Tuesday, November 23, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #423] Unholy Trifecta and Crossing Over

So it's been a while since Russ was here for his visit on his return to the Silver State from his stint in Macau. We had a calm, cultural, relaxing time, as always.


First on the list was Manchester, which I have talked plenty about, so will just mention that it's suffering from Glasgow disease and I hope they get stricter on the door.

Second was Berlin: perfect, as always.

Third was our only new city of this adventure, Bucharest. I really knew nothing about it other than it's ex-communist, the first gay pride parade a year or two ago had violent neonazi protesters, and it has the world's second largest building, the Palace of the Parliament.

Bucharest is very odd - it used to model itself as a second Paris (and indeed had very close ties with France, pre-WWII), but much of that grandeur is gone. But neither is it a socialist canvass, such as Sofia. It's a large, pleasant enough, but not very engaging, city. I think I've not written about it because I've found it so hard to be inspired by it either in awe or horror. Perhaps if I knew more history, as in Berlin, it'd've leapt out at me more, but as it was... well, it was*. Pics below.

I can say it's desperately poor - we spoke to several people and they all said the average person earns €200-€250/month. It's cheap, but it ain't that cheap; it must be a truly dismal existence.

But, to something a bit more exciting (to me, at least), my friend Kimb'uh took a video of me at my citizenship ceremony. So, here it is, on 18 October 2010, the very moment I became British: http://mearsfamily.net/share/shauns-citizenship-ceremony.avi

Cheers,
Shaun

*I also think it was a bit of the travel overexposure I've spoken of before. "Bucharest? Oh. It's so...
European."

Full pics at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=309308&id=713081334&l=cde3676217



The view of the Palace of the Parliament from my hotel room


București cityscape


The balcony where Nicolae Ceaușescu gave his last speech, assuring the masses everything would be alright. He was apprehended and executed within hours.


Now that's what I want to see when I visit the East! This was the Ministry of Defence, or something similar.


This was another pile that Ceaușescu was building at the time of his death. My tourguide called it a mortuary, but I imagine he meant mausoleum.


Outside the Palace, leaning on the French connection


Palace of the Parliament


Palace of the Parliament


The new central shopping area. Tens of thousands of people were uprooted and their homes bulldozed to build the Palace and its new surrounding neighbourhood.


Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com




--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #422] Rule, Britannia!

This is my first eMail as a British citizen.  Yay!

I said before that being approved for citizenship felt like a natural progression, but actually having the ceremony and letting it set in a bit, it really is fantastic, and I am smiling.

I am off to bed; my friends took pics so I will send some later, as well as a bit on the unholy trifecta of Russ's visit.  Attached are two pics: one approaching the Tower of London (where my citizenship ceremony was held) and one of my certificate.

So, with all its frivolity, but sudden legitimacy:

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #421] Gay Bucharest?

Random eMail...

Have any of my gay friends been to Bucharest or known someone who has been?  Russ and I go next weekend and, while we're not expecting a huge party, we're having quite a hard time finding any info less than three years old.  Guess we might be getting the rest we need after Manchester and Berlin for a change...

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #420] The News Blotter of Shaun

It's been a while since I sent one of these out. I've actually been quite busy, but more in a fulfilling way than dramatic.

I visited my family in Corfu. Mom, Dad and Lisa now live there, and Lara was over from her new home in Istanbul. It was a bit of a stressful weekend as we learned two days before that Emilio (Lara's oldest) had MD. Fortunately, in the time since, we've learned it's Becker's MD, the mildest form, so he's expected to have a nearly, if not completely, normal life and lifespan.

Rachel came to stay with me for a month, which was perfect. She (Amsterdam, Edinburgh) and we (Berlin) travelled a bit, but it was wonderful just to have her here as a fixture rather than as a fleeting guest. She plans to do it next year as well and both Marco and I hope she does.

I applied for and was approved for British Citizenship and had a (very successful, as my depleted supply of wine glasses will attest to) party to celebrate the five years in London that brought me to this point. I actually expected this milestone to be something that I waxed lyrically about, for far too many lines, how life, I and my London have changed. But this has felt like home for so long now that, happy as I am, it felt more like a natural progression than a victory.

