« January 2001 | Weblog Main | March 2001 »

February 1, 2001

Hi, I'm writing this from

Hi, I'm writing this from Chris's flat in Bristol. We got back into the UK yesterday, and after a rushed morning in wet, foggy London, Nina flew out to Copenhagen and I came up to Bristol where I'd left my laptop and some luggage. I've just spent this morning uploading some of the photographs from South Africa we took with the digital camera.

I've promised to take Chris's bike into the shop for a service today, though, so I'd better go and do that now. The only problem is that I can't lower his seat due to the suspension getting in the way, and as he keeps reminding me, he is somewhat taller than I am! I've had a practice riding it around in the flat right now though, and I can just reach the pedals, so as long as I don't have to stop, I should be fine! I'll get back to updating this later...

February 4, 2001

Well I did manage to

Well I did manage to survive the bike ride the other day. Its quite pleasant to be back in Britain right now too, especially as the weathers mild, and reflect on the time in South Africa.

Although the only thing that ever gets into the news about South Africa is the violence and problems in the country, we were amazed by how beautiful the countryside was. There was such a vast array of different scenery; mountains, desert, beautiful beaches, and landscapes, that it was hard to compare it to anywhere else Id ever been. Then of course there was the incredible wildlife, much of which we didnt even have time to see. On another trip I really hope to make it up to Kruger National Park where you can find could have gone everywhere that we wanted to go in two weeks.

The people were amazingly friendly too; at least the people who didnt want to mug you, that is. The service in shops and restaurants was terrific, and as well as being very cheap compared to European prices, the food was very good too, even if many South Africans do seem to have a deep love of fried food. Food and drink, as well as many other products lions, zebra, elephants, rhinos, and a whole other world, but there was just no way that we are about one half or one third of their equivalent price in other developed countries, but without a car, we often found that we spent that money on taxis, as quite often it isnt very safe to walk somewhere.

I think that if you look like youre a tourist in South Africa and youre not careful, then you can expect to have problems, although the stories we heard seemed to imply that if you were unlucky and were held up, you would probably be fine if you simply handed over your cash. I suppose its like many places in the world, and in time you learn where you can go and where you cant. It sounds as though being mugged in South Africa would be preferable to being mugged in Scotland, as you would be less likely to be beaten up for the sake of it.

The biggest problem is of course that the extreme poverty that most people live in drives the crime. Car jacking is a problem in Johannesburg and we spoke to one taxi driver whose wife had been car jacked at gunpoint. She was ordered out of her BMW at traffic lights. The assailant could expect to make about 20 from this, and the car would be sold for parts. Lives are cheap in Africa.

If you can be on your guard, then South Africa represents terrific value for money, and a wonderful European environment on the African continent. There is simply so much to see, the climate is fantastic, and the country is so big, that the cost of flying down and the 13-hour flight from Europe is more than compensated for. Its definitely a country that Im looking forward to going back to.

February 5, 2001

Chris has been down in

Chris has been down in Cornwall for most of the weekend, and Ive been spending it here in Bristol catching up on whats been happening in the world in the last few weeks. Denmark seems to be putting out a lot of bad publicity about itself in its own characteristic, honest way. It seems that Channel 4 here in the UK are making a documentary about Danish attitudes towards smoking in To Die for Cigarettes. It explores public opinions in a country where, apparently, life expectancy is amongst the lowest in Europe, partly due to high tobacco consumption. If youve ever looked for the non-smoking section in a Danish caf then youre bound to understand, however, as someone who used to sell huge amounts of the stuff, I cant really comment! (full story)

Another report which Im sure will shock many of my Danish friends is that the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week placed Denmark tenth in the international environmental index, just beating the dreaded United States! Neighbours Finland and Norway leapt to the top, but this could be due to the fact that their population density is really, very low. Even still, many Danes seem to feel that their country has leading environmental practices, and they are bound to be saddened by this. (full story)

Apart from returning from Cornwall stressed out from spending the weekend with his family, Chris is in a fairly good mood as hes just bought himself a new laptop. Hes spent much of the day enjoying Windows new operating system, Me the main difference between it and previous versions being that it seems to crash more! Is technology really going to save us more time in the future as Bill Gates promises, or are we just going to be unable to do anything else as we wait for our computers to restart after crashing? Stanley Kubrick got it all wrong in 2001.

