Summer Hiatus: Out in the blue

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Summer vacation
Time to relax and see and
Return all too soon

In other words, don’t expect updates for the coming weeks. I’ll be back.

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Cobblestone Cooking Music vol VI – Italian On A Cold Danish Night

(editorial: originally written some time ago – as the title implies with its temperature reference – this post had sneaked off down the stairs to the drafts in the basement instead of through the clearly marked door “Publishing this way!” Darn posts – you have to keep an eye on them all the time…)

Just a little “quickie”- did a classic Italian caprese as a side today and thought it was a good enough prompt to think of warm Italian evenings and hoisting a glass of Italian red as a toast :)

Photo 20-01-14 18.57.12

Tomatoes (in Denmark just now, they’re not as red and ripe as under an Italian summer sun, but that’s just Northern life) and mozzarella in reasonable slices, a dressing of olive oil and a good light vinegar/condimento of sorts along with salt and pepper poured over & then a sprinkle of fresh, torn basil from the pot in the windowsill.

Brought to you together with an Amy Winehouse mix (Frank, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, Back to Black), with such gems as

  • Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
  • Body And Soul (duet with Tony Bennett)
  • Fuck Me Pumps

Buon appetito!

Photo by me
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Tuesday Bicycle Music™, July 15 – Harder Than Usual (Plus A Thought on Enjoying)

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Last week’s Roskilde Festival is still a bit on my mind – for two reasons today.

The first is that I brought a cold home from the weekend on “the field where the music grows” as I somewhat lyrically named it in one of my Facebook updates. And gee, did I feel that when I biked this morning. In parts it felt as if I didn’t have the regular use of 1/3 of my lung capacity… Reality is very likely much better than that, of course. But on some of those climbs – man, I had no air for those and just had to settle with the rhythm and speed I could handle. If you look closely on that graph, speed kicks up a bit on the latter part on some of the climbs – I did try. But results were more hark, hork, cough than anything else.

On the other hand, that let me settle for enjoying the forest even a bit more than I usually do. Took a long peek at Løgsø (a lake in the midst of the forest) as I drove past (easy -that’s downhill ;) ) and just smiled at the scenery.

Which sort of leads me to the second of my festival points.

2014-07-06 19.32.28There were a lot of people there, obviously. But what’s been rumbling about in my mind is that at every single concert we enjoyed, there was a constant, noticeable and at times downright annoying (Statler and Waldorf … I know) flux of people coming, leaving, returning, going somewhere else.

Even at the biggest names, no matter how wonderfully and intense the concerts seemed to be – always moving, moving moving.

And I’m thinking – has it really come to a point where many, many people simply cannot any longer enjoy being a part of what they are in the middle of? Is it really necessary to constantly wonder if it’s better over there, or if it would be even better to listen to this if I first fought my way out and bought a (insert favourite tipple here), or maybe, shudder, there’s this other concert at the stage over there so I may be missing out by not being there. And of course, being there, maybe the first one was better after all?

I hope not. But there’s a thought to leave you with on a Tuesday. I know that I enjoyed my concerts. And I – after all – did enjoy this morning’s ride through the forests.

Love Me Like A Man – Bonnie Raitt
This Must Be Love – Phil Collins
I Surrender – Saybia
Sleeping On The Sidewalk – Dire Straits
Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
Purple Rain – Prince
Lily Was Here – Candy Dulfer (w/Dave Stewart)
Poker Face – Lady Gaga
I’ve Got The Music In Me – Kiki Dee
No No Never – Matt Bianco
You’re Looking At Me – Diana Krall
Stay The Night – Chicago
Funkytown – Lipps, Inc.
Hotel California (unplugged) – The Eagles

Photo by me, graph by Runmeter
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Monday Motorway Music™, July 7 – Music And Sun As Long As Eye And Ear Can Tell

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Yep, spent the weekend at the Roskilde Festival :)

OK, some would say I didn’t – this year, we chose the luxury (some would say old-man…) version: bought a pay ‘n’ park ticket and drove home to sleep each night. After all, we were there primarily for the music and not to party and get drunk. Not to say we didn’t sample the beer…

Nevertheless, we got 11 concerts under the belt:

  • Lykke Li
  • Rolling Stones
  • Warpaint
  • Haim
  • Damon Albarn
  • Hymns from Nineveh
  • Jenny Wilson
  • Icona Pop
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Kasabian (retrospectively, only unlucky choice – shold have gone to Mø instead)
  • Stevie Wonder

2014-07-05 23.37.41In my ears, all three headline names delivered – Stones, Arctic and Stevie Wonder. Maybe, with the music analytical ear, there’d be things to point a finger at – but this was a festival. And the music did what it had to do in that setting and did it well!

