New Year’s Resolution…2013

With a New Year upon us, I am going to set myself a challenge in the form of a New Years resolution. For the month of January, I am going to limit my meat consumption, and/or increase my running. The resolution that I have come up with is “A Mile per Meat”. I will not eat any meat on any given day, unless I have gone running on that day. Run a mile – and I can eat one type of meat. One mile does not justify a bacon cheeseburger – that would take one mile for the burger, one mile for the bacon – so two miles. If I wanted to have a sandwich for lunch – it has to be a vegetarian sandwich unless I went for a run in the morning… and certainly should be a long run if I want to have a non-vegetarian dinner.
Not sure if this means that I will be running more, or eating more vegetarian food… but either way, I come out the winner.
So far, I ran one mile on January 1st, which resulted in some lovely fish fajitas for dinner.

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My favorite (favourite) lost in translation so far…

I was in a conversation with a couple of English colleagues, and we were talking about Pubs and the subtle but important rules of etiquette involved in ordering drink(s) at a pub. One of my colleagues asked me:

How do you find pubs?

I was mildly surprised by the question, as I had just delivered a masterclass of information on the unspoken queuing process and interactions with the publicant and fellow punters… and her question seemed to be challenging whether or not I was able to even physically locate a Pub. I answered:

I look for the signs, mostly… but also check out ratings on Google places

Turns out, she was asking whether I liked pubs… How do you find them, as in: I find this pub very relaxing. Everyone had a good laugh at my expense.

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Walthamstow’s meeting on Dangerous Dogs

There is a meeting coming up in Walthamstow, London regarding dangerous dogs and rules applying to dog ownership / stewardship within Waltham forest.  It will take place on Friday, June 17, 2012, at the Rose and Crown pub on Hoe street.

I provide here some links to relevant UK regulations that apply to animal / dog ownership, for reference:

Animal Welfare Act of 2006
Relevant under the ‘Promotion of Welfare’ section 9:
Duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare
(1)A person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.
(2)For the purposes of this Act, an animal’s needs shall be taken to include—
(a)its need for a suitable environment,
(b)its need for a suitable diet,
(c)its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns,
(d)any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and
(e)its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992
every dog… shall wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
It is a criminal offence (for the owner and/or the person in charge of the dog) to allow a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place, a place where it is not permitted to be, and some other areas. A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or a dog that a person has grounds for reasonable apprehension that it may do so. A dog shall be regarded as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person, whether or not it actually does so

Where a dog is owned by a person who is less than sixteen years old any reference to its owner… shall include a reference to the head of the household

Animals Act 1971
Covers liability for damage done by your dog

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Geocoding addresses using Google Maps and Google Docs

Google docs just turned the corner for me, from being ‘a convenient trimmed down online version’ to being ‘an innovative online version packed with features’.  I am quite impressed, and hope this is the first of many enhancements to come that make life (and the world) that much easier.

Backstory: I am having a wedding in the UK, and expecting quite a number of out of town guests to attend.  Part of the web site that I have set up to support the wedding includes a list of potential accommodation sites, with links and short descriptions.  Exactly the type of thing that begs for an interactive map.  I did some research on the best way to set up Google Maps to support this feature, and most of the options required hacking some code together and using the API.

I found an an article on apitricks blog, that clearly lays out a method to geo-code using a list of addresses in a google docs spreadsheet.  The process is incredibly simple.

  • Make a new Google Docs spreadsheet
  • Column A: Include a column that has descriptive information (Name, text description) after the address column.  This will be used as the description when you mouse over the point on the map.
  • Column B: Load up your addresses – best bet is to include all address components in a single field (street address, city, state, zip, country all together in a single cell).  If you have the components in separate cells, concatenate them into a single field.
  • Column C: all rows get the same URL “” – this will be used to build and submit the query to google maps.
  • Column D: Call the “ImportData()” function. This will be run as a formula within google spreadsheets, and will return Lat/Long information that can be used to develop the map.  The syntax is as follows: “=ImportData(CONCATENATE(C1,B1))” – where “1″ is for the row number (“C2,B2″ for row 2, “C3,B3″ for row 3…)
  • Columns E, F, and G will auto-magically be populated by the google spreadsheet as the output of the ImportData function.  Columns F and G are the keys to the map (Lat and Long, respectively).
  • Column H – for simplicity, I make this column equal to the descriptive text in Column A (or you can pull a number of fields together here).  This will be used to populate the meta data for the flags (the mouseover text that appears for each flag).
  • Go to the “Insert” menu, and choose “Gadget…”
  • Choose “Maps” from the available options, then the type of map you would like to use (I use the 2nd option, “Map”).
  • In the gadget settings, choose the “Range” to include the Lat and Long, as well as the final descriptive text columns.  (In my example, my range is “Sheet1!F2:H42″.  This corresponds to worksheet 1, and columns F, G, and H, rows 2 through 42.
  • Click the checkbox for “last column tooltips” (this is the reason we created and included column H).
  • Choose map style… I used the hybrid map.
  • Click “Apply and close”.  A map will appear on your spreadsheet, populated with flags and tooltip descriptions corresponding to the addresses / Lat&Long in your spreadsheet.
  • Click the map, and a “Gadget” menu will appear in the top right corner… click it and a dropdown list will appear.  Choose “Publish Gadget”, and it will provide a handy bit of script text that you can copy and paste into your web page.

