Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Farnborough HospitalQuick, look, while it lasts...

Casino Avenue has managed to post without ripping anyone to shreds too much.

Oh and there's some snow around in some places. But not here. This morning there was snowing lying in what I believe is technically known as "dregs". And it was snowing great guns at about 8, but some how the snow landing seemed to remove the lying snow. It's been snowing on and off all day (and typing about bad weather has once again brought the sun out). Oddly, it doesn't feel that cold, until the wind blows, and drives snow into your ears.

Having to go elsewhere today, I met with a group of people, who all sat and discussed the dreadful weather and their awful drives [instant ostracism = "I walked"]. Apparently theAA.com maps are still having problems with the concept of one-way systems. It's quite amusing listening to people discussing the horrendous roads (and I don't mean weather induced problems), all whilst not pointing out that that's the nicest road round here.

It's also fairly interesting studying these people, all of whom are supposed to know the area, as they have to sell things to people round here, make comments which physically crunch as they come out of the mouth. Best quote from one of them (and they were an odd bunch) was, when everyone else was discussing football, and I was aiming for the tuna sandwiches, was someone, when encountering criticism of his support of Chelsea[1], hoping to secure his position by saying it's because he's local: his parents live there. Doesn't quite mesh with him trying to out-pleb other people in the room.

[1] It's a football club, owned by a very rich Russian. Football is the one with round black and white ball, not that American thing where they all look like Kryton on steroids.

Anyway, given we were all supposed to be experts on the area, or at least have attempted some research, about half the people there only seem to have looked up where the place was simply for the purposes of finding their way there.

One of them even asked "so what is an average X resident?", only to be surprised by the result (hint: if one asks a question, wait for the reply before jumping in with one's insight. It occasionally stops one getting it spectacularly wrong).

Although for a "for the people" place, there were a heck of a lot of snide comments. People discussing key workers, or the lack of thereof, induced by a lack of housing, and one of the comments was "Yes, we've had several letters to complain that people simply can't get a gardener or housekeeper". It's all very well making jokes, but check who your audience is first.

As for what the typical resident is, the prevailing view is that they are opinionated, nimbyistic and hypocritical, and they don't like anything from on high. But as this area has a town which claims to be a village, but has more shops than the next town over, and has other towns which declare that A, they are not in X (despite being in X), and B, they are small rural community (despite being the biggest settlement in X, and at the end of a huge section of sprawl), what can one expect? One group even got very huffy, and apparently refused to answer questions about the existence of other groups in the area, on the grounds that they were Y, and they were the voice of Y, and there is only Y (Y being a place, although God fits just as well).

The people I was meeting with seem to have got the knack of controlling things (and are coincidentally a bit of an odd bunch, and very insular). When setting up XXY policy, they got various groups to write a relevant section each. It gets collated and edited a bit, and goes back out for consultation. Most of the groups are near apoplectic, but can't really say anything, as they helped write it. These people traditionally do not believe in consensus (there is no Z but our Z).

Another person apparently had great fun setting up a consultation exercise consisting of three sections. The first was what do you like about X? The next was what are the problems with X? The third was how would you solve the problems of X?

The responses came back. If it was on paper, section three would normally be left blank. If it had been done in person, then there would be a reasonable level of [predicable] responses for the first section. The second would have copious notes. The third would either produce dropped jaws, blank faces, or the single word "Do?"

Bloody odd place really.

Speaking of which, someone Googled the related sites to somewhere I've never heard of (and haven't the foggiest idea why Google thinks we are connected. I can only guess Southern Cross) called Aquila Online. However he then manages to remind me about and article on New [sub]Urbanism.

I have to admit I find the idea of copyright existing on a work in the public domain (and paid for by public funds) a little daft. Are there machines by the windows of the neighbouring buildings, into which money can be feed whenever someone happens to look out? I understand that the city involved hold the sole license to make derived commercial materials. But that's what courts are for. If someone breaks copyright, you sue them (or threaten to do so). You don't stop people using a public space. Which is what they are doing. The people involved may be taking photographs of an artwork, but until they make money from it (or possibly spread the image, depending on the legal angle one uses), and thereby infringe the copyright, leave them to it. What if the artwork is incidental to the shot? Maybe the photographer wanted a picture of those crocuses, and to get the sunlight on the right part has to have the artwork in the background? What if the artwork is reflected in someone's sunglasses? Is it the point of the image, or is the girl in sunglasses the point of the image? But that's getting tangential. Public art in a public space. Yep that's definitely admission by appointment only.

Even the Tate aren't that up tight about photographs, although to be fair it was the building I was more interested in, and I don't have a flash, which I think is their main objection to photography. I remember going to see the weather project (big orange misty sun thing), and being amazed by the number of pale blue and green glows lighting faces in the crowd, as everyone took pictures on their phones, or sent messages saying "Guess where I am".

Anyway, reverting back to the point N[s]U cites elsewhere an article on Chicagoist, and somewhere else I've seen mentions Bostonist.

Given I've only been exposed to the London branch, and that's only when Inspector Sands feels grumpy, I had no idea the other city versions were out there, nor how they have been received elsewhere.
Other than pronunciations which either need a run up or sound like an entire sentence in French (SFist, LAist, Torontoist, Chicagoist, not forgetting cease and DCist), it's an odd mix.

From what I can tell, current news is that it's raining in Los Angeles; you can now get Gothamist t-shirts; Boston have some hoo-ha about some classy rings; Chicago has cinemas; London has cock-er-ney rhyming slang; New York has a skate fetish; San Francisco has something impenetrable about some giants; Seattle breaks the mould, and drops the i, all whilst jumping the shark; Toronto has $3 lentil soup, Washington has problems over people choosing to differentiate blogs from MSM [Main Stream Media, but I'm not sure European media organisations count as mainstream in this argument. I'm not even sure Canadian ones do either].

Ok so taking their current top story might not be the kindest sampling technique, but so far, Seattlest seem the most fun (but oddly they call the inhabitants Seattleites. To i, or not to i?).

And if you are wondering, like me, what the hell TOist is on about, perogies are apparently Slavicised ravioli, or possibly gnocchi, or just dumplings, depending on which source one reads.

Now, having somehow ended up at Clubwhirled, and been confused as hell, I think it's time to give up. (CW's like a soap, only I was reading it backwards. Oddly for a site whose name is based on a BA brand, there's no mention of London in their list of frequented places).

Very briefly, having managed to be looking out of the window as 5,000 trundle past, I thought I ought at least mark the passing of my five thousand five hundred and fifty fifth visitor (if only because it wasn't a Google Images search).

He, she or it, came here on Monday the 21st of February, at nineteen minutes and thirty nine seconds past six in the evening, using Internet Explorer version 6 Boo-Hiss (TM), and searched, using AltaVista (is that still going?), for to kill a mocking bird quiz.

And to prove just how giddily exotic the internet can be, they were using an ISP registered on the Southern Pacific island of Farnborough.

I've also just realised yesterday was the anniversary of the only people of my group at university to be married.


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