The other main line I will draw out of this year is that of a strong female artist presence. No longer just pretty faces in front of a microphone – though some of them certainly also qualify on that count (and that is to be understood solely as an honest compliment, nothing more and nothing less). No, these young women grab the guitars, wrestle the keyboards, hammer the basses and the drums and create music and emotions and magical moments galore. Warpaint, Haim, Jenny Wilson with her sister on guitar, the Icona Pop girls. A welcome addition to the diversity and equality that music is and helps creating!

By the way – and if this comes across as mysogynic or even just bad-boys-taste, apologies* – over a handful of beers in Istanbul lately, my two American colleagues and I had a lively discussion with lots of laughs. One of them launched the question as a quest and I hereby bring it on to any guys – and girls! – who want to participate: Who is the hottest chick in rock? (mind you: not pop – rock!). I still stick to my first reaction: Joan Jett. Participations welcome!

A short drive to work this Monday – summer vacation’s on, traffic is off :)

I Wanna Be Yours – Arctic Monkeys (yes, put that on to remember Saturday night!)
Bring Me Some Water – Melissa Etheridge
Gold Dust Woman – Fleetwood Mac
If I Could Turn Back Time – Cher

Photo by me
* This should be taken as no more than “Oh Dear, guys’ talk” over beers. And yes, there is so much more to girls than looks. In fact, I find intelligence more sexy than most other traits. But there’s a time and a place for all sorts of discussions – just saying… :)
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Monday Motorway Music™, June 30 – No Motorways, Just Minarets

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Just a short update to say that, once again, travelling has interrupted the Motorway Music schedule…

Service should be reinstated next week – for a couple of weeks and then it’ll be the annual shut down for summer vacation.

But all of that of course is not to say that there wasn’t music:

Down On West Fuxing Lu – Sinne Eeg
A Teenager In Love – Dion & The Belmonts
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Teo Torriate – Queen
All Around The World – Lisa Stansfield
Blue Shoes – Katie Melua
Who’s That Girl (Peacetour) – Eurythmics
Temptation – Diana Krall
Sunday Girl – Blondie

Photo by me
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Monday Motorway Music™, June 23 – Back Among Long Nights

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After being 2½ timezones East and a lot South of here for a week, it is nice to be back. Yes, I enjoyed the friendliness and impeccable – I’d even say fantastic – hospitality of the Iranians. Professionally and in terms of human and cultural interactions, I had a very fine trip.

But I just do feel more at home when I have forests rather than deserts around me – and when, in the height of summer, I have loooong light nights rather than quickly setting dusk and darkness. Even when it’s 12.7°C at 7 am rather than 20-something. And even if it is raising only to the low 20s, if that, rather than somewhere around 40° as was the case in Shiraz.

And tonight we’re celebrating Midsummer in Denmark. I’ve touted it before – the July 1998 National Geographic magazine has some vivid, lovely and very describing photographs of this Danish summer celebration. Look them up if you can.

23-06-2014 11-09-17The scouts I’m with are setting up the bonfire – it’ll be lit around 9pm or so and there’ll be traditional singing of the Midsummer song. The old, traditional (and a little more complicated) melody – or the new, slightly more pop-ish (but easier) one. In many communities, there will also be a speech made at the bonfire. Children will run around and play

I will actually not be at the local Midsummer festivity. But I will absolutely be at a local get-together as good friends of ours have made it a lovely and cosy tradition to gather friends and family of theirs to a cocktail party. Here’s to the Danish Midsummer – and may it be a good and dry and warm and cosy one for all of you out there!

