Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Wire

I don't know how I managed to do this, but one of the best crime series I've ever seen was on TV and I didn't know about it.

The Wire has been feted as the best TV crime show ever ... I don't know about that, but it is surely up there with the best.

And, in the best tradition of British TV, it's over after five seasons; unusual for US TV.

I don't think I've seen a TV series which so examines the desperate and decomposing world of inner city degradation and post-industrial wastelands which spawn the intense, tragic and inevitable tales of desperation, addiction and murder.

Although the setting is Baltimore, these events can easily be picked up and set in Liverpool, Marseille or Naples.

Eulogies to The Wire often portray it as allegorical. I don't know ... to me it seems all too real.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The Internet Radio Forum

Living as an Englishman abroad, it's nice to have those reminders of old Blighty.

McVitie's Digestives, Taylor's Yorkshire Gold, Private Eye and the Guardian crossword ...

... and, of course, the BBC.

Isn't the interweb a wonderful thing? Now, via the wonder of internet radio, it's possible to listen to BBC Radio 5Live and hear about lane closures on the M32 or an incident on the Circle Line.

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I have two internet radios, a Noxon iRadio - using the vTuner portal - and a Sangean WFR-20 - using the Reciva portal. Both have been good acquisitions.

However, finding a place to discuss internet radio problems is difficult. So I've started a forum - The Internet Radio Forum - http://iRadioForum.net/ - to make a start at focusing online discussion and problem solving.

It's very small, at the moment, but I hope in time it will grow. If you're interested, please sign up.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

August - November 2008 : Stuff

Whoa!!!! What a gap!!!

I mean, it's not as if a lot hasn't happened; a part-time job, visitors from the UK, trip to the UK.

So, here I am ... back on the block, as it were ...

Let's get going again.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Grand Unification Theory

I found this just the other day ... seems to answer all life's questions.
Anything else? If you need further clarification click here.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Summer Night's Dream ...

... Well, maybe not a dream, but not a nightmare either ...

The Princeton super-group, Rackett, played a local gig at the Community Park North Amphitheater, Pettoranello Gardens, to a small, but perfectly formed audience of aficionados and curious passers-by.

As usual, sports' jackets featured in the on stage presence, leaving me in a quandary as to whether I should include an apostrophe.

But more importantly, the band rocked to poet, Paul Muldoon's lyrics with some very nice musical touches.

A good time was had by all as Rackett geared up for their Finnish tour.

Good evening, Turku!!!!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Wha' Happening?

It's been a little while since I've contributed to this blog, not because nothing's happening, but most stuff has been about cycling, which I cover in velostage.blogspot.com.

But the intervening time has seen me get one year older ... you know? Birthdays used to be something to look forward to and now they also seem all too frequent ...

But having said that, Linda and the girls helped me celebrate well with a really good dinner at Genarro's, and a very nice birthday present indeed; see here. Thank you ... Thank you ...

And just to mention, the next day was the birthday of my dear old dad ...

Of course, I could still do with a job. So anyone looking for a nice Englishman who can be charming if he tries just get in touch. I'd appreciate it.

PS: That's Bella and me. I'm the one on the right ...

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

NYC Waterfalls

I took some time out last week and popped down to New York to take a look at The New York City Waterfalls.

Well, it was interesting, although I guess some of the power of the installations was dissipated by our few days at Niagara Falls.

Nevertheless, the view of a waterfall thundering from under the Brooklyn Bridge was intriguing and curiously unsettling, although for me the technical aspect of how it was done occupied me more than the artistic quality of the work.

Incidently, the journey back to Princeton on NJT was a nightmare. The train was absolutely packed ... every seat filled and people jammed in the aisles. Is the price of petrol/gas here really having an effect on people's travel options?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

My Panama Hat

In my journey towards fogeydom I have long cherished the ambition to own a Panama Hat.

I don't know why. I have no ambition to look like Harry S. Truman or Doctor Who - DH7 - for that matter. Nor even a secret hankering to look like I'm on my way to a Crown Green Bowls match in my Honda Civic ...

So, the other day, I was idly browsing through eBay when I saw an offer of Panama hats direct from the makers in Ecuador - yes, who knew? Panama hats are from Ecuador.

After a little wait - it is a handmade, virtually to order item after all - during which I was regularly kept up-to-date by the vendor, a hat box with an Ecuadorian postmark turned up in the mail.

To say I couldn't be more delighted would be an understatement. I bought a fairly basic model, but if this is entry level, then the higher grades must be fantastic.

You can see for yourself at http://panamahatsdirect.com/ where you can watch videos of hats being made and prepared. The vendors seem to have a good relationship with the makers so I'm hopeful that everyone gets a fair deal.

