July 09, 2004


London Chimes as of today is moving to its NEW address


More of the same topics, news and views that Googlers and other search engines will hopefully find easier to locate.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

July 08, 2004

A very British Grand Prix in London. 

My recent silence has been spurred on by the reemergence of my brother in laws blog Glenn Frazier by whom many other blogs espire towards only to fall of the edge, (including London Chimes). So thanks Mac for the moment at least getting me started - again!

This Sunday is the very British of Formula One Grand Prix races to be held again at the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire.
To create something of an extra buzz, London was part of the action as the closed off Regent Street and Picadilly Circus to let old, bold and current formula one drivers perform along Regent Street to the delight of a number, you pick, between 250,000 and 500,000 spectators.

The notation of closing off the premier shopping street in London to all traffic for a handful of million dollar race cars seems at best crazy, until you realise that there is a underlying agenda at play.

The Silverstone race is back in the hands of the BRDC, The British Racing Drivers Club, their president no other than Sir Jackie Stewart. Despite heavy financial investment in the roads to the circuit, and the facilities at the circuit, Silverstone this week is being threatened by Bernie Ecclestone the organizer of the worldwide F1 circus that the race is not secure in the future.

For a couple of months the idea of a race around the streets of London, passing Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Picadilly, Trafalger Square has been more than quietly whispered in motoring circles. The actuality that a major road was closed this week and race cars performed their loudest certainly not their fastest lends weight to somthing is stirring, and it has the backing of the recently re-elected Mayor Livingstone.

As a stalwart motor sport enthusiast and organizer of events in the home counties to the north of London, I feel suitably qualified to add my opinion to the mix.

Formula One is more than a sport, it is all about business, and making money, for the sponsors, the organizers, the venue etc. This rolling worldwide sporting machine is huge and commands the attention of heads of govenments to offer incentives to bring the circus to new towns and countries for the obvious benefits F1 attracts.

The 2004 season contains only two street circuits the race in Australia and historic Monaco.

Formula 1 is in crisis, the total dominance of the sport by Michael Schumacher, in part address by his skill, in part by the superior technology behind the farings of the Ferrari team and their car has much to be challenged. Despite other teams being fractions of a second slower each lap, over a 70 lap race, team tactics employed, passing is now in the pits and not on the track. Visually not excting to watch and like Nigel Mansell said this week in London, Formula 1 is boring, I can't sit and watch a race from start to finish any longer. I have to agree.

Something has to be done.

Monaco is the only race this year Schumacher did not win, - he crashed out. Perhaps street circuits offer something different, a slower challenge to all drivers and cars, although the prospect of a Ferrari crashing into the plate glass of Liberty's of Regent Street or Hamley's does not appeal.

If street circuits are being reviewed by Bernie Ecclestone, London has obvious benefits with the existing public transportation and access. However, it is the same access that would create obvious logistically problems ring-fencing a large area of the west-end off for three days and that is just the start of the challenges.

I read thast marshalling would cost a fortune, wrong. Historically marshals are all experienced volunteers and volunteers fundamentally are a negligable cost in the whole model. What about the potential of lost income from some businesses unable to function inside the track for three days. The upheaval in building the track, this is a logistical nightmare but one that London and Londoners might just be up for.

In years past, motor racing has tried to be brought to Docklands in London without any real success. Although national motorsport is not Formula One and vice versa the animals are very, very different.

If a London Grand Prix is given a green light and actually happens against all odds should this be an additional event in the UK or a replacement to Silverstone, or should we hark back to the days of alternating years between Brands Hatch and Silvestone?

Personally, I love Brands Hatch in Kent, although since its last Formula One race it has languished and needs significant investment and rebuilding vast amounts of track to bring up to current and future needs of Formula 1. I site the new circuit in Malaysia as a guide to the future standard of the facilities needed for the sport.

Silverstone I have seen develop from a weathered air base to a state of the art, but no Malaysian circuit and figurehead for british motorsport. Although it is too fast and not challenging enough for the spectators. From trackside it is difficult to see much of the circuit than that in front of you. Not visually exciting.

