khaosworks: (Spoiler Alert)
Just zooming in and out of the US this time only for SDCC and to hang out with [ profile] logam for a few days. So here's the travel arrangements.

22 July
0915 SQ 16 - SIN to SFO (via ICN)
1435 VX 956 - SFO to SAN

26 July
2015 VX 969 - SAN to SFO

1 August
0105 SQ 1 - SFO to SIN (via HKG)

2 August
1140 - Touchdown in SIN

See y'all at SDCC who's going. ([ profile] cadhla, which booth are you going to be at?)
khaosworks: (London)
Just to update everyone: tickets on the Singapore Airlines A380 from Singapore to London have been booked. I'm leaving Singapore at 23:45 SGT on 5 February, arriving at London Heathrow the next morning at 05:45 GMT on 6 February. I'll then ride the Tube into dump most of my stuff at my rooms in North London before taking a train up to Grantham later that morning or afternoon for the AXXIdental weekend.

I'll be back in London by the afternoon of Monday, 9 February, and will be spending the next week in cold, soggy London. I will be reluctantly leaving on the evening of Sunday, 15 February at 22:05 GMT (on the A380 Business Class! Yeah, used my miles.), arriving the next evening in Singapore at 18:45 SGT on 16 February.

Those are the travel plans. Anything else in between can be worked out - do let me know.
khaosworks: (Zadie LOLCat)
Touched down yesterday, and am ensconced in my youngest sister Adelin's apartment in Brooklyn.

My new niece couldn't wait, it seems - she was born while Mom and I were en route to the US.

I've been announcing it all over, so I apologize for the redundancy, but for those not in the know: Zadie Marina Malik, born 4.33am, 29 November 2008 at New York University Medical Center, 6 lbs 4 oz.

Both mother (my younger sister Jasmin) and daughter are doing fine and of course she's the bestest most beautiful baby in the world,

Some pictures at for a start.

Yeah, I'm going to be one of those uncles.
khaosworks: (Default)
Just to let the folks from New York City and environs know:

I'll be in arriving on November 29 and leaving December 13. So meet ups, etc, can be arranged. Will be in Jersey City to welcome the arrival of my first niece.

(Anyone able to get tickets for a taping of The Daily Show?)
khaosworks: (Chilling)
Comic-Con is done, will update soon. But pictures are at my Flickr page. Currently ensconced in [ profile] cadhla's house in Concord, CA.

I also bought myself an AT&T pay-as-you-go SIM card I took from a GoPhone and stuck in my N95, so if you need to reach me while I'm in the US, the number is (925) 890-5952.
khaosworks: (LOLHulk)
Am in my room at the Holiday Inn By The Bay, San Diego, showered and ready to head down to collect my badge. Those who follow me on Twitter will know the basics, but I'll talk in detail about the horror story that was my trip over later (but really, knowing me, is there any other kind?).

In the meantime, this is what I had for breakfast before I left Singapore. The cool thing is that I was reading the New York Times on my iPod Touch.

khaosworks: (Default)
Just to get this nagging question out of the way:

Any idea where I can get one of those pay-as-you-go SIM cards for my mobile phone when I touch down in San Diego?
khaosworks: (Chilling)
Tickets booked for the US trip this July, via United Airlines:

23 July Singapore to San Diego
30 July San Diego to San Francisco
6 August San Francisco to Denver
11 August Denver to Singapore

Will be spending the gap week in and around the Bay Area before Worldcon with [ profile] cadhla and gang.
khaosworks: (D'oh!)
... have the hotel bookings for Worldcon opened yet?

ETA: I'm an idiot. I forgot I've already got a hotel room with some people for Denvention. Sorry. Cancel alert. I'm a dunce.

Gap week

May. 14th, 2008 09:16 pm
khaosworks: (Who?)
Still trying to figure out what to do in the nine days or so between Comic-Con at the end of July and Denver Worldcon in the second week of August. I don't drive, so that cuts down on the options a bit.

