My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I flew out early Thursday morning from snowed-in Heathrow for a press conference thingy in Amsterdam. Our flight was delayed -- amazing what a few inches of the white stuff does to people here -- but at least we eventually took off.

Because I was inside listening to executives yammer on and on about how awesome their company is, I didn't get to see too much of the city.

From what I did see, it's pretty freakin' awesome. I didn't realize how many canals there actually are -- every other street is water. Houseboats sit along the canals, which are lined with little cobbled streets and lovely three storey houses.

And there's bikes everywhere. The roads are ridiculously tiny and seem to close at random, so I can see why people choose to cycle. But it's the way they do it that's amazing. In London, I cycle to work on a mountain bike, armoured with helmet and rain gear. My bike has mudguards and front and rear lights. I bring a change of clothes to work, as I pedal as hard as I can.

In Amsterdam, cyclists aren't rushing -- they just kind of drift along, acting more like pedestrians than vehicles. Their bikes are funky, but clearly not built for speed. Women in dresses and men in suits roll along, without helmets or reflectors.

It's a nice reflection of how relaxed the city is, but these people would die cycling like that in London.

Anyway, after the press stuff, we were taken on a boat tour through some of the canals and then dumped off for dinner (and a hell of a lot of drinks) before wandering to some bar. I did not manage to find the red light district (or the illicit pleasures contained there) so I think I need to plan a trip back...

There's a post worth writing about my thoughts on junkets and PR expense accounts and the ethics of this, but let me defend myself generally with two points:

  1. I write IT stuff, which is inherently commericalized and not exactly (generally) conentious;
  2. Even if I wrote something negative -- or nothing at all, which I've done -- about the companies involved, no one seems to care.

So I haven't yet felt particularily influenced by PR pressures, but I'm sure it's more subtle and insidious than I'm expecting. Either way, I fully intend to enjoy my (fully paid for) travels and get some experience writing without feeling too guilty about the evil PR angle -- or the environmental one at that. Is this a sign of degrading ethics? Possibly. If I start going all cheerleader for Sky or Microsoft or, hell, even Apple this time next year, somebody smack me, alright?

Anyway, an aside on the camera issue: it seems to work fine if I zoom in hella close, but is still wonky otherwise. Why? Who knows. Time for a new one, I guess.

A few more photos live here.

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