I think I've blogged about this sort of thing before, but as I'm frustrated I'll go again. I'm sitting in Starbucks in Glasgow irritated at stupid middle class people being rude. It's a disease in Glasgow that I always forget - people with a little money thinking they are better than everyone. It's something I've only ever found in Glasgow, although I know it is quite common in mainland China also (not to me, but others locally).


Scenario- busy Starbucks, benches that face out onto the street. Benches sit 3 people. Young girl sitting there (around 16) on rightmost seat. Not wanting to appear a dirty old man, I ask if the leftmost seat is taken. She stops for a second and says 'yes' (of course not followed by 'sorry'). I turn around and luckily there is another seat that's just become vacant. I'm facing her, mother (poorly dressed, House of Fraser Sale Bag - such a stereotype). Well, that fictitious person occupying the seat still hasn't arrived yet. That really does irritate me at the level of rudeness.

Now to plot my revenge.... I've just spotted a homeless person outside on the street, I'm thinking of nipping out and offering her £20 just to come in an sit beside them as I know that would so piss them off.

Frustrated of (currently) Glasgow.

Woke up early. I'm bored already !, nothing open, very little to do. I guess a day of DVDs and paperwork awaits. I guess tomorrow won't be any better..

Well that's the one decent shop in Cambridge (well okay, apart from the Apple Store) closing today.


I'll really miss:
  • Magazines - easily the best magazine selection in the UK including US magazines (which contrary to popular belief aren't just books full of ad's).
  • Opening times - sensible opening times targeting the '50 quid bloke', the ability to actually buy something sensible in Cambridge after 5:30PM.
  • Staff - overall really good staff. One of the few places in Cambridge that wouldn't p*** me off within 10 seconds of walking into the place (although the recession has helped in filtering bad attitudes out).
I won't miss the frustrating computer system that all bookshops seem to have, whereby if they need to search for details of a book they seem clueless and you have to pull out the iPhone and go onto Amazon to get details !

Woke up this morning early and decided to head into London. I've been meaning to go shopping for some time (it feels so long since I've been in the west end). Of course this is a serious of error of judgement traveling on a day where there is bad weather (flurry of snow = bad weather in the South East), also the Saturday before Xmas. Thankfully I'll arrive in the city before 9AM so should avoid the rush. Probably the tube will be down due to staff not being able to get into work, which of course brings down the entire public transport system.

In the waiting room in Cambridge as my train to London is delayed due to 'signalling difficulties'. That's 'new' British Rail speak for 'frozen points'. So, they can run trains in the cold in Switzerland on time, why can't they do it in the UK. Maybe they should give SBB (the Swiss railway) a call ?

As usual waiting room full of Cambridge people (no surprise), the 'Breadsticks and Hummus brigade' (that's my speak for new-age family that think stopping their kids from shouting stifles their creativity, whilst most of us find it bloody annoying, I find these people so selfish). Never mind I'll be on the train from Kings Lynn soon where I'll meet the 'Calpol and Turkey Nugget' brigade.
Of course there are some things that always cheer you up at Cambridge station, such as the array of tourists taking pictures of absolutely everything. Departure boards are my favourites. I often wonder if they take pictures of the toilets also ? (if only to show how backward British loo's are since they don't have electronics built into them).

Spotted this the other day at the station:

Health & Safety gone mad - telling people to be careful when drunk on the platform !

I love when it snows. Of course there is the usual inconvenience factor (such as the whole of England shutting down when there is a flurry of snow) which lead to the classic nonsense excuses for not being able to do things. What I like especially is how uniform and clean everything looks (at least in the first few hours).

Last night in the village when I decided to go out and get some supplies (hot drinks and cakes):


New house this morning (the best picture I could take so far given the garden hasn't fully set yet):

Tomorrow bright and early, looking forward to it as I haven't been for such a long time. Hopefully some good food and views..

Today was one of those days when things seemed to click. Well, it didn't start well. Woke up at 6AM, reviewed yesterdays touch-up painting- yes it was a darker shade so I now had leopard spots in the walls- disaster. Had shower, went downstairs and noticed the roof was dripping.

After I had a coffee to cheer myself up was writing e-mail to developer to have someone out to fix the plumbing. Then doorbell goes- it's the developer ! (arrived to fix one of the lights in the bollards outside the entrance to the house). He looked at the plumbing and called someone, also provided me with some of the correct paint for the walls.

Spent today catching up on high priority tasks for work (good), cleared all personal chase up things (lots of calls to make), made nice dinner, caught up with friends. Sat tonight in the living room clearing paperwork listening to Classic FM on my new Pure Sensia radio.

All in all a good day ! Paris Wed/Thu- good food and a nice train journey :).

I've had a small wooden box of CDs in the house for about 10 years now. I hadn't realised (until today) that I hadn't imported them into iTunes. Well, what I have been missing - easily the largest set of 5* ratings in a group of CDs that I have. Actually, I need to spend much more time sorting my music out - a good collection of CDs spanning make to ca. 1990 when I bought my first (proper) CD player with money earned working during school holidays. iTunes tells me that I have 17099 tracks (57 days of solid music).


Probably the best find of the day was a CD containing random 70's music that I recall came free with a magazine. I do love the Dave Allen theme tune:



Is it:

  • The weather (cold and raining),
  • The culture shock (back to the UK)
  • The fact that it's so bloody difficult to get anything done here (1.5hrs on the 'phone to BT)
  • End of year tired (like usual)
  • Jetlag / lack of sleep (which is the case)
Or maybe all of the above ? I'm feeling down and unmotivated right now. I need to pull out of it- which I know I will- but it takes time.....

Arrived back home yesterday morning, of course usual mess trying to buy tickets (office was closed even though trains were running). Got back at around 7:30AM (strange experience on train with someone who obviously was 'high' offering to help me with my bags).


Decided I needed some home cooked food, so picked up joint of ham and some vegetables from local shops. One thing I like about the new house is having some of the best butchers and fruit/veg shops in Cambridge. Made some soup (Scottish recipe) and some cooked meet for early lunch. By 2:30PM I was whacked and decided to get a few hours sleep. Next thing I know it's 1AM and I'm wide awake. Melatonin doesn't seem to have worked so I've just decided to catch up on post, online stuff, etc.

I'm feeling pretty down right now. I don't know whether it's just the change of scene, things at work, or jetlag. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow.

Lots of pics to post from travels. Really wanted to post as I moved from city-city, but so busy (4hrs sleep each night) and also blogger being blocked in China didn't help the last week.

In Shanghai now, arrived late last night from HK. I always forget how polluted Shanghai is, so when I arrived late night (foggy) I was surprised at just how bad things were. On a positive note, managed to win the the bet with the person I was travelling with that we be in our repsective beds by midnight (made it by 2mins).

The past 2 weeks have been pretty manic with lots of travel, late dinners, meetings, conversations. I'm presenting late this afternoon, the slides are done, so taking this time to catch up with things now - such a backlog of e-mail and things on my to-do list. I've also quite a few funny pics and stories so I'll blog more later (Blogger doesn't connect in my hotel and I can't be bothered setting up VPN on the Mac so they'll have to wait until a little later).

Right, back to the e-mail...

One of the big things I really like about travelling in Asia is the quality of service you (usually) get, particularly in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan- China hasn't really got used to the service thing yet. When you travel a significant amount and spend a lot of life on flights and in hotels you really do appreciate good quality service, more specifically the little touches.

It's amazing, for example, the difference an Asian cabin staff makes compared to a European one. Little things, like a smile or passing remark (Virgin cabin staff post-security after landing talking to me and telling me to have a nice trip) really do make a difference. I've boarded flights before tired and in a bad mood due to an earlier event and come off a 12hr flight feeling relaxed and in a good mood just because of tiny little things. Other examples are in HK being brought a choice of reading material when they notice you are alone and have nothing to read.