I'm really open to suggestions: anyone want to offer me crash space somewhere in the week between, or suggest travelling options between the two states. Or anyone taking a road trip up to Worldcon that'd like the company? Or... anything, really, as long as it's sorta kinda in the space between California and Colorado?

Worst case scenario, I might wind up in Vegas or Salt Lake City or rent a cabin in Rocky Mountain National Park or something...


Apr. 29th, 2008 06:45 am
khaosworks: (Filk)
Aside from folks in the UK, who else here is planning on aXXIdental next year?

I is back

Apr. 23rd, 2008 10:33 am
khaosworks: (Default)
And sweating.

Well, not so much now with the help of a shower and air-conditioning. But I'm back.
khaosworks: (London)
Got dressed up all posh in a suit yesterday to go down to the Royal Courts of Justice and pay a call on Steven Whitaker, the Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division, the equivalent of Singapore's Registrar of the Supreme Court. Whitaker had paid us a visit a couple of months ago in Singapore and we had met then, and I promised I'd stop by and say hello when I was around.

The Royal Courts are on Fleet Street, just north of the Temple, the area around the Temple Church established by the Knights Templar as their headquarters in England in times past. Temple Bar stands across from the Royal Courts, marking the supposed boundary between the City of London and the City of Westminster.

As those who've read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum know, the Templars were dissolved in 1314, and their property passed to their rivals, the Knights Hospitalier. It was during this time that barristers began to take up residence in the Temple, which was centred around the Middle and Inner Temple halls. When the Hospitalier's left, the lawyers continued to stay there and took over the Temple by Royal Charter in 1608.

To understand why lawyers came in here is because at that time, all cases were heard in the Royal Courts in the City of Westminster, regardless of where they originated in the country, so there were literally inns for barristers to stay when they were arguing cases in the courts. These eventually evolved into the Inns of Court, the professional associations to which every barrister belongs. The Middle Temple and the Inner Temple are two of them (I was a Middle Templar myself, but due to various reasons, never got called to the UK bar), and the other two, situated away from the Temple are, are Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. The current Royal Courts of Justice building, built in the 19th Century, was set up for convenience's sake to be what had become the legal quarter for London, not the other way around.

I hadn't been back to the Temple in a while, so I got there about an hour before my lunch appointment to take pictures of the old place. Photography isn't allowed inside the Royal Courts, so I can't show you what it's like, but it's an old, very complex building, with tall ceilings and large chambers. Say what you want about modernizing court buildings, but I like the smell and feel of these old chambers — I believe that the law should have a certain grandeur, a certain air of authority, and it's not helped if we look like a bank. Anyhow, I had a nice chat and cup of tea with Steven and we had lunch with some of his colleagues in the Inner Temple. Great food... I dare say better than the Middle in my day, and the Inner Temple Hall is is much more brightly lit. Dinners at the Middle were practically shrouded in gloom, which made eating Rainbow Trout a bit of an adventure, considering the bones.

I considered taking a walk along the Embankment after that, but my feet took me towards Chancery Lane instead, so I took the Tube home. There's actually some events surrounding Shakespeare's Birthday this weekend (Old Bill was born, and the new Globe Season starts, on 23 April, St. George's Day) On Saturday I'll be having lunch with [ profile] plaid_dragon and her boyfriend, and on Sunday I might just go by the Globe Theatre and check out the festivities of the Open Day.
khaosworks: (London)
The activity du jour was a visit to Emirates Stadium, the new home of Arsenal F.C. now that Highbury is gone. I'd booked one of the more expensive Legends Tours, a more expensive tour of the premises hosted by one of several legendary ex-players one can book. I decided to go for the one led by Charlie George — if being part of the Double winning 1970-71 squad wasn't enough, the fact that he once headbutted Kevin Keegan would make him a legend in my book. I took the tube to Holloway Road, which was nearest the entrance where the tour would start.

