Well, you asked for it

February 6th, 2008 by matt

By popular demand (aka. my mom’s request), I give you Dina’s dish:


(and the garden below her flat in the darkness)

Now, let’s get a little mundane. We have two things at work here. First, I have a TV now. One thing you learn about having a TV in the UK is the licensing scheme. Like all things in life, the BBC is not free. It gets paid for by a yearly fee you pay. If you own a TV, you pay about £11 a month. This alone is no big deal. Why they just don’t deduct it out of a payroll tax is beyond me. But, regardless of that, it goes to a worthy cause as the BBC has come out with some great shit and most of the quality programming in the UK that isn’t Simpsons syndication comes from the BBC. My issue is the collection method. The BBC has paid a bunch of companies to act as Big Brother, checking address databases with who has paid the fee and who hasn’t and allegedly roaming the streets and looking for signals from places that haven’t paid. Earlier this fall, they had adverts up with things like “We’re watching you so pay up” all over the city. It’s creepy and overkill. On top of that, there is a presumption that everyone has a TV and if you haven’t paid, they assume you’re hiding something and harass you and threaten so show up and inspect your home. I have no idea what authority they have, but my colleague, who really doesn’t have a TV has had to call repeatedly to get to stop sending threatening notes about their obvious guilt because everyone has a TV.

Anyway, the point is, I have a TV and I wanna get a real signal, so I’m paid up on my license and I’m looking at the two big TV providers Sky and Virgin. As I started trying to sign up for Sky, they asked about installing a dish which confused me because i thought they were terrestrial cable. So I asked Dina who mentioned it and I realized I had some sort of dish outside my window so I asked what hers looked like so she sent me a photo. I’m obviously ignorant because Sky is satellite TV. Very exciting, no? 🙂

Here ends a daily mundane post. Was it boring as shit?

Yeah yeah, I’m lazy

February 4th, 2008 by matt

OK, this is about the longest I’ve gone without posting. It’s January and I’m basically working and doing the usual day-to-day things. If you’d like me to write about the mundane, I can try 🙂

In the meantime, the first Super Bowl in ages that was actually a game (well, I guess lately they haven’t been total jokes) and it starts a little before midnight my time. Not only that, but the Giants freaking ruined the Patriots perfect season. How cool is that?!?!

Anyway, I need to figure out what to do with this blog when there isn’t tons of exciting things to be written about/photographed. In the meantime, I’ll jump in with whatever random I can come up with.

Chicago News

January 19th, 2008 by matt

I’m back in England again and just getting back into the flow of things. I’ll be posting some stuff over the next few days. In the meantime, here’s some Chicago news for you:

  1. Looks like calling Cook County Hospital (where ER takes place) Stroger Hospital is no longer so creepy. The man they named it after, former Cook Country Board President John Stroger, died yesterday. He suffered a stroke a few days before a hotly contested primary almost 2 years ago in which his family used some shameful tactics to have his son put in his place.
  2. After many years of political bullshit, the Illinois legislature has actually passed a funding bill that’ll stop the CTA (local public transit) from whinging every year or two about not having enough money. I bitched about this late last year when they yet again dodged a doomsday situation.

First Post of the New Year

January 1st, 2008 by matt

I figured I should start the new year out with a blog posting since it’s been exactly a year since I first posted something on in it and, in three days, since I publicly told anyone I’d be making a trip to England. It’s been a long and busy year. Let’s hope the adventures don’t stop 🙂

I’ll be making a US trip in 2 days. I’ll be in New Jersey to see Carolyn for a few days and then off to Arizona to see my parents in their new environment and my sister. It’ll be a much needed break.

As a result, I was in the UK for the whole of the holidays. Considering how hectic London is during the bulk of the year (7 million people in a single city makes it a little crowded), this was a ghost town the last week. My commute, short as it normally is, was absurd. The roads were empty, the buses were empty, the office was empty. Alas, I was sick, so all the work I planned on catching up on became ‘This needs to be done yesterday’ again. But it’s been nice and relaxing to have everyone off on holidays. And now I get to flee before it gets to crazy again. I’ll post more once I’m stateside!

Oh yeah, if you’re in NYC on 5 January (it’s a Saturday), lemme know as I’m hoping to spend the evening in the city.

What is this?? — It’s Pari Roller

December 19th, 2007 by matt

(My mom found what this is — Pari Roller. Nice idea. I’m glad I stumbled upon it that night. It was fun to see. I also now realize a quick search for “Friday night rollerblading paris” turns this site up nice and easy. Good catch mom!)

After a long day at work, I was about 5 minutes from my hotel and I stumbled upon this. It was definitely organized since they had people in yellow vests and were tailed by a police escort and they all stopped at traffic lights (the reason I managed to get them all together was there was a long light that had just changed). It looks almost like Critical Mass on Roller Blades, but it was 11pm. There isn’t exactly a lot of traffic to disrupt, even in a big city like Paris. But it was on Boulevard Haussmann, which is one of the bigger streets.

Oh yeah, youtube compresses the shit out of this stuff, so it’s not nearly as good a video. I do like the woman trapped in front of me and how she even thinks for a second about trying to cross in the middle of it. Anyone know what this event is?

