Thursday, August 31, 2006
Last night we went to Las Iguanas near the Festival Hall to sample the food and booze of Brasil. It was recommended to me by Hugh on the weekend, and the family in Wales can try the experience as well because there is already a branch in Cardiff.
Cachaça - is the third most consumed spirit in the world by volume after vodka and whiskey - is the national spirit of Brasil and the basis of the nations cocktails so we started off with a classic Caipirinha each at the bar.
Then when we managed to get a table - the place was ramped in the parlance of the waitress; Bolinhos (Brasilian cod, potato & parsley fritters served with aji; hot chilli salsa) followed by chicken Moquea (a light coconut curry of peppers, tomatoes, garlic & palm oil,with white rice, sweet plantain, coconut farofa & aji: hot chilli) for me, and gambas followed by Xinxim (Pele’s favourite; Brasilian lime chicken in creamy crayfish & peanut salsa) for Paul.
It's good to be back.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Where in the world?
They've certainly made tagging very easy, so I've annotated the picture with a notional idea of where I took it (memory fades) and followed the instructions for wiring my flickr account to this blog. Unfortunately all that comes through is the picture below, but if you click on it you can follow another link to the map. (It is on the lower right of the picture on flickr's page under "Additional Information".
This is interesting in itself, but also potentially significant for business. Bizarrely I just sent an update to a police client of an intranet client for their dispatch system that also throws up a link to the incident location.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Against them there shuts a door
Amnesty International today warned that the build-up of Sudanese troops in Darfur could lead to a human rights catastrophe in the very near future, and urged the UN Security Council to take immediate action to protect the people of the region.A year on, I wonder how Robert McCartney's family are getting on and I'm afraid to find out. Wikipedia tells me:
"Eyewitnesses in al-Fasher in North Darfur are telling us that Sudanese government military flights are flying in troops and arms on a daily basis," said Kate Gilmore, Amnesty International's Executive Deputy Secretary General. "Displaced people in Darfur are absolutely terrified that the same soldiers that expelled them from their homes and villages may now be sent supposedly to protect them."
The McCartney family had lived in the Short Strand area of Belfast for five generations. However local people in the Short Strand area, which is a largely Nationalist area, did not welcome their dispute with the IRA and allegedly drove them to leave by threats of violence. The last McCartney sister to leave the area (Paula) departed Short Strand on 26 October 2005.
What a world.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Here's mine, why not send him yours?
If you have a dead horse to flog,
Turn blogger, start blogging a blog.
And share your opinions
With millions and millions,
You laughably puffed-up bullfrog.
I took him to school every day for a long time and now I don't even get a reply when I call and leave a message asking how he did in his GCSEs. Can that be right?
I'm surprised how much I expose writing here, I'd probably never reveal the sentiments above in a conversation in a million years.
As a betrayer of my own soul however, I am still a beginner compared to Robert Hughes, I couldn't believe it when I read this lacerating piece last week. Graham Greene spoke of a "sliver of ice" that a writer needed in his heart and Alfred North Whitehead said that "art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern". When you consider the bombshell that Hughes drops about his son in the penultimate paragraph and the fact that this must have been a clear eyed structural decisison intended to maximise the impact of the writing, you have to wonder if the game is worth the candle.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
Sunday, August 27, 2006
One for the Pot
I have found a recipe for it today though as "moules a la portugaise" on page 79 of Anthony Bourdain's "Les Halles Cookbook" which I was tidying away after John - my brother - had been leafing through it after breakfast.
Prayer, the Church's banquet, Angels' age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth;
Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days'-world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
The land of spices, something understood.
George Herbert (Montgomery 1593), a Welsh Born Icon. Here is TS Eliot on Herbert (and Donne).
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Today's itinerary is due to revolve around Discover Tooting, Hampton Court Palace's Country Affair, dinner at the Sappho Mezze bar and then more blues but it may vary.
So to acknowledge that the company and the journey is really more important than the destination, this:
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.
Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.
Constantine P. Cavafy
Friday, August 25, 2006
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
Details are a bit sketchy at the moment but it seems that we are essentially being offered the ability to host and serve our own web applications on Amazon's infrastructure. Scaleable, pay as you go, access to effectively limitless capacity would really have got us out of a hole in January.
