Jan 28

A pyramid of Silicon Stilettos

A pyramid of Silicon Stilettos, originally uploaded by Annie Mole.

When I first heard about Silicon Stilettos I was not impressed. For me, and others, the name gave the wrong impression when multiple debates still rage about ‘women in technology’. However, I talked to Zuzanna, the instigator and she convinced me to at least give it a try. Whilst I still don’t like the name, I’m glad I went along last night as it was a really good evening and well worth the time.

As I expected, it seems that most people there were on the media side of web, not the tech side, but it was a brilliant networking event. Drink was sponsored by Sun (thanks Stewart) and it it was still flowing when I left. Not too much else to say – except when’s the next one!

Jan 19

A 2009 Restaurant Plan

In the 2009 Michelin Guide, there are 8 restaurants in London that newly have a star. A plan was hatched, to visit them all the new ones this year.

  • Chapter One, Bromley British type restaurant with main courses from £16.50 at dinner, I like dishes such as Pressed Rabbit & Foie Gras Terrine, Cranberries, Mushrooms, Truffle Mayonnaise & Roasted Apples (a starter) and Slow Roast Belly of Packington Pork, Choux Crout, Baby Leeks, Caramelised Onions, Apple & Pork Jus. This is a re-entry after they lost their star a couple of years ago
  • St John, Clerkenwell. This is a restaurant that does nose-to-tail eating, which does not appeal too much to me, I’m fairly conservative, but I’m happy to give it a go. Definitely British food, mains this evening include faggots and peas at £15, which I quite like.
  • Ambassade de L’Ile, South Kensington. Definitely French with a name like that, it’s only been open 7 months. They have a 3 course set lunch for £30 and do a 7 course for £90! (may be a bit beyond the budget). dishes this month include steamed Scallop with Lobster coral Nage and black truffle and Mille-feuille of Pot au feu.
  • Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Mayfair. Big hotel, only open during the week and with an inability to turn their menus into HTML, it does 3 courses at lunch for £39 or dinner for £75. The menu is French, with things like le Saint-Pierre de Ligne and La Perdrix Grise, neither of which I recognise so it could be an interesting meal.
  • Kai, Mayfair. And now for something completely different – Chinese. (although same problem as the previous restaurant with pdf menus). I knew this was not your regular Chinese when I saw it did Peking Duck for £118 (it is for 2 over 2 courses though!); it does a more reasonable Szechuan Chicken for £16
  • Murano, Mayfair. Mayfair has it’s fair share. This is a Gordon Ramsay restaurant with a set lunch for £25 or 3 course dinner for £55 with options such as Carnaroli risotto, gorgonzola and apple, fresh walnuts and Roasted turbot, potato galette, wild mushroom duxelle and cep velouté.
  • Semplice, Mayfair. This is Italian, with mains from £16 and pasta from £9. I like the look of Pheasant ravioli with potatoes and thyme sauce or Roast Chicken breast with taleggio fondue, french beans and hazelnuts, tomatoes and white wine sauce
  • L’Autre Pied, Marylebone. Another French offerings, with mains around £18, they also do lunch or pre-theatre 3 courses for £20.95 with dishes such as Pithivier of Game, Savoy Cabbage, Celeriac Purée, Puy Lentils and Red Wine Sauce

The plan is to get together a group to try them out over the year, to get out there regularly. So if you want to volunteer, let me know