I highly recommend this site.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Steam Radio ...

Whatever happened to old-fashioned radio?

Of course, it's still around. Small boys still listen to short-wave under the bed clothes ... don't they?

For me, one of the biggest developments on the web in the last couple of years has been internet radio. This is especially true since the introduction of stand-alone, wifi devices such as the Noxon iRadio and Sangean WFR-20.

I mean, listening to BBC Radio5 in real time in New Jersey, USA, let alone any of the other 14,000 or so stations around the world. How neat is that?

The interesting question is, what's happening to real radio?

There are now a number of ways of listening to radio other than over the analogue airwaves; in N America, satellite radio; Europe, DAB - Digital Audio Broadcast; via cable/satellite on your TV and via the internet.

The main problem for these new methods of delivery seems to be quality. Currently, it seems that nothing compares to a BBC Radio3, over-the-air, FM broadcast.

Contrary to DAB/satellite claims of cd quality, bitrates are far below those found on cd. In fact, many internet stations are starting to surpass DAB stations. In addition, other means of cramming stations onto limited bandwidth means that compression technology is impinging on quality and dynamic range.

For me, internet radio seems to be the way to go. There are problems, particularly if you're mobile. In-car internet radio seems a way off yet, although I see that people are already using European unlimited 3G access via an appropriate mobile device to achieve this end.

However, quality and access is rapidly developing.

I like it.


*See my hifi / media index here.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Doctor Who : Ooooooooh!!!

Yes, I can see that Doctor Who is an acquired taste. It helps to be British, of course, and have watched it for 40 years ...

And here we are at the finale of the final episode of series 4 with several characters from the past, Doctor's assistants and the universe on the brink of obliteration at the hands of Davros and what does the Doctor - only River knows his real name - do?

Regenerates.

That's what.

Or does he?

We'll have to wait and see ...

Is Mickey coming back? Martha and Mickey for Torchwood? Donna maybe more than she knows?

Saturday, 28 June 2008

velostage

I'm moving my bicycle related stuff to a new blog, velostage.

Previous stuff will stay on phonostage.

Time will tell if I can keep two blogs going.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Tyre Damage : Doh!

Okay ... so I am stupid. Yes, I do cherish my bikes ... yes I know them intimately ... Of course I do!!!!

This afternoon I showed the very helpful Jason up at Halter's Cycles and it turns out these are wear indicators; ie: they show how much the tread is worn. Clever, huh?

So thanks Jason. I will buy something worthwhile from your really rather good bike shop some time soon.


* see my Bike Index here

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Tyre Damage : Continental GP4000

Can anyone identify this tyre damage or possible flaw?

This Continental GP4000 tyre has done about 200 road miles at 120psi on the rear of my bike. I weigh about 190lb.

I noticed this after climbing a local hill which has been recently relaid. At the time I noted to myself that the blacktop seemed to incorporate a lot of what appeared to be glass granules, about the same sort of size / appearance as glass from a broken windscreen. The glass definitely appears to be a part of the surface, not just pressed in by traffic.

I don't normally ruminate about the composition of road surfaces, but in the last couple of days I had been listening to an article on NPR which stated that low grade glass is recycled for road surfaces ...
So anyway, at a coffee stop, not a mile from the hill, I happened to notice these rather odd pock-marks, rather as if a miniature ice-cream scoop had gouged out the tyre compound. The cut seems very clean.

Now I can't say for certain that this had only just happened, but I had just checked / adjusted my spoke tension / wheel trueness just a couple of days before and hadn't noticed any damage.

Does anyone have a clue what's happened?

Otherwise, I love these Contis. And yes, I can spell tyre ;-)

Giro di Jersey 2008 : Results & Images

These are the latest results:

Day One, 20.06.2008 : Ringoes ITT

Day Two, 21.06.2008 : Rocky Hill Cycling Classic
Day Three, 22.06.2008 : The Corner House GP
These files may be subject to copyright restrictions by their owners so please use responsibly.

You can also link to images from the TdJ.

These images are my property and my copyright. However, I have no objection for people to use them for their own use or to illustrate their own blog or club magazine, say. But please acknowledge and let me know ... because I'm quite interested to know where they end up.

Potential media / commercial users please contact me via comments below. Please include your email address.

Day One, 20.06.2008 : Ringoes ITT
Day Two, 21.06.2008 : The Rocky Hill Cycling Classic
Day Three, 22.06.2008 : The Corner House GP


* see my Bike Index here

Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 3 The Corner House GP

The third and final day of the 2008 Giro di Jersey took place on a 4km circuit on Bunn Drive and Mt Lucas Road towards the northeast of Princeton, NJ.

