Archive for July, 2006

Thanks, Lonely Planet…

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

A former student writes of her solo tour of Japan:

“Lonely Planet had told me to ‘head to the ramen slurpers’ mecca where parties start at 2am and just keep going.’ Wonderfull I thought; Friday night in Fukuoka. Turn up, get somewhere to stay (it worked last time) and see what there is on offer.

By the time I got to Fukuoka it was 9.30pm. I got the subway and head out to find ‘Lady’s Hotel Petit Tenjin,’ a capsule Hotel just for the Ladies. I walked and I walked. It was only meant to be 8 minutes away from the Subway. I thought I was very lost, so tried to get a taxi. The taxi driver I chose was the man with the most useless eyes in the world who could not read my map. So I got out and asked someone else. Who showed me where I was on the map, which helped. And I walked up and down where it was meant to be on the map, to no avail. When finally I asked a waiter in a restaurant nearby who took me outside and pointed at it.

I guess I hadn’t been looking out for a building site. For Lady’s Hotel Petit Tenjin had been demolished, bulldozed. It was gone. Thanks Lonely Planet. Not so trusty anymore are we? At 11pm, into action came Plan B. I went back to the station. I put my bag in a locker. I went to a restaurant, a cafe, and a bar before ending up at 2am at Cybac Cafe, a 24 hour manga cafe where I got a little cubicle with computer, TV, and sofa and atmospheric blue lighting. There was a libary of manga porn and showers. I guess it was fun for the novelty factor! Here I stayed until 8am, generally wasting time and trying to sleep, to no avail.”

(Via fothblog.)


Monday, July 24th, 2006

Here’s one for all you fans of coincidences: I just rang British Telecom to arrange the transfer of my phone and broadband connection to my new address in Scotland, around 450 miles from where I am now.

Of all the people I could have been put through to, it turns out the woman I ended up speaking to… has just moved on to the same street as me!

Quite bizarre.


Thursday, July 20th, 2006

There’ve been a few disparaging remarks doing the rounds in the past few days about how we Brits can’t seem to cope with a bit of heat. But believe me, 35-36 degrees celsius (about 100 degrees farenheit) is not natural, not for this part of the world.
Of course it’s a myth that Britain is cold and wet – there are parts of the country that get less rain than the Nevada desert, and our summers are almost always very warm thanks to the Gulf Stream that means snow is rare in winter while the parts of Canada directly opposite are besieged by polar bears.

The other day I stepped out of the house at 6.40pm for a 15 minute walk to a pub for a friend’s birthday, and nearly melted on the way. It was like the last scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark, only worse.

I’ve never been so hot. Except for today, of course. The morning started quite cool much to my relief (and the cat’s! I may have to shave her for her own good…) but it soon warmed up. Then I had to go to London this evening for my third years’ show (which was very good). But London was even worse than Brighton, lacking as it does the sea breeze and possessing all those heat-emitting buildings.

The underground was unbearable. I got on one carriage and as the doors opened a blast of heat hit me, along with the stench of several thousand people’s body odour. It wasn’t pleasant.

Coming back, at about 11pm, a chap sat next to me. clearly a tourist in that he started a conversation with me (you don’t do that in London – worse still, I reciprocated, being at heart an affable Yorkshireman through and through). Anyway, turned out he was here on holiday from the hottest part of India. He told me – and this is no lie – that London is hotter than he ever remembers being back home. He found it as unbearable as I did.

So that’s official. It’s hot! Thank god I’m moving to Scotland soon – it’s a bearable 28 degrees there (which is about my upper operational limit normally).

Estate agents

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

I’m moving to Dundee in a few weeks to take up a new post (about which I’m quite excited), but have run in to the usual problem: estate agents.

Why are estate agents so fucking useless? Why do they not want to help you? Why can’t they understand that, being several hundred miles away, I might like some help and advice in finding somewhere to live?

I rang one and got someone who clearly didn’t want to be there, who took my details and then told me the fact I have a cat means I can’t get on their list. (Maybe I should lie about the cat in future?)

I just emailed another and gave them all my details and said ‘I may not be able to visit so good photos are required.’. I got a one line email telling me to visit their website. I just did that! It’s crap! That’s why I’m emailing you! Send me pictures! Do some bloody work! Advise me!

Moving is stressful enough. Moving a long way, in to a new job, is even worse. Doing it without any help whatsoever from people who make their money from people like me makes it almost impossible.

The Comics Curmudgeon

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

I’ve been meaning to write something about this website for a while now but will have to content myself with just a quick mention.

The Comics Curmudgeon is an almost daily (sometimes several times a day) commentary on some of the many comic strips that populate the US newspapers. I don’t know the vast majority of them, but I’ve got to know them quite well over the past few weeks and look forward to Josh’s updates with wickedly funny put-downs about the bizarre storylines, the characters (who begin to seem like real people) and the often dreadful artwork. I’ve become quite a fan of Apartment 3-G, Mary Worth and Mark Trail…

Highly recommended – subscribe to the RSS feed to be kept up to date with the regular additions.

Bargain flights, high environmental cost

Saturday, July 1st, 2006

I’m visiting Dundee shortly and was comparing the cost of flights with rail travel. Ideally I’d go by train (it’s a rare chance to read) but the return journey is 12 hours long and would mean getting back home at 5am so the alternative of an hour-long flight appeals more. Not sure how many trees I’ll have to plant to make up for the carbon I’ll produce (I flew to Glasgow and back last week – quite the jet-setter all of a sudden).
Anyway, I looked online for the best price for the flight and you can imagine my surprise at the lowest quote I got:

Yes, that’s right: £10,165.80 ($18,408.23) for a one-hour flight.

Try as I might, that was the same price everywhere! Until I thought about going direct to ScotAirways’s web site where I managed to purchase the ticket for around £150 – about the same as the rail fare. Something odd going on there, clearly, but it was a bit of a shock…

Incidentally, the amount of carbon I would produce by flying is approximately 193kg, eight times the 23.8kg I’d produce taking the train. The same figures are true of my flight to Glasgow too. Normally I use the train and in fact have only ever flown once before (to the Republic of Ireland and back in 2002) so while I feel somewhat guilty, compared with a lot of people I think my record is pretty good. Mind you, if flights really were priced at £10,000 an hour maybe we would all cut back on this form of travel.