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Archives for May, 2015

No Talking!

May 31st, 2015

The wearing-a-mask-when-ill thing is such a good idea. I wonder what it would take for it to catch on in the West.


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Advances in toilet technology

May 26th, 2015

So my work trips have taken a turn for the exotic and I’m in Taipei all week visiting a contract manufacturer (more on this later). The hotel has the very latest innovations in toilet technology!


Looks like a normally toilet at first glance but behold the highly complex electronic control panel!


Thankfully full instructions are provided in multiple languages.


Magic Unicorn Story

May 18th, 2015

At work last we week were subjected to an interminable two day “New Hire Workshop” despite having worked there for nearly three years. I learned all sorts of useful things like how to “ideate” and that I should be “training at the empowerment gym”. Hmm. Anyway, to pass the time I started writing a story about a disappearing unicorn in Chinese to practice my characters.

In the first chapter we meet the protagonists; their occupations are discussed; and a startling event occurs.


The second chapter concerns a fruitless exploration of places where the unicorn is not, and our heroes begin to despair.


In the final chapter a ghostly apparition provides a clue to the unicorn’s whereabouts and a happy conclusion is reached.


Feedback from friend Winni who is a Real Chinese Person ™ was that it was mostly intelligible with just a few nonsense sentences. I give myself a B+.

UPDATE: by popular demand I have created English translations of chapter 1, chapter 2, and chapter 3! The text in red is where the corresponding Chinese sentence was a bit of grammatical fail.

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Watership Down

May 17th, 2015

I’ve been reading Watership Down again recently. One of the cool things about the book is the locations are based on real places and various people have produced maps that you can follow. So I set out trying to roughly follow the path the rabbits took to Watership Down. Unfortunately though rabbits are not hampered by rights-of-way and other barriers, so I ended up going a rather roundabout route.

Early on I had a mildly terrifying experience where a pair of large horses decided to follow me out of their field and down a path. Luckily they were completely baffled by the stile and I made an escape.


Around lunchtime I made it to the top of Watership Down! At this point the weather decided to ignore the forecast and become very hot and sunny. Unfortunately I’d forgotten my hat and sun cream so today I am looking quite red. Oops.


I was permanently on the lookout for rabbits, and although I saw three or four they mostly hopped away before I could snap them. The best I could manage is this ultra-cropped picture of a rabbit in a distant field.


Much later on I met a man on a quest to visit the highest point in Hampshire who, for some reason, had forgotten to bring a map. After helping him on his way I realised there was an even higher point in the other direction. I pondered chasing after him but lucky I didn’t as that one was actually the highest point in Berkshire and he was correctly heading to the top of Hampshire. Phew.


That’s the highest point in Berkshire on the hill beyond the beacon. I like the idea of bagging county tops: kind of a more sedate alternatives Munroes. Something for retirement perhaps.

Downland ridges are probably my favourite walking terrain but it’s very hard to stop and walk back down before you get to the end. Something psychological about not wanting to lose all that potential energy. So I walked and walked and walked until about 8pm when I decided I really needed to get the train back and made a bee-line for Bedwyn.

I was trying some different shoes on this trip (Scarpa Vortex XCR) which are approach shoes rather than the lightweight boots I normally use. They’re wonderfully comfortable and after 33 miles my feet didn’t really feel at all sore. Time to try something a bit longer perhaps…


May 15th, 2015

This Monday I had to visit a supplier in Livingston, Scotland for work so I thought I’d take the opportunity to fly up Sunday morning and do a spot of sight seeing in Edinburgh. This is actually my second visit to this part of the world but I don’t think I blogged about it as we only went into the city for an evening meal and spent the rest of the time at the factory and hotel.

So I spent an afternoon wandering around Edinburgh on a whistle stop tour of the various sights: castle, Royal Mile, etc. Afterwards I walked up Arthur’s Seat which I thought was a small city-centre hill but actually turned out to be a very windy minor-mountain which I was thoroughly unprepared for.

Christmas Common

May 6th, 2015

It’s been ages since I last went adventuring in the Chilterns so this May Day holiday I headed off to cheerfully named village of Christmas Common. The long day out had the useful side-effect of distracting me from worrying about the flat I was trying to buy. (I didn’t get it: some cash buyer paid £20k over the already steep asking price; the London property market is bonkers.)

You probably don’t remember but a few years ago I posted about a ruined church I discovered on my travels. Well it seems persons unknown have decided to erect fences and un-ruin it! Honestly I think I preferred it before but I’ll wait and see what they do with it…