To Yosemite and back, all in 3 days

Jun 11, 2005 | | 0 comments |

So we finally did our Yosemite trip at the end of last week. We flew to Reno on wednesday, and drove to Yosemite. Spent the day in the park on thursday then drove back on friday and flew back to SLC from Reno. 600 miles of driving for one day in the park. It's a complicated story.
We stayed at the Yosemite Lodge. Let me tell you that is not a $130-a-night hotel. It's a $45-a-night motel at best. No air conditioning, rooms full of mosquitos, peeling paint and wallpaper and rotting wood in the doors and window frames.
The food was incredibly over-priced. If we'd eaten in the main restaurant, it would have been $50 a head for dinner, at least.
Instead we ate in the cafeteria, which was still $20 for breakfast! The staff in there were unusually rude and stand-offish for America.
It seems that most of the lodging in the Yosemite valley (with one exception) is in dire need of renovation and modernisation. Curry Village especially, looked like a Crimean War era camp. It was unbelievably primitive.
The exception is the Ahwahnee hotel, with its ultra-exclusive dining, valet parking, hot and cold running whores and magnificent views. Lets just say that their dinner menu didn't have prices on it, and they demanded dinner wear - full suits.

We had a $15 pizza from Degnan's Cafe in the Yosemite Village instead, which was awesome and didn't need any dress code :-)

Still, it didn't really ruin the break. The park made up for it with the views and activities. We rented bikes and rode around on the thursday, then drove up to Glacier Point for a view of the whole park and its associated mountains and valleys. Been there, done that. Next time we might do it without so much driving to- and from.

And to top it off, I pulled $55 out of a 5¢ "Alien" slot machine at Reno whilst waiting for the flight back. Sweet.

Awesome weather

Jun 7, 2005 | | 0 comments |

The 7th of June and its snowing!
We've had thunderstorms all night. The temperature has plummetted from 25°C at the weekend to 6°C right now. I'm looking at a rain/sleet mix outside the office with 60mph winds and thunderstorms rolling up the valley. This is great!

Pay-per-mile driving.

Jun 6, 2005 | | 0 comments |

The brain-dead politicians in England have given their stamp of approval to a scheme so Orwellian in its scope that it must be stopped at all costs.
They want to remove the road tax and fuel duty, and instead get everyone to install a GPS tracker in their vehicle so they can be charged per mile driven.
The litany of questions this raises proves that, as always with the British government, they haven't thought it through at all.

- GPS tracking? Civil liberties? Big Brother? George Orwell?
- what about foreign trucks and visitors? No GPS device means they use the roads for free and get uber-cheap petrol
- who's going to pay to have all these devices installed?
- what about older vehicles that won't have them?
- what about the incentive to drive cleaner vehicles? Per-mile charging means a 60mpg Prius owner would be charged as much as a 4mpg Hummer owner.
- where's the public transport alternative? England has worse-than-third-world public transport. It's unreliable, dirty, expensive, dangerous and never runs on time. You'd think the the government realises that nobody sits in congested traffic for fun. Of course they realise - they realise you have no choice so they can charge you for it.

So then. Not only can people not afford to buy a house close to their work because of the unbearable housing prices, but they now won't be able to afford to commute either. Think about it. Under their scheme, at £1.34 a mile in peak hours, it would cost someone £335 a day to commute from Bristol to London - a trip thousands of commuters make each day. (125 miles each way x £1.34). What do they propose these people do? Take the train instead? 4 trains an hour with a capacity of - what - 600 people max? 2400 people an hour? The M4 carries 2400 people a minute at peak times - there's no way the trains could cope.

This is so draconian that if it wasn't the Labour government, it would be almost unbelievable. However, given their never ending desire to tax everyone for anything and everything, no matter how small, I'm sure the annals of power view this proposal as a surefire success.

Professor Garel Rhys of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research put it best: "Governments will upset at their peril society's wish to do what it wants to do and that is to move around."

London Olympics?

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Yikes! London is now second favourite after Paris in the bid for the 2012 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee evaluation commission believes London can deliver promises on venues, transport, the environment and legacy.

Venues - no. There's no space to build Olympic venues.
Transport - no. London is gridlocked and Red Ken just keeps taxing people left right and centre because of it.
Environment - no. London is still a filthy city. A day trip with a ride in the tube will teach you that.

Methinks there's some bribery going on here.

Bloody imperial system!

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Why do England and America insist on clinging to an outdated system of weights and measures that makes no sense?
This weekend I had to get some strong weed killer for some spurge in our garden. I got a hand pump sprayer and a bottle of the stuff. The instructions told me to use 2 fl.oz or 1 tbps per gallon, and the hand pump sprayer had markings up to 24oz. on it. So I'm stuck with three different measures and trying to figure out how much of this stuff I needed in a 24 oz. sprayer. I had to convert everything to metric to figure it out and when I did, it was so simple : 10ml for every 750ml of water. Or a 1:75 ratio.
Why couldn't they just say that on the instructions. Give me the ratio, or give it me in simple metric volumes. Don't throw out gallons, ounces, fluid ounces and tablespoons and expect me to be able to figure that out. Imperial weights and measures don't make and sense - they never have. They're inconsistent from one measure to the next - some things divide by 6, some by 12, some by 14, and some by 24. Just use the damned metric system would you? Everyone's been tought it since the early 70s!

Episode 3 : cool

Jun 5, 2005 | | 0 comments |

We finally went to see SW Episode 3 last night, and it was cool. One of the more noteworthy parts of the film was the obvious comparison of Anakin Skywalker to "President" B*sh, specifically, his speech about "if you're not with me, you're against me". As Darth Sidious is taking over the Empire, there's a scene in the main government building where Amidala says "so this is how freedom dies - with thunderous applause" as Sidious announces that his agents were sweeping the galaxy, spreading freedom (ie. slaughtering millions). There was another good analogy talking about how the state which strives for freedom and democracy turns into the oppressor itself. I guess that's one of the nice things about being an independant film maker - you don't have to pander to the wills of a studio. Clearly George Lucas thinks the same of B*sh as me, 50% of America, and the rest of the world.
There was a pretty high cheese factor in one scene though where a couple of wookies swing down on vines to attack an Empire tank, yodelling the Tarzan yodel. Why?
Overall the film was excellent. The Millenium Falcon put in an appearance, and you could see the origins of the X-wing and the TIE fighters, as well as the trademark hexagonal cockpit window in the spaceships coming from the Corellian shipyards (as in the front of the Millenium Falcon). Lucas also did his first true transition from orbit to planet complete with atmospheric re-entry - something which has been curiously absent from all the other films where spaceships just seem to plummet to the ground with no ill effects.
Top film. On to the DVD wishlist it goes.