A couple of things that happened today are examples of how good it gets:

Cathay Pacific Flight (Seoul to Taipei)
Having breakfast (excellent as usual). I must admit I was a little surprised to be passed this at 9:25AM (or 8:25AM at my destination):


I almost felt I had to have a glass just for the sake of it ! Anyways, digressing. I had a croissant with a side of honey (very nice combination, must try again). Later on, the attendant came round again and offered bread, I picked another croissant. After a couple of minutes she comes back with a side of honey. That just would never happen in Europe, you'd be asked for bread choice and that's what you'd get - they'd never bother to look at your sides and actually replenish them automatically without even asking.

Taiwan Post Office
So I decided that my bag was too full (and slightly overweight) so decided to offload some stuff at the post office and send back. Of course there's the added requirement of the likelihood of making purchases in HK requiring space in my case (I know myself all too well). Arrived at the Taipei office and enquired about sending some stuff, turns out the post office was very nearby. Discussion goes as follows:

Craig: Okay, so we need to send this stuff. Do you have a box ?
Office Manager: Why do you need a box ?
Craig: To post it in
OM: They will supply a box
Craig: Okay, what about pen and sellotape ?
OM: The service is pretty good in Taiwan

So we arrive at the Post Office. The guy comes over and starts helping us, provides a box, packs my stuff (way better than I would of course do), sellotapes up the box. Job done. I did feel a little guilty being the 'foreigner in the queue' keeping everyone behind me. However, superb service.

As I'm waiting, I start to look around and spot something (apologies for poor image, but taken on Blackberry and very quickly to avoid looking stupid):

Craig: What are the glasses for, do they sell them ?
OM: For old people
Craig: ??
OM: Well they can't see well and use the post office often, so there are glasses to help them

Does it really get any better than that ?

Distaste, in an otherwise very tasteful country
I must admit I've never found anything in Japan that I'd describe as 'tacky'. Yes, lots of flashing lights and noises, but it is actually quite relaxing. Therefore, imagine my shock when I spotted this at the the duty free:

video

WTF ? Yes, it's a plastic dog that you plug into your USB port and it pretends it is trying to have 'relations' with your computer ! Why ? I particularly like the slogan "USB meets love".

What always surprises me about this stuff is that there are actually factories in the world that manufacture stuff like this (given the setup and design costs).

Busy trip
I spent much of the days in Japan getting about 5hrs sleep each night. Socialising with people from work is commonplace (in particular with people I know as I used to visit very often). I did get the opportunity to chat with people and also experience some great food so I'm not complaining. However, at lunchtime today in Korea a colleague did remark "you look very tired", I guess the trip (plus things on my mind) takes its toll.

Had a great day Saturday, excellent steak for lunch in a really nice environment with good company. Finally went to Akihabara for a wander (lucky me didn't buy anything and didn't really get excited about the prospect of a 'Maid Cafe'). Saturday night had a walk in the park (Japanese parks don't close at dusk), wandered round Shibuya just soaking up the energy. These trips often give me time to reflect on things (which isn't always a good thing) so being in a hectic environment is good for me at times lack that.

Reminder to self- next time use local airports, especially when there is no space left in Business on the international airport flights !

Gadget Inventory
Rest assured wallet was hit ! I've decided to create a full inventory at the end of the trip (if only to punish myself on how much I spent). So far it's been cables, computers, stationary, just have to avoid HMV in HK and electronics stores in Taiwan and I should be good.

Arrived in Seoul (more on that later) yesterday. However, upon arriving in my room tonight, spotted this in the corner (added):

Are they trying to tell me that I need to exercise ?!


Last week spent in Japan (in Korea now but been super busy). Had an excellent time- best trip for a long time. I guess in part it was delivering a talk that was already prepared (unlike the usual where I'd be writing the slides on the flight over) and also got a chance to have good dinner most evenings and walk around for a change. Spent some time with great people, made me realise even ore that I miss going to Japan (as I don't get the opportunity as much as I used to).

Food Inventory
I love the way food is cooked in Japan, attention to detail is of course key (and ingredients are very good quality). The negative thing for me (but positive of course for everyone else) is that I don't eat seafood of any more- in short if it lives in water I don't eat it - if it comes from the land I eat it (probably too much ).

Lots of beef consumed, including excellent dinner in Yokohama at famous 'port' restaurant, shabu-shabu, and best of all excellent steak on Saturday. Also tried raw liver for the first time- it tastes much better than cooked liver !

Travel
What can I say - a total dream traveling. What I love about Japan is that it's the little things that they pay attention to that makes me smile given the attention to detail.

Some examples...

In the UK on a train your luggage would be sliding all over the place. In Japan, the luggage racks have barriers and also locks- such a simple concept but makes such a difference ! Here's my 'case nicely tucked away.


Proper lines for walkways catching the train - no messing around trying to figure out where the train is going to alight:


I think this user guide at the back of seats really typifies the level of detail people go to- look at the baby room !

Now onto the actual train itself. I'm sure the barrier sliding along is perfectly in synch with the training arriving. Even the train arrival is ultra slick:

video

Contrast this to a train I recently was on going to Sheffield in the UK (where the only suits on that train were 'shell suits').


Actually I remember the first time I ever had to travel on one of these single carriage trains form Ipswich to Cambridge. I asked one of the staff at the platform when the other part of the train was going to come, only to be told "this is it sir" !

Of course I find maps and the train stations totally bewildering:


It feels like I just got back and I'm on the road again. I'm writing this on the train to the airport, this time for a 3 week trip in Asia on a seminar track.

Here's where I'll be going:

* Tokyo (spending weekend there, gadget inventory expected to be high)
* Seoul
* Taipei / Hsinchu
* Hong Kong (stopover at weekend)
* Beijing
* Shanghai
* Shenzen

The good news is that for all the places, save for Tokyo, I have a set of common (own) slides to present (just a few tweaks). For Tokyo I was hurriedly capturing (using Snapz Pro X on the Mac - great app) the video of what I had to talk about (from a talk in San Jose a few weeks earlier). It just finished post-processing (thankfully) about 2 minutes before I left home ! Thankfully I have a 12hr flight to rehearse the presentation in time for a rehearsal tomorrow.

I'm really looking forward to this trip. Seminar trips are always good (though tiring) as you get to travel with a similar group of people for much of the journey. I'm sure I will come back in a really good (positive) mood like I always do, likely with the wallet a little lighter due to gadget purchases (HK always dangerous).






Today's travel has been a misery, but thankfully I knew that in advance so minimised the stress with planning. I have the option to have a car take me to the airport, but I hate that as it's inefficient, uncomfortable, and wastes time (can't use computer easily and always stuck in traffic). Public transport is a much better option- when it runs that is !

No it's not leaves on the line (as they have a new Leaves on the Line timetable). First Capital Connect drivers have gotten religious fever and decided that Sunday is a day of rest. Therefore there are no trains into Kings Cross from Cambridge today. And no, I really do not want to take a bus from Cambridge to London. If I wanted to take a bus, I'd go to the bus station.

At the station there were of course the usual 6+ uniformed staff standing around checking tickets and not doing very much. I reckon my ticket price is at least £1 higher to pay for these people adding absolutely no value whatsoever to the travel experience. What's the point of having an automated ticket barrier, but having 3 people standing beside it ? I guess it's a carry over from the former BR days. Shame none of the staff were multi-lingual since there was the usual raft of visitors looking totally confused at why a G8 country can't run a train service on a Sunday. In short, total and utter joke.

