Tuesday 24 February 2009

Maps coming out my ears

Ah - the end of another suspiciously productive day. Suspiciously I say b/c I've actually been hard at work all day, but don't seem to have a lot to show for it. Funny how that goes. Made a map for a very annoying estate surveyor. He kept calling and pestering me about it. He would have gotten it about a day earlier had he not been doing that. Forced me to go all local government on him...Mmmhmm! The local bike store wants me to make a great big map of Hackney to put in their front window. I'm really pleased they want me to do this, but, of course, have run right into stupid map licensing issues, given that all map data in this silly little country is controlled by Ordnance Survey, and they are suing people left and right who dare to use mapping data without paying for it properly... So, I'm looking for a clever and entirely legal way around this, which I might have found by tying the map into the Government's 'Cycle to Work' scheme. Very clever - and promoting council and environmental interests as well! I'm learning how to play the bureaucratic game. How very scary indeed.

Went for a lovely 62 mile bike ride on Sunday out west of London. I'm mapping all my rides with my new Garmin toy. One of these days I will figure out how to convert everything to .kml files so I can put them onto Google Earth... I had my lunch in a tumbledown graveyard in the not very exciting town of Chertsey. I used a tombstone as my picnic bench. David thinks this is macabre, but given that most of the graves seem to have just sat around doing nothing since the mid 1800s, it seemed a good recycling use of material. I also had to take a leak in the graveyard - tried to find a place that wasn't right over someone's grave - didn't want to get pulled under or anything scary like that.

No, I'm not a weirdo - I just play one on TV.

Anyway, not much else to report really - suppose I should get out of here and head to the gym so I can be buff und huge (giggle!).

Friday 20 February 2009

When the boss is away, the Doug will play...

And I'm back. Ewa is away skiing in Austria and Thomas has gone to some meeting with Street Lighting (where most bright ideas are born), so I have a few minutes to tickle the keyboard with my amazing wit and witticisms (or else to drivel on about nothing in particular). I missed the chance to write about the big 'Blizzard of '09', which saw London buried under an amazing and terrifying 6 or 7 inches of snow. The entire city ground to a complete halt, with the entire bus fleet being pulled for the first time, apparently, in its history. Supposedly, the health and safety folks were worried that they would turn into big red double decker missles being hurtled down streets at at least 5 mph, destroying this great city that has survived pest and pestilence, war and fire. I am very glad they saw fit to keep the busses out of service - meanwhile not bothering to grit roads or sidewalks until well after the fact. Different boroughs seemed to have different policies on what to do. Southwark made at least a halfass attempt to grit some of the streets, though the ones they picked seemed entirely random. Lambeth adopted an 'it will melt' eventually approach, and Hackney dumped about a million pounds of salt in front of one council building, but didn't get around to the much smoother and much slipperier sidewalks in front of another one until 3 days later, when the now-ice was melting anyway. Trains were cancelled, in some instances, for three days 'because of severe conditions' (the wrong kind of snow or something, i guess), and the supermarkets sold out of bread. I slogged into work, taking 2 hours one way and 2.5 hours the other, because the council initially said we'd have to take the day against our annual leave allowance, and only later, when it became clear that most people had stayed home, said that they would give the Monday and Tuesday as snow days. Great - felt really appreciated there. One of the newspapers declared that this country had become and 'entire nation of bedwetters'. I couldn't agree more.


Paul and I went to Berlin two weekends ago for a long weekend. He ended up going out and generally staying up all night. I spent the time hanging out with friends (I've somehow managed to make three good friends there, even though I've never lived there), eating, and wandering around the city. I think that was my sixth time there? Not sure. Anyway, Berlin is definitely one of my very favorite places and well up on my list of places I could live quite happily (of course, I'd need to learn German...).

Got a new toy for my bike - a Garmin Edge 705, which is basically a bike sat-nav. It is so cool - lets me record all my rides online and map them out on Google maps - keeps track of things like cadence, elevation change, calories burned, speed, etc... It's basically all the nerdy things I've wanted to keep track of for the past 20 or so years, and all I have to do is to plug it into the computer. How cool is that?

Oh, and David has finally replaced his bike - so we are now a household of cyclists again. Robin is using his clipless pedals and hasn't had a disaster... Now I just have to convince the two of them they want to do long-distance rides... Baby steps.

I stayed home from work yesterday with a cold. Actually, I wasn't all that ill, but I'd not been sleeping very well and Robin convinced me to try one of his sleeping pills (he has b/c of the meds he's on). So, I took one when I went to bed, thinking this might actually give me a nice, full night of sleep. Wrong! I felt like I was getting sucked into the bed, which I really didn't like. Woke up then at 4:26 in some weird position and couldn't go back to sleep. Every time I tried, I just had weird thoughts. By the time morning came around, I was a complete disaster and wasn't going anywhere. Finally got a little sleep between 9 and 11, but I spent most of yesterday feeling like a complete zombie. Don't think I will be trying those again--eek! Of course, it didn't keep me from meeting Kathleen for lunch or going to the gym. Gayness trumps illness every time...

Mr. Smoker behind me is still hacking up a lung - I can hear him force out a tubuculoid cough every minute or two. My solution to this, which might actually prevent office violence, is to plug myself into streaming music on my mobile phone (I've got unlimited internet access) - found some really good French station that seems to have very few ads - and the're in French anyway, so they just sound like silly noises...

Should probably do a little work now... How dull.