The travel highlight, to the horror of my British friends, has been Leicester for Pride. Marco and I went with the (schadenfreuden and selfish) hope of a Middlesbrough-cum-New Delhi. We were surprised, and just a bit disappointed, to find out that it's actually a rather nice city and, despite the rantings of the BNP, still majority white. Also, unfortunately for us, the gaysians there haven't shed the cultural weight of the subcontinent and were much less numerous than in the street, or than in London. The parade itself was only about three minutes long, but it was really nice to go to a pride that actually meant something more than another way to advertise for the pink pound.

Russ arrives tomorrow from Hong Kong for two and a half weeks before relocating back to the States, during which we will perform the unholy trifecta of Manchester, Berlin and Bucharest. The first two are repeat visits, but ones which we love. Neither of us has been to Romania, so it will be a new adventure. And, from what we've foregathered, not a gaycation with parties till dawn and boys swinging from the rafters. But, as we age, we find appeal in different experiences than ten years ago. But don't worry - we're going on a Big Gay Cruise in February, just to keep grounded.

Attached are a couple pics from Leicester; there are more here if you wish to see --> http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=294456&id=713081334&l=5ac9135435

(Also, including below for those who are interested, an article about my borough I quite liked.)

Cheers,
Shaun


1 - Our hotel. I'd taken a picture of the building before I knew it was our hotel, so imagine my delight when we rounded the corner and saw the Premier Inn sign attached.


2 - Pride in the park. No Brighton, but a damn sight bigger than anything in Vegas, despite being a much smaller city.


3 - The multicultural beat of Leicester.


4 - A very old tower next to a very old (and pretty!) building.





Life & Style

Bangladeshi tower hamlets
Bridging the culture gap: young Bangladeshis celebrate their heritage — but they are also a crucial part of modern Britain

Tower Hamlets: The rise of the new East End

Doug Sanders
16.09.10

To stroll East from Brick Lane 15 years ago was one of the most dangerous things a Londoner could do. You were entering the migrant-packed heart of Britain's poorest, most violent borough. Now, as I visit the second-generation immigrants who'd been children then, I find in Tower Hamlets deprivation replaced with university education, violence with an upwardly mobile community.

I've spent the past three years examining urban districts dominated by rural-born migrants, spending time in marginal neighbourhoods of London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Madrid. And I have found London's Bangladeshi districts offer important lessons — and some warnings — for the transformation of such areas.

In 1995, the East End was racked with bloody clashes between Asian gangs and neo-Nazi skinheads and stained with drug crime and extremism. It suffered a full-scale outbreak of tuberculosis, a disease that had been absent from London for a century and existed mainly in Third World slums.

The figures unearthed by the Evening Standard in 1995 when it exposed Tower Hamlets as Britain's most deprived borough were dire: a third of families lived on less than £4,500 a year. Two-thirds of children were poor enough to qualify for free school meals. Houses were all but collapsing on their residents, often packed four or five to a room, with three children sharing a bed — overcrowding was five times worse than the national average. The borough ranked lowest in Britain for standards of living, health and quality of education.

You will still find crime, religious conservatism and ill health — it's not hard to identify, especially among part of the young male population. But the larger picture is fascinating. In Tower Hamlets, and almost nowhere else in Europe, I found it easy to find families in which the parents had been born on dirt floors but the daughters are now university-educated civil servants, scientists and bankers.

The Bangladeshis of Tower Hamlets come mainly from one of the poorest corners of one of the poorest countries in the world: at least 90 per cent are from the thoroughly rural Sylhet district, where most families must survive on less than £1 a day.

Of half a million Bangladeshi migrants to the UK and their British-born children, half live in London, and half of these in Tower Hamlets, where they form more than a quarter of the population across the council and in some wards are a majority.

Success, then, needs to be measured against this backdrop. But it is genuine success: in Tower Hamlets today, 46 per cent of Bangladeshi students achieve passing grades in five GCSE courses, only slightly below the national average of 51 per cent, and far better than the 30 per cent achieved by the borough's white students. Indeed, sociologists and social workers now focus on the grandchildren of the cockney dockworkers, not on immigrants, as the main sources of deprivation and social tension.