It was a great tour, lasting about one and a half hours, and it was a thrill just being so near the pitch and being in the home of my favourite football team. Charlie is a lovely, friendly guy. Chatty, informative, and took the time to talk with some of us individually even as we were being escorted through the stadium, taking photographs of the environs as well as with him. We got to sit in the Directors' Seats (managed to stitch together a nice panoramic shot of the stadium from that perspective), looked at the Time Capsule in the foundations of the stadium, saw the Home team dressing room (with attached physio room and hydrotherapy spa), go down to the pitch through the players' tunnel and got a chance to sit where Arsene Wenger sits during home games. Nice bit of trivia: the Home dressing room is horseshoe shaped, partly because Wenger feels that square shapes are negative. Naturally enough - the Away team dressing room is... square.

At the end of the tour in the Media Room, where the post-game press briefing is usually done, Charlie answered questions that both touched on his career as well as his opinions about the state of the team currently, and he signed the picture that was included in the goodie bag that they handed us at the start of the tour. The bag included a "limited edition" keyring with silver-painted plastic charms of the Arsenal shield and a cannon. Cheap, but semiotically significant to an Arsenal fan.

The tour ended there and we were escorted of course to the Armoury gift shop. I didn't get the kit (my last set was from the 2001-02 season) because it's the end of season and a new one will be out soon enough in the summer, but I did get a tie and a couple of gifts for my colleague and fellow Gooner Julian. After that, I worked my way around the stadium to the Arsenal Museum and had a look around. I walked up to Arsenal tube station, near which there's a sign advertising the residences they're building on the former Highbury site. Oh, if only I could afford one...

Later in the afternoon I went did some laundry at Ros's flat; I had limited the amount of clothes I brought this time around to save on weight and luggage space, so that'll last me another week. Ros is flying back to Singapore for a visit tomorrow so she'll be rid of me at last. I fly home myself next Tuesday.
khaosworks: (London)
I popped down to the Museum of London today at the Barbican, only to discover to my disappointment that the exhibits stop at the Great Fire of London — the lower galleries are being refurbished and won't be ready until Autumn of 2009... ah well, another excuse to return I suppose.

But since I was at the Barbican, I decided to go and seek the Minotaur.

The word "barbican" means a fortification, and is the only residential estate in the City of London, thirty-five acres of concrete tower blocks built on an area that was heavily bombed in World War II. Development of the Barbican Estate started in the mid-1950s and continued for the next two decades, some of those blocks over 400 feet high and some of the tallest in Europe. Aside from the residences, it houses the Barbican Arts Centre, but the walkways and the generally gloomy feel of the towers hemming you in from all sides lends the place an oppressive atmosphere, and it's nearly impossible to navigate your way around the mostly identical towers without the use of maps or signs, which thankfully there are. But even then it's a huge area to cover.

In the midst of this modern Labyrinth, it's probably appropriate that there's a Minotaur — not at the centre of it — but on one of the high walks, hidden in the midst of one of the elevated gardens. Sculpted in bronze by the late Michael Ayrton, I first came across it five years ago while walking from the Museum towards Moorgate Tube, and I quite forgot where it was in the intervening years; to the point where I almost thought I had imagined it. Trying to find it this time was a veritable quest which took me to the Barbican Arts Centre itself, which was completely in the wrong direction, until I remembered where it was that I was heading to the first time I saw it. Yes, I could have asked for directions, but where would the fun be in that? If one wants to see the Minotaur, one must brave the labyrinth.

