Pubhopping at Picadilly.

I hopped the tube and found my way to Picadilly Circus:

St. Paul’s Underground Station

I floated around, finding many historic buildings and statues along the way:

Walking down a small side street, I happened upon a historic pub where I sat down and had a Strongbow:

Londoners are surprisingly friendly. The Underground is about as friendly as the Metro… eye contact is implicitly prohibited. However, I found that pubs and coffee houses have a vibe reminiscent of Ithaca.

Until next time…

A base of operations.

I found a hostel in Borough called St. Christoper’s which fortunately had a vacancy. I stowed my luggage away and embarked on my walk around the city. London is beautiful; it is a peculiar superimposition of modern architecture atop London’s iconic classical buildings. I’m sitting at a coffee shop outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

What I See:

The CCTV around London is a bit disconcerting… They’ve really turned the city into a police state. It doesn’t feel particularly invasive, but I am struck every time I see a sign stating that the area is being monitored.

I had a chance to see the River Thames as well:

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to spend some time preparing for the conference this afternoon, so I won’t be able to do much sightseeing. I suppose it is to be expected; after all, it’s what brought me here in the first place.


London. I am operating on no sleep and am slowly falling into a daze of perceived helplessness.

Customs was a nightmare. It was the factory-farmed fight to the finish that you hear about but never believe. I stood waiting in line for two hours. As soon as I spoke with the immigration officer, she asked of my business abroad. I told her everything I knew. One thing I did not know, and still do not know, is where I am to sleep tonight. 72 hours without sleep would be a catastrophe.

I have been here for five hours and have yet to step outside. This train is heading for Paddington Station. An Australian couple sits ahead of me and recommends that I find lodging accommodations at Paddington. They, as everyone else, told me I should have made reservations ahead of time. I told them they were right.

New York and London are strikingly similar thusfar. Everything is arbitrarily numbered, lettered, or named, and it requires a vocabulary of contextual babble in order to survive.

Armed with my granola bars imported from America and bags beneath my eyes the size of lady fingers, I must set out to face the city. Ciao.


And so it begins! I am currently aboard the Great Ship Greyhound, embarking on
its journey to the New York Port Authority.

I happened upon an interesting conversation with a woman at the Ithaca bus
terminal which reassured me that my traveling alone will provide me with ample
opportunities to meet vibrant individuals.

On Computers, circa 1994

Following up on the autobiography I found in a collection of Microsoft Works .wps document files I authored in 1994 (third or fourth grade), here’s another gem I wrote on the state of computing at the time. I remember that I volunteered to read this aloud in the front of the class:

Computers have changed the lives of many in the last 10 - 20 years by offering an easy way to calculate mathematical equations, communicate with others via on-line services, Internet, etc., and also giving a wide variety of games and other forms of electronic entertainment.

Electronic Education

Not many computer users recognize how much information is out there for school work, business work, etc.. These sources include electronic encyclopedias, cookbooks, and there are even do-it-yourself guides for construction, and other sources.

The Internet, even as entertaining as it may seem, has loads of information. You could find anything from when King Tutankhamun was born, to how many soldiers were killed in World War I! Don’t trust the Internet as much as much as a computer encyclopedia, for anyone can put false information on the Internet, but major companies cannot give false information.

Computer encyclopedias are probably the best source of information, because they offer sound, picture, animation, and motion picture (which all make up multimedia) to the user, which makes learning a bit more enjoyable.

Electronic cookbooks are a nice way for cooks to look up a recipe, and even see a picture of what the recipe makes up. Some even let you input your own recipes!

Do-it-yourself guides aren’t the thing that I would recommend, for a few reasons. Most of them have a lot of multimedia, which, of course, doesn’t let you print any thing out, and therefore, you have to keep going back to your computer to review the instructions.

Electronic Entertainment

Electronic entertainment is probably the most popular form of entertainment, especially on a computer. There are all sorts of games, and other neat forms of entertainment right in your own home. You can even put an electronic card inside your computer that will let you view television, right on your monitor!

My favorite form of electronic entertainment is probably flight simulation. Flight sims are very lifelike, and offer a wide variety of planes to choose from. You can fly anything from a Learjet, to a B-2 Spirit!

