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Thursday, 16 October 2003
bon anniversaire githan

Githan

Today was a day of shock, but I am not going to say anything about the bad news until tomorrow.  I need to hear the full story and establish exactly what has happened.  But do not be alarmed - everyone is safe and sound.

This evening I went roller-blading with anna-sofia. We also invited our house-mate aline to join us but she declined. She apparently had a run-in with mme wolff about having had a friend over on Tuesday night, and is now nursing her wounds.  We drove to Betchdorf, a charming Alsatian pottery-village and then roller-bladed 4,5 km along a piste cyclable through the fields to the village of Surbourg, and 4,6 km back.  (That is not a typo, but what the signs on each end of the piste indicate the relative distances to be!).  I appreciated them particularly this time, because there was a headwind on the return journey which made it seem longer than the outward one.  The piste is built on an old (forestry) railway line.  It was bitterly cold and windy, and we got back to my car just after sunset at 7pm.  A highlight was seeing a traditional sc�ne pastorale - shepherd, sheepdog and herd of sheep in a field.  A lowlight was hearing the continual boom-boom of les chasseurs.  The piste passes close to several miradors, but these were empty. The shots were being fired from further afield.

Today was my nephew githan’s 9th birthday.  It was good to speak to him this evening and hear his soft deep voice. 

bluemeanie, lil blue meanie, and I visited him and his family in August this year.  Although it was probably the coldest and wettest time to go it was good to connect with family and friends in Cape Town again. 

The following two pictures are “left-right” photos of githan. These pictures are produced by taking a picture (e.g. the one above) and splitting it in two - down the middle of the face.  You then have two pictures.  For each picture you create a mirror image of the half-face, using it to complete the face.  You end up with two complete faces, but one composed of two-left halves, and one composed of two-right halves.  Because of the beauty mark on his face, githan’s face is clearly asymetrical and you end up with two very different faces.  (Unfortunately the original picture is also of a ‘tilted’ head, so this also distorts both the “left-face” and “right-face” images in different ways). 

githan’s “left face”:

Githan

githan’s “right face”:

Githan

What is striking is how githan’s “left face” looks so much younger than his “right face” and (for those who know justin) how strikingly like his second-cousin githan’s “right face” looks!

The pictures come from our trip to Cape Town in August. The technique was shown to me by peter and eva.

Posted by bigblue on 16/10/2003 at 10:52 PM
Filed under: AfricaSouth Africa • (4) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Samedi, il devient passionnant

Telstra Stadium

flank took this picture of the Telstra Stadium in Sydney (then known as “Stadium Australia”) on 29 June 2002, the night that Australia narrowly beat France.  This stadium is venue for a number of the RWC matches this month and next.

kirsten sent me a mail which suggested that what I need for this RWC is a bit of focus and suggesting that:

Saturday is going to be awesome, get yourself down to a pub to watch.  It is the most important pool game of the world cup.  Have a getaway planned though if things don’t go our way!!  I know what you mean about the easier games but they do provide some lovely running rugby when handling errors don’t get in the way.  The games against Samoa will be good and the other pools have some interesting games as well.  I am looking forward to watching Australia v Ireland the weekend after next (it is just after the SA v Samoa game).

That “getaway-strategy” sounds a bit ominous.  I had referred to the opening pool matches as the “mickey mouse” stage of the RWC, but kirsten has a point. The important action starts this Saturday, although I think the Ireland-Australia match will be a bit once sided - and only really exciting if you are there!  Today of course Fiji beat the USA 19-18, and that game was probably exciting, even if it was pretty irrelevant to the tournament as a whole.

The England vs South Africa match that kirsten mentioned kicks off at 20:00 local time, which is 13:00 UK time. Of course, as the match is being played in Perth, SA will have the home crowd advantage.

(kirsten and steve leave for Australia tomorrow).  Bon voyage!

Posted by bigblue on 15/10/2003 at 11:55 PM
Filed under: Asia PacAustralia • (1) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
una fetta di pizza con il prosciutto affumicati e l’ananas per favore

White Stork of Alsace

These creatures, the white stork of Alsace nest on the chimney pots. In our winter, they fly south to North Africa, returning in spring when they deliver little babies to pregnant Alsatians. 

