Friday, December 31, 2010

Coders at work

I have just read "Coders at work" by Peter Seibel.

This book contained a collection of interviews with people who have developed important pieces of software such as javascript. The interviewer asks questions about the process of writing code, what books they read, how their career developed. It was interesting to see how most of them didn't use UML or any other diagram formulation, other than some pictures on a white board. Some of them had to also get other people to help them with the version control systems.

I thought this book was fantastic! However, I am not sure I would ever recommend it to students. It would distract them to see the pragmatic techniques used by these coders. Although many of the interviewers used many techniques from computer science degrees.

It would be nice to have a similar book from theoretical particle physicists, that explained what people actually did. However, given the big egos of many theorists and their hopes for Nobel prizes, many of the interviews would end up as fantasy. Personally I wouldn't want some one like Hawking to contribute.

Getting ready for new years eve

I am getting a better at this living in Germany business. On last years New year's eve I went down to my local supermarket at about 4. Only to find it was shut. I didn't expect it be open until 8, but closing at 4 seemed a bit extreme. In the UK the supermarkets put up huge signs with their opening hours, weeks in advance of any holiday. This is particularly weird, because the shops hardly ever close anyway. In Germany, the supermarkets put up a little sign with the hours, if you are lucky. They also close at any execuse.

On New Year's even last year, after I found that my local supermarket was closed, so I walked into town. But I found no open supermarkets, not even the one in the railway station. I was starting to panic that I was going to have a dry New years eve. Luckily I found the off license near the railway station was still open.

This year I went for my beer supply at 12:15 -- just to be sure. There is still snow on the ground, so I am not keen to go for a drink in a bar. Anyway I have not found any fun bars in Wuppertal -- mostly just grandpa pubs. At the super-marked I also got some black fizzy wine. There will be fireworks all over the valley at 24:00, which last year looked very pretty. I have just downloaded the latest series of Dr. Who from Itunes so I am set for the evening.

This year I went for my beer supply at 12:15 -- just to be sure. There is still snow on the ground, so I am not keen to go for a drink in a bar. Anyway I have not found any fun bars in Wuppertal -- mostly just grandpa pubs. At the super-marked I also got some black fizzy wine. There will be fireworks all over the valley at 24:00, which last year looked very pretty. I have just downloaded the latest series of Dr. Who from Itunes so I am set for the evening.

My cousin told me about a German tradition of watching some video of a women and servant eating a dinner on New Years eve. When I looked it up I found that the sketch was actually in English.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest

Yesterday was another wasted morning. Thank God, trilogies only come in threes. I finished off reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson. I started reading the book when I was traveling, but I was to tired to finish it off on the plane and train.

The book was cleverly plotted and it was fun to watch all the investigations come together. Also I got some insight into the way jounalists work -- although perhaps not those who work at the Sun and other UK tabloids.

There are rumors that Larsson had started a fourth book before he died. There is still the mystery of Salander's sister. Also, perhaps there could be a little cyber warfare against Sweden. Anyway I am done after reading three.

Well, perhaps I should watch all the films (from Sweden and not the planned crappy Hollywood remakes) now..

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

X-mass 2010

So another trip back to the UK for Christmas. I flew into Manchester airport from the Bonn-Cologne airport with German wings. Needless to say I was worried about problems with snow and ice. Every year now we seem to have sub zero temperatures from December to March. I managed to fly in and out on days with no fresh snow.

On the bus from Manchester to Burnley I saw how cool Manchester is. As well as Christmas markets, the city also now has Ferris wheels. I like the way the Cathedral is almost hidden away and not the main area of the city -- as it should be.

On the bus, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a women sort out a cable to a MP3 player. When I looked more closely I saw that she was actually knitting, and of course she was old.

Now I don't want to complain or rant on about stuff, but there was aspect of my holiday, that was not very satisfactory. I was expecting to watch most of the last series of Dr Who on the Iplayer. However the BBC had not repeated any of the episodes recently, so the Iplayer was empty of Dr Who. I was distraught. OK, I enjoyed the Dr Who Christmas special, but it wasn't enough!

Now I don't want to complain or rant on about stuff, but there was aspect of my holiday, that was not very satisfactory. I was expecting to watch most of the last series of Dr Who on the Iplayer. However the BBC had not repeated any of the episodes recently, so the Iplayer was empty of Dr Who. I was distraught. OK, I enjoyed the Dr Who Christmas special, but it wasn't enough!

Back in Germany, there is nothing on the TV, apart from some a program about the Tudors.

X-mas reading

During my Christmas break in Burnley I read Witch & Wizard by James Patterson.

The main reason I read the book was because it was free and I like magic in a totally non-nerdy way. The book was free, because it was given away as part of some literacy drive. The target audience for the book was young adult. I liked the technical aspects of the story. He flipped the perspective of the story from the brother to the sister for every chapter. Also the chapters were very short, which is good, when a person's reading time is sneaking off during an episode of Eastenders.

The author James Patterson has written a lot of books.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

snow

It seems only yesterday that there was snow on the ground, but it was March maybe. I have not been out of my flat all weekend. I start to go crazy if I don't go out for a couple of days. Of course, when I say out, what I actually mean is go to the shops or work, rather than a long hike through a forest.

The picture is the view from my window.

Cloud computing

I have spent part of the weekend reading "Cloud Computing" by Christopher Barnatt. The basic idea of cloud computing is to run many applications on giant data servers hosted by big companies, such as google, rather than on your own computers.

Gven that I already use many cloud computing servies such as google docs and indeed this blogging site, I didn't really learn that much. Many of the cloud computer ideas were around in dot-com era, but the time was not right then. Now with broadband and 3G these techniques are more practicable.

I did see people pushing cloud ideas a couple of years ago, but it wasn't clear to me that they would take off. What I did gain from the book was that, these tools are great for small businesses. There is a lot of software for doing things like payroll.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

music in Wuppertal

When I lived in Kentucky I walked into a small club called "the Wrocklage" and heard some guitars, and I thought "I can live here for a while."

I have not found any good music clubs in Wuppertal, but I have not been looking too hard. Sometimes I do need to hear some wild sounds and suck down a couple of beers. Last Friday I found club pavillon that is close to the railway station. It sometimes seems to host live music. This evening I could have gone to see a metallica tribute band, but it is cold and there is some snow on the ground. This is probably part of the problem, perhaps my wild years are behind me. (I think not).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

civilization

While I was holiday I finished reading "Civilization" by Kenneth Clark. This was the book for an old TV documentary that followed art and the growth of civilization.

