On edge

Two weeks after the London bombings, things must have been agony for those caught up in the attempted repeat today. And over in Jersey City today, there was a scare resulting from an unattended bag left on a bus.

Generally, people are more on edge, more alert, and more reactive to suspicious behaviour and packages than before. While walking across lower Manhattan this morning, I alerted a guy to a package that seemed to have no owner; it turned out to be harmless and attended, albeit at a distance.

Hopefully, the failed attempts in London today will lead to the culprits, both those with the detonators and those behind them. In the meantime, and probably thereafter, the inherent accessibility of public transport means that it will continue to be a prime target, particularly in London and New York. It seems the only way to confront it is through vigilance.


Well, today I reached the milestone of 32 – at around 5am this morning, if memory serves me. Quite a nice number all in all – 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2. I figure that if I’m lucky I’ve got a few x^y (where y >1) birthdays left: 36, 49, 64; if I’m really lucky 81. 100, 121, 125 and 128 are probably going to be a stretch.

Went for a celebratory haircut this morning, and what better way to start the day than with the following, back-to-back on the radio whilst being shorn: Amy Stewart’s Knock on Wood, Kylie’s Locomotion and Kelly Marie’s I Feel Like I’m In Love. I couldn’t help but walk out of the shop smiling to myself (and the outside world).

My Mum has been in town for the last few days, so have been entertaining her while she’s here. (She may beg to differ.) On Saturday night we went to The Harrison, a swish restaurant on the junction of Harrison Street and Greenwich Street. If you read the hype, it has received some rave reviews. In my opinion, the food was good, not great, but the restaurant itself was very nice. The waiter was way too effusive, describing each of the dishes using overly long adjectives. I like to get a feel for a menu from the waiter, but it felt like we’d experienced each dish being cooked (and each wine being aged) before ordering.

Other than that, we’ve hopefully shown my Mum the New York experience. If you listed the things that we’ve ‘done’, it would be quite a short list, but I think that wandering the streets and taking in New York life can be much more fun than queuing for 2 hours to go up the Empire State Building, or going to yet another Natural History museum.

We went out to Arturo’s with Andy, Sarah, Iloire and Haven the other night, and I was surprised to find someone (Iloire) who shared my love of punctuation, particularly given the derision with which it has been received among my co-workers. We were both enamoured of the semi-colon, a rarely used artefact that always brings a smile to my face when I come across it. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. It reminded me of an article I read some time ago on Joel on Software about potential confusion with punctuation.

Thanks to my wife for a lovely birthday present, btw.

Pangs for London

It’s been a hard week to be away from London. I certainly had no desire to be around for the bombings last Thursday, but I’ve felt a million miles away throughout the subsequent week, during which people have demonstrated their solidarity and been there for one another. London has shown its true colours since the attacks, and I was sad not to be able to show my support in person.

The prime clock

How cool is this? It’s a clock that counts from 00:00:00 (midnight) to 24:00:00 (midnight), but only increments when it reaches a prime number for its six digits. So, it goes 00:00:02, 00:00:03, 00:00:05,…,00:01:03, right through to 23:59:51 (since 235,951 is prime). Apparently, there are 7,661 time-primes between 0 and 240,000, so the clock increments on average around once every five seconds. Unfortunately, it’s (a) not very accurate, (b) a bit pricey and (c) quite ugly. But a lovely idea nonetheless.

Thanks to Rob for pointing this out 🙂

Tour de France

I’ve not made mention of the Tour de France as yet, but it’s always a great event to watch – possibly the ultimate test of human endurance. Anyway, today’s stage proved how far ahead of the rest Lance Armstrong is. Although he was held off the stage win by Alejandro Valverde, Lance blew away all of his serious rivals, with Jan Ullrich losing 2’12", dropping to eighth overall, over 4 minutes behind the American.

It was also amazing to see the closest ever finish on Saturday, with Pieter Weening winning by a 5,000th of a second.after over five hours of riding (0.0000011%). Nice.

Bush, CT, pots, gravity, pi and statistics

Bush has predictably used the London bombings as further reason for the war on terror in Iraq. In reference to Al Qaeda, he stated that "When they are constantly on the run they can’t plan attacks, so we and our allies will stay on the offensive." The worry about that tactic is that it seems to negate the need for an exit strategy from Iraq.

A lovely weekend in Connecticut visiting some friends in Westport. Great to see Jodi and Paloma after so long. We didn’t really do much, which was the nice part – just catching up with one another and relaxing. We must do that more often.