All our public facing systems are built on Windows Server and this offering seems to be Linux based, but maybe the Ray Ozzie era Microsoft will be spurred by this to offer something similar as part of the Windows Live initiative.
Interesting times, watch this space.
He was thrilled with the idea all day and punctuated our walk to his first Muay Thai lesson with blood curdling cries, leaps and kicks, but - perhaps inevitably - got a little sheepish once we arrived.
Kudos to Gordon, who suggested that I took my shoes and socks off and went into the dojo (or whatever the Thai equivalent is) with my little boy, and Kru Johnny Boon who didn't fuss when Ben was lurking on the periphery of his class. In the end the lotus blossomed , Benny joined in and had a fine old time, and the Jackapong Gym on the ground floor of the Brown and Root building is where you will find us for the foreseeable future from 6pm until 7pm on Thursday nights.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
One year on, it is time to renew my membership of the Folio Society by choosing this year's four books.
Having snapped up Herodotus in the off season, this year I will be getting;
- W. B. Yeats: Collected Poems
- Rudyard Kipling: The Jungle Book and Just So Stories
- St Augustine: Confessions
- Raymond Chandler: Trouble is My Business and other stories.
Further, the next meeting of Chris's book club - to be held at my gaff early in October is looming. I've nominated jPod, and I have to read and inwardly digest "The Time Travellers Wife", "The Keepers of Truth", and "Berlin: The Downfall, 1945" to accommodate the other three members by then.I had a blast at the first meeting I attended earlier this year in Bradford On Avon.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Statement of Purpose
A sop being, as any fule kno, "a concession given to mollify or placate", the mot juste indeed.
According to the Times report back in July of Des Browne's announcement of reinforcements for the British troops in Afghanistan:
The extra troops numbers will involve a call-up of reservists. There are currently150 serving in Helmand, mostly from the Territorial Army, and 450 more will receive notices to deploy.
Which, given that the total new assignment was 900 troops, implies that half the fresh soldiers will be part timers.
Here's a human interest piece about the imminent deployment of lads from the TA in Gloucestershire to Helmand.
It all seems rather ominous a drum beat to me.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Operations in Afghanistan
The leader of a paratroop section who took on Taliban fighters single-handedly has become the seventh British soldier to die in Afghanistan this month.I'm getting increasingly worried about what is happening in Afghanistan where we have inflicted causalties on the same scale as the clash between Israel and Lebanon, and are enduring - though on a much smaller scale - a relentless drip feed of our own.
Cpl Bryan Budd, 29, was shot dead during an attempt to lead the storming of a building filled with Taliban fighters after an ambush in the town of Sangin, northern Helmand province. He had led his unit "superbly" from the front for the past three months, his colleagues said yesterday.
All but one member of the eight-man section of paratroopers have now become casualties of the increasingly ferocious clashes with the Taliban.
The MOD's page about the conflict is here, and there is an associated RSS feed here. I'm subscribed and it is depressing.
It was more than ironic to catch Rambo III and its dedication to "the gallant people of Afghanistan", on late night TV last week. Here's a sample of the dialogue:
Mousa: This is Afghanistan... Alexander the Great try to conquer this country... then Genghis Khan, then the British. Now Russia. But Afghan people fight hard, they never be defeated. Ancient enemy make prayer about these people... you wish to hear?
Mousa: Very good. It says, 'May God deliver us from the venom of the Cobra, teeth of the tiger, and the vengeance of the Afghan.' Understand what this means?
Rambo: That you guys don't take any shit?
Mousa: Yes... something like this.
Monday, August 21, 2006
New Orleans School of Cooking
The website says, "our Creole/Cajun experts teach New Orleans specialities such as Gumbo, Jambalaya and Pralines, and season them with history, trivia and tall tales", and that is just what I remember so fondly.
John found the handout in his copy of "River Road Recipes", the textbook of Louisiana recipes prepared by the Junior League of Baton Rouge.
I remember our instructor recommending that sort of work over the more conventional cookery book as he reasoned that, for example, Mrs Augustine Renaud Foster III would not contribute her recipe for squirel stew to a collection that was also going to feature the down home favourites of her peers unless she had confidence in it. And that instructions assembled by a food technologist to be published under the imprimatuer of a celebrity chef couldn't compare.
