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June 30, 2005

Blog power...works in Korea

The always-interesting Japundit site has posted this entry on a woman in Korea who refused to clean up after her dog on the subway. There are a few things that are shocking about this.

* First, that it happened. Can you imagine being in that situation?
* Second, that they managed to identify her from pictures taken by a fellow commuter.
* Third, that people are getting worked up over it.

The Japundit correspondent was the most level-headed: 'you be the judge'. As for me, I judge it good enough to write about on this site. The comments from the blog they link too are pretty entertaining. My favorite: "you're all idiots"

Posted by Kirk at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Its art! I am an artist!

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This is near Daimon on the way to Shimbashi. I was hoping to get a good picture of all the neon lights etc, but instead I got this blurry picture. So, that makes it artistic. Later, I am going to make up some fancy poem about how everything in Tokyo is so fast-paced. Then you will be impressed.

Posted by Kirk at 10:22 PM | Comments (3)

I need a pick me up

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This is Vienna, but ignore the buildings etc. Instead focus on that clear blue sky. That's more like it.

Posted by Kirk at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

What do you think about today's weather now?

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Ha! I knew I could come up with something. The picture on the left was taken from my balcony in May...see how bright and sunny it is. I snapped the one on the right just a few minutes ago.

Let's see...it is dark and dreary. And wet. Hey...it could be London! No wonder I am having a hard time re-adjusting to Tokyo.

>>>> someone tell me what they think about this new side-by-side picture format. I like the idea, but I am wondering whether the picture are too small.

Posted by Kirk at 09:52 AM | Comments (1)

If you are wondering why I am cranky...

Wide awake until 3am...this jet lag is awful. I always forget just how bad it is. It is like any sort of pain, you remember having it, but you cannot remember the pain itself.

Last night was especially frustrating because I was so tired already. And as the minutes ticked by, I started worrying about whether I would get enough sleep and/or wake up in time etc. Of course, that just makes things worse.

Anyway, on a more positive note, the temperature has cooled down a bit although it is still pretty muggy. Rain is forecast for the next few days.

I have a few interesting things I want to write about, but it will have to wait until I have a clear head. No telling when that will be...hopefully later. Maybe I should have tried last night instead of staring at the ceiling/alarm clock for three hours!

Posted by Kirk at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2005

Speaking of the couch...here it is

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This is my experiment in putting multiple pictures into an entry. The one to the left is my living room, including the infamous couch.

I have written about my couch a few times, and as you may have gathered, it is generally comfortable. But when you sit on it for awhile (you know, for six-seven hours), the cushions start to slip forward. As a result, I have wanted to get a new couch for awhile - something MORE comfortable and with less cushion slippage. But I am useless when it comes to shopping...I cannot make any decisions (or is that jet lag?).

Anyway, the picture on the right is part of the view from my apartment and is only there to see how two pictures look when I put them in the same entry. For the record, it is Hie Jinja, which is the coolest shrine in Japan and where I like to go at the new year. Since that is six months away, we will leave it for now.

Posted by Kirk at 09:36 AM | Comments (5)

Back in the swing of things? Not quite

I hate jet lag. Repetition does not make it easier...at best you learn how to deal with it better. And eastbound jet lag is the most difficult. Another rule is that the second night is worse than the first.

So, that is where I find myself now. I 'slept' from midnight to 7am (alright...730am), but it was a superficial sleep, where the slightest noise wakes you up. As a result, any decisions you have to make take an extraordinary amount of time and effort. Having such a nice couch in my apartment makes it worse (should I put milk in my coffee...better go sit on the couch and think about it...).

This is the situation I am facing. That mind set also makes it difficult to write anything, like a blog entry. And THAT is why you get this rambling complaint to start off your day.

Having said all that, I feel much better. Now, what should I have for breakfast...

Posted by Kirk at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

I have started to add some photos!

I have started to add pictures to the photo album. I am not so sure I like the format, so I might have to rebuild this at some point. For the time being, however, this is what I have to work with. You may notice that my enthusiasm for uploading pictures diminished the more I did it...sorry, I blame the jet lag.

Click here to see what I uploaded on Prague

These are from Budapest

And these are from London...

You can also click on the link "Go to pictures" on the right

Posted by Kirk at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

I am back...now what?

