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Saturday, 17 January 2004
rubbernecking conversations


The above picture was taken from my bedroom window in Haguenau, showing recent snow. It has been pretty mild this winter and there has not been much of the white stuff. You can compare the scene with this photo taken about 2 months prior to the one above.

This evening I went to chenrezig puja at the temple in London. It was good to see Jessica, Mette and Zoe again. Afterwards we went for something to eat. It seems that this kind of haircut is popular right now. Both Jessica and Mette are looking good with their short cuts!

On the way through to London on the train I was thinking about this article, because these two women of about 70 years of age at the other end of the carriage were having a very loud but interesting conversation. The one woman was talking about her sister who had an unhappy marriage then separated from her husband. Before her divorce was finalised she started a new relationship, and fell pregnant. The divorce was delayed, partly due to the pregnancy and the attitude of the judge to it. She had the baby while still married to her first husband, and gave birth at home due to social pressures and prejudice “because they were very old fashioned in those days”. She went on to explain how the sister finally managed to get married to her new love, and how second marriage turned out.  Apparently it wasn’t bliss and love ever-after, as hubby two had (has) his problems.  (I’ll spare you the details). About half-way to London the conversation turned back to what you would expect to overhear from two women of that age: bridge evenings, scones, the last films they watched, etc.

I was a bit disappointed by the change in topic, and I wondered if I’m a bit of a hypocrite: I detest and criticise the latest genre of reality TV, but here I was happily “tuning into” a live equivalent on the train.

In another vein, are you finding the Democratic Primaries for the US Presidential Election, 2004 a bit boring? Don’t know the difference between the candidates? Look no further than weirdsmobile, for a useful guide.

Walking back from Oxted station tonight, I appreciated the clear sky, and seeing the stars, even if they weren’t as spectacular as those seen from Scotland over Christmas/New Year. Venus is still looking big and bright though.

Edit: With thanks to my colleague Lynn for her careful proof-reading of my blog, I have corrected the perennial error of typing seperate instead of separate (28.04.2005).

Posted by bigblue on 17/01/2004 at 02:44 PM
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Friday, 16 January 2004
dabble in scrabble

Berneuse Leysin

Continuing the Swiss theme of this week, the picture above is from our trip to Leysin last year, taken at the top of the Berneuse mountain with Ai (the garlic clove shaped peaks) in the background. From left to right are myself, bluemeanie, dylan and pinkie.

I flew back to the UK this evening. It was good to see bluemeanie and pinkie again - I hadn’t seen them since before Christmas. I think they have grown. I was supposed to give Ash a lift from work into Haguenau, but after waiting a while for him in the office, and then for 10 minutes in the parking lot I realised that if I waited any longer I would miss the plane. And afterall, he had till about 11pm to make his way up to Frankfurt for his plane…

I have been playing around with the scrabble generator. The best version I can get from one of my “names” is a 20. Not bad.

Pholph’s Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble� Score is: 20.
What is your score? Get it here.
Posted by bigblue on 16/01/2004 at 09:56 PM
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Thursday, 15 January 2004
Inside Gockelburg


I put together the above picture from a series of stills that I captured from a video I took inside the restaurant last night. These are definitely the people I saw in the restaurant but (as Franz said) does anyone know their names? grin 

Not much happened today.

Earlier I tried to find out on the Royal Mail website how much it would cost to, say, send a parcel of 20 x 30 cm weighing, oh, not much more than a telephone, to an address in the UK.  (Just out of interest).  Unfortunately their website is crap, in places. I did finally get the information, but first I tried to enter the information under the “Quick Find” box as follows:
Where is it going? UK only
When do you want it to get there? 3 days or more
Do you want a guaranteed service? yes
The response was There are no matches to your current selection, please try again

Is this stupid or what? If I select Next day guaranteed instead of 3 days or more then I have two options. Surely someone who selects 3 days or more is saying that they are not overly concerned about the time that will be taken for the parcel to reach the destination, rather than insisting that the delivery must take more than two days. 

So, technically, it is not possible to have recorded delivery and only have the delivery in 3 days time (or more). Thanks to Royal Mail for clearing that one up! Now, is it better to deal with an anally-retentive computer system or with an anally-retentive person working behind a counter somewhere?

Posted by bigblue on 15/01/2004 at 11:57 PM
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rooster mountain


I was interested to see that my weblog software censored the English translation of the American word rooster yesterday. Probably there is a setting that I can adjust somewhere, when I can be bothered, which can clear up such a misunderstanding. In any case, above is a better photo of the mountain, which is called hahnberg because it resembles a rooster.

At midday today, Miguel, Ash, Carles and I had our first German lesson with Danielle. I think it went well and I am regretting not starting German lessons earlier. Hopefully I will make fast progress over the next couple of months. 

This evening seven of us went back to the Gockelburg restaurant near Karlsrue (where we were on 16 Dec 2003). It was raining, so I didn’t take any outdoor pictures. I took a video in the restaurant, and may be able to cull some stills from it though.

