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...