Foto Friday XLVI

This is a piece of the Berlin wall.  Yes that is rebar in the concrete.  This section is supposed to be a 4th generation of the wall, but it was part of a historical display and had an impact on me.  Obviously I took this picture close up, but the view from their far away observatory was very powerful.  I’ll put up a gallery eventually, but we all know how that goes.

1/320s f/2.0 60mm ISO 100. No adjustments.  Au revior until next week.

So….about that drought

Back in March, Thames Water, along with other water companies in the UK, issued a “hosepipe ban”, barring it’s customers from using their hose to water their gardens (lawns) and wash their cars etc.  This came at the tail end of the driest March in 59 years, and followed two uncharacteristically dry winters.  The problem is that the groundwater stores are much too low, so the water companies are really trying to get people to do their part.  Never mind the fact that England isn’t that big, or that it is an island, they cannot manage their water.

Fast forward to April.

Above is the path that I take to and from work everyday.  I laughed out loud at the six inches of standing water that greeted me as I came around the corner on my bike.  Each stroke of the pedals put my foot underwater.

This is the view of one of the bridges that I cross just after the path mentioned above.  I would say the water levels here are very near two feet higher than they were last month.  The nearby University Parks and other common walking grounds are definitely flooded.  Also, definitely the strangest drought I have ever been a part of.

Here are some quotes from official spokespeople relating to the hosepipe ban:

“We are well aware of the irony that heavy rain set in after the hosepipe ban was announced. In fact, it hasn’t really stopped raining since we and six other companies imposed hosepipe bans on 5 April “

“The irony of talking about a drought at the end of the wettest April on record is not lost on us”

Indeed this past April has been the wettest on record since they started keeping records 109 years ago.  So although the surface is obviously saturated with water, the problem of low groundwater supplies remains.  This is especially true for the deeper aquifers.  Plus, the trees and plants are drinking up as much water as they can, so even less water makes its way down to refill the wells.  The good news for the underwater stores is that the temperature is still biting cold for May so not much water is evaporating, increasing the chance of replenishment.

All I know is that I got hosed riding my bike in and out of work for the past month and am ready for spring and some sun to show up.  22 of the past 24 months of lower than average rainfall have spoiled me to believe that the weather here isn’t so bad.  I guess I was wrong.

Fashion tips for the super rich

As part of my effort to upgrade my wardrobe to grownup status, I have been slowly phasing out clothes that don’t quite fit right, or probably have too many miles on them to make it out in public.  During the big post-Thanksgiving sales weekend in the US I picked up a couple of fitted button-down shirts to go with the new “smart” style I sport at work.

Before I pulled the trigger and got the shirts I was doing some research on the difference between point and spread collars trying to decide which is the best for my face shape and body type.  One of the pages I stumbled upon was the Ralph Lauren Style Guide Q&A, which is full of some amusing tips that I can only think that the super rich care about.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Ralph Lauren as much as the next guy, but I don’t have the money to buy an entire wardrobe of it.  One of my favorite suggestions was this gem:

Amazing, I have often wondered that same question.  Check out the rest of the guide for yourself if you are curious.

And for the record, I went with the spread collar.

Who do you pray to? The Church of Apple?

Just a quick one while I work on some more serious stuff. I headed to twitter to have a look at the general public’s 140 character opinion of the new facebook mail/messanging, when I also saw that iTunes Announcement was a trending topic.

For those not entirely familiar with Twitter (including me), the software can keep track of topics or key words depending on if you give it a tag like #ideas. If a million people started using the tag #ideas, then it might be a trending topic.

I clicked on #iTunes and saw that Steve Jobs himself had said it was going to be bigger than Apple finally adding The Beatles to the collection. Then I realized that Steve Jobs is on Twitter (maybe) so I clicked his name to follow him, and Twitter gave me a suggestion that made me almost choke on my tea:


I know people can be die-hard Apple fans, but wow.  Apparently el Jobso did invent the #Jesusphone.

Kitty accessories

Any good pet owner will admit that their pet has its own set of accessories.  As well they should.  I never realized before how attached a person can become to a pet, and how much I was attached to our cat until we moved here without him.  His arrival a week later immediately brought a change in both Chelsea and my demeaner, and we are much happier now that our little family is together.

Gato being the princess that he is has plenty of his own accessories: wet food, dry food, multiple kinds of treats, a fancy carrier, and a handful of fake mice and other toys.  And the only reason he doesn’t have more toys or a nice plush bed is because he’s a bit simple minded and doesn’t like stuff we buy.  Instead he prefers a laser pointer, running around the apartment chasing nothing, and laying on sweatshirts.

Despite the list of toys above, Chels and I decided that it was time to get Gato some additional accessories.  Like almost all cats, he goes crazy over catnip.  We took an idea from Chelsea’s mom and stuffed a nylon sock with catnip, and I managed to capture it on video:

As you can see, Gato takes no time in identifying the catnip and snarfing all over the place.

If you thought that he is looking svelte in that video, you would be correct.  We have him on a strict diet, and its actually working.  Our diet is just calorie restriction coupled with regular feeding times, and he has taken to it pretty well.  Except that he wakes up almost every morning about an hour before our alarm goes off to let us know that he is starving.  To try and combat this issue Chelsea had the brilliant idea to purchase another cat accessory, but this one was right up my alley – a gadget.

