13 October 2011
20 October 2008
With the massive amounts of photo taking/processing going around here recently, I'm pretty excited about this new version of Google's Picasa software. You can do photo cropping, tuning, and touchups, and can even have it find photos you have with faces in them, or sort by color. Between the color sorting and the collage feature, I was able to make this nice little piece of Yanks in the
15 October 2008
Normandy: My friend John and re-enacted the D-Day invasion arriving in
Camping with our favorite British family in
Week in Novia Scotia,
05 September 2008
Now that the smoke from the fireworks has cleared, Oprah's filmed her ‘Welcome Home Olympians’ episode and Michael Phelps has donated that bonus, it's time to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly of viewing the Games from another country.
It was an Olympics Opening Ceremony for the record books! The 2008 drummers and 3000 Confucian disciples were awe-inspring. Multiple times during the ceremonies I had to pinch myself, I couldn’t quite believe that what I was witnessing was real life. The footstep fireworks and the over-the-top performances felt more like a sci-fi flick than something that could occur in my lifetime. Because Nick is on the Olympics Team at Arup (unfortunately, not the team that actually goes and competes, although he does have a gold medal for working on the project for over 1000 hours), they watched the Opening Ceremonies at work, a nice way to spend the afternoon. There were plenty of jokes and general hysteria when President Bush was shown in the stands.
He saw the ceremonies for the second time later that evening, when we headed over to a friends for dinner. Gareth, who is a proud Welshman who has lived in
The Parade of Nations was a particular highlight. We got out a book of maps and an atlas and tried to find each country as they were announced (two comments on that – one, I know that sounds nerdy, but there was plenty of wine so it was quite entertaining! And two – all of that would have been irrelevant had my amazing brother been present, as his geo-political knowledge is frighteningly extensive). Marwa would poke fun at most countries as they entered the Bird’s Nest, saying outrageously inappropriate things in a thick accent, like, ‘Look at those French! Look at the silly way they walk!’; ‘Oh, the Germans! I bet they are all drunk!’and ‘Look at the Egyptians, they are all on steroids, and they still won’t be any good!’ She was immensely proud when
After our charming evening, I thought, ‘wow, these games are going to be amazing! What an incredible cultural experience, we’re really appreciating the global nature of the games for the first time!’ But what I hadn’t grasped was that watching the games in another country is, in some ways, the equivalent of not watching the games at all. Instead of hearing Bob Costas comforting voice each night walking me through hours of coverage (sidenote – does anyone else think Bob Costas has the best job ever?), seeing the pull at our heartstrings back stories of atheletes, missing out on the statistics and stories and longer coverage that you can afford to do with a greater budget and larger viewing audience. All the BBC could offer me was an hour of highlights each evening at , highlights that were British in nature. That meant I saw very little of Nastia Liukin’s gold-medal-winning routine but saw the one British contender for the uneven bars’ routine about 5 times; no volleyball, beach or indoor, no women’s basketball, soccer or softball, very few American moments at all – but I DID see hours of sailing and, worst of all, cycling at the velodrome. After the first few nights, I wanted to pull my hair out. After the first week, I had completely given up.
A couple of stories will, I hope, highlight just how truly different (and inferior) the coverage was. On the first Sunday, I saw that basketball was on, and that the
The next night, I watched the Olympics highlights, knowing that Michael Phelps had swam that day and that surely, at the very least, they would cover that. And they did – they showed the race in full. Then they cut back to the studio, and said, ‘That makes 2 medals now for Phelps – time to add another medal!’ They then panned over, where there stood a CARDBOARD Phelps! They then put a gold medal around his neck! How sad is that? They knew they’d never get to talk to him, never get to interview him, so they honoured him with a cardboard cut-out. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Somehow the BBC got Michael Johnson to do their track commentary, which was the one shining moment of the games. He is articulate and bright and brings the sport of track to life. When he was first in the studio, the first thing they asked him was, ‘Have you seen our own Michael Phelps over there?’ He replied, ‘Um, yeah, that’s kind of weird.’