What irritates me the most is that there is a recession on, but people providing a service to the public seem to think they are immune to it. So far, it's trains and post, I predict it's going to get worse over the next 6 months. Right, I'll stop as I sound like a Daily Mail editor.

Usual carnage on the London Underground due to Engineering works. Think I'll just take a taxi from Liverpool Street to Paddington as I can't be bothered with a change on the tube (no doubt with a very long set of stairs, stuck behind a group of tortoises all walking in parallel).

Sorry for the lag of blogging recently. I've been so busy with the house move and travel for work (about to go another 3 weeks on the road again). Not helped by still not having Broadband at home (thanks to the mess that is BT). However, the good news is that there's been plenty of blog fodder !

Anyways, our first instalment is something that I just had to take a picture of when I visited the local Cambridge garden centre. I think it summarises the poor taste Cambridge people have:

Yes, forget elves, gnomes, even Chinese statues. Trump your neighbour by having your own Meerkat's in your front garden.

I'm writing this seething stuck in my seat back from LA. Holding for a landing spot for 15mins.

Heathrow is a total disaster when or comes to landing. What makes me laugh the most though is all the ecological talk of towing the aircraft out of the stand etc. Then you waste lots of fuel just circling around London.

Still at least I get to use the Blogger app on my iPhone for once !



As I sit here on Sunday morning at 10AM, it feels like the first time for a few weeks that things have been under control. The house move went fairly well, save for a few companies making things difficult (I am still without broadband, but thanks to "3" have an interim solution). Rest assured plenty of "Blog Fodder" so expect plenty of stories (or is that moans ?).


Of course just as things get sorted I'm off to the US on travel tomorrow and don't get back until next Sunday. Still, it feels good to finally have things sorted.

I always find the contrast in shops around the country interesting. For various reasons I ended up having lunch in John Lewis in Cambridge Monday. What I found in interesting is the contrast in menu compared to the Oxford Street London store and Cambridge (Cambridge being downmarket of course). Oh and of course the London store having a nice view of Cavendish Square (Cambridge of course having a rooftop full of pigeons doing the toilet).

I had a craving for steak and alas they only had a burger, wasn't too bad, but didn't really satisfy the craving for hunks of red meat (must be the cold weather setting in).

Today at lunch I ended up in another place and again wanted steak. Alas, again only burgers. So, go me thinking...

Is a Burger a Steak in Cambridge terms ?

Finally finished as much as I can do in terms of tearing down stuff in the house. Worst task of all was removing the washing machine (I didn't want to leave it as I spent a fortune on it a few years ago and they really don't make them like they used to). Actually removing the machine wasn't the difficult part, it was putting back the parking bolts that hold the drum in place during transport. Took me over an hour, rest assured cursing and swearing ensued. Eventually go there though !

All IT equipment torn down. I went into Cambridge earlier today and as I passed the Apple store I was just about to wander in and just buy new kit as that at least would have some novelty. Common sense got the better of me. I guess it's not the setup that bothers me, it's the fact that the new desks for the office don't arrive until end November and so I'll have to set things up then tear it down. I think I might just leave the displays boxed until they arrive and use the laptops.

Visited the site and I'm a little concerned things won't be ready on time, though the guy working on the kitchen told me has wasn't going home until it was complete. Here's where things were at on Friday:

Will it be complete ?

RedLaser - Price Comparison via Barcodes
For sometime I've thought the killer iPhone app would be one where you could be in a shop and use the camera as a barcode scanner to check prices on products. The technology for camera based barcode reading has been around sometime (apps on desktops like Delicious Library already use it).

Well one of my predictions for an iPhone killer app is now here 'RedLaser'. You fire the application up, guide the camera to the barcode of the product and behold- it looks up on the Internet (sites like Amazon) to find the price !

Totally amazing - used this a lot today just to log things I need to buy for the new place. I hope the authors make a stack of money- they deserve it for such an industry changing application.

My only wonder is who is the first retailer to ban the use of the app ?

myPantone - Colour Capture / Identification
I've been thinking of buying a colour identification gadget for sometime, but they are a little on the pricey side (about £300). Today I found that Pantone now do an iPhone app, so I downloaded it. Had a play around- it uses the iPhone camera to capture the colour (trouble is that lighting and the iPhone screen aren't that calibrated). Still, it's a fairly good first pass and for the low price you can't complain. I'm sure as the iPhone's camera evolves so will the app.

Back home in the UK. Arrive Thursay afternoon, off to post office to post some letter and sort out post re-direction. I can't believe it's less than 1 week before the move. The guy at the local post office was really helpful, the lady at the local coffee shop was really helpful, the people at the local butcher were really helpful. I'm really happy to be moving to such a great place.

I visited the site of the new house. Met one of my local neighbours, seems really nice (lady in her 60's). Second time I've chatted to someone a little older- on the flight back from SFO I was sat beside a 60's Welsh lady who was an actress- really interesting conversation about Welsh and Scottish self governance. I stupidly made a reference to England - which irritates me when people call Scotland England.

Today in Cambridge was less irritating than usual. Had a look in Habitat- yes a load of Cambridge-oids but not so annoying as usual. Then dinner at all-bar-one. I love this place in Cambridge, it's one of the few places that has a consistent staff. And... the staff are excellent (beyond recognition)- really efficient and friendly. I assume they are paid/treated well (at least they should be)...

It's funny, for sometime now I've been a bit bored with the tech scene. I guess it's partly due to the economic situation that companies have been holding back releasing products. Then, like a bus a load of them come along at the same time and the wallet takes a hit. Working in the tech sector I know what potential is out there and I have to keep pinching myself that technology and products take time to get to the market.

I got chatting to one of the people I work with in the US who was asking what I did out of work. My initial comment was "work", then we talked a bit more and I indicated I liked carrying a camera with me to take pictures of funny/interesting things I see (I'm not at all interested in the science of photography). Also, my absolute love for well made and thought out things. I was showing him the Leica website and spotted a new camera 'X1', thankfully it's not released until early next year (so avoiding a trip to a fantastic camera store in Palo Alto I usually buy camera's from.

I'm drained, that's the only way of describing it. I've been away from home for nearly 2 weeks and not had a break (even at the weekends). Just feels like a constant grind with zero enjoyment. The good news is that I've managed to clear a lot of stuff, but feeling really really tired. I'm so looking forward to getting on the flight Wednesday at 4:30PM and relaxing (well sort of).

I then get back to a house move. Yes, finally after nearly 3 years it's happening. Actually, it's happening really soon- 8 October so it'll be a panic this coming weekend to disconnect all the IT stuff from the house and all the packing of valuables away before the movers come in. It does feel a little silly having people come in to move you 5 mins away - but I just can't be bothered with the stress of doing it myself.

As I walked up to street level from the San Francisco metro and crossed the road I saw this:


It made me smile. I took a photo and gave the guy a dollar for the privilege to do so. Contrast this to your British beggar (don't mean the Big Issue people) who will just sit there and beg. At least this guy has made the effort...

When I travel I always take a number of DVDs with me to watch. Of course this is slowly being replaced by iTunes. Having an iTunes US account works a treat as 2 of my favourite shows are just about to premiere (always amazes me how I pick up US terminology even after a few days) - Grey's Anatomy and Californication.

In terms of DVDs, "In The Loop" was somewhat disappointing - of course there were funny moments but I can't help feeling the TV series was better than the film. However, I have found a treat "Pulling" - a TV series has to be one of the funniest things I have watched for a long time.

I rarely have dreams, or as someone pointed out, rarely bring them into focus so I'm aware of them. Regardless, they are always nightmares, tend to be when I have too much sleep (rare) and usually are influenced by something in the past/next day. What I always find interesting is the (high) level of detail that I remember.

