It is a while since I have done a review of anything and I feel a couple of them coming on…

This one is sort of appropriate really. It’s about Avatar.

Avatar the Movie. And just in case you didn’t hear of it yet, it is not about JMB, me, or Second Life.

No this, as I guess you must know, is a movie.

Now before I say anything else at all I simply must say that if you ever plan, or think you might plan, to see this movie… pleeease don’t wait till it comes out on DVD, or goes to TV. If you are ever going to see it then go see it in 3D at a movie theatre on the big screen, preferably at an I-Max.

This movie is an absolute visual feast. The Graphics are truly marvelous, beautiful, stunning. Acknowledgments to the movie for the stills used here.

I can still see some of the night time forest scenes. They are etched on my imagination. It was all so real, especially in 3D. It was pitched perfectly. I did duck once…

The only way I know there must have been Graphics involved, is that there are no forests like that and no creatures like that here, because I could not tell for sure otherwise.

The only other option to my mind is conspiracy theory territory. Maybe it is all real somehow. Maybe Pandora really is out there… I should maybe check that out with Elvis, I am pretty sure he runs the local burger joint ^_^

Ok, so back to the review. The main hero is an ex marine, Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington) who has spinal damage and is paralysed from the waist down.

The Movie is set entirely on location on Pandora. It is a habitable moon of a gas giant that orbits another star.

Pandora is absolutely teeming with exotic life. One of the species are the humanoid Navi pronounced Naah-vee. They kind of remind me of exotic Neko. There is a strong hint of pre-Columbian Native American, about them, or perhaps Zulu.

Here is a neat idea, all Pandoran life has a sort of built in biological USB cable that can interface with other animals and also plants, That allows them a sort of telepathy.

An Earth corporation (Boo! Hiss!) is mining for minerals (the unimaginatively named wait-for-it Unobtanium) on Pandora and the mother lode is right under a native settlement..

Meanwhile Sigourney Weaver or Dr Grace Augustine has invented this way of mixing human DNA with the Navi and growing the Human/Navi look alike bodies in tanks. This has to be done individually for each human. Then they somehow tune the body’s brain to the human and sort of download them into the body becoming an Avatar..

Our hero Jake is the twin brother of a scientist who was on the project and has been killed. So they want him to drive the Avatar. This easily beats being in a wheelchair and he jumps at the chance.

On one of his first outings he gets separated from the group he is protecting, loses his weapons and gets left behind. He is alone in a dangerous jungle. Just when it looks like his goose is cooked he runs into Neytiri, a native, daughter of the chief.

Now if I say much more then it might spoil things so I will stop there.

I will say if a guy wants to take you to see it then go see it, even if you don’t think it is your sort of thing, make sure he buys you chocolate to eat while you watch as it is quite long, but do go.

In fact if you don’t get invited then think about inviting someone to go with you as a treat

…and go anyway.



These California sea lions bulky enough for you? They are for me and these fellows were sunning themselves on some floating docks in San Diego harbour when we took a harbour tour last year. It is pretty amazing to me that they can lift all that bulk out of the water and onto the dock but they do manage with relative ease. Click to see a little more detail, if you wish.


Every year my daughter and her family visit one of the sets of “grandparents” for Christmas and so we were fortunate to have them spend ten days with us over the holiday period this year.

They do come at least once a year so my six year old granddaughter already had a list of places she wanted to visit while they were in Vancouver.

“Nanna, when are we going to Granville Island?” Several of her favourite places are there, including the Kids Market and the “rock shop” or the Crystal Ark where she fills a plastic bag with tumbled rocks of her choice. I’m afraid that she is no longer satisfied with the small bag. So far the medium one is satisfactory but I am sure she will be graduating to the large one soon.

“Nanna, when are we going on the little train?” This is the miniature train which runs year round in Stanley Park but the route is decorated with lights and wonderful displays for the Christmas season, more formally known as Bright Nights.

“Nanna, do they have Build a Bear in Vancouver?” Well they surely do, although this involved a trip to a far-off mall I am not familiar with. The beaver was her choice but my 43 year old daughter just had to have the Canadian bear and she bought a Mountie outfit for him as well. She called him Trudeau, after our charismatic Prime Minister of the late sixties to the early eighties, a slightly more dignified name than Woody, the choice for the beaver!

Woody and Trudeau

A family tradition in our house when my children were young was that the stocking could be opened first then the gifts were opened after church. My granddaughter was quite happy to go along with this now that she is 6 and what’s more she insisted on us waiting for her uncle to arrive before we could touch a thing under the tree except the stockings. Luckily he came right after we returned.

Stockings are serious business!

A big hit this year was the gingerbread house I bought for her at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. The students made them, with all the proceeds going to the local children’s hospital. I think it was supposed to be a circus tent but I called it the Yurt. We dove into it right away but it did last a long time and we ended up discarding the last of the base which had become more like concrete than gingerbread. Sorry the photo is not brilliant but it turned out to be not so easy to photograph.

