Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Snow season is coming

Both Loveland and A-Basin have started their snow guns - the countdown has begun....

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sometimes Life Sucks


We'll miss you Christopher 8-(

Spatial Networking

Despite a brief rumour that he was taking up professional wedding photography, Mr Batty finally decided to end his 6 month long swan around the world to start up a new company - Spatial Networking.

Stay tuned for what it's actually going to do (maps and space and social and networking and stuff), and of course, good luck Pete.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You never really

know where you come from until you read Wikipedia about your home town....

The guy who invented plasticine lived there!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Colin McRae Dead

Totally shocking news just coming out that former World Rally Champion Colin McRae died today in a helicopter crash up near his home in Scotland.

He was 39, and the first (and I think still the only) British winner of the World Rally Championship in 1995, in the now famous blue Subaru WRX.

There are some reports that his son Johnny was with him in the copter, along wiht 2 others, but this is yet to be confirmed.

I'm gutted...

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Travel Blues

It had obviously been way too long since I had a travel nightmare - the summer seemed to go by relatively stress free as far as travel delays. I had kinda put this down to the switch from United to Frontier, but to continue the run wasn't going to happen for forever.

And so, it came to pass, on a sunny Georgia day.....

The travel day looked like it was going to be good - the team had spent a very full week of travel already - fly in Monday, drive a couple of hours each way on Tuesday to visit a client office, work Wednesday in Atlanta and then drive 4 hours down to Savannah, work Thursday and drive 4 hours back, getting back into Atlanta around 10.30 or so (and 700 miles later). Friday we managed to leave the office on time, got the car and us checked in fine. Mark got his earlier flight confirmed and headed out smiling. Even United was on time - what could possibly go wronf with mine and Dennise's Frontier flight?

This is when things started to go wrong. 15 minutes before we were meant to board, an announcement was made that the plane had been struck by lightning on the way in, and an engineer would be out to check it out - probably a 1 hour delay, nothing to get worried about. Of course, the plane was eventually declared unfit to fly until something had been sorted out, and at around 9pm that night, the flight was canceled. In between, a huge storm shut down the airport for an hour, both of the other Frontier flights back to Denver were declared full, and I ran out of cigarettes.....

One of the benefits (?) of traveling so much is learning to gauge the mood of the staff behind the counter to get an idea of how much trouble we're going to be in. Around 7 (with neither of the other flights left yet due to the weather), the staff went into calm but panicked mode, so I hung around the check in desk to work out what was going on. There was a whisper that the original flight was going to be canceled, and they were calling the people up with connections that they were trying to get on each plane. This wasn't working too well, as it appeared the names they were calling were already on the plane. I called Dennise over, and we went and stood over by the plane that they were still trying to fill. It turned out to be a good call, as we somehow managed with a wink and a nod to get allowed on the plane with instructions to "find a seat and sit down". We both even got aisle seats!

So, of course, the luggage didn't make it, but we did get to leave from DIA around 10.30pm last night (instead of our project 4.30pm) - but we were one of the lucky ones - one lady phoned her friend who was one our original flight and she was still at Atlanta airport, and waiting to get on a Delta red eye out of there. And the luggage is here now and in one piece, so no complaints I guess.

Of course, if I had been really lucky, I would have been with the wife on her work trip in Vegas. Check out her suite below - one of the perks of a hotel running out of regular rooms before you check in I guess.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Britney Was Awful

I was really hoping she would be good, but she wasn't. At all.

Looked like she was spending all of her time remembering her dance steps (which she didn't quite manage despite all the concentrations), she lip synched (badly), and she looked like she ran off at the end. She did smile once, but that was it.

Sorry Britney, but you need to take some time off or something, and get yourself sorted out. It wasn't good.

And did I miss the actual fight between Tommy Lee and Kid Rock over Pamela Anderson, or was it cut out? I didn't see any of it, but I wasn't paying attention the whole time.

Top performers - Alicia Keys as always, and Justin and Timbaland - they just looked like they were having too much fun. Oh yeah, and Chris Brown with the 2 little kids - I'm going upstairs to practice my dancing now.