In the case of this morning, woke up at 3:30AM with a load of ideas/thoughts about work (jumped up and grabbed post-it to capture, that's common) did a few things then went back to bed. At 5AM woke up with a nightmare:

* Abroad on business trip (analysis: on my way to San Jose right as I write this)

* I had been booked into an unfamiliar hotel that had a large wooden door that needed to be opened (analysis: recently in Taiwan I went to a restaurant with a wooden door that only opened when you threw a stone in a pot). I had a number of bags with me on the pavement. Several people were hanging around suspiciously. I had a new brown case with the top open (even remember the logo). At a point on looking down at the bag I thought something was missing.

* Hotel staff opened the door and as I walked in the scene was very strange, courtyard-like with lots of bushes (analysis: chatting to a friend the other day about a restaurant in West End of Glasgow that is like this).

* Checkin process was really difficult as I didn't speak the language, but they didn't ask for a credit card.

* Taken upstairs to the worst hotel room I have ever stayed at. Frayed carpet made of Harris Tweed (analysis: had watched a TV program earlier in the day about the Tweed industry) that transitioned to bare dust/soil- my feet were getting dirty.

* Asked porter where the shower was. He took me outside and pointed to an area downstairs in the courtyard.

* I then went back to the room to call someone to help me, discovering my wallet and 'phone had been taken whilst I was standing on the pavement.

Thankfully I woke up at this point !

I don't often really get stressed but today has been a real pain trying to close out a lot of things before i head out tomorrow on a 2 week US trip. Particularly painful since I should (fingers crossed) be moving relatively shortly after I return at the end of the month.

I feel as if I'm starting to get sick as a result which isn't good- hotels are the worst places in the world to be ill. Lots of OJ and healthy eating over the next 24hrs I guess.

I've come to the conclusion that buying a house is (relative to selling) easy, whilst selling a house is a complete pain. I spent 2hrs yesterday with the people buying the current house going through everything and explaining to them the procedure. Then several hours on the 'phone this morning chasing up things and pulling it all together. It frustrates me as it feels like there isn't a boundary between work and personal life right now.

I've set 8 October as the completion date and will be pushing hard for that, so far it looks achievable but you never know with people involved..

I had to grab a form for re-direction of mail yesterday, so I logged onto the Post Office website and then typed 'moving house' into the search field. Behold- a whole load of random crap comes up about mortgages etc.

Why can't people stick to what they are good at ? Why must everything be inter-twined and mixed up (Jack of all trades, Master of none). I really don't want a credit card at the queue in M&S, I'm there to buy food, not financial services.

Yesterday broadband was down. I called Virgin early in the morning (approx 5:30AM), describe the fault and as the lady is checking into it she asked 'is there anything else I can help you with ?'. I wasn't sure what to answer to that. I've called to get a fault resolved, why can't people stick to the matter at hand ? To be honest, on reflection it was 5:30AM and I can imagine she gets some strange responses at that time, like 'can you talk dirty to me !'.

A new term I thought of this morning to define things that I see and need to blog about, specifically things that are irritating/funny. Well, today's trip involves going to Cambridge rail station, then sitting on a train into London, so I'm absolutely sure there will be ample fodder...

Upper Crust, Cambridge Station
A particular 'favourite' for criticism. The service is always so slow in this place and it seems to attract very indecisive people. I usually get frustrated in the queue. In this case, a couple of Cambridgeoids that couldn't make their mind up what they wanted. Not helped by the English of the guys serving being fairly poor. I try to remain as calm as I can at this place as I did have a bad experience once with a group of (let's just say) less able people where I gave them a really hard time- only to realise that (for once) there was actually a reason why they were slow. One of those moments where you want the ground beneath you to swallow you up.

Now the biggest surprise - that was it ! Ticket machines working, trains running on time. Decent service in restaurants/bars (well it is London after all, not Cambridge).

Back home, good mood, opened Solicitor letter...
Good day in London sorting out furniture for new house. Went very well. I like doing business with London people, pretty straight up, and used to dealing with business people who are going to ask for a discount/negotiate. I managed to get another 5% off since I was buying 2 sofas, several items of bedroom furniture, and a couple of really cool desks I'd found (they can tilt up 30°- great for sketching/ reviewing presentations). Contrast this to buying stuff locally, where people would think they'd be doing me a favour by selling me furniture !

Got back home and discovered a letter from Solicitor about house sale. I thought we have concluded the buyer enquiries, but no, a whole raft of additional random questions. I was particularly angry since much of them I had already pro-actively addressed when I sent off the initial paperwork as I thought they might come up. Still, resolved now I hope.

Then I hear that buyer wants to postpone the moving date. At this point I hit the roof, had to relax for about 15mins before I crafted message back. It is happening 8 October, or it is not !

Just 2 days back in the UK and I'm back to the grind of 13hr days in the office as there feels so much to do. I've been tired as have gone to be too early and waking up at 3AM the past few mornings. I'm not sure if it's worth getting back on a UK timezone as I will be in the US next Wednesday for 2 weeks so unsure if it makes sense at all to get back to UK time !

I just logged into Facebook and noticed a posting for 2009 Freshers Week at my old University. After some mental maths (I love working with numbers in my head) I realised that I attended that 18 years ago. Then the real heart synching moment set in - most of the people attending this years event weren't even born when I attended it :(.

My favourite Chinese food - slices of thin beef cooked in chilli oil with extra chilli's added to ensure maximum flavour. I could eat bowls and bowls of this - though the next day I always have a sore stomach ! In HK ended up eating masses of food like this, as well as some really yummy desserts...


Grabbed this picture at the airport in Shanghai. Sadly lighting was rather poor, but I think this sums up the service you get perfectly "The desk of advising" with nobody at the desk...

A couple of pictures taken in Hong Kong (sorry for the poor quality pics from the iPhone)...

Writing this sitting at the bar on the flight back to London. I like the collection of magazines they have on Virgin flights. GQ (I'd already read that), Sunday Times Traveler (good magazine), Newsweek. Sadly they don't have any of the political magazines anymore like New Statesman (my favourites), but there is 'Hello!'.

I was reading in The Economist an article titled 'Pissed and Posh' where (like any higher end British publication) they have to have the monthly discussion about class and how badly people live. I do find the bar charts they print amusing. In this case:

* Adults 16-59 reporting 'Class A' drug use in the past year based on annual income. No surprise that it is at the lower and higher end (with a dip between £20-30k - presumably because those people like a glass of Black Tower !).

* Adults Drinking Heavily at least once a week by gross weekly income. No surprise here that the more money people earn the more they drink !

* Adults who smoke cigarettes based on managerial status. Most people are at the lower end of the managerial spectrum (presumably because the others are on 'Class A' drugs).

* Relative likelihood of pupils aged 11-15 drinking alcohol once a week or smoking regularly by number of books at home ! . What ? This shows that the more books you have at home the less likely you are to drink/smoke. I find this hard to believe, given that there will be a very large amount of port/cigar smokers at the higher end of the spectrum (and that's just the Encyclopaedia Britannica owners from Romford !!).

.. or is that annihilation ?

Writing this on the Virgin flight back to London. A great weekend in Hong Kong, although of course spending far too much money. I don't know what it is about HK, but you just feel compelled to burn cash on things. I guess it is in part due to the availability of things. Highlights of this trip include:

* Stocking up on Cantonese 1980's films. I love watching 1980's Cantonese films as they are very funny in terms of the actions/storyline and also of course the subtitles. I think I've pretty much got the entire Hui Brothers collection now.

* Stocking up on music. Actually I rarely buy CDs nowadays (in favour of iTunes) but love browsing in HMV in HK (they have kiosks that let you listen to CDs before you buy which is great).

