September 28, 2003
Updated photo gallery

I finally got round to updating my online photographic “art gallery” this weekend. I had several rolls of developed 35mm Fuji Superia 100 film (developed by Peak Imaging) with urban shots taken from my Lomo camera - and I scanned the negatives using my Benq 2720 film scanner (formerly Acer Scanwit) at 1375dpi - and then post-processed them in Adobe Photoshop Elements before uploading some of them on to the gallery. Click here to go to the Eton Grove Gallery where you can see my selected pics.

Here are some sample images from the gallery. The first one is a picture taken from window of a private jet that I used on a business trip overseas last week.

Bright blue sky from my seat on a private jet.

For those of you who read my previous posting below this one - you will recall the paranoid level of security at Heathrow Airport a few weeks ago. What a contrast my trip on the private jet was:

  • I had no ticket - or proof of travel.
  • My bag did not get X-rayed or searched at all.
  • I didn’t have to go through immigration.
  • I did not have to show my passport at all - there and back.
  • I could walk right into the flight deck and chat with the pilots - which is what I did.
  • There was no cabin crew.
  • No time pressure: we just took off shortly after our chauffer driven limo got us to the airport at either end.

But what a luxurious way to fly! Instead of going from Heathrow - I flew from Farnborough airport - which until recently used to be MOD property - but is now a business aviation airport. The terminal building is a portakabin! But the control tower and aircraft hangars are very, very new. I parked my car right outside the terminal building - no charges whatsoever - no distance at all to get to the plane.

Next sample picture from my gallery is of a graffiti-tagged tube train passing by the decaying ancient art deco signage of the Hammersmith Palais. It is sad to see the historical lettering on the side of this building just wilting away like that. It announces the Hammersmith “Palais de Danse - The Talk of London” - which I can only imagine was put up some time in the 1920s when the venue first opened for Dixieland Jazz dancing. Now it’s home to Po Na Na School Disco nightclub - the place where you can get dressed in your old school uniform and go to a “school disco” with your mates from work.

Palais de Danse - art deco lettering from the 1920s
visible from Hammersmith tube station.

Also in the gallery are some pictures of some days out in London from this Summer - e.g. a park in Golders Green, Tate Modern, Trafalgar Square etc.

A sculpture in the fountain at Trafalgar Square
with National Portrait Gallery behind.

And finally - one of the hardest sort of pictures to take. This was taken at around midnight without any flash from outside my house. It was dark - and the only light around was the street-lighting and night-lighting from the houses nearby. The exposure lasted around 40 seconds - and I had to rest the camera on the wheelie bin so as to keep it steady. You can see the streak of a the lights of a car as it passes by. The weird thing is: the car itself does not seem to have been exposed at all!

The street near my house at night.
My Route 79 bus-stop across the road.

Enjoy more pictures like this at the Eton Grove Gallery.

Posted by jag at 05:12 PM | Comments (4)
September 25, 2003
Security Alert!

The time: a weekday - around 19:30 - a few weeks back.

The place: Pink Elephant business car park for Terminals 1, 2 and 3 - Heathrow Airport.

The context: I had just arrived there by courtesy shuttle from the terminal to get into my car for the drive home - having just arrived back into London from a couple of days in Munich on business.

The scene: Me peering through the car-park perimeter fence at a 747 that had just landed on the runway around 100 metres from where I was standing. In fact, so mesmerised I was by the sheer amazement of it all - I must have been standing there for around 10 minutes - watching in fascination at a few more planes coming in to land; immersing myself in the sights, smells and deafening sounds of reverse engine thrust as they dropped gracefully out of the skies and onto the ground.

The consequence: I was suddenly startled by the sound of a car screeching to a halt behind me. I spun round and panicked at the sight of a half-uniformed officer with a handgun in his hip-holster jumping out of the passenger side - with his colleague following rapidly behind. It was like a scene out of The Bill - only more firightening because it was for real - and the weapon looked more menacing. They even left the car doors open in their hurry to get to me. I must have entered into momentary shock - because I just froze in my own adrenalin - wondering in a semi-daze what was going to happen next. But it all happened so quickly. The ensuing dialogue went something like this:

“Do you have a car here sir?”

