"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

"Don't think, feel....it is like a finger pointing towards the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory!" -Bruce Lee

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Windsor & Wii

We went over to Windsor this afternoon, following a wii surprise this morning in Kingston. Games had to be bought, so we thought we'd go and see what Windsor had to offer. It's a very nice town, and definitely getting in to the Christmas spirit! We had animatronic reindeer, carol singing butchers, the lot. The Queen's Christmas tree up at the castle was also a rather good effort I think!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Guildford fog

I had the day off today so we decided to brave to cold to go and pick up some new gloves, and do a bit of window shopping in Guildford. As we got further and further from Oxted, the fog descended. By the time we got to Abinger Hammer, we couldn't see much more than 5 metres in front of the car, and by Gomshall we had some kind of black bin bag attached to to the underside of our car, and stinking as it melded itself to something important.. lol, oh well!

Anyway we stopped off at Newlands Corner on the way, for some chips & mayo to warm up, and decided to take a few piccies of the fog! I think it looks sufficiently frosty.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Scary teen slang

Lol. I am starting to think that perhaps I am no longer 'down wit' the youth of today', and 'talkin' da lingo'. I just thought I'd post this funny link that Ruth sent me. It's a BBC quiz on modern teen slang, so you can see how many words you actually recognise. Apparently, according to a study by Lancaster uni, teenagers use just 20 words to comprise a third of their speech. Lol, and I'm quite sure I don't know any of them. (I managed to get 3/10 in that little quiz through pure multiple choice guesswork, is it just me?!)

I was also thinking this earlier in the week when I went up to Barnet again, for the team meeting/all day lunch, and one of my colleagues mentioned that her teenage son referred to his girlfriend, as his 'link'. Now that's a new one on me! Apparently it signifies an 'open' relationship, but the 'link' can only go out with other people that are linked in some kind of network.. it all sounds far too complicated to me!

It's crazy how quickly this new language has developed, it sounds to me a little like a McDonald's menu crossed with Nadsat, the language of Alex and his droogies in Burgess' 'A Clockwork Orange'. Eek, lets just hope the ultraviolence doesn't catch on too, or the jelly moulds come to that.

Here's a quick festive photo I snapped at Victoria, on my way back from London.. if you look really closely you can see a Christmas tree in there! I just thought it looked pretty..

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wow, fame!

This family history stuff is so interesting! Yesterday my uncle happened to mention that he'd been speaking on the phone to a relative of ours, and it came up in conversation that one of her uncles had been a famous art forger. Well, with a bit of investigation, I found him, his name was sitting right there in our family tree, with the profession of 'painter' listed! So it turns out that Tom Keating was my grandfather's cousin! You can read about him on wikipedia, see his work at the Bridgeman Art Library, more images here, and buy his work from the Sygun Museum of Wales Sale of Surplus Items on ebay. Wow, who'da thought we'd have someone famous in our tree. I love that his Dad was a painter/decorator!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Strange thing at Oxted station..

Well, I was going to write about this on Thursday, but we seem to be having terrible trouble with ntl at the moment that's making the Internet soo slow/uncooperative! Interesting problem when you work from home, lol! (I notice it has a particular aversion to Friends Reunited admin for some reason, although I'm not sure I can blame it! My laptop didn't like genetic algorithms either, hmm.. ;P). Anyway, blogger has been a definite no-no for a while, but just at the moment it seems ok, so we'll see how long it will last before another mammoth phone call to ntl India is in order.

I'm sure you used to be able to ring them up and they would reset your box remotely to magic it better. Now it seems they can't. They tell you to disconnect all the cables in your house, running back to the phone to report after each one, turn everything off, then plug everything in again. He then got rid of me by saying I needed to wait 5 mins before turning anything on again. I was on the phone the first time for about an hour and a half, and he effectively told me in a very laborious manner that I needed to reset my box. Which I'd already done before phoning, hmm... Needless to say, it didn't work, so I had to phone up again! This time I said which particular website was being slow, and let him know that no-one else at work was having trouble with it, and he replied with the very helpful response "Well, it looks alright for me, madam". Lol. In the end he just ended up telling me to change my proxy server address by one digit, which seemed to help for some reason, but the speed does still seem to be fluctuating, a lot. Well, I don't know..

Lol anyway, there was a point to this post other than ranting on about ntl..