Donington, used once for Formula One - a European Grand Prix that arguably the late Ayrton Senna performed a magical opening lap that sits in the history of the sport is a great compromise of both Brands and Silverstone, yet as the poor cousin I am not sure Bernie Ecclestone will ever take the cars back their.

With ever increasing numbers of political figures internationally talking to Bernie Ecclestone to attract the circus to new countries, the thought of a econd race in Britain seems very unlikely. But in formula one, tradition is something that seems to be forgotten from time to time.

The british government were involved in investing heavily in new roads to Silverstone in recent years. To see a reasonable return on this investment, I cannot see the bills necessary to be passed in the various chambers to clear racing on the roads of London passing smoothly.

There is a question on the unseen "grey" or should I write "gray" suits in London who want to prevent any major event from happening due to issues of liability. The London Marathon of course is something of an exception, it the liability of a runner falling over is nothing compared with the potential of an accident with an F1 car into a London store front. Then there is the charitable perspective that the Marathon raises millions of pounds for a range of good causes, while F1 that and this is a little known fact does have a charitable image, it is not as high as the Marathon.

So where from here?

It is silly season for the news during the summer. I expect that a London Grand Prix will be spiked as a great newsstory that ultimately will not happen, but makes for good news, especially when the drivers, teams, and the mayor are in principal at least in favor of the initial proposal.

Silverstone has to watch out, with great facilities in the far east being developed and the lack of tradition in F1 followed for the sake of business deals before sport. The British Grand Prix has a real threat of loosing out. The British Drivers Racing Club BRDC may not be the professional promoter that Bernie Ecclestone is looking for. BRDC is very professional in all other events and the way it is managed, yet somehow from this side of the Atlantic looking back to Northamptonshire it would seem like a deep rooted feud between Ecclestone and the BRDC continues for reasons so lost in the midst of time can anyone remember.

This weekend is the British Grand Prix. I shall sit and watch around 8am EST and expect to see a processional race with both red ferrari's at the head of the racing snake. Jaguar may make the top eight, Jordan will make a good showing but sadly again fall outside the points. McLaren may make a third place podium. Then again a mess on the first corner might just mix everything up enough to make for an exciting race.

That is formula one, predicably, unpredicable on occassions.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

June 26, 2004

Guest Post, on turning 30 by my wife Taney. 

Drum roll please.... hey I'm turning 30! Whoa do you know that is the first time I have written that. 30 ... hmm I know that to those over 30 married with kids doesn't seem that old but look at it from my stance, I've never been 30. 30 to me meant no more late nights, (even through I tire easily), no more heavy partying, ( then again I never did like loud noise or feeling like the room was circling when I finaly did go to bed), 30s is when you notice you have physicaly changed to what you belived you looked like when you look in the mirror, and I have noticed this. 30 means you have a couple of kids, ( I working on the one right now). I guess I have wondered aimlessly into this 30 stuff. I guess that is what the 20s are for to wonder lamely, fall a couple of times and then plop suddenly One is 30. And one of my nagging thoughts as B-day arrives is that I am nothing like those horrible people from that program 30something. I was pointed out that show is supposed to reflect the babyboomers but still it made me pause for thought. I know that I am entering a new stage of Motherhood and I have been welcoming that for close to 6 years. Maybe I thought I would never turn 30 at least until I am good and ready. lol.
Feedback always invited, please email me.

June 18, 2004

Philadelphia Phillies 

I had an opportunity to go and see my first ever baseball game this week, the Phillies 'v' the Detriot Tigers. There is more to report than just that after a long rain delay the Phillies was beaten badly. But that to be sitting in seats immediately behind the home plate in the brand new Citizen Bank Ballpark was something, quite something!

Feedback always invited, please email me.

May 27, 2004

A temporary loss of technology 

How many of you start to sweat if you cannot access your email for more than a day? Check your stock? Conduct on-line banking? Book movie tickets for the weekend? Converse in your favorite Yahoo group?