She picked up an automatic food dispenser.  Our thoughts are that Gato will stop depending on us to feed him in the morning, and then hopefully stop harassing us when he gets hungry around 6am.  This is also no ordinary food dispenser.  It holds about 90 cups of food, can be programmed to dispense different amounts at specific times, and even includes a recordable audio cue.  He seems to be responding to it well, and hopefully he’ll stop bothering us in the morning.

I also managed to capture him checking out his new food container for the first time:

I give it a week before he manages to break in to the container.

Gato chases bears

Anyone that knows our cat Gato well can tell you that he doesn’t shy away from hunting larger animals, or at least trying to chase them out of his domain.  At the house in Ithaca he often chased deer, turkeys and any other animal out of the yard.  We were often worried that he would not actually survive a fight with the stronger animals, but he needed to prove that he was the master of his domain I guess.

This weekend Chelsea and I were watching an episode of Planet Earth to relax, and saw the funniest thing from our Gato, he tried to hunt bears:

We think he initially recognized the snow leopard, or one of the bigger cats, and then continued to watch as the animals changed.  Actually, it was really funny, because when one of the animals would go off the screen to the left, he kept looking for it in the doorway to the left of the screen.  He would also look around when he heard a bird call or something pipe through the surround sound.

We have watched many movies and TV shows before but this is the first time he has ever paid attention to what was playing.  He sat and watched the rest of the episode with us – it was really cute.  Hopefully he will watch  more with us in the future – at least we know we are safe from the bears.

Where are Mulder and Scully?

One of the presents that both Chelsea and I got for Christmas this year was a season of the hit TV series “The X-files”.  I loved watching this show with my Mom as a kid, and introduced a skeptical Chels to it this past fall.  We have been watching episodes here in the evening on occasion, have managed to plow through the first two seasons and just started the third.

Aside from proclaiming victory in getting Chelsea to watch science-fiction, I bring this up because a major X-files moment happened yesterday.  The UK government released files containing a wide variety of UFO-related documents into the publicly available national archives.

To read about close encounters, craft sightings, strange illnesses, and government conspiracies click here to follow the link.  I probably won’t have the time to actually look at any of these – but I know Mulder would.

A face made for radio (well, maybe not)

Do any of you recognize this guy?

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Well I definitely would not have recognized him if you asked me, and this guy’s career has had an effect on my life in the past 10 years.  I have even seen him in Detroit and New York.  Ok I’ll give you a little more context, here he is doing what he does best:

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I have whited out his name above, but you get the idea.  He’s a big time DJ.  On the lower left is another clue, from his record label Perfecto Records.  This is Paul Oakenfold.  A man of many talents.

What do I mean?  Well he’s done a lot for music internationally for a long time.  He’s 46 now but at one time was the top DJ in the world.  He’s produced entire soundtracks to movies, started a record label, been resident DJ at Cream in England, singlehandedly started at least two different “series”, remixed popular artists such as Britney and Madonna, and probably a bunch of other cool stuff.

So why list a bunch of accomplishments for another person?  Well I have stumbled onto yet another podcast for consumption.  Oakenfold (or Oakie as he’s called during a show) is now putting out a weekly 60 minute mix.  I would classify the songs as hard trance but the music spans from vocal trance to progressive, to house.  I really enjoy listening to them.  Well except for one part – Paul Oakenfold.

Many of the DJ’s I listen to treat podcasts as a less formal way to showcase some new tracks, artists and maybe even insert bits of trivia here and there.  The point is – they talk.  Usually at the beginning of the set, sometimes in the middle, and again toward the end.  Most of the artists I listen to are European, so many have an accent on their English.  Paul Oakenfold is British, so he has an accent, but he also sounds like he may have had a stroke earlier that morning and just learned to speak again.  I’m not sure if its a combination of the crazy life a musician lives for 30 years, drugs, or what, but the guy sounds terrible.

And that was the point of my post.  I was strangely dissapointed when I first heard his voice.  I have purchased (yes actually purchased) many of his CD’s, paid to see him in concert, and enjoyed the music this guy stamps his name on for years, and never knew what he sounded like.  When I finally got to hearing him, I was taken aback, he’s clearly an intelligent and successful person. I guess it is not all that much different from hearing your favorite local radio host on the drive to work for 10 years and then running into them at some social function.  Not usually a pretty site.

OK – this situation isn’t exactly like that, but it isn’t really that much of a stretch is it?

How about it readers?  Do you know what I mean and have a similar story to share?

Stag Night

Which is otherwise known as a bachelor party.  As Chelsea and I will be getting married in less than two weeks (!), I suppose I was due for one.  Luckily I have some great friends, that treated me to a weekend to remember in New York City.  They kept most of it a secret to me, all I knew was that we were going to have a good time.  Here is a view from our hotel room out over the Hudson.

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You probably can’t see it, but there is a battleship (Intrepid maybe?) that has been featured in a number of movies in the background.  Anyway our hotel was definitely in a prime location, as you can see below:

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If you can’t tell, we were right on Times Square.  This place (as well as most of NYC I”m sure) was a hotbed of activity, even into the wee hours of the morning.  I’m still amazed when I think how his area ended up being decorated in huge bright signs.

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This is a picture of most of the crew, on one of our stops into the subway.  I’m sure David is telling jokes – they didn’t stop all weekend.  Thanks again to all the guys that made it out, we can definitely say that we did a bachelor party in New York City the right way.