One think I decided to note was that he didn't know where chivalry came from. In particular why the women had to be chase and worshiped.

When I was ordering some stuff ftrom Amazon.de, I needed to make up an order upto 20 Euro to get free shipping. I purchaded a copy of "A Xenophobe's guide to the Germans".

I am not going to discuss in detail evrey point, partly just in case there are any German readers and I don't want to upset anyone, but mostly because I have the feeling that I have read it before.

One interesting point was that the book claimed that many German toilets are designed for ease of studying a person's crap - for health reasons. And indead you can see that the toilet in my flat allows a careful examination of my shit. This will be important tomorrow after the two chillis I added to my stirfry. My stomach is burning, but I feel like a food hero,

Two Way split

I moved some books from a box in my office to my home. On top of a pile of books, I saw "Two Way split" by Allan Guthrie. This was a book I got from Waterstones for a pound.

The book is a thriller based on robbing an Edinburgh postoffice. There was a bit of mental illness thrown in. I enjoyed reading the book, but it was ultimately pointless. Still that is what I wanted.

The Morality of Murder

Umm, I have just had a pretty non-productive weekend. At least on Saturday, I had the excuse of having a minor hang over. Today I did some computer work, but it was mostly setting jobs off, and that is time consuming and not so interesting.

This evening I had meant to work on a project, but while reading the BBC technology papers I found a web site with videos of lectures from Universities. This is like the Utunes from the Itunes store, but I can watch them under linux.

I made the mistake of watching "The Morality of Murder" from a Harvard Professor. I only watched the first 10 minutes of the lecture. I thought the lecturer's techniques was fantastic. Now that the fees for the UK Universities are going up, we sometimes discuss what a person gets for the 25,000 dollars tution fee for a top US University. Now I know! I hope the lectures doens't degenerate into some justification for torture, such as waterboarding.

Watch it on Academic Earth

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday night shopping

There is not much night life in Wuppertal, so I have to find my own entertainment. Last night I was shopping at my local supermarket. To amuse myself I look at the other people's shopping at the checkout and try to guess their life. The tall woman in front of me was buying a 10 inch pizza, a bottle of some sugary wine, some sweets, and some other stuff of little interest..

My guess was that she was single with an age close to 30. What did she think of me life? I was buying 3 cans of beer, a small bottle of vodka, and some fruit, but no pizza. Perhaps I should have smiled at her.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Malt Salt

One of my German colleagues was complaining about the completely normal British habit of putting vinegar on chips. My mouth started to water, as I thought how much more tasty the French fries, I was eating, would be with some vinegar on them.

I have poured something from a small jug onto my fries in Wuppertal. This turned out to be milk, so I was not best pleased. I could fill my hip flask with vinegar, but that would strike people as weird, and the flask would hold a year's supply of vinegar.

There is an article in today's Guardian about Malt Salt. Vinegar flavoured salt. Now that Amazon supply groceries, I did try to see if I could order sme from them, but no (not yet anyway).

Local Wuppertal beer

Like most towns in Germany, Wuppertal has a local brewey. When I was in the supermarket on Friday, I saw a bottle of Wupperhell bier.

Although I am not a beer expert. I don't have too high standards for beer. For example I have drunk Tennents and Carling when other beer was not available. I didn't really enjoy the Wupperhell beer as much as I wanted to.

Vindaloo

Quite often Europeans say to me "English food is shit". I am usually stunned to hear this, and I try to list all the great traditional English foods. However, my list starts and unfortunately ends with Roast Beef. In the UK I would mostly eat Indian, Chinese, or Greek food.

I spend a lof of time trying to find that strong chilli hit in Germany. A number of times I have ordered a Vindaloo curry in a restaurant in Germany. I know the correct German word "scharf", but still I always end up with a mild curry. When I order a Vindaloo in the UK, there are gasps of horror and worry. After two mouthfulls I can't feel my mouth, and I can't taste anything for a couple of days.

I keep hunting extra hot sauces in German supermarkets.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The origins of the second world war

I have been secretly reading "The origins of the second world war" by A J. P Taylor. This was a controversial books when it was published just after the second world war. Taylor discusses the origin of the second world war in terms of state craft. He doesn't just say the second world war happened because Hitler was evil.

This is not a revisionist history, because the fate of the Jews is discussed, but this had very little influence on the war. I would like to point out that I didn't read the book, because of the "German question", but because the people on the left who advocate ethical miltary intervention in conflicts, use the example of the second world war as a justification.

I now have a better idea of appeasement, and the issues with Austria, Checkoslovakia, and Poland.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

sharp practice

I don't like shaving, but I don't want a beard either. It would be too itchy and probably ugly as well.

I have read the short book "sharp practice" by Anders Larsen. The book was a history of shaving and also a good manual on different techniques for shaving. Some of the sections on the history of shaving looked like they were copied of the Internet, but he told some good stories. I liked one where he fell asleep in a barber's chair, and the barber shaved all his hair off.

The book was particularly good for learning how to use a cut throat razor. The reality is that I don't have time to properly learn how to use one. Also, it would be a problem to take a cut throat razor in my hand luggage. Still I used to like looking at the cut throat razors in the shops around Manchester Piccadilly railway station.

I would look so cool shaving with a cut throat razor - much more of a man than now, when I shave with a wimpy Gillette Fusion. And I would save money, given the high cost of the fusion blades.

Wine

n the past, my understanding of wine was summed up by the phrase: "I would rather have a beer". I do know that I should have red wine with meat and white wine with fish, because this was covered in the film "From Russia with Love."

Occasionally I get invited to people's homes for a meal, so I bring a bottle of wine. I do find it stressful to chose the wine, because I have no idea, what is considered a good wine. In an attempt to educate myself, I ordered from Amazon the book "I don't much about wine, but I know what I like" by Simon Woods. The book gives a number of hints about wine. I don't want to become a wine snob. I now know that screw tops are not as bad as I thought, before reading the book.

Now I am tempted to get a case or two of wine from Amazon.

The secret ascension

I think I have read most of Philip K. Dick's novels. So how I am going to keep the paranoia going? Luckily Michael Bishop wrote "the secret ascension" that is written in the style of Philip K Dick and actually features Dick as a character from another reality. As you would expect there is an alternative reality, but also stories of normal folk, who are just trying to survive.