Recently at work with modifications being made to the server, the email system has been "down" for 30 minutes or more. I rely on my business email as an intergral communications tool and such interruptions cause unproductive breaks.
The phrase, I would give my right arm to have my email back is common enough.

Yesterday was a great challenge, if fact from the kindness of another I am allowed to post to London Chimes. Here is my horrific story.

After a long and productive day at the office I was in wind-down mode when my wife called to tell me to be prepared to look at the computer when I got home as "it was not working" static perhaps or a bad cell, technology again, prevented the full horror from being described to me.

I arrived home and sat at our four-year-old Gateway that simply refused to load windows. It had been fine that morning, indeed the last few days. But despite loading into the DOS and reading messages about himem.sys files not existing, when the directory listing clearly showed the file existed was but the tip of a nasty iceberg.

Using the restoration disks available to me from Gateway, I slowly follwed the screen prompts to load windows in a safe mode. This worked, momentarily and then crashed. Running out of options, and my reasonable knowledge of dos, Taney & I discussed the final option available to us, to reconfigure the hard disk, reload windows, AOL and Microsoft but loose all our data, in particular the precious photos downloaded from our camera over the years.

We agreed that there was little else to do and hit the F1 button to start the process, windows failed to load, again and again.

I tried to hide my frustration from Taney and finally left for bed, too late and too tired with an effectively comatose computer. All was not lost, there was still tomorrow.

The situation went from bad to dire, Taney called Gateway technical support who explained from an error message Taney had seen before everything collapsed that we had fallen victim to a spider virus and that Gateway had no way of fixing the problem but gave a number of a group that could help.

Taney called the second number, the diagnosis that this virus attacked windows was preventing us from loading windows and our idea of reformatting to reload had caused a problem of being unable to copy across those cherised pictures by email or to disk, with no guarantee that the virus would not copy across only to infect a second machine in time.

Our Gateway desktop that had served us so well since arriving in the USA had died a death before its time.

Now if not having email for thirty minutes is bad enough to give your right arm for, imagine being computerless in a household that truly rates a home computer as an essential household applicance and communications tool.
With all our resources reserved for our adoption plans, the mere thought of how do we finance $1000 for a new computer was at least stomach turning. While my stress levels soared to record heights in recent years. You see since moving to the US, the home computer has been my communication tool to my friends and family back home, it has helped me work from home when the opportunity arose and with the assistance of the APC group on Yahoo, offered many helpful answers in our adoption journey.

To be without a computer in the home, for a few hours I was close to distraught.

With a number of calls between Taney on her cell and I on mine, we discussed our options and concluded that we were in a jam.

Dear reader, I am certain you are observant enough to notice that I am posting on a computer, how and where?

Taney's Grandmere, a wonderful woman a couple of years ago purchased an iMac to be able to read and send email to her son who at the time was working overseas in New Zealand. The iMac in all this time may have only been switched on a few times but not more.

During Taney's visit this afternoon, she asked if her Grandmere would be interested in selling the iMac to us as our desktop was dead.

To cut a beautiful story short, I am sitting at my desk in my home working on an iMac, a new permanent addition to the technology in our home.

iMac's are different from the IBM type desktops I have owned and worked on for nearly 25 years. I have a small learning curve to climb to understand how to use this Mac to its potential that meets the needs of Taney & I.

So as I put in the header, a temporary loss of technology, this is only the second PC to expire on me in 24 years, not a bad record, but one I am not eager to repeat.

Through ther kindness of others, Taney & I are able to continue contact with the friends we have made adopting children from China, as well as our adoption agency. This more than any other reason tops the list for being connected and on line. Communication with the UK is a very close second, everything else including London Chimes is a distant third.

The last 24 hours have seen me totally technologically challenged, I did not enjoy the experience and see clearly how much in 2004 I rely on a computer.