After a few hours, some of which I spent at the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art exhibit at the Barbican Art Gallery, I found my way to St. Alphage Highwalk and there it was, in all its glory. It's tucked among foliage, so if one doesn't actually go into the garden, one might quite easily miss it. But of course, once you step in, the presence of this honking bronze creature can't really escape you. And so, finally... photographic evidence that there lurks a Minotaur in the Barbican.
khaosworks: (London)
Spent Sunday mostly at home, really. Decided to recuperate from much activity the previous three days and enjoy Series Two of Joking Apart on DVD. Today, however, I decided to do a little walking around London and do my Charing Cross Road bookstore run. Originally intending to do a walker along the Embankment, my feet took me towards Trafalgar Square instead, and after the obligatory photo taking, I found myself popping into the Waterstone's on the corner, where the temptation of 3 books for the price of 2 grew too great and I succumbed to Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policeman's Union (the former which I've read but the latter I haven't... and the new covers are rather nice), and also QI: The Pocket Book of General Ignorance. I also picked up something I ordered from Foyle's the night before, after watching this courtesy of Mike Evanier's blog — On The Line: The Story of A Chorus Line. It's always been one of my favourite musicals and I didn't know they'd written a book about it.

I did a look around Forbidden PricesPlanet and stopped by Murder One, walked through Leicester Square and wasted several quid at the Trocadero... reliving my university days, really, except I no longer drink. I had some soup at a Pret A Manger's, but the substantial lunch was had at Inn Noodle along Oxford Street, just off the Tottenham Court Road Tube, which serves pretty good La Mian (essentially, freshly made noodles). Ros had recommended the Beef with Chilli Oil, but they were out of that by the time I got there so I had to settle for the Soy Chicken, which was still pretty good. It compares very favourably to the La Mian we get in Singapore, only thicker than our variety.

My phone's battery picked the best time to die on me, just when I was about to arrange to meet Ros for dinner and Spamalot, but I got to a public telephone in time. Spamlot was very silly and very enjoyable... I won't really go into the specifics, but for a long-time Python fan like myself, it was a treat and well worth watching. Go and watch it yourselves or I will taunt-a you a second time-a. Or a third. But five is right out.
khaosworks: (London)
Was supposed to meet a bunch of people in Kensington Gardens yesterday - an event organized by a member of a group called Single in London for walking around in the spring air, taking photographs and generally talking about photography and socializing. However, barely half an hour after I got there, it started raining, and it got very heavy, very fast. It didn't seem like it was going to let up, so the group decided to make their way to Paddington Station. As I got there early, I did manage to get a few photographs before the weather changed, though. Will upload those at some point.

Rather than walk to Paddington, Ros and I decided that we'd rather go to the British Museum, and that's where we spent a few hours with me grumbling about the plunder that the Empire has appropriated over the centuries. After that, Ros went for a friend's birthday party and I made my way to [ profile] telynor and [ profile] filceolaire's place where I had dinner with them, [ profile] pola_bear, [ profile] mokatiki, their respective boyfriends and Gavin while watching the latest episode of Doctor Who. A good time was had by all, especially playing the Name Game afterwards (no, not the Name Game you're thinking of - this one involves writing down names of famous people and trying to get your partner to guess it like on the Pyramid game show).

Right now it's sunny, but as I discovered yesterday, that can change incredibly fast. I'm kind of dreading going down to Central London because today's the London Marathon. I might see about going to Whitechapel today, but I'm not sure. I'll figure it out after breakfast.
khaosworks: (Doctor Me)
So, I went to the Doctor Who Exhibition at Earl's Court yesterday. First off, despite what Time Out might tell you, you shouldn't get off at Earl's Court Station... and not just because the proper exit is not Earl's Court Road, but Warick Road on the other end of the station. It's because even once you go out via the Warick Road exit, and see the Earl's Court Exhibition Centre in front of you... you can't go in that way. Noooo, they've closed off traffic, so you have to walk to the other side of the Exhibition Centre (which is actually opposite the West Brompton Tube).

Once there, though, it's not necessarily easy to find the entrance. It's not as if the hottest series in recent British television history has huge signs pointing you the way to the exhibition: the entrance is a pretty pathetic looking side door that has steps leading down to the bowels of the centre where the exhibits are held. Ros and I went completely the wrong way until we backtracked to this location, which (if facing Earl's Court One from West Brompton Tube, is on your right).