Photographs

For a long time I resisted taking photographs. I prefered to let the memory of the scene stay in my brain with no artificial reminders. It is also now almost impossible to walk around any tourirst site, because everyone is taking millions of pictures with their digital cameras, and you don't want to get in their way.

I now of course sometimes take pictures. They do brigten up my blog. My technique is to take a picture when I see something I like, or some scene I can weave into a blog posting. I don't do any planning of the visual aspects.

At my mum's house there was a book called "Creative photography" by David Kilpatrick from Marks and Spencer publishing. The book was full of tips and techniques and frankly an eye opener. I will think more about foregrounds and backgrounds. I have even looked at the instructions of my camera so that I could learn about the zoom.

Halloween

I have so much to do, but today I have been distracted. It is Halloween and Satan is tempting me. I miss the sound of fireworks, as children in the Uk get ready for Guy Faulkes day, by throwing fireworks at strangers.

I was planning on learning hypnosis today, but I am even too apathetic to do that.

The one downside of living by a forest is that it gets depressing when the trees lose their leaves. Ok, so perhaps the new colors are pretty, but it looks so bleak and barren when I look out and see through empty branches to a big road.

I have tried to read some uplifting poetry on the internet, but "Gacela of the Dark Death" by Federico García Lorca made me feel worse.

The Girl who played with Fire

A month ago I finished reading "The Girl who played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson. This is a very popular thriller based on the exploits of Lisabeth Salander .

Lisabeth had a hammer, a can of mace, and some condoms in her bag. Why can't I meet a chick like that? She likes computers too.

After I had told my German teacher that I liked the books by Stieg Larsson, she asked if I dreamed of blood. Luckily I didn't mention that I sometimes read the work by Marquis de Sade.

What is science education for ?

After the many and continuing crisis in the funding of physics in the UK, I have been reading more about science policy.

A couple of weeks ago I finished a books of essays called "What is science education for" . The book was a series of essays prompted by the introduction of some new science GCSE in schools. There was a tension between educating non-scientists and those who wanted to do science at a University level. I am now of the opinion that we need better science educated politicians.

All this worrying about particle physics in the UK will probably affect future relationships. If we are shopping for engagement rings, and my partner says "diamonds are a girl's best friend", I am likely to respond with "I fucking hate Diamond -- it keeps stealing money from particle physics" .

Failure

I have been trying to learn German again. It turned out that there was a free lunch time course at the University. So for two hour and half seesions per week, I try to master Deutsch. The course is a well hidden secret, because there are two students from chemistry and three people from our physics research group in the class.

At the end of the last semester the class was tested for the A2 level. Someone in the EU has standardized the tests for different languages. To cut a long story short. I failed the test. I was the only person who failed. I did all the homeworks and studied for the exam. The exam was actually an order of magnitude harder than the homeworks. Two days after the exam, I went to a meeting in Graz, so I was also writing a talk, and I couldn't do a last minute push.

Anyway, excuses, excuses. So it is just me and the bottle tonight, so time for some shots.....

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Second day in Sarajevo

Frankly I had seen most of the old town on the first day of my visit to Sarajevo. So on the second day, I decided to visit a museum. There were two museums close to the railway station.

I should have taken a tram, but it was such a hassle to buy a ticket. Anyway I walked by the tram lines that also followed the river. It was a bit of a boring walk with standard buildings, after I left the old town area. It started to rain.

I wasn't entirely sure that I was going in the correct direction, so I was happy to see signs for the museums. The signs seem to point over the over the river, so over there I trudged in the miserable rain. But then there were no more signs and the area looked residential. So back over the river I went, and I continued my journey to the train station.

I finally did see the museums. I chose to go into the one about the history of the Sarajevo. On a web page somewhere I had read that the was some dispute as to who pays for the museums. ands indeed it did seem slightly run down. The entrance was run by a family.

Everything was in a one big room. There was a lot of historical stuff that showed that Bosnia was a separate country with a long history. This is a big deal, because both Serbia and Croatia have recently wanted to swallow up Bosnia. Before this trip I was slightly cynical about whether Bosnia was a separate nation (based on no facts I might add). I was more convinced by the museum and additional reading that I did. The museum also had exhibits about the siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995. This was really tough on people of Sarajevo. One of perhaps many complaints of them was was that there was an arms embargo, but that only stopped the countries that didn't have large stock piles, such as Bosnia. (There was a Star Trek episode that explained this to me). There were some home made guns on display.

Outside the museum there was kind of small fair. There was a stage with traditional singing, and people doing various fun sporting activities, such as playing table tennis. The rain had stopped so people were smiling. Also there were people in military uniforms teaching the kids to punch pads and use padded sticks. I wanted to do some boxing as well, but I only knew how to say "thank you" in Bosnian, and not "I want to punch my fist through people's heads".

The museums were near the American embassy. There was some kind of fair being set up, sponsored by Redbull, involving tram tracks. I had some chips and a beer at a restaurant near the railway station, and then walked back to the old town.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Stray dogs and cats

There were a lot of stray dogs and cats in Sarajevo. As far as I can tell in Wuppertal, most people have about 3 dogs each, unless they work in the theory group, when they own 2 cats. I was shocked to see animals on their own in Sarajevo, especially given how fast the cars drive. To prove this I show a picture of cat. I think the cat wanted to be friend (if I ad food of course).

Apple

I was walking around Sarajevo. I saw another interesting building. In the window I saw the apple log. This most be the coolest Apple store in the world.

Evening in Sarajevo

Obviously like many people I travel to broaden the mind and try new experiences. So that is my excuse for drinking so much local beer in Sarajevo. My tourist map did show where the brewery was, but I thought that was going too far.

There was alcohol available in Sarajevo but it is not a place with a lot of drinking dens. Most people sat outside cafes with a coffee.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First day in Sarajevo

The hotel gave me a simple map, but it wasn't clear where I was on it. On the streets the cars were moving very fast. They seemed to come at me from all directions. There were pavements, but people had parked their cars on the full pavements, so you had to walk on the road to get around it. It didn't take long to find the pedestrian area. I didn't want to lose the route back to my hotel, so I spent a lot of time trying to pin my location on my map. I was at the entrance to the old town, by the Sebilj water fountain. It could not have been simpler.

The old town area was full of bustling shops selling food and trinkets. There looked as though there were a few crazy people on the street, but they didn't bother me. (Note there were the same amount of crazy people as you would see in Glasgow say). If you are interested in this sky religion business, there were many churches and cathedrals close to synagogues.

