piccadilly billboard

13 Oct

london 8.01am 15.6C cloudy friday 2017

today i notice is friday 13th. since all those films about it, everyone knows about it being bad luck day… i wonder how often it comes round. 

The 13th day of the month is slightly more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week. On average, there is a Friday the 13th once every 212.35 days, whereas Thursday the 13th occurs only once every 213.59 days.

so at least once a year. interesting.

also this morning i saw this post regarding that billboard in piccadilly circus, that has been updated to a big screen instead of many small ones. it has been shut down for upgrading.  it seems it can detect the make and colour of the cars that pass by and show adverts targetted to it… i suppose that will attract car manufacturers to advertise there.

but what got my interest is firstly that it will start operating later this month, and that it will provide free wifi to anyone in that area. of course it will send adverts to the users too but i think that is no bad thing.

(also i dont get these adverts at all, maybe because i dont have a smartphone which is what they target. all they can do with me is to send me emails which i can block. maybe if i got a smartphone that will be difficult to block the ads sent to me. on the other hand, i cannot get free coffee from caffe nero. they recently promoted it, but u need to download their app, and for that you need a smartphone. but frankly i am not tempted to get a smartphone even though i can use simon’s smartphone which he does not use and have given to me. )

i mean if they send free vouchers for food offers in the restaurants nearby, like the one i got for free hamburger from ed diners recently, i dont mind if they do spy on me when i use their wifi. they say there is no such thing as a free lunch, i am thinking there is really.

also it seems it will be a constantly changing feature and may be quite worthwhile to watch it as the adverts wont be just the same ones like before, but changes. and it seems every 10mins, the whole screen will be taken over by just one advert. and it will be more interactive. who knows u might find people will actually sit down and watch it. haha. it might become an entertaining feature by itself.

added.7.54pm 17.8C night dry hmm, i see some places have allready stopped taking in the old £1 coins, esp the machines. not surprising really, as they must all be gearing towards the dateline, midnight sunday 15oct when it ceased to be valid.

my own experience was at the lidls this morning, i went there to buy their 35p celery, onions and carrots. and the self service machine wont accept it, but the helper simply took it to the manned tills and exchanged it for a new £1 and gave that to me. i also think they might be wanting to ensure the machines dont give old £1 coin as change, which they might do if they accept old £1. i would certainly be a bit miffed if they give me old £1 as change, because it is precisely the reason why i wanted to use up the old £1 i got . it was given to me as change at the ed diners when i went there for my free hamburger.

i am now trying to use up all the old £10 notes that i got, as i suspect they will soon also be invalid.

i notice the uk seem to be the only country doing this… changing their notes and coins to combat forgeries. how come other countries, esp the usa never do this? usa notes must be real easy to forge but the usa dont seem worried about it. i wonder why.

while googling it i find australia has new banknotes too with lots of new safety features.


more ‘free’ish hamburger

12 Oct

london 11.55am 17C ed diner victoria place thursday 2017

happened to be around and online here, and saw my voucher for a free burger at ed diner, and it expires 27oct so i thought well i might as well go for it. and found out that i can order any burger, so i ordered their double burger called big ed burger. 2x 6oz patties costing £10. well, i have to buy a drink and their cheapest was plain coffee at £3. so i might as well get the most expensive burger they got.

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its well done, rather than medium rare. its very filling of course so not something i would do on a regular basis.

plastic bottles and pret’s reducing its use

11 Oct

london 9.42am 14.8C cloudy wednesday 2017

i googled pret, and it threw up their twitter page to see what they are saying about the opening i went to yesterday and i saw this about them selling glass bottles to allow their customers to refill with water at the stores. this is to reduce the use of plastic bottles. i thought that is rather nice of them.

i got one of those glass bottles, because they put it in the cloth bag they gave us. i was puzzled at seeing it, but now i read this article i see where they are going with it.

it is made of glass which i suppose they have to, cant make it out of plastic can they? when they are saying dont use plastic. but glass can break and it is easy to knock it against things if it is being carried inside a bag. i use a used plastic bottle myself to keep water when i am out and about, and that is light and unbreakable. even so i can see my bottle gets dented and bashed about, indicating it has been knocked about a lot inside my rucksack.