Jan 01

Books Dec 2008

  • Kushiel’s Mercy, Jacqueline Carey. This is the last in the second trilogy from Carey, which all, really, have the same plot. A fantasy novel, set in a sort of medieval Europe, they all have the main characters setting out on a journey to save the country, the girl, the boy. You’ll know they’ll get there in the end but you have to find out at what price. For me, Carey creates characters I care about, so I keep reading.
  • Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi. I first read Scalzi in a free pdf that was given away from Tor, now I’m busy collecting his books. I’ve been waiting for this one to appear and glad it has, I loved it. Set in the future, where humanity is out colonising away whilst fighting against many of the other cultures it finds, it’s another story of heroism, this time to save the world, seen through the eyes of a teenage girl. A nice bit of writing there, given Sclazi is a middle-aged man.
  • Little Brother, Cory Doctorow. I read this earlier in the year via free download, now it was time to buy the book. I took advantage of a signing at Forbidden Planet to grab it, along with the two above. Loved it just as much this time round.
  • Moab is My Washpot, Stephen Fry. Fry’s biography was a critcal analysis of him as a child, someone I’m not sure the author liked too much. From school thief to credit card fraud it details all of his youthfall adventures. Wish he’d write the next installment.
  • This is the Day, Daniel Blythe. A kitchen sink drama, couple who have it all lose it all – how she copes with changing jobs and circumstances. Kep me interested in the characters, it did not end up where I expected which is always good. An OK read.
  • Caught in the Web of Words, K.M. Elizabeth Murray. A biography of James Murray and his work with the Oxford English Dictionary by his grand-daughter. An examination of the twists and turns in life that made Murray perfect to turn the OED into what it is, a classic study of the English language. Completely self-taught, Murray took on the establishment on his own way. The book is detailed and quite dry and times, but does offer a fascinating insight into what drove the decades of effort.
  • 7th Heaven James Patterson. Another of his Women’s Murder Club books, formulaic crime mystery that kept me turning the pages to find out who did it.
  • Dead Man’s Footsteps, Peter James. Crime novel, set in Brighton. Missing people, old cases, new challenges. Roy Grace solves his latest crime whilst still not moving on from his missing wife. These last two books I bought from the WH Smith half proce weekly deal, they’re by authors I’ve read before and I know that I’ll enjoy them as good commute books.
  • The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Richard P Feynman. Definitely ot a commute book, you need to focus to follow the writings of Feynman. This is a collection of pieces, illustrating Feynman’s life. Loved it
  • Blood on the Strand Susanna Gregory. Murder Mystery set in the Restoration period. I love these books for their reflection on London life then.
  • In the Blink of an Eye – How Vision kick-started the Big Bang of Evolution. Andrew Parker. I have no idea, as I couldn’t finish it. Did not like the writing style at all , got far too annoyed at that to focus on the science.
  • Gallow’s Thief Bernard Cornwall I like Cornwall’s Sharpe books and this is another hero in the same vein, post Waterloo. I’ll read more of these.
  • I’m a Believer Jessica Adams. Something I grabbed off my Mom’s shelf over Christmas, ghost/love story that read OK but nothing special.

It was Shane Richmond who inspired me to write these monthly lists, so, as he’s done today, let’s summarise my book reading habits since May.(although August appears to be missing from the list, pretty sure I read something that month)

  • I’ve read at least 61 books since May, read one book twice and not managed to finish another
  • I’ve read 12 non-fiction books, 3 of which are science based.
  • I’ve read 13 Crime novels and 7 Thrillers. I’ve also read 7 Historical books, most of which were crime novels in themselves.
  • There’s 10 fantasy and 4 sci-fi stories, along with 3 ‘future fic’ stories, those set recognisably in our world but usually with scientific or cultural changes.
  • Finally there’s 5 chick lit or normal ‘literature’ that don’t fit in other categories.

One thing I did not realise, before Adrian spoke about it at a geek dinner – the Decline of Reading and has recently written up, was how unusual this behavious is. Not the type of books I like, but the fact that I read – and read a lot. Take a look at some of the stats that he pulls out:

  • In 2006, less than half the adults in America had read ANYTHING booklike.
  • Most US 15-34 spend less than 10 minutes a day reading.
  • An even scarier stat, 87% of US adult readers do not have the reading comprehension to tell apart 2 editorials with different viewpoints

So, these are all US stats but as Adrian says, where the US goes the rest of us often follow – NOT a good trend in this situation.

I can;t add more to what Adrian says, it’s not something I’ve studied. I just know I’ll keep on reading at the same rate!