February 6, 2001

Bristol, UK Today I was

Bristol, UK
Today I was stopped by eight homeless people in town and asked for some spare change for a cup of coffee. Bristol does seem to have quite a large homeless problem, but it does have very good coffee too. I, myself, spent much of the afternoon in Starbucks with the homeless people drinking coffee and reading the news. Afterwards I walked into scaffolding in the street while sending a text message on my phone. The Sunday Times had an interesting story about many people relying on their computers and PDAs so much that they are suffering from memory loss themselves. I can really relate to this. (full story)

February 7, 2001

Chris and I ended up

Chris and I ended up drinking a bit too much in a bar last night. When we finally left we were forced to stop off for the obligatory kebab, which of course didnt taste of anything, but you never remember this when youre drunk. At least it wasnt as bad as the microwave kebabs that Andrew and I were forced to buy one night in Glasgow when all the kebab places were shut, but nothing ever will be. Naturally we were both hungover this morning, but Chris went off to work (how does he do it?), and Im beginning to recover now.

Anyway, what I wanted to do last night, prior to the drinking session, was mention that in the last weeks there have been more security breaches in the internet than ever before. The furthest reaching one concerns the discovery that embedding a simple Java script into an email lets the sender see exactly what the recipient said when that e-mail is forwarded and who it is forwarded to. For instance, if one of your friends adds your name to a chain letter that contains this script, the original sender would then have your e-mail address to do whatever he or she would like with. It could certainly be used by spamming and e-mail marketing companies. Fortunately, turning off JavaScript in your e-mail program, will prevent any e-mails that you forward from being interrogated in this way. Instructions on how to do this and the full story are here.

The Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) which was developed to protect the transfer of information on the internet has also been compromised lately. This affects mainly transactions and banking over the internet, and although there are not expected to be many cracks using this, people are recommended, as always, to keep an eye on bank and credit card balances. Other recommendations for computers connected to the internet include;
Treat e-mail and instant messaging as being as private as a postcard
Do not transmit private information wirelessly
Never keep credit card or confidential information anywhere on that computer
Sacrifice a virgin goat every full moon
(full story)

February 12, 2001

Ive spent most of the

Ive spent most of the afternoon packing so far as tomorrow is my last day in Bristol. When we flew out from Copenhagen, we didnt know where we were going to, so we took clothes to cover just about any climate. Now, unfortunately, Ive got to somehow fit them into my bag to take back, as well as a Palm for Ninas dad and a film scanner for me. Im hoping to scan in some of the pictures we took in the Bahamas when I get back, and get them up on the website.

The weekend was fairly rough, and involved lots of heavy drinking in pubs and clubs in Bristol. On Friday night I cut my hand after climbing up a signpost (obviously Ive been away from Guernsey Mountaineering Club too long!), and on Saturday night Chris lost his phone. I really didnt plan to go out on Saturday. Chris was organizing a pub crawl with some people in Airbus where he works, and I planned to skip it, but after he bought me large amounts of caffeine in Starbucks, I couldnt remember why I wanted to go home. It all went fairly well until Chris took everyone to The Elephant Bar, which we soon realized, was, yes you guessed it again, gay. After this happening in South Africa as well, I was the first one to notice the subtle clues that gave it away; only men in the bar, and lots of them snogging each other. So we avoided using the toilets, and made a sharp exit. Am I the only person that this ever happens to?

I did find an interesting website at the weekend. Hottelephone.com lets you make a free call from your pc to any landline phone in 15 countries. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt, but it is free.

February 14, 2001

Well I was wrong to

Well I was wrong to think that Tuesday was my last day in Bristol. I dont fly out until Thursday morning. Luckily, Nina insisted on me telling her which flight I was on, and so when I checked on my Palm, it told me that I had another day here. What would I do without it? Nina doesnt seem too happy though as she thought I was flying back on Valentines Day. Woops! I was stopped in the street by someone from the Children's Society today and they asked me for money. I had to honestly tell them that I just don't like children.

As you can tell from the time that Im posting this, Im getting back into my nocturnal frame of mind. Those periods of time, where I sleep during the day, and my mind wakens up at night and forces me to do lots of things. Having a free-form life at the moment I dont really mind it, but it wont be very easy to leave Bristol at 0700 if Im up all of tomorrow night. Anyway, I refuse to conform and live my life in GMT.

