Power pop goodness :D

Nov. 21st, 2014 10:49 pm
shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, surrounded by fey fire (b'z fire)
[personal profile] shadowspar

Aaaa, this blast from the past rolled around on my partner's spotify tonight. So much power pop goodness...I have ~feels~ about this song. ^_^;

Also notable: apparently Weezer did a cover of this song for the movie Cars 2. It's pretty good! They didn't stray very far from the original. =)

My Vivid Vervet has crazy hair

Nov. 21st, 2014 06:57 pm
pleia2: (Default)
[personal profile] pleia2

Keeping with my Ubuntu toy tradition, I placed an order for a vervet stuffed toy, available in the US via: Miguel the Vervet Monkey.

He arrived today!

He’ll be coming along to his first Ubuntu event on December 10th, a San Francisco Ubuntu Hour.

Originally published at pleia2's blog. You can comment here or there.

Vacation in Jamaica

Nov. 21st, 2014 06:32 pm
pleia2: (Default)
[personal profile] pleia2

This year I’ve traveled more than ever, but almost all of my trips have been for work. This past week, MJ and I finally snuck off for a romantic vacation together in Jamaica, where neither of us had been before.

Unfortunately we showed up a day late after I forgot my passport at home. I had removed it from my bag earlier in the day to get a copy of it for a VISA application and left it on the scanner. I realized it an hour before our flight, and the check in was 45 minutes prior to, not enough time for me to get home and back to the airport before the cutoff (but I did try!). I felt horrible. Fortunately the day home together before the trip did give us a little bit of breathing room between mad dash from work to airport.

Friday evening we got a flight! We sprung for First Class on our flights and thankfully all travel was uneventful. We got to Couples Negril around 3PM the following day after 2 flights, a 6 hour layover and a 90 minute van ride from Montego Bay to Negril.

It was beautiful. The rooms had recently been renovated and looked great. It was also nice that the room air conditioning was very good, so on those days when the humidity got to be a bit much I had a wonderful refuge. The resort was all-inclusive and we had confirmed ahead of time that the food was good, so there were no disappointments there. They had some low-key activities and little events and entertainment at lunch and later into the evening (including some ice carving and a great show by Dance Xpressionz). As a self-proclaimed not cool person I found it all to be the perfect atmosphere to relax and feel comfortable going to some of the events.

The view from our room (2nd floor Beachfront suite) was great too:

I had planned on going into deep Ian Fleming mode and getting a lot of writing done on my book, but I only ended up spending about 4 hours on it throughout the week. Upon arrival I realized how much I really needed the time off and took full advantage of it, which was totally the right decision. By Tuesday I was clear-headed and finally excited again about some of my work plans for the upcoming weeks, rather than feeling tired and overwhelmed by them.

Also, there were bottomless Strawberry Daiquiris.

Alas, it had to come to an end. We packed our things and were on our way on Thursday. Prior to the trip, MJ had looked into AirLink in order to take a 12 minute flight from Negril to Montego Bay rather than the 90 minute van ride. At $250 for the pair of us, I was happy to give it a go for the opportunity to ride in a Cessna and take some nice aerial shots. After getting our photo with the pilot, at 11AM the pair of us got into the Cessna with the pilot and co-pilot.

The views were everything I expected, and I was happy to get some nice pictures.

Jamaica is definitely now on my list for going back to. I really enjoyed our time there and it seemed to be a good season for it.

More photos from the week here (admittedly, mostly of the Cessna flight): https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157649408324165/

Originally published at pleia2's blog. You can comment here or there.

Good progress

Nov. 20th, 2014 08:02 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
More PT this week. I am successfully doing the sets of exercises every day.

I still have the flu, tired and vaguely sick, fever varying between 99 and 100, yet am functional. Way more functional than when I wasn't sick but was having a flare up of joint pain. As I think this over I am undoing some hidden levels of blaming myself and worrying that it's my fault or I am specially wimpy or malingering. It is obviously not my fault and I'm tough as nails.

Also maybe I am just not hit that hard by it since I did have a flu shot.

I went out for an hour to the HRDA office party (figuring not contagious if I've had this for nearly 2 weeks) then home again and to bed.

Tomorrow, beta 11 release (specially extended for a week) And then to pain/insomnia therapy and then I will chill out and have a nap. If i feel up to it will go to stef's party. Then swim on the weekend. If I can work up to 2-3 times a week consistently it will be amazing

The portland work week hotel for 1st week of december has a pool. I am going to resolve NOT to try to go out to dinner with people. if i can last the work week sitting up and paying attention and getting back and forth to the hotel it will be ok. d. is going with me and will just work from the hotel. that is amazingly comforting as I won't be stuck and without help if things go wrong physically. and he is super comforting and good to come home to.

I can't tell right this minute if my ankles are stretchy-good hurt or actually hurt. But i ache al over . the PT today was partly some sort of weird pilates machine . and like 20 miutes of lying there trying to move just my lower abdominal muscles, which I am still not sure actually exist. holy crap that was difficult and exhausting. but awesome.