I am back in Tokyo...

When I stepped off the plane today, it was 30 degrees. I intended to take a picture of the sign that told me this, but my camera was more knackered then I was (battery died).

The downside to this: the weekend is already over. You lose a day traveling East so I left Saturday morning and arrived back Sunday at noon. I keep thinking it is Saturday and that I have another day to hang out. But that is not quite right. Damn'

The good news is that I made my own lunch, my own coffee, had a nap on the couch and did absoultely nothing beyond that. I really like being back home.

As for the weather, this is going to be a difficult week. But I did buy a bottle of rose today, which I plan to take out to the balcony as I begin the fight against jet lag. It is absolutely necessary that I get to sleep by midnight and (hopefully...please) get a full night of sleep. The sooner I get back on local time, the better. Alcohol does have its uses.

I have also been wondering what I am going to be writing about on the blog now that I am back. Let's face it - taking pictures and loading them up on the website with a few pithy comments was easy work. And there is no way I will be taking long walks around Tokyo with this humidity!

Posted by Kirk at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2005

One last look at London

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I took this last weekend when I was walking around Regents Park. You get to see it because I think it is an appropriate way to say goodbye to this trip to London!

Posted by Kirk at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

The BA Lounge - home in 14 hours!

Here I am in the BA Lounge in terminal one...my home away from home. The good news is I am about 14 hours from being home.

I have my newspaper and two books. With that and, hopefully, one movie on the plane, I should be suitably entertained on the trip back.

I may be going back just in time as I think I am losing my mind. Today in duty free I bought a jacket. I have been looking for a lightweight blue jacket for the last few months, so when I saw one I had to buy it. But I have realised there is very little chance that I will be wearing it in the next few months. It is a nice jacket, though, and it should look good hanging in my closet over the summer.

Posted by Kirk at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

Good weather? Bad weather? Someone help me with this

I spoke to Kaz in Tokyo today (ironically, I was having lunch with his former boss at that time) and he told me to expect good weather on my return to Japan.

Naturally, I was quite excited about that. Until I saw this article, which highlights the fact that temperatures have reached 30 degrees for the first time this year.

It also says that next week will be hot and muggy. There is a term for this in Japanese, "mushi atsui", which basically means "miserably humid". Japanese like this weather...it is good for the skin etc., but i cannot stand humidity and that means next weeks' weather is going to be wonderful for a significant majority of people, but terrible for me. Thank God for air conditioning.

Posted by Kirk at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

I want to go HERE

I have done a little Internet research on Ravello. Click here (Hotel Caruso) to see the nicest hotel in Ravello. See why I want to go there? It looks awesome: 1,150ft above sea level, but right on the coast.

And if you look at the history of this hotel, you realise that the going to Ravello/Amalfi Coast is not exactly a new idea. But it is STILL a brilliant idea. I wonder when I am going...

Posted by Kirk at 09:44 PM | Comments (2)

St. Paul's - a quick visit

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My last meeting yesterday was just around the corner from this London landmark, and as I was a bit early, I popped around the corner for a picture. They had been doing renovation work on the facade for the last few years, but it is all finished now.

This is one of the most visited locations in London, and with good reason. The interior is absolutely beautiful and well worth the entrance fee and time spent.

If I was more historically inclined, I would give you some of the background. All I can remember is that it is very old and that it was built by Sir Christopher Wren, who was some kind of renaissance man. I think he did a good job, don't you?

Posted by Kirk at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

I am coming home

After five weeks away, I am coming home!!!! I had my last meeting today and will work a bit in the office tomorrow before flying Saturday. Coincidentally, the fantastic weather of the last week or so is also expected to end tomorrow, so I am getting out of here just in time. It was a good trip, but I need to see my plant and couch.

Posted by Kirk at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

The view from the cheap seats

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I took this from the cheap seats mentioned below. The view was actually very good, as you can see. I think I will have to explain more about cricket at a later date. I would now, but it is 1220am. Yikes.

Posted by Kirk at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

Lords - the home of cricket

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Tonight I went to watch the cricket. We went to Lord's, which is probably the most famous cricket pitch in the world (for the English, anyway). We saw a type of cricket called 20/20, which is a shortened version of the traditional game invented about three years ago.