On the theme of voyages, I heard from dylan again today. You hear nothing in 5 days and then you get 3 emails in the space of an hour. Regarding my question the other day about the woman in a red rain coat he tells us:

VERY GOOD WEBSITE! I FEATURE I SEE! MOVIE I’M TALKING OF IS “DONT LOOK NOW”, BUT YES ALSO THOUGHT OF HANNIBAL WHEN I WAS THERE AND NOW IN ROME.

He is having a ball. The pizza and ice-cream sound delicious, and he is telling us all kinds of interesting facts, such as:

that st peters is so big (biggest church in the world) that the next 28 biggest churches in the world could fit inside it!

and so much more. dylan is half-way through his European tour. Next up he is off to Switzerland and the Cote d’Azure.

Clarification: flank has pointed out that the significance about that story of the mercury in fish is that

after the first research on lead someone else came out and said that lead in fish was not too bad as it was in a different form.  This piece is a rejoinder to that.

flank had pointed me to another article about this issue back in April 2003.

Posted by bigblue on 15/10/2003 at 12:45 AM
Filed under: (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Monday, 13 October 2003
Peter idit vo sxkoluf

Peter and Sophie

This is a picture of my colleagues peter and sophie taken at le clou restaurant in Strasbourg earlier this year.

Today I have been thinking about peter quite a bit. He is now actually an ex-colleague, since he gave up the world of consulting at the end of last month, having decided to do something useful with his life.  First step: join a culte.

I learned lots of interesting things from peter during our 27-month working relationship, including Erich Fromme, the film Götterdammerung, fuel/motor alternatives such as Biodiesel and Elsbett.  We discussed why and how Father Christmas got his red robes in 1931. peter was the one who reassured me that the magnetic poles were going to flip over, not earth itself, which was naturally quite a relief.  He “introduced” me to his famous compatriot Danielapeter told us all who paid for the first Gulf War.  He introduced me to the delights of swimming in lakes in this region, to some local organic food shops and markets and to Slovio (the 2nd or 3rd most widely understood language in the world!). His partner eva introduced me to eurithmy and showed me how to write with my left and right feet!  I miss our many discussions on all the above, and more: peter and eva are now studying together at Dornuch in Switzerland, about 2 hours drive away from here (Haguenau).

St Jean's fire

Talking about cults, here’s a picture peter sent me some time ago of his friends celebrating St Jean’s fire back home (in Slovakia).

Au revoir!

Posted by bigblue on 13/10/2003 at 08:48 PM
Filed under: France • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Sunday, 12 October 2003
le lit avec les draps satin

brass bed

This picture of dylan and bluemeanie enjoying beezie’s sumptuous bed was taken on 9 September, before dylan left on his busabout.  dylan was reading Our Generation while bluemeanie was reading The Age of Innocence.

Last night bluemeanie, lil blue meanie and I went to brenda and davidm’s for supper. It turns out davidm and alex were on Master Park yesterday when I took that photo.  davidm made a Thai green curry, and I made a fresh pesto. Interesting combination. At one stage we were discussing the Nobel Prize for literature that was awarded to JM Coetzee this week, and holly asked brenda:

Why do you always discuss things that I can’t talk about?

Why indeed?

This morning at church I noticed she was still wearing her fairy dress, and asked her if she had slept in it. She looked at me as if I was an idiot, and said

No, I put it on again this morning.

Tomorrow morning I leave Oxted at 4am for Stanstead Airport. This will get me to Baden-Baden by 9:15am, and to work by 10.  When travelling from the UK, Mondays are a long day.

Anyway I had a wonderful weekend with the girls while their mother was away in Wales.

Posted by bigblue on 12/10/2003 at 07:59 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (1) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Saturday, 11 October 2003
Les feuillage jaunissent

Master Park, Oxted

It was a pleasant autumn day in Oxted today. I took this photo on Master Park at about 15:30, facing north towards the church.  lil blue meanie went to a birthday party today - involving bowling and lunch. Afterwards she went to hang out in Master Park with her mates.  I was nagging her about going in warm clothes, etc. but really it was quite warm. It was about 18C at that time.

bluemeanie tells me she has been elected to the Surrey Youth Forum, as a representative of the Tandridge district. I think the forum consists of about 15 - 20 young people from across Surrey. Her first meeting is on Wednesday evening so perhaps we will hear more in due course.

flank sent me the following link which says that Mercury in fish is more dangerous than has recently been reported.  If you read to near the end of the article you will also see an interesting comment on the recent deaths during the heatwave in Europe.  Apparently air pollution is a big factor: this is noticable on a day-to-day, and city-to-city basis.