In the 70's my Mum did mention that computers will be a future, they are now part of our culture and everyday needs. What did we do before email and the world wide web? Can anyone really remember?

Feedback always invited, please email me.

May 25, 2004

BBC Searching for a Presidential Panel - Pick me! 

Auntie Beeb, www.bbcnews.com are currently searching for ten individuals to write about the upcoming Presidential election in the US this November.

As I simply stumbled on this request I added my four cents and submitted my application. We shall see if they indeed pick a Brit in a key state for the election in 2004, or pass me over in favor of a biased reporter from left field, rather than to the right of center.

I thought with my perspective on the elections and unable to vote, yet a resident in the States, my opinion would be worthy of selection.

I shall of course dear reader keep you appraised of the outcome.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

May 22, 2004

Philadelphia Flyers lost 2-1 in Game 7. 

This is going to be brief and to the point.

The Philadelphia Flyers, despite their daring doo on the ice in Tampa Bay this evening failed to win a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. The game was in my personal opinion not as good as game 6 but had plenty of moments to keep my two brother in laws and I rivited to the screen.

On a personal note, I have to thank my dear wife who kindly supplied an array of "nibbles" to eat with the case of Stella Artois purchased this afternoon. Taney headed out to the movies to see a "chick flick" and has yet to return, allowing the three of us to have a guys night with the ice hockey. I have a wonderful wife.

In conclusion, once again a Philadelphia team reaches the semi-finals but somehow fails to make the final two teams - AGAIN.

Here is to the 2004/5 season.
Feedback always invited, please email me.

May 21, 2004

Election Day June 10 

Don't forget to get out and vote on June 10 for the new mayor of London.

Odds are on that the present incumbant, Ken Livingstone, love him or loathe him will probably win the election as Steve Norris really does not measure up as real competition.

Some years ago I had the opportunity to come across Ken before his current job walking down Victoria Street in Westminster talking very loudly on a cell phone. Well the noise from all those buses was not exactly quiet and environmentally sound.
Once I realized who I was literally about to walk into, I was surprised how small the man is, somehow I thought he was taller!

Ken's latest tirade in on owners of large four-wheel-drive vehicles in London that he calls unnecessary status symbols. Especially those used to ferry the kids around Chelsea on the school run.

This is not exactly the geographic area that he will find voters, and he really doesn't care one dot.

Another equally crazy policy is that he want power to prevent people from paving and concreting over their front yards for off street parking as in some areas when it rains the run off creates flash floods. The North Circular Road A406 was sited as one example. Well Ken if the owners of the 4WD who live on the A406 did not have off street parking the inside lane would be filled with parked cars and that would not exactly be a good policy to keep London on the move.

Sitting 3,500 miles away I know over the last 4 years that London has changed under Mayor Livingstone, perhaps in some ways for the better, I hear from tourists from the US that have returned they have mentioned that the roads seem a little quieter since the introduction of the toll to enter the city.

One day I shall return to London and I look forward to seeing the changes for myself, and this will be the place I write about them.

Meanwhile, and I am not a fan of Mayor Livingstones policies - with the exception of Fares Fair when he led the GLC many years ago. He is certainly something of a character, not that policitics needs any more of those but he has a charm that defies the MP's in Westminster and as Ken will seek more power should he be reelected it will be interesting to see how the game rolls out.

At least unlike the Mayor of Philadelphia there has not been a bug device found in his office, and most recently news has broken about a big drugs case that the facts are still not wholly in the public domain.

Watch this space.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

Philadelphia Flyers and Monaco Grand Prix 

This is a huge sporting weekend for me and given that I do not take to watching sports on television too frequently this is a bold statement.

Philadelphians are known across America for being proud of their sports teams, the Eagles, 76ers, Phillies, Wings, Phantoms and of course the Flyers.

Last night I stayed up a little to late as I screamed at the television during game six against the Tampa Bay Lightening, as the flyers took a 4-4 game with less than a couple of minutes of ice time, into overtime and eighteen minutes of some of the most frantic ice hockey I have ever seen.

