Rome and some blasts from the past

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Ancient Roman Forum
I know I’ve been falling behind on updates and picture posts especially, but today I put up about a 100 megs of photos into my image dump and I have some hours to sort out the next few weeks while entertaining the dwindling few who check this site for what they thought was exotic photos of exotic lands. To fill your belly with the bits of cities I’ve been through recently, check out Cork, Dublin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Rome here. I’m in Rome now staying near the dog and cat parks here , about 5 minutes from the Borghese Park.
Yesterday I saw the pope speak in his huge pope plaza filled with popeheads then strolled into the Vatican Church in the middle of a service after walking past all the pope tombs.
The food here is so good it makes me weep, but the best part about living here is the fact that I have an apartment and a real mattress to sleep on and the fine company of Boston College friends Hayley and Jen.
Its sad that I don’t know how to speak Italian, but I can easily get around the city and get what I need.
In case you were wondering what the place where Caesar was murdered looks like, it’s behind the gaiety found in this incredible image:

It doesn’t get much better than that.
In Stockholm (which has the best contemporary art museum I’ve ever seen), the leaps into artistic and design modernity fade into public places and sometimes make seep into the rivers:
If you walk down any street in Stockholm, you’re guaranteed to see three things. A beautiful copper-domed 6+ story building, an H & M store, a girl who should be a supermodel, and a hundred Volvos. Sadly this picture only has one. It is looking East on Hantverkargatan in Kungholmen, Stockholm.
Stockholm Sweden Street
After Stockholm I went across the new Bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark (after stopping for a bit in Malmo, Sweden) into Copenhagen. It rained the first night I was there, but the sun shone brightly, the ducks quacked sweetly, and I was throughly wooed by the changing leaves, friendly Danish bikers, and warmer weather. This shot is on the walk from my Hostel towards the city center:
Copenhagen, Denmark. Rantzausgade
This palace I found in Copenhagen was so beautiful that the shutter opened just as I was keeling over from joy:
Here’s an old one from Cork. It takes a picture to really convey how upliftingly green the green isle really is:
Ireland, Cork
Every now and again my little DSC-P5 3.2 megapixel camera really captures all the colors I hope it does in a scene. This shot from a bridge in Cork, Ireland, looks West towards the ever-present low-lying hyphen-ated clouds:
Cork, Ireland bridges
With Halloween tonight, I hope to relive the magic I’ve only experienced in California so far. Hopefully this article doesn’t speak for Rome’s people.

Cities so Far

The hostel I’m at has free internet, so I figure I’d take a breather and compile some travel log-type things:
I have been backpacking around Europe since September 19th, though definitely not nonstop. Here’s a list of the cities I’ve sacked and how I’ve done gotten thereplace

American Airlines to London, England
Megabus to
Brighton, England
Megabus to Leeds, Train to
York, England
Eurolines Bus to
Edinburgh, Scotland
Aer Lingus flight to
Dublin, Ireland
Bus Eireann to
Cork, Ireland
Bus to Shannon Airport, RyanAir to
Stockholm, Sweden
Train to Malmo, Sweden. Commuter Rail to
Copenhagen, Denmark

For every city I stumble into, I have a general idea of what I need to see from what I’ve read in the two travel books I have: Rick Steve’s Europe Through the Back Door 2005and Rick Steve’s Best of Europe 2005. Because I usually only have an address to get to… either a hostel or a friend’s flat… I make it a little game to find my way to the address without getting a map. I know it’s a dumb game, but it keeps me on my toes after sometimes a 15 hour travel day. I usually see a tourist information map on the side of the road after I start walking away from the trainstation/airport/bus station or I can just find the street on a bus route map that I pick up off the ground (worked in York and Stockholm.)
I think I’m learning mostly about the common structures of cities than anything else. Show me a 7-Eleven, and I’ll tell you the top 5 most likely stores nearby.
Which reminds me… there haven’t been any Tim’s Diary entries lately! I hope he’s still rockin somewhere. Click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Last night in Stockholm I saw an interesting commercial on TV before hitting the sack:

well it’ll have to wait because there’s some ass hole being himself who I need to whack with a shoe… ok I’m back:

It begins by introducing 3 cute Swedish girls. They’re probably in high school, but aren’t too young. They giggle, play around in their suburban paradise, but then you see them looking very nervous on the top of a hillock far from any building. They are gathered around a phone texting something very serious to someone. You then see a low shot of their feet walking through a dark tunnel towards an opening. They exit the tunnel, and wait for something, their feet dangling over the concrete ledge they are sitting on. A black Volvo station wagon, circa 1998 pulls up. The trunk pops, and you see a man from the waste down take cans of beer out of the back from a large pallet of 6 packs and takes money from the girls as they stuff the cans into plastic bags.
That sequence was very bright and cheery, and lasted about 25 seconds. Now comes the horror show: In the next 2 seconds we see quick flashes, all yellow-tinted and in near-darkness, like the blair witch, or a very well made horror film. These flashes show these scenes: 3 Girls running mad near the loading docks of a supermarket….. An extreme closeup of a girl with bloody teeth gritting with pain….a posh-dressed girl face down in a forest.
At first I was like holy WHAT, thinking it was the beginning of an Alias show or some crap like that. I expected the girl’s mother to come into the Law and Order Special Victims Unit office and scream…. but the entire commercial is a public message to parents to make sure their kids don’t go rabid in the streets after buying underground beers.
It’s an entirely different culture than Ireland, where I most definitely saw 14 year olds taking shots of Jameson triple distilled whiskey with pub owners… mothers and daughter walking through parks on Sunday mornings with Pints…. and such stuff.

to come… Rome, Bologna, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Prague (and then I dunno)

Call Me Magnus, Stockholm

MEApparently I look like this guy. Magnus Norman, a Swedish tennis star… I was putting on my shoes and a wide-eyed man started speaking to me in Swedish. I said ‘Sorry, English?’ and he said he thought I was someone else, a Tennis player named Magnus Norman, and he had only asked me what I was doing in Stockholm.
The city is unbelievable, but it seems to close on Sunday and also drop in temperature by 10 degrees due to the fact that there are no vikings breathing the air around me. I got some addresses of some second hand shops today, and locations of a Salvation Army chain equivalent. I’m not much of a shopper, but I could really use a huge jacket. My fleece+windbreaker doesn’t quite work in this Icy Island archipelago city. The windbreaker gets brittle, and the change in my pockets freezes my pants off.

Stockholm, Sweden.

Rainy and grey, but modern and funny. They speak like hiccuping Rabbits but the Swedes are a great group of folks.
Just finished my first day in Sveska, and I really like it! Very mysterious and awes??me. It’s as if all those early years of war and pillage brought the civilization to a pinnacle that helped them start a really loving friendly designhappiness-centered way of life earlier than anyone else did. The city is the vision of modernity that makes it almost seem like another planet.
Coming the 100km from Stavska airport into Stockholm, I felt like I was in rural Connecticut… the cars were finally driving on the correct side of the road, but the roads were very well lit and the only cars I could see were Mercedes and Volvos.
Here the pedestrians own the street, and cars give us the right of way even before we know we want it. Everything that´s not food is strangely expensive, and the price doesn´t divide down to anything manageable even though 1 Swedish Kronos equals .12 dollars.
I gave a platinum blond supermodel in the supermarket checkout line a 500 Kronos note for some groceries today. I got 400 back in stacks of 50s… just like monopoly, except the 20 Kronos notes have a man flying on a Duck–perhaps an homage to Hans Christian Andersen or something (if he¬¥s Swedish)
The keyboard I’m typing on has some letters like ?? ?§ ?ñ ?Ñ and the wonky ‚Ǩ.
All the streets end in garten, but what comes before that gaten is always very difficult to remember. Hornsgatan, Bondegatan, Skarholmens… my Hostel is on Rehnsgatan just down from the subway stop R?•dmansgatan. Fun stuff.

I met up with a couple girls who were in Dublin with me last weekend (Connecticut and Boston, if you were paying attention) and we managed to book the same hostel… we conquered the national gallery today. They’re taking the pictures and emailing me them later. I’ll post em later.

Lund, Sweden 25th
Train to Copenhagen 26th
Copenhagen to London on 26th
London to Rome on 27th till 4th?
Barcelona, Madrid… Copenhagen?