Today on brain farts.

Nov. 18th, 2014 02:36 pm
beable: (I meant to do that)
[personal profile] beable
I just told my android phone to go ahead and download a 500MB system update before remembering that I'm not currently on wi-fi.


At least my data plan is 5GB a month, so it shouldn't actually push me over.



(Now I know what to do with my ring-tone when I finally get around to playing with a Dalek Voice Generator).

I need to remember to make a new icon

Nov. 18th, 2014 12:44 pm
beable: (gonzo journalism)
[personal profile] beable
specifically a new icon specific to *headdesk*ing at other people (as opposed to myself).

Topic meme lite

Nov. 18th, 2014 03:21 pm
puzzlement: (Default)
[personal profile] puzzlement
If you haven't seen it, a lot of people are taking suggestions to write a post on a suggested topic every day in December. There's no way I'm posting every day in December. No way.

But I'll post once a week in Dec/Jan. I still have three topics left over from the last time I did a topic meme thing, so I've already filled those in on more or less random weeks. Suggest other topics and a week for them in comments.

Stuff I could write about is included but not limited to: computational linguistics, computer science, computer programming, theoretical linguistics, software engineering, open source software, doing a PhD, research ethics (as an amateur), starting a business, running a business, my pregnancy and birth experiences, parenting babies, parenting toddlers and preschoolers, recreational scuba diving, being 6'4" tall, growing up in regional Australia, hating Lego (fuckin' Lego).

One caution: honestly, I'm not super-emotionally available to write about feminism these days. You can ask about it but I'm more likely to say no to those topics.

Weeks )

ETA: I've unlocked most of my previous topic meme answers over the years.

Can't believe I'm doing this

Nov. 18th, 2014 11:52 am
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
Ehhh whatever, let's give this December meme a shot. Give me topics to post about in December (ETA: and pick a date for me to post them on). I can't 100% guarantee I'll do them promptly (there's a chance I might be taking an honest to god vacation for a few days sometime in there) but I'll do my best.

Some things you might want to ask me about, as hints:

* travel and living in other countries
* running events
* open source and related topics
* feminism and related topics
* moving to a smaller town
* domesticity/food/textiles
* life story/history
* favourite X

list of days )
puzzlement: (jelly)
[personal profile] puzzlement
Originally posted at http://puzzling.org.

I’m the next host of the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival! Here’s the call for submissions:

The next edition of the Down Under Feminists Carnival is planned for 5 December, 2014 and will be hosted by Mary at Hoyden About Town or perhaps puzzling.org, as circumstances permit. Submissions to mary-carnival [at] puzzling [dot] org.

Submissions must be of posts of feminist interest by writers from Australia and New Zealand that were published in November. Submissions are due on 2 December at the latest, but it’ll be easier on Mary if you submit sooner rather than later. So submit early and often, please, and spread the word!

Submit away, please!

Today-ish in Mass Media

Nov. 17th, 2014 03:44 pm
beable: (Default)
[personal profile] beable
I am really enjoying Madam Secretary.

In terms of TV shows, it's probably the show I have picked up (or continued watching from last year) that I am enjoying the most.

I am also enjoying the Flash (and continuing to enjoy Arrow) but I recognize the smaller target audience for these two (The Flash is much more light-hearted than Arrow, but that probably doesn't matter for those who gave up on Arrow last year).

I'm past ready to pull the plug on Agents of Shield. Despite this, I am looking forward to Agent Carter this winter and the upcoming MCU movies (particularly pleased to see next cycle has a Black Panther movie and a Captain Marvel movie).

I am looking forward to Orphan Black returning.

I haven't yet formed a strong opinion on Gotham or Constantine, but I haven't bounced off them yet.
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Infotropism. You can comment here or there.

I often hear that making an event more accessible, or even providing information about accessibility, is “too hard” for event organisers. I contest that.

I make basic efforts toward accessibility for almost every event I run, mostly in the form of documentation, and it’s not that time-consuming or difficult. I estimate I spend about 20 minutes on it for a small event at a new venue, and less than five minutes if we’re running a second or subsequent event at the same place. It’s hardly anything in the overall scheme of things.