It was a bright and early start although about 5 minutes before the race started I was beginning to think nothing was happening.

But it did ...

Not such a good day as yesterday and it threatened to rain once or twice, but it held off. This was good because I hate to think what the few, but sharp corners might have been like damp and under the trees.

I didn't really go prepared to compile race reports this year, but I might think about it next ... this race series needs a better online presence.
Get more images here.

Get the Stage 1 Ringoes ITT results here.

Get the stage 2 Rocky Hill Classic results here.


* see my Bike Index here

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 2 Rocky Hill

So, on to day two of the Giro di Jersey; The Rocky Hill Cycling Classic.

Not quite a classic yet, but on its way. The weather was fine, but not too hot. In fact, just right.

This is a big deal for Rocky Hill. In fact, it's one of the biggest prizes in its category in the United State in only its second year. So well done to Rocky Hill.

There were a whole series of races today, from Juniors to Men's Pro. The course ran through the village of Rocky Hill northeast along River Road and onto Griggstown, turning south along Canal Road to the foot of the Old Georgetown Road hill, which counts as a big one around here. Then down the 518 (?) into Rocky Hill for the slight incline to the finish line.

It's fair to say that the Old Georgetown Road isn't the Col du Tormalet, but the climb is beguiling enough to let you think it's quite nice really before hitting you with its best shot in the last kilometre or so. Otherwise the pro riders thought the course wasn't as challenging as all that, which could be true. It needs a diversion in the Belle Mead direction to get in another leg sapping climb out of the river valley.

To most people's surprise, the hill appears to have been re-surfaced and seems quite smooth and even, but it looks as if they've used a ton of recycled glass as a filler and, no doubt co-incidentally, these odd cuts appeared in my tyres after going up and down the road a couple of times. Any ideas?

Anyway, lots more pictures here including my best ever finish picture;
And my worst ...
I dunno, the old Olympus seems to be lagging more and more ... or is it just me?

The race also nailed its international credentials. The pro race was won by a guy from Argentina.

And just in case anyone ever comes across this blog from Bristol Mountain Bike Club, here's my old jersey still being worn in New Jersey, geddit?

Tomorrow, the final stage; The Corner House Grand Prix of Princeton. And they're already talking of making it a 4-day event next year.


* Thanks to anonymous on the previous blog it seems we can find results for Ringoes here

* see my Bike Index here

Friday, 20 June 2008

Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 1 Ringoes ITT

Yes, the Giro di Jersey, not quite the Tour de France, but very entertaining ... and typical of the world's cycling fraternity ... and sorority for that matter.

The first stage of the GdJ took off today; an Individual Time Trial on the roads around Ringoes, NJ, USA.

The ITT is a very European event, but it was obvious to see that just the same guys turn up as turn up on those cold, windy days on the A38 in the UK ...

And women too for that matter. In fact, quite a few more than you're likely to see on the lay-by out of Almondsbury.

The route was rather good. Out and back over 15km on a very nice sweeping, well-surfaced road, which started out with a forgiving, slightly downhill curving start, but ended up with a short, but vicious hill towards the end, made more miserable by a polite, but persistent headwind.

I passed a pleasant couple of hours watching the riders set off on their pursuit of themselves.

Just a couple of points; I couldn't get a start sheet anywhere, even on-line, and it seems to me the police turn up whenever a gutter needs cleaning here ... well, they could have done with one or two at the start zone and turning point ... let's just say not all car and truck drivers see the benefits of attracting a great sporting occasion to their bit of the backwoods ...

Tomorrow; The Rocky Hill Cycling Classic.

You can see some uncaptioned images here.


* I've looked everywhere for results. I'll post them if I find any.

* see my Bike Index here

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Netherland : Joseph O'Neill

Netherland : Joseph O'Neill

The ultimate post 9/11 cricketing novel ... or at least something like that.

Linda wasn't able to make her book club last night, so I bashed through this book in about three hours in the afternoon while barbequing lemony chicken for the bring-a-dish, end-of-term dinner.

It was no burden. I'd intended to read this book anyway. I'm no book reviewer, but it was eminently readable and absorbing, combining the unlikely topics of cricket, New York and alienation.

And for me - although I'm probably wrong - it really is about isolation/alienation, characterised through its contemplation on cricket, a game which only exists as a virtual myth here, yet ranks amongst another of the great sports of the world ignored in the US. The title reinforces my impression and it seems to me that that is where the largely immigrant characters exist in a kind of cultural diaspora centred on this strange and arcane game.

But there is a sort of paradox here ... before the development of baseball, cricket was big here. Every sizable town in the east had a cricket club. In fact, the world's first international fixture in any sport was between the USA and Canada over 150 years ago. Yes ... really.

