Wedding congratulations are in order

September 10, 2007

rudolf-loves-iveta.jpgfor the newly wed Rudolf and Iveta Kaspar.

I was able to get away from our recently enlarged family for three days to attend Rudolf's and Iveta's wedding.

The wedding was in Prague and the couple put on a relaxed wedding full of party, laughter and family love.

The day started with a small reception at the couples new apartment in an almost finished apartment block.

There were wires sticking out from the walls in the hallways and the apartment was all empty but for a pair of mattresses and sleeping bags.

This didn't prevent a great atmosphere and a never ending flow of champagne.

A red Skoda decorated with white flowers was arranged for the bride and a white mini bus was arranged for the groom and the rest of the family.

In such magnificent style did we travel to the busy Old Town Square were the wedding ceremony was to be held at the Old Town town hall.

I have been to the Old Town Square on numerous occasions to marvel at the ancient astronomical clock just like millions of tourist from all around the world. Never have I however been inside the town hall.

The actual ceremony was short and sweet and the couple had chosen a few untraditional songs for the organist: Clocks by Cold Play, Everybody's changing by Keane and Spomal by Peha.

Apparently the organist had not known how to play the songs initially but managed splendidly once provided the notes.

The square was as busy as ever on this fine Saturday and full of tourists from all around the world. They snapped away merrily at the newly wed couple.

Rudolf and Iveta are for ever recorded in the family travel albums of visitors from China, Italy, Russia, Germany but mainly Japan.

A family feast followed where I had the chance to meet the bride's family members for the first time.

I can happily report that they turned out to be a bunch of really nice and honest people that never say no to having fun.

The feast lasted longer than planned and it was getting close to the "real" evening party. Luckily I managed to squeeze in 30 minutes of power napping; something that I doubt the newly wed couple had time to do.

There was a great crowd at the evening party and I met up with a few childhood friends I hadn't seen in years. There were a few surprises like random visitors from Norway and excellent musicians dressed in poncho's.

More food was arranged in the form of a buffet with traditional Czech delicacies.

After the earlier feast I swore not to eat again for several days but I caved in for a midnight snack of chicken wings, sandwiches, goulash and some more wedding cake.

All in all a fantastic wedding and celebration and a huge privilege that I was able to attend.

Congratulations to the newly wed couple and an apology for the delayed wedding present... it is on the way!



Sjukstuga

June 13, 2007

Is a Swedish word for a kind of small hospital or more correctly a smaller emergency ward.

Which is exactly what it looks like at home at the moment.

We came back from Brazil last week and together with the fond memories of the trip our baby son also brought back a violent flue.

The symptoms are fever for 2-3 days, then excruciating body ache, then a short spell of extremely runny nose followed by a heavy and painful cough.

His mother got it shortly thereafter.

Then it was the grandmother's turn. She is only visiting for a short while but wasn't spared nonetheless.

The nanny was holding out until last Friday but surrendered shivering and with a splitting head ache.

She had to take a few days off which brought havoc to the delicate ecosystem of baby care taking at home.

So here I am, last man standing and wading through an avalanche of used tissues, dirty dishes and empty paracetamol packs.

I am under no illusion that I will escape this vicious bug but maybe I can avoid it at least until the rest of the family has recuperated (and enjoy special treatment).

From Sjukstugan with love,
David.



One mighty year

May 02, 2007

party hat face birthday babyMy dearest son, you have completed your first year - on to Level2. How much of it will you remember in years to come?

You came on Cupid's wings and landed in our arms

Do you for example remember when you took your first breath - a breath of sweet life in an otherwise sterile operation room?

Do you remember when you tasted real food for the first time or took your first tumbling step?

I sure do and the memories will be for ever etched into my mind.

You are growing up surrounded by technologies one could not even dream about when I was I child.

You are wearing a GPS/GSM tracker in your pocket, watching high definition baby television, space tourism is about to take of, open source software is challenging commercial offerings on many fronts and the Internet is becoming just another utility like tap water is.

There are some unfortunate things to be sad about like the decaying environment, advances in genetically modified plants and organisms, greed of pharmaceutical companies and cruelty going on in the world wide world.

Hopefully these issues can be improved upon with a generation of bright children like you and your sister.

I kissed your face and you said my name - Mwuuaaaaaahhh

You stand on the shoulders of great man and can achieve anything you set your mind to. However let's start with some potty training because you cannot conquer the world while wearing a diaper!



Iza wee baby girl!

April 25, 2007

wee baby girl dressA little baby girl is on the way.

The ultrasound operator was 99% sure... and apparently she has never been wrong before. I bet that the last 1% is to avoid angry customers.

Both mom and dad to be are very proud and happy; mom a little bit more.

Celebrations commenced with a jump and heels clicked together followed by a pink shopping extravaganza at the first baby shop in sight: pure baby.

I can't help but worry that taking care of and raising two babies is possibly double work compared to a single child.

Cue cold sweat on forehead, lack of breath and a taste of blood in my mouth.



Greedy property circus

April 23, 2007

estate agentsWe are in search of a new home and had been viewing several properties last Saturday. Most had been charming and it was always nice to have a chat with the owners and trying to find out the peculiars of their homes.

Last property was an "open house" viewing. An estate agent (no names) had invited many, many interested couples and families to view this property.

The house was in great shape, the fire place was lit and the previous owner was the producer of one of our favourite British TV series (his BAFTA award was standing on the coffee table).... but the previous owner was nowhere to be seen.

Instead we were met with a very camp articulate agent who signed us into a book at the entrance and briefed us about the house in 1 minute. Then he was off to receive the next couple waiting at the door.

While walking around the house there was nowhere to sit down or relax and discuss what we liked/disliked. Everywhere you looked there were other couples talking away.

The open house viewing concept might be understandable in quite periods where any possible buzz needs to be generated to sell a property.

However currently the property market is extremly busy. Most decent properties recieve an offer that matches their asking price after a single day; often it recieves multiple such offers.

In such a climate it is terrible seeing all the other potential buyers. There were easily 15 other couples during the 20 minutes we stayed.

The estate agent was informing some other people that the property already had 4 offers at the asking price. This can only mean a fierce bidding war if you want the house badly.

Just as we were leaving the house after a very dissapointing viewing a lady stopped us, introduced herself as a newspaper journalist (was it from the standard?) and asked if she could ask my wife a few questions about the open house viewing concept.

A big grin appeared on my wife's face and she started telling the journalist just how wrong the idea was.

How important it is to have a chat with the previous owners, how it is important to feel the potential privacy and comfort of a new home, how it instead feels like being at a fish market and finally how it's all about greed and nothing about providing a service.

Photo credit Anyhoo



Total lunar eclipse 2007

March 04, 2007

lunar eclipse 2007It was the best lunar eclipse in the last decade and certainly the first one that I took the time to observe.

Due to light scattered in the Earth's atmosphere, the moon was visible even while totally in the Earth's shadow.

Blue light scatters the most in the Earth's atmosphere, making mainly the red light to hit the moon.

In ancient times such a moon as this was called "blood moon" and usually associated with catastrophes or big changes to come. I am glad we have moved on from that.



2 new drugs offer options in HIV fight

March 01, 2007

pillsThe International Herald Tribune reports about 2 new drugs offering options in HIV fight.

One drug, maraviroc, has been developed by Pfizer; the other drug, raltegravir, has been developed by Merck.

If humanity could find a cure for HIV/AIDS it would be a major breakthrough and a clear sign of progress.

Unfortunately I have become a little numb from the last 10 years' of several "almost HIV/AIDS cure" announcements to be joyous anymore.

I doubt that there is enough profit for a company to develop a one time cure for HIV.

All the profit is surely in producing expensive drug cocktails that have to be taken regularly and for the rest of a patients life.

Unfortunately HIV/AIDS has a tendency to become resistant to drugs after prolonged usage so new drug cocktails have to be developed periodically.

Let's not be naive but instead realise that corporations have a responsibility to their share holders to maximise the return of their investments.

It would be very irresponsible to develop a cure and thus killing the steady revenue stream from millions of regularly paying patients.

The very nasty drawback is that millions of patients in developing countries do not have the funds for expensive drug cocktails and are in dire need of a cure.

Had penicillin been discovered during the last 20 years would it have been released? Maybe not and instead there would be daily medicine to be taken to keep an infection at bay; never quite curing it.

[Link] [Photo credit: sparktography]



Happy New Year of the pig

February 18, 2007

So I was on a walkabout close from Trafalgar Square, London and noticed an amazing amount of people in the streets.

There was a performance on and everywhere red decorations and signs of Happy New Year.

Last time I had seen this kind of celebration for the Chinese New Year was in Singapore many, many winters ago.

I reckoned the best action would be in the actual China Town so I headed towards it.

Many of the major streets between Trafalgar Square and China Town were closed of for motor traffic and it was a spectacular feeling walking around these famous streets like it was in Disneyland.

There were several crowd control measures in place like one way pedestrian streets which made it a bit tricky but I made it to the golden gate in the end.

Most of the shops and restaurants had cabbage and red envelopes hanging from their doors.

Several processions with Chinese lions were performing the traditional lion dance to usher in the new year.

The lion would dance in front of the store front and like a curious cat inspect the package. It would capture the package, spit out the cabbage but keep the red envelope with money.

Suddenly the stewards started pushing people around me into different directions because two of the lions were about to have a show down right where we were standing. This turned out to be great fun and gave splendid close up views of the acrobats hiding in the lion costumes.

Call it a pig, a boar or a hog; I wish you a very red and happy new year!

PS The lions kiss at 1:15



To talk or not to talk

February 17, 2007

shop liftingThe other evening I was shopping for a few quick groceries at our local corner shop.

While browsing among the chicken fillets and beef steaks, a gentleman appeared next to me.

He was well dressed and well groomed and opted for the premium beef steak. He then hesitated for a moment and added the premium chicken fillet to his shopping.

I went off to the check out and noticed him choosing among the vegetables by the exit.

He gave me a quick and casual look and then went straight out; clearly without paying.

For a while I was considering whether I should be a good citizen and quickly notify the staff about this. I concluded that it wasn't my job to police the shop and that the shop surely has CCTV which may or may not have caught it on tape.

Neither do I know the circumstances behind the man's actions and I was not going to judge him for them. Somebody else will do that (Karma, God, whathaveyou).

What would you have done?

Photo credit: Fanboy29



Self service at local grocery store

January 15, 2007

wall of self service barcode scannersI have used so called self service check outs previously in the UK with very mixed results.

While visiting my parents in Sweden last weekend I entered their local grocery store and was faced with this wall of barcode scanners. My parents quickly updated me on how the system works.

You register for the service and are given a swipe card, similar to a store card.

When you swipe the card, one of the many barcode scanners is allocated to you and lights up so that you can find it easily. The scanner greets you with your name (and wishes you to have a nice day).

You then commence to do your shopping and every item you wish to purchase is first scanned and then put into your shopping bag. You can constantly see a list of items that you have scanned, their costs and the total.

Should you at any time change your mind about a product, you can simply delete it from the scanner and return the product.

At the check-out a member of staff asks you whether there were any problems with scanning of any items. If the answer is no, you then pay for the items registered in the scanner and walk out with your shopping.

Apparently there was an introductory period where the staff would choose customers on random and thoroughly check that their purchases were properly registered.

The advantages of this system were several. You could constantly see the total of your shopping, you did not have to wait in line to have your shopping scanned and your shopping was placed directly in your shopping bags saving you additional time.

The obvious issue would be with customers that do not scan their purchases but the occasional missed bar of chocolate is a bonus to the customer in my opinion :-)

Now imagine if you could upload your shopping list to the scanner and tick the items off one by one!