* Various gadgets. Including some cables I've been looking to get for a while, also a new Samsung external hard drive (I have the very small one, this is a medium sized one).

* Books. HK has some great bookshops catering for the British consumer. Some good business history books (one of my favourite pastimes, not really a fiction person !).

I don't normally sit in bars/restaurants but felt like it this weekend, I guess I needed to have some form of life after the busy past weeks. I was particularly surprised by how much the locals drink. One bar speciailised in Hoegarden and I was very surprised to see lots of young women drinking pints of the stuff (pretty strong, but I guess a nice flavour)- beats a Bacardi Breezer I guess.

All in all a very pleasant time. Has made me realise how much I miss being in Asia..

Does an environment of 'happy' people make you happy ?
On the flight to Hong Kong last night I was in a really good mood. Yes, it might have in part been down to the couple of glasses of wine I had. However, I realised that I had been with some really great people over the course of the week (from Taiwan and Singapore), had a good laugh, and generally was very happy. Nothing to do with drinking (I only had a couple of beers), just being with people who spotted the funny side of things, had funny stories to tell etc.

I always come back from Hong Kong in a really good mood and as I sat having dinner last night (and looking around me) I realised partly why - people there are happy ! Walking around you see people texting things to each other smiling/laughing. Even people walking around seem to be having fun. Contrast this to the UK where everyone looks so bloody miserable all the time !

I realised my personality maybe dictates that I need to spend more time with happy people !

The one time in my life where I wish I could understand Mandarin
As I checked in for the flight last night 2 western businessmen were to the right of me (I was trying to get on an earlier flight so was there for a few minutes as the lady typed lots of stuff into a computer). I don't know what it is about some people, but they come up with the most pathetic lines sometimes (esp. young women in Asia). Here's the script:

Checkin lady: Good evening sir
Western guys: Hello
Checking lady: Are you traveling together ?
Western 1: We are, but if you want to come with me instead I'll leave him behind.

I shook my head. But what was the most funny was the reaction of the staff. A short conversation between my checkin and their checkin people ensued. That was probably the first time in my life where I really wish I spoke Mandarin to understand what they were saying ! Now I can guess it wasn't "should we upgrade them", more "move him to seat 95G, the one beside the busy toilet" but I really wish I could understand them.

Blogging from hotel room in Hsinchu Taiwan, just presented to a group of people at a technical seminar. Yesterday I commuted to Taipei on the high speed rail and used the metro system. It made me realise just how I miss living in Asia. Today talking to people I felt really relaxed and happy - with none of the usual nonsense you have in the UK.

Tomorrow Shanghai bound. Thankfully a direct flight (not having to connect through HK). Friday presenting, then onto Hong Kong for the weekend...

Sitting in the Virgin lounge waiting for my flight to Hong Kong, then onto Taipei. 2 keynote presentations (Hsinchu and then onto Shanghai) plus a load of other meetings. It feels so long since I have been to Asia. Manage to have a few days in Hong Kong next weekend also. Looking forward to it, my bank balance isn't !!

The Virgin staff at checking were absolutely fantastic, not that they aren't usually, but just felt even better this time..

Standing in the queue in Borders today, simple set of transactions following me. Then I realise that the shop assistant is trying to persuade the lady buying her book to sign up for some e-mail notifications. Of course she wasn't of the internet generation so it all had to be explained.


Next onto Marks and Spencer, where this time the people on the tills are trying to push credit cards onto people.

It got me thinking- where will it all end ? In the meantime, I have to spend even longer times in queues (which I hate). Now there's progress for you...

Sitting here at a Starbucks in Cambridge finally relaxing. It feels like a few months of meetings, late nights, weekends away, and lots to do (the other night I felt pretty down as there just didn't seem to be any stop in it). Finally having some relaxation time this weekend...

* Snow Leopard - just picked this up from the Apple Store. I guess it shows just how busy I've been that I haven't had time to think about it until this morning when I realised it was released today. Actually I was quite surprised- no event on in the Apple store - felt like a normal transaction.

* Home cooked food tonight - last I'll get for about 12 days.

* Friday night drinks in Cambridge. I'm actually fed up with drinking due to recent trips and events.

* Sunday off to Asia. Really looking forward to it. Arrive Hong Kong Monday, then Hsinchu/Taipei/Shanghai and back to Hong Kong late Friday night. Spend the weekend in Hong Kong and then back to the UK.

So as usual, a relaxing weekend ends up... not being a relaxing weekend. I feel as if I could just hibernate somewhere for a week (need to recharge batteries). Sadly I can't see any break until mid-October when (fingers cross) the house move finally takes place.

Visited new house this week to check over. No major issues, apart from the door to the utility room being put on the wrong way (how anybody would ever think to put it in the configuration beggars belief). I just want the bloody thing over. Then of course there's the 12 week wait for furniture. Maybe done by Xmas !

Tonight I left the office and realised that once again I'm destined for a week of late nights. I normally can cope, but the realisation of 7AM to 9PM many nights (being one of the first in and last out) for some reason had me really down today...


There's a particular type of middle class Glaswegian (person from Glasgow) that I absolutely despise. The main trait is 100% absolute selfishness that one can only compare to the contempt people had for peasants back in the Victorian era !

In this case we have 2 businessman on Easyjet flight 215 today (4th row from the back, right hand side) who decided that the case I had placed in the locker immediately above my head needed to be shifted several seats forward so they could have their luggage above them!

One of them then proceeds to complain about lack of hooks for their (likely Marks and Spencer) suit jackets. I was just about to say "there is a recession your company clearly doesn't value enough to fly BA so stop complaining" but common sense got the better of me !

Sitting at Stansted Airport waiting for my flight to board. I hate Stansted Airport, even though it is close to Cambridge it doesn't have the services. I've had to kill an hour here (worried about strikes impacting other train services). What's funny is that it occurred to me that it's the first time for as long as I can remember that I've not been at an airport lounge :(.

Meet up with friends from school tonight, plan for dinner and a few quiet drinks. Somehow I am worried that may not be the case. Finally get to spend some time with my dad tomorrow- it feels like such a long time (about 9 months I think). Saturday heading through to Edinburgh to meet up with people from our Taiwan office who have decided to have a holiday before our work meeting next week.

This week has been hectic- I just hope I can relax for a few days...

Another long day, 7AM to 9PM in the office. A good day, though a call at the end I ended up loosing my rag a little. Heading up to Scotland on Thursday night- meet up with friends back from New Zealand and then off to Edinburgh to meet up with people from our Taiwan office.

Tomorrow meeting solicitor to discuss agreements for the new house - I feel it is coming to a close (having had the planning restriction removed). I'm hoping it goes well and then it's just up to the people buying the current house. Of course I've already planned pretty much everything that's needed - thankfully there's full multimedia cabling in so of course much research on routers etc. has been undertaken !

Cinzano
Cinzano ads in the 80's had a common theme- Leonard Rossiter with Joan Collins where he spills the drink over her. This one is my favourite....



Holy Moly


I'm a fan of the website 'Holy Moly' - they have a section called 'The Corner' (warning bad language, but I did find the site courtesy of The Sunday Times) where people can rant about things (person who designed a scart socket is particularly funny), but they've expanded to celeb gossip with a difference. I particularly like the link here - not for the pic but for the title 'Explosion in a Primark Factory' !

Sunday night and what I am about to do ?, go make popcorn and watch a TV show about Crystal Meth addiction. That just doesn't seem right !

I've blogged about this before, but I really do find local news so amusing. As I walked through Cambridge yesterday I saw the following text at the stall selling newspapers:

"Man found dead in city centre flat"

My immediate thought was running up and writing the following text below:


"hadn't found secret to eternal life"

Why is someone found dead news ? does this not happen very often ? I thought it happened to everyone (at some point) ?