20 August 2008
- The weirdest Olympics events of all times (singles synchronized swimming? Are you kidding?)
- In the same vein, 12 sports that were cut from the Olympics (rugby could make a come-back!)
- Strange paths to multiple medals - my favorite is the Yale/Harvard/Oxford grad who won gold in boxing AND bob-sledding!
- Cassius Clay throwing his gold medal into the Ohio River is one of '13 Medal-Worthy Olympic Performances'
- For those of you obsessed with the structures of the Olympics, like Arup's Bird's Nest, Water Cube, and Nick Burdette's Amazing Bridge of the 2012 Games, here's a story on how past Olympics venues are being used now.
- And if that's still not enough, here's 7 completely random Olympics stories that you've probably never heard before (seriously, how could you NOT get a perfect 10 in the gymnastics event of rope-climbing?)
29 July 2008
Backlog Trip #1:
In what was probably our longest Peugeot road trip to date, we drove up to
Backlog Trip #2:
Most of our British friends here are appalled by the number of sites and destinations that we cram into our trips, but I think our long weekend in
The trip began with a bit of recklessness from the start: over a 3 day
After the challenges of getting there,
Our last and most extreme travel ‘hiccup’ occurred at the airport in
After a few dark and desperate hours, the airport internet café came through huge and we found a flight back to
Checking our tickets 100 times and arriving at the airport 3 hours before our flight, we managed to board a plane out of
27 July 2008
Last weekend we saw off our good friend John, Nick's closest work colleague here, who moved to AUSTRALIA last week. He's transferring to the Brisbane office for - well, for as long as he wants to stay, really. We had his going-away party last weekend, then helped him finish packing and sent him off. We're excited/proud/tiny bit jealous of this adventure that he's on.
There were around 20 people at the party, with 8 nations represented - I love that about Nick's workplace, so different from mine where I'm the only 'diversity' going. There were people from Malaysia, China, Portugal, America (hmm, who could they be?), Spain, Poland, Syria, Wales, England, etc. We were at a Mexican restaurant, and I was sitting next to our Polish friend Lucazs, who like many others had ordered fajitas. His food had arrived and mine hadn't, and I said, 'Go ahead and eat, it's fine!' He said 'I don't know how! I do not understand this food, what do you do with it?' I was amazed that he'd never had fajitas, or any Mexican food for that matter before! After he'd managed to roll one up (asking about what the salsa and guacamole were), he said 'This is a very difficult meal. I do not understand why people would want to work so hard for their food.'
Another of Nick's friends, Mike, had just got back from a wedding in California and was regaling everyone with tales of this exotic land that is America. Nick and I listened, amused, as he enthused about burgers (I will never eat a burger here again! I am ruined for life, he said), and shared how confused he was by driving. That was surprising to hear, because most people find the driving in America so easy. The combination of straight roads, lanes that are actually wide enough for a car, and automatic transmissions makes for smooth sailing compared to British standards. However, Mike was confused by two things - crosswalks and stop signs.
For crosswalks, he felt that we didn't do quite enough for them. He said 'A line painted across the road could mean anything!' He couldn't understand how we could get by without thick lines of vertical paint and flashing lights to mark them.
On stop signs, he said 'Stop really means stop - it really does!' As though he had come to a stunning revelation. Happily for Mike, who is quite polished and speaks with a posh accent, not knowing this led to his favorite American encounter. As he attempted to roll through a stop sign, a guy shouted at him in a southern accent 'A**hole!' Mike responded, 'I'm ever so sorry, did I do something wrong?' To which he received--er...a commonly used automobiling hand gesture. We might have found the exchange normal or annoying, but he was so excited to have encountered a real, live, Angry American, like when the black bear at the zoo roars.
You can imagine how proud Nick and I were hearing this story! We showed those Brits who rules the roads.