Terrorism [via]



2006 in cities

December 31, 2006

Following last year's cities, here's my 2006 in cities:

  • Sao Paulo, Brasil*
  • London, UK*
  • Turin, Italy
  • Milano, Italy
  • Le Touessrok, Mauritius
  • Prague*, Czech Republic
  • Edingburgh, Scotland
  • Miami, USA
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Helsingborg, Sweden*
  • Copenhagen, Denmark*
  • Campinas, Brasil*

One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Click on pins to view photos from the location!

[via kottke]


Oh no, the big 3-Oh

October 19, 2006

cotswald cottageOur good friend from This Ordinary Life was turning 30 the other day.

To celebrate this sad joyous event he and his wife had organised a wonderful weekend away in the Cotswald area for 14 people.

They found a charming cottage in Far Oakridge which together with the adjacent stable cottage comfortably fitted 14 guests.

From the outside the cottage looks very charming and authentic with it's thick stone walls and low ceiling. On the inside however you'll find all the modern conveniences you'll want for a comfortable weekend away.

Fully equipped kitchen, power showers, central heating, multiple fire places, BBQ, games, books, flat screen TVs, DVD players, hifi and much, much more. Even a large trampoline in the garden which should have a warning sign "not to be used while intoxicated".

Some of the available activities in the area are horse back riding, hiking, clay pigeon shooting and village exploring. Naturally me and the boys chose the shooting.








While the other guests were mainly couples, our little family turned up in full force: mom, dad, baby boy and two hairy beasts.

To our relief everyone had a great time socialising with the little one and getting the occasional lick from the hairy ones.

Once the baby boy was sleeping soundly, shortly after 8 pm, there was time for celebration dinner and drinking games until 3 am.

The next day the others had the pleasure of sleeping in until lunch time but we had to be up by 6 am to again start pleasing the youngling.

All in all a fabulous weekend away despite a few (canine) accidents in the back of the car.

Every time I get away from London I try to cherish every ounce of fresh air and every bit of peace and quite.

The English country side truly is a feast for the eyes.



Probably the best dad in the world

October 05, 2006

Obi-Wan-Kenobi-smallSorry about the title but if Carlsberg can get away with it without being lynched, maybe I can too!

The missus was away for 3 days and I was in sole charge (nanny term) of our baby boy.

For the last 5 months it has been the missus solely getting up first 6 times then 4 and now 1 to 3 times a night.

My biggest issue has been just rolling over and managing to fall asleep again as soon as possible.

So my feelings were mixed when I was told I was to command the ship for a few days and nights.

On one hand I was anxious to see whether I would be able to manage by my self and especially curious just how bad the nights would be - there are torture methods based on sleep deprivation you know.

On the other hand I was well worried that the experience would be simply overwhelming and that I would break down.

To my aid was our nanny which is here 8 to 5 and so takes the heat most of the day while I was away at work.

I am glad to report that I am still here and it all went mostly well.

The wake up calls in the middle of the night required just a cuddle or repositioning of the soother - 20 minutes all in all.

Also once the baby boy was in bed by 7 pm there was still time for pizza, beer and a Playstation2 session!



A Mini Adventure

September 18, 2006

Once addicted FRIENDS fans, we could not believe our ears when yesterday evening somewhere behind us in the restaurant we suddenly heard Janice's hysterical laugh.

For the not so familiar with the Friends TV series, Janice was Chandler's ex girlfriend and had one of the most irritating, high pitched, ridiculous laughs ever.

It all started one fine Sunday afternoon when feeling a bit sad to see that our weekend was vanishing before our eyes.

The husband proposed that we go out for a walk, maybe stretching it all the way to the Putney Warf for a nice bite (remember that with a 4 month old even the most common place things are mini adventures).

We packed all the 567 essential items for the baby, and head off on our mini adventure.

All being well, a very pleasant night was falling around us when we found a perfect spot at a grill restaurant by the river Thames.

Baby cosily asleep in his pram, nice champagne was ordered (again, with a 4 month old ANY opportunity is a GOOD opportunity to celebrate) and we started to unwind when a sudden shriek was heard from behind.

An airplane turbine? A motorcycle crash? Pig slaughter? Noooooo, just Janice who was having a laugh behind us!!!

For the next 50 odd minutes we had to cope with what seemed to be a fantastically funny night out for the girls behind us. Nothing wrong with that if only JANICE wasn't part of the group; laughing away in her painfully witch-like laugh.

Well, thankfully enough, my company (hubby) was excellent, and so was the dinner and the chocolate drenched brownie dessert.

To top it all up like a nice fat cherry, walking back home with my fabulous husband and amazing kid in what could be one of the last summer nights was truly a treat.



Lost african python in London

September 16, 2006

People in London often say that the London tube is a bit of a jungle. If the below python makes it there, it will take it to a whole new level.

missing African python in London

Reward: Lost 8ft African python "Sandra" was last seen in the alleyway behind shop. Please call 07977xxxxxx Thanks.

If you do see a python without an owner do send me an email and I will notify the person who put up the above notice.

I was also about to tell you about current office politics at my office.

Despite being required 110% on a current project I had to accept a 50% working solution in order to prevent other staff QUOTE wanting the same thing UNQUOTE.

But there are no office politics at my office so there is nothing to talk about.

PS For some time ahead I am 50% available for any commercial propositions



Identity Fraud and Identity Theft in the UK, you next?

September 08, 2006

identity theft and fraudThere was quite a surprise in my latest Vodafone mobile bill. Two new accounts had been created and during almost a month they had incurred over £800 of charges.

After a short while on the phone with customer service, Vodafone quickly assured me that I would not see any of the charges on my bank statement.

It was almost too easy to get cleared from the charges and this to me seems to suggest that it is a frequent occurrence.

This happened just 2 days after a suspicious courier required my signature for a "signed delivery". The courier looked very amateur and when I asked who the delivery was from he did not know.

The delivery turned out to be a just a random advertisement so obviously the person was collecting signatures. I'm really glad I put down a phony signature that cannot be used.

To be on the safe side I reported these two incidents to the local police station. It is good to have a crime reference number in case of some later complications.

Reporting the first incident took around 1 hour. Reporting the second incident took an amazing 3 hours because two separate crime reports had to be filed as the two different frauds occurred in two different police wardens.

CIFAS is a fraud prevention service in the UK. The CIFAS web site contains useful advise on how to prevent identity fraud and theft and what to do if you are a victim.



Brazil 3, Argentina 0 at the Arsenal Emirates Stadium, London

September 04, 2006

brazil-v-argentina-emirates-s.jpgThe beautiful game; even more beautiful when your team is winning in front of nearly 60,000 spectators!

A friendly match was played between Brazil and Argentina at the Emirates Stadium in London but anybody who knows those two teams also knows that they are not friends.

brasil-v-argentina-emirates-arsenal-stadiumIt was a pleasure to visit the new Emirates Stadium.

All seats in the stadium seemed to be padded, there was plenty of leg room and all spectators were under cover.

There seemed to be many food and beverage outlets but still it took over 20 minutes to get a freaking pint at half time.

Some of the more noteworthy players in the Brazilian line-up were Robinho, Kaka and Baptista. Noteworthy Argentinian players were Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

It was the Brazilians' second game with their new coach Dunga; first was against Norway.

There may have been some reservation back when Dunga was selected as the new coach but these two recent internationals have shown that he can lead the world famous players very competently.

bra-1-0-argA very early goal by Elano created a lovely atmosphere at the stadium; for the Brazilian supporters that is.

Elano then followed up with a second goal in the 67th minute.

In the very few last minutes, the 89nth minute to be precise, Kaka benefited from a Messi mistake and charged ahead with the ball.

Kaka started way down on his own half but rushed ahead and managed to pass a fair share of Argentinian players before pummeling the ball into the Argentinian goal. Cue mad celebrations.

Brazilian colors hugely outnumbered the Argentinian colors in the audience but a large number of the Brazilian supporters were non-Brazilians.

With a bit of bad luck, our group ended up with a few Argentinian supporters just in front of us.

One of the supporters was a (posh) older lady and she wasn't too impressed with my wife's passionate cheering. Several of our good friends are Argentinian so I won't go into details but let's just say that mas que um viado was shouted many times.

All in all a fantastic game and Arsenal supporters have a great season ahead at the Emirates Stadium!



A few videos

August 24, 2006

Leaving the hospital with Maya




Prag occupation 21/8/1968




[source]

MC crash




[source]


More Moving Traffic Contraventions and Enforcement

August 11, 2006

cctv-mobile-enforcement-vehicleWell, well, well. It seems as if the photographer has become the photographed.

Stumbled upon this piece of monitoring delight the other day and I cannot believe I missed it back when I was recorded for the moving traffic contraventions.

Must have been quite a day job during the hot days in London.



Huston we had a problem

August 07, 2006

huston-problemA brief message about the recent 5 day outage.

My hosting provider "had no choice but to suspend my web site due to extreme Apache overloading". I was notified of the few offending CGI scripts and a single static jpg that were causing the havoc.

It was mainly the Movable Type track back script that was being hammered by various spammers and caused the overload.

To protect the web site from future high loads I have disabled some functionality just to be on the safe side:

Movable Type track-backs (only spammers used them anyway)
Movable Type search (use Google search instead)
Mowecam post image (you can deploy the PHP file on your own server to continue using it)
ImdbRatings4Vue

Welcome back!



Christening

July 24, 2006

christeningFriends and family, we thank you for attending the christening of our son.

The event was wonderful and emotional and will forever be remembered.

The Godparents outperformed themselves but we did not expect anything less from them. The highlight was the Godfather getting his speech just seconds before holding it in front of the congregation.

As always a grand reception had been planned by my wife. This time it was in the Winter Garden of the Landmark Hotel.

It had been a hot day and the non-stop serving of well chilled Taittinger champagne was appreciated by all.

Don't be looking for me the next 7 days as the whole family is away in Scotland visiting grand castles and small distilleries.



Golden boys reunion

July 17, 2006

It was 1 year birthday of our dog's 6 puppies and a reunion was arranged.

Five of the puppies are with new owners around London and all but one managed to navigate to Richmond Park and our favourite pond.

The picnic started with a bang with 3 golden retrievers running across a couple's picnic.

I suspect that the gentlemen was expecting an apology but none was given by our fearless picnic organiser. Instead the upset gentlemen was notified that 4 more dogs were on the way.

Due to his apparent US accent he was taunted to "sue us when back in the states" upon which he sulkily proclaimed "I am bloody Canadian".

Despite the false start, things took of in a more positive spirit.

The majority of visitors to Richmond Park are dog lovers and everyone was commenting on how gorgeous our pack of 6 Golden Retrievers was.

A few children were almost run over, a few more picnics were terrorised, all white clothes in the vicinity had been jumped up on but the general response was a happy one.

The parting words of everyone was "see you again next year!".

6 golden retrievers in the park

[YouTube video, GoogleVideo]



Moving Traffic Contraventions and Enforcement

July 14, 2006

mte_nouturnYou may or may not have noticed that local councils have a new weapon in their money collecting arsenal: Moving Traffic Enforcement.

Under the scheme, local councils can fine motorists that obey certain basic road signs if they catch the motorists on camera.

Disobeying road signs like banned right turns, one-way streets, no-entry, no u-turn and box junctions are some of the contraventions that can result in a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

The main reason behind the new scheme is said to be to lower traffic accidents.

Call me cynical but it seems to be yet another way of extracting money from the already tax paying population and I see parallels with congestion charging and parking fines.

The purpose of the Congestion Charge is said to be to reduce congestion in the capital. Why is it then not implemented in the most congested areas but instead in central areas often crippling local business?

A large percentage of the income is due to penalty fees. When a private company introduced a way to minimise on forgotten Congestion Charge payments they were swiftly stamped out.

