Korjo Travel Iron – travel technology

Posted by jerry on July 25th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Travel

I had always thought that people with travel irons were over-packed until I went on a business trip and found that the hotel had only one for 40+ conference delegates – all of whom wanted to look presentable to their European colleagues. At that point I decided that for certain destinations I would pack an iron, and not be waiting until 0600am on the morning of the conference to get my turn with the iron.

Korjo travel iron

Korjo travel iron

Enter the dual-voltage Korjo travel iron. This is a compact iron with a near-full-size teflon coated plate. It has a folding handle which doubles as the reservoir for the water – yes it is a fully functional steam iron – ideal for those creased cotton shirts.

The handle clicks securely into its upright position without any play so it has a positive feel. The steam function has no separate button – if you fill it with water and have the high heat setting selected, then you will get steam. It takes only about a minute to warm up. Do stand it on a towel though – as the steam commences it will push out a little water first and you probably don’t want that on your white shirt.

The water lends weight to the iron, and it smooths the toughest creases like a bought one.

The cons: The rubber stopper at the end of the iron does not like to stay in place so there can be some water leakage from there if you are a bit rough with your technique. My second minor gripe is that the sole doesn’t taper as much as a full sized iron, so it can be difficult to get between the buttons.

Sum up – if you are a business traveller in Europe (where irons seem more scarce than elswhere) then this is an indispensible item to pack. It is light and compact and does the job very well.

Singapore – travel and food

Posted by jerry on July 24th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Travel

I arrived in Singapore okay and the hotel is very comfortable. The arrival sign in the airport was just a little disconcerting!


Singapore is hot and humid and the air is heavy with hibiscus and bougainvillea. I decided to have a wander into the city – I’m am in the Raffles district – and one of the first things was to see to some food. I quickly found starbucks and subway and New York New York and Delifrance – but do you think I could find a simple noodle house?

Singapore - hawker food stalls

Finally someone said there’s a food hall/market just one stop away on the MRT – the underground train – so I thought ‘can’t be too hard’ and found the system very like the ones in Europe … except once I went down the escalator to find the platform, it seemed like I was in a long corridor, with some funny markings at intervals along a big glass wall.

Next thing a train comes along right next to the glass wall and doors open up everywhere! It seems they stop people falling onto the tracks by building a glass wall along the very edge of the platform, and carefully stop the train so its doors line up perfectly with the ones in the glass wall.
Soon I found myself on the other side of a canal and quickly found the food hall. Then the search was on for a decent local feed of noodles. Not much around if you were a vegetarian – but at least the food was cheap and filling.

I have a great view from my balcony room on the 18th floor – about halfway up the hotel – and the hotel has the highest atrium in the southern hemisphere – I’d believe it too: the interior looking up just keeps going up and up.

Pan Pacific atrium

Singapore by day

Singapore by night

Anyhow it seems I am largely destined to eat mainly western food as this is a major tourist area.

And to round off the seven days – I’m up to 77968 steps for the week.


Despite not sleeping much last night I managed six hours on the plane here so I’m not as wrecked as I thought I might be.

The fitness challenge – week 2: 63,3355 in six days

Posted by jerry on July 23rd, 2006 — Posted in Journal

Well, not a lot of new stuff this week – although I shall soon be road-testing a new travel iron, given my experience in Europe with hotels and the lack of irons for their business clientelle. Anyhow – the great walking challenge is on, and with six days down I can say I am now hitting ten thousand steps a day. And here’s the proof!

pedometer reading after six days

The real trick is getting a sharp image on the old 2MP camera. The other thing I’ve done this wek is play quite a bit of fiddle, and I’ve recorded ‘Da Eye Wifey’ made famous by the band Shooglenifty. That said, I’ve only seen the music, and not heard them play it. But I have it on good authority that they play a kind of slow and sedate version, whereas mine probably owes more to Ashley McIsaac 🙂 Anyhow, it’s on the computer now, courtesy of Traktion software and a small Behringer mixing desk.

The name sounds like either a corruption of wifi – the wireless internet connection or something to do with someone’s wife giving them the ‘hairy eyeball’, but in fact seems to owe its name to an optician in Edinburgh, where Shooglenifty is based.


Fitness challenge Week 1 – 69,389 steps

Posted by jerry on July 17th, 2006 — Posted in Journal

It all started a week ago, when Sharon started a challenge among her online friends to walk 10,000 steps a day to improve fitness. The challenge was to blog a photo once a week of the pedometer – thus making it a public challenge, and the results publicly visible. As someone with a desk job, it seemed a reasonable way to go, and surely not too arduous. And something that could be worked into one’s normal day, without having to travel to a gym or buy outlandish medieval torture devices. Just a discreet little pedometer. And so it began.

By day two I realised that a desk job usually involves walking about 4-5,000 steps – and it was quickly apparent that I would need to do more to get the requisite number of steps up. Moreover, by the end of day two I realised I would now need to exceed 10,000 steps a day in order to catch up my deficit. Then i remembered the time I put on my pedometer set to zero before playing a show, and after three hours had 40,000 steps done… Ah – a bit of fiddle practice should do the trick!

