Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Lynskeys are back in business...

I saw a post on the Singletrack website saying that the Lynskey family (the founding family behind Litespeed) are back in action as a frame building unit under their own name. The frames are definitely in the high end of the market (as you'd expect given their heritage) and they are sticking to titanium (although it is suggested that they will be exploring other materials - 953?). Their pricing structure is interesting but what makes them stick out from the rest (other than their incredible pedigree at Litespeed) are the paint jobs. They seem to have some sort of deal with the high end motor cycle spray shops (think Orange County Choppers) and are producing a phenomenal catelogue of designs.

One for the future maybe...I'm sure I can find a little space somewhere...

Camera armor (I's an American product)

Now this may seem a little premature as I don't have a digital SLR, but, I came across what looks like a very cool product for cycle touring, mountain biking or general adventurous travel photography. Bikemagic had a short intro to this product that protects Digital SLRs from general mishaps. Given how much is invested in this type of kit (I now know because I have been thinking about making the investment) it seems like a relatively small investment to help keep your equipment working.

The product currently only covers a couple of Nikon and Canon products but it looks like they are going to expand the range. All I need to do now is make a decision...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Visit to the Little Theatre

Sarah and I were hoping to go and see Casino Royale this afternoon but couldn't get tickets. Nothing else really took our fancy at the Odeon so we decided to look around and remembered that we hadn't been to the Little Theatre for a while. in fact the last movie were saw there was Touching the Void.

As it happened they were showing Little Children with Kate Winslet. Now, on the face of it, that sounds like a very dull kids movie (something like Ann of Green Gables); but it couldn't be more different. The movie isn't the easiest watching (no Casino Royale), you need to engage the brain a bit. But the way the narrative develops is great and I certainly feel better for watching it. The movies message is overwhelmingly positive but , when watching it and afterwards I felt very uneasy. I guess the goal of good art is to make you emote...if that is the case then I guess this must be a good movie.

Casino Royale will have to wait until Friday...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Where haven't I been yet?

I saw this tool on Alastair Humphrey's website...very cool site and very cool tool. It just goes to show how much of the world there is still to see...

Where next?

create your own visited country map

Friday, November 10, 2006

Couteaux Ceccaldi...

I was tidying away some things on the side in the spare room this morning and came across some things that we picked up whilst cycle touring in Corsica in the summer. Every time we go on tour we try and pick up a few things that have been created by local artisans to help remind us of our travels.

Given Corsica's traditions of hunting and epicerie one of the obvious momentos would be a small berger's knife. These knives can be picked up in just about any tourist knick-knack emporium, but those that are available are mass produced in Asia. However, there are a still a few artisan coutelliers that make a living
by hand forging and carving these knives.

One of the best is the Ceccaldi clan. The knives they make are true works of art and can run into thousands of euros. The Genoan knifemaking legacy still runs through the lifeblood of the Ceccaldi family and they are keeping t
he art alive and make beatiful works art.I remember reading once that the art of the samurai swordmakers was in the folding of the steel and carbon in the blade. This folding process results in a patina on the blade that is reminiscent of a violent seascape...this is exactly what I see in the work of the Ceccaldi's. I am sure that this is not the last Ceccaldi I will own...

New winter catalogue from Howies

I saw an email in account this afternoon from Howies announcing their Winter collection...attached to the email was this beautiful picture...thanks Howies!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Are we any different?

Having missed my flight back home this afternoon I ended up having longer than I had imagined to catch up on my reading in the BA lounge. As usual they had copies of the New Statesman at hand. The one article that stood out was an editorial piece by Kira Cochrane. The piece compares comments made by Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali about rape to attitudes in the UK. A couple of terrible statistics and comments stood out:

Firstly, it stated the comments of the Sheik: "If I came across a rape crime - kidnap and violation of honour - I would discipline the man and order that the women be arrested and jailed for life". He continued with an even more provocative statement that: "If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street...and the cat eats it, is it the fault of the cat of the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem".

The second thing to stick in the mind were the statistics about rape in the UK. It is estimated that there were 50,000 rapes a year in the UK in 2003, against 11,867 reported cases, resulting in just 629 convictions. Worst of all, when these cases were contested, the womans' testimony was only believed 3-4% of the time. Shameful.

Ms. Cochrane finished her article: "The way a culture deals with rape is one of the best possible indications of how highly it treats its women. As long as British attitudes remain so viciously pre-historic, we need to fight them all the way".