Parking fines are said to reduce illegal parking and improve the flow of traffic... but in the media there are frequent stories about corrupt parking attendants, performance bonuses based on tickets issued and jokingly easy job application tests.

It is with these bitter experiences that I view the latest Moving Traffic Enforcement. I notice that the appeal process has been altered, greatly reducing the alternatives for a driver to have his say.

Moving Traffic Enforcement ContraventionsI was recently fined for a right turn. The turn is on my daily way to work and I have been doing it for a long time.

Due to a delay between being caught on CCTV and receiving a penalty charge notice in the mail, I incurred the same fine 5 times.

I had previously successfully appealed a parking ticket but it was a very long process and I did not have the strength to go through all the paper work again.

A search for "moving traffic enforcement" and file types of pdf, doc and xls brings up several internal documents. They discuss the expected moving traffic enforcement monetary performance and on how to lower the amount of appeals because they are consuming resources.

Central London has a very large amount of CCTVs installed. You can literally see one or two cameras on every street corner.

Camden council is up front about the location of CCTVs used to monitor the population but other councils are conveniently quite about it. Does the Human Rights Act say anything about right to privacy?

As long as the CCTV cameras help to increase security and reduce crime I have been willing to accept the price of being monitored. Now the cameras are being used to police the population and dish out traffic fines.

So next time you are about to fart in public, think twice. You are being watched, recorded and registered. Everywhere and always.



5 out of 9 courses

July 11, 2006

It was my birthday and I was to be wined and dined at the exclusive Rasoi Vineet Bhatia restaurant in London.

Our 2 month old son had just been properly dined (no wine here) and we were confident that he would be safe in the hands of my wife's cousin.

A short drive to the restaurant and finding a parking spot right outside it gave hints of a very successful evening out; oh what a luxury.

The restaurant is renowned for it's Indian cuisine prepared by a Michelin star chef.

Knowing that this was a once in a lifetime experience I went straight for the 9 courses Gourmand menu. The staff assured me that the sizes of the dishes were small enough to be manageable.

An explosion of flavours and colours was just a few moments away.

The restaurant offers a menu of 4 or 6 glasses of (fine) wine to go with the food and this seemed to be a worthy match.

A state of comfortable and comforting tipsiness was just a few moments away.

My wife wasn't as brave (or hungry) as me and went for a measly starter/main/desert combo.

Just as the starters had arrived the phone rang and alarm bells went of. False alarm however, it was just a friend wishing happy birthday.

Two mouthfuls later and the phone was ringing again.

This time it was our impromptu baby sitter informing us that the baby was crying uncontrollably and he was not able to calm him down.

Cue my wife sprinting out of the restaurant and leaving me behind explaining to the staff that everything was fine and asking if possibly we could delay the dishes for a while.

I, or was it my tummy, had made the decision that once the storm was over my wife would be able to return, her appetite preserved, and continue were we left of. Little did I know that mothers with newborn babies do not work nor think like that.

One hour later she was back. Her hair just little bit out of control and no puke on her shoulder either so I assumed things were fine.

I managed to get to course 5 out of 9 when the phone rang again.

Our impromptu baby sitter was informing us that waiting in the car outside the restaurant has made the baby unsettled yet again and that he was forced to drive in circles around the block to calm him down.

This was the final straw on my wife's back and the bill was asked for.

On the way out the person at the door mentioned jokingly that he had seen our car passing by a few times.



Forza azzurra!

July 10, 2006

italianflag.jpgI must confess, with all "my teams" out of the cup, it was hard to root for any of the finalists.

I thought I had hedged my chances by favouring all of Czech Republic, Sweden, Brazil, England and Poland. Unfortunately fate would not have it like that.

Instead it was France versus Italy in the 2006 World Cup final.

France started the cup in an unimpressive way but got a little better witch each game. Then they went on to beat Brazil in the quarter finals and it was '98 all over again.

Italy were a strong team all through the cup and played a very good last game. They even managed to score 5 out of 5 penalties (something they did not do against Brazil in 1994 :-)

What will be talked about for years however, is Zinedine Zidane's spectacular head butt and the following red card.

A football player that has been described as "God" by his country men, at the top of his career, last game of his career, last minutes of a World Cup final and he looses his marbles.

What an ironic last shot of Zinedine Zidane. Him leaving the stadium and the much aspired trophy behind.

Watching the Italian players running around with flags on their shoulders, silly hats on their heads and kissing the trophy... priceless.

WELL DONE ITALIA!

[via Kottke]



Hyde Park Calling with Roger Waters and Texas

July 01, 2006

hyde park callingI thought I would be telling you about how I was enjoying the Dark Side of the Moon being performed by Roger Waters but instead I will be telling you about how I didn't. The story is just as good I believe.

My wife had purchased 4 tickets for Hyde Park Calling, 1st of July, long long time ago. We were under the impression that a) 2 friends would be joining us and b) we would find a baby sitter. Well a) the 2 friends freaked off on a belated honey moon and b) no baby sitter was to be found.

In addition Ticketmaster had failed to deliver the tickets (despite a £5 charge per ticket) so I had to head my butt over to the box office to pick them up.

Scalpers were buying up tickets for £5-10 and selling them for £40 so it was a pretty cut throat environment trying to sell the tickets off.

Due to having so much more class than any scalper, I managed to unload one ticket for £40 and one at £20.

The third ticket was almost sold but the girl was hesitant because she thought I was selling fake tickets.

After persuading her about the authenticity of my wares, she jokingly mentioned that if I only had a friend that would join her because going to rock concerts was no fun alone.

I was about to say sorry but when I realised that a friend was on the rebound and that this could possibly turn out to be a great story to tell the grand children.

A phone call and 10 minutes later the friend was on his way super excited about Dark Side of the Moon and fairly excited about the blind date.

Sometimes life is all about those spontaneous moments that make it diverge from the seemingly fixed path of faith.

I am very much looking forward to hearing about the outcome; no details spared!



BBQ Boy

June 25, 2006

bbq pig7 BBQs in 10 days; I am becoming quite the master of the fork and the sauce.

The mix of World Cup 2006, scorching hot weather and several visiting friends created a high pressure BBQ climate.

Make sure to have a decently sized BBQ to avoid disappointment among the hungry guests. A disposable BBQ will not do it. The Dual Deck Grill from Direct Design on the other hand is sized to deliver.

Meat is possibly the most important part of a successful BBQ and if you are in London I would recommend visiting the South American Beef website.

Good quality beef, amazing variety of cuts and decent prices. They even deliver to your front door.

Try the famous Picanha Brasileira cut or the Ponta de Contra File Argentino.

If you like to get your meat closer from home, then Waitrose has some very juicy Dovecote Park 6 rump steaks.

Add some portobello mushrooms, onions and wash it down with a well, well chilled rose wine.

Rinse and repeat!

[Pig BBQ from Pappa's Grills]



Father's day

June 19, 2006

fathers_day.jpgYesterday was the best Father's Day ever.

Laying in bed and reading an I love you daddy card brought tears to my eyes. Once again it made me realise that I am a father and all the joy and responsibilities that come with it.

As always I was showered with presents but none delivered the message as strongly as that I love you daddy card.

A picknick was arranged with a few couples from our antenatal class. Everyone was comparing battle stories from the labour room and the progress of their babies.

Baby acne, organic nappies, colic, sleeping patterns and all kinds of wondrous details were touched upon. I think everyone was relived to find out that they were not the only people in the world with their specific issues.

So you see, the big person on the cup on the left is me and the little fellow going Weeeeeeeeeeeee is my son.



Wedding congratulations

May 30, 2006

Isadora and Albert, thank you for inviting us to this special moment of your life. We wish that your wedded life will be as sweet as the desert that was served during the fabulous lunch.

Oscar and Asa, sorry we could not join you in person but be sure that we were with you in our minds.

To all of you, have a wonderful honeymoon and make sure to love and respect each other for the next 100 years.

On the topic of weddings, thank you Amor for the last 5 years.



A Star is Born

May 04, 2006

Mark Victor Dominick Kaspar entered this world at 11:05 on the 2nd of May, 2006 with a match weight of 3.24kg.

He was greeted by a mommy overwhelmed with joy and a crying daddy.

Plenty of photos can be found in the usual photo gallery and a few movies can be found in the YouTube Dominick play list.

Thank you for stopping by; make love not war.



NEWSFLASH: Dog eats Sky+ remote control - again

April 26, 2006

sky_remote.jpgSo a second Sky+ remote control beats the dust. It lasted only 2 weeks and was still in *mint* condition.

I never saw the carcass as the wife hid it knowing it would make my poor heart racing.

No wonder due to all the sweat that was put into purchasing it at a local Maplin's shop. A sweaty shop with sweaty carpets and even sweatier customers.

The first remote control at least lasted 1 year which I was quite content with. 2 weeks is however not acceptable so this family will simply have to do without.

The family is however allowed to use the amplifier multi-control which was conveniently programmed for Sky+ before the destruction.

A small call out to Sky to make their remote controls less appetizing. I guess tastiness was something that was overlooked in the design process. The black rubbery part of the remote seems to be simply irresistible for dogs..

Maybe I should have a taste next time!



Contesting parking tickets in London

April 05, 2006

Today I finally received the "Your penalty charge notice (PCN) has been canceled" letter from the City of Westminster, London.

This saga has been going on for over 8 months with me posting 9 recorded/signed for letters and the council of City of Westminster around 5.

It all started with a screaming red Charge Certificate stating that it was now too late to appeal to the alleged parking infringement and that I had better pay up.

This meant that the council had failed to notify me first by placing a PCN on my vehicle and second with a Notice To Owner in the mail.

Pretty scandalous way of extorting money from law abiding motorists I thought and started researching my rights in parking disputes.

It was a bit difficult to stay calm so my first letter to the council was a fiery one about extortion, scandals, citizen rights and other silly bits.

The reply was a cold and formal "Thank you for your appeal but it is now too late to appeal". It was obvious that the council would not listen. Instead they were pushing the matter forward to the County Court.

At this point my only option was to hire the services of a solicitor and swear in a Statuary Declaration that I had not received the original Notice To Owner.

I felt like a criminal sitting in a solicitor's office, holding the Bible and swearing the fact but it was true and it had to be done.

Luckily the County Court accepted the statuary declaration and this prevented the scary bailiffs and ultimate debt recovery.

You would have thought that the matter would have been cleared at this point but it only put it back to the original Notice to Owner stage.

The new Notice to Owner was promptly sent a few days later demanding once again the £100 (it was too late to pay the discounted £50 charge) or to appeal.

I vaguely remembered that a penalty for an alleged parking offence cannot take place if the PCN was not presented to the vehicle owner, i.e. it had not been served properly.

One could always throw away the PCN and claim that it was never there. However during the last 2 years I have seen many Traffic Wardens photographing vehicles with attached PCNs and I guess this is the reason why.

Since there had been no PCN on my vehicle I knew there could be no photograph and I was prepared to go to the County Court if required so I appealed selecting the wonderful "The offence did not occur" option.

It came as a total surprise that the council chose to accept my appeal and canceled the PCN but I accepted it wholeheartedly.

Below are some other reasons that can invalidate a PCN that I found while researching (some may be just rumours):

1. The traffic warden must be wearing their uniform and hat (have a disposable camera handy)

2. The PCN must have been attached to your vehicle or handed to you. If you see a traffic warden furiously punching on his ticket machine don't start arguing with him/her, just drive away.

3. A single yellow line must end with a t-bar to be enforceable

4. A sign stating enforcement hours of the yellow line must be close by and visible

5. If the council does not reply within 2 months of receiving your appeal

A very good resource was the National Parking Adjudication Service and I recommend you to study their pages closely.



4D baby scan

February 24, 2006

My master's thesis was on a non-intrusive neonatal imaging method called optical tomography.

