spent the day with ten other ‘users’ of the UK EPSRC research funding. very interesting to see the directions that they are considering. energy high on the agenda. good news. i hope that they are strong enough to encourage the gov’t to contiue to focus on fundamentals and not try to imitate silicon valley.
it could have been soooo good. but it wasn’t. an elegant country house of cotswold limestone that looks very elegant from the entrance. the quaintness conintued at the check in. the keys hang from great painted plywood placques with the name of the named room upon it. the roomitself was fine; the four huge spiders not so. perhaps a quick vacuum would have been in order. the bar is small, but then again, that fits with quaint. the bartender gowned up. the wine he found fine would have been so, if it was to be used for vinegar base. the second try was a bit better. dinner was good. breakfast a bit gooder. the menu [pick one between each little line of ***] consisted of laminated sheets of lime green paper with curly scroll writing that fit right in. the muesli was excellent. the garden a bit too manufactured. but then again, the whole thing was. actually.
went on a lovely walk for the hope and homes charity yesterday through the hertfordshire countryside. there were nine stations at which one collected stickers to coincide with the countries in which the charity is active. along the way [at station five i believe], at the foot of a long sloping hill, a man sitting in a green canvas folding chair and exchanged pleasentries….mostly about the weather. then he asked if i was listening to the Ryder Cup? I asked him why? he replied ‘well, you are clearly from north america so i assume you are following the golf!’
i think it was the Victorians who wrote about the distinguishing features of the classes. how victorian to still be so clearly categorized by language stereotypes. will we ever rise above this? can we?
great meeting with Alex Steffen from worldchanging.com this afternoon. it is incredible what a six month deadline can do to sharpen the mind. the book looks great as does the new website.
decent hotel in an essentially mixed use neighborhood. checked in at midnight. room 207 hasd very high ceilings, an AC system which worked, BBC and CNN, and curtains that actually kept the sun out in the morning. The only downfall was the AC system; it buzzed like an alarm clock before it turned on…..and for a frequent traveller this ellicited a pavlavian response thru the night. breakfast buffet was fine. all in all, a good business hotel.
we have no idea how to get there. or do we? how far would it go if we simply banned incadescent light bulbs? or forced every automobile to be decommissioned as soon as it began to pollute? but then again, is this a dream of the rich?
e-Business and e-Work in Architecture, Engineering and Construction.
afternoon spent leading a workshop to develop the research themes for the FP7 call to come in December.
Arriving by boat at sunset. Wow! Venice has not lost a bit of its charm, even though it is overrun by an ant army of tourists. Took the water bus all the way to the end. Then, walked around for 45 minutes as each person I asked for directions assured me that they knew the location of the Pensione…..not. finally called the front desk who walked me there. Room 60 is what was once the attic. Pine tree rafters occupy the gabled ceiling space. Suspicious gaps between a few of the members make me wonder if they are as old as the house, or as old as the air conditioner.
Arup and SIIC sponsored the opening party of the biennale. The Drivers of Change was chosen as the theme. It looked GREAT! Spent a good bit of time with Mr Ma, who is the Chinese partner behind the Dong Tan project, chatting thru an interpreter. The ex-mayor of Bogota joined us. The conversation was really interesting – especially about how we evaluate happiness. He spoke about the impossibility for Columbia to reach monetary parity [GDP] with the US or China. And posed the question ‘how can I tell the young people of my country that they will never be a rich as the Americans?’ he answered with ‘we have to look at other ways of achieving, and measuring, happiness’. Naturally, I had to pepper both of them with lots of questions.
Spent the wee morning hours at the foot of the Rialto Bridge with a subset of the team that is helping to make Dong Tan a reality. An international, passionate, group. Jason King and I decided that we would work together to try to make sustainable urbanism a reality in Africa as well.
Took the water taxi back to the airport. Ridiculously expensive [100 Euro], but the ride was glorious and worth it. The water bus [12 Euro] is clearly the vest value if time is not an issue. It is a slow tub that meanders along the main waterways. The ambiance unique. The taxi takes a much more direct route along some of the ‘back alleyways’ which gives one a view of a totally different Venice.
for twenty five years about 6000 people have gathered at a meadow in the sierra foothills near yosemite valley over the labor day weekend. it is effectively an event which mixes the best of blue grass and california hippie cultures……the ponderosa pines, the dry heat and very cold evenings, the informal circles of just plain normal people who share a love of music playing thru the night, the hundreds of kids running around and loving every minute of it.
every culture has done this for ever. getting together to share music and song about everyday life. how easy to forget how alike we all are.