Monday, May 14, 2007

Walking with Tollers and Jack

One of the highlights of my day today was Addison's Walk at Magdalen College in Oxford. It was incredibly beautiful and filled with the scent of spring blossoms. The small stream flowing along the path was mesmerizing.

It was inspiring to walk on the same path that Tollers (J.R.R. Tolkien) and Jack (C.S. Lewis) discussed spiritual matters. I could just imagine my personal "Inklings" (Don and Cam) alongside me as well. Later we would also need to head to the Eagle and Child for a pint!

After Addison's Walk, I stayed for the Evensong service at the Magdalen College chapel. It was absolutely amazing! The voices of the choir were simply angelic and brought tears to my eyes. The Magnificat and Nunc dimittis were in a much more pleasing format than the Evensong I attended at Christ Church yesterday. I would highly recommend attending here (every night at 6pm!).

I'll post photos from my walk and one of the beautiful stained glass walls in the chapel soon...

UPDATE: Here is a link to my pictures from Magdalen College and Addison's Walk:

C.S. Lewis Tour in Oxford

I had a personalized 4+ hour tour with Ron Brind, founder of the C.S. Lewis Tour in Oxford today. In a word: Spectacular! Ron is a wealth of information, and provided the best opportunities for photos and even took a few for me so I could be in them!

If you get a chance to come to Oxford, this is a MUST SEE tour! Information on the tour can be found at: or

One of the most memorable moments of the tour was seeing The Kilns (the home of C.S. Lewis) and the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve, with the woods that inspired Narnia!

Seeing the home where J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy was also very cool, and of course, eating at the Eagle and Child pub where the Inklings met!

I'll post a link to my photos when I get them uploaded, and write a bit more too. I'm a bit worn out from a full day of touring! :-)

UPDATE: Here's a link to my pictures from the C.S. Lewis Tour:
If you're planning a trip to the UK, make sure you allocate a day trip to Oxford and take this tour! It's absolutely worth it, and guide Ron Brind is extremely friendly and knowledgeable!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Evensong Highlight!

I was absolutely right about my previous post. It's all uphill from here!

I spent some time trying to orient myself in Oxford this afternoon. While taking in some of the breathtaking architecture, including the Radcliffe Camera and St. Mary the Virgin Church across from my hotel, I decided to try to find the location to meet my tourguide for my C.S. Lewis tour for tomorrow.

I turned the wrong direction from Cornmarket Street, and was blessed to find Christ Church. It just so happened that they were having Evensong service at 6pm, so I made a note of how I got there, and continued to try to find the Randolph.

I stumbled upon the Oxford Museum, and got to see some very cool Roman artifacts. By this time I was also a little hungry and got a recommendation and directions to The Nosebag for a quick Cream Tea (yummy scones, jam and clotted cream with tea) on my way to the Randolph.

After finding the Randolph, I decided to time my way back to the hotel so I could change into something nicer for the service. I then made my way back to Christ Church.

Truth be told, I'm not a Catholic or Anglican, so some of the ceremonial parts I was not at all familiar with. The contents of the Evensong Service, however, seemed to follow along with my beliefs, so it was not all that awkward. The choir was absolutely amazing, though the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, were a bit discordant for my taste. All of the other choral pieces, especially the anthem, were amazing!

Even more so, the day had been filled with rain, but after the service, the heavens opened up and I was treated to a beautiful few hours of sunshine to continue exploring.

I eventually wound up at The Crown, where I had bangers and mash and a Worthington's Cream Ale. The Crown's claim to fame is:

Yet another Oxford pub with a literary connection, and they don’t come much more impressive than the big Bard himself. Apparently Shakespeare was fond of breaking his journey between Stratford-on-Avon and London by staying at the Crown Inn.

I'm hoping to eat at The Eagle and Child tomorrow!

I've got pictures posted here:

Overall, a much better ending to my rough-starting day!

