Trials of Spring

“THE TRIALS OF SPRING is a major cross media event that tells the stories of nine women on the front lines of change in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. It includes a feature-length documentary, six short films, and articles by award-winning journalists about women and their unwavering quest for social justice and freedom.”

More at Trials of Spring

Out of Africa: How Early Humans First Got to Europe

“A new study determined that early humans migrated out of Africa through Egypt, a finding bolstered by the discovery an almost complete skull in the Manot Cave of Israel’s Western Galilee dating back 55,000 years. It provides direct anatomical evidence that fills the historic time gap of modern human migration into Europe.”

See more at CBS News

Lunch With Andrew, Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum

Written June 21, 2008, on train from Manchester, England, to Holyhead, Wales, for ferry to Dublin, Ireland

After a good veg breakfast the next morning, I took two buses to Salisbury, then continued on to Oxford. I walked from the train station to the Ashmolean Museum, where I met Andrew Hodges for a pleasant lunch. We hadn’t seen each other for six or seven years since he stopped at Mills College as part of his lecture tour for his book on Alan Turing.

The Ashmolean has a wonderful collection of 25th dynasty materials, which I photographed along with a few contemporary Assyrian items.

On Andrew’s advice, I took a walk through town to see the old campus halls, the church, and other beautiful buildings. Then, back to the station and on to Manchester.

Race to Get New Camera Before Leaving London

Written on June 15, 2008, in Tandoori Nights Restaurant, Amesbury, England, United Kingdom

I returned to the hotel last night, then managed to stay awake long enough to go to a gay bar near Kings Cross called Central Station. I ordered a double Bailey’s on the rocks which set me back £3.50 (~US$7). In English bars, one is not expected to tip however. I ended up talking with a fellow who promotes rock bands and stayed long enough to take in a drag show as well. The performer, Lizzie Drip, had elaborate costumes and put on an impressive show. Somehow I managed to sneak in without paying a £2 cover charge. I found a couple of guys quite attractive, but that reminded all the more how much I’m missing Sacrilege. I email him often and even managed to reach him by chat.

On the way out, I asked directions from an Asian guy visiting London from Paris for the weekend. We chatted on the way back to Kings Cross, then went our separate ways. I arrived at the hotel and considered my plight: the camera had broken in the Horniman Library and I had no way to take photos for the rest of my trip. I decided I had to bite the bullet and buy a new camera, even though it would have a European warranty and European plugs for which I’d have to use an adapter. Also, I had to consider the problem of where to buy a good camera on a Sunday with only a couple of hours to spare before catching a bus out of town.

Despite these worries, I slept well, well enough to miss the lackluster hotel breakfast. I showered and packed everything up, checked out of the hotel, leaving my large bags in storage. I tried the Gran Sosso again for food with wifi, and it was closed again. So I went back to Friends House. The Sunday service was just starting, but no one seemed to mind me sitting in the lobby using my laptop with the free wifi. I searched for camera shops and found five, then I called them to see if one was open on Sunday. I was prepared to travel all over London, but the only shop that answered the phone was the closest, a short walk away. A nice salesperson patiently helped me decide on a new Canon compact camera with 12.1 megapixels(!) and amazingly good focus, closeup capability, raw file format, fast powerup, and rapid snaps in succession. I had to purchase a memory card as well, and opted for an 8G card. The whole shebang ran me more than US$500, even with a refund on VAT, for which I’ll have to send in a letter once I pass through customs. I wonder if I have to pay customs duty to export the camera?

In the nick of time, I caught a bus back to Kings Cross after grabbing a whole wheat crust pasty for brunch along the way. I picked up my bags at the hotel. Luckily, I left enough time because the entire Victoria tube line was down and I had to wait awhile for a ride on the Circle line to Victoria station. From there, I walked my bags to the Victoria coach station. I waited through a long ticket line because all I had as a ticket was a text message on my phone, but apparently that is all the bus driver needs to see.

Waiting for the bus, I met a Hungarian woman named Gyongyi, which means “pearl?. She told me about a book she translated from Hungarian to English, about Hungarian runes that apparently have similarities to Egyptian hieroglyphs. She said she had read also about Hungarian shamen. Throughout the ride, I was eying two cute young men. After she got off at Andover to meet the family for whome she was to be an au pair, I started chatting with Peter, a young Czech longhair fellow who also works as a nanny. I gave him my info as well, just before I got off the bus at Amesbury. After walking a mile in the wrong direction, I called the proprietor of the Catkin Lodge and managed to get on the right track. He helped me plan my visit, the I headed back to town to eat. The hotel with the vegetarian lasagna had stopped serving, so I went for an excellent meal at Tandoori Nights restaurant where I had a good chat with the manager. Now I’m off to bed.