Saturday 31 May 2003

Jennys' New Direction

Jenny has been navel gazing for a good few months now and is pretty much settled on a new career direction in the field of Nutritional Therapy. I think it's a great direction as it combines her interests in food, diet and health. She also wants to approach it from the angle of gourmet cooking for a restricted diet which is a niche no one seems to address. At the moment, she's figuring out the exact course of study to enroll on.

Now I do have a small sense of foreboding about this. One, the children and I will probably suffer through all kinds of dietary changes albeit it will be for the best. Two, I imagine our social discourse will often swing from intimate disclosure of our guests' health and what they eat to technical support for their computer problems! :-)

Friday 30 May 2003

Titanic Exhibition

I took R* to the science museum today (it's the half-term break) and we wandered through the Titanic Exhibition. Upon entry you're given a mock boarding pass but with the names of two real people who were on the Titanic. We had Miss Jessie Wills Leitch and Mr. Samuel Abelson. At the end of the exhibit you find out their fate. The exhibition is subtitled "real objects real people". On display are a few hundred objects retrieved from the Titanic - part of the hull, window frame, tools, bench, crockery, top hat, currency, jewellery and even a bottle of champagne and a bottle of olives still intact. All kinds of things. And on the walls are the stories of the many people that were on the Titanic. It's hard not to feel moved by it. Very sad. Not sure about the impression it left on R*. It turns out the people whose boarding passes we had actually survived - one of 700 lucky ones while 1500 didn't.

After the exhibit we went into the IMAX theatre and watched a 3D movie (yep, we had glasses on!) of one of the expeditions to the Titanic by non other than James Cameron. As you can imagine, extremely impressive on such a huge screen. R* got "spooked out" but sat through the whole thing. Even more moving than the exhibit.

We had a really great day together. Went to Chinatown for dinner and caught a late train home. It was great just slowing down, chatting and bumming around with my daughter.

BBC: France rings G8 town with steel

Yes, it's time again for the annual G8 summit and anti-globalisation protests. Personally, my sympathies lie with the anti-globalisation protesters. I'm still reading about these kinds of things but I don't think that globalisation in it's current form and with the current institutions works. The rules get made by rich countries for their benefit. Unfortunately, it's a complex topic which means the debate is minimal and full of rhetoric.

BBC: Iraq's 'weapons' doubts

Surprise, surprise. They still can't find those weapons of mass destruction. "The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has acknowledged for the first time that Iraq may have destroyed its weapons of mass destruction before the US launched its offensive to topple Saddam Hussein's regime." But the victors can now rewrite history as they please to manufacture their justification. Terrorism on a massive scale.

Thursday 29 May 2003

Something Fishy About the UK

Speaking of pet peeves - it's also very hard to get decent sushi in the UK. Of course, it's not a very popular cuisine so it's not really surprising. Many people here haven't tried it and in London, it's very expensive. We really miss the sushi in Vancouver. It strikes me as strange that fish is relatively unpopular in the UK given that it's an island nation. Ok, there is fish & chips but besides that there isn't any great fish tradition compared to places like Japan, Spain and the nordic countries.

R* Birthday Wish List

It's still some months until R*'s birthday but she made this list (her spelling)

  1. Harry Potter Lego

  2. a snowy white owl

  3. twister

  4. a black cat

  5. CDs 5

  6. rmockcontrol arplain

  7. rmockcontrol car

  8. playmobil

  9. slob!!!!

  10. a hamick

  11. a new helmit

  12. a lite for my bike

  13. gears

  14. a dog

Pet Peeve: British Pizza's Suck

You know, time and again, I really wish someone in the UK would make half decent pizzas. They almost put the toppings on with a paintbrush! No, Pizza Express isn't good enough. And then they charge an arm and a leg for them. And while I'm at it, a decent plate of nacho's would be appreciated too!

Band Meeting

Got together tonight with the other band members. Trying to figure out what other songs to learn and we've come up with a few candidates. There's a school marathon event coming up that we're going to play at.

Legoland Windsor

We spent the day at Legoland in Windsor. The kids had a good time of course. We bought an annual pass for all of us so you can guess where we'll be spending quite a few days this summer. K* is very good at building lego vehicles considering he's only four. I grew up with lego so it's not like I'm mind joining him playing with it! In fact, when we got home, our shipment from the lego shop had arrived which was great timing. I treated myself by buying the Technic pneumatic pack. Cool! Now I can have all the lego sets my parents never bought me :-) 

Wednesday 28 May 2003

Salsa Lesson #3

Lesson #3 was more interesting as we've moved up to the next group and learned a bunch of new steps (cross body turn, men single turn, copa, turning step) - certainly enough to challenge my leading ability! Hehet are the people running these sessions.

