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Why Don’t Trains Have Wi-Fi?

Sunday 1st June 2008

Part I

It just seems like such a basic thing, in this always-connected world we live in. That said, there are probably more pressing things to sort out on the rail network…

Anyway, I write this en-route from Cardiff to the joy that is Birmingham New Street, which is probably a good example of something that needs sorting, actually. As is the way the train keeps bouncing from side to side, making it bloody hard to type. I digress.

Last week was spent in Devon, in a lovely little place called Slapton. There are a couple of interesting things about Slapton. Firstly, it has a big freshwater lake (Slapton Ley) which is separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar, and the whole site is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), because it’s home to some rare birds or something and because it’s a really good example of that sort of habitat. Secondly, during the 1940s, the whole area was evacuated so that the Americans could practise invading it. Apparently it has a lot of similarities to Utah beach (the western-most beach they landed on during Operation Overlord). However, during the exercise (codenamed Exercise Tiger), a bunch of German ships happened to come across the landing craft just as they were about to land and managed to sink a few. As a result, there were about three times as many casualties during Ex. Tiger than there were on Utah during Op. Overlord.

Well, I thought that was interesting, anyway.

It was a pretty good week, all things considered. True to form the weather was pretty poor (after the weeks of gorgeous sunshine we had during the exam period), but it seemed to stay dry during most of our outdoor stuff, which was good. I quite like the field courses we have, because its a nice to get a chance to spend time with and get to know people that I wouldn’t ordinarily talk to. That said, it also means I had to tolerate some of the people who really irritate me, but gotta take the rough with the smooth and all that.

Actually, one of the nights spent down t’pub was somewhat eye-opening. There were a bunch of us in this tiny (usually quiet) pub, being studenty… I noticed after a while that the only people talking were those who were the loudest. There wasn’t really a conversation going, either; they just seemed to say something, then wait for other people to finish talking, and then say something else. We were there for a good few hours, and no-one really said anything. Now I don’t expect every conversation to be deep and meaningful; considering the meaning of life and other worthy questions. But I do think that conversation should be interesting, not just based around “this one time, I was really drunk…”, or whatever…. Eventually they got round to playing drinking games (loudly), which was just embarrassing. OK, drinking games can be fun, but there’s a time and a place. A quiet pub, where you can piss off all the locals, really isn’t it.

The next night we all went to Torquay (for a fun night out!), and I spent it with a different bunch of people. We ended up in this cramped little pub, where there was a guy with a guitar playing away in the corner. A guy with a guitar who seemed to be able to play any song you requested. Most people went to a club I think, but all present at the pub were in agreement that they missed out. Horses for courses, I guess.

The trip kinda got me thinking about where I’d prefer to live: a small place like Slapton, right next to the sea; or in a city. I really love the sea and being near it, so I think I’d really love to live near it. Cardiff is technically by the sea, but most of the city is a teensy bit inland, so I never really see the sea. So yeh, I’d love to live somewhere in an ickle coastal town, I think, but at the same time I do love cities. I love the atmosphere, and the way there’s always something happening.

I think that when I’m rich and successful in years to come, I’ll just buy a house in a city and a place by the sea, and alternate as the mood takes me. Don’t know which city, and which place by the sea though…

Part II

I had to get off the train, so I had to stop writing. I’m now writing from the sofa at home, a few hours later. Watched the Monaco Grand Prix earlier, which was really very good. I really felt sorry for Sutil (he’s in one of the worst teams, and was in 4th place until the current world champion crashed into him a few laps from the end). Hamilton was bloody lucky – his puncture earlier on in the race gave him a real strategic advantage over Massa and Kubica, and apparently he got a puncture on the slowing down lap after crossing the line. Lucky the race was shortened, then. Speaking of Massa, he’s driving fantastically at the moment. Dare I say it, title hopes? He seems to be doing better than Raikkonen at the moment, it has to be said…

Doctor Who the other day was really bloody good. Most of this series has been pretty poor, to be honest. It’s almost as if the writers have tried to make it comic because they’ve got Catherine Tate, but it’s really not worked. It’s been cheesy, almost slaptstick humour. Thinking back to the first “new” series, with Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor, that was really rather witty and that’s the way it should be.

Apart from that, it’s been predictable as well. Like “The Doctor’s Daughter”. Who didn’t foresee her getting shot? And then who didn’t see her re-generating (and keeping her form)? Bad. Just bad.

Anyway, the last episode was good. It’s properly dark, and not at all predictable. And I really like the way that it addresses the fact that the Doctor is a time traveller. For those that don’t watch the show, I’ll explain what I mean. One of the characters in the episode knows the Doctor, but first met him at a time later than the meeting we see in the show. So she knows the Doctor and has known him for years, but he has no idea who she is. It’s pretty clever. Can’t wait for Moffat to take over the direction of the show.