Cat Mummies

December 12th, 2007 by matt

Just to return o’ so briefly to the theme of Egypt, here are some cat mummies:


Now, I love my cats, but this is a bit extreme. I would never do this to Anna and Chewy no matter how much I like having them around. And, as it turns out, neither did the Egyptians. These are not mummies of beloved members of their households, but actually sacrifices. Again, each animal signified some trait that was good to have as a person passed into the afterlife. So, they’d round up a cat, break its neck and bury it with the person. They also had fish and eel mummies to the left of these fine felines. Poor animals.

The funniest tube stop name

December 10th, 2007 by matt

With almost 300 stops and a penchant for having names that sound a little odd to American ears (Cheapside, Elephant and Castle, Wapping), you would think it would be hard to come up with the funniest tube station name (which would likely correspond to a name of an area). Well, let me tell you, it’s not even close. I’ll give you a hint:


(It ain’t Heathrow)

Not only in the stop in question snicker worthy (I’m not the only one. I swear!), but it’s the end of the line for the Picadilly line which means you get to hear it multiple times when going north/eastbound and you get signs like the one above just screaming it at you. 🙂

Someday soon, you’ll have a picture of me at that stop. And I’ll have to find a pub in the area.

Very Cool — Aussie Politics and Music

November 29th, 2007 by matt

So I’ve been a fan of Midnight Oil for years. They made some very good rock music mixed with activism as well. I know the lead singer, Peter Garrett, had been pretty active in Australian politics, but here is some good news. Apparently, with the conservative government swept out of office after 11 years running things, Garrett will have a cabinet post. While the center-left politicians had been in the opposition, he was their shadow-government rep for climate change. Considering his and Midnight Oils environmentalism and anti-nuclear focus in politics, that makes sense. Even cooler, since the new PM has made one of his big differences with the previous Prime Minister that he would actually ratify the Kyoto Protocols on reducing pollution world-wide. That leaves one major industrialized country who hasn’t. Who is that? The US (sigh).

I’ve Been Assimilated!

November 8th, 2007 by matt

So here I am in Stockholm, where people drive on the same side of the road as  in my homeland and what did I find? I was completely confused! I had no idea where the cars were supposed to come from. I was in a cab and the driver made a left turn and I freaked out for a second thinking he was on the wrong side of the road. In my head, I’ve become so accustomed to looking for cars on the England side of the road that when I’m not there, I have no idea where to look. I hit a couple of intersections and just kept looking in both directions still not sure which way to expect the cars to come. Damn you English drivers!! 🙂


October 1st, 2007 by matt

So I like the band Radiohead a lot. They’ve done a wide variety of interesting music with the kind of sound I enjoy. But this isn’t why I’ve entitled this post ‘Brilliant’. It’s how they’re selling their latest album. If you pre-order a digital download of their album, you choose the price. If you want to pay £0, you pay nothing (probably a little fee for processing). If £15 is ok by you, pay them £15 (someone online I read says they’ll pay that much as they want this experiment to succeed) that’s what they’ll pay. Personally, I want them to know what I consider the value of an album. It’s been a while since I was actively buying any commercially available music (with a few exceptions). In my world, the value of an album is about $5. Since this is so novel, I’m gonna round up (and pay in pounds). But I will legitimately purchase this album for what I think is the value of any album. I think the concept is great. I don’t expect every band to be able to pull it off, but I love the idea.

I say I’ll buy it, but their site has just gone reeeeaaaally slow. It’s probably because it just made it to Slashdot which has been known to turn servers into smoldering pieces of metal. 🙂

US Dollar Sucks

September 20th, 2007 by matt

Man, I’m glad I get paid in pounds. Not only is the dollar worth half a pound, but the Canadian dollar is now worth the same as the US dollar. This is up from being 1/3 less than a US dollar just 5 years ago. Ouch!

RIP Pavarotti

September 12th, 2007 by matt

See, being a slacker when blogging means things like this which I wanted to post about get lost 🙂

For those of you unaware, Pavarotti died last week. I don’t have much more to add that you can’t find more eloquently said elsewhere. The man had an amazing voice and he managed to last for a very long time singing music that would tear a normal persons voice to shreds. I just wanted to point out this video of one of his signature songs. Beautiful stuff. He will be missed.

I’m not dead, I swear

September 10th, 2007 by matt

OK, there are a few of you dedicated types who haven’t given up on me. I’ve been busy/tired and I’m finally getting a chance to catch up. I have at least 5 posts (yes ‘timber’ one of those involves my kitties!) that I’ll start putting up on Wednesday. In the meantime, my friend Dan is an artist. He has been drawing as long as I’ve known him (which is about 25 years). He’s made some cool shit that’s been put on the web and he published something recently. Sooo, here it be:

A Little Something Random

July 9th, 2007 by matt


I saw this on the bus on my way to work. Two things made me fumble for my camera to snap a photo of it. First of all, someone got really creative with finding parking. I don’t see a ticket, so that’s even cooler. Second of all, you have three cars, each facing in various direction. Which makes me think of the whole issue of which side of the road people drive on in the UK. It was one of those things guaranteed to confuse. I adapted pretty quickly, but the tricky part are side roads. Now, in the US, they are pretty anal about which direction you parallel park. It would be helpful in the UK because you could use it as a guide to see which way to look. I hope this picture proves that is not the case 🙂

Anyhoo, I’ve been very lazy with my posting. I have three or four stewing that I need to put down. But in the meantime, hope you enjoyed this meaningless and random post.