I was looking forward to seeing the Latin Bridge where archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. This event triggered the start of the first world war, although perhaps it was just an excuse for the great powers to declare war on each other. It didn't take me much time to find the bridge. Given the amount of death caused by in the first world war, I expected to feel some bad vibes, but no. On the other side of the river was a nice little park and a cafe, that I spent much happy time reading in.

In the evening I decided to try some Bosnian food. So I had a kebab, which was very tasty.

First night in Sarajevo

After a 11 hour train journey I felt I needed beer. I dimly remember some words about a minibar in the description of the hotel. After a frantic 5 minutes of pulling open all the doors in my room, and even checking under the bed, I decided there was no fridge in my hotel room. So I thought, it is time for a walk.

As I went out of the hotel onto the road, I found I was close to a huge graveyard. So this is what they mean by "old town" I thought. Should I go up or down the hill. There was no prospect of exciting neon in either direction. I saw two couples come down the hill with white plastic bags that looked to contain groceries. So up the hill I went and I eventually found a mini market. Unfortunately, there was no cider so I couldn't go into the graveyard and drink in the traditional English manner. It is probably a good think that I didn't, because the grave stones didn't look very Christean.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The journey to Sarajevo

My plan for this holiday was to fly into Zargreb and then fly back from Sarajevo. This is possible with cheap airlines, because they are happy for you to take single journeys. I knew I could get the train from Zagreb to Sarajevo, but I hadn't looked into details such booking a ticket. I was slightly dismayed to see that the train took 9 hours. It started at 9:00 and got to Sarajevo at 18:00. Also various online posts told me that there was no dining car on the train, but that people would sometimes get on and sell food and drink.

I was bit nervous about this, because a number of things could go wrong. Also there are only two trains a day. The second train is a night train. For example if railway clerk didn't understand English then buying the ticket would be hard. As it was he did speak English. We did have a problem when his machine wouldn't except my credit card. Luckily the ticket was only about 35 Euro, so I had enough local currency to pay in cash.

The train was a standard local train with compartments of 6 seats. I have been spoilt in other parts of Europe with access to high speed trains. Luckily the train was only 25% full, so there was plenty of room. The train seemed to stop every 20 minutes or so at really small stations, so it was a real stopping train. It was never very clear that the place the train had stopped at was actually even a station. I usually couldn't see any signs, but people just got on or off. We did stop at some bigger stations with modern utilities such as platforms. My passport was checked at the Croatia-Bosnia border.

Most people just seemed to stay on the train for less than two hours. Only the really stupid people stayed on the full journey.

The 6 seat compartment trains are more social, because you are more likely to have to have to talk to other passengers, if course only if you can all speak the same language. These type of trains remind me of Agatha Christie novels, so I worry that I will get murdered. At one point in the journey we went through a tunnel with no lights on. This is it I thought.

I did talk to one guy who spoke English. He asked if he could smoke in the compartment. I said yes. He would just have gone into the corridor and smoked at the window like 50% of the other passengers, so it made no difference. He was training to be a lawyer. He also told me the train was almost 2 hours late. My heart sank, but at least I was spared the worry of trying to work out whether each little stop was Sarajevo.

After 11 hours the train stopped at a big station that I hoped was Sarajevo, so I got out. There seemed a lot of soldiers travelling in combat uniform, but unarmed. Somehow the train seemed bigger than the one I got on Zagreb. The station was small, grubby and quiet for 20:00. I couldn't find a cash machine, which sucked because I had no local currency. After a 5 minute walk in the dark I found a cash machine at a nearby bus station. The view from the railway station was not promising: a big ugly car park, some big buildings with brightly lit neon signs.

Google maps is not very detailed for Sarajevo, in fact it is totally useless The wikipedia entry for Sarajevo warns of the taxi drivers at the railway station or airport who charge a lot, or run a scam where they take you to the wrong hotel. Given that in previous holidays I have been ripped off by taxi drivers and have spent many hours bitterly cursing them. I was not looking forward to talking to the taxi driver. After I was done with worrying I told the taxi driver the address of my hotel, he said "7 Euros", and mentally I jumped for joy. On the drive from the station, I didn't see many shops or bars. I hope there is a little nightlife here I thought.

Some pictures of Zagreb

I didn't take many pictures of places of interest in Zagreb. I was excited to see a church with iron bars over the statues of saints -- a bit hard core security if you ask me. The other pictures are either the Cathedral or of the square around the Cathedral. Whenever I see a cathedral I just think of the workers who were exploited to build it. Of course my good friend the Archbishop of Canterbury might say they built it, with blood and Faith. I would reply "Brain washing".

When I was wandering around on Thursday I went through an arch. The tourist sign said "Roman arch". In side the small tunnel was a small church of some kind. I was surprised by this, particularly as after my various experiments with the occult, I am not sure whether I can stand on hallowed ground any more. Apparently I can though, if taken by surprise.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2nd day in Zagreb

I managed to see even fewer museums in Zagreb on the Thursday. Either the museum I tried to find didn't exist, or I couldn't the map properly. I did go the market again, which was open and people were selling lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

I tried to find the Zagreb museum. This involved walking up a big hill. I was zoning in on the location. As I got close there were TV cameras and people standing around. There were black cars with police lights on the top of them. I didn't want to get involved with police.

"So why do you want to learn about the history of Zagreb. Perhaps you have some miltary interest?"

Anyway I looked at the police cars and cameras, and suddenly the thought of a cool beer at an outside cafe came into my mind.

What I did in Zagreb

What did I do for two whole days in Zagreb. Not a lot if the truth be told. It started so well. After breakfast I thought it is time for me to hit the museums and galleries. There is a big art gallery in Zagreb with a lot of paintings by old masters, but I couldn't find it. There was a big building with scaffolding around it.

I did find the modern art gallery. The first painting I saw covered the wall. It had a number of women semi-naked in a lake. Some kind of "lord" was lying on the bank watching the women. Some of the women were being attacked. Frankly a bit disturbing. There were many pictures of people from Croatia from beginning of the twentieth century to before the second world war. They all looked a bit sinister, like Bond villains. There was one women wearing tweeds and carrying a shot gun (nice).

Unfortunately I couldn't see any toilets in the building. I had drank too much coffee and juice at breakfast, so I rather rushed through the modern abstract art, so I could go for a quick piss in the toilet at the shopping Mall.