“Er - yes.”

“Could you point it out to us sir?”

“Yes - it’s that dark blue Honda Civic estate over there” (nervously pointing to my car a few metres away.)

“Could you show me your ticket please?”

“Sure” (I fumbled around inside my trouser pocket for the Pink Elephant parking ticket - and showed it to the first cop)

“OK, very good - can I ask that in future you make your way straight to your car please sir. It made the Control Tower very nervous seeing you standing at the fence - so they sent us here to investigate.” (The other cop was speaking into his radio at this point - presumably to the Control Tower).

I breathed a sigh of relief at this point and apologised profusely. They wished me well and drove off - just as quickly as they had arrived. I got into my own car - and started up the engine. But I stopped for a moment and looked toward the direction of the Control Tower: I guessed that it must have been about 1 kilometre away. I had this very creepy feeling that somebody was standing there staring at me through a pair of high-powered binoculars …

Posted by jag at 06:22 PM | Comments (8)
September 21, 2003
Kuch Kuch Blog Happens

This is for the Indian bloggers in the reading-list of my left-hand sidebar. (I did a similar thing recently for the British bloggers - click here to go to the British version)

I have taken some of the words from the song “Yeh ladka hai deewana” (from the film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) and “associated” them with the Indian bloggers in my list. (Big thanks to Shobha for helping me understand better the more complicated bits of Hindi that I couldn’t understand.) Just click on the picture below - and then wait for it to load. Then - click on the black buttons in a random fashion. (The buttons are also numbered if you prefer to be guided sequentially as per the words in the song.)

Also - you will notice that the buttons on the left-hand-side are words sung by ShahRukh for girl bloggers - and the buttons on the right are words sung by Kajol for the boy bloggers. There will be some interesting effects if you just click at random from either side - and leave a few seconds between clicking so that some subtle overlaps in he audio occur.

Turn up the voume and enjoy this audio-visual artwork! (Well I call it art anyway!)

Try the following key-click sequence to make the music flow:
(remember to try not to leave silent pauses between the clicks)

2, 1, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7, 13, 9, 8, 14, 15, 16, 3, 10, 14, 11, 16, 7

Hope you enjoyed that!

Posted by jag at 03:09 PM | Comments (20)
September 19, 2003
Misc stills

Needed to empty my camera out last night. Here’s a randomish sample of recent images.

Occasionally I take the Met Line tube from Wembley Park to Baker Street in the morning. And when I do - I always look out for the slightly different view I get of the Wembley Stadium construction work. If you look closely - you can see some really tall concrete blocks have been erected. It’s hard to figure where they fit in the overall scheme of things - but I am also told that Wembley Stadium will be visible from Central London. I am intrigued.

Wembley Stadium being rebuilt

When I get to Baker Street I change to the Hammersmith & City Line platform and walk all the way to then end of the platform so that I can get onto the front carriage. There is a little whiteboard on the wall at the end of the platform where the station staff can leave messages for train drivers to read when they stop at the platform. There is an Indian-looking member of London Underground staff - he looks roughly in his late-forties/early-fifties who carefully updates the message here on the platform every few hours or so. I have seen him writing many times - he really does take his time - writing each letter ever-so-carefully. The message you see below took him nearly 8 minutes to write. I was there watching him. I am guessing that his English is not very good - because everytime I am down here and I see his message - there are almost always some serious grammatical errors. Can you spot the one below?

Message for train drivers stopping at Baker Street

Yesterday I had to go to a meeting in Central London - a place called John Adam Street near Strand. The building I had the meeting in was very plush! I joined the meeting on the 9th floor of this office building. During a coffee break - I decided to take a picture of the view out of one of the windows. This office must have one the best views in Central London! To the left was a panorama of the City beyond Waterloo Bridge - and to the front was the London Eye. I spent the entire coffee break just staring out the window daydreaming in silence. I shouldn’t have done that - because I then spent the next 2 hours of the meeting desperately wanting to go to the bathroom.