Once your data is populated in the spreadsheet, the whole process takes less than 10 minutes.  That absolutely amazes me.   One limitation is that Google Docs only allows up to 50 functions to be called on a single sheet – so you are limited to geo-coding 50 addresses.  There is nothing that would limit you from loading the addresses 50 at a time, and hard-coding the Lat/Longs as many times as you need to for your list.

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David's House
I was renting a car the other weekend, and was informed that I would need to bring proof of my UK address. I brought a letter from my bank… but as a joke, I also printed out a screen shot from Google Maps (satellite view) of my house in London… It showed the address on the left, and I typed “David’s House” into the search bar before printing it out. I explained to the car rental agent that this was proof that I lived there, because “… when you do a Google Maps search for David’s house, that is what shows up.”

He paused, looked at me, looked back at the printout, and didn’t ask a single question. Not a twitch.  Not a moment of hesitation or any sign or signal that he thought I was an idiot. He completed the reservation like a champ.  I was amazed.


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Moby – 5 months

Moby Monkey Scruff-a-Luffagus
Moby’s measurements at 5 months:

Height: 30.5cm (12 inches) tall at the withers
Weight: 3.8kg (8.3 pounds)

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North Korean leader Kim Jung Un Assassinated?

I have a morbid interest in all things North Korea. It is a cult, in the saddest of senses. It is a nation engaged in blackmail. It is a nation lost.

It is 9:00pm GMT on Friday, February 10th… and the Chinese twitter-verse is all a flutter over rumors that Kim Jung Un has been assassinated while visiting Bejing, and that the assassins have in turn been killed by security guards.

It boggles the mind. Is there any truth? If so, who is behind it, and to what end? I can’t help but hope that this is a positive turn of events for the North Korean people. But what if it is the opposite? What if Kim Jung Un was the positive turn of events – a ray of hope and change for North Korea. What if powers content with the way things were have snuffed out the only ray of hope that the North Korean people had ahead of them?

Is it darker days ahead – or bright sunny skies? Steady as she goes? All just a puff of smoke? Only time will tell.

UPDATE: It is now 4am GMT, and it appears that the assassination story was actually a birthday party.

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Moby’s Measurements – 20 Weeks

Moby is getting bigger… his measurements at 20 weeks are now as follows:

3.5kg (7.7 pounds)
29.25 cm (11.5 inches) at the withers

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Snowy day in London

The first snowy day is upon us… and it is bound to be a cold one as well.f Just a few flakes so far. Nothing sticking. Moby looks cute with a couple of ice crystals stuck to him.

I reached out to a recruitment firm today and made personal contact – and it was worthwhile. Had a good conversation and think this will be the plan going forward until I am able to find something good.

Time for a coffee.

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Moby’s Measurements… 4 months

Moby has hit the 4 month mark, and I thought I would capture his details.

Height at the withers: 9 3/4 inches – 24.5 cm
Weight: 2.75 kg – 6 pounds
It is hard to find any sort of lookup charts to track his size. He is a maltese / poodle cross, and there is a lot of possible variability that comes with crosses. I would be a lot more informed if I had a chance to meet his parents. My thoughts are as follows:

  • He is already (just about) taller than the breed standard for a toy poodle, so assuming he is a miniature poodle
  • He is slightly below the growth curve for a miniature poodle, I think that has to do with his Maltese side
  • He is close to the top end of the Maltese on the breed standard size scale

Miniature Poodle breed standards for size are:

  • Height: 11-15 inches (28-38 cm.)
  • Weight: 15-17 pounds (7-8 kg.)
  • Maltese breed standards for size are:

  • 8-10 inches (boys)
  • 6½-9 pounds (3-4kg.)
  • Taking that into consideration, I am going to guess that Moby will wind up:

  • 13 inches (33cm) at the whithers
  • 13 pounds (6 kg)
  • He is certainly bound to be a small dog… but I am optimistic that he is growing up a happy, healthy, confident and well balanced boy that enjoys some running and romping, can handle a long walk or hike, and (hopefully) has no issues playing with larger and smaller dogs.

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