An auspicous day for my iPhone

I made my merry way over to the Apple store today to get my screen looked at for a wonky pixel issue. I was extremely lucky I decided to make time today to bring it in, as it seems my warranty expires in 5 days. While this is a sad and somewhat uncomfortable fact for my phone (as this is not the first time I’ve had to bring it in), it means my phone and I’s (what exactly is correct grammar for that statement?) one year anniversary is coming up! Awwww. I may celebrate by finally breaking down and buying a case, since extended warranty is 60 bucks. Bleh.

It also had 2 excellent picture opportunities. The first, which is the far less exciting, so please read on to the end, is a reference to my name that’s spelled correctly.

Watchmen Panel

It’s a little blurry, but it’s in the 2nd to last line of the bottom panel. It’s rare to find my name spelled the same, though this was somewhat bittersweet as the reference is to a child who was grotesquely murdered by her father. They also described the name as “sounding like a movie star.” Hah.

The 2nd cool thing I saw today, which is so cool it made me bounce around and squeal a little bit, was a sign outside the T-Mobile booth at the mall.

Android Display

Recognize anything? That’s right, that’s my program featured there in the maroon box. I designed that icon. I rock. :p

Day 13

I’ve been waiting for things to actually finalize themselves before I do this wrapping up post, and finally there’s only one little hicough left so I’ll go ahead and post this.

My trip home was rather arduous – a 4 hour train ride that turned into 6, unexpectedly deprived of my phone and source of entertainment, followed by a 12 hour flight(s) which turned into 17 – then they lost my checked bag. On the one flight I actually check the damn thing, they lose it, carrying my (dead) phone and 2 bottles of fine duty free liquor. I was so paranoid that the latter would be broken and the former would be stolen but luckily everything came through just fine. Hooray American Airlines!

Overall the trip was pretty excellent, except for a few cold encounters with customs officers and some unfortunate incidents which were not without their silver lining. (I went out and bought a frickin’ awesome new watch after the phone/watch fiasco) That last day in Edinburgh before I so unfortunately lost all of my time-telling devices was pretty sweet. Those of you who know me probably know of my severe infatuation for castles, and the one in the middle of Edinburgh is one of the finer specimens I’ve seen. Unfortunately, my phone being bricked, I have few pictures, but it will live on forever in my memory.

And speaking of pictures… I managed to pull the rest of them off my phone before I had to restore it, so those are all uploaded on flickr now. For your current viewing pleasure, here’s the panoramas I grabbed. :)

nicepano

Villefranche Beach in Nice, France

londonpano

Thames River, London, England

Panorama from Eze

View from Eze, France

Random but interesting note: I accidentally went through airport security, not once but twice, with a pack of disposable razors in my bag. Yeah, now I feel like airport security is totally worth my time.

Final iPhone count: 21

Day 9

So far not the greatest day ever. My phone has crashed and is giving me the iPhone equivalent of the blue screen of death (which is purple). I also seem to have lost my watch, so I have no remaining timepieces. It’s like fate wants me to miss my train or something.

Day 8

I’m currently eating Pad Thai in Edinburgh, which amuses me no end. Well, I already had Haggis. :p It’s actually better than anything I’ve had in Austin, but not California. This post is coming a little earlier than usual as I’ve signed up for a pub crawl later and I hope I won’t be in any condition to blog when I get back.

Ohhhhhh, I like Scotland. It’s gorgeous, I can understand mostly everything (there are some serious accents around, though), and most importantly, people are actually friendly! I felt a certain acidity in Nice which I assumed was par for the course, this being my first time, but I would actually use the word “jolly” to describe these people. I’ve even made friends (shocking, I know) who are accompanying me in drunken revalry tonight.

UGH, this wordpress app has just lost my edits for the last time. From now on I’m writing these in notepad and copyng them over, because I can do shit like that now.

This city is just lovely – I haven’t done the castle yet, as I’m scheduling all day tomorrow for that adventure, but I did an excellent walking tour today which was chock full of interesting history. I also climbed the 287 steps (which has nothing on the Eiffel Tower) to the top of the Sir William Scott memorial, which is both gorgous and pretentious, but mostly gorgeous. I have lots of lovely pictures, which you won’t be able to see until I have access to a computer again. :( trust me, they’re awesome. I also hit up the national gallery and learned that classical painting interests me far less than modern art. Actually, some modern art bores me as well – I guess I just like anything with bold emotion or movement in it. Staring into the eyes of a painting, trying to figure out just what the artist what was trying to express, for hours on end amuses me about once. Also spent some considerable time listening to a bagpipe/drum sidewalk performance which was just plain awesome.