We sat in the cheap seats, although to be fair we had a pretty good view of the pitch. But there was no escaping the 30-degree heat and the concession stand catered to the warm beer crowd.

Fortunately, we had an ace in the hole. One of the girls in our group has some serious connections. Her father's company keeps a corporate box at Lord's. After the match, we headed there. The view was amazing, as this picture shows, and instead of ten-deep queues for warm beer, men in green jackets tripped over themselves to serve us Pims, wine etc. Very impressive.

I like cricket.

Posted by Kirk at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

Tower Bridge and the Thames

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I took this picture from London Bridge looking east to Tower Bridge. I think the timing was perfect...it is a very nice picture.

Posted by Kirk at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

London after work

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I took this picture from the front of the pub we went to after work. We sat outside and looked across the river at the financial district, better known as the City.

The building on the left with the ugly concrete plug on the top is where I work when I am in London. I felt like I was far enough away.

It was almost perfect...good weather, sunshine and water nearby. But the service at the pub was awful. I have always liked this place, but I am tempted to give it a pass from now on. It is the Horniman at Hay's. Go somewhere else if you have a choice - I spent about 40 minutes in line tonight. Basically, the bar staff suck.

Still we minimised the damage by ordering two drinks each when we went to the counter. And I guess I would have drank too much if it was more efficient. Did I mention that the bar staff suck?

We finished the night in Covent Garden at 1100. That is a bad time to go home as all the bars close at the same time and it is impossible to find a cab. I walked back to my hotel (30 minutes). It seems there is a conspiracy against me!

Posted by Kirk at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005

London is nice...France would be nicer. Or Italy.

The weather remains fantastic...I have not taken many pictures because I have spent most of my time working. And I am sure that you do not need to see what the office here looks like!

Anyway, I was hoping to take Friday off with the intention of going to France. But I am a loser...I could not make up my mind and in the end did not request any holiday. So, no Paris trip for me. What was I thinking?

I LOVE going to France - it is one my favourite places to be. And my French is as good as my Japanese, so I am just as lost (I mean comfortable) there as I am at home. See why I like it?

Meanwhile, my other dream European holiday destination is Ravello, Italy on the Amalfi Coast. I have never been there, but it sounds wonderful. The history ofandulture of Rome, but set in a dramatic coastal location.

Maybe I should get back to work before I depress myself even further.

Posted by Kirk at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

Aaarrrgghhh - I am getting punchy

I know that I will be home one week from now. I am just not sure which day it will be. I should be able to finalise my schedule tomorrow. I can hardly wait.

I hope my plant is still alive. The building staff said they would water it, but you know how it is with plants...you always worry when you are apart.

The number one thing I want to do is eat a home-cooked meal instead of going out. After that, I want to lay on my couch and watch TV.

One thing I should do is upload vacation pictures onto my web site. I think I will pick the best five-ten from each city so that it is a managable task.

Posted by Kirk at 01:31 AM | Comments (2)

June 21, 2005

Tokyo/London - highly-ranked cities

Considering I split my time between Tokyo and London, this article is not very good news.

Tokyo has been ranked the world's most expensive city for expats, followed by Osaka (2nd) and London (3rd).

Then again, looking at my bank account, I should not be too surprised.

Posted by Kirk at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

One more picture

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This is the Queen Mary Gardens in Regent Park. You could smell the roses from 100 metres away...fortunately for me, they were blooming. I would not have walked over here but my colleague Sarah sent me a text message saying I should go for the photo opportunity. She was right...thanks Sarah!

Speaking of which, I will go meet her now and watch the end of the cricket. And finally get that pint!

Posted by Kirk at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

Doesn't this look comfortable?

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I spent an hour here reading a book. It was so relaxing I had to take a picture...I want to remember it!

Posted by Kirk at 11:11 PM | Comments (0)

Oasis or mirage?

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Actually, it is a little bit of both. I spent about four hours in the park today, mostly sitting and reading, but sometimes I walked around to get some pictures.

That is thirsty work, as you can imagine, so when I saw this place ("The Honest Sausage") in the middle of the park, I thought I was in luck. And I was. I had a sausage roll (hot dog) called a Park Porker that was very tasty. And I washed it down with a cold bottle of water.

