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Shame, a study of [27 Oct 2007|05:15pm]
I am finally back in the UK, after three weeks in China and the US. I'm really tired, but at least I now have two whole weeks in my own country before I have to jet off again! Perhaps the tiredness explains my lack of shame. To wit, here are some photos of me in my (unfortunate) school days.

Me in 1990 (worryingly, at the time I thought this was quite flattering):



Me in 1993 (I think I was just getting over my obsession with hair gel!):



I think the less said the better about these photos, but in the interests of documenting my life, up they go!

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Phone number [22 Oct 2007|02:24am]
If anyone is interested, I have an American mobile phone, as I tend to be in America quite a lot. The number is:

859-327-8023

Feel free to text it, if you ever need to get in touch with me. Careful about actually calling me, though (which is to say: don't!) - in America, they charge you for incoming calls as well as outgoing ones! I got quite a shock when I found that out!

(look at me, giving out my phone number on a public page!)

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Colorado Part Two [22 Oct 2007|02:23am]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

This caught my attention:

The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi died on Sunday after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys.

Crikey - of all the ways to go! In other news, here is the second (and final) part of my Colorado Duology:


Click me for Colorado Part Two. You get the idea.Collapse )

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Colorado Part One [20 Oct 2007|11:12am]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

I’m currently writing this from a hotel room in Seattle; sorry I’ve been quiet, but I’ve been working here all week, and was in Beijing all of last week! This entry is part one of two about my recent trip to Colorado, and was written over a period of several days (in a consulate office, on a plane, in a hotel room, etc!) in multiple countries!

Colorado Part One:

Click me for a rambling and vague travelogue...Collapse )
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I want to be a writer [17 Sep 2007|08:57pm]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

(Written on a plane flying to Denver… I’m in Boulder now!)

It’s been ages since I last made a blog entry - things have been rather hectic. I’ve been to Paris, had a holiday that took in many parts of the UK, been to Edinburgh for a big conference, and I’ve just spent the last week at a conference in deepest Nottingham, presenting a paper, running three demos on a booth, and chairing one of the main sessions.

But Nottingham is over now, and I”m currently sitting on a plane, flying out to Denver, Colorado. This is so I can attend a meeting in Boulder; I’m hiring a car at Denver airport, and will be driving (for the first time in America and the first time using a car with Automatic transmission) to Boulder, before spending a few days driving to a couple of state parks in Colorado. Hopefully it’ll be a really great trip, although I’m a little nervous (I haven’t bothered booking any hotels yet for outside of Boulder, and I’m only about 90% sure of the rules of the road in America!).

My schedule is insane, and doesn’t get any better when I get back: I’m at home for a week, before I have to fly out to Beijing, China, for a conference. Then, when I’m done in China, I fly on to Seattle for another meeting (thus crossing the international dateline and circumnavigating the world by the time I arrive back) before heading home. I’m then at home for a whole two weeks before I fly out to the USA for the third time in two months: this time to Dallas, Texas. It’s crazy, and I’m slightly upset that I can’t claim frequent flyer miles for the second (China/USA) trip, due to having to take a really convoluted route across multiple airlines.

But that’s all background for now. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I’m going to be spending considerable time in both planes and airports over the next few months. Ah, airports - big, noisy, cosmopolitan, and utterly soulless - how I hate you! But airports have what I consider to be a really bemusing inherent juxtaposition; they are without soul, without real character, and bland to the point of cultural sterility, and yet they’re places of extreme emotion. Hang around in an arrivals lounge waiting for someone (as I have had to do), and you can’t help but notice the joy as people meet their family and friends. At the same time, if you’re anywhere near the departure lounge, it’s not hard to see the tears as people say their goodbyes.

Similarily, when you get through security and out to the departure gates, the air of utter transience is all around you. I spent almost five hours in London Heathrow today, waiting for my connecting flight, and as I strolled up and down the long terminal building, I couldn’t help but wonder where all the people around me were heading. Here we were, walking by each other, shopping, eating, chatting… but in a few hours, we would all literally be in seperate corners of the world. Everyone in the terminal I was in was on an international flight… some to Seattle, some to Dubai, some to Melbourne, some to Denver… it was like a speeded up version of University (without the fun) - you’d see people around, and then they’d be gone, and other groups of people would arrive. “All transitory, passing always” - and all within such an utterly sterile environment.

