Calling on London

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Just a few snaps from this past weekend. On Sunday I got up all my courage and and went into London all by my little lonesome to have a look around. I just did the touristy thing but it was TOTALLY worth it.

Here’s a few shots from the day. All taken with my iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.

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From Paddington Station comes a statue of Paddington Bear. It’s an adorable little statue, so very endearing.

I had to do a bit of a close crop on this shot because The Most Oblivious Woman In The World was sitting on the base of the statue shoving sushi in her maw. There were plenty of empty seats around and a group of us wanting to take photos of the little bear, but she refused to move.

Ah well.

He is a rather handsome little bear, isn’t he?



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


After riding the train into Paddington station and befriending the bear, I caught the tube from Paddington to Westminster. As I came up from the underground, I saw a really pretty sunny London day. Then I saw a whole lot of people facing me snapping away at cameras. I vogued a little bit until I realized the lenses were all pointing skyward.

So I turned around.

And saw this.

Whoa! It’s the Elizabeth Tower which contains the bell called Big Ben. Let me say this, ol’ Ben sure has a pretty sound. At the top of the hour and at every quarter hour the bell rings out.

So delightful.



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


From there I wandered around and walked among the buildings, admiring history.

Behind Parliament there is a little park that borders the Thames. While strolling there, a local (a security guard, actually) pointed out this little feature to me.

It’s a carving into the stone at the perimeter of Parliament.

It’s a high water mark showing the highest the Thames has ever been. The date is January 1881. Let me tell you this…the mark is pretty damn high. Scary to think what the flooding must have been like back then.

I was pretty intrigued by the carving both from a historical perspective and with a morbid point of view.

Yes, the photo is crooked. That’s because to get the shot I had to put the phone on the ground and the ground is quite uneven.

I think the tilt gives it character.



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


And finally….here is a naughty little gargoyle hanging off of Westminster Abbey. There are thousands of these little guys, all different. I liked the rude faces most of all. I understand that the imps with tongues out are actually downspouts for water. I think they are hilarious.

Obviously, this one has been run through an Instagram filter. This was shared on Twitter and Facebook too, earlier today.



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth



All photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.



From The Top

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And the cycle starts again.

Where is my passport? Which suitcase should I use? Will I be able to sleep on the plane? Ten hours in flight, really? How many snacks should I bring? How many movies can I cram on my iPad? Ohmuhgawdinheaven I’m really doing this again?

Yup.

I’m really doing this again.

A plane ride is nigh. My third international trip in three months.

April = Singapore
May = Costa Rica

And that must mean it is June and time for travel to the UK.

A new beginning. A new trip. An old country that’s brand new to me.

Ever since I was a small child I’ve wanted to go to London. I’ve always felt a yearning to be there. Can’t explain why, but it calls to me. I’ve even blogged about my rampant anglophilia. My fave of those posts is here

When my fabulous cousin made one of his many trips, I’d read his travel journals with a mixture of envy and “I gotta get there too”.

And so I finally get to go, but it’s with less excitement and a little more pondering that I face this trip.

I think when I was a kid and fantasized about being in London, it was all double decker buses and tea and crumpets and Big Ben. Never in those dreams did I image myself trapped in a conference room for hours and hours belaboring even the smallest of points with a far too large and much too arrogant telecom company.

Beggars can’t be choosers. My company is footing the bill for airfare and a serviceable hotel for me. I will stay for two weeks in a town located about an hour outside of London. I will work my butt off on this trip, to be sure. But I also have two weekends to myself to explore.

I’m actually overwhelmed. How does one see London in just a few days! London Bridge and Parliament and 10 Downing Street and the London Eye and Piccadilly Circus and more and more and more!

Gah!

I’m nervous and daunted but underneath it all I’m also pretty happy to finally fulfill a dream!

And so as I walk around my office today making plans and wrapping up details, I hum quietly to myself a favorite Roger Miller tune:

England swings like a pendulum do,
Bobbies on bicycles, two by two,
Westminster Abbey the tower of Big Ben,
The rosy red cheeks of the little children.

Hang on! Put on your seatbelt. Keep all limbs inside the vehicle.

And awaaaaay we goooooo!





Image found at World Tourist Place.

Today’s Theme Thursday is: a new beginning



House Has Got Da Blues

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For my music loving readers, let me ask you this…

Have you ever been to a live music show that simply left you speechless?

I have. It happened to me Tuesday night.

The Good Man and I took a couple extra vacation days after the Monday holiday so we could road trip up to the beautiful Napa Valley.

Our destination was the historic Uptown Theatre.

The journey took us to see one Mr. Hugh Laurie, who many might know from the American television show “House” but who The Good Man and I know better from BBC shows such as “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” “Jeeves and Wooster” and “Black Adder.”

Turns out the venerable Mr. Laurie isn’t just an incredibly talented actor, but he’s one hell of a musician, and a consummate entertainer. Apparently the guy is good at everything he tries. I’d have to hate him if I didn’t admire him so much.

His deep love of very old New Orleans style American blues, jazz and spiritual music prompted the release of his album “Let Them Talk.