On Thursday evening we wandered over to the Oxted Inn for supper, and spotted some kind of incident at the train station. I'd been wondering what was going on because of the unusual number of sirens I'd heard going past the house earlier. Anyway, when we got to the station there were three ambulances parked outside, all deserted, but with the doors left wide open and the lights flashing. We were going to have a look inside the station to see if we could see what the matter was, but just as we got there the ticket guy had just locked up the front door so no one could get in. What I found strange was that there were no police, and the place seemed to be deserted. I would have thought that anything that would warrant three ambulances would also require the police, but maybe they'd already left. I'd just really like to know what it was, nosy as I am. It did seem odd!

Monday, November 20, 2006

J H Lorimers, Oxted, new toy shop!

Ooh, I just got a comment on my post about J H Lorimers in Oxted, and their lack of toys. I have it on good authority, from a Lorimers employee, that they are going to be taking over the old travel agents shop next door, and turning that into their toy section! Good news! =)

Hmm.. well just as I was writing that, my bowl of cornflakes decided to throw itself off my settee arm, and into my camera case, over all my memory cards.. yuck! I think I should avoid electronic goods for the time being.. my phone is still sitting in the airing cupboard from when I somehow dropped it in my drink of water last week. These things always seem to come in 3s, I just dread to think what the next will be.. maybe killing my laptop charger counts..

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I want a Ugobe Pleo!!

What a cool robotic dinosaur! Have a look at this youtube video.. lol its so cute when it gets scared at the edge of the table!

Merstham -Playing on the motorway

Monday, November 06, 2006

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

well what can I say.. we have just got back from seeing one of the most controversial films of the moment.

My impressions:

-The section set in Kazakhstan I found a little bit wrong, I think this was because I got the distinct impression that a number of the people being filmed did not know what they were letting themselves in for.. I just hope they wouldn't be insulted if they had the faintest idea what they were taking part in.

-The section set in America, I found interesting, and a little scary. In a way it reminded me of 'Louis Theroux's wierd weekends', but what was scary was some of the genuine American reactions to the character of Borat, and attitudes that emerged, in particular at the rodeo, and the part with the misogynistic college boys.

-The humour in the film lies in a Mr Bean/Trigger Happy TV style comedy: a naïve and socially inept, yet unintentionally funny guy stuck amongst people who take everything in life very seriously.

-The Kazakhstan anti-semitism portrayed in the film is bizarre; I'm not sure why it was included!

-Why did he speak Polish?

-I wonder how they filmed the parts with the grizzly bear..

I'm sure I'll think of more later..

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers

Well last night we went to see the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers at the Dorking Halls. Taiko drumming originates in Japan as a form of entertainment, however this group of predominantly Scottish women, is the only one of its kind in the UK. The group was founded by Neil Mackie, who studied the art in Japan for a number of years.

It was amazing how versatile drumming can be, who would have thought that you could be entertained for a whole evening by six people with drums (well, and some gongs, singing bowls, didgeridoos, and flutes, actually!), but the drumming just on its own was compelling to watch! In the end, you did end up wanting to have a go.. I think this is maybe what they had in mind -ensuring that everyone received their complimentary programme with training course flyer inside! Good plan!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Remember remember the fifth of November..

Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

So, yesterday we headed over to Tandridge Village for our Guy Fawkes night bonfire & fireworks!

We started off at 'The Barley Mow' for a drink, and the judging of the Guys. Every year, the kids of the village design all kinds of human sized Guy figures to be thrown on the bonfire (looks kind of sick actually!). They had some quite good ones this year, I think I saw a vampiric Elvis one which was cool! I wonder which politicians were being burnt at the stake in Lewes this year.. now that was a frightening experience; we went there a couple of years ago when I was living down in Brighton, and we spent the whole time trying to find police to stand next to to avoid fireworks being thrown at us by people in the crowd! Dangerous students!

Anyway, the torchlit procession then emerged from round behind the pub, which we joined to walk up the hill to the bonfire field..

Grabbed some tomato soup, and a veggie hot dog whilst they lit the bonfire with the torches!

It all looked very pagan..

