Archive for May, 2010

I am still here!

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Just a quick note to say that yes, I am still here.

And I haven’t fixed the banner graphic yet.

But I just haven’t been in a blogging mood recently I guess.

Main news items are:

  • I completed the Marie Curie Cycle Challenge last Saturday, on a beautiful sunny day, which was completely different to last year’s rain-soaked affair.
  • Which made me realise that I haven’t been doing any running in preparation for the Lisburn 10k, which I plan to do next month, to raise money for ACTS ministries. So I ran just under 3 miles on Sunday, and just over 3 miles on Monday. Together they would make up the 10 kilometers, but I think I have to do the run in one day, disappointingly.
  • But I have discovered the fantastic combo of iphone + runkeeper + bluetooth headphones for running, which gives to the stats on my run, and keeps me entertained wirelessly as I go, which is cool.
  • And my magic sunglasses with the polaroid lenses have broken, so I have lost my superpower until the new pair arrive.
  • Life has now more or less returned to normal after the trip to India.
  • And I finally managed to see the end of Lost today.

The End of Lost

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

On Monday, with fanfares and simultaneous transmission at stupid times throughout the world, the final 2 episodes of Lost were shown. Well, sod that silly o’clock stuff. I taped the repeat on Tuesday, and watched it today.

It’s been a long ride. I remember being keen to see the pilot, because it started with a plane crash, and I was such a frequent plane traveller at the time, I thought there might be something I would learn in case of emergency. Needless to say there wasn’t! But the first series was quality stuff, and attracted a lot of viewers. As time has passed, and the confusion has increased rather than decreased, a lot of people let it go, and stopped watching, but I hung on in there. It remained a series with remarkable vision throughout – it had deaths of major characters throughout, plane crashes (yes, more than one, and seen from all the possible perspectives), mysterious computers, conspiracies, messages from the dead, time travel, and even a nuclear bomb!

And now it’s over. So what did we learn? In the end many of the mysteries were not answered (how did they keep their hair looking so good throughout?), many of them were (we did find out why the island was important) , and some were sort of answered (what was happening with that parallel timestream?).

The final episode reminded me how much I liked the character of John Locke (the actual Locke, not the Locke Monster), and in many ways, although the actor that plays him won’t get the modelling jobs that some of the others have, I think he stands out as one of the best parts of the show. Mind you, I’ve liked him in other things too. The episode also made me think about how beautiful the real island of Hawaii is, which has been a great backdrop to the series.

But what of the ending itself (spoilers here)?

I guess it did what the makers intended it to do. With the end of any series, there’s often a desire to give some completion, but to make it open-ended enough to give the implication that the characters go on to do other things (“The road goes ever on and on” as Tolkien says). By having two different finishes, on the island and back home, it gave them the opportunity to do that. It’s clear that some of the characters went on to do other things – Hurley’s compliment to Ben about being a great Number 2 speaks volumes of lives spent together on the island in the years to follow.
I liked that Ben continued to be a conflicted character and didn’t get a simple on-screen redemption, but seems to have gone good in the end with Hurley.
I am pleased that they did explain why the island was important (thank goodness).
I liked that Desmond got quite a bit to do in the last few episodes, as I always liked him.
Likewise, it was nice to see Rose, Bernard and Vincent the dog again, as they were always cool.
But we never find out why Walt was so special (he wasn’t even in the final ever-so-religiously-neutral church scene).
Or where the polar bear came from.
Or what Widmore wanted to do with the island.
Or how the Locke Monster interacted with  Widmore’s group when they were living on the island, or why they left it.
But I like that Hurley got his moment in the sun as the new guardian – that’s fitting.

Over all, I am not displeased, though I am still at a bit of a loss how the parallel time-tracks thing fitted together. I guess it didn’t – it would seem that it was invented by the characters as the lives that they would have had if they hadn’t gone to the island. Or something. That could have been better resolved.