Of course we have the obligatory standard text (I'm sure that's on the clipboard text on the editors computer):

"Guided bus delayed again"

Well that one didn't really come as a surprise to me. I didn't study Civil Engineering at University, but from what I'd seen of the construction site there was absolutely no way it was going to be completed on schedule.

However, what really did annoy me was a comment that locals living close to bus site were disappointed that it wasn't going to be ready on time. What about all the people living in central Cambridge who have been subjected to living on a construction site for the past years so they can have an easier life ?



Read this story on BBC online:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8189296.stm

where a local woman in Greece decided to torch the genitals of a British tourist. It reminded me an event a few months back in Newcastle, where the latest marketing ploy is to have young women walk around with shot glasses an a bottle of some horrid high-alcohol drink. One of my friends was being a bit of an idiot with one of the girls and so I casually said to her "I'll buy a shot if you throw it all over him" transaction proceeded and I was expecting her to hand him the glass - not actually throw it over him ! Thankfully he was pretty drunk so didn't really care - though trying to launder his clothes in the gents was rather amusing (hand drier doesn't equal tumble drier !).

I just mailed him the above story and told him how fortunate he was !

Trip into London tonight to go to the beer festival at Earls Court. It's funny to go to a place that normally hosts shows like 'homeshow' but this time actually holding a large drinking festival. Had a good time out with friend from University and a couple of (great) people I'd met for the first time. I have to be thankful that it is so easy to get in/out of London from Cambridge.

London was really horrible weather-wise today. A typical muggy August day. I got into Waterloo station and sat in Starbucks finishing off some work I needed to send off before I clocked off. As I sat I felt as if I was going to pass out it was so humid. Days like this I am thankful that I don't work in London (though of course there are many days when I wish I did!).

Classic quote of the night with people discussing mother-in-laws. Sometimes some people just come out with a phrase that out-trumps any possible comment. In this case, quote of the night being "well at least your mother-in-law doesn't urinate on the carpet!", we laughed !

Where are you? Why do you hide?
Where is that trail of rubbish that leads by your side?
Just like the binraker goes in search of his dream of gold,
I search for rubbish, for something to have and hold,
I've seen your trash in a thousand dreams,
Felt your touch and it always seems....

That's my adaption of 'Moonraker' first verse from one of the Bond themes.

So, why this ? Well, I've been doing a clearout of the house in preparation for the pending move. What ends up is a medium sized rubbish bag at the front of the driveway (awaiting collection). I joked the other day that people would be looking through it and taking things. Well tonight...

Drive up and I spot someone going through the bag (late 50's carrying dog). Wait for a few seconds and then get out the car. I found it kind of amusing and was happy to have someone take something if it was of value. However...

WHAT I WASN'T EXPECTING WAS A CRITIQUE OF WHAT I HAD LEFT RUBBISH WISE !!

What a Cambridge thing ! Rather than simply ask 'would you mind if I had a look through', this ****** (add expletive of choice) decides to critique a 4-gang extension that I have disposed of and ask why I threw it out ! Of course that triggered a nerve and I ended up having a go at him (great stress relief after a long 7AM-7PM day I can tell you), pointing out that I took exception to someone critiquing my decision to throw rubbish out.

I politely told him (well actually I didn't) to get off my land. He then replies "I have long arms" and put his hand back into the bag to which I replied "and if you take anything I will call the police".

I find the rudeness of people really bad around here. What made him think he had the right to critique what I had thrown out ?

How I long to live at the end of a private road and have absolutely nobody bother me - and it is with in sight !

For some random reason this came into my head....




Funny thing is, I didn't even like the ad at the time, but for some reason it seems really funny now !

Sitting here in the Royal Albert Hall waiting for one of the Proms to start:


I rarely get to see live music and so every year always try to make it to at least one of the Proms. Like music that's used in films etc. - couple of years back there was an excellent set from British films - absolutely superb. My particular favourites are:

Starting commentary about the Carry on Films from Richard E Grant. I think this summarises British humour and the use of innuendo being acceptable - even in a public environment like this (4:30 into this video):



Famous scene when Barbara Windsor walks through the hospital (1:42 into this video):




This year its MGM film music.

I really like the tuning up (I'm sure there's a proper name for it) that you always have in an orchestra, I guess it's the fact that it sounds fairly chaotic random noise and then quickly transforms into something that sounds the total opposite...

Been pretty busy at work over the past few months so limited lunches out. Of course there's The Wrestlers in Newmarket Road (down side being full of people I'd usually find irritating). The Six Bells in Fulbourn is good (especially since they let us eat in the restaurant area so we can talk work and not have to worry about people listening). Had a fantastic sandwich at the Shelford Deli on Monday.


For a while last year I was eating at The White Hart in Fulbourn. The food was fantastic- steak and chips (with onion rings) was easily one of the best I'd had in the UK. Most lunchtimes it was fairly busy and Friday was usually packed (although you could get a table). Then comes the usual Cambridge factor - nothing can stay good for a prolonged period of time and has to be made awful. It happened about 6 months ago. Over the past few months I've occasionally gone back but been a little disappointed. However this Tuesday it hit an all time low- to the point of walking out.

Simple common sense sadly didn't prevail. Walked in, had a look at the menu, guy comes up and shows us to a table. Now here's the issue, most people at lunchtime will be working and therefore want a quick turnaround. We were shown to the table, I indicated we were ready to order but the guy just ignored us and walked off. After 5 mins I got irritated and walked out.

How can you mess up something so simple ?

.. consumed over the weekend.

Met up for breakfast at Automat in Mayfair. 10:30AM perusing the menu and I noted 'Brisket sandwich with fries' - of course anything else on the menu after that point didn't seem at all appealing. Yes, 10:30AM and having a full lunch. I liked Automat, American style diner. Upon first arrival the place was empty, strange since I had asked for a table at 10:00 but told they could do 10:30. Anyways, generally friendly service and nice environment. Recommend (save for the fact that you are likely going to eat more than you planned for).

Drinks at 11:30 near Oxford Street, before lunch at Royal China (yes that's 2 meals in the day so far). Royal China is good, apart from the fact that for some reason lots of western people like to take their kids with them and I always seem to get seated at the front (where they all are). Usually I ask to move (depending on my radar), but this time decided to stay put- thankfully no serious issues.

Got back to Cambridge early so decided to take walk in the Botanic Gardens. Normally I dislike this place, well not actually the place the people who usually go there. However, this time it was actually very nice and allergies haven't been bad this year.

Dinner at Papasha (Indian). I love this place. It's just a shame that the parking is a total pain and it is outside of the city (Newmarket Road). However, the food more than makes up for it- easily the best curry you can get in Cambridge with very good service.

... that's the insult I received from 3 yocals yesterday upon driving out of Cambridge Station car park. Actually I was rather happy at that, certainly beats "Scottish {b******, f*****, w*****}" which is the usual way I am referred to by the local community.

Simple task of reversing out of a parking space complicated by the fact that the car park actually serves many purposes (car park, taxi rank, public thoroughfare, total annoyance). Rather than get out of the way, three male youths (about 17yrs old) decide to be difficult and then complain about nearly hitting them by whacking the back of the boot of the car. I was irritated, they then proceeded to take up the whole width of the road being difficult and as the car passed one of them fell into it, or more precisely his "Sports connection" (or wherever they buy their clothing from nowadays) bag did.

Feeling grown up I decided not to get out of the car and remind them about why they should be grateful that people like me live in Cambridge to give them jobs. Drove off a little bit only to be pursued by one of them, who shouted "Posh toff" !