And finished off with some fireworks!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why Friends Reunited is better than MySpace

1. Myspace..

2. Friends Reunited has given me the afternoon off for answering all my emails!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Shiny new Oxted Sainsburys

I walked down into town at lunch time, and it looks like the new Sainsburys local is open! It looks like its open til 11pm daily, which is excellent compared to Morrisons and their closure at dusk. The place was actually very busy, I will have to pop in at some point and see what sort of food they're doing. I also noticed that a new wine bar/bistro thing has opened in the town - near to Oxfam -interesting, it seems the night life of Oxted is on the up, it'll be Ikon Diva next, lol!

Oops I dropped a clanger!

Lol, I just got an email from someone who has accidentally deleted themselves from the site, claiming to have "dropped a clanger!". Hehe.. I love it! Poor old clanger.. =(

photo originally uploaded by biscuittin.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boston pumpkin health & safety nightmare!

I was looking on flickr the other day for pumpkin designs (there really are some incredible ones on there btw!), and I happened across this photo.. this is the Boston Pumkin Festival, held on 21st October this year. Apparently, with 30,128 lit pumpkins all in one place, it broke a world record! I wonder how they put them all out afterwards..

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hallowe'en! (tomorrow)

So tonight was pumpkin carving night!! =)

mine's the little one!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Box Hill: sunset over Dorking

Bath -half term

We started off half term week,with a trip over to the Somerset, Avon, and Wiltshire area last weekend. We stayed at Corston Fields Farm, a B&B/working farm in a little village just outside Bath - very pretty.

We set off on Friday about 5ish, after James got back from work. The journey was supposed to take 2 hrs 20 mins door to door, lol, now that was an optimistic prediction! 4 hours later we were parked on the motorway somewhere between Heathrow and Reading. It turned out our journey had coincided with about 3 lorry crashes, one after another. After passing each one, we would speed off, only to be greeted a few miles down the road by another. Anyway, we finally arrived in Bath around midnight, and the farm was long asleep. We'd phoned them up earlier to let them know we were going to be late, and they told us they'd leave the key in the door for us. Lol, when we got there though, it was pitch black, so the seemingly easy task of finding the door to our annex posed slightly more of a challenge than anticipated. We completely overlooked the obvious option - the door facing out into the courtyard where we parked the car (didn't even see it!), and decided the annex would probably be somewhere random. We went around the back, and found something that looked vaguely likely, and tried the door. Nope. Wrong door! Probably gave someone a nasty fright! Then we snuck around the other side, still nothing.. slightly concerned we'd found the wrong farm, and anticipating eviction for trespassing, we headed back to the car, looked around again, starting to consider a repeat of the York car camping experience, and that was when we noticed the door -right there -with key as promised! We must have been tired.

On Saturday we tried out the park & ride into Bath centre, good value. We did all the touristy stuff: started off with the Roman baths -listened to Bill Bryson's audio commentary, tasted the warm bath water (yuck), saw the Royal Crescent, ate lunch next to the Pulteney Bridge, had a look around Bath Abbey, and nipped in a few shops to have a look at the Hallowe'en stuff.

In the evening we booked up for a Fright Night at Wookey Hole, some caves near Cheddar Gorge, so we went for a drive around the villages to get over there, past (I later found out) where Anthony Stewart Head (aka Giles from BTVS) lives, and stopped off in Wells for some supper. When we got to Wookey Hole, the whole place was deserted, save for about two cars and some tumbleweed, lol. We sat there for a few minutes, just in case anyone else showed up. In fact, we did see someone, and they left! In the end we decided we'd rather not walk around some caves in the middle of the night while a teenaged tour guide slightly embarassedly tries to scare us, lol, so we went off to Bath again to see what was going on there.

We ended up going to the cinema, as we noticed that Alan Bennett's 'The History Boys' was on -really enjoyed it.

On Sunday, we went back to Wookey Hole for a slightly less frightening tour, acompanied by a selection of small witches and Frankenstein's monsters that obtained free entry, and proceded to shed bits of costume along the way. These are really good caves! I remember the last time I went, one of our tour party was this old lady, who was one of the original cave exploring divers, what an amazingly brave woman, you wouldn't catch me diving into pitch black underground tunnels full of skulls.

After that, we went on to Longleat safari park, home of Animal Park, which was absolutely amazing! We had a monkey climb on our car, and a lioness walked right up to our car door to say hello! Incredible. We also saw zebras, giraffes, rhinos, tigers, baby lions, vultures, flamingoes, wolves, all sorts! I don't think the experience was in any way hindered by the drizzle, in fact I think it may have even given us a better view of the animals with less cars about! Highly recommended. =)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Does this person look familiar?