When finished, it will help doctors diagnose newborn babies from brain injury caused by breathing difficulties or other problems that prevent the baby from receiving sufficient amounts of oxygenated blood during birth.

While I was only involved with calibrations of the instrument being developed, I have always stayed interested in non-intrusive imaging methods.

That is why it was a double joy to join my wife the other day for a 4D ultrasound scan session of our little baby boy.

Traditional ultra sound just shows a thin slice of the baby in the mothers womb and is often seen in profile.

With 3D ultrasound, a series of slices is taken in a short amount of time (2s?). The slices are then combined and are visualised as a volume (3D).

4D just means that the volume of images can be seen moving in real time. The video is a bit jerky due to the 2 second scanning sweep but nevertheless it is breathtakingly clear.

The 4D scan was performed at the Create Health London Clinic and I can highly recommend them for being very professional..



Be my anti-Valentine

February 14, 2006

A pink box full of sugar and saturated fat: $80
Uprooted dead plants: $60

A romantic dinner at home to avoid the Valentine's menu at restaurant X at triple the price and in a 90 minutes time slot: priceless

vd_tuesday.gif

Whether you are a single person or just fed up with the commercial pressure of Valentine's Day, visit Meish for her great anti-Valentine's Day cards.



Custom IKEA business idea

January 25, 2006

See and behold, one bastard of cupboards. The frame is from the IKEA bathroom selection, the sliding doors are from the kitchen collection and the feet, plinth and lights are from various other collections.

We were in need of 3 new cupboard units at home. The soon arrival of our baby is one reason but the always increasing amount of gadgets was another one.

Our first impulse was to hire some cunning craftsmen that would conjure up our new storage solution.

Four quotes later however, the highest quote was a pound above £3k and a whole lot above our budget. The drawings from that particular carpenter were great but the total sum was not.

Being the creative money saver my wife is, she started browsing the 2005 IKEA catalog ferociously. By combining furniture parts from different areas, she was able to come up with a combination of units that fitted our measures.

The total sum of shopping was around £500 and this included all kinds of IKEA goodies like plants, carpets, baskets, Swedish food and more boxes.

Besides my sweat and blood, the assembling required many more power tools than the default IKEA hexagonal key. Electrical drill and screw driver, wood saw, iron saw, hammer and wood glue just to mention a few of them.

It got me thinking that there might be a market for Custom IKEA-TM jobs. It would combine the affordability of IKEA furniture with the individuality of hand made furniture.

The customer and the installer would split the difference in price between the IKEA shopping and original quote from a carpenter.

yours sincerely,
The IKEA Boy.



2005 in cities

January 17, 2006

Following Kottke's example, here's my 2005 in cities:

  • Sao Paulo, Brasil*
  • London, UK*
  • Mumbai, India
  • Ahmedabad, India
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Kyoto, Japan
  • Mt Koya, Japan
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Lulea, Sweden
  • Paris, France
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • NYC, USA
  • Ilheus, Brasil
  • Helsingborg, Sweden*
  • Copenhagen, Denmark*
  • Campinas, Brasil*

One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

Click on pins to view photos from the location



Feliz Natal

December 26, 2005

I am having a second cold right on the heels of the previous one. No one told me that you could catch a cold in 28C just by having a fan blowing lukewarm air on you on full blast. Obviously you can.

After 5 years of celebrating Christmas in the southern hemisphere, where there is summer in December instead of the usual winter, I am still not getting used to it. I guess that I never will.

Instead of freezing temperatures and snowball fights there is a scorching sun and some lounging in the pool. It doesn't quite bring on the cosy Christmas feeling but it is oh so much more comfortable.

The local shopping malls try their best with red and fat Santa Clauses, miniature versions of his work shop and white cotton wool laying around that is supposed to look like snow. It all just looks awkward and misplaced but I bet it improves the sales figures.

The local tradition in Brazil is to dig in into the many Christmas delicacies only at midnight on the 24th. This is followed by hugs, best wishings and finally presents. A strategic power nap in the late afternoon is highly recommend as the celebrations seldom finish before 3 am.

Each year there are a few songs that are hot, which means that they are played a lot. These songs often stick with me for the rest of the year as a reminder of good times. This year so far it has been Gasolina by Dady Yankee. A silly song that is played everywhere so it sticks with you.

Having a cold has given me a lot of time in the hammock, catching up on the Dark Tower by Steven King. Currently finishing Song of Susanah and looking forward to the last book in the heptology.

By now I am getting used to listening to audiobooks. While it's is not as easy to "flick back a few pages" it is so much more convenient than to lugg around several books. It is also great while in a moving vehicle or in the sun on the beach. Give it a try.



Life is bloody not fair

December 18, 2005

Rest in peace Rick. Your kind spirit will not be forgottenWe just found out that a friend of ours died recently in a plane crash. He leaves behind a beautiful wife and a 4 year old daughter.

It feels like yesterday when were smoking cigars and drinking fine whiskey together and it feels like earlier today when we attended his and his wife’s very romantic wedding.

What a rude reminder this is that things we take for granted can be abruptly and unjustly taken away.

Our warmest condolences go out to the rest of our late friends family but it makes me wonder just how much of a help words can be.

This is just so damn unfair...



Welcome diggers and delicious people

November 29, 2005

This is my first time in the digg and del.icio.us limelights so an obligatory big welcome to everyone.

You may have come here for the XP Limits half-open connections to 10 article but I urge you to have a look around for more on Internet, gadgets, Java development and photography.

have a nice stay,
David Kaspar

delicious digg



Who's the daddy

The doctor recommended it so we followed his advice and waited 3 months before letting anyone know.

Our baby is due June 2006, just in time for the football world cup. I immediately take that as a sign that it will be a world class player especially with the Brazilian and Czech heritage.

So after three months of explaining to people why my wife was so ill for so long I was running out of excuses. There are only so many flues, food poisonings and jet lags one can blame on.

Reactions? Great joy mixed with just a tad of anxiety and nervousness. I can barely take care my self so how will I managed another human being? I will let you all know in 18 years.



Annoying unsolicited telemarketing phone calls: your rights

November 15, 2005

The number of unwanted telemarketing phone calls we receive have increased a lot after a recent telephone number change.

There are various ways dealing with such calls:

1. For a short term relief just hang up.

I am a honest and polite person and for the last 5 years I tried to be rational and sensible when dealing with unwanted telemarketing calls. This did not help. It was a waste of time.

Once I overcame this politeness, I can now terminate an unwanted call in just 10 seconds. "Hello I am calling from Super Cheap Calls, would you be interested in... CLICK".

2. The better solution is to register your number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). By UK law it is unlawful to make unsolicited direct marketing calls to registered numbers.

Save the registration confirmation as it is required when submitting a complaint.

The registration can take up to 3 months to come into effect so wait this long before submitting any complaints.

It is the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) who enforces the above law. You can find handy complaint templates at their making a complaint page.

Even if the phone call is originating from abroad, there will be an UK company that is responsible for the offered product/service and is intended to receive your money.

Ask the caller who you will be paying to.

3. If you have a lot of spare time, a third approach is to try and waste as much as possible of the callers time.

The conversion rates (successful sales out of total calls) are low so the call centers rely on quick finishes on calls that do not result in a sale.

If enough people did this, the call center operation would become unprofitable due to high calling costs and amount of time spent on unsuccessful calls.

Ask about every single option in the offering, tell them to hold while you are getting a pen and paper, tell them you don't understand, ask about costs and cancelations, tell them to call back in 5 minutes and start asking the same questions.

My personal record is 8 minutes, can you beat that? (leave a comment)



Before and after pumpkin

November 13, 2005

This poor pumpkin looked so much better before Hallowe'en.

Before
before-pumpkin

After
after-pumpkin

The question is, how did you feel before and after this year's Hallowe'en party?



Plasma Irony

November 06, 2005

The recent "Win a free plasma TV" campaign on Sky Digital is causing a ghost image on the plasma because it is bright and stays in the same position for a prolonged time.

Can't think of a good analogy at the moment. I'm sure there is one.



Mad dash in Brazil

September 01, 2005

So we were supposed to be going to the Txai resort, Bahia, Brazil. The flight Sao Paulo to Illeus was at 7 am which meant we had to go up at 4:30.

Now this would normally not have been too bad but this time it was the morning after my brother in law's wedding. Of course there was a big Brazilian party to mark the occasion and of course did I have to force my self to go to bed by midnight.

To add to the already nicely stressed schedule, a project for work was due and this was possibly the last time with decent Internet access to send of a couple of MB worth of application design. It got done, just. Between midnight and two in the morning.

After just 3 hours of sleep but very psyched to be of to a sunny paradise we got of to the airport Guarulhos. Getting another ride from my wife's cousin who by now I know is an excellent driver (fast, safe, breaking all possible traffic rules) in the Sao Paulo traffic.

At the airport we discovered to our horror that Guarulhos was the wrong airport. TAM, the airline that was to service us, had changed the airport of departure to Congonhas just one day before the flight. They had notified as many passengers as possible but we booked through an agent and he did not get through to us.

It was 6:30 and the flight was scheduled for 7 am. The trip between Guarulhos and Congonhas is about 1 hour we were told.

Close to tears, we gave it a shot to try to speed to the correct airport. The TAM staff were at least nice enough to warn the crew at the other airport that we were making a dash for it.

18 minutes later our tires were screeching outside the correct airport. A few ladies at the check in desk notified us professionally that there was no way we could make it on the flight but a senior staff jumped swiftly over the counter and commanded us to run after him.

#PAGEBREAK#

10 minutes later after an express security check, a personal lift to the aircraft and re-lowering the plane staircase we were on board. Sweaty but on board. The plane took of 7:01, just one minute late. (BA, take some pointers please)

txai resort bahia brazilSo here we are. Writing you from a sunny Bahia. They even have some sort of Internet connection here! (I had to high-jack a LAN cable and an IP address but it works)



Another scorcher in London

July 18, 2005

Another scorcher in London last weekend with temperatures soaring up to 30C. We don't get many of those in London and Imade sure to soak it up properly.

Lounging in an inflatable pool from Argus, the BBQ stacked up with char coal and VH1 Top 100 classic rock tunes pumping out from the living room. If I only I had had a Piña Colada floating next to me, I could have totally dreamed my self back to the Maldives.

The puppies are growing really fast and have for the last 4 days been demanding to be left out in the garden. I feel a bit anxious about letting them rummage around in the wild but it is most likely good for them.

Just the other day Oswald (the orange one) found a gap under the wooden decking and disappeared. Only after pulling out five boards did I manage to find him. He was sleeping soundly and protested loudly when I rescued him.

How was your weekend?



The big three oh

July 11, 2005

cakeThere was a small party in our garden to celebrate the occasion. I had sent out the invites only 2 days ahead so naturally several friends had to decline as they already had made plans.

I was sending them a few "What is more important than cake and champagne" SMS messages but they would not budge. No sweat, the more cake and champagne there was for the rest of us.

It wasn't as bad as I had expect it to be, to turn 30. I did wake up with a head ache and for a brief moment I was terrified that maybe after you turn 30, you would have a constant head ache. Nobody had told me that. The head ache disappeared next day however so all was good again.

I was overwhelmed by the preparations my wife had put into it all. She even sent me away to a favourite restaurant of ours to "pick up some things". There was nothing to be picked up. Instead a 90 minute massage appointment was waiting for me across the street, at Bliss.

There were also presents involved in the celebrating. A few friends combined their efforts and surprised me mightily with a Nikkor 20mm 2.8D lens. An object of desire that I would not have indulged my self in otherwise.

Fine wine, cigar accessories and sporting gear were other high-lights. I felt spoiled rotten!



Blast on London underground and buses

July 07, 2005

londonbombing.jpgAround 9am today (Thursday) several London underground trains and busses had exploded. All of London underground network is currently suspended and people are being evacuated.