There are also shoot ‘em up type games, but the graphics aren’t always that great. You can make your own levels with these games, which is always fun. But I wouldn’t reccomend spending money on a shoot ‘em up game though, just download the shareware version off the Internet

Autobiography, circa 1994

I was roaming around my media folders and came across a copy of a diskette containing several pieces of writing from third grade.

First, an autobiography:

The time was 10:14 am, the date was November 14, 1985. All I heard was “It’s a boy, no it’s a girl, no it’s a boy!” My name is Timothy James (T.J.) VanSlyke Jr. If I were a girl, (which I’m glad I’m not!), my name would have been Catherine. They named me after my dad. That is also the reason they named me what they did.

My family members are my mom, my dad, Adam, Chris, and I. My mom is 35 years old, and she’s a nice and indulgent mom. She has brown eyes and brown hair. She’s German-Italian and is a homemaker, but can be a teacher. My dad is 35 also. He has brown eyes and brown hair. He’s sort of strict, but hardly ever grumpy. My mom and dad were both born in the same month as their holiday (Father’s Day and Mother’s Day). My brother, Adam, is 7 years old. He loves hockey, but sometimes he goes a little too far and he thinks it’s a wrestling match. He is also a little high-tempered. He has brown eyes and brown hair, and wears hearing aids. My other brother, Chris, is almost 5 (he’ll turn 5 in November). He loves playing with his toy figures, and also loves Power Rangers. He has blue eyes and blonde hair. Now I’ll tell you about the houses that I’ve lived in. I’ve lived in Utica, Sherrill, and Dryden. The first place I lived in was a little apartment in Ithaca. That was where I was born. Then we moved to Utica when I was about one. We lived in a little one-story house on Cosby Manor Road. It had three bedrooms, one bathroom, and red siding. We lived there until I was about six. After that, we moved to Sherrill. Sherrill was a nice, little city, (It’s the smallest city in NY!) where lots of nice people live and play together. Sherrill was the best place I’ve ever lived. Our house had two and a half bathrooms, four bedrooms, a nice kitchen, a deck, and a front porch. I wish I lived there again! I live in Dryden now. We live in a house on Bear Circle. It’s a nice place because there’s hardly ever any traffic. We have a really spacious house. It has everything that the house in Sherrill did. The only difference is one less bedroom.

As you know, the first special event was me being born. But at the age 1, I had my first camping trip. At age 2, I had my first Halloween party and I was a clown. At age 2½, my brother, Adam was born. At age 4, I went to nursery school for the first time and my teacher’s name was Mrs. Bedell. And here’s the most crazy, I had my first birthday and I cried! I got a book, puzzles, an Ernie doll, a Cabbage Patch doll, and a sled. I ate chocolate cake and got it all over the place. On my first Easter, I got a rabbit doll that I still have. I was 7 months old when I first crawled, 13 months old when I first walked, and 2 years old when I first talked. My baptism was done by Father William M. Barrett when I was 3 months old.

Lots of things are very important to me that I got and started in my later years. I started school in 1990. I got my first computer. It was a little computer with a little hard drive. We got our 2nd computer in 1992. It had a 107 MB hard drive and a 25 MhZ 486 processor. It also had a 2400 baud modem. Our third computer is a really, really nice one. We still have it. It has a 75 MhZ Pentium processor. It also has a 1 GB hard drive, 14,400 baud modem, and tons of software. I started school in Utica. I went through kindergarten and then moved to Sherrill. I finished kindergarten in Sherrill, and went through 1st and 2nd. Then we moved to Dryden and went through 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The worst thing that ever happened to me was that my brother had to go to the hospital. The best thing was that we got a really cool computer. Another thing that happened to me in 1990 is that my brother was born.

I am T.J. VanSlyke, the lover of computers and technology. I am almost 10 years old (10 in November). I have brown eyes and brown hair. I love to help people out and I thirst for knowledge. I would like to be a computer programmer when I grow up. I’m very polite and not very athletic. I take saxophone lessons and I can really entertain myself.

My favorite color is blue. I also like teal. My favorite song is Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John. I consider sitting down and fooling with the computer a good time. One of the famous people that I like is Bill Gates because he was the one who invented Windows. My favorite book series is Goosebumps by R.L. Stine.. I really, really, really love seafood. One of the things that I hate is when my brothers argue with me.