Well, today I happened to stumble across this interesting piece of software called Morpher, that allows you to enter two photos, and it will morph from one to the other.. it's especially designed for averaging multiple face shots etc. Couldn't resist, lol. It's really fun to play around with actually! Gonna try morphing the cat into the dog next.. hmm.. could be strange..

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sooo, what have I been up to this week..

It's been quite a busy week. Due to working with quite a high proportion of young Mums, my holiday entitlement does not seem to include half terms. This is due to "Temp's rights", i.e. none. Lol. Oh well, so I decided if I wasn't allowed half term, I would take a few days off the week before, to potter around, and do some catching up with things! It's actualy turned out very nicely; after working Monday and Tuesday, I went to Brighton with Ruth on Weds to have a look around the shops, and look in wonder at the amazing Halloween offerings in Choccywoccydoodah, drink Ben & Jerry's ice cream milkshakes, and play with the record players in HMV. Always good. We also sat on the beach for a while, until we became unnerved by an aggressive looking man throwing rocks in our general direction, lol, I think he was fixated on a can about 2 metres away from us, oblivious that some people prefer not to be hit by the resulting shrapnel -fussy, I know!

Anyway, then yesterday, I headed over to Laura et al's to meet new baby Charlie, and play trains with George! =) It is amazing how quickly they grow!

And this evening we're off to Bath. AA route planner seems to be a little bit up the creek at the mo, but hopefully we won't get too lost. Actually, the last mishap we had with AA routefinder was kind of my fault, hrm, because I printed off the directions to Bluewater, and already had some printed directions to Horsham lying about in the car. Somehow, I really don't know how I managed this, the directions sort of got mixed up, and we kind of ended up in Crawley. Lol, what was most embarassing was the number of times that James had actually said "really?!", "I really don't think this is the right way Lucy.. are you sure this is to Bluewater?". Oops.

Oh yeah, we do actually have some photos from last weekend to upload too. On Saturday we went to Bluewater(!), actually the not-to-scenic route this time, followed by Canterbury -we looked around the cathedral and everything (in the midst of Fresher's arrival day I think). I really like Canterbury cathedral, I think the stained glass windows there are amazing. Sunday was James' Mum's unofficial birthday, so we went over to Hinchley Wood for tea and a Chinese, after stopping in on Wakehurst Place for a bit of Autumn photography.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Relative left hand finger length an indicator of a masculine/feminine brain?

I remember learning about this in Psychology a few years ago, and I heard it again today on 'Child in our time'. There is a theory that if your left hand ring finger is longer than your left hand index finger, you will have a more masculine brain.

"Since the relative lengths of our fingers seem to stay fixed throughout our lives, they are robust markers of what our early life was like in the womb-fetal fossils, if you will. Take a close look at your own hands. Pay particular attention to your index and ring fingers. In women, the two fingers tend to be almost equal in length, as measured from the crease nearest the palm to the fingertip. In men, the ring finger tends to be much longer. The ratio of the lengths of the index finger to the ring finger is called the 2D:4D ratio, and low ratios are considered "masculine", high ratios "feminine"."

This is such a dodgy theory! Lol, you can read the New Scientist article here.

Originally uploaded by kipperfrog.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Autumn & Wisley Gardens

Feeling the need for some photo opportunities on such a beautiful Autumn day, today we went over to Wisley Gardens, near Working. I only ever remember going there once before, and that was years ago with my friend, her Mum, and a group of foreign students from all over the world (her Mum taught English as a foreign language). What we actually did was go there for a picnic, and the idea was that each person brought some food from their own country, for everybody to try. I always thought that was such a good idea! I don't think you could get a more interesting assortment of food! Yum!

