Category Archives: Travel

Pathfinder watch

I heard this object mentioned the other day on Radio 4, and I know it’s got a lot of other press attention, but now that I see it “in person” I can’t help but blog it here. What a lovely idea, and a lovely object, pre-dating GPS by some 70 years (according to MSN). The owner of the watch would load it up with one of a number of pre-printed, linear maps of their journey, and as they drive along in their automobile, they scroll the watch along to see where they’re going.

It’s on display as part of the Weird and Wonderful Inventions exhibition at the British Library in London. Other objects are in MSN’s photo gallery.

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Starbucks closes coffeehouse in Beijing’s Forbidden City

Shannon and I spent our honeymoon in China, stopping off first in Beijing. One of the first tourist sites we visited was the Forbidden City, and amazing, ancient complex of buildings that used to be the home of the Chinese Emperor.

It WAS a bit of a surprise to walk around the corner of one of the beautiful red buildings to find a Starbucks. It just didn’t seem to fit. Of course we eagerly bought our drinks, but somehow it was an uncomfortable fit to find this purveyor of expensive caffeinated beverages, a symbol of Western cookie-cutter consumerism, wedged into such a culturally significant site.

Anyway, it looks like it finally became a bit too much of a negative symbol for the Chinese, too, and the doors of Starbucks’ oddest little barrista-hole have finally shut.

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5 Powerful Reasons to Drive Slower, and How to Do It | zen habits

Zen Habits has a great entry on why and how to force yourself to drive slower during your commute. This is something I struggle with a little during my hour and a half drive to Cambridge. Peer pressure definitely tugs me into the fast lane, but I’ve also noticed what this entry points out – that driving faster barely shaves any time off the typical route, so why bother? Calmly driving at a more sedate pace would also help fight my pangs of guilt at commuting in our Prius. The Prius isn’t that fuel efficient at speed (it’s really optimized for the school run) so I’m not really getting the most out of it. But I would if I coasted and drafted a little more.

“I look around at other drivers and wonder whether they really need to get to where they’re going so fast, and whether they’ll slow down when they get there. I wonder if its really worth burning all that gas and getting so angry and risking so many lives. And then I think about other things, because driving for me has become a time of contemplation.”

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San Jose Museum of Art


Listening Post by Malavagma.

Just visited the San Jose Museum of Art. It’s a small gallery but had a couple of pieces of work that really impressed me. The first was the Listening Post by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin. A curved wall of over 200 LCD displays display words and sentences taken at random from thousands of websites. Sometimes these are spoken by machine voices or sometimes they come and go in waves. Really emotive.

The second set of work I enjoyed was less absorbing than Listening Post but admirable for the patience it must have taken. These were a set of large images done with pallpoint pen on acrylic by Il Lee. They’re really quite beautiful and abstract. In one area of the gallery was an acrylic box filled with discarded pens, whic were used in the creation of a modest sized image. These images must have taken him hours to create.

A couple of great exhibitions in what is a pretty modest museum.

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Business breakfast

Business breakfast by rbanks.

I’m having breakfast at Peggy Sue’s in downtown San Jose after following their trail of signs and balloons which started outside my hotel. Now I’m surrounded by Marilyn, Elvis, JFK and others, eating my breakfast, which is half the price of the hotel’s version and twice as tasty. Sitting in a booth (my favorite place in any restaurant), which is of course 50′s red, watching people start their days.

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