City panorama

On the bus on the way home at the end of the day I often keep my camera ready and accessible should I feel the need to capture something. It never ceases to amaze me how many cameras there are out there as well. There are five video-surveillance cameras on the bus itself - and there are plenty out there on the street. The whole of Ealing Road and Wembley High Road is covered by dozens of cameras mounted high up on metal poles.

Being watched 24/7

At the corner of Ealing Road and Wembley High Road is a shop that always makes me smile when I see it as the bus drives past. It’s an Indian or Sri-Lankan owned shop that sells cheap-ish clothes and jewellery- and for cash only. But what makes me smile is the name of the shop.

Happy Text!

Posted by jag at 07:36 AM | Comments (7)
September 13, 2003
Blog shady

In my first ever blog entry - I stated that “the art of noise is in its association” - where the association can be with anything that you care to think of. Recently I’ve been spending my bus journies home listening to the MP3 tracks on my nifty new little MP3 player - which as you’ve probably guessed by now - I’m really impressed with. And there is a particular song that never ceases to amaze me regarding the sheer volume and diversity of its lyrical content - and that is a song by rap artist Eminem called “Without Me”.

So - on a melancholy Friday-night journey home from work I decided to try to “associate” the noise of this particular song with some of blogs in my blog-roll. And this is what I came up with:

Click on the smiley - turn up the volume - and when it’s loaded - click in the red buttons in a random fashion to create some aural, blogg-rolly art.


Hope you enjoyed that!

Posted by jag at 10:31 PM | Comments (16)
September 08, 2003

Final email out the way, thinking about Slough tomorrow - still as desperate a place since I last wrote about it, I walk purposefully to the lift and join Graham for the journey down to reception. He: Fitness First. Me: Marks & Spencer. Something to accompany yesterday’s leftover spicy rice beckons - but I know not what. Marks has a habit of tickling the imagination - I put it down to all that fancy packaging - a marketing department’s pride and joy. And I fall for it every time - despite the humble scientist in me …

Seconds later at Reception: “Fridge!” declares Steve - the trendy security guard. “Freezer!” says I in return - trying to outcool him. He smiles. I laugh as I spin my way through the revolving door and out onto the Broadway to join the throngs gathering in anticipation of the green man. He appears suddenly - and suddenly we cross - as seemingly a hundred others cross in the opposite direction - in perfect harmony: not a single collision, miraculously demonstrating the gracefulness of human movement; like an order arising from the carbon-monoxide-induced chaos of Hammersmith Broadway.

The automatic door spurts open from a near-fit of closure as I waltz on into Marks. Greeted by a headless mannequin sporting lacy, purple lingerie - I confidently swoop down to retrieve a basket from the pile precariously placed next to said dummy - and without a blemish risking ungrace on the manouvre - I make my way towards the food hall.

“Fish.” That’s it. Salmon in fact. No skin - no bone - I fumble around the back of the cabinet of row upon row if the stuff - in order to get at the best possible best-before-dated-package - and then toss a couple of packets into the basket. These were “tails” - so they’re £2 cheaper than the regular fillets - but what do I care? They’ll cook just the same I’m sure. The scientist in me prevails.

I spy on the shopping of the guy in front of me at the checkout: “so that’s what he’s having tonight” me thinks: A packet of baby spinach leaves and a couple of crusty bread rolls. Images of a delicious plate of saag and fresh roti - hot off the thawa - flashes in my mind - and then I smile as remember the “let’s go for an English” sketch from Goodness Gracious Me a few years back.

I am on the tube. Hammersmith, Acton Town, Ealing Common, North Ealing, Park Royal, Alperton. And then …

Route 79: Didn’t have to wait very long. Lower-deck tonight - as the bus is half empty. Nothing out of the ordinary catches my attention as it wends its way daringly through the density of man, machine and fruit-and-veg-shop on Ealing Road - and then onto Wembley High Road. Nothing extraordinary that is - until I catch sight of this:

Last week it was “Murder” - and this week it’s “Serious Assault”. So something had changed. I remind myself that change is the only constant - hoping somewhat vaguely that it was someone as wise as Confucious who said that.

