April 2005 | May 2005 | June 2005

May 31, 2005

Might be worth a visit

This is just down the road from us.
Whispers in the maze
"Since May 6, visitors to the oldest maze in the world, Hampton Court Palace Maze can hear cymbals, a dog barking, a child laughing, the rustle of silk skirts, a tune from a music box, and the murmurs and sighs of three centuries of chatter at the palace. The sounds float around the maze so subtly that it is hard to distinguish them from real-life ones."

May 29, 2005

Neil Stephenson's Baroque Cycle

I've just started in on The Confusion, the second part of the Baroque Cycle. This follows Quicksilver, the first part of the trilogy, which sweeps through the UK and the rest of Europe in the time of Newton, weaving a great historical novel with lessons in the origin of science, finance and politics. I'm really loving the books, and the feeling that I'm enjoying myself and learning at once. Plus, I love any novel that gives me a new picture of London in another time.

One thing that's bothering me is how difficult it is to find these books. Neil Stephenson, who is based in Seattle, is well known for his science fiction, particularly the novel Snow Crash. But the Baroque Cycle is a historical novel, with not a whiff of Sci-fi. The cover of the books say they should be categorized in "Novel, science" and "Novel, hostoric". Despite that, these three books are ALWAYS in the Science Fiction section. This bothers me because it makes it less likely that readers who only browse the "real" fiction, and avoid the sci-fi and fantasy corners like the plague, will get any exposure to these great books.

I griped about this to Books Etc, an English book seller, and they explained that their customers didn't like to have one author in two different sections. Yeah. We're really dumb that way.

May 20, 2005

Signs of Staines

Weird to see this picture of hand-painted ped-symbols of Staines on Boing Boing, since I live about a quarter of a mile from the town. I'm not really that fond of the place. And I obviously don't look down enough when I walk around there, since I've never noticed these little people.

Strategy pinball

Another potential classic, quirky game coming to the GameCube. Nintendo does this stuff so well.
E3: Odama turns strategy on its head"The enemy troops are trying to push a marker down the screen and into your territory. You need to do everything you can to stop them. Use the flippers to roll the ball over them (but be careful of your own troops) or use your forces (at strategic times) to outfight the bad guys. You get a mic for the controller that allows you to bark orders like "March!" or "Stop!" and the troops will dutifully follow them."

May 12, 2005

A big list of blogs that have MP3s


May 11, 2005

Get the manga look

Get the Manga look with Manga Head. A new gell from Garnier lets you have REAL control.

May 10, 2005

A small "pied-a-terre"

Flat #2

We've just today (about 10 minutes ago) exchanged contracts on a tiny studio flat in Marylebone, London. It's really central and will allow us to stay overnight whenever we want, instead of rushing home for the last train. Plus, it's somewhere cool for visiting friends to stay occasionally

Exchanging is the first point in the English property system where there is ANYTHING legally binding about our ownership. And yet we had our offer accepted about 6 weeks ago. During that time our seller could have just walked away. It's a painful, archaic, nerve-wracking way of doing things. Anyway, it's our now.

Here's a shot from the other end of the room. There. You've seen the whole thing.

Grandad and the pith helmet

Grandad and the pith helmet

Grandad dragged out his old flying and war gear when we were down at his place in Bournemouth at the weekend. Here's a shot of him "taking the pith". More on flickr.


Takara Cubee: Singing Animal Blocks. "Takara is selling these in the US, and they sing. Just stupid nursery rhymes, right, but if you stack them up on top of each other and press the button, the others will sing backup. These are amazingly annoying and awesome."

May 08, 2005

3 frogs in our pond

3 frogs in our pond

A years worth of waiting around, after last year's planning, has suprisingly resulted in 3 frogs!

May 01, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I've just been to the Vue cinema in Staines to watch the movie extravaganza remake of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I'm a big fan of the book, the old BBC Radio 4 series, and the original BBC TV series and I came out of the cinema hugely dissappointed. I thought that although the movie was big budget (in a British way) it was lazy and missed a lot of Douglas Adams' dry, observational humor by a mile. Too much slapstick and not enough irony. Even Stephen Fry, as the voice of the Guide, seemed to avoid delivering anything remotely witty, instead delivering his lines like too much dry fact.

I went along with Shannon, who has never been exposed to this material before, and not suprisingly she came out totally unamused and bemused. The director really expected too much knowledge from the audience. This may be well loved material but it's not the Lord of the Rings, is it? For example the movie kept on making reference to the towels that Ford insists everyone carry with them at all times, but never goes on to show the part where the Guide explains why towels are so indespensible. Strange decision.

I think I need to get the DVDs of the BBC TV series to remind myself of what I enjoyed about this material so much.