Food for thought...

it quoted a set of statistics about rape cases in the UK

Universalists or Specialists?

I was reflecting on a comment made in the discussion on the Poincaré Conjecture in the In Our Time podcast. To paraphrase, the panel member said that Poincaré was the last in a long line of Universalist mathematicians before the trend towards specialisation. Poincaré's problem solving method relied on his having a multi-disciplinary aproach to mathematics as it allowed him to apply seemingly disconnected methods to problems, thereby finding the key to unlock the problem. I believe that the same was true in the application of topological theory to Fermat's Last Theorum.

The trend to specialisation has continued on it's inexorable course ever since, as scientific endeavour demands ever increasing focus. It seems that this sets science on an evolutionary course of incremental improvements when much of the evidence suggests that the great steps forward or 'paradigm shifts' in Kuhnian terms ocur when there is a discontinuity in the evolutionary process caused by some form of externality.

I guess the point of this 'random ride' is: "Should we be actively encouraging a more multi-disciplinary approach to scientific method, by encouraging researchers and graduates to explore other disciplines, thereby harvesting a fresh crop of ideas to be stored in the sub-conscious".

Intellectual cross-training if you will?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The new iMac

I mentioned in the earlier post that the Giles family have recently purchased an iMac. We are not completely new to the world, hqving owned an iBook in the past. I remember really liking the OSX interface on the iBook but it was a fairly new innovation at the time.

As usual the iMac purchase was somewhat random. Having ventured into the new Mac reseller in Walcot Street to buy a new iPod Nano we were very taken by the 20 and 24 inch iMacs just inside the door. Through idle curiosity we were given a demo by one of the staff and were reminded of how much more user friendly the interface is. Given the we use the home desktop mostly for Sarah's lesson planning, sorting out photos and posting blogs we were much taken by the prospect of using iPhoto and iWeb to start blogging. We managed to exit the shop with just a Nano...

However, after a trip to Cass and Cara's new house we saw there iMac in action and the decision was made. The next weekend we made the purchase. We have only been using the iMac for a week or two but first impressions are great. I am toying with the idea of switching over to an mac based blog rather than using blogger but I suspect I will keep them both going dealing with different topics. I'm sure that over the next few weeks I'll have more to say on how the Apple experience develops...but first im pressions are great

Back in the land of the living...

Sorry for the hiatus in posts but a combination of work and health (or rather - lack off health) have conspired to keep me quiet. After a little encouragement from Cass I will endeavour to get back on the horse.

One of the problems with being busy at work is that you have very little time to do extra-curricular activities. Aside from a fantastic ride with Cass and Cara and a great weekend with Fin and Vanessa things have been focused on work and recovery. My usual spring of cultural stimuli has begun to dry up and I am only now in the process of drilling a well to find a more sustainable source. The purchase of a new iMac has spurred me on to search high and low for interesting catalysts for my musings and I have recently stumbled upon Podcasts. Now, I know that I am late to the game but it has definitely opened up a new front in the battle for stimuli. I will post later on the iMac and how it is changing life in the Giles household, but in the meantime I have some podcasts to catch.

The current crop of podcasts that I have dowloaded (and listen to whilst on the commute to Brussels include: In our time (explorations of a diverse set of topics from The Diet of Worms - which has nothing to do with worms but was an eclesiastical seminar of sorts with Martin Luther, to the mathematics of Poincaré); From our Correspondant (mini-documentary pieces from foreign correspondants); Start the Week - a discussion of books, exhibitions and TV/film with Andrew Marr; Mark Kermode's Radio 5 film review; and, Front Row (a weekly review of books, films, TV and exhibitions).

I am hoping that this will provide a little diversity to my mix of stimuli and trigger some interesting ramblings. On the basis of the Poincaré programme this should be the case. Aside from all the discussions on multi-dimensional topology (most of which washe dover me like a silent creeping mist) there was an interesting insight into his problem solving approach. His view centred around the need to shift the mode of problem solving from the conscious to the sub-conscious. His approach was to exhaust the supply of available inputs and then, when stumped, abandon the problem and move on. He felt that by doing so he could engage his sub-conscious on the problem and solve it by waiting for an unconnected issue to come along that although, on the face of it may not be connected, actually turns out to be the catalyst or key to the issue.

With Poincaré's posthumus advice...I will abandon my thoughts on the issue and listen to the next's to a renaissance of the random ride...