And it nearly did – after the first seven days, here is the result:

pedometer 16 July 2006


Not the Da Vinci Code tour: part 2

Posted by jerry on June 30th, 2006 — Posted in History, Journal, Travel

The first rule of jet-lag – and how to overcome it is to drink water and get plenty of exercise and stay awake for the first day until well after dark. Okay, so that was three rules. Anyhow, after a delayed flight (are there flights not delayed out of European mainland?) I hit London walking.

Straight down the Strand – one of my favourite streets. Every time I go down the Strand I discover something new – or in this case very old. It was a chance glance down a laneway by Fleet Street that brought me to a church with a Wren-like steeple. I hadn’t previously encountered St Bride’s Church, and the name was intriguiing – especially it’s nickname: The Printer’s Cathedral. Okay, I was on Fleet Street – home to all those newspaper publishers – but I was surprised to find that the first moveable type printing press was brought here in 1500AD.

St Bride's Church

There is quite a history on this site. This is the eighth church built on this site, and it has been a Christian place of worship for 1500 years. The present church was the venue for the marriage of the parents of Virginia Dare (thanks for the comment) – the first European child born in Colonial America in 1587. The spire (above) is the tallest that Wren ever built and was the inspiration for the tiered wedding cake. This was also the church in which Samuel Pepys was baptized.

In 1940 a bomb revealed a crypt in which you can now see the pavement on which Romans walked in AD180 – and it is open to the public.

St Brides' Crypt

A bit further down is St Paul’s Cathedral, and one of my favourite things to do to stave off jet-lag is to climb the 530 stairs to the lantern on the dome where you get a superb view of London – and a good sense of the underlying landscape.

St Paul's Cathedral, London

And inside the dome the magnificent paintings visible from the Whispering Gallery

inside St Paul's dome

Walking back along the Strand you can sense the history – as well as take some minor detours down some delightful laneways. Take this one, for instance, which would be entirely hidden were it not for a suitable tourist sign on the Strand, which points towards Temple church – reputedly built by the Knights Templar, but ceded to the Hospitallers. The church has gained some recent attention, having been featured in a movie about another semiotician, who uncovers a mystery. And yes, every Tuesday and Thursday at 2.30pm you can take the tour which explains the reality behind the myth underlying this church’s role in the Da Vinci Code. It is London’s only remaining Romanesque building – modelled after the the domed Church of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Temple Church, London

The stained glass windows are breathtaking, but turning towards the rear of the church, you can see several life-sized effigies laid out on the floor. Many are named, and some are in interesting cross-legged positions.

Temple Church effigies

The effigies are of Templar knights from the 13 Century – this one is of Gilbert Marshall, fourth Earl of Pembroke and Templar knight who died in 1241. And don’t forget to look up at the walls – the row of grotesques is fascinating.
And, in case you were in any doubt about the Templar association, you need look no further than the pedestal outside the entrance.

Templar sign

But if you really want to avoid the Da Vinci Code tourists, it is only a short sprint up the Strand to Somerset House, home of the Courtauld Institute of Art gallery and the Hermitage Rooms. This gallery is one of London’s gems, housing world famous old masters, impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.

Somerset House, London

Among the exhibitions I went to were The Road to Byzantium – a collection of luxury domestic goods from the St Petersberg Hermitage Museum, at the Hermitage Rooms. The exhibition runs from 30 March to 3 September 2006 – and is well worth a visit. Among the fascinating items are some Byzantine coptic textiles from Egypt in the 4th century AD.

The Coptic craftsmen had a vast number of images on which to draw for inspiration, many of which circulated in the form of patterns, a few of which have survived on papyri. They used pictorial motifs from the Greco-Roman tradition, including pastoral scenes related to the Nile River and mythological characters such as dancers who evoke Dionysian celebrations.
byzantine textile

This textile is a fragment of a tunic with scenes from Euripides’ play Hippolytos, and is part of a group of textiles with representations of heroes from Greek tragedies. It is made from linen with wool weaving.

byzantine textile 5-6 century AD
This textile depicts Dionysos’ chariot and the twelve labours of Hercules from 5th Century AD Egypt. It is made from linen with wool weaving.

A contemporary quote (4-5th century AD) from Asterius, Bishop of Amaseia of Syria condemned the growing fashion for clothing woven with images: “They have invented some kind of vain and curious warp and ‘broidery which, by means of the interweaving of warp and weft, imitates the quality of painting and represents upon garments the forms of all kinds of living beings, and so they devise for themselves, their wives and children gay-colored dresses decorated with thousands of figures.” (quote from Indiana University Art Museum website)
So it’s easy to avoid the Da Vinci Code tourists and find fascinating sites that remain undiscovered by so many – they don’t know what they’re missing!