Gingerbread House

Now they have returned to their own home and lives. They survived the new restrictions for flying into the USA, which of course were not effect when they travelled here. This adds an extra hour to the check in and now that hand luggage is so severely restricted those overhead bins are quite empty. The six year old was not allowed her tiny backpack with her books and games so lucky they were going on the red eye flight. Her parents were forced to carry their laptops in their hands as their laptop bags had to be checked. So many people were muttering, clutching their laptops in their hands but they were not allowed the battery chargers. Of course those checking in for the BA flight to London had no such restrictions which made everyone ever crosser. There were 15 security people at the gate alone, even after the previous check everyone had gone through and they were thoroughly patted down. The pleasures of flying these days!

The grandparents have resumed their quiet lives and all the toys have been put away until they return to visit again in the summer. Trudeau was left behind till then since there was simply no room for him in the suitcases but I will take good care of him till then.

The first photo above was taken at a trip to the beach and this was a treasure she found. Of course it had to be recorded, “Nanna, take a photo!” was the imperious demand. I always used to think that a four year old was the “perfect” child but I think a six year old might be even better!

I guess if you read some of my posts… Hi Mom… you will know I like pop music.

Probably no one who hasn’t lived in the UK at some time will really have all that much awareness of this, but getting UK the Christmas #1 song is quite a big thing. It makes the news.

For the last few years the TV Pop talent show winners have had the Christmas #1 pretty much sewn up. They are screened perfectly for the winner to have a hit on the publicity the show generates at Christmas.

The winner of the X-Factor show Joe McEdlerry released a cover of Miley Cirus’ “The Climb”. It looked like it would be that way this year too…

…until Jon Morter from the County of Essex started a Facebook campaign called “Rage Against the Machine for Christmas No 1” to get Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the name” to #1 instead of the X-Factor song.

It is a ‘least likely to be Christmas #1’ type song with the lyric “F#[& you, I won’t do what you tell me.”

Rage Against the Machine added their support to the campaign by promising to donate their royalties from the song to go to support the homeless. They also promised to do a ‘thank you’ gig in the UK next year, if the campaign was successful.

It worked too! I have to confess even I downloaded it and I really don’t like it much at all. And I quite like Miley Cirus’ version of “The Climb”.

Probably the publicity gained extra sales for both tracks and it will make the lives of homeless people a little better.

When Jon Morter was told the campaign worked after an exclamation he said “I think it just shows that in this day and age, if you want to say something, then you can – with the help of the internet and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. If enough people are with you, you can beat the status quo.”

My personal Christmas chart?

Replay by Iyaz
All this time (Pick-me-up song) by Maria Mena
This is the Life by Amy McDonald
No other one Tao Cruz
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
Untouchable by Taylor Swift
Shark in the water by VV Brown
Summer Wine by VitoValo & Natalia Avelon
Undeniable by Katelyn Tarver

And so ends 2009, the third year of this blog, although it seems I have been running out of things to say here recently and posts have been sparse. Maybe in the New Year I will be more inspired. I hope you won’t mind me repeating much of last year’s post and even the year before’s.

I said this last year and it still remains so true I’m will repeat it. You, my blog friends, have all enriched my life in so many ways. You’ve challenged my mind with your posts, you’ve helped me with my tech problems, you’ve taught me so much about your different worlds, you’ve entertained me with your humour. Some of you have shared your poetry and stories and your beautiful paintings and photographs. You’ve welcomed me into your lives and shared your innermost thoughts and I am grateful to each and every one of you.

I wish you all health, happiness and prosperity for 2010 and being half Scottish, I’ll close with the words of Rabbie Burns in Auld Lang Syne and make a toast (non-alcoholic, of course) to you all.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

or for the linguistically challenged English speakers

And there is a hand, my trusty friend!
And give me a hand of yours!
And we will take a right good-will drink,
For old long past.

Eddi Reader, Scottish singer/songwriter, in a very different version of Auld Lang Syne

NB: Words and translation from the World Burns Club

The Adoration of the Magi
Fra Angelico and Fillipo Lippi
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

To everyone who is celebrating this feast, may I wish you and your families a very Happy and Holy Christmas.

From Handel’s Messiah the wonderful chorus, For unto us a child is born.

Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus

The baking is done, sort of. The presents are wrapped, sort of. The tree is up and the crèche is out with the house decorated in a festive way. The Christmas stockings are ready to be filled by Santa JMB who has so much stuff she will never be able to get it all in.

Yes, I make the same ones every year!

This year my daughter and her family have come to stay with us for Christmas and we will have the delight of my six year old granddaughter sharing Christmas with us. We will be nine for Christmas dinner at my house as we celebrate with longstanding friends and family.

I love poinsettias for they remind me of Australia and
right now I have ten in my house!

So far we have no snow thank goodness. Last year’s massive snowfall which kept us snowbound for five days over Christmas is still in our memories and we are not ready to deal with that again. I will be happy to have a rainy one which is the norm, but they are predicting a nice day this year.

In keeping with Miss Mogg’s post I will also post a few photos I took in Second Life and the Christmas card I sent to all my SL friends. Click to enlarge!

I decorated my log cabin in SL and even have snow!

I built a little snow family on the front boardwalk.

A reindeer came to warm itself by the firepit too

Brrr! Back inside to warm myself by the fire.

Christmas greeting from the JMB in Second Life

But in real life, may I wish all the many blog friends I have made over these past three years, if you are celebrating it,