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Monday is my birthday, and to celebrate Jane is going to show me around Paris for a long weekend. We're off tomorrow morning, and arriving back on my actual Birthday (Monday), which is _also_ the anniversary of the first time she hugged me (after she came to the airport to meet me off the plane back from my trip around the Southlands).

I arrived home to discover that she had made this wonder in the living room:


And I am looking forward to being allowed to open any of the things underneath it!

(Jim is being left with strict instructions that he is not allowed to eat any of the boxes. Or the tree. Or be sick on any of them. Or peek inside.)

Interesting Links for 17-08-2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 12:00 pm
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The Blood is the Life for 17-08-2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 11:00 am
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Vienna: Tiergarten Schoenbrunn

Aug. 16th, 2017 01:27 pm
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Fish
Keiki squats down to look at the fish in the polar bear enclosure at the Vienna Tiergarten.

The Schoenbrunn should definitely make the top ten of every visitor attraction list of Vienna, if not the top three. It’s the gigantic former summer palace of the Hapsburgs, and the grounds alone merit at least a half-day stroll to explore fully. There are gardens, fountains, hidden playgrounds, an enormous glasshouse full of palm trees, and even a zoo.

Despite having visited the Schoenbrunn grounds many times, I’d never been to the zoo, which is allegedly the oldest in the Western world (founded in 1752). Now, with two small children, one of whom is animal-obsessed, I had good reason to go. The children and I set out early one morning to travel via the Viennese underground to the palace.

Humuhumu was keen to learn how to navigate the transport system. She got very good at spotting the way to the correct train lines, and proudly announced when the next train would be arriving after we got to the platforms.

It took us 45 minutes to get from our temporary abode to the Schoenbrunn and, conveniently, it was just about Cake O’clock when we arrived. We detoured around the palace entrance and stopped off at an Aida Konditorei, a chain of inexplicably pink cafés that serve extremely nice cakes, coffees and hot chocolates (apart from the one near the opera house – avoid that one; everyone who works there is sick of tourists and very grumpy).

We walked into the Aida and chorused “Guten Morgen” at the round-faced, unsmiling woman behind the counter. She broke into a beaming grin and showed us to the table next to a tiny play area containing toys and books, which the children pounced upon. (Throughout the trip, I encouraged the children to greet everyone we met in German, to say please and thank you in German, to order their food using the German words and, when I felt confident in my knowledge of the right phrases, I coached them to make requests in German. I was astonished at the abundance of goodwill toward us that this produced.) Humuhumu ordered her hot chocolate and cake in German, and was rewarded with an additional pink meringue, which she received with an unprompted “Danke schoen”. When we left, Keiki crowing “Wiedersehen” over my shoulder with his dimpliest smile, the server came out from round the counter and gave each of the children an extra biscuit, which, to be honest, they didn’t really need after all that sugar!

Full of energy, we bounded into the grounds of the Schoenbrunn and raced around whilst waiting for the grandparents to join us at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Zoo). As vast as the Schoenbrunn grounds are, they are not big enough to house a comprehensive collection of the world’s animals, so cleverly the Tiergarten is focused on a limited number of species and provided them with luxurious accommodation.

Keiki and Humuhumu loved the place, particularly Keiki. Once he spotted the meerkat enclosure, we couldn’t get him to finish his lunch. Neither could we readily tear him away from the penguins. In fact, Granddad had a bit of a job keeping Keiki from clambering into their pond to join them. We communed with the seals. We watched a polar bear chewing meditatively on a traffic cone. And, of course, Humuhumu found a climbing wall and had to try everything.

It was a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon, and we will certainly return to the Tiergarten on our next trip to Vienna.

Further photos beneath the cut.
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Interesting Links for 16-08-2017

Aug. 16th, 2017 12:00 pm
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The Blood is the Life for 16-08-2017

Aug. 16th, 2017 11:00 am
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Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum

Aug. 15th, 2017 01:26 pm
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[personal profile] nanila
In early July, the bloke & I went to Amsterdam for a couple of days for my (very) belated birthday celebrations. His parents kindly looked after the children so we could have our first holiday alone together since they were born.

One of the things we did was go to an art museum and wander around for a couple of hours. This is not a thing you can do with small children, unless you have imprisoned them in a pram, and then there would (not unreasonably) be screaming.

I’d previously been to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The bloke had never been to the latter, but as it was the height of summer, it was not a good time to go. The place cannot cope with the number of visitors it receives, and unless you book days in advance, you can’t get in. When you do, you still have to queue, and you end up shuffling in a slow-moving crush of people past all of the artwork. It’s not a great experience. We opted, therefore, to go to one we’d never been in: the Stedelijk Museum, which is dedicated to modern art.

I really enjoyed the collection. It was well curated and I now have a little list of new (to me) artists to keep my eyes peeled for in the London exhibitions.

Photographer Zanele Muholi takes photos of LGBTQ+ community members in Africa. I definitely want a book of her work. It was a little irritating to find, at the end of our visit, that of all the special exhibitions on display, hers was the only one without a corresponding product available in the shop. No books, no postcards, nothing. Hmph.

20170711_123055
From her “Brave Beauties” series.

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Interesting Links for 15-08-2017

Aug. 15th, 2017 12:00 pm

Interesting Links for 14-08-2017

Aug. 14th, 2017 12:00 pm
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Instead, I was seen by a doctor last night at the Out of Hours service, who checked with the Eye Pavillion, who told me to come in at 2pm today. So Jane got me there in one piece (crossing roads and navigating festival-goers being tricky when any change of brightness causes intense pain), the doctor checked it was nothing unexpected, and that my iris was not stuck to my cornea (like last time), and then handed me some Maxidex and Cyclopentolate. The former reduces inflammation, the latter stops anything sticking to anything else while it recovers.

