The Tenth Epistle (020080824)

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Speedos really don't suit old men, especially not if they're
sun-burnt. That's the most important thing I learnt while on holiday,
and it is quite important, because I'm going grey. I think it's a
combination of the car crash (heh, I can blame everything on that),
not enough sleep and too much talcum power. I don't really mind
though, because in a few years it'll make me look many things I'm not:
wise, sensible, experienced, distinguished. So long as I don't wear
speedos.

Enough of speedos. This is my tenth update email, and I send them out
every few months or so to a growing group of people. Mainly because
I'm too lazy to email you all individually. And I've said exactly that
before, but I repeat myself because I'm too lazy to find new things to
say. I've attached some photos as well, and I won't be offended if you
stop reading at the end of this paragraph.

Susanna and I had an amazing holiday: Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, then
zig-zagging through Bari in Italy to get to Greece for ECAI, and a
couple of days in Athens afterwards. Too much to tell. The Skocjan
caves were incredible, absolutely breathtaking, Huge vaulted caverns,
with floor to ceiling stalactites the width of roundabouts. Enormous
crevices, hundreds of feet deep. Truly the Mines of Moria brought to
life, right down to the thin rickety bridge over a vast chasm, water
rushing invisibly far below.

Mostar was gorgeous, quite warm. Lots of bullet holes and abandoned
buildings in Bosnia.

Dubrovnik was hot, had nice beaches, but the story they tell of the
war seems a little biased. Surely Croatia wasn't actually invaded by
Satan's army? We didn't stay at the Hilton Imperial, but we did eat at
the Pilton Provincial, right next door. Definitely the best fast food
joint in town - cheap, tasty, they don't smoke too much while they're
cooking your food.

We couldn't see much of Bari through the haze of cigarette smoke but I
did get a nice pair of sunglasses. I wonder what percentage of
Italians are knocked off by Big Tobacco?

Athens was also hot, had some really nice beaches, lots of markets and
quite a few temples. I loved it. Ordering food was embarrassing/great
fun:
"What's this one?"
"Pig."
"And this one?"
"Kitten."
"Kitten? Like 'meow'?"
"Yes, kitten."
It tasted a lot like chicken.

In amongst all of this there was a week in Patras for ECAI. I
presented our paper (it went really well) and was taken aback at just
how good AI is getting. I know that's what they've always been saying
for the last few decades, but once it gets good no one calls it
artificial intelligence anymore. What do I think is next? Seriously
good computer vision and image interpretation. We saw demos of
software that finds and tracks faces in real time, can spit them into
face recognisers, predicts where people will walk, alerts human
observers when it sees a fight or a theft... Big brother anyone? Bit
of a worry actually.

A flurry of other thoughts: EuroRail is not as impressive as is
claimed. In fact, not a single one of our long distance trains was
less than 30 minutes late. See the attached photo, from when we were
waiting for our train from Ljubljana to Zagreb.

And contrary to advice, the Mediterranean sun is gentle. To be honest,
you have to do something really stupid to get burnt. Everyone just
tans, which is wonderful, and very different to NZ, where the
population of central Otago has a patchy red/white look in summer. I
remember when two friends fell asleep in the sun there for a few hours
one November, and woke up with fist sized blisters covering their
chests. Trust me, the Mediterranean sun is gentle.

Now Susanna and I have moved into our new flat. Well I have, I think
she's in Turkey right now. It's strangely exciting - I've never had
the chance to set up a flat all by myself before, I've always been
moving in with friends, or joining an established flat. And yes,
strictly speaking it's not by myself, but it is ours, not theirs or
everyones'! Flat warming to come, date to be confirmed.

Two videos. Watch out for StumbleUpon, it's a lethal waste of time.
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjcoRFcmQuo - Grandma
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9ptA3Ya9E - Identify theft

That's it. The photos are pretty self-explanatory. Maybe more to come
after we visit Scotland and Spain and Italy, or sometime during
Michaelmas.

FINIS
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[Hover over each image for the caption/filename.]

A - Me and the thing at the StX ball

B - Me and Susanna at the StX ball

C - The Skocjan caves

D - The Skocjan caves

E - The Skocjan caves

F - Eurorail is so reliable

G - Dubrovnik at night

H - Susanna in Patras

I - Delphi

J - You can tell it was a computer science conference

K - Me, Susanna and some temple

 
epistles/010.txt · Last modified: 020130925 1014 (external edit)
 
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