Handy accessibility documentation checklist

  • Make a section on the event page titled “Accessibility”, and under that heading, note the physical access to the venue, including:
    • What floor is it on?
    • Is there an elevator to higher floors, or do you have to use stairs? Does the elevator require a key?
    • Do you need to go up or down steps anywhere between the entrance and the space where the action is taking place (eg. one step at the front door)?
    • Is there a separate accessible entrance? Where is it?
    • Is there rough ground to cover (eg. steep pathways, gravel)
    • Are there buttons to automatically open doors into the venue?
    • Is there a wheelchair-accessible toilet?
  • Also under “Accessibility”, make some notes about the style of the event and the content that will be delivered, with attention to how accessible it would be to hearing- or vision-impaired attendees, eg.
    • Will there be a speaker? Will the speaker’s words be transcribed/available in written form, such as handouts or slides?
    • Will materials be made available online, or minutes or proceedings posted, after the event?
    • Will any video or audio materials be transcribed or interpreted?
  • Also under “Accessibility”, mention any dietary needs, common allergies, or other health considerations:
    • If food is provided, what dietary requirements will be met automatically (eg. vegetarian, gluten free, and nut free)? If an attendee has other dietary requirements, who should they contact and by what date?
    • Especially if the event is a private home, are there any pets that people might have allergies to?
    • Are there any other materials that may cause allergic reactions or other health problems? Any environmental factors that may have health implications? Eg. fumes, noise, extreme heat, flashing strobe lights.
  • Provide an email/phone contact for any accessibility related enquiries not already covered by the above.
  • Under “Transportation”, note ways of getting to the venue, including:
    • Car parking – distance from venue, costs
    • Bicycle parking – indoor/outdoor, secure?
    • Public transportation – nearest routes/stops, time of first/last service
    • Ride sharing – especially for areas with poor public transport coverage, are there arrangements for people to share rides? Where should someone ask to find a ride, or offer a ride? (eg. Facebook group)
  • Under “Children”, note the following:
    • Is the event suitable for children? (Eg. mention if it will be unsafe)
    • Is there childcare provided?
    • Are there facilities for baby changing, feeding, etc?

Here’s a sample for an event I recently attended, based on my recollection of the venue and proceedings, and a little bit of online research:


Physical accessibility: The workshop will be held on a rural property. Part of the workshop will be held up a steep and narrow flight of stairs. The rest of the workshop will be held around the property, with rough ground and unfinished paths between different areas. Access to the toilet is via a rough path and a few stairs. This event is not suitable for people with wheelchairs/scooters and may not be suitable for others with mobility impairments.

Workshop content: The morning speaker will provide written/illustrated notes covering most of the workshop material. No other transcription/interpretation is planned.

Allergies: Due to the nature of the workshop and the ourdoor venue, people with seasonal or animal allergies may wish to medicate accordingly.

If you have other accessibility needs or inquiries, feel free to email (email address).


There is ample car and bike parking onsite.

There is no public transport to the venue.

Ride shares can be arranged via our Facebook group (link); please post there if you are able to offer a ride, or are looking for one.


For safety reasons, this event is not suitable for young children; older children/teens may attend under the supervision of an adult. No childcare will be provided.

Babies may be changed in the bathroom at the main venue. Refrigeration/heating for baby food are available in the kitchen.

I timed it; that took me 25 minutes to research and write, and I was eating dinner and watching TV at the same time.

For future events at the same venue, simply copy-paste and make changes as necessary. It should take less than 5 minutes.

You may think that this hardly counts as “making your event accessible”, since so much of it is simply stating the lack of accessiblity, but even that much information is such a huge step above what most events provide that people will thank you for it.

Besides, awareness is most of the battle. Once you get in the habit of thinking about these things for every event, you’ll start to notice if you’re excluding people from attending. You might not have intended to exclude them, and done it without thinking; that’s pretty common, and most of us start out there. Now you’ll be more conscious of it, and you can begin to think about what further steps you could take.

At the very least, you’ll have saved a potential attendee from having to email a stranger (or worse, post on a public forum), disclosing a bunch of personal information just to find out whether they can attend or not.

Here are some examples of other events that provide accessiblity information:

  • AdaCamp Bangalore — this is an event I’m organising remotely, at a venue I’ve never seen, in another country. I still managed to provide this information without too much difficulty, by sending a list of questions to someone local and having them walk through the space.
  • Wiscon is a science fiction convention held in the same hotel year after year. They have managed to build up an amazing set of accessibility resources over the years.

And a few quick “don’ts”:

  • Don’t make people email you with any/all accessibility requests; it puts the onus on them, rather than you, and can invade their privacy. Take the effort to answer the most likely questions ahead of time.
  • Don’t hide the venue’s location from attendees unless absolutely needed for privacy reasons. At the very least, give the general location to within a kilometre or two, and let attendees know as promptly as possible after they register. Knowing where an event is to be held is an important piece of information to help people make decisions.
  • Don’t use offensive language around disabilities. Avoid “handicapped”, “crippled”, “sufferer/suffering”, “victim”, “wheelchair-bound”. Usually-safe terms include: “people with disabilities”, “mobility/visual/hearing impairment”, “wheelchair/scooter user”, “mobility aid”.
  • Don’t get defensive when people ask you to make your event more accessible. Listen, take their suggestions onboard, and honestly weigh the costs (in time, effort, or money) against the benefits (wider reach, greater diversity, and simply doing the right thing). Consider whether you make a partial effort to solve some of the accessibility problems, for a lower cost. If the tradeoff simply can’t work given the resources you have, apologise in a straightforward way, and say you’ll keep it in mind for the future (ideally at a specified date).
  • Don’t put the onus on people who require accommodations to educate you, to advocate for accessibility, or to do all the work toward it. They have enough on their plate as it is, and they don’t want to have to put in so much more effort than other attendees, just to be able to take part in an event. Make it easy for them to attend, and then once you’ve got them engaged and excited, perhaps they will choose to volunteer as an organiser.