Tuesday 27 May 2003

Artemis Fowl Highly Recommended

During our holiday driving we've been listening to the Artemis Fowl audio tapes read by Nathaneil Parker (complete and unabridged recorded on 6 cassette tapes - 7 hours). The story is superb and the reading is excellent. Very hard to navigate when listening to such a good story - you don't really care about arriving at your destination; you just want to hear what happens next! It's aimed at older kids but it's great for parents too. I highly recommend this recording and both Jenny and I can't wait until the kids go to bed tonight so we can listen to the last tape! You can buy it from Amazon; either buy the book or make sure you get the audiobook by Nathaneil Parker and not someone else. By the way, it's somewhat darker and more aggressive than something like Harry Potter. Read the reviews.

One Month Anniversary

Hey it's been one month already since leaving Microsoft. Wow, the time goes by quickly. Still feels very unsettling not going to work and not having a regular routine to anchor one's life. Funny how it's still difficult to find all the time I want for various projects - especially the programming ones. I'm happy with progress I've made on a few things. It's a real challenge to stay focused and not waste what time I have or start on new commitments.

Back Online

Sorry for the lack of postings lately. Got busy and then went on holiday. Back now but the kids are off school this week.

Monday 26 May 2003

Center Parcs Holiday

Just got back from a short holiday at the Center Parc Resort at Longleat Forest. We had a nice enough time but overall we're not impressed with the resort. We had a two bedroom villa in the forest. Villa is pushing it since it's really just a box attached to two other neighbouring boxes. Towels and soap are all extra as is pretty much everything else on the site. You pay for everthing.

I think the concept of "forest" is quite novel for British folks since Britain doesn't have much left. Coming from British Columbia, a valley of trees just doesn't impress much. There were lots of song birds, squirrels and even tame rabbits. There was also big warnings about nits which takes a bit of the fun out of it.

The idea is that you abandon your car and use bikes to get to all the facilities. It's oriented around all kinds of sport/spa/water activities but we didn't find an easy way take advantage of them with the children in tow. Maybe Center Parcs is a lot better for those people with older children or those willing to dump the kids at the local daycare or pay for onsite babysitting. We spent most of our time at the "subtropical jungle swimming pool" which was quite good. R* loved it and is quite confident with her swimming. She loved the big water slides and I was impressed that she went down the Wild River Rapids. K* prefers a playground to a pool and there were some nice playgrounds for him to putter around.

For the first time ever, Jenny went down a waterslide. I've never realised she hadn't done that before. She says she's just never had the opportunity. We celebrated afterwards with a drink.

One night, we heard a bike wheel past the villa door. Jenny suggested I check our bikes and I looked out the windows and yelled "It's gone!" (refering to our rented bike and trailer). Panic. Jenny ran out first and shouted in the most amazingly deep voice I've ever heard her use! She says it's her teachers' voice of authority. Very funny. It worked and the culprit ran off while I fetched the bike and chained it to the bike stand. Bike theft is common.

On the way home today, we went through the Longleat Safari Park owned by Lord Bath. It's a nice park but overpriced. Of course you just sigh and hand over your money rather than disappoint the kids. We had been there before and let the monkeys run over the company car but this time I avoided it as we had bikes on the roof. The kids were thrilled with a deer that stuck its head in the car to be fed. By the time we got to lions and wolves, they were bored.

It's good to be home. Don't think we'll go back to Center Parcs very quickly.

Friday 23 May 2003

Peter Gabriel Concert

Just got back from the Peter Gabriel concert at Wembley Arena. This is the "Growing Up" Tour promoting his new album "Up". I downloaded it from the Internet last week and while there's a few good songs, it's not overly impressive. It's been ten years since his last album which is when we last saw him in Vancouver. He sure has aged a lot.