I’m a fan of blues music and was happy to give the album a listen. To be honest, it’s more jazz than blues but it’s so well arranged and so well produced that I dug the album from first cut to last note.

And then the live show. So incredibly engaging. The crowd was totally in it all along. Mr. Laurie knows how to entertain and his backing band is solid (except for the guitar player).

Whew. My arms hurt from clapping so hard.

What an amazing show. If it comes near your hometown, I can’t recommend it enough!


Here’s a couple shots I took at the show (we had amazing seats).







Photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone4s, an iPhone telephoto lens and the Camera+ app.



Old Technology Gets a New Boost

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Somewhere back in the early 2000’s, right around the time that Apple came out with video chat, the use of desktop video conferencing took off. Or, I should say, tried to take off.

I was commanded by my leadership at the time to procure a camera (laptops didn’t come equipped with cameras like they do now) and to begin having meetings in video form.

And I did. For a while.

It was a new toy and we all played with it and then, we got bored. Suddenly no one was logged in. Cameras were quietly disconnected and stowed in a drawer. And we went back to the usual phone call, chat or email way of communicating.

Fast forward to this week. My new leadership has commanded that I procure a camera (because our company security demands that the one on my laptop be disabled) and sign up for a brand spanking new desktop video conferencing service.

Per the long winded training I was required to complete, using this “new” technology will promote productivity (oh really? When we’re wasting precious minutes in meetings fiddling with cameras and asking “can you see me ok?”), enhances cost savings (because I just spent $100 of the company’s money to buy the “approved” camera) and reduces carbon emissions (except when I’m taking antibiotics).

The Good Man and I have been debating why video conferencing doesn’t catch on. While it’s nice to see the other person in a conversation, it’s not natural. Everyone just feels a little awkward.

Last evening, I was watching an edition of BBC World News and as they went to field reporters in many far flung countries, it became quite clear that they were using Skype or something similar to do these televised reports. No more camera and a camera operator.

As I watched these reporters, I began to realize why video conferencing is awkward. No one knows what to do with their eyes. Instead of face to face, eye to eye conversations, you get a lot of shifty eyes, and shifty eyes make for uncomfortable conversations.

The most natural fix for this is to look the camera square in the eye.





However, that’s natural for the people on the other end, for the speaker, it feels weird to speak to a lens. You are inclined to look at the screen to see the person you are talking to. That’s how humans communicate.

So you get this instead:





And then, of course, there are the multitaskers. Not only are they not looking in the eye of the camera, but they are also not looking at the screen where the other image is located.

It’s something like this:





And this:





And this:





*sigh*

Well, whether I think this is a good idea or not, I’ve been commanded to video conference, both in my one to one sessions with my boss and in our staff meetings.

And so I will.

This, however, severely limits my ability to wake up fifteen minutes before my 8am staff meetings, shamble down the hall, fire up my home machine and take the meeting on the phone with frazzled hair, still in my nightgown, while eating breakfast.

Damn you UK-based Boss Man! : shakes fists toward London :

(I’m reminded of an episode of the Jetsons where Judy had a videophone mask for those very bad hair days. I need that.)





Image is a screen grab from a YouTube clip of the Jetsons



Word of the day: Obdurate

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ob·du·rate   [ob-doo-rit, -dyoo-] –adjective

1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.

Ah obdurate. How I embody you so.

This word crossed my path again yesterday while watching an episode of Jeeves & Wooster, a fun British show that dates back to the early 90’s. The PG Wodehouse books date back much farther than that, some written in the early 1900’s and now in public domain (thus all loaded up on my Kindle!).

The Good Man introduced me to Jeeves & Wooster and I’m now hopelessly in love.

I love language and words, and Wodehouse certainly had a way with the Queen’s English.

So I sort of chuckled this morning when I turned to my blog idea generator, and this was the suggestion:

“When other people tell me what to do….”

Answer: I become obdurate.

I’m not proud of it. It’s just in my nature.

As the third of three kids born to a very smart and very in control family, I was “the baby” and thus everyone just, you know, told me what to do.

This certainly got me past many a hazard in my infancy, but there came a time, I don’t know what age, when damnit, I was tired of being told what to do!

So much so, that being told what to do made me act out.

It’s a trait that’s carried through to adulthood. In fact, it only became more deeply entrenched an increased in velocity.

One would think that this would make me a very bad employee. Actually, when it comes to managers I like and respect, I have no trouble being told what to do in the workplace.

No, Madame Obdurate is more of a home life kind of gal.

Which makes friends, family and loved ones *ever* so happy.

I find my tendency to dig in when someone tells me what to do really isn’t all that unique. It’s pretty much a go-to for most of us.

Because we’re all special little snowflakes, we want to do things our own damn way and I don’t care what you say and pa-tooey!

Yeah.

As I often say to my friends, you don’t have to be free of your emotional baggage, you just have to be self-aware about it.

See how I reel ’em in? Look at that face? Would she harm a fly? No, I don’t think so. But tell her what to do and WHAMMO! Obdurate all up in your grille!