Archive for March, 2009

On the buses

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

My doctor told me that I had to rest my sore leg as much as possible, which means not walking to work for a week or two.

So this morning I tried out the bus. I took the number 5a from the end of my street, which arrived at the bus stop pretty much the same time that I did, so I had no waiting about. Even better, I was able to sit on the front seat of the top deck of the bus, which is one of the coolest ways on earth to travel, so I was all pleased. I was also quite entertained by the amazing underwater effect that the vibration of the bus gave the music on my radio. But it wasn’t a particularly fast way to travel – I reckon it took not far off half an hour door to door, which is pretty much how long it takes me to walk to work.

To get home again I had to take a different route (number 6), since it works out better due to the nature of one-way systems. I guess it also adds variety, which is no bad thing. I met a friend on the top deck, and once some quite entertaining children got off we were able to sit in the front seats again.

So my initial experiences with the bus have been pretty good. Let’s hope it lasts.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

No, I won’t be able to achieve my 3000th mile next weekend after all.

My doctor informs me that my walking around Las Vegas has given me tendonitis, so I need to take some anti-inflammatory tablets for the next 10 days, and rest my leg.

That means no walking to work, and no cycling long distances.


Hooray for cycling!

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Despite my leg still being sore from walking around Las Vegas, I went out for a cycle today. Managed to do the 30 miles to Lisburn and back along the River Lagan, which is always a nice picturesque run. Most people seemed to be in good form today – people walking their dogs, other cyclists, and people out walking in the sun. It has to be said it’s usually only the joggers that are noticably miserable, and there weren’t a lot of them.

But most excitingly, me and my bike have now done 2984 miles, so with some decent weather, next weekend should take me to the magic 3000 miles, which will be coo!

Holiday Report #2 – The view

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

So I went to Las Vegas on holiday. Las Vegas has amazing casinos. Really beautiful buildings. And at night there is an unbelievable amount of lights – flashing neon, big TV screens, the works.

All that’s part of the reason I wanted to go there, because I think it’s worth seeing. But equally, I hoped to see a little more of Vegas than the tinsel.

Which is why the view from the top of the Stratosphere tower was so cool. I went up towards dusk, so I would see the daytime view and the nighttime view. And it rocked. Because from up there, the casinos looked cool, but the mountains in the distance (some still with snow on them) were cooler. And all the flashing neon lights rocked, but the moon rising over the mountains was way more impressive. So was the light show of the mountains on the opposite side as they were given a golden halo by the sun setting behind them, while the sky above graduated from blue to black. My cheap camera just couldn’t capture it, so there’s no pictures, but I’m sure your imagination will give you a good view.

So the casinos are impressive, but nature is awesome.

Holiday report #1 – Seize the day!

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Las Vegas is widely acknowledged to be a place that’s sore on the legs, as the main strip is pretty long, so there’s a lot of walking about. I wasn’t even staying on the strip, but I like walking, so I was quite happy to walk down to the strip from my hotel. Until the day I passed the pawn shop and saw a nice bike for sale for $80. It was red and shiny. The next day, it was still there, so I called in to find out more. The bike would cost $80 to buy, and the pawn shop would take it back for half of that, which would mean I could have my very own bike for $40, for as long as I wanted it. The pawn shop even had a lock and a few helmets for sale.

But I’ve never bought anything from a pawn shop in Las Vegas before (not unexpectedly), and didn’t know how much a conventional bike rental would cost. So I wanted to check it out a bit. It turns out that bike rental is fairly expensive in Las Vegas, so it looked like a good deal after all. And I decided that the shop was probably honest enough.

So the very next day I decided to go buy a bike. And it was gone. It had been sold earlier that morning. I was unimpressed. The other two bikes that they had for sale were both more expensive, but they were unridable – better bikes, but with really, really badly worn tires. I checked out another pawn shop, but they only had even more expensive bikes.

So I had a cycling-free holiday. The moral of the story – seize the day! If I hadn’t hesitated, I’d probably have had a great cycling adventure in a faraway land. But instead, I took a day to think about it, and didn’t.

But having said that, if I had got the bike, I probably would have pootled around a fairly small area, especially since it was pretty warm to cycle in. And I suppose there is a reasonable chance that I would have ended up as a human hood ornament on a big American car. Instead, I hired a big American car myself, and I was able to travel to the mountains on either side of the city, and really enjoyed it.

So the other moral of the story is that things usually work out okay, even if it’s not what you planned.