After they check your tickets, you walk down a corridor with pictures of the various Doctors and a short descriptor as to who they were. Old-time fans take note: this is pretty much all you'll hear of the past of the series prior to 2005. Once you hit a general introduction wall and walk through a corridor of creaky Autons, everything is new series from this point.

They say there are washrooms somewhere in the first room, but if there were, we didn't find any. Still, the centrepiece there is the TARDIS, with a Tenth Doctor dummy. You can't tell from the photos, but they project Tennant's face rather unconvincingly onto the dummy so he can rattle on about space time rifts and Cybermen while everyone ignores the narration and takes pictures with the TARDIS instead.

The exhibition, ultimately, is a collection of props, and the kiddies are most excited just taking pictures next to the TARDIS, or the Cybermen, or the Daleks. The most popular of course, was taking a shot beneath the Weeping Angel.

There's one interactive display I spotted in the exhibition proper, and it was busted (thank you, Bill Gates). There's also a small feature on how they created the Ood faces, but the bit where you can manipulate the eyes and tentacles on an Ood prosthetic was also broken. There's also a dodgy blue-screen demonstration where you can be placed inside the TARDIS console room, but it evidently doesn't go well with my outfit, as you can see here... on the other hand, it's a suitably creepy effect (maybe I'm an Emergency Hologram). The "Dalek Experience" basically consists of a couple of Daleks shifting about, one very shakily levitating and several pin-point lasers zapping through a mist. Of course, later there's the obligatory "control a Dalek" exhibit where you rattle levers and use the voice changer to show what a sad fanboy you are. Kid size of course, but that doesn't stop me!

And finally, the gift shop. I have a few more photographs, and you can see the whole set here — in the end, I'm sure the kiddies were delighted, but I was mildly disappointed because I wish they'd had more material on the old series. Yeah, I know, I know, people are more about the new series, but still. It says something (more about me, probably) the exhibit I was most excited to see was K-9. Ros, as a non-fan was probably bored and uncomprehending but too polite to say so. At least she got some pictures out of it.

And that was it; all in all, took about an hour to wind our way through. After that, we made our way to Charing Cross Road to have some tea (and a lovely slice of cake at this Italian café called Amato's) and later went down to see Oriental City in Colindale. This shopping centre is a dying one, and basically while it was supposedly a centre for the Asian community, aside from the food court which showcases lots of Asian food - still dodgy by my standards but a step up from your standard take out fare... to be honest though, you can get better dim sum in Chinatown — it's not commercially viable and right now it's a bit run down because it's closing. In June, the new owners will clear it to make way for residences, a B&Q (Home Depot type DIY store) and a school.

And that was my Friday. Today, if the weather holds out, I'll be going down to Kensington Gardens to enjoy the flowers coming out for spring and taking pictures.
khaosworks: (London)
Back at the McDonald's on High Street, Hornsey after a good first day. Not feeling all that jet-lagged; I used to be able to follow the sun before I started all this sleep apnea nonsense and after a few years with the CPAP I'm pretty much back to that as long as I can get a good six-seven hours sleep somewhere along the way for my clock to reset. On the other hand, I do not trust to nature and so I have coffee and a bottle of Pepsi Max or Coke Zero as backup.

So how was the flight over? Now, people who know me and have seen me after long commutes know that I look even more like hell after them. My face is peeling from the dry air of the cabin, my hair goes flat, I'm even more dour and/or cranky than usual, and I just want to get into a bed or a shower. I don't know if it's just Singapore Airlines or the A380, but it was one of the better trips I've ever had on an jet, and my best experience in an Economy transcontinental flight. Photos follow in links.

