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OK, so I've posted barely at all in the last decade, but I do still read LJ, mostly to keep up with non-FB friends.

After the latest ToS update, I'm off with everyone else to DW (example22@, just in case I ever start posting again).

Web 2.0

Jul. 7th, 2008 08:35 pm
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While my delegates do their labs, I sit at the front of the class and browse the web. I feel guilty about this, so I try to avoid giggling, unless I can reasonably show them what I'm laughing about (like little Bobby Tables, for instance).

This week, I am mostly talking about web development, but Verity Stob has beaten me to it... (snicker) )
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So, I just got back from an event commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Section 28, which was nowhere near as dreary as it sounds. There was even a raffle -- alas, I didn't win the signed photo of Sue Lawley.

The whole thing was funny (abseiling lesbians! insider tips on crashing the six o'clock news!), thoughtful (how come we lost, when everyone was on our side?), and incidentally also a sobering reminder of what a Conservative government looks like. An eyewitness report from one of the presenters sums it up nicely: "A Conservative [Haringey] councillor spent the whole council meeting flicking sugar cubes at Bernie Grant, chanting 'Die, you diabetic bastard'." Mmm, lovely. Can't wait until they're running the country again.
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Some while ago, when I first started getting interested in the history of London, I came across George Vertue's map of the Civil War defences of London. (Teeny image here.) I live right next to the site of one of the forts, so this map caught my attention.

I've walked around the Roman walls fairly often; it's a pleasant stroll, and there are remnants of the wall to be seen. The Civil War defences are a more substantial walking proposition: from Wapping in the east to Buckingham Palace in the west, from the New River Head in the north to the Imperial War Museum in the south. Not only that, but there's nothing left to see: the defences were torn down almost immediately after the war, and Vertue drew his map nearly a century later.

There are primary sources, of course: Acts of Parliament, for a start, and apparently William Lithgow wrote a contemporary account (although he seems to have been nicknamed "Lying Lithgow", which is hardly encouraging). But who needs primary sources? There are no remains above ground, and I'm not about to start digging, so what difference does it make if I'm a hundred yards out?

At least, that's what I thought. I walked along the defences (ish) last weekend, took photos, and may even upload them eventually -- but now I'm starting to consider buying books about Civil War London. Just to, you know, make sure I was in the right place. This is presumably how OCD starts...
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The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival is back. It's free, and the last two years have been brilliant; the evening events tend to be particularly good. 19-22 June. Anyone else going?

The Wellcome Collection hasn't been open for very long, but it hasn't put a foot wrong yet. Upstairs is a bonkers anthropological collection, a bit like the Pitt-Rivers Museum but with waaaay more money. Downstairs they've had a succession of ace exhibitions; lately, "Life Before Death" has had all the press (and deservedly so), but "From Atoms to Patterns" is more fascinating. It's about crystallography, art, design and the Festival of Britain... oh, just go and see it if you're passing by, you won't regret it.

Islington also has a new museum, though this is probably of no interest unless you live here. Still, it's a big step up from the previous "museum" (two rooms in the town hall), so yay for the innumeracy tax Heritage Lottery Fund!

Lastly, there is officially no such thing as too many Leonard Cohen covers. MyOldKYHome hosts dozens of cover versions of Hallelujah alone, and there's even a whole article on the subject. Anyway, I now have an album of Hallelujahs: 42 versions of the same song, and they're different enough that I can listen all the way through without getting sick of it. YMMV, I suppose.
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Thou Shalt Not...

...record a demo tape if you make Florence Foster Jenkins sound like Karen Carpenter (O Nightingale).

...record Maxwell's Silver Hammer under any circumstances, but particularly not if Jessica Mitford is singing it.

...release Christian propaganda in the form of earworms with ridiculous titles (Harry the Hamster sings the 10 Commandments: The Sabbath Song, which I've been humming for the last three days, dammit).

...play anything by Bach using only non-melodic instruments (Bach for Percussion).

(Via aprilwinchell.com, Music for Maniacs and Beware of the Blog.) The Bach percussion appears to be entirely Serious and Artistic, but personally I'd never have guessed it was Bach. Those who know their Bach better than I do (teaparty.net, are you there?), what do you reckon?
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Some while ago, in a comment, I mentioned to [livejournal.com profile] juggzy that I'd written a program that used M*cr*s*ft Live Earth to generate random walks on a real map. It's great for photography practice: "go for this walk, and take five photos as near as you can to each of the stops". In a moment of unwarranted enthusiasm, I even promised to supply the code, but then I looked at the code, and, er, well.

