Friday, January 01, 2010

Midwinter Greetings...

This year's Christmas toon is here, with apologies to Holst.

I borrowed a mandoline over the Christams hols. Next year I'm hoping to borrow a book on how to play it...

I did exactly 12 posts to CuL last year. That's nearly one a month.

Shame, 'cos it was a hell of a year....

Monday, July 13, 2009

That time of year, that type of place

Out on the Treader, inspired by yesterday's gripping TdeF stage (Go Bradley! Forza Mark! They don't make Blue Smarties any more, David!) Down to Addenbrookes hospital, and then along a dedicated cycle track to the village of Shelford (very Chandlers Ford - specifically, very Hoccombe Road).

Written into the path is an announcement that it forms the 10,000th mile of the National Cycle Network (Hooray!). This is followed by a mile long series of blue, green, pink, and orange stripes. At the beginning and end there's a metal sculpture of a double helix, and a sign explaining that the stripes represent a tiny piece of the human genome sequence - the real thing would stretch 15 times around the world and take a cyclist travelling non-stop 3 to 4 years to ride from end to end.

This, then, is Cambridge. They go for that sort of thing here, apparently.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009


Right... the bus has stopped, and I don't seem to have been on an aeroplane in the last ten minutes... OK, right, this must be Cambridge.

This morning I am running a class for teachers on Blogs and Wikis, and plan to show them CuL. Is this a good idea?

Cycled into the city centre yesterday. A surpsrisingly hairy journey for such a soppesedly bike-friendly city. There a bit with road works, where motor vehicles aren't allowed to overtake cycles. This involved me riding over a long hump back bridge with a bus three feet behind me. I may push through this bit next time...

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Rain in Spain...

Is falling everywhere today, not just on that soggy plain, and here in Oviedo, where it's hilly, and looks a bit like Devon or South Wales, it's a tad muggy and still drizzling.

Unlike Italy, it's seems to still be legal for people to smoke in a bar in Spain. Feels a bit quaint, really ...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Twitterblogging - In Transit

Here I am at Paris Charles de Gaules, waiting for a connection to Spain. CDG is an incredibly futuristic airport, but it`s greqt to see that the washrooms keep up the sanitory conditions traditional to this great nation.

French FHM is running a story - sonething on the lines of "What happened to Second Life; anatomy of a flop". I wonder if David Wossname and the LanguageLab guys have reqd this yet. I wouldnt dream of saying I told you so; well,mainly because I didn`t, but i wondered whether 2L was a bubble ready to burst.

Darn these Azerty keyboqrds. Must fly.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

For the Record

It's now over six months since we moved.

The giant 'Vote Tory' sign that has been put up on the wall in front of number 79 is nothing to do with us.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Twitterblogging 1 - Gongs and Toffs

Flew back on BA from Bari via Gatwick, with interesting travelling companions. On the first leg the band Gong were on board, who I have always been very fond of. Gong have been around since the 1960s, and gone through many lineup changes, and it was pretty easy to tell the 60(plus)- something original members from the newer musos. As I got off the plane I said 'hello' to leader Daevid Allan (now 70 according to Wiki), and said how much I liked their music and the good memories I had of gigs - he was very gracious, gave me a big smile and said 'Thanks, Man'.

Of course, in their heyday Gong wouldn't have needed British Airways to fly home. They were quite capable of flying anywhere they wanted... without need of an aeroplane.

On the flight up to Manchester there was a very drunk, but quite affable, youngish businessman who chatted to all and sundry. He'd just been to the Derby, and was still dressed in top hat and tails. Drunken toffs? Definitely a Burlington Bertie or PG Woodhouse moment.

Now going to listen to my copy of 'Camembert Electrique'...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Down in the Heel

If ever there's been a year in which I should have been blogging, this surely is it. Since my last posting I've been to Munich again, cycled across Holland and met up with James and Helene, and over the last three weeks have been travelling round Southern Italy - mostly down in Salento, the 'Heel' of Italy though now I'm in the Northern half of the same province, Puglia - on an examining tour. All I can say, is sometimes you're too busy living life to blog about it, which is probably how it should be. Anyway, when I get back home next week - before going off to Northern Spain for a further exam tour - I'll try and upload some piccies of places and people.

Right now I'm in the lovely city of Martina Franca in Puglia. I'm in a really nice hotel - went for a swim in the pool this afternoon and had a lemonsoda brought out to me by uniformed waiter - stripy waistcoat, silver tray, the whole works. They are now sending a guy to retrieve my swimmers that blew off the balcony while drying. If this was a standalone posting the title would be 'This isn't Travelodge'.

Everywhere you look in the countryside around here are truli, little conical buildings that look like the top of gothic towers. Here's some photos:

The truli clustered everywhere make it all look a bit toytown; you half expect the cast of Lord of the Rings to step out of a truli, and then you expect it to be Noddy and Big Ears; in the end it's some posh looking guy backing out his BMW. Anyway, tomorrow I have been invited to visit a truli. Watch this space - promise I will get back with more Twittersque postings for the rest of the summer.