After an incredibly wide airbridge to the plane, I entered a connector that brought me directly into the upper deck of the jet - no stair climbing involved. In fact, throughout the entire flight, if I hadn't seen the staircase at the back of the upper deck going down I'd have had no real idea that I was on the upper deck of an aircraft. The Executive Economy cabin doesn't really look all that much bigger than your standard economy but it actually is just a tad wider in the aisles as well as the seat, and those smidgens add up so it does feel more comfortable. Not Business Class comfortable, definitely, but you don't feel like you're trying to contort yourself into the seat.

The squee-able feature for me, though, even if in the end I didn't use it much, was the fact that for the first time in Economy, I'm seeing an in-seat power supply. You don't need those airplane adaptors, either: the plug is a standard US model. So if you're using a US appliance or have (like I did) one of those conversion plugs, you're good to go. Because it's using your own power brick, I think it even charges your battery, unlike using an airplane adaptor. No on-board wi-fi, sadly.

But as it turns out, if you're dead set on actually working instead of using the KrisWorld entertainment service, which has a buttload of movies on demand, they have a suite of office applications. I'm told you can request for a keyboard which plugs into the display (which also has a USB port and what looks like a connector for an external display or audio). You can even "learn a new language" or listen to "executive summaries" of books.

Everything's spanking new, including the controllers. There was a problem with my display, so they had to reboot the system for my seat... which led me to the discovery that it runs on Red Hat Linux.

Oh, and the toilet taps are made from recycled Cylons.

The A380 is a monster when it takes off and lands: when it took off, I could hear things popping and creaking which didn't fill me with much confidence, but once it hits 34,000 feet cruising it's quieter than your standard 747 (or at least I thought so). Aside from a long spot of turbulence a couple of hours into the flight it was otherwise smooth. The temperature in the cabin was also warmer than other cabins I've flown: I didn't even need the blanket and was in T-shirt and jeans the whole trip. The humidity was also turned up so it was like being in actual air rather than being freeze-dried. I hear that the cabins for that A380 also have increased oxygen pressurization to make people feel more alert when they reach their destination, and I got to admit, the hair wasn't flat, my face didn't feel like my sofa after a cat had been through with it, and I felt less achey and cranky than I usually do.

So, not feeling at all jet-lagged, I took the Tube into London, an hour ride from Heathrow to Turnpike Lane and schlepped my luggage up to my room. The neighbourhood doesn't change: oh, some shops are gone, new ones are up, but the feel of surburban London is always the same. Before I showed up, I applied on-line for Orange to send me one of their pre-paid SIM cards and I had that set up and had a shower and shave before I headed out. The friend I was going to meet for dinner wasn't available until the actual dinner time, so I took advantage of the overcast but otherwise pleasant spring weather (blue skies over London, oh I have missed you) to take a walk around Green Park and Berkeley Square. As I twittered, alas no nightingales, although I think I saw the Whomping Willow.

After a quick stop by the Apple Store in Regent's Street for the free wi-fi, I hung around at the Borders Books on Oxford Street for a couple of hours before meeting Rosalind. She took me to Ran, a Korean Restaurant just behind Oxford Street, and we had some very yummy Korean barbecue (which, as she will remind me often, is a definite step up from Seoul Garden back home). So that was pretty much the first evening: good food, good company and an after-dinner pot of tea at the Landmark Hotel in Marylbone (where they're holding the BAFTAs and there was some sort of dinner reception... neither of us thought we should risk crashing the proceedings). I got back to my room at around midnight and was awakened by the sun at about 10 to 8 this morning.

Today will be attending the Doctor Who Exhibition at Earl's Court and a trip to Oriental City this evening to see it before it gets torn down. Monday night, Spamalot! Pictures will eventually follow.
khaosworks: (London)
Am safely in London after a quite nice flight actually, all things considered. But more on that later. I've got myself an Orange pay-as-you-go SIM card, so if you need to reach me, my mobile number here is 07530244406.

Just surfing the net via The Cloud at the Mcdonald's just down the street from where I'm staying and waiting for some return phone calls.

December 2011

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