This is still a learning process for me, as it is for most people. I know I’ve done a crap job of this in the past, but I hope I’ll do a better job in future. If you have any suggestions about how I can improve the way I approach event accessibilty, please feel free to contact me.

Still fevery

Nov. 16th, 2014 03:05 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Still running a fever, taking it super easy, doing little bits of housework. I sorted out several armloads of books and filled up the little free library. Played Monument Valley new levels last night with Milo and then again by myself this morning.

I had a brief silly moment of wondering if I have listeria then realized that some sort of flu is more likely. Still it gave me pause and I thought some more about going off the Enbrel experimentally for, say, 6 months.

Read a couple of Tessa Dare romance novels and enjoyed them.

Not realy up to anything creative. It was all puttering and reading and resting. Very domestic.

I was ambitious to go to the hardware store and buy a large flowerpot for my philodendron in the living room and re-pot it, but realized this is unwise, I'm still too sick, maybe this is a situation where not pushing anything will keep the bronchitis away, or whatever.

I got myself a new pair of long underwear as I realize the REI sale extends to the online bit not just the store. And got milo a new pair of jeans off amazon. Levis 513 slim or the gap skinny ones fit him best. Last week he showed up wearing ada's black jeans that have black brocade-style roses all over them and he looked so fantastic. it was subtle, yet glam. he had not noticed that his pants were flowery. Somehow,he has ended up with more pants at his dad's house than here. How does this happen? He comes here in one pair of pants. He leaves in another. How? Maybe there was some point where he was packing to go on a trip, or camping; packed here and unpacked at his dad's.

Earlier this week while going up the hill for groceries I went to the kids' resale store and cruised it for pants for him. but came out with a red velvet dress for ada instead. this may be the very last moment of usefully using up my store credit there. The batch they are both wearing now is the top range of their sizes, so I can resell them and get credit and use it for my nephew... It was so handy to get them cheap clothes there. I'll miss it!

Christmas cards

Nov. 16th, 2014 10:03 pm
nilasae: (Default)
[personal profile] nilasae
Since a lot of people seem to get into the mood for Christmas already it might be a good time for this...
I can't promise I'll manage to write them all but I'd still like to try and send out Christmas cards again this year. The cards will possibly be of the traditional variety so if you don't care for those you can skip this post.
If you'd like to receive a card (again, no promise I'll be able to make it) please comment with your name/address (will be screened) - even if you think I got your address.
If you'd like to send us a Christmas card you're very welcome to do so but don't feel obliged! Our address is available on request via comment/e-mail if you're not sure you have the right one (if you have the ZIP code 1230 then it is)...

Holiday cards 2014!

Nov. 14th, 2014 08:38 am
pleia2: (Default)
[personal profile] pleia2

Every year I send out a big batch of wintertime holiday cards to friends and acquaintances online.

Reading this? That means you! Even if you’re outside the United States!

Just drop me an email at lyz@princessleia.com with your postal address, please put “Holiday Card” in the subject so I can filter it appropriately. Please do this even if I’ve sent you a card in the past, I won’t be reusing the list from last year.

Typical disclaimer: My husband is Jewish and I’m not religious, the cards will say “Happy Holidays”

Originally published at pleia2's blog. You can comment here or there.

Friday 14 November 2014

Nov. 14th, 2014 09:46 pm
puzzlement: (jelly)
[personal profile] puzzlement
Originally posted at http://puzzling.org.

Today’s life lesson: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Useful, yes?

This year, my mother, Steph, and I are all working part-time, and so we have met in the Blue Mountains once a month or so, give or take, for a picnic.

Today was looking dicey as it was, with forecast temperatures of 35°C or so. That’s high for the mountains, where I’d normally think one would escape Sydney’s heat, but this is the new, improved Australian climate where the heatwaves come out from the desert, and those heatwaves do not play by any former rules about which are the cooler bits of the near-coast inhabited land and which are the warmer bits. To the desert heatwaves, everywhere is an opportunity for a blast furnace.

I felt super-organised and accomplished, remembering to bring hats for both children, food for both children, sunscreen, and a picnic blanket. Did you pick what I missed? No? I forgot a bib for A, so she ended up evenly smeared with yoghurt. It may be good for her skin? Steph didn’t come today so I can’t do any comparative parenting skills today. Actually, yes I can: my mother bought me a new dress, so she wins.

There was a decent breeze, which is great news for the picnickers sweltering away, but otherwise terrible, because wind and dry heat means fire.

This even occurred to me at the time. What didn’t occur to me was to change my plans for the return journey.