And tonight, we began our pottery class, which was great fun! Messy and disorganised as hell, but kinda got the hang of things – hopefully there’ll be something worthwhile at the end of week eight.

A few links worthy of varying levels of note forwarded by a good friend yesterday, which I thought some might be interested in. First of all, someone questioning the Universal Theory of Gravity. I’m afraid I’m not sufficiently well versed in physics to validate their statements or otherwise, but if someone else is sufficiently well educated, then some further commentary would be welcomed – it would certainly be a weight off my shoulders!

Next, a page that simply reels off 1,000,001 digits of pi. (Or pi to 1,000,000 decimal places.) I like that. It reminds me of Akira Haraguchi, who recently reeled off the first 83,431 digits from memory. The amusing part of the story is the fact that part way through, he lost his place and had to start again, and that he had to abandon a previous attempt as the facility he was competing in had to close for the night. It also reminds me of a poster you can buy for $83 that is merely a print of (2^25,964,951)-1, the largest known prime as of February this year. I’d quite like that poster 🙂

Finally, an article entitled Programmers Need To Learn Statistics Or I Will Kill Them All. While a little extreme in its sentiment, I think the message is primarily a good one. I’ve never really thought about performance testing as one following statistical models, but I suppose at the end of the day, there is noise that needs to be allowed for, and seemingly identical tests will result in a range of data that needs to be interpreted just like those in experimental physics or any other application to which statistics lends itself so nicely.

A dreadful day for London

Shock and sadness on waking this morning at the four bomb blasts in London. Seeing the pictures of the bus in Tavistock Square, it seems remarkable that it only caused two fatalities. Thoughts out to all those who have been affected.

As the G8 summit continues, The Girl in the Café aired this evening, a very recently made Richard Curtis film based on the G8 summit currently underway, and the plight of Geldof and co. with respect to Africa. The film is quite beautiful, and focuses on the awkward, believable relationship between a civil servant and a quiet, yet outspoken younger woman. Although the political undertones are somewhat overdone, the film is certainly worth the time.

Invitation sport: darts

"As the newest recognised sport, darts, under the guidance of the British Darts Organisation, pledges its wholehearted support for the Olympic Games in London and would be proud to be considered as the host nation’s ‘invitation sport’ in 2012."
British Darts Organisation chief Olly Croft

I can just imagine a Lakeside-esque picture of quaffing Brits behind world-class athletes at the oche. Genius!

London Olympics 2012

What a great result. Just as it was all the sweeter last summer to be in America for their thrashing at the hands of Europe in the Ryder Cup, so the success of London over New York for 2012 can be savoured all the more being over here.

It will be good for London to host the Olympics, and will be particularly good for the East End, which will welcome the investment. The weasel-like Ken Livingston was quoted as saying "We’ll give the world the best Games they’ve ever seen." They’ll have some work to do to come close to Sydney’s success and professionalism.

Some pictures, some new, some old

I had some pictures developed the other day, some from recent camera escapades, some from a film I found in a bag. The latter are from around 2002, I think. Below are some highlights. Click on the image for a closer look.

First, some of the older stuff:

Bryant Park:

Bryant Park, New York, Summer 2004People in Bryant Park, New York, Summer 2004

Sky-writing above the Upper West Side:

Air writing above the Upper West Side, Summer 2004

Looking south down Sixth Avenue:

Looking south down Sixth Avenue towards Radio City Music Hall, New York, Summer 2004

A suspension bridge on the way to Newport, Connecticut:

One of the suspension bridges on the way to Newport, Connecticut a few years back

The last ever Concorde flight, over Clapham:

The last ever Concorde flight passing over Clapham

A marguerite in bloom in our garden back in London town:

Marguerites back at our house in Clapham

And now some more recent additions.

JFK’s memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC:

JFK memorial in Arlington Cemetary, Washington DC, June 2005JFK memorial in Arlington Cemetary, overlooking Washington DC, June 2005

The Washington Memorial, Washington DC:

A slightly wonky Washington memorial, Washington DC, June 2005

The White House:

Casa Bush - front door up close, Washington DC, June 2005Casa Bush, front door from afar, Washington DC, June 2005Casa Bush, back door, Washington DC, June 2005

Some views from the lounge window:

Sunset and a storm over New Jersey, June 2005A fire-ship marks the launch of an American cruise ship on the river Hudson, June 2005


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