Amsterdam November 25th

Dublin, Shamrock City, JOHN FINNEY WHAT?!?!?!?!!1111, and the Crawls

I’m in Dublin now typing furiously on a 1euro/60min stuck-keyed terminal in a sketchy ‘low-cost international phone call/Internet’ shop. It’s 4:24p, and I’m ready for a nap after long hours of sniffing the paint of Italian Masters… my second visit to the Ireland National gallery on my second visit.
I arrived the 13th and walked to my hostel, Abraham’s House (all hostel’s seem to belong to a name for some reason) but only stayed there two nights because they were booked full after that. My next two days I stay in ‘Isaac’s House.’ My first night out I went to dinner with a few Americans from the University of Wisconsin. I had been used to the typical ‘oh wow people do that in your country? That’s weird. Here’s what they do in Cali’-type of banter with international travelers… but things were uncomfortably familiar with these Americans. That’s not to say I didn’t have a great time… It just started to feel like an MTV Europe Real World episode. It began at the point when Ashley’s Birthday dinner location was too much of a dive for Amanda’s standards, and before Jamie managed to spill half a pitcher of something resembling Margarita mix onto the table. Ohh the antics… I can just see the spoiler clip! I spent most of that night laughing on the inside.
I started my second day on the Dublin Tour bus to get a feel for the city, and ran into two Americans and a German studying at Sterling University in Scotland who were on a weekend trip to Dublin. I soon learned their names, but they started as Alaska, Tahoe, Germany, and, Pennsylvania. We made a tourist’s day of it, then met back at their hostel with the hopes of gathering all the young folks we could lure out into the Irish night for an evening of rascality.
By 9ish, Weston and I had recruited (with the help of Mindy) a ‘hip-hopper’ (as the Europeans call them) from Milwaukee donning color-coordinated Jersey’s and doo-rags, two lively Swedish girls named Yohanna and Maria (who would blend in very well with the quasi-Hipsters of Vassar), two lady Americans who study at Norwich University in England from Boston and Connecticut, a smiley girl from Colorado, Missouri (Alyssa) with fiery red hair, and the aforementioned Weston, Tabitha, Vera (veray German), and Mindy. We listened to live music, danced around the Temple Bar district, and spent time catching up on each others lives.
I spent part of the next day at the National History Museum looking at ancient Celtic designs and whatnot, but an honest fraction of my time was spent smirking over something the Swedens or Germany told me the night before. Cultural exchange is fun! I’m sure I looked like one of the many drunk loonies roaming the streets here who aren’t even crazy enough to be seen giggling at the peat-preserved body of a Irish peasant from 200 B.C… a sight which is about as unfunny as things get.
And last night guess who shows up at the hostel (that I don’t live in) in this far away city of Dublin, across the Atlantic, approximately 5,300 miles from my hometown of Westchester, CA, in L.A. county… John Finney–the bloke from 5 years of my state-sponsored education! Sure he’s studying in Munich and it makes sense that he may choose to visit Dublin…. but still quite a coincidence. I’ll never forget in all my days hearing that my friends happened to meet someone else from L.A., and then seeing this Finney character with his 6-pack of Guinness. Finney, you’re priceless. If only Tim could see us now.
Tomorrow morning I head for Cork in the southerly part of Ireland, where Corks come from. Maybe I’ll go to the Cork museum or something like that. cork cork cork. wheee
Maybe I’ll stay in this internet cafe: 24 euros a day is cheaper than anything I could find. Soon I’ll develop a way to eat the internet so I won’t have to cook cheap pasta over a cheap electric stove that takes 20 minutes to heat up in a kitchen that smells of a bad cheese shop.
Hope America is holding together across the pond there and that there’s enough natural gas for the impending winter to keep us out of a snowballing economic depression.
Keep in touch everyone!
Pictures soon
Cork 17th-19th
Stockholm 20th-27th
Rome 27th- November 4th…

Color Copies can be Traced back to the Machine they were copied on…

Connect the DotsBy Annalee Newitz, AlterNet
Posted on September 7, 2005, Printed on October 6, 2005