Initially the incidents were being reported as "power surges" on the underground. After several buses had exploded as well it was clear that it was actually bombs that had exploded.

Currently (11am) there have been a few (2) fatal casualties.

No information regarding who is responsible for the attacks as of yet.

I am fine and so is our family. I have been in touch with several close friends who are all fine as well but I am very worried that not all have been so lucky.

Update 3.30pm
Currently there are more than 33 fatalities confirmed. More than 300 people have been treated.

Other sources
Real time Wiki
BBC Timeline
Sky News



yawn

June 16, 2005

Yes it is 5:01am.

Ginger, our Golden Retriever, has just had her fourth and last puppy.

Surely she is able to take care of her newborn pups so it's time to get a few hours rest.

Zzorry for the incoherent writing.

---

Turns out that last puppy was not so last after all.

Two more puppies were delivered before 7am. By then I had already passed out in the living room, so I did not notice.

Prepare yourselves for a whole load of puppy photos in the near future. Eating puppies, sleeping puppies, puppies playing and puppies in jars... no, not that, sorry.

---

Turns out that the six puppies are all boys. What is the chance of that?! (Actually it is 0.5^6 or 1:64 or 1.6%).

Since we cannot keep them all, 5 of these Golden Retriever puppies in London will be for sale second week of August. This of course after an excrutiating interview process :-)

Use the contact form to contact me.



Heavy

June 11, 2005

imageI am freakin heavy. That was the only thing I could think about during todays entire run.

Back in the days a 1 hour run was only refreshing, nowadays a 30 minute run is excruciating. The only thing that pulled me through was Blue Sonics Deapseediver*.

One positive thing with being out of shape is that you get to understand the huffing and puffing of the slightly over weight people while they work it out in the streets and parks during the weekends. I am one of them :-)

So to all the wannabe runners that are trying hard, keep at it, it will get better. To all the aces that effortlessly run and run, please have some compassion for the ones that are trying. One day it could be you again.

* Tune in to Digitally Imported for great Trance and Dance tunes. If you use Winamp with Streamripper (free software) you can even save the high quality MP3 tunes for later ;-)



Stop the press, 4-6 babies are on the way

May 17, 2005

pups_scan.jpg

Ok, calm down parents, it is not human babies. It is our golden retriever Ginger (AKA Poo Princess) that is pregnant.

The new addition to the family will be with us in just 5 weeks. You see, a dog pregnancy is 9 weeks only.

Expect a plethora of puppy photos.

Right, back to that serious S.L.A.I: Phantom Crash beta testing.



Where are we going?

March 23, 2005

I thought I would be telling you about how our ski holiday in Courchevel, France is coming along. But you see, my wife managed to pull off the biggest surprise of my life and I am nowhere near France or Europe for that matter.

On the morning of our departure she confessed. There was no need for ski clothes and they were quickly unpacked. Instead I was given a fat itinerary and a travel guide to study.

Needless to say, I was completely flabbergasted. The illusion of a ski trip had been very real and I had been day dreaming about deep powder snow the last two weeks.

Nobody knew. Not our parents, not our friends. This one will be a tough cookie to beat if ever possible. Touché mon amor!

Good night Tokyo, I am signing off.

Japan, Tokyo and Kyoto photos



Finally a good weekend

March 15, 2005

Most likely because I did not open the work laptop a single time.

Visited the current Lee Miller portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Lee Miller was a (female) model cum photographer during the first part of 20th century.

Through her relationships she came into contact with a range of artists and was able to take many intimate photographs. Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Fred Astaire, Colette and Marlene Dietrich being some of those artists. If you are interested in history of photography the exhibition is worth the £7.

London's Brick Lane is famous for it's many curry houses. A good friend of ours had arranged a charity dinner event at a one such curry house. The event was well organised and a respective sum was collected for the cause but I will not be going back to Nazrul 2 Tandoori and Balti Restaurant any time soon. The food was bad and the service was worse.

Finally caught a flick as well, have been missing the silver screen lately. Les Choristes (The Chorus) is a touching story about group of boys at a boarding school and how a new supervisor changes their lives with music.



It should be done by now

February 25, 2005

In case you haven't noticed, you have arrived to an updated version of "The Story".

The main reason behind the switch of hosting providers was an increased storage requirement, mainly for photos (there are MANY wedding photos itching to be uploaded).

I also took the opportunity to upgrade several components of the site. A new Movable Type installation with better control over comments, a new phpBB installation that fixes that annoying howdark.com exploit, a fresh new Gallery (currently with some issues) and more.

There are ambitions of a total redesign in the near future, let's hope they real.

That is all I have to say for a while...



It has begun

February 23, 2005

I have decided to switch hosting providers due to a growing archive of photos.

With my new provider I will get 3000MB of storage compared to 250MB of storage with my old provider. The new provider also works out slightly cheaper.

I have updated the DNS records for my domain name and it will take anything between 0 and 48 hours to propagate all across the Internet.

Meanwhile you may arrive at the old location or the new location or alternate between them.

Quite a lot of manual work was required to move the MySql data, phpBB, Gallery of photos, movable type db, custom scripts, http configs and more. I should write it up because it could serve as a starting point for other people in my situation.

Have fun, see you in my new home in 48 hours.

PS "ipconfig /flushdns" may help



Success

December 13, 2004

As much as I was worried before the wedding, the more am I relieved now that it is all over.

Most people settle with one wedding but we had to have two; one ceremony in the church and one civil ceremony the following day.

The church ceremony was mainly attended by close friends and family. It was the hardest part by far. Watching my family lined up along the church benches as I was walking towards the altar was quite a thrill.

It was then surpassed by the sight of the bride, my future wife, walking towards me accompanied by her father. A four men strong group of trumpeters announcing her entrance added to the suspense.

The following day was relatively easy. Sure there were a lot more people (close to 400) but for me it was a repetition and I knew there was a big party waiting.

Party hats and sunglasses, fireworks, the Swedish flag next to the Brazilian flag, late night Havaianas for the girls and a 13 men strong samba band were just some of the surprises prepared.

Early in the morning I was told by several of the people at the party that they doubted they would ever attend a grander party, not even at their own wedding. Now that is a great compliment if there ever was one!

Photos.



Wedding bells

December 11, 2004

Interesting; just 4 hours left before I get married in a stunning church and yet I am not freaking out.

People have traveled from all around the world for the occasion. A friends wedding is an important event that should not be missed but I suspect that the fact that the wedding is in Brazil was a strong puller as well.

The priest speaks English very well which helps a lot so that the non-Portuguese speaking guests can enjoy the ceremony as well.

Traditionally people settle for one wedding ceremony only but we are not traditional. There will be a second, civil, wedding ceremony tomorrow that will supersede today's religious ceremony in grandness and party factor.

People keep asking where we will go for our honey moon but there will not be one; at least not immediately after the wedding. Family and friends have come from near and far and it wouldn't have been nice to go away.

Instead some beach houses have been arrange where we will kick back, catch up on gossip and drink Caipirinhas until early mornings.

There is always room for a luxurious holiday later next year.

Just 2 hours left...



New address

November 22, 2004

Yet another address in London; this is the fourth time we shuffle all our lively possessions in hopes of bigger and better.

Moving is a pain in the butt but (intended) this time we had help from the amazing guys at Aardvark Removals. They were very professional, chatty and did not flinch even when faced with two 100kg+ rose pots (actually, they did flinch a wee bit) in the garden.

champ14 hours and 100 boxes later, we were settled in into our new flat and the festive bottle of champagne was uncorked. Still plenty of unopened boxes but with the bed assembled, a roof over our heads and the TV set-up I am content.

House warming party you ask? Send me your details and you will be invited in the very near future...

Memorable moments:
* The moving guys singing along to Dire Straits, Money for Nothing playing on MTV. "We got to move these refrigerators, We got to move these color TV's"
* Pizza dinner and listening to 30 years of removals stories
* Ball room dancing in the new lounge while sipping champagne...



Don't try this at home

October 07, 2004

I managed to swallow some descaler liquid the other day. Active ingridients sulphamic acid and citric acid.

I was descaling the hot water kettle in the morning and decided to leave the descaler product working during the day while being at work.

When coming back home I had obviously forgotten all about the descaler and put the kettler on.

I soaked some rice noodles in the acid water and I made some nice miso soup from it.

The noodles tasted a bit funny (sour) but it wasn't until I had a few sips of the soup I suspected something was very wrong.

The soup was very sour and soon my lips and tounge had a tingling sensation. While thinking why on earth the food would all taste so sour it struck me that I had left the descaler in the kettle.

I summoned the pack quikly to see whether it provided any warning texts. Right after "keep away from children" it said "seek medical advice if swallowed".

It was a bit late so instead of seeking medical advise I drank a couple of pints of milk and decided to weather it out. A quick search on the internet for "swallow descaler" led me to the helpful page of Emergency treatment of self-poisoning or overdose. The page assured me that diluted commercial descaler shouldn't be lethal.

Woke up in the middle of the night due to a rumble in my tommy. Had a couple of bowls of Crunchy Nut with some more milk which seemed to settle it a bit.

Couple of days later and all seems fine. Bit worried about possible complications: "Oesophageal stricture and pyloric stenosis can occur after 14–21 days". Any doctors around? What's that when it's at home?



Sharing is loving

September 22, 2004

So I am giving away an Expansys voucher because I don't need it.

£5 off any order over £20. Enter voucher code in 'How did you hear about us box' or quote the code to your sales advisor.
Leave a comment with your email if you need it (expires 25th December 2004)


Young entrepreneurs in London

August 31, 2004

Yesterday while at the excellent Camden Market, I met some fellow country men (Czechs). They had set up a stand from which a lovely caramelised sugar and cinnamon scent was coming.

They were selling "Trdlo" that they proclaimed was a traditional Czech pastry. I had never seen "Trdlo" before so I asked about it, in English.

They started explaining how traditional it is but when I mentioned that I am Czech as well and that I had never seen it before, they had few and lame explanations.

Anyway, I was amused by the claim and it smelled lovely so I decided to try it. It was really yum and at £2 (100 Czech krounes) a pop it seems to be a gold mine. I don't really care whether the claim is true, I am just happy to see some young Czech entrepreneurs trying their wings due to the new EU membership ;-)

Update 06/09/04
Looks as if trdlo has been introduced in Prague as well; with not so good response. A Czech blogger writes how people are being ripped of with burned dough (In Czech).

Update 18/04/06
Trdlo recipe (is in Slovak... will be translated to English at some point)



Heja Sverige!

August 23, 2004

Sweden secured 3 gold medals within 24 hours. That's a very good feat considering the size of the country. Again and again they prove how talented and athletic they are.

First the heroin Carolina Klüft got gold for women's heptathlon where she frankly dominated (6952 points). Then Christian Olsson in men's triple jump (17.79m). Last Stefan Holm in high jump (2.36m); his first win in a major competition in a long time.

Being born in Czech Republic, raised in Sweden, living in England and soon to be married to a Brazilian wife, I sometimes get confused about who to cheer on. As long as all of them are winning gold medals, it's all good!



Beach bumming

August 03, 2004

Last Saturday was sunny and hot and I was looking forward to Sunday when we had plans to go the East coast of England, Broadstairs.

But on Sunday the weather turned out pretty bad. Windy and with solid overcast, not giving us more than 10 minutes of sunshine throughout the day. Still there were many persons braving the weather and swimming or playing in the water.

I was amazed to see how well prepared the beach visitors were. Normally people bring a beach towel and a good book but these beach bums had so much more. Wind shields, tents, parasols, portable BBQs, crocket and more.

The highlight of the day was ice-cream and cappuccino while overlooking the main Broadstairs beach with its (in)famous rent-a-donkey.