Anyway, I think that’s more or less enough for this one entry. Denver (and my sporty Hyundai Sonata) beckons in, oh, around seven hours time; it’s been more than five years since my last trip here, but I remember it very well. It’ll be quite strange this time around, for many reasons….

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We live our lives through a series of glances [15 Apr 2007|04:33am]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

Disturbing on many levels

Disturbing on many levels

I was walking along the other day, minding my own business as I went about my urbane and pointless existence, when a strange word popped into my head. “Yolanda”, it said. It was really strange, as I suddenly felt convinced that I knew this word very well, and that I’d known it for a long time. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why, though.

It continued to bug me even when I got home. There was only one possible course of action: I fired up the interwebs, and searched for meaning. And lo, the meaning became evident. It’s the name of an old Amiga game, from back in 1990. I don’t remember ever playing it, but crikey - the name is almost etched into my head. I must’ve at least read a review or something! What I don’t quite understand is why I suddenly remembered it, after all these years. I blame it on all the chocolate I’ve been consuming recently. I am a greedy pig.

In other news, I received a newspaper from my local council recently. It’s called “The Citizen”, and in a banner right at the top is the phrase: “wakefield: a fast improving council”. Why doesn’t that fill me with confidence? It’s almost as though they are hinting that the council is currently not very good, although of course I am sure that my local government is completely competent in every way. Never believe anything you read in Private Eye. No, not for a minute.

My local council is, of course, the same local council that won an award on b3ta.co.uk for having the most phallic-looking logo in the country. Or something. See if you can see why.

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You come and go [11 Apr 2007|11:54am]
The top of Malham Cove
The top of Malham Cove

The weather was fantastic for large periods of the bank holiday weekend, and I was getting really fed up with the thought of spending the whole time indoors. Thankfully, an opportunity arose for me to spend the day in the Yorkshire Dales - specifically, at Malhamdale.

Malhamdale is where Bill Bryson (the rubbish Chancellor of Durham University) used to live; thankfully he doesn't now, so the chances of me bumping into him and telling him exactly why he wasn't as good a Chancellor as Peter Ustinov were low.

It was a beautiful day, though. Rolling green hills, soaring limestone cliffs, ancient waterfalls, lush vegetation, and lots of lambs and sheep, all under an azure sky. The sun was burning down on us for the whole day, and it was a good thing I remembered to take my sun block with me.

I've uploaded some photos onto my fancy Flickr page, although I will upload a slightly more detailed set onto my website in due course. You should take a look, if you're interested in the countryside and suchlike. It's one of the best parts of the Dales.

After spending my whole day in the sun, it is perhaps no surprise that I have spent many subsequent hours of the holiday sat at my computer, actually working. It sounds dull, but I get a sick pleasure from programming, and have now made my own google map! But no one else can see it. It's a secret. It contains confidential UK Census data, and if I showed it to you, I would get sent to prison!

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My so-called life [30 Mar 2007|03:26am]
The way your hair hangs down it hides away your face

It's been ages since I last updated; I actually feel quite bad about it. I suppose it's a combination of procrastination on my part, combined with a slight feeling of being overwhelmed by all the things I really should write about and haven't yet.

For you it's perfect, but it seems like such a waste

I could talk about my weekend in London, or my housewarming party, or my various attempts at decorating, or the Unfortunate Cashback Incident at Morrisons, or the Idlewild gig. I could belatedly post photos from my trip to London before Christmas, my time in Orlando, the trip to Kelvedon Hatch, random signs in shops taken with my camera phone. But once I write or post one of these things, I feel like I will be obliged to write and post about the rest. And I feel rather overwhelmed at the thought of that. I also am getting into a slight tizzy about what content I post on LJ, what content I post on my website blog, and what goes on my (neglected) Myspace page. Various people read different ones, and I sometimes feel uncomfortable writing about certain incidents knowing that they'll be read. But I really don't like filtering my posts in any way, and indeed, can't when it comes to my website blog.