Still don’t really want to add more to my backpack, but I feel almost obligated to buy something plaid. Any suggestions?

Day 7

Omg, the loudest baby EVER was on my flight to Edinburgh. I swear this thing (theres that inhuman noun again… I have an earlier post on that subject) cried for 90% of the flight. Its shriek ranked on the ear piercing meter somewhere between a malfunctioning electrical converter and a man loudly trying to sing soprano. Im going to remember this moment if I ever start liking children.

I somehow ended up in Scotlands #1 hostel too, this time without planning it. Makes me wonder if theyre all number one in theyre own special way. Its really nice – nicer than Nice, ironically. WAY friendlier people.

Lovely morning spent mostly on the beach. It lseems all the beachs around Nice are rocky so I bussed down to Villefranche for some real quality beachin. It stil didnt have quite what I would call sand, but the rocks were at least only a few Millimeters long. Other than that, it was exactly like one might imagine a French beach to be – wonderfully warm with a light breeze, pleasant and not too loud background noise from city folk going about their business, and water as clear as any you will ever see. But fuck was it cold!!! I made myself going swimming since I likely wont see the Riviera again for a while but I had to get out when I couldnt feel my toes, which took approximately 5 minutes. Once I was dry the water kept pulling me back, though. its sunnier out now, itll be fine, it wasnt THAT bad, maybe the pain is worth it. That water was like a beautiful woman without a heart.

Amusing proof that British Airlines really is very British – their lunch plate comes with tiny tubes of milk and sugar which have absolutely no purpose but to go in tea (or coffee, I suppose). Never have I seen this before, and it was rather adorable.

Thats all for now; Im dead tired. I do have more pictures, but without a computer its really quite an ordeal to get them online, and I just dont have that kind of patience.

Day 6

Started today off with some delicious strong coffee and a trip to the fruit and flower market, which is exactly what it sounds like except for the addition of olive and marzipan stands. OLIVE and MARZIPAN stands. (pictures forthcoming) Fantastic. I picked up a small basket of strawberries, the kind that was picked yesterday where the red goes all the way up to the stem, and ate them by the beach.

Now back to the coffee, or, more accurately, the saucer. Let me preface this by describing just how much ordinary saucers annoy me: a lot. Theyre great for holding a cup, but thats about it. Anything else you try to put on the edge falls down into the cup spot as soon as its empty. Tea bags make an awful mess and the angle means packets of sugar and spoon handles fall in and get soaked. Now take a look at the saucer in the picture down below – pure genius! I hadnt put much thought before into the way saucers could be improved, but this is it. The flat oval shape and the offset of the recession for the cup means anything at all (within reason) can be set on that saucer and stay put. Teabags and sugar will still leak of course, but the leakage will only spread within a contained radius. Not only does this extra storage space mean extra storage, your cup will always have a place to sit, much like how the addition of shelves above a desk means your chair can remain free of clutter. Absolutely brilliant. (it also looks mighty snazzy!)

Next was a trip to the local modern art museum, which, despite several contrary sources, does not have the Warhol cambell soup painting. There was some neat stuff but overall I wasnt too impressed. Its got nothin on the Tate, even what little I saw of it.

Then came a lot of stairs as I hiked up to the castle on the cliff in the middle of the city, upon which I promptly took a nap. That was basically the highlight of that journey, as it was super touristed out. Eze was way better.

Thats about it for today, except for a couple hours figuring out the next few days. My reservation heres up tomorrow so Im hitting the beach (its finally supposed to be warm) for a bit and then jetting to Edinburgh for my last few days. Yay, castles! I purposely booked a hostel right next to the biggest castle in town. :D

Day 5

Today was an inland day, which wasnt what I had in mind for the Riviera, but turned out pretty cool anyways. It was cold and rainy most of the morning so I skipped the beach and went hiking up to Eze, this ancient village on a cliff overlooking the sea.  Lots of pictures attached – pretty freaking awesome, really.

IMG_0140[1] IMG_0142[1] IMG_0133[1]

Today was also a minor shopping day, although I had sworn on my over-stuffed backpack not to buy anything while I was here. I stupidly went out without a coat this morning, and rather then catch a cold on vacation I decided to shell out the €5 for this awesome wine-colored scarf. The back of my neck seems to be the main regulator of my body temperature, so this worked rather well, although I still got quite wet. Less practically, I bought myself a pair of cheap imitation aviators, which I have been wanting for quite a while. It feels silly to me to buy cheap, sweatshop imitations inside the US. Dunno why, really.