* Louisiana-style andouille is not to be confused with the French version.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
In yet another example of the kind of eccentric incident that seems to define my life, as we approached the front door of No. 11, a girl from a neighbouring house stuck a toweled head out of the front door and told us that a passerby had told her that he had seen a fox looking out of a window in my house earlier in the day.
We entered gingerly and neither found or smelled anything untoward, but when I checked the upstairs, the master bedroom had been turned upside down, a carpet corner was torn up, and the window frame had been clawed and chewed.
We checked Benny's room and then the bathroom, and as we came out of that a fox wandered insouciantly out of the main bedroom. I shut my little guy in the bathroom, ran downstairs and opened the front door and then chased the intruder out.
I don't think that the creature laid its "scent" anywhere and I think that it must have come through the catflap we inherited, but I have been stuck on the sofa with a traumatised five year old boy for the last couple of hours. I'll have to unpack tomorrow.
Welcome back to my life. I wonder what my insurance will cover?
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
Off the Grid
A Philippines judge who said he consulted imaginary mystic dwarves has failed to convince the Supreme Court to allow him to keep his job.
says the BBC.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I really got the bug, but I'm not sure that I can justify the salty prices of Horse Riding London at Wimbledon Village Stables to continue my studies.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
We met up yesterday with a nursery and school friend of my five year old's whose family has moved down to Penarth and all went to Techniquest in Cardiff. Thence to Rabaiotti’s - apparently unchanged for thirty years - on the Penarth esplanada for ice cream.
Monday, August 14, 2006
My colleague Paul is burning the midnight oil for Colliers Wood producing a 3D model of the ancient and lost Merton Priory.
He's blogging the development at http://mertonPriory.coraider.com/ to help us collaborate with local experts.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Mas Que Nada
Quite so, because - for all that it seems to house more Poles than Poland and more Sri Lankans that Ceylon - Colliers Wood also seems to be some sort of hive of activity for capoeira the Brazillian martial art with music.
I've seen posters saying that it is on in the community centre, noticed it being practiced in the Muay Thai gym and even seen people walking round at night carrying and occasionally strumming berimbaus.
It is all rather confusing although I am 100% in favour of it. I wonder what the story behind it is?
Saturday, August 12, 2006
The Glorious Twelfth
Here's the spec of the original IBM 5150:
Processor: 4.7MHz Intel 8088
Co-Processor: Optional 8087 math coprocessor
RAM: 16K - 640K
OS: MS-DOS 1.0, CP/M-86
Standard storage device: Cassette tape
Floppy drive: Optional
I/O ports: Five internal 8-bit ISA slots, monitor, Centronics, cassette
Peripherals: 5, 10, and 20MB hard disks
Base price: Around $1,565 (around $3,500 in 2006 figures)
I know it is a commonplace observation but the increase in power and capacity of the machines since then is truly amazing and developments like this year's dual core processors seem to indicate that it is still not slowing down.
I've also found out that August 12th is the start of the open season for grouse shooting in the United Kingdom. Perhaps Paul and I should try and bag a brace on this day next year.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Can you digg it?
Diggnation is pretty much the only video podcast that I watch regularly. It is essentially two guys sitting on a couch, shooting the breeze, and drinking beer, which may not be to everyone's taste but is right up my street. I've looked once or twice at digg - the "user driven social content website" that it is apparently about but I've never really got it unlike the show.
I was astounded to read BusinessWeek's breathless estimate that co-presenter and Digg founder Kevin Rose stands to make $60 million out of it. That is worth a drink or two.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
As a "Chinese restaurant" in the UK will usually serve mostly Cantonese food, we went for a set menu (menu E to be precise). Great familiar food in comfortable surroundings made for a fine evening.
Now that we have broken our duck with Chinese food we can try and move through the "Eight Great Traditions" of Chinese cuisine.
These comprise - in addition to Cantonese - Anhui, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan and Zhejiang. I wonder how many we will be able to find in town?
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Kettners Champagne Rooms
Andy being something of an oenophile, we gave the wine list a thorough going over at Ronnie's and then retired to Kettners Champagne Rooms for debriefing. I'd never heard of Kettners but I enjoyed it a lot. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I had to email Andy to ask him to remind me of the name.
I had a bit of a shock when I got back to Leicester Square to get the tube as they seem to close all of the entrances except Cranbourn Street late at night.