My mother had to leave at 2, but we had all day and I thought V might be interested in seeing Wentworth Falls. We unloaded in the carpark in one of the narrowest parks I’ve ever had the misfortune of finding (naturally, the car next to me was both fancy-looking, and metallic orange). Lucky I’m not pregnant or I would have been trapped in the car. We trudged along the flat ground to the upper lookouts, and V was already dawdling and whining. So, we had to be done right? No. He perked right up when he saw the dusty steps descending into the bush.

The Prince’s Rock Lookout advertises itself as a 20 minute return trip, and I’d say that’s an overestimate even for someone carrying a baby and accompanied by a four year old. It’s basically a few hundred steps with the odd turn. But nevertheless, going down there when it’s 35°C with a kid and a baby without any water was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. However, that’s not today’s cautionary tale. It was actually quite fun, because V was enchanted with the rainbow in the falls. And he’d promised me faithfully at the top that if I let him walk down, he wouldn’t complain when we had to climb all those steps coming back up in the heat. And he didn’t, although he twice took up my offer of a rest whenever he wanted one. I do admire his stoicism when he’s determined (and he’s been a good walker for a while, we did Daydream Island’s short walk end-to-end several times a year ago). I nursed A at the bottom, and at the top I got them back to the car reasonably quickly so that we could hang out somewhere with ambient temperature below our body temperature and V and I had a drink there.

V pointed out politely how much fun this would be in winter, which, he observed, is colder than summer.

However, the closest we came to grief all day was driving east along the Great Western Highway. A siren sounded as a fire service SUV flew along the highway while I was re-fuelling the car. I saw a few isolated plumes of smoke ahead and rang Andrew. Ahahaha, so self-deprecating, they really look like small fires but I’m just being cautious (half an hour too late, see hot walk without water), and emergency services are out and about, so, just in case, what does the Rural Fire Service say? He said he’d call back if there was an issue and to take silence as a good sign. On we drove, until traffic slowed around the area the smoke was (stickybeaking, I think) and we saw a number of fire trucks (V says nine, I think he’s guessing but that would be about right) and the police poking about. I still didn’t think it was terribly serious, until I saw that they had helicopters up, Elvis the massive one among them, within sight of the road.

On we drove. I explained to V I didn’t want to stop for food nearby since it was a good idea to get well clear of a fire if one could. Five minutes later, Andrew rang, saying that the Google feature formerly known as Latitude (and, in our household, Stalkitude) was showing me at Warrimoo, where an emergency alert had just been issued. Nope, I reported, I was 10 minutes drive further towards the city. Good news!

On we drove. At the M4 service centre, I had two messages, one from Steph hoping that I wasn’t stuck in the mountains. The other the Rural Fire Service outreach message, which must be an all-cell broadcast around Blaxland and Warrimoo, telling me that if I didn’t have a fire plan in place, that an emergency was in progress, and now was the time to leave my property.

It would still have been OK. I don’t live there, so I have no property to defend. The fire was possibly dangerous, but small. At worst, if I’d been still up there when the road closed, I could have stayed somewhere up there for the night. (It opened again around about the time the kids went to bed.) But next time I’m up in the mountains in summer and the breeze is up, I’ll look at the fire reports, and the next time I see smoke in the Greater Sydney area, I’m not going to bother with the cutesy “I’m sure it’s nothing” business.

Reading lots of fic!

Nov. 13th, 2014 07:35 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I have been on a fic-reading kick this week. I read Born from the Earth, which I highly recommend! Will never think of Iron Man the same way again. It is so good!!!!!

Then went looking for anything either crossover or AU that has, well, anything I recognize in it, that is long enough to keep me occupied for an hour or so and that has good ratings (high number of kudos or comments) I could almost go watch or learn something about Teen Wolf just in order to read all this stuff. My search resulted in lots of Marvel and LOTR fic and some very odd Pern AU. Pernlock... OK! I don't even like Benedict whatever, but naturally, he improves with dragons, knife fights, and so on.

Missing delux who used to exchange all the silliest and most amazing of it with me.

Right now am in the middle of an epic rewrite of The Hobbit where Bilbo goes sort of back in time to live his life from age 50 onwards again to try and fix everything so that his friends don't die; it's very sweet.

Recommendations welcome! I am especially into novel length or series length works! Angst and drama ++!

Wedding in Philadelphia

Nov. 12th, 2014 06:46 pm
pleia2: (Default)
[personal profile] pleia2

This past weekend MJ and I met in Philadelphia to attend his step-sister’s wedding on Sunday. My flight came in from Paris on Saturday, and unfortunately MJ was battling a cold so we had a pretty low key evening.

Sunday morning we were up ready to dress and pick up a truck to drive his sister to the church. The wedding itself didn’t begin until 2PM, but since we were coordinating transportation for the wedding party, we had to meet everyone pretty early to make sure everyone got into their respective bus/car to make it to St. Stephen’s Orthodox Cathedral on time.

