I can start thinking seriously about a hi def system and no longer worry about the unsolved format war.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A day in Liverpool

Megan had a day of dancing workshops with her friends today (arabic-flamenco and ATS - american tribal style). We dropped her off in the morning on Lark Lane and then made our way to Liverpool city centre.

I really love the Walker art gallery in Liverpool and would recommend it to anyone. Some refer to it as the "National Gallery of the North" because it is a massive collection. There is a nice area at the start for children to unwind. When they are done playing or making their own masterpieces you can get some clip boards and go on a hunt for certain art works in the galleries using their pre-made maps. They have different themes also so you can always come back again for a different hunt. I like the gallery for the terrific Rennaisance paintings and the sculpture room.

Here are two not so random patrons:

Right next door to the gallery is the central library which is also enormous. Right next to that is the World Musuem which covers natural history and science. It is 5 stories of dinosaur bones, aquairum, Egyption artifacts, interactive geology displays, Asian artifacts, planetarium, and more. It is all very very family friendly and completely free.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Tonight I saw a play in Manchester at the Lowry based on The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. This is a story that I loved reading, like many of Kafka's strange short stories. Megan was meant to go along but alas our daughter fell ill and she stayed behind to look after her. I'll be repaying the favor tomorrow by watching the wee ones while she dances all day at a work shop with her friends.

The stage was split on two levels, the dining room and Gregor's bedroom straight above. His bedroom is oriented so you are looking straight down (e.g. bed is bolted to the back wall for optical illusion). The actor playing Gregor did some really cool athletic things to make it look like he was defying gravity, well, he was actually defying gravity with most of what he was doing!

The performance was amazing and I'm really glad I didn't just give up the tickets.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Yeah, its an action movie about 8 years old and it has Brad Pitt in it so why am I watching it now? A friend recommended it, had my doubts but actually pretty good for the genre. I gave it an 8 on my IMDB list.

I also saw Layer Cake over the weekend which pales in comparison (gave it 5). I may be biased having read Stephen Connolley's book first (which was better than I expected).

Have also picked up with watching Lost season 4, probably the only show on TV I care to watch these days. Top Gear also, sometimes.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birmingham UK

We spent a weekend city break in Birmingham. I've posted a photo set to my flickr account that shows plenty of cool photos around city centre and the Bull Ring shopping area. We spent time in the main art gallery both days, attended the Chinese new year kickoff in Chinatown, and walked through plenty of the markets and posh shopping.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Another year in the United Kingdom

Many family and friends know, but for those who don't, I'm going to be working in UK for a further year. So as much as I miss reading the uplifting news as published in the Blade every day and resounding from the AM radio waves of WSPD, I've got to forge forward and see as many cool European cities and museums and parks and ???? as I can. We'll most likely move back to Toledo in July 2009.

But seriously, we are missing family and friends many of whom have taken the opportunity to come to the UK and see us, and then let us show them around. For those who haven't, get that passport ready and give us a shout!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Whats up with me? Random thoughts...

Posts have been sparse lately for a reason... have been quite busy upon return from the states and what spare time I do have I've been planning out our next trips. What spare time I don't have I've been depriving sleep and watching a few movies. TV and movies are not something I see much of, people who know me can attest. Thats why when there is one on I get strangely hypnotised and cannot in good faith carry on a conversation with someone when one is on.

Anyways, in the month of January I saw several good movies which I've added to my vote history at IMDB.

I read the book L4yer Cake and will be watching the movie this weekend. Before that I read the books Chasm City by Allistar Reynolds and Roots by Alex Haley.

Last weekend we celebrated my son's birthday and also went to the Lowry in Manchester for family fun day.

I've been loosely following the US primaries and am very pleased to see McCain moving ahead. I voted for him in 2000 in the primaries and feel he can do a good job for the country. I wouldn't mind seeing a minority or a female in the white house, but not for that reason alone. I wouldn't support a move towards national health care or more social entitlements, especially after living in UK for a while.

In a few weeks time we'll be visiting Buxton and the Peak District. After that I'm planning a two week trip around Scotland. In may I'm considering Norway. The family will be quite busy this spring!!