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..

21 Nov


Gastroscopy confirmed I have a hiatus hernia but I’ve known that from informed diagnosis for years, so effectively an all clear on the stomach. Hoorah! Wouldn’t recommend it for light relief but with sedation it’s over pretty damned quick and is not too awful. Still
means we have to find causes of pain attacks and stomach pains, but that tends to put the gall bladder/stones back in the firing line.

Then.. following that paragraph, at about 7pm, I had an attack of GI pain. Intense, nasty and barely controllable until I threw caution to the winds and bombarded it with Tramadol and Codeine. Shattered today but still very pleased it’s not anything life threatening.

17 Nov

Free AVG

If your copy of AVG has just offered you a paid upgrade to 7.5 and you just want to carry on using free AVG then this is the link: download and install:


If you don’t use this free anti-virus checker then I have used it successfully for years.

16 Nov


The Tarot Card meme rolls on, I think this is a very odd card for me..

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What’s most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

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.

10 Nov

Tribe 8 and Exalted

Played my first game of Exalted ever on Wednesday. Great, crunchy, lotsa dice, very epic, loved it. Created character for Tribe 8 with gspearing on Thursday night. Dark, apocalyptic, dystopian, and mystical. Really looking forward to it. Did some lecture writing today. It’s Matt’s 16th tomorrow, I hope he has a nice day paintballing.