(This photo is from wikipedia, taken at a different concert, I think the pianist is different as well).
Right, I have finally uploaded the videos shot at the Blues concert I attended Friday last, at the “Palace of Peace and Reconciliation” (or the pyramid, which is bit less of a mouthful to pronounce). Dana Gillespie and her London Blues Band were playing, and our friend Lara organized things so a few mates could attend.
Dana Gillespie quoting from Koran
Dana Gillespie and her London Blues Band Ticket
Dana Gillespie (and her London Blues Band)
(check out YouTube’s auto-transcription of the lyrics by visiting the video’s YT page!)
I had heard that she worked with David Bowie and other stars during the 60s, and also did some film work. It wasn’t until I came across the following image that I worked out why some male friends had no problem recalling her.
Wow, this post was supposed to be published a long time ago. There was going to be more text accompanying it, but I’m clicking Publish before I forget again, as with the Australia and UK trips being imminent, I realize that posting might be sparse for a while.
In case you are not the sort of blog reader who notices when a tag cloud changes, this site has had a few hundred old posts properly tagged recently. That means I only have a few thousand left to trawl through! Why make this effort? I hope that when Google (other search engines are apparently available 😉 ) next crawls this site, and comes across the tags pages via the sitemap, it will lead to me picking up a few more visitors who are interested in the same topics I write about. Traffic has dipped a little bit recently, from around 10,000 unique visitors a month to just 6 or 7,000.
Also on the To Do list for this site are the Anna and Tim photos that are always piling up waiting to be published (I was reminded just how far behind I am when tagging some of the older Anna posts). There is also a huge pile of car videos (from our in-car recorder) that I would like to go through and either delete (most of them), or edit and upload to YouTube for embedding here. I don’t know how well some of the recent WTF! moments were caught, but there should be a few.
Recently we have seen a lot more Suzuki SX4s (the same as our Kazakh car) here in Astana, and we occasionally exchange thumbs up or waves. It is good to finally see a little diversity in the cars on the road, as although all the Toyotas mean that should you buy one yourself, spare parts and expertise with repairs will be in abundance, it does get a little monotonous. We do see nicer cars around, like Mercedes SLs, various AMG tuned cars and 4x4s and full on super cars, but our budget didn’t run that far when we bought the car!
On Tuesday we saw a bumper sticker that read “Astana Street Racing” on a car in front of us, which didn’t seem like a great idea, should they get stopped by an English language reading traffic cop during an illegal street race…
Hello officer, why did you stop me?
You were racing your friend
Me? No, I am just on the way to pick up my granny from hospital
Points at the bumper sticker
Oh… Yes… Umm…
Ignoring the issue of self-labelling oneself as a street racer, we know some people use the local car park to impress their friends with high powered engines and much squealing of tyres, but I hadn’t realized that Astana does actually seem to have a real established street racing scene, as a friend was invited to attend such an event in a suped up Scooby.
I would be interested to see if any local drivers (cars and golf clubs) would be up for trying to beat that record, though I’m guessing it would need to be at the airport, not one of the golf range/courses outside of Astana in the Steppe somewhere!
Right, I am going to go away for now, I need to drag my body to the gym and try not to collapse or break anything 🙂
For a few weeks now, I have been meaning to write a post about a shop here in Astana that sells car accessories. Before you scroll down to the next post too quickly, for anyone living here in Kazakhstan, or interested in GPS systems, you may want to carry on reading a little while longer…
The shop is called “AvtoNavigator”, and the staff member we have dealt with most of the time is called Oleg. I’ll try and find their contact details and amend this post/tweet them later. Anyway, first of all, why have I wanted a GPS system, as well as a in-car video recording system for our car? Well the GPS answer has two parts, and the first is quite obvious – if I end up lost in the city (easier than you might think, should a random road on a familiar route be closed), I want to ensure I can either easily get home/to a landmark I recognise, so I can re-orient myself quickly, or at the very least, phone Irina and explain which road I am on, and where would she recommend heading to. The second part of answer as to why I wanted a GPS system also ties in neatly with the camera; if a policeman pulls me over, and I believe his assessment of my driving may be based more upon a current financial shortfall he is suffering, as compared to an actual offence having taken place, I would like to a) Have cinematic proof that I did not cross a double white line/drive through a red light and b) Have my exact location and speed recorded. (I am using Navitel’s Navigator software and maps, which allows me to constantly record the track I’m taking, and analyze it later with Google Earth for example. Now, if someone tries to make a claim for a road traffic accident, and says that I was driving at 90km/hr, on the wrong side of the road, when I breezed through a red light, and consequently, I’m to blame for our cars colliding, I can turn around and provide proof that their memory is at best fuzzy, if not trying to make an outright lie seem like the truth.
