August 31, 2007

Princess Diana Ten Year Memorial

Today was the ten year anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. I still remember the day she died. It was shocking. Kensington Palace is just ten minutes from our house so I took a look. What a scene. Mostly media folks and fanatics.

Many of the signs were anti-Charles and Camilla.

The Web They Weave - only follow links if you don't mind critters

All the rains in Texas may be creating a tropical rain forest. The New York Times reports today about a giant spider web growing 50 miles from Dallas. Scientists think that with all the rains there are more mosquito's, flies and other grossness for spiders to enjoy. More food + more spiders = more webs.

Imagine the size of the "palmetto bugs" (aka cockroaches) that would be in our house this year if we still lived in Houston.

August 27, 2007

All of Notting Hill is a Stage

Back at midnight from our Scotland trip and up at 9am to experience the Notting Hill Carnival. We live along the parade rought and have a balcony overlooking the action. It started at 1pm and at 9.45pm it is still going strong.

All Edinburgh is a Stage

Stephen, our neighbor Laia and I did a whirlwind tour of Edinburgh this weekend taking full advantage of the various festivals. Day one we visited two galleries and three performances and day two was an additional two galleries and the Edinburgh Castle.

We started at the Dean Gallery with the Picasso on Paper exhibition - superb.

Next we crossed the street the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. This at the outdoor portion of the Richard Long exhibition and installation. The show is called Walking and Marking as Stephen is demonstrating here.

Here's a portrait of me and Laia outside the National Gallery of Scotland, host of the Andy Warhol exhibition which was also superb. Laia and Stephen were extra excited as they sited journalist Jeremy Paxman at the show.

This angry old dog caught my attention at a craft festival. Don't be messing with him.

Self-portrait at a cafe we visited on Sunday morning. Next is an overhead shot of Laia and Stephen having coffee/tea at the same cafe.

Here's a guy playing guitar along side a hoover he rigged to play a saxophone. Super strange. Anything goes at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Final image is of Polish stilt walkers who performed Macbeth. They came running up the Royal Mile and scared the crowd aside with their angry noises. I stood my ground and the guy on the left tried to push me over with his stilt. No scaring this arts manager - I've been pushed around by enough artists in my day.

Our favorite performance was by Will Adamsdale called The Human Computer. Tons of audience interaction and it worked.

I'm back

Well, most of you could see my posts but I couldn't. I'm borrowing the laptop from work and the cache was full and unable to reload my blog. Stephen told me the secret - Conrol F5.

August 24, 2007

Can you see me?

This is a test post as my last one did not seem to appear on the blog.


Adventures with Mom

Check it out - my mom has started a blog Adventures with Mom ! And you thought I was prolific?
Photo of Mom and Dad at a fundraiser event related to one of their many charity projects. You'll read all about them on Mom's blog.

August 22, 2007

Behold the Oracle's Wisdom Chai Loving Hippies

Want a good laugh - try the Oracle of Starbucks. Type in your favorite drink order and it gives you wisdom about your personality type. Spot on for me. Stephen will be much amused that it calls my a hypochondriac. Even says you probably live in California.

Beverage of choice: Soy Chai Latte, Tall

The all-knowing Oracle of Starbucks
Behold the Oracle's wisdom:
Personality type: Hippie

In addition to being a hippie, you are a hypochondriac health nut. You secretly think that your insistence on only consuming all-natural products is because you're so intelligent and well-informed; it's actually because you're a sucker. You've dabbled in Wicca or other pseudo-religions that attract morons and have changed your sexual orientation a few times this year. You probably live in California. Everyone who drinks soy chai latte tall should be forced to eat a McDonald's bacon cheeseburger.

Also drinks: Beverages with lots of marketing that says they're herbal and organic.

Can also be found at: Whole Foods, indoor rock climbing facilities.

I happened upon this when looking for cool email signatures to add to my work correspondence. Resulted in finding Information Week blog posting What Does Your E-Mail Signature Say About You?

August 20, 2007

Laptop a lagging

My poor old laptop has run out of juice. I'm in the process of getting a new cable from the US. Until then I'll be blogging from my work computer - on my lunch break.

Highlights of the week to come:

Edinburgh Festival: Friday - Sunday
Notting Hill Carnival: Monday

Photos to come...

August 17, 2007

Moments I've captured on mobile phone

As you know I love my mobile phone's camera and am always taking photos. Here are a few moments that have captured my attention so far this month.

Pay Day

Being paid once a month is really hard. I seem to run out of money before the month is over. To budget better I've setup a savings account called "buffer" into which I put spending money for each week of the month. As the week begins I release the money. However, the first few days after payday I seem to spend gobs.