Andy arrived at Paddington in time to just miss the 0:34, had to wait for the 1:34, and got to bed at 2:40.
Next day, after being woken at 7 am, he took his daughter to Thorpe Park as planned and thus came to endure with a hangover:
- X-no way out, a backwards roller coaster in the dark
- detonator, 150 ft vertical drop
- Nemesis Inferno, hanging roller coaster with loop-the-loop and corkscrews
- Stealth a 30 second ride, 0 to 80 mph in 2.3 seconds (straight line), vertical rise to 205 feet arching over to a vertical drop of the same.
By The Way
We are radical,' admits Jaroslaw, an eccentric, cat-loving bachelor who is said to be distinguishable from his brother only on the occasions that he forgets to brush the cat hairs off his trousers. 'Poland needs a certain amount of radicalism to change and cleanse.'
Sometimes I feel that Beachcomber is still writing for the Telegraph.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The invisible hand
Please entertain yourself with The Economist's attempt to answer the vexed question "Why do econmists spend valuable time blogging? " in the meantime. With any luck it should also encourage me to return to normal service tomorrow.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Once More Into the Breach
Last night as we were driving, I heard him twist in the back seat. "That is the noodle place," he said "we can all go there tonight."
"I can't come today," I lied, "I have to go to the office and print some papers for a meeting."
"I didn't meant tonight, " he lied, "I meant another night."
"We'll have to ask Mummy," I said.
"Why?" he asked. "I'm inviting you." And, as my eyes began to fill, "I want you to be Mummy's company."
Another blub up for me on the way home. It has been a year now and I couldn't give a damn about her to be perfectly frank, but - though I have to keep my mouth shut for his sake - I will never forgive her for making him worry so, that he schemes like this.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Blogs are taking centre stage at this year's Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, with three different productions tapping into the world of online writers.
One of the Bloggers: Real Internet Diaries is composed entirely of extracts from UK Blogs. I wish I'd thought of that.
I remember Edinburgh as great fun. I was lucky enough to be there for the whole of the festival in 1985, 21 years ago, as I was working at the oil refinery in Grangemouth.
Lucky as I was to be in Edinburgh I was less lucky to be in Grangemouth. At the heart of the HF Alkylation Unit was Hydrofluoric Acid - the glass dissolving, world's scariest compound.
Symptoms of skin exposure to dilute HF are not felt immediately, but exposure of less than 10% of the body to it can be fatal, even with immediate medical treatment. Highly concentrated solutions may lead to acute hypocalcemia, followed by heart attack and death, and will usually be fatal in as little as 2% body exposure (about the size of the sole of the foot). This substance is extremely toxic and has the capacity to kill upon exposure rather than simply damage skin and eyes. It should be handled with extreme care, beyond that given to hydrochloric, sulphuric, or other mineral acids.
Due to low dissociation constant, HF can penetrate tissues quickly like a small non-polar particle. Hydrofluoric acid which comes into direct contact with the fingers can severely damage or destroy the tissue underneath the nail without causing any damage to the nail itself. It is this ability to cause little harm to outer tissues but considerable harm to inner tissues which can produce dangerous delays in treatment of hydrofluoric acid exposure. Once the pain starts, it is out of proportion to the burns produced. Patients often describe the feeling as if they have struck their fingers with a hammer. HF that penetrates under the skin causes later development of painful ulcers, which heal slowly.
You could get hypocalcaemia because the acid pulls calcium out of your body so aggressively. We had to carry tubes of calcium glucamate around that we were supposed to rub into our body if we started to itch. Not a place for a hyperchondriac.
It was on the HF Alkylation Unit that I decided that I wanted an office job. I was at the top of a distillation column that was being waved about in the driving rain by a howling gale, clad from head to toe in rubber to stop the acid killing me and trying to find a rogue pressure transmitter when I began to whimper for my Mum and realised that there must be easier ways of making a living.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
The listings magazine has moved on since it was founded in London however. Here, Time Out New YorkÂs editor-in-chief, Brian Farnham, talks with his counterparts at Time Out Beirut and Time Out Tel Aviv.