And when I see you sliding past I make my plans

But I'm going to do my best to start writing a lot more, regardless of substance! And I suppose today's little incident is as good a place to start as any. I was feeling a little down, as I've been so unproductive recently despite having lots to do. Instead of fighting these feelings by doing some work, I instead decided to pop into Leeds to visit PC World (to check out monitor sizes, that's all, honest - I want a 20" or 22" widescreen TFT!). After I had come out - randomly purchasing 100 CD-Rs as I went - I felt that now would be as good a time as any to have something to eat. And so to Burger King (where else?) I went.

And then my plans slip through my fingers just like sand

I was in a slightly strange mood when I went inside the restaurant; I felt a bit down, and a bit thoughtful about various things that are happening right now. There was no queue, so I went right up to the counter. The girl serving me seemed to be from eastern Europe (Polish, I'd venture) and made eye contact with me as she asked me for my order.

I wish that life could be just like a photograph

Now, normally, I'd look away if anyone (especially a girl) made eye contact with me. Eye contact is a scary thing, especially when you have high levels of self-awareness combined with no real feelings of self-worth (a winning combination that pretty much sums me up). However, I really was in a strange mood. Rather than look away, I gazed steadily back into her eyes as I spoke my order (I suppose it did slightly psych me out - I was going for a super-sized double cheeseburger meal, but instead somehow ordered a super-sized Whopper meal instead).

One moment captured as you laugh your perfect laugh

She glanced at the reading on the till, and then looked back at me. Eyes staring into mine. She told me how much the meal cost. I handed her a £10 note, all the while maintaining eye contact. She asked me if I wanted some sauce. I said no. She said that the fries wouldn't be ready for a minute or so, and could I wait. I said that I could. All the while, our eyes never stopped staring at each other.

But that's a daydream, things could never be so right

Eventually, she turned around and retrieved my order, and I started to wonder about exactly why I'd felt the need to not look away. It was almost as though she was testing me, and I was refusing to back down. She eventually came back with my food, and handed it over, wishing me a pleasant meal. We held each other's gaze for one final, lingering moment, before I turned around and sat down at an empty table.

There's so much more to think about than black and white

One of her friends came around. They spoke in Polish. They seemed to be talking about something utterly mundane, as though nothing unusual or life-changing had just happened.

This is what my days consist of, and this is how embryonic my social skills are. Pity me.

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I used to listen to Public Enemy, Eric B, Rakim, and BVSMP [21 Feb 2007|01:19pm]
Last weekend, I had the good fortune to drive up to Durham and attend the annual Treasure Trap Banquet! It was really great to see so many old faces (and we really are all getting old). It was quite scary that with one exception, I hadn't seen any of the people there for two years.

I wore what I (perhaps charitably) describe as my "foppish black shirt", with the understanding that Marios was going to bring me a matching black cloak to "complete the look". Unfortunately, when I eventually tracked Marios down (which wasn't easy, as he came wearing a Burka for some bizarre reason), it turned out that.... because his cloak had cat hair on it, he had instead brought me a blue and yellow jesters outfit. Complete with sown-in bells.

I decided to just wear the black shirt. And, um, trousers and stuff.

Anyway, a great time was had by all. Loads of people, loads of noise, loads of booze, and loads of fairy lights too. We had a proper jester, who told a story from the Canterbury tales, played some songs, and breathed fire, and we had our typical strange and decidedly medieval meal. I also discovered that some of my friends have LJs! I never knew! Hi scaryj and cheeslord!

The only real downside is that due to excess noise after midnight, we have (to the best of my knowledge) been banned from ever returning to the venue (a scout camp)!! Anyway, Sunday was primarily dedicated to the post-banquet tournament. This consisted of lots of different types of fighting with swords and shields. I didn't really do myself justice, and went crashing out of every mini-tournament in the first round. Still, the exercise was welcome!

Later in the day, I went to an all you can eat Chinese restaurant with Marios and Carrie, and then drove home, pondering how "our lives are forever changed, we will never be the same".

I took photos! Here they are:


http://www.flickr.com/photos/renegade_badger/


There is also a 4 second exposure of a tree, taken from my living room, in there too. I am quite happy with it, although it would've looked better if I'd bothered to actually go outside, rather than doing it from behind a slightly dirty window!

Videos of the Banquet, which are terrible quality, but serve as a vague aide to the memory:

Fire breathing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_Mtg_RpFws

Andy Knighton sing-a-long:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeaN5hi9aIg


Yeah.

