Archive for May, 2007


Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

If I seem sleepy, it’s because of the Desktop Tower Defense game.

Thanks a lot, Paul.

no comment

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Our local paper, like lots of other web publishers, runs occasional reader polls. I liked this one: How messy are you? Particularly the fact that 30 (at last count) people clicked on the “I’m not answering that question” option, thereby answering the question, or at least the poll. An interesting meta-answer, or meta-non-answer.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

When we travel, one of Emma’s favorite things to do is to browse the SkyMall catalog. It’s full of ridiculous things you don’t really need, and a few you think “that’s actually not a bad idea” but would never actually buy. Lots of pet-related stuff, and tons and tons of things you would imagine a sad executive who is never home would get for his children. Slate recently ran an article featuring some highlights and lowlights.

When we went to Orlando a couple of weeks ago, we found a new item which I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. I think that once you see it you will realize why. Mostly it’s for the name: the Original Backnobber Ii

going back

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Tomorrow morning, almost later tonight, we have to get up at an ungodly hour for an early flight back to Minneapolis. And tomorrow’s going to be a busy day – Emma has a class in the afternoon and then has to collect her two sisters from the airport; I have a rehearsal in the afternoon and then a concert in the evening.

Kind of looking forward to getting home though; as noted a few days ago, it’s amazing how quickly you can get used to being in a hotel – I’m sure it’s miserable after a while, but it’s great to leave your room in the morning then get back later in the day to find it all clean.

So – quick impressions of the trip: My work stuff has been really worthwhile, I learned some good stuff, met some interesting people and have a lot of things to implement when I get back to the office. Emma and Toby have had a great time – Toby did a lot of swimming in the hotel pool and his confidence is way up. He went from, on the first day, being quite nervous and only wanting to be in the kiddy pool, to today zooming around under his own steam back and forth across the big pool, his little legs kicking away and his arms reaching out in front for his kid’s version of freestyle. Nice work.

Today I didn’t have any classes so we all went to Sea World (Toby and Emma’s tickets were good for a second day) and had a great time. The sealion show was really fun – a lot more pantomime and less slick than the other shows, and lots of fun as a result. Toby and Em took me to the Shamu show too – they sat well back having been completely drenched on Tuesday in the “soak zone” and it was pretty cool. We also spent some time at the little funfair bit – as Emma is expecting she wasn’t able to go on the rides with Toby so I went on the rollercoaster with him. I’m not really a fairground ride kind of person, but I must say it was really fun. For a kids’ ride it was pretty fast, Toby was kind of nervous but I did lots of very obvious laughing – “Ha ha haaaa!” – which seemed to make him feel better. I was glad we did it – definitely a fun thing about being a dad. It was pretty hot though, and great to have a swim back at the hotel pool when we got home, followed by a little meal outside in the mild weather.

The only blight on the evening was realizing that now my conference is over, there’s a meeting of the Florida Republicans in the hotel – definitely time for us to leave.

in orlando

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Hello and welcome from very sunny Orlando, Florida. I’m at the StarEast software testing conference for the week, and this year took along Emma and Toby too. So far we’re having a totally great time – Toby was super-excited about the whole adventure, did great on the plane, and when we got to the hotel was positively vibrating with excitement. Just taking an elevator to your room is apparently cause for celebration, not to mention opening the room door with a Spiderman room key. And apparently our whole floor is “the best floor of all the hotels”. I hardly need to mention that the breakfast buffet contains the greatest food ever consumed.

The conference so far is pretty good – it’s my second year in a row here, and I’m getting a lot out of it. If I even put a tenth of the things I’m learning into practice then the cost of admission has been repaid. It’s a nice balance for me of learning new stuff and also having the things I’m doing be reinforced, and feeling good that a lot of the initiatives I’m running are worthwhile and industry leading.