But, my first impression when I arrived - that i had found a veritable oasis of great weather, outside benches and a cool lager - was disappointed. For some reason, they don't sell beer. Damn'

Posted by Kirk at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

The canals of...London

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The weather is absolutely WONDERFUL today. High 20s/low 30s, with enough of a breeze to keep it comfortable. I took advantage of this by going to Regent's Park.

I cannot believe I had not done this before...it is about ten minutes from my hotel, so it is very convenient.

In any case, Regent's Canal forms the northern boundary of the park. This is a picture of the canal with some of the colorful boats. You can walk from Camden to Little Venice on the canal path (about three miles), or take a tour if you are lazy. When the sun is out, it is a very nice place to be.

Posted by Kirk at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2005

Brussels' main square

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This is one side of the main square in Brussels. I think this is one of the nicer places I go to when I travel and the pictures do not do it justice.

Whenever we are in Brussels we usually stay near here (except this time). And I always go to the square for a look around. The other thing I do in Brussels is buy chocolate, because it is very good here. No pictures of that, unfortunately.

Posted by Kirk at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Brussels - lots of restaurants

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I took this picture yesterday as we were on our way to a meeting. This is a street just off the main square in Brussels. There are restaurants on both sides and it can get very busy.

This is mostly for tourists - and the menus are in four-five languages just in case. There are also men who stand in front of each place and try to get you to come in. It is kind of lively, but not always recommended as the best place to go for dinner. We were there in the morning, so it was not crowded at all.

Anyway, I think it looks nice.

Posted by Kirk at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Unbelievable...

I am back in London, which I am generally happy about. But the hotel fire alarm went off at 650am this morning and it rang for two-three minutes, followed by an announcement to evacuate.

After all that, when I am fully awake, one of the hotel employees gets on the PA system to say that it not a "real" fire alarm. What an idiot. This follows on last night, when the hotel did not have my room ready when I checked in (at 6pm).

Maybe they are hoping I will leave??

Posted by Kirk at 03:34 PM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2005

Another Zurich picture - the lakefront

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I like water...lakes, beaches, rivers etc. So,I had to post this picture even though we are in Brussels now. Nice, isn't it?

Before our last meeting in Zurich, we walked over here and looked around. As you can see the weather was nice and it was very comfortable. When we get to the meeting, our client said that day was a good one for going to the lake. I wonder if he realises how lucky he is that we actually showed up?

Posted by Kirk at 04:45 PM | Comments (2)

Brussels - whew! the hotel is nice

First, I should update you on the hotel. I must have been in extreme pessimistic mode, because the hotel is a lot better than I thought it would be. Although it is pretty far from the city centre. And my room is decorated in red, which seems more appropriate for royalty...or torture. Not quite sure.

And I think this is why I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart hammering in my chest and vague memores of trying to escape from something. I do not usually have nightmares, but when I do, they tend to get my attention.

It could have been I ate too much last night. We went to a fabulous brasserie near the hotel called La Quincaillerie. The food was excellent - the service less so...just like in France. For some reason, the waitress did not like me. When I spoke to her, she would only reply with a tight-lipped half smile (my colleague says it is because I am American. But you have to remember that she is from Australia so she likes to make fun of people).

Despite that, it was very good and if you are ever in Brussels, I highly recommend you go there. Make sure to tell them you are American if you want the traditional French service.

Posted by Kirk at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

What's this? free time...

We are getting a later start today - 10am. This is usually a good thing as the constant travel really makes me tired.

But I get antsy when I have free time so close to the end of a trip. I keep thinking that I could be at home instead.

Oh well, guess I will have a long breakfast and read the paper. That should get me through it.

Posted by Kirk at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

The famous teddy bears of Zurich

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This is a picture of a teddy bear statue in Zurich. The Big Apple, or New York, is the theme, evidenced by the, well, big apple in its one hand and its Statue of Liberty crown. There are thousands of these statues all over the City, all with different themes. Strangely, I could not find any monkeys. I was a bit disappointed.

Anyway, this is an offshoot of the Cow craze that swept a lot of cities just after the millennium. I think it started in New York. In any case, they will be displayed for awhile and then auctioned off for charity.