The Rock blessed the rock

July 07, 2004

My time was seriously running out. The engagement party was to be held in four days and I had not yet popped the question (you know, blah, blah, will you merry me?).

So I booked a table at Asia de Cuba, our favourite restaurant in London. I also invited two good friends for moral support, to share the moment and to try to masquerade my intentions.

The dinner was as grand as it always is at Asia de Cuba but I felt the dishes were coming to fast. Before I knew it, the deserts were served, gulfed down and the bill was on the table - it was crunch time.

To my horror the topic of the discussion had drifted away from the safe wedding plans via risky "who is going to be the next president of the USA" to the right out catastrophic "underage female victims in Israel".

With no effort of being smooth, I just raised my voice and proclaimed that the real reason why we were gathered was to be able to ask a very important question. With that I proceeded to get down on one knee, having opened the little box with the ring. The dumbstruck expression on my wife to be was suddenly worth all the effort. The answer was another yes.

Unknowing to us, The Rock had been dining with a small party right behind us. They had witnessed my clumsy going-down-on-one-knee act and had a big grin on their faces as we were leaving. When saying hi to them, The Rock looked me in the eyes, nodded in acknowledgement and wished us good luck.



Walking capital

June 30, 2004

London sees yet another tube strike. The union rejected London Underground's offer of a 3.5 percent pay rise and a reduction in the working week from 37.5 to 35 hours (what's wrong with that?). Instead the scene was set for a traffic mayhem.

So this morning streets were full of walking, cycling, rollerblading people and grumpy people waiting for crowded buses. Londoners took out their rusty old bicycles or put on comfortable walking shoes.

All that is relatively good - bonus exercise - the bad side is all the extra cars in the streets. Traffic jams and pollution ahead, the traffic is at a standstill. Earlier last week Ken Livingstone had specified that the congestion charge would not be lifted in the event of a tube strike nor would parking restrictions be lifted, not exactly a helping hand is it.

I can only sympathise with the commuters that depend on the tube to get them to and from work each day. They are already paying very high monthly charge and are now left to their own devices. Some of these commuters are able to work from home but the rest are looking forward to a long and complicated journey with alternative public services or a 1-2 hour hike.



I sweat a lot...

June 29, 2004

... when in a sauna.

Yesterday I was just getting comfortable in the 87C, catching up on the tabloids when an older gentleman entered the sauna.

He asked me whether I would mind if he put some "Chinese drop" on the stones.

I didn't quite understand what he had just said, just that he wanted put something on the hot stones. Being an ignorant macho, I thought that if he can manage it I sure can as well.

He proceeded emptying half the bottle of that stuff in a water filled spatula and whacked it on the heater.

1.5 seconds later, a very strong, pepperminty and sweet fist of steam spread around the sauna and punched me right in the kisser.

4.5 seconds later the older gentleman swore something about using too much of the drops and rushed out from the sauna.

I have to give credit to the drops, my airways have never been clear like they were in that peppermint hell. My eyes were watering, but not in an uncomfortable, mint-candy-in-your-eyes way. Instead, they were just moist and cool.

The cool feeling spread to the rest of my upper upper-body and for a short while I was actually shivering in the 87C.

I gotta get me some of those drops!



My thumb is hurting...

June 11, 2004

... I have been playing too much of "Alien Scum" on my mobile (SonyEricsson T630).

There is something special about low tech games that makes them addicting. You will not see any fancy 3D graphics or stunning animations. Still, this repetitive game is very addicting.

Alien Scum reminds a lot of Alien Invaders. Kill all aliens on the screen to advance a level. This version adds some power ups but in my opinion, it doesn't match up to the original.

You should be able to get it FREE from the SonyEricsson mobile site.



Gotta love Southpark

May 27, 2004



Mental photos

May 16, 2004

Hum, the battery of the digital camera died just after five shots despite being on charge over night. Something is not right.

Now I am really cursing my self for not bringing the SLR; especially since there was a fresh B/W roll in it.

For the last two days we have been pointing at things that would have made splendid photos. Instead, these things will linger in our minds as mental photos.

The annual bread fair was taking place at Place Hotel Ville. Inside one of the two large tents an old baker was teaching a young girl how to make traditional French bread. The motive and composition was perfect: the old baker in his white outfit and hat, the girl in a bright red sweater and dark braided hair. In front of them one perfect example of pain and one very messy piece of dough.

While having brunch in Marais, two parents left their young baby in the hands of a nun while ordering some coffees. The baby, closely followed by the nun, was chasing a dove picking bread crumbs from the pavement. The white head cloth of the nun was flapping in the wind. The baby was wearing a big white hat and running with its arms outstretched. The poor dove was taking of the ground with flapping wings.

Then there were numerous charming dogs and their colourful owners. Big dogs with small owners, tiny dogs with large owners. Poodles with grey, curly haired owners and bull dogs with chubby, big-faced owners.

monalisa.jpgVisitors of the Louver were snapping away like mad at the many masterpieces inside. As if having a photograph of the Mona Lisa was like owning a piece of it. As if there werent already a million of much better photos taken of the Mona Lisa. I of course joined the pack and used up my last digital photo on a shaky, out of focus photo from a weird angle.

What is it about the Mona Lisa anyway? Is it true that it is a guy in drag, possibly an auto portrait of Da Vinci himself? Why doesnt the scenery in the background on the left and right hand side of the Mona Lisa match up? Why did it take Da Vinci over 20 years to complete this one single portrait? Is the subject famously smiling because he/she, like Da Vinci himself, knows the truth about the Holy Grail?

Other photographic highlight were the male skincare section with lip stick and lip gloss. The Bear's Den pub where a large selection of big hairy men were hugging and kissing each other. A little Jack Russell dog chasing his owner on Roller Blades in heavy traffic.

These mental images turned out perfectly in our minds. Most likely something a real photograph might not have managed.



Put Champagne on ice

April 23, 2004

The good news finally came yesterday. A 2 year long fight with a major UK developer over a new St George development site in an existing woodland was over.

The results from the public enquiry had come back: the local residents, represented by SRRA, had won.

The process culminated in a public enquiry where the arguments from both sides were presented and a decision was made by the inspector:

In my judgement the overall planning balance is heavily weighted against the scheme. The manner in which the present proposals respond to the attributes and address the constraints of the site has sacrificed many environmental quality objectives for the sake of maximising the amount of accommodation. I conclude that the appeals should be dismissed and that planning permission should be refused

Have a look at the SRRA summary or download the inspectors full report.

I have learned that the democratic system is a double-edged sword. While it gave us residents an opportunity to affect the local council in their decision, it also gave the developers right to appeal a chain of decisions against their "monstrous" plans. (However their practice of submitting dual identical applications in order not to give the council a chance to reply in assigned time and thus escalating the matter was less than honest.)

The victory would not have been possible without the organisation skills and eloquence of local resident Phillipe Auclair. As another resident put it, "A whole lot of people were doing their bit but without Phillipe's help we would not have known what our bits were". Phillipe's eloquence was both a motivator to all of us and a stinging to the developer's arguments.

"Is this the end?" one of the local residents asked. "It's more like the beginning of a long struggle to keep the woodland unharmed" was the consensus of the groups leading group.



Big Red Button

March 20, 2004

For the last 8 days I have been enjoying snow boarding in Spindleruv Mlýn, a Czech ski resort.

While it is not the most radical resort around, the atmosphere is superb. Food is cheap and a plenty and the beer even more so. An added bonus was the fact that this trip also was a family get-together to catch up and plan the upcoming events.

While most of the boarding went OK, I had completely forgotten how to use the anchor lifts while on a snowboard. I actually tried to straddle the anchor resulting in an embarrassing situation.

While I was fumbling with the anchor it pulled away and I lost balance completely. The closest object was a rod with a big red button and I managed to regain balance by slamming down on this very button. It turned out to be the emergency stop so the whole row of couples was halted, most certainly swearing at the retard at the bottom of the slope - me.

The weather was a dream come true. Plenty of snow from earlier heavy snow falls and four days of solid sunshine.



RE: messasge from candyland lets get together frogs

March 05, 2004

Spam email is a very annoying nuisance.

Even more annoying was the recent incident where a spammer decided to use my hotmail address as the senders address. This resulted in 50+ bounced emails all arriving in my Hotmail inbox.

...not to mention all the numerous receivers that were swearing at my email address because they don't know any better and thought that I was responsible.

Most annoying however, that a certain "lovingguy" from India thought the email was for real and "is ready to have fun with me".

Time for that long vacation in Mexico I reccon.



Facelift

February 23, 2004

SRRA v2.0An overdue facelift was necessary for this website of a non-profit organisation that I am helping out with. The site was done by me 2 years ago and back then it just had to be done quickly. Since then I have been adding various features and the site has been growing organically. It outgrew the initial scope in the first six months.

I was considering a fully featured content management system (Drupal was recommended by Taran) but chickened out in the end. Instead, the web site will be a mix between Movable Type and home brewed PHP features. Movable Type will take care of the news and articles and I will develop custom user registration, newsletter, classifieds section and photo gallery (to start with).

It took me most of the weekend and it's not even finished. I decided to use CSS positioning and XHTML and that is why it took so darn long just to get the layout right. Getting rid of nested tables felt good however. A List Apart was a great resource; both for the layout design and elegant, non-graphical tabs.



Weather forecast for London

February 05, 2004

The daily weather forecast interests me more and more and I make sure to watch it each morning. I must be getting old.

This morning was no fun. "Think 'W': wet and windy", I was told.

And even better for the weekend:

"Strong winds and wintery showers". Not sure what wintery showers exactly means but it sounds cold... and scary.

London weather, GOTTA LOVE IT!



To Ryanair or not to Ryanair (and other cheap airlines and flights)

January 27, 2004

Once again Carla's "I told you so" is ringing in my ears. I was planning a trip to Sweden and was sucked in by the £2.99 advertised price on Ryanair.com web site. I was travelling alone and figured I would be able to handle the early departure and other inconveniences.

In the end the trip turned out to be a lot more expensive than the lucrative £2.99 and I would like you to consider the following before being lured by the prices of such airlines as easyJet, RyanAir and Buzz.

Update 30/01/04

"A disabled man who was forced to pay to use a wheelchair at Stansted Airport has won his case against Ryanair." (BBC News)

Good, now if only something could be done about the belittling staff.



Giving credit

January 15, 2004

For some of the features on this web I have been inspired by others. Sometimes I have used code developed by others and sometimes images supplied by others.

This is where I would like to thank those individuals.

SixApart: For developing an excellent (and free) self publishing application; Movable Type
Moopet: For the blogging bug and the Lightsaber image
Scriptygoddess: For scripting bits and bops and most recently help on how to dirify with PHP
Google: For their API and translation tools
KnowProSe: For an elegant translation solution
Eliot: MTRefSearch
Just Like a Dream: Giving credit
shari: slidingonrainbows bkr pattern

Thank you all and keep on trucking!



Bang

December 31, 2003


Copacobana, Rio De Janeiro, Brasil, 1st of January 2003, 00:02

Well, the year 2003 is making sure to end with a bang.

It has been a scorching hot day with temperatures over 35 degrees C and flip-flops melting on the hot beach sand. The waves were over 10 feet high and now there is a tropical thunder storm.

This last day of 2003 was also the day I asked Carla's dad for Carla's hand and his answer was a delightful yes. Now there is only one more person that has to agree.



On the road

December 20, 2003

So this is it. Our bags are packed, the doors are locked and we have just arrived to the airport. It is time for our annual trip to see Carla's family in Brasil.



Tacky xmas card

December 19, 2003

... you have been warned :-)

card



The money food chain

December 17, 2003

Observation:

Our car was serviced the other week and most of the costs were for parts. I paid by credit card and thus postponed the actual debiting of my account until the end of the month. I was also rewarded with a few reward points that I eventually will be able to trade in for trips, hotel stays or car hire.