Sleep is a poor substitute for caffeine

February 15, 2001

Ok, so I just got

Ok, so I just got back from the pub, and now I have to finish packing. Apparently I have to get up in about 6 hours from now to head into London so I'm not looking forward to that at all! Why did I go to the pub tonight??

I'm writing this from London,

I'm writing this from London, where I'm just waiting for the shuttle out to Stansted. Got up at 0645 this morning and Chris took me to the coach station in Bristol, and I've spent the last few hours here. Went for lunch in Piggy's, my favourite sandwich place in Piccadilly and had a walk in the park.

My flight leaves at1830 and I fly into Sweden then head to Denmark.

February 16, 2001

Copenhagen, Denmark Well, my plane

Copenhagen, Denmark
Well, my plane touched down on Swedish soil around 2120 last night. I grabbed my bags and took the coach into central Malmo, which takes about 40 minutes. From there I caught the train across to Copenhagen and Nina met me at Kastrup. Well, when I say met me, she turned up after about 15 minutes.

It's noticeably colder here in Denmark, but there's no snow at the moment. I always seem to miss the snow. I'm writing this from the new library in the centre of Copenhagen and I think we're planning to go to Nina's summerhouse for the weekend... so that means limited data communication as I have to dial up through my cellphone.

February 18, 2001

We got back to Copenhagen

We got back to Copenhagen this evening after spending the weekend in Nina's summerhouse about 80km from here. Her parents are off to Turkey this week, so we have their car to use. It was so pleasant to get out of the city and see some of the Danish countryside again, and it's really made me decide that I need to travel more in Scandinavia while I'm here. When we arrived at the summerhouse, we turned on the water to find it spraying out from under the sink. One of the pipes had burst, and the bathroom was now getting flooded. Nina ran back outside and shut the water off, and I went off to look for some tools. After a while I managed to sort it, and it seems fine now. Yesterday we took a walk along the beach then watched some ponies attacking each other in a field video. In the evening we had a lovely meal and a nice bottle of South African wine that we brought back with us.

February 21, 2001

Sometimes I think that I'm

Sometimes I think that I'm missing things that are happening. Take today for example; after dropping Nina off for her meeting which appeared to be in a strip club, I walked into town. As I wandered along, a blonde girl with a big fur hat on, who looked like she was straight from the Kremlin, jumped out and stopped me. It's not that I'm a conspiracy theorist or anything, and she spoke perfect English, but once she realised that I wasn't Danish she wouldn't tell me what she wanted, and disappeared off into the crowds. Things like this seems to be happening more and more to me.

February 26, 2001

Copenhagen, Denmark Suddenly it's got

Copenhagen, Denmark
Suddenly it's got colder here in the last few days and we had some snow yesterday, but nothing that lasted. Meanwhile the boat is basking in about 24c over in Florida where the sun's shining. Still it is nice to have a break from sailing this year, catch up on what's happening in the real world, and think about some new projects.

I was hoping to get over to Sweden in the last week to do some skiing, but then I found out that the bridge toll each way was about 20 pounds, so I reconsidered and spent a bit more time sitting in cafes reading. At the moment I'm reading 'A Boat in our Baggage', which is about travelling around the world with a collapsible kayak. When I can't face the sight of dead trees anymore, I swap over to my Palm where I'm reading my first e-book, Underground. One of my favourite shows recently has been Trigger Happy TV, and tonight I checked out their website, the best of which is their stressbuster - Online meditation if life is getting to you!

February 27, 2001

It seems that I've got

It seems that I've got back into that nocturnal thing again. Maybe it's the amount of coffee I'm drinking or the moon, but whatever it is it doesn't really bother me. Since I stopped working, I've got used to living in the strange times my mind decides to be awake in. Once when I was living in Guernsey, my neighbour on the boat next door asked if I'd been hammering at five o'clock in the morning. I had. It's not any form of insomnia, it's just that I often tend to sleep at different times from the rest of the continent.

So instead of sleeping, I've been wandering on the net tonight. Finding other weblogs that make me feel like I should really do something better with mine, like the breast chronicles. I also checked to see if the search engines were listing me, but instead I found sites on Saint Bron, Bron's bedroom, a Chinese film called Bron to be King, and a website claiming that I am in fact 10" tall and made in Hong Kong. Maybe it's time to go to bed.