I was also reminded today, of my first year at uni when I was living in halls with lots of international students, including a couple of American girls. It was around this time of year that I went into the kitchen to find an enormous turkey sitting in the sink; I wasn't particularly surprised because in uni halls all sorts of strange things seem to turn up (particularly in York, I've heard.. boats?!). Anyway, it turned out that our Americans had decided to cook us all a proper Thanksgiving dinner! It was very sweet, they piled us all into the largest bedroom they could find in our block, with all our food, and special Thanksgiving bread (that was delicious -wish I could remember what it was called), and told us the story of Thanksgiving. Very nice and unexpected! =)

Anyway, I digress, Wisley gardens.. I always remembered the place as being very picturesque, and today we weren't disappointed. A selection of the photos are as follows, see the full stream here!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Slava's Snow Show @ The New Wimbledon Theatre..

is where we have been this evening! Seems to be a week for the theatre..

Here are a few pictures from the finale!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Stupid chavs

James and I went to Crawley last night for a bit of late night shopping, and ended up going over to the leisure park for some food. Just when we were heading back to the car, I felt a blow to the back of my head, I turned around a bit confused, and James was saying he felt something hit his shoulder, but we couldn't see anything suspicious. It was really wierd. And then the group of teenagers walking along next to us started apologising, which was even more confusing, because they didn't look like the sort of people to go around hitting people in the street. It turned out that they were running away from some chavs that they knew, who were pelting them with conkers, nice aim. I think they scarpered pretty quick when they realised what they'd done.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An evening (or sometimes an afternoon) with Bill Bryson

What a quality guy. We just got back from the Harlequin theatre in Redhill, where we saw Bill Bryson for an evening of book readings, anecdotes, and random slides. Today was the second day of his world tour, which started in High Wycombe yesterday.

So, after 8 years of living the American life in New Hampshire with his wife and kids, he is now back living in Norfolk, enjoying once more the eccentric British sense of humour, and our fondness for small pleasures such as cakes with jam and raisins, cold days in beach huts wearing anoraks, and nice cups of tea, "ooh lovely".

Apparently the move back to England was provoked, in part, by his neighbour Ted. Being brought up on a diet of puns and banter, Bill just couldn't resist winding this guy up. The entertainment value provided by these daily quips was increased tenfold by this poor guy's consternation; it just served to encourage Bill further. He would compliment Ted on the camoflaging he had created for his car, only to be informed "Oh no, Bill, it's not that at all, I'm taking this storm fall-down to the tip"; and he would reply to his questions, such as "Did you have a good flight? Who did you fly with?" with "Well, to be honest I wasn't introduced to many people of the flight..", you know, the way that you do. In the end, his wife actually had to ban him from talking to the guy because people were starting to think he was wierd. It seemed that despite living in an American idyll, the people just didn't get his jokes, so back to England they came.

He started off the evening by telling us how relunctantly the tour managers had agreed to an evening of book reading and questions, and how they had encouraged him to make the show more of an audio visual sensory experience. They suggested he perhaps should show some slides of America to break up the talking. So that is what he did, lol, quite literally. He had about 5 or 6 slides on a Powerpoint presentation showing childrens playground slides and helter-skelters from various places in America. Aha, very clever.

Anyway, he then went on to talk about his collection of amusing headline clippings that he had accumulated over the years. I'm desperately trying to remember one of the ones he told us now, but I can assure you they were funny. You know the sort of thing I mean, where a headline sounds perfectly fine one way you read it, but you look at it again, presumably after it has gone to print, and you realise the dreadful conotations of what you've written! He had a great transatlantic assortment of those.

What else..

He finished off with a Q&A section, where I think the best answer he gave was in response to what he had done so far as chancellor of Durham uni. He said that actually, he had done very little except shake peoples hands on graduation day, and that a chancellor is a little like a bidet (thanks for correction bigblue!): nobody knows what it is for, but everyone is glad to have one. Lol.

Check out my signed book! =) Signed for me personally after the show, wow!

My Little Klingon

Next up is my version of the custom MLP that started the whole thing off..

Bill Bryson

We're just off for "An evening with.." Bill Bryson =)

Friday, September 29, 2006

9 baby pandas!

Aww.. these things are so cute!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Virgin Galactic

I found this promotional video for Richard Branson's new commercial space travel enterprise, Virgin Galactic! Some excellent footage of the prototype spaceship and mothership on there.. take a look!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Children of Men

So this evening we decided to go over to Croydon to see 'Children of Men' at the cinema, the screen adaptation of the 1993 book by P.D.James. What an amazing, although entirely traumatic, film.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Barnet fayre..