Then I wondered around in the sun for a bit. There are many park benches around Zagreb, so it is a good place to read outside. I wasn't feeling very well. This could of been because of the stress of travelling, or a real illness, or some bad beer the night before. I did find the cathedral and saw the close of some famous market. I walked back to the hotel, but I one last go to find the technical museum. I was feeling worse and worse, and couldn't find the blasted museum. I did find the botanical gardens. I had a sit down in the quiet. I didn't tour the gardens, but it was very green and peaceful. I began to feel better, so I walked back to my hotel.

Close to the Zagreb railway station

My hotel was behind a concert hall that itself was behind the railway station. There is a big mall underground close to the station. There were fast food options, and a big supermarket.

I have to admit that I found Croatian women very attractive. (I am sure that they will be all thrilled to learn that and even more thrilled that I am now out of the country.) I think somehow the warmer weather allows more elegant (but casual) clothes. I did try to explore the Mall. I got lost in a maze of designer shops, with cute women looking at new shoes and jeans. In the past I have only liked the book and CD shops in shopping malls. Now that the internet revolution has come and I buy mostly from Amazon or Itunes, so there is nothing, that I could buy, in a shopping mall to interest me. This sudden burst of lust was brought on because I suddenly realized that my chat up line "so do want to come to live in a EU country that doesn't use the crappy Euro" will no longer work. The standard of life in the center of Zagreb looked better or the same as in the UK. Especially, when the UK economy is going to get hit by the Conservative (and liberal) party's massive cuts. Also the weather in Zagreb is better and the cafe life is cooler. With my fantasy love like in ruins, I picked up some cans of beer, and slinked back to my hotel to watch TV.

First night in Zagreb

Unfortunately Expedia had just told me that my hotel was close to the train station. I still needed to use my trusty map reading skills to get me to the hotel. The sun was bright hot, so I was sweating. There were massive outside cafes with people just hanging out drinking coffe and chatting. I was ready to join them, but I still had to find my hotel. There were signs for many other hotels, but not mine. I wasn't too surprised by this, because I usually only stay in cheap hotels.

After some pacing around trying to get my directions, I was getting no where. Eventually I remembered that a train station could have a front and a back. My hotel was around the back.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Start of Zagreb trip

If you look on a map, it doesn't make a lot of sense to fly back from Austria to Germany, and then a day later to fly out to Croatia. That is what I did. The trip to Austria was a trip for work, and it gets complicated to combine with a long holiday.

The extra day in Wuppertal allowed me to wash my clothes and catch up with somethings I should have done before I left, but that I didn't do because I was writing a talk. I flew from Cologne/Bonn airport. So took the train from Wuppertal to Bonn and then the bus to the airport. The traveling to the airport went smoothely, but I was in a bad mood because I had to get up at 5:00. Also the day before I wanted to take a small netbook computer with me, but the browser wss so old it had stopped working. I tried to install a new OS, but that didn't work. (Alos drinking beer with wine probably gave me a worse hangover than one from just beer).

Zagreb airport is pretty small. There is a bus that takes you to the busstation. My hotel was close to the railway station. I was told to take a tram. When the bus stopped I went the wrong direction into a carpack, because I had seen two trains. After wandering around for a while I couldn't work out how to get to the trains. Also I was a bit depressed, because there were no shops around. It was hot and I needed a drink. I was thinking that Zagreb was one of those old socialist cities with nothing to do. After a while I went back to the bus station and found that I had gone the wrong way. Out on the street was the tram and shops to sell me juice.

Although I know what line to take. I didn't know what direction. It wasn't clear from the map which was the correct end station. Also I couldn't see how to buy a ticket. In Vienna I could just use a machine. In Zagreb I think you can buy the ticket from newsagents. This involves speaking Crotian, and I know no words at all (the shame of it).

I decided to walk to the train station, because I knew it wasn't to far. When I go to the railway stations, there were big elegant buildings, lots of green space, and signs for many museums. This holiday is going to be OK I thought.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Zagreb

I am about to go to Zagreb for a holiday.

After that I am going to sarajevo

This mini-world tour is based on me finding new cheap airlines. other than Ryanair or Easyjet, in Germany that fly to new location. I am flying with GermanWings.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Goodbye Vienna

So my trip to Vienna is ending tomorrow. I have a 7:00 flight, which means a nightmare journey to the airport.

I really like Vienna as city. There is so much interesting stuff everywhere. I am not talking just culture, but more shops, bars and restaurants. Even the SPAR supermarkets are classy in Vienna. It is a proper big city. I wish I could live here.

Franz Ferdinand

In the afternoon I went to museum of military history in Vienna. It took a while to find the place. It was hidden behind the southern railway station. The museum was a celebration of the Austrian military, particularly there role in UN peace keeping missions.

Although I am a pacifist, I still need to see swords and guns. It was a shabby museum, but it had a lot of interesting stuff in it.

I hope you enjoy the two pictures. I got told off for taking them, by a security guard. Normally I don't take pictures, but I am getting more into it. Other people were taking huge amounts of pictures, but I think the problem was the flash. I was given two 5 minute lectures about this in German. Almost none of which I understood. I also didn't know how to switch the flash off, so I took no more pictures. At some stage I did wonder whether the guard wanted to see my camera, because I had broken some kind of Austrian security.

The reason I had gone to the museum was because they had some stuff about Franz Ferdinand in it. There was the car he was assassinated in and his blood soaked uniform (I could not see any blood). The picture is from wikipedia, because I had been banned from taking pictures. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand started the first world war in some kind of weird way, that I don't understand. I am going to Sarajevo next week, so I hope to find out more,.

Prater

So on my last day in Vienna I started the day by visiting Prater. This a park with an amusement fair. There is a famous Ferris wheel in the park. I believe that thus was the same Ferris wheel that was in the "Third Mann" film in which Harry Lime gives his famous speeeh about cuckoo clocks.

It was a small but elegant amusement park. None of the rides were large, but people were having fun. There was an old blues band playing outside the park. It wasn't Alton Towers, or the Millennium eye. It was definitely not Blackpool either. I just read my book in warm sunlight, and wandered around for a bit.

I should have gone on the Ferris wheel, but I was into my book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cake or death

To end the day I thought I should got to a traditional cafe in Vienna and have a coffee and a cake. The slight problem with this is that I needed to find a traditional cafe. There are many Macdonalds and fast food places. I did think about trying Starbucks, but I have been to Starbucks in many counties around the world.