I’d never been to an eastern Orthodox wedding, so it was an interesting ceremony to watch. It took about an hour, and we were all standing for the entire ceremony. There was a ring exchange in the back of the chapel, and then the bride and groom come up the center aisle together for the rest of their ceremony. I chose to keep my camera stashed away during the ceremony, but as soon as the priest had finished and was making some closing comments about the newlyweds I got one in real quick.

The weather in November can go either way in Philadelphia, but they got lucky with bright, clear skies and the quite comfortable temperature in the 60s.

The reception began at 4PM with a cocktail hour.

And we did manage to get a few minutes in with the beautiful bride, Irina :)

Big congratulations to Irina and Sam!

More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157648832387979/

The trip was a short one, with us packing up on Monday to fly home that evening. I did manage to get in a quick lunch with my friend Crissi who made it down to the city for the occasion, so it was great to catch up with her. Our flights home were uneventful and I finally got to sleep in my own bed after 3 weeks on the road!

Tomorrow night we fly off to Jamaica for a proper vacation together, I’m very much looking forward to it.

Originally published at pleia2's blog. You can comment here or there.

Party in France

Nov. 12th, 2014 06:31 pm
pleia2: (Default)
[personal profile] pleia2

On Saturday November 1st I landed in Paris on a redeye flight from Miami. I didn’t manage to sleep much at all on the flight, but thankfully I was able to check into my hotel room around 8:30AM to drop off my bags and freshen up before going on a day of jetlag-battling tourism.

It was the right decision. Of all the days I spent in Paris, that Saturday was the most beautiful weather-wise. The sky was clear and blue, the temperature quite comfortable to be wandering around the city in a t-shirt. Since Saturday was one of my only 2 days to play the tourist in Paris, mixed in with some meetings with colleagues, I took the advice of my cousin Melissa and bought a ticket on one of the red hop-on, hop-off circuit buses that stopped at the various landmarks throughout the city.

The hotel I was staying not far from the Arc de Triomphe so I was able to have a look at that and pick up a bus at that stop. I rode the bus until it reached the Eiffel Tower.

The line to take a lift up to the top of the tower was quite long and I wasn’t keen on waiting while battling jet lag, so I took a nice long walk around the tower and the grounds, snapping pictures along the way. I also found myself hungry so I picked up a surprisingly delicious chicken sandwich at a booth under the tower and enjoyed it there.

I hopped on the bus again and drove through the grounds of the Louvre museum, which was an astonishingly large complex. Due to the crowds and other things on my list for the day, I skipped actually going to the Louvre and contented myself with simply seeing the glass pyramid and making a mental note to return the next time I’m in Paris.

Soon after my phone lit up with a notification from my friend and OpenStack colleague Chris Hoge saying that he was at Notre Dame and folks were welcome to join him. It was the next stop I was planning on making, so I made plans to meet up.

I adore old cathedrals, and Notre Dame is a special one for me. As funny as it sounds, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favorite movies. Being released in 1996, I must have just been finishing up my freshman year in high school where one of my history classes had started diving into world religions. I was also growing my skeptic brain. I had also developed a habit at that time of seeing all Disney full-length animated features in theaters the day they were released because I was such a hopeless fan. The confluence of all these things made the movie hit me at the right time. It was a surprising tale of serious issues around compassion, religion and ethics for an animated film, I was totally into it. Plus, they didn’t disappoint with the venue for the film, I fell in love with Notre Dame that summer and started developing a passion for cathedrals and stained glass, particularly rose windows.

I met up with Chris and we took the bell tower tour, which all told took us up 387 steps to the roof of the 226 foot cathedral. We stopped halfway up to walk between the towers and hear the bells ring, which is where I took this video (YouTube). If you’re still with me with the Disney film, it’s where the final battle between Frollo and Quasimodo takes place ;)

387 steps is a lot, and I have to admit getting a bit winded as we climbed the narrow spiral staircases, but it was totally worth it. I really enjoyed being so close to all the gargoyles and the view from the top of the cathedral was beautiful, not to mention a fantastic way to see the architecture of the cathedral from above.

After the tour, I was was able to go inside the cathedral to take a good luck at all those stunning stained glass windows!

After Notre Dame, I did a little shopping and made my way back to the bus and eventually the hotel for a meeting and dinner with my colleagues.

Sunday morning I managed to sleep in a bit and made my way out of the hotel shortly before 10AM so I could make it over to the Catacombs of Paris. The line for the catacombs is very long, the website warning that you could wait 3-4 hours. I had hoped that getting there early would mitigate some of that wait, but it did end up taking 3 hours! I brought along my Nook so at least I got some reading done, but it probably was the longest I’ve ever waited in line.

I’d say that it was worth it though. I’d never been inside catacombs before, so it was a pretty exceptional experience. After walking through a fair number of tunnels going down and then you finally get to where they keep all the bones. So. Many. Bones. As you walk through the catacombs the walls are made of stacked bones, seeing skulls and leg bones piled up to make the walls, with all kinds of other bones stacked on the tops of the piles.

I also decided to bring along a bit of modernity into the catacombs with a selfie. I’ll leave it to the reader to judge whether or not I have respect for the dead.