It's a pain, because I have to take the Maxidex hourly for the next two days, then 6 times a day for a week, then 4 times a day for a week, then thrice daily for a week, twice daily for a week, once daily for a week, and then I can finally stop. So I've installed an app on my phone to tell me when I should, and am letting that worry about it for me.

Also, the Cyclopentolate seems to cause my eye to focus slightly less well, so for the week I'm using that I suspect I'll have a bit of a headache (as I do now).

But! I am not in as much pain as I was, and my eye is probably not going to explode. So yay!

Interesting Links for 13-08-2017

Aug. 13th, 2017 12:00 pm

Restarting the writing

Aug. 12th, 2017 09:55 pm
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I've been meaning to write more for ages. But nothing quite seems important to share, which frankly is a pretty silly approach to take.

So, I'm going to try writing more:
Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon, as projected onto the inside of the dome at Dynamic Earth was entertaining, but largely because of the music. The graphics were, frankly, the kind of thing I used to see in 1990s demoscene disks. Basically a more modern take on this kind of thing. Which isn't _bad_ per se. But it was pretty uninspired, and not up to the quality you'd expect Pink Floyd to demand.

The local council are great. Well, when it comes to emergency sewage problems. Where the drain outside the back of the building flooded, leaving raw sewage coming in under the back door to the block. I paid for it to be cleared, and they couldn't, so I got my insurers involved. And they told me I'd need to get everyone in the block onside to pay for their share. And then Mandy at work recommended I talk to the council, who had someone here within two hours to say "Yup, that's a health hazard, and it affects multiple homes", and then had an emergency team out three hours later who had plans of where the drains were, found drain covers _under the grass_ and sorted it all out. And will now bill everyone in the building separately, so I don't have to worry about that!

The NHS are great. Because I have a recurrence of uveitis, which flared up over the last 24 hours. Previous occurrences were in October 2012, in January 2014, and in February 2015 (links more for my own future reference than anything else). Happened a week after seeing my family, and coincided with my IBS playing up, which may be A Thing. Anyway, I called the 24 hotline for non-emergencies, and they've given me an appointment at 23:10 at the Western General hospital, so I'll be leaping onto a bus in 45 minutes to be seen at the Assessment & Rehabiliation Centre.

Jane is lovely. And came on holiday with me and my family (parents, my brothers, and their partners/children), played lots of board games, went for walks with dogs, and is about to come to the hospital with me to keep me company. (Actual holiday post to follow at some point. Possibly even with pictures of dogs).

Work is good. And I am currently involved in multiple things I am enjoying, and stretch me. Favourite things of the last year or so are getting to learn PowerShell in a fair amount of depth, and finally getting to fix a bad design decision I made circa 2008 and remove a huge amount of duplicate code.

It R Caturday

Aug. 12th, 2017 09:04 pm
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[personal profile] nanila
Telstar
Handsome tuxie sticks his tongue out at you from his sunny perch atop the wood shed.

Interesting Links for 12-08-2017

Aug. 12th, 2017 12:00 pm

The Blood is the Life for 12-08-2017

Aug. 12th, 2017 11:00 am
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Friday Five

Aug. 11th, 2017 03:35 pm
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(questions via [community profile] thefridayfive)

1) What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?

When I was a young 'un, there was that brief period when shell suits were incredibly fashionable, but before they had been discovered to be ridiculously dangerously flammable, and we had a non-uniform day at school. Every single other person in my class came in a shell suit. Some of them had those colour change t-shirts that showed your armpit sweat even worse than grey marl does. I wore cut-off denim hot pants, fishnet tights, an Alice Cooper t-shirt and a leather biker jacket.

I think that tells you everything you need to know about my attitude to fashion.


2) As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?

Um. I never could be bothered with the make-up requirements for goth, but I suspect I tended more that way in other respects, with bits of punk and grunger too. I mean, I never did do the blue stonewash jeans classic rocker look, I always wore black and purple.


3) Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?

Ever since I was 18 right up until the present. I'm normally one or more of blue, purple, or pink, but I've been other colours too. Went jet black once; didn't like it.


4) Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?

I certainly haven't. But then I was quite elderly in outlook from about the age of 18 months, so... (this is possibly down to the autism, which obvs was undiagnosed when I was a young 'un.


5) Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?

It's not the confidence, it's the tolerance for pain. I wish I could wear halter neck tops, but my boobs are so heavy that they give me horrific neck ache within seconds of putting them on.

Friday Five: Fashionista

Aug. 11th, 2017 12:08 pm
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[personal profile] nanila
  1. What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?
    Probably this one:

    (That's me in 2003, wearing a green vest, black trousers & boots, sunglasses and very long dreadlocks. I'm carrying the tiny metal box that functioned as my handbag in those days.)

  2. As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?
    As a young teen, I was trending toward goth, but I didn't go full rivethead until I was at university.

  3. Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?
    I have worn unnatural shades of hair colour: green, blue and purple. I don't really think of dreadlocks as "crazy".

  4. Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?
    Um, yes, definitely. Thank GOODNESS.

  5. Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?
    I would definitely love to be a bit more goth/rivet still. It's not that I lack the confidence, it's that I don't have the time, the money or the energy to maintain the look. I spend what resources I do have on my kids' wardrobes, not my own. Also, it would be pretty incongruous at my work, which is small-c conservative.


Questions are from the [community profile] thefridayfive community.
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