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I said “oh dear” [14 Feb 2007|04:46am]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

I’ve been reading a lot of books recently, both fictional and autobiographical. I’m currently half way through Simon Schama’s “Power of Art”, which looks at the careers of eight different artists, using one key work from each as a focal point - masterpieces made under acute stress, be it from patrons (in the case of Rembrandt), political moments (David, Turner, Picasso), from self-vindication (Caravaggio and Bernini) or from their own inner demons and sense of what art should be (Van Gogh and Rothko). It really is fantastic, and the stories and imagery is amazing. It’s also an incredibly heavy book, as all 450 pages are printed on photo paper - it feels like it’s made of lead!

There are loads of things that it makes me want to talk about, such as… what is art? What is it really for? I’ve never been one for literal interpretations of artwork, but sometimes it seems like the sheer subjectivism of a piece of artwork leads to everything being art - a very modernist ideal, I’m sure. But if that’s the case, then what is art really for, given that you can gaze at anything, like… I don’t know…. the gauze covering a speaker cone, and see some kind of constructivistic truth.

But anyway, that’s not what I want to write about. What intrigues me about the Power of Art, as well as the other auto-biographies that I’ve been reading recently, is the human side. The stories of lives lead in times that are long gone, in places that I’ll never see. Caravaggio in Malta, Bernini sending a servant to slash the face of his adulterous mistress, David’s “A Marat” and the Charlotte Corday story behind it, Patrick Moore dancing a waltz with his beloved Lorna. Etc etc.

It just makes me wonder about all the people and drama that I’ll never know about. How many people who would’ve been my best friend are long dead, forgotten in time? What is their story? Who will ever really know mine? I can’t help but think of the Smiths lyric (which in turn is lifted from a film called “The Man Who Came To Dinner”)

“So we go inside and we gravely read the stones
all those people all those lives
where are they now?
with the loves and hates
and passions just like mine
they were born
and then they lived and then they died
seems so unfair
and I want to cry”

I got a strong sense of that while I was walking through the Louvre, in Paris last year. So many people. So many stories. So many scenes. And I can only begin to grasp an infinitesimal fraction of them. I suppose my fascination for this is one of the reasons why I studied History at A-Level. It just seems really sad that there is no way I’ll ever be able to improve on a fraction of an almost infinity.

Ah well. Here is a video of Ted Chippington:

Look at me with my embedded Youtube videos. I’m sure it’ll go horribly wrong.

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You - who do you hate? [18 Jan 2007|09:57pm]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

I received a letter today that reminded me of Richard Herring’s slightly scary The Pizza Lover experience. Only my letter wasn’t about pizzas - it was much worse than that.

Today I received a letter addressed to “The Council Tax Payer”.

Given that I only bought my house two months ago, I can’t help but think that this is rather presumptuous. It seems to imply that I am indeed a payer of council tax, when the sad truth is that I’ve never paid any council tax in my (pitiful, mostly student) life. Surely a better way to address me would be “The Prospective Council Tax Payer”, or even… dare it be said… “Person whom we would very much like to pay up their council tax”. Even calling me “Paul” or “Dr Townend” might be an improvement.

I suppose there is a chance that the letter isn’t for me… as I’ve said, I have never paid any of this accursed tax. I wonder if I should forward the letter on to the previous owners of my house? After all, I have their new address, and presumably one of them may be known (even in their own family) as “The Council Tax Payer.”

I’m not suggesting that the family who previously owned my house were so cheap that they ganged up on a member of their own family, gave them a name based on their sole use to the family, and forced them to pay tax on their behalf every year. Don’t be silly. I would never suggest that.

Anyway, it’s certainly an option. I suppose another option would be for me to return the letter to the council, with a short note. Perhaps something along the lines of “Actually, there is no council tax payer here - they moved away. Or at least, were dragged away by the rest of their family of tightwads. Please leave me alone.”

Decisions. Crikey!

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Two entries in one day?! [04 Jan 2007|11:06pm]
I have made a video of my house! You can download it (if you feel bored and have Windows Media Player 9 or later) here:


http://www.paultownend.com/photos/latest/house-lj.wmv


It was dark when I filmed it, so I didn't try to show the garden or anything. Cripes!