The city unveiled these statues on a Saturday and the city announced a shopping day for the Sunday (usually shops are closed). The shop workers were not so happy about this and kidnapped a lot of the statues and took them to Bern. (Apologies if I did not get the story right…our local expert told me this after we had drank three bottles of wine). Anyway, they made their points but the stores still opened. And the teddy bears are still hanging around Zurich. I think it is a bit over the top, but the tourists seemed to like it.

Posted by Kirk at 02:39 AM | Comments (3)

Whirlwind tour of the Netherlands

We had four meetings today, each in a different city (Amsterdam, Schipol, Den Hague and Rotterdam). You know, like rock stars.

Despite the travel distances, all went well. We booked a car for the day, which made it easier. Our driver was excellent, easy to talk to and generally pleasant. He even bought our sandwiches to eat in the car as we had no time to stop for lunch. Very nice!

I left the camera in my overnight bag, so there is nothing to show you. Since we spent all day in meeting rooms or in the car, you are not missing much.

It was raining this morning, but the forecast is for 25-30 degrees in Brussels, our next destination. So, things are improving on the weather front.

The best thing about today could be last night. I slept deeply for eight hours and was not yawning or fidgeting for the first time in two weeks. Of course, I am tired now. Apparently, our hotel is less than impressive in Brussels, so this could be a disaster. Of course, you will hear about it if it is.

Posted by Kirk at 02:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2005

Amsterdam - everything but the Internet

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We are in Amsterdam now. This city has quite the reputation for easy living, but one thing it does not have is cheap Internet access. I finally found a hot spot and I am paying 19 euros for 30 minutes. So this will be a quick entry.

This is the view from my hotel room! Awesome. Very pretty city. We have meetings today and then we are off to Brussels tonight.

We seem to be following the rain around Europe, which is not great, but at least it is comfortable.

Last night, I had basil tomato soup for dinner. It was very good. There is a cafe next to the hotel that has amazingly good food.

Posted by Kirk at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

Zurich - good fun, but now we have to work

I met my colleague Sarah here in Zurich - we will travel together the rest of the week. Last night, we met up with a friend for dinner. We went to a very good Italian in the city centre. It is very beautiful down there (of course...I left the camera in the hotel). We followed up dinner with a bottle of wine at a bar near the river and a few beers at a jazz club.

The latter was very fun, enough that we stayed out until 130am. It seemed like a good idea last night, but this morning I am not so sure. But I will remember that place for a long time, while I imagine I will have forgotten today's meetings by...tonight.

We are off to Amsterdam when we finish here.

Posted by Kirk at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

Frankfurt - lots of time, no battery

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This is the view from my hotel room in Frankfurt. Not bad, I guess, if you like to look at high-rise buildings. Usually, I am not so keen on Frankfurt, but this time it was not so bad.

Except that my hotel did not have a power adaptor I could use for my laptop. So blame them for my inability to pospost new entries here.

It was good weather and I had a nice look around while I was there. It started to rain as I was on my way to the airport. I thought I was getting out just in time. But in Zurich, it was POURING DOWN rain when I arrived. More on that later.

Posted by Kirk at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

Rhein Promenade

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This is the waterfront in Dusseldorf. There are a number of temporary bars set up along the wall facing the Rhein river. I imagine it is quite lovely when the sun is out, but the grey murky weather did not do much for the scene.

One of the bars had a sand floor, which was kind of cool, but I imagine you would have to drink a lot of beer to believe you were at the beach. I only stayed long enough to get this picture.

Posted by Kirk at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

Local hangout

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I am staying at the Steigenberger Park Hotel and I took this at the aforementioned Park in front of the hotel. These birds seem to be fearless: when people approach them they do not run or fly away. Instead, they wait for the bread crumbs that one would obviously give them.

I spent about ten minutes watching them, before I got absolutely bored and had to go off and do something else. Now I know what they mean when they say there are lots of birds in Dusseldorf.

Posted by Kirk at 02:03 PM | Comments (1)

This brings back memories

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This is a sign advertising a local beer. I know it is not very exciting for most people, but it does have some significance for me.

You see, I used to drink Jever at the bar near my apartment. It was called David Copperfield's (74th and York) and for awhile, they were pushing this brand as the beer of choice.