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Car Control Clinic

Today was my first venture in the car that involved a bit of closed track action - the learners starter place known as the Car Control Clinic. This is a mandatory (I think anyway, if not, highly recommended) prior to the driving school I'm going to in a couple of weeks (I got my helmet yesterday).

Of course, it was all brand new, so I was a little scared, but after easing gently into the slalom, I gradually got faster and kept it all under a semblance of control. After slalom was the skid pad - two large circles next to each other - one wet, one dry, just so you could feel the difference in grip. I think it was my favorite part of the day - getting the tail to lightly drift out as your pushing it was a lot of fun.

Finally was the emergency braking section - stop as quickly as you can, first in a straight line, and then as you're turning. ABS obviously makes this a lot easier than it used to be, but it was still fun. Unfortunately, during the braking, the car started making some weird scraping noises, so I pulled out before the end, and a few of the very helpful staff there took a look and gave me a hand working out what was going on. It all turned out fine in the end - I had a small rock stuck in between the rotor and caliper, and it managed to pop out as we were driving home, with no damage done. I think I turned white before I knew what it was though - obviously imagining the worst, and wondering if I'd even get home.

Anyway, still recovering now - the clutch leg is a little achy, and the face is definitely sore from all the grinning I've been doing. Heidi took lots of photos and vids, so I combined all the slalom ones for your viewing pleasure below. And can I just say in my defense (before you get started with the abuse brothers), the first couple I was told to go pretty slow....

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Catchup Posts

Loads of stuff over the last few weeks that I meant to post, and never quite got around to it, so here's a quick list of links for some of it. One day I will actually keep up on all this stuff....

Too scary to use bathrooms?

Party War Machine

The best wine decanter I've ever seen (but way too expensive)

The futuristic backpack, available in a school yard today

The only router I've ever seen that you don't want to hide behind something

My TV Fantasy

Scary Origami (I'm not getting in there)

If you need a speaker for your shuffle

And finally, a little car especially for the wife.



The last few years have been a little on the hectic side - the wedding planning and the getting a new company set up and profitable etc, so the hobby thing has largely been replaced with grabbing as much sleep and relaxation as possible.

So, I decided I needed to start trying to do something outside of work and lying on the couch, and given I'm completely obsessed with cars (and I get to spend pretty much every day on a computer), the choice seemed natural.

So, I joined the BMW Car Club, and signed myself up for a driving school in a couple of weeks. There's a precursor to this tomorrow, where I get to hang out doing slaloms and emergency braking, along with some fun time on the skid pad. I also need to do a little shopping today, as apparently I need a helmet - the last helmet I bought was a BMX one when I was about 14, so I hope they give me plenty help as I have no idea what I'm looking for.

Anyway, I might get to post some pics of the events up here if I stop shaking enough to click the camera, so stay tuned. (and I've started saving for the new tires already - I know they're going to be needed pretty soon)

Get fit(ter) update

Starting from a place where there's plenty of opportunity for improvement means the first couple of weeks have been a success (despite the illness, a visit to PF Changes and a delightful carrot cake from the Cheesecake Factory). So, blood pressure back down to acceptable levels (prompting the doctor to say "wow, you've done really well", I'm under 200 pounds for the first time in about 3 years, and I even managed to pump up the tires on the bike that's been sitting in the garage since I moved in and take it out for a ride.

So, new targets - 180 by Thanksgiving (the day before anyway, so if I need to stuff myself on turkey I won't feel so guilty), and getting my body fat percentage down another 5 to 8%. I've written it down - it has to happen now.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pavarotti Dies

I guess the most famous of all opera singers (at least from where I'm sitting anyway) passed away last night after a battle with cancer.

I think he shot into the public eye in the UK when the BBC chose Nessen Dorma (sp?) for the World Cup theme tune one year (maybe 90 with Gazza etc?). Before that happened, I think you can count on one hand the number of Opera songs I had ever listened to, and there wasn't a single singer I could name.