By the time I left the catacombs it was after 2PM and I made my way over to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to do some shopping. Most worthy of note was my stop at Louis Vuitton flagship store where I bought a lovely wallet.

And with that, my tourism wound down. Sunday night I began getting into the swing of things with the OpenStack Summit as we had a team dinner (for certain values of “team” – we’re so many now that any meal now is just a subset of us). I am looking forward to going again some day on a proper vacation with MJ, there are so many more things to see!

A couple hundred more photos from my travels around Paris here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157648830423229/

Originally published at pleia2's blog. You can comment here or there.

badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I have been walking around the house more and doing much better! Today I went to the warm pool over by the zoo where my new PT has a group session. Adventure out on the 23 bus. The pool staff I got to on the phone (2 different people) could not tell me anything about how to get there by bus, where the bus stops were, whether there were sidewalks or what.... Totally new concept I guess. It is partly a rehab pool and partly a place where people take their infants and toddlers for swim lessons. The bus ride was pleasant - not crowded and one of the old-style lower buses with the fold out ramp. The rehab/rec center is sort of a whole complex, like the nicest possible community rec center. there are gardens and gyms and other things like art rooms and i think maybe some domestic animals. So it is a place where if you live in a group home I think you get taken there by bus.

The pool was super super nice. it even has a window that looks out over the lake merced area. it was Actually Warm, over 90 degrees, and the entire room and locker rooms were also not uncomfortably cold for me. I have never experienced that outside of a spa. The PT was nice. The group was him, two of his surfer friends with injuries (one who is recovering from a high spine injury), an older guy with sciatica, and an older lady who has been going there for years and mostly hung onto the edge. I was so excited and happy to be able to move around well in the water and stay in for long enough for it to be worth the entire trip. (Unlike ymca where it is so cold i can't stay in very long) That said I would still love it to be EVEN WARMER. When i got out I started shivering and my teeth chattering though I wasn't uncomfortable in the pool. Maybe as I get more in shape I'll be less cold sensitive.

I did lots of work on gait and walking around, sideways, backwards, doing squats, and some sort of arm lift with a kickboard that strengthens your core muscles. I had great trouble keeping my back in the right posture but finally could feel how it should be. I have forgotten how to walk right and be correctly upright. My pelvis just doesn't want to do it. Weird. I found this unexpectedly upsetting. It felt amazing to be exercising though.

As I was leaving the locker room filled up with old ladies with obvious bad hips or knees and they were very nice and cheery. i could maybe eventually go to their class. I started crying though a few times over today. I had complicated feelings as it pointed up to me that my situation kind of sucks. There were like 30 women older than me hobbling around with canes but they all walked into that complex somehow from a car or bus, went up a hill or a ramp and (harde than it sounds) got undressed and were prepared to do it all again in reverse. I could imagine 3 years ago before my ankles blew out that I could have daringly parked close and walked in, maybe. Now I can't imagine that and wouldn't be able to do it in the manual chair either. I guess the old ladies in my comparable situation might not have had the resources to get to the pool at all. But, the ones who were there, I can't keep up with them. I know it isn't about compareing yourself to anyone, but because I stick to the same routines.... sometimes some of these things aren't obvious to me.

i woudl like to go to this pool as often as possible !!!!!!

I am dreaming of being able to take a month or even 2 off work (i woudl totally do it unpaid leave) and swim every single day. But, what if I did this, and then fucked myself up worse, or, without it being my fault had some sort of flareup and then was off work and still unable to rehab properly? I think I could do it though. Even if I messed it up I would still be stronger and maybe my bad leg would not go off the rails so often. i thought of all the times i have been on medical leave or been super messed up and not been working. always, as soon as possible I was working again (or, in school and working part time) I think there were a couple of months in 2002 or so when i didn't ahve work, still had childcare full time, and drove around and wrote a lot of poetry. Other than that I have never been able to make the space to do lots of PT.

i am still super healthy1 which is so lucky. like my cholesterol and blood sugar and blood pressure and organs and everything work fine. well except my stomach. other organs fine. i should swim all the fucking time!!!

it was glorious to walk around and feel my legs do al the things. i am sore now but didn't damage anything. it is like actual muscles being used sore. tomorrow wil be v. stiff. nothing is spasming, popping, or grinding, or feeling "stuck" (I'm looking at you, right big toe) . other than my bad leg nerve thing, which isn't any worse than it was yesterday or this morning. buzz buzz.

my book The Pain Survival Guide: How to Reclaim Your Life, which I am halfway through and like very much, has a chapter where it reminds us that our pain is not interesting to anyone but ourselves and we should not talk about it all the time and not complain. Other than this chapter the book is brilliant. on the other other hand, other than here or to Danny I don't go around describing my pain. I don't think. i have tons of other kinds of conversations and listen to people a lot. danny says he does not mind and we can commiserate on our ailments and i certainly talk with him about other things too. so, good. and, take that, pain survival guide.