The Flyers needed a win to take the play-off series to game 7 and a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Finals, Tampa Bay needed the win, to prevent a seventh game and move into the finals themselves. With less than two minutes left in overtime, the Flyers scored their fifth goal and forced a seventh a final game to be played in Florida tomorrow evening.

I have invited my brother-in-law more a lacrosse fan than a hockey fan and my friend Tor to sit and watch the game on Saturday evening as a “guys” night. This is a do or die game, either team must win to move to the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams have consistently won on “home” ice as the six games have alternated between Tampa and Philadelphia. With the lighning on home ice, and everything to play for this will be a tough game on two teams, and all the fans in both cities.

Sunday is the annual Monte Carlo Formula One Grand Prix. I rediscovered motor racing because of this race twenty one years ago and my passion for the sport has taken me in many different directions over the years, although I have declared retirement since moving to the US from active motorsport, I do miss the competition, the people and the atmosphere of club events to the international razz-a-mat-azz

Formula 1 racing for many years have morphed from a sport into a global business where sponsors pay big bucks for small logos, governments are integrated into the support process, team owners have egos to large to fit into the cars they own and the drivers are the kings of the road.

There are many that complain F1 is too processional, that the skill of the driver is taken away from the technology in the cars, the circuits offer too few places to overtake and pit stop times are too critical in the outcome of the race. Tis so. Yet with the cars racing at speeds of upward of 180 mph on narrow winding tracks, overtaking is dangerous at best and only the foolhardy will attempt an impossible pass, with possible retirement or serious consequences from a racing accident. F1 agrees that the technology is becoming so advanced and costly that changes have to be made and on this fact the team owners are in broad agreement. Its all about sponsorship, by keeping the costs in check, the sponsors will remain without increased demands each year by the teams.

The pit crews are trained, and put through their paces so that only a tenth or two of a second can split two rival teams, enough to change track position and change the outcome of a race.

So in essence it is somewhat processional, the faster cars at the front get away from the slower pack, and this is extended over the laps, but Monaco is different. Racing speeds are difficult to reach, the slightest bump off line will result in retirement, drivers and cars that fail to perform at the other circuits are in with a chance if they gat a good grid position in practice. In essence Monaco is a lottery, it is the jewel in the F1 crown, where the rich and beautiful sail in to the harbor on the yaughts and for a moment in time attend the sponsor parties and rub shoulders with the gallant multi million chariot drivers.

The bold and the beautiful make for classic sporting entertainment on and off the track, Monaco there is no where like it. Suggestions that this event would be replaced are unlikely, as Monaco as a racing heritage, the sponsors love the atmosphere and in a moneyed sport, Monaco will remain the jewel in the crown.

As to the result, will Schumacher win again this year? Will he fall into the Armco as he did a couple of years ago, the lottery is open and it is not all over till the checkered flag is dropped.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

May 12, 2004

Philadelphian outrage at Iraq and other atrocities 

This morning, my drive time talk radio show had one topic of discussion, the murder of a West Chester man in Iraq by decapitate. This news story flashed around the agencies of the world and was made all the more horrific that it was available to anyone to watch over the internet. Truly a distressing and vile act by extremist murderers.

The argument that this was an act of retaliation following the numerous photographs that have resulted in President Bush speaking to the Iraq people and asked for the questioned of Rumsfeld truly does not hold water.

I have two observations, the first is over the photographs that show US and UK soldiers openly abusing prisoners. I have read stories that some of these were staged for a porn site in Turkey, others were staged to be used in the interrogation of the prisoners, while others are it would seem to be what they are and shows one of the horrors of war.

Another horror is the murder of this West Chester, communications engineer. West Chester is a nice town to the west of Philadelphia, and this recent murder has incensed the Philadelphian residents to think about "necking" those responsible.

This is probably an extreme method of justice, certainly in the last couple of weeks I have questioned both human rights and civil rights of the military both those in the UK and the US. However this leads to my two observations.