The Lost season finale came out the other day as well, and I have to say I thought it was pretty good. It did exactly what I expected – answered a few questions, introduced some new ones, and basically revealed a little bit more of the story. I have to say I really like some of the issues and themes that Lost looks at. Things like Good vs Evil, Science vs Faith, Fate or Destiny vs Free Will, and so on. That, and the entire story is pretty magnificent. If you haven’t watched it before, I urge you to acquire it and to spend a few days watching it all from the start. It’s really worth it.

Posted at 7:43 pm | Posted In: GeekMotorsportRantStuffTechnologyTV

8 Comments:

Flix

Monday 2nd June 2008, 11:07 pm

A title beginning with W and a post time ending with “pm”? My my, aren’t we changing our routine a bit?!

My friend told me Monaco was awesome and couldn’t believe that I used the phrasing “had to sit through it” If only I’d read this before having that conversation, I could have pretended I had the faintest clue about who any of the people were, or what the hell the race involved other than a bunch of cars doing 78 laps round a circut, except they didn’t do all the laps because…*tunes out* anyway, it would have got me in the good books with my mate. I bet you two’d get along great.

I need to catch up on my Lost watching. I’ve only seen up to the end of third season. I really want to watch the rest. Lost is awesome.

Dickie

Monday 2nd June 2008, 11:57 pm

The field course screwed my sleeping patterns up. I keep getting up at 9-ish and sleeping at midnight-ish, it’s most unfamiliar.

I can actually see why you didn’t enjoy the race, to be honest. Btw it was stopped a few laps early because races are only allowed to go on for a maximum of 2 hours.

Lucy

Tuesday 3rd June 2008, 12:03 am

Ah, New St! In the three days that I was home, the number of train cock-ups that I went through in that station was really quite impressive! Tiny coastal pub – sounds excellent. Drunk students are a bore. She says, attempting to comment while, erm, drunk. Should really get off the computer. And to bed. But I’d like to live by the sea by a bit, or even within reach of the sea. Durham’s only, like, 13 miles from the coast or something, but you can’t really get there without a car, which is a shame. And holiday homes? Pfft, I think you can guess my opinion on that matter!

Some people on their way back from a house party just came in for a tour of our house. So random! So yeah, living by the sea. ‘Twould be nice. Nice air. And nice walks. But mebbe a bit ghoulish in the winter? Go for a city on the sea!

The WWII thing is pretty interesting. I can’t really comment on any of Part II. Should go to bed, yeh?

hannah

Tuesday 3rd June 2008, 11:07 am

Hello drunken Lucy :oD
I know Slapton well :o) Slapton Sands is a fantastic stretch of beach, gorgeous when the weather’s just right.

As for Lost I got bored after the last series, Heroes is where it’s at.

Oh, and I like Chris Rea :oP

Dickie

Wednesday 4th June 2008, 12:12 am

You got bored after the last series of Lost? Wow…

Heroes is damn good though. The second season was just fantastic – better than the first, I thought.

hannah

Wednesday 4th June 2008, 10:36 am

Yeh I did. The story lines were just to random and rambling to be of any interest to me plus I didn’t think some of the acting was all that great. I do miss Locke though :oP

Callan

Friday 6th June 2008, 1:55 am

The latest doctor who was brilliant, I’ll agree. I also watched the whole first series in an unrivalled feat of procrastination and thought the last episode of that was fantastic. I’d say that Christopher Eccleston, while not having the doctor quite a down-pat as david tenant, was a pretty good choice for the role and the first series as a whole was very well done. The Empty Child pair were particularly good.

Andy

Wednesday 11th June 2008, 2:50 am

Not sure I could live out of a city. I think I love them too much!

I know what you mean about Who this series – I’ve been waiting for some really good quality episodes, and I suddenly realise we’re a pretty damn good way through the series already. Tate hasn’t been as bad as I was a-fearing, though. In fact, I would go so far as to say her performances are actually pretty good – it’s the writing that’s letting everything down.

Very glad that Moffat is taking over. His episodes have been uniformly good-to-excellent, and he “gets” time-travel as more than an excuse to set episodes in the past or future. Which is great, because non-linearity and the like is awesome; I just read something very cool on the idea of using time travel to perform computation: http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/project.archive/general.articles/1991/TempComp.html

I really want to see where they take Lost next season. They’ve got 34 episodes left, and a lot to wrap up, and heck, they’ve just gone and created more questions.

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