Friday, December 19, 2008

Skyscanner Flight Search Engine

Before I take off to US (3 ½ weeks vacation!), I would like to introduce a new flight search tool I have added to my blog. It is not a secret that Skyscanner has the quickest and most convenient (at least in my opinion) search engine online. And the fact that they are not travel agency but independent search engine (you get a link to a travel agency or directly to airline/hotel) is a major plus point.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The End of a Benelux Era

“Bonjour monsieur”… “Bonjour madame” … “Comment vas-tu?”
It is over… it is finally over! For the last two month I was working most of the time in Luxembourg and Belgium, and boy… they all speak French! It is not like I have any problem with it, I just don’t speak the language… and I’m a bit tired of living in hotels.
Last week, instead of flying to London, I took a train from Luxembourg to Brussels to spend the weekend there. Since we already been in Brussels and out friend were busy on Saturday (during the day), we went to Bruges (couple of photos here: http://picasaweb.google.com/john.markh/20081213WeekendInBelgium).
That evening we were in for huge surprise: Christmas festival on the Brussels main squire. Although it was packed with locals and tourists, the music, lights, dances and the atmosphere were brilliant! I took two short movies with my new (and green, literally green) camera:
Then, after the festival (well, we didn’t really stay till the end – it was too cold), our friends (N & A) took us to a local gem: a pub with history! The place is run by Moroccan grandpa who collected “stuff” (there is no other word to describe the collection) and randomly placed in through the floors. It includes paintings, posters, broken sewing machines, statues, lamps, etc. And, they serve delicious raspberry flavoured wine which can make you really “happy”...

Well, time to go...
John.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Acer Aspire ONE

Not so long ago, I have bought a new netbook... and now, my wife is following my steps. She wanted to have a pink version of Acer Aspire One , but since pink is nowhere to be found we had to go for the white version:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Formal Proposal for a BEng Dissertation

It is a second week I'm trying to come up with a proposal for my BEng dissertation.
So far, I have two options:
  • Information Exchange in Multi Agent Systems based on a military hierarchy structure
  • Design and Implementation of an Information Security Monitoring Tool using Modern Software Design Patterns & Methodologies
Most probably, I will go for the first option, as it is more academic (and that what people in academy like).

John.
P.S.: I would love to have ideas/links which are relevant for both of the subjects.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Beautiful Autumn in Wiener Neustadt, Austria

Just 6 hours after we came back from Israel, I flew to Wiener Neustadt, Austria for a short project. It is a small town located south of Vienna and it is absolutely gorgeous!
Check out the photos at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/john.markh/20081008WienerNeustadtAustria#.

Enjoy,
John.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Rosh Hashanah in Israel

You know, the Jewish people are the chosen one. Otherwise, how can you explain that from mid September till (almost) the end of October there are holidays! First of all, you have Rosh Hashanah (a Jewish new year), then the Yom Kippur (judgement day) and finally, Sukkot festival.
This year, my wife managed to convince me to go Israel for Rosh Hashanah. Of course it involved a lot of eating, then eating and finally, eating. There was some kind of competition between my grandma, Alyona's grandma, her uncle and my dad who can feed us better (or more). The first couple of days would more or less as usual when you are visiting long-no-see relative (chit chat, food and some swimming), except my dad scheduled a high class flying demonstration of himself (check out the photo album here). I've got him a “Pilot for a Day” package and he waited for me to come to Israel to fly with him. For those who doesn't know, my dad is an experience pilot, on a highways on Israel...
Then we had the Rosh Hashanah dinner with all the relative squeezed into uncle's apartment where we had some more food, wine and card games (with younger cousins).
On the next day, we made a short trip to Mount Sodom and the Dead Sea where Alyona (and my dad) experienced firsts handed a mud treatment to “renew and rejuvenate” the skin. After this trip, we took the car and drove north, to do some hiking (Gilabon falls and Ein Tina) and meet with my old friends (check out the photo album here).

Enjoy,
John.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Farming Tourism In Riga

Last weekend, we went to a quite vacation in Riga, Latvia to relax and to release everyday stress (after all, we do live and work in London). As the expression “Arbeit macht frei” goes, I had released my stress by working… working hard!
Take a look at the photo album at @ http://picasaweb.google.com/john.markh/20080914FarmingTourismInRiga

Enjoy,
John.