Talking of heels, though, my feet are killing me...

Monday, March 09, 2009

The colour of nothing

To Wyboston (where?) for an examiners selection event. Wyboston is actually in that very particular middle of nowhere on the borders of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire where East Anglia starts; it’s all big skies, grain silos, muddy fields, roundabouts, warehouse distribution centres and B&Q and Carphone Whorehouse sheds. Think Peterborough, without the city of Peterborough. Clearly conference organisers choose these sorts of meeting venues to focus delegates’ attention on the matter in hand, because there’s absolutely sod-all beyond the door of the hotel to distract them. It’s a bit like that science fiction story (Robert Heinlein?) about the man who builds a multidimensional house and then when everything goes wrong, he opens a door and finds nothing on the other side. “What colour is nothing?”, asks the writer, “what shape is it?” This is also the second consecutive weekend I have spent in a hotel stuffing my face and talking about EFL; you can get too much of a good thing and it has to be said Wyboston is definitely not Munich.

Louise M from work is also at the event, and on Saturday night we sneak out, find a Tescos Extra for essential supplies, and go for a pint in Eaton Socon (where?). It’s one of those pubs you find in little places in East Anglia; basically one big public bar full of youngish locals. It’s OK, but when we sit down I say to Louise, “this is the sort of place you don’t realize you didn’t fancy going in until you’ve actually gone through the door, and by then it’s too late.” A few minutes later I look up and realize the landlord has been leaning on the back of our booth the entire time we’ve been there, and earballing every word of our conversation. He doesn’t smile, when we go out…

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Achtung Baby (taking a turn for the Wurst)

To Munich over the weekend for a publishers meeting (no, really!). It’s a very handsome city with lots of fine buildings and parks, and the River Isar running through the middle, though it’s not the time best of year to see anywhere, with the grass a dirty khaki and piles of grubby snow around – this was how Germany always looked when we’d drive through in the winter to and from Greece. But it’s cheerful in the city – Munich taxis are the colour of double cream and everybody’s very jolly. It’s a good hotel with very nice food – and this is Bavaria, so naturally there’s pots of lard on the table (see CuL 2003).

Sadly, I don’t get much time for sightseeing, but here’s some pictures:

The Angel of Peace. Very Wings of Desire, very Rock n Roll photography.

On the edge of the English Garden this tributary of the river was thundering through and over a weir, generating a standing wave which these guys were using to surf while staying in the same spot. As Asterix would say ‘these Germans are crazy’.

The Rathouse. No, I'm not making that gag...

Shakespeare's Juliet, a present to Munich from the city of Verona, with some of her modern equivalents.

These two American lads were enjoying a chat and a beer in the Viktualienmarkt. It's a très relax sort of city...

The Cathedral book shop. Maybe this is why everything in Munich was closed on a Sunday afternoon...


Saturday, February 14, 2009


Googling has just revealed to me for the first time that it was actually "the sweet taste of her cherry chapstick" in that Katy Perry song, and not "the sweet taste of her cherry chopstick".

I had been wondering what exactly a cherry chopstick was, and so, apparently, had at least 100,000 other people who posted about it across the net. Girl needs to get her vowels together.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A serious bit for the New Year

One thing people on newsgroups such as Alt Usage English regularly bang on about is which decade years like 1970, 1980 and 1990 belong to. Was 1980 the first year of the 80s, or was it, in fact, the last year of the 70s? The argument is based on the fact that we count "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10"; not "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9" and thus any sequence of ten numbers should begin on 1 and end on 10.

Although the AUE people are making an argument about English usage here, there’s also a cultural side of this to consider; when you think about it the 1960s didn’t actually end until about 1974.

The same argument could be made about this current decade; should it be seen as the final ten years of the 20th Century, or the first of the 21st? Over the first nine years of the 2000s little seemed to change; people carried on killing each other over petty tribalism while the ability of the planet we all live on to sustain life seemed to be rapidly going down the toilet. Big business invented ‘globalisation’, a fancy word for the imposition of worldwide homogenised cultural blandness. The world got a little more dull and we all became obese.

But maybe as this first decade comes to an end, real change is coming. The credit crunch is finally ending Thatcherite greed culture. Then there’s the new man in the White House. Listening to Obama’s inauguration speech this week, a politician finally talking seriously about the economy, both of his own country and of the world, about the environment, and about a realistic harnessing of the technology we are all going to need to survive, it felt as if the first time in many years there may be reason to feel positive about the world to come:

“We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality”.

And there was more, real cause for hope. who knows, maybe future historians will come to see the first day of the twenty-first century as being 20 January 2009.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

And a...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Two questions

1. A drum sample lasts 3.78 seconds. What does the song tempo have to be in beats per minute (bpm) to stretch it over two bars of 4|4?

2. All those musos like the Chems who say they create music while off their faces on various substances... how do they work out stuff like that?