I hope to be a computer programmer when I grow up. I’d like to get my PhD in science and technology. I want to go to MIT for college. I also hope to own a little kitten and an IBM ThinkPad. I want to have a nice wife and 3 kids. I also wish I could be as famous as Bill Gates!

I am especially curious what I really meant when I described my mother as “nice and indulgent.” Alas, the vocabulary of a third grader.

I will continue to post these nuggets of prepubescent ponderings as they turn up.

The Tree Princess, circa 1994

Once upon a time…

Chapter 1: Yikes!

It all happened in a quaint, little town in Nebraska. Prince Patrick went in the forest looking for butterflies when he saw a huge castle. It was over 3,000 feet high! Prince Patrick went in. He looked for a princess. Then he heard a big noise. It sounded like a ghost. It was coming closer! “Ohhhh ohhhh!” it screamed. Soon he saw it. “Yikes!” he cried. He ran for his life. Then as he was about to ecscape, the door slammed shut and trapped him inside the castle. There was a opening on the ceiling. Prince Pactrick threw his rope up. It got caught! He climbed the rope and jumped out. Now he was safe. Then he jumped off the castle.

Chapter 2: The Storm In The Forest

When he landed, he went into the forest. Then he saw a old beggar. “Have you heard about the princess?” the beggar asked. “What princess, where?” the prince wondered. The prince walked away. “Wait!” the beggar pleaded. “There is a tree that is really a princess!” Just one second later a storm began. Lightning flashed in all directions. The prince took the beggar’s hand. “Let’s go!” cried the prince. They soared through the forest trying to escape. Soon they came to the prince’s castle.

Chapter 3: The Prince’s Castle

They went in. The king stepped over to Prince Patrick and scolded him. “You know that you cannot bring beggars in the castle.” he scolded. “Yes, but this beggar knows where I can find a princess.” said the prince. The beggar told the king all about the tree princess. “Do you know which tree it is?” asked the king. “Yes!” answered the beggar. The king, the prince, and the beggar ran out of the castle and into the forest. “Turn left.” said the beggar. Soon they got to it. “Come on Prince Patrick, kiss it.” said the beggar. “O.K.” said the prince. As soon as he kissed the tree, it turned into a beautiful princess. Her name was Princess Sally. “Thank you.” the princess said. The princess kissed the prince and they went to the prince’s castle.

Chapter 4: Getting Married

If you didn’t know, the prince and the princess were getting married. They went to the dressing room and dressed better for the wedding. Then they went to the church near by. “I now proclaim you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.” said the preist. They both kissed and hugged for about 10 minutes! The king cried. The prince finally had a wife. There was another good thing that happend. He was now king!

Crocodile Camper, circa 1994

And happily ever after…

Once upon a time there lived a camper. That camper had a crocodile. The crocodile’s name was Francisco. One day the camper planned on going home. But when he was packing, he saw a enormous egg. “Wow!” he said. He went over and picked it up. When he picked it up, it began to shake. Francisco came over to watch. The egg popped open and a green tent came out. It looked like a crocodile. Francisco went to hug him. The camper asked Francisco “Is this your child?” Francisco answered “uh ha!” The camper and the crocodile and the child lived happliy ever after.

ruby-wmii SVN log notifier

If you haven’t played with the wmii window manager and Mauricio’s ruby-wmii scripts, you need to join the revolution. Today I created a plugin script which updates with current Subversion revision information for a given repository. Simply add the following to your ~/.wmii-3/wmiirc-config.rb:

# change to the path of your repository
plugin_config["svn-log:svn-log"]["url"] = "http://path/to/repos"
# however many seconds you want between updates
plugin_config["svn-log:svn-log"]["interval"] = 5
# how many characters wide you want the notification area
plugin_config["svn-log:svn-log"]["size"] = 80

from "svn-log" do
  use_bar_applet "svn-log", 400

Next, put svn-log.rb into your ~/.wmii-3/plugins/ directory.

Now, when you re-run your wmiirc, you will have a nifty SVN notifier with the latest revision information!

TJ@EU: A teejayvanslyke! featured series.

With less than three weeks’ time until I depart across the Atlantic ocean, it’s time I started planning my blog coverage of my trip. Thus, I present TJ@EU, a series of entries about my trip to Europe.

I have just purchased the last of my bus and air fare for my inter-Europe travels, and have begun to secure accommodations and appointments with some “key individuals.”

Expect photographs and musings of a lone traveler soon!