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it is nice of them i think, after all, allowing their customers to get free water in the store will reduce their sale of their soft drinks.

 i see some stores are called pret a manger, the old name,  the newer stores are just called pret. and they offer free wifi now, provided by the cloud. i use the cloud often, because many outlets use them, and cafe nero used to do so, but recently i noticed i could not get online near a cafe nero. the same article told me cafe nero now charges £5 an hour for their online access to their customers. and it also says starbucks is charging its customers for the use of wifi. it used to be it was free to anyone.

but costa i know is still free wifi to anyone. they use the cloud. sometimes like costa , they want to send a code to your mobile before u can access the wifi. 

life in london

10 Oct

london 1.43pm 16.1C overcast but dry tuesday 2017

today i went to the free lunch offer given by pret, to celebrate the opening of their third veggie only store in exmouth market, near mount pleasant.

when i got there at 11.45pm,(they open at 12pm for today, the official open is tomorrow) i could see allready a long queue even before i got off the bus 38. the place is only accessible by bus, and only one direction is opened , the buses do not run in the other direction because of some road works;  and yet so early allready there was a queue, about 75people according to the lady who came after me, with her group of friends. they were all young people, and i wondered if they are working how are they able to get to come… but now i have a chance to think of it, sitting in the marylebone library after all that , i think they are students. there must be loads of students in london, and they should be able to get a meal  because the offer is for 500 free meals to be given out today. 

the offer is for a cold drink, or a hot one, (long queue for the hot coffee as it has to be freshly prepared) , whilst the sandwiches were all pre done and you just pick them off the shelf. you can get either a cold  or a  hot sandwich. i picked a hot one, a wrapped burrito -like offering. no idea what it contained haha and a dessert, i picked a cup of pieces of fresh fruit.

whilst waiting for the coffee, someone came up and told us we can come back later, as there is a leaflet for a free coffee inside the bag they gave us. i did not want to wait, so i took the soft drink instead and went off. i found out that burrito i got was  filled with red peppers in a chilli tomato sauce. quite nice. did not find out how much they cost originally.

there was a street market of food stalls outside the pret, and when i was sitting in one of thebenches , a chap who bought food from one of them came to sit and he told me he bought potatoes and cheese served hot in a plastic container. i wonder if their business will be affected by this new branch of pret that has opened right on the same street as them.

after i finished the food, and walked to the bus stop, i could see the queue was the same length , and it was about 1pm.

it seems the young are into vegetarian. but one of the young guys there when asked if he was vegetarian said no, so it is possible not to make too much of it. after all free food is free food, haha. i am not vegetarian and yet, here i am, waiting in line like them. haha. well we meat eaters are not going to stop eating vegetables… in that we are different from people who call themselves vegetarians. perhaps we should call ourselves omnivours, rather than meat eaters haha. and perhaps vegetarians should call themselves herbivores. haha.

but it is notable there are not many older people queueing up.i could not see my old couple who had been there for most of the freebies so far. pity that because i was hoping to find out from them any more freebies that she can find out via twitter. and to ask them if they know of one that i found out… a pop up involving nuns in shoreditch. you have to write to them to be invited so an invitation is not guaranteed.

it is a curious thing that pret is doing a veggie only store. they have others with meat sandwiches as well as veggie, so to open a purely veggie one seems rather restrictive. but this store is the third of  their 3 veggie stores in london (the first one opened only as recent as 2016 according to the logo on the usable bag they gave us to put the food in.) this one  is a totally new location that is not a previous pret store. and it is in a rather hidden area of london.

i am of the old school, i think meat is  better value for money than veg. haha. in that if u want me to buy it, i would buy a meat sandwich. though even then, it would take some persuading to buy it in the first place, rather than just to cook it myself, or make it myself. these sandwiches dont need a lot of expertise to make.

