Little to say for myself

Monday, July 26, 2004

Where Were We?

Been dashing about a bit recently. Will have lots of photos to post, once I get a bit of space. In the meantime, a quick diary update:

Went to Montreal (with work) and Ottawa about a month ago, re-visiting good friends and introducing them to my partner. We were shown the usual amazing hospitality and had a great weekend in the lakes.

On July 4, I crewed (along with 5 friends from work) in the Raft Race at the Bedford River Festival. Our (c)raft, mainly built single-handedly by crewmate Pilch, came a creditable 17th out of 36 entries, which is not too shabby for a first attempt. Especially since Pilch was the lead structural design engineer for the Beagle 2 lander, so we did well to stay afloat....

Went to Toulouse for a couple of days, flying into and out of Carcassonne (with Ryanair) for the first time. To give you an idea of what Carcassonne airport is like, our Boeing 737 was the only aeroplane there with more than one engine. All the rest were private Cessna-type planes.
On the return journey, all the passengers were gathered in the snug little waiting area at the airport, and we were given a boarding call over the tannoy. This struck me as a bit odd, because it was plain to see through the big windows that there was nothing bigger than a single-engined four-seater on the tarmac, so I stayed in my seat. Despite the fact that it was still more than an hour before we were due to leave (which was why our plane wasn't there yet), many passengers got up and herded sheep-like to the barrier and waited there in a tight little knot, desperate not to miss out on grabbing the best seats on the plane.

On July 11 I took my now-13 year old and his friends for a day to Wicksteed Park in Kettering. I used to go there on the bus from Wellingborough when I was a kid, and, despite expanding a bit and adding lots of new rides, it's managed to retain its Olde-Worlde charm.

On July 12 I went to Washington DC for 9 days to support the in-orbit tests of one of our satellites (which had been launched from Baikonur in mid-June). Again, I managed to take my partner with me, and we had a great time exploring the city, which I'd not visited for about 10 years. Highlights of the trip were:

(1) my car being towed away, because it was parked in a rush-hour zone, and going to a walk-in hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles the next day to get the $100 penalty dismissed (thanks to my digital camera and an illegible no-parking sign);
(2) visiting the amazing Luray Caverns (pics to follow); and
(3) seeing a black bear on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Yes really – it popped its head up beside the road just as we were driving past, crossed the road behind us and disappeared into the undergrowth. Looked to be about a 300 pounder. We were ecstatic. 

And finally, to bring us all up to date, I've just returned to civilisation after three days camping at WOMAD. I was in a couple of small theatre pieces on the One World Platform: one introducing the Simultaneous Policy, and the other supporting the ongoing work of Baby Milk Action and their Nestlé boycott. Both seemed to generate a lot of interest, thanks mainly to the drive and enthusiasm of Mike Brady, who is passionately involved in both causes. As for the other, lesser, acts (ahem), I missed David Byrne's set, but I managed to see Rokia Traore, Nigel Kennedy and Kroke, and the unfeasibly spectacular Drummers of Burundi (twice) among others. Not bad for a freebie - especially since my backstage pass allowed me to avoid the queues for the portaloos. I even managed to foil a burglary when I was woken in the early hours of yesterday morning by someone slowly unzipping my inner tent. My half-dazed, reflex yell of "fuck off", in my best stentorian bellow, was enough to send them flying backwards out of the tent into the side of J's tent (sorry J), and scurrying off into the dark.

Today I'm back in the office, for only the second day in the last three weeks, and have over 400 emails in my inbox.

Ho hum.

posted by Plig | 10:47 |

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Forget the sentimental notion that foreign policy is a struggle between virtue and vice, with virtue bound to win.
Forget the utopian notion that a brave new world without power politics will follow the unconditional surrender of wicked nations.
Forget the crusading notion that any nation, however virtuous and powerful, can have the mission to make the world in its own image.
Remember that diplomacy without power is feeble, and power without diplomacy is destructive and blind.
Remember that no nation's power is without limits, and hence that its policies must respect the power and interests of others.
Hans Morgenthau

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts
Bertrand Russell

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one
Albert Einstein

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative
Martin Luther King Jr.

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man
Bertrand Russell

I think it would be a good idea
Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun
Pablo Picasso

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others
Groucho Marx

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it
Mahatma Gandhi

Always make new mistakes
Esther Dyson
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