P.S.: If someone is interested, I can arrange (a small administration fee will be charged) a weekend (full boarding) at the “farm” where you will be able to release stress and breath fresh air into polluted lungs of yours.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A New Toy in My Backyard

Now we are talking!
A 1TB to store absolutely everything and... for a good price as well considering it has a USB2, FireWire400 and eSata connections!

Enjoy,
John.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Drink Vodka Like a Russian

Drink Vodka like a Russian, with glasses (>75ml) and not shots(<10ml)!
Well, in this case it was Gorilka, which is a Ukrainian variant of vodka... During the last visit to Bulgaria (read previous blog), we hooked up with a ex-Ukrainian couple who gave me a gorgeous bottle of original Gorilka from Poltava as a birthday present. Russians been Russians, we didn't wait too long for a special occasion and opened that bottle right away. Can you imagine playing "Scrabble" while having glass after glass of that wonderful Aqua Vitae? :D
Enjoy (at least as I did),
John.
P.S.: A short lesson in Ukrainian culture:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Birthday in Bulgaria

Boys and girls, gather around your screens, take a popcorn and soda (or beer), and let me tell you a magical story about Bulgaria, the land of Bulgarians and... Gipsies! As you all know, I had my 29th birthday and my wife's present was a week (plus 2 weekends) in Bulgaria (the wonders of married life).
On a first day, when we arrived to Sofia, Sergo (who managed to steal a car) and Sveta picked us up from the airport and immediately, we went to a mountains to enjoy the views, escape the heat and the dust of the city (it was close to 40C), and sample local cousin (local dark beer was AMAZING) at the... hmm... can't remember the name. Later that day, we took a night walk (after couple of cocktails) on the streets of deserted Sofia.
Before I will go on, let me tell you, Sofia is every bit ex-Socialist country where people took democracy to the wrong direction. All the building (including historic and governmental) are spoiled with graphite and half of the bricks are missing (I didn't know they can walk away on their own). Also, all of the people (at least the 37+) are frowning all the time. It's like they've seen socialism, and now they've seen capitalism, and they're not impressed with either one. On the other hand, it could be the heat...
On a day after, after having an early and a very tasty breakfast (eggs, eggs and some more eggs), we drove to Sezopol. Basically, it is a very long drive across Bulgaria but surprisingly, the roads (or the highways) are not bad at all and you are allowed to drive 120kph on most of them. We arrived to Santa Marina resort (2km outside Sezopol), checked in and drove to the ancient town of Sezopol to eat (yes, we did it a lot).

The next few days were pretty much as every vacation looks like:
  • Sun
  • Beach (or pool)
  • Aqua park
  • Old, in some cases ancient and sometimes very small cities with a lot of tourists
  • Beer and food, food and more food
  • Ohh yeah, and a birthday cake (2kg of sugar, cream, caramel and chocolate)
Out of all places we have visited (Burgas, Sezopol, Nesebar,Sveti Vlas, Primorsko, Kitten and Plavdiv), I can recommend only one place – Sezopol. It is an old town (with historical value) on the cliffs with amazing view on the Black Sea, friendly people, excellent cousin and not too many tourists so you can walk around and enjoy your time.

If you ask yourself “where are the photos?”, there is too much of them and we are working to delete some (or most) of them. I will upload them as soon as we are done... [10/09/2008] and finally, here they are (I had to delete a lot of old photo album to free up some space on Picasa Web):


Enjoy,
John.

P.S.: A short lesson in Bulgarian culture: Drink “Aryan” when you are hot, drink “Aryan” when you are cold and drink “Aryan” when you are thirsty [more info can be found here: http://mideastfood.about.com/od/drinkscoffeetea/r/ayran.htm]. Ohh yeah, and you also have to try Bulgarian Chushki Burek (roasted peppers stuffed with cheese), Za-Za (small fried fish which goes really well with beer – local beer or as a cat food) and “Fish On A Roof Tile” (sorry, don't remember the Bulgarian name) which is a whole fish (I had Mackerel) in a roof tile, topped with a rich, red-wine, tomato, and shallot sauce, then slow baked.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Business Trip to Tel Aviv

Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv
Who would imagine that after 3 and a half years, I will come back to Tel Aviv as a business man... For anyone who doesn't know, I stayed in Tel Aviv for 4 days... and it was HOT (more then 37C)!
But the best part of the story is a return flight back home (London). I have officially became part of the statistics: BA managed to loose my luggage. Although they did find it 3 days later and it was delivered to out door, the bag was ripped open. I have no photos to share... so, enjoy your week and see you guys soon.