The concert was excellent. Lots of older songs among the new.  Sledgehammer, Solsbury Hill, Red Rain, Mercy Street, Digging In The Dirt. Good acoustics. Wish he had played Big. Very cool round rotating stage with all the musicians wireless so they're free to move about. One of the singers was his daughter, Melanie Gabriel. The Blind Boys from Alabama played before Peter Gabriel and did a couple of numbers with him. Fantastic voices. As for stage tricks, he walked upside down, rolled a zorb and rode a bicycle around the stage perimeter. Here's a description of the making of the Up CD and here's a good write-up of the concert with pictures that gives you more details.

Wednesday 21 May 2003

Salsa Continued

Had our second night of Salsa lessons. Went well although it was a repeat of last weeks lessons; should have moved up to the next group. Dancing is definitely easier for the woman since she just follows. The man has to keep the rhythm, know his moves, be able to lead and constantly decide what to do next. And do it all in style!

Tuesday 20 May 2003

Chiff & Fipple

My ex-colleagues at Microsoft gave me a going-away card and some gifts yesterday before we went to the pub. They included a signed guitar strap, tinwhistle, bodhran (Irish drum), flute, tamborine, pair of maracas and a ukulele! I think they know I'm into music (thanks guys!). I like collecting musical instruments. Up to now I've only really collected several string instruments but I like the idea of collecting percussion instruments too. I think they're a great thing to buy as travel souveniers.

I've been playing about with the tinwhistle with the help of the Chiff & Fipple website. Easy to play and fantastically portable.

Monday 19 May 2003

Bedroom Camping

Each weekend the kids sleep in a small pop-up sun safe tent in their bedroom. It's been going on for a few months now and they're still excited every weekend to do it on Friday night and Saturday night. The tent is small so K* curls up and R* has her legs sticking out the tent opening. Very cute when you see them asleep.

Spring Cleaning

It's spring cleaning time in our house. Time to get ruthless and get rid of all this junk! It's amazing how it all just piles up. The kids are a little distraught but we bribed them with promises of sharing the proceeds from sales.

Six Degrees Of Seperation

As you may know, the concept of "six degree's of separation" proproses that you can reach anyone in the world through a contact chain of six people. Well on Saturday I met up with my wifes' cousins' (Vincent) wife's uncle who just happens to live nearby! Small world eh?

Saturday 17 May 2003


Just discovered what Bukkake is - maybe I'm a bit behind. Didn't know that sexual fetish had a name or a huge following. And don't go find out what scat is; you don't want to know.

Poem Generator

Give this website a URL of another website and it will generate a poem for you.

Friday 16 May 2003

Wednesday 14 May 2003


"Geekcorps is a non-profit (501c3) organization committed to expanding the Internet revolution internationally by pairing skilled volunteers from the high-tech world with small-to-medium sized businesses in emerging nations." Other organisations I've found that need volunteers with computer skills include UNITeS, NetAid and Vita.

"Bringing together a network of people and groups working for human rights and sustainable development from across the globe." Looks like a very large and very well organised group. Interesting in that they even offer technology services. Affiliated to them is Digital Opportunity channel which is trying to help bridge the digital divide. Links to lots of interesting web resources such as Tech Soup, "the technology place for non-profits."


We just got back from an evening of salsa lessons followed by a dance. It was pretty good. The teachers happen to be all black and dance really well. The instruction is very rapid; we learned six steps (New York basic, Cuban basic, Mambo, Opening Out, New Yorker, Side to Side) and combined them all in an hour. About fifty people were there divided into about four groups of different levels. During the lesson, you switch partners frequently. Women outnumber men so to encourage men to come, their first lesson is free. And to top it off, there's a bar :-)

Here's a salsa website that gives you online animation.

Back in Canada, Jenny and I used to do ballroom dancing but we've done almost nothing for the last nine years. We hope to get back into some kind of dancing; much more fun than going to a gym and salsa is definitely a good workout. There's also quite a lot of salsa clubs about so there's more opportunity to dance it than ballroom.

Monday 12 May 2003

Webby Awards

If you've got some time, it's worth checking out the 2003 nominee's of the webby awards. Lots of great websites to explore. It'll easily kill your day. It's also worth checking out the winners and nominee's of the 2002 BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards. There goes another day!

K*'s Latest Joke

Why was 8 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9.

Personal Chef

Jenny has discovered a new career option that has her intrigued. Read about it here.

Sunday 11 May 2003

Tina and the Taxi Drivers' Debut

I just got back from playing lead guitar at my first live gig. Phew. It turned out ok. We played during the intermission of the charity jazz night for the East Berkshire Junior Orchestra. I guess there were about 100 people there. The EBJO were excellent and none of them are older than 17. Two of the students also sang very well. Hard act to follow!

