Botanical Gardens

We went to Berkeley Botanical Gardens last Sunday. It was an opportunity to take lots of pictures. The Gardens cover 24 acres and feature over 13,000 different kinds of plants.

Botanical Gardens 251

However, this post is not so much about the Gardens, as the parking for the gardens. There is a small pay car park across from the entrance. I saw machines, so assumed it was a pay and display, where I would need to get a ticket and place it in the window of the car. I walked across to the machine and read the instructions.  These required you to enter the number of the bay in which you were parked. This presumably means that parkers do not need to return to their car once they have paid, as there is no ticket for the window. Since, I had no idea that was how it worked, I had left my camera in the car and had no idea of the number, so a return trip was going to be needed.

I can see why this is seemed like a good idea to the planners, but if you are going to require people to enter the number of the place they parked, it helps if you repaint the numbers from time to time.  The numbers were no longer legible. We were forced to take a guess based on the vague shapes left on our slot and the ones other side.

Botanical Gardens 252

Published in: on 30 April, 2010 at 5:59  Leave a Comment  

Packing Tape

If you make packing tape, there does seem much opportunity to be creative with your product’s name. One manufacturer, however, has demonstrated that there is a way of ensuring a memorable name:

Packing Tape

Published in: on 27 April, 2010 at 6:16  Leave a Comment  

Service Problems

If you were in charge of a major mobile US phone company, who has notoriously unreliable 3G coverage in New York and San Francisco and had less 3G coverage than your main rival. Would you

a) Invest heavily in improving your network, to meet the increased demand from all of the iPhone users that have signed up in recent years.

b) Invest heavily in a rebranding exercise that includes a revision to your logo

c) Claim that you have service in over 220 countries, even though the UN knows of just 192 countries

d) Sell a $150 unit to your customers  in the aforementioned poor reception areas that plugs into their home internet connection and allows them to use the cellphones for which they are already paying you

e) All of the above except a)

If you answered e) then congratulations, you could be CEO of AT&T

Published in: on 17 April, 2010 at 7:07  Leave a Comment  

The Doctor

Saturday brings us the third story of the Doctor’s 31st season. As previously recorded, I loved the opener. The second story made me shiver with fear and brought tears to my eyes; which is what I want from Who.

Neither episode matches Moffat’s best nor reaches my all time Top Ten, but these are the best two openers of a season since 1976 and season 14 started with The Masque of Mandragora and The Hand of Fear. I am starting to understand what  Matt Smith brings to the role. The new companion has an obsession with the Doctor from childhood that  resonates with me. She has, as the second episode shows, a more confident moral compass than any to which I could aspire.


I wish that Moffat had the confidence to face his first season without Daleks and Cybermen. I understand the attraction that these classic monsters bring, but the series is more than that. The show’s finest years include many without either foe.

The third episode trailers shows Churchill with Daleks as British secret weapons. This feels out of kilter, as the whole point of Daleks is that they are Nazis; racial supremacists ne plus ultra. The idea of a Dalek with a British flag on it during our fight against Dalek ideas seems so wrong. I hope that the plot addresses that dichotomy. 

Published in: on 17 April, 2010 at 0:29  Leave a Comment  

George Orwell

I can understand why there is a square in Barcelona named for George Orwell, given his service in the Spanish Civil War and his book: Homage to Catalonia. However, the sign in this picture is more than a little ironic and brings to mind another of his books


[Geeks Are Sexy]

Published in: on 16 April, 2010 at 6:57  Leave a Comment  

The Purpose of the Internet

Everyone knows that the real purpose of the Internet is to allow people to watch funny videos of cats. In the last few weeks though, much of the net has been full of stuff about the iPad. Now the two are combined in a video in which a cute cat plays with an iPad

Published in: on 14 April, 2010 at 6:09  Leave a Comment  

The Less Healthy Option

Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC, as they are now branded, introduced grilled chicken as an option a few months ago. In the interest of balancing this more healthy option, they have just announced a new sandwich. It is called the Double Down and consists of bacon and cheese between two pieces of fried chicken. This single sandwich has 540 calories, 32g of fat, and 1380mg of Sodium. Good to see that KFC is working to maintain America’s world leading position at the top of the obesity league

Published in: on 8 April, 2010 at 6:00  Leave a Comment  

Opening Day

I attended the baseball Opening Day at Oakland Coliseum. For once there was a real crowd in the stadium. There were empty seats, but they were vastly outnumbered by people. There was a good atmosphere throughout the game; despite an exodus after the seventh inning. The team did not respond; an error strewn performance resulted in a 5-3 defeat. As usually happens when I go to see the As play and they lose they win on the following night.


Before the game there was the presentation of Rookie of the Year award to Andrew Bailey; the As entire team and coaching staff were introduced to the crowd. The national anthem was performed, as happens before every game. What made this unusual was that fireworks were let off, not just after the anthem, but during it. The line about rockets red glare was marked by a barrage of the aforementioned fireworks.

Published in: on 7 April, 2010 at 7:01  Leave a Comment  

New Season

As the English football season heads towards its climax, hopefully with Norwich City being promoted, another season starts. Easter Sunday sees the start of the baseball season here in the US. I know that many in the UK see this sport as a version of rounders; a game played by young kids. This is a horribly short-sighted way of looking at a game whose roots run deep in the American psyche and offers a thrilling spectacle.

I live with two of the thirty major league teams at about the same distance. The Oakland As are 43 miles from my home and the SF Giants are 41 miles. Despite the slight advantage in distance, the As stadium is an easier drive and they share colours with my beloved Norwich City, so I support the Oakland As.

I went to see them play four times last year; three defeats and a walk off home run with two men out at the bottom of the ninth as the only victory. Despite that evidence, I am excited for the new season and have a ticket for their first game of the season; Monday evening against the Seattle Mariners


Published in: on 4 April, 2010 at 8:47  Leave a Comment  

A Mad Man With a Box

I was six and at a friend’s house when I first met The Doctor. It was 1971 and the show was already eight years old. It ran until 1989 in the UK and was revived in 2005. This year, for its 31st season, the lead actor, the companion, and the creative team changed. I was slightly nervous, but the opening episode wiped those fears away.

The new companion first met The Doctor at about the same age that I saw that first episode, so I immediately related to her. When I was six I wanted to rush into the TARDIS; I felt for her as she sat with her suitcase waiting for The Doctor’s return. The story had an almost perfect balance of creepiness, reverence to the past, and humour and the new actor stepped into the part and wiped away any lingering regrets for the wonderful Tennant.


For the last four years, since the show’s revival, the opening story has been weak compared to the rest of the season. The necessity of introducing a new companion or Doctor has interfered with the narrative. I hope the same is true again; if this is the weakest episode of the season, then we will surpass the best of the Hinchcliffe & Holmes years.

This story is in my top ten since the show returned. The others in that list are: Blink, Empty Child/Doctor Dances, Dalek, Father’s Day, Human Nature/Family of Blood, Turn Left, Girl in the Fireplace, Midnight,Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. It is probably no coincidence that all three of the new script editor’s previous stories are in that list; here is a man who understands how to make Doctor Who scary

Published in: on 3 April, 2010 at 23:31  Leave a Comment