There is the possibility that should push ever come to shove, the device’s evidence will be over-ruled by any witness who makes a counter claim as to the truth, but just having the peace of mind that I can replay videos at the scene should hopefully be enough to calm my nerves, and avoid confrontation on Astana’s roads.
Anyway, back to AvtoNavigator, the first GPS device I purchased from them has been working out well (a similar device purchased in Almaty died very quickly, and had a few software issues), and the initial selection process was made very easy. Oleg knew his stock well, and after explaining which features/specifications were important to us, he narrowed it down to a few devices. Rather than trying to sell us the most expensive, or simply pointing at a whole shelf, he honestly explained which ones he thought would be worth looking at, and of some use should a vehicle accident occur. Although we were not as lucky with the in-car video recording system (which reminds me, I still want to put a few videos up on YouTube when I get the time), he again didn’t try and suggest that the more expensive models were best suited to our needs, and admitted that the Chinese manufactured items sometimes had variable quality across different batches. As it turns out, we returned a couple of different models, until we found one that was reasonably good, and as long as we kept the paperwork, and the device hadn’t obviously been mistreated, the whole swapping process was incredibly quick. A lot better than I’d expect from some UK stores, certainly.
I’ll try and write a post or two on the software modifications I’ve carried out on the GPS device (it is Windows CE-based, so reasonably easy to fiddle with), as well as some beta-testing I’ve carried out for a programmer from the XDA developers forum. Anyway, enough for now, I need to crack on with some other work and try and save some money up for a possible future trip – more to come on that once I know how things stand!
I have given up on using PockeTwit to post videos with this blog. Although the auto-uploading to YouTube and the posterous interface itself is mostly great, the video recording resolution is limited far too low. As the program’s author obviously has issues facing bigger groups to sort, I’ve switched to uploading directly to YouTube. So videos should now be a better quality, but there could be a delay before it appears on this site.
First we have Anna, Ira, Lolyk 2 (this was shot before Tim was born, so he was called Cedric or Lyolik 2 as a place holder name) & Gwen walking in the sun to a local play area.
Swansea Beach, again before Tim had been born.
A few days after Tim was born, Anna and I went outside so she could play with her bubble blowing machine.
Nick, Anna, Jack, Ira & Gwen this morning in Clydach. Roz wasn’t in the room, and I think Tim was asleep at the time.
Right, there are more photos and videos to come, but I still need to complete a few other tasks first.
I should have mentioned in my last post, all these pictures are coming from John’s blog (Celt Photographic). I’ll have a look through his facebook pictures as well, and at some point in the future check through our camera’s contents.
Anyway, the first photo is from the 21st of April, and shows Nana (my mum) holding Tim on the sofa, with Gwen (freshly shorn) once more in guard duty mode.
Carol Kavanagh, Gwen And Tim Merriman
Then we have Anna having a bubbly bath on the 22nd of October. Overall, she is doing pretty well with suddenly having a new member in our family. She understood he was on his way, and they day she met him in the hospital was caught on video, I’ll have to check if I uploaded it to YouTube yet from John’s camera. (I was at home grabbing a nap before driving anywhere!). Anyway, back to the photo…
This post will be sticky for a while – new posts will appear under it, but this video will remain at the top of the site for a while. If you have six minutes to spare, please do watch it. If you’re reading this text somewhere other than my blog, and can’t see or watch the embedded video below, please do pop along to http://ChrisMerriman.com or check out the video’s YouTube page here.
OK, this video has a lot of people confused. Is it fake? Real but problems with loose bricks? Real and works well? Looks like a good way to save back breaking work, if it is genuine, I especially like the painted lines being applied prior to laying the stones. Straight lines work well, but as noted by someone else within the YouTube comments section, what happens when you get to a curve? Can it handle laying more stones on one side of the track, whilst turning? Dutch ingenuity or well carried out hoax? You decide. Or Google it 🙂
Whilst the actual end result isn’t necessarily what I like (or possibly just not as good as others may be able to produce with it), it is the method that most interests me. I definitely respect the skill involved in creating such a system, though you have to wonder whether the guys are a little high when they are practising in someone’s living room. I wonder whether micro-fading in and out the audio clips or some sort of smoothing would lead to a different sort of end result?
The bits involving beat boxing remind me that I’ve not checked if Schlomo has participated in any new projects for a long time. His podcast feed hasn’t featured any new items in a long time. I’ll check if he is performing at any venues whilst we are in Britain.