After walking a mile up the road following signs for a SPAR supermarket so I could buy beer for my hotel room, I found the Cafe Ritter. I pulled the attached picture from the web, but it looks correct. There is more than one Cafe Rittner in Wien. The outside of the cafe looked faded, but the inside looked authentic.

I had a coffee and an Apfelstrudel. I like the way you get a glass of water with your coffee in Austria. I have found that if I drink more than 5 or 6 cups of tea before midday, I can't drink anymore, unless I have a glass of water.

A visit to a Market and then a little bit of art

After the Schönbrunn Palace I went to the Naschmarkt by the underground. According to wikipedia this is a big market, but it seemed very small to me. Perhaps I should have gone on Saturday morning. I had a spicy Chinese meal close to the market.

Then I went to the Kunsthistoriches Museum. This is an art museum. I wasn't really in the mood for looking at pictures, but it was only 4pm, so a bit early to start drinking. The first section of museum had a lot of Egyptian artifacts. This will provide lots of useful visual information for my creation of the great hidden pyramid myth in Wuppertal.

There were a lot of classical painting in the museum. I enjoyed these more than normal, because only a few of them were focused on religion. The pictures were almost lik

The translation of the web site says.

The basis of the collection as well as their main priorities were already in the 17 Century laid: the Venetian painting of the 16th Century (Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto), the Flemish paintings of the 17th Century (Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck), Early Netherlandish Painting (Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden), and the old German painting (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach). Other highlights of the Art Gallery today, include the unique collection of paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. as well as masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio, Velázquez and the Italian Baroque painting.
I didn't see any pictures by Caravaggio, but there were many pictures by people influenced by him. I didn't see any pictures by Dürer, but it was so close to the closing time.

Schönbrunn Palace.

So I have spent the day doing pleasant tourist things in Vienna. After breakfast I took the underground to the Schönbrunn Palace. This was a huge summer palace. I didn't go into the building, but I wondered around the extensive gardens. I wasn't really in the mood for looking at plush rooms.

The gardens of the palace were vast and full of interestingly things. I saw a fountain and a Roman ruins (that was probably fake). There were Eygptian hieroglyphs on a obelisk on one of the fountains, that was meant to celibrate the history of the royal family. As the notice pointed out, the information was actually written before Eygptian hieroglyphs were translated.

There were signs for a labyrinth, but I could not find the entrance. The story of my life I thought. Eventually I did find the start of the maze and payed 2.90 Euros to go in. It was a small maze, and there were enough big trees. But I started to sweat in case I got lost. There were a number of children on an observation desk. I didn't want to be laughed at. Anyway it was a bit disappointing for a maze.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vienna

So Vienna! I am spending two days in Vienna to try and dry my mind out. Because I was writing my talk for the workshop I had no time to do any research for this city. Thankfully the hotel has internet, so there is some hope that I will actually see some of the sights. I just need to see my good friend Harry Lime.

I will of course go to cafe and drink some coffee. Although I have not had a cup of tea, since Sunday, and I am starting to get withdrawal symptoms.

My hotel is in the Josefstadt area of Vienna. This is known as area 8. The better addresses are the smaler numbers.

Belle de Jour

So I have traveled from Graz to Vienna with the train. The journey took 2.5 hours. There is a lot of pleasant green stuff to look out of the window. However, I spent a lot of time reading "Belle de Jour" on the train.

Belle de Jour was the name of a famous blog that detailed her experiences as a call girl. She is an educated women, so there was no grubby. drugs or unhappiness. In fact it was all rather jolly. I read the book pretty fast, but I am not sure I found it that erotic. There was a plenty of sex in the book, most of it was pretty casual. I am not sure what the connection with the book was with Vienna, except that brothels are legal here.

There is also a great Bunuel film called Belle de Jour. I assume that is where she got the name from.

She is actually a biologist and was doing a PhD when she started becoming an escort. Anyway after reading the book I have decided not to seek out a job in the sex industry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MBA

I have been reading "What they teach you in Harvard Business school" by Philip Broughton. Broughton was a journalist, but he saw the writing on the wall for newspapers, so he decided to take a MBA at Harvard, so he could make more money and provide for his family. Also one of his ancestors had been a business women and he felt it was in is blood.

So he went to business school, but it was clear that he was not going to be an investment banker. His wife got pregnant during the course, so he spent a lot of time worrying that if he took a high pressure job, he would miss out on raising his children (they are going to hate you anyway dude). Almost every CEO who came to speak to his class had family problems of some kind.

Anyway I enjoyed reading how "the suits work and think", but I don't thnk that I will take a MBA.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Graz

I am staying at a stylish hotel close to the railway station. There is a strip joint next door to the hotel. Non-stop action it promises, but it seems closed to me. I seem drawn to it, in an embarrassed lonely kind of way. I saw the door open, and a small truck was outside. What were they delivering? What would have Hitchcock ordered me to do.

Graz

So my first time in Austria!

I am at a conference in Graz Austria. I took a flight from Dusseldorf to Vienna. Unfortunaetly, the flight was at 7:20, so I had to leave my flat at 3:15 in the morning. The 4:00 train to Dusseldorf was surprisingly full of people. I didn't see too many drunk people, although one guy staggered up the center of the train, but he didn't bother anyone.

At Vienna airport I took some fast train to the city center. There I got lost, because I couldn't find the main railway station. There seemed to be a lot of construction work in the center. I was told later that they are building a new main railway station.

My mind was fogged by the lack of sleep, but I finally got a ticket from a machine and took a train to a bigger train station, where the internet had told me that the train to Graz started. On the train I was reading "what they teach you at Harvard Business school". At one point, I looked up I saw all these green hills and mountains. So this is Austria I thought.

At one station, some young guy asked me some german shit. He switched to English and asked to use my mobile phone to call his home. In a misguided feeling of being European, I gave him my mobile. He then proceeded to call the wrong person. (This is an English mobile dude, I thought, time really is money.). Afterwards we had a bit of a chat. He had a sister who lived in London town. At some stage he asked me what I was planing to do in Vienna for my holiday after the meeting. I have planned nothing. He was not impressed. He then asked me for famous Austrians. I flunked that test. When we got to famous Germans, I said "Karl Marx", he hadn't heard of him. Fucking unification He was a nice guy. He helped me find my hotel, whicb was close to the railway station.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Presenting Science

I spent part of the weekend reading "Presenting Science" by Cigdem Issever and Ken Peach. The book explained how to present science talks, mostly with an electronic presentation. The book contained a lot of hints about the format of the presentation, such as what to put and not put on the border.