John.
P.S.: Coffee in Israel is sooooo much better then in UK, but it is still too hot... :D

Monday, August 11, 2008

Small... Fast... and Furious!

Look at this tiny thing... so cute!
After donating my old HP brick (ohh... I have just been informed that it was called a laptop) to my grandma (now, she is a cyber-granny), I've got a new shiny Advent 4211 netbook. It is not a typo there, it is a netbook - a new category in portable computers...
There is an excellent review here: http://www.trustedreviews.com/notebooks/review/2008/07/30/Advent-4211-Netbook/p1

Enjoy,
John.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Recipe: Roasted Marinated Lamb

As soon as my wife was out of the door (she is swimming somewhere in Mediterranean sea as I write those lines), I was back to my old ways...
So today, my dear readers, we are going to eat meat... and to be more specific a marinated, roasted lamb! To prepare this dish, you will need:
  • Lamb
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red chili (to make life more spicy...)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • Rosemary, oregano and grounded black pepper
  • And... a lot of patient
First of all, mix it all together and marinate for at least 8 hours in refrigerator.
When the meat is ready, put it in the oven for 200-220 degrees Celsius for about 30-40 minutes and enjoy your roast.
I have removed all the dogs from the last picture as Mr. anonymous (I KNOW WHO YOU ARE) suggested.
Enjoy,
John.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Madrid, The Perfect End of a Hectic Week

What a week! 3 countries with in 4 days! Belive me or not, it involves a lot of air miles and CO2 emission...
Now, it all come to an end in Madrid (the last city of this European tour), the city of sun, chorizos and wine...
I won't bore you too much except mentioning that is was damn hot, 42C during the day and 33C during the night (half past midnight), but then again, what else would you expect in Spain during a summer?
So, adiĆ³s my friends and enjoy the photo album: Madrid- The Perfect End Of A Hectic Week.
John.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot Breeze in Lisbon

I can not believe that I’m writing those lines, but I’m kind of enjoying hot weather in here. Right now, I’m in Lisbon, Portugal (for a second time this month) for a short project. Anyway, 10 minutes ago I was walking Av. de Liberdade and the temperature is still 26C (and that is at 23:00), but after having a decent meal (with excellent local wine) it is kind of nice. As long as you don’t have to wear a suite and go to work in that temperature, that is not too bad...

Enjoy,
John.

P.S.: Tomorrow morning, I will have to don a suite and go to work...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Randomness in a Chaotic World

London is a big city... 14-16 million residents city... a very big city. So, what is a chance to meet a person you know?
Apparently, that can happen. Yesterday, I was working from our Austin Friars office in the city (for second time during the whole month) and while walking back from a lunch I met A. (a real name) who worked in Castle Trading office (where Comsec Consulting UK rented a office space). As it turns out, she works in the office next door (literally, next door) and started on the same date as I did in Verizon Business UK.
Now, how bizarre is that?

J.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Day in La Rochelle, France

Now, why would someone wouldn't want to live here?
I know... I know... there is a French flag in there... but those "local" representative of French nation are friendlier and much more good looking than those in Paris (go ahead and call me a racist).
Apart from that, I rediscovered a sea food. After a huge disappointment (in London) of paying more then 20GBP for 10 molluscs, I was served a bowl (about 400-500 grams) of Moules Au Roquefort, bowl of chips (oui mesdames et messieurs, the famous French fries), Kronenbourg 1664 and the coffee all for 15 euro! Don't get me wrong. It wasn't one of those dodgy places (where you can eat till you drop for 5 quid) but a decent restaurant by the ocean among white sails of yachts...
What else, the city is beautiful! Check out the photo album at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/john.markh/20080620LaRochelle

Enjoy,
John.
P.S.: Ohh yeah, I forgot to mention. This was a business trip...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cross Europe in 4 Days

I took my time... sorry for that.
As I mentioned before, I starded a new job at Verizon Business UK a few weeks ago and those guys keep me busy.
We have this multinational, multicontinental, multimillionaire client whom I cannot mention (of course) and last week, I had to audit their offices in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris and Brussels. Of course, you can fly, but why to fly if you can take a Tranhotel?
There is not much to say about it; Restaurant was SUPERB, my (Grand Deluxe) cabin was small but comfortable with my own shower and toilet, but the best thing is that you don't have to get two hours in advance to the airport (which is usually located some distance from the city) for tedious security checks, and you arrive all refreshed to the very centre of your destination.
Well, check out my photo album at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/john.markh/20080613AroundTheEuropeIn4Days. Although most of it is Lisbon, you can still catch a glimpse of Madrid and Paris.