But! Back to the real business. Yesterday Emma and Toby did a fair bit of trekking around – our hotel is right in the middle of a lot of shops and restaurants, and there’s a trolley bus which is very convenient. They also had some time in the hotel swimming pool, and saw a large number of geckos. Only disappointment was that the cinema up the road wasn’t showing any Toby-appropriate movies, but I think he’ll cope. Today was the first Big Day – they went to Seaworld. All day yesterday Toby had been asking about seeing Shamu the killer whale, and today his dream came true (speaking of dreams, yesterday he was so wiped out that when he went to bed he was reading a book and fell asleep in the middle of saying a word). The park was by all accounts pretty cool, although I think the shows were a bit louder than they expected, and Toby’s plan to sit in the “soak zone” of the Shamu amphitheater wasn’t as fun as he expected, when he got covered in cold seawater (pics to follow). The tickets are valid for two days so they’re probably going to go back on Thursday to see some of the other attractions such as the sealions – always fun.

After I was done with my geeking this afternoon the three of us went for a dip in the hotel pool – after a bit of splashing around in the kid pool we finally persuaded Toby to come into the main pool with us so that he could practice his swimming. After a bit of nervousness he did really well – using his float he ended up doing a lot of swimming by himself and really enjoyed the freedom of being able to decide where he wanted to go. It was so nice to be in the water and the sunshine under palm trees.

Also, for a much better written Florida experience, take a read of the site of one of my favorite writers, James Lileks, who is currently at a Disney park with his family.

photos from india

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Just uploaded all (almost all – I deleted a few due to blurriness) the photos from my trip. There aren’t as many as I would like because I spent most of the time there in the office, which is fair enough when work were paying for me to go. But anyway, I hope you like them – click here and enjoy.

passage from india

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Getting back into regular life now I’m home from India. Getting used to not being in a hotel – things like having to clean up after myself. It’s amazing how quickly you can get used to just dropping used towels on the bathroom floor and knowing that they will have vanished, replaced by neatly folded clean towels by the time you get home. If there was one thing I could have brought back from India, it’s the guy who cleaned my hotel room.

One less welcome thing I have brought back is a persistent digestion issue. Specifically, in the lower digestion area, if you know what I mean. I have been spending considerable amounts of time in the bathroom since I got back, and other times feeling kind of fragile and drained. Before I went away, the travel clinic people gave me some antibiotics which they said should be used in the case of severe issues of these sorts – basically if I didn’t have issues before taking the meds I would afterwards because they’re so strong and mess up the digestive bacteria so much. But this has been going on for about a week now (plus side – I have lost about 7 pounds so far) so it may be time to break the glass and take the pills.

not evil

Monday, May 7th, 2007

I’m sure this won’t be a surprise to any of you, but it seems that I’m probably the nicest guy you’ve ever met (it was a surprise to me):

How evil are you?

You can take the test yourself.

not pink enough?

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

The UK Independent newspaper published their annual Pink List – in their opinion the most influential gay and lesbian people in the UK right now. I was somewhat disappointed not to see my old friend Matt Wells on the list – he’s media editor for the Guardian, and also appears regularly on TV and radio, which I would have thought would be highly influential. Hopefully next year.

going through delhi

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

I forgot to mention the trip from Bangalore to here. When I got on the plane from Bangalore it was full of mosquitoes which was pretty alarming; fortunately a quick spray by an airport person took care of them really quickly. The flight was really smooth and the food decent.

A bit of bewilderment about where to go once I got to Delhi though – as with Mumbai airport the international terminal is quite a way away from the domestic, so I ended up following a baggage guy outside, through the melee of people and through a parking lot to where an elderly and friendly Sikh gentleman loaded my stuff into his van and drove for about 20 minutes to international. Many of the roads on this drive were quite decent; some felt like back streets, but even there we went past loads of people (almost all men) sitting on the sidewalks, hanging out by carts with big steaming pots of food, and selling fruits and vegetables on wooden carts.

The international hall in Delhi airport was completely packed and hot – fortunately I made it just in time to check in because they closed the airline desk right after I got my boarding pass. Long lines for security too, but made it with perfect timing.