I would go there with my friend Ev and a few others. We were regulars there. It was mostly fun. There was a fight in the bar once where another semi-regular hit someone with a beer glass. But all he did was spill beer - he was too weedy to do much else.

And the owners were very odd (Ev - what were their names again...i keep thinking BIll and Ted, but that can't be right). Anyway, they did have one of the widest selections of beer on tap in NYC. That works in their favor.

Posted by Kirk at 03:33 AM | Comments (1)

Dusseldorf - not bad so far

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I arrived in Dusseldorf and quickly left the hotel. I have heard this is a wild town if you know where to go.

In any case, there are a number of places like this. You can stand here and drink beer and watch everyone walk by. And it is really cheap! I had three beers (granted - they were small) for less than five euros.

I would have stayed for more, but it was freezing and I had left my jacket back at the hotel. I seem to vaguely remember 30 degree weather in Prague and Vienna, but there is no sign of it here.

Posted by Kirk at 03:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2005

Team America World Police

This movie probably offends everyone. And that is why it is so funny. I have been wanting to see this for ages and I finally had the chance last night.

The movie is by the guys who made South Park and is about a group of puppet commandoes that operate from a secret base in Mount Rushmore. North Korea's Kim Il-Jong is the bad guy, as are a host of terrorists, Hollywood actors who think we want to know what they believe, and possibly, Team America. The theme song is excellent.

It is not for everyone, but I liked it.

Posted by Kirk at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Here I am again

It is Sunday afternoon and I am in my normal place, namely the BA lounge at Heathrow Airport. So far, so good as there has not been any notification that my flight will be delayed!

I am on my way to Dusseldorf, Germany. I should arrive around 6pm, which will give me some time to walk through the old town down to the Rhine river. That should be nice and may make this website a little more interesting for you as I have not had my camera out for a few days.

I think I had already mentioned where I will be this week, but I will go through it again just in case.

Monday - Dusseldorf, Frankfurt
Tuesday - Frankfurt, Zurich
Wed - Zurich, Amsterdam
Thurs - Amsterdam
Fri - Brussels

I will get back to London on Friday night and should spend the following week there, so once I get through this week, I should have an easier time.

This reminds me of an intersting theme. I fly a lot. And that means tons of air miles. That should be good if I want to take a holiday, right? But the last thing I want to do is go to the airport if I have some time off. So, the miles keep piling up.

And, no...you cannot have any.

Posted by Kirk at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2005

When am I coming home?

I have been out of Japan since 20 May and I am absolutely ready to go back. I think I will be finished on 24 June, which means I could go home that weekend.

The benefit of traveling as much as I do is that you have a keen appreciation for what you leave behind. Today, I am thinking how nice it would be to cook a meal. If I was home now, I could easily cook up some stir-fry chicken. Or prawns with chili and basil. Or mashed potatoes. Aarrggghhh - I am driving myself crazy.

Instead, I will probably go to Hamburger Union or La Perla. Not bad, but you have to go outside to do that. And THAT that reminds me that I would like to lay on my couch for ten hours and do nothing.

Posted by Kirk at 08:48 PM | Comments (2)

Nyhavn - an actual picture

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I bought some more batteries for the camera, so I was able to retrieve the pictures I took on Friday morning. This is the bar that we went and had drinks at.

It doesn't look like much at 730am, but it was much more festive when we were there in Thursday night.

Posted by Kirk at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2005

Its Friday...ya-aaay

Thank God it is Friday. We will finish up our meetings in Copenhagen and should be back in London by 6pm. I get the whole day on Saturday off - not sure what I will be doing yet.

On Sunday, I will go to Germany to start the next leg of the business trip. I will travel through Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Amsterdam. This week went quickly and I hope the next one does to.

I went to take a few pictures of Copenhagen this morning, but the batteries in my camera have had enough. So, there is nothing to show you today. Ooops.

Posted by Kirk at 03:25 PM | Comments (1)

Copenhagen - very comfortable

What a day! We had six meetings in Stockholm, which was very tiring. We started with a breakfast meeting at 0730...that should be illegal! I was more concerned with drinking my coffee than saying anything intelligent. Fortunately, everyone else seemed to have the same idea.

We finished at 5pm and jumped on a flight to Copenhagen. Usually, that should not be too bad, but our flight was absolutely full and I sat in between two men who has some serious hygiene problems.