One doesn’t notice the lonely discarded shoe atop the bus shelter at Preston Road bus stop when you’re sat on the bottom deck. It’s almost as if it isn’t there - but in my mind I hope that it is when I come by here in the opposite direction tomorrow morning. For me: the morning has to be the top-deck. The evening is the bottom. I then wonder if there is some subliminal meaning in that?

Kingsbury approaches - as the bus approaches it. Paul Simon declares to my ears that the Mississippi Delta is shining like a “national guitar” - and once again I wonder what he means by this. But I soon forget the philosophy of it all by reminding myself that MP3 is liberating - and that I believe that I am about to be received at my home. My very own Graceland.

The daily pilgrimage endeth here - where it started 10 hours earlier.

Posted by jag at 10:11 PM | Comments (9)
Leftover cooking

Tonight it was my turn to cook.

Only I hadn’t prepared for it. So I raided the fridge. What did I find:

2 decaying peppers: one green, one red.
1 decaying red onion
2 cooked chicken thighs from safeway
1 decaying carrot
2 ripe tomatoes
2 ripe sweetcorn cobs from the Indian shop on the High Street

So - I hit upon an idea …

Finely chop all of the above ingredients (except for the sweetcorn). Wash some Basmati rice. Put some spices on standby …

And here goes:

Fry the onions and carrots first for a few minutes:

Then add the chopped halves of green and red pepper. Thaw some pre-pulped ginger, garlic and chillie from the freezer and toss it in. Stir and fry for a few minutes - an then add the chopped and de-seeded tomato:

Keep stirring this for a few more minutes - and then add the ground spices: 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon haldi (tumeric), 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons garam masala. Stir in and fry/roast until the aroma prevails - will take a few minutes - and then toss in the washed Basmati rice:

After the rice has been stirred in - splash generously some lemon juice - and then stir it around - and then add 1.5 times the volume of rice of water:

Let the mixture sizzle on high heat - and then add the cooked chopped chicken. And whilst that is all sizzling away - prepare a really low-flame burner on the hob:

After the pot gets to a fierce boil - transfer to the low flame burner and simmer for 15 minutes. (DON’T TAKE THE LID OFF DURING THIS TIME!) And then afterwards - give it a gentle turning over before returning to the low flame:

Whilst the rice mixture is simmering on its home run - prepare some fresh corn-on-the-cob for boiling and grilling. Right now - sweetcorn cobs are approaching end-of-season - so you should be able to pick up sweetcorn cobs for around 4 for £1 - anything more and you’re being ripped off! Asda are doing 2 for 50p at the moment - and your local Asian grocer will probably be doing 4 for under £1. Get them while you can!

After boiling the corn-on-the-cobs for around 8 minutes - take out of pan and then sprinkle some salt and pepper on them - and skewer them with barbeque sticks - and then butter them all around generously before placing under a hot grill:

Grill the corn-on-the-cobs untill you get golden brown edges to them - and then server up with the spicy-chicken-rice. It makes for a delicious meal. Wash down with some McGuigan Black Label Merlot. Perfect for marking the end of Summer:

Posted by jag at 12:01 AM | Comments (21)
September 07, 2003
Damned statistics

Well - it seems like the urge for introspection calls - I’ve noticed a few people of late being self-analytical about their journals - but specifically that type of analysis brought about by an examination of web server stats. Once again - Diamond Geezer sets a self-congratulatory trend to summarise a year-full of blog visits and referrals. This stimulated me into doing some of my own - although I don’t have year full of stats on my current domain ( to go by - since before that it was hosted as a sub-section of my Views from Broadway site. But, I have just over 4 months worth - and what more suitable a point in time to perform my first-quarter analysis.

In fact - I’ve decided to provide a permanent link in my left-hand side-bar (under MISC LINKS) to my stats pages.

Webmasters statement for the last quarter:

Over 8000 visitors have arrived here delivering over 28,000 page impressions amounting to 1.8 Gigabytes of traffic sent from my site to nearly 4000 different directions on the Internet and nearly 400 different types/versions of web browser.