But why has Tower Hamlets thrived while the Turkish core of Berlin and the high-rise outskirts of Paris, for example, turn more violent?

First, studies over the past decade show it is far easier for immigrants to start a small business in London than in other European cities. The explosion of curry-houses wasn't just a dining phenomenon, it was an investment in social mobility.

Another key factor is citizenship: the people who arrived in the East End over the past 40 years, like the Eastern European Jews and French Huguenots before them, found it easy to become full citizens and participate fully in the economy and politics.

A study by German sociologist Joachim Bruss found 82 per cent of Bangladeshis in Britain felt their ethnic and religious backgrounds have no effect on their job prospects — compared with only 54 per cent of Turks in Germany. In other words, Tower Hamlets has avoided the violence and misery of its European cousins by understanding that its residents aren't pathetic cast-offs. They are people who came here with a project and we have removed the barriers to their success.

If we jeopardise any of this — through middle-class urban policies that make it harder to open small businesses in residential neighbourhoods, through immigration policies that block the pathway to citizenship to newcomers — the gains of the East End could be lost.

Doug Saunders is the author of Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World, published this week by Heinemann. More information at arrivalcity.net



Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org/
http://shaunism.blogspot.com/

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Saturday, September 11, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #419] British Mercury

Yesterday I received the official letter from the Home Office notifying my my application has been successful.  Turns out the other letter was the council's response to them being notified and reserving a ceremony date for me.  Kudos to Tower Hamlets for being so efficient!

Not sure if Royal Mail was slow, or if the Home Office didn't post my letter right away, but it was printed on 27 August.  I applied, in Tower Hamlets, on 16 of August.  That means my application made it from here to Liverpool, was processed, reviewed, approved and over and done with in eleven days.  I have some friends that applied for an initial visa to America that would have been overchuffed with 111 days.

Now, how quickly can they approve my applications for the dole and housing benefits...  ;-P

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Thursday, September 09, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #418] God Save the Queen

Received by Royal Mail today:


Dear Sir:

Your Home Office application to become a British Citizen has been successful you are therefore invited to attend a Citizenship Ceremony, details below.


Despite the appalling punctuation, it's fantastic news - I've been approved!  I won't actually be British until the ceremony where I will swear my allegiance to the Crown, but the (surprisingly short) wait is over.  Hoorah!

I would like to pontificate endlessly and wittily (allow me me the measure), but I am excited and hyped up.  Gonna shower and then celebrate like a true British man: with a pint and a curry.

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #417] Tube Strike

London is currently suffering one of its periodic tube strikes as its workers deem 48 days holiday, a 37.5-hour work weeks, and above-inflation wage increases during times of austerity, insufficient remuneration for their daily trials.
 
TfL (Transport for London) is doing what it can, but is, of course, failing in some of the most basic ways.  Bank/Monument is entirely closed, severing a main link to/from East London, though trains are running through the station itself.  And my friend Lottie took this charmingly contradictory photo at London Bridge this morning.  It sums things up perfectly.
 
I, being a chosen Tower Hamlets resident, had no issues as the DLR is run by a separate company.  The fate of Morgan Stanley rests on my shoulders alone today!
 
Cheers,
Shaun
 

NOTICE: If you have received this communication in error, please destroy all electronic and paper copies and notify the sender immediately. Mistransmission is not intended to waive confidentiality or privilege. Morgan Stanley reserves the right, to the extent permitted under applicable law, to monitor electronic communications. This message is subject to terms available at the following link: http://www.morganstanley.com/disclaimers. If you cannot access these links, please notify us by reply message and we will send the contents to you. By messaging with Morgan Stanley you consent to the foregoing.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #416] Hello from Corfu

Just a quick postcard from Corfu, the view from my sister's house. It's beautiful, but give me a dodgy bar or a cityscape any day.

Cheers,
Σηαθν

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #415] Thank you, (b)log!

I have spent this week faithfully procrastinating finishing filling out my application for British citizenship, for which I am applying next month. The infamous Section 2 requires that you document, account for and tally all time spent outside of the UK since arriving on your settlement visa. Everyone who applies before you warns you to keep track of your travels; everybody ignores this advice and has to piece together half a decade of their lives from the careless, random stamping of listless immigration officers.

