Archive for May, 2008

London Calling

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Here’s how the holiday has been so far:

Arrived Thursday afternoon after taking off Wednesday night. Spent the first evening chilling and getting over some jetlag. Friday we headed to Greenwich, walked through Greenwich park and looked around the Royal Observatory. Didn’t have time to see a planetarium show, but took a picture of mini-Elbeno standing astride the meridian. He also had fun playing in the playground in the park. Friday was also Grandad’s (my dad’s) birthday, so we spent the evening with family. Mini-E received a gift of a rocking horse which he named “Caballo” and took to immediately.

Saturday we went to Battersea Park Zoo, a small affair which was quite enjoyable for the small chap. The weather was windy, but sunny. Sunday we headed up to town again to take in the museums, although they were packed because of the wet weather and the fact that it was half term. We did get to see a few dinosaurs, but spent longer getting lunch than actually enjoying the sights. Picked up a small stuffed triceratops for mini-Elbeno which he has named “Af”.

Monday was another very wet day, and we went to the Horniman Museum which is right on our doorstep, and which has been improved over the last couple of years with a lottery grant. It’s great for kids, with a hands on area of stuff they can play with, and also an aquarium in the basement and a section with weird musical instruments they can play with.

Tuesday we went up to town on the train and met a friend for lunch at St Pancras; we went to the Zoo in the afternoon, which stayed dry. Wednesday we met another friend (Mrs Elbeno’s old boss) for lunch, this time in Pizza Express in Greek Street. In the evening a couple of friends (more old work colleagues) visited us.

Thursday we all travelled down to the Westcountry to see my grandparents, mini-Elbeno’s great-grandparents. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive down the M3 and then across Salisbury Plain, passing right by Stonehenge. They were all fine despite a slight medical scare earlier in the week. Friday was another rest day: my brother arrived home from his year out in South America, and we went to the local park in the afternoon to let the littl’un let off some steam.

Saturday (today) we headed down to Leeds Castle. Saw a jousting tournament and falconry display which were both cool; took a look at the aviary with its toucans, macaws and various other colourful birds; and made our way through the maze to the centre and then down into the grotto and through the underground passage back to the outside. It’s a very nice maze.

That’s it so far. It’s a packed schedule and we have more to do in the next few days.

I’m in London

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Catching up with family and friends on the UK side. Weather’s not bad at the moment, and I must have a sort of reverse jet-lag because I’m up at 6.40am on a Saturday (and nobody else is yet).

Yesterday, went to a whole other hemisphere.

Unexpectedly Valuable

Monday, May 19th, 2008

It’s come to my attention recently that my library of video games contains some that are now quite rare, sought-after, and therefore valuable. Many of the video games that you can’t buy new any more are available through eBay or Amazon sellers, although frequently (at least on Amazon) the items are without original manuals and packaging. N64 games are particularly commonly sold as cartridges only. All of my games are of course well cared for with all original materials, and (almost) always the original versions rather than the later-issued “greatest hits” SKUs.

The most valuable ones are the aging RPGs: most of the Squaresoft titles from the Playstation hold their value well, especially where they were excellent games with relatively short shelf lives (titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, for instance).

A few of the PS2 games are now entering collectible territory, and there are even a couple of PC games worth a bit too.

I reckon my most valuable games are:

Unexpected CS Book Bonanza

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

This weekend was another book sale, this time over at our other local library. It’s a smaller library and fairly new – I wasn’t expecting much. There were only about 10 smallish tables of books, so I was quite surprised to find quite a cache of computer science books on a chair in the corner. Of course, there were the usual “Learn VB6 with a book the size of your head” and “NT admin’s pro reference” type books, but in between those, I managed to get, at a dollar each:

Quite the haul there! Including several from my CS reading list of ~14 years ago. But good CS, like maths, doesn’t really date. Talking of maths, I also picked up a couple of 1950s texts: Analytical Geometry and Calculus and Trigonometry: Plane and Spherical, both by Lloyd L Smail.

Embouteillage

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

The arid highway subjugates the earth,
A monument to mastery of man.
Fantastic artifice: cement and steel,
The world enslaved and trammelled by its span.

A million ugly motors fight the road;
Retch bitter toxins from a distant star.
Miasma of a century’s exhaust
Insinuates itself in every scar.

Gentle infusions of jazz from the radio.
Engines stand idle, but there’s no particular
Hurry; removed from the concrete reality,
Lulled in his filtered cocoon, he’s untouchable.

The grimy shards of past disasters lie,
Statistical monitions of the real,
Neglected, on the asphalt. He believes
That nothing can collide with his ideal.

Schmap uses more of my photos

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

For their second Australia guide.