Archive for April, 2008

Apr 24 2008

What is it you DO here?

Published by under Declan,Fun,Tech,Video

Some days, this is what my job feel like:


found on boingboing

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Apr 23 2008

Best of England Trip Pictures

Published by under Declan,Photography

I went through all of my England Trip pictures and pulled out the best ones:

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Apr 09 2008

Stonehenge or Stonecake?

Published by under Declan,Fun,Photography

As part of this England trip, the bunch of us hopped a train from Southampton to Salisbury, then a cab to Stonehenge:

Oddly enough, it wasn’t even 18″ tall!

By the time I got all the way around, taking way too many pictures (I’ll upload once I’m in a country with bandwidth), all my buddies were gone and I had to take my own picture:

Somehow this image became one containing cake:

Thanks, Viss… 😉

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Apr 09 2008

London Ruminations

Published by under Declan,Fun,Library,Tech

I’m in London right now, actually in a north suburb called Watford. My aunt lives nearby.

I’ve come over for 2 weeks, the first at a work conference called Open Repositories in Southampton. This week I’m on vacation in London, first in Watford, then heading over to Gillingham in Kent tomorrow. I have some cousins there that I haven’t seen in 10 years. Should be a hoot! 🙂

Robert, Chuck, Christian, and Effy joined me at my aunt’s place and just left for home this morning. Part of me would like to be heading home too, but part of me is excited to see the cousins again.

Some random thoughts on the experience so far:

I followed some advice and forced myself to stay up one sleep cycle and acclimate to the local time, arriving at 8:15a and going to bed at a normal 10p. I think that was 36 hours of straight awake time as I couldn’t fall asleep sitting up on the plane. There were some slight hallucinations toward the end of the night, and 5 or 6 blackouts at the pub during dinner, but I awoke the next day fairly rested and ready to take on the conference.

I’d given myself plenty of time to get showered, dressed, and fed, until I discovered that the Jury’s hotel had run out of hot water. BigD don’t roll with the cold shower, so, thankfully, I’d showered the night before in an attempt to stay awake. I was afraid that this was just a normal English thing, but no, a boiler had failed. They got it fixed and there was normal hot water afterward.

The room felt spartan compared to similarly priced American hotels. No real flourishes, just a clean couple of beds and a spare bathroom. Nothing wrong with it, but no charm.

A lot of the toilets here have 2 flushing modes, whoosh and WHOOSH! The flush button is split in two. It takes some experimentation to see which setting does what. I saw something like it in Portland.

Wifi sucks. Well, bad implementation of it sucks. We are SO spoiled at UCSD with the ubiquitous nature of the wifi and how well it is managed. Southampton’s implementation is just… FAIL. Very frustrating, especially when we’d only have about an hour of overlap time with people back home actually being awake while we were online.

Free wifi is findable around town. I could get on fairly reliably within a 15 minute walk from the hotel, which sucked a bit. It was usually at a pub, which didn’t suck so much. The hotel offered wifi in the lobby, or wired access in the rooms, but it was 5 pounds for 4 hours, or 20 pounds for a day.

Speaking of pounds, the exchange rate is murderous. We’re getting less than 2:1. I’m trying not to think about it. But a decent dinner is $50USD. OUCH! Can we get out of Iraq, pls? kthxbai

I’ve visited my aunt before who, by the way, is actually not in the country at the moment but off in India or something, and the feeling this time is different. I’ve been trying to articulate it to myself, hence this long post, but I’m having trouble. Maybe it’s because I’m older, or have traveled more, or I’m jaded, but in the past this place always seemed more otherworldly to me. What does that mean…? I’m not sure I am not as struck by the differences this time as I have been in the past. I still notice all the things that seem odd to me – driving on the wrong side, different ways of saying “common” things like “way out”, the different currency. They just don’t glare like they used to.

Maybe it’s the internet… I’m not feeling so isolated because I touch base with Elaine and other friends in IM and IRC in real time almost every day, if I can find wifi. Maybe this is bad? Maybe there’s some need to separate to be able to fully appreciate a place. With the internet so ubiquitous, it’s difficult to separate though. In fact, it’s quite difficult to operate off the net altogether. I’ve used it to check trains, find restaurants and pubs, and to send back up mails to people I couldn’t find online or with the phone.

Maybe it’s because I came here in a work mode. I find myself skimming work email because it’s easy to do when I’m checking my personal stuff. Heck, some people send personal stuff to my work address. Half of the places we visited in London had a Library focus 🙂 They were still cool though. Yesterday I saw one of the original Magna Cartas and a Gutenberg Bible.

Today I’m just bumming around Bushey and Watford, enjoying the calm after the other four people headed out. They were a very pleasant crew, but that was a small place to jam 5 people into 🙂 Not to mention the one shower and the bout of black plague hitting some of them. Thank goodness, I haven’t gotten sick (/me knocks wood). I’ve got some tidying up to do at my aunt’s, then getting packed up for the visit East tomorrow.

I know this is a bit more rambly than my regular stuff, but hey, it’s a blog! I think I’m supposed to ramble. Ok, here’s one nice picture from last night:

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