The owner of the car shop was a very friendly gentleman and we ended up chatting for a good half hour about life and things. He mentioned that he is paying by credit card for most parts that he orders for his clients. He is using the same credit card company as me and recently he was on a trip to Paris for two, paid by reward points.

Now, what if the dealer that he is ordering parts from is using a credit card as well for their rather large amount of purchases. This would mean that possibly the same credit card company is able to charge a fee 3-4 times for the same product; while it is traveling from a producer, via various middle hands to the final consumer (me).

It also means that possibly 3 individuals/companies have earned reward points on behalf of my purchase. No doubt something that I as the final consumer will be burdened with in the form of higher annual fees.

So, does this make me a player at the top of the food chain? Am I positioned at the top as I pick and choose what to consume by spending money on it?

I think not. Instead I suspect I am at the bottom of the money food chain. I, like billions others, are like small plankton feeding some slightly larger predators above us. At the top are a few global predators and I bet that American Express is one of them.



Early Christmas greetings

December 13, 2003

...from Copenhagen, Denmark.

tivoliIts's that time of year again when we move our bodies towards North to enjoy yule spirit with my parents.

feastThe sun setting at 3.30 pm and the freezing temperature brings out the best of Christmas spirit. So does the Scandinavian Christmas food, plentyfull and rich.

Having relatives in various parts of the world has the benefit of multiple Christmas eves and even better, multiple presents openings.

Tonight, Christmas celebration with my parents in Sweden; next week the same with Carla's family in Brasil. Just a temperature difference of 40 degrees.

Whereever you are, take care and be well,

David



HMV UK return policy - beware

December 09, 2003

You will probably be spending some amount of money on CDs, DVDs and console games this Christmas so please think twice before purchasing at HMV. Their return policy is not what you may be used to.

Basically, HMV offers no refunds or store credit; only exchanges are allowed and this only if the item is in "perfect condition and original packaging".

The consequence is that if you purchase something wrong or get an unwated present the only option you have is to take it back to HMV and pick something else with "similar value". If you don't, or not to the full value of the previously purchased item, the money is lost. If you cannot decide on something to replace the item with (with the same value again) within 21 days, the money is lost... and, most annoying, make sure to carry the item with you at all times in case you happen to walk into an HMV that day and happen to find something you like.

This strict policy is printed on the back of the receipt but if you do have a read, it is already too late because the purchase has been made.

After the bad luck with the manager in the store I phoned up HMV head quarters (0207 467 1109) to confirm this strict policy. Yes, HMV changed their policy June 2003 due to "hard market conditions the passed year" was the answer.

I am not quite sure what it means but if it means that HMV has been affected by the recent recession in world economy let me just state that I too have been affected.

Apparantly it is up to the managers discretion to offer gift vouchers. I recall that when I mentioned this offer to the manager it was refused. I guess I was not representable enough or that the manager was having a bad day. Too bad that her bad day reflects this badly on HMV and will affect where I (and anybody I managed to inform) makes future purchases.

Update 15/12/03
I was lucky enough to sell on the unwanted purchase to a colleague. If similar has happened to you, you can help by linking to this story (http://www.davidkaspar.com/archives/2003/12/hmv_uk_return_policy_beware.php) on your website to make more people aware and to try to send a message to HMV....

Update 05/03/08
A reader has pointed out that the HMV return policy has changed. I have in fact not been shopping in HMV for the last 4 years so I cannot confirm this.

Best thing you can do is to ask a manager in the store about the return policy for "sealed items with original receipt" before you buy a present.



Necessary evil

December 08, 2003

It had to be done; most of Sunday was spent on Christmas shopping.

I limited my "attack" to Oxford St only, especially the department store Selfridges since everything is under one roof. The area was heaving with people but I was doing good progress despite that. Around 1 present every 30 20 minutes I reckon.

This was until Carla joined up with me and through that pace out of the window. Immediately the focus was on window shopping and touching-but-not-buying. I am not so much into skirts and blouses but I was surprised that I enjoyed browsing tall leather boots and handbags.

Also I learned that orange is the new grey. Funny, it feels like yesterday when grey was the new black or was it black that was the new green? What'eva.

Highlight of the afternoon was Fortnum & Mason, where I was once again remained that this is the real McCoy in department stores. You can feel the some 300 years of history while walking around the store and you realise that Harrods is just a copy in comparison.

There was an exhibition of old Chinese items in the Dragon Room. You could pick up a Ming dynasty china (a larger than life stucco head) for a mere £2,750. Top of the line were the Lung-puos (dragon robes), with one specific and beautifully colorful summer chao-fu (circa 1850). Now that's what I call a Christmas present; but it will set you back £19,210.

Pounding head ache in the evening was my reward but nothing that a few pills could not cure. Even managed to dooze of to Breakfast at Tiffany's from the Carla's newly purchased DVD box set with Audrey Hepburn.



Ode to my fofa

December 01, 2003

fofa.gifWhere would I be without her strong mind, fiery attitude and big heart. She blows a breath of life and passion into my otherwise mediocre tour of life. I was lost until she found me and she is now my muse, inspiration and a true companion in the battle that life sometimes is.

Always fighting for the less fortunate; may it be old, sick or poor people.

Loves dogs above all... for both good and bad. Other animals are very high up there as well.

"Thank you for everything", I tell her.
"Pay me back in diamonds", she says while smiling the most seductive little smile.



Turkey stories

November 28, 2003

I have some good news and I have some bad news; which one would you like to hear first. Bad? Well, there is no more left of the impeccable pumpkin pie. I finished that last piece, that was rather large, this morning. HAH!

The good news is that the Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday was a success with plentiful of friends, even more food but most of all, a cozy atmosphere.

Carla cooked up a storm, once again, and Claire helped out with the above mentioned pie. Malte and Kristina brought bagfuls of red wine and Pedro contributed with the crucial ice cream.

Frida stood out, as always, with her eloquent knowledge of the history of Thanksgiving, brownie points your way girl!

We would not have made it without Ginger, who dutifully went through one unfinished plate after the other. Just like me, she was eating like there was no tomorrow.

Surprise guests were Malte's parents who had made it all the way from Sweden; ain't that something.

In other news, there is some turkey and mash left for whoever makes it home first. GO!



Discover Dogs in London

November 23, 2003

It has become an annual tradition to go to Earl's Court Exhibition Centre (2) to the Discover Dogs show.

The area is filled with every single dog breed imaginable and it's all well organised so that you can quickly get your head around various dog groups and their characteristics.

Carla is crazy about dogs and I suspect that it might have rubbed of on me because I enjoy it such as much as the other dog geek at the show (mental note, a review about the funniest movie made: Best in Show).

Each breed has their own stall where the proud owner has anything between one and six dogs to show up. The stall is covered with leaflets of information and photos. Ask any question about the breed and be ready for an eloquent and long answer.

In the middle of all the stalls, there are two exhibition areas where several activities are performed through out the day. There is the agility competition, the basic puppy training and the important instructions on what to do if bothered or even attacked by a dog.

Don't be shy or afraid to bring your kids, every one else does and there is a lot, a lot of patting going on.



Mr Bush is coming to London

November 18, 2003

Well, I happen to work a couple of blocks away from the American embassy here in London.

We were notified last week that the area might get busy with demonstrations and that it will have increased security checks this week. Today during lunch hour I saw the first indications of this.

There are a lot of police constables walking around in the streets and certain shop keepers were busy boarding up their windows (!).

I did bring my digital camera with me today in case some juicy snap opportunities arise. I doubt getting any glimpses of the president though since his administration has made a lot effort in order to confuse people and to stop them from getting close to the president.

There are reports that "Bush decoys" will be moving around in the area. Also, reportably anti-Bush demonstrators are confined to demonstrate some distance away from Bush so that he can't hear them nor see their signs.

Pro-Bush demonstrators, on the other hand, are able to wave their flags right in front of him. It's called crowd control and "demonstration zones".



I like bubbles

November 14, 2003

bubbles.gif ... and bubbles like me. Especially the ones in the Jacuzzi at the gym.

Funny, it would be enough just to use the steam room and Jacuzzi and feel like you've been to the gym and have had a healthy workout.

Anyways, the weekend is here and I am ready to submerge my self into it. It has been a hard week at work with finishing a project to be delivered during the next week.



You know you work in a posh area when...

November 12, 2003

... these cars are parked outside your office window and in the garage below you.

First you have your SUVs; Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Lexus LX and Mercedes. Normally quite a head turner but not so much in this hood. The Humvee H2 LUX is still a head turner though. Do you REALLY need a £30k army Jeep to drive around Mayfair?

Not as many Jaguars as I would have expected. Just the occasional X and S-type.

From the sports cars family, the Porsche Boxster and Ferrari are most popular. A yellow Lamborghini visited on one rare occasion.

The most majestic of all the cars are the Rolls Roys. Always chauffeur driven and with a yawning business man in the back. Does he realise he is riding a state of the art hand made very rare piece of machinery? I guess not because if I was riding an RR my eyes would be wide open and a large grin would have been stuck on my face.

My favorite are the Bentleys. They usually come in black or dark grey. The convertible Bentley in the company garage is a high-scorer.

Then of course we have my Ridgeback that does not quite blend in with the cars in the garage but that severs me faithfully. Also, while my ass is getting smaller when using it, the other's asses are just getting larger when riding their large vehicles.

Does this make me jealous? Not really, I just enjoy walking in the street and rubbing up against the cars; maybe I'm just not the jealous type.

And sorry for not including any photos. Last time a blogger did that, it got him fired. It was blamed on breach of security but was it really? Maybe it was because it was a photo of a bunch of Apple G5s being carried into the bowels of Microsoft.



How to fix a PlayStation 2

November 08, 2003

So I did give it a stab, trying to fix my PlayStation 2 after the earlier mishap.

It started badly, I couldn't even open up the ps. This article about adjusting the ps2 laser came very handy. It showed both how to open the ps2 up and how to open up the DVD-rom.

All it took was unscrewing some 18 screws, readjusting the DVD tray and putting all back (in correct order). When I turned on the PS2 next time, that happy Team Soho log greeted me and The Getaway was loaded 25 seconds later.

inside ps2

And that... is how it's done!

Update 28/01/04
The comments are now closed. Please post any new questions in the forum.



End of an era

November 05, 2003

I was in the middle of completing level 6 on The Getaway, you know the one where you are supposed to lure the Triads to the Yorkies.

Well, Ginger decided to make a dash for her toy but got tangled up in the controller cord and pulled down my PS2 from a shelf. It landed with a magnificent crash, Ginger jumped 1 feet up in the air and I was presented with psychedelic patterns on the TV.

Needless to say, the PS2 is not working; the DVD-Rom is not opening. I will probably stab at it this weekend with a screw driver but my hopes are low. Another one bites the dust I guess.

In other news I got my first comment spam on some old posts. It's a bittersweet experience; I hate all forms of spam but I have been feeling left out until now.


Update
Comments have been closed, please use the Ps2 forum to post your questions!



Happy Halloween

November 01, 2003


I think we'd better throw some water at it

October 29, 2003

fire_place Last night was very cozy, to start with at least.

I, being the man in the cave, started a fire. After a small celebration that included me dancing around with raised arms and emitting guttural sounds, we went back to the vice of watching TV. Chumbo had prepared an exquisite cheese fondue and it felt so right due to the cold and rainy weather outside.

The problem started when the candles on the side of the fireplace started melting from the heat. A pool of melted wax was building up under the cast iron fire place and slowly caught fire. We got suspicious when flames started coming out from the sides.

"I think we'd better throw some water at it", Chumbo said.

The thing is that water thrown at burning wax just infuriated it and for a moment I thought this would escalate. Fortunately, throwing even more water at the fire killed it.

