Month: March 2010

We’re all Ambassadors…

Me standing in front of the Petronus Towers

A couple of random events happened to create this picture.

My friend Dan was criticising a TV program, and commented that he would rather watch mega-structures.

I had the house to myself, I was channel surfing, I saw mega-structures on the listing and started watching it.  This week it was about the Petronus Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

I became fascinated with the Towers and Kuala Lumpur, and added them to my bluelist.

A year later I was standing in Kuala Lumpur. I wandered around for ages to find the right spot to take the picture.

I needed someone to take it for me. I waited for 30 minutes, until some young girls came by. They didn’t speak a word of English, and it took 7 goes (even with a simple digital camera) to setup the shot.

Me in Tiananman Square.

This is a photo taken in Tiananmen Square.

The chap in this picture, had travelled by bus for 4 days, to visit the final resting place of Mao Zedong, or Chairman Mao as he is known better, in the west.

He asked to be photographed with me, because quite simply, he had never met anyone, before that moment, who wasn’t Chinese !.

As I joked at the time, if I’d known the picture would have such significance to him, I would have lost some weight in advance of it 🙂

He and his wife had an old style film Camera, which his wife used to take their picture. The photo above, is actually her 2nd attempt with my camera. This is the first. She mistook the lens as a viewfinder, and photographed her own face !.

A chinese woman, using my camera, who managed to photograph her own face !

In the 8 things I hate section of this website, I am critical of Liam Gallagher. As I put it, we are all ambassador’s for something, and as a fellow and proud Mancunian, he offends me. Whenever I travel, I try to remember this, (I mean, that Im an ambassador for my country.  I don’t go around apologizing to strangers for Liam Gallagher’s existence!).

It goes the other way too. If someone if visiting YOUR country, then they are a guest, and you should act as an Ambassador for your country, at home as well.

What has this got to do with anything. Well the pictures above, would have been impossible to take, without the friendly assistance of passers by.

In the last couple of days, here in Chester, on several occasions, I have seen a wife or husband posing for a photo while the other takes it.

I pause to watch what happens, and see dozens of local people just walk past them. I walk over, and ask they if they would like a picture together. I have done this all over the world, they never decline. Its what they wanted all along, they just didn’t like to ask.

The next time you see a group of tourists/foreigners, whatever you want to call them, capitulating around something with a camera, why not offer to take the picture. Even if they don’t need your help, they will be delighted that you offered your time to help them.

Keeping Busy

The washing machine I fixed.

I’m organising my birthday for the afternoon/evening of the 8th of May. If you fancy coming, put it in your diary.

I’ve been doing all sorts of interesting things lately. As well as my daily study on networking and virtualization, I’ve branched out into other things. Amazing though it sounds, in the last few days, I have designed flyer’s for local bands, repaired a washing machine, painted a room, rebuilt a laptop, and delivered furniture. If you live nearby and there’s an odd job you want doing, then give me a shout.

Dan has Finally moved to Nantwich (I’m off to see him tomorrow) and my lodgers leave in 11 days.

While I’ve been experimenting with technology, Ive found that windows 7 is absolutely fab on net-books. I had always believed that windows XP was the weapon of choice for that kind of platform, but if you have a net-book, and want to get loads of new useful features, and see it run a lot faster (basically, all the stuff that Vista promised, and didn’t deliver on) then I would definitely recommend it. There is a brill video, about how to install it from USB here.

The Beach at Prestatyn

Adventure wise, I went over to Prestatyn the other day. It was great to walk along the beach in the sunshine. There are still loads of hills to climb in my life at the moment (much like everyone else’s I imagine) and its nice occasionally to just get away.

Next weekend is the National Outdoor Show. Loads of friends I’ve met adventuring and companies I’ve used, are going to be there. Its run over 3 days, if you get some time, pop over to the NEC and see what you can find.

A stupid sign that I saw at the cinema.

Why do they do this. I mean if it really MUST  remain locked at all times, why not just take the doors off, and build a wall there !!!???.

Congratulations to my friend Matt Bridges. After earning/obtaining/winning 3 degree’s previously, he has finally decided on his 4th, to wear the funny hat, and accept his 4th degree formally.