I have seen some very memorable talks by Ken Peach. Although he seemed bored and tired in the last talk that I saw him give. This might have been casued by it being Saturday morning at a local summer school.

I am personally still bitter that many audience members complained to me about my use of the "Alien Glow" template in talks. The background was black and the letters were luminous green. People claimed that it made them feel ill. In the book, Issever and Peach, suggest that the talk should reflect the personality of the speaker. So perhaps I will start using it again.

Also after reading the book I think I should tell fewer necrophilia jokes to spice up my physics presentations.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

On Hawking

I an trying to work various deadlines at the moment, so I don't really enough time to do something about Hawking's thoughts on God. Hawking has a new book out. From the reviews, it looks like the standard hard sell for the usual crap: M-theory and the multiverse. Haking makes some remarks about God that have excited the press.

This is the ideal time to write a short piece of theology for a magazine, so that the Templeton foundation notice me, and thus start my campaign to win the Templeton prize for bringing togeher science and relgion. I liked Paul Davies's article on Hawking's views from a writing perspective. The basic idea in the essay is that we don't know as much about the "big bang" as Hawking claims and that there is still much to do. Howvever, Davies dresses this up to make it seem as though he is making a theological point. Very clever! This is why Davies won the Templeton prize.

The best I can up with is that gluons are like little angels (massless, but chained), but that QCD forces them to coalesce into heavy devilish glueballs. If I had more time I would try and link this to the gnostic Gospels found in a cave, deep in the desert.

You can start to see my problem. I don't really know that much about Christianity. I have read extensively about Gnosticism, heresy, and Scientology, but my knowledge of standard Christianity comes from critics such as Gore Vidal, Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, or from Bob Dylan songs. Of course I could try reading the bible, but I worry that might infect me.

Another problem is that my colleagues might think I have gone insane if I try to link "solving non-perturbative QCD to the essence of God". The Templeton prize is one million pounds, so that would help with professional jealousy.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The public philosophy

Sometimes I think I would like the idea of discussing philosophy, perhaps in a debating club, an elegant European cafe, or in the oak study of my tutor at an ancient University.

I particuarly felt this when I was reading "The public philoshpy" by Walter Lippmann. Lippmann was some famous American newspaper columnist. The book was written in the 50s. Walter was very worried about the fate of democracies, after the second world war. He was worried that liberal states were under threat, because too many people were allowed to vote. He didn't like places like Russia where not enough people were allowed to vote.

He seemed to be in favor of the aristocracy being in charge, because they had a deeper feeling for making decisions about the fate of the nature, because they have been trained by doing things like fox hunting.

So I am confused as to what points he was making. I thought that Thomas Payne had explained why the aristocracy should not be in charge. I have a two word argument against the rule by aristocrats: Prince Charles. Do we really want that twat in charge?

Gosh, I would be so popular and "street" if I was a prof of philosophy, but I am not enough of a toff to get the position.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

alternative careers in science

F or perhaps fairly obvious reasons I have been reading: "alternative careers in science -- Leaving the ivory tower." edited by Cynthia Robbins-Roth. Each chapter of the book had a person telling the story of how they left University positions to do something else that was science based. Also they reported on a typical day. Some of the jobs were: science writer or program manager for the US military.

One problem with the book for me was that a lot of the contributors were actually doing some kind of biology research. The one physicist went to work for the APS. Also many of them didn't like lab work. I don't like lab work, so that is why I don't do any. I was surprised to see so many women authors, but that is just to more women doing research into biology, than physics.

One thing I noticed is that many of them are earrning more money than me. Most chapters had explanations of how you could earn more than 100,000 dollars. They were also working a lot harder than me. There were many people who started the day with a phone conference at 7:00 (or earlier). I think the authors are probably the people who are having the most fun outside the University system, rather than people stuck in an office job or teaching children.

I don't really want to do any of the jobs in the book, but it was useful to lok at the way people planned to leave accademia, say by networking, or taking additional courses.

I would like to be a bouncer, because this would keep me fit. I could start by doing security for physics conferences. If the LHC starts producing new results there will be many arguments at conferences and some people will need protection.

Explaining research

The IOP hosted an interesting web cast with Dennis Meredith about how to promote science to the general public. After that I bought a copy of his book: Explaining Research. (There is a useful website)

The book contains a lot of information about how to promote science, from blogs to press conferences. The book contains a lot of useful informationa and should be required reading for anyone doing physics research.

The one thing that I slightly disliked about the book was that he wanted everything done by professionals. For example he sugggested that pictures and videos should be taken by experts. What I dislike about some of the outreach activities, is that it encourages a passive consumption of knowldge. In particle physics all you usually get is some expert (who should be worshiped) spouting crap about something. They are usually not "dumming down", because what they talk about has no connection to the research they do. For example what does pretty boy Cox's research on diffraction have to do with time?

Obviously the string theory people pioneered this type of fantasy self promotion, and they have ended up making bankers seem honest. For me the issue is not using complicated jargon, but the outreach should reflect what we actually do, which is problem solving and collaboration, rather than promote some myth of a lone genius.

Obviously the string theory people pioneered this type of fantasy self promotion, and they have ended up making bankers seem honest. For me the issue is not using complicated jargon, but the outreach should reflect what we actually do, which is problem solving and collaboration, rather than promote some myth of a lone genius.

I think that Meredith's point that the public is not interested in a picture of a research group standing around is correct. Anyway some people reading this text will think, er Craig, you are not exactly famous for doing any outreach. Yeah, well I am thinking about it....

Explaining research is important now that particle physics is under attack again in the UK.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Duff beer

It was Duff beer that finally convinced me that Capitalism was doomed. Even after the banking problems had destroyed the economies of the Western world, I still believed in the power of the market. Thatcher's hidden pins has excised any thoughts of alternative ways of running economies, but a 12 oz bottle of beer cured me.

I was excited to see a 6 pack of Duff beer a couple of weeks ago in the City Akeda supermarket in the centre of Wuppertal. Wow, I thought why hasn't anyone thought of that before. Billions of people like the Simpsons. I watch it in German here.

I was telling me somebody that I had seen Duff beer for sale. They said it was no good beer. I normally only go to the City Akeda once a week. So I was in on Friday, and I noticed I could get a 12 oz bottle of Duff beer. To twitterize this story: "Duff beer tastes like shit". I didn't feel too good today, after drinking the duff beer, but that might have been because of the other, tasty, German beers I had drunk as well (to get rid of the taste of Duff beer out of my mouth).

