"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

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).

Wireless internet rocks

I can't believe it, the wireless works in the garden, now I can sit outside in the sunshine and answer e-mails all day! Well, for one day only actually, if the weather forecast is to be believed, doh!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Star Trek XI Poster

So, the new Star Trek film set for release in 2008, really looks as though it's really going to go ahead now. I noticed today that they have started a little teaser publicity, such as this here poster.. this sort of confirms the idea of a Kirk/Spock prequel if you ask me!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A day on the trains at the Bluebell Railway, Horsted Keynes

This Saturday was the day for Dad's long awaited birthday present. A day learning how to drive the steam trains at the Bluebell Railway, down in Sussex. Coincidentally, a bit of news.. apparently there are plans underway to extend the Bluebell Railway line, currently running steam trains from Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park, to East Grinstead: joining up with the British Rail (or whatever it is!) line up to London. It should be great when they've done it! I think they have to clear their way through some kind of disused tip first though, so it may be a little while.

This was Dad's train for the day: Fenchurch. It used to do the London to Brighton run, back in the day!

This is the view out of the window: it was absolutely roasting in there! I can see why steam train drivers always drive along with their heads out of the door..

This is the bit of track they got to practice on: the idea was to try and stop before reaching the end of the platform!

Dad and the crew.

Hmm.. easy peasy..

And here's Dad, finally getting his go driving!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin

Oh my goodness, I just heard from my sister that Steve 'crocodile hunter' Irwin has died. You can read the news here. I can't believe after all the crazy things he has done, the way he went was as unprovoked as swimming over a stingray.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


it's definitely time for some holiday photos on here.. to be honest, we took so many that I am still uploading them to flickr, and we got back I'm not sure how many days ago! Oops. Must try harder to be economical with photo taking instead of just foraging for more memory cards, lol.

Anyway, today was the day of the big cricket match in Oxted (we won apparently), and the last day of the holidays for James, boo! (Although I still get one more day before mine starts ;) hehe..) so the order of the day was lesson plan writing madness, otherwise known as 'watching too much Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer', and berry picking. It is now the season for blackberries, sloes, and elderberries; the fields around are full of them! So what else to do but head out armed with ice cream tubs to do some collecting. The sloes are used for making a lovely sloe gin (with bonus caterpillars if you're lucky), and the elderberries are yummo with warm milk and Ribena -just in case you were wondering. Oh and blackberries, just eat em! =)

I can't forget to mention also, that this eve we went for dinner in Dorking with Ruth the anti-blogger, who would entirely disapprove of this post. Lol. Well at least I didn't write some poetry for you.