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Beware of Greeks bearing statues [04 Jan 2007|10:52pm]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

For the first time yesterday, I became aware of a film called Night at the Museum. This is freaky, for two reasons:

1) It means I know something about modern culture, however tenuous my grasp.
2) The film appears to be strangely similar to my own haunting visions of possessed museumhood.

I shall explain point 2.

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently spent a few days in London. On a dark evening on my second day there, I found myself in the British museum. The museum was really nice, with lots of really interesting exhibits, although I didn’t have enough time to see all of them. In the Egyptian section, there were colossal statues:

Crikey.
Personally, I find gigantic statues to be slightly creepy, but worse was to come (and so shocking that I seem to have neglected to photograph it). I found myself wandering around the Greek section, and stepped into a white-painted area harshly illuminated by fluorescent light. It felt and smelt not unlike a University art studio, only around my were row upon row of life-sized statues and busts.

Their milky white marble eyes seemed to follow me as I walked around the deserted hall. As I moved, I began looking at the faces of each statue in turn. At first, I was more interested in trying to imagine the humanity that they captured; bolts of emotion echoing down through the centuries, reminders of our irrevocable transience.

But then I thought: what if these statues become animate, and try to hunt me down through the museum?

I began looking more closely at each one, and wondering about my chances of beating it in a fight. I also wondered which statues were more likely to protect me, and which were likely to want to layeth the smackdown upon me. I wasn’t so worried by the busts - they had no legs, and so I was likely to easily out-pace them.

But what about the big guys with the creepy, thin faces? I checked where the exits were, and made sure not to turn my back on any of the particularly creepy statues. I figured that my best means of evading their evil greek clutches would be to run to the Egyptian exhibit, and - when they approached me, somehow topple a colossus on top of them. This would result in the destruction of priceless art, but there is always collateral damage in love and war.

But what if the Egyptian colossi (I’m presuming that’s the plural) were also animate? Well, I figured there was one statue who could save the day. He had no legs, but never underestimate him. I am of course, referring to Mr Easter Island Statue!

I’m not sure why, but I got good vibes off of him - it was almost as though he could lay the smacketh down upon any Greek or Egyptian construct by melting them with lasers eminating from his eyes. That’s probably why the residents of Easter Island made so many of them; who can invade when you have firey laser eyes? Well, the Dutch, I think, but there were probably extenuating circumstances.

Anyway, yes. That’s what I’ve learnt from my trip to the British museum: lure any attacking animate Greek and/or Egyptian statues to the room occupied by Mr Easter Island Statue, and have him melt them with lasers.

Never let it be said that I learn nothing in museums.

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A beautiful place, out in the country… [24 Dec 2006|05:48pm]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

Just in time for Christmas, I’ve finally managed to get around to uploading the photos I took whilst in deepest, darkest Florida. Specifically, my photos of Tampa. Behold:

http://www.paultownend.com/html/photos-tampa2006.html

My cunning plan is that I’m going to upload what I feel are the best dozen or so photos that I’ve taken in every city I’ve visited, and put them on my Flickr account. Let’s see how competent I am at doing this - I suspect it’ll take several days. It will certainly take me at least that long to get all my Orlando 2006 photos onto my website!

Christmas seems to have sneaked up really fast this year. For some reason, I’ve been really busy recently. Not only have I been kitting out my house (which is beginning to look quite nice, although I am going to rip out the kitchen and living room floors in a few weeks time and put down a much lighter hardwood floor), but I’ve been busy with a lot of things for work.

I even visited London for the first time in about 12 years earlier this week; this was mainly to attend a two day meeting there, but I had a fantastic night out with Zahra in the Strand, where we ate at the most expensive (but very good) restaurant I have ever been to! I have taken some photos of my trip, but they’ll have to wait until after I’ve got the Orlando stuff uploaded.

I have lots of things to blog about, but don’t want to condense everything into this entry, so I’ll stop for now!

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Guernica [26 Nov 2006|02:12am]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

I spent all of last week in the United States; mostly, in Tampa, FL, where I attended Supercomputing ‘06. It was pretty good fun, and the weather was certainly a lot warmer than back home in the UK! Here are four photos. You click on the thumbnail to enlarge:

I didn’t spend all my time in Tampa; I also got an Amtrak train up to Orlando and went to Disney World Epcot, Universal Studios, and Universal Islands of Adventure. I took many photos of the Orlando leg of the trip; I’m sure I’ll post all of those, together with all the Tampa photos, online shortly. I’d do it now, but I don’t have Dreamweaver on this particular laptop. I do intend to put the better photos on my Flickr account too, though.