1. New haircut (not a great face shot but good hair lighting).

2. New stereo system for my ipod

They both make me happy so that's worth a week's spending money.

August 15, 2007

Repeat, repeat, repeat

I feel like a broken record. Dealing with British Gas is like banging your head against a wall and then going back for more. Stephen and I had gotten to the point that a constantly dripping boiler was just a way of life.

And then they called. British Gas phoned last week to resolve the boiler "problem" and asked that we, once again, have an engineer come out and try to fix the beast. I told them to forget it, we're resigned to the situation. But no, he insisted that we try again and he was certain this time it would be fixed. An optimist at British Gas? I'm sure he was hired on a fluke.

So, today the engineer was supposed to come between 8.00-12.00, at least that's what the confirmation letter stated. So, I worked from home and waited. Of course 12.00 arrived and no sign of the guy.

British Gas: Thank you for calling, how can I help you?

Amy: An engineer was supposed to arrive between 8.00 and 12.00. It is now 12.00 and he has not arrived.

British Gas: Oh yes, but he has until 1.00pm to arrive. We can't do anything with your call until after 1.00pm.

Amy: But the letter says 8.00-12.00 which makes it difficult for people with jobs to plan their day if it is really that the period is until 1.oo. You should probably fix that on the letter.

British Gas: Yes, I hear your frustration. I apologise.

12.50 I look out the window and see a British Gas minivan zooming around our block apparently looking for a parking space. 10 minutes to spare. 1.15pm he still hasn't rung the bell. I call British Gas.

British Gas: Thank you for calling, how can I help you?

Amy: A British Gas engineer was supposed to arrive between 8.00 and 12.00 and when I called at 12.00 they said that he has until 1.00. Now it is 1.15 and he hasn't arrived.

British Gas: Yes, I hear your frustration. I apologise. Let me find out when he will arrive. [Pause as he calls British Gas engineer]. Yes, he attempted to call at 10.00 because the parts he ordered are broken or unavailable.

Amy: I was here at 10.00 and no one called. I have been able to send and receive calls today. There are no missed calls on my phone log. He did not call.

British Gas: He says that the line didn't connect.

Amy: This is a joke. We give up. Our boiler is never going to get fixed. Please stop making us see Engineers.

British Gas: Yes, I hear your frustration. I apologise.

Amy: I'm not going to take another day off from work to wait for an engineer who doesn't show.

British Gas: Someone will call you by the end of the day to discuss a visit. I suggest that you tell them you want an alternative solution.

Amy: Believe me, I will.

August 13, 2007

Location-neutrals A lifestyle I can get into

In today's New York Times, John Leland describes the location-neutral lifestyle in Off to Resorts, and Carrying Their Careers. This is a growing choice amongst professionals who can do their job from almost anywhere. Telephones, email, faxes (yes, they still exist) and the internet allow them to connect virtually.

Now this is a lifestyle I can get into. In fact, I was doing this when we first moved to Houston. There were folks who didn't know I wasn't in San Francisco and I didn't drop any hints. It was easy since we usually communited by email. Of course I wasn't living the resort life in Houston. It has been more difficult from London but with a US phone line into our flat (Bravo vonage) I do still participate in regular conference calls with San Francisco associates.

August 11, 2007

All Edinburgh's a Stage

Stephen, our friend Laia and I are heading up to Edinburgh later this month to explore the Edinburgh Festivals. There are seven or so official festivals taking place all at the same time. Each spare space in the city becomes a platform for performances and exhibitions. In fact, there are hundreds of festivals as each venue presents their own selection of international performances.

You can compose an entire blog about the history of the festivals and each year's preparations, performances and controversies. The Scottish Arts Council offers a history of the festivals and a list of their descriptions and dates. I recommend the Fringe Festival's blog.

We'll be there 24-25 August and then back to London on 27 August for the Notting Hill Carnival which is another interesting invent that I have yet to experience.

August 9, 2007

Things That Go Bump in the Night

In the middle of the night I heard a loud thump and then a distant scream. Stephen jumped out of bed and looked out to the street. Then he went to the living room for a better look. So, being the jaded city dweller that I've become I put the pillow over my ears and went back to sleep. Why get up when I have previously slept through car crashes, gang fights, police investigations and all sorts of late night happenings on our street in London? Heck, we lived through this in Oakland, San Francisco and Houston too.

In the morning Stephen opened the curtains to our back patio and there was a purse, business cards, money and a wallet spread all over the wood flooring. Again, being jaded I said, "probably someone stole the purse and threw it up over our balcony" (three stories over the street). Then Stephen pointed out the obvious, they hadn't taken the money.
Stephen, being the good samaritan that he is, called the number from the business cards. Five minutes later, while I was blow drying my hair, I looked up to see a stranger in our flat, a young woman who looked like she'd had a sleepless night. "Thank you so much for calling me," she said, "My purse and school bag fell over the balcony last night."