The average number of daily visits to Route 79 bubbles under a hundred per day, with the majority (up to 25%) coming in as “direct requests” (perhaps from people’s browser “favourites” menu - or typed out by hand) and the rest being mostly made up of referrals from search engines (mainly Google and Yahoo). Only a handful of visits are made as clickthroughs from other people’s blogs - and when they are - the majority of those tend to be people clicking through from comments boxes where I might have left comments.

Since a significant number of hits come in from search engines - it’s worth examining for a minute the search terms used - in some cases they are entertaining - in others simply perplexing. Here are some interesting ones: (I have grouped together similar search terms. And I have hyperlinked those Google searches that present Route 79 pages in the first page of search results. The ones in bold are the ones that, as of today, Google ranks number 1 in the search index for!)

transvision vamp, transvision band, wendy james transvision vamp, transvision vamp video download
arty graffiti, graffiti fume, fume london graffiti, him fume, fume graffiti
retro television, british retro, retro television
50 reasons london
beautiful israeli men
blog prefab sprout
friendship comment
i pull on my jeans and i feel all right lyric, jeans on song, jeans on
kid bbc mr benn theme
musical hit back to life back to reality
pictures of cute policemen
pictures of the english countryside
quirky facts
tivo changed my life
matrix ping pong, ping pong matrix-stylee, original matrix ping pong
artistic photographs of legs, leg photos, legs project, legs, legs gallery, legs picture, gallery of legs, artistic photos legs -sex -xxx -porn -hardcore
deja vu matrix
route de cute
song lyric shower curtain
wake up time to die
5p coin
bernard manning, bernard manning has always told racist jokes
london buses
indian dishes
how to open a padlock
origin of the word blog
farah damji
pictures of people with no legs
cupro nickel
hobson’s choice brighouse
bilingual wedding invitations

So - there you have it - an obligatory “thank you” to those of you who visit here regularly.

Posted by jag at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)
September 06, 2003
Half-Gig Solar Plexus

WARNING: this is a “gadget” posting.

I like my music on the move. On the bus, and on the tube, and occasionally in the office when I’m concentrating on getting things done.

I bought my first ever “walkman” when I was around 18 - and that was when they were in their first generation. Over the years I think I’ve been through a few more - and I slowly declined my usage of them as I began to accept the difficulty of being mobile with music. It was just about bearable with a cassette-based walkman to walk, climb, escalators, stairs, jump on and off buses whilst being “wired” for sound. But I just never got around to porting my CD-based music to cassette - and I always found the idea of a CD-walkman a step in the wrong direction - they are bulkier and effectively have to be held in the hand. And so - for a few years I just didn’t bother with music on the move. Until the advent of MP3 players …

These starting arriving not too far long after minidisc for me to have recklessly plunged into buying a portable minidisc player - so I made my first MP3-player purchase a few years ago - and then another a year later - and then another a year after that - which is where I’m at now. However, it is only with this latest one that I can say that I am truly liberated. Music on the move is now totally convenient and hassle free. (I toyed with the idea of a spinning-disk based MP3 player - like the Apple one - the ones that can hold your entire collection - but the form-factor just simply isn’t as convenient - so I stuck to the solid-state memory-based players.)

And here it is. (Click on the frames to get a bigger picture.)

It’s called “PenDrive Plus MP3”. Do not confuse it with the better-known Pen Drive (or other Pen Drives) which are USB-based solid-state storage devices that appear as “drives” to Windows. (The idea being that you can keep these on your keyring or whatever - a very handly alternative to carrying a now-pretty-much-obselete floppy disk around with you.) No - my PenDrive is first and foremost an MP3 player - but also acts as a Windows removeable disk. OK - so this concept isn’t entirely original either - Creative do a USB-based drive/MP3 player as well. No - my player is probably not as “sexy” as the branded types; mine is some far eastern import - and so feels a little tackier than the Creative players. But the thing that sets mine apart from the branded crowd is this:

512 Megabytes for £139

I ordered it from Advanced MP3 Players - and it turned up the next day. The earphones it comes with a crap - I threw those away and I use my ex-walkman headphones - which have a better tonal range - and I am seriously impressed by the sound-out from this cheap import: the music sounds perfect - not tinny - and no breaking up of bass - and a decent max-volume too. The Creative-Muvo-owning guys in my office who were skeptical about the sound quality of my PenDrive changed their minds completely when they heard the sound quality for themselves.