When I’ve not been in the USA, I’ve also bought a house. I may post photos of it when I’m done with all the moving and furniture buying; It’s going to take a fair while before I’m completely happy with it, though, so I’m not sure when I’ll do that!

Today, I also went to see an exhibition of ten drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibition is being held at the Leeds Art Gallery, and finishes tomorrow. It is a really interesting exhibit, not least to see Leonardo’s famous, mirror-image handwriting in person! In front of one of the drawings, a woman stood, sketchbook in hand, furiously copying the drawing in front of her (of some berries). Taking a surreptitious look at her drawing, I have to say it was very similar to Leonardo’s original! I’m not sure she could do his handwriting, though.

I love art, but my ability with it is a curious inverse of my ability with the English language; I’m very good with English, and have the technical ability to do pretty much anything I like, but I lack the imagination to write anything that I’d be truly happy with (I am extremely self-critical about everything I write). Conversley, with art (specifically, painting), I have loads of ideas, but almost no technical ability to manifest them. I wonder if taking some painting classes would help, but I fear that all that would happen is that I’d be embarassed by my lack of talent compared to the others in the class. Plus, it’d have to be a slightly more esoteric course; I’m more interested in the expressionism exhibited in a lot of Van Gogh’s work than I am with more literal, photographic styles of painting.

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Edina [02 Nov 2006|07:33pm]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

That was where I was

(Haha! I have once again managed to circumvent the hotel’s internet authorisation and get online for free! I am like a real-life robocop, except with a computer instead of a gun)

Today is a great day to be alive. Or on a train, at least.

The sky is blue and cloudless, and I’m sat in an almost empty train carriage, watching the lush green fields, cows, sheep, tractors, ponds and houses stream by. I have my laptop out on the table in front of me, I have some documents to my right, and I have just finished a Burger King meal. I have my ipod with me, and I’m listening to it through headphones (currently “Pretend we’re dead” by L7 is playing). I feel really cheerful, and I’m looking forward to the landscapes and sea that await me as the train takes me to Edinburgh. I’m almost tempted to get my camera out and take some photos, so glorious is the day, but that might seem a little strange. I think for now, I’ll just sit here, enjoy the scenery, and reminisce as I pass through all the places where I have happy memories (Durham, Lindisfarne, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all the rest).

The train even has wireless internet access, although it costs money to access it - money which I’m not going to spend. It does have a free little map of where the train currently is, not unlike those you get when you go on a long-haul flight. Being a nerd, I’ve actually made a screengrab of it, which I’ll post on this entry, when I get the chance!

I’m staying in Edinburgh overnight, at a hotel I know fairly well; although they charge for internet there, I have cunningly found a way of bypassing their authentication system and getting it for free, so hopefully this can go up tonight (Thursday night!). Tomorrow, when I’m done with various work meetings, I hope to spend a few hours strolling around Edinburgh; it’s a truly wonderful city, and I’m really looking forward to it. Then, it’s back to Leeds, although I think I’m going to miss the bonfire night celebrations in Rothwell Park. Them’s the breaks.

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The sound is deep, in the dark… [06 Oct 2006|07:54pm]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

It’s been way too long. I’ve had a really tiring and emotionally draining time of things recently, with lots of things happening. I’m about two thirds of the way through buying a house (three bedroom semi-detached in Wakefield), one of my cats died (Chloe), a couple of my friends haven’t had the easiest time of things (no names), I spent time in Nottingham presenting things (UK e-Science AHM 2006), and I’ve been organising and running an academic workshop and academic conference (WODSOG & IEEE SRDS 2006) - which have left me utterly worn-down!

On the bright side, I managed to have a day off today; I slept for 13 hours and the mouth ulcers in my mouth (which I always get when tired and stressed) are not hurting as much! Hoorah! Now I just need to desperately prepare a demonstration program in time for my next conference, which is happening in Tampa, Florida, next month. Is there anything to do in Tampa? I’m not sure that there is; but then again, I won’t have any money anyway, as my new house is costing me a fortune!