For years, governments all over the world have secretly been collaborating with the high-end color laser printer industry in order to track the origin of every color copy made. They’re doing it by programming the printers to create specific patterns of yellow dots — not visible to the naked eye — on every copy. These dot patterns are codes for the serial number, the make of the printer, and possibly even the time and date when the print was made. By cross-checking this information with printer company databases of people who have purchased the printers, federal agents can figure out who made a given color copy (of, say, an antiwar rally flyer) and when.
No, really.
Xerox has openly admitted it shares its customer lists with the US Secret Service if asked. And both the US Secret Service and the Dutch government told PC World in a recent article that they asked printer companies to create the yellow dot patterns to help law enforcement track down counterfeiting suspects. Because color laser copies are so good, counterfeiters frequently use them to create fake money, as well as fake train tickets and other valuable items.
Right now, the system works because most people don’t know about it, and you can only see the yellow dots if you look at the paper under a blue light (to highlight the yellow). Generally you need a magnifying glass or a weak microscope too. It also works because color laser printers are high-end enough that most people buy them using credit cards. That’s how the laser printer companies generate their lists of purchasers associated with specific printer serial numbers.
Robert Lee, a computer science student, spent the summer after graduating from Yale researching these yellow printer dots, trying to figure out which companies were using them and what they might mean. My coworkers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) helped him along, giving legal and technical pointers along the way. The result of two months spent peering at color laser copies with a blue LED was the discovery that only one model in his study doesn’t use the yellow dots: the Xerox TekTronix Phaser 7700. But most other Xerox models do, as do all the ones he tested by Canon and Toshiba.
Because so little is known about what the yellow dots mean (aside from containing the make and serial number) and how governments are using them, many disturbing questions arise. For example, how do we know they’re only using these printer marks to track counterfeiters? What if they’re also tracking people who copy what they think are anonymous political flyers or pamphlets? Or people who post flyers announcing meetings of Muslim groups?
One of the fundamental ways the First Amendment works is by protecting anonymous free speech. These dots undermine your ability to make a color copy anonymously. The government can most likely track the document back to you. Even if you pay cash for color printouts at Kinko’s, your purchase or visit to the store will probably be recorded by a security camera. It appears that the dots may contain a time stamp, so it would be relatively easy to cross-reference video of a 5:15 p.m. purchase with some copies made at 5:12.
How can this happen? Shouldn’t there be a law? Yes, there should be, but as of now there are absolutely no regulations or laws that stop printer companies or copy shops from giving information about their customers to the government. Phone companies and Internet service providers, by contrast, are forbidden to give the government data about you unless served with a court order. But this isn’t true for credit card records kept by laser printer companies. Sure, these companies could demand court orders, but none of them have. Xerox told Lee that it has always been happy to comply with the government when asked for this kind of data.
But there is something you can do about it, besides writing angry letters to your local congresscritter. Seth Schoen of the EFF is continuing Lee’s work, gathering as many color copies as he can (see EFF’s page on copiers), and he’s received 200 responses so far, from all over the world. He’s analyzing the patterns of dots, trying to crack the code to figure out what they say. Most of all, he and Lee want the public to know what they’re getting when they print color copies.
Each time you create something on a color laser printer, you’re sending a little message to the government: Here’s who I am, and here’s how to find me.
Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who prefers blue dots.
© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Edinburgh Photos

To see the entire gallery, click here. Click on Edinburgh, or take a stroll through the other cities.
You can also see photos I’ve put up on Flickr here.
And I’ve uploaded all my videos to Youtube here.
Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland
Mysterious Berries (rose hips, by George) at the Peak of Arthur’s Seat above Edinburgh
Crags in Edinburgh
The Crags, just north of Arthur’s Peak
Conehead, Edinburgh
On the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland
Aluminum Party
Forget the girls: notice the entire room is covered in Aluminum Foil
Edinburgh Castle Strange Graffiti in Edinburgh.
click here for Continue reading “Edinburgh Photos”

Edinburgh and Plans

The sky is an eery shade of blue, and the rain just started coming down here in Edinburgh. It’s unusually warm for this late in the afternoon, and a steady breeze is coming in through my window that looks out onto the courtyard. Because of a very late night I slept until about noon today, then went back for another 3 hours of rest after eating some rice curry with tomatoes and ham: a medley of ingredients I’ve become used to at least in the past few days. Edinburgh is a dramatically different city from anything I’ve ever known. It has a population of about half a million, but I’ve been mostly around international students who aren’t Scottish. The city is a very harmonius blend of ancient buildings, new buildings with faux-aged stone, and completely modern office buildings. Here’s a picture that may show what I mean. If you hit the next and previous buttons at the top, you can see the entire Edinburgh photo gallery so far.

I just now finalized the next 2 weeks:
October 13th: Aer Lingus flight from Edinburgh to Dublin. Hostelling in Dublin for a couple days, then visiting the famed highlands for a good 4 days or so until the 20th.
20th: Train down south for a flight from Shannon, Ireland to Stockholm, Sweden. This will be my first RyanAir flight. It cost 7.52 Euros ($9.13).
20th-27th: Stockholm Hostel, with cheap 2day Ryan Air flights or SAS airline trips to Finland or Norway.

The Joys of Travel

There are few, to be honest, especially when you’re as budget-conscious as I.
I’ve gone up and down this bloody island for as much as most people pay for a movie. Megabus. National Express. Ryanair. If you combine these phrases three, megabucks will take you where you want to go. Here’s me sleeping on the bus from York to Edinburgh yesterday. My alter-ego (who is quickly developing) is responsible for the fine cinematography.

And this was my forward view the entire time. It was a quiet 6 hours.