First with little exception has anyone noticed the apparent drop in deaths of American and allied soldiers in Iraq since the pictures were made public?

And secondly, as an individual, dear reader any news bulletin that carries the story of the decapitate and the photographs, which one pails the other in its dissatisfied horror?

Feedback always invited, please email me.

May 09, 2004

A little slice of Arkansas Americana 

Last weekend I had the privilage to visit Little Rock, Arkansas. Well not exactly Little Rock as many business travellers will know, it was a trip to the airport - shuttle to hotel - hotel - shuttle - airport. Oh the glamerous life.

The reason for my meeting was an annual meeting of the MSAA Mid-South Regional Support Group Leaders Conference. I was there to give a presentation and support the regional staff.

Having only been "down south" on two previous occassions, and never being to Arkansas before, I was looking forward to meeting the people.

No names here, but I was thrilled to meet a "Southern Belle" a lady of gentle years who spoke with a soft dusty southern accent, to the other extreeme a lady who introduced herself as a "redneck" and proud of it.

I met those from the cities and those from the countryside, and when I say countryside directions to their home include turn left at the sunken well. You can't see it, but those who know the area know the sunken well.

It truly was an experience, as volunteers with MSAA who have made a commitment to set up an support group these volunteers are truly valued by all.


To other matters, a five second comment.

"The photos" In a dark difficult week for Bush administration, the photos of the captives cannot be excused for any reason. However I have a nagging doubt that some of these are stage and used for properganda, especially those with a blonde woman in uniform. Something seems out of place.

"The photos UK" same story, same reason, but this time its the Brits.

"Pat Toomey", lost the election in PA by a slim margin.

"Philadelphia Flyers" Are in the semi-finals / play-offs for the Stanley Cup. Game 1 last night saw a loss 3-1 against Tampa Bay. I hope they are only testing them out!

"The back yard" The battle of the ground ivy continues and slowly my lawn is having large patches appear as the ivy is being slowly, beaten.

"Cycling" with the threat of dangerous thunderstorms and hail this afternoon, cycling with my b-i-l Chris, is on hold, unless the storms move off.

"Family" I spoke with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, neice and nephew in the UK yesterday the first time for at least three weeks. It was wonderful to catch up with them and I miss them all very much.


and finally...

today in the USA is Mothers Day, to Mom's everywhere, especially to my Mum and by Mom-in-law, Happy Mothers Day.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

April 28, 2004

Back in the saddle again 

The Easter weekend weather threw out my fortnightly cycle ride with my brother in law, but last Sunday we headed out along the towpath down to Washington's Crossing from a small park two miles south of New Hope PA.

With the luxury of a bike rack we have been fortunate to have the opportunity to drive out to some great places in Bucks County PA to cycle. This ride south along the canal towpath between the canal and the Delaware River literally only as wide as twenty feet perhaps was visually one of the most stunning rides as the trees unfurl their spring leaves. The area around Washingtons Crossing PA is very well kept and the ride was rated by both of us as the best route yet.

All this cycling is for a reason, Chris has entered a 5K run this weekend around the roads of Bryn Athyn and plans to enter a triathlon, swim, cycle, run later in the summer in New Jersey. I have been helping his training regime with the cycling. I have always enjoyed cycling and if nothing else the exercise is doing me good. But I too have a plan to enter a 20 mile ride along Long Beach Island on September 4, 2004 for the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Red Cross. My motive is simple, I love the island and the prospect of riding from end to end appeals to me. There are no real inclines and in September with the summer crowds one week into their fall schedules the island will be a little quieter to enjoy this event. Besides I need a challenge and this truly fits the bill. I have been talking about this event for over a year.

The good news is from the Sunday rides that only the weather dampened my spirit last weekend as after nine miles on a rough but well graded towpath I was still up for a few more miles.

I am setting my sights on the ride along the Schukill River along Kelly Drive in Philadephia next. Ten miles should be an easy target.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

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