This was followed up with various appearances with a number of different pop stars, and a bit of an upswelling in opera listening amongst the common man back home - The Three Tenors CD ended up in our house, along with a number of TV specials and the like.

Anyway, he's going to be missed - the BBC have a decent report up here.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Car Post

See Lauren, I make it nice and easy for you to skip ;-)

Anyway, couple of things on the car front, so I wanted to do a combined post to get them all in before my tea is ready.

First off is the official announcement of the much rumoured RS6 Avant from Audi - power is ridiculous (up around 560 bhp), torque at 480 lb/ft and 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.

Pictures are here, with a video of it semi disguised going around The 'Ring at the end of this post (it's fast and loud and fun).

Next up, Alfa has announced they're coming back with more than just the gorgeous (but ridiculously expensive) 8C - it looks like the 159 and Brera (plus Spider, which I guess counts as number 3) are on their way over here in 2009, via the Maserati dealerships (which is lucky for me, as it's just along the road from my house, tucked in with the Ferrari, Lotus and Bentley - hows that for temptation).

If you've got money to burn (but not enough to buy) you can apparently hire a Bugatti Veryon for the day (or 50 miles, whichever comes first, and you already know the answer to that). It's only $40k!!!

Fiat seem like they're kicking arse with their new small cars, and they announced another one I want.

If you prefer the look of the old(er) E46 M3 (which of course I do), but need to have the extra performance of the new one, or even a bit more, here's your option.

There's a new A4 coming in a little while.

And finally, why would you ever do this to a car?

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New iPods

Today is new iPod day - the "fatty" rumours were real, and now you can get an iPhone without the phone bit on it. I'll add in more details later, but the pics were too pretty not to post straight away.

Oh yeah, and the iPhone price went down by $200 (already!) - decisions, decisions (not really - they're all off limits as we're saving for a new Mac, plus I just got an iPod Nano back in March, and I love it to pieces).

Update: OK, got a little time now to list the changes. Starting small and working our way up, the Shuffle hasn't really changed, just some new pastel colours, and also the product (red) version (it's red, and a portion of the money goes to fighting AIDS in Africa). The Nano is now short and fat, so that you can fit on a screen that will play movies in a watchable format. This was the one that was leaked a few days ago on the internet, but I don't think anyone realized how small this thing actually is in real life. Also, it gets a price drop - we're now down to 150 bucks for the 4 GB and $199 for the 8GB version.

The "normal" iPod is now called the iPod classic - if you can't stand being without your songs or movies, this is the choice for you - you can get the "small" 80GB version for $250, or a new 160GB version for $349 - this even has enough space for Mr Stone to carry around all of his songs.... It still plays movies, and now has coverflow on it (like the Nano - the moving of the album covers back and forwards as a means to browse around your collection).

The big new product (which people hoped and wished for, but weren't sure would happen so soon) was the iPod Touch - basically this is an iPhone without the phone or camera bolted on. The gorgeous touchscreen approach, widescreen video playback and available in 8GB and 16GB formats. It also has WiFi included, which means Safari is on board for browsing the web, as well as a YouTube app like the iPhone and Apple TV.

Two other things - one is there's now a mobile iTunes store, so you can buy songs (but apparently not movies/videos) directly from your iPod, and a team up with Starbucks that allows you to buy the songs you hear in the store just by hitting a button on the iPod. This didn't really seem like a very exciting thing when I first heard it, but then thinking about it, it's kinda cool - not for the actual "oh, I can purchase a song that I'm hearing in a store" kinda way, but more that it pointed towards the future way of the world. It reminded me of the Minority Report, when the adverts in shops scanned your iris and gave adverts specifically targeted to you. I'm not saying we're anywhere close to that, but it's a start.

I think that's about it - Apple has the Christmas market pretty much covered as far as music/video players for your pocket is concerned, with enough new features for existing customers to go back and upgrade, and maybe even entice some of the holdouts to join the iPod club (I'm talking to you Mr Thompson ;-)

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