But part of me is just glad it’s over – it got dragged out quite enough I think!

The things I didn’t write about

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

As my trip to India went on, it became harder to get wi-fi acces, and I spent more of my time in the evenings working. So the blogging kind of stopped suddenly. But there were a few more things I had planned to write about. So I guess I’ll try and cover a few more of them, before I forget.

One of the things that impressed me while I was away was BBC World, the international news channel from the BBC. During the election, they showed the main BBC coverage, so I was able to watch the middle-of-the-night election results without being up in the middle of the night. I was in a hotel room in Calcutta when I saw the joyous news that Peter Robinson had lost his seat.

But good election coverage would be expected, and was just sharing content from BBC1. What impressed me more was a debate on whether Barack Obama what it took to bring about peace in the Middle East. It was a very balanced, and mainly very reasonable and reasoned discussion about a really complicated subject. I also managed to catch a Hard Talk interview about the capitalist system, how it’s working and its future.

Both of them were thought-provoking contributions on subjects that are not really mass-market, and the opposite of the kind of dumbed-down media we see so much of.

Well done the BBC.

India Day 7

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

It wasn’t easy to get up, but I did manage it. Breakfast in the Marriott is very nice, and I felt no need for lunch later in the day. The receptionist was also able to put together a bit of an itinerary of places for us to visit, and to arrange one of the hotel taxis to drive us about. It’s definitely warmer here in Pune than in Bangalore, but we remembered to put our sun cream on, and the heat wasn’t a problem.

We saw a splendid old fort, a very pleasant garden, an interesting museum, some more pretty things in craft shops, and got a bit of a feel for the city itself as we drove around.

I also managed to nearly kill Helen when I misunderstood that we were meant to be following our driver, and crossed the road instead. I was quite embarrassed that there was a bridge just a little further down, that we were meant to use. As Helen pointed out “Even the locals don’t cross the road here”. Oh well.

We headed back to the hotel, a bit tired out by the heat and walking, but I was determined to go to the gym, so I spent an hour there before dinner. It was a very nice gym, with very good equipment, and our meal was very good too. So the only downside so far is that the wifi in the rooms is very expensive, so there’ll be significant restrictions on the internet use over the next few days. Boo!!

On a completely different note, I had wondered if the new Doctor Who’s bow tie would start a new fashion craze. You can image how pleased I was to see Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, wearing his bow tie to be interviewed about the Times Square incident today. Who’d have thought he would be a fan!

India Day 6

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

It was Saturday – a day off.

I was determined to get up early and go to the gym before breakfast, but instead I realised that what I actually needed to do was pack my case so that I was ready to check out of the hotel.

Then I went and did a little exploring of Bangalore. One highlight was the state parliament building, a beautiful ornate looking example of Indian architecture (pictures to follow). Ironically, opposite it was the high court, an example of classical architecture, and even painted red it looked kind of out-of-place opposite the parliament. Also interesting was the motto above the door of the parliament “Government work is God’s work”.  In the week that sees the election in the UK, I thought that was a little though provoking in some ways given how we tend to think about government and politicians.

Had a really good lunch in a well-known Bangalore eating place called the Empire, where the butter chicken and ghee rice were excellent, and proper examples of Indian food. My colleague was a little worried that I might not enjoy it, as he didn’t know Banaglore and didn’t know what it would be like, but it was very good.

Then on to the temple at Iskcon, a modern temple building that blends the classical styles of carvings, marble and gold with glass. Not knowing a great deal about Hinduism, I can’t say that I understood a great deal of it, but it was an interesting visit.

And then off to the airport to catch my flight up to Pune. My plane turned out to be propeller-driven, and a little bumpy in places, but we made good time and arrived early. And I read the first half of Thunderball, one of the James Bond books I brought with me.

My taxi driver met me at the airport, and a taxi ride later I was able to check in at the hotel, and get into my very welcoming bed.