So today I've been up to Barnet, the home of Friends Reunited, where the company originated in someone's back bedroom six years ago. Turned up at the restaurant with my colleague, with a crate of files to hand out to people, much to the horror of the poor girl working there! She looked completely horrified and dismayed at the prospect of a team meeting happening in her restaurant with no prior booking.. but after her initial reflex denial reaction, "Noo, but you can't..!", she sort of settled in to the idea, and offered to get us some drinks. Lol it was interesting to finally meet all the people I have been working with for the last month, and trying to guess who was who from their voices. We normally only have contact over MSN messenger, or over the phone for training due to our geographical diversity: it is a surreal working environment to not even know how old your colleagues are, or what they look like.

Due to box carryage on my boss' part, I managed to hitch a ride all the way there and back in a taxi, a full jouney time of about 4 hours in London traffic, but a really excellent opportunity for sight seeing! We went past the Millennium Dome, over the Dartford Crossing, past Bluewater, saw all the North London mansions, and all sorts of views of London that you normally miss on the train. With free pizza thrown in to the bargain, I would say all in all, it was not bad for a day at work.

Japanese word of the day IV

Oyasumi nasai --------------> Goodnight

Monday, September 25, 2006

Descended from Hugenots

I've been doing a little research into family history recently, what with my new full membership of Genes Reunited -courtesy of my job, and some amazing new family trees that have come into our posession from my Dad's uncle. Through both of these, we have now managed to trace one branch of our family all the way back to Agen in France, 1640. It appears that our ancesters were amongst the 50,000 Huguenots that fled France for London in c16th, establishing a community in Bethnal Green, and Spitalfields.

How interesting! I can see how addictive this can become.. Really, you would not believe the sheer number of people that are descended from those two people from Agen, I think our family is now populating most of London, lol.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Beautiful sunset

... over Hinchley Wood this evening

Friday, September 22, 2006

Electric toothbrush

Now this is a random question.. but have you ever brushed your teeth with an electric toothbrush whilst looking at a digital clock? Well I don't usually, but I noticed this yesterday when I walked out of the bathroom to escape the dandy-long-legs..

The display of the digital clock looked as though it has really bad interference.. I wondered what had happened to it, went over to have a look and took the toothbrush out of my mouth, only to discover it had stopped. I never realised how much an electric toothbrush actually vibrates your skull! It was only then I noticed when looking around at other things how blurry they were too. Wierd.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Stig

I just inadvertantly found out who 'The stig' is! I don't know if it's any big secret lol, but I didn't know who he was! Turns out to be a F1 racer guy called Perry McCarthy. Well there you go. You learn something every day.

Anyway, the reason I found this out was, Dad heard on the news that one of the Top Gear presenters had had a nasty high speed crash while filming, and I was trying to find out who it was. It seems Richard Hammond was driving at around 300 mph when he had a crash, landing him in hospital. Apparently he is in a stable condition, which is good, but I bet the health & safety officer is in trouble.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Japanese word of the day III

Konbanwa ---------------> Good evening

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hitachi EMIEW

Well this is interesting. I was reading New Scientist today and spotted a new humanoid robot that's been developed, this time by Hitachi! The EMIEW (“excellent mobility and interactive existence as work mate”) was created to rival the Honda Asimo, and the Sony Qrio. I'm surprised I haven't seen it before. I think it must have been overlooked in my AI lectures because it only has wheels instead of legs =( lol, well I think it looks promising anyway. Here's a little video of it moving around.

Apparently it is the world's fastest moving robot yet at 6km/h (3.7 miles per hour), however this is not surprising when its competition have to do all kinds of incredible calculations with each step to maintain balance on dynamic surfaces. I guess it is kind of a cheat. On the other hand though, why have feet if you don't need them; the reasoning Hitachi gives is as follows:

"We want to make the robots useful for people ... If the robots moved slower than people, users would be frustrated."

That's fair. Excellent for bungalow dwellers. As for everyone else: I hope you have your Stenna Stairlifts installed.

Anyway, what it can do, is as follows: the 130-cm-tall machine apparently has the ability to avoid obstacles, respond to simple voice commands, perform basic household tasks such as sweeping the floor, and it can also read the weather forecast. It has additionally been suggested as a useful gadget for people with mobility problems, to be used as a walking-aid.