in fact, i got a lesson on how home cooked meals are so muchbetter value. simon cooked a stir fried beef with tagliatelle. and it was just like stir fried chinese flat noodles … so i asked him where he got that tagliatelle, it was from sainsburys 500mg 95p. he said. it is cheaper than flat noodles 400mg from chinatown for £1.35. so i might replace these instead. the taste and texture is very similar.

the chinese ones are made from rice, these are made from durum. i think in all honesty there is a distinct difference in taste, fried rice noodles have that fried flavour and smell that is quite unique i think. but at a pinch you can use tagliatelle. 

predicting the future

9 Oct

london 10.20am 14.4C cloudybright monday 2017

last night i was watching electric dreams, on tv, a series of adaptations of philip k dick’s short stories. he was the author of the story that blade runner is based on as well as many other film adaptations. i was thinking it is a very depressing future he is writing about. he seems to like talking about artificial intelligence, as many of his stories involve robots of advance intelligence going wrong.

i have noticed i have become rather disturbed about the future from seeing all these doom laden films, which makes me realise they are not good for me. and this happens to me even though i am not a film fan, and hardly watch films. how much more must it affect someone whose hobby is watching films and  is immersed in it. 

but just this morning i got a feed from my wordpress reader, showing up this article. about future predictions and how they would destroy jobs by replacing them with robots. and he is saying it wont happen that easily… something i suspect myself but based on just my gut feeling, but he has used more logic to support his thesis. it makes me feel much better about the future. 

one thing he said did strike me as am astute observation of these futuristic films…. he said in all those futuristic films , they only introduce one thing new… like for eg he said in bicentennial man, only the man- like robot , played by robin williams was new, everything else the actors did , was like it is happening today…for eg, reading a newspaper!! even now i dont read the newspaper for my news, i go online, and this is me, who is very slow when it comes to keeping up with the technology. so i can well imagine a future where no one reads the papers anymore.  

the scene in the arnold swartzenegger film total recall, where he was shown watching a wall size tv screen and getting his news from there is more likely. 

and the article goes on to  say that is not what is going to happen in real life. long before we have such a man- like robot, we would have various stages of machines that will creep up on us, so that if we finally have robots indistinguishable from humans we would long ago have familiarised ourselves with them, and not consider them unusual and/ or fear them.

another article in the guardian,  that same wordpress reader features it which shows how some of the inventors of all this digital inventions we are getting are wary of it enough to ban their kids from using it too much. the article is saying technology is taking over our minds, changing it. it seems to me future generations will have their minds changed and most probably changed to accept technology and machines helping them more and more in their lives, so that the idea of machines taking over their lives , and making it much easier , would be a common place and not a source of anxiety… and they would most probably laugh at us now being so afraid of robots taking over the world and killing people. 

what i find more disturbing though is that gps has become such a pervading force all over our modern world, so much so that a lot of our modern conveniences rely on it. it is all made possible by satellites placed strategically in space to relay the data … and that i think is the danger. it would be easy for some phenomenon, perhaps a solar flare to put them out of action, and where will we be then? if all our modern life depands on gps to function?

added. i read a few days ago that prof thaler had won the nobel prize in economics. at that time, i did not think much of it, as i have no idea what he does. but this article says he is the founder of nudge economics. what makes us spend, or chose one thing over another… 


moon cakes

8 Oct

london 12.32pm 23bus to piccadilly circus sunny sunday 2017

virgin lounge 2.11pm 

i saw these being sold in gerrard st, from temporary pavilions set up in the street  in china town this morning. i went about 1pm after i went to the paddington library to read the papers.   £10 for 4, with double york. quite a nice price, and all beautifully packed inside a nice tin.  considering there were smaller mooncakes  on sale in another stall for £2 each and they are not so nice as these. i am not usually a fan of  mooncakes, as i find they are very sweet, but i guess i too can be persuaded by price reductions. haha. when she told me they have double york, that made them even more desireable, to getting me to buy as i love the yolk in the mooncakes. their saltiness contrasts very nicely with the sweet. i passed them earlier, but went ahead to the loon moon first.