I’ve seen loads of really good photo opportunities recently, from things as mundane as the dual-mirror setup in my hotel bathroom, to really nice views of Leeds at night, but like an idiot, I’ve forgotten to bring my camera with me. And my camera/phone doesn’t really cut the mustard when doing anything that requires moderate levels of detail to be present. I really must bring my main camera with me more, and hopefully soon buy a new, much better one!

This entry has no real substance, but there’s nothing new there! It’s mainly to say that “I’m alive”‘; I hope to get more time for better entries soon. Not that anyone reads them!

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From Wester Ross to Nova Scotia [22 Aug 2006|02:50am]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

The last few weeks have been really busy ones for me; I’ve been swamped by loads of work-related things, and have been travelling a fair bit too. The highlight of the last few weeks was undoubtably my trip to Paris two weeks ago. Although they weather wasn’t great for the most part, I nonetheless had a fantastic time, which surprised me rather a lot! I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I got.

My friends Carmen and Angelo drove for four hours from Brussels to meet me, and they showed me round, helped me check in at my university accomodation (the porter didn’t speak English!), and generally made my first day in Paris a real joy (thanks so mucH, guys!) Subsequent days in Paris (outside of work) consisted of trips to pretty much every major landmark, such as the Eiffel Tower, l’Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, etc. I got to practice my (appalling) French, get familiar with the underground metro system, and otherwise enjoy the bustle of the city!

I’m not going to blog too much about either my trip to Paris nor my recent trip to Edinburgh - at least, not now - but I have uploaded finalised versions of the photos from both trips:


Photos from my August trip to Paris:

http://www.paultownend.com/html/photos-paris2006.html


Finalised photos from my July trip to Edinburgh:

http://www.paultownend.com/html/photos-edinburgh2006.html


In other news, I seem to have become obsessed with buying shoes! This is not the sort of thing that boys tend to do, but the situation is as follows: as a general rule, I currently mooch around in a pair of trainers that I bought in Seattle, 18 months ago. Being American (and therefore shoddy!), they are literally falling apart at the seams - gaping holes abound, and they must only have a few days of life left in them before they utterly fall to pieces! So I’ve found myself reluctantly back in the market for shoes. Only this time, I have to buy British shoes, which are similar but cost twice as much. Gah!

Anyway, on three occasions now, I’ve gone in search of trainers, only to find a really nice pair of hardened (almost steel toe-capped) boots that I’ve really liked. On all three occasions, I’ve thought “Those are great! I’ll buy them and use them as my normal shoes!”, only to find that although very sturdy and good looking (one pair is black, two pairs are brown), they’re not the most comfortable of shoes to wear as I (literally, when I’m wearing these things) stamp around the office. It’s looking like I’m going to have to go shoe-shopping in Leeds for a fourth time now. This is a terrible state of affairs, and I am worried that I will be seduced by yet another pair of workboots! These are the trials that I face.

In a subsequent blog entry, I’m going to talk… shock horror… about my new mobile phone! (what were those strange pink creatures, flying over the farmhouse?!) But for now, I’m going to go to bed, as it’s almost 3am and I’ve had almost no sleep for days!

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You don’t know… [22 Jul 2006|03:20am]

Originally published at These are just words. You can comment here or there.

I’ve finally gotten around to uploading the photos that I took on my recent sojourn to Edinburgh. If anyone is interested (and you’re not, trust me), then you’ll find them all here:


http://www.paultownend.com/photos/latest/EdinburghJuly2006/


I haven’t re-touched them or otherwise modified them, so they might not be that good; I’ll do the job properly on another day, and stick them into a proper section of my website.

The last week or so has been really tiring; I’ve not had more than 4 hours sleep in any one night for over a week now, and on at least one occasion failed to sleep altogether. I’m not entirely sure why, although the mind-frying heat and humidity that we’ve been experiencing can’t have helped.

I’d write more, but I’m tired, it’s 3:20am, and there is a thunderstorm going on. So I’ll continue on another day!

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808 state [18 Jul 2006|01:32am]
I am the night - and this is your soul:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAqtWuwKtmM


Also, an excellent live version of Idea Track:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsK4wpuaQ1M


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