Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

the world

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Here’s a map of the places I’ve been so far – you can click on the map to do your own:



create your own visited country map

i’d be safe and warm

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

Well we’re definitely no longer in L.A. – the winter here continues, although it’s getting a bit less frigid. During the day the temps have been getting up to the low 40s (a balmy 6C) so the tons of snow are beginning to melt. This is generally a good thing in itself but when the temp drops again at night it has some challenges:

Last night after work we went over to see our good friends Michael and Cara for dinner and drinks. They live just a couple of blocks away so we walked over. However with the snow melting the sidewalks were like rivers, so it was more of a splash than a stomp. Then on the way home the temperature had dropped enough so that most of the water had frozen – we slipped and slid the whole way and what would normally take less than five minutes took over quarter of an hour. Toby fell five times, mostly to great hilarity but once grazing his head, but he recovered quickly. He did enjoy cracking the frozen surfaces of the puddles but by the time we were coming down the hill to our house we realized that it was getting too hard to stay up so we had to navigate ourselves onto the road. Even turning around was a challenge – I had to hold on to a big snowbank to stop myself from totally wiping out.

new photos

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Just uploaded some pics – there are some from January and a whole bunch from our trip to Los Angeles. Hope you like them

back tomorrow

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Back to snowy Minneapolis tomorrow – we’ve had such a great time here and while it will be good to see friends and the cats etc it’s going to be a wrench to leave the great weather and stuff here. I’ve been impressed by L.A. much more than I expected or was lead to believe. It’s a pretty strange place I think especially in the West Hollywood neighborhood due to so many rich and good looking people being around, but at the same time people we’ve seen have been really friendly and Toby has had lots of smiles and nice comments from people. Also getting around has generally been easier than I expected – I’m quite proud of myself that I have managed to deal with driving here, and even have been able to do the trips today with no map.

california

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Los Angeles, to be precise. We cashed in a bunch of frequent flyer miles a few months ago to take what is basically a free long weekend visiting some really good friends in L.A. and also to escape the horrible Minnesota weather of the past couple of weeks (tons of snowfall and total lack of greenery). We left on Thursday, all rather stressful on account of a great big snowstorm. Our inbound plane actually made it on time from Boston but we had to wait an extra hour for the crew to come in, then sat on the plane for an hour while the air conditioning failed, then had to wait in the airport for another hour for a new plane, then finally a four hour journey to L.A. Toby was completely great though – very patient with everything – it could have been a lot worse. We didn’t make it to D and J’s till really late on account of having to get the rental car and find our bearings but we did make it in the end.

Yesterday we went to the Los Angeles Zoo, which was a lot of fun. It’s not huge, but there are lots of neat animals to see and it was really good for us to get so much air and exercise after the journey. Just smelling fresh trees and flowers after the long Minnesota winter is so good for us. We did get a little lost on the freeway on the way to the zoo but fortunately I’d gotten a satelite navigation system as part of the car rental thing, so that helped in a huge way otherwise we might still be somewhere in L.A, or maybe even in Mexico by now.

Today we had a great outing with D and J, all the way down Santa Monica Boulevard (they live in West Hollywood right on the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica so it was a straight shot down) to the Santa Monica pier where we saw the ocean, listened to buskers and took Toby on a bunch of fairground rides and some time on the beach. We had quite the tour on the way back, along Mulholland Drive which is the steepest, twistiest road I have been on in some time, plus a lot of it is right on the edge of very steep hills, so I had no time at all to look at scenery, it was quite an exciting drive. Totally mad enormous houses all the way along, and incredible cars too – I’ve never seen so many Bentleys, Aston Martins, Ferraris etc.

Toby’s been doing great, he is a good traveler pretty much all the time, and he’s really taken to D and J and their dog Bacchus. Apart from the sunshine and the sightseeing he has also been appreciating our hosts’ very large TV and DVD setup, so got to watch Cars (again), and was completely made up that Route 66 ends just a block away from where we are staying (click on the image to enlarge):

Route 66

oscars, scorsese, eyebrows

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Emma and I stayed up to watch the Oscars last night, which was fun – not the most riveting TV ever but nice enough. I was glad to see some surprises in the winners, and also glad to see Martin Scorsese win Best Director.

Scorsese himself is slightly strange-looking in that his hair is now gray but his voluminous eyebrows have remained jet black. I’m not sure how this is possible – it’s the opposite of what’s happening to me as I get older, where my hair is staying dark but I keep getting very obvious gray eyebrow hairs.

superbowl

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Just finished watching the Superbowl – for someone who doesn’t know a whole lot about football it seemed to me to be a pretty fun game. The weather in Miami was pretty bad – rain all the way through – but that maybe made me enjoy it more because there was more randomness. I was glad that we hadn’t spent loads of money on a high def TV – the weather meant that rain got on the TV camera lenses so a lot of the pictures were quite blurry; I’m sure our regular old set worked just fine.

Prince seemed pretty good at half time – a tad self-indulgent perhaps so people who weren’t already Prince fans possibly wouldn’t have been into it but I was impressed. The ads – meh – not too memorable (here’s a roundup from Slate).

Seeing the Superbowl always reminds me of the year I visited my college friend Andy in Japan, in 1999 just before I moved to Minnesota. The day of the game we were all pretty wiped – a bunch of us had been out all night clubbing in Tokyo which involved a half hour bike ride to the station, a long train ride into town, trekking around between bars and clubs then the train back at 6am. The game started around 10am – I remember being woken up by the sound of renowned baritone Cher belting out the National Anthem.

poverty in india

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

One of the first things you notice when you arrive in India is the poverty – it hits you very hard. Associated with that is the crumbly infrastructure – even as you get off the plane you don’t see the sleek new air terminals you might expect from news reports of a country which is an economic powerhouse, instead there is flaking paint, confusing signage, haphazard security and dimly lit hallways. After a day or two you could get blinded by the more modern facilities – the hotels, offices and restaurants I went to while I was there appeared to be extremely clean and new, but there’s always the catch and the things which remind you that you are most definitely in a still-developing country.

So I was interested to see this article where the Indian Finance minister aims to “end poverty by 2040″. Obviously that’s a highly laudible goal, and I hope that they make progress in this area. However just “ending poverty” I don’t think is as easy as making sure everyone has more money. With that we’re likely to see more and more people wanting cars, bringing even more congestion on the roads, if such a thing were possible; more people wanting more space to live in; resentment as the country continues to be “new” and lose touch with the past; and more use of energy and therefore more pollution. So it’ll have to be done carefully.

Then there’s what is in my opinion one of the hugest hurdles of all – the quality of water. The reminders I alluded to at the end of the first para of this post were mainly around water. As a visitor you’re constantly being reminded not to drink tap water, keep your mouth closed in the shower, use bottled water for brushing your teeth, don’t eat food which will have been washed (such as salad or fruit you wouldn’t peel). I would guess that locals are more used to the water than occasional visitors, but even so surely water-borne disease must be a huge impact on the health and economic viability of individuals, local communities and the whole country.

still cold

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Yes it’s still cold. The temp right now is about -10F, and it’s not forecast to go above -6 for the next couple of days. I believe that’s about -22C. The weather people are basically telling folks not to bother going outside.

continuing cold cold cold

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

It’s cold. Just cold. I guess at least it’s sunny, but it’s cold. In fact the temp isn’t going to get above 0F all weekend:

cold

That’s a high of about -20C. A high.