Just before the hostilities in Lebanon and Israel broke out, Time Out Beirut's editor-in-chief, Ramsay Short, contributed a brief item that ran in last week's Time Out New York, proudly bragging about the generous drink pours you can get in his 'truly 24-hour party city'. That party abruptly ended when bombs began falling on his friends, family and readers. Amir Ben-David, the editor-in-chief of Time Out Tel Aviv, and his city are contending with the threat of Katyusha rockets. The pages of an arts and entertainment magazine are not the place to get into the complex issues at hand, but because there's a family connection, we thought it would be interesting to give readers access to these Time Out perspectives interviews with both editors about their experiences during the conflict can be accessed below. We look forward to the day when our colleagues, and their readers, can replace worries about survival with the dilemma of deciding what to do in their great cities.Amen.
Friday, August 04, 2006
I'm abandoning Mentaca at AbbeyFest tonight in favour of Scritti Politti at the Tate Britain. (Both free gigs by the way.)
I learned about the Scritti event from Rhodri Marsden's blog. He's the keyboard player in the touring band and seems to live pretty near to me from what I can gather from his posts.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
My Guilty Pleasure
1 Livin' Thing ELO
2 More Than A Feeling Boston
3 Don't Stop Movin' S Club 7
4 I'm Not in Love 10CC
5 Rock 'n' Roll Part 2 Gary Glitter
6 Cold As Ice Foreigner
7 Rebel Yell Billy Idol
8 Whatever You Want Status Quo
9 Baker Street Gerry Rafferty
10 I Will Survive Gloria Gaynor
For myself I own up to "Love Will Keep Us Together" as performed by Captain & Tennille or indeed by its composer Neil Sedaka on inumerable "variety" specials on BBC TV in the 70s.
I was always desitned to be unhip; something I realised early on in primary school when I did a project on the electric motor while Anthony Elliott studied the Rolling Stones.
In the same vein, I also fondly remember being denied access to the Wag club in Wardour street in its 1980s heyday when I wasn't even trying to get in. "You're not getting in here mate," yelled the doorman as I strolled past on my way somewhere else.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Holden Caulfield; Proto Geek
Dear Amazon.com Customer,
We've noticed that customers who have purchased "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger also purchased books by Selim Aissi. For this reason, you might like to know that Selim Aissi's "Security in Wireless Networks And Mobile Platforms" will be released soon. You can pre-order your copy by following the link below.
This initially seemed bonkers to me, but on reflection I can imagine Holden Caulfield, if he'd been born nearly half a century later, hanging with Coupland's geeks (and slackers).
One for the grupo when JPod comes up perhaps?
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Not many people in the West seem to know about the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. These are ancient Christian Churches of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and India that, while being part of the Catholic Church in full communion with Rome, are distinct from the Latin Rite or Western Church. Ignorance of these churches is probably related to the fact that they make up only 2% of the membership of the Catholic Church.
Most Eastern Catholic Churches arose when a group within an ancient Christian Church that was in disagreement with the see of Rome chose to rejoin into full communion with that see. The Maronite Church, however, boasts of never having been separated from Rome.
I learned about these churches myself from a Keralan colleague working in Bangalore who belonged to the similarly constituted Syro-Malabar church. Both the Maronite and Syro-Malabar churches consider that they were cut off from Rome by accidents of war, politics, and history and then - in a sense - rediscovered.
There is quite a good Wikipedia article on the Maronite Church.
A couple of nuggets:
- Clerical celibacy is not, on the level of principle, obligatory for Eastern Catholic priests but, among the Maronites for example, monks must remain celibate, as must bishops who are normally selected from the monasteries.
- Bishops and priests of the Eastern Catholic Chuches celebrate the sacraments according to their own rites and Latin rite laity can recieve the sacraments in Eastern Catholic Rite form. Some priests may also have the permission to celebrate some or all of the liturgy of another rite. Thus some priests of one Eastern Rite may also occasionally say Mass according to another Eastern Rite or the Roman Rite, and some Roman Rite priests may occasionally say Mass according to one of the Eastern Rites. Biritual permission, when given, is usually limited to one specific rite in addition to the priest's native rite. The Pope, as head of all the Churches, can say Mass according to any rite.
I wish Benedict would do something more than just mouthing platitudes at Castel Gandolfo. He does "have a dog in that fight" to contradict the first Bush's Secretary of State's vulgar reaction to an earlier blood feud.