Then there was us - Tina and the Taxi Drivers. Julian's wife made a great facade for the bass drum. Tina was cool and the rest of us were quite nervous but it all worked out. We had a lot of great audience support and the dance floor was full. Even raised some money for the EBJO tour. I'm quite chuffed. Well - err - I did screw up the solo on the last song by starting on the wrong note but, oh well. Hard to play when you're hands are sweating!

This was our set:

  1. All Shook Up
  2. Stupid Cupid
  3. Honey Hush 
  4. Coquette  
  5. What It Is
  6. Party

So I can now claim I'm a gigging musician! Ha ha! I think the plan is to start working on some new songs and play at the school's jazz marathon event next month. Maybe I should get some lessons. Stay tuned.

Friday 9 May 2003

R* Latest Joke

My daughters' latest joke: "How do you get six donkeys in a fire engine?"

Two in the front; two in the back and two on top going "Eeee-orrr, Eeee-orrr, Eeee-orrr!"

Hint: You need to know what a British fire engine sounds like to appreciate this :-)

American Sauce

In England pretty much 80% of all desserts are drowned in custard. So why isn't custard used much in America or Canada? Maybe there's a business opportunity here. Why not rebrand custard as "Traditional American Sauce" and sell it in the U.S.?  Hey! It's amazing what sells. Apple pie and custard. That's what America needs.

Surfing Together

Jenny is pretty pleased with her new laptop. She can now surf anywhere in the house and not fight with me for "her turn" at the computer :-)   I'm quite sure we both now spend more time surfing on the Internet rather than watching TV. Geeks 'r' us.

Tuesday 6 May 2003

Essential Org

Another interesting site - Ralph Nader's -  "encouraging activism".

Leaving Pictures

There's a few pictures here of my leaving party. Yes, that is a lollipop with a scorpion in it. The website is Chung's personal picture album mostly of work trips.

Hidden American Aristocracy

This is an idea Mike and I had the other day. The premise is that America has a hidden aristocracy. It's well known that something like 5% of the population controls something like 80% of all the wealth in the US and there's a network of these wealthy business people sitting on the Boards of Directors of multiple companies. Using the Internet and SEC filings it should be possible to automatically mine the internet for these relationships and map out the aristocracy and the web of corporations they influence.

Multinational Monitor

An interesting newsletter that I read. The Multinational Monitor tracks corporate activity, especially in the Third World, focusing on the export of hazardous substances, worker health and safety, labor union issues and the environment. Essentially reports on abuses by corporations.

Monday 5 May 2003


For those into cars, I added a picture of my car to the bottom of my track day article.

Blue Peter Bikeathon

We all rode our bikes in the Blue Peter Bikeathon yesterday at Bracknell Forest. K* was behind me on a trailer bike. R* was very keen on the event and has been collecting sponsorship for the last few weeks. It's all in the aid of leukaemia research. It was a hot sunny day and lots of people showed up. We met up with some friends there - Katie and Neil along with their children Laura and Alison. R* managed really well as she hasn't ridden her bike on a trail before and only recently was brave enough to go downhill.  She managed one lap (three miles) before opting for the playground but it was a good effort. This was also a test of our new bike racks so we can now take our bikes anywhere.

Saturday 3 May 2003

I've Got Blisters On My Fingers

Had a good band rehearsal this afternoon. We played in a school hall with the volume fully cranked and now with a new singer, Tina - a tall blonde German girl we can hide behind and Suzy on acoustic guitar. After a bit of nerves, it was great fun and I finally worked out the solo bits I need to do. The songs we're doing are all from the Paul McCartney Run Devil Run CD. Here's our set:

  1. All Shook Up

  2. I Got Stung

  3. Coquette

  4. Honey Hush

  5. What It Is

  6. Party

The gig is next weekend and we still have a lot of practice to put it to pull it all together. Gulp.

Thursday 1 May 2003

More Than Pictures

Posted a new article More Than Pictures that I posted on Jennys' family website some time ago.

Massage Therapy

Had an aromatherapy massage today for a stiff neck and shoulders problem I've had for ages. I highly recommend getting a massage even if you don't have any aches. It's just plain feels good. Spoil yourself. If you work at Microsoft Ltd, you can get one onsite and it's well worth it.