Then again, killing the fire produced some seriously thick smoke so I hurried of to get the BBQ from outside to move the logs over to it and then rushed out again. There is nothing like some everyday excitement... living on the edge you know... always pushing the envelope and stuff :-)

Oh, and when listening to a lighter to find out whether any gas is coming, make sure to "click" it before putting it close to your ear or else you will end up, like me, with fried ear hair.



Chilly in Lodon

October 27, 2003

pumpkin.gifI will probably not put it better than was done at theThe Hiding Place but it is getting chilly in London. It feels like yesterday when I was cycling to work in shorts and t-shirt (during weekend of course due to dress code). Now dressing in the morning is a longer ritual including multiple layers of garments, a scarf, a hat and some gloves. At least it's sunny and crisp.

Holiday tickets to Sweden and Brasil are booked so that's one less thing to worry about (obrigado chumbo). If you are in the vicinity of Copenhagen, Helsingborg or Sao Paulo in late December then let me know!

A Halloween party is being planned. I don't quite remember why but the theme will be porn (yes I said porn). I will be downloading some "material" later this week to create the right atmosphere at the party.

... and I can't stop whistling two tunes from Kill Bill, Vol 1. It's the Twisted Nerve by Bernard Herrman and Woo Hoo by 5.6.7.8s and it's driving my colleges crazy :-D. "Watch the movie and sing-along with me", I tell them.



Emergency evacuation

October 13, 2003

We are currently the proud owners of three aquarium fish: a red ryukin called Sushi, Ze who is a black moor and Sly, some fast fish. They all live happily in the state-of-the-art Bi-Orb.

Well, they did until yesterday.



Yes we have no coffee rant

October 09, 2003

It was 9:15 am and I was late for work. Still I decided I had time for a quick coffee and maybe a bite. Costa Coffee is always fresh and there is one on the way to work.

Today the place was empty which should have been a warning. After deciding for a grande vanilla double latte I was grandly disappointed by the announcement that the coffee machine(s) were broken.

Common, you are a coffee shop. If I did not come for a fluffy, creamy and slightly nutty latte then what? To drink some water or eat a banana or... wait for it, have some rancid instant coffee? Put a big red sign up saying "no coffee in this coffee shop today" or just shut your doors.

There, much better.



Quality Sunday

October 06, 2003

For me Sundays are usually just resting days. Some time off to recover from the wounds from previous working week and to prepare for the next.

This Sunday was however busier that normal. Funny how days with no plans can turn into very pleasant ones filled with good action whereas other, well planned days, can turn out to be disappointing...



I Think I Might Be Psychic

October 03, 2003

Did not sleep properly the whole night because I forgot my mobile ['mO-"bEl] that I use as alarm in the hallway.

Early in the morning I finally decided to fetch it just to have it ringing on the way back! I suspect I was mentally connected to it the whole night and it called on me one minute before 7 am. Or maybe I have just been slowly molded into a working machine :-(

In other news, I might have to start going to the gym again; just paying each month is not helping out at all.



Old colleagues meet new colleagues

September 26, 2003

To celebrate Henricos new position we gathered at the Glassblower, London. This get together was also a kind of reunion for old colleagues from Dooyoo.

It was a funny mix of old and new colleagues and Henriks new mates passed with flying colours, he is in good hands for sure.

The beverages were a lethal mix of lager, aftershock and Sambuca. Besides being bit heavy headed today, I am alive and kicking. One lesson learned, make sure to blow out the flames of flaming Sambuca before drinking.



Public inquiry

September 24, 2003

Last night I attended the evening session of the public inquiry against proposed St. George development of Olympia Carpark.

The turnout was very good, around 300 people. During the 2 hours, 7-9pm, the inspector was told of around 30 arguments against the proposed development and, of course, non for.



Weekend come, weekend go

September 21, 2003

The wait for the weekend is so long yet it passes so quickly.

I was mostly lazing this weekend. Simply couldn't force my self to the office on Saturday. I wanted to go on Sunday but nobody was there (I tried Nathan).

Visited our old favourites Vama and Nam Long on Friday. Once again I avoided the Flaming Ferraris as they do too much damage to the system.

Some more volunteer work for SRRA. I have not been distributing flyers in a long time. What a rush having a pit-bull snatching after your fingers when you are pushing the flyer through the letter box. One dog projectiled itself into the door like there was no tomorrow, poor little thing.

Thanx for the dinner invitation Frida, hoping to make it next time!

Leaving a friend at Heathrow. Meltdown in the BA queue, it was spiralling almost all the way out again. Why is it that BA chooses to serve passengers for 5+ flights with 4 staff at the check-in desks? 65 minutes later friend was checked in.

Witnessed a (big fat) Greek wedding outside a Greek restaurant on the way home. Good stuff, the bride had a cute little white hat on.



Define irony

September 18, 2003

Last week I was questioning the practices of the local police; questioning how they spent their resources (Crime in Progress). This morning a PC was knocking on my door, letting me know that they had found my stolen bicycle and needed my help to make an arrest.



Sweden says no to Euro

September 15, 2003

euroThe Euro referendum in Sweden is decided. The voting ended Sunday 18 PM GMT and the votes were counted 3 hours or so later.

More than 5.4 million out of 7 million votes were cast. Over 56% of the voters said No which means that Sweden will NOT adopt the Euro (€) as its currency. The Yes backers might have been hoping for a late surge in support due to the killing of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh but that didn't happen.



Tourist hat on

September 12, 2003

One of Carla's best friends from Brasil is visiting us for the next 10 days. Once again we get to put on our tourist hats and venture down town London to pick some of it's many ripe offerings. Grand buildings, theaters, restaurants, museums, parks and bars are some of the things on the itinerary. Of course, the party hat is neither never far away when guests are visiting.

Washing machine fixed and that is very pleasing. The joy of clean and warm socks in the morning will be here again. How I have missed you and your humming my big, white and heavy friend.

Work has been tough the past week with long hours and frantic typing. Well, it has to be done.



Crime in progress

September 10, 2003

SARCASM ON
On way to work today there was a surprise for people cycling through Kensington Gardens (London, UK). On the 100m path between a car road and a cycle path in the park, a civil police car was waiting. I saw a crime in progress, a lady cycling on her way to work, and it was swiftly dealt with by the police. The lady was stopped, pulled aside, interrogated and handed a penalty. Now this is really great, knowing that police resources are well spent.
SARCASM OFF

Another more serious crime is a retired lady that for some reason is not able to afford housing and is forced to sleep/live in a pedestrian subway. She might not have any family or friends left but she is definitely let down by a state that is not able to provide a shelter for the less fortunate.



Polish wedding in Zakopane

September 08, 2003

tomas_wedding.jpgCongratulation Mr. and Mrs. Hancka to a beautiful wedding and thank you for having us. We are all wishing you the best in the future!

Now I REALLY know what polish weddings are like: very happy (vodka) and intense (vodka).

See photos...



The power of women

September 01, 2003
Just been getting a coffee from local Cafe Nero and the barista serving me was so keen on serving the two ladies behind me he:
  1. Forgot to charge me. I had to remind him after he was done with the ladies.
  2. Messed up my order. Served me regular instead of Grande.
  3. Forgot to stamp my loyalty card. I had to stretch over the counter and stamp it while he was busy chatting up one of the ladies.
The moral of the story? I am a loyal person who is satisfied with less and too honest his own financial good.


Busy Bee

August 30, 2003

eagle.jpg
Cleaning can be so therapeutical. I was really looking forward to some time of to tackle the increasing amount of grime at our place.

Vacuuming, scrubbing, washing, drying, and shredding (leaves in garden). Clean pad, clean mind.

Then just 6hrs helping a good friend (Svante) moving (what are friends for). Ok, most of the time was spent on the busy roads of London and some time in the pub munching on figs and Parma ham and downing Budvar (the Czech one).

Pedro and his flatmate invited us for dinner (1st or 2nd time ever :-) and it was majora. Brazilian food at its home-made best. Once again thank you Bruno!

Update 1/9/03
Oh yeah, forgot to mention. Insurance company X honoured my claim so I got a new bike. Sweet.

Listening to: Arabesque



Friends are good for you

August 28, 2003

A very old friend Snorri and his girl friend Lotta are visiting us for a couple of days. So of course, we called some friends over and a Sushi party was on. Nothing like chilled cheap rose wine and salmon sashimi on a late summer evening.

Feng Sushi let us down though, shame on you. Did not deliver until 1hr after the order was made and part of the order was missing. What is going on, you are always aces normally.

I really enjoy having friends visiting. You get a chance to catch up on old times and planning touristy things makes me appreciate London so much more. It's easy to forget you live in one of the most exciting (bar Helsingborg) towns in Europe when you work 9-7 and spend weekends DIYing.

[Listening to: I'm Glad - Jennifer Lopez -- CD This Is Me Then - (03:49)]


Couple of clicks on the old odometer

August 25, 2003

This weekend was an annoying mix on bad things and good things to happen. Yes, it was the worst weekend in a long time but also I had some wonderful time with Carla and Ginger.

The bad
Coming home last Friday (day before bank holiday) discovering our car has been towed. Getting a cab to fetch the car and paying a ransom worthy of Robin Hood to get it.

Missing our plane to Scotland and thus the 2 months ago planned trip. Bummer.

Coming home after a road trip (see below) and discovering my bike had been stolen. I had become quite attached to it during the last 3 years. Maybe because it has had to carry a lot of weight around...

Can you top this foul luck?

The good
Desperately we decided for a road trip to the North with Ginger on board. As soon as we passed Oxford we started feeling bit better and arriving in the Lake District we soon forgot our worries. The narrow roads and steep hills sure helped.

Windermere was a charming village but we found our retreat at Leeming House, just by Ullswater. What a charming area! I really enjoyed walking around and smelling the nature as it ought to be, not poisoned by urban pollution. So THAT is the colour of trees.

Photos...

Hmm, I should be able to get a brand new bike. At least that is what insurance company X claims.

[Listening to: Kielbasa - Tenacious D - Tenacious D (03:00)]


Housing sorted, Scotland here we come

August 21, 2003

Crees In Phew... I escaped from Carla's wrath, but it was close.

We are planning to visit Edinburgh and surroundings, Perth among other cities.

This is the last weekend of the Fringe Festival so that will be fun checking out. We also have a (dubious) white water rafting booked.

Turns out that there is a Harley Davidson get-together in Perth and thus all possible housing have been booked up for weeks. I know I should have booked months ago but it just ain't me. I almost gave Carla (another) chance to say I told you so.

The Crees Inn looks very charming and if you are in the neighbourhood, do pop over for an ale or six.

Anyways, back 26th of August...



Thank you...

August 15, 2003

for long summer evenings
for good value sushi deliveries
for strong Scotch
for Appetite for Destruction
for Animatrix
and for good friends



PINEAPPLE Premium Milk Chocolate

August 14, 2003

They look nice, they smell less nice and they taste nothing like pineapple. Still a good source of sugar and fat so they will do for this afternoon.

Interested in getting hold of some? Just around the corner, Lengkawi Airport, Malaysia.

Just in case you don't know, the weather is fantastic in London. Even when enjoyed from inside an AC office.



About David Kaspar

June 18, 2003
Born in Prague, raised in Sweden and living in London; I consider my self to be a citizen of the world.

My education consists of a degree in Medical Physics but I settled for a carrer in IT. Mainly for Java that I have been working with for the last 4 years developing useful online services.

When not geeking out in front of the computer, I like to travel to distant countries, snap some photos and sample the local beverages.

Age: 29 Summers
Height: 181 cm
Eye color: Blue
Favorite ice cream: B&J Phish Food
Alignment: Neutral Good
Contact me if you want a copy of my CV