16 Mar

Antwerp

Just been to Antwerp for a pretty good conference on inter modal freight. Antwerp is a much nicer city than Brussels, but gosh it is so dusty and dirty! All the buildings are shabby and the total lack of cleanliness is quite depressing. Brussels is also pretty grubby, I do wonder if it is a Belgian trait? A Belgian colleague did once suggest that the Belgians spend their money inside the home and not outside. Mind you, many British cities are not much better.

I have been watching the excellent Ghost in the Shell 2nd GIG, and now I am on a Thalys train watching the first series of the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

31 Jan

Helsinki January 2007


Helsinki January 2007
Originally uploaded by tzunder.

Arrived in Helsinki on a Finnair flight on which there were at least 6 people from the company Ann and I used to work for. I had a nice trip chatting to my old boss, we used to have some ups and downs in the old days but I have a lot of respect for him. Not that I wholly chatted, I also read up on the work I am doing here in Finland.

To that end I am here, in my hotel room, working on the Mac and I thought I’d take a pic just to show how utterly vile the weather is out there. It’s not as cold as usual, and they’ve had a mild winter, but it’s grim enough for me!

29 Jan

Helsinki, Giant Spiders and Flickr

I am getting ready for Helsinki, but my belly button hurts so I am going to see the doctor this afternoon. We have almost completed resubmitting the EPSRC bid, and all I have to do it fit a week’s work rewriting a work package for a project into 24 hours.. piece of piss!

I am reading an old (1991) [a href=”http://www.flyingbuffalo.com/catalyst.htm”]Flying Buffalo[/a] book of roleplaying scenarios, and am quite intrigued at how poor layout was before proper computers, and also how the adventures have been quite cunningly written to both conform to the old hack and slay dungeon delving paradigm whilst still leaving a window to roleplay your way through them all with a minimum of violence and a maximum of interaction. Even the giant spiders have an agenda and can be parleyed with. Mind you I do like some tactical combat as well, so don’t think I’m all good.

On flickr I have admired some of the 365 Days project work. Essentially you take a picture of yourself every day for a year. Some are as mundane as you might expect but some are astonishingly inventive and clever. It looks to me as though the women are the most inventive, and also in the majority in this group. Some you can barely believe are self portraits, although I do know how they can be done, a tripod and remote release is helpful! I don’t know if I could do this, I am just not very nice to look at 365 days a year!

One thing I shall try and do this week is finish the Religions chapter for Gwenthia and maybe even configure the Joomla site I have parked at www.gwenthia.com

02 Jan

Matt at Pier A, Battery Park, New York, 2006

This was a very cold and miserable Boxing Day and we hopped on the Subway, 1 line, and zoomed down to Battery Park to take a Harbour cruise. It was fine as a cruise but the guide, Arthur, was hilariously crap. He was incomprehensible, ungrammatcial, historically and factually inaccurate, kept referring to small drawings in his hand that no-one could see and emotionally fragile.

Some classics:

“911 was the first time the US has been attacked on home soil by a foreign nation..” If you don’t see why that’s stupid on at least two levels I refer you to the Burning of the Whitehouse in the 1812 War, and which nation was it that attached the Twin Towers, exactly?

“The Brooklyn Bridge is named after Roebling..” Well the Roebling family certainly built it.. or did they?

“The Brooklyn Bridge was built by a cable..” Ah, not the Roeblings, and why is it called the Brooklyn Bridge then?

“An Archipelago is an island surrounded by water..” As opposed to an island surrounded by jam?

“Many people aspire to leave Brooklyn and make it big in Manhattan, I know I have dreamed of leaving.. Barry Manilow.” Does Barry know?

“On 9/11, after the accident..” So they didn’t mean to do it? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay and all that has been a terrible mistake?

“1/12th of all the world’s gold is stored here, under the ocean.” The fact that he then said that there were 12 federal reserve banks perhaps suggests where he was coming from but not where he was going to..

“No-one builds anything in New York anymore. Not cars, not newspapers, well yes newspapers, but nothing else..” This was as we passed a construction site so maybe he was getting manufacture and build confused?

I could go on but most of the rest would be sheer nonsensical use of English that would look poor even in a book. I just felt so sorry for the poor Asians and tourists who either didn’t understand a word he said, or even worse, did understand the words and absorbed some of the sheer rubbish he was talking..