Arriving in Copenhagen makes it all worthwhile. This is such a cool place. Out hotel is fabulous and it is in a perfect location. There is a plaza in front of the hotel and one of the more laid back areas of town, Nyhavn, is on the other side.

We dropped off our bags and headed over there for a few drinks. Nyhavn (New Harbor) is a street next to a canal. On one side are restaurants and bars, with the required tables in front. The other side is the canal and a concrete kerb, which is just as busy with people that bring their own drinks and hang out. Basically, everyone is drinking.

There is a word in Danish, hygge, which loosely translates as comfortable or cozy. And that describes the street scene perfectly. It was a good way to wind down. Did you know that I studied Danish in college? That is about all I remember, unfortunately.

Tomorrow, we do not have to start until 9am. So, I can get a bit of extra sleep. Cool...

Posted by Kirk at 05:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2005

Silja Lines (シリヤライン) - a very cool cruise ship

The best way to travel between Stockholm/Helsinki is by cruise ship. And this is the route dominated by the world's #1 cruising company Silja Lines.

I am mentioning this for a number of reasons. First, there is a Silja Line office next door to my hotel. Second, my sisters did not believe me when I said I had been on a cruise ship. Third, I am in Stockholm and re-living my first overseas experience (see previous post).

Now, this is probably not for everyone. We sailed overnight, which was very cool as it was summer and the sun was out 20 hours/day. That and the fact drink prices were less than half that we paid in Sweden led us to stay up all night drinking.

We arrived in Helsinki the following morning and used the day reserved for sight-seeing to sleep in the train station. It was worth it! I don't know why my company insists I fly between these two cities when the better value is so obviously a cruise.

In the fifteen years since (yikes! has it been that long? that is scary), Silja Lines has expanded its marketing efforts and now promotes itself around the world. Click here for the Japanese site シリヤライン

Posted by Kirk at 05:47 AM | Comments (1)

The Gold of Lapland

Finland is the home to one of my favorite beers, Lapin Kulta, which translates as the "Gold of Lapland". I hear that the company actually had to buy a gold mine in order to use that name and for a long time they described their business as "gold mining and brewing".

I am not going to argue that Finland has some special process for making lager beer that makes this a fantastic drink, but I do have personal reasons for liking it.

In 1990, I took my first real trip abroad, spending six weeks in Scandinavia and Russia. When our group was leaving Russia, we discovered that we had tickets for the train, but no reservations, and we could not board the train. As a result, we had to find an alternative way to leave the country.

This was actually a serious problem. At that time, Russia was the USSR and visa violations were a crime. And the last thing one wanted to do was be American and over-staying one's welcome.

Anyway, we ended up renting a bus to take us from Leningrad to the border with Finland. And to prepare, we went to the hard currency store to stock up on food and drink. I bought a six pack of Lapin Kulta beer. That was sufficient to keep me pleasantly buzzed through out the trip and I arrived in Finland feeling pretty good about things.

I saw an advertisement for the beer today. It made me realise it is more fun to dodge Russian border guards than to go to client meetings. Obviously, I have made some poor career choices.

Posted by Kirk at 05:36 AM | Comments (0)

Helsinki - another fine day

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We spent the day in Helsinki today. Actually part of the day as we had two meetings. We flew from Oslo in the morning, did the meetings, and then flew to Stockholm.

This is a park across the street from the offices of our client. Wouldn't that be a cool place to go have lunch? I was a bit jealous.

Anyway, we are in another strange hotel. For some reason, it has been really crowded and all the usual hotels are booked. Last night, we were at a hotel near the main train station and were given 'junior' suites. When you opened the door there was a staircase down to the room. So, you entered my room on the fourth floor, but it was actually on the third floor.

The hotel today is also strange. The front desk clerk seemed surprised when we walked in. And when I said I was there to check-in she asked me if I was at the right hotel. My room has two twin beds. And the bathroom is the size of a broom closet. It is very funky.

We will go to dinner and try to find that Irish bar soon. Should be fun. Tomorrow is very busy (six meetings!), so it looks like an early night.

Posted by Kirk at 01:25 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2005

Time for a picnic

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I took this picture at a park overlooking the harbor. Looks like fun, right? As I said before, we were going to dinner so we could not stop and enjoy the weather more appropriately.