I spoke to dylan this week while he was in Paris.  He is doing a busabout tour of Europe.  He seems well and is enjoying it. On Thursday he sent a mail from Venice. He says Paris was ok, but got a bit boring after a few days after he had done everything he wanted to. He was raving about his latest stop:

venice however is just about the best place i could be right now and im sure rome will be the same. it is sooooooooooo beautiful here, it actually doesnt feel real walking over bridges and canals and seing the gondalas and being in st marco square with millions of pigeons and the beautiful old buildings and a small orchestra playing classical italian outside a cafe , its too amazing…and the food i cant even describe , but everyone thats been to italy knows

and

just had pistachio and banana ice cream and it was sooooooooooo good. will go on gondala this afternoon. (looking out for the scary little woman in the red rain coat).

I don’t understand this bit about the woman in the red rain coat - perhaps we are watching different movies, because the only one I can think of (the Hannibal Lector one) didn’t have a woman in a red rain coat. Did it?

Posted by bigblue on 11/10/2003 at 08:11 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (3) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Friday, 10 October 2003
Petite maman s’intèresse beaucoup au RWC

Rhine River

Bon anniversaire!  This week my house-mate anna-sofia celebrated her 22nd birthday.  Here she is (white cap) with her friend erieka, also from Sweden, crossing the Rhine into Germany [taken in July 2003].

Last night I travelled back from France to the UK. Therefore I spent most of the evening just across the border, at Baden-Baden airport, waiting for the other passengers (and airplane) to arrive, and listening to announcements like

Will all passengers for flight FR 9775 make
their way through passport control.

  The airport is so small it would be a disaster if everyone left it to the last minute.  There doesn�t seem to be much chance of that though � the enthusiasm and punctuality of the German passengers seems to match the anality of the announcers.  The other aspect of airports is of course listening to the conversations of your fellow travellers.  stuart brought along his laptop to play pinball and solitaire. In between we laugh and talk a bit.  The guy on the right says loudly into his phone:

I am actually at a place called Baden-Baden.

stuart laughs and looks at me. His response:

It is a bit like that. The other person says �Where�s that?� or you have to say �Nah, it�s not sarf ovva river�.

As stuart gave me a lift to Oxted from Stanstead Airport (1 hour drive), and he was travelling light (hand luggage only) I didn�t bring a suitcase. This saved us half an hour getting through Stanstead.  So I packed some dirty laundry into a small over-shoulder suitcase with my laptop.  Apparently the limit for hand luggage is 7 kgs. Mine weighed 10,5 kgs but they let me through. It can be a problem with these cheap (20 Euro) flights � they get pretty sticky with the rules and regulations.  Coming back they may not be so lenient, because they are pretty �jobsworth� in Stanstead. 

So today is the start of the RWC.  Can�t say that I�m particularly excited though. petite maman is of course, and she sent me a link to a TV schedule giving times and channels for a number of countries.

I was at her house-warming last weekend and must have said something because I had seen a print-out of the schedule on her TV. In the office today ashley, who is from Melbourne, was surprised when I mentioned the RWC. He didn�t know it was on, and isn�t interested in rugby at all.  Apparently they aren�t very big on the game down there.  I laugh Australia wins. His disinterest in this won�t go down very well in our international (though largely French) office.

Posted by bigblue on 10/10/2003 at 03:00 AM
Filed under: France • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Wednesday, 08 October 2003
J’habite

Chateau Fleckenstein, Alsace

So, where am I now? Above is a picture I took at (nearby) Chateau Fleckenstein.

I am posting from Haguenau, which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described as:

“.... A quiet, quaint and ancient town
Among the green Alsatian hills,
A place of valleys, streams and mills,
Where Barbarossa’s castle, brown
With rust of centuries still looks down
On the broad, drowsy land below .... “

Posted by bigblue on 08/10/2003 at 06:20 PM
Filed under: France • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
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