I fit things together as best I could from the stamps and visas in my passport, but had numerous holes where dates and destinations should have been. I am very thankful for starting this list and archiving it to the internet because every time I travelled I blogged something about it and Google handily stored and sorted all the entries by year and month. So thank you all for receiving, if not reading, these; you've saved me a lot of pain tonight and I owe you a drink when I see you next.

My travelling doesn't seem as prolific listed out on paper (or in Excel, to be accurate) as it does in experience. I suppose lists are never particularly impressive to behold, and this does omit intraborder travelling, but it still seems mediocre somehow. I suppose that is justification enough for taking more trips! Or perhaps I should just use a bigger font.

The stats, for those who're counting, near as I could figure:

- 34 trips abroad (including two planned ones between now and submitting my application)
- 6.8 trips/year
- One trip every 1.75 months
- A total of 208 days (or 11.4% of my British existence) out of the country

Cheers,
Shaun


Country Visited Reason Departure Return Days Absent
France Holiday 19-Nov-2005 22-Nov-2005 3
USA Visiting relatives 17-Mar-2006 2-Apr-2006 16
Spain Holiday 21-Apr-2006 24-Apr-2006 3
Italy Holiday 11-May-2006 14-May-2006 3
Sweden Holiday 14-Jul-2006 16-Jul-2006 2
Ireland Holiday 8-Sep-2006 11-Sep-2006 3
Bulgaria Holiday 13-Oct-2006 16-Oct-2006 3
USA Visiting relatives 22-Dec-2006 7-Jan-2007 16
Poland Holiday 10-Feb-2007 17-Feb-2007 7
USA Visiting relatives 6-Apr-2007 23-Apr-2007 17
France Holiday 19-May-2007 21-May-2007 2
China Holiday 9-Jun-2007 17-Jun-2007 8
Greece Holiday 22-Jun-2007 2-Jul-2007 10
Germany Holiday 30-Nov-2007 2-Dec-2007 2
Portugal Holiday 28-Dec-2007 1-Jan-2008 4
Turkey Holiday 31-Jan-2008 3-Feb-2008 3
USA Visiting relatives 3-Mar-2008 9-Mar-2008 6
France Holiday 18-Jul-2008 20-Jul-2008 2
Hungary Holiday 15-Aug-2008 18-Aug-2008 3
France Holiday 29-Aug-2008 31-Aug-2008 2
Israel Holiday 19-Sep-2008 28-Sep-2008 9
USA Visiting relatives 19-Dec-2008 5-Jan-2009 17
Italy Holiday 6-Mar-2009 9-Mar-2009 3
Spain Holiday 19-Mar-2009 22-Mar-2009 3
USA Visiting relatives 27-Jun-2009 13-Jul-2009 16
Estonia Holiday 11-Sep-2009 13-Sep-2009 2
Germany Holiday 16-Oct-2009 19-Oct-2009 3
Spain Holiday 6-Nov-2009 8-Nov-2009 2
Germany Holiday 25-Dec-2009 28-Dec-2009 3
Germany Holiday 22-Jan-2010 24-Jan-2010 2
Thailand, Cambodia, New Zealand, Australia Holiday 19-Feb-2010 9-Mar-2010 18
Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, China Holiday 25-Jun-2010 5-Jul-2010 10
Greece Holiday 30-Jul-2010 2-Aug-2010 3
Germany Holiday 13-Aug-2010 15-Aug-2010 2




208


Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Saturday, July 24, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #414] The Shard cometh!

I was very sad when they began construction of The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe*, and I realised that a tower block was hiding it from my view. The Shard will be taller than the council estate, of course, but it was still a bit disappointing.

As the tower has risen, it's been crowned with a very simple, but powerful, sign that simply says SHARD. This week, the appellation has breached the top of the offending tower and you can see "RD" poking out; nothing visually dramatic to the layman, but as foreshadow, it's thrilling to an urban/Londonphile like me.

So onward and upward! Next up on the London Skyline? The Pinnacle.

Cheers,
Shaun


*There's a taller building under construction in Moscow, if you must consider that Europe.