Tomorrow morning we will fly to Helsinki for two meetings and get back on the plane to go to Stockholm. My colleague and I will use tomorrow night to hunt down a good Irish pub so that he can watch the Lions rugby when he returns in a few weeks for personal holiday.

Posted by Kirk at 06:06 AM | Comments (0)

Oslo - a good place to start work after holiday

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I took this picture in Oslo. It is a pedestrian street between the main square and the train station. It is pleasant, but the important thing here is that I snapped this at 10pm!

This is the best time of year to be in Scandinavia - the sun hardly sets and everyone wants to be outside to enjoy it.

We were out this late because we flew in to take a client to dinner. That was good fun, because everyone in Scandi is laid back and happy and this particular client is great to hang out with. We went to a Chinese restaurant - the food was good...but the waiter spilled a glass of wine AND water on me. That was not so good.

Posted by Kirk at 06:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

Off to Scandi soon

I am flying to Oslo this afternoon to start the working part of my trip. We have a pretty crazy schedule: four cities in three days. The good thing is that we end up in Copenhagen on Friday. I am wondering whether I should stay Friday night and return to London on Saturday.

The problem is I have to leave London on Sunday to get to Germany, which is where I start my next week of travel. I better check the weather. If it is sunny in Scandinavia, it would be foolish to not take advantage of it.

Anyway - I will try and get some pictures.

Posted by Kirk at 04:57 PM | Comments (1)

June 05, 2005

At least its sunny in this picture!

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London is cloudy and cold, so I thought I should post this...Budapest in the sunshine. This is part of the Fisherman's Bastion. It is up on the hill in Buda.

I do not understand the whole "Fisherman" part - the only water around Budapest is the river and this is 200m up the hill. But it looks good. The name probably comes from some dodgy translation - maybe there is one word in Hungarian that means both 'fisherman' and 'man who lives in a castle'.

Anyway - it is nice to see the sun.

Posted by Kirk at 08:55 PM | Comments (3)

BA = Bloody Awful

The flight from Budapest to London left an hour late - but you already know that. What happened after that is even worse - after holding above heathrow for 20 minutes, we finally landed. Like usual, BA used an off-gate stand to park. This time, they forgot to send buses to pick us up.

Our pilot was a complete idiot. He kept saying the buses were on their way even though the flight attendants were being told they weren't. He wrapped us his commentary by instructing us to not be "so frustrated" as we all have to go through this at one time or another.

As I stood there waiting, I realised that this is the third BA flight I have taken in two weeks. And the third one that was more than an hour late. So, I guess if you fly BA, you have more opportunities to "not be frustrated".

So, I was almost two hours late this time. They are going to get an earful from me this time. I will let you know what they say about it.

Posted by Kirk at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

Time for a new camera?

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I took this picture of the old church near our hotel last night. I was in my room and you could hear the wind gusting - I had to go outside and check it out. While I was out there, I thought a few pictures were in order.

But, I have a cheap digital camera and it does not take very good pictures at night. This was the best, so I thought I would share it with you.

I think I need a new camera, but I am not sure which type to get. I am depending on you to let me know. Please e-mail me suggestions - kirkb (at) akt (dot) miinet (dot) or (dot) jp!

Posted by Kirk at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

Weather report

So, it looks like I am getting out just in time. The Budapest forecast calls for rain today. Then again, I am going to London from here - I won't even bother looking up the report- have the rain jacket handy already.

Posted by Kirk at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

Ooops they did it again

Still in Budapest. My 820am flight is now scheduled for 920am. You may remember that the same thing happened on the way out here. Not a good sign for the rest of the trip, but mostly I wish that I had spent that hour near the hotel as opposed to in the BA lounge here at the airport.

As for those pesky Americans...when I got to the airport there were HUGE lines to check in as a tour bus had just dropped them off. But there was only one person at Business Class check in. Good for me! So, I pop over to that line to wait. After 10 seconds, this cranky old woman in the next line clears her throat and says "excuuuse me - we are next in that line". I turn to her and ask if she has a business class ticket. That shut her up. I hope she is still waiting.

Posted by Kirk at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

Unicum - a drink for the young and old

Tonight, I was introduced to