It seems the latest thing these bots have been up to recently is their installation at the Grand Tokyo Bay Hotel, acting as hotel clerks. Now that would be interesting to see! Almost as good as the robotic drinks waiter at Yo Sushi, lol! I like that thing, scurrying around the floor muttering Japanese in its electronica voice, its very nice!

UK tour writeup.. day 1: Oxted to Nottingham, Nottingham to York ctd.

Stop 2: York

UK tour writeup.. day 1: Oxted to Nottingham, Nottingham to York

First stop: Nottingham

So this was quite a while back now, but better late than never! We started off our UK tour from Oxted, bright and early, and headed straight up to Nottingham for lunch. Well it was supposed to be a flying visit, but we kinda got a bit lost trying to drive into the city centre, and ended up asking a random traffic warden the way to tourist information. Little did we know the traffic warden himself was a Cypriot, arrived in the UK the week before, and had slightly less of an idea of where to go than we did. He ended up radioing his friend, the 'local', who then legged it over from the other side of town, to tell us in a thick Greek accent that he had no idea but we had best park here and walk. Lol. We were a little dubious of this coming from a traffic warden, and were wondering if this was perhaps a little ploy.. hehe.. wait til they get round the corner and then slap a ticket on the car.. sort of thing, but it was fine. What a nasty suspicious mind, lol.

Anyway, in the end we found our way into town..

And even found our way to the grandest tourist information I have ever seen!

After we grabbed some lunch, we found our way over to Sherwood Forest. I don't think this has changed one bit from the last time I visited about 14 years ago.

and of course, the obligatory 'Major Oak'!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Japanese word of the day II

From the BBC book: 'Talk Japanese' by Yukiko Isono & Lynne Strugnell.

Ohayo gozaimasu ---> Good morning


James' xaphoon turned up today! For some reason it sounds like a loud angry duck when I get near it, but when played properly it sounds just like a sax! The Xaphoon is made by Brian Wittman, a Maui resident who invented the instrument more than 20 years ago:

"I have made over 15,000 such instruments in the past 20 years, all because of a single instrument I made on the whim of a child. The young lad lived with his mother in a tent in the woods, and heard me playing the sax (the expensive metal variety). He approached respectfully and then boldly asked if perhaps I had a little one he could play. Why not? I fiddled around and whittled a small end-blown block flute out of bamboo. Its tone was wheezy and small, and satisfied neither of us. I had a small grinding wheel I was using to shape some wooden boat cleats, and in sudden inspiration I applied the flute to the wheel and ground off the whole corner of the mouthpiece at an angle, re-shaping it to take a sax reed. The child was delighted and couldn't wait to have it, so I passed it on, but immediately made myself another, this time a bit longer, and I made the mouthpiece first so I could hear the pitch as I located the finger holes. Somehow by chance I ended up with a serviceable scale in E, and I couldn't put it down. I even played it one-handed as I drove into town, not noticing the speedometer was reading 80 until I heard the sirens."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Japanese word of the day

From the BBC book: 'Talk Japanese' by Yukiko Isono & Lynne Strugnell.

Hajimemashite ---> How do you do?

Monday, September 11, 2006

The mystery of the mud and the manatee

Our puppy has a bit of a penchant for cuddly toys. She has a way of seeking them out, a kind of in-built radar. If for any reason, and however disguised, one such item is brought into the house, she will find it. Within minutes, the toy will appear between her paws, and she will wag her tail in pleased appreciation for your kind gift.

Well anyway, today, I was working upstairs, and Psyche had been running around in the garden. As a side note, today has been nice and sunny, the ground looking a little too dry if anything. After a little while, I looked up to see a slightly guitly looking, completely soaked dog laying down on my carpet. Caked in wet mud. Oops, I was meant to be on hole-digging watch! So I headed out into the garden to try and find the offending hole.. only to find nothing! Nothing but a completely untouched garden, and completely dry earth. I just don't get it. So this is the mystery of the mud.

This was more or less forgotten however, until just now, when the wierdest thing happened. Psyche waltzed in from the garden with a cuddly manatee. A manatee?! Brand new! Where did it come from?? Do we have a tardis in our back garden? I sincerely doubt our retired neighbours would have donated a nice new porpoise to the Psyche fund, and we certainly didn't give it to her. This is all very strange. All I can say is, if your garden if full of holes, and you're missing your manatee, I'm very sorry! And your manatee is in good hands (well, paws).