Monthly Archives: December 2010

Hòg mhaidne (in Gaelic)

December 31, 2010
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Growing up with a Scottish parent tonight was always the biggest celebration of the year. It’s a night that everyone should spend in Scotland at least once. It’s a night where a country that can stand toe-to-toe with the Irish when it comes to drinking and having a good time, turns the dial to 11 and leaves all others in their wake. In the finest of Scottish traditions I’m going to buy a round of  decent whiskey for myself and my friends at around midnight, and propose a toast to absent friends. It’s going to be emotional, but also somewhat cleansing for the soul. 2010 has been brutal and I’m happy to see the back of it, 2011 is going to be spectacular. Haste ye back, we loue you dearly, Call again you’re welcome here. May your days be free from sorrow, And your friends be ever near. May the paths o’er which you wander, Be to you a joy each day. Haste ye back we loue you dearly, Haste ye back on friendship’s way. Happy new year. And while I’ll be thinking of who is not here tonight, I’ll do appreciate those who are. Thanks for being there,...

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Gauguin, culture and beer mix in London

December 28, 2010
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Gauguin, culture and beer mix in London

I was meeting friends for lunch in London today, but the rest of the day was my own. To be fair most of my friends were supposed to actually be working today, I’m sure it’s possible that a civil servant could actually get rather busy on a Monday after a holiday… It just seems rather unlikely. My first stop is what I think is the best museum in the world. The collection is first class, and there are good reasons of that. The British Museum has piles of stuff borrowed from around the world by the all-powerfull British Empire. The place is packed with such high quality items from all over the world, pretty much all was “liberated” in the same way a $10 note occasionally goes missing from my wallet left on the kitchen counter in the same week a 9 year old mysteriously gets $10 from her grandmother to spend on herself. The tussle with the Greeks over the Elgin Marbles is well documented, but they are in London and possession is 9/10ths of the law as they say. The Museum has been clear that they are in London to stay. The argument is ongoing and ultimately...

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Flying is good, airports not so good.

December 28, 2010
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This is going to sound a little like bragging, and yeah it maybe a little, but it’s my blog and I’m allowed too! Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time in the air. Two trips to Asia and after Christmas in London it’s 13 to Europe with more to come to both in the next few months. In the last 6 weeks alone I’ve spent almost 75 hours at 36,000 feet. For me one of the signs that it’s starting to be too much is I dread going to the airport. While the novelty of flying has certainly worn off, I’m not at that point yet. While not many people will call the whole flying experience pleasurable, I don’t find actually being on the airplane too bad. I don’t have to worry about email, my blackberry is quiet and I can watch bad movies staring The Rock that we all skip past when renting a movie. It’s not a secret that’s going to get me on Jerry Springer, but I like it. The second part is the airport, that’s the piece I don’t enjoy. It’s not just the security lines (as bad as those are), it’s...

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Discarding proof in order to be right

December 26, 2010
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I got an interesting e-mail a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been sitting on it deciding what to do. It seems one of the rumours my ex is putting around is that she now believes I never went through Hodgkin’s Lyphoma. As with other accusations she has made, either first hand or by proxy, she has seen much evidence to the contrary, but it does not fit her argument and so is discarded. First I’ve never been so upset at an accusation, she wants a fight and has reverted to type in clearly wanting to be right. Being right is so important that she is happy to discard conversations and other evidence that did not fit into her hypothesis. She has been part of conversations between my parents and myself about how I felt. She has listened to my mother and I argue and get emotional about her not being able to deal with it. She was there when dad described his reaction and how he coped. Then there was the conversation with a close friend about how my ex-wife sat in her car crying and stated that she could not handle it if anything was wrong with me...

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Marmite everywhere!!!!

December 26, 2010
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My brother and his family gave me Marmite flavoured chocolate and cashews for Christmas. Let me be clear, there is no such thing as enough Marmite in this world, but the chocolate, that was new to me. It’s interesting, in a good way, it’s certainly not a taste one will acquire later in life. Thanks Anna-Marie, it was good. The cashews however are awesome, I will pick up a couple of bags before I leave.