 i bought some extra large dried ho fun,400mg at £1.35 normal price. i find the extra large size rather perfect for char kuey teow. the same shop, new loon moon, were still selling off their kikoman light soya sauce 1.6litre for £3.75. if it is dark soya sauce i will buy them, but i dont use light soya sauce anymore.

there was a caucasian man ahead of me in the queue to pay; with a large basket , who offered to let me go ahead of him when he saw i only have a few items;  but i told him no need. i saw he got a lot of chinese groceries, and i commented on it, and he said it is to make sukiyaki. interesting that he said the japanese name, instead of chinese hotpot. they are the same i think. asian cooking are very similar when u come to think of it, they just have different names for it. i mean pad thai is rather similar to char kuey teow in a way… except they use thin noodles for pad thai, and large ho fun noodles for char kuey teow. 

added. i have since eaten it and it is really very nice, the salty yolk made it less sweet and so much tastier. 

rising cost of electricity

6 Oct

london 4.47pm 16.9C sunny 2017

i got the invoice from np  about my electricity bill, and it is as i expected. however, what is interesting is that they are telling me of their new contract when my present one expires and what it will be… it is going to rise to extra £10 a quarter. this is because they have introduced a standing charge of 15.824p a day. and any electricity i use will be charged at 14.427p/kwh on top.

at present i have a flat rate of 16.67p/kwh with no standing charge. i calculate that the new contract effective rate is 20p/kwh when i include that standing charge. it will rise to be 60p a day, instead of the present 50p a day. as a %, it is 20% increase. sounds like a lot put like that but it is £40 a year extra. if i dont take the new contract, it will revert to the standard rate, and that is 68p/day. 

i suppose nearer the time when my present contract ends on 31dec 2017,  i shall have to take it, and just accept the increase. it will be fixed for 2yrs. so that is something at least, i dont have to worry about it for another 2yrs. haha.

what can one do right? it is not that we can do without electricity, and all the others charge about the same, or put conditions. (like one that insist i must install a smartmeter for a 52p/day cost for a year. i daresay after the year when the contract ends they will increase their charges and i shall be stuck with them because my smartmeter will not work with other companies… )

all i can say is that i am glad i have concentrated on reducing my use of electricity…(long ago i used to use 5or6kwh a day… so halving my usage has been really very satisfying and much better than constantly looking for cheap tariffs.  and that old contract was for 2yrs so i had that long to enjoy that rate. but all good things do come to an end… 

i have read of warnings that electricity costs will rise and here it is… the warnings coming true. haha.

earlier today i went to the liverpool st station area to the free paella samples they were giving out to advertise the new branch of this tapas restaurant. it was not as generous as the pizza place we went to yesterday… just a small bowl of paella and to take away rather than sit down. but this is more the norm. some places give you only a slice of pizza as a freebie.

i met up with the couple who goes to these things, and asked them about the film bladerunner 2 that they saw. they said it was very good, and can stand its own ground with comparison to the original film. i read this review of it, and it seems the first bladerunner was set in 2019… well that is only 2yrs away and none of the things that happen in that film is going to happen in real life, so it is plainly fiction. so no need to bother too much whether dekkard , or even k, played by ryan gosling are replicants or humans. its all fiction and not going to happen in our real time.

in trafalgar square there is a sikh charity called s.w.a.t (Sikh Welfare and Awareness Team) giving away free food, vegetarian chickpeas with lots of nice spices  over rice. they are actually giving free food everyday to the homeless in their temples, following the sikh tradition of giving anyone who wants free food in their temples. but they also do so in charing cross, according to their leaflet, sunday 6pm, tuesday-thursday 7.30pm , and on monday in camden 7.30pm. 

i wonder whether any of the other charities do sit down meals for the homeless… those were very nice indeed, with main course and desserts;  but must be very rare now.

i sometimes wonder what people do to amuse themselves these days… maybe see old films, like what i am doing now, on tv, 1966 thunderbirds are go, is showing… and it is still the old fashioned one, where the puppets chug along nodding their heads haha. they are totally unchanging in their facial expression, even though mayhem is happening all around them, haha. i much prefer this version than the modern one with the computer generated images.