Vertigo/Relight My Fire – Dan Hartman
Vogue – Madonna
The Bug – Dire Straits
Efter festen – Sneakers
Man Eater – Hall & Oates
Roll Over Beethoven – Electric Light Orchestra

PS: I admit to have “stolen” the Midsummer picture above (but also have duly linked to the Flickr source) – that sky is phenomenal. And just notice the timestamp: 0:43 am…!
Top photo by me, Midsummer photo (c) DMI.
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Monday Motorway Music™, June 16 – Getting Ready for Trips

Skærmbillede 2014-06-16 kl. 12.00.38

Today has been a non-standard work day so far – in that I have spent the morning getting ready for yet another trip into the world. In about an hours time I’m off for Iran – and not only looking forward to meeting the colleagues and, I dare say, friends I have there but also to see a bit more of the country than on my previous trips.

Tehran is on the agenda, but so are Qom and Shiraz. To be honest, I had to have a look at the map to figure out where what was – and that I’m going on a pretty much North-South axis within the country.

Because the visa procedures have easened up somewhat, I am eligible for a visum on arrival – but that still means bringing passport photos. Of which I had none – so it was hitting the streets and looking for a place to get them done. And made a little more difficult as our usual photography store had shutters rolled down and a real estate agent poster saying “available for rent” in the window. But I am now equipped with no less than 6 photos – should last me for a while.

Packing is not really anything I worry about more – been there, done that, packed down the T-shirt. It took me a little less than an hour today. But then I also ironed a handful of shirts, a couple for the trip and a few extras so that there’s something to wear when I get back. Total time, actual travel packing: about 25 minutes, I reckon.

But then I keep a carry-on toiletry bag packed at all times, so it is just out of the drawer and into the bag with that. No need to unpack it when I know that it’s in all likelihood not too many weeks until I’m going to use it again.

It’ll be one more work trip – Istanbul in two weeks – before summer vacations set in and the following couple of flights will be for fun. Well, the things going on between landing and redeparture, that is – I must admit that plane trips have long ceased to amuse me as such… ;)

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Zindy Kuku Boogaloo
Please Don’t Leave Me – Pretty Maids
These Boots Are Made For Walking – Nancy Sinatra
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? – Culture Club
To France – Mike Oldfield
You’re The First, The Last, my Everything – Barry White
Secret Agent – Melissa Etheridge
Cotton Eye Joe – Rednex

PS: Happy 21 to my daughter!

Photo: Google Map of Iran.
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Cobblestone Flight Review LIS-CPH on TAP; upgraded to Business – and a thought on hotels

https://www.flickr.com/photos/11811587@N04/14308429361/

For once, a holiday trip :) I know that the raison d’etre for this column is writing about, evaluating and giving tips for making business travel easier, funnier or just at least more bareable. But I’ll let this one sneak in.

On the way back from a long weekend in Lisbon with friends, we ran into a flight situation which was a bit on the dualistic side. On one hand, a delay that ended up running close to an hour with very little information from TAP as to when what would happen. Nary a word on the monitors either – which, I suppose, is why it didn’t get flagged to me by my trusted TripIt. Basically, if the airline does not update its systems, no-one in the world around knows about the issues. Whether sloppy, non-functional or just South European “so, what’s an hour between friends” attitude (and yes, I do realise that I am generalizing and stereotyping wildly here) – who knows.

On the other hand, all four of us got a “Beep!” from the reader at the gate upon scanning boarding cards. Business class for us. And here’s the thing: The flight’s long enough – and maybe TAP’s view of it is old-fashioned enough, bless them – for it to matter. More space – always a good thing. But also a menu card and time to peruse it before making your choice of main course and wine to the steward. Food, decent absolutely, served on porcelain with steel cutlery. This kind of thing doesn’t happen much on inter-European flights anymore. Which made it all the more enjoyable.

And surely, the reason the four of us, along with maybe three or four others, were chosen to sit in the front four seat rows was that two of us hold Star Alliance Gold and Diamond, respectively. So there’s the link to the business travel – it sprinkles a little fairy dust on your personal vacation travel once in a while. Another instance, as seen from my kids perspective, was when we skipped check-in / luggage queues by going to the Business Class counter access in a very busy FCO on a Monday morning after a Sunday with strikes a few years back. Certainly it suddenly was earning me some acceptance of time spent away on flights.