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A little Christmas rambling

December 25, 2010
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This post is a little rambling, it kinda reflects how I feel today, but I hope worth it. Christmas this year was about spending time with my family, and I have a wonderful, supportive family. I’m doing something about living 4800 miles away. Arrived at Heathrow on Christmas Eve. SeaTac was busy, the plane packed and after traveling in business class over the last month it was a big hello with reality to sit in the cheap seats. I know I sound like a spoilt brat, but I missed the bigger seats and almost passable food that comes with sitting up front. I can feel the sympathy out there, thank you all. The flight came in over Scotland, Ayr to be precise, the skies were clear and the ground white with snow. From the window we could see across the Firth of Clyde, towards Greenock and Dunoon. Pick out Millport and the smudge of grey that’s Glasgow in the distance. A lot of family holidays were spent with my grandparents in that part of the world. As we flew South to London the snow never stopped. The entire country was covered. Christmas eve was a quiet evening spent at...

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There is not enough gin in the lounge…

December 21, 2010
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Last night, before we all went out, I made a bold prediction. I said there was not enough gin (or sake) in the lounge to get me to sing karaoke. I was wrong, there was. We went out for the somewhat traditional end of trip dinner with the partner back in Nagoya. We went to a very nice Japanese restaurant with 6 or 7 courses. One of the managers, who up until now has avoided Japanese food, tried the sashimi, and while not a convert found it better than he expected. I thought the meal was excellent and the beer and sake was flowing. We had a good time, talked about the relationships between the partners and us, the value of meeting like this regularly and so on. I’ve got some process revisions I that I need to incorporate to better support the partners and clarify a few things, but from the business point of view it’s been a very successful trip, everyone at the table last night seemed to feel that. After the very good dinner Konichi-san said we were going to karaoke. I have no singing voice and the only time I’ve ever done it once before,...

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OMG! The crowds…

December 20, 2010
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OMG! The crowds…

I know Japan is crowded, the numbers are rather staggering (warning stat alert), it has bout half the population of the US, squeezed into less than 5% of the land area. Judging from the train ride from Nagoya to Tokyo “rural” has a very different definition here. The train station is a just a few minute walk from the the Imperial Palace that is both the geographical center of Tokyo and regarded by all as the spitiual center of Japan. Close by is the center of the Japanese government and the most important embassies in the country. One thing that is clear, nothing stays still for long, the renewal of the old into the new high rises carries on at a massive rate. The dichotomy here is the Imperial house of Japan, it’s the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world, by tradition the family lineage goes back to Emperor Jimmu who (and historians are mixed on this) came to the throne somewhere around 660BC (that’s 2770 years ago) The Imperial Palace is the offical home of the Emperor and Imperial Family. The actual role and power of the Emperor has gone back and forth between absolute ruler and largely...

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Yasukuni-jinja

December 18, 2010
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Yasukuni-jinja

After long meetings all week and a late night getting to Tokyo last night I was determined to spend a few hours today with just me and my iPod wandering around Tokyo and trying to recharge a little. One of the places I did want to visit was the rather controversial Yasukuni-jinja; this is a Shinto shrine that’s a 30-minute walk from the Imperial Palace. Yasukuni-jinja is dedicated to the spirits of those who died fighting for Japan in the name of the emperor during wartime; it does not have to be a combat death for someone’s spirit to be enshrined here. There are almost 2.5 million names on the register at the shrine. The short version of the Shinto belief is that the souls of the dead are housed in the shrine. It is believed that all evil or negative acts are forgiven when a person is enshrined here. I guess absolution is probably the closest term in Catholicism.  In Shinto once a person is enshrined it is permanent and no one can undo it. Yasukuni-jinja has huge significance in Japan, it is supposed to give peace to those who fought and died for the emperor, interestingly it...

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I’m in Tokyo and this is awesome!

December 18, 2010
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I’m in Tokyo and this is awesome!

This is one of my favorite cities anywhere. It’s certainly one of the most interesting and has people watching that’s arguably better than Las Vegas. I’ve never seen 6 women dressed as “little bo-peep the zombie years” walking along the street in Vegas; we can tick that particular one off on my list of unlikely sights after today. I had my “Wow, I’m in Tokyo and this is awesome!” moment suddenly hit me when I was standing in Shibuya in the midst of a mass of people crossing the road (followed by “I know you don’t get the personal space in this country, but this is fucking ridiculous!”). I sat in the Starbucks (I know, terribly Seattle) that overlooks Shibuya Crossing and just watched what I’d been through be repeated every minute or so. This city is unique, it’s got such high energy and wandering around today with some idea of where I was going and what I wanted to see before what I’ve been told will be an evening loaded with gin, billiards and threatened karaoke with some of the Japanese based staff tonight.

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