I felt very grimly determined but also this time, more hopeful than usual that I can make the effort and stick with it, at least once or twice a week. maybe then take a month off in the early spring and try to strengthen up? is this an unthinkable plan? i will ask my doctor what he thinks in a few weeks. i know i can't take medical leave to do this because obviously, I Can Work. i thnk that i will work much longer in my life in general if I take time out and successfully strengthen up.

Ipsy 2014-10

Nov. 11th, 2014 07:01 pm
miko: Photo of me by the river (Default)
[personal profile] miko
Huh, it's almost been a year of Ipsy bags for me now. I'm still enjoying it, though I'm eyeing a potential change with Birchbox releasing to Canada soon. Ipsy still does more makeup, though.

October's bag was a cute blue bag with puffed square patches, similar to the best Ipsy bag (the black one that I use for my DS). Haven't found a use for it yet, but I will.

Here's what I got:

Ayres - Patagonia Body Butter: This is a serviceable moisterizer, but it's a bit too scented for comfort. It'll be relegated to feet and legs, I think.

H2O+ - Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment: Is it weird that I'm happy with this one because the container is cute? The product is a gel that you smear on your face after showering as a moisterizer. I actually like it a bit better than moisterizers for that purpose (mostly I just let myself be dry, though... if I wasn't cool with that, I probably wouldn't use bar soap on my face), so it'll probably get some winter use.

Jesse's Girl - Mineralized Baked Shadow Powder in "Ocean Breeze": It's blue, it's substantial, it's well packed and pretty. Applied with good colour and not much fallout, and I was so pleased not to get another skin-colour eyeshadow. Thumbs up.

Skyn Iceland - Mini Glacial Cleansing Cloths: Uh. These are 10 little wet nap things that are sort of soapy and for your face. They take off makeup pretty well, so I did use one when we had a blackout and I didn't want to fuss trying to get mascara off my eyes by candlelight. That said, the idea that you would use these away from a bathroom is goofy - there is a definite sticky residue from the soap after application. Also, if you let it dry on you without rinsing, it feels weirdly like burning (no ill effects, though, so I think it's just the "cooling" sensation wearing off uncomfortably).

Starlooks - Lip Gloss in "Guilty Pleasure": This lip gloss is ridiculously sticky. It came out of the tube looking like melted chewing gum, and I gamely tried to apply it anyway, but it wasn't anything I want to do again. Somewhat vanilla scented. Boring pink colour. Remained sticky and made me feel like a middle-schooler.

So, not the best bag, but mostly useable. I also spent my Ipsy points on something that I should receive in November; this is my first time redeeming for something, since Ipsy is now doing lower point-value rewards (so it's not impossible for people who don't have referrals).

Book reviews

Nov. 11th, 2014 06:35 pm
miko: Photo of me by the river (Default)
[personal profile] miko
More getting-vague recollections of books I've read!

Lock In by John Scalzi: This standalone novel was not at all what I expected - the press I'd seen about it was focused on the hook: that the world had an epidemic disease that caused a percentage of people to be unable to control their bodies but still mentally there. In actual fact, the book is set long enough after that (the main character is one of the "locked in", but has a robot body to use) that it wasn't the focal point. Instead, it's a mystery novel with some interesting political fallout from the epidemic. I quite enjoyed it, and it's worth a shot even if Scalzi's more traditional sci fi never interested you.

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs: Not my favourite novel in the series. Child murders from the past (was I supposed to remember this from a previous book?), by a serial killer, with the subplot being the break down of her romantic lead? Pretty much a downer. Didn't feel like there was a lot of forensics of interest either, the lead was more just swept along in a normal police investigation.

Raging Heat by Richard Castle: Another in the Castle tie-in series of novels. Fun, and despite a ridiculous opening (the body falling through the glass roof of a museum), a solid enough mystery. Still curious who the writer(s) are.

Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell: Aw, I wanted to be able to recommend this one, I really did. I enjoyed most of it - the stories of three down-and-out traveling judges (well, basically) in olden times with amusingly modern language (not anachronistic, per se, but very current phrasing), swordfights, etc. But then the author deus ex'd (literally - suddenly direct intervention of gods/saints, what? and also figuratively - "all the things you were doing, I had planned from the start!") the whole damn thing in the end, and it was very disappointing.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie: A young adult novel, including illustrations (the narrator likes to draw comics), about growing up on the res. It's a light read, halfheartedly amusing with some sad truths.

Enders by Lissa Price: Wasn't as keen on this one as on the first novel (Starters). Maybe I spent too long between them, but I didn't feel terribly connected to the character's woes, and the twist felt hollow and uninteresting to me because of it.

Small Favor by Jim Butcher: This was possibly the best Dresden Files book I remember reading. Nothing about it repulsed me, it was simply enjoyable to read.

Beautiful Lie the Dead by Barbara Fradkin: Another in the local mystery series. I liked it - the inspector's home life wasn't weird or angsty and the mystery was solid (if a bit cringe-worthy in conclusion).
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