So now - wiring myself up for sound in the morning means slinging my earphones around my neck - and clipping my earphone wire right next to a button on the front of my T-shirt so that the player itself hangs there - just inside my T-shirt (just below the button-line) - right in front of my solar plexus. So - it’s completey concealed and totally non-noticeable - and the control-buttons on this player are really easy to feel and click from outside my T-shirt. In fact - it’s so convenient to wear like that - there really isn’t any need to take it off at all throughout the day. (The earphones can be left hanging in a concealed fashion around my neck when in the office - and I just lift them up at the end of the day for the journey home!

I am in the process of porting a chunk of my CD collection onto this remarkable gadget - and I have calculated that I can get around 120 album songs at 128kbps MP3. Which is around 10 to 12 albums. And the crappy AAA battery that came with the player is still going strong after a week of usage (Around 1.5 hours per day) - although I have my 4 rechargeable ones standing by in a 35mm Film-holder in my bag in case I need to swap-out power source mid-journey.

I am pleased.

UPDATE on 24th September 2003

This is for Jim (who left a comment on this entry - asking some questions re weight and dimensions)

I couldn’t figure out a straightforward way to weigh the MP3 Player - so I got creative with what I had in the house: I got a steel ruler from my toolbox - balanced it on a flashlight torch. I then carefully placed the MP3 player (with battery removed) on one end of the ruler - and then used standard British coinage on the other end of the ruler in order to balance the MP3 player. After lots of fiddling around with different types of coin - I finally managed to balance it level. See the pictures below:

Creating a makeshift weighing machine

Balancing the MP3 player against standard British coins

So - you can see that I managed to get it balanced using:

  • 1 x £1 coin
  • 2 x 20p coins
  • 4 x 5p coins

Now - from the Royal Mint coin specifications webpage - I was able to find out that £1 coin weighs 9.5g, 20p coin weighs 5.0g and 5p coin weighs 3.25g. From this - you can work out that the total mass of the MP3 player is approximately 32.5g - which to all intents and purposes is roughly 30 to 35 grams. (allowing for experimental errors.)

I also used the ruler to accurately measure the dimensions:

Longways length = 78mm, Width = 38mm, Depth = 15mm

Hope that helps Jim!

Posted by jag at 11:49 PM | Comments (26)
September 04, 2003
Route 73 Bus Blog

Rather delightfully found another London Bus blog: This one is the spirit of Route 73 - which is one of the routes that goes through Oxford Street - and is operated by Routemaster type buses. The 73 bus blog is much more about life on the bus than what you see here at Route 79. What I write here is mostly inspired by the thinking-time I get on the bus - not necessarily about events that happen on, or around the bus - although I have written vaguely about the latter several times:

Stormy Weather
Prefab Buses and Chillies
My life in a text
Steam, Vent, Stay Cool
Doughnut Money
Revenge on teenager with loud walkman on bus
Breeze it, Buzz it
The state of London Buses
Route 79 HellRider

Posted by jag at 10:47 PM | Comments (2)
September 01, 2003

To all bloggers using BlogSpot:

Discovered via Shobha (via Anand) - BE AWARE of “a mega-site of Bible, Christian and religious information” masquerading ever-so-subtly-cleverly as your blog site. For example - click on the following links to see what I mean:

Visit ScaryDuck - the famous (so famous that I file it under ‘pretentious’) blog page at:

Or how about the famous Annie Mole’s London Underground weblog at:

Or even the sound-bloke Diamond Geezer - font of all knowledge and infuriating puzzles blog at:

Did you BlogSpot the difference?

Posted by jag at 05:12 PM | Comments (10)

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