Just like the sun will rise in the morning (not that we'll necessarily see it!) some things are highly predictable...

A ticket machine at Cambridge Station won't be working
Yes, this one really is as predictable as the sun rising ! This is getting repetitive, but the obligatory picture is below. Note the variation this time on the theme- no longer a rough paper note typed by someone who doesn't know how to format correctly in MS Word, but instead a message conveyed by the machine:

Note to any tourists: yes the UK really doesn't do ticket machines well and we know it. We haven't quite understood yet that the purpose of a machine isn't to take up valuable space and waste electricity. We love queuing and also paying people to hang around checking tickets.

Trains will be disrupted due to strike action
I love that fact that we jest about having an integrated transport system in the UK. To be honest, the only integrated aspect I have ever seen is the ability for union officials to bring the entire transport system to it's knees. Perhaps that's the solution- just have the unions run the transport system ? Oh, hang on, isn't there a book by George Orwell about that ? Of course I'm joking, there is absolutely no way the country can go back to the 70's/80's joke that was British Rail crippled by strikes and bad service, stale cups of tea and 3 day old egg/cress sandwiches !

Self Service Machines will have poor User Interfaces
I've blogged about this before, but why do self service machines (designed for efficiency) have such poor user interfaces ? I reckon no studies at all are undertaken to figure out the user interface model that works. Instead some 23 year old from a red-brick University gets a job coding (likely in some 1980's programming language) the user interface and just drags random boxes into a design screen (a bit like a children's toy game).

Hectic week. Nothing interesting to report. Spent 3 days working at home to avoid distractions, solid in Powerpoint working on presentation for Asia beginning September. I'm doing a keynote speech in Taiwan and Shanghai so felt I had to make a real effort on this one- especially since I know some of the other presenters and they are really good. I was hoping to take a half day today and head into London, but didn't make it (instead working on a single diagram for about 3hrs !).


Tomorrow I'm meeting up with 2 sets of Scottish people. First meet for breakfast with medic friend from home going through a bad patch. I asked what would cheer her up - "pancakes and syrup" so found an American diner in Mayfair. Later dinner with University friend who is down doing pilot training- that'll be a nice curry in Cambridge (we are grown up now so no heavy drinking).

Sunday expect to be working...

Finally finished after a day in PowerPoint. I feel as though the past few weeks have been Outlook and PowerPoint with nothing else. I bought a copy of Illustrator last weekend for the purpose of trying to do better diagrams, but haven't got around to it yet.


Some things you just shouldn't do when you've had a few drinks. I know there are apps out there that prevent you from texting people, calling ex's etc. Sadly there isn't one that prevents you from make public representations to the Cambridgeshire consultation on "Gypsy and Traveller DPD" when there are plans to site a traveller site in your village when you're going through frustration trying to move to a new house but unable to buy it due to planning policy.


I reviewed my comments and they weren't that bad thankfully and well reasoned without any stereotypes. Arguing that the demographics of the community they were trying to serve didn't align with their reasoning for the village being a good choice I think was sensible. Though I'm sure the comment on providing housing of key workers and traveling people being done in favour of others at the opposite end of the social spectrum will be viewed by the Guardian readers as some 'Tory idiot' writing after a couple of glasses of Claret (actually it was Champagne and Pimms - now that is funny !).

Saturday trip into London. For various reasons, it was a late afternoon trip (against my better judgement).

Ticket Machine - Broken Again
Got to Cambridge Station to buy a ticket, no surprise:

No change since Thursday night (Engineer obviously on holiday or strike). I do particularly like the ecologically friendly approach National Express take by re-using the 'Out of Order' posting (note the stray paper on the bottom 'tape).

Noisy Train
Got on the train and managed to get a seat. As the train pulled out of Cambridge station, I noticed a 20-something woman with 2 kids (twins) in front of me. The kids were really rowdy and making lots of noise, with the mother thinking it was funny most of the time (save for the few outbursts shouting at them . I was fairly irritated after a few minutes- but the train was packed so difficult to move. Feeling frustrated, I thought to myself why I was being subjected to this, then I looked more closely at my ticket::


And in the corner::

Explains it- bought wrong class of ticket.

Still, it made for an interesting 48 min journey (actually 51 as the train was a little late). Watching the trio and their behaviour I made a few interesting observations:
  • Neon is big this year. Mother had pink/green/pink neon fingernails. Kids had green neon in their (no surprise) shellsuits and trainers.
  • Question: Why would you pierce the ears of a 7 year old boy ? Why glue their hair with hair gel ?
  • Question: By virtue of having twins, did the mother feel some sense of achievement by having 2 kids with the same father ?
London Transport Carnage
Tube the usual carnage of Saturdays- Victoria line down, Jubilee line down, total mess especially since it was the start of school holidays so the Picadilly line being the only option was full of people with luggage. Not helped by the escalator stopping mid-way due to someone getting their luggage stuck.

Sell Banks.. Buy Scaffolding
I've realised that every major junction in central London has roadworks on it, the picture is familiar- blue painted wood boards and scaffolding. It made me realise that scaffolding may be a good investment (or at least would have been). Of course the roadworks create hell for trying to cross the road.

Roadworks are bad enough at junctions, but I've observed that there is a particular group of people that seem to come out on a Saturday afternoon- man pushing pram with two accompanying women. I'm not suggesting London is full of polygamists but I do find it rather strange ! What I find annoying is that when the foot traffic reduces to a single lane, the guy has to turn round and chat to his 'companions' thus reducing his speed to a snails pace- very annoying.

Badly Behaved People
In the Apple Store in Regent Street trying to check something on the Internet. I was a bit frustrated and this idiot (using a PC) turned round and made some comment. I'm sadly not good at dealing with this level of rudeness so I apologised- then had the usual irritation with myself for not saying something derogatory afterwards.

Bookshops
Why is is the computer systems that bookshops use are so bloody inefficient ? You walk into any bookshop in the UK and ask if they have a book in stock giving the title. You are then asked for the author ! Why ?? - I mean I can type a title into Amazon and it works just fine. What I find amusing is that when I get asked for this level of detail, I get out my iPhone and load up Amazon to find the detail- kind of defeats the purpose of bookshops ! Why not just allow the staff in bookshops to surf to Amazon ?

Several years ago on a trip to Japan I spotted what I would call 'Postman Pat' cars- those that looked identical to the van used by Postman Pat. Fairly simple to describe - imagine the drawing you would make of a van - rectangular box with wheels at the bottom !

Anyways, a few months back I discovered an exhibition of Japanese cars on at the Science Museum. Like any visiting exhibition you get your hopes up and expect a huge number of exhibits. I remember in Hamburg there being an exhibition from Xi'an of the Chinese warriors. Of course I went expecting to see a full army - one warrior ! In the end, there were a few Japanese cars and I managed to take a few pics::


However, to my delight I was walking through London yesterday (off Regent Street) and spotted this:

It's amazing with all the technology we have in the world today and we end up with a look that a 4 year old child could have drawn at a high level. I guess the simplicity is what I like about it !

Short trip this week. Fairly late flight over. Air Berlin is actually really good service. One of the Air Hostesses had a fairly typical attractive German look about her (difficult to describe, not Gaulosies Blonde), I had a chuckle when at one point she was getting something out her handbag from the locker above and I noticed that all the businessmen adjacent to me we all gazing at her !

Arrived late at Dusseldorf airport. What a superb experience. The Sheraton Hotel is 5 mins walk away from the terminal and with the flight arriving early it meant I was in my hotel room at the scheduled flight arrival (rest assured it wasn't British Airways). 5 hrs sleep and then up to catch 7:10 flight to Dresden.