1) The Shard, as it will be (my building circled in red)


2) The sign at the top of the construction


3) The Shard arrives to my view!


4) Grainy close-up


5) The Pinnacle, the Gherkin's soon-to-be neighbour

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Saturday, July 17, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #411] Paloma Faith

My friend Jim turned me on to Paloma Faith, and for those of you who like Amy Winehouse, Duffy, etc., check her out.  Particularly great is New York:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvXeUqlfxhY

In unrelated news, Mary Keany arrived safely yesterday - yay! - and is busy making her flat into a home ten floors above me.  It's great to have her back.

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Friday, July 09, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #410] Two strikes against DOMA

A little off topic, but potentially important.  There have been two decisions that say DOMA (the Defence of Marriage Act, which states that the Federal government won't recognise same-sex marriages, even if states do) is unconstitutional:

http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/its_official_the_defense_of_marriage_act_is_unconstitutional

Now an interesting question: will the Obama administration appeal the decision?

Love to know what the news (esp. Fox) coverage is like from the statesiders.

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Monday, July 05, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #409] Back from the land of the durians

I sent out some postings while I was away, so just a short 'woof' (for The Office fans).

Hong Kong is definitely one of the most visually stunning cities out there; I am sure the comparison's been used countless times before, but it's like dropping New York on top of San Francisco. You have the concrete canyons of New York amplified from being built improbably over steep hills like in San Francisco. (Hmmm.... the Big Apple + the Big Martini = Big Appletini. I need to write a marketing proposal.) It's hustling and bustling and has all the life a (second tier) world city should have. But, that's not really why I go to Asia...

Kuala Lumpur was much more what I was looking for. The Petronas Towers are stunning, and there is a façade of modernity, but you don't have to go too far in any direction to see the third world coming through the cracks - sometimes literally: a heard of goats on the edge of downtown, holes in the sidewalk "fixed" by laying boards over them, a repressed and depressed gay scene. I know there is more to the city than we saw, but our brief time there was further truncated by severe rain, so we just had a taste -- but I can't say it left me wanting more.

Next was Singapore, which was my favourite of the trip. This is largely because we had a handsome tour guide, Prashant, who not only beguiled, but was able to make sure we were in the right places at the right time and drank and ate in the appropriate places. We were able to turn off and be led, which was nice. I had expected an island version of Canary Wharf, but instead got a city that, despite its antiseptic reputation, had a 70s edge to it that I adored and, due to its immigration policy and history, a cosmopolitan and, importantly and distinctly from everywhere else, integrated population that was more suitable to my palate.

Last was Macau, where Russ is stationed until the Autumn. "The Vegas of the Orient" is how it's billed - and in some respects it is. Old casinos crowd the original city centre, new megaresorts have sprouted on the outskirts. However, here the historic core is actually that, historic, and the resorts are emphasizing quality more than Sin City and so lack the teeming masses streaming between the machines and tables of Vegas's "resorts". We also popped over the border into mainland China to shop in Zhuhai, where as gwailo (Westerners) we naturally overpaid. It was still super cheap to us and, being lucky enough to be so much better off, it is only right that we did so.

Fantastic trip, and it was wonderful to see Russ again after missing his special day in April. I've loved getting to see more of Asia this year - it really is a different world - but think that's it for a while. So next year - India? Africa? South America? Middle East? First let's see how long it takes my bank account to recoup from dual antipodean adventures; perhaps 2011 will again be a year to see Britain.

Cheers,
Shaun


Attached are a few of my fave pics from the trip. For those who like this sort of thing, there are more here:

Hong Kong --> http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=239170&id=713081334&l=10c48fefe1

Kuala Lumpur -->
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=239177&id=713081334&l=8db9a6eae3

Singapore -->
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=240320&id=713081334&l=902d5629f0

Macau & Zhuhai -->
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=240328&id=713081334&l=21825c2c97


01 - Tried to get a pic from our hotel with the Hong Kong skyline... kind of worked.


02 - Older tower blocks in Hong Kong. New construction is demonstratively glitzy, showing the global stature and wealth of the city, but the older stock is decidedly functional; however, the size and density shows the longstanding status of Hong Kong as a centre for business - and refuge.