I have been trying out a few of the many LOTR personality tests. I quite liked this one:



If I were a character in Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test  with Perseus Web Survey Software

(Warning: the Zovakware & Perseus links seem to produce popups!)

But I also liked the hobbitlore one which is based on the books’ characters rather than the films’. It also uses the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey Personality Tests. The first time I did it I came up with the following:

You are most like
Frodo Baggins, Son of Drogo

With many acquaitenances, Frodo is deeply attached to a few people, like Bilbo, Aragorn, Gandalf, and Sam. His high ethics come out in his treatment of Gollum and Saruman. Frodo has pity on Gollum and believes that change can occur.
You have a strong personal morality. You are committed to relationships and their growth. You tend to be an idealist, believing the best of the world around you. Time alone is important and solitary activities refresh you. You have a tendency to introspection. While providing compassion and being considerate, you may have the tendency of being soft-hearted or even “too emotional” You like keeping your options open. Closure is probably not one of your strong suits.

The Orcs display the evil side of this personality with their lengthy torture methods.

Traits: Empathic, benevolent, looking to the future. On the dark side you could be sadistic.

Torture? Sadism? Yeah! grin  Try it yourself, here.

Posted by bigblue on 15/01/2004 at 12:53 AM
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Tuesday, 13 January 2004


Here is another photo from the weekend (one of Carles’).  It was taken by our snow-boarding coach, Robbie, of boardlocal, outside the restaurant (just after I took the photo I posted on 11 Jan). The mountain which is called Hahn (rooster / cock) is in the background.  It is so named because it apparently resembles one.

I agree with Carles’ comment of yesterday and will probably also stick to skiing in future, rather than snowboarding. It was a great experience, but I am more comfortable on skis.

Today I have been looking at the winners of the Bush in 30 Seconds advertising awards, created by MoveOn.Org.  According to this site,

The idea behind the contest, was to make active involvement in politics more accessible to people who would be unlikely, in the normal way campaigns work, to be hired to create political TV advertising. “What we see, year-after-year in politics, is the same old approaches practiced by a small cadre of mostly Washington-based political consultants.  And each year the enthusiasm for politics becomes dimmer and dimmer.  We want to reverse that trend, by bringing ordinary people and new faces into the political discussion,” Pariser said.

Posted by bigblue on 13/01/2004 at 09:27 PM
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Monday, 12 January 2004
Carles the human cannonball


The photo above shows Carles coming down a piste on Gerschnialp, Engelberg, on Sunday morning.  The two of us took it a bit easy on Sunday, while the others went higher up the mountain to Jochpass.

Back in Haguenau I have found I didn’t really take that many photographs during the past weekend in Switzerland. It seems a bit of a waste as I lugged my camera around all the time, even on all my board rides. Oh well, obviously I had other things to concentrate on.

Today was dull and wet in Haguenau, and according to the weather report is going to remain that way for most of the week. There were some strong gusts of wind this evening, but nothing like in the South East of England where there is a severe weather warning because a gale is anticipated tonight.

Posted by bigblue on 12/01/2004 at 11:26 PM
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On Friday night Ash, Carles, Marcus and myself drove down to Engelberg, Switzerland for some snowboarding.  The above picture is from day one, at lunchtime, after a half-day’s lesson. Except for Ash this was everyones first time on a snowboard. The coach, Robbie, was very complementary and encouraging. Not a bad approach for a teacher to take.

Anyhow, it was an excellent weekend despite all the snoring, and the rain on Sunday afternoon. The above picture shows how easy it is to provoke a snowfight.

Posted by bigblue on 12/01/2004 at 12:13 AM
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Friday, 09 January 2004
Ring of the Nibelung

Rue Sandlach

The above photo is taken down at the end of rue Sandlach, Haguenau, near the Maison du Forestier (which you can see in the left of the photo). The road then cuts back to the right into Haguenau, just on the other side of the telephone line.  It comes out at the roundabout at Porte du Wissembourg and provides a handy shortcut into town. There is no snow in the photo, however the ground is frozen solid.

I was reading an interesting article on the link between Wagner and Tolkein’s works. The major weakness, perhaps, with the arguement of this critic is that the Ring of the Nibelung is not Wagner’s story. I am not really qualified to comment further. Gogo is the big Tolkein fan in our family, and she seems to have emailed us a criticism of the final LOTR film. I have already voiced my reservations about the theatrical version of the third film, but as I haven’t yet seen it I didn’t read her critique (she warned us that it contained a spoiler).

It’s a bit difficult to adjust to being back at work this week, after the break. I’m looking forward to the weekend - I’ll be popping down to Switzerland for a bit of skiing with Carles, Ash and Marcus.  Hopefully I will be able to post over the weekend. If not, have a good one yourselves!

I have an email backlog to sometime before Christmas.  I’ll try to clear it within the next week.

Posted by bigblue on 09/01/2004 at 12:29 AM
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