I guess I've taken refuge in a similar way too. Badminton and cycling are sports with a huge culture outside the US of which the participants are acutely and sympathetically aware.

Anyway, there is plenty of food for thought in this very good book. The author, Joe O'Neill, is a very nice man and apart from me, was the only person in the room who had ever played cricket or heard of the Duckworth-Lewis Method , Pieterson's switch hitting controversy, and Rachael Heyhoe-Flint.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Stuff : 18.06.2008

I'm still looking for a job. Anyone out there want a charming Englishman? I'm going to have to consider collecting supermarket trolleys soon ...

Anyway:

  • Went on a 25 mile ride yesterday evening. It was called the Griggstown Grinder. It was a grinder alright. Some long, slow hills had my legs complaining. A small, pleasant, eclectic group, including a guy who actually likes British beer, warm and flat ... yummie ... plus tips on finding English tea.
  • While getting my bike ready - including new bar-tape - I went to brush some dry, veggie matter from the frame which turned out to be a couple of wasps who promptly stung me. Now that hurt ... my hand is still swollen today. I found a small nest nearby in the hedge and took great pleasure in obliterating it with some deathly spray which is surely banned in Europe. It worked though. Revenge!!!
  • Weather is currently rather warm, thundery and the grass is starting to turn brown. I say grass. It's not grass in the finest English lawn sense. That would shrivel to nothing in the extremes of weather around here. Instead it resembles something you might find on a football pitch, rather tough and course, but effective.
  • After a bit of work I've managed to get the lawn tractor going. For sure it needs a new battery, but a couple of days ago after several fruitless previous tinkerings, I just took a chance and turned it over and it just decided to fire up ... ah, the capriciousness of machines.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Esbjörn Svensson : 1964 - 2008

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Esbjörn Svensson of EST, in a scuba accident near Stockholm, SWE.

I can't recall how I came across the music of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, but something about them resonated with me and I just got to love their free-flowing jazz influenced music which somehow also embraced other genres without patronising yet with a wicked sense of humour..

I was lucky enough to see EST twice; once at Bristol's St George's Hall and the second time in New York's Joe's Pub. St George's Hall is remarkable for its acoustics, good enough to be a favoured venue for BBC Radio to record recitals from classical to jazz and world music.

The next time I saw EST was at Joe's Pub. Linda and I sat next to a couple of French women who had last seen EST at ... St George's Hall ... small world.

It's hard to believe that we'll never do that again ...

So thanks EST ... it was a good ride.

WWKiP Day : 14.06.2008

Yesterday was World Wide Knit in Public Day.

Linda and I trolled on down to Princeton North Shopping Center where the ladies, and some gentlemen, were occupying the bandstand and brazenly knitting away in full view of the public!!!!

So Linda dug out her current project, a knitted lace shawl, took her place amongst the knitters and spent a pleasant hour en tricoteuse (?) and chatting about fibre to her's and everybody else's heart's content.

And you just never know ... I bumped into a lady who was born in the same hospital in Devonport, Plymouth, Devon, UK, as me, and someone else whose husband made frequent trips to Cheltenham ;-) ... small world, huh?

Further conversation only went on to confirm my view of Plymouth as the world's biggest village.

See Linda's take on WWKiP Day here.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Niagara Falls, Ontario, CAN


We have just spent a few days at Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side of the border. Niagara is a great place to go ... easily as impressive as its reputation suggests. You won't be disappointed.

However, it has to be said that you shouldn't go if you don't like getting wet.

Of course, Niagara is a tourist hub of world class proportions. That said, early June is a good time to go. The weather was excellent, and there weren't too many queues. Those that did exist moved through fairly quickly.

The best way to get around and gain access to the sights was the Niagara Adventure pass. This includes access to the main attractions - Maid of the Mist, Behind the Falls, etc - and discount tickets for lots of others. It also includes a pass for the PeopleMover bus network for the first day and a discount after that.

For me the highlight was the Maid of the Mist tour. A half hour trip by boat to the base of the falls. It was rather like being at the bottom of a vast pit of water with fire-hoses being aimed at you ... fantastic ...

At the other extreme the Butterfly Conservancy was beautiful. I've never seen so many huge butterflies. They were like a shower of autumn leaves they were so plentiful.

There were plenty of things to do other than in the immediate Niagara river area. Niagara-on-the-Lake seemed a place I'd like to visit again and the Welland Ship Canal has excellent facilities for observing huge ships negotiate the massive locks which lift them over 150 metres over the Niagara escarpment from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.

Niagara is certainly worth a detour.

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