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My sporadic posting pattern continues!  Right now I am in Chichester, visiting for a day or two.  The plan was to drive back home this morning, but torrential rain and flooding put paid to that: it took me an hour and a half to get 5 miles out of Chichester (and then a mere ten minutes to get back, although that did involve driving through some deep water, with my heart pounding in case the car died).  So, anyway, I ended up with a rather quiet day, wandering around and sitting working in various coffee shops.

I like Chichester: it's interesting to walk round, and has a decent secondhand bookshop and a rather good art gallery.  It also seems to have very little web presence, as I discovered when I tried to search for something to do this evening (or maybe I don't know where to look, or there isn't much happening on a wet Monday night...).  
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Checking out Spotify at the moment.  It's great: finally I can listen to whatever I want whenever I want.  Except that it doesn't have everything I want: I keep trying to listen either to very popular things or very obscure things, and find that there are missing tracks.  It's all licensing, of course: I could go to Zune instead, and they seem to have everything there.  But then I would have to wean myself off Apple products.  Sigh.

Having said that, Spotify is still pretty great.
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I seem to be travelling again.  This week I am in Lyon for a conference, and experiencing all sorts of mild culture shocks.  I haven't said anything in French for a few years, and now every time I need to produce a sentence my brain unhelpfully presents me with random German words.  Still, I am hoping that will fade after a day or two -- and in any case, spluttering incoherently until people take pity on you seems to be an effective technique.
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Unlike the last couple of years, there hasn't been much sign of snow this winter.  But last weekend it finally arrived, at least for a day or so, and in enough volume to semi-close Heathrow airport -- not that it takes so much to do that.  I went walking to see if the river had frozen over, and met this guy along the way:



He'll have a short life, but at least it looks like a happy one.

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During the night, somebody (or more likely a couple of somebodies) passed down the street, and left a memento on the front wall.  Judging from the corrections, I'm guessing alcohol was involved.  But it's still rather sweet, and we're leaving it for the moment.

Edit: I forgot to say that I'm pretty sure it was just random passers by!





Le deluge

Sep. 28th, 2011 05:33 pm
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The end of the summer is most definitely here: after a few months where I got to set my own pace, the last couple of days have produced something like a tidal wave of urgent emails and other things to do.  I'm fighting back by going for long walks with my ipod and buying snacks for my office (yesterday's acquisitions: rice cakes, coffee, and elderflower cordial, which comes in a fancy-looking bottle and is meant to tempt me away from the coffee).   I know that in a week or so I will be completely used to being in a busier part of the year, and start enjoying it, but these transitions always seem to come as a bit of a shock.  
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Sitting in Newark airport, waiting for a flight back to the UK. The Starbucks here has a rolling loop of early Beatles tracks. Aside from getting reminded that I don't like early Beatles (everything too predictable and conventional and regular), I am getting slightly weirded out because the music seems to be attracting people with an early 1960s look. For instance, the woman standing by the table in front of me has a bit of a beehive hairdo, while her boyfriend is wearing what looks like an old-style college jacket and sporting close-cropped hair and a baseball cap. If I were braver I would take a photo.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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So here I am in New York again.  

  

Curiously, I'm loving the trip in and out of the city: a bus ride through the tunnel, the chaos of the bus station, and then the subway up to Washington Square (which is a small city in itself).  Mostly I am working, but jetlag is getting me up early, so I have been going for extravangantly long walks before the sun gets up to strength and I have to scuttle for cover. 
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I went to feed the ducks yesterday, and discovered that the water is now entirely covered by a layer of weed (algae?).  The ducks can swim through it with no problem, and leave rather cool tracks like aircraft trails.   Cue a new pastime: trying to get the ducks to write words on the river by the strategic throwing of bread.


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The cup of coffee I had earlier doesn't seem to have had any effect.  Maybe I can get my money back?
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There are TV people filming a detective series round the corner.  Last time they did this, they left a very convincing dead body lying around while they went off for a cup of tea.  It caused quite a stir.
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It was an interesting August.  For the first time in years, I did a thorough sorting and decluttering of my living and work spaces, with the result that it feels like I now have a whole lot more space (after disposing of many, many boxes of mostly paper).  My tip for effective sorting: put lots of stuff in a box and leave it there until you have forgotten about most of it.  It's then surprisingly easy to sort it out.
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Day off.  Lovely weather.  And this evening I am trying out cooking pizza on a pizza stone.  Sigh.
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Time to post something!

I've been relatively offline much of the last month, working too much and doing a *lot* of reading...
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Suitcase packed: check.
Alarm set for an infeasibly early hour: check.
Found passport: check.
Reading for flight: hmm. 
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Too much work, but also some reading, including Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (a little disapointing, but probably only because of how much I enjoyed the last few novels of his that I read).  The other thing I read, almost at a sitting, was Paul Lockhart's "A mathematician's lament".  This is an incredibly readable polemic about mathematics education, arguing that it should be taught as a living, creative subject rather than through boring drill.
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After an all-too-short night (thank you, jetlag) I had to dash in to New York this morning for work.  A combination of bus, metro and walking got me almost to my destination (NYU) when I realised that I really, really needed a cup of coffee.  Salvation was provided by a wonderful,  quirky coffee shop that served me the best coffee I've had for months.





Think coffee at 248 Mercer Street.  I'll be back.
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Back in the US again, in NJ/NYC for a week.  The trip was uneventful, although the movie selection on the plane was unusually poor (with the exception of Little Miss Sunshine, which turns out to be hilarious).  Fortunately, I had brought plenty to read.

The takeoff from London got delayed by a couple of hours by the following chain of circumstances starting from the current cold weather: the crew got in late and needed to rest, so the plane sat on the runway and got cold, so they needed to deice it.  But then they discovered that their deicing equipment had frozen up (!) and so they had to warm up their deicing equipment before they could deice the plane...

Deicing, by the way, is extremely cool if you are inside the plane: huge jets of steam billowing round everything.
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Sitting on a plane again, testing out the possibilities of mobile posting...

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Forget all that reading stuff: Fruit Ninja is waiting!

**

EDIT: Having said that, what I really ended up doing was making a cup of coffee, and sitting in a comfy chair reading...
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