Happy Birthday Robert Burns

Robert Burns with Red Plastic Flower

Robert Burns would have been 254 today. Some are taken from us much too soon.

This was taken last summer during the Olympic Games in London. The red flower? I’m not absolutely sure, but I think it was the work of this Brazilian art project, Rio Occupation London, who were quite busy in the British capital during the Games with caipirinha-charged guerrilla art, street performances and concerts to ultimately create what they called an “endless poem”.

Do you think Burn ever wore a similar red bonnet?

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London, 02-Aug-2012

Desire (Pic du Jour)

London, 02-Aug-2012

Today’s pic is another gopro still from my London 2012 pile, this time of a translation of Abdourahman A. Waberi‘s poem, Desire. Desire is the best description of that ‘swaying between here and elsewhere’ that I’ve ever read.

This was mounted on a fence along the Thames not far from the London Eye. Finding sidewalk poetry anywhere rocks my world.

Waweri’s website is here.

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Leicester Square, 07-Aug-2012

Tired? Or bored? Street Stills with a GoPro (Pic du Jour)

Leicester Square, 07-Aug-2012

So which is it? Sleepy? Or just bored with handing out leaflets for a London theatre?

This was taken near Leicester Square on a rare afternoon off while I was in London covering the Olympics in August. I thought I’d experiment a bit with how my GoPro Hero2 could be used for some simple street photography stills. It wasn’t so much that I wanted the camera’s compact size to allow me to operate in stealth mode – mostly I just didn’t feel like lugging around my DSLR.

I had few expectations. Since I wasn’t stopping to compose shots, but instead just shooting from the hip, I already knew that the results would be predictably lack luster. That kind of shooting always requires a great deal of luck to be on your side.

I was primarily interested in what the camera’s exceptionally wide angle would produce. The contorted perspective, upwards of 170 degrees, can yield some fun results. When people are the subjects –like the woman’s sidekick, pictured to the right— those exaggerations become a matter of personal taste.

Anyway, here it’s the yawning indifference that makes the shot, one I would not have gotten shooting from the hip with my DSLR. And one I certainly wouldn’t have captured had I actually stopped to compose. Dumb luck, that’s all.

For those of you not familiar with Go Pro cameras, suffice it to say that they pack quite a bit of bang into their tiny 3.3 ounce, 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2” (42mm x 60mm x 30mm) metal frames. Most people buy these to attach to their heads or chests to make entertaining HD videos when jumping from airplanes or doing flips on snowboards. Besides some time lapses taken when strapped inside of an airplane and during a few ski runs, I’ve only used mine with two feet planted firmly on the ground. It’s likely to remain that way.

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Bridges, a Rainbow and St. Paul’s

London, 02-Aug-2012

Bridges is this week’s #frifotos theme on twitter; I was stuck indoors all day yesterday working in a hotel in Brussels which allowed no time for bridge hunting in the Belgian capital.

So instead here’s another shot from a visit to London last month, a view towards St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Golden Jubilee footbridge. Catching this made me feel really warm and fuzzy all over. And since Elvis Costello forms the backbone of a good portion of my daily soundtracks, I then began humming this. Enjoy.

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Reflections on Trains

Jake‘s weekly email, this time on the topic of reflection, was the perfect prompt to break out, albeit briefly, from an 18-day postless stretch. Did y’all miss me? :)

I’m slowly working my way through a small pile of photos taken last month in London during the Olympic Games, and from quick trips to Stockholm and Zurich since. This one was taken at the UK capital’s Mile End tube station, my stop for 13 days. I really liked the woman’s still reflection in the train that was whizzing by.

One more week remains –Zagreb and Brussels still left on the schedule– before my summer travel officially winds down. Then begins serious reflection on plans for the next 14-18 months. That’s gonna be some seriously fun reflection.

And while on topic: about 20 more shots of reflections are on my flickr stream here.


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Jessica Ennis’s Coronation – London Notebook II

London, UK – Vultures.  :)

This is Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis just a few steps beyond the finish line of the 800 meters after she clinched the gold medal in the heptathlon last night.

For anyone who had the good fortune to witness Great Britain’s ‘Super Saturday’ in track and field yesterday at Olympic Stadium, there will be no shortage of indelible moments to be permanently etched into memory: from the capacity crowd of 80,000 strong who grew impossibly louder as the evening progressed to Ennis’s spectacular coronation as the world’s greatest female athlete. Throw in a surprise gold for long jumper Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah‘s dramatic victory in the 10,000m and you’ve got an evening that the hosts will find nearly impossible to top.

Hope y’all are enjoying. Usain Bolt and the men’s 100 meter final is tonight. If you’re the wagering sort, these were the odds a few days ago:

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London Notebook – Video of Arrest Near the London Eye

This is two minutes of footage of an arrest I witnessed yesterday (2 Aug) evening in front of the Sea Life Museum, near the London Eye along the Thames.

The man, who was bleeding from the mouth, was charged with illegal street trading and was being restrained until police arrived. I missed the start of the incident so I don’t know the entire context in which this type of force was deemed necessary, but on the surface it seemed excessive.

From what I gathered, he either didn’t have a license or was working in an area he wasn’t supposed to be. I did ask but my questions went ignored. I don’t know what he was selling. One of the restraining officers mentioned that the man assaulted two other officers who initially approached him.

Londoners: Is this standard operating procedure for dealing with illegal street selling?

FYI I shot this with a GoPro2 because it was the camera I had in my hand at the time, thus the emphasized wide angle at times.
London, UK, 8:10pm, Thursday 2 Aug, 2012.

RyanAir finally lands in Slovenia.

As of Thursday 7 June, that is, with the long-anticipated service between Maribor (MBX), Slovenia’s second city, and London-Stansted (STN). Three flights weekly – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I’m not a huge fan of RyanAir (although their flights can be memorable), but must concede that both cost and convenience may supercede principle –on occasion.

Cost: I just keyed in a few quick trips and this is what the RyanAir search engine spit out– A quick trip leaving Saturday 9 June, returning Tuesday the 12th came in at €72.28 round trip, taxes included. At the moment, Tuesday outbound and Tuesday return are the cheapest at €57.38 (w/ taxes), giving you an extra €14.90 to indulge yourself with should you spend an entire week in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Convenience: To keep prices so ridiculously low, RyanAir oftentimes schedules flights at even more ridiculous hours. But with the Maribor flight, they’re quite reasonable. Departure from MBX is at 14:35, and departure from Stansted at 11:11, which generally means that your journey to the airport from northern London won’t have to begin in the pre-dawn hours.

Bear in mind that RyanAir charges for ALL checked bags (15 kg limit) –£5/€6 at time of online booking or £10/€12 at airport check-in–  while excess baggage fees begin at £5.50/€8 per kilo. With the latter, they’re annoyingly strict.

And somewhat related, an important note to Slovenian travelers who are still wondering –or still upset– about Easyjet’s cancellation last year of their Ljubljana – Berlin Shoenefeld flight: The cancellation had little to do with demand, since the flights operated at 90% + capacity. It was cancelled, according to an EasyJet employee I met last week on another flight, because passengers were not spending enough money on board. Those wildly overpriced cups of instant coffee and stale Mars bars are extremely important to the no-frills carriers’ bottom line. I’m sure RyanAir is no different.

And definitely related: RyanAir Campaign is a decent site that chronicles passenger’s problems for the airline that last October was voted the world’s most disliked carrier in a survey of TripAdvisor readers.