On a more serious note, the plight my old friend Oliver Richardson, and his wife Jess. Some of you will remember that I met him at IBM, and travelled to their wedding in Las Vegas . They moved to the US some years ago, and recently went to Mexico and adopted a little boy called Hugo.

Jess has been out there with the baby continuously for several months, in the murder capital of Mexico. It was actualy featured on US TV, you can see it here.

Happy Birthday to an old friend.

On the bottom left of the picture, Jon Mallet in Morocco

Hi everyone.

I completely re-wrote the site, about a year ago, with the help of  Henrik, and its much easier to update now. It still takes quite a lot of work, to sit down, prepare articles, format pictures and stuff like that (obviously I am able to save the time that other people would use checking spelling etc 🙂

A couple of people , make it a genuine pleasure to write this site. You know who you are, but one in particular, is Jon Mallet, who I met on a desert survival course a couple of years ago (he’s pictured above, on the lower left of the picture. You can read about the trip, here and here.)

We have been friends ever since, and he has twice driven all the way from London, to attend my birthday.

Anyway, its his birthday on the 9th of March, and I just wanted to say happy birthday, and thanks for being a mate.


The Wire

I recently watched the final episode of The Wire. If you haven’t seen it, its true what people say, its probably the best TV series ever made.

I’ve started watching foreign films (Akira, said to be the best manga film ever made).

On the comedy front, watched Step brothers. Absolutely hilarious (you can watch the “dinosaur” scene here).

Overheard a conversation in the pub the other day. A young woman I know quite well, called Becky, was talking to someone at the bar. Describing a TV series, she was asked what channel it was on.

I was expecting to hear a reply like BBC 3, SKY 1 or something like that. In reply she said , do you know BBC I player ?.  I’ve wondered for sometime, when media would fully cross over from TV to Computer etc. Its started already.

In terms of American TV, I’ve just started watching Prison Break. Fringe has just finished, with a rather disappointing finally.

Nip Tuck, a series Ive been watching for ages, finally finished the other evening. It had  jumped the shark completely. Even the final episode was pretty terrible.

Joss Wheedon’s Doll House has ended. I cant help feeling that it never really found its feet.

House is good as ever, and the jury is still out on Caprica, the series that precedes the dazzling, Battlestar Galactica.

British SUL.

bowler hat

This seems to be doing the rounds by email. I can’t say that I found the things said about other nations, particularly funny, as I have friends from most of them. I did however think it captured the essence of British’ness really well. Have a read and tell me what you think.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to a “Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

The Scots raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line in the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability. It’s not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout loudly and excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans also increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose”.

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile and as usual are carrying out pre-emptive strikes, on all of their allies, just in case.

And in the southern hemisphere:
New Zealand has also raised its security levels – from “baaa” to “BAAAA!”.  Due to continuing defence cutbacks (the air force being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister’s bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is “Shit, I hope Australia will come and rescue us”.
Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, mate”. Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey”, “I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend” and “The barbie is cancelled”. So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

Reflection, Painting and Sunday lunch.

The Corning staff canteen. Picture with Matt Bridges and Mike Delafield.

Some of you will remember, about 10 years ago, when I worked at a company called Corning.

Christmas before last, I was out with Dan, and I ran into 2 old friends, Matt and Glenn (Matt is pictured above, along with Mike Delafield).

I’m still unemployed, but I try to keep up a routine, until I get another job (I normally get up early, look for jobs, go for a long walk, come home and then do some technical study).

The last couple of months have been really hard, and Christmas being unemployed is particularly miserable. There have however, been some positive things to come of it.

I have used the time for reflection. One thing I have definitely committed to doing, is living simply, as I do now, once I have another job. Put simply, I will never waste money the way I have previously.

I have also tried to contribute to charity a bit more, and help out friends, where I can. One such example, was Matt Bridges. A busy contractor now, he needed sections of his house painting, and simply didn’t have the time.

Before anyone pipes up about me claiming benefit and working, I actually did it for nothing.

Sunday Lunch at Matts House.

Well not completely for nothing, I got to have this really superb Sunday Lunch with Matt, his 2 daughters Connie and Eve, and I even got to meet his mum.

And, I also learned how to paint !.