03 - Bank of China building; not loved by many feng shui masters, but it is by me


04 - Hong Kong from Victoria Peak. Definitely one of the top urban scapes.


05 - Petronas Towers, at night


06 - Downtown Singapore. The trio of buildings with the new Sands. I loved it.


07 - Downtown Singapore, orderly and clean as expected


08 - Some of colonial Singapore, with the charming 70s punctuating the skyline


09 - The "Gherkin farm" outside Russ's flat


10 - Macau Island from Russ's flat


11 - Macau's central square


12 - Grand Lisboa, Macau's first (and for a long time, only) big casino

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Friday, July 02, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #408] Coley-Petroni Economics 101

Russ and I have learned that whenever we travel, regardless of how much we plan and prepare, we will do stupid things that will cost us more and take longer than they should. Paying £400 to take a car across the English Channel and back, rather than renting one on the continent, is a prime example. But this trip is proving to be exemplary.

We had a good candidate for the most profligate night when spent $150 each in Kuala Lumpur, where cheap isn't too hard to find, on a ridiculous tourist-trap restaurant with dancing performers followed by exorbitant drinks at a grimy gay bar. But we topped that today.

When we booked our flights originally, I gave Russ the choice of an early one or a later one and he chose early so he could get to work on time. Well, despite thinking ourselves quite smart by setting our alarms on our phones last night, while we were still sober, we managed to miss our flight this morning.

Somehow we turned off both our phones after the alarms went off, spoke to the front desk when they called, and went back to sleep without remembering any of it. Needless to say, our budget airline wouldn't just move us to a new flight, so we had to buy new tickets. S$600 ($430, £280) and four hours later, we were on our way. Small silver lining, though, in that we got to fly directly into Macau rather than into Hong Kong, saving us $30 on the ferry ride over. Frugal indeed!

Here's to hoping that this remains our most expensive day!

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Thursday, July 01, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #407] 100

Just a short eMail here to mark a little milestone.  Attached is a pic from crossing into Singapore from Malaysia; when I went through Singapore customs I received my 100th stamp in my passport*.

Having a great time down here.  Hong Kong is stunning, as every tourist shot indicates.  Kuala Lumpur is interesting for all the reasons that make it somewhere I wouldn't want to live.  Singapore has more to it than I thought it would - I love the 70s feel of so many of the buildings and the organisation and Western standards are welcome after KL.

Macau tomorrow, then across the border into China for shopping Saturday morning and then one last night in HK before heading home on Sunday.

Cheers,
Shaun


*My third passport, I am proud to say, as an American.


Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Friday, June 25, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #406] Just what Indochina needs...

...one more invader from the West!

I'm off tonight on my second whirlwind tour of SE Asia.  In the next ten days I will accumulate passport stamps in the ports of Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Macau and Zhuhai in mainland China.  Very excited for the break, to see these cities and finally ring in Russ's X0th.

I'll do my best to not get thrown in jail or caned, but I can't make any promises.

再见/selamat jalan/cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Monday, May 31, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #405] Dinner in the Gherkin

Last Friday my friend Lottie got us a reservation in the Gherkin for dinner -- in a private dining room -- followed by drinks in the bar. I've waxed lyrically about the Gherkin nearly endlessly, so I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Cheers,
Shaun


Predrinks were at The Planet of the Grapes; each of these pictures are purported to be of people who died of alcoholism.


Fantastic bottle of wine! Buy it if you see it.


I don't care how many times I see it, it's awesome.


Security to get in is Heathrowesque.


Private dining is the way forward!


The dining room.


The dining room.


Kimberly looking out the best loo hallway view in the world.

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #404] My 15 seconds

When I lived in America, I listened religiously* to NPR's Marketplace on my commute home.  They also have a weekend show, Marketplace Money**, that's a wrap-up of the week as well as an in-depth look at  financial/economic matters.  Before many of you start yawning, they cover things in a very topical, lively, entertaining, relevant and, importantly, light manner.

After last week's show I wrote in a comment about one of the stories and the producer wrote back that he thought it was a great suggestion.  Tonight he called me and asked me to read the suggestion for the show. So, for the one or possibly two of you who don't already listen to Marketplace Money on the radio or by podcast, tune in this weekend!