Technology Trouble

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I’m just going to recount this sad tale of woe, to get it off my chest. Sorry folks, but it’s good therapy 😉

  • My ipod charger doesn’t want to work in America. That’s odd, because it worked fine in Japan.
  • But that’s okay, because my little laptop works fine when plugged into the wall. So I can charge my ipod from the laptop. Crude, but workable.
  • When I plug the ipod into the laptop, Amarok comes up. It can see all the music on my ipod. It can also access it to play it. Clever.
  • But when I go out for breakfast this morning, my ipod says that it has no music on it. NO MUSIC!! It actually still has all the music, but can no longer play it.
  • A bit of googling discovers that Amarok does this to ipods. How clever of it.
  • So I need to upgrade Amarok on my laptop.
  • But on upgrading, I run out of file space (it’s a very small laptop).
  • Fixing the upgrade just doesn’t work – it’s gone too badly wrong.
  • So I had to restore my laptop from a backup on a memory stick, that I always carry with the laptop.
  • And then upgraded Amarok.
  • Twice, since the upgrade failed the first time due to network issues.
  • And I’ve set the appropriate id in the Amarok config.
  • And now I’ve got all my music back.
  • Though I seem to have spent quite a lot of time in my hotel room.

Sorry to share with you, but it is enormously frustrating.

BUT at least there’s a happy ending!

Yesterday’s News

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I’m not a big reader of newspapers, but I always like to have one to read when I’m flying. Especially if it’s free. So I read yesterday’s Times.

I really enjoyed it. Apart from all the news, highlights were the following:

  • The dalek found in a pond in Hampshire. Yes really. There is a picture of it emerging from of the water, all covered in green slime. It’s also covered at the Doctor Who News page, but with a different picture, which isn’t nearly so sinister.
  • An update on Darfur. It’s still in complete chaos, with the death toll now up to 300,000 people (estimated by the U.N.), people still dying at the hands of the government-backed militia groups, and even more refugees. Apparently the International Criminal Court was to decide yesterday on whether the Sudanese president would face war crime charges. It’s a disgrace that this situation is still no better after so long.
  • A comedy suggestion from some bishops in Italy that people should give up text messages for Lent.
  • A report on a new tomb found in Egypt. I always like to hear about new discoveries in Egypt.
  • A really interesting article about a group of monks in Greece who are under siege because they have turned their back on the Orthodox church, and it’s not happy. The monks believe that by improving relations with the Roman Catholic church, the Patriarch of the Orthodox church has become ecumenical, which they cannot accept. The monastery has actually been attacked by other monks, hospitalizing six of them, and they now have permanent guards posted, and have to smuggle in food by sea or through the woods. I especially liked that the monks use the old Julian calendar, since the Gregorian calendar was introduced by a pope (Gregory XIII). As the article says, it sounds like something out of a Dan Brown novel!
  • And finally, the financial results of the Drax group were discussed. Since Hugo Drax was the villain of the James Bond film “Moonraker”, this just amused me.

What a weekend

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I had a busy weekend. Here’s a few thoughts.

  • I had too much chocolate cake on Friday night. It was a comedy-sized slice (more of a hunk of cake really), and I should have just had some of it and left the rest. But I couldn’t resist it, and ended up eating all of it and feeling slightly dreadful. Don’t want to see chocolate cake for a while.
  • At Saturday night’s murder mystery evening, I played the part of Dr Sigmund Fraud, controversial Viennese psychologist. It was good fun, and I managed to correctly identify the murderer (it wasn’t me). But there was a gorgeous dark chocolate mousse, and I had to eat someone else’s, as it was too rich for them. Two rich dark chocolate mousses was quite an achievement. But it was way too much, and I don’t want to see any kind of chocolate for a while.
  • Up early on Sunday morning to shave off my beard, which was traumatic, but entirely the right thing to do for my sister’s wedding, since she hates it so much. Face is now bald, and a bit sensitive. I’m constantly aware of my skin being a bit irritated around my chin, and get very distracted by my reflection, since it looks wrong.
  • Surprised myself by having a couple of chocolate brownies after church on Sunday. I clearly have no self-control whatsoever, and got over my anti-chocolate feelings remarkably quickly. Am now worried about chocolate poisoning.
  • Was slightly taken aback by a couple of non-reactions to my beardless face, as friends tried to work out what was different about me, but weren’t quite about to work it out. The moral of the story – although it’s a big deal to me, no-one else is even looking at my face to know if I have a beard or not.