While I was trying to get into town, I ran across an interface which was so unintuitive it almost deserves a post all its own. Theres a picture of it somewhere in this post, but I havent yet figured out how this iPhone app handles pictures. (update: poorly. pictures now coming from flickr)(the last 2 posts came from Talias computer) Its the ticket buying machine for the tram that runs through Nice – on approach, you see a screen with tactile looking, 3d buttons, a number pad, card slot, and 2 large colored buttons. One is red and angry looking and flush with the surface of the machine, the other is green and raised on a truncated cone. I spent a good 2 minutes trying to touch the screen, to no avail. I couldnt discern any other input method so I stepped back and waited for someone to show me. Apparently the raised bit beneath the green button is a DIAL, and you turn it to select an option, then you have to push the green button all the way in, hard, to select your choice. There is no indication the raised bit even turns, much less that it is a selection method. The buttons are fairly self explanatory, but theres not even a sticker or small engraving to indicate the select dial. Just the tiny addition of a curved, bidirectional arrow would have solved matters, or maybe a turn to select in French. Anything.

IMG_0130[1]

I noticed a conspicuous lack of iPhones in London compared to Austin so Ive been keeping count of all the ones I see. So far:
iPhones: 13
G1s: 1

And one last neat picture –

le shop

Day 4

Not much to report today – regained consciousness around noon and made a last second decision to travel to Nice, so here I am. It was pretty cool – I just got online and got reservations for tonight and tickets for a flight which was 6 hours away. I love the Internet. The hostel I booked is ranked number one in France! So far it does seem really nice (its in an old monastery) but my room us RIGHT next to the bar, which Im not sure ever closes, so Im not too happy about that. Tomorrow its beach time. :D

Day 3

Long day, so short post.

Watched my first real cricket match today! Well, the first 4 hours of it… We stayed just long enough for the teams to switch and then headed out. Apparently professional cricket matches can take up to 5 days. That’s more hardcore than Nascar. Talia had a bunch of friends in the game, one of which had an excellent hat. Talia kept watch on it for a bit:
Talia in Hat

We escaped shortly after Cambridge started batting and went to London for some sight-seeing and dinner. We hit up the Tate Modern, which is just a fantastic modern art museum. Super, super inspirational. We got there an hour before closing, unfortunately, which just means I’ll have to go back there before this trip is over. I fly out of London, after all, so I can afford to retrace my steps a bit.

After we got kicked out of the Tate we wandered along the South Bank of the Thames, which was just gorgeous, even if the lighting wasn’t the greatest for photographs.
Thames - Panorama Preview
Me on the Thames

We then had some excellent pizza and frantically ran back to King’s Cross before the last train turned into a pumpkin left at midnight. At the station, we saw this:
Train Schedule: Safe Mode

Which really just made the perfect ending to the day. Well, not quite – now I’m going to go to sleep, which will be the perfect ending to the day. Tomorrow morning I’ll be all up on the interwebs figuring out where to go next – I’m tempted to go hit up Ireland; there’s a County Clare there that would be awesome to visit, and I here the Guinness is much much better locally.

Day 2

Well my original thought was to head to Scotland to do some foggy, moorish hiking today, but plans are made to be broken so I’m here in Cambridge visiting my friend Talia. Talia’s my Old Wise One (my house’s equivalent of a Big Sister) from WILG and I love her very very much. I’ve been to Cambridge before so I’ve seen all the touristy stuff and it’s really nice to get an insider’s view of the city/college. I just got back from a dinner of excellent handmade Gnocchi which can’t rival that of Italy but comes pretty close. You also get the fun little stories and sites that aren’t on the main-stream tours, like the Corpus Clock (super freaky) and Clare college. That’s right. Clare College.
Clare College
(please ignore the fact that this is a horrible picture of me)

Of the many obvious advantages to being in Europe the drinking laws rank pretty high, but I discovered a new facet to them today that pushes them even farther up the list. Not only is the drinking age 18, far more sensible than 21 (Seriously, you can die for your country but you can’t drink alcohol? Come on.), but there aren’t any laws against public drinking. We grabbed some beers earlier and wandered down to Jesus Green (or something like that) and just drank them there on the steps. The weather was decent and the drinks were good and it was all together a lovely experience. It’s the casual occasions like that which make the alcohol culture here so much healthier than back in the states.

Another advantage: Excellent Coffee.

Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee

Humorous Road Signs:

Humps for 160 yards

And stores which appreciate Asus as much as I do(which is pretty difficult to do, let me tell you):

<3 Asus

In other news, I am strongly considering switching to Course 4 (that’s Architecture, for all you non-MITers) upon my return to school. As many of you know, programming has been rather beaten out of me, and I seem to be flipping towards the far end of the academic scale, as it were. Trips to Europe are supposed to be all about answering questions, yes? Well there you go.