No doubt the reason Duff beer took so long to be produced, was because of licensing problems. Why does it taste like crap? It has taken them over 10 years to make a cartoon beer real, and it tasted worse than Bud Lite. This is why the American economy is fucked!

Thanks to wikipedia it looks as though I have drunk the Mexican duff beer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Second Language Acquisition

I have just finished reading the short book "Second Language Acquisition" by Rod Ellis. The book was a survey of linguistic analysis of learning a new language.

Apart from the mundane issues of talking to another person, the study of language is interesting from a conceptual poiint of view. As Chmomsky suggested that language is an inane part of humans, rather than a skill that is learned, it is interestingy to study how people learn a second language. I found the book interesting, I was frustrated by the fact that none of the experimental studies ever concluded anything. people have tried to see whether children can learn languagaes better than adult, or whether some people are better at languages than others. There was no conclusive evidence.

Of course, some of the few people who read this blog will be thinking, "er how does this help you speak German. We are tired of speaking English." Look I am theorist, I like to understand how stuff works.

As it happens the only reason I have time to write this post, is that the University hast postponed the German test that was scheduled fro Friday. I was almost certainly going to fail the test. Based on only getting 20% correct on last Friday's practice test.

Monday, August 23, 2010

on Jack London

I came across an interesting piece about the writer Jack London in the Independent today.

When I was young I used to think that Jack London was a children's author, who wrote books like watership down, but set in the US. At some stage I did read John Barleycorn, a book about his drinking life. There were some great scenes in this book, like when some hard man bought him 3 or 3 drinks, before he understood "the round system".

After that I read The iron Heel. This was a political book. As the article in the inddependent notes, his politics was socialist, but some times a bit confused. I did read that Emma Goldman complained about that he talked socalism, but he never did anything.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New music

Back before the internet, one way to find new music was to go to the library and borrow tapes. Then you copy them. This is how I first heard Robin Trower. I have always felt a bit ashamed of liking Trower, because he was a bit hippy and cosmic. That was a bit uncool growing up after punk. But I really like his guitar sound. He is really gritty blues, so I am not sure what my younger self was worried about. I was reminded of my repression of my love for the music of Trower when a track was played on one of the freakzones on radio 6.

On a more modern front I really like the curtains of night a female death metal band from the US. They don't want to be friend on myspace. Perhaps I scare them. or perhaps they think I will compare them to babes in Toyland.

Thoughts on washing clothes

I have been using the Laundrette while I have been living in Germany. For the last few years I lived in the UK, I owned both a washing machine and a dryer. This was convenient, but I was sick of the expense of moving them from flat to flat. Frankly it was too much commitment. I need my freedom.

The laundrette in Wuppertal is modern, bright and clean. Crucially it is not too full of people. And most people seem relatively sane. I leave my clothes, go to shop for pens at the Euro shop, and then buy beer and fruit at the Netto supermarket. After that my clothes just need to be dried and I read my book. Sometimes I help people use the machines.

There is an interesting article on the BBC about laundrettes. For a while I used a laundrette in Liverpool. I really hated it because some of the people washing their clothes were crazy. Also lots of weird people seemed to wash large dusty curtains. Of course I would have been happy to use any of the laundrettes mentioned in the BBC article. I like the idea of checking my email, while my clothes dry. The BBc seem to have forgotten about the great film from the 80s: "my beautiful Laundrette.

In kentucky there was a Laundrette in a bar. I never went in. I didn't like getting carded to just wash my clothes. .

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The French Revolution

I had so much to do this weekend. All I managed to do in the end was book a trip to Graz and read "The French Revolution" by Christopher Hibbert. In my defense every true revolutionary need to know something about the French Revolutions, so the same mistakes are not made again.

Before I read this book, all I really knew about the French Revolution was that it started when Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake." This is not mentioned in the book. In fact, I found out that Marie was actually Austrian, and that the guillotine was actually made by a German company (even that those pesky German exports went around the world). Also Robespierre was a fairly hard core Christain, but maybe not such a good Catholic. Before reading the book, I was also unsure what the connection was between "The Paris Commune" and the French revolution. Marx tried to learn the lesson of the "The Paris Comune", so I would like to do the same, now that I know what it was.

Ok, apart from these facts that maybe will be useful for a pub quiz one day, it was interesting to watch the various factions come and go from power. Also, it was important to watch popular opinion, particularly, when mass displeasure turns into the mob.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Me and My Shadow

While I worked in Liverpool I saw a flyer for a book set in Liverpool. The book was "Me and My Shadow" by Stephen Morris. In a misguide sense of loyalty to the Northwest of England, I added the book to my unread pile of knowledge.

The plot was based on some students taking over politics after being brain washed by an evil genius. There is sometimes a tension between students and "workers". This is sometimes known as "town versus gown". The author of the book clearly thinks that all the students do is get drunk and get depressed about failed relationships, because that is all that his characters do. Rather depressingly, no one got a bad hangover. Lucky young people.

At one point in the book, a student complains about people with Joke Degrees. A bit rich, I thought, given that none of the students in this novel, did any studying, or even talked about lectures, or worked part time jobs. In fact it looked as though the novel was set during freshers week.

The book is self published by authorhouse. Anyway I hope that Morris gets his money back.

Cancer and Hitchens

I was so sad hear that Christopher Hitchens has a bad throat cancer. According to the myth, he learned about his illness a few days, before going on the Daily Show program.

Christopher is a great essayist, but I expect he is a bit of a shit to know. I wsa impressed to see that some Christains were praying for him - but not for his recovery.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Christopher Hitchens
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wuppertal Botantical Gardens

So last week I failed to go to the Botanical gardens in Wuppertal. After walking up nearly a million steps, I couldn't face walking up the next billion steps that seemed to stretch out into heaven. This Friday I decided that I would make it to the Gardens. Here are the steps, that stopped my journey last weekend.

So up the steps I trudged, into the clouds, and frankly almost to the edge of space. After getting to top level, it took a while to find the entrance. But then I was in and what a mythical place it was: a tower, some green shit (trees and grass), and some green houses. Also there was a fountain called "kein Wasser trinken". It made the destruction of my legs worthwhile.

After this test of endurance and mental strength it was time to celebrate by going to the pub. I decided on a traditional German pub as you can see.