So, Stephen in his pajamas and me in my half frizzy, half dried hair, walked the mystery woman out to our balcony and then we looked over the scary edge into the abyss below. There, amongst years of yuck, was her school bag. The people downstairs, who are very mysterious, had told her that they didn't see any bag in their little pit of doom.
Now here are some mysterious bits of info...

1. Why was she on the balcony?

2. What balcony was she on? She said she was at a different address too buildings down the block.

3. Why did the people downstairs say they couldn't see any of her stuff when it was clearly visible?

4. Who are the people downstairs?

When you live in a big city you go anonymously on your way, usually. But this morning it was quite a pre-work adventure. The woman was able to get the folks downstairs to retrieve her bag.
When looking up the phrase things that go bump in the night I discovered that it is an old Scottish prayer.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Whenever we hear mystery sounds Stephen recites bits of this prayer. I had no idea what he was saying until today. Maybe I should just recite this and accept the mysteries of our downstairs neighbors and the story of the woman whose things went bump in the night.

August 8, 2007

Appreciating What You Eat

As Britain's cattle suffer from foot-and-mouth disease I am reminded of how important it is to appreciate what you eat. Creatures that have given their life to feed you should not be wasted. It's not that I'm saying we shouldn't eat meat, fish and poultry but that we should only take as much as we are going to eat.

I've always been turned off by people who preach about what foods others should consume. It is very personal. But I am really beginning to appreciate that meals do not just show up on your plate from some mystery source.

Visiting the markets in the UK nothing is hidden from you as it is in the packaged products in the US. When you make a purchase it is often coming straight from the farmer. The energy, passion and resources that were invested are evident in the quality of the foods. The loss of these cattle are impacting real people and their livelihoods as opposed to giant corporations running factory farms.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled news.

August 7, 2007

Update on Summer Fever

Still suffering from Summer Fever. Every minute at work feels like an hour. How many times can you check your email in a five minute period? At least ten times. Even spam is looking interesting. Is everyone on holiday?

Ah yes, a few more minutes of work wasted.

August 4, 2007

London Triathlon

Yesterday Stephen and I checked out the London Triathlon sponsored by Michelob (yes, the beer). It was a bittersweet day for Stephen as he was training to participate but injured his back about six weeks ago.

What a perfect day for the event. The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky and it was in the 80s (or something 20s if you can figure out Celsius) with tropical breezes. The setting was interesting, the ExCeL centre in the Docklands. This is a multi-purpose venue that can host trade shows, concerts and participatory sporting events. Pretty much a giant warehouse.
Thousands of athletes of all shapes, sizes and ages participated in groups of 300, launching into the water at 30 minute intervals. You could feel the tension. We were able to get up close to all the action and our first visit was the transition point for participants to get out of their wetsuits and start running to their bikes. This requires quite a bit of coordination and I found myself wanting to reach my hand over the barricade and give some of the athletes a hand. Those suits do not come off easily.

The above photo is from a suspension bridge that provided excellent viewing of the swimmers. We were surprised by how many folks were doing breast stroke. Some were speedy and others were setting their own pace but it didn't matter as long as you did your best. Here's a shot of the safety team's kayaks.

It was a fantastic event, superbly coordinated and endlessly exciting. Plus, there were tons of vendors selling all kinds of sporting goods at hugely discounted prices. We like that.

Stephen took some excellent shots which I hope he'll post on his blog watchstevego.

August 3, 2007

Summer Fever

Causes of Summer Fever: Beautiful weather, technology problems at work, many co-workers on holiday, lack of windows in office, sounds of people enjoying themselves outside.

Symptoms at work: Can't focus on work, dreams of going to Bermuda, open windows and gaze out at blue sky, take long lunches, sigh loudly, talk celebrity gossip with co-workers.

Cure: Get ye home! Luckily I had my bike on Friday and was able to leave at 1pm and ride home along the canal. Needing good rest to cure the disease I sun bathed in the garden across from our flat.

Ah yes, feeling cured.

August 1, 2007

Do it Yourself Headshots

My handy dandy mobile phone with camera has served me well again. I must say that I'm quite proud of these headshots - all self portraits with natural lighting and some help from photoshop. As a client I believe I was low maintenance and dressed appropriately.
My favorite is still the had escapade - this one adjusted in photoshop for full effect.
Looking at yourself like this makes you notice all the nuances of your face. For instance, one of my eyes is open more than the other. I could blame it on the phone but I think that's just how I look.