The BA Vomit Comet

Well, traveling to London has to be one of the lowlights of my trip. When Dawn and I traveled to Scotland last summer, we had issues with security (2 days after the big liquid scare) and got to go on board with only our wallets, and everything else checked.

This time, there was a guy in the centre section (I had the far window, thank God!) who got sick pulling away from the Denver terminal. I keep hoping it was motion sickness and not something catching! I think we had been moving for a grand total of about 1 minute, when this guy puked all over the seatback in front of him. Unfortunately, I had a direct line of sight. Everyone in the immediate vicinity turned a shade of green and looked away.

This poor sod proceeded to lose it about every 200 miles on the trip. On a 4300 mile trip, you do the math. Not a pretty picture. He must have gone through half a dozen air sick bags, and the flight was completely booked so no one could move! Every little turbulent air pocket sent him flying.

It was hard for all of us in the vicinity to get our in-flight meals down. This guy even decided he wanted to try to eat! Big mistake. The flight attendants should have nipped that idea in the bud.

I resorted to 2 Tylenol PMs, earplugs underneath my Bose noise reduction headsets, eye blinders, and classical music cranked to make sure I couldn't hear him.

He was still going when we pulled into the gate at Heathrow too. Nothing like having a captive audience...

Not meaning to rant, but this was by far the worst of my business travel horror stories to date. And I travel about every 3 weeks! I still love British Air and being in the U.K. The rest of the trip should be all uphill from here!

Oxford bound!

I'm headed to Oxford Saturday night to work on a Content Architecture for Wiley Blackwell! I'm very excited, though I will be gone on Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day, Dawn! I'll bring back something nice to make up for it. I promise!

I'll be posting pictures, as I'll have about a day and a half to work through the jetlag before my meetings

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What my son wanted to do for his 9th birthday

Pinky: " Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
The Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky - Try to take over the world!"

In case you missed the obscure Animaniacs reference, you might need to read about it on Wikipedia and then catch the episodes on DVD!

Connor wanted to go to the Apple Store for his birthday, so he could play with the new iBooks and his new favorite app: PhotoBooth! I was taking care of his sick sister outside the store, but he emailed me some of his favorites. The above had the caption: Evil Scientist by Connor H.

He hasn't even seen Pinky and the Brain, but maybe it's time... ;-)
Happy Birthday, my computer progeny and mad scientist!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Godspeed, Mr. Schirra

The world has lost another of the original Mercury seven. Walter "Wally" M. Schirra passed away at age 84.

More details are here:

I never had the opportunity to meet "Wally" but have had the opportunity to tour the launch site, and have seen many of his space suits and flight suits at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, Marshall Space Center Museum, and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (both in D.C. and at Dulles).

I am still in awe of the achievements of that time and of great men like Wally Schirra. I hope we can kick off another era of space achievement in my lifetime.

Godspeed, Mr. Schirra!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Talisman Rome expansion!

Every year my friends and I gather for an annual Talisman tournament. Talisman is an adventure board game published by Games Workshop.

As part of the fun, we have created multiple expansions that are allowed in the tournament. My labor of love has been a Rome expansion, since I'm a huge Ancient Rome buff. It's now available for non-commercial use at Talisman Island, a fan site. Here's a link to a preview and the download.

Struck by Lightning!

In a good way! I just found this extension to Thunderbird (my preferred mail client):

From the project home:

Lightning brings the Sunbird calendar to the popular email client, Mozilla Thunderbird. Since it's an extension, Lightning is tightly integrated with Thunderbird, allowing it to easily perform email-related calendaring tasks.

I haven't had the best luck with Sunbird in the past, but Lightning works REALLY well! I can import my appointments from LookOut, er, OutLook, and can also view my Google Calendar in one interface that I always have open!

I voted for an RFE to make the calendar panes dockable, so I hope that feature gets incorporated soon. It's a terrific little extension, so I encourage you to check it out!