Didn't get much opportunity to look around Dresden, but here are a few quick pics taken on the iPhone:






Arrived back at Stansted Airport tonight with 40mins to kill. I was hungry so went to Burger King for 'dinner'. Queuing I of course got stuck behind a set of people wanting to buy something difficult. Burger King... they sell Burgers not Ice Cream !. As I was frustrated a girl serving on another counter called me over. Of course there was 'Mr Essex' already in the queue so he kicked up a fuss. What irritated me was that he was being a total asshole to her (easy option I guess) - good thing was she ignored him ! Eventually she served me and apologised - I replied "don't worry we are in Essex after all"- she laughed.

This reminds me of a situation in Tel Aviv airport when I was queuing at a newsagent. A guy shot in front of me and there was a long conversation in Hebrew - something about missing his flight I guess. When I was served, the girl serving apologised, I respond "don't worry", then she replied "no it's just my people!"- did make me laugh ! Laughter is needed on a redeye Tel Aviv to London flight I can tell you.

As I passed through the airport I spotted a headline in the newspaper "Cherie Blair has Swine Flu"- I won't tell you anything about my thought process at that point save for saying that the word 'swine' was of particular interest ! Walking through the terminal I saw a number of people wearing masks- I guess to try and avoid flu (laughable of course). The Evening Standard tonight says as much as 65,000 people may die as the outbreak continues. I guess there is nothing else interesting to report in the news (Big Brother must be dull and MPs expense claims stories have finally taken been relegated to 'page 7').

Stuck in the lounge and lady on reception having issues with this guy who obviously doesn't speak English. Of course she does the usual British thing- talk slowly and of course he'll understand. It was so annoying I decided that Babelfish needed to come to the rescue !...

Την πτήση σας καθυστερούν στις 20:50. Η κυρία θα σας πει πότε είναι έτοιμο να επιβιβαστεί στην πύλη 13 - που είναι πολύ πλησίον.

..en route to Dresden. There isn't a direct flight from London to Dresden (I made a joke to people that the people of Dresden are still nervous about UK 'planes flying over them). So, sadly need to travel via Dusseldorf and then stay overnight at the airport. Not bad - 4 flights/4 countries and a customer meeting within 23hrs ! Sadly don't get to stay at a nice hotel or have a nice dinner (I love German food).

Sitting in the lounge at Stansted Airport. Thankfully with a long distance carrier going bust there is a much more luxurious lounge here now (well at least one that doesn't have cigarette stains on the carpet !) now. I love the website that gives you details of where the lounge is. There's a specific remark 'no Ryanair'- I find that very amusing !

Generally I avoid Stansted like the plague (or is that Swine Flu?) - horrid crowded place full of holidaymakers and backpackers. When I go up to Scotland I always try to take the train up as much as possible as I find queuing stressful and Stansted is always full of queues (well they have opened up a few more security lanes now so it is not as bad as it used to be). I then fly back down (for speed) as Scottish airports are generally relaxing and queue free- apart from the jobsworths who always cause you grief by asking dumb security questions. Sadly I can't use my standard reply 'what do you really think there is going to be a terrorist attack at Glasgow Airport' since it happened a few years ago.

Security Blues
Going through security at an airport like this never amazes me. What really cracks me up is all the publicity we have around carrying liquids on flights and how people interpret them. To the average persons credit, they usually turn up prepared with their 100ml limit toiletries etc. However, for some reasons there is also the obligatory 500ml bottle of water on the side of the backback.

Wait ! - do you think cosmetics are a higher risk than a large volume of liquid that could be an explosive ? This isn't the cosmetic police looking to embarrass you about choice of make-up !

That's one thing. What really cracks me up though is that most people, rather than ditch the water, attempt to drink it really fast- at a speed that resembles that of a University beer drinking competition ! Think stuck in the desert for days without water and then suddenly found a bottle of Volvic under a sand dune ! I often hark back to drinking competition days and just want to shout 'faster faster' !

Gadgets Galore
Found this new store (forgotten name) that sells lots of travel electronics. Amazing- 4 things purchased. I looked at the banners in the store and it they looked to be in the Dixons font style. I asked the shop assistant and she said yes it was Dixons, to which I replied 'yes, but a shop that you actually want to buy something'.

Right another Scotch and Soda awaits....

Dinner at Peking last night, twice this week (although once takeaway so doesn't really count). As I walked in to the restaurant, I spotted a couple of young Cambridgeoids (my new name for Cambridge people I find irritating)- full dictionary definition to follow in a later post. In this case, it was the young couple, child (ca. 4 years), and the mother of one of them. Mother clearly had far too many package holidays in Spain (the sun really isn't good for some people).

Dinner was fantastic (of course), but the atmosphere was ruined by the 'oids. I hate people in restaurants who have to read the menu out to each other- maybe what's needed is a talking book like young children have ? Of course we had the obligatory child running around creating havoc and noise, and the parents finding it amusing. I do find the way children in Cambridge behave to be very bizarre compared to proper cities like London where they are much better behaved and don't run riot as they please.

Arrived last week. I got back from Prague at 10PM, had to go to the office for some calls. Finally left the office at 2AM with iPhone that had been delivered to the office whilst I was away. I had to get up at 6AM the next morning, so what did I do ? yes, configure the new iPhone.

Well, it was worth it. Thankfully 32GB of storage now to store all of my playlist music (I ran out at 16GB). The device feels way more responsive than before. I've yet to test the camera. I love the digital compass function- great for someone like myself that has no sense of direction !

In short, another hit by Apple.

Last week was totally horrible in terms of workload and travel (about 4hrs sleep each night), hence the lack of postings.

A hectic week with a meeting in Prague (ended up out of the country for just over 24hrs). My only tourist attraction in Prague was the Subway across from my hotel (as I needed to grab a sandwich really quickly). Did the same to Malta last year.

I've posted a few things below written somewhat retrospectively....

England has this really dumb rule about Sunday opening hours- it's only been in the past decade or so that shops (major chains) are allowed to open on Sundays- but only for 6 hours maximum. Scotland of course has a more pragmatic approach to opening and is far more flexible.

To get around the issue of only being allowed to open for 6hrs, many big chains allow people to browse for 30mins before the tills open (therefore maximising the amount of time by ensuring a full potential of 6hrs is available for transactions to take place). Typically stores open at 10:30, 30 mins browsing, then the tills open from 11AM-5PM.

Last Sunday morning I had to go to John Lewis and so decided to get in early. Of course Starbucks was closed (like any Starbucks in Cambridge it has the shortest opening times of any Starbucks I had been to in the world) so ended up grabbing a coffee at the place directly opposite from the John Lewis entrance. Here's the view I had at around 10:27...



This is so so John Lewis !! Yes, open the doors a little earlier and, rather than allow people to browse early, you actually pay staff to stand at the door preventing people from coming in the store! Total madness !

11AM and I'm at the till with the purchases. Of course there's the obligatory middle-aged woman messing around with a trivial transaction taking about 10 times longer than normal. Purse secured in handbag in a manner that the ancient Egyptian tomb-builders would be proud of, such that it takes about 5 minutes to find it. Then the usual thought process of how to pay, then usually a random question, etc. etc. Finally get to pay (note to anyone who happened to be in the queue with me- I don't have tourettes I just swear a lot when I'm frustrated and have no shame).

Next off to Ecco to get some shoes:


Yep, misaligned opening times. I have yet again to stand around for 25mins as the lazy folks in the Ecco store can't get out their bed at the same time as everyone else ! Total and utter joke (and they only open for 5hrs on a Sunday).

Is there really a recession on ? By the attitude of Cambridge shops I really don't think so !!

Okay, it's a bit of a rant, but people tell me its funny...