Cheers,
Shaun


Marketplace Money: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/episodes/show_rundown.php?show_id=8

*Purposely chosen for its incongruity
**I can honestly recommend listening to this regularly.  Those who are into this sort of thing naturally will be all over it.  But even if you're not, it's a good way to keep up with what's going on and maintaining your financial literacy without getting bored.

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Sunday, May 09, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #403] Collective plural

This is for the grammar nerds amongst us; the rest can comfortably hit delete now.

Hopefully (ie, it is hoped) you watched this week's American Idol for a live example.  If so, you would have heard when Simon Cowell said "The band were good..."

Very shortly after moving here I heard this construction, incorrect in the American vernacular, which I, rightly or not, call the 'collective plural'.  I watched AI with a Dutch and an American friend (since no British people live in London) and Simon's comment triggered a discussion about this topic.

In America, we would say "The band was good", and here they say "The band were good."  Garret (American) took it as a cultural grammatical difference, Lottie (Dutch) considered it just incorrect.  I pointed out that they say it like that on the BBC and, therefore, it's correct (everyone agreed).

But the conversation got interesting (to those of our ilk) when I counterpointed their grammatical arguments with my thoughts on it.  When I first heard a comment along the lines of "The team were on form tonight" or somesuch, my thought didn't wander immediately to the grammar. I thought "Oh, in America, when we refer to the team, we think of the unit. Here, they think of the individuals that make up the team."  Different perspective.

And then I quietly went along, slowly and unconsciously adapting the collective plural, until the conversation came up tonight. Lottie and Garret had never thought of it in the same light as I had.  So is it a grammatical difference, or a social/perspective difference? If the latter, there might be a PhD topic there.

Would love to hear thoughts from the aforementioned grammar nerds out there.

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the "The Life of Shaun" group.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to The-Life-of-Shaun-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/The-Life-of-Shaun

Monday, May 03, 2010

E2

Today I cheated on E1 and took a walk around the gem of E2, Bethnal Green. A couple weeks ago, the free Tower Hamlets newspaper published a walk of the month of the area, and I saved it for a day I felt like exploring.

I'd been to Bethnal Green before, for this or that, and definitely liked it, but I never really saw much off the high street. Turns out, it's quite a cool neighbourhood. It's urban at its core, but surprisingly bucolic for East London. Bethnal Green Road is a suture across E2, bringing together two realities of the East End; urban hipsters and hirsute hotties pour in from Shoreditch to the North, and the South Asian masses of Shadwell's Siamese twin, Whitechapel, come up from below. Trendily edgy cafés, diners and bars tactfully mix with kebab shops, pound savers and pubs (and a full-sized Tesco).

As you head North from the high street, the urban edge quickly gives way to lazy streets with stately stone terraced homes, trees and bushes more typical in W postcodes, and before you know it you are skirting along some of the East's premier destinations. Columbia Road Flower Market, Hackney City Farm, Broadway Market and (the heavily underused) Victoria Park hem in Bethnal Green from Hackney. The whole area is interspersed with parks, churches, plenty of housing stock that survived the Blitz and a relative dearth council estates. Shoreditch is a comfortable walk away, and there is a tube and an overland direct into Liverpool Street. What a lucky little corner of London.

Attached are some photos of my local ramble, full set at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=222493&id=713081334&l=7d6a6358a9

Cheers,
Shaun


Bethnal Green's Banksy


Hackney City Farm


Graffiti next to Haggerston Park


Where the übercool Broadway Market meets the Regent's Canal


An urban stretch of the canal


Ah, home!


Where London taxis go to die


Random small art studio on a back alley; how very East indeed


Entrance to Victoria Park


The canal goes green


About the park (it was opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria as a means to improve the lives and health of London's East Enders)


The park, if you're into that sorta thing


Duty, indeed!


Terraced homes of Bethnal Green


York Hall, opened in 1929 by the Duke & Dutchess of York. It now has spa treatments in addition to its original pools and gym


The tube


Bethnal Green Road


La Forchetta, a nod back to Clerkenwell

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com