Saturday, October 22, 2005

Not again!

Earlier tonight my crown fell out. Again. That's five times now, and twice this week. It's getting beyond a joke.

It fell out last week, late, so the weekend was a bit awkward. On Monday I was able to arrange an emergency appointment for Tuesday, for the crown, and another for Friday, for another tooth that had apparently decided to join the insurrection and start protesting about coffee and icecream.

On Tuesday the crown was cemented back in, and just that evening, out it popped.

Back to the dentist on Wednesday, where they stuck it in again.

Thursday was a day off dentistry.

Friday was time for a filling, which seems to have held so far. But on Friday evening, out popped the crown.

Here we go again...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Can I afford to save this much?

Don't worry, I'm not starting a finance or debt blog. It's just that I was shopping in Sainsbury's the other evening, and according to my enormously long till receipt, I "saved" £9.54. Apart from the slightly churlish thought that they could at least have rounded the discount to £10, I'm not sure about the marketing. Does this mean I'm Sainsbury's nightmare customer, hitting the special offers and the 2 for 1s, or have I just fallen into their little trap and done exactly what they wanted me to do - bought more stuff?

Certainly I can't afford to make savings like that every time I go shopping. In my defence, the fridge and cupboards had got rather bare, and I did need to get some food...

What I did on my holidays

Here's a quick summary of my holiday postings, since they are rather scattered about this blog, and completely out of sequence:


St. Petersburg
Home again :-)

I hadn't realised I'd written so much.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pictures of Tallinn

Tallinn is a beautiful old city, with winding streets. They also have a rather good garlic restaurant - not recommended if you need to talk to anyone for a week or so afterwards though!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ethnography by any other name - Tallinn

Most museums in the Baltics are shut on Mondays - we knew that, so we went to Tallinn on Tuesday. Unfortunately many of the good museums (if our tyrannical guidebooks are to be trusted) are shut on Tuesdays as well. Fortunately there is another attraction a short bus ride from the middle of the city.

At home we call this sort of thing a folk park, or folk museum. Calling anything "ethnographic" sounds to me like it would make visitors run a mile - which would be a real shame! Maybe they are much more serious and intellectual over in the former Soviet Republics?

Whatever the name, they have traditional wooden buildings from all regions of Estonia, and they are adding more all the time.

This is a perspective on the hard but simpler life, in the centuries before communism, capitalism, industrialisation and globalisation changed the world. Mediated by a tourist board, of course, with an interpretative centre and gift shop. Capitalism.

But they have a nicer cafe than you get in tourist attractions at home - almost untouched by the globalisation of coke and chips (or should that be fries?). They actually dare to have a menu of traditional local fare.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

St Petersburg IV - Peterhof

When you're in St Petersburg you have to go to the old palace of Peter the Great, and wander round the gardens - especially if they are having anniversary celebrations. Just don't arrive at the ticket office as they pull down the shutters and close early to set up for a firework display, like we did.

Still, on the way back to town we met a parade, with bands, flags, and a man on a horse. More anniversary celebrations. I felt quite at home, but Peter tried to start a Concerned Residents' association. Fortunately the locals refused to be offended by even the Estonian and Lithuanian flags.

We had to go back the next day - but the gardens and fountains were spectacular.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Serenity / Firefly

I saw the film Serenity a couple of weeks ago. It's good. Go see it!

Serenity Ship Logo: copyright some movie types - portion of promotional flyer reproduced under fair dealing / fair use provisionsApparently there is a rule at Fox Television that if a show is any good, it has to be cancelled. If there are plot lines that run from episode to episode, Fox will show them in a random order first - for added tauntage, as Buffy might put it. We'll return to Buffy later.

It seems Fox has done it again with a series called Firefly.

In spite of the show being cancelled, it has quite a few fans here in Belfast. Don't ask me how - it's probably something to do with technology. Or that Interweb thingy. Anyway, there was a preview showing of a film based on the series, and I was dragged along to see it by two real enthusiasts.

As the start of the film grew closer, the anticipation in the cinema rose, undimmed by the dreadful canned music they play before the show. I was in the midst of a crowd of true believers, initiates into the mysteries of the crew of the Serenity. I was in a cult, and I alone hadn't drunk the Kool-Aid.

Then the film started.

It was visually gripping. The characters seemed to be individuals, not just featureless, pretty clones from casting central. There was a story, a sense of things happening below the surface - a past, and a direction. The futuristic world felt like it had substance.

And there was humour, banter, and wit. Joss Whedon, also responsible for the Buffy franchise, displayed the same sense of fun and vitality here. The crew really were like old friends - a team, with the easy familiarity and the sudden bickering of a family, forced to live together on the run on the creaking ship Serenity.

Serenity has been described as a Western in Space - but it's more than just that. I want to see the series now, to see where these guys were coming from, and what else happened.

I don't know what the guys at Fox are playing at.

Perhaps, though, their habit of axing brilliant shows explains why Fox News is said to be so bad - the news team are just trying to keep their show from being cancelled!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Train to Trakai, and on to Russia

We went to Trakai for the day...

Then, after a mad dash (actually a very brisk walk, but why spoil a good story?) to catch a bus back to Vilnius, we got the night train for St Petersburg.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Vilnius - the pictures

Here are a few photos from our time in Vilnius, on last month's tour of the Baltics.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Everyone has the right...

The Republic of Užupis declared independence from Vilnius and the rest of Lithuania on All Fools' Day, 1989. Their constitution, written in French, Lithuanian and English on a wall in the town, contains a few gems:-

click to see constitutionEveryone has the right to make mistakes.
Everyone has the right to be unique.
Everyone has the right be be silent.
Everyone has the right to idle.
Everyone is responsible for their freedom.
Everyone has the right to be of any nationality.
Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat.
A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.
A dog has the right to be a dog.

Do not defeat.
Do not fight back.
Do not surrender.

If only the proposed European Constitution were as wise.