While on the plane, I saw a TV ad for a hotel chain on the video screens. The name eludes me – but what I mainly was thinking was that many of the things that the company was highlighting as features and benefits were some that I don’t fully agree with.

One of them was the combination of them having 350 hotels over 35 or more countries and “consistency and sharing the same values”.

You know what? I actually do not want to be treated the same way and feeling smug and comfortable in the same kind of surroundings no matter where I am. I like my hotel to signal to me where I am and I like to feel that there are actual, individual people living and breathing into where I am. That they care – not because it says so on page 57 of the franchise manual but because they make a business out of this because they enjoy it.

We just stayed three nights in a boutique hotel in Lisbon – the LX – and they got it pretty much right. Breakfast with what you’d want and expect – but the small bowls with nicely cut fruits just say so more than a large bowl of things on a buffet. More “here’s a serving for you” than “oh, we also have fruit if you wish.”

Rooms individually decorated with a big photostat related to Lisbon (I take it) on the wall behind the bed.

In the afternoons, a platter with traditional Portugese cakes of some sort and a bottle of Port was on the counter by the reception for self service. That so much signals not only hospitality but also “Hey! Remember, you’re in Portugal and these are things that we’re proud of!”

Of course, if this kind of thoughts and expressions is what the “consistency” in the large chain’s policies is about, that’s fine. In my experience, it’s not the most likely outcome, though…

And that’s it for this time. Hope you enjoyed it – if you have thoughts of your own on what’s the thing you’re looking for when you’re checking into a place to stay for a few days out there, I’d be happy to hear them and surely encourage you to share them in the comments. And whether you do or not – fly safely!

Photo courtesy of Peter Russell on Flickr
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Friday Bicycle Music™, May 30 – From Meh To Yeh

30-05-2014 10-09-35I’d looked forward to this morning already when I looked at the weather forecast a few days ago – sun in reasonable amount, decent temperature and little or no wind. In fact, when I did start my ride, I saw a pennant on a flagpole – it looked as if it was glued to the pole, that’s how little wind there was.

Yet, I didn’t really get into it. I was feeling a bit “meh” this morning – don’t quite know why. Yes, the forest and the sunshine playing on and through leaves is a cheering sight. But .. hm.

Then, halfway, something or other clicked. You can see the halfway point in the graph above. Right after 9 km there’s a sharp dip down in the blue speed curve – that’s a traffic light I reached just as it turned red. So, a bit of a wait (Runmeter filters out the stopped time automatically) – but even if the next kilometer or so is a steady climb, somehow I snapped out of the lethargy and felt much, much better for the rest of the way.

Sometimes it just takes doing it to do it :)

For the rest of the ride, I even experimented a bit on the climbs – I typically stay in the saddle pretty much all the way but have thought that I ought to do more standing on these hills. And today I did on a couple of the climbs in the forest and overall felt fine with it. Need to adjust my technique a bit and find the right gearings for it but that’s doable.

All of the above could have been said with a short sentence and a song : Started slow but came in just short of annual PR – accompanied my Matt Bianco’s Yeh Yeh.

30-05-2014 11-12-27But hey, I like words :) Even at the time I played Zork I (yes, I am that old!), usually the first command I issued to the game was “verbose” so as to get location descriptions in full whenever entering. Of course, it was also due to me being unable to remember them. But the map of these games are huge – and remember, we’re talking 80×25 screen with characters only! ;)

Or, in the words of Jim Morrison, “I’ll always be a word man. Better than a bird man.”

Lily Was Here – Candy Dulfer
Killing Me Softly – Georgeanna Bonow
Kiss – Tom Joens & Art of Noise
I Saved The World Today – Eurythmics
Just Like Starting Over – John Lennon
Only The Lonely – Diana Krall
Urgent d’Attendre – France Gall
Temptation – Diana Krall
Oh Yeah – Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music
Halfway Up The Hindu Kush – Katie Melua
You Cannot Hide – Swan Lee
Melinda – Stan Getz
I Get Along Without You – Diana Krall
Wish You Were Here – Fleetwood Mac
Frankie’s First Affair – Sade

Images by me.
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Those Summer Nights

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Quiet summer night
The air is sweet like perfume
Reminds me of you

Photo by me (actual sky at 23:12 / 11:12pm)
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