Ah well, he said that a recent cruiser, a Manhattan native, said he’d learnt more in the 40 minute cruise than in the last 40 years, I do hope he forgets it all again soon..

27 Dec

Times Square, Xmas, 2006


Times Square, Xmas, 2006
Originally uploaded by tzunder.

Well this is how we spent our Christmas Day, exploring New York City and enjoying ourselves, the rickshaw ride round Central Park was great. We spent Boxing Day exploring the stores all along Fifth Avenue from the new Apple Store and FAO Scwartz toy shop at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth (Central Park bottom south east corner) down via Saks, the Rockerfeller Center. We have up about ten blocks north of the Empire State. I am quite unwell with a migaine today but Ann and Matt have gone to do the Statue of Liberty tour on a boat. I am feeling better now so I shall go and meet them, maybe at the Empire State. I’ve been pretty good on not buying too much stuff, but Matt is lobbying hard for a laptop.

26 Dec

Update from NYC


We went to the Radio City and I have to say it was great. Utterly USA Christmas fun with a sense of tradition dating back to 1925. Some great mass chorus line dances, and a feel of the great 1930s and 1950s films from Hollywood. I loved it, although the shortness of the show (90 minutes) was a surprise.

We then walked home through some fairly torrential rain, but it was rather romantic with the lights from Times Square reflecting in the rain slicked streets. I think we’re shopping today in the sales. Ironocally I bought myself an iPod nano at Heathrow and it was cheaper than buying it here..

25 Dec

Merry Christmas from NYC

Here we are in Manhattan, NY. We decided that given our annus horribilis we’d not do Christmas but rather go travelling. So, here we are in the Big Apple. We flew over on Virgin Atlantic. The entertainment system failed utterly on our three seats, which upset Matt a lot, and we were offered ‘compensation’ which actually was useless sales come ons like ‘10% off any published fare’, like anyone pays the published fare? I must get my act together and complain later, but actually I spent the flight playing ‘Breath of Fire II’ on the Nintendo DS so I kinda didn’t care.. but on behalf of Matt I’d better do my duty. Actually it’s a very good example of annoying through inadequate response.. if Virgin had simply apologised sincerely I’d be minded to let it go, but by offering such a barbed and insincere ‘compensation’ in a preprinted leaflet that they had hundreds of copies of..

The hotel is a Holiday Inn on 57th Street West and is in need of some major refurbishment but we’ve got used to the slightly musty smell and are starting to relax and have a good time. We met up with my good friend and colleague in logistics research yesterday and had a great meandering insiders tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn that you only can get from someone who grew up here. I’d never have walked over Brooklyn Bridge, but it is a great experience and offers some great views. We then explored DUMBO “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”, a warehouse district in full flood of gentrification before admiring some awesome views of Manhattan at night and then having a great evening eating, explaining Hannukah to my son and discussing politics and film with my friend’s federal judge husband.

Today we go to see the Radio City Rockettes show, a New York razzamattaz show that I suspect will be full of schmaltz and saccharine kitsch, I just can’t wait..

Off for breakfast at a diner.. I love New York..

13 Nov

Stomach Woes and Belgium

Stomach hurts. Found out I have dual referrals at the local hospital running in parallel, one for surgery and one for medicine! I shall leave both alone, and when I see the surgeons tomorrow I shall let them know. I do hope my problem is easy to solve and not something awful. I am in Brussels most of this week, at a new project launch. I have felt more alive today than most of the year. I am tired now but it was a great feeling.

28 Aug

Shrewsbury Folk Festival

Just had a fun weekend with Steve and Tree at Shrewsbury Folk Festival. We didn’t like the fact that our campsite was a very long work from the festival site, we did like the town, we didn’t like the dreadful weather, we did like the New Rope String Band.

I went shopping and bought Ann some new miniature shoes to collect from a ‘vintage’ shop, and I bought a Zeiss Ikon Nettar from an antique shop for ten pounds, a result. Let’s see how the roll of film I put through it comes out!

24 Jul

Ring Of Friends at Guilfest


Ring Of Friends
Originally uploaded by tzunder.

That’s Ann, Neil, Pam, Jackie, Dave, Steve and Tree.. I love this picture. I am going to use my Lomo Fisheye to take such pictures whenever and however I can. I did turn the flash on if you have this camera and want to try it, you need the flash to fill in the shadows. (The camera has a black area in flash mode where the lens blocks the flash, but in daylight this isn’t obvious)