Anyway, I rediscovered the application over Christmas. After I'd thrown it away and started again from scratch, I had a web page that could generate random walks, beer-glass walks and even themed walks (of which pub-crawls would be the canonical example, but you could do church-crawls or even Dixons-crawls if you really wanted to).

The user interface is appalling, and I make no claims for the code, other than "if you think that's bad, you should have seen version one", but it seems to more or less work. Try it out for yourself. Oh, and if it auto-generates you a suicidal walk: say "down the M4, across a minefield and then over a cliff", I disclaim all responsibility.
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In The Tummy Trilogy, the humorist Calvin Trillin complains that whenever he comes to town to give readings, his hosts always take him to the "Casa de la Maison House" for the best French food in <insert Midwestern town here>, but he really wants to go to the place where they went with their buddies when they got back from Vietnam. My motivations for avoiding the Casa de la Maison House are even more compelling: no way would my boss ever sign off on the expense claim.

Anyhow, there's no point in my reviewing posh restaurants -- you don't need me to tell you that the Fat Duck will put a big stupid grin on your face, or that Anthony's in Leeds has fabulous food but less atmosphere than Mars, or that if you're after the platonic ideal of "dinner with friends" then you should leave your cave and proceed directly to Chez Bruce. But what about if you're on a budget? Where can you eat and still plausibly claim the bill on expenses afterwards? Herewith my personal lone-traveller-with-limited-expense-account awards...

Best Restaurant Award )

Overworked But Useful Idea Award )

Not That Kind of Indian Award )

Home From Home Award )

Billy No-Mates Award )

Pub Heaven Award )

Gastro Desert Award )

Surprising Breakfast Award )

Wildly Eccentric Breakfast Award )

Got any city-centre recommendations for me to try in 2008? Of course you have! Go on, post a comment...
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Once again, I'm missing all the fun. I love London in the snow, but I'm currently in Edinburgh (where it is bastard cold, but not a single flake so far). Bah! Feh! Grumble!

I'm loving Edinburgh, though. Haven't been here since I was ten, so it's all new to me. And all the pubs are smoke-free, and it seems like most of them have free wireless access. What's not to like?
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"In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake, but I was only trying to retrieve the gerbil..." Puerile-but-fun link: Armageddon It On / The Gaye-Pride Apocalypso.

(PS: From the same album, not nearly so silly, and I absolutely love it: Laid Bamba)
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...an imponderable question from this week's London by London. I almost don't dare to read the text; it can't live up to the title.

I missed the weather! I was Up North all week, and never saw a single flake of snow. Bah. On the other hand, I have now seen Ayr (in the dark), Glasgow (in the dark) and Newcastle (in the dark). And I have blithered about SharePoint to literally dozens of people, most of them working for the NHS. For a treat, I'm now going to Stop Bloody Talking for the next few days....
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Lord Tebbit said: "Black is about being. Sexual orientation is about being. And we would not wish to discriminate against people for being black nor on grounds of their sexual orientation."

Norman Tebbit said that. I have apparently wandered into a parallel universe.

(Normal service was swiftly resumed: the old bigot went on to say "The concerns which are being expressed this evening are primarily about sodomy rather than about sexual orientation", and to vote exactly the way you'd expect him to.)
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The world is divided into Mozart fans and Wagner fans, and I am definitely a Mozart fan. Even so, I dithered for quite a while in HMV before I had an attack of box-set-ism and bought the complete Mozart. Only fifty quid in the sales, and it's one hundred and seventy CDs. That's a thirty-centimetre stack, weighing 3.4 kilos (and that's in paper envelopes; if they were in jewel cases, you'd have to build an extension to your house).

I'm all partied out (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] smallbeasts, for the New Year party, and [livejournal.com profile] purpletigron and [livejournal.com profile] purplecthulhu for the open house), and I now have the perfect reason to hibernate. 10 down, 160 to go...
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For your listening pleasure, may I suggest Otis Fodder's Holiday FreakIn, featuring Northern Telecom's "I Want An OC192 For Christmas", a Cantonese version of Hark The Herald Angels, and Quacky the Singing Duck. Not to mention the inimitable stylings of the Inpatient Music Therapy Program at the UMich Children's Psychiatric Hospital.

If that's a bit eccentric for your taste, then DJ Riko's Mixmas 2006 is closer to normal, without actually including anything you've heard before. And there's a new Santastic, though it's not as good as last year's...

Goodbye

Dec. 8th, 2006 10:36 pm
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The last train to North Woolwich is tomorrow night. And good riddance to it, though I'll miss the romantic middle-of-nowhere feeling of North Woolwich station itself...
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