Enjoy,
John.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A New Beggining @Verizon Business

On the 2nd of June, I'm starting on a new path at Verizon Business as a Senior Information Security Consultant.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Winter is Still Here...

So, you would think that April is here and so is the sun...
Although yesterday was a bit chill, nothing compare to a weather we had this morning. Check out the photo album at The Winter is Still Here.

Enjoy,
John.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sometimes Work Can Be Fun

Should I say anything else?
Enjoy,
John

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vegetarian English Breakfast

We are integrating into English society: Vegetarian English breakfast.
Check out our web album at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/john.markh/20080330EnglishBreakfast.

Enjoy,
John.

Vegetarian English Breakfast

We are integrating into English society: Vegetarian English breakfast.
Check out our web album at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/john.markh/20080330EnglishBreakfast.

Enjoy,
John.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Aikido Can be Painful

Easter in New Forest


Ohh… what a bliss to spend Easter far, far away from metropolitan…
We went to a New Forest for 3 days, to enjoy the wild life and coastal towns around it. I think that the best way to pass on the experience is to share our photo album. You can find it here (<-- click on the “here”)

J.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

talkrussianlanguage.co.uk New Office

Finally, talkrussianlanguage.co.uk Russian Language Tuition has a new office at Royal Arsenal, London.
Check out the slideshow.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Recipe: Slow Cooked Pork Belly

Before we start, you may want to look at the slide show, to have an idea what you are going to eat tonight. This dish goes very well with red wine...
Basically, we need 4 hours and 5 minutes to get this dish done.

For one person, you will need:
  • 200gr pork belly

  • 2 potatoes

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 onion

  • 2 garlic gloves

  • Red wine and Olive oil

  • Spices (basil, oregano, parsley, bay leaves, black paper and salt)
Let’s get started…
First of all, preheat the over to 120C (have no idea how much it is in Fahrenheit).
Meanwhile, divide the pork into large chunks, baste in olive oil. Place in the casserole with quartered potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and spices. Top all that with a glass of red wine deluded with water.
Cover the casserole and cook for 4 hours…

P.S: It is possible to replace (if you are Muslim, Jewish or… just vegetarian) the pork with lamb or beef…

Monday, January 28, 2008

Once upon a time in London...

What a week...
If I have another one like that, I will become alcoholic...
It started with Rob S. on... wait, when did he come down to London? Probably too much drinks earlier that week.
Anyway, he came down here from the sunny city of Carlisle to celebrate his 28th (yeah, I know he looks younger) birthday. We went to the O2 (actually, sailed there) to have some spicy dead chicken meat at Nandos (some call it "wings") and then couple of drinks at Silk Thai. That place (the Thai one) has a huge selection of cocktails. And just imagin what you need to say to the waitress if you want to order "Sex in the Jungle" or "Sex on the Beach". Thanks god they don't have "Sex in the Storage Room"...
Check out the photo album at http://picasaweb.google.com/rob.stapleton/LondonJan2008PartyingAtTheO2.
Anyway, when Rob left to Amsterdam, we had another excellent, absolutely smashing time crushing Anna's flat on Friday night. It was a kind of "by invitation only" party with A LOT OF @#$r@#$ (come on, if I will say it, you will most definitely think that I'm alcoholic) and dancing. Basically, we had fun. You can check out the album at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/john.markh/20080125AnnaSHouseParty.
Then came the weekend. Rob came back from Amsterdam and we headed once again to O2.

Enjoy,
John.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Leben der Anderen, Das

Yesterday I watched "Das Leben der Anderen". This movies is also known by the name of "The Life of Others". It is a drama (I didn't know I was watching drama movies as well...) about life in East Germany during communist regime, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
I found this to be a brilliant movie with wonderful storyline and excellent performance of actions.
It definitely deserves all of the scooped awards such as Oscar for best foreigner file, 3 European file awards (best film, best actor and best screenwriter) among the others.
Once again, a brilliant film.